Flying Ash Chapter 13

Chapter 13

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The word ”forget” was easy to say, but it was not easy to do.

Whenever this word was mentioned, Yi Hui thought of himself in the past who was always afraid of being abandoned. When his mother was gone, when his father ignored him, when he knew he was dying… He was very scared. But now that he thought about it, he was more afraid of being forgotten than being abandoned.

But he didn’t want anyone to be sad for him more than not being forgotten.

When he texted his brother at that time, he had an idea of just leaving quietly, alone. Although looking back now, that text message was just a futile struggle. They would find out anyway, they would know anyway. But he had already started a new life and he hoped their life wouldn’t stop for him either.

He was just a trivial passerby in their lives. His departure might make them sigh and feel melancholy for a while but it should never affect their beautiful lives.

Dr. Liu said that reasonable discussion and rational analysis could help, but the key was his determination. So Yi Hui energetically put it into action. Starting from his daily life, he tried to integrate it into his new life and overcome the difficulties he had been avoiding.

For example, the inability to move a brush to draw a figure.

After much deliberation, Yi Hui invited his younger sister Jiang Yimang to be his model.

Because she was relatively free with school just starting, Jiang Yimang used most of her spare time to cross-stitch a person and had done a great portion of it by the weekend when Yi Hui asked her to be the model.

At first she was very excited, saying that after so many years her brother had finally discovered her beauty. But after she had sat in the same position for half an afternoon, she couldn’t bear it anymore. She yawned incessantly, her head tilted against the wall for support and she asked repeatedly if it was “ready”.

“Not yet, wait a minute.”

Yi Hui was slow in drawing, he hadn’t finished the outline yet. However, the more Jiang Yimang hastened him the more his hand shook. The more he tried to draw a round and smooth arc, the more likely it was that angular lines would appear.

It was a “residual effect” left by someone who painted too much. At that time, in order to give a perfect work to that man, Yi Hui practiced in the studio all day long. Half of the shelves in the cabinet were filled with discarded drafts, all painted by him.

At that time, Yi Hui’s mind was simple. He only remembered that the man asked him for a portrait when they first met. He wanted to fulfill his promise but he never thought about whose portrait the man wanted him to paint. If the painting that he hid was lucky enough to see the sun, that man would at most smile contemptuously when he saw it and then leave it behind.

His three-year obsession was nothing more than a joke in the eyes of that man. This time when he really left probably was a relief to that man.

Thinking of what he shouldn’t have thought, Yi Hui shook his head, took a few deep breaths and concentrated on the drawing paper in front of him.

The model sitting behind the drawing board was almost asleep, propping her chin on her hands and barely facing the artist. Her eyes closing from time to time, she murmured: “I’ll give you… one more hour, I, I have to photoshop the pictures.”

Yi Hui was afraid that she would really fall asleep and chatted with her while painting: “What pictures are you photoshopping?”

With this topic, Jiang Yimang got a little refreshed, rubbed her eyes and sat up straight: “HengHeng’s pictures, I took a lot of photos at the last meeting. I stayed up all night yesterday and didn’t even finish selecting them. HengHeng is so beautiful, I can’t bear to give up even one of them.”

This topic was a sore spot.

Yi Hui said helplessly: “Then photoshop them all.”

Jiang Yimang looked up to the sky and cried out, “Then I will be exhausted! Ah – it’s Zhou Jinheng’s fault, the man is so d*mn attractive. How can he look so good from every side, smiling or not, with his eyes open or blinking? Even every strand of hair on the back of his head is so handsome, ah-”

Yi Hui paused for a moment with the brush in his hand and sighed with a sense of accomplishment of finally getting the model into shape. He thought that this might be the “desensitization therapy” that Dr. Liu had been talking about.

That’s good too, you had to give it a try to know if it worked.

Just as he was about to echo Jiang Yimang’s words, there was a knock on the outside door.

Jiang Xuemei was working outside at this hour, so Yi Hui thought it was a neighbour, ran out without asking who it was and flicked the latch, opening the metal door.

Then, before he could see the face of the visitor clearly, he was hugged.

“Classmate Jiang, SURPRISE!”

Half an hour later, the new model Tang Wenxi sat with hot tea in his hand in the place where Jiang Yimang had just been sitting. His posture was very professional and except for his lips moving, all his other parts remained still.

“Classmate Jiang, your home environment is awesome. Is that a loquat tree in the yard? …… Is living in a place like this particularly stimulating to creative impulses as if a tsunami of inspiration would gush out? ……Alas, if my parents weren’t in the capital, I would have settled here too…How is the painting going? Remember to paint me handsome… Can I take this painting with me? ……Ah, no, I’ll take a picture and show it to them.”

Yi Hui liked to be quiet when he was painting. He was already at his limit, barely chatting with Jiang Yimang just now. He didn’t expect this classmate Tang Wenxi to be so much noisier. Since he sat down, he kept talking like a machine gun. The noise made Yi Hui’s head ache.

He suddenly regretted giving his address to this old classmate. At that time, Tang Wenxi said in the text message that he would send him a picture album. Who knew he would deliver it by himself?

