Flying Ash Chapter 3

Chapter 3


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The next morning, Yi Hui told Jiang Xuemei that he wanted to participate in the painting competition. Jiang Xuemei was overjoyed, dropped cooking breakfast halfway and began to pack the bags, chanting, “It’s cold over there, let’s bring a few more thick clothes,” and “The smog masks must be prepared in advance.” Jiang Yimang, who was unable to eat the food, slapped the table unhappily and reminded: “There are still a few days left, what’s the hurry?” 

At noon when the sun came out, Yi Hui was in the studio, sorting out the paintings. He heard Jiang Xuemei raise her voice to tell the neighbours outside: “Yihui is going to the capital to participate in the competition. We will leave in a few days. At that time, please take care of Yimang… Ai, thank you for your good words and I will bring you some local products when I come back! ”

Her words were full of joy.

Yi Hui guessed that the family probably hadn’t been back to the capital for a long time. This time his agreeing to participate in the competition could be considered him taking the initiative to cooperate with the treatment and making positive steps. As his mother, she was naturally happy.

For their trip next week, tickets could be booked in advance now.

The town was located in a remote area and no trains stopped there, so you could only take a bus to the city. After agreeing on a time with Jiang Xuemei, Yi Hui knocked on the door of Jiang Yimang’s room and wanted to borrow her computer to book train tickets online.

After making him wait for more than a minute, Jiang Yimang finally opened the door. When he explained what he wanted, she said impatiently: “You still refuse to change your smartphone. Why don’t you want Mom to buy you a new one?”

Saying that, she turned and went back to the room, lying on the bed with only the back of her head facing Yi Hui.

It was the first time Yi Hui entered a girl’s room. He whispered “Excuse me”, walked straight to the desk without looking around, sat down and took the mouse to click on the screen.

He didn’t know how to use a computer very well. He muttered pinyin and stumbled over the keyboard to find the letters, managing to get to the ticket booking site and was dazzled by the unfamiliar interface, and not knowing where to press.

“Can you do it or not?”

Jiang Yimang couldn’t watch it anymore. She got up from the bed, grabbed the mouse in Yi Hui’s hand and asked him the specific time to set off. She clicked on it and bought the tickets in less than two minutes.

The interface returned to the homepage and she asked Yi Hui: “Okay, do you want to buy the return tickets, too?”

Yi Hui shook his head: “No, she… Mom said we’ll buy them over there.”

Guessing that Jiang Xuemei might take her brother to play in the capital for a couple of days, Jiang Yimang’s face looked unhappy again.

Yi Hui stood up but didn’t leave and asked the girl who rushed back to the bed to play with her mobile phone: “Do you want to go together?” ”

Jiang Yimang turned her head when she heard his voice. The surprise on her face was fleeting and she said with a downcast look, “Forget it, I have to go to class, and Mum won’t let me go.”

Yi Hui thought for a while and said, “If you can ask for a leave, I’ll ask Mom.”

“You?” Jiang Yimang looked at him suspiciously, as if she didn’t believe it, “Don’t you always think I’m in the way? Why are you suddenly so kind?”

Yi Hui didn’t expect this. Once upon a time, he was the only child in the family. He was always envious when he saw that others had brothers and sisters. Later, he had an elder brother. Although he was a half-brother, Yi Hui was still excited that there was finally a peer in his family who could talk to him.

It meant Jiang Yihui was indeed aloof and uncommunicative; no wonder his relationship with his own sister was so bad.

Seeing Yi Hui stand silently without refuting, Jiang Yimang realized that she had said a bit too much, so she propped herself up and got out of the bed again, trying to find a way out of the embarrassing situation: “It’d be better to mind your own business, you can’t even tie your hair. When you get over there, you’ll have Mom worrying about you again.”

As she said that, she took a rubber band out of the small bamboo basket on the bedside table, asked Yi Hui to sit down and went around behind him to comb his hair. Her tongue was sharp: “How many good things have you eaten, your hair is longer and thicker than mine.” 

If it were in the past, Yi Hui would have thought she was complimenting him and would not have understood the sarcasm in her words. Now that he had a new brain, he would rather not understand.

He asked with a wry smile: “Is there a barber shop near here?”

“You must really be bored out of your mind at home, you don’t even know anything nearby?” After muttering that, Jiang Yimang suddenly grasped the point and stared anew, “Do you want to cut your hair?” 

In the evening when the sun was about to set, the Jiang family of three walked out together with Aunt Qiu next door and her two babies to squeeze into a small barber shop.

The small town had a low population density, but the people there were close. After the young barber with grey hair sharpened his scissors and razor, he hesitated and asked, “Ah Hui, are you sure you want to cut it?”

Yi Hui sat in the barber’s chair, looked at himself in the mirror, his long hair covering him like a shroud, and nodded: “En.”

The barber took a strand of hair, shook his head and sighed. Just as he was about to make the first cut, Jiang Xuemei, who was watching from the side, suddenly said, “Wait a minute.”

