Hey everyone! Okay, so an update — episode 5! A friend of mine was not pleased with the cliffhanger from last week, so I promised that I would post today to make up for it!
Hope that you’ve been enjoying it so far. Again, please, please, please send me your thoughts and comments. I would really love to hear from you.
I’m also hoping that from next week, when I get back to university, I’ll be posting more often (having regained my normal routine!) If you want me to talk about certain things, let me know!
As for the web-serial, I’m thinking about shaking things up a bit: a change of perspective. As much as I love Mei, it’s sometimes far more interesting to watch things unfold from the sidelines.
So, I’ll leave you with one thought: what do you do when you know a secret that could potentially ruin everything? Keep quiet, or be honest? It’s a problem we’ve all faced at some point in our lives, whether minor or major. However, for the characters in The Red Thread, it could mean a complete shift in their relationships…
So, stay tuned for the next episode!
If you’re just checking out this space for the first time, don’t panic! The episodes are relatively short, so check them out:
If you want to learn more about me, check out my about.me page by clicking here.
In the meantime, please enjoy Episode 5!
(FYI, formatting on this is quite hard, so I’m now using ~ ~ ~ to indicate different sections until I can actually get to grips with all the knacks of WordPress! Please bear with me! If things get confusing, just let me know!)
The Red Thread
‘Hiro! Where are you?! Mum is worried sick!’…after four times trying to call and getting no response, the only thing I could do was text.
“I can’t believe that he’s not answering. That’s so unlike him,” Emilia quickly said. Even though her sandwich was now sitting in front of her, she was too concerned to eat. Even Yue was worried. He sat there, occasionally dipping some fries into ketchup, but he too didn’t eat his sandwich.
“There’s nothing I can really do, other than wait,” I said, putting my phone down on the table. “Let’s eat, and see what’s happened,” I urged them.
“It’s a good thing that we have the afternoon off, right?” Yue consoled me.
“We?” Emilia retorted.
“Well, I have the afternoon off. I’ll help out. Whatever it takes. It’s easy for me to get back to London,” Yue offered. Emilia gazed over at me as I exchanged looks with Yue. I only smiled.
At that, we all ate lunch quickly, and as we left the café, I tried calling Hiro again, but still no answer. I texted again: ‘Hiro! Text back a.s.a.p!” As I still gazed at my iPhone message screen, the large, inflated dot-dot-dot showed up:
“He’s writing back!” I suddenly cried, forcing Emilia and Yue to crowd around me, and wait. My phone vibrated as the message came through.
“No way!” Yue exclaimed.
“Oh, thank God!” Emilia sighed, taking a step back. How on earth…
~ ~ ~
Yue immediately called a cab, and within minutes we were back home. I literally jumped out of the car, or rather Emilia pushed me out, as Yue paid. As I opened the gate, I saw Hiro sitting at the doorstep, who immediately jumped up on exchanging looks with me.
“Onee-chan,” he addressed me, now looking down at the ground in what seemed to be guilt, and slight shame. Emilia and Yue pushed me forward into the garden, which gave me enough momentum to run up to him and squeeze him tightly. “I’m sorry. I just had to get away,” he told me.
“Hiro, thank God!” Emilia said. As I heard Emilia, however, Yue interrupted.
“Oh, hey…what are you doing here?” Yue wasn’t talking to any of us.
“I came back after lunch.”
“What about lectures?” Yue asked.
“Delilah?” Yue persisted.
“Had lunch here.”
“What have you got there?” Yue asked again. I finally released Hiro, but still held onto his arm tightly, and looked upon Tristan, who had just entered the garden, holding a plastic Tesco bag with some groceries. “Well, this kid showed up as I was having a smoke outside, saying that he was Mei’s younger brother. Couldn’t exactly let him in without making sure, so we waited outside,” he explained to Yue, before facing me: “He said he wanted to wait for you, but he finally got in touch. Once he did, I offered to get him some stuff to eat, just in case you were long. I wasn’t sure if you had work all day.”
