The Middle Years

A special chapter that peers into the early days before Kongpob met Arthit.

December 12th, 2011

Arthit has a favourite cubicle in the third floor bathroom.

Granted, every cubicle in that particular bathroom is an apt choice, but in his opinion, the one at the far end with the frosted window is the best, being slightly roomier and with ample lighting to read his newest Snoopy comic. Not exactly a bench at the park, but still a far cry from the hazardous school cafeteria nonetheless. 

According to some silly myth that had been borne of theories following the release of some popular wizard movie Arthit had never seen, school bathrooms are prime real estate for crying ghosts.

It’s funny, because the only one who regularly occupies the stale, cold space at the end of the corridor is none other than Arthit himself, and he’s certainly alive and breathing.

It’s also not funny at all, because as far as his classmates are concerned, he may as well not be.

He’d taken to bringing his packed lunch in here each day ever since one of the ninth graders had unceremoniously flipped his lunch tray with a loud smack and a delighted cackle, decorating the front of Arthit’s shirt with watery brown stains.

Look, Porky shat himself!

In front of his sceptical mother and to the apathetic teacher on duty, he’d claimed it was a mere accident, that he’d been walking from the lunch line to his table and tripped on his shoelace. She’d pursed her lips in suspicion when he’d asked to pack his lunch instead, but reluctantly agreed on the basis that it was more cost efficient for them. 

When Prae had wrangled the truth out of him, however, he’d insisted he was fine, begging her to not to tell Por, lest he cause a scene at the school, or worse, take it out on Mae again. The last thing he needs is to draw any more attention to himself, as if the tightness of his shorts around his thighs and the hole in the toe of his shoe isn’t enough to set off a wave of snickers across his entire class.

Well, except for him.

The boy stumbles into Arthit’s peripheral attention one day when a spontaneous racket rumbles from outside the frosted window of his lunchtime dwelling. While it’s not at all out of the ordinary for him to hear the odd peal of laughter or smack of a ball against the backboard  of a hoop, the desolate bathroom overlooks only the school pond, hardly a spot for anyone to loiter unless they have a particular affinity with turtles and lily pads. 

“W-what are you doing?”

“A little bird tells me that you’ve done some…growing over the school break.”

It’s a sinister, unchaste voice Arthit knows and fears well, the same one that mocks his mere existence as soon as he enters the school grounds, and peering over the ledge of the windowsill, the sight of the burly ninth-grader confirms his suspicions. 


The tyrannical, skin-headed bully is surrounded by a posse of decidedly smaller boys, a vicious hyena leading its pathetic pack. They crowd around the pond — or rather, a girl who Arthit recognises to be from his own class. Fang (he thinks her name is) has her arms clutched around the front of her shirt, gripping her shoulders and arching further and further back in a fearful tremble as the domineering cluster of boys surround her, cornering her until she’s just a sudden yelp away from falling into the mossy water.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Excuse m—”

“What are you so shy for? You were so eager to show your friends earlier,” one of them sneers at the trembling girl. “Surely, you don’t mind showing us, too.”

Arthit gulps hard, not wanting to assume, but dreading their intentions. From his own run-ins with liquids and white shirts, he can’t foresee poor Fang being backed towards the tiny pond turning out any way other than — well, Arthit would rather not think about what that would mean for his classmate.

“I-I don’t—please, I need to go now,” Fang’s meek reply has Arthit’s own heart thudding in his ears from the sheer stress of witnessing the scene. 

He momentarily contemplates fetching one of the teachers, but if his own fruitless attempts at seeking assistance from the school had been any indication, little is likely to come of it. 

If I could find a way to distract them, then she could get away.

The pond is about a twenty-foot drop from the window, and Fang’s foot had been treading the pebbled edge, threatening at any moment to slip from beneath her. 

Arthit backs away from the window, clambering down as quietly as possible from the toilet lid. Being in a toilet, there’s not a whole lot at his disposal for him to conveniently plonk down into the water. A roll of toilet paper? A bar of soap? 

No, it would be a blatant giveaway as to where the disruption had come from, not to mention that he doesn’t want to accidentally kill the turtles in the unfortunate case that they swallow either of those things. 

It’s a scramble of a scavenge as his eyes rummage the entirety of his immediate surroundings in pursuit of anything he can sacrifice, before they land on his lunch box, perched open on top of the water closet. 

He grimaces. If his father were here, he’d get an earful about how wasteful it is to play with food. But there isn’t much other choice. Carefully, he plucks a warm piece of look chin moo out the container between two chubby fingers, and to nobody but himself, Arthit decides that the circumstances justify themselves enough to be exempt from horseplay. 

The narrow gap of the open window that he’d been peering through is just wide enough for him to stick his fingers out. And then he waits, for the perfect moment.

“No! Please, just leave me alone!”

Fang is in tears now, and Arthit can make out her desperate whimper for help just loud enough that he almost lets go of the meatball right then and there. 

“Oh, I’ll let you go, as soon as you show us what you’re hiding,” Tum edges nearer, pulling at Fang’s wrists to remove them from her chest as she struggles in his grasp. “I’ll show you mine if you show me—”


The spherical pork lands in the water with a quiet splash. So quiet, in fact, that the boys below don’t even notice that it’s happened. The interruption to Tum’s taunting instead comes from one of his minions, who taps him on the shoulder with panicked urgency.

“What’s going on here?”

Arthit, who’d ducked down as soon as he’d dropped the meatball, as though bracing for an explosion, clamours back to the windowsill at the sound of the familiar voice.


Fang immediately slips away in the other boys’ distraction, scrambling behind this other boy for protection. The boy — Kongpob — furrows his brow at the gaggle of gobsmacked boys, who, if previously contemptuous in their stance, are now tucking their proverbial tails between their legs.

“Fang, Kru Pat is looking for you,” he turns calmly to the girl, who is all but grateful to slip away. 

“Yes, I’ll get going!”

And then she’s scurrying back towards the main courtyard, her short bob flapping with necessity from the sheer speed at which she’s moving.

“Everything okay here?” 

Arthit knows where he’s heard that voice before. From his seat in the corner of the school auditorium, every third Monday, the soothing timbre of Kongpob’s voice lulls him into a soothed slumber, no less because English is not exactly Arthit’s forte.

Kongpob, Arthit decides, sounds cosmically more captivating when speaking Thai. He’d never seen anyone carry themselves with such quiet command, especially in the face of the likes of Tum and his pack of violently insecure bootlickers, and especially for an eight-grader. 

The boy even has politely drawn features and broad shoulders to match his impressive demeanour, and Kongpob now pulls a tight smile.

“In that case, there’s no reason to be hanging around the girls’ bathroom then, is there?”



There passes a few seconds during which a flurry of exchanged glances wash over Tum and his squires, and then, without a word, they dodge past Kongpob, leaving with a hurriedness to match a house gecko across the ceiling. 

And then there remains only Kongpob, who watches the boys leaving for a few moments before surveying the area one last time, and, when Arthit least expects it, looking straight up at the window. 

He gasps, then scrambles back to the floor again, the tiles on the wall cool against the prickling moisture down his neck and back. His heart hasn’t raced this much since he was small enough to fit under the dining chair as a hiding spot, and the nervous sweat accumulating in his pits only exacerbates the rush. 

He waits.

And waits.

Ten achingly long seconds, until he can no longer hear the echoes of his own hyperventilating in the empty bathroom. 

When he finally dares peer his large, wary eyes back over the tiled windowsill, the coast is clear leaving only the inhabitants of the pond to feast on the only evidence of his presence. Kongpob has left.

And so, too, has Arthit’s breath been taken.

“You don’t understand, Prae, he was like a superhero!”

Prae snorts, tucking her pencil behind her ear, huffing as she loosens the bow around her collar. “How are any of the boys in at your school superheroes? I thought they were all horrible to you.”

“They are, but Kongpob is just…he’s different.”

Arthit bites into a stick of moo ping, eagerly recounting that day’s events to his best and only friend as they lay out their homework on the wooden dining table. He starts with Maths, working through the problems with swift ease as he rambles about his particularly eventful day to his best and only friend.

“And he’s in your class?”


“I’ve never heard you mention him before.”

“There are like, fifty other kids in my class. I don’t mention them. What’s your point?”

Prae watches the boy chew on his afternoon snack, his plump, rosy cheeks holding the food inside them for longer than seems absolutely necessary. True enough, he’s never brought up any of his schoolmates, other than the ones who give him a hard time, but Arthit isn’t the type to speak excitedly of anyone, either. She frowns at him in thought, observing his atypical chirpiness.

“Nothing, I guess,” she shrugs after a while. “Just be careful.”

“He was so cool,” Arthit continues, brushing off her warning. “He was all like, There’s no reason to be hanging around the girls’ bathroom then, is there?” He exaggerates a hair flip, tilting his chin up in mock confidence to mimic Kongpob’s supposed machismo. Prae chuckles, entertained by the theatrical imitation. “And then Tum and those other boys just scuttled away like cockroaches! I would never want to be on Kongpob’s bad side.” 

“Have you ever even spoken to him?”

Arthit scratches the side of his face, pausing in the middle of a problem, suddenly stuck.


And truthfully, he doesn’t know if he ever wants to. You should never meet your heroes, Por always tells him. What if, in the moment’s bravery, Arthit decides to actually talk to Kongpob, and it turns out that he is, in fact, just like all the others? What if he’d merely witnessed a single act of kindness?

“It’s better that way anyhow,” he tells Prae. “He would never notice me in a million years.”

But even superheroes need guardians, Arthit decides, and if he can’t fight alongside him, then he’ll happily cheer form him on the sidelines.

Of course, Arthit very soon comes to learn that his newfound hero is somewhat the object of affection in the eyes of a signifiant portion of the student body. 

As with many other things, he seems to always be the last one to be in the loop on all things that his peers have been buzzing about for some weeks, or even months. Sometimes, it’s a video game for a console that Arthit doesn’t own, or a TV series that can only be streamed illegally on some website that 100Mbps just can’t handle (and in any case, he doesn’t have time to watch). 

Other times, it’s gossip about their teachers, like how their art teacher had divorced her husband and started a relationship with their maths teacher, only to abruptly leave the school two months before the summer break. Or when one of the seventh graders had dared open their homeroom teacher’s desk drawer in search of a pack of chalk, only to find dozens of pair of white plimsoll shoes (all worn and of different sizes) stuffed to the brim. 

The former, he’d overhead by mere chance when he’d been in the toilet of the boys’ changing room, where he’d planned to stay throughout the entire P.E. Lesson. The latter had been announced in assembly, their principal warning students of the consequences of such pranks (although nobody owned up to it, only stirring up further curiosity).

But when it comes to his classmates, Arthit admits that he mostly returns their lack of heed towards him, content to fade into the background. Despite his conspicuously round frame, he manages to remain relatively unspectacular, escaping comments about himself as he waits to be the last to leave the classroom at lunch, and rushes to be the first to return. 

He knows they still talk. But that doesn’t mean he has to subject himself to hearing of it. 

Nevertheless, his newfound favourite pastime has brought him to the conclusion that he isn’t the sole constituent of Kongpob’s support network.

From the other side of the classroom, Arthit watches as he chats calmly with another boy in their class, another person that whose name he doesn’t particularly recall, if only for the fact that he’s never stuck his fist or insult in Arthit’s face before. 

Arthit only has one real friend, but as far as he can tell, Kongpob is far more relaxed around this boy than most others, otherwise pasting on bewilderment when someone (usually a girl) stops by his desk, interjecting themselves into the conversation to ask him something or to hand him a well-meaning gift. 

Most times, it’s sleek, brand-name stationery, all of which Kongpob accepts with a polite smile and a bow of his head. Other times, his desk is piled with barbecue-flavoured corn puffs from the convenience store down the road (Arthit knows exactly which one; it’s the only one along Yaowarat Road that sells the specific flavour). The word that it was Kongpob’s favourite had somehow gotten around when he was seen nicking a few kernels from a classmate’s portion during recess one day. Kongpob doesn’t eat any of the gifted snacks, though, Arthit observes, instead pushing them over to his friend when he thinks nobody is looking anymore.

Arthit frowns as he turns away, staring out of the window again. He has nothing to offer the boy, what with how he doesn’t receive any allowance, and he’s afraid to ask, lest he see the anguished crease between his mother’s brows again. 

