Yi Hui’s eyes widened. Being held in this familiar and unfamiliar embrace made him extremely frightened, as if he had fallen into a pool of deep water. The more he struggled, the deeper he sank. The salty water poured into his body through his mouth and nose and he was almost unable to breathe.
But what he was hugging was not a lifesaving driftwood, but a demon that wanted to take him back to h*ll.
With a burst of sudden strength, Yi Hui broke away from Zhou Jinheng’s arms, took two steps back and then raised his hand very fast to push the metal door close.
However, he was still not as fast as Zhou Jinheng who put his palm against the door and pushed the door that was about to close open.
Yi Hui said nothing, just kept pushing the door. Through the crack in the door Zhou Jinheng could only see his lowered head and his hand on the door frame. Fearing hurting him if he pushed too hard, Zhou Jinheng didn’t dare to move and could only resist the door as much as possible to prevent it from closing.
Perhaps it was taught by Yi Hui’s mother when she was still alive. He remembered that Yi Hui was very vigilant and never opened the door easily when he was alone at home. Once he came back from the filming early and knocked on the door for a long time before Yi Hui came to open the door. He asked him why he was so slow. He said embarrassedly: “My mother said that a Big Bad Wolf would come to eat children who opened a door casually. HuiHui climbed to the window and saw that it was you and came right away.”
Thinking like this, Zhou Jinheng put his mind at ease and said eagerly into the doorway: “HuiHui, don’t close it, it’s me.”
Who would have thought Yi Hui would react even more violently when he heard that. He pushed desperately with both his hands and feet. Zhou Jinheng was unprepared. The arm he placed in the crack of the door to protect Yi Hui was severely clamped. He gasped and his expression suddenly changed.
Yi Hui in the door was stunned when he heard the sound, and when he lowered his eyes to see Zhou Jinheng’s arm still stuck in the crack of the door, he couldn’t help but let go and take two steps back.
Such a big commotion alarmed the people in the back room. Jiang Xuemei and Jiang Yimang came out one after another. Jiang Yimang still had her chopsticks in her mouth and asked indistinctly, “What’s the matter? Is the door broken again and can’t be opened?”
Without a human obstruction, the half-closed metal door opened inwards by inertia, and the man standing outside the door faced the people inside unhindered.
This time it was Jiang Yimang’s turn to be shocked.
The chopsticks she was biting landed on the floor one after another. She pointed at the door, then covered her mouth, then rubbed her eyes and then turned her head to look around. She didn’t know what to do with her hands and feet. She couldn’t manage to say anything for a long time. She was so excited that she was about to faint: “Oh… this… I… this, is this a hidden camera show?”
In the end, no one was let in. The head of the family, Jiang Xuemei, interrogated Zhou Jinheng and asked him to take a closer look to see if he was looking in the wrong place and then took the lead to close the door.
After a while, the lights on the wall outside went out, and the kitchen lights could not be seen when standing outside the courtyard. After two minutes, the upstairs windows lit up.
Zhou Jinheng didn’t knock on the door. He stood quietly, looking up at the vague silhouettes in the windows, trying to guess which one was Yi Hui’s room.
It wasn’t until the pain in his arm transmitted to his cerebral cortex that he snapped to attention. Lifting his arm and moving it, it seemed swollen but the tendons and bones were unharmed, so it shouldn’t be a big deal.
What also came to mind was Yi Hui’s reaction just now: the panicked look in his eyes, the timid expression on his face, his evasive gestures, which, when you thought about it, was almost as expected.
His face was obviously bloodless with pain and beads of sweat appeared on his forehead, but Zhou Jinheng lifted the corners of his mouth and smiled.
Wasn’t this how his little fool would react? Last time at the painting exhibition and that time at the airport, he had the same reaction. How could he not recognize it?
After he had confirmed it in his own way, a big stone on his heart finally fell to the ground.
He found the address yesterday and set off immediately. The transportation to this small town he had never heard of was inconvenient. The only flight with empty seats was the early morning flight. He couldn’t wait and took the high-speed rail for more than ten hours overnight.