“How come you didn’t go inside?”
“He insisted that he wait for you outside,” Tristan explained, pulling out another cigarette, but not yet lighting it, as he passed the bag to Yue. “Well, at least you’re all here now.” He finally pulled out the lighter. “I’m gonna go for a smoke.” And off he went, disappearing down the street in silence. Yue went through the bag.
“God! He bought Hiro so much chocolate and so many cans of Fanta!” Yue cried out, shocked. “He’s never been so generous to me!”
“Probably because you kicked him out…” Emilia commented. Yue just snorted at her.
“Although, he can keep that mackerel…not sure what we’re gonna do with that,” Yue said in slight disgust.
I sighed. Relief. Now for the consequences. I turned back to Hiro.
“You are in so much trouble,” I told him. He didn’t say anything, as I unlocked the door, and as Yue and Emilia continued to argue following us into the house.
“Can I stay here a couple of nights?” he asked as we walked into the hallway; I passed him the cordless landline phone.
“Call Mum first, and then we can talk,” I said, with a smile as I messed up his hair affectionately.
“You’re gonna make me to talk to her?”
“You’re the one who ran away.”
“Maji ka yo?!”
“That means ‘seriously?!’” Yue explained to Emilia. “They always say it in the dramas.” She turned around and started to hit him repeatedly.
“And you’re such an expert now?!”
He called Mum, and she reluctantly agreed to him staying a couple of days after I talked to her, on the condition that he went to the hospital if he needed to. I assured her that it would be fine, and that being watched by some young people might be good for him.
As soon as I put the phone down, Yue offered to stay and play Monopoly with Hiro, and as soon as they set up the board, Tristan walked in through the door, slightly moody, but nothing that we weren’t already accustomed to. In fact, he ended up joining the game, as Emilia and I sat at the dining-room table drinking tea.
“Is he okay?” Emilia asked.
“He’s fine. He just needed to leave home for a while. Mum pampers him too much.”
“That’s fair though.”
“It is, but he’s gonna go crazy if he’s watched twenty four-seven.”
I watched as Yue, Tristan, and Hiro played Monopoly. In fact, Yue wasn’t the only person guffawing: Hiro was smiling a lot, and even Tristan was getting very competitive, laughing with Hiro and making him feel at ease. I don’t think I’d seen Tristan laugh this much…ever…well, in the time that I had known him at any rate.
“Tristan is being very friendly, isn’t he?” Emilia whispered, leaning across the table as she rested her chin on her fist.
“You think?” I agreed. “It’s odd, isn’t it?”
“But kinda nice. This is probably why people become attracted to him: because of moments like these,” she suggested, taking another sip of tea. “We’re lucky to be seeing this side of him, especially with Hiro.” I just nodded my head in agreement. He was being very good with Hiro. I mean, so was Yue. But I now expected nothing less of Yue than to be loud and friendly and energetic, which I knew that Hiro would appreciate. But Tristan? How was he so good at dealing with a sixteen year old, let alone a sixteen year old who was going through what Hiro was going through? Maybe Yue and he were used to it because of their friend? Probably…
~ ~ ~
Both Emilia and I came back downstairs after a couple of hours: Hiro had fallen asleep on the couch, as had Yue, whilst Tristan sat there quietly just appreciating the silence. I threw a blanket over Hiro, removing his socks and sweater, whilst Emilia just left Yue as he was, throwing a sheet that covered him entirely, from head to toe, commenting that he now looked a lot better.
“Pretending he’s not there?” Tristan asked.
“Precisely,” Emilia chuckled, as Tristan made his way up the stairs, without saying goodnight, and shut his door. So ended the day: how eventful.
~ ~ ~
07:00. Tristan was already up, as usual, cigarette at his lips, outside my window, on schedule. Having gotten showered and dressed, I finally took the first step down the stairs. But I heard talking from downstairs. Emilia opened her door, looking as groggy as ever, and wished me a good morning. However, something urged me to stop and try to eavesdrop, and Emilia followed suit. Laughing…talking…a giggle…a lot more talking…Emilia just looked at me confused, and followed me downstairs.
