Author: Dong Mi
Haiqing did not know that the man had been waiting for him to call.
His mobile phone’s address book had completely crashed. Regardless of how many business owners who claimed that they could recover the entire data, they all gave him the same response: “The data can’t be restored anymore.” In despair, he could only give up on the restoration of the phone numbers and names. Xiao K discerned Haiqing’s frustration so he encouraged him to take a few more trips to the swimming pool.
“Since you met at the swimming pool, maybe you’ll run into each other again if you go there a few more times.”
Haiqing agreed with Xiao K. After he took the old mobile phone from Xiao K, Haiqing went to the swimming pool almost every day. Whether it was at the swimming pool, the locker room, or even while taking a short break after each swim, Haiqing was looking for a specific figure.
However, the man did not appear at the pool again.
Haiqing went on for a few days without any gains and inevitably revealed his frustration. At first, he thought that he might naturally have a chance to meet him again if he would go there for a few more days, nevertheless, after running into a wall several times, his inner voice could not help but to start condemning himself. Why should he hold on to this meaningless hope? Perhaps meeting with that man was an accident… and indeed, it was because of an accident that they would have such a fierce kiss.
Should he give up? Haiqing stuck his head out of the pool. Stopping his activity at once gave him an intense unfavorable response. He was extremely tired these days — not only because of coming here every day looking for that person, but it was also because he was painting in his room from evening until midnight. Insufficient and poor-quality sleep and going on a trip a few times to swim made him feel tired.
There were only a few in the swimming pool in the early morning of the holiday seasons. If one would reckon, a person using a single lane alone would still not be a hindrance for others. Haiqing silently soaked in the pool and looked around. The sound of the water flowing along with the various slogan ads posted aloft gave off a kind of magical and mesmerizing effect. Haiqing blinked a few times but the bitter feelings forced a few glistening tears out around the corners of his eyes.
Eh? Isn’t that… Haiqing narrowed his eyes and stared at a certain someone who was doing soft drills in the corner. The word on his swimming cap was still as ugly as before…
Since he was his student, he should have the means to contact him, right? Otherwise, it might be better to ask what time his next class was. It was better than always coming here but failing to meet him… Haiqing took a moment to suppress his dissatisfaction and anger toward the coach. That was not at all easy. The slightly cool water was of great help.
Five minutes later, Haiqing got out of the pool, grabbed his mobile phone, and went to the coach: “Excuse me─”
“That was so fast. You already upgrade to a new phone?” The coach noticed as Haiqing approached.
You’re asking when you already know the answer! Haiqing made an effort to suppress his urge to roar at him again, then he looked for that man’s photo in his gallery to show him. “I just wanted to ask if you know this person?”
The coach raised his eyebrows and just casually glanced at him, “Who’s this? I don’t know him!” His words were so full of malice and disdain, and he did not expend even a bit of effort to hide it.
Haiqing saw that he was so quickly denied, and the coach’s bearing was cold and indifferent. He could not help but raise his volume as he asked once again.
“He’s the one you were teaching how to swim, and you weren’t taking it seriously, causing him to almost drown!”
“You remembered really clearly. I just don’t remember it. Is that impossible?” The coach coldly harrumphed few times.
Haiqing spewed out a few breaths. He knew that the coach still had a grudge with him. He was a bit unpleasant to hear when speaking and absolutely liked making trouble without reason. Haiqing resisted the urge of trying to talk back and clicked on the next photo to let the coach see it clearly. For this reason, he even restrained himself from attacking him and humbly asked him, “Please, take a look. I have an urgent matter and I need to find him. I want to know what his name is?”
Haiqing’s way of suddenly approaching him was no different from a “threat” in the eyes of the coach. On the day of the incident, his supervisor had warned and demanded him to be more serious when teaching, even if he was already mentally strained. As far as he was concerned, Haiqing pressuring him, was more than what he could handle.
“You damn gay. In the end, what the hell are you doing? I said I didn’t know and you still wanted to ask. Do you want me to find someone to teach you a lesson, huh?” The coach then shouted abuse, “Fuck off! Damned sissy!”
Haiqing did not believe it and stubbornly glared at him. He could not understand whether this person knew exactly what he was doing or not.
Haiqing looked as if he was staring at the killer of his family’s murderer — was staring at the coach in front of him with hatred and loathing. Rationality told him that it was already impossible to get any clues from this person wearing a stupid swimming cap.
Haiqing originally wanted to say this, but after he was insulted, it was too difficult for him to continue maintaining his demeanor. He simply turned and walked away, and his eyes met with a number of meaningful glances thrown at him because of the coach making an uproar. Grievance slowly pulled out from his chest.
