Chapter 033—Cin Heung: Epilogue

Around the border between California and Mexico, there were more than a dozen people ready to go up the mountain and head north. Each of them carried a big backpack and everyone had mountain climbing equipment. There were a pair of fair skinned girls there, one brown haired and the other a blonde. They wore sunglasses, purple vests, coats, and dark black hot pants. With beautiful faces, the two women were also tall and slender. They were particularly eye-catching among the crowd.

The brown-haired girl said excitedly, “After preparing for such a long time, we’re finally going to leave!”

The blonde-haired girl replied, “I’ve been preparing for months for this! I needed to train but I could only walk every day. If I do any heavy training, my veins would pop out!” She sounded like she was complaining  a little.

The brown haired girl pinched her small face and said, “Stirling, this is your grand idea. Are you complaining now?”

“No! I’m excited, too! Cin Heung, I want to defeat the ‘Pacific Crest Trail’ with you! Do you know how many days we’ll have to walk! Isn’t it strange that our group is so large? Can’t they just give us some peace and quiet?” 

Cin Heung comforted her and said, “This trail takes more than 140 days to finish, and it’s all wilderness between supply points. It takes a few days and a few nights to reach a supply point. If it’s just the two of us we might get ourselves killed.” 

Putting both her hands up, Stirling crossed her fingers. 

Cin Heung continued with a smile, “It’s safer if we go with the group. This is also what the trail angels hoped for.” Stirling placed her arms around Cin Heung’s head and gently pressed it against her forehead. “You’re always so attentive of everything.” 

“They’re going already.” 

Cin Heung and Stirling set out along the trail with the group. The starting point was at the waist of the mountain. After a short walk, they were already in the wilderness. The mountain was covered with loess mixed with clumps of shrub while rocks spread out and scattered in weird patterns everywhere. The scenery was so beautiful and unique that it elicited their amazement.

At their first camp, everyone was excited about making new acquaintances and chattering about everything around the campfire. At such a primitive setting, everyone knew they were all equals. Everyone returned to their purest selves and the atmosphere was harmonious.

Cin Heung and Stirling were not afraid to show their relationship. The young people there were not surprised and even praised that they were a good match. Cin Heung let out a sigh as she noticed how different groups of people would have very different opinions. 

At night, most people were asleep, but some were still chatting. Cin Heung and Stirling were still chatting. They gazed at the sea of stars and pondered at how great the universe was. 

“Look at how magnificent the sea of stars is. How big do you think the stars are?” 

Cin Heung thought and said, “If we can see them this far away, they’re probably very big.” 

“Definitely bigger than us!” Stirling said with a smile and continued, “Compared to us, we’re just specks of dust.” 

Feeling moved, Cin Heung said, “Two specks of dust meeting in this big universe… How difficult that must be.” She raised her right hand, arched her palm, and pointed her thumb down.

Raising her left hand, Stirling made the same gesture in unison, and then placed it against Cin Heung’s hand. This was their secret sign which symbolized their hearts. 

At the beginning of the hike, it really was a pleasure. After a few weeks of trekking, though, they began arguing about things.

“What I want to say is that we should think carefully about our supplies.” Cin Heung insisted.

“Many people have walked this trail so the supply posts must be experienced when it comes to their stock. Don’t you think you’re worrying too much?” Stirling said leisurely.

“Sometimes, the supply posts would run out of supplies also! Do you know that some places are so remote that they don’t even have any supplies? We have to make arrangements to prepare multiple supplies and send them to the local post office where they lack supply! Then we can pick them up on the way.” 

“I really don’t get why you’re worrying so much!”  

“I don’t get how you can be so chill about everything!” 

Thus, their cold war began. 

For days, Cin Heung only cared for herself, while Stirling did the same.

One day, Cin Heung needed to relieve herself, so she went into the forest and found somewhere where there wasn’t anyone. 