When he arrived at the provincial capital, it took a lot of effort to travel to this small town. He had never taken a long-distance bus. He spent half a day trying to find the right station. When he arrived at the next city, he had to change buses again. However, the bus broke down halfway and couldn’t go further. Fortunately, he met people who were in a hurry to stop a car to go to town, so he followed them and carpooled with them, otherwise he might still be on the road at this moment.
On the way in the shared car, he was almost recognized by his companions. If he hadn’t done his best to deny it, coupled with his wretched look of not sleeping all night and the mask tightly covering his face, who knew how long this mess would have continued.
Thinking of it, Zhou Jinheng couldn’t help but smile bitterly and feel that the hassle was worth it. At least he had found him. Now he was in the house in front of him; he had just eaten dinner and might fall asleep in a while.
It made him feel secure in a way he had never felt these days.
He took out his phone and the smiling face on the screen overlapped with the face that he had just seen in the door, avoiding and resisting, giving him another boost.
Zhou Jinheng lowered his hand, closed his tired eyes and exhaled a long breath.
It was good to find him.
If he found him, he could take him home.
The heart of the man outside the house was shaken but the people inside the house were also ill at ease.
The window of Yi Hui’s room facing the other side of the yard was open. Jiang Yimang sneaked into his room after eating and taking a shower. She laid down on the window sill and looked around: “He doesn’t seem to have left yet. Hey, is that black shadow him? …… I’d better go downstairs and turn on the lights outside, otherwise I can’t see clearly.”
She was pulled away by Yi Hui who was sitting at the table: “Mom is already asleep, don’t disturb her.” As he said it, he glanced at the window, “The man must have left. We already said that he got the wrong door.”
Jiang Yimang curled her lips and sat back: “It’s rare to see someone who looks so similar to HengHeng, am I not allowed to look twice, huh?”
Yi Hui wanted to say something, but after opening his mouth, he couldn’t say that it was not Zhou Jinheng. He hesitated for a moment but kept his mouth shut and turned around to continue fiddling with his tablet.
He looked focused, but in fact, his soul was wandering and he sat for half an hour without drawing a decent line.
While comforting himself that his mentality was weak tonight and not suitable for drawing, he took out the embroidery of “If the family lives in harmony all affairs will prosper” and worked on it, but with the first stitch the needle was stuck in his hand.
“What’s the matter with you, more excited than me?” Jiang Yimang went to her room and found a band-aid to put on him, “Just say it if you don’t want to draw me, you don’t need to hurt yourself.”
Yi Hui said no; Jiang Yimang smiled and said, “I know that my requirements are a bit difficult to achieve, but it’s a challenge and you can hone your skills, right?”
Yi Hui smiled without commenting.
He had never lied before, but today he told one lie after another. First saying that he didn’t know that man, then that the man was not Zhou Jinheng. In fact, he had been lying since he was reborn, pretending to be Jiang Yihui, fooling them and almost fooling himself.
Zhou Jinheng’s appearance was tantamount to a slap in the face, as if telling him: don’t think that you can become another person by occupying someone else’s body. The things he had experienced and the people he had known were not something he could easily get rid of even if he wanted to forget.
But he was not worried to the point that he couldn’t sleep.
Yi Hui breathed a sigh of relief when he woke up in the early morning and watched Jiang Yimang go out. He didn’t hear any abnormal movement outside.
He knew that the man would not stay outside the door. The man had a bad temper and had no patience at all, especially for him. He would often shout and wouldn’t let him finish a sentence. How could he stay here without leaving after being shut out yesterday?
Moreover, he said he wasn’t him.
The things that happened yesterday were vivid in his memory, and Yi Hui began to feel goosebumps again. He subconsciously wrapped himself in his clothes tightly, returned to his room and locked the door. Jiang Xuemei knocked on the door and asked him why he wasn’t painting in the yard. He answered her through the door and said, “It’s cold today, I don’t want to go out.”
Jiang Xuemei loved her son who had been frail since he was a child. She cooked sweet soup and left it in the pot before going to work. During work, she called to remind Yi Hui to drink it.
Yi Hui stayed in his room, alone until noon. When he was hungry, he opened the door and came out to have a bowl of soup. He stared out of the yard while drinking. He was sure that no one was there. He secretly laughed that he was too idle and imagined things to scare himself. After drinking the soup, he moved the laptop and the tablet outside and continued painting in the yard.
