Flying Ash Chapter 36

Chapter 36

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Most people have many ideas about the “future” when they are young. Of course, Yi Hui was not an exemption. He used to love to think about it and he was not much better now either.

A slight difference from the others was that he didn’t just think about it but tried to put it into practice.

The online painting competition that he’d participated in at the end of the last year finally announced the list of winners on the eighth day of the New Year. Yi Hui won the best creative award for his unique idea. There were two ways to receive certificates and bonuses: on-site or by mail. After thanking everyone for their blessings in a post on Weibo, Yi Hui booked a high-speed rail ticket to S City, quietly preparing to go to get the prize by himself.

Along the way, he was going to take a trip to the company address given by a certain someone. If he could see that someone, he would just say hello and have a little chat. If he couldn’t see him, he would drop off his stuff and leave, which was fine too, as long as his regards were delivered.

At the end of the year, Jiang Xuemei had a health problem and spent a few days in the town’s small hospital on IV but there wasn’t any improvement. When he heard about it, Dora-Hum-Hum helped contact the relevant experts in the city and asked them to come to check on her. After they prescribed some medicines, she got much more comfortable within just two days. So now Dora-Hum-Hum was not only a friend of Yi Hui but also a great benefactor of the Jiang family.

At that time, Yi Hui, who accidentally discovered that Weibo could also send voice messages, thanked him for his kindness and shyly sent his first voice message to Dora-Hum-Hum: “Hum-Hum, do you have many friends? You even have friends who are doctors so far away.”

He thought that the other party would also reply in a voice message but still got a text: No, you are the only one.

Although Yi Hui didn’t believe it, he was touched by being “the only one”. Dora-Hum-Hum was indeed very kind to him, offering to help, responding to his requests and always returning messages in seconds, as if he really considered him his only friend.

Sincerity was repaid with sincerity, and one must treat others well with this in mind. Before setting off, Yi Hui spent most of the day making a 6-inch small cake, decorating it with several circles of lace border, painted fireworks in the middle and a rose pattern on the side.

He didn’t want to draw roses at first, but Hum-Hum liked them. Thinking that it was just his goodwill, not actually gifting him giving him red roses, Yi Hui awkwardly painted two roses, and their petals were as red as his face.

Before leaving, he took a plate of previously prepared chocolates from the fridge and brought them with him. Yi Hui thought about Valentine’s Day approaching; he didn’t know if Hum-Hum had chased his crush back. If he had, he would invite the two of them to eat together. If he hadn’t, he would comfort Hum-Hum with dessert. It was perfect.

He thought of meeting an online friend as a simple matter, having a meal together at most, so he didn’t tell anyone and went on his way alone carrying an insulated bag with the cake and chocolates.

He was on the morning high-speed rail, and not long after the train started, he received a good morning message from Dora-Hum-Hum: Morning, are you up yet?

Yi Hui replied: Guess [Doraemon smiles]

With the excitement of a mysterious surprise about to be revealed, the tone of his speech became different from before.

Dora-Hum-Hum didn’t notice: Then that means you’re up. What are you doing now?

It was exactly what Yi Hui wanted. He grinned to the roots of his ears and replied smugly: I’m riding a bicycle [laughing but not talking]

Dora-Hum-Hum: Riding a bicycle and also sending messages. Amazing. [praise]

They say that after chatting with someone for a long time, you will slowly become infected with each other’s habits. For example, Hum-Hum had recently learned to make good use of emoticons. This made Yi Hui very gratified; at least, it wasn’t him led astray by Hum-Hum. It was too boring to use proper punctuation solemnly.

Yi Hui, who was sitting by the window, turned sideways to avoid the passengers next to him and held down the voice button: “Hum-Hum, are you still at work today?”

He covered his mobile phone and lowered his voice. After sending it out, he clicked on it and listened to it twice. He made sure that no sound from the train was recorded. Dora-Hum-Hum just sent a reply: Oh yes, otherwise there will be no money for food if my salary is deducted.

Yi Hui, who had confirmed what he needed, narrowed his eyes in a smile: “It’s okay, there’ll definitely be some food.”

