On the second day after the competition, the three Jiang family members did not stay in the capital and bought the tickets to return immediately.
Before leaving, they took the time to visit a few relatives and friends. Except for Yi Hui’s teacher, all of them were friends of Father Jiang during his lifetime. Talking about the past, Jiang Xuemei, as cheerful as she was, couldn’t help but shed tears. Yi Hui listened in silence, gaining an intuitive understanding of the Jiang family and a deeper sense of the great selflessness of a mother’s love.
On the way to the railway station, they passed a park famous for its lakes and hills. Jiang Xuemei pointed to the sparkling lake and said to Yi Hui, “It was here that your dad and I had our first date back then. He quit his well-paid job for me and came to the capital to start from scratch. At that time, I thought, if I have a child in the future, I will name him or her ‘Hui‘.” (sunshine/to shine)
Before Yi Hui could react, Jiang Yimang was displeased, puffed out her cheeks and complained that her parents were biased and gave the name to the boy first.
While Jiang Xuemei was coaxing her daughter, Yi Hui put his head against the window and recalled the past things about his family, especially his mother.
Perhaps it was another coincidence. His mother had also told him that his “Hui” was taken from “All things bright and beautiful” in hope that he would always be bathed in the sun; optimistic, confident and carefree.
But he let her down.
He pinned all his hopes on one man, walking on thin ice all day long, worrying about personal gains and losses, using great wisdom to cover up self-deception, and finally ended up with such a bleak end. There was no one to blame but himself.
Back in the small town, Yi Hui first went to his appointment with Dr. Liu.
Before going to the capital, Yi Hui had met him with his hair cut short and at his guidance dropped some of his guard, half-heartedly confessing some confusion.
After a simple greeting, Dr. Liu cut directly to the point: “Do you still have nightmares these days?”
Yi Hui was taken aback for a moment, then shook his head and said, “Not much anymore.”
Dr. Liu leaned forward and showed that he was listening: “Looking at your expression, it seems that you have a new problem?”
Yi Hui lowered his head; his gaze fell on his clasped hands, his thumb rubbing the back of his hand unconsciously, and said slowly: “I… I can’t draw people anymore.”
“People? Are you referring to everyone in the world, or a specific person?”
Yi Hui took a gulp of air and said, “A specific… one person.”
Dr. Liu observed his state, and after a while, he asked again, “Do you want to avoid him or forget him?”
After the shock of being seen through so thoroughly, Yi Hui was silent for a long time. He seemed calm, but his lowered eyelashes were trembling, revealing his inner tension and struggle.
Maybe there was still a bit of panic, the panic of never going back and never seeing that man again.
Seeing that he didn’t answer, Dr. Liu put it another way: “Do you want to abandon the past completely, or do you want to cover your ears while stealing a bell and watch him from a distance, secretly, where no one else can see?”
Breathing heavily, unable to make a judgement or a choice, Yi Hui was in a state of anxiety. Now that he had a brain that was a hundred times smarter than before, he should be able to figure out everything, but this problem seemed to be beyond the limit of what he could handle. Fragmented images flashed before his eyes and his brain was overwhelmed, sending out a howling alarm of overload
In the end, Dr. Liu interrupted his thinking and did not force him to give an answer immediately.
Before leaving, he told Yi Hui: “If you are eager to get rid of the influence of something or someone on you and emerge from the past, the first prerequisite is to believe in yourself.”
“Even if you have a terrible dream, you have to believe that you will not sit still in the real world, let alone repeat the same mistakes. This is something you can do as long as you are alive and breathing.”
When he woke up again from his dream, the glass teacup next to the bed reflected the light from the window, and the water in it was so clear and transparent that it seemed like a dream bubble.
Zhou Jinheng spread out his palms in front of his eyes, letting the cold sweat from his palms evaporate and his eyes skimmed over the varying depths of his palm lines that reminded him of a scene from long ago.
He called it ‘long ago’, but by careful calculation it must have been only a little over two years ago. At that time, he and Yi Hui had just moved in together and they were under the high-pressure supervision of their elders. He went home frequently; as a result, his time spent with Yi Hui was stretched out indefinitely.
He couldn’t help it, he was upset and irritable, and he didn’t know how to give anyone a good face. Yi Hui was the opposite of him. Who knows who had brainwashed him, but he thought he had been coming back on his own initiative and he was happy like a fool all the time.
No, he was a fool to begin with.
Zhou Jinheng was a little surprised that he was suddenly muddle-headed enough to treat him like a normal person. At first he pulled up the corners of his mouth in a smile and then, as he looked at the curved and extended lines on his palm, the self-deprecation in his smile gradually receded, replaced by a rare touch of tenderness.
