Translate: Sae | Proofread: Anasofia
The glossy bald head in front of the storage shelves belonged to Gu Miao. After this young girl had completely shaved her head, it was impossible to tell that she was a girl—not to mention, she had on a boy’s greyish-blue down-filled jacket. If it were not for her eyes, Jiang Cheng would not have been able to recognize that this was Gu Miao.
Gu Fei was standing behind her with an electric hair clipper in his hand and a cigarette hanging loosely in his mouth. He must have been somewhat surprised to see him since the clipper that was once moving came to a complete standstill.
However, Gu Fei was dressed entirely different than the day before, as he was sporting a pullover and casual pants that were comfortable and relaxed.
From his physical appearance to his attire and then his temperament, one could immediately tell he was of a different type of person from his four friends—very eye-catching—the kind that you could instantly distinguish from within a pile of people.
His whole body exuded an aura of “I am their boss”.
Jiang Cheng had always thought that his own appearance did not promote him as a bad person. Although his bad temper would sometimes even scare himself, he had simply thought of it as a rebellious stage lingering longer than the average… but under the situation of just calmly wanting to buy a bottle of water, he definitely looked harmless.
So, when the people in this miscellaneous goods shop, that was decorated to look like a small supermarket, all stared at him and kept silent with a face that seemed to say, “are you looking for a fight”, he felt utterly baffled.
In the process, a chunk of the ash from the cigarette in Gu Fei’s mouth fell on Gu Miao’s bald head. She patted her head for a while just to get rid of the ash.
Jiang Cheng had no intention of concerning himself with these people’s stares. He had always been a young man unafraid of large issues and fearless towards the ‘what are you looking at’ type of stares, especially when it came to times that his mood and health were concurrently unpleasant.
He walked to the front of the shelf and took a bottle of mineral spring water.
He looked up only to see that Gu Fei had already walked to the side of the shelf, and after silently staring at each other from across two containers of chips, Gu Fei said: “Welcome.”
“Your family’s shop?” Jiang Cheng asked.
“En,” Gu Fei nodded.
“What a coincidence,” Jiang Cheng said.
Gu Fei went silent. He also did not want to speak again, so he tossed the water in his hand back and forth and then turned around and walked to the checkout counter.
“Two kuai1,” someone walked behind the counter and propped his hand on the table before leaning over to stare at him.
Jiang Cheng gave him a glance. With the Bu Shi Hao Niao2 team of four still sitting at the same spot, this person was the one who was standing beside Gu Fei just now.
Since the lighting was dim before, he could not see clearly, but now that he was beneath the light, he discovered that this person was very beautiful—like a young woman. Aside from his long and narrow eyes, the other features of this person made him seem more like Gu Miao’s sister than… Gu Fei as her brother.
He took ten kuai out of his pocket and passed them over. The man took the money, lowered his head and poked the cash register a few times and then glanced at him. “Da3 Fei’s friend? I’ve never seen you before.”
“No.” Jiang Cheng took out the medicine, broke it into two, and placed it in his mouth before he unscrewed the water bottle and drank a few gulps.
“No?” The man’s gaze crossed over his shoulder as he looked to the back, then he placed the change on the table. “Oh.”
After he took the medicine, Jiang Cheng threw away the half-drunken water in the trash can by the door, lift the curtain and walked out.
“Hey, it would have been better if you bought a smaller bottle,” the man’s voice sailed from behind him, “So wasteful.”
“… I forgot,” Jiang Cheng said.
That’s right. Why didn’t I buy a small bottle? I didn’t even finish it.
Perhaps it was because the severe aching sensation in his body was intensifying, but his brain was spinning continuously.
As he stood on the steps of the entranceway, he couldn’t remember where he wanted to go before he entered the store… Go back? Go back to where? Li Baoguo… no, his new home?
When he thought of the harsh environment in the house and the thunderous sound of Li Baoguo’s snores, his chest felt blocked and immediately after, he couldn’t breathe… he couldn’t breathe at all.
Before him, darkness appeared as a golden flower blossomed.
Jiang Cheng could not control his body and like a spinning sack sinking down, he sighed—wonderful.
Gu Miao touched her own bald head and then walked towards the door with her skateboard.
“Hat,” Gu Fei said from behind as he picked up his coat from the chair next to him. Then he took out a green woolen hat with small flowers from his pocket and threw it on her head.
Gu Miao pulled the hat down a bit to wear it properly.
