Cactus in Distress Chapter 14

Chapter 14

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Su Nan chuckled. “Well, I’m mainly angry. You see, not long ago, a certain someone came to me with an offer of marriage, boasting about the prospective groom’s affluent family and scholarly background. Apparently, the young man is not only gainfully employed in a government agency, but also very handsome and popular. I actually fell for it! It turns out that his family was just running a stall selling pirated books. What’s more, the guy was probably no more than 5’7″ tall. He’s just a mediocre individual who couldn’t make it to college and ended up enlisting in the army before using a placement card to secure his government job. Can you believe how outraged I was? It ruined my appetite. I couldn’t believe someone would underestimate my family to the point of introducing such a person to my daughter! Later on, I found out that there were plenty of guys like him who joined government agencies after serving in the army because they couldn’t make it to college. They were either not intelligent or lacked ambition. Even if such men were offered to me on a silver platter, I wouldn’t accept them them.”

Su Nan vented her frustration over this misunderstanding, feeling much better after holding it in for so long. Sun Yutan had never heard of such a thing before and found it both interesting and shocking. She agreed with her mother, “That’s a bit scary. It’s not honest at all.”

“Exactly. The audacity to lie to me. Who does he think I am, a fool?”

“Don’t be angry, Mom,” Sun Yutan comforted her. “Just tell them that I have a boyfriend and we’re planning to get married. That should get them off your back.”

Su Nan looked at her askance. “Do you really have a boyfriend?”

“If I dk, I would definitely tell you. Why would I keep it from you? You’re my understanding, gentle, and lovely mother.”

“It’s okay if you don’t tell me. Xiao Tan, as long as you’re happy, it doesn’t matter what you do. I trust your judgment.”

Sun Yutan stuck out her tongue, trying to push away any guilt or shame she felt. She realized that she hadn’t really lied since Chen Rui wasn’t actually her boyfriend. Besides, if her mother found out about their current relationship, they would have to break up. She wasn’t ready for that yet.

Sun Ping had intended to hurry home for dinner, but he was intercepted on the way.

The people who stopped him were his old childhood friends who worked outside the village. He never expected to run into them, but now that he had, they refused to let him go without first drinking together at his house.

Sun Ping struggled to break free, saying, “I can’t today. I would normally join you, but my daughter is home today, so I have to go back.”

“What do you mean by ‘normally’? You’re too mean, Sun Ping.” The crowd complained while lifting him up. Someone even asked, “How about giving me your phone, I’ll call…Xiao Tan, is it? I’ll explain to her on your behalf.”

Sun Ping had no choice but to call home. Su Nan wasn’t very happy on the other end, but Sun Ping could only grit his teeth and hang up. Actually, he was also touched. Even after so many years, everyone still remembered Tantan’s nickname. He remembered when she was young, everyone used to play with her and tease her. In the blink of an eye, several years had passed.

With this wave of emotions, it was naturally inevitable to drink a lot.

Sun Yutan’s suitcase was eventually sent back by Xiao Hai. Su Nan felt guilty and invited him in for dinner, but Xiao Hai politely declined, saying he had already eaten.

Su Nan closed the door and couldn’t help but scold, “Your dad is just too soft-hearted. What’s the point of getting together like this?”

Sun Yutan lay on the couch, staring at the TV, and spoke for her dad, “Good friends rarely get to see each other, so of course they have to drink well. But Dad doesn’t drink much, so he might have to sleep at Grandpa’s house tonight. Mom, how about we sleep together tonight?”

“He’s not allowed to enter the house when he comes back.”


Sun Ping was indeed drunk and was helped up the stairs by a young person. Su Nan apologized, “I’m sorry to trouble you. He’s so drunk, I should have let him sleep at home. I’m sorry for making you travel so far to send him back. Why don’t you stay here tonight?”

“No, no.” The person shook his head and laughed. “It’s not a big deal. I came to Shaocheng for some business. I left the car keys in Uncle Ping’s pocket. I’ll be going now, Auntie.”

“Okay, thank you so much.”

Sun Yutan walked over and said maturely, “I see that this young man is enthusiastic and hardworking.”

