Feb 24, 2014, Monday.
I do not understand RJ.
Before she left me to go back home, we were talking every day, becoming intimate, and even deciding to try out a relationship together. After she left, however, it was like she disappeared from the face of the Earth. She did not reply to my texts, she ignored my calls, and in school, she avoided me whenever I tried to approach her. She even told me she blocked me. To my face!
I was stinging with grief and fury the entire week, wondering why she was doing this to me. Was it something I did? Did she realize that I'm not girlfriend-material after all? Was she put off by the nature of my job—no, my ex-job? Yes, I listened to her and quit my job at Tropic Falls. I swallowed my pride and begged to get my previous bakery job back. I ignored my desperation for money and downgraded my pay—and after all that, RJ just treated me like I did not exist.
Worst of all, after a week of anger and confusion, RJ called me with an unknown phone number last Saturday morning. She sounded sluggish and dazed, as if she had drunk too much the night before, as if she had called me on a whim.
I hung up on her and blocked the number. After all, she blocked me first. And I am not a plaything she can ignore and then get back to whenever she wants.
Whatever game she is playing, I refuse to be a part of it.
"Alright, I'm giving back the pop quiz we did last week," Ms. Goh announces, officially ending her class.
I glare at the back of RJ's head as she stands and helps Ms. Goh. She turns around to distribute the quizzes, casting me strange looks every so often.
Stupid RJ. Stupid, idiot RJ. Why is she looking at me like that when she won't even talk to me in school? What does she want? What is she playing at?
"Hey, did you hear about RJ?" Stephanie whispers behind me.
I stiffen. Stephanie sits with Jiahui and Edwin behind me and my friends, and they gossip a lot. I am never interested in their hearsay, but this particular topic catches my attention.
"What, what?" Jiahui presses her. "Tell me, tell me!"
"She broke up with Jon leh."
"Oh shit, really?"
"Yeah. And then last Friday, apparently she went on a date with another guy."
"How do you know sia?" Edwin asks.
"I know the guy lah. He used to go to ACS with my older brother."
"Oh, wow, rich school. RJ moved on so fast."
"I know, right?"
Thoughts spiral in my mind. A date. RJ went on a date with another boy. That's why she has been avoiding me. That's why she stopped texting me and blocked my number. And the unknown number she called me last Saturday, was that her new boyfriend's number or something?
I feel my chest constrict. RJ is a player. I got played. She played me. She took my virginity and then vanished from my life.
She played me.
I should have known. It's not just my father, it's not just men. Women are like this too. I can't believe I fell into her trap.
Emma's voice jolts me back to Earth. I finally remember to breathe as I stare into her concerned eyes. "Y- Yes?"
I am barely holding it together, but I mutter, "Yeah."
"Okay," Emma continues warily, handing me a piece of paper. "Here's... your quiz, by the way."
Nodding, I take the quiz and glance at it. Oh crap, I failed it. I should probably go over some of these questions with RJ later...
No, wait. RJ and I are no longer talking.
Tears accumulate in my eyes. Tears that have been waiting to come out for days, that I was holding back whenever RJ averted her head from me or walked the other way. Tears splatter on my quiz, and I let out a choked cry.
"Chloe?" Emma's voice rises in worry. "Chloe, it's okay, it's just a quiz lah. It's only, like, one percent of our final grade, or something..."
I know that, but it is not the quiz that is killing me.
My vision is blurred, but I can still see everyone in class looking at me. Overwhelmed with shame, I jump out of my chair and bolt out of the classroom so fast that Ms. Goh cannot stop me before I leave.
I'm not sure how long I ran, or how far I ran, but I eventually slump onto a grassy hill overlooking the field we always run in during PE. Sobbing into my knees, I feel two pairs of arms wrap around me.
"Chloe..." Emma huddles close next to me. She sounds as though she is going to cry as well. "It will be okay lah, Chloe..."
"Yeah, it's just a quiz," Adrian adds, slightly out of breath. "Remember how you failed all your quizzes last year too? And then you managed to pass by the end of the year?"
"Yeah, it'll be okay one lah," Emma agrees. "We'll study together when midterms come around, okay?"
I know, I know all that. But my results are not what's eating at me, so I am still unable to stop crying.
Emma and Adrian are kind enough to sit in silence as I cry. Their hands never leave me, and I appreciate the warmth they bring to me.
Slowly, I calm down. There's no need to be this upset over a stupid player like RJ when I have friends who will stand by me all the time.
"Thank you, guys," I mutter. "I'm fine, I just- I just needed to cry a bit."
Emma hands me a tissue for me to wipe my eyes.
"Aiyo, look at you," she sighs as she watches me dab my face. "You want something to drink? Iced coffee?"
"Okay." Emma stands up; the weight around my shoulders lightens by half. "I'll be back."
"Eh, I want Teh Bing," Adrian says.
"Shut up lah, Adrian, I'm buying for Chloe only."
My head hangs as heavily as my heart, but I know that Emma and Adrian must be sticking their tongues out at each other. As Emma walks away, Adrian pulls me closer, letting me rest my body against his.
After a long while, he breaks the silence.
"Hey, did something happen... between you and RJ?"
I sit up. "How- How do you know?"
"Well, you somehow managed to invite her to our study session, but then I don't see you two talking at all. Sometimes, it looks like she's trying to avoid you sia."
