by friday, i leave school a bit earlier and it certainly felt like a relief as most fridays are with the talk from students being more animated already making plans to go out with sighs from boys finally stretching their arms across the hall. rin had told me she would go on a train separately worried that we might be rumoured into romance if we’re seen together so much by students or the other prefects and i thought it almost funny to think that even they must look a little lovestruck when hearing about confessions from students at the shaded side of the school or love letters in lockers. i get a poke bowl from kwai fong shopping centre and eat while on the mtr heading down to tsim sha tsui, the pedestrian traffic a little lighter almost as if in anticipation for all those office workers to flood the trains later in the late afternoon. i meet rin at the station entrance on nathan road and she wore a sundress with an overcoat and i worry she might be hot underneath it.
‘oh good you’re here’
‘did you make sure you weren’t followed?’
‘shut up, smartass’ she winks before we head off taking one of the pedestrian foot bridges over the road passing museums and parks shaded in trees where only small fragments of sunlight shone across cobblestone, the public library was a megastructure in black with gold accented fenetre designs over the vents.
while there, we quizzed each other briefly in hushed tones on some of the math problems and running the sample problems sometimes taking the opportunity to dig at each other, small yelps from poking each other amidst the whispers of university students slumping on the shelves. if we get a question wrong like with a physics problem, rin only chuckles.
‘it’s easy, haven’t you seen it in real life?’
‘rich coming from someone who dresses like they’re in a tvb drama’
then we’d be studying without kidding for a moment and it really would seem that these answers would conjure in us, at the snap, we could remember complex formulas or remember sentences being brim with these concepts that could form a few words from our own silent voids.
closer to 5, even rin gets bored of studying and decides to go to one of the shopping promenades. having little to protest since i shared her boredom, i went along with it anyway. we had gone to harbour city, sometimes she would catch lost tourists to practice her english much to the delight of said tourists humouring them with an ‘oh yes yes’ and giving them directions to trendy restaurants around the area, some i was not even aware of like a place that served pasta on wooden tables fashioned out of italy. i wondered if we would run into anyone from school here since someone must’ve planned to go here too on fridays perusing through new clothes on the shiny concourse.
‘hey, i wanna try some clothes.’
‘weren’t you the one who says they didn’t want to make this a date?’
‘let me a live little will you, i have my indulgences despite being a prefect’ she had gone to one of the apparel stores with the sequin mannequins lined along the glass window between posters of models strolling on over-bright streets where inside she becomes more bold when changing into a tank top revealing a gentle shoulder as she revels in a smirk or work-shy with the large t-shirt where she does a small curtsy almost to comically retain her refined manners, all these beings that rin could immerse herself into emerge from the curtain seemed thrilling seeing her be anything in that simple way that we might think of as children. but we spent more time walking around and i thought maybe she was more of a normal girl but that seemed somewhat calming to have someone indulge in an otherwise menial walk through shops.
‘ufufu, that was pretty fun,’ rin remarked.
‘i find it interesting you find this fun, your parents don’t take you shopping?’
‘not really, i have to study most of the time anyway so they find it more convenient to either order online or buy it themselves’
‘sheesh, well maybe you might join some of those mall-going girls at school sometime’
‘what an awful thing to say, i’m not that plastic!’ she pouts
‘plastic? where’d you learn that?’ she gives me a light shove before her smirk falls a moment.
‘you know, i wonder about times like these. even as prefects, we can still indulge in these kinds of activities. but i can’t help but feel a little melancholic too’
‘melancholic?’ i caught myself about making a joke on buyer’s remorse.
‘yeah, it’s gonna be harder and harder to do this even in university or when we go out to work, we can’t really just stroll through here for fun instead of people just rushing to buy things. i remember reading about scholars who found the city to be this enjoyable rush of things and people but now it just seems too much’
i hardly had the reply for this as we proceeded through the mall, our own miniature voids in the light rays warping off our limbs trying to tune the outside noise into faint rushes as if the sea from the harbour. we had gone out there after buying some take-out dinner and telling my parents about not being home for dinner. the warm air began to recede as we ate by the pier hearing some young students with an amp and microphone singing english pop songs covers with ukelele sometimes looking at us when singing more romantic r n’b singles. after, we walk along one of the nearby parks where rin balances herself on the ledge of a planter’s box.
