“6 years ago?” Xi Men asked, looking straight into the fumed face of Xiao You.
Xiao You smirked. “For goodness sake. You don’t even know it,”
“What did I do 6 years ago?” Xi Men asked.
Xiao You takes a deep breath. “Well, counting back. I have hated you for 6 years,” she looked at him. “6 long years. That is why I don’t like you the moment I saw you that night at the annual dinner,”
“But… I don’t know what I did 6 years ago… until… until you hate me like this,” Xi Men said.
“I hate you so much, Xi Men,” Xiao You said, emphasizing every word, which kills Xi Men in his heart upon hearing it. “If it is not you… I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t be hating your male friends as well,”
“Hating your male friends?” Lei, Mei Zhuo and Ah Si repeated, “US?” they then looked at each other.
“Xiao You… what… why?” San Chai asked.
Xiao You smirked. “If you noticed, I treated the males differently compared to treating their female partners,”
Jing looked at Lei, “Now she confirms it!”
“No wonder she treats us differently!” Mei Zhuo said.
“You can put all the blames on Xi Men,” Xiao You said.
“She can talk and laugh with us, but when she faces the guys… she just changed, the smile on her face can just disappear…” Xiao Qiao said.
“Yes,” Xiao You said. “You are right,”
“But why… what did he do?” San Chai asked, then looked at Xi Men, and then looked at Xiao You again. “If you say it’s the Hua Ze Corporation’s annual dinner, then I understand… but 6 years ago… I don’t understand…”
“Are you mad because 6 years ago I refused to… with you?” Xi Men asked.
Xiao You smirked again. “What is there to be mad about, regarding that event? To sleep with me?”
“Then… is it because I try to avoid you when you are looking for me, to see the billboard?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Xiao You said, closing her eyes.
“What do you mean it doesn’t matter? It happened 6 years ago and you hate me with every single heartbeat of yours, and you tell me it doesn’t matter? Do you think I want you to keep on hating me for the rest of your life?” Xi Men asked.
“Yes, and I am going to do that,” Xiao You said, opened her eyes and looked at him straight, seemingly piercing his eyes with her stare.
“No, I am not going to let you do it, unless I know what I did that deserves your lifetime hatred!” Xi Men said. “I want you to tell me where I go wrong in my life that causes you to hate me!”
“Why do you care, Xi Men?”
“Because you said I did something that causes you to hate me. It is me we are talking about. That is why I want to know. In fact, I deserve to know!” Xi Men said. “Tell me, Xiao You. What did I do wrong that causes you to hate me this much?!”
“I didn’t know if I did anything wrong in my life to cause you not to treat me as a friend!” she yelled at him. “Why do you have to put me to misery one after another?!”
Xi Men gaped. “What? No! I treat you like a friend! I always did! You didn’t do anything wrong!”
“You treated me as San Chai’s friend. Not YOUR friend,” Xiao You said.
Xi Men looked at San Chai, and then looked at Xiao You. “Is that what you felt all the while?”
“I’ll explain why,” Xiao You said. “6 years ago, when I said I like you back then, you told me you are not capable to love. You don’t want to hurt me because I am San Chai’s best friend. When you said you missed out seeing the billboard Xiao Gen wanted to show you and you regretted it, I go thru all the buildings at every single night to get that billboard for you. When I found it, I have to look for you and you went into hiding and tried to avoid me. Why do I have to try so hard to pull you to see the billboard? Why do I have to make you see what she wanted you to see? Because I want you to get over it and to have the capability to love again. Have you ever felt gratitude to me for showing you the billboard, for showing you that you no longer need to feel bad about missing out the billboard your childhood friend tried to show you? At that moment, I only wanted one thing. To know that you are still my friend that I can care about. And what did you do? You did nothing! Not even a word of appreciation about what I did! No ‘thank you’!”
Xi Men looked at her. “I…”
“After the billboard, I had to leave back to Canada. I don’t know if you will love or like me because I don’t know if I am your type. But yes. I waited for you in the airport. To see if you are grateful for what I did. I wanted to hear you say a word ‘thank you’ for bringing you back to life! For showing you the billboard so you have one less regret in your life! I would be grateful if you come to send me off. If you come to ask me to stay, I would! But what did you do?! YOU DID NOTHING!” she yelled at him. “I waited for you for 4 hours in the airport! You never show up! You didn’t even come to send me off or wish me best of luck. There is not even a single word of yours! Not even as a friend!”
