His heart suddenly missed a beat; wide-eyed, in a dizzying shock, Yi Hui darted forward, reaching out to stop him.
But it was too late. Zhou Jinheng estimated the distance and knew that Yi Hui could not run up to him in such a short time. In the steaming heat, he watched a clear pillar of water falling in waves, as if time had been slowed down and stretched infinitely, so detailed that every wisp of white mist was clearly visible.
However, the degree of pain was far from what was expected.
Yi Hui shoved the table fiercely, its legs making a harsh sound on the floor. In desperation people would burst out with incredible potential, and the dining table that has not been moved since it was placed by the wall was pushed forward and tilted by him.
Zhou Jinheng’s body swayed under the impact, and the water that rushed out of the mouth of the kettle deviated from its direction. It was originally supposed to land right onto his palm but now it only slid over his hand and passed by the wrist. Hot water splashed on the floor, a few drops plopping on the instep of his slipper.
Yi Hui rushed around the corner of the table, took advantage of Zhou Jinheng’s daze and grabbed the kettle in his hand. When he put it back on the table, his hands were shaking uncontrollably. He put it down for a while and picked it up again. Fearing that it would be snatched by Zhou Jinheng again, he went to the kitchen to pour out the water, then came back, breathing hard: “What’s wrong with you?”
Fear was followed by anger. Yi Hui couldn’t calm down, thinking that if he had reacted a little slower just now, Zhou Jinheng’s hand might have become useless; his scalp tightened and the air he inhaled seemed to pierce his lungs like a knife.
No one knew what it was like to be scalded better than him. Your skin and hair come from your parents; Yi Hui regretted not knowing how to love himself in his past life. The practice of hurting yourself, he couldn’t understand it no matter what.
Not to mention, Zhou Jinheng was an actor. It was all the more reason to cherish his heavenly appearance. So casually spoiling it would only make people think he was childish, or even disgraceful.
There was also a layer of buried anger that Yi Hui did not want to delve into.
He told himself that no matter who he saw doing this, he would not stay unperturbed, let alone stand idly by.
Zhou Jinheng stood there without moving or speaking. Yi Hui grabbed his scalded hand and pulled it under the faucet water to rinse. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the blisters bulging on the side of his hand near the wrist bone.
If the nerve tissues were not injured, just apply ointment. If you are lucky, you won’t even have a scar.
Auntie bought a tube of anti-scald ointment when purchasing commonly used medicines, and now it came in handy. Yi Hui found a needle, disinfected it repeatedly with an alcohol cotton swab, and glanced up at Zhou Jinheng before prickling him. He still stood stupidly; all his strength seemed to have been exhausted just now. He looked down at his hand, his eyes dazed, and no one could guess what he was thinking.
His hands were limp, allowing Yi Hui to deal with it as he saw fit; it seemed even if the needle was dipped in poison, he would not dodge.
Facing Zhou Jinheng like this, Yi Hui couldn’t speak out even though he was angry. After piercing the blisters, he started to apply the medicine and realized that he was too proficient in the whole series of actions. He felt that he had to say something.
“Aren’t you an actor? How can you make a movie if you did this?” Yi Hui tried to put himself in the position of a stranger, “even if you want to compensate… you shouldn’t use this method.”
The gauze was wrapped around his palm, and Zhou Jinheng finally reacted.
“There is only one way.” He whispered, “This is the only way left.”
Yi Hui paused and then continued to bandage him as if he hadn’t heard.
After wrapping the bandage and making sure that the gauze was tied tightly, Yi Hui, who often spent time in the hospital to take care of his mother recently, habitually asked “Does it hurt”, and then stopped like slamming on the brakes of a car.
Zhou Jinheng still heard it, did not answer, and asked rhetorically: “How about you, did it hurt?”
All the phrases used tonight were in the second person, pressing step by step, the disguise abandoned. Yi Hui was silent on the surface, but inside he was desperately trying to close the door of the secret room where the memories of his previous life were stored.
But he accidentally lost his guard when this life was concerned. He remembered being trapped on the mountain in the heavy rain last year and the way Zhou Jinheng carefully treated his wound and asked him if it hurt, saying that if it hurt, he could pinch him.