Besides, what would even be the point? What would someone like Kongpob ever want anything to do with the likes of him? Forget being friends, Arthit doesn’t think that the boy would even be able to recognise him outside of the school grounds.

Nobody does. After all, he’s just the ghost in the third floor bathroom.

Kongpob is rich, Arthit learns several weeks later. Or, well, his family is wealthy. 

For once, he pays full attention at the monthly assembly, nodding in agreement with Kongpob’s scripted speech, which he delivers with sheer sincerity and gusto that Arthit believes and concurs with every word, even if he only understands a handful of them. 

If only he could possess such an air of confidence and poise.

Of course, though, one quick glance down at his waistline and a gravy stain from months ago that hasn’t quite faded suggests to Arthit that, as his classmates frequently remind him, he isn’t built for that sort of presentation. Despite having skipped lunch, accidentally on purpose leaving his lunch in the fridge before leaving for school, he’s still full from yesterday’s street binge.

Por had been in a mood again, and drawn the eyes of the entire student body as he’d boomed out  My son! at the front gates as he’d been leaving school. Today, we feast like kings! Arthit had groaned, but forced a tight smile as his father pushed him along by the shoulder blades, practically skimming bowls of soup out of stirring pots and snatching skewered meats off of grills as they zoomed past the regular stalls. 

As far as parents go, Arthit hates to admit that he feels a little safer around his mother, although he’d witnessed her fair share of wrath when Por had left a scatter of Chang bottles under the bed. He doesn’t talk about their fights even to Prae, although he’s certain that she can hear (and feel) every word from across the hallway. In fact, it’s almost inevitable that the entire building can hear his father’s thunderous voice, even when he’s not shouting. 

Arthit isn’t embarrassed, no. More like apologetic.

Kongpob’s mother, on the other hand, is far from anything that anyone would have to apologise for. It’s clear from whom the boy inherits his grace. Arthit watches with wonder as the pretty, blue-blazered woman is introduced onto the stage as the chairperson of the PTA.

Khun Malee Sutthiluck will now present the awards to the students with the highest-earning stalls from our Spring Fair

Large, embroidered ribbons alternating in navy and amber to match the school’s colours passed over with a gentle handshake and a warm smile for the student photographer, the next image to surely make the latest feature on the homepage of the school website. Her kind eyes crinkle at the edges the way Kongpob’s do, each with their own matching dimple at the point of their chin. 

Only those with money and power become board members, Arthit knows. Por had told him such plenty of times whenever he would come home with the latest edition of the school newsletter, tutting something rich, bored housewives and property hoarders

“Kongpob is different,” he blurts in spontaneous defense what he’d told Prae to his own mother when she recounts stories of PTA members at other school using their positions to their children’s advantage. She pauses, putting down the skewer in her hand.

“Who’s Kongpob?”

Arthit’s ears tinge red at the shells, and he looks away and straight down at his homework, the tip of the pencil snapping in surprise. He’d never intended for her to find out about his newfound admiration. What if Por found out?

“Um…just someone at school.”

“Oh? Did you make a friend?”

He shakes his head.

“He doesn’t know me,” he says, twisting the pencil into his Snoopy sharpener, determined to drill a hole through the back of the dog’s head. “But he’s nice.”

“You haven’t talked to him?”

“No. He’s very popular.”

His mother smiles gently, wiping her hands and placing one on top of his to put an end to his aggressive skull puncturing. 



“Do you want to be this boy’s friend?”

Arthit fidgets with the eraser on the end of his pencil, turning it over to draw a small circle of pink dust on the page and pondering the possibilities. How nice it would be, to laugh with him at recess, to share a bag of corn puffs in the courtyard, to learn about his secrets and tell some of his own. How nice it would be to be a loyal confidante to the respectable SuperKong, to be the hero’s trusty sidekick, to never have another hot lunch tray flipped down the front of his shirt again. 

How nice it would be, if he turned out to be right.

He nods in response to his mother’s question.

“Then you should let him know.”

February, 2012

Contrary to his mother and Prae’s advice, Arthit makes no move to progress the state of his hypothetical, purely one-sided friendship. He’s pretty sure that Kongpob doesn’t even know of his existence within the class, let alone his name. And if he did, it would more than likely be some vulgar iteration of Porky, or the fat kid with the fat dad.

Make no mistake; he mentally rehearses hypothetical dialogue between the two of them every spare moment he gets, almost so he can hear Kongpob’s voice and see his friendly face standing before him in his own room. Kongpob is the imaginary friend he never made up in his early childhood, and the closest thing he has to social acceptance at school.

And yet the mere sight of the person he bases his illusions on fastens the chain on any pseudo-confidence he exhibits when whispering his secrets to his bedroom wall and reading his comics aloud in hushed tones to the jacket draped on the back of his chair.

Because there’s security in isolation and imagination, isn’t there?

When one has nobody to celebrate with, holidays pass with an uneventful blur, and Arthit finds himself scraping red-stained rice paper off the door that blesses the home with peaceful entrance and harmonious exits a few weeks after the Lunar New Year celebrations have desaturated Yaowarat Road of the sweeping washes of red lanterns and golden dragon costumes.

He’d peeked into the little crimson envelope that Mae had given him the morning of the first day, then hurriedly stuffed it into the shoebox at the back of his wardrobe. There’s nothing he’s really saving the money for, but…just in case. In case things happen, or he has something he needs to buy.

But the folded banknote is forgotten as quickly as it’s hidden, only to resurface in Arthit’s consciousness when he looks up from his desk one morning to find a small crowd clustered around a desk near the middle of the classroom — namely, Kongpob’s desk.

It piques his curiosity, but any attempt to peer at what’s happening would just draw unwanted attention to himself, and so he waits for the group to disperse, watching out the row of windows in the corridor for their teacher. When the astute woman does eventually arrive, dozens of pairs of shoes shuffle with urgency back to their respective desks, some darting apologetically out of the classroom to return to their own.

Good morning, Kru Paga.

Pretty paper, boxes of expensive, assorted candy, and chocolate roses form a small hill on top of Kongpob’s desk, and a few scatter the tabletops of some others in the class. It resembles what Arthit imagines to be Cupid’s crimson-and-fuscia upchuck, and certainly brings an uncomfortable grimace to Kongpob’s face. He flashes Kru Paga a wry smile before opening his briefcase to quietly tractor the gifts into its open mouth.

Arthit suppresses a grin when one of the foil-wrapped chocolates clatters to the ground, leaving Kongpob with an slightly embarrassed grin that reaches his eyes as he crouches to pick it up.

As expected, Kongpob eats none of the treats, choosing a quiet corner of the playground to sit with his best friend, who scarfs down sweet after sweet, laughing about something Arthit can’t hear clearly from the third floor corridor.

And after lunch, as Arthit has just settled back into his seat, being the first to return, he hears their voices wafting from outside the window.

“Any plans for next week?”

“Probably the same as every year. Dinner with my grandparents, P’Gift will come over for cake, and then I will go to bed just like any other day. You’re welcome to come over the day after, though. Mae will definitely cook enough to feed an orchestra, so—”

“I accept.”

Kongpob’s gentle laughter strikes up a warmth in Arthit’s chest, and he wishes he were the one making him smile. How nice it must be, he thinks, to have birthday rituals.

Birthdays had always been much of quiet observation for him, too, the only gifts he receives being another Peanuts edition from Prae’s parents. Por had fired up the home grill on year and made an extortionate assortment of honeyed meats and spiced seafood, which had then made a daily appearance in both his and Prae’s lunchboxes over the course of the following week or so. Never again, though. The man had never been much for words, emitting a simple You’ve grown, son with a single nod, before proceeding to fill his mouth with rice so he doesn’t have to elaborate.

Of the rituals he does partake in, though, he only looks forward to one.

Not that anyone at school knows, but his own birthday precedes Kongpob’s by a mere four days. He likes the thought, wondering what it would be like to hear Kongpob call him P’Arthit. It’s silly, given that it’s barely even a week apart, and so he dismisses the brief musing.

At home, as the clock strikes midnight, there’s a quiet knock on his bedroom door, followed by a familiar shuffle of his mother’s slippers and a slow dip in the side of his mattress.

“Hi, Mae.” He shifts himself to sit up and then makes space for her to sit beside him. She cosies up against his pillow and brings his head to rest on her shoulder, playing with his hair.

“How are you?” she says, because it doesn’t get asked often enough.


I’m fine. He’s about to give his default response, but in a moment’s impulse, stops himself. Instead, he looks up, meeting his mother’s curious gaze.

They could talk, couldn’t they? She’s the wisest person he knows, even if he doesn’t like worrying her with his troubles.

“Hmm? What is it?”

“I’ve been…thinking about something,” he starts, taking his time to consider his succeeding words. His gaze dances about the room, looking something to adhere to until it’s enticed by the warm glow of the street light just outside his window. “About how…some people have, like…a spotlight.”

“A spotlight?”

“Like, they’re the centre of attention. Everyone likes them and, I don’t know, throws flowers at their feet or something.”

“I see…” she raises an eyebrow, intrigued. “What about them?”

Arthit rubs his nose in thought.

“Most of us don’t have spotlights. We’re just…in the audience.”

“I suppose so, yes,” she says after a moment. There’s more to her son’s spontaneous analogy, though, she thinks.

“So…like…do you think those people notice things…outside of that spotlight? I don’t…I don’t know if they would just see their audience as…like, a dark blur. Sorry, I know I’m not making much sense.”

“No, no,” she smiles. “Like everyone is part of the same mass. And you want to be noticed?”

Yes. Wait, no. Maybe? Arthit debates his answer, pulling his sleep shirt a little lower over his belly.

“Not…not really. No. I just—I have things that I want them to know. Even if it’s not from me.”

“All nice things, I hope.”

He nods fervently. “Of course.”

“Then,” his mother takes his round face into her hands. “You just have to trust that they can feel it. Because you know what shines brighter than a spotlight, Oon?”

Arthit blushes, pulling his face away and rolling his eyes at the cliché, but nods.

“Spotlights always find a new person to shine on, and the curtain falls on even the most dazzling of stars. But the sun…the sun shines on everyone, every day,” she ruffles his hair. “It shines especially hard on Yaowarat Road, around three in the afternoon, to be precise.”

He lets out a chuckle at her attempt at a joke, and cosies back into the round of her shoulder.

“I’m ready now, Mae.”

“Yeah? Alright then,” she sniffs the top of his head briefly. “I can’t believe you still want to hear this story after so many years. But I hope I have many more years to wish you goodnight on your birthday.”

“I’d like that, Mae.”

She smiles as he shimmies back down under the covers, then takes a deep breath, reciting a tale she’s told thirteen times since she’d brought her tiny bundle of sunlight home in her arms.

“Well, it all started fourteen years ago. Actually, it was potentially one of the worst times to have a child, your grandmother would tell you if she were still here. The Thai baht was at an all-time low, people were losing their jobs left and right, and the entire population was struggling under the collapsing economy. Business was slowing down by almost a half, and your Lung Dear lost his job after the elevated road project was scrapped the previous year. He lived with your father and I until he moved abroad when you were four.”

“I remember that.”

“You were still so young back then. Anyway, he told me we were absolutely mad for trying to have a child in such trying times. And he was right, but I was already nine weeks pregnant when the crisis hit. We made do with savings for months, but by December, we were almost rattling the remains of the piggy bank. You weren’t a very active baby in my tummy, but I talked to you every day. One day, your father came home and he was so tired, Oon. He’d picked up part-time work at the Lotus in Seacon Square. I won’t ever let our son go hungry, he promised me. He was so excited to be a father, you know?”

Her voice is tinged with nostalgia as she pulls the quilt up to his shoulders with fondness.

“I went to the temple that day. I prayed. Not for money. Not for a miracle. I prayed that we would overcome whatever obstacles stood in our way, and that you would always have someone to love you. But then, just as I’d finished my prayer…my water broke. I was taken to the hospital, where a very sexy nurse—”

“Mae…” Arthit whines softly, trailing off with drowsiness.

“What? He was! Anyway, he took very good care of me and made sure I was comfortable the entire time. Your father, on the other hand, was in such a panic when he arrived, that the doctors suggested he wait outside the delivery room lest he fainted. He still did, of course. And seven hours later, life gave me my miracle.”

She finishes with a light scratch to the crown of her son’s hair, gazing towards the orange glow in the window.

“Any wishes for your fourteenth birthday?”

