8.1: eXe [Body]

A brew of white peony tea later, she divulged her distress.

"I want to become a model.
"To wear creation, to become it... that has been my dream.
"However, I can't achieve it with the way I am now."

I listened with as much empathy as I had for Mailee.

"Don't you see? Don't you agree?"

She waved her arm in distress in a wide sweep.
To be honest, I had no idea.
In all honesty, I was more surprised that she wasn't a model already.

"With all due respect, I think you look quite beautiful as is."

His tone was gentle and flattering.
Quite the natural charmer, that conman.

She shook her head before hanging it.


8.0: eXe [Body]

"Fashion modelling is a vicious business."

Her curt words were enough to render me speechless.
She casually sipped her Kashmiri tea, straight, no sugar or milk please.

Her frown was enough to render me motionless.
Her odd request upon entering the shop: Please make me a cup of tea that suits me.
I thought a pink tea would look good with her delicate skin tone, but -


Sǒuhuà dramatically lifted the tea pot.
In a chastising manner, he set it back on the counter, signaling for a re-order.

He turned to her again, sitting stiffly as a doll.

"I sincerely apologize for this mishap.
"As you can see, my second-help is quite the country bumpkin.
"He lacks the dignity to distinguish the types of tea suited for such a woman as yourself."

I'll have you know, I'm city-born and city-raised.


7.6: eXe [Dreams]

"Don't you feel cheated?
"Rather, don't you think he made a valid point?"

I woefully tucked away the surviving cookies back into its cellophane packaging.
His fearsome appetite swiped at least 3/4ths of the bunch.

"His point was goals.
"Vincent, that is vastly different from dreams."

 If you'd look into any thesaurus, they're both the same thing.

"Goals exist in constraint of realism.
"Dreams differ in the sense that, despite the presence or lack of resources, they exist.
"Simply as a fragment of what the heart desires, outside the realistic sense that binds goals."

"He'll know the difference between the two in a few years time."

Sǒuhuà casually placed the jar of dreams and cookie crumbs back on its shelf.

Whether it was the right choice or not, the ability to satisfy your body for the sake of your heart.
For the sake of stability...


7.5: eXe [Dreams]

The kid shrugged again before picking up the provided pen.
I kept a close watch on it afterwards to see if he'd pocket this one too.

"Sounds like a good deal...
"I mean, I can think of more dreams when I'm rich, right?
"By then, wouldn't they be goals instead?"

He looped his name in a sloppy cursive before slamming down the pen.

"Alright, mister, when can I see the results?"

Sǒuhuà rolled up the document, crumbs and all.
After crumpling it, he dropped it into the tin and replaced the lid.

"As soon as you begin a job."

I guess the kid felt a bit gypped from the way his shoulders slumped.
It's like getting promised a date, but only after marriage.


7.4: eXe [Dreams]

"For the price of your dreams, you can achieve immense job success.
"In whatever field you choose, regardless of the economy."

Sǒuhuà showcased the antique tin, painted in a bold and defiant gold.
The mocking red circus etched into it honestly gave me a bad vibe.

The kid shrugged, body language showing an edging sense of discomfort.
He played it off as a casual lack of interest despite the sparked attraction.

"I dunno, that sounds a lot more bogus than the lifetime bacon..."

"Oh, but I'm quite serious.
"If you accept this exchange, I'd like you to sign here."

He laid out a formal document on top of the cookie crumbs.

"By the way, we don't accept returns or refunds."

I don't think you need to add that part to a kid who steals something as trivial as cookies from a waning shop.


7.3: eXe [Dreams]

At his own word, "millions," he seemed to light a spark.

"How about a rich job?
"Can I wish for that?"

The gears of capitalism spin strong in this one.

"Like, how about you make me super smart?
"I can dominate over everyone, I can own even ten companies!"

His childish enthusiasm kicked away my doubts, and I found myself grinning to his ideas.
No way can such a silly wish be traded.

"Is that what you wish for? Job success?"
Sǒuhuà was calm, as if such a thing was simple enough.

The kid stopped, almost skeptical.
He glanced to me, almost as skeptical, before doubling his skepticism.

"Well, yeah, but that's impossible.
"Just because I'm a kid..."

His challenging glare and crossed arms was quite an authoritative sight.
Sǒuhuà didn't budge, but instead brought the antique candy tin from the shelf.

The one I was almost about to throw away.