What’s the use of pinching him? It would not relieve one’s pain and would not eliminate one’s scars.
With some thoughts of how things remain the same but people change, Yi Hui was stunned for a moment and then was about to turn around and leave. He let go of Zhou Jinheng’s hand for less than a second when his own hand was quickly clenched by Zhou Jinheng.
He used his injured hand. Yi Hui was afraid of touching his wound and did not dare to move. He stared over his shoulder and said, “Let go… Next time you do this, I will not save you again.”
“If you don’t want to save me, don’t save me anymore.” Zhou Jinheng raised Yi Hui’s hand to his face, lowered his head and rubbed his lips over the smooth skin on the back of his hand.
In his previous life, he was scalded here, and the skin was uneven. It was evidence of his contempt for the little fool, and it was also the reason why the little fool hated him. He never dreamed that in this life, his little fool still didn’t want him to get hurt, would still save him and bandage his wound patiently.
Urgency, haste, feeling touched, self-blame, remorse… Countless emotions merged into rivers and seas, raging in his heart, making Zhou Jinheng’s heartbeat so loud that he almost couldn’t breathe.
He reached and took Yi Hui into his arms, and said before Yi Hui started struggling: “For a while, just let me hug you for a while… The agreement didn’t say that you can’t hug.”
Perhaps fooled by the second half of the sentence, the man in his arms gradually calmed down. Zhou Jinheng closed his eyes, clasped Yi Hui’s hand tightly with his injured hand, and held his waist with the other, exerting a little force, as if to engrave the feeling of this moment into his body, as if to convey something through this closeness.
The constant burning of the wound spread from his hand to his heart. If this is empathy, Zhou Jinheng thought, I will bear all the suffering in the future.
This was what he owed Yi Hui, and it was the only way to get relief.
He would love him and guard him, even if he could never be forgiven, even if holding him like this was a luxury.
After swiping through Zhou Jinheng’s negative news on Weibo again, Yi Hui sat on the bus, somewhat accustomed to the bumps and shakes. He also believed Jiang Yimang’s statement that “Not all hot searches are bought, it’s mainly to see if someone is popular enough.”
After all, even an extra piece of gauze on his hand was in the hot searches. “Self-harming to attract attention” had become obsolete. Everyone suspected that he had provoked the underworld; he was either injured here or bleeding there all day long. Otherwise, did he offend someone powerful? There was no evidence for the former, and the latter was even more like a fantasy story. The marketing account that specialized in telling fortunes of celebrities was overwhelmed with comments. Many fans felt justified to follow suit and tagged Zhou Jinheng asking him to worship Buddha and exorcise his evil spirits.
This reminded Yi Hui of the old fortune-telling woman they met on the side of the road last time, who said that Zhou Jinheng would be in great trouble.
Zhou Jinheng himself did not believe it; it was enough to see his amused, relaxed expression at the time. What bothered Yi Hui even more than these speculations on the things that could not be seen or touched was his psychological state.
He called Dr. Liu. He had not finished his current course of treatment before leaving the town. Dr. Liu judged that his condition was already stable enough to live independently and asked him to communicate by phone at any time if he had any questions.
Dr. Liu was a little surprised to receive his call, but he was even more surprised to hear him consult about other people’s psychological problems. Yi Hui said embarrassedly: “I really don’t know who to ask, so I took the liberty to disturb you.”
“Don’t worry.” Dr. Liu on the other end said, ” I can’t be happy enough to see that you are recovering well.”
Yi Hui omitted the name and roughly explained Zhou Jinheng’s situation. Dr. Liu thought for a moment and said, “The goal of self-harming behavior is often to eliminate the source of confidence loss, relieve anxiety and pain, or take a gamble, or look for some alternative pleasure …… having to use theoretical analysis, I think this gentleman might be the first.”
Yi Hui hurriedly asked, “Then will he do this kind of thing again in the future?”
Dr. Liu said, “Don’t be nervous, what I said is just theory. According to your description, this gentleman has never done anything like this before, which means that this is an abnormal phenomenon formed under high pressure… Like a spring, if it is too tight, it will break one day.”
Yi Hui panicked even more: “What should I do? What medicine can be used?”