There they were. Tristan and Hiro were sat at the dining-room table, both with mugs of tea. Yue was still snoring on the living-room sofa, sounding all the way around wall-less room.
“‘hayooo,” Hiro wished me a good morning. “Omlette on the counter, and the rice is ready in the rice-cooker. I grilled some mackerel.”
“We had mackerel?” Emilia asked, rubbing her eyes.
“Tristan bought it yesterday,” Hiro informed us.
“Drisdaaa-n did?” Emilia yawned.
“And there’s coffee in the pot,” Hiro told Emilia.
“God bless you, you angelic child!” Emilia kissed his head.
“You know, for the sixteen year old, you’re very considerate,” Tristan commented. Hiro chuckled.
“I don’t get to be usually, what with my parents and onee-chan spoiling me so much,” Hiro told him. So suspicious. I went into the kitchen, and saw all the cooking, and there was no mess. There wasn’t a grain of rice out of place, and the mackerel looked great…like Mum’s!
“You made all this?” I asked him, quite surprised. When had he learned how to cook?
“I woke up super early. I had slept a lot in the hospital yesterday,” Hiro told me.
“That even possible? Weren’t there loads of crying babies? And the IV machine constantly beeping?” I asked him, unconvinced.
“Meh, you learn to ignore those things. I even slept through Yue’s snoring!” Hiro smiled. I could only smile back. Maybe being away from home would actually do him some good.
I served all the dishes on the table, and Emilia and I ate. Tristan and Hiro had already eaten when it was fresh, and finally Yue woke up to have the same meal, commenting that it was weird for him to eat rice this early in the morning. Finally, the question about what Hiro would do that day finally arose.
“He can stay with us,” Tristan offered. “Yue and I only have a ten and eleven a.m. lecture, and he can just chill in the faculty café if he gets bored.”
“You’ll watch Hiro?” I glanced at Tristan suspiciously. What was going here? Even Yue and Emilia were surprised that he had so openly offered. I looked to Hiro for his approval, and he just agreed, without a word of conflict or struggle, or irritation. He went to the bathroom and got changed to go with Yue and Tristan.
“Are you sure that’s okay?” I asked Tristan.
“Yep, it’s fine. We get on, and it’s probably not a good idea to leave him by himself, right? Trust me. There are enough people in lectures for no one to notice him, and if anything goes wrong, there’s also enough people to help out. Besides, Yue and I know how to deal with things.”
“Because of our friend,” Yue suddenly interrupted that both Emilia and I looked at him. “Just wanted to put you at ease…” he affirmed, talking another slither of omelette.
And like that, I agreed. Emilia and I got ready to get going, and I told Hiro to contact me if anything went wrong at all. He nodded, told me not to worry, and wished me a goodbye, as we shut the door.
“So, so weird,” Emilia commented, as we climbed onto the bus. “He’d never do something like that. I didn’t even know he was good with people…!” I didn’t comment. It was so weird. Despite how bad his attitude was, Tristan was being very…very dependable, very calm, very peaceful. Whatever it was, I hoped that it continued.
~ ~ ~
Emilia left early from work that day, and by the time I walked back home, the sky had already dimmed from an autumnal dusk, compelling the street-lights to illuminate in their hypnotic, insect-enticing light. It was warm enough to not need a scarf, but chilly enough that I had worn my summer coat. A light breeze ran through the street, brushing against the branches of the hedges and already reddening leaves of the trees. Such peace. So much peace. But with it, I could only wonder one thing on that walk back: now with Tristan acting different, would some peace actually manifest at home? I reached the gate, standing on the pavement on the other side of the road, gazing up at his window. The light was on, revealing two people through the net-curtains that had yet to be closed. One I immediately recognised, and the other I could only make out to be a familiar woman with long-flowing hair, jerking her arms around in anger, sharp and jagged movements, as Tristan stood opposite, arms crossed, despondent, tranquil, serene. What peace?
