When they got home at night, there was no one around. Jiang Yimang looked everywhere in the front and back of the courtyard, making sure that no one was hiding there to jump into the house: “Okay, brother, you can continue to paint in the courtyard.”
Yi Hui glanced at her before she realized what she had said, scratched her head embarrassedly, and added, “Last year, he used to wander around outside the door. Later, I started to help him give gifts, and he left… I swear, I will never help him again!”
Yi Hui could actually guess that this was the case, otherwise he couldn’t explain why every gift he got was exactly something he needed or something that felt close to his heart.
After he accepted both Jiang Yimang’s apology and her oath, everything was resolved; however, Yi Hui didn’t feel relaxed. Late at night, he was lying on the bed tossing and turning, facing the window and looking at the courtyard wall under the streetlamp. Whether he opened his eyes or closed his eyes tightly, the figure hovering under the wall was always lingering in front of him.
For a while, the man stood leaning against the wall with his arms folded, and then he slowly lowered his head and squatted down. The sky was huge outside, but the man stubbornly stayed outside the courtyard and refused to leave.
His shoulders were hunched and his body exhausted. If you looked closer, you could see his face was the same as that during the day. His eyes were hollow and his pupils dim. The aura of bouquets and applause that always surrounded him seemed to evaporate without a trace.
The next morning, he saw the news that “Zhou Jinheng returned to the crew late at night, suspected of breach of contract” in Weibo headlines, but Yi Hui didn’t really feel that he had left.
The man often made headlines on hot searches; maybe it was a gimmick to build momentum for a movie. Yi Hui slid over the news, cut to the notification interface and clicked on a certain dialog box from habit. After scanning around and not finding anything, he realized that the present was different from the past. Then he lowered his eyes and logged out of Weibo absent-mindedly.
Habits always penetrate into your life silently, and inadvertently fill every inch of the available space. But since a habit can be cultivated, it can definitely be changed too. All it takes is time.
With this idea in mind, Yi Hui got busy again. The only thing he had to think about every day was how to fill the gap in his time with other life chores, so that he was too busy to remember anything and no one can invade his dreams.
It might not seem easy, but it was not very difficult to do. Besides, there was a stroke of bad luck. With Jiang Xuemei fainting and being hospitalized due to a sudden heart attack and her life rescued at the last moment, Yi Hui both had to catch up with his drafts and go to the hospital to look after his mother. Life suddenly became busy, even his sleep time was cut short.
There was no history of heart disease in Jiang Xuemei’s family. The doctor said that her sudden symptoms were caused by excessive sadness and overwork.
She fainted in the studio that day, still tightly holding in her hand the painting of the Jiang family courtyard left by Jiang Yihui. Yi Hui knew that it was not so easy for her to pass the hurdle in her heart. She was a mother. Even if she didn’t say it, she still missed her dead biological son.
Because of this, the more Yi Hui took care of her without any complaint, the more upset Jiang Xuemei became.
That day, Jiang Yimang went to school. Yi Hui brought his notebook and the tablet to the hospital to watch the patient overnight and rush his draft. Jiang Xuemei woke up and saw him napping with his head against the wall, raised her hand to touch his hair and said weakly: “Go back to sleep, Mom is fine.”
Yi Hui raised his head, rubbed his eyes and said, “I just closed my eyes for a while. I have to draw all night to meet the deadline.”
The middle-aged woman in the next bed glanced at them enviously and said to her husband: “We both gave birth to them, but look at that family’s son and then look at ours, really can not compare.”
A smile appeared on Jiang Xuemei’s pale face and she held Yi Hui’s hand, faint tears in her eyes: “Mom really feels much better. Let’s stop staying here, leave the hospital and go home to paint.”
Parents always ignore or downplay their physical discomfort in order to pacify their children. Yi Hui had experience in this, so he didn’t listen to Jiang Xuemei and arranged a general examination for her before she was discharged from the hospital.
After this examination, other problems were found. During the MRI, it was found that there was a shadow in her lungs. Further special examinations were performed. When the test sheet was obtained, it indicated the presence of tumours in the lungs. Yi Hui’s head buzzed as if a heavy object crashed down on him.
