Autumn in the south comes later than elsewhere. The flowers were still blooming, the vegetation was still green, and after staying under the sun for a long time, you would even feel hot.
Yi Hui and Jiang Yimang sat under the loquat tree in the yard, each one on a small chair, one painting and one doing manual work.
Jiang Yimang was very energetic. After sitting for half an hour, she couldn’t bear it anymore. She stood up and stretched, then ran into the house to get two popsicles and gave one to Yi Hui. After eating her own, she began to eye the one that Yi Hui had just opened and hadn’t bitten yet.
Yi Hui simply handed it to her and then picked up the brush: “Eat it, my stomach is uncomfortable and I don’t want to eat ice.”
Jiang Yimang accepted it happily, took a big bite, looked at Yi Hui’s painting and said thoughtfully: “If you paint well, you should also be able to cross stitch, right?”
Yi Hui didn’t understand this logic: “Cross stitch, isn’t it sewing a fixed-color thread onto a fixed grid?”
“Oh, don’t make it sound so unattractive.” Jiang Yimang swallowed a mouthful of ice, “You have to embroider with enthusiasm to make it look good and it won’t work if you don’t put your heart and soul into it. If one stitch is tight and the other is loose, it definitely won’t work.”
Remembering the few times he had done needlework before, Yi Hui thought it made sense and nodded, “It’s easy to see and hard to do, but the finished product must be beautiful.”
Jiang Yimang’s eyes lit up: “Brother, are you interested in trying it?”
Yi Hui understood that Jiang Yimang was tired of embroidering and wanted to pull him in as a helper.
Originally, it was not a big deal to help and he happened to have nothing else to do anyway, but thinking of who was on the embroidered cloth, Yi Hui backed away: “No, I’m clumsy, I’ll ruin your work.”
Jiang Yimang, who was deeply influenced by Tang Wenxi, opened her mouth and praised, “My brother won the gold medal in the painting competition, he has wonderfully dexterous hands, how can he ruin it?”
Yi Hui’s face felt hot as he said: “But, but these are two different things.”
“It’s almost the same,” Jiang Yimang waved her hand and stuffed the embroidering cloth into his arms. “Here, just start the embroidery from here. I have already picked out the thread I need and placed it next to it. There is a number on it… I’ll go in and sleep for a while.”
When Yi Hui recovered, Jiang Yimang had already disappeared.
What should he do? He bit the bullet.
Yi Hui folded the embroidering cloth into a piece as small as possible so that he could not see the whole face. Holding it in his hand, he slowly moved the needle, thinking that he needed to adapt to being praised in the future. You can’t become stupid when you are praised and agree to anything in a daze.
But it was okay to embroider and with all his attention on the rows of small grids in front of him, he didn’t have time to think about what the whole picture looked like.
When Jiang Yimang came out after taking a nap, she saw that Yi Hui had embroidered a lot and exclaimed, “How come you embroider so fast? I was going to save the eyes for the last, they are HengHeng’s eyes, ahhh!”
Yi Hui said that he could help her remove it but she was not happy. She stroked the neat stitches, pursed her lips and said, “Since you embroidered my HengHeng’s eyes so beautifully, forget it.”
Yi Hui breathed a sigh of relief, thinking that she wouldn’t ask for his help again in the future. Jiang Yimang beside him suddenly unfolded the embroidered cloth with a swish, admired it for a while and asked with a frown: “Isn’t our HengHeng super-handsome?”
This time Yi Hui couldn’t avoid it. A pair of eyes that had just been embroidered with his own hands looked straight at him, making his heart beat wildly. For a while he was silent.
“What’s the matter with your expression?” Jiang Yimang was upset, turned the embroidering cloth and looked at it up and down, “Isn’t it beautiful?”
After getting along with each other during this period of time, Yi Hui had gained a deep understanding of the behavior habits of celebrity-chasing girls like Jiang Yimang who seized every opportunity to promote their idols to the world.
Still, he would not say anything against his will, nor would he want to lie.
“Of course it looks good.” He forced himself to look at those eyes, overcoming the unspeakable psychological obstacles. “It looks better than the photos.”
