Welcome to the club. Let's pick a chapter.




"Green Team, fighting!"

"Blue Team, let's go!"

"Green Team, yeah!"

"Come on, Blue Team!"

Loud cheers and encouraging shouts filled the basketball court as the final round of the tug-o-war was about to begin. There were many small boys wearing different colored shirts all around the court. Some were cheering for their team, some were cheering for their own friends. No one was backing down.

Since this was an important match—being the final and all—the two teams chose the oldest kids for this age bracket, the 3rd graders, to fill up more than half of their total team members.

"We're ready! We're ready!" A tall boy at the end of the line shouted to the one in the front in a blue shirt. As expected, all the stronger kids were in the back and the intimidating-looking ones were in the front. It seemed that the Blue Team had chosen all the teachers' most favorite students (or just from the entire 3rd graders) to be in the front. The Green Team, on the other hand, still hadn't figured out their lineup yet.

Over a minute had gone by and it seemed the Green Team was finally able to make up their mind. They grouped up and yelled a cheer before each of them walked to their designated position. As predicted, the bigger boys were in the back. There was a Chinese-looking boy with round eyes and a red nose, as though he had a cold, in the front of the line.

A neat looking boy was leading the Blue Team. He kept staring at the boy with the big round eyes opposite of him. The referee blew the whistle and started off this fierce competition.

All the boys around the court were cheering them on. The female teachers were having fun watching this match too, because it seemed neither of the teams were losing any strengths as proven by the red cloth that was tied in the middle of the rope. It was still in the same spot as when the competition began. Both teams were giving it their all.

"Green Team, fighting!"

"Blue Team, fighting!"

"Green Team, fighting!"

"Blue Team, fighting!"

It wasn't just the teams competing that weren't losing any strength, but the same was for the boys that were cheering them on too. The boy in the front of the Blue Team wiped the sweat on his forehead with his arm. The sun was getting to him. On the other hand, the boy with a light skin from the Green Team seemed perfectly fine. But then, something seemed wrong. Something was happening to him.


The boy in the blue shirt noticed that something was happening to his competitor. His dark eyes were staring at the boy whose thin eyebrows were slowly moving closer. That boy's red nose was twitching as though he wasn't paying any attention to the competition when he was supposed to.


The boy's half-closed round eyes began moving closer. His red lips were frowning. The boy in blue lost his focus for a moment as he watched what was taking place in front of him.


A loud sneeze came out of those red lips and nose. He let go of the rope. Everyone else was so startled by this that they also let go and fell over in a messy pile.


All of the boys, big and small, were crying out in pain. The boy who started all of this got the worst of it as he scraped his light-skinned knees. The referee and the teachers all rushed in to check on everyone.

"Take him to the nurse's office!" The suntanned gym teacher yelled after he had inspected the wounds. The injured boy protested loudly with no sign of stopping.

"I don't wanna! It doesn't even hurt!" But the bleeding knees proved otherwise. The gym teacher could only wearily shook his head at the boy.

"You still need to go even if it doesn't hurt, or it'll scar."

"No, I'm not going!" The small voice continued to make a fuss in the middle of the court tirelessly. Coach Suwat, the gym teacher, was at his wit's end so he left the boy be. But then, another boy spoke up.

"Hey...you can go with me. I'm heading to the nurse's office too."

"Hm?" The boy who made a scene furrowed his thin brows once he saw his competitor standing in front of him. The boy in a green shirt frowned at the boy wearing a blue shirt. He was rather confused, but he understood once he noticed that the other boy had scraped his knees as well.

The neat-looking boy smiled and stretched out his hand to help the injured boy. The boy in a green shirt stared back with hesitations.

"Let's go together?"

This time, he took the boy in the blue shirt's hand. He allowed his friend to help him to the nurse's office without any further protests.


"Alright, is everybody here? Well, I'm not waiting for those that aren't here. I'm starting our meeting for this year's Thai language theater performance." A middle age female teacher who looked somewhat menacing lightly tapped on a stack of papers on the meeting table.

A pair of high heels clicked around the room as scripts were being given out to the students. The teacher stopped in front of a boy who seemed to be polite and well-mannered.

"Phun. You're the only representative for the 5th graders?"

"Uh..." But before he could answer, someone had loudly opened the door and interrupted him.

"I'm sorry for being late! Gasp, gasp, gasp." A scrawny light-skinned boy whose shirts are untucked quickly apologized to the teacher. He stood at the doorway, still gasping for air. The teacher glared at him, but then she nodded and let the bratty student inside the room without scolding him.

"Thanks for saving me a spot!" The newcomer grinned widely and dashed to his seat next to the student of his year. The two weren't very close, but they've been in the same school for five years now so they were at least somewhat acquainted with one another.

"Here. I saved you a copy of the script. How come you were late, Noh?"

"Oh! Thanks again! It was my turn to clean up the classroom but I ended up ditching anyway. Ohm is gonna get on my case when I get back for sure." His red lips moved and spat out some complaints as his dark round eyes scanned the script he had received earlier.

"Jeez! What's up with these dialogues?! 'His Highness had given me the order to find out if Your Highness shall be leaving. If so, His Highness will accompany Your Highness, but if not, then His Highness shall not be leaving without Your Highness.' That is insane! Is this even human language?! Can't it be simpler than this?!" His high-pitch voice was so loud that his friend next to him reached over and covered his chatty mouth. But it was too late, the teacher was already glaring his way.

