The memories

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My first memory of my childhood was crying helplessly until I couldn't breathe, sucking air in my tiny lungs because the only son of the family who own my mother and I had been mean. Master Li He shoved me down the dirt out of his own cruelty.

It was not a game then, it was intentional. He meant to make me cry and he succeeded upon it. I cried, and I cried and cried screaming without understanding how can anyone be so cruel. I remember my mother as she ran to my side and swallowed me in her protective embrace.

The sound of my cries and the sight of my tears upset her gravely, mother looked at her young master like he was the devil himself. He caused pain to her only daughter and there's nothing she could do about it.

Li He held a firm stare over my mother, leaving her no other choice but to apologize for her daughter's behavior.

"Forgive my daughter, master Li He." Her voice croaked.

Li He pressed his mouth into a thin line without muttering anything as he turned around like a privileged child, leaving a billow of dirt behind his trail as he walked away.

When I was twelve and Li He was fourteen, I caught him with one of the neighborhood girls under the shade of a bamboo tree on a midsummer afternoon. He was leaned on her, her face hidden by his head, difficult for me to see. All I could hear was the soft moans and the sound of their soft lips tangling intimate with each other. 

It scared me back then because I thought for sure that was how adults made babies. I later found it was far from it, but I leaned far enough from my perch to get a good look when I slid and fell, ruining their privacy.

Li He jerked away from the girl nervously, thinking he was found out. He was relieved when he saw me sprawled on the ground, wincing in pain.

"Spying on me, Hui?!"

I shook my head in immediate denial. "No, master. I was here before you two came to make babies."

"Make babies?"

I tucked my head to my chest red as a ripe apple.

He gurgled a laughter and I don't know why he was laughing at me like that when I'm obviously in pain and he's obviously about to be a young father.

Amused, master Li He watched me struggle to get up from the ground. He cocked his head to the side, his eyes on me, and I felt fright being watch by him like that. He was two years older than me, and he was my master.

"Did you see anything?" He implored.

I knew telling the truth could get me in trouble so I outright lied to him. "No, I didn't."

He gleamed with a smile, bending over to help me on my feet. Master Li He fished a piece of candy from his pocket and handed it to me. It was a bribe, and I was sold immediately. He sometimes bribed me with food when I caught him doing what he's not supposed to do. A simple sugary treat was enough to keep my loyalty to him back then.

"Good, don't say anything." He murmured and sent me home. "Go home before you get in trouble."

Without a second thought, I ran home. I had not thought of that afternoon ever since, although I would occasionally find master Li He in all corners of the neighborhood with different girls, that by the time he's sixteen, he must've tasted all the sweet tang of every teenager's lips in the village.

I often caught him and he often bribed me with candies, but by the time I was fourteen, I required more than a piece of candy for my constant loyalty. He gave me a small change here and there, and sometimes, I acquired enough to get me a nice bowl of ramen from the market stall.

We grew up together even though he was cruel to me when I was young, that cruelness faded as we aged. Perhaps, the reason to this was because master Li He never had any sibling, he's the only son of the Liu family and he'll take over the family's wealth once his parents pass away.

I was like a younger sister to him, he scrammed and batted me away whenever I got in his way. He was a womanizer in the making and the signs are all over the place. He broke every unsuspecting girl's heart in a heartbeat, that he's gotten a reputation for being a heartbreaker which gained him more attention from girls much to my surprise.

I never understood women's gluttonous appetite for a sadist like him, but, I guess, girls do like a guy who treats them like shit.

I told him he's a pig one time, but he just kicked his feet and laughed.

We were a team until two years later when his parents chose a proper bride for him. A girl two years his senior from an equally wealthy family.

I was happy for him, the idea of marriage to me was a fairy tale, something I always wanted and dreamed of. Something that could erase my troubles away. A happily ever after I can only dream of.

I must've been the most excited, although I noticed his disinterest and I had no idea why. I thought something like that would make master Li He happy, but it didn't.

I wouldn't have a chance to find out why because, soon, my mother passed away and I was sold to another family as a slave. That was the last time I would see him for a while.


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