Stirling, on the other hand, chatted with the group. Suddenly, Cin Heung’s scream came from the forest. Immediately, Stirling and several sturdy guys quickly ran toward Cin Heung.

When they arrived, they saw Cin Heung sitting on the ground with a pale face. Cin Heung didn’t dare to move a muscle because there was a black bear sniffing the ground, just a few meters from her. 

All of them were startled. However, Stirling was so worried that she completely lost her mind. Without hesitating, she took a few steps and started yelling and clapping her hands, hoping to distract the black bear. Unfortunately, the black bear didn’t pay attention to her, and even took two more steps toward Cin Heung. With her eyes shut, tears began to roll down Cin Heung’s face. 

In a panic, Stirling fumbled all over her body, hoping to find a knife or something she could use against the bear. Unexpectedly, all she found was a bar of chocolate and it almost brought tears to her eyes. Out of nowhere, an idea popped into her head and she peeled off the chocolate package, then shook it in front of the black bear. The sweet smell was so strong that the black bear turned toward it. Seeing this, Stirling threw the chocolate away, and the black bear chased after it.

Taking advantage of this opportunity, Stirling ran back down the path with Cin Heung and the group of people. After returning to the camp, Cin Heung gasped and blanked out. She then held onto Stirling and burst into tears. For this reason, Stirling comforted her. 

Thus their cold war ended. 

A few days later, Cin Heung asked, “Were you not afraid to die that time?”

“Weren’t you afraid to lose your life when you wrestled that hooligan?” 

The two of them smiled but said nothing. Holding each other’s hand, the two continued on their journey. 

More than three months later, they arrived at a cold high-altitude section of Mount Whitney. There was plenty of snow and very few supply posts. Stirling was calculating the food supplies they still had and found that there wasn’t enough for them to last until the next supply post. Stirling looked at Cin Heung with a guilty look, but Cin Heung looked back at her proudly, “Do you believe me now? Fortunately, I’ve sent some supplies to the nearest post office. We’ll be there tomorrow.” 

“You’re great Cin Heung! Always planning ahead!”

Such a helpless and vulnerable situation happened almost every day. The difficult situations they faced slowly built their trust for each other. Their relationship was slowly maturing. 

Soon, they were at the final stages of the trail. They were now around the northern part of Washington state. The scenery was charming as the mountains were covered with snow and green grass. Clouds were floating everywhere, and some would sometimes shroud them in a misty embrace. They stood side by side on a protruding rock, overlooking the lake seated in the deep valley. Such a mystifying scenery, would it still exist in the decades to come? 

Cin Heung said, “We humans truly are tiny existences. To live here and find someone that really knows you, everything else seems so worthless.” 

“We went from San Diego, California, Nevada Mountains, Oregon, Washington to the Canadian border. We walked from south to north, and the journey feels like a representation of our lives.”

Cin Heung replied, “Yeah! With highs and lows, happy and sad times, successes, but also failures. But the most important thing is…” 

“We didn’t give up,” the two said in unison. 

“Cin Heung, you’re really courageous. Even when the burden is heavy, you still chose to walk this path with me.” Stirling stared at Cin Heung deeply as she said that.

Cin Heung smiled and replied, “You think I don’t know how much hardship you’ve gone through? As soon as your mother was better that year, you came back from the UK! The day the theatre group reunited was when you just got off the plane. Right?” 

“If William hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t have known how much you suffered.” 

Cin Heung grabbed her hand and said, “Also, I have a hunch that you will have something to say on this trip. Right?”

Stirling’s sparkling eyes looked around and said, “Cin Heung, you know that the state of Washington is a ‘LGBT state.’ After this journey, let’s take a trip to Washington!” As she said that, she fitted a ring made from branches onto Cin Heung’s middle finger.

Holding her hand, Cin Heung sniffed the back of Stirling’s hand and said tenderly, “My dear, when we reach the destination, let’s go to Washington state to finish the task! Let’s continue our trail!” 

Two people smiled as they watched the setting sun, smiling at the world.

(Fin)


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