Trying to avoid studying for her ACT, Lixue decided to play World of Warcraft. She was still a newbie, only at level 20. She was so close to leveling up. Lixue completed a side quest which was enough to level her up.
“Maximum level for free players reached. If you want to continue playing, buy the game now for only $20.” Lixue’s jaw dropped. When she found out that it was free to play, she thought they meant that it was free. She had asked her mother two months ago to get the game, but she pelted Lixue with questions.
“Why do you want to play that game? Will it help you in school? Don’t you have tests to study for? Don’t I have to pay for it?” Once Lixue mentioned that it was free, her mother sucked her teeth and pursed her lips. “Fine, but if I see any slacking I will take it away.”
Lixue pondered if she should try to beg for the actual game. ‘Couldn’t hurt to try, right?’ she thought to herself.
“Mom!” She leaped off the couch to find her.
“I’m in the kitchen!” Lixue sped towards the kitchen. Her mother was prepping and cutting vegetables.
“Mom, remember when you said I could get World of Warcraft?” Her mother nodded. Lixue nervously rubbed her elbow. “Well, I just found out that it isn’t actually free. It’s 20 dollars, plus 15 dollars every month after that.” Her mother stopped cutting. “Can you please buy me a subscription to World of Warcraft? Please? I really want to play. Please?”
“Why do you keep asking me to play that damn game?” She swung the long, sharp knife carelessly, prompting Lixue to shuffle out of range. “It’s worthless, you should be putting your energy into more important things, like your ACT that is coming up in a few weeks.” Her mother continued to chop the pepper in her hand, this time cutting with a bit more force than before.
“But I’ve been studying for the past 5 weeks nonstop. I just want something else to do besides studying all the time.” Lixue pouted. Her mother rolled her eyes, and sighed.
“Fine, go ask your father to buy it for you.” Lixue squealed with joy. “If I see you slacking on your studies, I’ll swiftly remove it. Now stop bothering me, I’m busy.” Lixue ran and hugged her mother, earning an annoyed sigh, and then ran to locate her father, who was in his office.
“Dad! I found out that World of Warcraft isn’t actually free and you need to pay for a subscription. Mom agreed and told me to ask you to pay for it.” Her father looked up from his work and smiled.
“Anything for Lixue. What’s the link?” Lixue helped her father go through the process of buying the subscription.
“And, done. You should be all set.” He ruffled Lixue’s hair. “Have fun playing.” She bounced all the way back to her room and logged in on her computer.
After playing for a few hours, she got stuck on a certain quest. She met a higher level player whose username was ‘KingYi’, who helped her with the quest.
“If you need help in the future, then you should add me on WoWBuBble.” KingYi messaged. Lixue had never heard of it.
“What’s that?” She asked.
“It’s a fanmade website where WoW players can chat and stuff. My username is the same on there. I gotta get going now, remember to add me.” With that, he logged off. ‘They would definitely be of use in the future, I should check out that site.’ Lixue thought. She found the website and made an account.
“KingYip wasn’t it? KingYelp?” After butchering the name several times, she finally remembered that it was KingYi and found his profile. “Request sent. Hopefully he responds soon, I have another big task to do.”
Over the next few months, Lixue played and worked her way up to level 67 quickly with the help of KingYi. They chatted every day and night on WoWBuBble. Lixue found out more about him. His name was actually Yi, he’s 17, and he also lives in Pennsylvania. Lixue couldn’t explain why, but she felt butterflies every time she spoke to Yi. ‘This is weird, Yi is a guy and I’m pretty sure I do not like guys.’ She thought. She’s never seen him in person, for all she knows, this could be a pedophile who is trying to kidnap her. One night, she got a message from him.
“Hey, you said you live in Pennsylvania right?” Lixue became suspicious of the intentions behind this message and approached with caution.
“I just wanted to know if you wanted to meet up in the next week or so. It would be really cool to just chill with each other.” Lixue’s hands started becoming sweaty.
“Oh, I don’t know. How do I know you’re not a 50something year old man trying to kidnap me or kill me and sell my organs on the black market?” Yi sent several laughing emoticons.
“No, I’m not 50 years old, I’m 17. How do you want me to prove it to you?” Lixue has seen several pictures of people trying to prove who they are over the internet, but she wanted to make sure her idea was original.
