T/N: Knife time!
Day 07 06:05
The weekend passed in the blink of an eye and Monday arrived again, right on schedule. Bubu needed to go to kindergarten, Song Ran needed to hurry and complete a mountain of illustrations, and Mr He, who was in a faraway land, needed to get up early in the morning and return late at night to face overtime demands that were even more demonic than the previous week’s.
Within this city, in every window of every building, every family of three lived similar lives.
Busy, consistent, and happy.
Even if they couldn’t meet, with an additional yearning that spanned the ocean between them, it was also a bittersweet happiness.
In the early morning, when the first ray of sunlight shone into the bedroom, Song Ran assumed it would be a calm and tranquil week—he and Mr He were on good terms, having developed an ambiguous intimacy, and Bubu was obedient and independent, never making people worry about him. His life was already on the right track; in the next ten or so days, all he needed to do was simply live according to routine and carefully look after Bubu.
But what he didn’t foresee was this blasted life would not leave him in peace; it unflaggingly dug another giant pit for him.
At six o’clock in the morning, Song Ran turned off the alarm, woke up Bubu, then put on a coat and went to the kitchen to make breakfast.
Wonton skins wrapped around fingernail-sized bits of meat filling tumbled about in the boiling water. A layer of beaten egg solidified into a golden sheet in the small frying pan; shrimp, vegetables, and spring onions were spread across the middle; then, it was rolled up with the spatula and cut into three sections before being plated. After that, Song Ran took a small, plain porcelain soup bowl and arranged the nori, dried shrimp, and salt. He slid the little wontons into the bowl one by one, filled it with fresh soup, and brought it to the table with the rolled egg.
Breakfast was ready, but it was quiet in the house. The bedroom door was tightly shut, and there were no sounds of teeth-brushing or face-washing from the bathroom.
Was the little lazybones sleeping in today?
It couldn’t be. Last night, he had clearly gone to bed rather early.
With a feeling of foreboding, Song Ran hurriedly pushed the door open and entered. He pulled open the window curtains and let the abundant sunlight illuminate the bedroom, revealing Bubu mutely curled up beneath the duvet. His little face was bright red, his skin was damp and hot, and sweat-drenched hair was stuck to one side of his forehead. He was entirely lethargic, like a little leaf that was withered by the sun. Song Ran felt the child’s forehead with the back of his hand; the temperature was frighteningly high, so he hurriedly leapt towards the nightstand and dug out an oral thermometer.
The mercury furiously shot up from its bulb; it passed 36°C, 37°C, 38°C, and directly approached 39°C. Song Ran stared at that thin mark, so nervous that he was almost unable to breathe.
In the end, the mercury stopped just one small increment away from 39°C.
Song Ran pulled out the thermometer and placed it next to the pillow, then threaded his fingers through his hair, rubbing his scalp with profound remorse.
It was his fault.
It was due to his carelessness; he was so absorbed in queuing to buy ice cream that he let Bubu get soaking wet. Afterwards, even though he had wiped Bubu dry and changed him into a new set of clothes, he forgot to blow-dry the child’s hair.
After running around for several hours in the wind with a head of wet hair, even he himself would get a fever.
Looking at Bubu’s groggy and miserable sick complexion, Song Ran was struck by waves of guilt. He ran to the living room and snatched up his wallet, key, cell phone, and moist towelettes. At top speed, he filled a flask of warm water and swept the rolled egg into a lunch box, carelessly stuffed both items into a satchel, then took Bubu to the hospital.
When He Zhiyuan bought his house, he hadn’t spared any expense, unhesitatingly choosing X District’s best area. Not only was it close to the kindergarten, it was also only a block away from the hospital that was affiliated with F University.
Song Ran looked at the bright spot on his cell phone’s map that was within walking distance and felt grateful to the point of tearing up.
Song Ran wrapped Bubu in a thick down jacket, covered his head with the hood to prevent even the slightest exposure to the wind, and ran to the hospital in ten minutes before arduously waiting in line to register a paediatrics number. Because children are a family’s treasure, it was frequently the case that the entire family would go out to snatch up a number. It was only seven o’clock in the morning, but there were already more than a hundred people in line, so they needed to wait several hours before being able to see the doctor. Song Ran was so anxious that he was burning up inside, but he could only bide his time in the dark and crowded waiting area.