But as she looks back at her now-fourteen year-old son, he’s already fast asleep, each breath deep and heavy with peace. His mother sighs, the corners of her mouth upturned as she brushes his too-long hair out of his eyes.

“Good night, my warmest sun.”

When Prae walks into the Rojnapat apartment with her briefcase full of that day’s homework tucked under her arm, Arthit is frowning at his open notebook, not having written a single thing.

“You can pout all you want but the homework won’t complete itself,” she remarks, sliding into the chair adjacent to him.

“I know,” he grumbles, picking up his pencil and tapping the page with the eraser. “I just can’t focus.”

His neighbour looks at him sideways, then tilts her head.

“Did something happen at school?”

“No,” he replies sullenly. “Never mind, let’s just do homework.”

“Okay,” she says simply, arranging her various notebooks on the table, careful not to mix them up with Arthit’s near-identical ones. “Anything new with SuperKong today?”

“Not really,” although he brightens at the mention of Kongpob, something that doesn’t go unnoticed by his friend. He doodles a small stick figure at the corner of the page, pencilling in a cape that he’s become accustomed to drawing in his spare time. “It’s his birthday tomorrow, though.”

“Oh,” Prae pauses, about to write the date on a fresh page. “Are you going to get him anything?”

“I don’t have anything to give him. It’s mostly girls who give him stuff, anyway.”

Arthit twitches his nose, now adorning the cape with a large K.

“So? Boys can give each other presents. It doesn’t have to mean anything.”

“Por says that only girls give each other gifts as friends. If they give a boy a gift, it means they want to marry them…or date them, or something.”

“I give you gifts ever year. I don’t want to marry you, Arthit,” she says plainly, copying out the word refuse over and over down the page in loopy handwriting.

Arthit lets out a snort, deeply amused.

“I don’t want to marry you, either.”

She knows this already, of course, but Arthit still thinks it necessary to say aloud, as if to affirm that Por’s incessant teasing about Prae becoming his future wife is just that — a joke. He returns to his sketch, adding in few fluffy clouds and several rays of a sun peeking from behind them.

“I…think I want to marry a girl one day,” she cuts through the quiet with just a whisper. The look she sends him when she lifts her head from her notebook is one that Arthit is unfamiliar with, but he, of all people, knows fear when he sees it. It hasn’t occurred to him before, given that they hadn’t really talked about crushes up to this point in time. Then again, as Prae so often put it, people at school suck. He holds her watery stare for a few more moments, then slowly nods with a small smile of reassurance.

“Okay. I guess I should tell Mae to make Por stop joking about us, then.”

“Thanks,” she sucks in a sharp breath, as though relieved, and smirks as he colours in the cape in faint strokes of his pencil. “Do you want to marry Kongpob?”

He near-chokes on his own spit.


“Well, you like him, right?”

Arthit sputters, struggling to form anything coherent for several seconds. Is that what Prae had thought all this time? Granted, to his knowledge, he’s never had romantic (?) feelings for anyone before, but it all seems rather unlikely to him.

“Don’t be ridiculous. H-he…doesn’t even know me. How could I like someone I’ve never even spoken to?”

“Just asking,” she shrugs, as if she’d merely asked him what the time was.

“I just think he’s cool and he’s not mean like the other kids,” he clarifies, although she hasn’t pressed further. “Besides…even if I did, Por would never allow it, anyway. You know he doesn’t like it when boys like other boys,” he says this last part in a low mutter.

Prae blinks, then peers at the drawing that now has two eyes faintly dotted onto the sun.

“You should write him a card. It’s not really a gift, but you can still wish him. It’s friendly.”

He considers this for a moment, then bites his bottom lip. It’s not a bad idea, although he’s not really one for words, and has no idea where to start.

“I’ve never written anyone a card before.”

“Not even your Mae?” She raises an eyebrow incredulously.

“Por doesn’t believe in spending money on trivial things like cards.”

Prae frowns at this, but shakes off whatever comment she might have been thinking to make with a loose wave of her hand.

“Here, I’ll help you. Get some better paper first. Just plain paper will do, but not notebook paper.”

He’s enthused now, dashing to the side table near the front door and opening the slim drawer to retrieve one of several plain notepads and bringing it back with the eagerness of a puppy.

“I…never mind, this will do,” she says, tapping the page with her own pencil. “Start with a greeting.”

Dear Kongpob, he writes, carefully and tidily as possible.

“Alright. Now, he doesn’t know you, right?” He shakes his head, waiting for further instruction. “So you probably want to write something that lets him know who you are.”

“Uh…” he chews at his lip. “Do I have to write my name?”

“Well, no. But you should at least tell him how you know him.”

His lips purse in contemplation, and as Prae observes him, he begins writing.

“Is this okay?” he rotates the page to face Prae, who immediately runs a hand over her face in secondhand mortification. “What? What’s wrong with it?”

“Arthit, you sound like a stalker.”

“I do?!”

“What would you think if someone sent you a note saying I’ve been watching you?” she mimics a thwack to the air above his head. “Start over. Try something, I don’t know. Less creepy.”

Arthit sighs, but shoves his first attempt to the side.

“Don’t say you’re a ‘fan’! He’s not a celebrity with a Wikipedia page,” Prae interjects immediately before he can write any further. “Okay. How about something more…profound or refined? Isn’t there anything nice you can think of from reading all those Snoopy comics?”

“Ooh! I know just the thing!” he beams excitedly, becoming bolder with the size of his handwriting now.




“Prae, just say it.”

“What is this quote supposed to mean? Friends come in all shapes and sizes?”

“You said to use something from the Peanuts comics!”

“I meant a general sentiment related to birthdays, not this!”

“Fine! What do you suggest then?”

“I guess…just keep it simple and straightforward.”

“I said straightforward, not boring.”

“Is this not straightforward?”

“At least make it look like you put in some effort!”

“Why’ve you squished the last two letters on the side?”

“I ran out of space.”

“It looks really wonky. The smiley face is cute, though. Maybe you could do a proper drawing?”


“What now?”



“Are you sure you’re okay with him knowing you call him SuperKong?”

“Oh. Right.”

“Do you even want him to know it’s you?”

“…not really?”

“Hmm. Maybe you could make it sound like you’re already friends with him so he doesn’t suspect anything?”

“I—never mind.”

“I give up,” Arthit groans, letting the pencil fall from his grip. “This is hopeless. He’ll probably never even look at it anyway.”

“No, come on,” Prae shakes his arm gently, pouting for forgiveness. “I’m sorry. I just want you to write something nice.” She eyes her friend’s sulky expression and sighs. “What is it that you want him to know? Aside from Happy Birthday?”

Many things, if Arthit’s being honest. To share his most mundane of thoughts, ranging from a funny poster he’d seen outside the local theatre, to how he notices that water sprinklers are always no more than three metres apart in even the dinkiest of indoor restaurants. Or to ask him his favourite colour, and whether he puts the left shoe or right shoe on first.

But if he narrows it down to the very bare essence, he knows exactly what he would say.

“I just…I think he’s awesome. And I wish we were friends, even if it’s not possible.”

Prae smiles at this, pushing the blank page back towards him.

“Then tell him that. Just write what you mean.”

Arthit exhales noisily, then tiredly picks up the pencil again, quietly scrawling out a message. Prae tries to peer over his hand, but he very quickly pulls the paper towards him. In a moment’s brainwave, he plucks a yellow highlighter from Prae’s open pencil case, make round, raspy strokes before replacing the cap.

“Can I see?”

Slowly, he removes his hand from obstruction of her view, and pushes the page towards her. To his utter surprise, she grins, nodding her evident validation.

“Arthit, it’s perfect. He’ll love it.”

“You think so?”

“If he’s as good as you say he is, I know so.”

He grins, pleased with his work, then folds it into quarters and tucks it into the front pocket of his briefcase. Even if Kongpob never knows it’s from him, Arthit is content with the thought that it may bring him the slightest warmth from a distance.

Besides, only fools fly straight towards the sun.

第十五章:余额: ฿580
















Arthit ☀️ :我妈妈说我可以过来







Kong ☕️ :太好了!那等我们训练完给你发讯息。  

“好了,同学们,休息十分钟。” Pak教练吹了几次哨子后大声喊道。   




“M ,你和May之间发生了什么?” 





M斜眼看着Kongpob ,有些弄不明白他的意思,但也点了点头。 




“当然不只是因为她的外表,我给你说过,对吧?因为我们在图书馆看同样的书,所以我们就开始进行交谈,她对作者和故事深入的了解让我印象深刻,她也很有趣,很聪明,但不是你想像的那样。然后我开始慢慢发现她的外表也很迷人。比如,我会想像着亲吻她,她的脸会一直浮现在我的脑海里,然后—— “



Kongpob现在正盯着M ,用手捂住了他的嘴巴,他不敢相信自己刚才大声的告诉别人他晨勃了。 

“我……呃……好了?” M不知道该说些什么,仍然有些懵,眼睛都不知道看哪里好。 





“什么意思?” Kongpob皱着问道。 







“ Arthit 。”他说,声音比蚊子声还小,他的整个身体在变得更热,现在出的汗也并不是因为训练而出的汗。 

“啊?抱歉,我没有听见。” M眯着眼睛看了一会儿,然后向Kongpob挪的更近了,以免其他队友打闹玩笑的声音盖过Kongpob的声音而让他听不见。  

“我—我说……我在梦里亲吻…… Arthit 。”


“噢,天啦,M !我喜欢Arthit !”他的声音被他膝盖上的毛巾盖住了有些闷闷的,他用手绞着头发。  










“M ,等会儿下午他要来和我们一起聚餐。”他突然说道,一边又在包里翻来翻去地找手机,”我应该告诉他聚餐取消了。”

“呀呀呀呀呀,你在做什么?停停停。” M把手机从他手里抢了过去,举过头顶,用另一只手指着他的朋友,”伙计,这有什么问题吗?如果你喜欢他,他又会来和我们一起玩,那你就会有更多的时间和他在一起了呀。你为什么取消呢?”

“我……我不能喜欢他,M.” Kongpob急忙摇头,”我不可以。”


“他……我配不上他,M 。”


“他非常聪明,非常努力,他也很有抱负,他很有天赋,我知道有一天他会成为某个天才发明家,他也非常有趣,M 。他拥有让人开心的能力,你甚至都不知道这一点,噢,天啦,他的笑容是最棒的,还有——”



“他是那么的美好,而我只是…… Kerkkrai Sutthiluck的儿子,我要学习我一点也不感兴趣的东西,我的未来从来就是被安排好了的。我什至没有足够棒的爱好,不能认真追求其他的东西,他是一个有实际意义的人,而我只是……一个空壳,M 。”

“Kong ,” M摇摇头,用胳膊揽住他的肩膀,”你也拥有许多东西,冲动,有点固执,有点太高尚—”









” Prae和我有时也会聊聊天。”他耸了耸肩,看到朋友好奇的表情,他又补充道:”不要乱想。”


“好了,同学们,最后一场训练,今天就结束了!” Pak教练一边喊着一边鼓掌以引起他们的注意。 

M站了起来,把手机还给了Kongpob 。 

“不要想太多,不要取消对他的邀请。”他指着Kongpob ,语气中有一丝警告的味道。 

Kong ☕ :嗨!我们马上就要结束了  

Kong ☕ :有几个人要先回家换衣服,所以Shin会先接我、M和Tew 。 

Kong ☕️ :我十分钟后去摊位那里等你?还是我应该直接去你家?  

Arthit ☀️ :呃,摊位那里就可以了

Arthit ☀️ :我先换个衣服

Kong ☕️ :哈哈,你回家睡觉了吗? 

Arthit ☀️ :这个星期六我不用工作

Arthit ☀️ :十分钟后见

Arthit ☀️ :等等,谁是Tew

Kong ☕️ :他是篮球队的一员,你会喜欢他的,他人很好。 

Arthit ☀️ :每个人你都觉得很好

Kong ☕️ :并没有! 

Arthit ☀️ :随便你,等会见。





当他到的时候,Kongpob 、M和一个他似乎见过的一个男生已经在他的摊位前了,突然地,他觉得介入Kongpob和他母亲间的谈话是一种打扰。 







” Maprang ,我想我今天还是应该让她和Prae一起交往。”




“拜,Mae 。”他漫不经心地说,跟着其他人就走了。 





当他追上Kongpob时,他轻拉着Kongpob的胳膊,轻轻靠近Kongpob ,低声说道:”嘿,我星期一还给你。”




06/09/2014 — ฿43



第十三章:余额: ฿653






“没错,“ Arthit叹了口气,然后重重的在她脚边的台阶上坐了下来,“我快狗带了。”

的确,他的身体已经快累垮了,但是他的头脑却非常的清醒 — 一直都回想着今天发生的那些事 。

“所以……今天是非常棒的一天,对吗?” Prae漫不经心的拨弄着她的手指,“你玩得开心吗?”


