Edited By AlexPT, Planetes
When I opened my eyes, the first thing I saw was a white room. The pungent smell of medicine filled my nose. I turned my head and saw an IV drip hooked up to my hand. My body felt like it had been minced up and then glued back together — everything hurt. I closed my eyes and gently exhaled. As it turned out, I was still alive.
Someone opened the door and entered my ward. The sound of footsteps came to a halt at the foot of my bed. A familiar scent made me open my eyes again; Yi Tian was standing before me. He probably hadn’t realized I was already awake, so when his eyes met mine, he froze for a moment before he quickly recovered, resettling his features into a blank expression.
“You sent me to the hospital?” Once I opened my mouth to speak, I realized my voice was extremely hoarse.
Yi Tian didn’t answer my question. Instead, he turned to order one of the people standing behind him to call for a doctor.
Right then, I couldn’t care less if he would be frustrated by my behavior. Ignoring the dry soreness of my throat, I asked again, “Yi Tian, did you find my mother? She’s… that mute woman. Has she undergone the operation?”
I knew that as long as Yitian was willing to help, finding my mother would be a piece of cake. Especially since Yi Tian and I had previously run into each other at the hotel I worked at, he only needed to check my employee file to find my home address, which was clearly written down.
Yi Tian didn’t respond right away. He gazed right at me, as if he was trying to read something from my expression. I didn’t know if he didn’t have news of my mother, or if he simply wasn’t willing to tell me what had happened. Anxiety filled my heart and I struggled to get off the bed.
“What are you doing?!” Yi Tian immediately reached a hand out to hold me in place.
“My mother…” I raised a hand, wanting to wave him off, but the movement agitated the wound on my stomach. A stab of pain turned my body weak and I fell back down onto the bed.
“She’s fine.” Yi Tian released me and straightened, finally answering me in a cold, hard voice.
“Her operation… her operation was completed?” I still felt uneasy, and couldn’t help but seek confirmation.
“It’s done.” Yi Tian turned his gaze away from me, looking slightly impatient.
I nodded, relief flooding my heart. I knew that while Yi Tian detested me, he would never lie to me. He was someone with integrity, someone who made good on his promises. Just like three years ago — although he agreed to stay by my side, he had also said, “If you want me to fall in love with you, forget it. It will never happen in this lifetime.”
Now three years had passed, and reality proved that he had kept his word. So, as long as Yi TIan said my mother was fine, I believed she would be.
“Thank you. I will definitely repay the money you lent me for her operation.” I was grateful that Yi Tian was willing to help me. I no longer wished to feel hurt or regret over the fact that he had never loved me. What was not meant to be mine, and would never be. I now understood that since we were not meant to be, no matter what extreme methods I resorted to, I would never have him.
It was my good fortune that the heavens still pitied me, and gave me a mother so I would no longer be alone. Just thinking about my mother’s warm silly smile, I felt that the world was filled with hope. The grievances and suffering I had endured could all be relieved by her presence.
I thought Yi Tian wanted to make Lin Han apologize to me, so I quickly cut him off. “It doesn’t matter, I know he did it for your sake. But I didn’t actually want to blackmail you…I actually don’t even have the photos anymore.”
Because Yi Tian had helped to save my mother’s life, guilt and shame welled up within me. I even felt that what Lin Han had done to me was forgivable. I had only been beaten up and roughed around a little, even though at the end he almost… but it was just ‘almost’, right?
“So to atone for your actions you stabbed yourself?” Yi Tian laughed, coldly. “If Lin Han hadn’t repeatedly insisted that you were the one who hurt yourself, I would never have believed it. Mu Ran, you’re the most vicious person I’ve ever met. Three years ago, to bind me to you, you sacrificed yourself. This time, to make me feel guilty enough to save that mute woman, you even stabbed yourself. Mu Ran, should I congratulate you on your good fortune? Your bets always seem to pay off.”
I looked at Yi Tian in wonder, not quite understanding what he meant.
Only after thinking it over for a moment did I realize that Yi Tian had only seen me after I was injured. He didn’t know what Lin Han had threatened me with, and Lin Han wasn’t stupid enough to confess his doing to Yi Tian either. So Yi Tian probably thought Lin Han had simply wanted to vent his anger on me by beating me up. There truly was no one on earth who was masochistic enough to stab themselves after being beaten, and it was also a perfect coincidence that Yi Tian appeared right as I had stabbed myself. So he thought that my stabbing was part of an elaborate scheme.