Yi Hui pressed his forehead with his left hand and said, “I’m just practicing painting. It doesn’t look good, don’t take pictures.”

“That won’t work, I must take it and show it to them.” Tang Wenxi’s eyes widened, “Back then, your paintings were the most popular in our class. Many classmates wanted to pay you to paint portraits, but you refused.”

“Really… I don’t even remember.”

Tang Wenxi said that people of high rank were often forgetful. He told him of Jiang Yihui’s past exploits at school, including receiving love letters from the girls in the next class and being chased by a boy from the science university who sent him flowers to the classroom.

Even if it was not Yi Hui himself, Yi Hui still blushed when he heard it and told him to stop talking.

Tang Wenxi had never seen him so shy, so he continued with a playful smile: “You’re a good-looking guy, and you’re a cool artist, so you’re attractive to both men and women. Don’t tell me you don’t know that… Otherwise, why would Yang Chengxuan strike up a conversation with you the first time he sees you saying, ‘You look a lot like someone I know’. Che, I don’t even bother with such an old-fashioned method anymore.”

Yi Hui had a sensitive temperament and good observation skills. Now that he had a smart brain, he immediately heard the sourness in Tang Wenxi’s tone.

He thought for a while and asked, “Are you friends with Yang… that classmate Yang Chengxuan?”

Tang Wenxi rolled his eyes: “Who’s his friend? He’s just a schoolmate who calls me by my first name all day long and is annoying as h*ll.”

Yi Hui felt a little relieved: “Oh…”

“If you see him again in the future, remember to hide further.“ Tang Wenxi was still not at ease and reminded, “He is a well-known playboy. His family has a few bucks, so he played with all the beautiful girls and handsome guys in our Academy of Fine Arts. Don’t be fooled by him.”

Yi Hui didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry; Yang Chengxuan was that man’s friend and he couldn’t avoid him enough.

Having someone come to visit, Jiang Xuemei was very happy. She bought a lot of food when she got off work and took Jiang Yimang to the kitchen with her. There was a lot of banging and clanging inside and soon the smell that wafted out made Tang Wenxi’s mouth water.

“Anyway, my teacher is on a business trip abroad. I will finish my homework in three days when I go back,” he slapped his thigh and gritted his teeth making a decision. “Life is good when you’re happy, I’ll stay here for a few more days. Classmate Jiang, you don’t mind, do you?”

Of course Yi Hui didn’t mind. Jiang Xuemei also applauded in support, asking him in passing to spend more time with Yi Hui in the next few days.

However, the plan was bound to change. As soon as he made arrangements for the next few days and had borrowed Auntie Qiu’s pickup truck to go to the beach, Yi Hui suddenly received a phone call.

It was a call from the Fine Arts Association in the capital to inform him that his painting in the last competition won the gold medal. They asked him to come there in person to receive the award three days later.

He asked if it could be mailed or collected by others but was denied. The condition that he had to receive the award in person made it difficult for Yi Hui and he even wanted to give up the unexpected award.

The biggest reaction to that was from Tang Wenxi: “Give up? Classmate Jiang, are you crazy? Although it’s not a big competition, it’s a gold medal, don’t say no to it!”

Jiang Yimang agreed: “Yeah, what if there’s a prize? I’m still waiting for you to buy me a camera.”

After thinking carefully, Jiang Xuemei, the most rational of them, gave the most relevant advice as an elder: “Personally I would like you to go and receive the award. After all it’s an affirmation for you and it will give you strength when you feel troubled and want to give up.”

Yi Hui was still hesitant: “But I’ll have to go to the capital…”

Tang Wenxi immediately raised his hand: “I will go with you! Let’s move up the beach trip to tomorrow. If we hurry, then you can get the award and I’ll go home!”

Two nights later, red signal lights flickered in the night sky and a plane slowly landed at the airport of the capital.

Zhou Jinheng was the last to get off the plane. As soon as his feet touched the ground, Xiao Lin, who was waiting below, handed him sunglasses and a mask: “There are more than a hundred fans outside to greet the plane. Let’s hurry up and try not to cause a commotion.”

Zhou Jinheng had no makeup today, his eyes were sunken and with faint dark shadows under them, his face was obviously tired. He didn’t say anything, just nodded.

After returning from vacation on the island, Zhou Jinheng plunged into work, not only making up for the work that had been missed because of his leave, but also picking up all the offers that were previously on hold at the company for consideration. In addition, he signed up for a TV series that would start filming in a month or two, a historical drama of more than eighty episodes that would take at least three months to shoot, so his schedule for the rest of the year was packed up.

Xiao Lin thought at first that this ancestor was enlightened and wanted to take advantage of his youth to work hard on his career, but after several days of observation, he found that this did not seem to be the case.

Except for sleeping and eating, Zhou Jinheng was busy almost all the time. In the past, he used to be seen in the lounge, listening to music and drinking coffee. Now, except for  work, he rarely had time to rest after shooting. Xiao Lin spread out pillows and blankets for him but he just sat down and read the script, concentrating, as if no one or nothing could disturb him.