开心 ?他不知道他是否能把这一整天的精神紧张称为乐趣,但是这一整天他都与他信任、喜欢的人一起度过。










“我……不知道。” 他诚实的回答道,“而且这也没有什么关系吧。”




他最忠诚的朋友两年前坐在他的旁边向他说出她喜欢女人,他也只是问她: 这是否意味着我可以告诉 Mae 我可以不用娶你了吗? ,然后他们看着对方都大笑了起来。









“ 她不记得我就好了。”Arthit将他的手指解放出来,看着血液倒流回去,“而且他也不需要知道,这只会……吓跑他的。”







“那也一样很糟糕,Prae。”Arthit气急败坏的吼道,然后把他的头埋在了手里,“听着,我不是说我喜欢他,但 假设 一下, 如果 他的妈妈已经因为我 可能 是个gay而讨厌我了,那我又能怎样办呢?而且,我也十分的确定他就只是把我当做朋友。”





“ 对喔。”


“我……我不知道,好吗?!” 他站了起来,眉毛皱着,耳朵却是红红的,“我很累了,我要去睡觉了。”
















Kong ☕️ : !

Kong☕️ : 我很抱歉呀😩😩😩

Kong ☕️:昨田一整田我都在写业结果导致我现在水过头了 

Kong ☕️:我会竟快赶到


Arthit ☀️:……

Arthit ☀️:好吧 不用担心了

Arthit ☀️:我也睡过头了 🤦🏻‍♂️

Arthit ☀️:也许我们可以重新安排在其他时间?

Arthit ☀️:或者可以取消

Kong ☕️:不要!这样,我们重新安排一下!

Kong ☕️:明天怎么样?

Arthit ☀️:我会在多设置一个闹钟的 😑






“好吧,没问题” Arthit话锋一转突然就答应了下来,Kongpob转过身来惊讶的看着Arthit。

























“这真的很不错,” 他满意地点了点头,当Kongpob对他微笑时,他又低下了头。


















“Kong!” M大声喊道,缓解了他们之间尴尬的气氛,“我要下去了,这里非常棒,但就是太安静了,你们两个玩得开心呀!”他小跑过去拿起他的背包,然后向Arthit点了点头,朝门口走过去了。







Prae 🍐:卡萨诺瓦 * 又来找 Arthit 了

🎯 :他经常去吗?

Prae 🍐:几乎每天都会来

Prae 🍐:除了周末

Prae 🍐:你那边有什么消息吗?



M 🎯:在教学楼的楼顶花园里????单独一起!!!!

Prae 🍐 :什么???

Prae 🍐:听起来有点浪漫呢🤭

Prae 🍐:还有其他吗???


M 🎯:我记得我听见 Kong 说他 “ 可爱 ”

Prae 🍐: asdfjkahlsgj


M 🎯:他们几乎忘了我还在那儿

Prae 🍐:哇哦,加油 Kong !

Prae 🍐:还有吗??

🎯:然后我想 Arthit 他自己也不知道说些什么,所以他们之间似乎有些尴尬

Prae 🍐: 🤦🏻‍♀️

Prae 🍐:这当然会了

M 🎯:你从 Arthit 呢,一点儿消息都没有听到或者一点端倪都没看见?

Prae 🍐:这才过了两天

Prae 🍐:前几天的晚上我确实有和他谈过

Prae 🍐:我就直接问他喜不喜欢 Kong

Prae 🍐 :他就只说他不知道,还说不管怎么样这件事都很糟糕

🎯:什么?!! 为什么?

Prae 🍐 :我不知道你或者 Kong 知道多少

Prae 🍐 : Arthit 在八年级的时候不得不换班

🎯: ……Kong 的妈妈 …… 当然

🎯:我们的船还没来得及起航就沉下去了吗 🙁

Prae 🍐:我不知道 🙁

Prae 🍐:所以那是真的?她要求他换班的

M 🎯:是的

🎯 :不过 Kong 并不知道这件事

M 🎯:不知道她到底为什么要这样做

M 🎯:据我妈妈告诉我,她当时还非常努力地争取让那些混蛋停学

M 🎯:不过她和我妈妈的投票都被否决了,因为那些混蛋的父母也是家长会 的成员

Prae 🍐:这太奇怪了

Prae 🍐:那她知道送给 Kong 的那张生日贺卡吗?

M 🎯:我也不清楚

Prae 🍐:我好希望我们可以知道更多

Prae 🍐: 他们太可爱了

M 🎯:他们在说些什么???

🎯:可以拍张照过来吗??? 🤪

Prae 🍐:……我不是狗仔队🤨

Prae 🍐:而且我离他们有十多米远

Prae 🍐 :但是他们都好可爱呀,满脸的笑容,还都脸红了

M 🎯:  ~~ 随时告诉我最新的消息

Prae 🍐:你也一样!!

Prae 🍐 :好吧, Kong 现在要离开摊位了



01/09/2014 – ฿33

余额: 620


第十四章:余额: ฿620










“ 我不想嫁给你,Arthit 。”某天她直截了当的这样告诉Arthit,他正在划一个木棍人的披风,披风背面有一个大大的K字母。

“ 我也不想娶你呀 。”Arthit回答道,对于Prae突然说出来的话感到有些好笑。

“ 我……想某天我会和一个女孩结婚 。”她说的声音刚好只能让Arthit听到,她盯着Arthit,想看看他的反应,Arthit停了下来,随即便明白了她的意思,便微笑着点了点头。

“  我想我应该去告诉我妈让我爸不要再开我们的玩笑了 。”

“ 谢谢呐 ”她笑着说,然后她看着他用画笔把斗篷的边缘修饰了一下,“ 你想和Kongpob结婚吗? ”

“ 什——什么鬼 ?!”他被吓到了。

“ 你喜欢他,不是吗 ?”

“ 他……都不认识我。而且我怎么会喜欢上一个从来没有和我说过话的人呢? ”

“ 我只是随便说说啦 。”Prae耸耸肩道。

“ 我只是觉得他很酷,而且他和别人很不一样 。”Arthit澄清道:“ 还有……爸爸也绝不会允许我这样做,你知道他不接受男孩子喜欢上男孩子 …… ”他说话的声音越来越小,到最后几乎没有了声音。





























































“P’Arth iii t! ”Kongpob微微有些抱怨,“我要走了。”





05/09/2014 – ฿40

余额: ฿580


Chapter 1: Balance: ฿1000

It isn’t often that Kongpob makes his own way home from school. Most of the time, either the family butler, Shin, or his mother drives him home, regardless of how late he has to stay.

But today is one such day in which he would have to navigate his way through the busy street market to the bus stop.

It isn’t often that Kongpob makes his own way home from school. Most of the time, either the family butler, Shin, or his mother drives him home, regardless of how late he has to stay.

“I’m sorry, Kong. You know Shin is on leave until the end of next week, and I don’t think I can get someone to fix this engine on time for me to come get you.”

“That’s okay, Mae. I’ll manage.”

If Kongpob is being honest, he rather enjoys the days when he can wander around on his own, exploring the hustle and bustle of the city rather than simply observing it through the tinted windows of the family car. Not that he doesn’t appreciate the convenience of having someone drive him straight home rather than having to spend over 45 minutes pushing his way through public transport.

But he secretly loves the noise and the smells that swarm around him. As stupid and privileged as it might sound, he sees these days as mini adventures on which he can try his luck at finding another way to live like his peers, away from the luxury and loneliness of his enormous home.

Today, still sweaty and exhausted from basketball practice, he makes his way down the road from his school, most of his classmates having already left over an hour ago. The sun is slowly setting, the sky hazy with hues of greyish pink and purple.

There’s a street food market not ten minutes away from the school. Not the most popular one in the district, but buzzing with people nonetheless, especially with the rush of white collars getting off work.

Kongpob has never really tried much of the many delicacies that he sees on his sporadic adventures, his parents often informing him of the many articles they’d read about food poisoning and rat infestations in these places. But today, he’s too tempted by the delicious aromas to resist.

It’s when he reaches halfway down the street of neon lights and colourful stalls and carts selling everything from frozen pineapple to oyster omelettes that Kongpob sees him.

The guy, standing behind his yellow cart – Porky’s Moo-Ping – selling an assortment of meat skewers, is in his class, Kongpob realises. He’s never really learned his name, nor have they ever really spoken to each other, but he is unmistakably the same classmate who he’d lent his eraser to several months ago when the guy had dropped his own one in the drain on the way to class. He’d stammered a quick thanks before returning to his seat.

Here, he looks completely different from the stoic, quiet figure that sits at the back of the classroom. He’s actually smiling, Kongpob notices, and is talking freely with customers like he’s always been this sociable. As he’s handing the customer their food, he grins, a deep dimple forming in his left cheek.

It’s quite the sight, and Kongpob is fascinated.


His classmate is busy putting a new batch of skewers on the grill as Kongpob approaches the cart. The guy looks up suddenly, startled out of his working daze, and accidentally drops a raw skewer on the ground. He curses quietly, trashing the fallen skewer in the trash can behind him.

“Sorry about that,” Kongpob rummages in his bag for his wallet. “I’ll pay for the loss.”

The guy shakes his head quickly, and places a hand out to stop him.

“It’s fine,” he says. “It’s just one skewer.”

Kongpob nods and takes a closer look at the guy’s face, which has quickly shrunken back into its familiar terse, expressionless look. He wonders what could possibly explain the drastic change in demeanour, when Kongpob had just seen him smile. Still, his large doe eyes and pale, round cheeks give him an air of innocence that Kongpob finds difficult to tear his eyes away from.

“We’re in the same class, right?” Kongpob offers after a moment of silence. “I’m Kongpob.”

The guy nods slightly, turning over a few skewers on the charcoal grill, but doesn’t look up.

“Yeah, I know.”

Oh, so he was aware.

“I…uh, this is kind of embarrassing, but I never really got your name…?”

Indeed, it had been four months since the school year had started, and despite the fact that there were 50 students in the entire class that he couldn’t possibly all be friends with, Kongpob still felt bad for not knowing his name.

The guy pauses a moment, biting his lip.


Arthit. What a name for someone who hides in the shadows, Kongpob thinks.

“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Arthit.” 

“Um….can I…get you something?” Arthit eyes the wide variety of skewers, lined up on the grill in tidy rows, sizzling and emitting the most delicious scent. The ones that are already cooked sit in a pyramid-like stack, making room for a fresh batch. 

Kongpob doesn’t even know where to start. 

“What is there? I’ve…uh, never tried this before.”

“You’ve…never had moo ping?” Arthit’s subtle pinch of the eyebrows is about as much indication of his incredulous tone as Kongpob can decipher.

“I don’t get out much, I guess.”

“Okay…” Arthit mumbles. “Um, there are three kinds of skewers; pork (moo-ping), then chicken (kai-ping), and beef (neua-ping).” he explains as he points to each of the three sections on the grill.

Kongpob nods, although he’s not really paying attention to the grill but rather to Arthit, whose expression remains flat and uninterested, unlike the bright and warm demeanour he’d carried just moments before Kongpob had approached the cart.

“What do you recommend?”

Arthit has most likely never been asked this question by someone other than a tourist, and Kongpob can sense slight irritation in Arthit’s body language.

“They’re all good. Pork is the most popular, though.”

“Hmm…In that case, I’ll take two of each, then.”

“Pork is ฿5, chicken is ฿6, and beef is ฿8. So that’s ฿38 in total.”

Kongpob is a bit in awe of how quickly he’s rattled off the total price without even using a calculator or even pausing to think about it. How had he never spoken to this kid before?

“Here,” he hands over the only banknote in his wallet.

Arthit stares at it, before a glare of clear annoyance crosses his face.

“What are you doing, running from the law? Who pays with a ฿1000 note?”

“It’s the only one I have. Just got my allowance this morning.”

Arthit is gradually losing his temper and sighs deeply, lips pressed into a thin line.

“Well, I don’t have enough change here for that.”

Now this, Kongpob is skeptical of.

