Xi Men sits in the living room as he uses his smartphone. Emily glances at him.
“So how is your job search going?” Xiao You asked as she walks to Xi Men and sits down next to him.
“Not very good,” Xi Men said as he briefly looked at her and smile lightly, before he then focused back onto the smartphone. “Most of the jobs posted yesterday were executive jobs which I over qualified. Not like I can’t try, but there is a range of what they afford to pay and hire. I know all those requirements and since I over qualify for that, they wouldn’t even want to see my resume. And today… most wants Canadian citizenship,” he slightly tilted the smartphone at her. “Look, here’s another one,”
Xiao You took the smartphone over and then she scrolled up and down as she sees the job advertisement.
“Actually it won’t be easy,” Xi Men said. “Not everyone is willing to hire me too… you know?”
“Because you were CEO of a huge corporation in Taiwan, I supposed?”
“You can say like that,”
“And hiring you means you are either overqualified or underpaid,” Xiao You said.
“But I won’t mind,” Xi Men smiled, as he looked at Xiao You. “Getting a job is my focus now,”
Xiao You smiled, and then she glanced over to Emily whose eyes are still glancing over to them, and then when seeing Xiao You looking at her, she immediately looked straight to the TV.
“Emily, why are you looking at us like that?” Xiao You asked.
“That is not the first time she looked at me like that,” Xi Men said.
“You mean she did it often?” Xiao You asked, looking at Emily, and Emily looked at Xiao You, now probably bound to get scolded.
“I did tell her that it is going to damage her eyes,” Xi Men said, and now leading Emily to look at him for ‘bursting’ her bubble. “But I understand why she is looking at me like that. I am sure she is not doing that all the time or to anyone else. It is because of me, that is why she does that. Don’t mind her,” Xi Men patted Xiao You’s hand. “It is okay,”
Xiao You, with a blank face, looked at Xi Men, and Xi Men smiled and shook lightly.
Xiao You then turned to look at Emily.
Emily lowered her head for a while before she returned her gaze back to the TV.
“I really wondered what kind of job I can do…” Xi Men said, scrolling the page in his smartphone.
Xiao You turned and looked at Xi Men who seems unfazed with Emily giving him that kind of look. Or maybe he is going to do anything, simply anything, in order to win Emily’s heart? And his first step is to defend Emily and prohibits Xiao You from telling Emily she shouldn’t do that?
Xiao You is really not sure. Xi Men definitely tries hard to win his daughter.
“Come in, mom! The door is not locked,” Xiao You calls out from her bed.
Mrs. Yang enters the room and then closed the door behind her.
“Mom,” Xiao You smiled at her mother for a while before she returned her gaze to the pink tee shirt in her hand.
“What are you doing?” Mrs. Yang asked as she sits down on the bed, in front of Xiao You.
“The button came off from the shirt,” Xiao You said, poking the needle into the shirt carefully. “I only know after I found the button in the washing machine after I finished with the laundry today,”
“This is Emily’s favorite shirt,” Mrs. Yang said, after she looked at the shirt.
“Yes, that is why I need to fix this quick. Or else Emily will start looking for it,” Xiao You smiled.
Mrs. Yang smiled.
“Mom, are you looking for me?” Xiao You asked, briefly lifted her head up and looked at her mother before returning her focus to the shirt in her hand.
“Nothing in particular. I just thought of coming in and see what you are doing,”
“Ohh,” Xiao You smiled. “What is dad doing?”
“Watching a show. Xi Men is also watching along in the living room,” Mrs. Yang smiled.
“Oh alright,” Xiao You replied. “And Emily is watching as well?”
“What else is new for Emily?”
Xiao You laughed, “Still school holiday, that is why. It is okay. Let her watch. She can’t watch as much in about a week plus after the school starts,”
Mrs. Yang smiled. “So…”
“You get along pretty well with Xi Men,”
Xiao You smiled. “You can say so, mom,”
“Now that I look at both of you… it is just odd,”
“What do you mean?” Xiao You’s smile faded and she looked at her mother.
“Both of you are already parents but acted like teenagers just started in love,”
Xiao You laughed. “Forever young, mom. Young in heart,”
“Yeah, or maybe… young adults. And it is actually good,” Mrs. Yang said. “How old is Xi Men, by the way?”
“30,” Xiao You replied. “He is 30,”
“Great,” Mrs. Yang said.
“You haven’t dated ever since you are pregnant, so… for me to see you being happy with a guy like that… and more over, he’s the father of your daughter, is actually a nice sight,”
Xiao You smiled.
“And since both of you are… in love, and have a child together… it just feels odd to have you both still staying here with us,”
“Mom… why do you sound like kicking us out from the house?”