Phun gave his teacher an embarrassed smile before he whispered something to his noisy friend. "Don't complain so loudly..."

"Right, right." He quickly answered after he made his noisy complaints. "Sorry..." Noh whispered and he stiffly nodded to his teacher apologetically.

"Mine is pretty difficult too." Phun continued to speak as he went over his own lines. His sharp eyes glanced at his friend who was scratching his buzz cut head. He couldn't help but smile to himself.

"Noh, do you wanna run lines with me during lunch then?" And with those words, the boy with furrowed brows looked back up with excitement.

"For real?!"


"Let's do it! Let's do it! Thanks! I wonder how many times I thanked you today." His round eyes were clearly filled with joy.

Phun chuckled softly. "I wasn't keeping count. Hahaha. I'll see you tomorrow at noon then."



"Goddamn it, 'Keng! Why the hell did you drag me here?! It's so fucking boring! I can't even fucking curse! Damn it!" The source of the cracked voice came from a boy with a buzz cut and a pair of red lips. He began making a scene in the midst of easy listening music in the background. There were standing in a garden that has been transformed into a birthday party setting for the oldest son of this household who was turning 15.

As expected, Rodkeng responded with a smack on the boy's buzz cut head.

"If you know that you're not supposed to curse then why are you raising your voice?! Go find something to stuff your goddamn mouth before you drive the both of us insane." The skinny boy said and he shoved a plate full of food at his bratty friend's face.

He continued with the scolding. "I figured that you know Phun and you live pretty close to each other. That's why I invited you along." The listener has gone quiet since he was too preoccupied with finishing off all the shrimp in front of him in under a minute.

Noh chewed swiftly then swallowed. He followed up with big gulps of water from a glass. "We not that close or anything though. Okay, I'm out. You're gonna stay, right? I'm just gonna head home and play some video games."

"Yo! You're just gonna ditch after you ate all you wanted, asshole?!"

"Yep. That's me. I'm outta here. See ya!" He immediately got up from his seat without any hesitations before he waved goodbye to Rodkeng and his other friends that were more like acquaintances. Then, he made his way out of the huge mansion's gate.

"Eh, 'Keng? What about Noh? Didn't you two come here together?" Not a minute later and the birthday boy arrived and asked about someone who had just left using his deep voice.

"He just left, Phun. What's up?"

"Already?" The birthday boy seemed startled by this so Rodkeng quickly added something.

"He went that way. Better make it quick if you wanna talk to him then. He left just a minute ago so you should be able to catch him if you hurry."

"Thanks." Phun said with a smile before he ran off.

There were only the neon lights from the street lamps reflecting the darken small street in the middle of the night

Noh took his steps and followed the familiar path. He made sure to keep his eyes out for passing by motorcycle for hire. The music from the party could still be heard faintly from behind him.

Thud! Thud! Thud!

"Noh! Noh!"

Whose voice is that? The owner of the name thought to himself. He turned around to see the owner of the birthday party had fled from his own party.

"Phun? What's up?" Noh stopped walking so Phun could catch up. He gasped for some air once he had arrived to where Noh was, then he proceeded to speak.

"You're going home already? The party must've been boring. Sorry about that."

"Oh!" Even thought that was true, he couldn't just admit that because he felt sorry for the owner of the party. "No! My ma called so I gotta get home. Sorry that I couldn't stay until the end of your party." The Chinese-looking boy quickly gave a white lie and patted his not-exactly-close-and-everyone-thinks-looks-really-handsome friend on the shoulder out of guilt.

There was a relieved smile on Phun's face. "Why don't I walk you home? I had no idea you live around here."

"That's okay! I can get home by myself, no problems!" He grinned before he decided to say something in a sly tone. "I bet all the girls are missing the birthday boy since he's been gone for a while now. Heh heh heh." It was obvious because several girls from the convent were at the party tonight. Phun smiled shyly after being teased and Noh nudged at his handsome friend with his elbow a couple of times.

"I like the one in pink. You should introduce me to her."

"Hahaha, sure, sure." Phun beamed back which caused Noh to broke out into a smile of his own.

"I'm gonna get going now!"

"Okay, get home safe, Noh."

"I'll try. Heh heh." The boy answered before he turned back and walked down the path that he was on. But then it seemed he was reminded of something so he turned back around.

"Hey, Phun!" He shouted loudly because he thought that Phun had already walked away, but that wasn't the case. Phun was still standing in the same spot. Noh scratched his head out of embarrassment.

"Happy birthday, man."

When Noh said those words, he did not expect a big smile from Phun. Phun himself acted like he couldn't believe his own ears at first, but his wide grin was met with another wide grin from the person who used him a happy birthday.

"I didn't bring any presents though...sorry." Noh apologized and Phun shook his head.

"That's okay. I'm glad that you decided to come to the party." Hm, that's something the party owner typically says to his guests, isn't it? The buzz cut boy thought to himself. At any rate, he smiled back in return.


He raised his light-colored hand above his head to say goodbye then he turned back and walked away.

That night, Noh had no idea that he would get another chance to come back to this mansion, and that he would never be able to turn his back on Phun ever again.