The heating was turned on on the high-speed rail and Yi Hui was worried that the cake would go bad. He stuffed a lot of ice cubes in the insulation bag before going out.

The journey to S City was not as long as to the capital and the ice had not yet melted when he arrived at the station. It was getting dark early in winter, and he walked out of the station at twilight. He first called home to report his safety, then turned on his mobile phone to navigate, followed the route to the subway entrance, bought a one-way ticket on the machine, and spent the two minutes waiting for the train reading out the names of the stations on the route before getting up the courage to board the subway.

S City was his hometown, but he was used to being picked up and dropped off by car when he went out. He really hadn’t ever taken the subway before, so it was inevitable that he was a little nervous.

When he arrived at the place, it was evening rush hour and there were people everywhere. It took a lot of time to find the exit of the station. Fortunately, with the help of volunteers at the station, it was not yet completely dark when Yi Hui got from underground to the surface.

Following the navigation to an office building not far away, Yi Hui looked around and thought that S City was still the same, with rows upon rows of high-rise buildings and cars coming and going in every direction. It was very lively and hadn’t changed at all.

This area was a bustling commercial zone. He had an impression that there was a jewelry store near the address No. 118, xx Road. He took a closer look and it turned out he remembered it correctly.

Yi Hui sighed secretly. It seemed Hum-Hum worked in a jewelry store; no wonder his sense of aesthetics was so good.

When he was dissatisfied with a painting and didn’t know how to change it, Yi Hui would take a picture and send it to Hum-Hum. Hum-Hum could always point out the flaws in the details that he ignored, enhancing and improving the entire painting.

In this aspect he was very similar to that man. That man was also very good at evaluating paintings. When they first met, he helped point out several shortcomings in Yi Hui’s painting and his advice was indeed very reasonable. At that time, Yi Hui thought that he was simply gifted in this area, but later he realized that he had been exposed to art a lot and naturally knew a lot about it.

And it was not him but that other person who made him willing to gain knowledge about art.

Unexpectedly remembering what he shouldn’t have, Yi Hui took a deep breath to get rid of distractions, raised the mask to his nose and walked in.

Perhaps because of the shift change, there was barely anyone in the shop.

The female shop assistant who stood behind the counter enthusiastically asked if he wanted something. Yi Hui didn’t know Dora-Hum-Hum’s real name, so he awkwardly said he just wanted to take a look, confirmed that there were no other male shop assistants on the first floor and went straight up to the second floor with his stuff.

When he walked up to the stairs, he realized that he was a little nervous. One moment he wondered if Hum-Hum would be surprised to see him, and at another moment he wondered whether his first words should be “Hello” or “Guess who I am”.

He was a little annoyed when he thought of this. He was stupid, Hum-Hum was so smart, he would definitely be able to recognize him at a glance.

It was better to warn him, lest he really frightened him. Full of both anxiety and excitement, Yi Hui took out his mobile phone, clicked on Weibo and sent a message to Dora-Hum-Hum while walking up the steps.

The second floor was a custom area of the jewelry store. As soon as he approached, he smelled a comfortable, fresh fragrance and the atmosphere on the entire floor was quieter than downstairs. When he stepped on the last step, he pressed send and pricked up his ears. It really allowed him to catch a short ringing sound in the silence.

He walked forward on tiptoe following the source of the sound and just as he raised his hand to open the white screen curtain leading to the customization center, a series of rapid footsteps suddenly came from the other end of the curtain, followed by a conversation between two people.

“Where are you going… you’ve just come and are already leaving?”

“En, I need to go.”

“Didn’t you order a ring, don’t you want to look at the design?”

“Send it to my mailbox, I can look at it anytime.”

“Are you really going to marry the young master of the Tan family?”

“Who told you that?”

“Everyone is talking about it.”

When the two people inside went silent, Yi Hui, who was outside the curtain, subconsciously held his breath. He didn’t know the man who was asking questions but he recognized the voice of the other man. It was Zhou Jinheng.

