That day, Yi Hui got up earlier than before. When he went downstairs, he saw Jiang Yimang already sitting at the dining table. There were the sounds of pots and pans colliding in the kitchen, Jiang Xuemei was cooking.
Jiang Yimang made an “ok” gesture, indicating that their mother was in a good state now, so he might as well give it a try. Yi Hui slowly moved to the kitchen door, then turned around and sat down at the dining table, lowered his head and buried his face in his arms.
Jiang Yimang dragged a chair to his side, leaned over and whispered, “Don’t be afraid, you have to say it anyway. Didn’t you say that you need to pass this hurdle in your heart?”
Yi Hui shook his head sullenly.
“That’s it, it’s better to just do it.” Jiang Yimang was actually nervous, took a few deep breaths, and then persuaded, “She is a mother, how can she not tell? The more you pretend not to know, the more unbearable you feel.”
Yi Hui didn’t want his mother to feel unbearable; no matter how panicked he was. He gritted his teeth and went into the kitchen. He plucked up his courage to speak but was robbed of the opportunity by Jiang Xuemei.
“What are you doing here?” Jiang Xuemei dropped little lumps of dough into the boiling pot and said smiling, “Go out and wait, you can eat in a while.”
Yi Hui didn’t leave, rubbing the seams of his pants with both hands, as if a child who had made a mistake: “Mom, I…”
He was unable to finish speaking. Jiang Xuemei put down the plate in her hand and pushed him out: “Go, go, it’s very hot here, go out and blow the fan.”
Yi Hui moved two steps and refused to leave. Courage was not easy to come by and if he didn’t say it, he didn’t know how long it would be delayed.
He turned his head and said, “Mom, I have something to tell you.”
Jiang Xuemei was a little anxious: “Is there anything we can’t talk about after dinner? Go back and sit down.”
Jiang Yimang stood up and helped: “Mom, just listen to him.”
“Tsk, haven’t the clothes in the yard dried yet?“ Jiang Xuemei couldn’t overcome the siblings. She wiped her hands on her apron casually and then moved to go out. “I’ll go and pick up the clothes first.”
“I’m going to pick them up, I’m going to, Mom, have a good chat with my brother.” Jiang Yimang hurried out after saying that.
Her job was robbed. Jiang Xuemei intended to go back to her room: “The things I brought back from the factory yesterday haven’t been sorted out yet, I’ll…”
With this loud shout, Jiang Xuemei paused and forgot what she was saying for a while.
Yi Hui stepped forward and took her arm: “Mom… you knew it a long time ago, right?”
After he spoke out, a wave of ease swept over him, overriding the anxiety in his heart. Even the worst result was also within the range he could bear, so what couldn’t be said?
The boiling water in the pot was no longer heated by the stove and gradually turned from bubbling to calm. Time went very slowly, enough to dig out many things that were intentionally or unintentionally ignored in the past. From the depths of their memory, they were spread them out in the open to re-examine.
Yi Hui remembered that Jiang Xuemei had looked at him more than once, and when he noticed it, she would smile and say that he had grown up, seeming to be in a daze. Every time he ate sweets, or when he was sad and cried because of the plagiarism scandal, or when he took the initiative to reduce the burden on his family… Every time he made all the choices that were different from Jiang Yihui in the past, Jiang Xuemei’s heart was struggling.
No one knows a son better than a mother; the slightest change in her son could not escape her eyes, let alone a new person?
Yi Hui couldn’t imagine how much pain the middle-aged woman in front of him had experienced, and didn’t know how to comfort her, so he gently pulled her sleeve again, choked and called, ”Mom…”
He had two mothers, they both loved him very much and they both had given him the best things they had.
For his two lifetimes that were neither long nor short he had been trying his best to strive for the so-called happiness. However, now he knew that true happiness did not need to be pursued at all. He, who had double the love, even if only for a while, was the happiest man in the world.
This time Jiang Xuemei stepped forward and took Yi Hui into her arms.
“Good boy, don’t cry, Mom is here.” She stroked Yi Hui’s hair. She told him not to cry but burst into tears herself, “It’s okay, Mom is not sad. No matter who you are, you are a good child for your mother.”
On Saturday that day, when the fierce noon sun was slanting westward, a canopy was erected in the courtyard of the Jiang family, and the family of three sat under the loquat tree to cool off.