She looked at Yi Hui and tried to persuade him tactfully: “Yihui, think about it again. If you cut your hair, you won’t be able to continue growing it. If you are worried that your hair is too long and will touch the paint easily, Mom will comb it for you every day…”

“Oh, Mom, he finally made up his mind, so don’t talk him out of it.” Jiang Yimang urged.

Aunt Qiu also agreed quickly: “For big and small guys, short hair is the best. What’s the saying, ‘Cut off three thousand strands of worry’? Maybe with this haircut, Ah Hui’s illness will be completely healed.”

The Jiang family had lived in the little town for nearly three years, and the residents in the neighbourhood knew that Jiang Yihui was mentally ill.

Jiang Xuemei elbowed Aunt Qiu and moved her eyes, hinting at her not to say this in front of the child. Aunt Qiu understood and her voice dropped in volume: “Hey, why are we talking about this, let him decide for himself.”

Yi Hui was going to cut it, so he pointed at the uncle standing at the door with a cigarette and watching the show: “Just cut it like that, okay?”

In the end, he didn’t get a crew cut but a half-length haircut. The barber tried to persuade him it would look better with a perm.

Yi Hui sat with his eyes closed all the way, only shaking his head in reply. After the protective cloth was removed, his eyelashes fluttered and he opened his eyes.

There was no mirror in Jiang Yihui’s room and the one in the bathroom was broken and a new one hadn’t been installed yet. For more than a week, Yi Hui had been dishevelled even when he went out and he had never had a chance to see this face clearly.

Now, without the cover of his hair, his entire face was reflected in the mirror in front of him. With his mental activity, his mouth was the first to open and then his eyes widened slowly.

“Let me just say, you’re much more handsome with short hair.” Jiang Yimang gave him a rare smile, stepped forward, patted the scattered hair off his shoulders and looked in the mirror with him.

Yi Hui sat motionless, his gaze sweeping from bottom to top, watching his sharp jaw, his pale skin that had lacked the sun for a long time and his fluttering nostrils. The moment he looked at the man in the mirror, his whole body trembled violently.

Jiang Yimang put her arm on his shoulder, felt him shivering and teased him: “What, do you think you are too handsome?”

Yi Hui’s lips moved again but before he could speak, a few meaningless broken sounds overflowed from his throat.

Even though he had been mentally prepared in the past ten days and persuaded himself to accept being Jiang Yihui to survive in this world, the face in front of him that was eight or nine points similar to the former Yi Hui still gave him a huge shock.

Two thousand kilometers away, backstage at the Golden Flower Awards Ceremony at the Capital International Convention and Exhibition Center.

When he switched on the phone that had been switched off for several days, he was surprised to see a familiar face. The skin was white and the eyes were big, which could be regarded as his liked type.

Zhou Jinheng raised the corners of his mouth in a smile that didn’t touch his eyes and flicked his fingers across the short hair and the dark pupils on the screen, unlocking it directly without stopping for a moment.

The wallpaper was not set to a selfie, it was a grinning Doraemon with flowery words written next to it – Waiting for you to come home.

He couldn’t count the number of times he’d gone home and forgotten his phone in his shirt pocket or left it on the sofa, only to take it the next day and see all these strange things.

Even the address book was changed. The little fool looked stupid but he actually knew the letter sorting and added an “a” to his name, changing it to “a HuiHui”.

One could also see from that that he was indeed not very smart and still didn’t know that calling him “HuiHui” was actually making fun of him. (1)

After saving a few useful phone numbers into the new phone, Zhou Jinheng did not hesitate to turn off the old phone that had just been turned on and threw it to his assistant: “Find a place to throw it away.”

Assistant Xiao Lin caught the phone as if picking up a hot potato: “Throw it anywhere?”

Zhou Jinheng looked at him askance: “Just don’t let the paparazzi pick it up.”

The assistant director knocked on the door, informing him that it was time for him to come out. Xiao Lin watched Zhou Jinheng drinking coffee unhurriedly with his long legs on the dressing table, swaying to the beat of the music. Seeing that time was running short, he leisurely put down his legs and stood up: “Where are the clothes?”

Xiao Lin hurriedly presented him the suit hanging on the side, holding it with both hands.

Fortunately, the change of clothes was fairly quick. Zhou Jinheng came out of the dressing room and strode out, passing by like a typhoon crossing, almost blowing Xiao Lin off his feet.

After following up quickly, Xiao Lin held a memo, saying: “The party ends at ten o’clock. I have booked a ticket for you to S City at half past eleven…”

Hearing the key words S City, Zhou Jinheng paused and turned his head. There was already a faint trace of anger in his frowning eyebrows: “Who said I’m going to S City?”

Xiao Lin said nervously, “The itinerary, half a month ago…“ He lowered his head and flipped over, “It seems that it was written by Mr. Yi and next to it was written… I will wait for you at home.” ”

Zhou Jinheng chuckled lightly: “Mr. Yi?”

He turned to face Xiao Lin. Behind him was the stage entrance. A few beams of light flowed from the crack in the door. The backlit position made his knife-carved face even more three-dimensional and cold.