“He’s very good, but not suitable for you.”

Sun Yutan shrugged, noncommital. She poured a glass of water for her father, and Sun Ping took it, but when he saw it was her, he was so happy that he almost spilled the water.

Su Nan steadied him, saying, “Be careful, drink slowly.”

After finishing the water, Sun Ping started rummaging in his pockets, one after another. Mother and daughter watched for a while before Sun Yutan asked, “Dad, what are you looking for?”

As soon as she spoke, Sun Ping pulled out a string of beads from the inner lining of his pocket. It was the kind of cheap plastic beads that children play with, and it looked particularly shoddy at first glance. He held it up like a treasure and brought it to Su Nan, saying mysteriously, “I picked it up on the road. A pearl necklace. No one saw it except me.”

Sun Yutan chuckled, exchanging a glance with her mother. Su Nan said, “Yes, yes, you’ve struck it rich.”

“It’s true.” Seeing that they didn’t believe it, Sun Ping calmly took out his cell phone and keys, and said with confidence, “I’ll show you. If you scratch the pearl, it won’t lose its color. It only loses a little powder.” As he spoke, he rubbed the teeth marks of the key onto the plastic pearl, then shone a flashlight on it. Under the strong light, the surface of the plastic bead was obviously scraped off, revealing a completely different color from the outside.

“Huh?” Sun Ping was confused.

“Hahahahahahaha—” Sun Yutan collapsed on the floor and burst out laughing.

Su Nan also couldn’t help but laugh. She took the pearl from his hand and said, “Okay, stop acting crazy. Go take a shower and go to bed.”

When her parents finally went to bed, Sun Yutan still couldn’t sleep. She turned on a small lamp and lay down on the rocking chair on the balcony.

Shaocheng was a relatively small and slow-paced city. Around ten pm, shops started closing one after another. At this hour, closer to midnight, the street was even quieter, with tall streetlights illuminating passing vehicles and a few young people who were returning home late.

The street opposite their house was originally a small training institution, operated by a young man who had just graduated from an arts school. When Sun Yutan was young, she attended classes there for a while. At the beginning, she was diligent and earnest, carrying a large and square drawing board and going up and down the stairs to the teacher’s house to learn how to draw right after dinner. However, after a few days, she started to lose focus, her eyes wandering everywhere except on the messy lines on the paper. The teacher tempted her with cartoons, asking if she wanted to become a talented person who could draw whatever she thought of right away. Sun Yutan said yes, but then turned around and picked up a model plane displayed in the hallway. She told the teacher that she didn’t want to learn how to draw but wanted to become someone who could assemble things whenever she wanted. The teacher sternly said that she shouldn’t be so playful, but Sun Yutan pointed to the entire wall of models behind her without saying a word.

In the end, the teacher communicated with her parents, originally intending to have them discipline her, but to their surprise, Sun Ping and Su Nan were overly indulgent towards their daughter. After apologizing, they even began to inquire about the price of the model class. The teacher was speechless for a moment and didn’t refuse, so Sun Yutan was allowed to play with his precious models for a good half year. Interestingly, while the young girl didn’t have much patience for drawing, she was very adept at playing with LEGO. He deliberately didn’t tell her where she went wrong, but she didn’t mind and tried again and again, dismantling and reassembling with great interest. She was a natural talent when it came to play.

Later, the teacher had to move to another city. Before leaving, he asked Sun Yutan to pick one from his wooden frame to take with her. She looked at them for a long time but didn’t take any. Despite her young age, she understood the importance of not taking something that someone else loved. She thought that she loved every single painting on the frame, and that the teacher probably cherished them too, so she didn’t want to take any away. The teacher saw that she didn’t reach out, so he smiled and tapped her head, leaving her with a painting. It was a beautiful picture of a young girl in a checkered dress, sailing alone on the vast blue sea.

Sometimes when Sun Yutan looked back, she had a vague sense of disconnection, as if the child who spoke and acted wasn’t her. She turned her head to look at the painting hanging on the wall, the colors still as vivid as when she first saw it, but it just seemed smaller than it did in her memory.

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