Sixteen-year-old Kai was struggling to meet his goals at school. Aside from tutor-time and PE where there is nothing to excel at except a 100% attendance record, Kai was at the top of all his subjects except for one: English. On record, Kai had achieved some of the highest scores Greenhill High had ever seen particularly in Biology, Math and Business Studies. However, his English was to be his downfall if Kai did not improve his marks in the next few months. Although the school had advised Kai not to worry about the final results, his father had different ideas. It was difficult for the school to understand why Mr. Liu was so concerned about his son’s English grade. It was, in all fairness, not as high as all his other subject results, but being third of the entire group (197 students in total) was not a tragic position either. However, the school really didn’t understand. In fact, in Mr. Liu’s opinion, the school had failed to see the importance of the Liu’s family agenda of raising Kai as the most successful doctor in his generation. This was, of course, ambitious. But in Mr. Liu’s eyes, Kai was a precious gem. An irreplaceable gem that must shine after much polishing. What the staff and student body saw every day for six hours was a lean, quiet boy working hard in the library on all his breaks and lunch times. Occasionally, they saw and heard him move more vigorously in PE lessons, attempting to keep up with his muscular peers. Often, in lessons, his timid voice would be heard answering the toughest questions asked by the teachers. Even more often, his work and school photo would grace the walls and notice boards across the school premises. And always, Kai’s name would be on some form of recognition list at assemblies, award programs and open-school evenings. Kai, despite his usual silence, was a school celebrity.
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One typical evening after dinner, Kai was practicing his violin in his bedroom. There was a knock followed by his aging father. In Mr. Liu’s hands was a pile of books. It was not necessary to communicate. Kai obediently put his violin away in its case and sat at his working desk. Shortly after he had finished reading chapter one of the first book, he heard his door close with a light click. Kai sighed to himself and took out his phone from his jean’s pocket. There had been a message waiting for him. He pressed the touch-screen gently. A smile escaped from his weary face and made him pause for a moment. It read ‘The music stopped so suddenly. I guess you have to study again. Good Luck 🙂 xxx’. Just as he contemplated what to send back, another message appeared quietly on his screen: ‘Don’t let them bring you down. You might be the only grandson, but you are not the only one in this. You have me always 🙂 Goodnight 🙂 xxx’. Kai smiled again and decided to read the next chapter in Shakespeare’s Globe by Dr. Salver.
Mr Liu was an accountant who had to make frequent trips away from home. He had clients across the country and his trips took anything from a short day’s meeting to a week-long conference. Out of nowhere, loud music from the radio would burst across the silent air in the Liu house. Junk food and soft drinks would also find themselves near Kai, with him munching on them freely without care. Once or twice, a few close friends from the school orchestra met with Kai and spent entertaining afternoons watching the latest action films at the cinema. This Saturday afternoon, however, Kai woke up early to make sure his house, especially his bedroom, was spotless. He laid out the table for lunch and waited. For a moment, the quietness was unbearable. Every second that passed made Kai doubt his preparation even though he had made sure he had gotten everything the day before, after school. His father won’t be home till Wednesday. There was no room for error or for being caught.
Precisely at 12:30, the doorbell rang, dancing along the corridor. Kai almost jumped out of his chair. At the opened doorway stood a slim, petite figure dressed in a sky blue t-shirt and black skirt. The figure stepped inside to catch the heat before feeling the softness of Kai’s woolly jumper as he enclosed his arms around the figure. He could smell the mango shampoo coming from the neatly brushed blonde hair. It sent him straight to heaven. He led the figure into the dining room and lunch was served. He had made everything from scratch: the garlic bread, the meatball pasta, the salad and the small cheesecake. It didn’t take long for them to eat while catching up with each other. Soon, they found themselves in Kai’s bedroom. And not long after that, in his bed. Completely naked. They stayed there all afternoon and all evening. The figure kept Kai company and it meant the world to him. It had opened Kai to a whole new world and unintentionally, became his only world. It was the single link between Kai and the real world and Kai loved it. He did not want it to stop. The figure had shown Kai an attractive and irresistible world. The more he tried to hide his connections and pretend to ignore it, the more it called to him. It was a world his father disapproved of. A world that did not care for hard work. It was all about having fun.
It had been more than ten years since Kai saw that figure. After school had finished, Kai’s highflying results took him to a prestigious college in London. Naturally, they lost touch. But Kai had never stopped thinking about that slim, soft and sexy figure he once held in his boyish bed. Now that he was older, Kai understood the steps and actions he should have taken instead. But it was all too late. He had become what his father had dreamed of and harvested all these years: the greatest doctor in his generation. His face had recently graced every newspaper last month for being the youngest doctor to perform the first wave of brain surgery using nuclear-related equipment. The chances of success for these patients were minimal. Despite that, Kai had pulled the first two through without encountering too many problems. Where Kai was usually ignored by girls at school before, he now had attractive women throwing themselves at him. Moreover, offers of scholarships and letters of sponsorships were piled high. For Kai’s father, it meant an early retirement. Kai’s salary had paid off all their expenses with enough left over to give Mr. Liu a generous amount besides for each month. Kai didn’t mind any of this. He just went on with his life. He wasn’t enjoying it, but it was a life to live none the less. The days went by. But now and again, on those really rough days, that figure floated in his mind. The figure that shown him the real meaning of life, and how to enjoy it. The figure that told him he could do whatever he liked; he didn’t need to do what his father commanded. If only he could go back and change things.
A knock at his office door snapped him out of his thoughts.
‘Dr. Liu, there has been a terrible accident,’ the nurse said hurriedly. ‘They’re about to arrive with the victim. Her head is severely damaged. She needs the surgery immediately.’
The victim lay on the operating table like a lump of meat like most of his patients. Kai put on his rubber gloves quickly and examined the back of the head carefully. It was in the middle of tangled hair and dried blood. Kai knew it was a simple task and it didn’t take him long to tend to the wound. As he finished up, he ordered the nurses to turn the head side-ways so the patience’s face could be relaxed while she slept. He was about to leave the room when the lips of the victim caught his sight. They looked oddly familiar. He drew closer and brushed the strands of blonde hair out of the way. There was no mistake. There, lying unconsciously but very much alive was the same figure he had been thinking of a few moments ago. He smiled and meant it for the very first time in years.
‘Natalie,’ he whispered softly, almost like a sing-song. Just like that, the link was back in his life again.