Almost at the End of the Rope
“Dad, I have something to ask you.”
When Bai Han Qi turned over, his face was only a few inches away from Bai Luo Yin. He straightened his face while an earnest and solemn expression drew out pleasantly across his face.
Seeing him like that, Bai Luo Yin felt a bit awkward. “Why are you wearing this kind of expression? I just want to have a chat with you.”
“Oh…” Bai Han Qi relaxed “I thought you wanted to discuss national affairs.”
If it was to discuss national affairs, no one’s going to ask you… Bai Luo Yin thought to himself.
“I wanted to ask you, what kind of person do you think Gu Hai is?”
One of Bai Han Qi’s finger immediately sprung up to poke. Bai Luo Yin’s head. “What did I say? I was certain that there was a problem between you and Da Hai…”
Bai Luo Yin let out a long sigh, “First, don’t worry about that. Just give an objective opinion on Gu Hai as a person.”
“That kid is absolutely wonderful.”
Then, Bai Han Qi proceeded to raise his thumbs up in approval.
Bai Luo Yin laid on the bed with his chin resting on the pillow, quietly waiting for Bai Han Qi to continue. However, Bai Hai Qi only grunted twice to reiterate his approval of Gu Hai’s excellent character. No other words followed those two sounds.
“Yeah, what else is there to say?”
An air of defeat hung close to Bai Luo Yin’s face. He glared at Bai Hai Qi, “Can you be a bit more specific? For example, his character, personality, his behavior towards other people and so on…”
Bai Han Qi racked his brain before he prudently replied: “There are no problems with his character, his personality is pretty good and his behavior toward others is quite good as well.”
…what, that’s the same like not saying anything at all… forget it. There’s no need to ask anymore, asking is the same as not asking anyways.
Bai Luo Yin pulled the blanket over his body and planned on going to sleep.
However, when Bai Luo Yin decided not to hold on to any more hope, Bai Han Qi started to speak again.
“Da Hai… that kid. He comes from a good background yet he’s not vain. He’s ambitious, hardworking, and also generous. The one thing that I like about him the most is that he is realistic. He would never play any dirty tricks or deceive people. Before, I had always thought that youngsters don’t have any conscience, but now I know that it is not like that at all. Some of the kids in today’s generation are very conscience while some aren’t. But Da Hai is a very straightforward person and wears his heart on his sleeves. If he likes something or someone, he likes it but if he doesn’t, then he doesn’t. He is absolute and can make a clear distinction between what he loves and hates. From the way I see it, he means what he says and will absolutely stand by it.”
Bai Luo Yin listened silently until his eyes opened again and he asked: “Are you good at telling if someone is good or not?”
“Of course. My brain may not be as good as yours, but I definitely know people better than you. How long have I been living? How many people have I met already? You’ve only lived for this long, the small amount of people you’ve met only amounts to the number of fingers on your hands.”
Bai Luo Yin, “Do you think that if someone like Gu Hai were to get irritated, would he do something?”
“Like what? Give me an example.”
“For example, if he dislikes a girl and found her to be an eyesore, would he find someone to violate her… those kinds of things?”
“How can that be?” Bai Han Qi easily knocked the question down. “Da Hai’s conscience is absolutely honest and proper. He would never do anything so wicked and lacking in virtue.”
“What if he really hated the girl?”
“Even if he were to hate the girl, it can’t be more than your mother, right? Did he do something like that to your mother? And what about that guy Meng Jianzhi who only knew how to pissed people off? What did Da Hai do? He only gave him, like what, maybe a few punches? Did he kill Meng Jianzhi?”
Bai Luo Yin didn’t utter another word as his eyes gradually shifted toward the wall.
Afterward, Bai Han Qi became really tired. When his eyes became hazy and unconsciousness slowly beckoned him, Bai Han Qi patted the blanket that was wrapped around Bai Luo Yin’s body and muttered: “I swear on my head, Da Hai, would never do anything of that nature. Don’t foolishly ponder about it anymore. Hurry up and go to sleep.”
Did I really misunderstand him?…
Bai Luo Yin’s eyelid soon became heavy and before long, he fell asleep too.
After midnight sauntered by, he slept really light. The side of his ear was engrossed with Bai Han Qi’s snores. Bai Luo Yin could not discern properly whether he was dreaming or reminiscing.
