Edited by Planetes
When I opened my eyes again, the white, bright light in the room hurt my eyes. Frowning, I blinked, and only looked around again when my eyes got used to the light. There was no longer any poster of basketball players on the walls, but were very clean and empty. The yellow curtains had been pulled up and tied by the windows, and through the windows, I could see the sky. There was a couch in a corner, a chair by the bed, the entire room spotless without a speck of dust, but I could not find a single trace of anyone living here. Suddenly hearing something, I turned my head, only to see an IV drip next to me. Drop by drop, the fluid dripped down, and then pooled together, before flowing down the thin, long tube and entered my body through the needle on the back of my hand.
I lay on the bed in a daze. Feeling as though there was a big weight on my chest, my heart needed to work very hard before I could take my next breath. I wanted to pull out the needle in my hand, then scream and shout and cry, and even wanted to tear at the wounds on my body to prove that I had once again returned to that nightmare. However, I did not do anything, only lying there and staring at the ceiling, tears silently falling from my eyes. Like a drug addict finding heroin when deep in withdrawal, I greedily and intoxicatedly recalled every moment of my dream.
Those people who smiled at me, the love and the happiness I felt, taking advantage of the warmth, I hugged them tightly in my arms, hoping to warm up my long-frozen chest.
Someone opened the door, walking closer. It was a nurse on her rounds. When she saw me, she exclaimed in shock, then ran out in a hurry. Not too longer later, a few more doctors and nurses came in, checking me all over. I lay there quietly, accepting their actions. The nurse who discovered that I was awake stood by my bedside, hesitating for quite some time. In the end, she helped me sit up and changed a new pillow for me. As she carried the pillow that had been soaked with my sweat out of the room, she glanced over at me. How would I describe the way she looked at me? It was like how a passerby would look at a person with a broken leg, bowing and scraping as they pleaded for charity.
The room descended into silence again. I lay on the bed quietly, until the sun had nearly set. The sky outside was flaming red, making the room seem as though it was on fire as well. Yi Tian came at this time, two middle-aged women following behind him. One of them came and placed a box of food on the table next to his bed, retrieving a few small dishes of cold dishes, then poured some steaming hot porridge from a thermos flask. She waited for the other woman to adjust the height of the bed before she carried the bowl over to me. Scooping some porridge with a spoon, she looked at me, as though she was waiting for me to open my mouth.
“I’ll do it myself,” I spoke to her quietly. It was only after opening my mouth that I realised that my throat was very dry and painful, my voice so hoarse that I could not hear myself clearly. The woman turned to look at Yi Tian, and once she got his permission did she then hand the bowl over to me. My hand trembled violently, and it took me a long time before I could steady the bowl. My fingers were weak, and there were a few times I could barely manage to hold the spoon. Lowering my head, I slowly ate the porridge a mouthful after another, letting the warm porridge soothe my throat and belly.
The entire time, Yi Tian sat by the side, dealing with matters on his tablet. I finished eating, and the two women packed everything before leaving, but Yi Tian was still there.
“Yi Tian…” I wanted to thank him for the care I received in the hospital, but thinking about it, he would definitely feel that I was putting on a show. As such, I decided to change what I was about to say. “Umm, could you help me contact Auntie Li?”
He did not answer, not even looking up. Feeling a little awkward, I hesitantly explained, “I just want to ask her to help with my mother’s burial.”
I did not know for how long I had been lying like this in the hospital, and I also did not know how my mother’s… body had been dealt with… If there was no one to take care of it…
My chest ached, and I dared not think further. Yi Tian finally kept his tablet, raising his head and looking at me. His eyes were still relatively expressionless, and he said, “She’s been buried already, in Songhe Cemetery.”
Songhe Cemetery? I looked at him questioningly. That was the most expensive cemetery in the city, why would she be buried there? Furthermore, the only one who would handle these matters was only Auntie Li, and it was impossible that she was able to provide such a resting place. I was unable to come to a conclusion, but Yi Tian saw through to my questions. He said, “You can consider it as an apology on Lin Han’s behalf.”
His expression was indifferent and apathetic, his gaze so haughty as though I was supposed to immediately prostrate myself to him in thanks. In their eyes, I was probably a ridiculous clown, and everything I experienced was an amusing show. Now that they finished watching the show, they tossed me some coins carelessly, as if it was my reward for entertaining them.
I really wanted to proudly yell at them, “I don’t need your charity, your sympathy, and I don’t need your money!” But what could this count for? My ridiculous dignity and resentment, what could they be exchanged for? Could they let my mother rest in peace in Songhe Cemetery? Could she, a fool who had been scorned and disdained her entire life, be able to lie in a place where most people would not be able to do so? I was now a useless person, lying on a bed not able to move, could I give this to her? No. Hence, with the most sincere expression I could muster, I nodded at Yi Tian. “Thank you.”
He no longer spoke, and the entire room felt stifling. I believed, that after this time, he would no longer come again. We would probably never again see each other in this lifetime, so I still explained everything to him clearly. “There’s no photos anymore. At that time, I urgently needed money for my mother’s surgery, that’s why I lied.”
Silent, Yi Tian looked at me without any reaction. I was afraid that he would think I was finding an excuse for my mistakes, and so I decided to clear the air completely. “Also… I’m sorry. In the past, my actions were too excessive, and I went overboard.”
Quirking my lips, I smiled in resignation. “I’m sorry for letting you have so many offensive memories in your life.” In my heart, I was trying to guess his reaction, and was prepared that he would scold me for being hypocritical, or question what sort of game I was playing this time. In the end, he did not say anything, but just stood up and left, not even giving me a glance.
I watched his back slowly get further away, and only recovered from my daze when the door slammed shut. My vision slowly became blurry, and I was startled by the abrupt sadness and reluctance welling up within me. Suddenly, I remembered that from the start until now, I had never stood in front of him, openly and seriously telling him that I loved him. These words were probably too weighty, too sacred and too perfect, and the inferiority and cowardice deeply rooted in me did not allow me the courage to even open my mouth. I really wanted to chase after him, holding his hand and telling him at least once, even if I were to be faced with the most poisonous scolding and the most heartless beating.
This would probably be the last chance ever in my life.
After Yi Tian left, I sat blankly in the hospital room. There were no visits from family or friends, no pretty flowers and fruit baskets given in concern. The entire room was cold and empty, as though death lay over it. Hazily, I seemed to see my mother anxiously running out from the hospital, looking around as though she was searching for something. A thin fellow walked along the road opposite her, and with a delighted expression, she ran after him. From the left, a car came screeching by, and in the blink of an eye, she was thrown up into the air, then landed in a pool of blood, twitching and jerking…
A shudder ran through me and I opened my eyes, my soaked hospital attire clinging onto my back. Hunching a little, I felt cold. When I reached out, wanting to pull my blanket higher, I heard a very tiny moan. That sound seemed to come from my chest, like a wail that had been suppressed for very long, and was now only released because the person could no longer bear it under extreme pain. All sorts of sounds rang in my ear; the sharp, lung-tearing weeping; the meekly begging, heart-rending words; they all came upon me at once, leaving me lost and helpless.
Pounding my chest, I harshly gasped for air, trying to calm my heart rate. “Don’t be scared… don’t be scared…”
Wiping away the tears on my face, my voice shook, “Don’t be scared… Don’t cry… I’m coming to look for you right now.”