The Tepee in Our Heart of Hearts

Hearing fireworks booming was in the midnight; Moy, in his early-twenties, had thought that sound might be a false alarm of the lifting of the quarantine measures since the city where he resided was hit by the Coronavirus and locked down indefinitely since.

But this time the initial unsealing of quarantine measures put to this city seemed true; people were celebrating outside, he could hear that. Laying on the bed seeing outside the hollowing, bottomless-dark sky, rarely had he felt so exposed to his vulnerability that though clock is ticking to two, he was still tiredly sobering.

“People always have good hopes,” he thought, “that is a good thing.” During the lockdown, no one was allowed to go outside unless shopping for necessities once within days.

He was home alone and still is. “How’ve you been recently.”the message he received from an acquaintance, Jed, showed; he remembered the last time they conversed and met was almost two years ago in a hot summer. Details relating to what they talked about got blurred in his memory. “Protect yourself while I am not with you.”Jed said while smiling back to him and departing from the train station for home. That was two years ago. He wasn’t sure if not because of the pandemic, whether will they have any contact or not at all. But he knew that Jed’s intention of sending the message was purely out of humanitarian consideration, a sort of regards-exchanging usually happening between normal coworkers.

“I got to measure it out.”thought Moy, managing his words lest he be to overstate while replying.

“It’s fine here. How’s it going?”replied Moy.

Then there was a silence so long he felt trapped, in an otherworldly abyss, and thought Jed might actually not care much about whether he replies to him or not.

“It is fine; not receiving reply from a rather less contacted person is okay and this won’t matter much.” he remembered consoling himself saying.

“It was not his negligence towards me that hurt; instead, it is about my care of politeness. Do not expect anything about anyone except about oneself.” Moy stopped writing.

“I’d love to be your friend.”Moy’d remembered Jed once said to him. Moy thanked him for saying so and thought that would be fine to have a thoughtful friend.

Jed was thoughtful.

He remembered he had once misspoke a French word—plaire—he remembered; hearing Moy mouth slipped Jed didn’t interfere.

“You should pronounce this in this way.” “You need pronounce this like me.”

Coworker here try hard to let them be seen smarter over others and thus assert those so-called correct-pronouncing-suggestions to Moy while he was teaching though there were helps easy to obtain from the internet and dictionaries if he wants and would ask for help if necessary, but he doesn’t want to waste energy to quarrel with them. “People there want respects so desperately that you doubt whether they were sick; what made them such needy for superiority may be their genuine lack of that.” Moy wrote.

Elo, a coworker, transferred from Wuhan to the school where Moy works. “I don’t like of staying in small cities, you know, traditions I cannot bear were terribly hard to get used to; if not of marriage, I wouldn’t, you know.” She said with a shrug while showing her contempt with the rising of her eyebrows.

One day a parent of Elo’s student comes to the school reception center protesting saying “What a horrible teacher of Elo, her accent is exhaustedly unheard-of, how come you the administrator of the school failed to notice her accent and what a standard are you adopting to Elo, who is definitely unqualified of teaching to my child. I want you to change a teacher for my child.”

Moy had just passed by, hearing that dissension, but instead of feeling pity for Elo, he felt a bit guiltily content. He remembered thinking if this is happening to him, they, Elo and others, might feel the same, too.

Such is the life. He thought.

“Am I beautiful?”asked Liz, another colleague of Moy, in the office; as she faced no body but a mirror before her, this question is open to all in the office.

Moy’s face seemed being physically shaken but kept the face muscle tight enough lest his facial emotion be recognized out.

“You are already enough, I mean, beautiful.” Said Elo while patting Liz’s shoulder.

“So happy to hear, wanting to kiss you.”Liz beamed.

“I was confused about whether I was working in a school or a marriage company; you know, everyday, seldom were there coworkers who around me were not conversing things about men or women and physical appearance. Though I know, to them, this might be pretty natural and marriage for them must have been a very urgent thing but I still feel unnecessary to talk that loud about the preferences of their future partners as if they were shopping people, you know, shopping people. I felt otherworldly in this place. I used to think this might be something I understood wrong and thus need to get accustomed to but…” Moy wrote in his dairy. “But they have their choices, that is what made them humane. Why should I wish them to change.”

“For once in a lifetime, just let it go.”he wrote.

“Just let it go.”

Jed had replied to Moy at night saying “Just got your message and wish you will be fine in the future.”

Thinking retrospectively, Moy smiled and still felt thankful that Jed is seemingly fine about current model in which they keep contact, too.

For once in a lifetime, just let this go. Moy thought, “And if this is what our interaction will be like, well, leave it be.”

Leave it be.

“So happy is receiving the message from you that hardly can I find words to say much; only to wish you have a good night.” Moy wrote and sent that to Jed.

Things seemed to go back to normal in this pandemic-ravaged city. Waking in the mornings, noons, he got stretches and tried to be as authentic a person as he could.

Sitting on the bed while feeling the glimmering of the mellow sunlight flowing on his face, shoulders, and hair, Moy felt consoling of the warmth he received from the light.

The outside world was going back to normal; people celebrating with fireworks; and the sun looking strong and powerful. It’s about time to take a good sleep, Moy thought, feeling exhausted while looking outside of the window; how silky the light. How fine, loving, and free.