“I went to look for you at your aunt’s house the day after the billboard incident. She told me you are going back to Canada, you had left for the airport… I…” Xi Men said. “I did look for you… I really do…”
“I told myself. You might not know I am going back to Canada at that time and day. So I wait for your letter or email or visit. I waited for you day after day and months came. And then years. At that point of time, I know. I know that you have never treated me as a friend. It is as though what I did for you, by showing you the billboard, it was my job and my responsibility. Why is it so hard to even get a word from you? A word of blessing? A word of wish? Or even a word of asking about me? Don’t tell me you don’t know about my whereabouts because you are rich enough to hire a PI like you all always did!”
“Xiao You, you are always my friend. I am grateful for you to show me the billboard… but I cannot bring myself to… I don’t know… I… I don’t know how to face you…” Xi Men said.
“If you don’t know how to face me, then why are you here? Why are you sitting in front of me like this?” Xiao You asked him. “Then why are you talking to me?”
“Xiao You, I thought you will never be back here again. When you leave, I was heartbroken. I don’t know why but I really am…” Xi Men said.
“If that incident alone is not bad enough,” Xiao You rolled her eyes.
“What do you mean…?” Xi Men asked.
“Xiao You, did something really happen to you…?” Mei Zhuo asked.
“Did mental tortures worth mentioning?” Xiao You asked Mei Zhuo.
“Err…” Mei Zhuo responded.
She took a deep breath. “I was all alone in Canada. I always think about having friends like all of you to help me when I needed help. But then, I found out, I was taken for granted when I was in Taipei no matter what I do,” she looked at him sternly. “You never appreciate what I did, Xi Men. And probably you knew it was me, so you ignore it,” she said. “And I blame you for all that has happened to me for the past 6 years!”
Xi Men looked at her. He didn’t know what to say and what to do.
“I end up crying most of the time because I felt I wasn’t appreciated. I end up very depressed. I look at other couples, I cried. I looked at other people with their friends, I cried. I was truly upset. I know I need to move on from there. I end up growing hatred in me. All of it started because of you!” Xiao You said at Xi Men. “I blame you for all the mental tortures that I have been suffering for the past 6 years!” she said.
Xiao You looked at him. “But then, you make me who I am today. Tough. Fight for what I want. Know how to defend for myself. Independent,” she said. “Sarcastic. Mean. I changed for the worst too,”
“You know how to flirt… how to make use of your own body, your own signals…” Lei said.
Xiao You turned and looked at Lei. “Yes, thanks for the exposure I had when I was in Canada,”
Xi Men looked at her sadly. “I’m sorry…”
“Do you think that word works? If a word ‘sorry’ can change everything…” Xiao You said. “What is the use of police?” she then looked at Ah Si. “I remember. Your favorite phrase,”
Ah Si smiled lightly.
“If not for that statement, San Chai wouldn’t be here today as your wife because you wouldn’t bully her and look at her this way!” Xiao You said.
All of them turned looking at Ah Si. Ah Si is surprised that right now he is the victim. Given to him in the past, he would have scolded her back but for some reason, he just didn’t.
“It has been hell for me for the past 6 years. I learn the world the hard way. The way I see the world is no longer the same and I felt I am only being taken for granted. I don’t hate men. But I hate you for not even trying to contact me. For making me felt that I meant nothing to this world. I tried to see it from the point of view that you DO have your right to not wanting to be in contact with me. But I can’t,” Xiao You said. “I learned that I can only move on with my life if I hate you, knowing that I don’t need you even as a friend. Knowing that you don’t deserve to be my friend too! I treat you back like how you treated me!”
“That is why you hate me…?” Xi Men asked.
“Yes. I have changed what I felt for you to hatred and I no longer hold special feelings for you but hatred. What you see of me today, is all of your doings in the past!” Xiao You said.
“Now I know why…” Jing said.
“Now, you are satisfied with my answer?” Xiao You said, looking at Xi Men.
“I didn’t know the impact of me not trying to contact you could be this huge… I…” Xi Men said.
“You can pretend you didn’t hear anything or know anything. This has been my life and I was shaped to that way. And of course, I am stronger than I am before,” Xiao You said. “This is my life. And you are not a part of it so you don’t have to care about me hating you or what,”
“Why not? This revolves around you and I want to…”
“This revolves around me and just me,” Xiao You said. “As long as I can move on and live better. Why not,” she said flatly.
“But… but I have always been…” Xi Men softened up.
“Been?” Ah Si asked Xi Men.
