Flying Ash Chapter 23

Chapter 23

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As a brother who keeps his word, on this day in November, Yi Hui sent the avatar drawn with the tablet to Jiang Yimang’s mobile phone.

Jiang Yimang, who had supervised the draft all the way, had an even greater sense of accomplishment than the creator. Putting on her avatar, she went to various groups to chat, attracting the little sisters to see her new avatar. When asked, she replied, radiant with delight: “My brother painted it for me.”

Yi Hui was happy to see it and his mood improved. He watered the flowers in the yard, researched information and went online to buy flower fertilizer, and heard Jiang Yimang say that mobile phones could also be used for online shopping. He turned on the phone that had been switched off for a day and a night, and several text messages came in.

【Are you asleep? 】

[I can see that the light in your room is out, good night]

[Good morning, it is sunny today, but the temperature difference between day and night is big, so wear more clothes]

[Is the doll in the yard yours? I have also washed the dolls at home】

[Are you still going to herd the geese today? 】

Yi Hui flipped through them one by one, a little nervous at first, afraid that he would mention the events of that day again, but he didn’t mention a word about it.  All he said was just a bunch of confusing things.

The time distribution between the text messages was very even, every two hours, as if for fear of disturbing him.

Yi Hui had never seen the man so cautious and he felt dazed after reading the messages.

He was already removing the past from his mind little by little. Why did he have to bring it up again?

As he was now, he didn’t even look like him at all anymore.

It happened to be the weekend, the day when Yi Hui went to psychological counseling.

Jiang Yimang finished her homework and went with him. Jiang Xuemei drove the car from the spacious courtyard of Aunt Qiu’s house to the front of her house. When he got into the car, Yi Hui kept urging Jiang Yimang, telling her to hurry up.

Jiang Yimang turned her head suspiciously and looked around: “What are you doing, kicking me into the car so that you can wear a floral dress behind my back?”

Yi Hui, who downloaded a lot of photos of floral dresses on the computer in order to draw them, blushed at once: “No, no dress. Let’s just go early and come back early.”

In the end, his wish to return early was not fulfilled.

When he entered the clinic, Dr. Liu could see that Yi Hui’s state was different. After a routine conversation, he asked him to stay for a little chat and asked if he was in any trouble.

“This is not treatment time, I am concerned about you as a friend. You can tell me if you have any worries, I will give you rational analysis and advice from the perspective of a bystander.”

Faced with such sincere words, Yi Hui couldn’t say no, but he couldn’t explain it calmly either and just said: “I met an old friend.”

Dr. Liu said, “It seems that you don’t want to continue your relationship with this friend?”

This kind of conversation did not directly break hiis thoughts but let him take the conversation in the direction he wanted made Yi Hui feel very comfortable. He just needed someone to listen to him: “He came to me, probably because he felt guilty, probably because he was forced to by his family, or for some other reason, and I don’t want him to bother my family or ……  to see him again.”

Dr. Liu suggested: “According to your description, the other party has a strong personality, and ‘declining politely’ may not be appliable. The best way is to reject him in person and tell him clearly, ‘I can’t go back’, and ‘let’s not meet again in the future’.”

Hearing this, Yi Hui felt somewhat dazed, but only for a brief moment, so brief that it dissipated before he had time to examine the reason for it.

Before he left, Dr. Liu also put forward a hypothesis: “Is it possible that he is sincere? It’s not because of guilt, it’s not because of family, it’s just because he wants to do this?”

Yi Hui was taken aback for a moment, then shook his head and smiled helplessly: “Impossible.”

This hypothesis seemed to Yi Hui even more absurd than his own reincarnation.

He clearly knew that I was already dead.

After seeing the doctor, the family went to the supermarket to make purchases. Along the way, they had dinner at the fast food restaurant downstairs. After eight o’clock in the evening they drove back in the small van.

Yi Hui hadn’t slept well in the past few days. He leaned in the back seat and dozed off with his head against the window. Jiang Yimang was full of energy. She opened the window and sang loudly, from pop hits to old classics. Jiang Xuemei occasionally sang a few lines with her, complimenting her as she sang: “My daughter is singing like a fairy, she can debut as a singer anytime!”

Yi Hui squinted his eyes as he listened to them laughing, thinking – it’s nice to have a parent who makes good use of positive reinforcement.

In his memory, his mother was a strong woman. Although she loved him very much, Yi Hui could perceive the regrets and resentments buried in her heart since he was a child.

That’s why she was so mean to the brother, who had just come back to his family, and saw him as a villain who was coming to harm them both; that’s why she never praised or encouraged his paintings and only regretted it when she was about to die. Then she held his hand and begged him to paint a picture for her.

Then and now, Yi Hui had good reason to think that even if he had come to his mother’s bedside with a blank sheet of paper, she would have smiled and said it looked good.

Thinking of this, Yi Hui didn’t know whether to be happy with his memory improving or to be sad that he had said he wanted to forget but could not.

His wish was to live as Jiang Yihui, but he couldn’t let go of those memories, whether they were happy or sad, he could not let go of them.

Fortunately, it was completely dark; no one knew what he was thinking and no one saw his eyes wet.

When they returned home, they put the ingredients they had bought in the fridge and sealed them in plastic wrap, and by the time they finished, the clock was already pointing to eleven o’clock.