I crossed the road, opened our newly painted gate, and inserted the key into the lock pointlessly: the door opened suddenly to reveal the woman, tear-stricken and flustered and red-cheeked. Tristan was at the top of the stairs, following her.
“Delilah, let’s just talk through this calmly,” he said, except totally devoid of any sentiment, any fluctuation of emotion – not an ounce of anger or sadness or frustration – just unaffected. He was back to his ‘normal’ self, the complete opposite to this morning.
“No! I can’t talk about this anymore,” this woman, Delilah – Tristan’s fiancée – suddenly shouted, turning back to Tristan, who was still a couple of steps higher. “I won’t talk to you about this anymore. I really can’t anymore…” She stood absolutely still, holding his gaze, until he moved forward, and suddenly grabbed her hand. I just stood there watching this entire plot unfold.
“You know what?” His voice changed. Inner anger released. “You’re not doing me any favours by staying with me, Delilah. In fact…” He pushed her away, and into me. I managed to catch her before she stumbled onto the floor. “Just get lost. I don’t need you around any more. Find some other toy. I’m through with being yours,” he hissed cruelly. “Get out!” he finally shouted.
I looked back at the woman who was clutching onto my coat and bag tightly, and watched as the tears started streaming down her already reddened cheeks. She shut her eyes for a moment, in an attempt to allay the tears, and then released me, stood tall, holding my gaze for another moment, and made her way for the gate.
As I heard the clip-clop of stilettos disappear into the slow-rising evening, Tristan came and passed me, standing in the pathway before pulling out a cigarette from his pocket and lighting it effortlessly. I wasn’t sure what to do, until he finally acknowledged me:
“Want one?” he asked, offering me the box. At that, I didn’t say anything. He knew that I didn’t smoke. I just glared at him, and turned back to the front door to make my way up the stairs.
“Oi.” I stopped, without facing him. I heard him exhale a puff of smoke deeply. “I just want you to know something.”
“What?” I asked sharply.
“It’s not my fault that we broke up.”
“It’s not my business.”
“Exactly. Let’s keep it that way.” I turned around to him. I was now on the point of no return.
“Look you! Even though you’re one of Emilia’s friends, and even though you’ve been good with Hiro, you should have the right to know that I really don’t care for you or your attitude or the way you treat people. So, whilst you might be my roommate, I don’t care what you do, just as long as I don’t have to deal with the consequences of your actions!” I shouted. He breathed out another puff of smoke before dropping the burning cigarette on the ground, and crushing it with his shoe.
“I’ll stop smoking.” I looked at him, now slightly confused. “Hiro is recovering from cancer, right? I’ll stop smoking.”
“Telling me off. I didn’t mean to say all that to Delilah, but it was about time.” He bowed his head serenely to me, before stuffing his hands in his jacket pockets. “I’m gonna go and get the milk. Need anything? More mackerel?”
“Um…no…I don’t…think so.”
“Well, if you remember anything, just text. My new number’s on the fridge,” he told me, as he turned to the open gate, pulling his left hand out of his pocket to shut it, and then casually saluting me still facing the road. What was up with this guy?
As soon as I walked through the door, Emilia and Hiro emerged.
“Welcome back,” Hiro wished me.
“My god, you have ridiculous timing. Did you see all that?” Emilia asked.
“How long had been going on for?” I asked.
“Yue left mid-afternoon, and the three of us all came back together,” Hiro told me. “They literally started as soon as we got home two hours ago.”
“You weren’t listening in, were you?” I asked them both.
“No, I was listening to music, and Hiro put the TV on loud enough to drown them out. It wasn’t really our business,” Emilia told me.
“Good,” I said, taking off my shoes. “We shouldn’t get involved…”
At that, I went straight into preparing myself dinner, and had to continually think: why was he so calm about all this?