Mrs. Yang laughed. “Of course not. You are my daughter. Wouldn’t kick you out from the house. Just… you and Xi Men are a family. Sometimes, you just felt that when your kids have grown up and have their family, you know they are bound to move out and be on their own. But your case has been different, of course. But it did felt weird because both of you are here,”
Xiao You smiled. “Mom, can I ask you one thing…”
“Sure, you can ask me anything,” Mrs. Yang said.
“Do you like Xi Men?”
“He is your pick, right? It doesn’t matter whether I like it or not. What matters the most is your happiness,” Mrs. Yang said.
“I know… but what I meant was… in your opinion… you know, your point of view,” Xiao You said. “I am sure you have been monitoring him and secretly analyzing him since he has been here for 6 days,”
Mrs. Yang smiled. “It must be because you are my daughter, so you know I am evaluating him silently since he is in house’s vicinity,”
“I don’t know whether it is something to do with being a daughter, a mother, or a female… or genes,” Xiao You smiled.
Mrs. Yang laughed.
“So… what do you think about him, mom?” Xiao You asked.
“He’s good. He’s smart. He’s nice. I like him,” Mrs. Yang said.
“Yes,” Mrs. Yang smiled. “He spent the most time with you,”
Xiao You smiled.
“But I notice he doesn’t spend some time with Emily,” Mrs. Yang said.
“Not because he didn’t want to… but it is because Emily doesn’t like him,” Xiao You said sadly. “So… how can he approach or spend time with Emily if Emily doesn’t like him?”
“Emily doesn’t like Xi Men?”
Xiao You took a deep breath. “She adores him in Taiwan when he was known as ‘Uncle Xi Men’. They were so close and Emily always asked if it was him when my phone rang and also asked when we are going to meet him. She even specifically asked Xi Men if he can accompany us during our last week in Taipei. I can totally see she likes him. Even before I told her about him… she still likes him a lot…” she sighed. “And now… after I told her that Xi Men is her father, she is not like that anymore. Xi Men tried to talk to her but… she didn’t respond much,”
“Ah?” Mrs. Yang said. “Hmmm… I must have spent too much time evaluating Xi Men that I didn’t notice that is how Emily has been reacting around Xi Men. Now that you have mentioned it… it really tallies with Emily’s odd behavior these few days. I guess… it must have been really hard for her…”
“Actually it is worrying,” Xiao You said, looking at Mrs. Yang now and stopped completely on what she is doing on the shirt.
Xiao You took another deep breath. “Like you have said, mom. Xi Men has been here for 6 days. And I already told Emily about him two days prior to that. Means it has been more than a week and she is still like that. I mean… she could have just at least tell me whether she likes Xi Men being around or not, but… there are no changes. She is just an 8 years old kid. Yes, I know she had already reaches the age where she will know how to think and make her decisions and I totally respect that, but I didn’t expect it will take her this long… and there are no improvements in the situations after all these days. If I didn’t ask her to give Xi Men a goodnight hug, she wouldn’t even go over to him herself,”
Mrs. Yang nodded, indicating she understands. “Oh,” she suddenly recalled. “I remember she peeks at both of you,”
“I know. She did that most of the time,” Xiao You said. “I don’t really know why she did that…” she then raised the shirt up and poked the needle in again.
“I guess she needed more time. If she has always liked him in Taiwan, she probably just needed time to adjust that the guy out there is not Uncle Xi Men anymore… just give her some time,”
“I know… that is exactly what I am doing now… or rather… that is the only thing I can do,” she sighed.
Mrs. Yang smiled. “I wonder whose gene is that. Is it yours… or is it Xi Men’s?”
Xiao You’s eyes strayed. “I think it is Xi Men’s, since he is great at putting a fake smile on his face when he had so many problems deep inside his heart and refused to share. He is good at pretending everything is alright,”
“But I think it is also yours,”
“I don’t put a fake smile on my face. When I am sad, it is written all over my face,”
“Yes, you are right, but that doesn’t mean you will tell why you are sad, right?”
Xiao You stopped for a while, and then she sighed, “You are right about that too…” and she poked the needle into the shirt again.
“Actually you do pretend you are alright when everything is not,”
“Really?” Xiao You frowned.
“Yeah, but you are not very good at it,” Mrs. Yang said, and then laughed.
“Urgh, mom!” Xiao You sulked.
Mrs. Yang remained laughing. “So,” she said as her laughter slowly fades. “How is Xi Men coping here?”