“No, it’s not to marry the one surnamed Tan.” Not long after, Zhou Jinheng spoke again, “I have another use for this ring.”

Yi Hui didn’t understand what they were talking about and didn’t want to listen to it. He was like a third party who strayed into a wedding scene. Fleeing in a hurry, he accidentally knocked the vase standing at the door. He hurriedly reached out to stop it from falling. The vase remained unharmed, but the stuff in his hands didn’t. With a “snap” his bag fell to the ground.

When the people inside heard the sound, they opened the curtain and came out. Yi Hui picked up the insulation bag that was turned upside down on the floor. When he straightened up, he couldn’t help but see the two people standing side by side. Before he had time to observe anything else, the only thought that crossed his mind was that these two people matched each other very well.

The young man, shorter than Zhou Jinheng, was handsome and elegant, his well-tailored suit making him seem taller and more slender. Together with the tall and handsome Zhou Jinheng, they really looked like a couple who came to choose an engagement ring.

No, not like that, they looked like a newlywed couple.

Yi Hui suddenly felt that his initial shock was quite unnecessary.

What’s so strange about it? He was already dead and there was nothing to stop them from being together.

Zhou Jinheng didn’t expect to see Yi Hui here.

He learned from Jiang Yimang that Yi Hui was coming to S City. He waited the whole day but Yi Hui didn’t say anything to Dora-Hum-Hum about it, so he simply went along with it, deciding to see what the little fool was going to do. 

Who would have imagined that Yi Hui would find this place according to the address where he sent the package and, judging by the time, would come here directly after getting off the high-speed rail. Zhou Jinheng was extremely lucky that even though he wore a mask, he could still recognize him at a glance.

Yi Hui picked up his things and ran. Zhou Jinheng caught up without saying a word. The little fool ran stumbling while holding his stuff and almost bumped into someone by the door.

It was an early evening when the street lamps were first lit. Fearing that he would fall down without seeing the road, Zhou Jinheng strode forward and grabbed his arm: “HuiHui, it’s me, don’t run.”

Yi Hui didn’t listen to him. He was caught and couldn’t run away, so he turned his head away and didn’t look at him. His gesture of resistance was clear to see.

Zhou Jinheng’s heart clenched in pain. He had such a good time chatting with him online these days, he almost forgot how much the little fool hated him without his Dora-Hum-Hum disguise.

Seeing that the little fool just ran away without asking any questions, he probably thought he was there as a customer. Zhou Jinheng breathed a sigh of relief and explained: “He and I just ran into each other here. The ring is not for him, but for…”

Before he finished speaking, Yi Hui, who had been silent just now, suddenly interrupted him: “What does it have to do with me?”

Zhou Jinheng was taken aback for a moment, swallowing his next words.

Yi Hui finally turned his head and looked at him with calm, indifferent eyes, his voice also cold: “Who your ring is for, what does it have to do with me?”

This jewelry store was very well-known in S City and Yi Hui had actually heard of it a long time ago. Not only did he know this shop, he once wanted to come here to order customized wedding rings.

Although in the end it didn’t work out because the rings were already prepared by the other party. It was an ordinary modest model with the explanation that it was just a formality and, thus, didn’t require so much effort.

Because he was thinking of that ring all day, Yi Hui dreamed of it at night. When he woke up, he touched the ring finger of his left hand. He didn’t find anything. After an initial shock, he felt cold and couldn’t help but lift the corners of his mouth and laugh at himself.

Today was a sunny day. Yi Hui, who received the award certificate, returned to the hotel, packed the little luggage he had and prepared to leave. Before leaving, after hesitating again and again, he took the grey insulation bag with him.

There was no one at the front desk of the hotel. After checking out, Yi Hui put his documents back into his bag and walked out. The sound of footsteps echoed in the empty hall, making him feel a little lonely.

This was his hometown, but there was no place for him.

It was not that he didn’t want to go back, but that he didn’t dare. It was he who gave up Yi Hui’s identity and willingly accepted someone else’s name. What right did he have to go back?

What’s more, the place that he used to regard as home was no longer his home.