“Yeah… I’m lucky…” I shot him a helpless smile. Did he not believe in me because I kept abusing his trust? I had promised never to appear before him again, yet I still went to look for him; I told him I had let go of him completely, yet I tried to blackmail him with the photographs for money. From start to finish, this vicious cycle repeated until he was completely disappointed in me. So to him, everything I did was coloured with ulterior motives, everything I did was part of a scheme. With things the way they were, there was no need for me to explain myself. Even if I told Yi Tian what had really happened, his hatred for me would only deepen for having maligned his buddy. Maybe when Lin Han humiliated me, I shouldn’t have fought back, or I should have just been more vicious, and stab myself in the heart instead. Perhaps if Yi Tian witnessed my utter humiliation or death, the hatred in his heart could be lessened, and he would be able to trust me again.
Yi Tian wanted to say more, but just then, the doctor arrived to perform my examination. He retreated to the side of the room, his expression brooding.
In truth, the Yi Tian I fell in love with was a wonderful person. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have taken me to the hospital, and he wouldn’t have helped me to save my mother. Thinking like this relieved me. No matter how he misunderstood me now, in the future I could use my actions to prove to him that I would no longer pester him or frivolously ask him for money. After the examination, the doctor said that the wound on my stomach was fine — I simply needed to rest until the wound healed and everything would be all right. Only after speaking to the doctor did I realize I had been unconscious for two days. Counting the day that I had been abducted by Lin Han, that was three days that I had not been in contact with Auntie Li. I became anxious and I turned to Yi Tian, begging, “I know I shouldn’t bother you further, but Yi Tian, can you let me see Auntie Li? I want to ask about my mother’s condition.”
Yi Tian refused, explaining that Auntie Li was busy taking care of my mother, and could not come.
I was disappointed, but said nothing. Yi Tian was right. After the operation, my mother needed someone to take care of her. Auntie Li was alone, and she was probably completely tied up. Now I was awake, I was sure she’d come visit me as soon as she got the news.
But even four days after I had awoken from my coma, Auntie Li still hadn’t appeared. Each time I asked Yi Tian, he replied that she was too busy. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed that something wasn’t right. Even though my mother and I were not in the same hospital, Auntie Li should be able to take the time to drop by. My wound had already started to heal, as long as I didn’t do anything too vigorous, I could get out of bed and slowly walk around. Since Auntie Li could not come to see me, I would go to see her. I told Yi Tian I wanted to visit my mother, but he coldly refused me.
“My wound isn’t deep and the doctor’s already said it’s been healing well. I can go.” I hurriedly refuted him.
“No, you can’t.” Yi Tian refused again, leaving no space for argument.
I started to get agitated.
“Yi Tian, I am really grateful that you brought me to the hospital and that you helped my mother with the operation. From now on, I won’t ever bother you again. I will take care of everything. Also, I’ll definitely return the money I owe you.”
Saying this, I started to get up.
Yi Tian held me down on the bed, his expression strained. It was a moment before he finally answered, “I’ll ask that woman to come and visit you.”
The next afternoon, after I’d eaten lunch, I kept staring longingly at the door. I didn’t know if Auntie Li would be worried after seeing me in this state, but I knew a scolding from her was inevitable. When Auntie Li pushed the door open, I was shocked. She seemed to have lost a lot of weight, and seemed rather pale… Was it because taking care of my mother had put a strain on her? In truth, Auntie Li was an extremely kind person, otherwise she would not have taken care of a mute woman who had no relation with her. Perhaps, after so many years together, she had long already treated my mother like family. Ever since my mother had fallen ill, she had spent great effort taking care of her. I would definitely need to properly express my gratitude to Auntie Li later.
Auntie Li sat by my bedside, and looked at me carefully for a moment. With red eyes, she asked, “Is your wound fully recovered?”
The care and concern behind those words made my nose stuffy and my vision blurred with tears. I sniffled and smiled as I answered, “I’m fine. I’ll be discharged soon.”
Auntie Li nodded, and lifted her hands to wipe at the tears at the corner of her eyes. She swallowed and said, “It’s good, it’s good that you’re fine.”
I kept waiting for Auntie Li to bring up my mother, but seeing as she didn’t, I couldn’t help asking, “Auntie Li, is my mother all right? Now the operation is done, her illness should be cured. What did the doctor say?”
Auntie Li froze. She dipped her head, her gaze uncertain. After a long moment, she forced a smile, “Ah Xiu is doing well. The doctor said the operation was a success.”
“So it’s like that… Did she ask about me? She must be so anxious after not seeing me for so many days.” My mother always liked having me around, especially now that she was hospitalized. Without me by her side, she probably had been so afraid.
“I told her you went to work…” Auntie Li still did not lift her head to look at me, her voice low.