In his previous life, his mother died of cancer. The word “tumour” was like a boulder falling from the sky, so heavy that he was powerless to resist it.
The doctor comforted: “It was discovered quite early, there are no metastases yet. Timely surgical resection may be able to provide good control.”
Yi Hui was no longer the fool who had little idea of how the real world worked, so he immediately asked about the treatment plan and the cost.
“If you have medical insurance, the cost of the surgery is okay.” The doctor told him truthfully and asked him to be mentally prepared, “But the cost of post-treatment and nursing care is a problem, and long-term hospitalization for observation is required after the surgery… Is Jiang Xuemei the only parent in your family?”
At the same time, in the capital, Zhou Jinheng came out of the hospital.
There was a group of reporters surrounding the door, having learned the news of his damaged looks from some unknown source. They rushed to ask him questions, talking all at once, pushing their cameras into his face.
Fortunately, he put on a mask before going out. Zhou Jinheng got into the car under the protection of Xiao Lin. He didn’t say a word and didn’t answer a question during the walk from the hospital to the car that was filmed in detail.
When the car started, Xiao Lin asked him where he was going next. Zhou Jinheng took off his mask, raised his hand, touched the wound that had just been coated with disinfectant and said, “Filming crew.”
“You in this state…” Xiao Lin said embarrassedly, “why don’t you go to a medical beauty institution for consultation first, maybe you can get better with some medicine.”
Zhou Jinheng picked up his mobile phone and used it as a mirror to take a look. Although the skin tissue was damaged, he didn’t think it was serious. It’d be fine just to wait for the scar to fall off.
But his haggardness after the illness could be seen at a glance. A few days ago, he had to return to the capital for work-related matters. He thought he could hold on but ended up almost being carried off the plane and then lying deliriously in bed with a fever for a few days, before he had the strength to get up today to deal with business, and along the way, come to the hospital to see the injury on his face.
When he put down the phone, the screen accidentally lit up. When he saw the smiling man on the lock screen wallpaper, the face on the black and white photo unexpectedly appeared in front of him.
He closed his eyes, suppressed the raging hallucinations, sighed lightly, and said, “Let’s go to the crew.”
Zhou Jinheng was recently filming a fantasy TV series. The company picked it for him when he was buried in his other work. The pay was high and the script was bad. If not for the signed contract, according to his character, he would have already quit.
When he arrived at the crew, the director was sleeping in the air-conditioned lounge. He was a little irritable when he was awakened. His words sounded belligerent: “I was thinking who could it be? Our big star is back.”
Zhou Jinheng seemed like a real big shot to the entire crew. During the filming period, he did not communicate with anyone except for work, and did not participate in the crew dinners. He did his job well but left an impression of arrogance and looking down on people in the crew.
Where there are people, there are rivers and lakes (if there is more than one person, then people have to interact with each other). Especially when someone is standing in the limelight, once misunderstandings and disagreements arise, no matter how well you do your job, you will inevitably be criticized by those who have long been jealous.
So Zhou Jinheng’s unauthorized leave of absence lit the fuse. The middle-aged director, displeased, nagged for a long time about his unruly behaviour. Seeing that Zhou Jinheng didn’t reply, just sitting there and flipping through the script silently, he became even more annoyed. He pointed at his face and said, “It is also written in the contract that you must ensure the proper image during the filming. Actor Zhou is still too young and doesn’t know how to write the words ‘the spirit of the contract’.”
In fact, the injury could be covered with foundation concealer and not a serious problem that was difficult to overcome. Two days ago, Zhou Jinheng had already asked Xiao Lin to report the incident, promising to compensate the crew for the delay and the additional working hours.
The matter had been negotiated and there was no need to focus on it any more. The director acted this way just because Zhou Jinheng did not dare to break the contract, so he pursued the topic and tried to frustrate him, claiming to speak from a position of a senior generation.
However, Zhou Jinheng had been in the circle for four years. Although he suffered a lot of troubles, his original character had not been tempered at all and being silent was the last concession he made out of respect. He continued to look through the script and said bluntly: “It will not affect the shooting.”