When Bubu was thirsty, he took out the flask and poured out a little warm water. When Bubu was hungry, he poked apart the rolled egg with his chopsticks and fed it to him, one small piece at a time. Most of the time, Bubu slept listlessly, so Song Ran didn’t move an inch, acting as if he were a bed.
During this period, he measured Bubu’s temperature again. It was 39°C, an increase of 0.1°C from before.
Burning with anxiety, Song Ran glanced at his watch every few seconds before lifting his head to look at the electronic number plate. But no matter how he looked, he thought that that thing was probably broken—otherwise, how could it not change even after this much time?
The passing seconds felt like years.
The kindergarten opened at exactly eight o’clock. Song Ran gave the teacher a call, saying that Bubu had a fever today and needed to take leave. Some time past nine o’clock, he received the teacher’s return call and was informed of bad news.
In addition to Bubu, there were five other children from the same class who were off sick.
The reason was chickenpox.
Chickenpox was a frequent occurrence for children in the springtime; they stayed in the same room, ate together, slept together, and played together, so it was very easy for them to infect each other. As a result, kindergarten chickenpox cases were often explosive. The teacher reminded Song Ran that Bubu’s fever may not have necessarily been from getting chilled, but rather an early sign of chickenpox, which would require special attention.
Rather than chickenpox, Song Ran would have preferred that Bubu just had a fever from a simple cold.
He hung up the phone, then carried Bubu to the brightly-shining window and carefully scrutinized that pale little face. Unfortunately, he really did discover a pale red spot on the tip of one of the child’s eyebrows; after lifting up his fringe to take a look, there were two similar spots on his forehead.
Song Ran’s heart sank. He hurriedly asked if it itched or not, to which Bubu nodded in discomfort and unconsciously reached out to scratch. Song Ran hastily blocked the child’s hands and comforted him. “It’s okay, let’s endure for a while. Once Mr Doctor prescribes medicine for you, your body won’t itch anymore.”
Bubu was already showing spots, so it wasn’t difficult to diagnose. After having their number called, they sat in the doctor’s office for less than five minutes before coming back out.
Sure enough, it was chickenpox.
Fortunately, aside from the bad news, there was a bit of good news that made Song Ran feel relieved: Bubu had been vaccinated against chickenpox before, so this time was considered a recurrence and wasn’t a serious illness; therefore, he would be able to recover in only three or four days. The unsurprised doctor gave orders for isolation and cleaning, issued dietary precautions, and prescribed a few boxes of topical medication before allowing them to return home to rest.
Song Ran went to the pharmacy to pay for the medicine. Having stuffed it into his satchel, he carried Bubu back to Jadewater Bay.
Because He Zhiyuan wasn’t at home, Song Ran was the only person who could take care of Bubu.
This child belonged to him for the moment; whether he was sick or healthy, Song Ran had to be 110% responsible.
He turned on the heater, gave Bubu a warm bath, and changed him into clean pyjamas. Then, he changed the bedsheets, duvet cover, and pillowcases, and soaked them all in disinfectant. Bubu had just manifested spots that itched a little. Unable to bear it, he wanted to scratch. Song Ran trimmed his fingernails for him and filed down the edges, then held his little hand and said, “You can’t touch the red spots however you want. If it’s so itchy that it’s uncomfortable, hug the little rabbit or tell me, and I’ll apply medicine for you, okay?”
Bubu said sweetly, “Okay.”
The child had chickenpox, so lunch should be something relatively light. Song Ran simmered a bowl of white rice gruel. Along with pickled vegetables, he fed it to Bubu a spoonful at a time until it was all gone. Afterwards, he pulled the curtains closed, leaving Bubu to quietly recuperate in the room. There was still a bowl of cooled wontons in the kitchen, which Song Ran hastily microwaved and polished off in a few mouthfuls before returning to the living room to speed through his illustration work.
The sketches were a long-standing obligation. Troublesome matters had arrived, one after another, but he couldn’t stop working.