Haiqing suddenly felt like he was a fool.
In order to find that man, he went swimming at the pool every day. Every time he went there, he held the thought that “Maybe he’ll be lucky today.” He even pretended he lost something and said that he wanted to watch the surveillance video recordings at the counter, but he was warned that “Taking pictures at the pool center is not allowed”… All of this has become so absurd and ridiculous so that Haiqing took a deep breath and felt his eyes were tingling and hot. When he blinked, his scalding tears rolled down his cheeks.
He walked into the shower, letting the hot water sprinkle on his body. By tightly biting his lower lip, he finally regained his freedom. This gave him the guts to hide the perilous feelings. Haiqing crouched down in the shower, hugged his knees with both hands, and inwardly decided to stop today.
Forget about it, Haiqing thought. This person must be a mere passing traveler. If he could return to his normal life, he could make great efforts in painting. He would forget about him over time, so he may as well as… In order to come here every day, Haiqing reduced the time he spent practicing drawing. Before he slept, he would only lay in bed and did not even have the time to indulge in the moonlight that was shining through the window into the room. Along with his expectation, worries about his personal gain and loss also came so the side effects were indeed too strong. It almost drove Haiqing crazy.
Early in the morning of his day off, Yan Fei did not deliberately go to bed late. He was not the kind of person who would use his day off to recharge after sprinting on weekdays. Jimmy had a fixed sleep time, even if he stayed up late.
After eating their breakfast, the two went to sit in the living room. All kinds of sounds could be heard from their mobile phones. Jimmy admired the various bodybuilders on IG and shared advice provided by his fitness instructor. Yan Fei sorted out the paper work as he opened LINE to hand over the job for next week that was needed to be prioritized. The communication suddenly became one-way.
After Jimmy was talking for a while, he realized that Yan Fei hardly put his spirit into the contents of what he was saying. He could not help but feel a little angry. He snatched the remote control and turned the TV on. The news broadcasted that the recent temperature changes were large, and a new typhoon was brewing in the sea.
Yan Fei was distracted by the sound of the TV. He slightly looked to his side, only to see that Jimmy switched it on, but he was also not paying any attention to the news content. The sound coming from the TV was like deliberately creating a ‘there’s other people here’ effect, similar to that of a vitamin’s placebo effect.
“I’m going to go play ball tomorrow, at 5 o’clock.” Yan Fei lightly sighed and said.
“There’s a Japanese guest with the Chairman.”
“When the games finished, they’re going to eat chicken. You can probably come by to meet in the evening.”
“Are you listening to me?” His overly-standardized and single-word responses made Yan Fei frown. Although their usual relative temperature was a little bit higher than now, this perfunctory way of responding nevertheless made Yan Fei feel discontented.
“Oh yes! What’s up?” Jimmy continued staring at the man on his mobile phone and did not look away. He had long been accustomed to Yan Fei’s lack of sweetness and how he took care of matters related to work more than him. Sometimes, he would think — this is probably the problem that every couple who has been dating for more than a year would encounter, right?
However, this was only in his thoughts. Jimmy had not disclosed to anyone about his worries yet.
“No,” Yan Fei looked like he wanted to say something, but then hesitated. He felt like there was a lump in his throat. His voice was a little bit hoarse. It was like in the past few days. He got himself drunk until he passed out, only to wake up confused in bed, the next day. “I think you’re quite strange lately.”
Jimmy stopped scrolling on his phone and looked at Yan Fei with a sneer.
“I think you’ve been acting weird lately. Have you fallen in love with someone else? Or did your mother ask you to go on a blind date again?”
Yan Fei subconsciously glanced at him when he heard ‘fallen in love with someone else.’ His expression was undoubtedly guilty. He always remembered Haiqing’s face, even on the nights when he was alone or when he was embracing Jimmy who was fast sleep. Even when he was making love with Jimmy, through his lustful face, he would wonder whether or not Haiqing was so charming and moving… Yan Fei also knew that this was no different than having an affair.
“Anyway, when will you be able to come out of the closet with your mom? I always put on an act with your colleagues. I’m exhausted—” Jimmy said while getting up. The TV screen was shaking with his movements. Yan Fei saw a man in a flax-colored shirt, showing his pectoral and abdominal muscles toward the camera. The background was familiar with the LINE chat room.
“I even have to be involved in arranging the blind dates.” This point was what Jimmy was most furious about.