A scene of the night that Bai Han Qi got married played out in front of him. Gu Hai had placed him on his back, carried him to the rooftop and hugged him tightly.
“I promise you, besides your dad, no one will ever be as good to you as I am.”
For the first time ever, under Sun Jingwei most earnest and heartfelt persuasion, Gu Hai agreed to return home to celebrate the New Year with Gu Wei Ting.
It was already the 28th day of the twelfth month of the lunar year.
The streets seemed more desolate and desperate than ever. Since all signs of traffic have miraculously disappeared, the driver proceeded without any hindrance.
It was common knowledge amongst the residents of Beijing that whenever any holiday arrived, the city would inevitably become a city of ghosts—empty and lonely. The revered traditions and customs that had once reigned above all else had gradually lessened over the years and people have become more and more materialistic. That, in turn, had weakened their interest in celebrating the coming year.
Half a month had gone by since Gu Hai returned to his own place. This time, he only needed to grab a few things before taking leave.
Bai Luo Yin’s car remained untouched, in the same spot and shielded under the protection of the garage. However, Gu Hai did not let his sight land on it as he withdrew the key out of his own car’s ignition and sauntered into the elevator.
The elevator slowly rose. Gu Hai stood alone in the empty space when suddenly, a simple string of thought sprung up in his mind. He thought that for the past two weeks, he had not lived like a human being…
Every day, besides eating, the time meant for sleeping was spent training. He simply didn’t give himself the time or space to think or reflect at all. Occasionally, he would seek out an older soldier and listen as he shared his experiences in the army as a way to distract himself. It was only then would his spirit and energy sneakily reassembled into his body and sober him.
Frankly speaking, there were no differences between him and the military dogs that ran crazily around the training ground! This is how Gu Hai would describe himself.
Gu Hai looked into the cabinets and flipped through some clothes. He had planned on staying at home for a few days.
Since the day Bai Luo Yin had heartlessly wounded him until this very second, each and every single one of Gu Hai’s emotions has diminished. Those emotions were normally used to define a person’s inner feelings, but for him, they all ceased to exist.
Before, he had thought that the hardest thing to endure was living under the same roof as Jiang Yuan, but now, even that was no longer considered a problem. As expected, it was time… only time was needed for people to learn how to tolerate things.
When he got to the bottom of the wardrobe, he saw a neatly folded school uniform jacket that was wrapped in a layer of clothes, encasing it like a protective box.
It was the jacket that Bai Luo Yin had personally hand washed for him.
At that time, it was so precious to him that nothing else in the world could compare to it. He never had the heart to wear it. So there it remained untouched after all these days have passed.
As if a spell was cast upon him, Gu Hai tore at the wrapping and flung the jacket to the ground. He stomped on it mercilessly. Each time his foot land, he felt as though he had just trampled on his own heart.
And soon, into his eyes crept the old somberness of heartache.
With not even a second to spare, the aching pain traveled toward the core of his being and gripped tightly around the invisible strings that held his heart together. It squeezed and then attacked at that empty and miserably pulsating muscle. There was nothing he could do to ward off those unshakeable heartaches. The pain was unbearable… so painful that Gu Hai wanted to bash his head against the wall.
You fucking idiot! You can just fucking stay with her until you’re fed up. Just let her lie and play around with you. Sooner or later, the day will come when you will fucking suffer!
“Tomorrow is the 30th day of the month,” Shi Hui said.
Bai Luo Yin silently looked at her, “When are you going back?”
“Go back? Back where?” Shi Hui’s bright eyes sparkled.
“Go back abroad. You can’t just abandon your studies just like that, right?”
An indifferent expression spread on Shi Hui’s face, “So what, abandoning is abandoning. In any case, I want to stay beside you.”
“Don’t say anything!” Shi Hui covered her ears, “I don’t want to hear it, I don’t hear it.”
Bai Luo Yin lit up a cigarette and smoked silently.
All Shi Hui could concentrate on was Bai Luo Yin whose appearance covered every inch of her sight. That was already the fifth cigarette he had smoked since they sat down. She heard other people say that men smoked to pass time.
Bai Luo Yin smoked frequently… does it mean, during times like this, he found things unbearable?