“So if you say it doesn’t affect it, then it won’t be affected?” The director couldn’t get used to his careless attitude, so he grasped the topic and said, “Huh, young actors nowadays treat acting like playing family and a tool to make money. They are unruly, disrespect the fruits of others’ labour and don’t even have a basic sense of responsibility. If it weren’t for your face…”
Halfway through speaking, Zhou Jinheng slapped the script on the table with a “pop” sound, stood up and walked to the door.
The director was anxious: “Shooting will start soon, where are you going?”
Zhou Jinheng stepped out the door, stopped after thinking for a while and said coldly: “I won’t shoot anymore. My face is gone, what else is there?”
The director’s eyes widened: “You, you are breaking the contract!”
“Tell my agent when you have calculated the breach of contract fee.” Zhou Jinheng turned his head sideways and looked at him with a grin, “Nowadays, young actors don’t even have a basic sense of responsibility.”
He didn’t want to make this bad series at all. After solving the matter out of his own pocket, he felt more comfortable. Facing the reporters waiting at the airport, he did a rare thing and answered a few questions casually without a stinky face.
As soon as he got on the bus after getting off the plane, he received a call from his agent: “You insulted Director Li calling him a third-rate director?”
“I didn’t insult him.” Zhou Jinheng said, “It was just a statement of facts.”
The agent was so angry that there was smoke coming out of his ears: “How many times have I told you to be a little more restrained in front of people, just swear behind the closed doors. This series is crap but you have been in the circle for so long, if you don’t ……”
“No, no need.“ Zhou Jinheng said in the shaking bumping bus, “I just don’t want to shoot it anymore. I will pay the penalty for breach of contract and I will bear the responsibility. Has anyone’s interests been harmed?”
The other end of the phone was silent for a while and then asked him where he was now. Hearing that he had left S City a long time ago, the agent said helplessly: “What’s the matter with you leaving in a hurry? Your face is not good yet… If you just give up such a high paying film then fine, but don’t you even care about your image in the outside world?”
Even though the breach of contract was resolved with money, no matter how confidentially it was done, there would inevitably be a series of chain reactions in the follow-up. The media boom alone would be enough to keep the public relations department busy for a while.
For a moment, Zhou Jinheng himself was very confused.
He didn’t know what he was going to do here again, he just suddenly was idle and bought a ticket.
It might be a conditioned reflex, or it might be due to habit. He was like a lonely soul unconnected with the real world. When the plane rose into the sky, he suddenly regained a little consciousness and remembered where he was going.
He still wanted to see him; only seeing him could he find a moment of peace in his heart.
No matter who he was.
When he arrived in the town, the sun had just set and the lights in the courtyard of Jiang’s house were on, but the kitchen windows were dark.
He didn’t see anyone. Yi Hui usually came out to throw garbage, but Jiang Yimang came out to throw it tonight. She was very cautious and didn’t forget to lock the metal door just to go for a distance no more than ten metres. When she turned around after throwing the garbage, the beam of the flashlight slammed into her face and she almost screamed in fright.
After confirming that it was Zhou Jinheng, she regained her composure and walked around him with a straight face, pretending not to know him.
Zhou Jinheng caught up with her: “Where is your brother?”
Jiang Yimang ignored him.
Zhou Jinheng quickened his pace and walked in front of her to block the way: “Where did he go?”
Jiang Yimang couldn’t help it, bit her lip and said, “My brother is not the one you are looking for. What are you doing here?”
Zhou Jinheng ignored the first half of the sentence: “I’ve come to see him, where did he go?”
Jiang Yimang looked at him as if she was looking at a lunatic. Coupled with the scar hidden in the shadow on his face, the more she looked at it, the more shocked she felt, and then there was an indescribable sadness.
After all, he was someone she had liked before. She moved the light of the flashlight away and said stiffly: “Why should I tell you where he is?”
The silence lasted for a few seconds, and Zhou Jinheng’s voice became even lower: “Is he avoiding me?”
“Yes, he is avoiding you.” Finding a breakthrough, Jiang Yimang hurriedly said, “He has moved away and will not come back. Don’t come here to find him again.”
For fear of not being convincing enough, Jiang Yimang glared at Zhou Jinheng with a fierce look in her rounded eyes: “He hates you and never wants to see you again, so he left and will never come back!”