She bowed her head and dragged the skateboard out of the shop, but soon returned and smacked the checkout counter a few times.
“What happened?” Li Yan leaned over the counter, pulled her hat and then looked up at Gu Fei. “How could you actually knit her a green hat4, huh…”
“She picked the color herself,” Gu Fei replied as he put the electric hair clipper away and glanced at Gu Miao. “What’s wrong?”
Gu Miao pointed towards the door.
“Is there a dog?” Gu Fei kicked the chair to the side, then walked towards the entrance and lifted the curtain.
That Mr. Wealthy who had previously bought a bottle of water and threw it away after only drinking half of it was now lying on the sidewalk outside the door.
His face was hugging mother earth.
“Hey,” Gu Fei walked out and used his foot to lightly kick his leg, and since he did not know what this person’s name was, he simply asked: “Are you okay?”
When Mr. Wealthy did not move, he stooped down to look at his face, which was on the ground, only to see that the tip of his nose was pressed flatten to the ground. He reached out and carefully propped Mr. Wealthy’s head to the side so he could breathe properly. Afterward, he turned his head and shouted toward the shop: “Hey! Someone collapsed here!”5
Li Yan was the first to come out. When he saw the scene, he stared in shock: “Was he stabbed?”
“You must have stabbed him.” Gu Fei touched Mr. Wealthy’s face and felt the scalding hot temperature on his hand. “He has a fever.”
“You can faint from a fever?” Li Yan was a little surprised as he turned around to look at the few people who followed out. “What should we do? Call 120?”6
“Don’t worry about it.” Liu Fan looked around. “A cautious auntie will report this to the police in a bit and they will definitely say that we did it. I just came out yesterday…”
“Drag him in,” Gu Fei said.
“Drag in… you know him, right?” Liu Fan asked.
“If he tells you to drag him in, just drag him in. Even if he doesn’t know him, Da Fei touched him just now,” Li Yan said. “If an auntie really reports this, do you think the police won’t question you, huh?”
“He just passed out from a fever, you guys should feel apologetic to your fathers and mothers for not becoming playwrights,” Gu Fei said as he turned Mr. Wealthy over. “Hurry up.”
A few people came over7 and carried the young man up into the shop and then threw him into a small room where Gu Fei normally rested in.
“I’ve never even slept on this bed,” Li Yan gave a firm tsk8 after everyone walked out. “… yet a random weak bastard gets to enjoy it.”
“You can rush out and fall flat on your face and I will immediately make a bed for you,” Gu Fei said.
“You’re shameless,” Li Yan retorted.
“That’s what you are,” Gu Fei gave him a push. “Get out.”
“Hey,” Li Yan refused to budge, then turned his head and whispered. “Didn’t he say that you’re not his friend?”9
“En,” Gu Fei exerted enough strength to make him stumble before closing the door. “He’s the one that found Er10 Miao yesterday.”
“He found Er Miao?” Li Yan was rather amazed, “How fated.”
Gu Fei ignored him as he sat down behind the checkout counter and played a game on his cell phone.
“He’s quite handsome,” Li Yan said in a low voice and leaned over the counter.
When Gu Fei glanced at him, he turned away and stopped talking altogether.
Gu Miao walked over and spread out her hand in front of Gu Fei, hooking her fingers repeatedly.
“Just eat. Look at how chubby you’ve gotten in these two months, no one wants to play with you anymore.” Gu Fei took out ten kuai from his wallet and placed them on her hand. “Your face is all round now.”
Gu Miao did not pay attention to him. She bowed her head and placed the money in her pocket, then patted the spot a couple of times before she went out with the skateboard.
“It’s her glossy bald head—doesn’t matter if she is fat or not, no one is going to play with her.” Li Yan sighed.
“Even if her head isn’t bald, no one will play with her.” Gu Fei continued to play his game, “She has never had a friend since she was little. Who wants to play with a mute?”
“Don’t say that,” Liu Fan offered some words. “It’s not like she’s actually mute, she just doesn’t speak. It’s nothing serious.”
“Ei, what’s going to happen in the future if it continues on like this?” Li Yan sighed again, “School is an easy matter – if she doesn’t want to go then she doesn’t have to go, but this habit of only speaking to Da Fei, later on…”
“This world will most likely not be destroyed because of your worries,” Gu Fei interrupted him, “Just write a report and apply for a peace award.”
“Fuck,” Li Yan slapped the table as he walked over to Liu Fan, pulled a chair over and sat down.
