Min is a young man, Ting a young lady, both 24 and fellow students at the university. Min is lying in bed with his broken arm resting on his chest. It is a small windowless room in his parents’ small apartment. His arm was broken 3 days before in a confrontation with police at a train station. Ting has just arrived and sits in a chair at his bedside.
Ting – How is your arm?
Min – Better. Were you at the airport yesterday?
Ting – I was.
Min – What happened?
Ting – It got out of hand.
Min – I’d been worried about that. When things get too heated people lose control.
Ting – It shouldn’t have happened.
Min – It shouldn’t have. (he gives her a long look). You’re going back?
Ting – Yes.
Min – You’re strong.
Ting – We have to stand up to them.
Min – I know. But I worry that we’ve gone too far.
Ting – I worry about it, too.
Min – But you’re still going back?
Ting (smiling) – Yes.
Min repositions his arm.
Ting – When will the cast come off?
Min – Six weeks.
Ting – Better a fractured arm than a fractured head.
Ming – I know. I raised my arm just in time. Otherwise it would’ve been my head.
Ting – And you said it wasn’t a policeman?
Min – No. He was a thug. Hitting us while the policemen looked the other way. It was like 15 of them. Just came straight at us.
Ting – You’re brave.
Min – I’m glad you think so. First he hit me in the ribs, took my breath away, then he aimed for my head. He was so quick. I barely had time to cover.
Ting – I’m glad it wasn’t worse.
Min – Me too.
Ting – If we don’t fight who will? Our parents are too old.
Min – They’re paying the bills.
Ting – Yes, that too.
Min smiles up at Ting.
Min – I’m glad you came to see me.
Ting – Of course. You would’ve done the same for me.
Min – I would.
She raises her open palm and they slap in high five style.
Ting – You think Xi will send in the troops?
Min – If he does it will be brutal. Tiananmen all over again. What are the people in the mainland thinking?
Ting (shrugging, pensively) – Who knows what twist Beijing is putting on the story. Their lives are so controlled. Everything so censored.
Min – Have you been?
Ting – Yes. Three times. Last time was a year ago. Went to visit a cousin in Shanghai.
Min – You could tell the difference?
Ting – Right away. Cameras everywhere. Everyone under surveillance. Suffocating. That’s how it felt to me.
Min – We’re fighting for all the Chinese, aren’t we?
Ting – Yes. Even if they don’t appreciate it.
Min looks away for a moment.
Min – They just don’t know what they’re giving up.
Ting (shakes her head) – I think they know… but they figure there’s a price to pay for their physical comforts and they pay it.
Min – What do they say about Xi changing the constitution so
he can keep getting reelected until he dies?
Ting – Oh well.
Min – Will they care if Xi sends in the troops?
Ting lowers her eyes for a moment.
Ting – Maybe some.
Min – I was thinking of Prague before you came… August 1968… when the Russians invaded.
Ting – We’re doing it for us. And China did sign a treaty with the British guaranteeing our rights until 2047.
Min – Xi laughs at it. You think the world will stand by us?
Ting – Some will. The many won’t. We’re on our own. if you lose an eye, you won’t get it back, no matter who stands by you.
Min – I’m so sorry for that girl.
Ting nods slowly.
Min – Did you know her?
Ting – No. All I know is she was giving first aid to a protester on the ground.
Min runs his hand slowly over the cast in his arm.
Ting – Maybe if you’ve never known freedom it’s easier to put up with people controlling you. But if you’ve known freedom… you fight to keep it.
Min – Even if you’ve never known it, you yearn for it. It’s essential to being human.
Ting – The spirit of George Orwell is with us.
Min – Yes it is.
Ting – One day I will write too.
Min – I would love to see that.
Ting – Thank you. I have to go now.
Min – Back to the airport?
Ting – Yes.
Min – Do you have to?
She looks at him and smiles.
Ting – They’re expecting me.
Min – I wish you wouldn’t go.
Ting reaches over and caresses Min’s face.
Ting – You are sweet.
Min – The struggle is bringing us close.
Ting – It is.
Min – Will you be safe and not do anything crazy?
Ting – I will be safe… and not do anything crazy.
Min – Promise?
Ting – Promise.
She takes his hand in hers and kisses it. Then she rises and crosses to the door. She looks back at him and waves a slow goodbye.
Min – Will you call me when it’s done?
Ting – I will.