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  • Nathalie Ho

Fate of a Protester 2

Ok. You’ve probably been wondering about stuff that has happened ever since you started reading my journal. My name is Joy, and I’m a protester for the Fugitive Bill in Hong Kong.

Let’s pick up where we left off. I’m in a cab right now, heading to our Tsuen Wan headquarters with my BFF Hana. l just learned about the city’s very first case of the Covid-19, a very serious illness from Coronavirus.

I gave Hana a mask and unwrapped one myself, then rubbed my hands using my VERY OLD Hello Kitty sanitizer which still has little itty bitty glitter chunks in there. I wondered how long hand sanitizers remained effective. Oh well, not like I had any other choice.

Suddenly, beep! A message came up on my phone. It was my mom. Ah, just as I thought. Another photo of Joey in the hospital. Suddenly, it came to me. Joey was sick, so she could be at higher risk of catching the virus! I mean anytime is NOT a good time to catch the virus. I told Mom to make sure she was more careful around my sister, and put my phone back in my pocket.

Soon, we arrived. Calvin and the rest of the bomb guys were already there, and they waved at us. I shouted back a hello. The taxi driver gave me a funny look, and opened the door. I paid for the cab ride, and ran out with Hana at my heels.

It wasn't time to strike yet, so while we were getting ready, I texted my mom and told her that I wouldn't reply for a while. I turned on my ear pods and played a song. The song was one of my favorites: Alone, Part 2 by Alan Walker. The lyrics floated through the earbuds and into my ear.

We were young

Posters on the wall

Praying we're the ones

That the teacher wouldn't call

We would stare at each other

'Cause we were always in trouble

We all need that someone

Who gets you like no one else

Right when you need it the most

We all need a soul to rely on

A shoulder to cry on

A friend through the highs and the lows

I'm not gonna make it alone

La la la la la la

Soon, it was time to strike. It was the fourth anniversary of the Mongkok riot in 2016. Hana, me and the bomb guys took all our gear and headed to Portland Street and waited for the rest of our black-clad team to arrive. We started moving things to block the road. Suddenly the police turned up with tear gas.

We charged at the police with full force. I hurled loose bricks from the ground and shouted my head off. (Well, at least that’s what it felt like) Then, BOOM! There came the sound of one of the very first petrol bombs exploding. I ran to the bomb collection point and threw a bomb as far as possible, and then ran as fast as a cheetah to safety.

The bomb exploded nearby at the side of the street with a loud KABLAM!

I quickly ran to go get another one but something didn’t feel right. What was it? I looked around, hoping to get a clue. The only clue I found was everyone crowding around the corner of the block across the street. I ran to go get a closer look… when I got to the scene, l noticed everyone staring at the floor. There were patches of blood.

I took a closer look and saw that a person had fallen from the building at the corner of the street. I called 999 straight away, and the paramedics arrived shortly after. I didn’t have time to check if the person was alright, but I hoped he was.

Soon, we had to go home. It was getting late, past midnight. I went home on the MTR, and once there, my head hit the pillow instantly. That night, l had a dream. I dreamt that Joey caught the coronavirus, and she wasn’t healthy enough to even eat. That made me shudder. I then woke up to the sound of Mom texting me. I then picked my phone up, and saw another picture of Joey, in the hospital bed, with a feeding tube.

Arrgh, I thought. I guess part of my dream about Joey not even being able to eat has come true. I couldn’t sleep anymore after that. I pushed all my bad thoughts to the back of my head. Joey has to get better, I thought. No, she will get better.

After I brushed my teeth, I ran to the kitchen to see my dad still there, silently sipping his coffee while reading the news. I sat down and drank a cup of milk, and my dad said that school was suspended until further notice, because of the coronavirus outbreak. I texted Hana, put my earpods on and tuned into one of the protester podcasts.

I quickly told my dad I was heading out and took my backpack with me before he could even say anything. I ran to the bus stop, and when the bus came, I clicked my Octopus card onto the sensor and went to the empty row of seats in the very back.