“Drugs can only play an auxiliary role. Just like I prescribed you several medicines to soothe the spirit back then. In fact, the effect of drugs is very small. The reason why you think it has an effect is because you figured it out by yourself and you are willing to take the first step.”
Yi Hui couldn’t help but feel a little dazed when he heard this.
Dr. Liu dutifully answered his questions and addressed his doubts: “According to my analysis, the self-harming behavior of the gentleman you mentioned is probably due to two sources, one is desperation, the other is self-punishment, or it may be both. If you have to intervene, the solution is also simple. One is to tell him that you have forgiven him. You must not only use words, but also convey it with actions, and tell him, ‘It’s okay. It’s all over, don’t torture yourself anymore’.”
This meant that he had to face the past and no longer escape passively. Yi Hui took a deep breath: “Is there any other way?”
“Yes, you can ignore it, regardless of his life or death, let him experience despair to the end. The result may be that he would get rid of it completely and regain a new life, or he may sink deeper and deeper in the quagmire of remorse until dawn can no longer be seen.”
The bus stopped at the foot of the mountain. Originally, he just planned to find a quiet place halfway up the mountain to sketch. Yi Hui slowly walked up with the crowd and suddenly had the idea of going to the temple on the top of the mountain to take a look.
They say that there were temples on every mountain; some of them have been there for generations since the ancient times to the present, and some have only been built in recent years to attract tourists. It was impossible to know which kind of temple was on this mountain. It looked the same as other temples from a distance, full of fragrant incense and tranquility.
Yi Hui followed the crowd and bought three sticks of incense at the door. There were a lot of people in the mountains on weekends. He felt a little shy in the group of middle-aged and elderly people. He stood surrounded by people with his head down and kept a low profile. Still, several good aunts and uncles around him made fun of him.
After waving his hand and replying countless times that he was not here to seek marriage, it was finally his turn. He inserted the incense sticks into the huge incense burner and then walked into the temple to pray for blessings. Yi Hui knelt on the mat, raised his head and looked at the statue of Buddha with kind eyes, searching in his mind what to ask for.
God’s will is unpredictable, and things are in the hands of man. Seeking divine blessings was just like taking tranquilizers, it was more like seeking inner peace.
However, his mind was in a mess and there were too many things that required him to think and make a decision. Each one involved a lot and was of great importance, and God could not help him there.
So he didn’t ask for anything, kowtowed three times, and was about to get up and give up his position to the person behind, when a surprised “HuiHui” suddenly came from next to him. He was patted on the shoulder and turned his head to face Ye Qin’s bright smile.
“I didn’t expect to meet you here. Do you believe in Buddhism?” In the vegetarian restaurant in the temple, Ye Qin picked up a vegetarian dumpling and took a bite, frowned, then took a piece of jujube cake and put it on the plate in front of Yi Hui, “This one should be sweet. Try it.”
Yi Hui shook his head: “I just passed by and went to burn some incense along the way.” After thinking for a while, he asked politely, “You (informal ‘you’)… I mean, do you (courteous ‘you’) believe in Buddhism?”
“Don’t address me so respectfully ah, I am the same age as you. ” Halfway through speaking, Ye Qin thought of something and changed his words, “I mean, you look as old as my little brother, so you should be about the same age as me.”
Yi Hui let out an “en” and lowered his head guiltily.
Ye Qin brought Yi Hui to the restaurant by force, saying that it was the second time they met. Drinking tea for the first time and sharing a meal for the second time, when they meet for the third time, they will become close friends. Yi Hui remembered that his sister-in-law had a cheerful and lively temperament and was not surprised to hear him say that.
Ye Qin said while swallowing vegetables with difficulty: “Your brother… I mean my brother’s brother, the one you saw last time, said that vegetarian dishes in this restaurant also have the flavor of meat. I really believed it. Tsk, it does have the smell but the essence is still tofu with vegetable leaves ah, only he is stupid enough to eat it.”
This was the first time Yi Hui had heard his sister-in-law complain about his brother; he pursed his lips and smiled. Ye Qin on the opposite side knocked his spoon on the bowl, pretending to warn solemnly: “Don’t tell him, otherwise I won’t take you out to play in the future.”