“You run a business handling cash and don’t hold enough change for ฿1000?”

“Even if I did, I can’t give it all to you, smartass. I’d have none left for other customers.”

Oh. Kongpob bites his lip. It isn’t the first time he’s been told off for something like this, having received head shakes of annoyance from street shop owners for trying to pay for simple things with a credit card.

“Keep it, then.”

“Are you insane? I can’t charge you ฿1000 for six skewers,” Arthit huffs in exasperation, sticking the skewers in a paper container and handing them to Kongpob. “Here, just take them and go.”

“I can’t do that.”

“Well, what do you want, then? I can’t leave these on the grill or they’ll burn, and they’ll go to waste if I just leave them out cold. I don’t have change for you. Just take them.”

As much as he’s slightly taken aback by Arthit’s seeming reluctance to interact with him, Kongpob is determined not to let this interaction end on such a sour note. That, and he’s deeply uncomfortable with the prospect of not paying for the skewers. 

As if inspired by his need to gain the boy’s approval, he’s struck with what he believes to be a brilliant idea.

“How about this? Keep the money,” he grabs Arthit’s hand and presses the banknote into his palm. “I’ll come back and buy from you another time, and you can just deduct it from that amount.”

Arthit stares at the money in his hand, then cocks an eyebrow at Kongpob.

“What is this, a bar? You want me to keep a tab open for you?”

Kongpob smiles, pulling out his phone and typing into his notes app.

“Here,” he holds the phone up. “I’ll keep track. ฿1000 to start with…so deduct ฿38 and that’s…” he pauses, fumbling to open the calculator app.


Arthit says, not even blinking as he puts a fresh batch of skewers on the grill to replace the ones he’s just given to Kongpob.

“So it’s a deal, then?”

“Do whatever you want.”

His expression is unreadable, but Kongpob grins anyway, holding up the box of skewers.

“Thanks for these, Arthit. It was nice to meet you.”

He gives Arthit a brief wai and continues down the street, biting off a piece of the tender grilled pork and deciding that it’s the most amazing thing he’s ever tasted. He’d have to finish them all before he got home, though, and Mae would certainly question his lack of appetite at dinner, but Kongpob doesn’t care.

“Fucking rich kids…” Arthit mutters as he watches after his classmate. But he pulls out a spare notepad from the bottom of the cart, usually used for customers to write their orders if there was a long line.

Kongpob: he scrawls.


08/08/2014 – ฿38

Balance: ฿962

Chapter 17: Balance: ฿501

The next few days see a clear, indescribable shift in Arthit and Kongpob’s friendship.

Well, it had gradually been shifting since the day it had started, just a little over a month ago, but Arthit thinks that something is definitely distinct about how they’d been interacting since the incident with John.

Had it really only been a month? Perhaps it’s because the long hours at school on almost a daily basis bring them into frequent contact, but Arthit almost feels like a year has passed since Kongpob had first spoken to him and struck up their ridiculous transaction deal. Or maybe it’s because it truly had been years that Arthit had been keeping his friend in his peripheral attention.

He’d first noticed the change when Kongpob had started texting him every ten minutes or so on Sunday evening, and they’d talked almost endlessly about everything and nothing at the same time, until Arthit had finally yawned into his pillow while typing out his message goodnight a little past midnight.

Then, they’d met on Monday morning for their usual tutoring session, and Kongpob had brought him congee with an egg cracked into it, just the way Arthit likes it. He’d also proceeded to deliberately get questions wrong, giggling when Arthit would get frustrated with him for messing around.

On Wednesday morning, Kongpob had decided to sit in the chair next to him at their library table rather than across from him, and Arthit had stumbled through trying to explain the homework to him, his cheeks incredibly flustered and his heart beating a mile a minute with the way Kong watched him with such close intent.

Frankly, Arthit doesn’t know what he’s supposed to think about all of this.

Sure, he’d like to believe that the indubitably handsome boy returned his own hypothetical feelings, but it’s always hard to tell with someone like Kongpob, who is naturally polite and generous. He could say the same about M and Tew, who, in the last few days, had seemed to adopt him into their small group, engaging him in mindless chatter about their respective hobbies during recess. Tew, in particular, seems to go out of his way to come over their classroom just to hang out with the other three, and always stops to talk to him about something or other if they happen to run into each other in the corridor.

So, yes, Kongpob is indeed incredibly kind to him and looks out for him, but if his other friends are an example, it would be silly of Arthit to assume that Kongpob’s attention towards him is anything unique.

Still, he finds himself daydreaming more often in class, his chest tightening and cheeks warming a little every time Kongpob turns around to make silly faces at him when the teacher isn’t looking, or stops to smile at him when he’s handing out materials to the whole class. He finds it, dare he say, kind of cute.

As he works on a task that’s been given to them in English class that he only half understands, he begins to wonder what having Kongpob as a boyfriend would be like. Surely, any person would be so lucky to have someone so understanding and patient, even if he’s got no culinary common sense whatsoever, is incredibly annoying and pushy, and makes attempts at jokes that sound like something out of a made-for-television romcom.

He silently chuckles to himself as he thinks of Kongpob driving someone mad with his corny lines, mindlessly doodling on his worksheet, already having sort of given up half way.

It’s only as he hears slow, tentative footsteps moving towards him that he realises what he’s doing, and hurriedly makes an attempt to scribble out what he’s drawn, but the piece of paper is already plucked off his desk before he manages to cover it fully.

Teacher Lynn frowns in disapproval as she scans her eyes over the worksheet, until her gaze falls onto the bottom right corner, where he’s just been scribbling. She pauses, inspecting the doodle a little more closely.

His cheeks flush, mortified with the knowledge that she’s seen it. He slowly raises his eyes to look at her, fearing the worst.

 But she simply raises her eyebrows and glances between him and the drawing several times, before settling the worksheet face down on the desk again, giving him a tight-lipped smile.

“Please stay focused on the task, Arthit,” she says ever so quietly.

“Yes, Teacher Lynn,” he manages to sputter out, eyes silently thanking her, before she’s moving away quietly back to the front of the room.

He thanks the stars that it’s in English class that this has happened, or he’d probably have wished for the floor to swallow him whole, as most other teachers would probably have drawn far more unnecessary attention to the matter.

He makes quick work of covering up the doodles with probably twenty layers of correction tape on both sides of the page, before forcing himself to work on the remaining questions, although his mind is on literally anything other than defining relative clauses. Despite that literally nobody else is paying any attention to him, he still feels his entire face redden and his back prickle with sweat.

Get it together, Arthit. It’s just a crush.

Maybe he’d pack his things and move to the countryside, and live a solitary life in a wooden cottage, surrounded by only rice fields and grassy hills, nothing to remind him of his embarrassment and nobody to see him blush even if he did.

Yes, right now, that sounds like a fine idea to Arthit.

His plans of rural hermitage, however, are utterly ruined when Kongpob keeps smiling at him at lunch, flashing perfect teeth and crinkling his eyes into the shape of Arthit’s favourite cashews. But he can’t help but smile back, completely taken with the way Kongpob talks animatedly about a comic book he’d bought, entertaining Arthit’s protests that Kongpob’s favourite character isn’t actually heroic, but rather just likes the attention.

At some point, he swears that Kongpob leans his foot against Arthit’s ankle under the table, but he tries to brush it off as an accident, Kongpob probably having mistaken his bony calf as the table leg.

And when afternoon rolls around, Arthit is mentally exhausted from his micro-dissection of every tiny moment between them, and is somewhat relieved to finally have a moment to himself, shoving out the tornado of reeling thoughts out of his head and instead replacing them with the routine task of grilling, flipping, marinating and bagging skewer after skewer.

Kongpob hadn’t come to the cart all week, mostly because the finals game would be on the coming weekend, and his practice sessions now ran late enough that it left Kongpob fatigued in every muscle, barely only having enough energy to call himself a taxi home, despite it being far more costly than the bus.

He would still text Arthit on the ride home, though, often apologising for not being able to come visit him, and then proceeding to whinge about basketball practice, then winding into various other things until they’d both exhausted just about every topic they could think of while simultaneously doing their homework together over the phone.

Arthit knows he shouldn’t think too much of their increasing time spent together, and yet he almost feels an itch whenever half an hour has passed without a single message, fidgeting and fighting the urge to send something completely random and follow up with oops wrong chat lol just to get any sort of reply.

It’s almost like déjà vu to him when he drops a raw skewer at the sound of his voice.


“Shit!” he whispers, tossing the fallen skewer into the trash can behind him before turning back around to glare at the offender.

“Sorry,” Kongpob grimaces apologetically. “You could deduct that from my bill.”

“Maybe if you stop sneaking up on me like that, I wouldn’t drop so many skewers.”

“Don’t be mad,” he pouts jokingly, exaggeratedly puffing his bottom lip out. Arthit rolls his eyes, but he’s smiling.

“I bet you use that face on everyone.”

“Is it working?”

“Shut up, you’re so annoying,” Arthit makes no attempt to even scowl. “What do you want? And I thought you had practice today?”

“Four of the pork, two of the beef. Mae hasn’t cooked tonight, so I thought I’d get food on the way home instead.”

“You could just order a Hawaiian pizza,” he says mockingly.

“I could, but someone would never let me hear the end of it.”

“It’s not my fault you have weird taste buds. Next time, you should let M and Tew order.”

Kongpob just smiles, fiddling with the strap of his duffel bag.

“Will you be there? If there’s a next time, I mean.”

Arthit bites his lip and shrugs noncommittally, eyes focused on brushing marinade.

“I won’t invite John, if that’s what you’re worried about. If I haven’t already said, I’m sorry about—”

“Kongpob, it’s fine.”

“No, it’s not. If I hadn’t invited him, none of this would have happened,” he scratches the back of his neck. He knows he’s been harping on about how sorry he is, but he still feels awful every time he thinks of Arthit’s distraught face as he’d bolted down his driveway. “I just feel bad because it’s like I keep bringing you bad luck or something.”

“What? That doesn’t even make sense.”

“I know you keep saying it’s fine, but I feel like I’ve inadvertently dug up so many things you’d probably rather forget,” Kongpob sighs, realising that that’s exactly what he’s doing right now. “Like the birthday card, and reminding you of that incident, and then the whole John thing…damn it, I’m doing it again. Sorry.”

“Kongpob, stop apologising. It’s really okay.”

“So—” he cuts himself off. “Right.”

Arthit squints his eyes at him for a moment. Does Kongpob truly believe that all of this is his fault? He tries to push down any nagging thoughts that guilt might be the reason why Kongpob is so nice to him. If there’s any possibility of something happening between them, he needs to bury any doubts once and for all.

“Kongpob,” he starts, serious now. “I know I’m maybe not always so upfront about this kind of thing…but…if not for you, I would still be eating lunch alone in a toilet cubicle, and…I would probably end up with Prae as my only friend for the rest of time. You didn’t start the rumours back then, and you’re not responsible for what comes out of John’s mouth. If you’re looking for forgiveness, then you have it, not that you had anything to be sorry for in the first place. So please, stop apologising, because…I’m…really grateful.”

He gives Kongpob his order along with a small, tentative smile, aware that the tips of his ears are probably reddening from having said so much. Kongpob’s expression softens in return, seeming to finally accept the weight of his words. Then, his mouth morphs into a smirk.

“You know, I’ve always wondered,” he says teasingly, and Arthit can already feel himself groan internally. “I know they were rumours…but…was there any truth to them?”

“What, that I was overweight? Yes, I was,” Arthit immediately retorts, deliberately dodging what he knows Kongpob is trying to get at. Despite the rally in his tone, the question has nagged at Kongpob for a little while now, even before he’d come to terms with his own feelings.


“You want to see photos? I was almost 200 pounds.” he makes a show of pulling out his phone to scroll through his camera roll.

“You know that’s not what I mean,” Kongpob grumbles, and becomes quieter. “Did you…you know…have a crush on me back then?”

Arthit sighs in exasperation, knowing he’s not going to drop the subject without an answer.

“Honestly?” he says, looking him dead in the eye. “No, I didn’t.” He thinks he imagines it when Kongpob looks slightly disappointed. “I…admired you a lot. You stood up to assholes like John when nobody else would. So I wanted to be friends with you. That’s it.”

And it’s the truth, although he can’t say the same about the present.

“What’s wrong with me that you couldn’t possibly have had a crush on me?” Kongpob pretends to pout before puffing his chest out a little and tossing his hair back. “I’m charming, handsome, and—”

“Get out of here, I’m busy.”

