"Ah Meng, did you know Mu Zhe and Bai Zhimou are getting married? Isn't that funny? Mu Zhe that guy is getting married and to Bai Zhimou of all people. Do you think she will give me an autograph ah? Didn't your class president get married recently too? We are so beautiful, how could we be the only single dogs around ah?"
Yimeng nodded her head barely listening to her friend as her eyes stared off into the far distance beyond the glass windows of the cafe. The day was still early and the cafe barren except for its familiar inhabitants. In the corner, a disheveled college student silently read from her textbook accompanied by a warm cup of hot chocolate. On the opposite side of the room, Yimeng unconsciously noted that the usual bickering couple were eerily silent, enjoying each other's conpany for once. Despite not being paying customers, Yimeng did not mind. Instead, a small smile made its way onto her face and she allowed herself to be enveloped in the brief moment of peaceful silence.
The only noise came from the rhythmic ticking of the clock on the wall and the rustling of paper.
On the wall hung an old grandfather clock surrounded by black and white photographs encased in antique wooden frames. As the ticking of the clock resounded in her ears, Yimeng fondly recalled her grandfather. The clock was a gift from him. He had made it by hand.
It had been a while since she last called him nor visited. Perhaps she would take the weekend off to pay him a visit.
"Are you listening to me ah? I rarely see you anymore and now that I've taken some time off to see you, you would rather daydream? If I wasn't used to this, do you know how hurt I would be?"
Returning her attention back to her friend, Yimeng smiled apologetically. She did not mean to drift off, it was a habit. Giving her friend another glance, Yimeng couldn't help but frown slightly.
"Are you dieting again, Xiao Lan?"
Xin Lan gently laughed and nodded her head. When she did, Yimeng couldn't help but notice how fragile she looked. Xin Lan naturally had a weak physique and her body could not put up with much stress, demanding immense care and detail to her daily life. Even when she did not diet, her neck seemed as if it would break if Yimeng just lightly touched it. Now, Xin Lan looked as if she could break even without Yimeng doing anything but blink. Even the lightest breeze would be able to knock her down.
"Don't worry. It is just temporary. Next week I have to attend a fashion show. It's just a bit of weight loss, I will gain it right back after the show. At that time, I will eat whatever you feed me ah! I will eat so much I become a pig!"
Yimeng furrowed her brows. A show that required Xin Lan to lose weight? A name suddenly appeared in Yimeng's mind. There was only one person her friend would do so much for. It was a person Yimeng did not like very much. It was a pity somethings in life were inevitable.
"Is it Guo Wei?"
Xin Lan reluctantly looked Yimeng in the eye. They had known each other for so long, Xin Lan did not think she could hide it from Yimeng. Although Xin Lan knew Yimeng did not like Guo Wei, she could not help it because...she liked him very much.
"Ah Meng, don't get mad. He and I...there is nothing going on between us. I know that it is an impossibility. It is merely a job. His assistant sent an offer to the agency. Guo Wei is a prominent designer, it was the agency's decision to have me attend for some publicity."
Yimeng gave Xin Lan one last look before relenting. She could only hope Xin Lan had given up on Guo Wei after all these years. There was no use dwelling on the past. What could never be would never be no matter how long one waits. Xin Lan had already done so much for Guo Wei and yet, he had never looked at her even once.
"I just don't want you to be hurt."
Yimeng was a logical person despite her constant absentmindedness. She did not understand how someone could love another person with their entire being and couldn't empathize with Xin Lan. Yimeng knew how to restrain herself. What would never be hers, she would not pursue. What she could not get, she would not spend time regretting. Yimeng had learned this from watching her parents.
"I know. You might think I am foolish for wasting all this time on him but I…"
Yimeng didn't force Xin Lan to finish. She merely patted her hand comfortingly and allowed the morning silence to envelope them both. The truth was, Yimeng did not think Xin Lan was foolish. Instead, she even envied her a little. Yimeng did not think she could ever feel so much for someone else. She could never let herself do so. Yimeng had seen what that did to her parents.
That's why Yimeng admired Xin Lan. Although Xin Lan was afraid, she still allowed herself to get hurt. What Yimeng never seemed capable of doing, Xin Lan always seemed capable of. Although of all the people Yimeng knew, Xin Lan was the weakest mentally, she was also the strongest because she dared to get hurt. Yimeng never dared to do anything that would hurt herself. She had decided that a long time ago. If one person each was gifted with a single selfishness, perhaps this was hers, to be the one who hurt others and not someone who gets hurt.
Ironically, seeing Xin Lan suffer made Yimeng's heart break.
"It is alright if you don't forget him. It is alright even if you still remember him, but just know, he is not your future. He is not the center of your world. Remember what you said to me? He is the past and you are your own future. We all do foolish things once in our lifetime. It is only human nature."
Yimeng stared intently at Xin Lan before smiling and replied, "Even me…a long time ago that was..." That last part was left unsaid. She had never been good at expressing herself or comforting others. She didn't know how to because no one had done so for her before.
"Thanks for listening to me, Ah Feng. Although I know you don't like Guo Wei very much, will you come to the show? The agency gave me two invitations. I have already invited xiao mei er. If you don't come then the invitation will go to waste."
"Mm...I will, don't worry."
Yimeng didn't hesitate to take the invitation. Xin Lan was an orphan. She did not have very many friends due to her background and those that she was close to numbered very few. All the rest were casual acquaintances or work connections. At such an important moment in Xin Lan's life, Yimeng wanted to support her friend. She didn't have very many herself, and the few friends that Yimeng did have, she treasured every last one of them.
"Then, I will go now. I still have a photoshoot later today. Although I meant to talk with you about Mu Zhe, we ended up talking about me instead. Make sure you call him alright! Mu Zhe has been trying to contact you all week. I told him you lost your phone the last time I met him!"
Xin Lan was already halfway out the door when Yimeng finally managed to fully process her words. Waving as she fondly watched Xin Lan's silhouette disappear into the quiet morning streets, Yimeng couldn't quite help but wonder why she would call Mu Zhe. what was there to talk about?
Not dwelling very long on the thought, Yimeng returned her attention back to her small cafe. At the entrance, another familiar face had walked through, making Yimeng smile as she cheerfully greeted, "Welcome, would you like the usual as always?"
Her day had officially started once again.