The desert is blessed with rain
Back in the studio, CeeCee was having a pep talk with New Guy. “Listen to me,” said CeeCee, “we worked hard on this. You worked the hardest so you should give it to her.”
“I don’t think I can,” said New Guy.
“She said she doesn’t want to work here and she doesn’t want to date him. This is your chance before she disappears.”
“Even if she likes me back, who has their sights on a lowly intern?”
“For girls, it doesn’t matter that a guy is a lowly intern. It’s the quality of the guy that counts. Her parents will want her to improve, but you see how she is, she does what she wants unless she’s forced to do something she doesn’t want.”
“I don’t think I can,” he repeated.
“Look, here she comes, and JZ is not with her,” CeeCee said quickly and quietly, and pushed him into the hallway.
“Long time no see,” Elle said calmly with a smile. “How are you?”
“Hi,” New Guy replied shyly with his slightly head down. “I’m good. And you?”
“I’m good. What is your real name so I can introduce you?”
“Shen,” he replied.
“Shen, this is Xiong. He’s my intern. Xiong, this is Shen. He’s also an intern.”
“Hey,” said Xiong cheerfully.
“Hey,” Shen said uncertainly. “You look lovely today,” he said to Elle.
She smiled and said, “See you later.”
CeeCee popped into the hallway in front of Elle, and she took a step back from the surprise. “Xiong, you remember CeeCee from yesterday?”
“How could I forget the hot chick?” said Xiong confidently.
CeeCee laughed. “Save the ‘hot chick’ for someone younger.”
“You’re as young as or younger than Miss Elle.”
CeeCee laughed again. She said in English, “You-know-who is really influential among the young ones.”
Elle half laughed.
“Hey,” began CeeCee, “New Guy was telling me about a project he just finished.”
“Really?” Elle sounded surprised. “Did he do it on his own?”
“He got some help.”
“I got the feeling that Buzzy was more into his own projects than others’.”
“Buzzy didn’t help him. JZ rotated all the interns on Monday so New Guy isn’t under Buzzy’s mentorship anymore.”
“Oh,” Elle responded to CeeCee. “Ah Shen, CeeCee told me that you just finished something big. Congratulations,” and slightly smiled.
“Do you…want to see it?” Shen shyly asked.
“What kind is it that I have to see it?” she asked a little confused.
“It’s an MV,” answered Shen.
“Oooooo, let’s go!” Elle said excitedly and slipped her hand into Shen’s hand. He held up the intertwined hands to see if it was real, then looked at Elle. “Aren’t you going to take me to see it?” she asked with childish giddy in her voice and a smile on her face.
Shen led her to the empty lounge with Xiong and CeeCee talking in the hallway. He inserted the DVD and he watched Elle watch the music video. She saw the footage everyone in China had seen but herself. It had selected footage of her being followed by the paparazzi on normal days, that Friday when so many of the paparazzi and others were filming her and from so many camera views on one screen in her old apartment. He said a sentence then was rapping in Mandarin, with characters and English translations.
She glanced at him and quietly said, “One more time.”
Shen played it again and thought, “Her expressionless face was the only face she made. She doesn’t like it. But if she doesn’t like it, why did she want to see it again? I must watch it one more time and learn from my mistakes. She’s a teacher, she’s watching it a second time to make sure she catches all the mistakes I made,” he thought and concentrated on his work.
Meanwhile, CeeCee and Xiong were in the hallway watching the music video and the two in the lounge carefully. They were soon joined by more and more people as they heard someone rapping:
|“Humankind’s cruelty worsens as they exploit what has value.|
|“Sheng lao bing si de kuxing bianzao ru tamen liyong dou shenme you jiazhi.|
|Paparazzi (paparazzi)||Gouzai dui (gouzai dui)|
|Paparazzi (paparazzi)||Gouzai dui (gouzai dui)|
|In the subway car (in subway car)||Zai che liang li (che liang li)|
|In the home (in the home)||Zai jia li (zai jia li)|
|Questions stab (stab)||Wenti daoci (dao ci)|
|Camera flashes electrocute||Xiangji deng dian ji|
|On the skyscraper||Zai gaolou shang|
|Pushed off the skyscraper||Gaolou dao xia lai|
|Smaller, smaller||Geng xiao geng xiao|
|Quickly vanishing||Zhen kuai yinmie|
|Pitch-black||Hei chen chen|
|Paparazzi create and||Gouzai dui daozhi he|
|Distort your values||Waiqu ni jiazhi|
|The public’s impression is||Gonggong de yinxiang shi|
|Masculine, crazy||Nv hanzi, diandao|
|Fiendish, demonic (crazy, demonic)||Esha, xie (esha, xie)|
|They don’t know who you are||Tamen bu zhidao ni shi shei|
|You have value (value)||Ni you jiazhi (jia zhi)|
|Great strength controls struggles||Kuai kongzhi fendou|
|Intelligent, hardworking, mysterious||Congming, yonggong, shenmi|
|Your value is beyond me||Ni jiazhi shi yu wo|
|My ordinary eyes||Wo zhengchang yanjing|
|Are not worthy to glance at you||Bu pei zhuanyan ni|
|I do not deserve you.”||Wo bu peichen ni.”|
When it was over, Shen looked at Elle, and was surprised to see tears were rolling down her rosy cheeks and pale white face, falling gracefully onto her blouse. He slowly and hesitantly brought his chubby hands to her face. With his thumbs, he wiped her tears and gently said, “The desert is blessed with rain.”
