Translator: hoenimochi, Rin Editor: Slumber
Late at night.
Four o’clock in the morning.
The hot summer breeze was faintly cooled by the night as it stroked Shen Wenqiu’s face. His mind was abnormally awake, he didn’t feel sleepy at all, and the thought of running away filled his head.
He’d run away, run further, and run away to a place where Lu Yong wouldn’t be able to find him.
Shen Wenqiu walked on the side of the road aimlessly. He wanted to find a suitable place, but he couldn’t find one, so he walked along the road indiscriminately. He stopped and walked, stopped and walked.
He had nowhere to go.
Shen Wenqiu wanted to smoke and touched his pocket. There was only an empty cigarette case. All the cigarettes were gone, and he threw the empty case into the trash can on the side of the road.
There were still a few crumpled banknotes and coins in his pocket. There weren’t that many, only a few bucks—he didn’t count carefully.
He walked for a while and saw an old grandpa pushing a cart out with a roasted sweet potato sign. He was preparing to open the door for business and start earning breakfast money from the first wave of people who got up early to work.
Shen Wenqiu walked over and asked, “How much are the sweet potatoes?”
The grandpa said, “Two yuan each.”
Shen Wenqiu nodded and waited on the side of the road, “Give me one.”
The grandpa packed his things, “Okay, wait a minute.”
Shen Wenqiu chatted with him simply without any main topic.
“Why are you starting to sell roasted sweet potatoes? Is business good?”
“The weather is getting colder, and it’s almost fall. Business is okay.”
Shen Wenqiu was at a loss. Has autumn already begun?
Summer had passed again.
“What’s the date today? Do you know the lunar calendar?”
“Lunar calendar? Ah, it’s the 29th of June.”
The rich fragrance floated out, and Shen Wenqiu took the sweet potato wrapped in a paper bag. It was too hot. He carefully tore off two pieces of the outer skin, hissed and exhaled as he took a bite, and laughed due to the sweetness, “It’s so sweet.”
Shen Wenqiu took out all the paper notes and coins from his pocket and put it on the cart. Before the other person asked him, he said, “Take them all. It seems like you have worked hard. Anyway, I can’t use them anymore.”
After speaking, Shen Wenqiu turned around and happily ate the sweet potatoes and left.
Shen Wenqiu felt full and energised, he spent more than an hour walking back to the community where he used to live on foot.
He waited at the door for a few minutes. A kid came out on a scooter and opened the door. He hurriedly took the opportunity to sneak in.
Shen Wenqiu wanted to see his old house. He heard that because their business went bankrupt as the old owner, they weren’t able to sell because it was said that their house had bad feng shui. So, he thought that he would see a cold and deserted scene.
But when he really arrived, he found that it was different from what he thought, and it had actually been sold! A new owner had moved into his home. The yard had been renovated and was lush and green. From a distance, the furnish inside could be vaguely seen from the large French windows. The house was still the same, but the inside had been completely remodeled.
This was not his home anymore.
The carved black iron fence was covered with Eden Rose. Shen Wenqiu gingerly approached, peeping from the gap between the flowers and leaves. A little girl was playing on the swing, singing:
“The swing is high, swinging over the treetops. The treetops nodded and smiled, praising me as a brave baby…”
That swing was something old. When he was in kindergarten, he won first prize in a drawing competition. Mom and Dad asked him what reward he wanted, and he asked Dad to make him a swing in the yard.
Two days later, his father found someone to come and install him a big swing, and the three of them could sit on it.
He saw the little girl as if he saw himself when he was a carefree child and he was fascinated for a while.
He smiled, infected by this happiness and joy, but also sad, because in this, there would be no laughter related to him anymore.
The little girl played and looked in his direction suspiciously. When she saw him, the little girl jumped off the swing and ran towards the house. She shouted in a childish voice, “Mom! There is a strange uncle outside looking at me!”
Shen Wenqiu was taken aback. He was like a thief who had been busted by someone and fled from his previous home.
The trot gradually turned into a fast run. The faster he ran, the more violent the oncoming wind would be, which could dry the wetness welling in his eyes.
Shen Wenqiu left the community and ran forward along the road endlessly, regardless of direction.
He remembered the way Lu Yong was sitting at the gambling table yesterday, and he was deeply awakened to how self-destructive he had been in his life over the past few years.
When he was in City H, he even said that he avoided his original life, blocked his ears and pretended to be blind, and numbly lived a good life of self-deception.
Now that he came back, there was no way to hide. All the failures and depravities once again unavoidably slapped his face, allowing him to see clearly what kind of social trash he was.
Even the last trace of false peace with Lu Yong was tragically torn apart.
