Edited by Planetes
It was a rare bright day when I was discharged from the hospital. For the past few days, it had been drizzling continuously, and when I saw the warm, golden sun outside the window when I woke up, the gloom in my heart too dissipated.
After packing up my belongings, I thanked the doctors and the nurses before leaving the hospital. Buying some things out on the streets, I was about to go see Xiao Yiyi, the little girl I met in the garden that day. I had been dropping by often to see her recently, and I was now a lot more familiar with her family as well. Hence, I should bid them a farewell upon my discharge.
When I arrived, the little girl had just woken up. Her mother happened to be feeding her, and she immediately greeted me with “Mu-shushu” when she saw me. Her mouth filled with rice, her cheeks were round and puffy.
“You’re very early today. Have you had your breakfast yet?” Her mother wanted to stand up to greet me. I waved at her, gesturing to say that there was no need to bother with me. “It’s fine. I’m getting discharged today, so I dropped by to say goodbye.”
“You’re all recovered? That’s great. We still have a long way to go here.” Yiyi’s mother smiled before sighing.
“It’ll be alright. Once this is over, Yiyi will always be safe and healthy for the rest of her life.” I walked over, putting the fruits, snacks and toys I bought on the table. Xiao Yiyi’s eyes immediately brightened. Wanting to reach out for them, she turned to look at her mother hesitantly.
Yiyi’s mother became anxious. She put the bowl down, picking up the items and passing them back to me, insisting that they could not keep them.
“How much can these things be worth? Since she’s already called me Mu-shushu, how can I not buy something for her?” I was even more determined. Coincidentally, Yiyi’s father called right at this moment, asking her mother to go downstairs to collect something. As her mother could not convince me, she could only accept the gifts with a blush, thanking me continuously.
“Hurry and go, I’ll stay here and help you watch over her.” I sat down next to Xiao Yiyi, picking up the bowl on the cupboard and feeding her.
“Aiyah, how can I trouble you, just let her eat by herself…”
“Hurry and go, her father must be anxiously waiting.” If we were to continue on like that, it would never end, and so I interrupted her. Yiyi’s mother again thanked me continuously as she left. Shaking my head, I smiled. This family was really so adorably simple and honest.
When Xiao Yiyi was pretty much done eating, I put the bowl down and took an envelope out of my bag. “Yiyi, this is a present from me.”
I placed the envelope under Xiao Yiyi’s pillow, while the little girl watched me curiously with wide eyes. “However, this present is very special. You must promise me that only after I leave, then you can tell your mother about it, and let her open it for you.”
“I can’t open it now?” Xiao Yiyi asked anxiously, her attention was fully caught by me.
“Nope. If you open it now, the present will disappear.” The little girl was really too fun, and I lowered my voice, teasing her some more. “A witch will make it disappear with magic.”
“Don’t make it disappear!!” Xiao Yiyi hurriedly pressed her pillow down with her hand, as though a witch was going to appear the very next second and make the envelope disappear. Laughing, I patted her head. “So, you have to promise me, alright?”
“I promise!” Xiao Yiyi nodded solemnly. I reached out, crooking my finger with her, then continued making her burble with laughter.
When Yiyi’s parents returned, I then bade the entire family farewell. Before walking out of the room, I again looked at this fortunate family of three, silently blessing them and left.
In the envelope was a bank card and a message with the PIN.
In the message, I told them I was an orphan with an incurable disease, and I had already decided to give up on treatment. I only had a few days left, so money was useless to me, and I might well help out this family that had such a fate with me. If I did not state everything like this with an excuse, this honest and stubborn couple would probably keep the money for me, and would not use a single cent within.
Leaving the hospital, I went to the florist and chose a pretty flower, then bought two boxes of green bean pastries, before taking a bus to the cemetery. I was a little surprised when I disembarked. The air here was good, the place quiet and pretty, and it was truly a nice place. After asking the cemetery’s management where my mother’s grave was, it took me quite some time before I found it.
On the tombstone was a photo of her when she was young. The person within was a little blurry, and I did not know where the photo came from. The tombstone was clean and neat, and there were even two carvings of little stone lions by the side.
Standing there, I did not know what I should say. After some time, I finally remembered to put the flower and the green bean pastries down.
“Uhh… I bought your favourite green bean pastries…”
“I’ve come to see you.”
It seems, I’ve overestimated my heart’s ability to endure.
I had imagined this quite a few times. As I had already made up my mind, I thought that I would be very calm. However, at this moment, standing right here and looking at a person who was previously alive, who knew how to laugh and move, now changing into an icy cold stone tablet, the humongous pain suddenly crashing upon me left me stunned. The memories I had of my mother and me all flashed through my head, and my nose stung abruptly. The moment before my sight blurred, I gave a forceful cough, turning my head away and taking in a few deep breaths.
I did not want to cry; there was nothing to cry over. I would not treat myself so cruelly, allowing myself to live forever in guilt and pain, so there was nothing to cry over. Everything, everything was about to come to an end. Thinking about this, my heart settled.
“The scenery here is really quite nice.” I turned and smiled at the gravestone. Around us were lush, green trees. It probably was because the sun was bright today, accompanied by a slight breeze, and so a place like this did not make one feel uncomfortable, only peace and quiet.