The shop sank into silence. Liu Fan and the others sitting near the radiator all had lifeless and drowsy eyes. This kind of situation was a bit scary since their threatening faces hung down in defeat, even the three people who wanted to come in and shop ended up leaving after only lifting up the curtain and looking in.
“You guys,” Gu Fei knocked on the table, “Just leave.”
“Go where?” Li Yan asked.
“Go roam around,” Gu Fei simply replied.
“I don’t want to go out,” Liu Fan stretched his body, “It’s too cold and there’s no place to go to.”
“You guys are scaring away all the people that come in,” Gu Fei said as he lit a cigarette and held it in his mouth.
“I’ll haul in the next person that comes in here for you,” Liu Fan started to laugh. “I guarantee that not a single person will escape.”
“Hurry up and get lost,” Gu Fei said. “So annoying.”
“Get lost, get lost, get lost, get lost,” Liu Fan tsk-ed and stood up before kicking the others’ chairs. “Your Master11 Gu is going crazy again, he’s going to pick up a knife and cut all down in any second now.”
A few people were quite unwilling to move, but they still got up, whispering and complaining as they wore their coats and walked out.
Li Yan followed at the very end. When he was ready to go out, he turned around and said: “There’s still another person inside, aren’t you going to kick him out, huh?”
Gu Fei did not make a sound as he looked at him.
He did not say anything either as he lifted the curtain and walked out.
After smoking the cigarette, Gu Fei looked at the time and realized that Mr. Wealthy had lied down for nearly twenty minutes already. According to the general fainting enthusiast, one should be awake in only a few minutes.
He pushed the door open and looked inside—Mr. Wealthy hadn’t woken up yet. His eyes were still closed as he maintained the same position as before.
“Hey,” Gu Fei went to push him. “Don’t die here.”
Mr. Wealthy still did not budge.
Gu Fei stared at him for a while.
Although Mr. Wealthy’s face was slightly dirty, his handsomeness was hard to conceal and the corner of his somewhat droopy eyes seemed arrogant, for lack of a better word.
Based on his habit of looking at everyone in disdain, Jiang Cheng was fairly handsome. It was just that he truly disliked the sarcastic aura that exuded from all over his body during their first meeting the day before, even if the sarcasm was relatively subtle, he could still sense it.
After staring for a few minutes, he lifted the quilt and fished around in Mr. Wealthy’s pocket until he pulled out a wallet. His identity card and a few other membership cards were clipped together.12
He put the wallet back, then moved in close to the side of Mr. Wealthy’s ear and roared: “Hey!!”13
“En,” Mr. Wealthy finally moved. He groaned softly and it sounded quite unpleasant.
Gu Fei kicked the bedside, turned around and walked out.
Jiang Cheng did not know what had happened to him.
When he opened his eyes, it was like he had lost his memory. Who am I and where am I?
After a while, the last scene he remembered was the extremely unclean ground making direct contact with his face, along with the snow that had been trodden on until it became slurry.
I actually fainted?… never did I think that this would happen in my lifetime.
He sat up, lifted the quilt that was covering his body, and when he looked down and saw his completely muddy clothes, he quickly pulled up the quilt and looked at it. A few sections were muddied and even after he patted a few times, the mud did not fall off.
Just as he was thinking about whether or not he should find some water to rub it, his senses suddenly came back.
Who am I? Jiang Cheng.
Where am I? I don’t know.
A very small room that was rather clean—a hundredfold cleaner than the room that Li Bao Guo gave him. He threw the quilt to the side and walked through the now open door.
When he saw the three rows of shelves outside, Jiang Cheng finally realized that he was still in Gu Fei’s shop.
“You’re awake,” Gu Fei glanced at him from the recliner next to the checkout counter, then continued to lower his head and play on his cell phone.
“En,” Jiang Cheng patted the already dried mud on his clothes. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Gu Fei stared at his phone. “The thing is, it would have been troublesome if I didn’t bring you in.”
“Oh,” Jiang Cheng turned his head to look inside the small room. “That quilt is… dirty.”
“There’s a sink in the back,” Gu Fei said. “Just go wash it.”
“What?” Jiang Cheng stared blankly, feeling somewhat angry, but he also couldn’t find a suitable opening since there was no fault in Gu Fei’s logic.
“If you don’t want to wash it then why ask.” Gu Fei’s gaze finally left the phone and landed on his face.
Jiang Cheng did not speak and stared straight back at him.
