Messy black hair, blood-stained hands and face, streaked tear stains, and an eerie smile. It was clearly Feng Hua’s face, but Feng Yeran was no longer sure of the other’s identity.
“Who are you?! Don’t come any closer!”
“I’m Feng Hua, eh? Don’t be afraid.” Feng Hua’s face was full of innocence and his voice was soft.
However, Feng Yeran was still so scared his teeth chattered. “No! You’re not Feng Hua! Feng Hua can’t be that cruel! You smashed the door and broke the things in the room. You could snap my neck at any moment… Feng Hua would never do that!”
“How could I—”
Feng Yeran grabbed something at his hand and struck it at the man, roaring frantically, “You’re not Feng Hua! Get the hell out! Get out! Get out!”
Struck on the forehead by the heavy metal box, not only was the man not knocked down, but his soft voice suddenly became terrifying, his body contorted, and the left side of his face blocked by his curls twisted. “What is Feng Hua like in your mind? An obedient experiment? A mindless little baby? A puppet who can’t get angry or resist? You don’t know me at all. Just because you can’t accept my horrible side, you deny my existence? I’m telling you, I can’t be any realer now! Do you know how many times I’ve put up with it when I was growing up? How many times I’ve hidden it? I told you it was okay when I was so scared, I had to accept it when I hated it so much because you asked me to accept it, I had to pretend it didn’t matter when I was in so much pain! I like you so much, but I have to put up with you leaving me again and again, I have to put up with it! I’ve had enough! I’ve had enough!”
Feng Yeran’s mind went blank from his roars.
The transformation stopped. Feng Hua’s voice lowered, then became nothingness. Even the colour in his eyes had disappeared. “What’s the point of all this? Chasing after you every day? Worrying that you’ll be taken by someone else, that you’ll leave me? What’s the point? Instead of watching others defile you, why don’t I—”
With that, he picked up Feng Yeran, slammed him on the bed, and tore off his clothes.
Blood dripped down from Feng Hua’s forehead and fell on Feng Yeran’s face.
Feng Yeran struggled.
Feng Hua locked his throat.
Beneath his body containing terrible strength, Feng Yeran was just like poor prey.
He struggled and even cried out.
Suddenly, Feng Hua’s terrible hysteria disappeared with his twisted form. His hands felt Feng Yeran’s tears. He was stunned. He picked him up in a panic, and kept wiping his tears and kissing his forehead. “Sorry… sorry… god… what have I done… Ye’er… don’t cry… sorry… I’ll never do that again… I was wrong… hit me… sorry!!”
Feng Yeran looked at the panicked Feng Hua and finally couldn’t bear it. He hugged Feng Hua and cried so hard he couldn’t breathe.
Not knowing how long had passed, he kept asking in Feng Hua’s ear, “My Feng Hua, what happened to you… you were so scary… you were so scary just now… you scared me… you scared me… you scared me… what should I do? What should I do?”
They didn’t go to bed until nearly five o’clock, and slept in a mess.
Feng Yeran held Feng Hua. Feng Hua’s head rested on his chest and he curled up beside him, struggling slightly from time to time.
At this moment, he was no longer a terrifying monster. He was just a fragile and lonely child having a nightmare.
* * *
Spring came and the snow and ice melted. Feng Yeran moved in to live with Feng Hua and everything became calm again.
Qin Xihe, who’d been communicating with Feng Hua by email, came to see him one Sunday.
The psychiatrist was as competent and energetic as ever. Her hair was in a bun, looking meticulous. She walked around the courtyard with Feng Hua several times, and then sat down to chat with him.
“They said I’m sick.”
“I’ve heard. It’s similar to multiple personality symptoms, but it’s not diagnosed yet, because your condition isn’t very stable, and it’s much more complicated than a simple identity disorder.” Qin Xihe didn’t show a surprised expression. “Have you had any strange dreams recently?”
“I’ve had a lot of dreams, but I don’t remember much.”
“Think again, have you repeated a certain dream?”
“…Several times, I dreamed that a white shadow was building a house. It turned lots and lots of paper into bricks and was building the walls.”
“What other details do you remember?”
“It seemed to know me very well. It said that I liked to build houses, and said we had to hurry. After building the walls, we need to build the door, window, chimney and so on. I’ve been having this dream over and over recently. Does it mean anything?”