“Like I have told you, mom. Xi Men is good at hiding his problems and emotions as though everything is okay. He looks okay, so I guess he is going along with it… though a part of me feels otherwise,”
“I heard he is starting to look for a job here,”
“Oh yes he is…”
“How was it?”
She bites her lower lip and shook disappointedly. “Not really good,”
“The jobs don’t fit him, especially… he was a CEO at such a young age, and not a Canadian,”
“I see… it is okay. I am sure things will be better for him,” Mrs. Yang smiled.
“I hope so,” Xiao You smiled.
“Ah, he helped you with the laundry yesterday,” Mrs. Yang said. “I saw both of you out there,”
“Oh, that…” Xiao You said, and then she returned her focus to the shirt in her hand and turned it over to look at the back. “Yeah…” she then laughed when she remembered the incident.
“What about it?”
“It was his first time hanging clothes on clothesline,” Xiao You smiled. “He asked me to teach him. You know, mom… he was born and raised in a very rich family, so he had never done that,”
“Not very surprising. When we were in Taiwan back then, we already know how major that name is to the country,” Mrs. Yang said. “So what can we expect from rich brat like him?”
“Yeah…” Xiao You said, taking the scissors from the side table and then cuts off the thread since she is done with sewing the button on Emily’s favorite shirt. “Now he is not part of the huge name anymore,” she sighed. “I hope he is coping well about it,”
“His fight with dad is massive?”
Xiao You puts the needle back into the case. “He didn’t mention much about it. And I dare not ask him because I didn’t want to remind him about it which might lead to making him unhappy, since the incident is still fresh,” she said, looking at her mother.
Mrs. Yang nodded at the statement. “I agree,”
“But I guess it is. I mean… it should be a huge one… since it is up to the point to disown Xi Men…”
“Because of you?”
She took a deep breath as she folds the shirt. “Sadly, yes,” she said. “All I know is his dad asked him to pick being disowned or being the Xi Men he already is… he picked the first one,” she puts the nicely folded shirt down.
Xiao You sighed.
“Why the sigh, Xiao You?” Mrs. Yang asked.
“Mom… a part of me is actually sad. Or perhaps, I should say, extremely upset. I didn’t want something like this to happen. I felt like I’ve broke his family apart. I felt that everything happened because of me. I felt that whatever happened to him is because of me. I felt that it was all my fault. I feel really bad that these had to happen to him… I feel so sorry. I feel…”
“Xiao You,” Mrs. Yang reached forward to grip her hand. “I want you to know, this is not your fault,”
“But mom…” sadness filled her. “I feel it is…”
“Xiao You,” Mrs. Yang sits closer to her. “I want you to listen to me,”
Xiao You looked at her mother for a while before she lowered her head.
“You have only done one mistake. Only ONE,”
“Which one, mom?” she looked at her mom.
“9 years ago; when you sleep with him,”
She lowered her head down again.
“It breaks my and your dad’s heart. Because our young daughter is not married, but pregnant and refused to divulge who the guy is,”
“I am sorry…” her tears formed in her eyes.
“I know it is your choice to sleep with him. I know it is your choice to give birth to Emily and raise her up without a father. But you didn’t know the pain your father and I have to go thru, to see you pick this road,”
“I am sorry…” Xiao You repeats. “I know I have caused you and dad great pain because of what I did… I know… I really know…”
“So yes, that was it. If you felt you’ve done anything wrong, it was that, and only that,”
Xiao You looked at her mother. “I am sorry…”
“Whatever that happens in the past, stays in the past. You have made all the decisions back then, including not telling Xi Men about Emily. So, things changed today because of that revelation, and you are going to blame yourself for the changes that had happened to Xi Men?”
“Xi Men is an individual with a choice, you do know that, don’t you?”
“Do you know that, things can still remain the same to Xi Men, even after he found out about you and Emily?”
Xiao You looked at her mother. “How…?”
“By leading his usual life just the same way he had always did for the past years; completely ignoring you and Emily,” Mrs. Yang said.
“But he choose not ignore you and Emily, which is why he is here now,” Mrs. Yang said. “And do you understand that he is the one that choose to have this change happened to him?”
Xiao You lowered her head.
Already knew the answer, Mrs. Yang still asked, “Tell me. Did you force him to pick you over his status?”
Xiao You shook harshly. “No…”
“It means he chooses you on his own will, right?” Mrs. Yang said.
“But I feel…”
“Xiao You, I want you to understand. You didn’t make him choose. You didn’t ask him to come. You didn’t tell him about Emily and asks him to take responsibility. He found out about you and Emily on his own and it is his decision to come to you. He can choose not to fight with his father, and he can choose to obey his father and choose to retain his tycoon status and as the CEO of Xi Men Corporation. His father, and not you, asked him to choose between you and what he already has. Xiao You, he had a choice. He made his decision and his decision is you,”
Tears rolled down Xiao You’s cheeks.