“This will probably sound really strange, but you can prove it by recording a video of you doing the macarena with a book on your head, and holding a toothbrush in your mouth.” Lixue immediately regretted sending the request but she couldn’t take it back now. She thought she had ruined the conversation.
“That is pretty strange but since you don’t believe me, I’ll do it, give me like 5 minutes.” ‘This is it, I ruined another friendship with my strange remarks.’ She thought. Each minute that passed felt like hours. 7 minutes had passed before she finally got a reply.
“Sorry about the delay, it was pretty hard to get the book to stay on my head.” Yi messaged, along with the video. Lixue noticed that Yi had really long silver hair. ‘Wow, he has really long hair, something you rarely see on guys.’ She clicked on the video. Lixue took one look at Yi’s face, and then took a look a Yi’s body.
“Yi’s a girl?” She screamed. She clamped her hand over her mouth, hoping she didn’t draw too much attention from her family. She watched the video again, focusing more on Yi’s face. ‘She’s pretty’ Lixue thought, her heart skipping a beat. Lixue messaged Yi again.
“Okay so I believe you now, but I was shocked to find out you were a girl. I just assumed you were a boy because your username is KingYi and your character is a male after all.” Yi sent more laughing emoticons.
“I made my character male and named him KingYi so that I wouldn’t get annoying comments whenever guys find out that I’m a girl, it gets annoying.” Lixue nodded in agreement, even though Yi wouldn’t be able to see her. “Anyways, since I proved to you that I am not a middle aged man, it’s your turn to do the same.” Lixue groaned, realizing that she’ll now have to embarrass herself instead. After several failed attempts, she got through most of the dance before the book fell. Not wanting to try anymore, she sent the best video to Yi.
“I’m glad you’re not an old man either. You’re really pretty by the way.” Lixue blushed and squealed. “Back to the original topic, would you like to meet up on Friday? Around 4pm?”
Lixue smacked herself in the face to calm herself down.
“Um, if you don’t mind me asking, where do you live? I live in Montgomery County.” Lixue’s palms became even sweatier.
“Oh really? I live there too! That’s perfect. Wanna meet up at Plymouth Meeting Mall?” The mall wasn’t too far from Lixue’s school, so she could probably make it.
“I’ll meet you at the big fountain. Friday. I gotta go eat dinner now, so I’ll talk to you later.” Lixue began to blush again and squealed again until her older brother yelled at her from down the hall. She sucked her teeth, and flailed her limbs silently.
The first rays of early morning sunlight hit Lixue’s eyelids, causing her face to scrunch up. She mumbled several times as she turned over and pulled her sheets to cover her head, only to end up punching herself in the chin. Lixue opened her eyes and aimlessly stared at the vanity across the room. Her gaze was unbroken until her annoying reminder alarm went off. She reached across to the nightstand and picked up her phone. Her face lit up as she read what the reminder said. Today was the day. The day she would finally meet Yi, the girl she had been talking to over WoWBuBble for the past 3 months.
Lixue hopped out of bed, any faster and she would have nearly skipped like a rock on water. She danced with every step on her way to the bathroom to freshen up. She sang ten times as loud in the shower, only ceasing her singing when her older brother pounded on the door, nearly breaking the door down. After her shower, she put on one of her favorite outfits—her oversized pink Tokyo baseball shirt, black shorts and her customized pink and white jordans. She brushed her teeth vigorously while rambunctiously dancing and singing to “Navillera” by GFriend.
Lixue’s parents were in the living room watching the morning news. Lixue came down the steps and could hear the clicking of the remote as the volume increased.
“Last night, a young teenage girl was found dead in her home. The cause of death has been determined to be a suicide, however there were several bruises on her body. Questioning of her closest friends revealed that she was being bullied at school and harassed by her parents because of her sexuality.” Lixue stopped right before the archway of the living room. “Her parents admitted to verbally abusing their daughter but insisted that they were only doing it to “scare the gay” out of her.”
“It’s good that she killed herself.” Her father said, his voice booming over the already loud enough TV. “She would have brought shame to her family. Being gay is a disease that we must cure. I’m so glad Shen isn’t gay, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. Lixue on the other hand, she has yet to show any interest in the opposite sex, which worries me greatly. I don’t want to be disgraced and be looked down upon if it is true.” If what is true? Lixue felt several jabs in her heart, as if someone had thrown several bricks at it. She wanted to jump into the room and defend herself, but knew she would have revealed herself if she did.