“Auntie Li, it’s been so hard on you. I really don’t know what I would do without you. But the worst is already over, once I’m discharged…”
“Xiao Ran, let’s finish up here. Auntie Li will come and visit you again soon, Ah Xiu is still waiting for me. Pay attention to your body and take care of your wound.”
Saying this, Auntie Li hurriedly stood up and walked to the door.
I didn’t stop her.
But the smile on my face gradually faded, and I stared blankly at Auntie Li’s back.
“Auntie Li, just tell me, how is my mother?” I heard myself ask as Auntie Li reached the door.
Auntie Li stiffened where she stood, her back toward me. After a long time, her shoulders shuddered violently, and then she turned around, rushing to the foot of my bed in just a few steps. She shook my wrist, shouting through her tears. “Auntie Li already told you not to do anything rash! I already told you! Why were you so silly? … The day after you disappeared, Ah Xiu snuck out of the hospital and got into an accident… they couldn’t save her… it’s because she went out to look for you! She was looking for you!”
I stared blankly at Auntie Li who stood in front of me crying, my mind completely empty.
She was in an accident?
They couldn’t save her?
I recognized each word, yet once they were put together, why couldn’t I understand their meaning?
“Auntie Li, tell my mother to stop looking for me. I’m just injured, once my wound has healed I’ll come back.” I held Auntie Li, who seemed to have lost her composure, and exhorted her earnestly.
Auntie Li simply cried, shaking her head.
It seemed that I couldn’t wait any longer, my mother was most definitely waiting anxiously. I pushed Auntie Li aside and got off the bed.
“I’ll go to the hospital to see her right now. I really don’t know what to do with her… Why does she always make us worry?” I nagged as I walked out. Auntie Li tugged on my arm and I turned to look at her impatiently. “I can’t put it off any longer. Don’t worry Auntie Li, my wound is fine.”
Auntie Li stopped her crying and looked at me with wide eyes. After a moment, she said in a wavering voice, “Xiao Ran, what’s wrong… don’t scare me…”
I sighed, “Auntie Li, let’s hurry over. Mother must be so anxious waiting for us.”
Auntie Li grabbed my hand, large teardrops rolling down her cheeks. “Ah Xiu is already dead… she’s dead!”
I simply didn’t have the patience for Auntie Li’s antics. I pushed her hand aside and headed towards the door. I knew my mother’s operation was painful and uncomfortable, but once my mother saw me I was certain she would recover.
When I pushed the door open I saw Yi Tian. I didn’t have the time to explain the situation to him, so I just detoured around him. I’d barely taken a few steps before I was held back. Angrily, Yi Tian yelled, “Why are you out of bed? Go back!”
I forcefully shrugged off Yi Tian’s grip. “There’s no time, I need to see my mother.”
Yi Tian grabbed my shoulders, yelling at me through clenched teeth. “Where are you going? That mute woman is already dead!”
I threw him a vicious punch.
This was the first time I had ever raised a hand toward Yi Tian. I didn’t understand why the two of them kept trying to hold me back. I only wanted to see my mother.
I turned around and continued walking. After a few steps, I started to run. Faster, faster, time was running out.
The sound of footsteps echoed behind me. I felt flustered, and in the midst of running, perhaps I tripped over something. My legs became unsteady and I fell to the floor.
I picked myself up and clumsily stumbled forward but a few doctors ran toward me and held me down. I struggled with all my might, even kicking them, but these people were so strange. The entire world was too strange. Why was it that no matter what I did, people would intervene and stop me?
Auntie Li caught up to me, crying as she called my name. A doctor standing on the side shouted, “Quick, bring the patient back to his room! The wound has split, we need to suture it back together!”
I dipped my head to look before I realized that my hospital gown was dyed in red. The peculiar thing was, I actually felt no pain.
I bent my head and bit down hard on the hand that was holding my shoulder. The victim gave a shout of pain and withdrew his hand. I squirmed, wanting to escape the doctor on the other side of me, but the people standing behind Yi Tian rushed forward to restrain me.
“Let me go… Let me go… I’m running out of time…” Crying, I turned a pleading look toward Yi Tian. I knew he would always save me. Just like all those years ago when he saved me from the hands of those people. Just like a few days ago, when he saved me from Lin Han’s clutches… I knew he would always save me. He was the one person in the world I could ask for help.
“Give him a sedative,” I heard Yi Tian’s cold voice.
My head became dizzier and my body began to relax. All of the voices slowly vanished.
The last thing I saw before I lost consciousness was the night my mother wiped away my tears, a gentle smile on her face.