They had long since ceased to be the same.
He now had an unprecedented regret.
Why did he always remember Lu Yong’s phone number? Why did he ask the police to call Lu Yong? Why didn’t he refuse Lu Yong to come and take him in? Why did he stick around in his house?
How did Lu Yong really see him? Why did he return to Lu Yong? Had he not appeared, Lu Yong would not have discovered that he had become like this.
He might as well die silently. At least in Lu Yong’s memories, he could still retain a last beautiful image. If he thought of how much Lu Yong liked the clean Shen Wenqiu before, looking at him now, he’s bound to be very disappointed, right? Even he was so disgusted with himself, who would like him?
Shen Wenqiu ran into a nearby park.
He used to walk the dog here, and he couldn’t remember how many times he got ice cream and walked with Lu Yong, chatting and laughing. He didn’t know how long he had been running. The painful depression rising insanely in his chest suppressed all other feelings. He ran and ran, ran to the end of the park, ran on a bridge, and stopped until he couldn’t run anymore and couldn’t catch his breath.
His leg muscles trembled, and he could barely stand. Shen Wenqiu pressed his chest and slowly squatted down, looking at the concrete floor with a blurred vision. He didn’t know whether it was sweat or tears falling in the dust, blotting out a small dot.
He knelt on the ground, physically and mentally nauseous, coughing and dry heaving incessantly.
He really wanted to spit out his dirty soul. But it didn’t work.
A pair of brown black square-headed men’s shoes appeared in his low field of vision. Shen Wenqiu’s gaze moved up. His eyes only stopped at the straight trouser legs and saw the rough and generous palms, so he didn’t have to look up in shame.
“Shen Wenqiu. Stand up.” Lu Yong said, “I won’t help you, stand up by yourself.”
After several minutes, Shen Wenqiu held his hands on the ground, tremblingly climbed up from the ground, and stood. But he couldn’t stand upright, and he couldn’t stand still either. It was as if he would fall down at any time.
The wind by the river was very strong.
Shen Wenqiu felt that he was being blown and shaken, and he didn’t have much energy. He only stood for a while and didn’t care about what Lu Yong said. He sat on the ground, looking up at Lu Yong like a beggar.
He had no way out and no place to hide anymore. His body was hollowed out, and he looked directly at Lu Yong numbly and calmly. His mouth and vocal cords rose automatically, and he said in the most vicious tone he could, “Did you have to fucking come to laugh at me? Didn’t I leave you a note to tell you not to find me? I’m begging you brother, why do you keep lingering? Because I asked and borrowed money from you? It’s just a few thousand dollars. You can just treat it as giving to charity. Do you care about that little amount of money?”
Lu Yong drove for so long yesterday, was pulled to the casino once he got out of the car, and then he came out of the police station. He hadn’t closed his eyes for more than 30 hours and didn’t look decent. His eyes were red and his hair was messy as he stared at Shen Wenqiu. The prosthesis had not been removed, and after wearing it for too long, the cross-section of the broken limb had faintly started to hurt.
Shen Wenqiu’s selfish and mean remarks pierced his heart like a sharp knife, dripping with blood.
He unveiled the mask of disguise. Was this the truest appearance of Shen Wenqiu now? This raspy, hostile man, which was no longer young.
Lu Yong: “What do you want to do?”
Shen Wenqiu: “What does it matter to you? What are you to me? Have you forgotten that we broke our relationship for ten years?”
Lu Yong: “I’m worried about you…”
Shen Wenqiu looked at him like he was his enemy: “Did I worry you? Don’t think you’re qualified to take care of me after taking me in for a few days. You are really caring too much. Fuck, it’s a pain in the ass. You still have the face to say that you’re worried about me? You have made Lao zi miserable, okay? If you didn’t really intend to gamble, tell me! I called the police and offended them all, and now I’m really doomed!!!”
Lu Yong’s heart was anxious, but he couldn’t win him in a quarrel. He opened his mouth and felt extremely annoyed, but couldn’t think of how to answer the conversation. It was obvious that Shen Wenqiu was right in front of him and didn’t move, but he had the illusion that Shen Wenqiu was going away, and he subconsciously moved forward.
Shen Wenqiu also felt like he would be caught, making him flustered and irritable. He stood up suddenly and used all his strength to push Lu Yong away. But Lu Yong was much taller and stronger than him. Like an iron tower, he didn’t budge at all, “Get lost! I told you to get lost!!!”
“Are you fucking crazy?!!!”
Lu Yong couldn’t think of anything else, so he could only say in a muffled voice, “Xiao Baa, calm down, calm down, I will take you back.”