At first, he was very grateful towards Gu Fei for bringing him into the room, but Gu Fei’s current attitude also made it difficult for him to be grateful. He did not get angry because he wasn’t feeling well after having just fainted.
After staring for a while, Gu Fei lowered his head and continued to play on his phone.
He turned around and walked out.
The sun outside was utterly amazing; the only warmth from the northern wind, but it was not very effective since it was still cold.
His head ached terribly. Jiang Cheng took out a ski cap from his pocket and put it on, then fastened the hat from his outer coat over his head. He looked at the time; roughly half an hour had passed between him fainting and then sleeping, not much time had been wasted.
Even though he did not know what else he could do.
He stood at the curb and looked at either side of the road. Ultimately, he decided to continue ahead for a stroll just a while longer and after he found a fork in the road, he turned back around.
He did not want to go back and listen to Li Bao Guo’s snore, but he needed to change his clothes.
Stepping on the muddy snow, he suddenly felt a bit lonely.
In the past, there were many days where he also hung around outside like this, sometimes not returning home for several consecutive days. However, he had never felt lonely as he did now.
And he did not know why.
Perhaps it was because of the strong sense of loss from being abandoned and exiled, perhaps it was because of this strange and dilapidated environment, perhaps with no friends around, perhaps… it was just because of the illness.
When his phone suddenly sounded, Jiang Cheng took it out for a look—it was a message from Yu Xin.
– I regret it.
He sighed and sent a reply.
– A strong and courageous person is generally decisive in their words.
Yu Xin did not reply again, who knew whether she was angry from losing face or holding back the fire in the hope of finding a more suitable opportunity to explode once more.
He placed the phone back in his pocket and then pinched the bridge of his nose.
He hadn’t paid attention to it before, but now that he felt the intense pain overtaking his nose, he reckoned it was from when he fell and his nose kissed the beautiful ground.
He carefully squeezed his nose from the bridge to the tip, making sure that nothing was broken before putting his hands back into his pockets.
Taking a few steps forward, he saw a very small intersection ahead, which should be the fork in the road that he was looking for.
Before he withdrew his gaze, a green head came flying out from the corner of the intersection, blowing like the wind.
When Jiang Cheng saw that this green-headed person was Gu Miao gliding on her skateboard, she had already brushed past him, so fast that he was not able to clearly see her face.
Skateboard girl ah.
He glanced back, thinking that it was unfortunate for such a cool young girl to have her hair completely shaven.
Who knows if he’s her real brother or not, but since her hair was cut into a mess, is it that difficult to find a hairdresser to just shorten it? Do you have to shave it all? It’s the coldest time of the year… ah, a green hat too?
Jiang Cheng looked back once again to see if his vision was blurry or not, but Gu Miao had already flown away until only a small black speck remained.
Before he turned his head back, three bicycles zoomed out of the intersection.
The bicycles were so beaten that even the metallic structure clanked as the wheels turned, but they were still going extremely fast.
“Fuck, she fled so fast!” A person on a jingling bicycle shouted.
Hearing the meaning behind those words, Jiang Cheng was stunned… Gu Miao is being bullied again?
He did not have time to sympathize, he was just feeling inexplicably agitated.
What kind of fucked up placed is this?!!
When he returned to his new “home”, Li Baoguo was still asleep, but he wasn’t snoring or wheezing much. However, after Jiang Cheng entered the house, he resumed his coughing and kept at it without stopping—the coughs seemed to rip apart his heart and lungs.
He could not help but look over at Li Baoguo twice, but his eyes were still closed, and he was sleeping rather soundly.
The ability to sleep and cough was not one that Jiang Cheng possessed since he would definitely wake up if he coughed while he slept. This was probably Li Baoguo’s unique skill.
After changing his clothes, Jiang Cheng found a towel from his suitcase and wetted it so that he could clean up his dirty outfit.
Afterward, he sat on the bed in a daze.
He didn’t know what to do.
Li Bao Guo, who was sleeping next door, no longer coughed, but the coughing and wheezing sounded… yet again.
He could not describe his feelings. This person was his real father and… the same blood flowed in his body.
He was actually born into such a family, and even if he did not meet the other members of this family, Li Bao Guo was already a huge warning sign written out in capital letters.
For a period of time, he had given himself the chance to avoid thinking about this problem. But now that he was sitting there, his eyes were filled with the scene of decay, whether he looked inside or outside of the house—nothing could be done, there was literally no way to avoid it.
A long time ago, he had discussed adoption with his father and mother.