CeeCee saw and felt the anticipation and quickly whispered, “Kiss her already.”
Elle looked at the door and did not see anyone. She gently responded, “What does ‘desert’ mean?”
Shen opened his mouth slightly for nothing to come out. Elle realized that he did not know to explain it in simple Mandarin for her, so she stood up, held his hands, and raised his them. He stood and she embraced him tightly with tears still streaming down her face moistening his indigo and lime plaid shirt. Shen slowly and hesitantly put his arms around her to hug her back. His hands felt her strong back and bra, his chest felt hers, and soon, his core also met hers. Something brought him back to reality and he took a small step back and slowly released his hold to not alarm her, but to also try and get away. She kept stepping forward and would not let go. His back was soon against the wall and to stop her from getting closer, he placed his hands on the front of her hips.
She released his neck but then grabbed onto his hand and said, “Let’s go show JZ,” while wiping her face.
“I can’t,” Shen quickly said, not budging from his spot.
He wrinkled his face and put a hand on his stomach and painfully said, “My stomach hurts,” as his back slid down the wall until he sat on the floor and his knees close to his chest.
Elle got down to his level. “Want me to,” she asked incompletely and rubbed her tummy.
He glanced at her stomach and stared at his own, his face grew red, he wrinkled his face even more, and he feigned another attack. Elle got up and looked in the hallway and said, “Xiong, come in here,” in a firm tone. He followed her in the lounge and she said, “Shen’s stomach hurts. Bring him to the restroom.”
Xiong did an Asian squat and took Shen’s arm, and placed it over his shoulder, and Shen slowly stood up bending forward. “Come, I’ll help you,” Elle said, but Xiong and Shen loudly said, “NO!” like they were preventing something disastrous from happening. Elle was taken aback that Xiong, her former student, would use that tone with her, like he scolded her. Xiong helped Shen hobble to the men’s room while Elle was close behind.
CeeCee stopped Elle from following them. “Hey Elle, what happened?” she asked very concerned.
“I don’t know,” Elle said, frustrated that she was powerless in this situation, moving side to side to get an opening to follow. “We were watching his music video and then his stomach was hurting real badly. I forgot to ask him what he ate and if he was allergic to anything.”
“Let Xiong take care of it,” CeeCee said trying to calm Elle down.
“Xiong’s only a kid. He doesn’t know what to do.”
“You know what, I’ll text some of the guys here and tell them to help Xiong help New Guy.”
Elle nodded her head quickly and walked away.
“Hey, where are you going?”
“Dude, you got the hots for Miss Elle?” Xiong asked not believing what was happening.
“It’s obvious,” Shen replied like he was making a rhetorical statement, and closed the stall door behind him. “How can it get less obvious? Thanks for the save, but I can please be alone?”
“No. It would look really suspicious if I left you here so soon. Going back to my original question, normally, I would advise you to go after her, be bolder or something, but not this time. Miss Elle is JZ’s girl; you don’t go after her.”
“She doesn’t want to be his girl. You call her ‘Miss’ …”
“Yeah, and that’s the most exciting thing right now. She taught me last year, plus I’m only 15 years old so I’m supposed to call her ‘Miss.’ What’s your excuse?”
“I’ve never said her name, let alone call her anything else. She’s out of my league.”
“How do you find her attractive?”
“How do you not find her attractive?”
“Her height is perfect for me. I don’t care if she’s poor. Her presence makes the moon blush.”
“Seriously, I don’t know what’s up with you and JZ. He said she was ‘sexy’ this morning. You guys need to have your eyes checked.”