The pace of life in a small town was slow. In addition to painting, Yi Hui also took on the work of watering flowers, drying clothes and cleaning the yard every day. Even the geese from Aunt Qiu’s house next door became his responsibility. Every evening, he would swing a bamboo pole to drive a few chubby geese to the river to swim and eat grass, and then send them back before the sun set.
Yi Hui felt that he could do more, but the small family of three didn’t have more chores for him to do. Later, Jiang Xuemei had an idea, rummaged through the cabinets to find a piece of folded cloth and stuffed it into Yi Hui’s arms: “Mom hasn’t had time recently, so this is on you.”
When he unfolded it, it turned out to be a single stitch embroidery of “If the family lives in harmony all affairs will prosper”.
Yi Hui didn’t mind that it was something girls liked to do. He took the embroidery thread from Jiang Yimang and started to embroider it neatly. In the middle of the process, he changed a few places, matching several different colors to make the dark characters more three-dimensional.
Jiang Yimang was very envious and was going to ask Yi Hui to help her embroider, but Jiang Xuemei stopped her: “The celebrity you are chasing, if you let your brother help embroider, there is no sincerity in it at all.”
Jiang Yimang thought for a while and felt that it made sense, so she immediately decided to embroider everything herself without relying on help from others.
The days went by uneventfully, interspersed with occasional “little surprises” from a few celebrity-chasing sisters.
Sometimes she would be shocked. For example, that day Jiang Yimang came back from school with red eyes. Yi Hui was worried that she had been bullied at school and knocked on her closed door to ask her what was wrong. Jiang Yimang’s mouth was curved down and she cried out loudly: “HengHeng fell from the wire and was injured. His face is damaged. What can we do?”
Maybe because she cried too loudly, Yi Hui’s heart beat faster and he felt cold sweat on his forehead and back. Only when he heard Jiang Yimang say that it was not serious but just some skin injuries did Yi Hui calm down.
“I’m so angry. What kind of sh*tty crew actually injured HengHeng and kept us from knowing the news. If it weren’t for a frontline sister in the group today who accidentally leaked it, would this matter just be swept under the carpet like this?”
Jiang Yimang became more and more angry, as if she couldn’t wait to rush to the filming site to beat some people up. Yi Hui was much more rational and persuaded: “Maybe he didn’t let the news come out because he didn’t want you to worry.”
Jiang Yimang sniffed and was about to cry again: “Why is HengHeng so good…”
Yi Hui handed her a tissue, unable to laugh or cry. He had no idea what the man and his team were planning, he was just taking a wild guess and finding a reason to comfort Jiang Yimang.
However, it was the first time that this kind of high-tension wire injury had happened to that man.
Yi Hui knew how picky that man was when he chose a role. In the past, when he had nothing to do at home, he used to watch movies and TV shows of the man over and over again. Later, he learned to surf the internet, watched variety shows, interviews and so on, and even repeatedly watched some of them several times.
The one that impressed him the most was a magazine interview. The reporter asked the man if he would take on costume films, Qing dynasty palace dramas, martial arts movies and the like in the future. The man was used to being casual and answered without even thinking about it: “No, Qing dynasty palace dramas need you to shave and grow hair. It’s hard to grow hair. In martial arts movies you must hang on a wire flying around. That’s too much trouble.”
At that time, as soon as this interview came out, there was an uproar in public opinion. Black fans found a reason to ridicule and scold him for his lack of professionalism. What kind of actor was he, still picking and choosing. On the contrary, the true fans felt that he was very dignified and had the ability to pick a script casually, choosing whatever he wanted to play, and mocked the black fans about being sour grapes.
So, why did he pick up a type of drama that he once said he would not pick up and was even injured there?
Just when Yi Hui was about to fall into a thinking state, Jiang Yimang beside him pushed him: “Brother, the phone is ringing.”
He returned to his room, picked up the mobile phone on the table and saw the caller ID “Tang Wenxi”. Yi Hui was still relaxed when he pressed it.
Who would have thought that after he listened to a few words, his expression would become tense, the speed of his speech gradually increasing: “Display? Why is it on display? ……I didn’t take a closer look at the contract signed when I received the award…That’s my work, I didn’t agree…tomorrow, so soon? ……Then I will be there.”
The next day, Exhibition Hall A of the Capital Art Museum.