When Shen Wenqiu heard this name, he completely broke down. The last string in his heart broke, tears bursting out like a bank bursting instantaneously, “Isn’t it disgusting? ‘Xiao Baa’? You’re still using ‘Xiao Baa’? That was used ten fucking years ago!”
“Lu Yong, how much do you miss the ten-years-ago me? Don’t be a fucking fool! Open your fucking eyes and see how rotten I am now! I’m not the same person as Xiao Baa!”
Lu Yong stopped talking as if no one could pry open his mouth.
Shen Wenqiu glared at him, quietly falling into tears, and calmed down again after the tears.
Shen Wenqiu felt that he was stupid, really stupid, no wonder he had fallen to this step. Was Lu Yong being nice to him? Lu Yong was being nice to the ten-years-ago him through the current Shen Wenqiu. He also liked himself ten years ago. Who wouldn’t have?
But the most painful thing for him was that time could never go back. He couldn’t go back.
He still didn’t want to cause trouble to Lu Yong or trouble others. He was just afraid of death. What a coward, he was already going to die. After he died, how could he care about his own affairs?
Lu Yong stiffened his face and said almost stubbornly, “I don’t think so. You are Shen Wenqiu, and Shen Wenqiu is Shen Wenqiu.”
He’s really crazy.
Shen Wenqiu thought.
Actually, today was Shen Wenqiu’s birthday, his twenty-ninth birthday.
He was born after Liqiu1Liqiu or Start of Autumn, 13th of the 24 solar terms, so his parents named him Wenqiu. He deliberately chose this day to end his life.
Somehow, he suddenly remembered his sixteenth birthday. He invited his classmates to his birthday party at home, and everyone gave him a bunch of gifts.
Lu Yong also gave him one. It was a model airplane.
Someone asked, wanting to embarrass him, “Lu Yong, I heard that you like to pick up treasures from the garbage. Don’t tell me this is also something you picked up, wiped clean, and then packed up? However, it looks so new.”
Shen Wenqiu was very embarrassed. In fact, he didn’t mind if what Lu Yong gave him was new. For him, it was more meaningful to receive a handmade item, like the straw lamb that Lu Yong made for him before.
He was about to save Lu Yong from embarrassment when he heard Lu Yong say: “It’s new. I bought it recently.”
Someone asked, “How much was it?”
Lu Yong hesitated and replied, “Eight hundred yuan.”
Shen Wenqiu later called him privately and asked, “Where do you get so much money?”
Lu Yong said: “The pocket money I saved. I don’t spend much, I save it all.”
Shen Wenqiu knew that his living expenses in school was only 100 yuan a month and said, “It’s too expensive. You’d better take it and get a refund. It’s not worth it, you might as well give me something else.”
Lu Yong’s face was red and his eyes were staring at him, and after holding it in for a long while, he said stupidly, “It’s worth it. Xiao Baa, it’s worth it, take it. Don’t you like it very much? Even if it costs me all my money, it’s worth it.”
“It’s me who’s willing to do it.”
It was at that moment.
Shen Wenqiu suddenly realised, does Lu Yong like me?
When he moved out from home, he didn’t bring much luggage. He sold all valuable things that could be sold. He packed up the airplane model together with his teenage diary, love letters, and photo albums and planned to take them away, but the whole package was lost by the courier.
He never got it back.
He thought that probably all events were predestined in the future.
However, he actually wanted to sleep with Lu Yong once.
Otherwise, he would be a virgin until death. It was shameful to think about it.
Shen Wenqiu stepped back from Lu Yong, leaned his back on the railing, and smiled. He asked meanly, “Don’t look at me like this, Lu Yong. Don’t tell me you still like me?”
Lu Yong’s face was even colder, and even the last layer of window paper was torn, it was really embarrassing.
Look, of course, it’d be like this when Shen Wenqiu finds out.
Shen Wenqiu asked vulgarly and blatantly, “President Lu, didn’t you like me so much back then that you went crazy?”
“You have also seen it. I am very short of money, and I’m broke. Do you still want to sleep with me? We can’t be friends, but I can sleep with you for 800 yuan once. Do you want to sleep with me?”
When Shen Wenqiu recalled later that he couldn’t remember what he was thinking at the time. He just felt like his soul was burning and he couldn’t control anything.
He watched as Lu Yong’s eyebrows were filled with anger as if he heard something extremely ridiculous. Lu Yong said, “No.”
Then he had no other wishes.
Before Lu Yong finished speaking, Shen Wenqiu turned around, climbed over the railing, and jumped down without hesitation.
- 1Liqiu or Start of Autumn, 13th of the 24 solar terms