In the evening, Yi Hui, who was immersed in the painting, completely forgot what he was worried about when he got up in the morning. Seeing that it was almost time, he changed his shoes and went out as usual, preparing to take the geese for a walk.
When he opened the courtyard door, his head was still lowered as he was fastening his buttons. Jiang Xuemei liked to buy him this kind of jacket with many buttons, saying that it was more windproof than a zipper. Yi Hui couldn’t get used to it and it took him a long time to button up every time he went out.
He had walked to Aunt Qiu’s house so many times that he could reach it smoothly even with his eyes closed. So when he suddenly hit a wall of flesh, he was stunned.
He vaguely remembered experiencing the same thing before. Three years ago, in the department store, he was holding a doll he had just picked. He didn’t pay attention to the road when he was happy and slammed his head against a man’s shoulder.
The difference was that on that occasion he tripped and almost fell, but this time someone had shielded him in advance and warned him to be careful.
Yi Hui didn’t care about saying thank you. He turned around and ran.
Panicked, he didn’t choose the way home but turned to a small path leading to the river. The swaying reeds on both sides of the road didn’t let him see clearly. He focused all his attention on the front and just kept running, running as far away as possible, the further away the better.
He couldn’t hear the sound of footsteps behind him and he didn’t know if he was about to be caught. In a panic, he stepped into a pothole in the road and stumbled, just in time to be pulled into the arms of the man behind him.
Even if there was no chance for a struggle, Yi Hui was still resisting. He pushed against the man’s chest, but the man refused to let go. The two tumbled over and fell to the ground. Yi Hui was swept around halfway by the waist and pressed against the man. He closed his eyes and struggled to stand up when his hand propped up on the man’s chest was firmly gripped.
The man held it very tightly and forcefully restrained Yi Hui from getting up: “HuiHui, open your eyes.”
Yi Hui closed his eyes tighter. When he couldn’t break away, he used his other hand to separate himself. When he touched the back of the man’s hand, he felt the unevenness of his skin. It was different from any other part of his body, and the scene he had seen yesterday that he had deliberately ignored came back to him.
The bruise on his forehead, the hideous scar on the side of his hand – Yi Hui was instantly dragged back to that horrible dream. He was so scared that he didn’t want to see or hear anything. He kicked his legs on the ground and pushed his body back desperately. The moment he pulled his hand away, the inertia drove his hand high into the air, and a sound of a slap reached his ears.
Yi Hui opened his eyes in agitation and his gaze fell on the face in front of him. He watched the patch of skin rapidly turning red and several jagged marks emerging on it.
Zhou Jinheng didn’t expect that he would be beaten, so he raised his hand and rubbed his cheek. At first it just felt hot, but in retrospect he thought it was amusing. Who would have imagined that he would one day be slapped in the face?
He lifted the corners of his sore mouth and wanted to smile self-deprecatingly, but when he looked up at the man in front of him, he couldn’t smile anymore.
Yi Hui knelt on the ground, shrinking his neck and curling himself into the smallest possible ball, closing his eyes without saying a word. Yet he raised his head stiffly, exposing his whole face, as if waiting for him to hit back.
Memories raged in his mind like a tide, and almost immediately Zhou Jinheng thought of everything he had done – laughing at him and insulting him in front of everyone, tossing him in bed to satisfy his own desires, ordering him to take the cup and pouring freshly boiled water into the cup ruthlessly.
His heart seemed to be fried in a pan of oil. Zhou Jinheng clenched his fists and almost crushed the roots of his teeth.
Who said there was no karma in this world? Retribution came after all.
As time passed by, Yi Hui sat still, holding his head up and waiting.
He was very nervous, and his breathing was quivering slightly.
However, the expected pain did not come. Instead, there was a warm hand, moving slowly and stroking gently.
“Don’t be afraid, HuiHui, don’t be afraid.“ Zhou Jinheng squatted in front of him, holding his chin and brushing his fingers across his cold cheeks and the trembling eyelashes of his closed eyes, “Open your eyes and we’ll go home.”