Yi Hui picked up the embroidery of “if the family lives in harmony, all affairs will prosper” that had been on hold for a long time and sat cross-legged on a wicker chair to embroider intently. Jiang Yimang was pounding on a handful of touch-me-nots that Aunt Qiu had just delivered, saying that she would use them to paint her nails.
“Add the right amount of salt and mash it with the petals…” Jiang Yimang finished reading the steps on her phone and muttered, “What is the right amount?”
She dug a large spoonful of salt from the kitchen. Yi Hui was shocked when he saw it and hurriedly stuck the needle into the cloth to grab the spoon: “I’ll add it, you keep pounding. I have an idea how much should be put in.”
He took a pinch of salt and added it to the garlic mortar little by little. After pounding it for a while, Jiang Yimang jumped up with excitement: “The color is out, the color is out, the red is so beautiful!”
Jiang Xuemei, who came out holding a few washed leaves, laughed at her fuss: “When we were kids, we used this as nail polish. Could we do it if the color didn’t come out?”
Even though Yi Hui liked flowers, it was the first time that he had heard that flowers had such a purpose. Seeing his face full of curiosity, Jiang Yimang grabbed his hand: “I think it’s almost there, brother, come and help me try a colour!”
As the only male in the family, Yi Hui would never refuse his sister’s request. He stretched out his hand obediently and let Jiang Yimang apply the freshly pounded mixture to his nails.
“Your fingers are so long.” Jiang Yimang muttered enviously, “Do you artists always have such beautiful hands?”
Jiang Yihui’s hands were inherited from his deceased father, white and slender. Yi Hui knew that the “you” in Jiang Yimang’s mouth included him in his previous life, so he seriously recalled it and said, “Before, my hands were ugly, my palms were small, and my fingers were short.”
Jiang Yimang curled her lips: “I don’t believe it, don’t force me to check your photos on the Internet.”
Yi Hui smiled and said, “At that time, I had a scar on my hand. I didn’t go out much, so you shouldn’t be able to find any photos.”
When he mentioned his sadness inadvertently, Jiang Yimang said smartly, “I just don’t believe it. You are always too humble. You used to say that you were not good at painting, but you just participated in a competition and won a gold medal.”
She was talking about the live painting competition that he went to the capital to participate in when he first came here.
Yi Hui said: “It was really not good, there are still many things to learn.”
While Jiang Xuemei was not paying attention, Jiang Yimang whispered in Yi Hui’s ear: “That painting… was it him painted in it?”
Yi Hui knew that “he” referred to Zhou Jinheng. Now that he had confessed everything, there was no need to hide it. He nodded: “En.”
After receiving a positive answer, Jiang Yimang said with a chuckle: “A loss, a big loss.”
Yi Hui didn’t understand, so he said, “What loss?”
Jiang Yimang snorted: “An authentic painting of yours is worth a lot of money, so you gave it to him for nothing?”
“It’s not about ‘authenticity’.“ Yi Hui didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry, “I didn’t paint him on purpose. Strictly speaking, I violated his portrait rights.”
Jiang Yimang was still angry for him. She painted two of his fingers, wrapped them in the leaves and then leaned in slyly and asked, “Then you… do you still like him?”
Yi Hui was taken aback for a moment, and his gaze fell on the embroidered cloth that was slightly out of focus.
He didn’t ask this question in his mind and answered with his instincts, “Not anymore.”
How could he still like him?
He didn’t like him for a long time.
The Jiang family of three spent a whole day and a half at home without going out.
In the afternoon of the weekend, he had an appointment to see Dr. Liu. Before going out, Jiang Yimang gave Yi Hui a mask. After looking left and right, she still felt that it was not enough. She found sunglasses in the bottom drawer and raised herself tiptoe to put them on his face.
Yi Hui felt that she was too anxious, so he took off the sunglasses and put them on the table by the door: “I don’t need them. I can’t see the way clearly when I wear them.”
He just didn’t want his family to worry about him. Who knew that when he went out and raised his eyes, he really saw someone with a hideous wound on his face that had barely scabbed.
Resisting the urge to turn around and hide in the house, Yi Hui bypassed Zhou Jinheng without blinking his eyes and walked straight to the van parked on the side of the road.
As soon as he took two steps, his hand was grabbed.
“I have something to say, give me some time.” Zhou Jinheng said, “Five minutes is enough.”
Yi Hui took a deep breath, turned his head and motioned to Jiang Yimang and Jiang Xuemei not to get involved and let him handle it by himself. Then he pulled his arm out of Zhou Jinheng’s grip and turned to face him: “Go ahead.”