‘we’re out late, aren’t we?’
‘yeah’ i nod somewhat glad that we spent time like this almost feeling abit younger and she did too, giggling naturally, sometimes teasing each other on the way.
‘hey, you know, people sometimes go to nightclubs right’
‘yeah, wait, are you serious? why a nightclub?’
‘i’ve never been, c’mon, sasa told me about one called xxx gallery, it’s cheap too’ already being tugged around tsim sha tsui, i allowed for one more wild excursion as we took to one of the more industrial areas with empty loading bays. it was a former factory floor repurposed into an art gallery with dancefloor space and cinema rooms. the poster said they were playing future bass, a drum n bass variant glittering with pixelated chimes swimming in hard synths. upon entry in the dim crowds lit in some of the spotlights, rin tips herself into the crowd, spinning on her toes to join the dancing bodies, surprised that she can move so sensuously between them. i only try to keep place, feeling just a little out of place only bobbing my head so as not to appear too inert yet the adulations for the dj at the stage leapt in clamour as he changes to a more hyperpop tune and it seemed quite thrilling just to follow.
‘hey, come dance with me,’ she pulls me into the small spot she made for herself from the crowd opens to accomodate us both and i looking more out of place to rin whose joints almost swam to the beat as if from a music video ‘c’mon it’s like karaoke’
with that advice, i struggle a moment to imitate the sways of other people around me making sure not to bump into anyone but rin seemingly went on with it making the experience seem a little more worthwhile then just agitation, participating in the more underground elements that our parents would definitely shake their heads at. I go out for a moment to check the time being near 10 thinking it’s close to time a walk home. Being in Mong Kok, it was easier that way since sham shui po was near and upon my re-entry, i glimpse tsao stopping momentarily moving around the crowd with birdie on another side and me half expecting po to be somewhere if not the bathroom. the crowd’s sway moved slower as one song was reaching a beat drop clapping towards its climax as i move my way through to find rin, worried that clubbing might besmirch her reputation, the mass of bodies lacked contours with only a limb or face flashing among the lights to differentiate them and i rushed looking for rin until a hand takes mine.
‘there you are,’ she half yells to me. ‘ i think i saw birdie’
‘tsao’s here too, let’s go’ i mention before i pull her out of there, the song diminishing into faint throbs among the buzz of neon lighting, the collision of particles causing a haze throughout the street in a near-romantic saturation. we get to nathan road, panting a little trying to placate her with a small chuckle. ‘that was close, huh?’
‘ yeah’ she sighs trying to straighten her assymetrical bangs. ‘what were they doing there?’
‘not our problem. let’s just rest for now’
‘hold on,’ she interjects. ‘don’t you think they might be looking for you after what happened on wednesday since you were the one who intervened? would they be looking for revenge?’
‘not sure but i can safely say that since you weren’t involved they won’t harm you’
‘don’t think of me in this situation, i worry for you too, you know’
‘i’m fine really. besides, i fought before and i will again, if needed’ ‘ho, what would the teachers think then? they’d strip you of your status. best to let the teachers take care of it’ her look pleaded with me and i didn’t want to ruin the evening.
‘fine, for your sake.’ i answer. she only sighs before we walk a little up north at the intersection of wong chuk street where she would head home. she lived a bit east at yu chau street with an abstract clock tower. ‘need me to walk you home?’
‘no i’m fine, i think you ought to look over your shoulder’
‘i had fun, maybe we should do this again?’
‘sure...good night rin’ she leaves as the lights change, her black overcoat disappearing down the street as i continue to walk the streets where damp flyers decompose over the concrete eyeing some loud talking 20 somethings sway around, and after letting them pass, i pick up the pace to get home.