“Most of the time, images in dreams are just reflections of real life. They recreate important or unimportant pieces of everyday life in a unique magical way, reflect a person’s deepest desires or worries, and embody their childhood. The act of building blocks often happened in your childhood. Perhaps, it’s just a memory?”
Feng Hua thought for a moment. “Well, when I was a child, Ye’er used to build blocks with me. We built houses together. It’s true that we first build the roof and walls, then the door, window, chimney and so on.”
“That’s fine. It’s just an ordinary dream. The point is the current state of your personality.”
“I still can’t believe that there could be a demon living in my body. However, I do see very scary illusions sometimes, and I have very big mood swings. Perhaps, I really am crazy.”
“Child, have you ever thought that sometimes ‘madness’ is a defence, a protection, a way of healing.”
“What do you mean?”
“For example, a little girl experiences something cruel that’s enough to crush her. In order to protect herself, she splits off a second, more rational, more powerful personality to protect herself. That’s the role of the human protection mechanism, and…”
Feng Hua interrupted Qin Xihe. “Whether it’s a defence or protection for myself, I’m not interested. What I’m worried about is that I might not be able to control myself and I’ll hurt Ye’er! I…”
Qin Xihe waited for him to continue.
“I desire him intensely, want him to belong only to me, and can’t stand him being close to anyone else. I’m afraid he’ll leave me… If he leaves me, even for just a month, I think I’ll go completely mad. I…”
Feng Hua suddenly stopped talking.
Qin Xihe followed Feng Hua’s line of sight and found two people standing at the front door, Feng Yeran and a trendy young man. The young man was smiling with his arm wrapped around Feng Yeran’s neck, his movements very intimate.
“Who’s next to Feng Yeran?”
Gloom covered Feng Hua’s face once again. Under his long eyelashes, his eyes were bitingly cold. “Just a pest.”
The early spring breeze blew. Qin Xihe looked at the clusters of sprouting branches above her head. “Look, child, no matter how harsh the winter, how fierce the wind, how terrible the hail, how many months on end of heavy snow, these seemingly weak trees and plants will survive. After the terrible winter, they will grow again in spring. Spring, summer, autumn, winter, the cycle repeats itself.”
“So there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
“Are you encouraging me?”
“You only just realised?” Qin Xihe smiled. “It’s time for me to go. By the way, this is my business card. If you have any problems in the future, you can come directly to my studio to see me.”
Qin Xihe left.
Feng Hua looked at Feng Yeran walking towards him with a smile, carrying a few bags of fruit. The wind ruffled his hair and his face was lit by the setting sun, his expression very gentle.
“I bought some mangoes and pineapples on the way off work. I know you love them.”
Looking at his smile, the gloom on Feng Hua’s face instantly disappeared.
He took the fruit and gave Feng Yeran a bear hug. Feng Yeran’s body was icy. Being wrapped in a warm embrace, he felt especially comfortable.
“Haha, what’s the matter?” Feng Yeran asked.
“Nothing. I just suddenly feel that this is enough.”
“Eating mangoes and pineapples is enough?”
* * *
Spring was short but extremely beautiful. After the ice disappeared and the snow melted, the yellow grass gradually turned green, the white, peach and golden spring flowers gradually bloomed, and the birds leapt and rejoiced in the sunshine. Those past fears were buried under the colours of spring, not a trace to be seen.
Feng Yeran and Feng Hua seemed to have forgotten all the unpleasant things. Feng Yeran no longer questioned anything about Chen Xuan and Feng Boran, nor did he ask about Feng Hua’s illness. Feng Hua naturally ignored the existence of Xiao Zhijie. It was as if they’d returned to the past. Feng Hua seemed to have become a child again, indulging in being pampered.
Feng Yeran cooked and Feng Hua washed the dishes; Feng Yeran watched TV and Feng Hua read comics on his lap; Feng Yeran took a nap and Feng Hua curled up beside him; Feng Yeran wrote in his diary and Feng Hua napped with his back against him; after Feng Yeran took a shower, he washed Feng Hua’s hair; when Feng Hua had infusions, took medicine and underwent physical examinations, Feng Yeran would always stay by his side; when Feng Yeran had a stomachache, Feng Hua would hold him and treat him…
Just after lunch, Feng Yeran fell asleep on the sofa.