“It really is… It’s been so long since we’ve met, that I don’t know what I should say.” I rubbed my nose, feeling a little awkward. Actually, there were many things I could talk about, but there were many things I did not want to talk about. If I were truly to start, not a single one would be anything joyful, nor did I have any good news to report. I might as well just not speak, and so I sat there with her quietly. Listening to the rustling of the leaves, dancing in the wind, I let my mind blank out.
Just like this, I sat there for the entire afternoon, only leaving when the sun set. I only came to confirm if she was doing well, and to check out how her final resting place was. Now, I was at ease, and there was no longer anything for me to worry over.
In the taxi on the way back to the city, I felt a little tired, and even breathing felt like it needed some effort. The thing that had been supporting me ever since the moment I woke up from my dream had finally reached its limit, and I seemed to be able to hear the sound of it collapsing.
Near my destination, I asked the driver to stop by the side of the road, and then I slowly made my way towards Pingqiao Park.
When I arrived at the park, there were a lot of people there, most of them exercising or playing around after dinner. I walked through the crowd, sitting on a stone bench by the Pingqiao Lake. Next to me were old people playing chinese chess, and a distance away were children who had just learnt how to walk staggering about with unsteady feet under the watchful eyes of adults. I looked at them leisurely, occasionally unable to stop myself from laughing along with them.
“Just pedal forward! What are you afraid of, I’ll be supporting you from the back!” There were two boys who looked to be in high school learning how to ride a bicycle.
“Hold onto the handlebars, don’t turn them! … Don’t turn them, don’t turn ahhhhh… ah!!!” A crash, and they both fell onto the ground. The boy supporting the bicycle hissed in pain from the fall, and he reached out, pinching the other boy’s face. The boy who was being pinched turned around and hooked an arm around his neck, and they started fighting just like this.
Watching them, I was amused, and was suddenly reminded of Yi Tian and Me. I recalled that time, when he was wiping away the blood on his hand after the fight and leaving, I followed behind him, my words flowing endlessly. “Tongxue, thank you very much”, “Tongxue, what’s your name?”, “Tongxue, let’s be friends.”
At first, he ignored me, but later on, he was so annoyed by me that he stopped and looked at me as though he was looking at a mad man. “Are you fucking crazy?”
To be spoken like this by whom I had assumed to be a just hero, with a red face, it took me quite some time to force myself to speak, “I’m not crazy.”
Thinking about those memories, I laughed. I did not know where I got my courage from at that time, running after him every day, refusing to leave despite making him irritated enough to scold and glare at me.
I had been too lonely, and I wanted too much to have a friend, but my inferior complex was so strong that I dared not get close to anyone. I had suffered and endured so much bullying and humiliation right from when I was a child, and he was the only one who ever saved me. Even when I was young, and my face was covered in blood from the beatings of my adopted parents, the neighbours had only called the police, then watched me from far away with pitying eyes. No one had even been willing to come and wipe away the blood on my face. For someone like me to suddenly meet Yi Tian, other than him, I was unable to see anyone else.
Until now, I could still remember that the first time he smiled at me was a month after we met.
After hearing that he was sick, I brought some porridge I cooked myself to find him. It took me quite some time before I finally found his place. Having yet to recover from the astonishment of seeing his house, his garden and his fountain, a dog suddenly lunged towards me. At that time, I did not know that it was a harmless and friendly husky, and ran away upon seeing the big and strong dog that looked like a wolf. After running and running around the garden, I finally stopped running from exhaustion, and the dog pounced on my back, causing me to fall onto the ground. My face was buried in the grass, the porridge had spilled from the thermal flask, and on my back was a dog. When I struggled to sit up, with a face smeared with grass and dirt, only then did I notice Yi Tian was nearby, holding onto his belly and laughing to the point where he nearly fell onto the ground. In that instant, as I listened to my pounding heart speeding up, I felt that as long as he could always be that happy, I could bury my face in the grass forever.
One by one, I slowly recalled those warm images.
It was now then I dared to admit, there was not a second when I ever stopped loving him.
When I closed my eyes, it was his eyes, the tightened corners of his lips, his very scent. Only in my memories could I look at him audaciously, speak to him, reproach him, and miss him. Later on, I liked him to the point where I lost all my rationality, tortured by my yearning and paranoia, becoming insane, and so took a wrong step in my muddle-headedness. My outcome today, was completely created by myself. I did not blame anyone, and I only hate myself.
I lived for twenty over years, only to help my biological parents prove that they did make a mistake in having me.
The night gradually darkened, and there were fewer and fewer people around. Finally, the few couples left scattered around the lake had all left, leaving only me behind. I stood up, walking to the lake. Under the night sky, the water was deep and dark, and nothing could be seen.
When my body came in contact with the lake, I could not help but shudder. It was cold, a bone-piercing coldness. It felt as though someone was cutting through my flesh with ice, before digging into my bones. Like needle pricks, the pain stabbed through my entire body.
When the water of the lake covered my head, I could still vaguely make out the indistinct shape of the trees by the lake. Water flowed into my mouth and nose. Slowly, I sank, and I would no longer be able to see anything.
My chest started to hurt. I closed my eyes.
This life of mine, I had been stumbling right through, with wounds and scars all over.
Once, due to the extremely rough journey I was on, I had a thought of giving up. But in the end, I still persevered. Because I wanted to meet a person I trusted and loved, because I wanted to be loved, because I wanted to be happy.
Unfortunately, at the end of the day, I still let myself down.
If there really is a God, if there really is an afterlife; Please, give me a home.