Zhou Jinheng’s hand still maintained the position as if he held his wrist, but now he was holding air. He squeezed the ring in the palm of his other hand tightly and then turned to face Yi Hui.
Yi Hui noticed that he was still wearing the shirt from the day before yesterday, its hem half stuffed in his pants, letting one see his body that became much thinner in less than two days. His face was haggard and his lips were pale, as if he was sick.
He said in a low voice: “It is my fault approaching you under another identity.“ Perhaps because of his sickness, his momentum was much weaker than usual and his aggressive edge seemed to be dulled, “I… I really couldn’t help it.”
For two days and two nights, Zhou Jinheng reviewed the experience of the past half a year. Whether from a rational point of view or in the context of emotions, even if he was given a chance to start over, he would still do it.
His little fool wouldn’t let him approach, he could only do this.
Zhou Jinheng licked his chapped lips: “If you can accept him and don’t hate him, just treat me as him, okay? It doesn’t matter if you treat me as him for a lifetime.”
Yi Hui never thought that the words ”for a lifetime” would come out of Zhou Jinheng’s mouth. But this assumption was too absurd, even more absurd than Zhou Jinheng pestering him in the little hopes to achieve something.
He didn’t know what his expression looked like hidden behind the mask. He might be laughing or indifferent. He said: “You are not him.”
Dora-Hum-Hum, who was regarded as a friend by Yi Hui, was not killed by him personally, but never existed.
Even if Dora-Hum-Hum was still there, he should have known how much he hated lies, especially when he was tempted with what he desired the most and then brutally torn apart by the truth when he was defenseless
In his previous life, he was tempted by the beautiful fragrance that he had never tasted before and willingly walked into the cage, crawled on the ground and was trampled into the mud. It was not until the end of his life that he knew that this beautiful cage had never existed at all. Everything was an illusion made up of lies.
Anyone who knew him a little bit should have known that he could endure loneliness and pain, but he could not tolerate deception.
Zhou Jinheng’s face turned pale again, as if the last trace of vitality had been wiped out.
Yi Hui was about to leave after speaking. Zhou Jinheng was like a man who had walked into a dead end. He pinned his last hope on the promise he had made and said anxiously: “You said you would go home with me, you promised me.”
A casual statement was nothing similar to a promise. Yi Hui remembered that stormy typhoon night, the secret friendship in the dark, how soft his heart had been at that time, and how cold and hard it was now.
“However, I am not him.” Yi Hui raised his hand and pulled down the mask to expose his entire face. Facing Zhou Jinheng’s sharp eyes, he smiled and asked indifferently, “Take a good look, who am I?”
When he first entered the entertainment circle, in order to hone his acting skills, Zhou Jinheng did many no object performance exercises by himself.
The van had driven away a long way and the dust lifted by it had all settled. He realized that just now he was doing a no object performance exercise. From beginning to end, he was the only one full of emotion, the process of hope changing to death performed to the fullest.
However, there was no response. He was facing an emotionless person as if he was facing empty air.
That person recited lines that did not belong to the script in an indifferent voice, like a bystander who did not want to cooperate.
Bystander…This metaphor made Zhou Jinheng panic suddenly.
If that person was a bystander, what about the other protagonist who should have stayed with him in the story?
Where was his little fool? What about the little fool who would cry for him and laugh for him, saying that he wanted to be with him for the rest of his life?
The house in S City was empty and the ring that should have been worn on his ring finger was still in his palm. Where had his little fool gone?
Looking around blankly, Zhou Jinheng, who seemed to have fallen into a deep nightmare, finally woke up.
They say that when people face life-threatening dilemmas, it will stimulate previously unknown abilities. Zhou Jinheng thought it turned out to be true.
He cleared the thorns on the road, kicked away the debris under his feet and ran in the direction of the light, only to find that the light was false, a mirage, and those obstacles along the way that he ignored and that prevented him from moving forward were the real thing.
The barren mountain illuminated by police lights, the funeral hall with people coming and going, the death certificate in black and white and the face that could not completely overlap with the face of the man in the black and white photo……
Zhou Jinheng slowly squatted down, put his arms around his head and dug his fingers into his unkempt hair. As his fists loosened, the ring squeezed in his palm slid down through his hair.
As if letting go of the last straw.
In the first acting class, the teacher said that if you acted well, you could deceive others, but if you didn’t act well, you could only deceive yourself.
He had won countless acting awards since his debut, and he was also known as the youngest actor of the century, but now, he couldn’t even fool himself.