Kongpob just laughs, and playfully blows him a kiss as he walks away, to which Arthit wrinkles his nose in mock disgust, catching the air kiss and tossing it behind him.

This boy would be the death of him.

11/09/2014 – ฿36

Balance: ฿465

Kongpob finds his mother in the living room when he gets home, watching one of those ridiculous, melodramatic lakorns in which there’s at least one instance of suspected incest and a pregnancy scandal.

“Hi, Mae,” he flops down onto the sofa next to her, leaning his head on her shoulder like he’d always done as a child. She smiles fondly at her clingy child and ruffles his hair before lightly shoving him off of her.

“Yuck, you’re all sweaty,” she chuckles. “And you smell like…is that barbecue?” She leans closer to him, sniffing his jersey before raising an eyebrow skeptically. “Have you been eating street food again?”

Kongpob grins sheepishly, aware of his mother’s disapproval, but is surprised when she simply shakes her head, barely fazed.

“I knew there was a reason you’ve been insisting on coming home on your own lately. Just don’t eat too much deep fried or salty food, or you’ll get mouth ulcers.”

“I know, Mae,” he says. “I only had some moo-ping.”

“I can make that for you at home, you know.”

“I know. But Arthit makes the best moo-ping in Chinatown,” he smiles, pulling his legs up onto the sofa. Not that he’s tried any other of the stalls selling meat skewers, but he strongly believes in his statement.

“Arthit? You mean your friend who’s also your maths tutor?”

“Yeah, his family runs a stall on Yaowarat. He works there after school.”

“He seems like a nice boy, that one,” she nods approvingly, then nudges him. “You should probably get yourself a part time job. It might teach you a thing or two about work ethic and then maybe you’ll stop leaving your socks in the front room for other people to pick up.”

“Mae,” he groans at her lecture. “I’ve already got basketball tiring me out. I don’t have time for a job.”

“Mmm. How’s your tutoring going anyway?”

“Good. Arthit is really helpful, so my grades are up to a B plus on average now.”

She nods, then looks away from the television for a moment to take in her son’s distracted gaze.

“I noticed you’ve been spending a lot of time with Arthit lately,” she remarks teasingly, and doesn’t miss his sudden shyness at the mention of this fact. “I hear you talking on the phone sometimes.”

“Yeah, well…we’ve become good friends. We do homework together.”

“I see,” she nods slowly. “I was looking through your old yearbooks earlier this week. I knew he looked familiar, although I can see why I didn’t recognise him at first.”

“Yeah…uh, he lost a lot of weight before freshman year.”

They fall into a comfortable silence as they watch one of the female characters burst into a tearful monologue about a tragic past in which she’d been kidnapped by thugs and forced to raise her own little brother on only raw corn and lemongrass. Kongpob snorts when she starts pounding on her chest in agony, shaking his head at the pure absurdity.

“I remember him, you know,” his mother says suddenly.

“Hmm?” he looks away from the screen momentarily, his brow furrowed in question at what she means.

“I don’t know if he’s told you, but…there was a bullying incident when you were in eighth grade…”

“Yeah, I know. The birthday card,” he chews at his lip. He’d thought that the topic had finally been buried after his earlier conversation with Arthit. “Wait, but how do you know about it?”

“I was the head of the PTA, or have you forgotten already?” she lightly smacks his thigh. “Usually when there are major cases like this, we get asked to offer our input as well. And, well, the parents of some of the bullies were on the board as well,” she explains.

“I didn’t know that,” he sits up now, turning to face his mother as she looks at him in equal confusion at his expression. “You never said anything at the time.”

“Well, I figured your friends would have told you by now, but I guess not,” she says, turning down the volume on the television now. “Also…I didn’t know how to bring the matter up with you…after all, the rumour was partially about you, and I wasn’t sure how you felt about the idea of a boy liking you…” she trails off.

“Mae, it was just a rumour,” his tone is defensive now.

“I know that, but at that age—”

“Wait, so you knew this whole time? And if you were head of the PTA then that means…you were also involved in the school moving him to the other class…” he eyes her incredulously, his fingers now curling with unease upon his realisation.

“Well…yes,” she eyes him sideways now, puzzled by the terse expression on her son’s face. “I specifically requested it.”

“…What?” he stands, staring down at her in disbelief. No, it can’t be… “Y-you asked for him to be moved?”

“What else could I have done?”

“Mae, how could you do that to him?!” he raises his voice, something he’s never done in front of his parents before.

“Do what? What are you on about?” she reaches for his arm, but he pulls it away harshly, his heart sinking with every breath. “Kong, calm down.”

“I can’t believe it…” he laughs bitterly. “This entire time, Mae, he thought that the bullies’ parents wanted him gone for even possibly being gay, when all this time, it was you! You wanted him gone.”

“Wait, Kong,” she stands too, now, seemingly taken aback by his accusation. “That’s not—”

“No, forget it,” he steps backwards, feeling his throat tighten up. “I’m going to my room.”

“Kongpob Sutthiluck! Come back here!” she calls after him, but he’s already bounding up the stairs two steps at a time, shaking with anger.

A few moments later, his bedroom door slams shut in the otherwise quiet house, and he falls face first into bed, willing himself not to cry. 

第三章:余额: ฿942


“你在做什么呀? ”






“…开市?” Arthit的脸上写满了疑惑。

“校规规定我们不能用脏话骂人的哦。” Kongpob向Arthit解释道。









“不用了,我只问我温暖又毛茸茸的朋友。” Kongpob朝他咧嘴一笑,歪着脑袋看着Arthit,但Arthit仍低着头看着他的桌子。



“我今天很好,Arthit,谢谢你呀,你呢? 但是拜托,帮帮我吧,我需要提高我的成绩。” Kongpob噘着嘴,轻轻的拉着Arthit左面的衬衫袖子,但是Arthit立刻就甩掉了他的手。










“Arthit,过来和我们一起坐吧!” 他说着,一边又挪了挪身子,腾出地方来。


“嗷,还是可以一起坐坐呀!” Kongpob拍了拍身旁的空位,“你有什么想谈论的吗?”

Arthit匆匆的瞥了一眼M,M耸耸肩,抿着嘴笑了笑。 Arthit站了一会儿,然后摇了摇头。

“不…..没什么,对不起,我——” Arthit还没有说完就朝另一个方向快步走去。



“呃……他还好吗?” M问道。












“萨瓦迪卡。” Kongpob双手合十向她问好。

“Nong,你想要点什么?” 她微笑着说道。 Kongpob认出了那同样白皙的肤色和脸颊上深深的酒窝,他想,这一定是Arthit的母亲。

“对不起,我其实是来找Arthit的。” 他看了看她身后Arthit逃跑的方向。


“噢,我想他只是去上厕所了。” 她说,“你认识我儿子吗?”

“嗯嗯,他是我在学校的朋友。” 他用最礼貌的微笑对着她说,就像是他和他父亲的商业朋友一起吃饭时用的微笑一样。


“如果他把你当作是朋友,那他一定是很喜欢你的。我的Arthit一点也不擅长社交呀。” 她摇了摇头,然后反复检查烤串的情况。



“Kongpob。” 他面带微笑的说道。









“你真的很可爱呀!而且也太帅了吧!” Arthit妈妈笑着说道。






“Mae!我……呃,让我来吧。” 他将围裙从头上套进去,然后急忙的把背后的绳子系好。

“噢,暖暖,你回来了呀?我和Kongpob只是在聊聊天喔。” Arthit妈妈强调了Kongpob的名字,她对Arthit扬了扬眉毛,说道:“你没有告诉我你在学校交了朋友喔!”




“呃……这多少钱?” 他问道,他也希望他的妈妈现在能离开这里。


“฿49。” Arthit妈妈在现金桶里翻找着฿1的硬币。 “Nong,你有฿50吗?”


“嗯,好,我看一下。” Kongpob把钱包拿出来找了找,幸运的,他找到了一张฿50现金。



Kongpob感觉到了他同学的不自在,然后他说道 “Arthit,那我们学校见。”


“谢谢呐,阿姨。” Kongpob再次双手合十向Arthit妈妈表示感谢。





“那~…… Kongpob ,是吧?自从你上初中以来,我就没有听你提起过这个名字。”

“Maaaeee,不是你想的那样。” 他哀嚎的说道。

“我有说什么了吗?” Arthit妈妈双手向外一摊,装出一副无辜的样子说道。 “我很高兴你在学校交到朋友,还有,他有礼貌又帅气,很不错。”

“难道你没有自己的摊位吗?” 他嘟囔着,一边皱着眉头一边刷着更多的腌料汁。

“ 嗷~~”,Arthit妈妈轻轻的扯了扯Arthit的耳朵,“不要对你的妈妈无礼貌哦,孩子。”


“谢谢你帮我照看摊位呀,N’Prae。” 她一边说,一边把干咖啡渣舀进一个尼龙过滤器。 “我的那个儿子,他太固执了!”





14/08/2014 -฿49




Chapter 2: Balance: ฿962

The weekend passes with a blur, and Kongpob is unusually excited to be at school.

Arthit is already at his desk in the back corner of the classroom, hunched over a small paperback book, the cover of which Kongpob can’t clearly make out from where he’s standing. His face is etched with concentration, brows pinched together. 

“Hi, Arthit,” Kongpob slumps his bag down onto his own chair before strolling over to Arthit and sitting at the empty desk in front of him, turning around to face the bookworm.

Arthit ignores him and continues reading. Kongpob peeks a glance at the cover – Charlie Brown: Here We Go Again – and smiles.

“I never took you as someone who likes reading the Peanuts series. That’s cute.” 

Arthit huffs a small sigh and looks up, but doesn’t lift his head.

“Why are you talking to me?”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m busy, and we’re not friends. So either you need something or you’re seriously that bored,” he wets his thumb slightly and turns the page. Kongpob notices the slight peek of Arthit’s tiny pink tongue.

“Well, okay. Let’s be friends, then,” he holds out a hand for Arthit to shake. The paler boy just stares at his hand for a brief moment with narrowed eyes and turns his attention back to the book. 

“You don’t want to be my friend,” he says, turning yet another page. 

“Says who? I’m offering my hand, aren’t I?”

“You don’t know anything about me, Kongpob.”

“I..know your name is Arthit. You sell moo-ping. You like reading the Peanuts series,” he grins when Arthit rolls his eyes. “And…oh! I lent you my eraser two months ago.”

“Is that all you want? I can give it back to you right now.,” Arthit reaches into his pencil case on the desk, fishing around for said eraser.

“No, no! Keep it,” Kongpob shakes his head. “Think of it as a token of our newly found friendship.”

“We’re not friends. You bought grilled pork from me one time. That’s it.” 

“So…if I buy more grilled pork from you, then we can be friends?” Kongpob grins hopefully.

Arthit shuts his eyes in frustration and puts the book down. 

“This is just a transaction deal. People like you aren’t friends with people like me.”

“Come on, what’s that supposed to mean?”

“Just leave me alone, okay? Class is starting.” 

The sound of their teacher’s heels can be heard clicking along the corridor outside the classroom window as she slowly approaches the door, and Kongpob sighs.

“We’re friends, Arthit,” he says teasingly, then makes his way back to his seat, but not before catching sight of Arthit’s eye roll. 

As soon as the school bell rings for lunch Kongpob hurriedly puts his books away, hoping to get another word in with Arthit, but his angsty new friend has slipped out the door and disappeared down the corridor into the crowd before Kongpob can even get out of his seat. 

He’s sitting in the courtyard with his friends and a packed lunch – rice with plain roasted eel and a runny poached egg – and his gaze darts around in every direction, failing to spot Arthit.

“Who are you looking for?” his best friend M asks, trying to follow his line of vision.

“Huh?” Kongpob is brought out of his distracted stupor.

“You keep looking around as if you’re waiting for someone.”

“What? Oh, uh…it’s nothing,” he shakes his head and pushes the food around his lunchbox, mixing the runny egg with his rice. “Hey, M? What do you know about Arthit?”

M turns his face to cock an eyebrow at his friend. 

“Arthit? As in Arthit ‘Porky’ Rojnapat, the loner kid in our class?”


“Yeah, uh, he used to be like, really, really fat when we were in middle school. Like Jabba the Hutt fat. And his family owns that moo-ping stall on Yaowarat. Don’t you remember?”

