Marriage was like a coffin, at least it was better than being left sun burnt on the streets!
Han Ting Ting was out shopping with her future mother-in-law, coincidently she witnessed her fiance conversing happily and carefree with a beauty. How would an average person react?
Han Ting Ting was in the middle of comforting her future mother-in-law who was upset about knocking over merchandise of a shop lady she knew. Then she surveyed their surroundings and saw Qin Song who wore a white shirt and was sitting by a cafe window with an alluring beauty. The beautiful pair would have made pa.s.serbys fl.u.s.tered.
Han Ting Ting became anxious, silently turned back to her future mother-in-law and placated her by offering to take her to a nearby ice-cream shop. While she queued in line to order ice-cream she took out her phone and rang Qin Song.
‘Your mother and I were outside a cafe. I saw… you and your lady friend,’ Han Ting Ting said.
Qin Song answered her with a grunt. The cafe background music heard from his end was more responsive than him, it was apparent they couldn’t have been more distant. Her sweaty palms almost made her phone slip.
‘You… hurry up and take off with your lady friend!’ she said.
Qin Song took a while for her request to sink in before replying.
‘Why?’ Qin Song asked.
She lost it after she heard him asked why. He was the one having a rendezvous with his lover out in public… she was being courteous by letting him know he was easily spotted and he had the nerve to ask her why.
From his end she heard a lady’s velvety voice said something to him then he lost his patience too.
‘Whatever you want, I’m hanging up!’ he said.
She didn’t get to tell him to not hang up before she heard the signal of a dead phone connection.
The shop server waited a while for her to finish her phone conversation.
‘Hi, what ice-cream flavors have you decided on?’ the shop server asked.
‘What ice-cream flavours are available in the biggest size that you have?’ she asked.
The consequence of ordering the biggest serving of their available ice-cream flavours was that her future mother-in-law ended up vomiting and endured diarrhea. Her future mother-in-law was promptly driven home.
Qin Song rushed over after he received the bad news. She spent a lot of energy to calm down the people involved in the unwanted incident so she didn’t appreciate being dragged by her fiance outside the shop. His scowl was unappealing as the base of a pot.
‘Do you think your actions matches up to the standard of an educated and ethical citizen?’ he asked.
Her head was lowered enough to be face to face with the ground that her voice came out no louder than a mosquito. ‘I’m a pre-school teach…’
‘Do you often serve each kid in your cla.s.s an ice-cream serving meant for two people?’ he asked.
‘I… I didn’t know today the ice-cream shop was having a special promotion, buy one get one free…’ she said and felt tears of shame swell in her eyes.
But she felt she wasn’t the only one at fault and pushed aside her shame. ‘Weren’t you supposed to have left already? You didn’t listen… what happened is your fault too!’
Her accusation made him angry enough to smile sarcastically. ‘How is it my fault?’
His smile caused a ‘little country bun’ like her who had little interaction with urban society suddenly felt intimidated… his smile was too blinding!
It was rumoured that out of the Liang’s famous six sworn brothers, he was the most handsome.
In the beginning the reason she agreed to marriage with him was because he was eye candy. If she was to find someone to marry… wasn’t it better to marry a handsome man for her to perve on?
She was deep in thought that her head started floating up to the clouds…
He saw that she stopped arguing and was staring at him, made the hair on his skin rose. He took it as a symptom of regret, he chose her because she was honest and would be less maintenance but now he found out that wasn’t the case.
‘Let’s go!’ he said and sighed at the sight of her blank state. ‘I’ll take you home.’
She was still dazed when he yanked her arm and it caused her left leg tangled with her right leg. Her quick thinking to grab hold of the nearest person to her saved her a painful fall.
He wasn’t impressed with her strong grip on his waist, her nails dug through his thin shirt and the pain made it hard to breathe. He could only give her a cold glare.
She got a feeling she looked like a fool holding onto him. Once she stood and regained her balance she released her hands from his waist. ‘I’m… I’m sorry.’
He clamped his teeth all the way to the car. ‘Get in!’
At home her mum asked her about the shopping outing… she left out the part about nearly killing her future mother-in-law with ice-cream. She showed her mum the items her future mother-in-law bought.
‘Why are the shopping bags light today?’ mum asked.
The bags were light by standards of shopaholics like her mother-in-law. She muttered incohesive sounds to buy time to strum up an excuse. ‘After the wedding dress and shoes were ordered there wasn’t much left that needed to be bought.’