A few minutes later, the bus abruptly stopped at the Mong Kok stop. I got off the bus, which pulled away once I left. Suddenly, ping! A text appeared on my screen. I saw a message from Hana saying, I’m in Ngau Tau Kok right now. Taking the MTR. See you soon!

I texted, See you soon. I then walked into the MTR stop, where I saw a friendly, familiar face. I glanced forward. It was Hana! I ran over faster than a cheetah with bionic joints. I hugged her, then we snapped apart. Hana said, “We’ll have time for a cozy catch-up later.” I nodded, and we ran to an old factory building, our headquarters.

I was sitting on a beanbag while munching on an apple. Suddenly, there was a knock on the door, and a parcel was thrown in. It was moving. Strange, I thought. Parcels don’t move.

It was the bomb guys. Calvin came in, opening one of the plastic drawers to get a parcel knife, and someone said, “Hi CalCal!” I giggled silently at the nickname.

Again, ping! Another text appeared on my screen. It was a photo of Joey without a feeding tube, now just a respirator! I was so happy at the moment, but then, a fire came raging into the room!

I screamed and hurriedly hid in the nearby toilet stall. I was trapped!! I screamed and pounded at the door. I couldn’t escape! I felt really anxious and had a hard time breathing…. suddenly, I heard a voice calling out my name. It sounded familiar.

“Joy? ”It sounded like.. Dad?

“Fire… Trapped...Help..” I mumbled.

“Joy!” the voice said again.

“Joy, wake up!” It was my dad. I suddenly realized that I was at home, in bed!

My dad patted me on the back as I groggily sat up. I was sweating and scared. “Huh?” I said. I nearly fell back onto the bed. Dad said, “Do you want some water? Or some ice?”

He cleared his throat. “I think we might need to take you to a therapist. You’ve been having nightmares every night. I think you might have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or depression, or both.”

The therapist was in Central. Dr Lila was really kind and thoughtful. She said my dreams were probably because of what’s been happening, with the protests and Joey. She told me to see her every two weeks and prescribed medicine for depression management. My dad and I stopped on the way back for Starbucks, where I got a Frappucino and went home.

When we got home, my dad made me some fried rice. It was raining outside and I could hear the pitter patter of rain on the window. I ate my dinner, brushed my teeth quickly and watched TV.

I felt sad, but I remembered what Dr. Lila told me. “ Never leave your dreams and give up on them.” I felt happier for a second but kept it to myself. Suddenly, Dad said, “ I have a present for you.” He gave me a brown paper bag. Inside, there were three pristine gift boxes. I opened one. A set of BFF necklaces for Hana and me! I decided to give it to her tomorrow. Then I opened the next one. A best sister necklace for Joey and a locket for me. And in the last box was a black Hong Kong flag symbol locket. I opened the locket, there were two photos inside: one of my family, and another, of the protest team.

I thanked my dad. “I love these, Dad! But why is there a photo of you guys in there? He replied: “Listen, Joy-Joy. Our family is having financial problems right now, and your mom and I are working hard to get them fixed. But we’re not sure whether we are in a stable situation or not. We might need you to move to our aunt’s for a while, so we’ve bought this for you to remember us.”

I didn’t know what to say to that. I tried to sleep but barely got any. The next morning, everything my dad said came flooding back. I went outside to eat my breakfast, then texted my mom. I then asked my dad to drive me to the hospital where Joey was staying. When we got there, I put my mask on and dropped a bag with the other half of the necklace in there. The hospital had stopped accepting visitors.

“Can you drop this off at Ward 24, please?” I wrote my sister’s name on the bag. “Thanks.”

I then ran back to the car, and my dad gave me an update on the Coronavirus. He said there was going to be a lock down. I thought of Hana. I needed to see her before the lock down!

One of my dad’s coworkers, Haley, called him. He told me to go home myself, but I knew we had a protest planned that afternoon at Victoria Park.

I hailed a cab.

To be continued...

This disclaimer informs readers that this is a work of realistic fiction, and any thoughts and views expressed in the text belong solely to the author and/or the author's protagonist. The artwork featured is by Kai Lan Egg, an anonymous artist from Hong Kong.


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