Xi Men looked at him, and then looked at Xiao You who is not paying attention at him. “Nothing,”
Xi Men sat at the bench outside room 323. Folded his hands on his chest, and legs stretched out and crossed at the ankle – with right one on top of the left ankle. His head leans back to the wall. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
Xi Men opened his eyes and looked at Mei Zhuo. “Hey,” he said.
“You know the legs stretched out like this can cause accidents to people. They’ll trip over your foot,” Mei Zhuo said. “Especially someone like me,” he extended his hand holding a cup of coffee to Xi Men.
Xi Men takes it from him. “Thanks,” he said, sitting properly and ‘kept’ his legs.
“No problem,” Mei Zhuo said.
Xi Men takes a sip from the cup. “Hmm,” he took the cup away from his mouth as he looked at it. “This is not black coffee,”
“The vending machine only gives this ‘coffee’ option and no such option as ‘black coffee’. If there is, I would buy that for you but then, you have no choice. Don’t be too picky, just take it,” Mei Zhuo said.
Xi Men looked at the coffee and then he just sips it.
“Careful. It’s hot,” Mei Zhuo said.
“Hmm… taste weird,” Xi Men said, frowning.
“Of course. You never took coffee other than black ones,” Mei Zhuo said. “Of course this taste differently,”
Xi Men looked at it. He then takes a sip again, slowly, and then swallowed the coffee down the throat. He then took a while and then looked at the coffee. “This is not bad too,”
Mei Zhuo looked at Xi Men. “Now only you know?”
Xi Men looked at Mei Zhuo. “What?”
“Coffee is like women,” Mei Zhuo said. “You like black coffee. It is your preference. But if it is sweetened or with milk, it doesn’t mean it’s not good,” he takes a sip at the coffee in his hand. “Take your time to taste the coffee. Then you will know if it is nice, or awful,”
“Mei Zhuo telling me about facts of women by using coffee as the example?” Xi Men asked. He smiled a little bit. “So Xiao Qiao must be the sweetened coffee to you,” he smiled.
“I am not a black coffee lover to enjoy a sweetened coffee,” Mei Zhuo said. “This concept only applies to you, Xi Men. I love sweetened coffee, just that the difference is you get it differently if you ordered it from exclusive and luxury coffee houses, roadside coffee houses, vending machine or made it the manual way,”
Xi Men frowned. “What happened with you? Did you take some superb brain knowledge medicines?” he said. “And to use this coffee as an example? But hey, it looks similar to me. I mean both concepts,”
Mei Zhuo smirked. “I don’t take bitter ones. Those give me problematic,” he laughed.
“Bitter equals problematic?” Xi Men laughed.
“Oh well, just an example,” Mei Zhuo said. “Trying to cheer you up, buddy,”
Xi Men’s laughter slowly fades. He sighed. “Suddenly I felt a lot of pressure,”
“I am not surprised,” Mei Zhuo said. “You are responsible for her change,” he said and then Xi Men looked at him. “Well, according to what she said, of course,”
“Do you think I did something wrong, really?” Xi Men asked.
“She is holding you responsible for her changes. But I can say… she must have loved you a lot… to let this take effect on her. I have never seen a woman bearing this much of hatred… but I always believe love has the tendency to cause one like this,” Mei Zhuo said.
“Though you explained a lot, you still didn’t answer me,” Xi Men said.
“I cannot say you are right, and I cannot say she is right,” Mei Zhuo said. “You didn’t know she would be like this. And of course, she felt that you did not do some kind of explanation back then. You only missed out the word ‘thank you’ which she anticipates all along and you did not say it,” he looked at Xi Men. “Somehow, you have to see. This had happened in the past and whatever you found out now won’t change the fact that this has impacted her 6 years ago. And you can’t turn back time to undo it,”
“But it is tough for my side to see that she hated me this much,” Xi Men said.
“You have to take it, Xi Men. You have no choice,” Mei Zhuo said.
“How am I supposed to take it if she is going to be like this at me, 24 hours a day?” Xi Men asked.
“Well, you don’t have a choice,” Mei Zhuo said.
Xi Men sighed.
“Why don’t you tell her about the airport incident?” Mei Zhuo asked.
Xi Men looked at him. “Airport? The one I…”
Mei Zhuo nodded.
Xi Men shook. “Why should I brought it up? Like you said, Mei Zhuo. It has happened in the past. Even if I told her about the incident… it will not fix things right. I can’t undo it,”
Xi Men shook again, and sighed.
Mei Zhuo keeps quiet.