“He went to middle school with us?”

“Dude, were you half asleep? Kids used to pick on him all the time, and he almost switched schools. Shame, he used to be a really nice kid, too. Probably why he lost all the weight before our freshman year and now he just never talks to anyone, and nobody talks to him either. Why are you asking about him all of a sudden?”

Kongpob is still reeling from this information, trying to desperately to recall any image of someone called ‘Porky’, but nothing springs to mind.

“Uh…nothing. Just wondering.”

He’s there after school, of course, at the stall. Kongpob had made a rather cryptic call to his mother, telling her that he didn’t need to be picked up after practice, and that she should take it as an opportunity to go about her afternoon freely instead. 

“Are you sure you don’t need me to-”

“Mae, I’m 16. I’ve gone home on my own plenty of times.”

“Okay, but if you’re not home by 7, I’m sending out a search party.”

“I’ll be home before 7. Promise.”

At the moment, there is nobody lining up at the cart, probably because the streets are closed on Monday mornings for street cleaning, and the usual weekend crowd isn’t flooding the market looking for a quick bite before a night out. Kongpob is secretly glad, having waited all day to speak to Arthit. 

“What’s your favourite colour?” he says as soon as he’s in front of the smoky grill.

Arthit just looks at him.

“Why do you want to know?”

“Because we’re friends, and friends should know these things.”

“I told you, we’re not friends.”

“Come on, now. My favourite colour is orange.”

“Just tell me what you want to eat.” Arthit says, completely unfazed.

“Not until you tell me your favourite colour.” 

“Are you this annoying to everyone?” he drops the steel tongs in frustration onto the worktop in front of him. 

“It’s a simple question, Arthit.”

Arthit sighs, flipping over a few skewers and brushing them with marinade.


“Strong choice,” Kongpob quips, an amused grin on his face. “It suits your whole no talk me i angy thing. You’re right, I liked the pork last time. I’ll have four of them.”

“Do you want sauce?” Arthit puts the skewers in a container.


“Yes, sauce. You know, a condiment that one usually puts on food to add flavour?” he deadpans.

“I know what sauce is. I just didn’t know it was an option.”

“Do you want it or not?”

Kongpob makes an exaggerated show of thinking, craning his neck and stroking his chin.

“Yeah, okay. I’ll have sauce.”

It’s as Arthit begins spooning the sauce in question onto the skewers that Kongpob winces a little. It’s a bright orangey-red, which can only mean one thing. Chili sauce. His stomach was never a fan of spicy food. But he says nothing, not wanting the food to go to waste.

Arthit hands him the container, and Kongpob gives him a small smile.

“Thanks,” he says. “That leaves me at…”


“So you’re keeping track for me?” Kongpob smirks, his tone teasing.

He thinks it’s a wonder Arthit’s eyes haven’t rolled out of his head with how much he exercises the movement.

“It’s not like I know a ton of other annoying customers who have a value deduction plan at a street food stall.” 

Kongpob just smiles, shrugging his bag to adjust the strap on his shoulder. He’s about to leave, when it occurs to him what M had mentioned earlier that day. It’s difficult for him to picture the guy in front of him as being double the size he is now. 

“Hey, did you know we went to the same middle school?”

Arthit freezes for a second, but goes back to stirring the large bucket of sauce with a small ladle. 

“What of it?”

“Nothing, just an observation,” Kongpob nods. “I’ll see you tomorrow, friend.”

Arthit puffs out another sigh as Kongpob walks away.

The skewers are, indeed, spicy, but not as much as Kongpob had initially thought, the marinade surprisingly sweet and a little acidic, like lime juice and honey. He hopes that he won’t be on the toilet all evening.

Behind his cart, Arthit picks up the notepad that he has tucked under a stack of paper containers, where his mother won’t think to look. 

11/08/2014 – ฿20

Balance: ฿942

Chapter 18: Balance: ฿465

Arthit is more than glad to see the week coming to a close. While weekends are usually the busiest days of the week for him at the cart, it’s at least fairly repetitive, and he doesn’t really have to employ any in-depth critical thinking to grill some skewers.

Even so, as he’s slumped over his desk in the early morning, just a little past 7:15, he wonders if his mother would be okay with him taking Saturday off for the third weekend in a row. Kongpob hasn’t explicitly asked him to come and watch the final game, and it would be silly to presume that that’s what he would want, but should he really have to ask in the first place?

He begins to mindlessly sketch out random shapes on the back page of his notebook as he daydreams, not particularly drawing anything, but just letting his pencil faintly trace over the paper repeatedly. Eventually, he tires of the motion, and treats himself to some milk candy that he’d bought on the way home the night before. The sweet rush of sugar does wake him up, if only just a little. 

Then, he fishes his eraser out of his pencil case. Or, Kongpob’s eraser, the faded ink on the side now reading only Ko.

Of course he’s heard of the silly superstition. He’d been hearing it spread around among his classmates since they were in elementary school, and the girls would often write the names of their crushes on their erasers, hoping for something to happen after they’d finished using them, only to lose the damn thing or scrawl in a different name several weeks later.

He can’t recall why he’d written Kongpob’s name in the first place, given that he’d only slowly come to realise his own feelings in the last week or so. Perhaps a part of his younger self had been longing for his friendship for so long that any remnant of the boy that came his way felt like something he had to treasure, a pinprick of hope that they could be friends. But now that they are friends, the increasingly small piece of rubber now holds a different meaning. He’s not sure if he really wants to use it up just yet.

As he puts the eraser down, softly smiling to himself, a shadow casts over his left side just outside the window, and someone leans over the windowsill.

“Hi, Arthit,” comes the friendly voice, alerting Arthit to its attention.

It’s Tew. He slides the window open a little further and props his briefcase up on the sill as he leans forward, peering straight down at Arthit’s desk.

“Oh, hi, Tew,” Arthit nods, briefly smiling back.

“Are you always here this early?”

“Yeah, I live nearby. And it’s quiet this time of morning.”

“Right, I almost forgot. So what are you up to?”

Arthit shifts his gaze a moment, unsure of what exactly to say as he takes in the sight of his desk. Tew had been coming over to their classroom almost every recess in the last week, often engaging him in friendly conversation, so it’s not like he has trouble talking to him anymore. However, he doesn’t know how he feels about someone else knowing about his crush just yet, much less the slightly embarrassing way he’d been keeping the blasted eraser in his pencil case for months.

“Uh…just chilling out, I guess. Not entirely awake yet.”

Tew’s warm, friendly smile remains as he continues observing Arthit through the open window.

“Um…you’re here early, too,” Arthit finally says, an attempt to break the momentary silence.

“Yeah, I’m doing the flag raising this morning, so I have to get here a little earlier.”

“I see,” he nods. He’d wondered where he’d seen Tew before he knew he was on the basketball team. “Is that your assigned duty?”

“Yeah, well, it beats doing shoe duty, which is what I had last year,” the boy scrunches his nose up, remembering how he’d had to stand next to the numbered cabinet of shoes by the door at the end of each lesson before being able to leave the classroom himself. “Oh, by the way, are you coming to our game tomorrow?”

Arthit twiddles his pencil between his fingers, pondering the question before shrugging.

“I’m not sure. But maybe. I haven’t decided, but Kongpob did mention it.”

“Well…uh,” Tew fiddles with the handle of his briefcase nervously. “It’d be nice if you came. I mean…like…I’d really like it if…you came to watch.”

He seems to stumble over his words, eyeing Arthit expectantly as he chews on his bottom lip. Arthit squints a moment in question, trying to parse what Tew might be implying, but decides that it’s a simple invitation. Eventually, he moves his head side to side vaguely in a noncommittal response.

“Um…I’ll see. I might not be able to get out of working this weekend.”

“Right! Of course…uh, you can text me,” he flashes a toothy grin.

Arthit just nods gently. Tew, as well as M, had exchanged LINE IDs with him earlier that week, but he hasn’t really put either one to use for the time being. It’s not like he can just strike up a conversation with them the way he can with Kongpob, even if both of them are easy-going and fairly amicable. After all, the extent of what he knows about Tew is that he likes maths and video games.

Kongpob. Where is he, anyway?

“I’ll…see you later in assembly, then.” Tew pulls his briefcase off the windowsill and waves to him before heading down the corridor towards his own classroom.

Arthit goes back to his menial task of doodling nameless shapes for a while longer, until he finally notices Kongpob toeing his shoes off outside the classroom door. He looks up, ready to nod hi to him, when he notices something is off about his friend.

He’s lacking his usual bright smile, and the dark circles under his puffy eyes suggest that he’s barely slept. In fact, he looks, dare Arthit say, slightly angry. He had assumed that Kongpob had simply gone to bed early, when he’d tried to call him around 9 the night before so they could do their homework together, and Kongpob hadn’t picked up or read his texts.

The usually cheery boy slumps over on his desk, his head falling straight onto his forearms. What’s with him? Arthit thinks, and after looking around the classroom a moment, deciding that nobody is paying attention, quietly makes his way over to the desk in front of Kongpob, sitting backwards in the chair.

“Hey,” he says softly. Kongpob jolts out of his sleep and looks up blearily at a slightly startled Arthit, before smiling upon realising who’s in front of him.

“Oh, hey,” he replies, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his palms. “Everything okay?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” Arthit chuckles softly. “You look like a zombie.”

“A cute zombie?” he smirks a little, to which Arthit rolls his eyes. Even in his sleep-deprived state, Kongpob is still an outrageous flirt. Not that he’s flirting; it’s just how he is, Arthit reminds himself.

“Really though…I thought you went to bed early when you didn’t answer my call yesterday.”

“Oh, sugar…I’m sorry.” He shakes his head to further wake himself up. “I probably did, but I got up again in the night to do homework.”

Arthit nods, pursing his lip to the side.

“It’s fine…but, uh…are you going to be okay for the game tomorrow? How are you going to get through practice tonight?”

“Ugh, don’t even remind me,” Kongpob groans into his hands. “I already know I’m going to end up in hospital or something.”

“Maybe take it easy for today?”

“Coach Pak would never let me slack off the day before a major game. I’d have to have a broken limb or dead in a ditch to do that.”

“Well don’t jinx it.”

“Are you coming to the game, by the way? I didn’t want to ask because I wasn’t sure if it was okay with your mother.” he sniffs, rubbing a finger under his nose to soothe the itch.

“Yeah…I’ll have to ask again. It’ll be the third week in a row I’ve not worked a full Saturday.”

“Oh,” Kongpob sits up suddenly, brows furrowed. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to cause you any trouble.”

“No, it’s fine,” Arthit attempts a smile. “I like spending time with you…guys,” he tacks on the word at the last second, shifting his shy gaze towards the window. “Mae says I need to get a life anyway. But…I’ll still have to ask. I just kind of feel bad, you know? Because it’s technically our household income, and it’s not fair that I’m neglecting to help keep the lights on to go and socialise,” he sighs. “Maybe tutoring M and Tew will mean I don’t have to work as much anymore. I still need to calculate an estimate of how many hours I can get away with….Kongpob?”

He smiles softly, looking down at his friend, who’s got his head on his arms, having fallen asleep again. Maybe because he looks so peaceful, with his mouth hanging slightly open where his cheek meets his forearm, or maybe it’s because Arthit feels a sense of endearment towards the sleeping boy in his restful state, but he slowly reaches out a hand to brush a strand of hair off Kongpob’s forehead.

Then, he makes his way back to his own desk, watching fondly from his corner desk by the corridor window.

M practically bolts to the bathroom as soon as their teacher leaves the classroom, his shoelaces still loose as he sighs with relief upon finally closing the stall of the cubicle door. He’s so relieved in fact, that when he emerges from the stall, he almost falls backwards when he comes face to face with none other than his own best friend.

“…..Hi?” he says hesitantly, before sidestepping the stern-looking boy to move towards the sinks.

“Got a minute?”

“What’s this about? I’m…slightly…scared,” he raises an eyebrow as he meets Kongpob’s thoroughly unimpressed gaze in the large mirror while he washes his hands. He doesn’t look angry, exactly (he never does), but he’s not smiling either, which is bad enough of a sign coming from Kongpob.

“You knew, didn’t you?” he finally says after a pregnant silence, exhaling heavily through his nose.

“What did I know?” M shakes his hands of excess water before drying them on the back of his shorts, leaving a few darkened blotches where the fabric gets dampened.

“The fortune teller, M. He said that you were withholding information. He also said that I might not like what I wanted to know.”

