09 MAR 2021, TUESDAY
Gun couldn’t believe what he was hearing, but at the same time, it was convincing. Determined to obscure his devastation, he maintained his perpetual silence and studied the baby blue bowl which contained his lunch.
“Wait … what? Off and Mild are dating?” repeated Neen, her startled eyes meeting Mook’s.
Paired with bits of chilli pepper, the tom yum soup appeared a glossy red, reflecting Gun’s expressionless face.
White, who was sitting opposite to Gun, responded, “Didn’t Tay tell you?”
Coriander was never Gun’s favourite garnish, yet there it was, covering half of the soup’s red.
“No, he didn’t mention a word about them. How did you even find out?”
Gun stirred the soup, then realised there were merely two tiny shrimps and a quartered piece of tomato present.
“My friends in Badminton were talking about it yesterday. I didn’t believe them at first, but I saw them on the way here, holding hands.”
The spiciness of the soup was dominating Gun’s whole mouth. It was bringing tears to his eyes, threatening to spill over the corners. Gun would never order the tom yum soup from his faculty’s canteen again.
“Gun, where are you going?” Mook watched her best friend stand up abruptly from his seat, looking as though he was in a hurry.
“Too spicy,” Gun mumbled, his short legs picking up pace as he headed towards the canteen’s exit with a blurry vision. He needed to get out of his friends’ sight before they were to witness his breakdown.
“But Gun could take spice ...” Neen muttered, immediately sending Gun a text to make sure he was alright.
Once Gun made it out of the canteen, he hastily wiped the tears off his eyes to finally see clearly, but it was futile—his tears were fighting a battle against him. He hung his head low as he struggled to get to the taxi stand of the school. He was then withdrawing his phone from his pocket to book a ride, but before his attempt was successful, he bumped into a tall figure.
“Sorry,” muttered Gun as he pushed past the person, panic overriding him upon the thought of anyone encountering him in this pathetic state.
The man in front of him clasped his arm. “Gun?”
Being left with no choice, Gun tilted his head, and recognised this oh-so familiar face.
Gun chewed on his lower lip.
Gun glanced at his hand—their hands. They were intertwined.
And his girlfriend.
“Are you okay?” asked Off, a worried look worn on his face.
Gun tasted the metallic trace of blood from his lower lip, like a reminder to him that he had to escape. He bolted, his steps thumping synchronously with his heartbeat.
10 MAR 2021, WEDNESDAY
Dear Off Jumpol,
This is my eighth and probably last letter to you but I don’t think it matters, right? It’s not like you’ll ever know about all of the letters I’ve written to you, much less read a word on them. Liking you is one of the humblest feelings I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. Just the sight of you is sufficient to make me feel small, as if I'd never be enough for a person like you. You’re everything I’m not (except the fact that we both are passionate about The 1975), and perhaps, this is why I often feel that between us contains a distance which I’d never be able to overcome.
Can I tell you something? I used to imagine blasting “Robbers” in the car while driving on the highway, you by my side, us having no other worries. Oh, what a dream. I remember telling myself I'd let it remain only a fantasy, for I shouldn't get my hopes up. But, I guess I still did. The minute I agreed to act out a relationship with your best friend, it was already wishful thinking on my part. It’s embarrassing to think it’d change things, especially since today changed it all—you were holding her hand. It’s a tight slap in my face. She’s beyond gorgeous; how could you not fall for her? You looked so, so, so happy. For the past few weeks, your skies looked grey, but her appearance clearly drove your dark clouds away. Seeing that I can't make you happy, I'm glad she can.
There's a saying that the person who makes you the saddest also has the ability to make you the happiest—it’s true. Although you make me upset over the smallest things, you enrapture me as well—over the smallest things. I know, I'm a fool when it comes to liking someone, but I can't help but conceal my grin even if all you did was glance at me for a few seconds. Indeed, you, even better, asked me, “Are you okay?” earlier today, but it made me cry my eyes out.
While many thoughts are circulating through my mind right now, I'm running out of words to say. Thank you for the happiness you’ve brought me for these past five months, ever since I've met you on that Friday, 30 October 2020. Despite it all, it’s painful to continue this share of adoration I hold for you. Starting from the moment I crush this letter, I'm giving up. It's hard, of course, but I believe I can do this. There'll be a day when you no longer are capable of controlling my emotions, and there’ll be a day when I can look at both of you and genuinely be happy for you.
Staring at the tear-stained letter, Gun crushed it.
“The door isn’t locked,” Gun uttered, sitting at the edge of his bed whilst contemplating what to say.
Tay twisted the doorknob and came into Gun’s sight. “Pim said it’s okay for me to see you.”
“I told her to let you in. Tay, it’s your fourth time at my house’s doorstep since yesterday.”
By now, Tay had already shut the door and was sitting beside Gun on the bed, staring intently at his eyes. His brows furrowed; Gun had been crying.
“I'm sorry. You didn’t answer any of my calls … I just wanted to make sure you’re okay. Are you?”
Gun’s throat tightened, yet he chuckled. “Do I not look okay?”
“C'mon, Gun, it’s just me. Can you tell me what happened?”
“Tay, I'm tired … tired of this stupid game we’re playing. I know I agreed to it, but it … it just seems pointless now. You can tell Oab that it’s my idea to help you, but I don't wish to have a part in it anymore. Your best friend won’t ever … like me. Fuck, this is so embarrassing. Sorry that you have to see me like this.” Gun choked back tears and let out another laugh; he sounded pathetic.
“Gun …” whispered Tay, his chest physically aching upon seeing Gun’s current emotional state. Gun was in so much pain, yet he had no idea of how to make things better for him, or at least take away an inch of his pain.
His last few words nearly inaudible, Gun responded, “I'm acting like a total bitch right now. I'm sorry.”
The silent room was then disrupted by Gun’s sniffs instantly. He'd failed to hold back his tears’ urge to let loose, but like what Tay had said, it was only Tay.
“It’s okay …” Tay pulled Gun in his arms, not giving a care about how Gun’s tears and mucus were staining his favourite hoodie. “Breathe slowly. Listen, you have absolutely nothing to apologise for. We don’t have to do it anymore. Whatever you please, okay? I just want you to be happy.”
Inhaling Tay’s natural scent against his chest, Gun felt at ease. Tay was caressing his head, whispering, “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.”
“I-I’m giving up. It’s so … so painful,” Gun murmured between snivels, stuttering a few words.
“You’re gonna be okay. I'm right here.”
Tay, once again, had never failed to make Gun feel safe.