There was only about four thousand yuan on the bank card, and they’d made a trip to the hospital today, spending no small amount of money. In the upcoming ten or so days, there would be more expenses upon expenses, so he had to get the illustration fees as soon as possible to survive.
This afternoon’s illustration depicted a little boat floating in shallow water next to a wooden bridge.
It reminded Song Ran of someone.
There was a similar wooden bridge in Jadewater Bay’s garden. He had once stood at one end of the bridge and turned back, catching sight of a certain man. With a brief glimpse from afar, his heart was captured at first glance; however, from then on, that person had disappeared into the boundless sea of people, never to be seen again.
He put down his brush, opened the drawer, and took out that precious sketch.
Behind the spotless glass, his Infiniti god was still as brilliant as when he first laid eyes upon him—a high nose bridge, deep eye sockets, eyebrows sharp like a sword’s blade. When he smiled, one corner of his mouth curled up. It was just a rough sketch on a piece of paper, but nevertheless, it seemed to emanate amazing male hormones.
Separated by the glass, Song Ran pressed a kiss to the portrait’s lips and hugged the picture frame.
My beloved, do you really live here?
No. To me, this is no longer all that important.
As for me, I originally came here just because I wanted to get closer to you. I traversed every corner of Jadewater Bay every day and night, wanting to find you. But luckily, I picked up a little darling who is even cuter than an angel at my door and also got to know his silly father who is outstanding in all areas except for childcare.
These experiences all suddenly befell me in the wake of my love for you.
You gave them to me.
Therefore, even if I’ll never ever have the opportunity to see you in the future, I won’t feel regret any longer. Liking you was a wonderful thing—it was like a cluster of wind chimes hung up next to the window; if you touch the first piece, the remaining pieces will also start to spin and bump into each other, letting out tinkling sounds.
I came in pursuit of you and met them along the way.
This was an exceptional kind of luck.
Song Ran returned the picture of his god to the drawer, then began to earnestly draw his Little Wooden Boat Searching for Oars.
His speed had always been guaranteed. On average, he could paint three illustrations in one day, but today, he had stopped painting from time to time to take care of Bubu, which delayed his progress slightly. After painting two pages in the afternoon, he planned to finish the remainder by staying up late.
At dinnertime, Bubu’s head was covered with warm sweat, but his temperature had finally begun to drop, so the fever was no longer as severe.
Song Ran took off the covers and carried the damp little otter to the bathroom before giving him another warm bath and wiping him dry with a sterilised towel. After a few hours, red spots began breaking out in clusters; dozens of them appeared in quick succession on his arms, legs, stomach, and face, making this fair and delicate little doll look damaged.
Unable to bear the itch, Bubu squirmed and rubbed in Song Ran’s arms like a loach. He wanted to scratch a few times in secret, but his little hands were captured.
He looked indignantly at Song Ran and said, “Big Brother, it itches.”
Song Ran said, “Even so, you should do your best to endure. The more you scratch, the more these spots will appear. As long as you endure it, it’ll be all better in a few days and won’t itch at all anymore.”
“But, but…” Bubu pointed to the little red spots on his tummy. “This looks so ugly.”
Song Ran smiled. “It doesn’t, it doesn’t. Bubu is still very cute. Once you get better, the breakouts will all disappear without leaving the slightest scar, and you will be exactly like before.”
Bubu squirmed in discomfort. “Then what should I do if I can’t endure?”
“If you can’t endure it, Big Brother will apply the medicine for you right now.”
He carried Bubu to the sofa and sat down, then dug out a tube of Aciclovir paste and carefully applied it onto the areas where spots were appearing. After it had dried somewhat, he put Bubu in pyjamas.
It was a one-piece garment, so there weren’t many places where he could scratch, and thus it was relatively secure.
Seeing Bubu was safe and sound, Song Ran heated up a bag of fresh milk and filled a nursing bottle with it before giving the bottle to Bubu to suck on while he himself turned around and went to tidy up the bathroom. However, once he came out, he caught Bubu scratching his face.
He hurriedly restrained Bubu. “No scratching allowed!”
“I-I didn’t scratch.”
With a guilty conscience, Bubu swiftly hid his little hands behind himself.