Xiao Lin couldn’t help swallowing. He couldn’t figure out how it was clearly the same man, but why were the contrasts between expressions on and off the stage so great. This ability to look at all living beings disdainfully from above was not something a man in his early twenties could possess.

“Do you know how the last assistant was fired?”

Zhou Jinheng spoke in a low voice, looking condescendingly at Xiao Lin who was so scared that he didn’t dare to breathe.

In the next second, he curled his lips and chuckled again, the sharpness in his gaze shrank completely as if the vicious man just now was not him at all.

“I’m teasing you, don’t be nervous.” Zhou Jinheng raised his hand and patted Xiao Lin on the shoulder with a kind expression, “For an assistant, one’s work ability is the first priority. But you are my assistant, not his. You should know what to do and what not to do.”

Xiao Lin, who had just taken office for less than a month, nodded hurriedly and said yes, then hesitatingly asked: “Then, then this ticket…”

Zhou Jinheng waved his hand and said impatiently: “Keep it. If I back out, the old b*stard will annoy me to death.”

Xiao Lin wiped the cold sweat from his forehead, and while breathing a sigh of relief, he thought: fortunately, there are more powerful people pressing on this ancestor, otherwise it would be impossible to survive.

The sound of footsteps was all that was left in the exclusive walkway, and as he approached the entrance to the scene, Zhou Jinheng strode forward with one hand in his pocket, more relaxed and casual than if he were returning to his own home.

Xiao Lin, who wanted to help him take care of his hair again, took out the mirror from his bag and looked up. Where was there any trace of the ancestor?

At the other side of the door, there was another world full of flashing lights and roaring music.

The moment Zhou Jinheng walked in, the laser light from the center of the stage swept over him, and his deep eyes under the sword eyebrows squinted uncomfortably. When he opened them again, his pupils reflected the dark mass of the people in the audience.

He was determined to win this award, so he didn’t need to pretend to be humble and restrained. He stepped towards the guest table with wide strides, nodded to a few friends in the circle and sat down in the middle, ignoring surprised or envious glances of others and whispers behind his back.

When it came to Zhou Jinheng, in addition to his family background, his career development was blessed by luck since he had entered the circle. Those who were open-minded said that he was born to eat this bowl of rice and it was difficult for him not to become popular, while those who were jealous said that his strength did not match his fame and that he was too arrogant after achieving a little success that he would sooner or later fall.

Although acting skills were a matter of opinion and there were bound to be people who would give a different assessment of the same role in the same production, Zhou Jinheng had never been criticized for his external qualifications in the two years he had been in the industry.

He had straight and broad shoulders comparable to a model’s, and his height of nearly 1.9 meters made him taller than most even when sitting, not to mention the face that had been described by the media as “a seamless merge of all first male leads.” When he was expressionless, he looked serious and quiet, and his smile was just right, a little insolent and evil. His eyes in particular, in the words of fans, “made their legs soft.”

However, at this moment Zhou Jinheng didn’t care what others were talking about. He didn’t like this kind of event full of smirks and false promises. Being willing to come here was one of the compromises made for the sake of his acting career.

Being stared at by many pairs of eyes in public was bad since he had to think twice about every move. Zhou Jinheng sat upright and stared straight ahead, bored. The award ceremony was about to begin and the situation outside the venue was being broadcasted on the screen. The entrance was crowded, except for the long lines of the reporters, dominating the view were flowers spreading from the red carpet to the entrance of the venue.

It reminded Zhou Jinheng that when he returned to S City tonight, there would be a bunch of bright flowers waiting for him.

They would be flowers specially prepared for him, and maybe there would also be a freshly baked cake.

That fool was so stupid, but occasionally he was smart. The last time Zhou Jinheng was signed for a film by a famous director, he was in a good mood and didn’t refuse the flowers the little fool sent him. Since then he had really made it his mission to send flowers to celebrate no matter how big or small the event was.

There would also be a hand-written card with “Congratulations to Mr. Zhou Jinheng” and so on written on the front and a line of teeny small characters such as “Husband, I love you” written in an inconspicuous place on the back.

Thinking of this, Zhou Jinheng sneered softly, finding the scheming of the little fool not only annoying but also inexplicably amusing.

Taking into account the fact that Zhou Jinheng had stood him up last time and counting the times, it was unexpected the little fool could actually hold back from contacting him for so many days.

Frowning, Zhou Jinheng made a decision about where to go tonight. Anyway, the ticket had not been refunded and there was nowhere else to go in S City. It was better to go to the little fool’s place, otherwise, he would cry and complain to the old b*stard.

But so what? All he had to do was hook his finger and the little fool would run to him, blushing and crying “husband”.

The surrounding lights gradually dimmed and the countdown to the award ceremony started.

Zhou Jinheng felt impatient, but the corners of his mouth hidden in the darkness curved into a smile that he hadn’t even noticed.

The author has something to say: Yes, our Xiao Zhou doesn’t know that the little fool is dead.

**************(1) ‘Hui’ in ‘Yi Hui’ (晖) means ‘sunshine’; ‘Hui’ in ‘HuiHui’(灰灰) means ‘ash’, ‘grey’


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