It was dawn, and the sun began to rise from the horizon. The warmth of the sun reached out across the vast blue, splitting the sky into two hues. The morning air was always cool and refreshing during this time of year. Mickey was sitting on the passenger side of the car, as his uncle drove down a snake-like path through the mountain side inhabited by dense foliage.
As Mickey leaned his head against the cool touch of the window, the morning rays gently outlined his innocent, yet handsome face. His gaze was fixated on the grand view of the horizon, staring senselessly at it. Mickey’s mind, however, was thinking about the unfortunate event that had led him to this situation. What had gloomed over the sixteen-year-old boy’s head was the recent death of his parents. Mickey’s father had gone on a business trip abroad last month, and his mother tagged along. The two planned to spend their vacation together, after his father had finished up work related business there. Sadly, both Mickey’s parents had passed away in a car accident during their trip, orphaning him.
Therefore, it was decided that Mickey was to live with his grandparents and uncles in the city before the new school year began. Mickey and his parents had lived in the rural areas by the mountain sides, where it was not a far distance from the city if one were to drive. Mickey was glad to be living with his grandparents, who were in their early sixties. They were vendors who sold fresh produce, and Mickey always spent his summer vacations living with them, running their family’s stall.
While in the car, Mickey’s uncle, Goh, could sense the stillness that surrounded him and his nephew. Goh was a thirty-year-old man who worked as an officer at the local police station, and the second youngest child of Mickey’s grandparents. While Mickey’s father was the eldest amongst the four siblings. Goh wore thin metal glasses and was an average height for a man his age. He had stayed the night at Mickey’s home to help pack and move Mickey’s belongings. Goh could not help but make quick glances at his nephew from time to time while driving. He could see the grief that emitted from the young boy, seeing Mickey like this weighed his heart heavy.
How could you two just abandon your son like this? A boy his age still needs the love and care of his parents. Sigh…, Mickey, I hope that living with us, can keep your mind off this..., Goh said to himself.
He then began to speak in a warm and assuring voice, wanting to break the silence ever since they had left Mickey’s old house, “Mickey, I know you’re heartbroken about what had happened, but remember we are still your family. Even though we cannot give you the same love your mom and dad had given you, we can still give you the love that a family can give.”
Mickey felt at ease hearing those comforting words from his uncle, but truthfully, he could not fully understand the meaning behind those words. “we can still give you the love that a family can give”.
Is not all love the same? Mickey wondered.
With little reaction, Mickey genuinely replied, “Thank you uncle. I know that all of you will always care for me, but don’t worry or think I am deeply hurt because of my parents. I’ve already accepted that they’re gone and there’s no need to give me any special treatment. I am still the same person with or without my parents.”
Silence then filled the car once again, as Goh could not conjure any words in response to his nephew.
Mickey was not the only one who would be arriving that day. His cousin, Rain, was being sent to live there as well. Rain was the same age as Mickey, and the daughter of a high ranking general. Her mother was the second eldest child amongst Mickey’s grandparents. Rain had come from a well-off family; they were not extremely rich, but wealthy enough to live a comfortable life for the rest of their days. Never had she experienced true hardship, Rain was a spoiled girl who lacked morals and mannerism.
Rain’s father was disappointed that his daughter had grown to become a cunning and selfish person. Rain’s parents devised a plan to send her away to live with her grandparents for two years, until she graduated high school. They believed that living in humble conditions would open Rain’s eyes and appreciate life.
That morning, Rain had arrived at the city’s airport. After she deboarded the plane, Rain waited at the entrance of the airport for her uncle, Jiang, to pick her up. Not any older than Mickey and Rain, Jiang was seventeen years old and the youngest child out of Mickey’s grandparents. Jiang was the least excited about the arrival of his niece and nephew. Unlike his brother Goh, Jiang had little compassion for anyone.
Jiang arrived at the airport, parking his car in front of Rain’s sight, recognizing Jiang, Rain grabbed her luggage and daintily walked towards the vehicle. She then placed all her belongings in the back seat. After, she went to the front passenger side and tried to get in, but it was locked. Rain pulled on the handle multiple times but was unable to open the door.