Yi Hui wanted to tell him, “My brother must have said that because he didn’t want you to be a picky eater.” But due to his identity, in the end, he held back and didn’t say it.
He could hear that Ye Qin still had doubts about his identity and probed with his words from time to time. He should have worked hard to deal with it and try to avoid topics related to the past not to reveal his secret, but somehow, he didn’t want to bother with it anymore.
The words ”desperation” and ”self-punishment” circled back and forth in his mind. Two hours have passed since that call and he still couldn’t understand how a little man like him could have such a big impact on someone next to him.
It was so big that it seemed that this man’s life and death were squeezed in the palm of his hand. If he clenched it tightly, he would live. If he loosened it, he might die.
Yi Hui was absent-minded, chatting with Ye Qin casually. When he asked where Cheng Feichi had gone, Ye Qin said unhappily: “Busy with work, got me to come here and left me alone. I took a month’s vacation and ended up wandering around S City alone.”
Yi Hui said: “When brother… when he is done, he will definitely take you to play.”
Ye Qin frowned and smiled: “That’s true, he never lied to me.”
The word ”lie” poked a certain string in Yi Hui’s heart without warning.
Yi Hui had simple interpersonal relationships and little emotional experience. At this moment, he most needed someone to guide him. His sister-in-law Ye Qin, who had communicated with him a lot in the past, became the best target.
After three rounds of tea, the two felt more and more familiar. While chatting about life endlessly, Yi Hui asked at the right time: “If someone you are very close to lied to you… would you forgive him?”
Ye Qin was taken aback for a moment, put down his chopsticks and held his head propped on one hand. After thinking about it, he said with some embarrassment: “What should I do? He didn’t lie to me, I lied to him.”
Yi Hui only knew that his brother and sister-in-law, who seemed inseparable, had spent five years apart. Time was precious to him, five months was a long time, five years… he couldn’t imagine it at all.
Ye Qin’s frankness also made him secretly surprised. He thought that the separation of his brother and sister-in-law was due to some exciting reasons, but he didn’t expect it to be because of deception.
Perhaps times have changed, and the past that could not be looked back on could finally be let go. Ye Qin smiled and said, “I’m sorry I can’t help, you have to ask him.”
As soon as he said that, the mobile phone on the table rang.
Ye Qin didn’t avoid it and directly pressed hands-free to answer; Cheng Feichi’s low, steady voice came from the other end of the phone. When Ye Qin said that he was eating with his younger brother, Cheng Feichi immediately knew who it was and greeted Yi Hui on the phone: “Eat more, vegetarian food does not make your stomach feel heavy. Go to the bottom of the mountain and find another restaurant for a meal.”
His brother still treated him with the same warmth as before. Yi Hui felt this warmth and answered in a small voice. Ye Qin said, dissatisfied, “Do you think we are pigs? Eating one meal and immediately eating another?”
Cheng Feichi laughed on the other end of the phone and said, “It’s a rare opportunity, so why don’t you two take another trip to Disney together?”
Ye Qin unconsciously looked coquettish, pursed his lips and said, “Forget it, let’s wait for you to finish your work. The three of us will go together, not one less.”
Before hanging up the phone, Ye Qin cupped the microphone and turned away to say something. Yi Hui heard it, and it was a sweet “Bye, big brother.”
He turned his head and cleared his throat, then sat upright again, continuing the topic just now.
“Actually, there is no need to ask, he has forgiven me a long time ago.” Ye Qin said, the smile that had just been suppressed reappearing at the corners of his mouth, “Otherwise, I wouldn’t be sitting here and eating this plate of vegetarian dumplings with strange flavor. Maybe I’d be hiding somewhere and crying.”
Yi Hui listened to it, mystified.
Cry? Why would you be crying? Just like Zhou Jinheng, because of regret, because of pain?
How could a good person like his sister-in-law do something wrong?
“Most people in this world are good people in the traditional sense, but people make mistakes.” Ye Qin said and raised his chin, “Only he is different. Even I, a big liar, can be forgiven by him. He is the best best best best one.”
Ye Qin used several “best”, saw Yi Hui being even more confused, blinked his eyes and narrowed them, half in temptation, half threatening: “So hurry up and recognize him, or don’t recognize …… then he will be my big brother alone!”