In those days the little fool used to lie on the edge of the bed and hold his hand while he slept, rubbing his soft fingers against his palm and mumbling something under his breath.
Because his movements were too soft and his voice was too low, Zhou Jinheng woke up only two or three times when sleeping lightly. By chance, he was in a good mood and he patiently listened to Yi Hui’s explanation of his reasons for doing so.
“Your lifeline is very long, much longer than mine, but the love line is a little shorter… But it doesn’t matter, I’ll touch it for you and blow on it, and it will get longer.”
At that time, Zhou Jinheng sneered with disdain: “Do you know what love is?”
The little fool was shy, blushed and hesitated for a long time, and said, “I know, I know, I just want to see you and want to be with you every day.”
Zhou Jinheng picked up Doraemon at the head of the bed and threw it into his arms: “You spend time with this thing every day, do you love it?”
The little fool panicked and hurriedly explained: “No, it’s different, it’s my friend, you’re my… my husband.”
The last few words were as thin as a mosquito squeak and after saying them, he buried his face in Doraemon’s belly, the tips of his ears red.
This kind of appearance could always arouse an almost vicious desire in Zhou Jinheng’s body. He propped up, leaned in front of Yi Hui, pressed his lips to his hot ears and asked him in a wicked manner: “You know to call me husband but do you want to f*ck?”
The little fool was trembling all over with heat gushing in his ears from the low voice. He wanted to retreat but couldn’t bear it. For fear that Zhou Jinheng would change his mind if he didn’t agree quickly, he raised his head and showed two moist black eyes. He looked at him obsessively, his voice was muffled but clear: “I’ll give it to you, whatever you want, I’ll give it.”
Coming out of the bathroom, Zhou Jinheng wiped his hair grimly, silently expressing his irritation with rough movements.
It’s not as if you can help it in your dreams; but if you wake up and keep thinking about it in broad daylight, it can get out of hand.
Wiping his hair a few more times indiscriminately, Zhou Jinheng threw the towel on the floor. He picked up the phone again. The screen was empty and there was no new news.
He didn’t know where else to look, so he had to ask everyone in S City who was a bit capable, including the few dog friends he couldn’t bear. He should have gotten feedback by now, but why was there no movement at all?
It seemed that the little fool made up his mind to avoid him this time, so he deliberately did not let him find him.
He knew that the little fool was actually not that stupid, otherwise how could he hide for so long, otherwise how could he let him……
Zhou Jinheng raised his hand and ran his fingers through his wet hair a few times, walking back and forth. The sudden ringing of the phone made him temporarily forget this unidentified irritability, but he was even more frustrated when he picked it up because he didn’t hear the voice he wanted to hear.
Fang Yuqing on the other end of the line sensed something: “What’s the matter? You don’t seem very happy I’m calling?”
“No.” Zhou Jinheng denied subconsciously, “I just got up, I was a little tired.”
Fang Yuqing did not doubt that and explained his intentions succinctly: “My works will be on display at the art exhibition of the Art Museum this weekend. I wonder if I can be fortunate enough to invite a big star to come and accompany me?”
Zhou Jinheng hesitated for a moment and said, “I have work this weekend.”
“Is it an important job?”
“En, it’s very important.”
Fang Yuqing was taken aback for a while, then quickly adjusted his mood and the tone of his voice did not sound the least bit different: “Ah, that’s a pity, let’s talk about it next time we have a chance.”
After hanging up, Zhou Jinheng stood holding his mobile phone, feeling belated doubts about what he had just said.
This was the first time he refused Fang Yuqing’s invitation and he prevaricated it with lies.
He took a full week off and he expected it would take one day to get back the little fool who ran away from home.
What about the remaining few days?
In fact, it was completely possible to agree. After all, he had never refused Fang Yuqing’s request. Even when Fang Yuqing insisted on going abroad that year, he did not say “no”.
His inherent pride made him unable to beg humbly. Just like when facing a marriage forced on him, he had to muddle through, resist passively, stick his neck out and refuse to relent, and then naturally take out his anger and resentment he had nowhere else to vent on to the little fool.
But what about the little fool?
Zhou Jinheng, who accidentally figured it out because of an unrelated phone call, exhaled and smiled in relief.
Since he had asked for enough leave, it would be better to take the little fool to the amusement park during the weekend. He thought about the little fool writing this wish on the back of the card he gave him a while ago. Maybe the crooked childish writing was too ugly, since he actually remembered it.