It was a while ago. Yan Fei’s mother came to visit her son. She conveniently brought in a lot of photos for possible blind dates to make Yan Fei check if there was a girl whom he took fancy of. Yan Fei, toward this kind of thing, was the least bit interested. He only wanted to be perfunctory when responding to this matter. Jimmy was living there and spent time with Yan Fei’s mother every day. In the old lady’s heart, he was a ‘well-conditioned and quite refined man.’ Jimmy became a scapegoat when Yan Fei had no interest in his blind date.
Because she was the mother of his lover, Jimmy could only accept it with a smile. He listened to her speak about piano being the girl’s interest, that this girl has a very decent banking career and took evening classes at the cooking school. She was absolutely good wife material. There was no way for him to escape this until the moment Yan Fei returned home.
— You shouldn’t let your mom treat me this way!
Finished talking, Jimmy took his wallet and left the house. After Yan Fei’s mother left, he returned with reassurance from Yan Fei’s words.
“If you don’t like it, then you don’t need to go.” Of course, Yan Fei could remember that matter, but what could he do? “But she’s still my mother. In the end, I have to go, whether I like it or not.”
Jimmy looked at him with such an aggrieved look as he argued. The anger in his heart was getting stronger. In this relationship, his patience and consideration seemed to have been turned into junk by Yan Fei, and no one cared.
“In that case, go ahead!” Jimmy roared. “Do you know what it feels like celebrating Chinese New Year every year by myself in Taipei? There isn’t a single ghost in Taipei and I always come home to eat instant noodles by myself!” It was not only during Chinese New Years. Every time that they had a family reunion, Jimmy was always the one to be left out because Yan Fei’s mother was present.
For their first few years together, Jimmy was thoughtful and sensible. When he could not accompany Yan Fei to go back home, Jimmy used the names of his colleagues and friends to send gifts and brought back a variety of supplements to make Yan Fei’s mother have a good impression on this ‘colleague.’ However, this was not the relationship that Jimmy was looking forward to. It was okay for a year or two and normal for the third and fourth year. They obviously love each other and have been lovers for a long time already. For what reason must they hide? What shameful deed did he do in the end to be willing to live in the dark? Therefore, Jimmy began arranging a variety of fancy trips over the years, and even deliberately disclosed this to Yan Fei for him to know; even to the extent that the man that he normally cared about, teased and accused him of being intimate with another man, just to stimulate a bit of Yan Fei’s care for him.
— Am I not you boyfriend?
This was not a kind of retaliation, but Jimmy knew it in himself that this was one of his own ways of expressing his grievances.
Yan Fei knew how hard it was for Jimmy to stay home alone. There were also no new special programs broadcasted on TV for the New Year’s celebration. Needless to say, with just the news anchor shouting “Happy New Year!” seemed to make Jimmy feel lonely.
“You can go back with me.” Yan Fei very softly said; but in Jimmy’s eyes, it was just another indecision.
“Five more days?” Jimmy sneered. “I’m telling you, if you don’t tell your mom that we’re going to get married, I’m not going to your house again.”
“You know she can’t stand it. She’s an old lady, why are you forcing her?” Yan Fei could not understand why Jimmy would always ask him to answer this type of question: ‘If both your mother and lover are drowning, who would you save first?’ Yan Fei’s mother was already old. Who knew how many more years she had left in her life. Could we not make it better for everyone? What was wrong with that now?
“I will soon become an old man.” Obviously, Jimmy’s thoughts did not intersect with Yan Fei’s. He stuffed his phone into his pocket and grabbed the coat hanging on the back of the chair and put it on. “How do we adopt a child?” Jimmy sadly looked at Yan Fei. The sorrow left a lasting mark in the pupils of his eyes, rendering an extremely strong force, and by just looking into his eyes, Yan Fei felt incessantly guilty.
Once again, Jimmy smiled. This time, it was not to ridicule, but he was rather tired.
“Where are you going?”
“To the gym.”
Perhaps this was the biggest problem between them. Yan Fei never understood Jimmy’s feeling of wanting a home and a specific guarantee. Jimmy could not understand the pressure that Yan Fei was feeling between his mother and him. Two people who have no intersecting point (common ground), could only be destined to repeatedly be disappointed, suffer defeats, and weep endlessly.
Yan Fei watched as Jimmy was about to leave the house, and subconsciously said, “We should break up.”
Jimmy seemed to have already known that Yan Fei would say that, so he just shouted, “I don’t want to!” At once, he swung the door open and left.
Yan Fei had been silent for a long time. His dropped shoulders and wrinkled brows were doomed to be tormented and uncomfortable on this vacation of his. He picked his phone up and saw that there was no message on the mobile phone’s desktop. Haiqing still did not contact him. Yan Fei could not help but doubt whether his expectations and waiting were actually a matter of wishful thinking.