Somewhat embarrassed and confused, Rain stared at her uncle through the window. Jiang did not show any attention to her as if she were not there. Rain then tried opening the back-seat door. As she suspected, the handle easily propped, and the back door opened. To her disbelief, Jiang had purposely locked the front door. Rain did not think much about it and quickly got in.
As they drove into the busy city, Rain’s eyes were drawn in by the tall glimmering buildings that they passed by. Her delicate fingers tapped rhythmically on the arm rest, impatiently waiting to arrive at her new home. Her gaze soon was fixated on Jiang’s cold and aloof appearance through the rear-view mirror. Everything about him looked unwelcoming, from his dark eyes to his long face and sharp chin. Jiang may have had a natural mean look, but these striking features did make him quite an attractive person as well.
Rain then spoke in a bored and somewhat serious manner, “Since I’m going to be staying here for a while, what are the fun things to do around here?”
No response came from Jiang, only silence, as if Rain were the only person in the car that moment. Rain had never felt so disrespected or been put into a situation like this before.
Rain spoke again but now in a more aggressive tone, “Are you the uncle that is deaf, or ignorant?”
Suddenly Jiang’s sharp eyes met with Rain’s through the mirror, shooting an icy glare at her. Never been treated so coldly before, Rain was in disbelief by Jiang’s attitude. It was unfair to treat one so harsh when they have done nothing wrong in the first place, Rain believed.
“Just because you have the uncle title, doesn’t mean you can treat me like this! We’re basically the same age, so don’t think you’re better than me! Even if you are my uncle, don’t assume I’m going to respect you like one,” Rain exclaimed.
Like the first time Rain had spoken in the car, there was nothing but complete silence. Jiang continued to drive, ignoring everything as if nothing had happened.
What a jerk! So, this is what I have to deal with while I’m living here? No point in trying to get along with him, I guess. Living here will be quite interesting…, Rain dreadfully contemplated.
It was mid-morning now; Goh and Mickey had just arrived at the house. Not long after, Jiang’s jet-black car had parked right behind them. As everyone got out of their vehicles, Rain’s eyes quickly met with Mickey’s. She immediately walked towards him to give him a hug. The presence of her touch was soft and warm, a kind of sensation only a girl could give. Mickey could faintly smell the distinct floral aroma that permeated from Rain.
Freed from her embrace, Rain spoke as if she and Mickey were long lost friends reunited after years of separation, “Mickey I’ve missed you so much! I know we saw each other a month ago but, you’ve gotten more handsome and taller. Last time I remembered, you were short and ugly,” Rain lightheartedly laughed as she began patting Mickey’s shoulders, “I’m just messing with you hehe.”
Mickey was somewhat dumbfounded; he could not understand why Rain acted so affectionate towards him. They both were never close and only saw each other on rare occasions. Mickey could only assume Rain was being extra nice to him because of his parent’s death. Rain then leaned closer to Mickey’s ear, making sure only he could hear what she was about to say next, “I’m glad you’ll be staying here too Mickey, I don’t think I could survive living here with just Jiang.”
Mickey slightly chuckled at Rain’s remark about Jiang. He too, knew how Jiang was like. Mickey and Jiang were never close either, despite living with Jiang during the past summers. Jiang had always kept his distance not only towards Mickey but everyone in his family as well. Mickey and Rain began unloading their belongings. Mickey did not bring much with him; He had only brought his favorite outfits and some possessions that where special to him. While Rain had brought two large suitcases from home, making sure she brought all the necessities she needed.
“You kids go inside first; Grandma and my fiancé prepared a little welcoming party for you two. I’ll carry the rest of the stuff into the house. I’m sure they are excited to see you guys,” Goh said.
Jiang’s face became frustrated as the pits of his stomach began to burn, hearing those words.
A welcoming party? What’s so special about you two that we have to throw a celebration? This house can barely accommodate the five of us living here, now you two want to stay and inconvenience us? Jiang thought to himself.
The three teenagers then walked awkwardly together in silence to the house. Each of their footsteps in sync with one another as they stepped up the flight of stairs.
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