‘Was the wedding money I gave you enough? If it isn’t I’ll give you more. You only get married once in life, don’t be a scrooge about how much you spend on your wedding. Make sure you go to all the stores you want and buy without a care!’ mum said.
She returned her mum’s wedding money and credit card. ‘Mum… Aunty said that Qin Song and I are both the only child in our families. After marriage anything that belongs to Qin Song will belong to me too so aunty asked me to give back your money and consider it as a wedding dowry.’
‘You keep it! It was the money I saved for your wedding day,’ mum said. ‘It’s not right that aunty got to buy your wedding dress and everything else for you! I feel guilty I don’t know what to get you. Last week the Qin family delivered your new clothes they bought you. I turned over the price tags and each outfit was five times your father’s salary! Our family aren’t in their league.’
‘Mum!’ she said. ‘Don’t say that! Dad and you worked hard to raise me, it should be me who’s buying things for dad and you.’
‘Your dad and I don’t need expensive things,’ mum said. ‘Ting Ting, after you enter the Qin family household remember not to use their money to buy anything for dad and I!’
‘I get it mum,’ she said and lowered her head to hide her expression behind the curtain of her hair. ‘Dad and you don’t need to worry, I’ll get along well with the Qin family!’
At night the wind made it less humid than it was during the day. Han Ting Ting showered and her hair was still damp when she sat on her bed and called her best friend.
Her best friend listened to her talk about the disasterous shopping day.
Tu Tu burst out laughing. ‘Confess… you faked falling to cop a feel of Qin Song’s body.’
She wished she owned the superpower of phasing to reach through the phone and pinch her best friend’s cheeks most likely sore from a laughing fit.
‘Your bridesmaid dress is bought, you can borrow my shoes, no need to over pack your luggage!’ she said. She and Tu Tu had similar body builds and often swapped outfits since little. ‘When can you take leave? I’ll book your flight ticket.’
She reasoned since Qin Song’s secretary was always shadowing her and asking if she needed help with anything, asking his secretary to book a flight for the bridesmaid wouldn’t be an overbearing request. But she was adamant to be the one paying for the flight ticket.
‘Wow. You’ve hit the jackpot. You’re already acting like a rich family’s daughter-in-law with your new found generosity!’ Tu Tu said.
‘Tu Tu!’ she said. ‘If you keep making fun of me, I’ll expose your weakness!’
After her threat Tu Tu eased up on the teasing and they chatted about other wedding details before saying goodnight to one another.
She hung up the phone and saw an incoming call from Qin Song. ‘h.e.l.lo.’
‘Who were you talking to that your phone was busy for ages?’ Qin Song asked.
In the short period they’ve known each other, he was always snappy with her. There was no point dwelling on his treatment of her, they were from two different worlds and the way they communicated was as if they spoke in foreign languages with one another.
‘What do you want?’ she asked.
‘Tomorrow dad’s being released from the hospital. Come with me to have dinner with my parents!’ he ordered.
She gasped, her future father-in-law’s love for his wife was well known. She’d get an earful from her future father-in-law at dinner.
‘Miss Han Ting Ting, keep in mind I don’t want what happened today to occur again in the future,’ he said. ‘I’ve kept my end of the bargain and haven’t given you any grief.’
Her palms were sweaty. She felt a familiar sense of guilt like she felt back in her school days. Whenever she was rostered to clean her cla.s.sroom instead of tidying it up the cla.s.s ended up cluttered.
‘If I didn’t catch you and your girlfriend on a date then I wouldn’t have chosen the biggest ice-cream serving! You need to take half the blame too!’ she said.
‘You’re an early education teacher. Shouldn’t you set a better example by being honest? You caused the mess so don’t shift the responsibility to someone else. You must be teaching the country’s next generation bad habits,’ he said.
‘Why must you continuously use my job as a benchmark to pick on my traits?’ she asked.
‘If you don’t behave the way you do then I won’t need to criticise you,’ he said.
‘You…’ she said in exasperation.
She was only used to dealing with sweet natured kids and felt hopeless against an unreasonably stubborn person.
He noticed she had no combat and changed to smug mode. ‘What about me? Go ahead and say what you want!’
‘You…’ she said. ‘What time will you pick me up for tomorrow’s dinner?’
He coughed up the gla.s.s of water he was drinking while waiting to hear her weak excuses. But she unexpectedly backed down and caused him to choke on water.
‘Forget it. I’ll take a taxi over,’ she said and hung up on him.
It was his turn to hear the signal of a dead phone connection, except his end was still lively with the sounds of a coughing fit after she hung up.