Feng Hua, who’d finished washing the dishes, squatted in front of Feng Yeran, observing his slightly tired face, his hair that slightly blocked his eyes, and his slightly open, somewhat dry lips.
He closed the curtains, gently brushed his hair back, and draped a thin blanket over him.
Feng Hua sat on the sofa and concentrated on peeling an orange. When the orange peel was peeled off, a faint fragrance burst forth. He carefully placed the orange pieces onto a small clean plate, tearing off the surface membrane one by one and removing those white meridians, until the attractive pieces of orange fruit were arranged on the plate. Finally, he stuck a few toothpicks in them.
After peeling the orange, Feng Hua stared at Feng Yeran again for nearly ten minutes. Then, he got up and poured him a cup of hot tea, thinking that Feng Yeran would be able to drink hot tea and eat sweet oranges right away when he woke up. His heart seemed to turn into candyfloss, soft and sweet.
Feng Hua was sitting on the carpet, slumped over on the sofa taking a nap.
After about twenty minutes, Feng Yeran stirred slightly.
Feng Hua immediately propped himself up and looked at him.
He saw Feng Yeran sit up, stretch and yawn, then rub his eyes as he said with a smile, “Have you had a good sleep, Feng Hua? Did you sleep well?”
Feng Hua hadn’t fallen asleep, but he nodded repeatedly.
He served Feng Yeran the hot tea as if he were gifting a treasure, and after Feng Yeran had a few sips, he took back the cup and served him the plate of oranges.
The light purple curtains were stirring and the spring breeze seemed to be tinted with sapphire blue, emerald green and saffron yellow, entering the dark room through the cracks and spreading the beautiful hues on Feng Yeran’s body, outlining his silhouette.
Feng Hua gazed at him, watching his slowly changing expressions, from exhaustion, to astonishment, to pleasant surprise, to an obviously happy expression. Watching him eat those tender fruits bite by bite, he could almost hear the sound of juice dripping everywhere. Watching his dry lips gradually become moist and smelling bursts of overflowing fragrance, he couldn’t help but think back to his childhood. Back then, he also really liked seeing how Feng Yeran looked when he just woke up—back then, to him, who didn’t know what emotions were, Feng Yeran’s gradually changing expressions were so fresh and interesting, as captivating as the sunrise. It always made him so stirred up he couldn’t speak, drawing him to trace his appearance with his brush again and again.
“What’re you thinking? Smiling so happily?” Feng Yeran asked.
Feng Hua didn’t even realise he was smiling. “Nothing. Is it delicious?”
“Yeah, especially sweet.”
“Now, are you still afraid of me?”
Feng Yeran was stunned for a moment and looked away. “…How could I be afraid of you.”
“During this period, has my illness gotten much better?”
“Yes, much better!” Feng Yeran smiled.
However, Feng Hua’s expression got a little depressed. After a pause, he said softly, “Ye’er.”
“I feel that I’m strange.”
“What’s strange?” Feng Yeran was a little nervous.
“When I was alone, no matter where I was, I felt that everything seemed to be black and white, tasteless, monotonous, and that everything had lost its meaning. Sometimes, I felt that, perhaps, my existence was, in itself, a mistake. But now…”
Something flickered in Feng Hua’s blue eyes. “I feel that everything and every moment has a meaning. When I was alone, I didn’t want to wash the dishes, but now, I find washing the dishes great, especially when I see you holding my washed bowls and using my washed chopsticks. When I was alone, I wasn’t interested in cooking at all, but now, I want to work hard to learn to cook and strive to do better. Just thinking about you eating my cooked food and your cells being moulded and renewed by me makes me very excited. When I was alone, I hated doing nothing and was afraid to fall asleep because I always had nightmares and always saw strange visions… but I like doing nothing next to you and I like sleeping next to you. Now, I no longer see those visions or have nightmares. Everything is so wonderful. Even peeling an orange for you, or just looking at you, makes me feel very happy…”
“I used to hate being imprisoned. I didn’t want to hear people say I was sick. But, if being sick allows me to be with you every day like this, I’d rather be sick all my life.”
“What nonsense are you saying! Silly child!”
Feng Yeran’s voice was very nasal. His eyes had long been brimming with tears. He hugged Feng Hua, his brows furrowed tightly.
