“Once Bitten, Twice Shy” By Mingjie Zhai


“I always hold onto the fact that we are never separate from them. They are always connected to us…whether they are separate from you (physically here), that they are learning things…their soul is learning…” -Dan Vega


“Once Bitten, Twice Shy”

Fiction. Based on a True Fling.

By Mingjie Zhai

This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

Angelie held his hand. It was rough. She felt safety in that roughness even if it was just for the few days he would be her hiking companion. He had tattoos of a viking with one eye, a hawk, and illustrations of the viking’s voyage wrapped all along his two forearms, representing both his nordic heritage and his hermetic lifestyle. He is a traveler, a wanderer, and for a year a few years back, he was homeless and was too ashamed to tell anyone. It was from a heartbreak and Angelie understood all too well that feeling of wanting to drift away into oblivion.


At one point, they were both in the land of the Lost Boys, wandering in an island, feeling trapped, alone, and hopeless. She did not have any pride like his and had asked to stay in her parents’ extra bedroom while she was still licking her wounds. Now they are lost and found, both sojourners that had attracted one another through an Airbnb reservation that overlapped. They were roommates. Angelie is now building momentum to an organization she had founded three years back and he is road tripping throughout the country selling energy drinks for the past couple of years.


After their trip together at the Grand Canyon, they both choose to do a night hike and took pictures of the stars and the moon with their dslr cameras. He had a Canon 70D and she had a Sony A7. They perched up somewhere beneath the makeshift tent they both had built together, only a few miles up from their Airbnb stay. She had spooned him and pretended for that evening that they were in love, though they were far from. They had met just a day ago and during their drive to the Grand Canyon, they were bonding through drum & bass and trap music.


Their Grand Canyon guide happened to be a photographer on the side, so when he took of them, an outsider would have mistake those pictures for engagement photos. The chemistry between them was palpable. By night time, they were both naked in the shower rubbing against each other between hot breathes in the Sedona evening. She wanted to fuck the thoughts of Rylie away by using this man with the tattoos and the healthy sized cock to do it.


“Are you sure about this?” he asked. Just hours earlier, she told him she had fallen in love with a man in Los Angeles that did not work out. Perhaps, she was in Sedona to escape both LA and the people in it. He may have taken her heart, but she still had her body.

“Yes, I want to feel you inside me,” she said.

I want you to fuck my pain away.  She thought.


He obliged. He gave her deep organisms. He took it slow like a mindful viking. That evening she had imagined that they were soulmates. That evening, she had imagined that they could build something real. She knew she did not have to have sex with him. The lustful temptation had even passed when they were about to go to their respective rooms after the night photography session, but it was Angelie who had suggested that they take a shower together. It was a naughty idea as senior citizens were sleeping that evening. She had longed for someone to wash her and for her to wash someone else. Again, he had the body type she wanted to be embraced in.


When it was over, she did not feel any regrets. Just lighter, softer, and more relaxed. She felt wanted, loved, and desired. It was enough.


Days later, after the man with the viking tattoo had already moved on, the music cowboy would be in that same bedroom where she was staying. Angelie did not regret her romp because it helped her withstand the bigger temptation with music cowboy. He was the one who reminded Angelie of Rylie’s alternate self. The Irish/Scottish musician who took the road less traveled.


It occurred to Angelie some time ago that Rylie avoided Angelie because she represented a world of blind, stupid, courage to pursue doing what you love doing. Somewhere along Rylie’s timeline, he had suppressed his musical dreams and convinced himself that he was more of a realist–a cynical realistic, perhaps even an anarchist, jaded, nihilistic–it had a bit of tragic romance to it. He, who had lost his voice and his passion for art and music at the expense of living up to the tall shadows of his fortune 500 daddy from New York, became resentful and jealous and it showed up as incredulity when Angelie had painted a picture of world travel, kids, and booming virtual businesses thriving together.


But the ambition was torment. So many times she had imagined what her life would be like being a business mogul–she would be powerful, lonely and closed off to the human condition. She knew that she is capable of going very dark. But she also knew that equating filthy rich with sin is something that is also inauthentic. She knew it was the lie of the enemy. She can both help people and sustain her wealth, build her family, friends, and community up when she masters true love.


When Music Cowboy came, they both had journaled together. The entire time, he was sharing about his focus on those couple nights he was with the woman of his dreams, the way Angelie was pining for those couple of nights with Rylie. When she heard him share, she was both happy and sad for him. On the one hand, he is quite the optimist and confident navigator of his dreams. He is conscious, Christ-centered, and filled with discernment and depth. Next, he could be tragically overconfident, delusional, with his head in the clouds. It occurred to Angelie, that Rylie may perceive her through the same shadow lens whilst she is keeping faith to think the former of herself.  Perhaps music cowboy was also manipulating the future through the self-will of intention by constantly doing things to get him prepared for the woman he pines for. Perhaps, he had did or said something that had him missing the mark. Perhaps he was never meant to rescue the object of his desire, and, like Angelie, had mistaken lust for love.

It was more of the chase and winning that may have tilted in the direction of their respective modus operandi. He thought that it was because he did not do enough self-work, but the truth is that it was because he was too proud to leave his dreams for her…not realizing that should he leave the comforts of Sedona and go with her, he would have both the dream, the girl, and the life he wanted. He was singing love and lacking loving ways of being in his bubble in Sedona. He wanted to be the big fish in the small pond rather than compete in the lake and be with the woman of his dreams. Angelie would rather leave Los Angeles now than wait for Rylie to get to know her more before they both moved on together to travel the world. Impatience and pride. 

They both had known all this time that it was their respective judgement of others, criticism of life, and self-hatred that they were avoiding. They were avoiding the admitting and submitting to God, so he continues to write of sweet love songs whilst starving of it in real time. It was plain as vanilla  for her to see her darkly self in the guise of a blond bombshell with the golden voice.

Avoidance of their real love through their respective crafts on love.

The irony.






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