Even the wedding ring that he had never been able to wear in the open had been left there and he no longer had anything to do with that place.

In order to save money, Yi Hui had booked the hotel in a more remote location, some distance away from the subway station.

When he reached the door of the hotel, he squatted down and checked his shoelaces. After getting ready for the long journey, he opened the door and went out. Within two steps, he saw a red car parked in front of him.

At first, he was confused. When the driver got out of the car and raised the sign that said “Mr. Xiao Hui Xia’s special car”, the cloud on Yi Hui’s face was swept away. The corners of his lips turned upward and his eyes filled with a smile.

Only Dora-Hum-Hum would call him that.

He wanted to surprise Dora-Hum-Hum yesterday but who knew he would fail to do so. When Yi Hui returned to the hotel, Dora-Hum-Hum replied: Have you come to see me? I’m out of town on a short business trip, sorry.

It was because he didn’t warn him in advance. Yi Hui couldn’t blame him. But although he didn’t blame him, he still pretended to be angry: Did you do it on purpose, go on a business trip knowing that I am coming?

The person on the other end seemed to panic: No, really not, how could I deliberately avoid you? I really didn’t know you would come.

Thinking of the way Dora-Hum-Hum was so anxious last night, apologizing for being unable to rush back, Yi Hui, who was sitting in the car, wanted to laugh again. As he watched the car go down the highway, heading in a direction he was unfamiliar with, not only was he not scared, he was in the mood to chat with the driver: “Sir, how much does your car cost to rent for a day?”

The driver replied: “It’s free.”

This surprise was much more ingenious than the one he had arranged, and Yi Hui found it even more interesting: “Then where are you taking me?”

The driver also smiled at him in the rearview mirror: “You’ll know when you get there.”

With absolute trust in Dora-Hum-Hum, Yi Hui fell asleep in the back seat of the car.

About two hours later, he was politely awakened by the driver: “Sir, we are here.”

It was almost dark when he rubbed his eyes and got out of the car. Yi Hui found that he was in an empty flat area. There was a cool breeze blowing. He shrank his neck and turned his head to see that the driver had already moved the car to the wall a hundred meters away, as if he didn’t want to disturb him. 

Yi Hui couldn’t help but pick up the phone and send a voice message: “You didn’t really rush back from your trip, did you?”

Dora-Hum-Hum replied quickly: No, I have something to show you.

Yi Hui looked around again. The darkening sky made the visibility around him very low. He couldn’t figure out what to see in this place: “You didn’t prepare something scary, right?”

Dora-Hum-Hum: Not scary.

Yi Hui was a bit suspicious: “I have very little courage, don’t…”

Halfway through his speech, the phone vibrated. This time the message was more concise. Only two words were sent – look up. Yi Hui obeyed and looked up at the sky instinctively. At this moment, with a ”bang”, bright fireworks burst into the night sky.

The first sound seemed to be a trigger. Before Yi Hui could react, a succession of blinding sparks rose into the air, one after another, blooming overhead, forming a glorious river of stars that lit up the sky, flowing into darkness. 

The lights shone in Yi Hui’s eyes.

With the rapidly changing sparkles reflected in his pupils, Yi Hui seemed to be dumbfounded, unable to move, looking blankly with his head tilted up. Only when his eyes were sore and his eardrums were buzzing did he raise his mobile phone, look at the sky intently and move his lips mechanically, speaking to the microphone: “How could… someone be setting off fireworks here.”

Dora-Hum-Hum: I’m apologizing to you.

Even though the other party said it calmly, Yi Hui still felt that the battle was too huge for him to bear.

However, the fireworks feast continued, with no intention of stopping at all. As its only audience, Yi Hui didn’t want to miss a second. Dora-Hum-Hum told him to sit and enjoy watching, so he sat down on the stone bench and pressed the insulation bag he had carried all the way to his chest, holding on as if using this pressure would relieve his rapid heartbeat.

Dora-Hum-Hum wrote again: It will take a while, you can eat while watching.