The huge exhibition hall was divided into countless small spaces by the partitions, and each space had interconnected passages to facilitate the audience to follow the best route for browsing all the paintings on display.
The checking of the tickets just started and Fang Yuqing was waiting at the entrance after receiving the call. When he saw a tall man approaching from afar, he immediately waved his hand in greeting.
When the man walked up, it turned out there was another man beside him and the smile on Fang Yuqing’s face disappeared silently.
“What is it? Jinheng’s face was stinky all the way and now you don’t welcome me either?” Yang Chengxuan said innocently, “There is a work of my friend on display here today. I will go to support him. I won’t disturb the world of the two of you, don’t worry.”
Fang Yuqing was embarrassed by his words and hurriedly said that he was not unwelcome, and then glanced at Zhou Jinheng who was standing next to him. He saw him in a mask covering his face, with his hands in his windbreaker pockets and the freshly scabbed wound on his forehead still quite noticeable. It didn’t look like he had applied the medicine properly. His emotions were unreadable in his exposed eyes.
While the two of them were still chatting, Zhou Jinheng suddenly interjected: “Let’s go in, it’s open.”
Saying that, he took the lead and strode away. Fang Yuqing dropped his conversation with Yang Chengxuan halfway and hurriedly followed, taking Zhou Jinheng to the middle of the venue: “My work is over there. I’ll explain it to you as you look.”
This was an exhibition aimed at discovering new talents. The works on display were all by young artists who had just become known in the world of arts or had some achievements in recent years.
Fang Yuqing’s paintings were undoubtedly the most popular among them, which was evident from the position the organisers had assigned to his work.
However, this time Zhou Jinheng came with the purpose of relaxing. Instead of going straight to the middle of the exhibition hall as Fang Yuqing wished, he started from the entrance and looked at the paintings one by one. Fang Yuqing also had to entertain other people. Seeing that he had his own plans, he went ahead and became busy elsewhere.
Zhou Jinheng had never studied arts and his standard of appreciation was based entirely on whether it met his taste. He hurriedly passed a few paintings that seemed mediocre to him in all aspects, but a few others did attract his attention.
For example, the landscape painting in front of him, which was placed in a corner. It had majestic mountains as its main subject. Complemented by a little morning light spilling out from the gap between the mountains, it not only emphasized the theme of “sunrise”, but also avoided looking too deliberate. In his opinion, even though it only won an excellence award, it was much better than the works with silver and bronze awards.
In reality his appreciation was more selfish. By immersing himself in this painting, Zhou Jinheng was finally able to detach himself from his state of numbness and indifference to his surroundings and face his recent anomaly.
Especially the top of that rocky cliff. The first thought that came to his mind when he saw it was to climb to the top, and then jump down, to experience more of the unbearable feeling of being out of control and more of the pain of being beyond the breaking point.
These days, Ye Qin’s sentence “You have no heart, you are not worthy” was spinning in his mind endlessly. He knew better than anyone that he was the culprit. Those three men merely contributed to his evil deeds, and he was the one who deserved a death by a thousand cuts.
When the wire lost control that day and his body fell at an extreme speed, swaying and slamming into the wall, his first reaction was not to raise his arms to protect his head and torso, but to think that it would be good to go. Maybe there was still time to catch up with Yi Hui. There was no need to stay here alone with the pain that could not be relieved by being scraped and bruised to numbness.
Compared to Yi Hui’s pain, what was his?
He seemed to be trapped in a barren mountain surrounded by cliffs. He had no light to guide him and couldn’t see the way forward. He could not feel the wind that brushed his face, he could not feel the branches that cut his skin, he could not reach the top of the mountain, he could not wait for the storm, he did not know when this torture would end.
If life was worse than death, it was better to die.
Yang Chengxuan wandered over from the next door, saw Zhou Jinheng looking intently, and said, “Why, are you interested in this one? This is what my friend painted. Here, he’s right over there. Do you want me to take you to talk to him?”
Zhou Jinheng shook his head and withdrew his tired gaze from the painting: “No, I’m just taking a look.”
Yang Chengxuan felt a little helpless: “Okay… But I’m not reprimanding you, but if you accept the invitation to come to the exhibition, you should look at it properly. Fang Yuqing has been circling around you for half a day, but you didn’t even pay attention to him. It’s embarrassing, okay?”