My heart wrenches again. Even Adrian noticed that. "Yeah... She's- She's been avoiding me. I- I don't know why..."
Adrian frowns. "Hm. Is it because she broke up with Jon? She's been avoiding everyone too. Like, she's not even hanging out with her own clique anymore lor."
"Oh, really?" I try to recall her interactions with her friends, but my mind draws a blank. I guess I did not take notice of anything beyond the fact that she was trying to avoid me.
"Yeah. Jon has been trying to get close to her but she ignored him all last week lor," Adrian continues. "I don't know, maybe the breakup took a toll on her."
Guilt washes over me as I remember RJ mentioning she had a fight with Jon. I have been so upset by RJ's sudden radio silence that I forgot about all her other issues. Maybe she has been having family issues too, maybe her family is telling her to avoid me. Even so, she should have still told me about it first...
"Yeah, it probably did," I admit dejectedly. "She was also having some family issues too."
"Oh." Adrian raises his eyebrows. "How do you know?"
"She... uh, she told me lah." I tug at the hem of my skirt. "We, uh, met up over the weekend after our study session."
"Oh? To... study more?"
"Y- Yeah, something like that." Although we did not study at all. Not school work anyway. "Sorry that I didn't invite you guys, I... uh, she was the one who came to find me. It was all last minute..."
"Oh. Okay." Adrian turns away from me and stares out towards the field. A strange, indescribable expression shimmers behind his round glasses.
Something about that expression twists my stomach into a nervous ball. "Don't- Don't think weird, okay? We're not... She's not... I'm not gay or anything..."
His brows twitch. "Is there something wrong with being gay?"
"N- No lah! That's not what I meant!"
"Good. Because I'm gay."
My mouth drops. "What? You are?"
He chuckles at my incredulous response and nods.
"What..." My head is spinning with that information. I cannot believe that I did not know this about one of my closest friends. "How... What... When... When did you... figure it out..."
Adrian shrugs. "Not sure leh. Maybe since like, primary one? My first crush was this boy I played catch with. He used to be so cute, but then he grew up homophobic."
"Adrian, why... why didn't you tell us?"
"You never asked mah."
"Oh... yeah." I lower my head. "I never thought... to ask. I never even ask myself these questions."
Adrian seems to have gotten a hint from my statement. "Didn't you just say you weren't 'gay or anything'?"
"S- Sorry, that was..." A lump grows in my throat, and I gulp it down. "I'm sorry, I didn't know what came over me, I'm just... Well, actually, RJ and I... um, when we hung out last weekend, we- we kissed." And a lot more, actually...
It is Adrian's turn for his mouth to drop. "Seriously?"He throws his hands up. "Damn it lah, Chloe! I'm jealous sia! I also want to be kissed!" He pauses. "Wait, so then why is RJ avoiding you now?"
My head lowers again. All traces of excitement vanish instantly. "I don't know..."
"Oh my god, I know lah! She's a playgirl, right?" Adrian gasps, putting his arms around me again. "I'm so sorry, Chloe. No wonder you're so upset lah. I knew you're not the type to get this upset over failing a quiz. You're not like Emma, you're more of the never-mind-lah-I'll-catch-up-later kind of student."
My brows furrow. "Why do I feel like that's an insult?"
Adrian ignores my question. "Wait, wait, tell me. So, are you the person behind Jon and RJ's breakup?"
"I don't think so. They were never actually together. RJ told me."
"I knew it!" Adrian exclaims, a lot happier than I would have expected. "I knew they were faking it! I knew Jon is gay lah! Ah, I have a huge crush on him sia."
I almost choke on my saliva. "What? Jon?"
"Yeah, I mean, he was fake dating a lesbian, he must be gay lah—"
"No, but like Jon? Ew, Adrian." I pretend to gag.
"Ew? What do you mean, ew? He's cute what! Don't judge me just because you're not into boys now."
"I'm not not into boys..." I mutter. My eyes wander towards the direction where Emma ran off to. "Hey, does Emma know? About... you?"
"Nah. I never told her. She never asked mah."
I frown. "But why would she ask?"
Adrian gives me a cheeky wink. "Exactly."
"Argh, Adrian..." I say with a small pout. Plucking the grass next to me, I muster up the courage to ask another question. "Do your... parents know?"
"I never told them either. They never—"
"They never asked." I finish Adrian's sentence exasperatedly.
"Are you going to tell your mother?" Adrian turns the question on me.
I stare at the torn grass in my hands. "I'm... I'm scared."
"Your mother is literally the sweetest person ever."
"I know lah. But I don't know..."
"Well, take your time lah. You don't have to tell anybody else if you don't want to. I mean, I haven't told anybody else either."
I nod before jokingly adding, "Because nobody asks?"
He smiles. "Because nobody asks."
We spot Emma jogging over with three cups of drink, and Adrian springs to his feet.
"Ah, thank you, Emma!" he shouts, gluttony lighting up in his eyes.
"Pay me back!" Emma shouts back as she approaches.
Adrian chuckles. He extends a hand out to me and winks. "Ready to go back to class?"
I nod and grab his hand. As I stand, a wide smile forms on my face. I feel as though a load has lifted off my mind.
RJ is playing me, but so what? If her feelings for me were not real, then I am going to forget about mine for her. She can do whatever she wants, but I have friends who will not toss me aside like a plaything.
My life will just resume the way it was, back to before she came into my life.
No big deal.