The driver stuffed him with a lot of prepared snacks, candies and chocolates, but Yi Hui didn’t want to eat them now. He thought for a while, put the insulation bag in his arms on his lap, opened it and took out the unrecognizable cake. 

At first, he felt that it was a pity that a very beautiful cake had fallen into such a sorry state, but then, with the muffled sound of explosions in his ears and the flickering light in the darkness before his eyes, his thoughts drifted away.

Knowing that it was impolite to think of other things when enjoying the surprise that someone had prepared for him, Yi Hui glanced down at the cake and still couldn’t help thinking that the man had never once eaten the cake he had made with his own hands.

The most he would do was to look at it when he was forced, and then dismiss it by saying “I don’t eat sweet things”. It was always difficult to wait for a birthday and something always went wrong. Either he didn’t have time to make it, or he made it but no one came to eat it. And even if the man came back, he had no appetite. In the end, the cake would either go bad or would be thrown in the trash, and even he wouldn’t know what it tasted like.

What does it taste like?

Thinking about it, Yi Hui stretched out his index finger, dug up some cream and delivered it to his mouth. It was soft and sweet, melting in his mouth, and the fragrance was intoxicating. For some reason, he choked and his eyes were sour. He thought his eyes were stinging from the lights of the fireworks. He raised his hand and rubbed them, but more warm liquid flowed out, sliding down his cheeks into his mouth, diluting the sweetness.

He understood marriage of interest and the lack of emotional foundation, but even if he were a stranger, even if he were a beggar on the roadside, why should he be treated like that?

Just because you smile and pretend to be happy all day long, and pretend to know nothing, doesn’t mean you won’t be sad.

How could he not be sad, how could he not be sad?

Even if he was a fool, seeing the man thinking about someone else, looking through his phone album to find that person’s pictures, learning how good that person was, finding him looking for that person in him while he was in love head over heels, no matter how foolish, how stupid he was, no matter how much he pretended not to mind, his heart still hurt.

Who said the man didn’t keep his promises? It was not that he didn’t keep them, it was that he only kept his promises to that person.

Who said that the man’s nature was cold and mean? He clearly had a deep affection for that person and only treated the fool named Yi Hui coldly.

He dug up another large piece of cream and stuffed it into his mouth. Yi Hui was desperately trying to extract the pleasant sweetness from it, but his tears still fell down, as if he wanted to take advantage of no one being around to cry enough for a period of time.

The cake was delicious and the fireworks were beautiful. Precious things that used to be unreachable to him like a star in the sky turned out to be so easy to get.

It turned out that he just didn’t deserve them.

After receiving a voice message from Xiao Hui Xia, Zhou Jinheng hid in the dark corner by the wall and listened to the words “Thank you” several times, then asked him if it looked good and listened to the words “Looks good” over and over again.

He knew that Yi Hui was crying. When the little fool cried, he was as silent as when he laughed. Only his thin shoulders would be trembling and there would be a nasal tone in his voice when he spoke. It made him panic when he heard it.

Unfortunately, in the past he had been too childish and stupid to give even a single word of comfort. Now that he wanted to give it, there were a million ways in his head to stop the little fool from crying, but he was barred from action at the first step.

He didn’t dare move forward, he didn’t dare walk towards his little fool, he didn’t dare eat the cake made for him. He couldn’t even wipe the little fool’s tears or just say softly in his ear, “It’s my fault, don’t cry.”

He only slowly woke up when the little fool’s heart was thoroughly broken. He ought to not dare, he ought to have nothing to do with him.

Squatting slowly at the wall, facing the rough gravel ground, Zhou Jinheng clenched and loosened his hands hanging by his knees, and the blue veins on the backs of his hands bloated and disappeared. As if after a fierce struggle, he suddenly raised his hand and slapped himself, the abrupt sound hidden in the last explosions of the fireworks.

When he raised his head, inhaled deeply and exhaled, his expression returned to normal.

Watching Yi Hui get in the car and then the taillights of the car gradually disappear from his sight, Zhou Jinheng typed “If you like it, that’s good” in the input box, but what he was thinking about was another sentence——

From now on, I will never miss an appointment with you again.

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