“You seriously believe in that stuff? What is this about? I’m going to need you to spell it out for me. What are you—”

“The birthday card, M!”

“Kong, I told you about that ages ago.”

“I don’t mean the card!”

“Okay, now you’re making no sense any—”

“My mother, M,” Kongpob finally says loudly, exasperated as he throws his hands up. “You didn’t tell me my mother was the one who had Arthit moved to the other class.”

M sucks in a breath, his face falling as he shifts his gaze to the floor. It had been inevitable that Kongpob would eventually find out, but he hadn’t imagined that he’d be confronted about it after taking a dump in the school bathroom.

“Kong, listen. I…uh…”

“Why, M? Just answer me that. You knew even before Arthit and I ever became friends. You knew when we were in middle school.”

“I already told you too much when you basically forced me to tell you about the birthday card.”

“I was worried about Arthit! Why would you keep that information from me? Why—”

“Because it wasn’t my information to tell!” M finally snaps, now feeling cornered by the seemingly endless accusations. “Yeesh, Kong, you know, just because we’re friends, it doesn’t mean that you have the right to know every damn thing!” he narrows his eyes in disbelief. “I didn’t tell you because I was trying to prevent you from overreacting and doing something stupid like, oh, I don’t know, bringing it up to Arthit!”

Kongpob looks taken aback, watching his friend with wide, but tired eyes.

“You ever think that maybe Arthit wants to tell you this stuff in his own time, but you keep sticking your nose into it first? And what happens every time? You start trying to guilt yourself and apologise to him when he doesn’t think you even knew in the first place, and then you end up scaring him off.”

M is holding his arms stiffly at his sides now, visibly annoyed, but he softens a little when Kongpob looks somewhat hurt by his outburst.

“Look, I know you always mean well,” he sighs. “But just because you want to help, it doesn’t mean that you always go about it in the best way.” He snorts, recalling something. “Do you remember that time when we were in a café, and there was that blind lady sitting near us, and a guy took her wallet from her purse? You immediately accused him of stealing from a disabled person and then tried to call the police, and then it turned out he was her husband who was a few baht short of paying for their order?”

Kong huffs in sheepish acknowledgement, now shifting his gaze to the side.

“I just…I really like him, M,” he mumbles, a little sadly.

“Yeah, I know,” M heaves a sigh, rolling his eyes now. “But you still need to respect people’s boundaries sometimes. Not everyone is as…uh, understanding…of your intentions as Arthit. I didn’t tell you about your mother moving him because one, I knew it would upset you,” he gestures at Kongob’s current state. “And two, because…I didn’t want it to discourage you from trying to start something with Arthit. You obviously like him a lot and I’d be a shitty friend not to have your back on that front.”

Kongpob nods quietly.

“I’m sorry, M,” he murmurs. “I shouldn’t have accused you of keeping secrets.”

“All’s forgiven, dumbass,” he says, but there’s no malice to his tone. “So what are you going to do now?”

“I don’t know,” Kongpob runs a hand over his tired face. “I just never pegged my mother to be a homophobe. She was saying all these nice things about Arthit, and then she said ‘I didn’t know how you felt about the idea of a boy liking you’,” he spits each word out as though it leaves a bitter taste in his mouth.

“Wow,” M grimaces.

“Yeah,” he mashes his lips together, trying to process what it all means. His breaths become heavier, his throat forming a painful lump. “M, I just like him. Is that so wrong? Just because…because he’s a boy? I just want to live like any other kid. You know, have a crush, maybe a relationship, do fun stuff, study what I like. Is that so much to ask for from my own mother?” he says this with a slight crack in his voice, shedding fresh tears he’d been trying to hold back all night.

“Dude, come here,” M swings an arm around the back of his friend’s neck and pulls him into a hug. He doesn’t know what else to say to comfort him, so he just lets him cry into his shoulder, awkwardly patting his back until the sniffling resides. “Sorry I don’t know how to help you with your gay rich boy crisis. I can’t relate.”

Kongpob pulls away huffily, smacking M in the shoulder at his friendly jab.


“Oooooh, scary words coming from you,” M holds his hands up in mock surrender, mouth in a wide grin. “Come on, wash your face. Class is about to start.” He claps a hand to Kongpob’s back.

Kong☕: I’m finally done with practice 😩😩😩

Kong☕: I’ll be there soon, in about 15 minutes!

Kong☕: I just need to help Coach clean up.

Kong☕: Can I get 4x🐄 and 2x🐖? ☺️

Arthit☀️: sure 🙂

Kong☕: 🥰

Arthit smiles to himself as he pockets his phone again. He’s still got a little time, so he pulls out the hidden notepad and marks down the order first.

12/09/2014 – ฿42

Balance: ฿423

He’s writing in the last number when his phone buzzes again, this time with a text from Prae.

Prae🍐: what are you always writing in that thing?

Prae🍐: i thought customers were supposed to be the ones who write their order

Arthit☀️: none of ur business

He looks over to his far right and pastes a sardonic smile on his face as she meets his gaze from her stall.

Prae🍐: waiting for kong?

Arthit☀️: …

Arthit☀️: …and?

Prae🍐: at this rate, i’m going to be playing bingo in a retirement home before you two tell each other about your feelings

Arthit☀️: yeah well save me a chair at the table

Arthit☀️: besides, who said that i like him???

Prae🍐: you’re seriously asking that?

She gives him a pointed look, to which he rolls his eyes.

Arthit☀️: fine…but i’m still not telling him

Prae🍐: omgggggg finally

Prae🍐: asldkgj just ask him to hang out!!!

Prae🍐: and then maybe pull him into a dark corner and kiss him!😏😏😏😏😏

Arthit☀️: well gee y didn’t i think of that

Arthit☀️: u make it sound so easy

Arthit☀️: y haven’t u made a move on maprang yet, hmmmmm???

Prae🍐: …turns out she has a crush on a boy at her school

Prae🍐: crushing on straight girls…what’s new 😑

Arthit☀️: sorry to hear that 😕

Arthit☀️: but it doesn’t mean she only likes boys

Arthit☀️: hey…question

Arthit☀️: do u think i should i go to his game tmr?

Prae🍐: will that asshole be there? 🤬 i’m still plotting his murder

Arthit☀️: john? well he’s on the team, so yeah

Prae🍐: ugh

Prae🍐: do you want me to come with in case he tries to bother you?

Arthit☀️: it’s fine. he hasn’t given me trouble all week at school

Prae🍐: so you’re going alone?

Arthit☀️: i don’t know if mae will be okay with it

Arthit☀️: it’s like the third time in a row now

Not getting a response for a while, he looks up, expecting to see Prae busy fulfilling an order, but almost drops his phone when he realises she’s talking to his mother, who appears to listen with intent before shaking her head and laughing. Then, she leans her head out from behind Prae and waves at him, giving him the OK sign, grinning widely. He nods back awkwardly before picking up his phone again.

Arthit☀️: really????

Arthit☀️: i could have just asked her myself

Prae🍐: no, you would have guilt tripped yourself into not going, and then she would see you being all distracted and eventually wrangled the truth out of you 🙃

Arthit☀️: …shut up

Arthit☀️: i’ve got an order to fill

He shoots her a death glare before shoving his phone back in his pocket. Then, he sets about preparing Kongpob’s order, making sure to leave the beef longer on each side to get crispier grill marks, the way Kongpob likes it.

Almost twenty minutes pass, though, the skewers having long been done and ready in a take-away bag, when Arthit realises that Kongpob still hasn’t arrived. 

Maybe cleaning up had taken longer than he’d expected, and he was on his way now. He places the bag near the grill to keep the food warm, and sets about taking more orders, grilling, flipping, and mixing sauce in the pail.

Another fifteen minutes pass, and still no Kongpob. 

Arthit begins to become slightly anxious, fidgeting as he stares at their conversation, the last message he’d sent over half an hour ago. Deciding that he at least wants to know if he’s still coming, he finally gives into his resolve.

Arthit☀️: hey where r u?

Arthit☀️: food’s getting cold 🙄

He waits, watching as the “Read” sign appears next to both messages, although another few minutes pass without a response. He’s about to type out another message, when Kongpob himself calls him.

“Hey! I was beginning to think you’d died or something.”

“Uh…well, not quite,” Arthit hears him hiss after he says this, sending a pang of alarm through him.

“Is everything okay? You said you’d be here almost half an hour ago.”

“I know, I’m sorry. Hey, uh, I know it’s late, but I…I need a favour,” he says, groaning in pain again.

“Wait, what happened?! Where are you?”

“I’m outside the school…ow, fudge!”

“Kong? Are you okay?! What’s going on?!”

“Um…I…could you, uh, take me to the hospital?”

第五章:余额: ฿856













但是他不必做决定了,因为Arthit的手机闹钟已响,在桌子上嗡嗡的响着, Arthit突然被吵醒了,Kongpob也从昏昏欲睡中惊醒。




“你应该把我叫醒的……” Arthit嘟囔着,然后他拉开书包拉链,从里面拿出了文具盒和数学书。



















( 2 x + 3 ) ( x 2 )

“现在,我们为了得到答案,我们需要将第一组括号中的数字与第二组括号中的数字相乘。” Arthit从笔盒中取出一枝萤光笔,然后分别标出了2x,3, x和-2。

















“嗯……好吧,所以 最后的答案是……?”

Kongpob看着Arthit画的箭头和写的笔记,思考了一会儿,然后写道—— 2x² – x – 6


“很好。” 然后他把课本翻出来,指着一套练习题,“那现在就试试这些吧。”



Kongpob然后说道:“Arthit,今天想一起吃午饭吗? ”


“我的意思是,不只是和我,还有M和Oak他们一起。” Kongpob觉得他有必要澄清一下。







“但是什么?这是学习还是审讯?” Arthit有点恼了,然后转过头不再看着Kongpob。





“两个负数相乘就等于一个正数,所以这应该是一个加号。” 他指着Kongpob的一个错误答案说道,“除此之外,你其他都做的很好。”

“是你讲的很好。” Kongpob温柔的笑了笑,Arthit只是点了点头,然后合上了书。

“不管怎样,我们应该回到教室去了。” Arthit说,然后急忙收拾东西,好像他想尽快逃走一样。


尽管如此, Arthit还是飞快的冲出了图书馆,经过了正在睡觉的管理员。


“然后她又把我留校了,因为她说我交的作业没有‘达标’! 现在许可老师因为我们英语不好而惩罚我们吗?” Oak再次抱怨他所谓的不公平待遇。



“不,只是要求你写三百字关于童年记忆的作文,你竟写了<idk i don’t get it lol> (我不知道,我真的不懂,哈哈哈哈哈)。” M翻了个白眼说道。


“我很了解你,你所谓的<帮助>就是<让你抄我的作业>,因此,不——,嗷,马铃薯( 妈的 )*!”












“Arthit,你——” Kongpob有点吃惊地说道,试着想帮他将东西捡起来。
























“嗷……呃,我在回来的路上发现的,一定是有人在去饭堂的路上把它掉了。 ” 他勉强的笑了笑,“我一会儿就送过去。 ”


在他们下午的课上,他偷瞄了Arthit好几眼,但他只看见那个家伙低着头,拒绝看除了他自己桌子以外的任何地方。 Kongpob在上课时,根本集中不了精力,就在快要下课的时候,他被老师责骂了,因为老师向他提问的时候还在开小差。








他觉得这很奇怪—— Arthit为什么要把我一半的名字写在我的橡皮擦上?










上面写着—— 2串猪肉 








‘如果你不想,你什么都不用告诉我,但如果你想,我就在这里。我希望你仍然可以继续辅导我,并且做我的朋友,因为我真的很喜欢和你呆在一起的时间。顺便说一下,我一直都没有给过你我的联系方式,所以这是我的Line ID。期待明天见。

Kongp :)’


他拿出手机,输入Kongpob的Line ID,立刻就找到了他同学的头像。


18/08/2014 – ฿10

余额: ฿846

“P ‘Shin,我可以用最美味的烤猪肉贿赂你吗?作为回报,别告诉我妈妈我今天没去练习,可以吗?”


“我不会特意的提起这件事,但是如果她直接问我,我也不会撒谎。” 管家毫不客气的回答道,他从一串烤肉上咬下一块猪肉,然后说道:“嗯,这些很好吃,不错。”






“怎么了?” 他调整着后视镜,然后准备启动发动机。