Shi Hui tried to will those thoughts away, she did not want to let those it consumed her. But the facts compelled her to think such thoughts repeatedly. Since she came back, Bai Luo Yin’s expressions have lessened.
Initially, she could still see some excitements and nervousness, but now, only apathetic look remained. She had thought that if she suffered such a big grievance, Bai Luo Yin would take pity on her and be more caring toward her in any way possible. But, besides the usual concerns here and there, she couldn’t feel anything else.
Sometimes she also felt tired and she would secretly wipe away her tears. She had also thought of giving up, but when she thought about things once more—about the feelings and energy that she had sacrificed, she… could not let go.
Feelings can be rekindled and reconstructed, but finding a second person like him was out of the question.
“Bai Luo Yin, why don’t we go abroad together? That way, my studies will not be abandoned and you will also have an even better prospect and broader view of the world. Before, you didn’t have this option, but now that you do, why don’t you go out and do your best? Do you know? Foreign high school’s life is pretty good. It’s not like how you guys spend it here, so mundane and even the livelihood is inhuman. If I didn’t miss you, I would not have come back. Think about it, okay?”
When the three members of the family were eating, Jiang Yuan excitedly said: “You know, there still hope in regard to Luo Yin going abroad.”
Hearing that, the color on Gu Hai’s face changed yet feigned ignorance and continued to eat.
“He came around to that idea himself?” Gu Wei Ting asked.
“More or less.”
The more Jiang Yuan talked, the happier she became as she picked a piece of fish for Gu Hai and urged him. “Xiao Hai, you can go together. You two can take care of each other.”
“I don’t want to go.”
“Eh? Aren’t the two of you pretty close. To the point where neither one can leave the other?”
Gu Hai coldly rebuked, “I don’t want to go.”
Jiang Yuan still wanted to say something but Gu Wei Ting spoke. “If he doesn’t want to go then don’t let him. He can stay and enlist in the army afterward. Staying in the army is the same thing.”
“I guess so…” Jiang Yuan laughed, having nothing else to say.
Gu Hai spoke again, “I don’t want to enlist in the army.”
“You don’t want to enlist in the army?” This time Gu Wei Ting’s eyebrows twitched, “Why don’t you? You grew up in the army since you were little. When there is nothing for you to do, you always go back there and run. If you don’t enlist then what do you want to do?”
Gu Hai calmly looked at Gu Wei Ting and then spoke with a blank expression. “I may have run there, but it doesn’t mean that I like it.”
When he was done speaking, he placed his chopsticks down and returned to his room.
Gu Wei Ting wanted to get up but Jiang Yuan forced him to stay.
“It’s New Year, don’t put any more pressure on him. Let’s wait until after the New Year to talk about it again…”
At that moment, the cell phone that sat on the side rang. Jiang Yuan patted Gu Wei Ting on the shoulder, “I’m going to take the call, you stay here and eat slowly.”
Once the phone was placed against her ear, she could hear a sweet voice wishing her well.
“Auntie, Happy New Year.”
“Ah, it’s Shi Hui, right?” Jiang Yuan’s brows rose in delights and she was all smiles. “Auntie just finished eating. Say hello to your family for me.”
Jiang Yuan immediately changed the topic to what she was most concerned about.
“That’s right, how was your talk with Luo Yin? Last time, didn’t you say that Luo Yin might go abroad for your sake?”
“Yes, that’s true. But I ran into a little bit of difficulty. Bai Luo Yin said he’s reluctant to leave his father.”
Jiang Yuan frowned, “I knew that Lao Bai would be a hindrance. Don’t worry, I’ll go over and have a talk with Lao Bai later to try and persuade him.”
“Wow, Auntie is really strong.”
“I’m not as strong as you, you silly girl! I’ve spoken to him many times about this matter before, but each time, he would ignore me. Now that he is thinking about it, it is certainly all due to your hard work.”
“But… I feel really useless.”
“Oh goodness, my little lucky star, you have more than enough capabilities. Listen to Auntie’s words, from now on, talk to him a lot more about it and constantly remind him as well. Your words will get to him. Leave his father to me, Auntie will concentrate on him. In short, let’s both work hard!”
“Yes Auntie, I definitely won’t disappoint you.”