“I’m sure Lixue is perfectly normal. She probably just doesn’t want to talk about boys because you might go crazy.”
“Shouldn’t she be going through a boygroup crazy stage right now? I would expect her to have a million posters of some boygroup but she has none. She has some posters of girl groups, which is more worrisome.”
“You’re just overanalyzing at this point.” Lixue couldn’t bear to hear anymore sewage that was spewing out of her father’s mouth. She quietly tiptoed to the front door and left.
On the bus ride, her parents conversation replayed over and over in her head as she stared out the window. She shook her head. She readjusted herself to sit straight, closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Her phone buzzed in her hand from a message.
“Good morning, can’t wait to see you this afternoon!” It read. Lixue’s face lit up immediately and she began to dance in her seat. All negative thoughts left her mind as the bus continued to move towards her stop.
The entire school day Lixue could barely focus on her work. During the last 2 minutes of her last class, Lixue squirmed in her seat while staring at the clock. When the bell finally rang, she shoved all of her supplies into her bookbag and sprinted out the door.
“Wow Lixue what’s the hurry?” Lixue’s best friend Joyce called out. However, she was tuned out. Lixue only had one goal in mind. She ran as fast as her short legs allowed her to the mall that was only 6 blocks away from her school. Stopping just short of the entrance of the mall, Lixue caught her breath and wiped away the sweat beads that formed on her forehead. First impressions were everything and she couldn’t allow herself to be seen like that. After regaining composure, she checked her phone. She received another message but never felt the buzz.
“I’m sitting on the big fountain in the middle of the mall!” It read. Lixue put her phone in her pocket and nervously opened the door to the mall. She quickly walked across the mall, maneuvering herself through the thick crowd. She didn’t even realize how fast she was walking until she saw that she walked to the middle of the mall in only 2 minutes when it usually takes 5 minutes. There were several people sitting around the circumference of the fountain. Lixue walked around it, briefly scanning everyone, looking for the person that matched the profile picture. It was extremely loud in the mall and it was hindering her sight. Lixue began to think of the worst possibilities. What if it was a catfish? What if it was someone that hated her and was trying to get revenge on her? What if it was someone who was going to try and kidnap her? She felt a slight buzz in her pocket and pulled out her phone. Another message.
“I see you!” Lixue’s heart jumped and her mind began to fog. She looked around again and made eye contact with a girl. The girl was beautiful. Long hair that was dyed a pretty silvery gray, small dark eyes and plump lips. Her skin was fair and smooth. It was Yi. She smiled at Lixue. Even her smile was beautiful. Her eyes smiled along with her lips as well. Lixue’s mouth became dry and her throat tightened. The girl sprung up and walked across towards where Lixue stood.
“Hi! You’re Lixue aren’t you? Wow, you’re even prettier in person.” Lixue nodded slowly and could felt the blush creeping up on her cheeks.
“Y-y-yeah. That’s me. It’s g-g-great to meet you f-finally. And, th-thanks for the compliment.” She choked. Yi smiled again.
“You’re blushing so hard.” Lixue knew her face was tomato red at this point and tried to hide it by pulling her shirt up to her eyes. Yi giggled. Even her laugh was cute to Lixue. “Let’s walk around the mall and chat?” Lixue dropped her shirt and shyly nodded. Yi smiled and grabbed Lixue’s clammy hand, leading her towards Hot Topic.
They walked around for quite some time before stopping at the food court. As they ate their food, they continued their conversations, both equally enjoying each other’s company.
Lixue’s parents could never find out about this, especially after the conversation overheard this morning. Who knows what could happen.
“Today was a great day. I’m glad I came outside and met you. I really was afraid you would have been a catfish or a creep.” Yi chuckled.
“I thought the same thing as I was looking for you.” Lixue nervously laughed. Yi checked her phone.
“Oh no, it’s already five. I have to go home now, my parents would kill me if I stayed out late on a school night.” Yi got up out of her chair and so did Lixue.
“Thanks for today, and I hope we can hang out again sometime.” Lixue said. Yi nodded and smiled that same smile that Lixue liked. Yi went in for a hug and did the unexpected. She kissed Lixue on the cheek. Lixue stood there frozen, unable to believe what was happening. She looked around the food court and made eye contact with a very familiar person. She came back to her senses and realized she was staring at her father.