Xiao Lin also heard about the death of Mr. Yi. He thought that according to Zhou Jinheng’s attitude towards him, without Mr. Yi’s control, life would be much better in the future. He never expected it to be “better” like this. Xiao Lin, who was in confusion, even had the most unrealistic idea – was Zhou Jinheng so depressed because of Mr. Yi’s death that he had to use work to relieve his sadness and fill his inner emptiness?

After thinking about it for a while, he felt that it was impossible. Zhou Jinheng’s dislike for Mr. Yi was known even to him, his recently appointed assistant, so how could he be so sad about Mr. Yi’s death?

He didn’t dare to ask. Zhou Jinheng’s bad temper was well known to everyone, so Xiao Lin persuaded himself to do his part, not to gossip and to keep this well-paying job.

For him, it was a good thing that the artist he worked with was obsessed with his work; at least there were fewer moments of temper tantrums and he was more obedient.

In the past, Zhou Jinheng would wear sunglasses but he absolutely refused to wear a mask, saying it was too stuffy. But at this moment, he only frowned, took both things and put them on and zipped up his open jacket so as not to be too eye-catching.

However, this did not have any effect and he was discovered by sharp-eyed fans.

This was a non-public itinerary. The company only arranged for two staff members to pick him up and help carry things. Adding Xiao Lin, it would be a total of three people. It was already late at night and before the security guards on duty at the airport could interfere, their group of four was surrounded by fans. The crowd was very lively for a while.

Zhou Jinheng was surrounded in the middle and wanted to lower his head and move forward, but there were too many people, far more than the “hundred” that Xiao Lin mentioned. All around him were black heads of people, crowding him so much that he could not move.

He chose to take a late-night flight to avoid fans but he didn’t expect to encounter this situation. His expression under the cover of sunglasses and mask gradually became impatient. Zhou Jinheng raised his head to look at the road ahead. Xiao Lin, who was standing in front of him, stepped aside to let him go by himself. He looked over the heads of the people huddled in one place and suddenly saw a familiar figure. 

The man was wearing a long coffee-colored knitted coat with a blue sweater underneath, ankle-length jeans and a pair of white sneakers.

This combination that could not even be called harmonious inexplicably attracted Zhou Jinheng’s attention.

He saw the man stop in the corner of the hall, take off the bag he was carrying on his back, then raise one leg to support the backpack and reach into it with both hands to look for something.

Due to the unstable centre of gravity, the man jumped on one foot in place a few times. After a while, he took out a tissue before putting his raised foot back on the ground and wiping his nose with the tissue.

His actions were quite unusual but they made Zhou Jinheng freeze in his tracks. Finally he reacted, pushing his way through the crowd, moving forward in great strides.

“Move aside… please move aside.”

Saying that, he squeezed out of the crowd with difficulty. On the way, he accidentally bumped into a fan. The little girl screamed with excitement as her mobile phone fell to the ground. It happened to fall at Zhou Jinheng’s feet. He bent over and picked it up and stuffed it back into her hand.

The whole process took only a few seconds but when he looked up again, the man was already gone.

Zhou Jinheng didn’t give up. He squeezed out the crowd regardless and ran to that corner.

Stopping where the man had stood just now, he took off his sunglasses that were in the way and looked around several times before being forced to accept the fact that the man was indeed gone.

When Xiao Lin, carrying a big bag, caught up, he was about to ask the ancestor what he was doing. Zhou Jinheng looked up over the hall and ordered, “Go find the surveillance.”

Xiao Lin was puzzled: “Huh?”

Zhou Jinheng was still breathing hard, stared at him and turned up the volume, almost yelling: “Go find the person who does the surveillance here, hurry up!”

There were few passengers coming and going in the airport lobby late at night. Behind a stone pillar in the corner, Yi Hui leaned back against the wall, hugging his bag and holding his breath, his eyes widened as if he was in shock.

After going to the bathroom, Tang Wenxi walked around the lobby several times and finally found Yi Hui in this nook and cranny. Seeing that he was covered in sweat and the knuckles of his fingers holding the bag turning white, he was taken aback: “What’s wrong with you… Is your cold so serious? Or is it your phobia of flying delayed?”

In order to save money and time, the two gave up high-speed rail and bought discounted tickets for a late-night flight. Yi Hui told Tang Wenxi before boarding the plane that he was a little afraid of flying and said that he would work hard to overcome it.

Seeing that it was Tang Wenxi, Yi Hui breathed a sigh of relief, closed his eyes and said, “I just thought of the moment of takeoff and was a little scared.”

“Then don’t think about it. The more you think about it, the more scared you will be. Isn’t it looking for abuse?”

Tang Wenxi stayed on the spot with Yi Hui for a while.

After taking a few deep breaths, Yi Hui opened his eyes and his expression relaxed, the sweat on his forehead drying up.

“It’s okay.” He shook his head and said, “Thank you.”

Tang Wenxi hesitated: “Really?”

Yi Hui put the bag back on his shoulder, patted Tang Wenxi and said in a relaxed tone: “Really, let’s go or there will be no taxi later.”

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