Zhou Jinheng walked to stand in front of the next painting and replied curtly, “I’m looking, not ignoring him.”
Yang Chengxuan let out a ”tsk”, leaned closer and lowered his voice slightly: “Don’t tell me you don’t see that he wants to get back together with you. It’s the right time and the right place. You are widowed and he is not married…”
Before he finished speaking, he was silenced by a sharp look from Zhou Jinheng.
“I’m here for the sake of our friendship and fulfilling the promise. It doesn’t have the meaning you think,” Zhou Jinheng said.
Yang Chengxuan asked, “What if he thinks it does?”
Zhou Jinheng frowned, as if he didn’t want to talk about this topic: “Then I will make it clear to him.”
Yang Chengxuan spread his hands and shrugged: “Okay, whatever you want, I just think the opportunity is rare and I don’t want you two to miss it again. Didn’t you get married to forget him? Now that you are single, it’s not a crime to think about it, no need to be so d*mn stiff.”
Zhou Jinheng frowned tighter. As soon as he was about to say something, there was a lot of movement on the opposite side of the wall, as if someone was arguing.
“They said that it will not be on display, why is my painting still hanging here?”
“You signed a contract with the Arts Association and they sent this painting to participate in the exhibition.”
“But, but they clearly said…”
“Said what? Did you have an agreement with the Arts Association or with the person in charge here?”
“They promised me on the phone that they would withdraw it.”
“They are them, we are us. I didn’t receive a notice to withdraw the painting here. If you have any questions, please contact the person in charge…”
“I, I am the author of this painting, and now I want to take it off.”
Yi Hui knew that he was stupid and unable to speak well. It would only delay time to keep arguing like this. In a hurry, he went up to the painting and tried to remove it from the wall.
After receiving a call from Tang Wenxi yesterday, he immediately took a bus to the city, and then took an early morning plane to the capital. He rushed to the Art Association early in the morning to negotiate with the staff there. After receiving a reply that the painting could be removed from the exhibition if the liquidated damages were paid, he rushed to the exhibition site again non-stop.
Since last night, Yi Hui had neither eaten nor slept. He was determined to take the painting away no matter what, but in fact he could barely stand and there was a blur of colors in front of his eyes.
He was pushed away by the staff and he didn’t get the painting. He was so anxious that his nose felt sour and he bit his lip, about to start crying.
“No, this painting cannot be shown to others.” Yi Hui stubbornly stepped forward to pick it up again, “This is my painting, and I have the right to take it away.”
It was already the most ferocious thing he could say, but unfortunately, its intimidation effect was too little.
The staff member was probably annoyed by his “unreasonable” attitude and this time he put some strength into his push. Yi Hui stood on tiptoe and his hand was about to touch the edge of the frame when he was pushed away. His feet were wobbly and combined with his unsteady stance, he staggered a few steps away.
He was about to fall on his back when a man grabbed his arm from behind and supported him, shaking his body a few times before he could stand.
“Thank you, thank you.” Yi Hui, who almost fell, turned pale with fright and his voice trembled.
He turned his head to see what the kind-hearted passerby who had rescued him looked like. As soon as his gaze met those eyes, his breathing stopped for an instant and he even forgot to pull away his arm.
The other party was not calm either.
The moment their eyes met, Zhou Jinheng’s heart almost popped out of his throat.
The man he caught was also wearing a mask. Noticing his eyes darting as if to dodge, Zhou Jinheng’s hand tightened subconsciously and he put his other hand on the thin shoulder, gripping hard and forcing the man to look at him.
The dark, moist eyes and his own face reflected in them were a sight he had seen many times before.
His Adam’s apple rolled up and down. Zhou Jinheng swallowed dryly, raised his hand from the man’s shoulder and tried to remove the mask covering the face in front of him.
When he was about to touch it, his movement stopped suddenly, as if he couldn’t wait to do it but was afraid to lose the hope that had just risen. He curled his fingers and withdrew his hand.
His gaze never wavered for a second. Zhou Jinheng’s eyes widened as he stared at the man in front of him. His lips opened and closed as he cautiously called “Hui… HuiHui?”