“So it wasn’t your fault he chose you. It wasn’t your fault that he makes such decision and let everything he had go,”
“Just remember he had a choice and he wasn’t force to choose you, so it is not your fault at all,” Mrs. Yang said. “And if you are not happy with his selection, prove him wrong and ask him to leave. Ask him to go back to his father and manage that company,”
Xiao You looked at her mother.
Mrs. Yang looked back at her, “And if you can’t bring yourself to ask him to leave, I will do it for you,”
“No,” Xiao You immediately said, gripping onto her mother’s arm. “No, no… no, don’t ask him to leave, no, mom, no,”
“Then why are you feeling bad for his decision?” Mrs. Yang reached forward and wiped Xiao You’s tears. “Why are you putting the blame on yourself when you didn’t force him to make a decision in the first place?”
“I’m sorry mom… I know right now… I understand… I just feel really bad… I feel…”
“Always remember he had a choice; he had choices in life. You may influence him in certain decision making but it will never be your fault if he chooses one over the other. He is an adult now. He will know what to decide and do for his life. Thus, understand that there is a reason behind every single major decision he made. So, right now, he chooses you over everything else he had in life because to him, you are more important than everything else, and you are the person he wants to be with. Understand now, my dear?” Mrs. Yang asked.
Xiao You bites her lips and nodded.
“And understand that it is not, and never your fault for this. It is his decision. You get me?” Mrs. Yang brushes Xiao You’s hair.
“I understand it now… mom…” Xiao You said in between her tears, before she breaks down and cry in the arms of Mrs. Yang.
“Eh, where is Xi Men?” Xiao You asked her father who is watching television.
“He said he is going to sleep,” Mr. Yang said.
“Sleep?” Xiao You turned her head and looked at the clock on the wall.
It is only 9.30pm.
So not Xi Men.
For the last few days, he wouldn’t sleep until the clock at least struck 11.
Her eyes strayed.
She then turned her head and found Emily is staring at her.
“What is it, Emily?” Xiao You sits down next to Emily.
“Nothing,” Emily said. “What are you holding, mommy?”
“Holding?” Xiao You didn’t even remember she is holding anything.
She lowered her heard to look at her hands.
OH! It is Emily’s shirt that she had just sewed the button back on.
“Oh, this is your shirt,” she sits down next to Emily and then extends it to her (Emily). “The button came off, so I sew it back,”
“Oh, thank you mommy,” Emily smiled.
Xiao You looked at Emily. She wanted to know what Emily thinks about Xi Men… but she didn’t know how to ask. But it is very obvious that Emily didn’t like him now as much as she used to like him as Uncle Xi Men.
Emily has been slightly reserved, and as she (Xiao You) had just told her mother (Mrs. Yang) earlier, Emily’s condition is slightly worrying. Emily is an 8 years old kid, things are not supposed to be this tough…
Xiao You looked at Emily, “Yes, sweetie?”
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Oh, nothing… just… just a blank stare,” Xiao You smiled faintly.
“Oh, okay,” Emily said, returning her gaze to the television.
Xiao You patted Emily’s head, and then she rose to her feet, and walked away.
Emily’s gaze followed to where Xiao You heads to.
Xiao You stood outside Xi Men’s room.
The door is closed.
‘Is he really asleep?’ she wonders. ‘But seriously, it is just 9.30pm and isn’t that a bit too early to sleep for him?’
She remained standing there for who-knows-how-long as she remained pondering.
Suddenly, the door opened.
She turned her head and meets Xi Men in the eyes.
Xi Men leaned his side against the door of his dark room and he stared at her for a while, “From the bottom of the door, I can see the shadow of someone standing outside my room for a while, so I came and open the door. Why are you standing outside my room?”
“Err…” she said. “Well… you told my dad you are going to sleep… so I thought you might be sleeping so I didn’t knock…”
“Not yet,” Xi Men said, “But if I am really asleep, I wonder how long it will take you to stand here doing nothing,”
“I didn’t expect you will open the door anyway…”
He just smiled faintly. “So, looking for me?” he asked.
“Umm… not exactly,” she said.
He smiled. “Then why are you standing outside of my room?”
“This is my house. I can stand anywhere I want,” she faked an annoyed tone at him.
He laughed, but his laughter fades very soon.
She frowned. Unless someone had said something to have interrupted the laughter; his laughter will never fade so fast at that speed or rate. It is never his style.
“Are you alright?” she asked.