It didn’t matter. Some things are so deeply written in the bones that even the care and nurture once kindly given was no match whatsoever.
He could not remember clearly how his father and mother answered him back then, he only remembered his own words. Now each and every single one of those words was like a firm slap across his own face.
Speaking of his younger brother’s personality, it was very similar—strict, barely spoke and loved to quietly read books, but he was totally different even though he did not talk much either…
Even the neighbors had said that they truly did not look like a family.
That’s right, this was the incompatibility that was written on his body.
Li Baoguo suddenly coughed. It was as if he was being severely choked and didn’t stop for quite a long time to the point that he should be awake this time. Jiang Cheng heard him swearing repeatedly.
After a while, the snoring sounded once again.
Jiang Cheng was suddenly overtaken by fear.
… fear that was sealed with a strong sense of suffocation.
He stood up and went to the living room to get the keys so that he could go out and make a copy of them before finding a hospital for a checkup. Since his entire body was feeling very uncomfortable, he must have had a fever.
Gu Fei was squatting outside the shop near the flowers and shrubs, watching Gu Miao speed dazzlingly in front of him for the third time with her freezing red face.
The fourth time she passed by, Gu Fei waved his hands towards her repeatedly. She halted and then turned around before slowly sliding in front of him.
“It’s time to go home to eat,” Gu Fei stood up. “Go put your things away properly.”
Gu Miao dragged the skateboard into the shop.
Gu Fei lit a cigarette and mulled over what to eat for lunchtime.
A minute later, the sound of Gu Miao’s scream came from inside the shop.
He threw the cigarette away, jumped up, and rushed into the shop.
The scream came from the bathroom in the back. He rushed out from the back door and pushed the bathroom door open only to see that Gu Miao was covering her eyes and was screaming at the sink incessantly.
Gu Fei reached out and turned off the faucet. Then he picked her up and piggybacked her out of the bathroom while patting her back lightly. “Shhh… calm down. There’s no water, there’s no water…”
Gu Miao’s scream stopped as she hugged his neck and rested on his shoulder and then she whispered: “I’m hungry.”
“I’m hungry too.” Gu Fei held her hand with one hand and picked up the skateboard with the other, “Let’s go eat a feast.”
1 Kuai – A yuan (Chinese: 元; pinyin: yuán) is also known colloquially as a kuai (Chinese: 块; pinyin: kuài; literally: “lump”; originally a lump of silver). In spoken Chinese, Chinese people use kuai more often because it is more colloquial. But in spoken English, normally ‘yuan‘ is used instead; it is used in textbooks and everywhere. – two kuai is about $.30 cent.
2 不，是，好，鸟 (Bú, shì, hǎo, niǎo – not, a, good, bunch) is kind of like a slang where people normally say, 一看你就不是什么好鸟 which basically mean, “they look troublesome”.
3 Da 大 – oldest/eldest; term of endearment normally placed before the given name to signify age, the opposite being Xiao 小 youngest/little. ex: if Gu Fei is called Da Fei then Gu Miao can be called Xiao Miao since she is the younger of the two; even if a person is older than someone, if they have respect for them is their subordinate, you can add the Da before their name.
4 Green hat – 戴绿帽子lǜmàozi ‘wearing a green hat’ is a metaphor used in Chinese culture meaning the one wearing it has been cheated on. The source is a story from the Ming Dynasty where Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang enacted a law, which required men who worked in the prostitution trade to wear green hats. Later, it became common to say about a man whose wife had an affair, that she made her husband wear a green hat. It’s best to stay away from those green hats!
5 Jiang Cheng’s face is hugging mother earth 🙂
6 120 – the number to dial for an ambulance in China
7 Hahahaha yes, carry your boss future babe! Those guys are the “troublesome four” plus the handsome guy (Li Yan); the dude with orange tips hair should be Liu Fan.
8 啧 – zé – (interj. of admiration or of disgust) / to click one’s tongue; it’s more like ‘Tsk’—used to express disapproval.
9 Kicking Li Yan out, what a pretty man
10 Er Miao” 二淼 translates to “second Miao” – another form of endearment/nickname for Gu Miao indicating her as the second child of the family as the Er means second/two
11 Master – the word used here is actually 大爷 dàye which is a term of respect for older men but I think ‘master’ is better for sarcasm.
12 Yes!! Find out his identity :))
13 It looks like he’s going to kiss him!! Whoever drew these images, bless your soul!
Chinese movie recommendation!
“The Crossing” “过春天”