“There’s nothing wrong with our eyes; it’s yours that need to be checked. You’re describing her superficially. There’s more to her than just her looks. I’ve been watching her through the media’s lenses, how she acts and how she reacts. From what I’ve known about her, she’s the kind of girl I want. If you take her looks aside, wouldn’t you want to take her home to your parents?”
“She’s from America. I don’t know what else she could be mixed with. I wouldn’t want to bring her home without knowing. My parents would tell me to break it off with her and get a Bai girl.”
“You’re still thinking superficially. She’s honest, helpful, strong, hardworking, clever and smart, and really nice. She has a comforting smile.”
“I can agree that she’s strong. She can carry almost half her weight, but she’s not nice. She’s always mad. Believe me, she’s a really mean mad person.”
“Why would anyone be nice when they’re mad?”
“I’m just saying she doesn’t have to be mad at everyone when she’s only mad at one person. The one you should be going after is Miss CeeCee. She’s tall, rich, and she’s thin with white skin, and has an oval face. She’s a ten; Miss Elle is a six.”
“I don’t disagree that CeeCee is beautiful; my eyes are for the other one. By the way, she is not a six.”
“My job here is done.” Xiong opened the door and shouted, “HI MISS ELLE!”
“Why are you talking like that?” Elle asked with suspicion.
“BECAUSE I’M REALLY HAPPY TO SEE YOU! DO YOU KNOW WHERE MISS CEECEE IS?”
Elle shook her head still with suspicion.
“I’LL GO FIND HER THEN!”
A few minutes passed then Shen opened the door ajar and peeked left and right. He did not see anyone. He opened the door and proceeded to get out and saw Elle sitting on the floor in the lotus position, her big brown eyes worriedly looking up at him. “How are you feeling?” she asked, her voice so sweet, so gentle, so perfect, he thought. He remembered that she asked him a question. She stood up and was placing her hand on his stomach, but, with both his hands, Shen delicately held Elle’s wrist and finger, and pushed it slightly back, not wanting to hurt her more than she already had. She took her hand and tried placing it on his forehead, but Shen moved to the side, and slipped back into the men’s room.
“Can you please get her away from the men’s room, CeeCee,” he hastily texted.
“She won’t budge until she knows you’re ok,” CeeCee responded. “Xiong obviously knew she wasn’t going anywhere. That’s why he didn’t try to get her to go somewhere else. I heard Hero describe a similar action by environmentalists who chain themselves to trees.”
“That doesn’t help me.”
“Yes it does. You have to face your fear of her or getting rejected or facing JZ’s wrath when he finds out you like the same girl he does. I’m mad at you, by the way.”
“Why are you mad at me?”
“We worked so hard on those MVs and you go and show her JZ’s copy. How will she know that you wrote that for her? How will she know how you really feel about her? You also didn’t kiss her when I told you to.”
“You’ve heard it, CeeCee. I don’t deserve her. I don’t even deserve to say her name. There’s no way she would want me. Why mess up her chance with the rich and famous JZ? He can give her everything she deserves. Besides, when I heard you, I was startled and became more nervous than ever.”
“You won’t know until you try. Like I told you before, she doesn’t want him. She’s flaunting the biggest mistakes he ever did to her. Put on your courage-pants and get rid of her yourself.”
Shen paced the men’s room to think of what he could say to repel Elle but would not ruin his chance with her in the future if he had one. He slowly exited and Elle was waiting with her hands on her sides. “What’s wrong?” she asked again, in a sweet and worried voice.
Shen took a long moment to absorb her tone. When he returned to reality, he wanted to make sure she understood him when he explained this to her. “When I am close to you,” he said, and took a step toward her, “my stomach hurts,” he gripped his stomach and pasted a face in pain. “It is because of your smell,” he moved his face closer to her and sniffed the air around her, then gripped his stomach with pain all over his face.
“Put your sad face on even though your gut tells you he’s lying,” Elle told herself. “You can’t argue when you have no proof, and you can’t hit him because he said something you don’t like.” “Watch me.” “What about the time we were on the street? We were walking back to the studio,” she said with a little sadness and her eyes big and sad.
“The wind was blowing leeway,” he motioned his hands and arms like waves and blew down the hallway, “so I couldn’t smell you.”
“What about the bookstore?”
“We weren’t in there long enough for my stomach to hurt.”
“What about my first day here? We were in Buzzy’s small room for 4, 5 hours.”
It was obvious that Shen struggled to find a response for this one. “The A/C was on. The room has good ventilation,” he said, first trying to imitate the sound of the A/C and then wiggled his fingers to emulate the A/C working.
“Alright,” she said with her head slightly down, and walked to the common area.