Something was surging in his chest, boiling, as if it’d been buried too long and was about to erupt. He was gasping, he was hurting, yet he was inexplicably happy. He was suffering, longing for something.
His fingers felt Feng Hua’s hair and warm skin, and he murmured.
He had thought countless times.
If only they were both just ordinary people.
If only they hadn’t had all those complications before.
If he was healthy.
If only Feng Hua was also healthy and happy!
If only Feng Hua only loved him as a father, or if he could really fall in love with Feng Hua!
Then, he wouldn’t have to force himself to forget all those terrible things, Feng Hua wouldn’t be sick, and they wouldn’t suffer so much and hurt each other. They surely would’ve been able to spend every day plainly but happily. Life was just too short, too precious. He simply couldn’t stand wasting time on those irrelevant things.
After some time, Feng Yeran said softly, “Feng Hua, let’s go play in the park later.”
They were walking in the spring scenery.
It was an antique park, not very modern.
There were winding crossroads, large spring flowers, exquisite pavilions, rows of small shops, small bridges with beautiful sculptures, sapphire blue lakes, dark green hills, and temples rich in incense.
Wind chimes rang, colourful windmills whirled, and swallow-shaped kites hung in the blue sky. The two of them nibbled on candied fruit as they rode the cable car to the top of the hill. They wrote their wishes on wishing ribbons and tied them to the treetop, where they fluttered with the wind.
“Ye’er, what did you write?”
“I hope we all get better soon. What about you?”
“I actually wanted to write a lot, but the wishing ribbon was too small.”
“Haha, what did you want to write?”
“Every day, I wake up to see you and watch you eat the breakfast I cook; when you are sad, when you are sick, I am by your side; we take walks together, and if you are tired, I carry you home; we travel together; we watch movies together; when taking a bath, I rub your back, and afterwards, you blow my hair; we go to sleep together every day, and if you can’t sleep, I count sheep for you; every day, I will tell you that I love you; even if only once, I will hear you say that you love me…”
Feng Hua looked at Feng Yeran and smiled softly. “If only it could come true.”
“Ye’er, let’s go boating.”
They were sitting in a white boat, floating in the calm lake. The lake was sapphire blue, with dark green hills and emerald green trees reflecting on it, adding a layer of emerald hue to it.
Spring flowers were like pearls sprinkled on the surface of the water, with swimming fish passing beneath and red dragonflies fluttering over top. The reticulated water shimmered as if every waterline and every ripple was meticulously depicted by a painter, with large strokes blending the main tones and delicate strokes depicting the gradations of the ripples, punctuated with highlights.
They could occasionally hear the sound of a flute, ethereal, like a cloud slowly drifting across the sky.
Feng Yeran quietly sat on the boat fishing.
After rowing for a while, Feng Hua sat beside him and watched him fish.
The air was warm, and the lake water was also warm, with a faint scent of water plants.
Under the warm sun, it was easy to get sleepy.
Feng Hua leaned on Feng Yeran’s shoulder and gradually fell asleep. He breathed evenly.
Feng Yeran carefully switched to holding the fishing rod in one hand.
At moments like these, there was always an urge that rose in his heart—
He wished that time would stop right at that moment.
He hoped to use everything he had to cherish the child leaning on his shoulder.
Feng Hua fell into dreamland.
He was surrounded by swishing and thumping, which were the sound of pages turning and the sound of building walls.
The white shadow was building a wall. It seemed to sense Feng Hua. “You’re finally here! Look, three walls have been built. It’s almost done!”
“Who are you?”
“Come on! Feng Hua, come and help!”
The white shadow stopped its actions. It drifted towards Feng Hua, its voice light. “I’m here to help you.”
The white shadow circled around Feng Hua several times, then stopped in front of him. “Feng Hua, do you know what is most important for a small house that’s been built?”
It was a downright baffling question.
Something was swaying in the white shadow’s hand, making a metallic clanging sound.
“A key?” Feng Hua asked.
The white shadow nodded. “Yes, the key is the most important. Because it is only with the key that you can open the house.”
“…” No matter how flawed its logic was, he had no idea what it was trying to say.
The white shadow moved closer to Feng Hua, but he still couldn’t make out its appearance. Its gentle whisper came into Feng Hua’s ear. “Feng Hua, you need a key.”
“…What do you mean?”
“The name of that key is love.”