They could go to the amusement park in the capital and along the way go to the restaurant with the glazed dome for dinner. It was more beautiful when the lights were brightly lit at night; it would definitely make the little fool exclaim with excitement again.
Waiting until night… Thinking about this, Zhou Jinheng felt a little embarrassed and then thought: don’t they already have a veritable relationship, just a piece of paper is missing, so why can’t he think about it?
The little fool even looked good when he cried, so it was not impossible to praise him in bed.
Planning to get this far, Zhou Jinheng couldn’t help but think that if he had praised the little fool and smiled at him a little more instead of talking to him with unwarranted disgust, maybe he wouldn’t run away from home.
The little fool wanted very little, very little, if he had given him one-tenth of the patience he gave to Fang Yuqing before, he wouldn’t have to sit here alone now.
Zhou Jinheng, who had tasted regret for the first time, felt a little helpless, not knowing whether to cry or to laugh. For a while, he didn’t know whether to blame the little fool for being too stupid, or to scold his former self for being naive and ridiculous.
Idle time was idle time. Zhou Jinheng decided to destroy some evidence before the little fool came home.
He poured water on the pot of snowflakes, learning from the little fool to use the watering can to fill every leaf with a drop of water.
He couldn’t find the exact same Doraemon, so he just threw it in the washing machine and washed it up. When he took it out, it looked a bit deformed and its stomach was still gray. He rolled up his sleeves and scrubbed it with his hands. His hand shook and he poured too much washing powder, so he had to rinse it several times before barely squeezing out the foam.
He put the washed doll on the bay window, turning it over every ten minutes to ensure a uniform suntan, then deciding to clean up the studio while he had time.
However, no one had been there for almost a month, and a thin layer of dust accumulated on the surfaces of the cabinets, table and chairs. Thinking that soon everything here would be moved to the sunrise room, Zhou Jinheng just wiped them casually.
When he finished wiping the dust, he passed by the painting board and saw the half-finished portrait. As if taking a chill pill, he felt the nerves that had been tense for days finally relaxing a little.
The painting wasn’t finished, so the little fool would definitely come back.
Thinking about the little fool having the audacity to say that he wanted to buy a house for him with the money from selling paintings, Zhou Jinheng chuckled. In addition to finding it interesting, he also suddenly felt some expectation.
Thus, when he received the phone call in such a good mood, Zhou Jinheng’s first reaction was to think that he had heard it wrong.
He changed his shoes, picked up the key and went out. While thinking about which car to drive to pick up the little fool, he frowned and asked, “What did you say?”
On the other end of the phone was the young master of the fire-fighting equipment company. He had been chasing Zhou Jinheng to get into his favor all the time, always sweet-talking with his glib tongue. Now somehow he stammered, “We found it, it’s on the mountain in the countryside.”
With every word he heard, Zhou Jinheng’s face turned a shade colder.
His heartbeat was erratic and his forehead throbbed wildly, causing swelling pain in his temples. The uneasiness that he had been suppressing with self-comfort was making a comeback, with the backlash so powerful that it didn’t even give him a chance to breathe.
His eyes dimmed and his limbs and joints refused to obey him. Zhou Jinheng slowly took out his old mobile phone from his pocket, looked at the smiling face of the little fool on the screen and asked, “Which mountain did you find? What did you find?”
After all, it was an urgent matter of life and death, and when the man heard that his voice was quite calm and not as thunderous as usual, he had the courage to repeat it: “Qingdai Mountain on the outskirts of the city. We found the corpse.”
The weather in S City in early autumn could change at a moment’s notice. Just now the sun had disappeared from the clear sky, and the rain overfilling the black clouds started falling.
The voice in his ears gradually faded, “the police just arrived”, “the scene is being blocked”, “your brother-in-law is also here”… Zhou Jinheng didn’t hear anything.
His mind was blank, his heart was emptied and a barrier seemed to be erected around him to block out all the noise.
Only the water falling from the sky still had the ability to penetrate the barrier. A drop of rain on the phone blurred Yi Hui’s face. He hurriedly wiped it with his hand. His fingers slipped on the screen and unlocked it accidentally. Six words unexpectedly jumped into his eyes.
He put down his mobile phone, looked back and vaguely saw that in the big house shrouded in dark clouds, Yi Hui was leaning over the table, writing “Waiting for you to go home” with his scalded hand.
In the most clumsy way in the world, the little fool spent three years taking those words apart, then crumbling and grinding them in an attempt to quietly and silently pour them into his heart.
And he didn’t piece them together until today, three years later, when he finally remembered to look back.