Jiang Yimang was going to school tomorrow. She yawned and went upstairs to sleep first. Jiang Xuemei remembered that the work clothes she was going to wear tomorrow had a hole that hadn’t been mended, so she went to her room with a sewing box in her hands. Yi Hui took the initiative to clean up the mess and put all the packaging waste into a garbage bag, intending to throw it out to free some space in the kitchen.

The trash can was just across the road and it took no more than a few minutes to get there and back, so Yi Hui went out without his coat, wearing a thin shirt.

Every household in the small town advocated frugality. Except for the Jiang family’s house, the street lights hanging at the doors of other households had been extinguished. Yi Hui trotted all the way to the opposite side of the road, barely able to see the location of the trash can. He stuffed the garbage bag in and then picked up the lid of the can that had been thrown aside to cover it.

An unexplained gust of wind made Yi Hui shudder. He shrank his hands into his sleeves, turned around and was about to leave, when he was suddenly grabbed by someone who came out of nowhere and pulled forcefully. Before he could scream, he was already pinned against the wall behind him and a tall black shadow pressed towards him.

“Where did you go and why are you back so late?”

The moment he heard the voice, Yi Hui let out a sigh of relief.

It was him, not some bad guy.

Zhou Jinheng probably didn’t expect that he was almost treated as a robber. In the little light from the opposite side, he saw Yi Hui’s pale lips and thought he was cold. He withdrew his hand propped on the wall and touched Yi Hui’s fingers. His expression got even more unsightly: “Your hands are so cold, why don’t you wear more clothes?”

Yi Hui tried to wriggle away but couldn’t free his hand and asked helplessly, “What are you trying to do?”

He thought Zhou Jinheng had already left. This man was the most impatient. If anyone dared to treat him coldly, he would definitely just shrug it off and leave and would never come back again.

So Yi Hui did not try to look for a solution for his attitude while talking with Dr. Liu today; Zhou Jinheng was used to being arrogant, so where was the need for him to solve it? 

He was secretly confused, not knowing that the man that came face to face with him felt equally full of doubts.

“I want to take you back.” Zhou Jinheng thought he had made himself clear enough, but now that he was holding his hand, he said what was on his mind, “I’m here to pick you up and go home.”

Yi Hui repeated in disbelief: “Go home?”

Zhou Jinheng thought he had been persuaded and his expression showed a hint of delight: “Yes, go home, the studio at home has been arranged, you will definitely like the sunrise room. The dolls at home are also washed and put on the bed. You can sleep with either one you want. There is also a new housekeeper at home. Her cooking is delicious. She is especially good at making sweets. If you want to eat sweet food in the future, you don’t need to go out, you can eat it at home.”

Zhou Jinheng’s eagerness to talk made Yi Hui feel that he was a little bit like how he used to be. The word “home” that he repeatedly mentioned made him feel even more strange, so strange that it should not have come from him at all.

Yi Hui took a breath and said, “You are wrong, I am not the one you are looking for.”

The silence lasted for nearly a minute, so long that Yi Hui thought Zhou Jinheng was wondering what method to use to torture him again. He had already closed his eyes and was waiting when suddenly he heard a chuckle.

“You are not?” Zhou Jinheng seemed to hear something very funny, “Then who are you?”

Yi Hui bit his lower lip: “My name is Jiang Yihui, not the one you are looking for…”

The pain coming from his jaw made him swallow the last words; Yi Hui was forced to look up to face Zhou Jinheng’s eyes that emitted a cold light in the dark night.

“Look at me and say you are not HuiHui.” Zhou Jinheng gritted his teeth, “Look at me and say you’re not!” 

Yi Hui was held down by him, his jaw was wrenched and he was unable to move. He squinted at the man less than a centimeter away from him. At first he felt relieved, thinking that this was the real him, he had always had this spoiled stinky temper, it was impossible for him to treat him so well. One disobedient denial after another should have angered him long ago.

Later, he felt he had gone crazy and turned into a sullen beast who could only vent his anger with a roar. The only thing that could restrain him was the answer, the answer he wanted to hear.

But Yi Hui didn’t want to give that answer. If he said that, it would be tantamount to compromise. He would have to change back to the fool who was submissive, fearful and could only live his life attached to others.

God gave him a chance to come back, not to watch him repeat the same mistakes, not to make him a laughing stock again.

This belief gave birth to an unprecedented strength rising in his heart. Yi Hui opened his eyes wide, his gaze meeting the eyes of the man in front of him. He said word by word: “I am not the HuiHui you are looking for… I am not.”

Even if he told himself to forget, he still clearly remembered the first time he heard Zhou Jinheng call him “HuiHui”. He regarded this as a unique and irreplaceable name between the two, just like how he called him “husband” in private.

How happy he had been at the time and how painful it was to think about it now.

“HuiHui” written with the character meaning “shine” and with the character meaning “ash” sounded no different, but the meaning was very different indeed. One was the brilliance of the bright moon in the sky and the other was the dust flying over the ground in vain.

Yi Hui looked straight at Zhou Jinheng and repeated in a quiet voice: “My name is Jiang Yihui, not the HuiHui you are looking for.”

HuiHui was dead, in that mountain hut as cold as an ice cave, in his indifference and contempt for three years.

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