It is 11:40pm and Shu Yawang is still in a karaoke bar singing with a group of people. Speaking of karaoke, Shu Yawang is one of the audience members; she did not sing one single song the whole night. It’s not because she can’t sing, it’s because there are too many people hogging the microphone.
The boss of the Geo Landscape Company, Chief Cheng, is holding onto the microphone as he sings 《你的柔情我永远不懂》. As he sings towards the climax, you can see the drunken expression on his face, his shiny, bald head reflecting the many colors of lights in the dark karaoke room. Manager Lee sits by the song selection stand, choosing three songs in a row. The screen is saturated with three pages of songs, but Manager Lee places the three songs he chose to the front. Zhang Ru, an accountant sitting beside Yawang twitches the edge of her lips and rant,
“So detestable, he inserts his own songs to the front again.”
Yawang swirls the alcohol in her glass cup and smiles.
“Leave it, let him go first.”
“No! I waited for half an hour for my song!” Zhang Ru goes on to add another statement,
“Manager Lee, didn’t we agree in the beginning to not insert your own songs to the front?”
Manager Lee turns his head back and smile smugly.
“One last time!”
Unconvinced, Zhang Ru rises up from her seat and walks up to Manager Lee. She tries to insert her song to the front, but Manager Lee wouldn’t let her. The two quarrel for half a day, and at the end, Manager Lee lets Zhang Ru place her two songs first after she flaunts her cute acts to him.
A beautiful young woman whose twenty-two years old like Zhang Ru holds this type of advantage. In front of men, they just need to act cute and speak in a lighter and slightly high-pitched voice to obtain their goals. The men then will gladly give in to them. Shu Yawang holds up her glass cup and takes in small sips of beer, the bitterness of it prickling her numbed tastebuds. Today, the company wins the bid of the government’s new project for 2009. The project is a landscape design for the city’s downtown park. From accepting this project, the company won’t go bankrupt even if they don’t accept any more projects for the year.
As the boss of the company, Chief Cheng is more hyped up than usual. After he finishes the last line of the song, he walks up to the middle of the dance stage with a glass of wine in his other hand. He raises the glass as he speaks to the microphone,
“Today, we’re able to win this project due to everyone’s hard work and cooperation. This project is going to be a long and difficult process and everyone will be busy and exhausted. I hope everyone can continue with a hard-working mindset and persist to the end, strive to the end! Everyone, cheers!”
“Cheers!” Everyone shouted, raising their glass up and intaking the alcohol in one shot. Chief Cheng happily sits his wine glass down and place the microphone to his lips again.
“Hey Lee, go input the song 《同桌的你》.” Manager Lee swiftly inputs the song and place it to the front. Chief Cheng starts to sing, as if he is in his own world. After his song ended, an employee comes knocking on the door, telling them their time is up. Shu Yawang sees the depressed looks on Manager Lee and Zhang Ru’s face and starts to laugh. The intern who is sitting beside her, looks at Yawang in bewilderment.
“What?” Yawang asked, getting her bag as she looks at the intern, Lin Yu Chen.
“Nothing-, nothing.” Yu Chen sputters out, waving his hand quickly, shielding his shocked expression.
“It’s just, it’s my first time seeing Shu Jie laugh.”
Shu Yawang is somewhat taken aback from his statement. He’s been working with us for three months already, surely he saw me laugh before right?
“It can’t be right? I remember laughing often.”
“No, no, it’s different. It’s like, cute.”
Cute? She looks at the other women in the karaoke room, with her oversized black coat and her hair tied up in a simple ponytail with a emotionless expression on her face. She’s almost twenty-eight years old, she’s not young anymore, how can someone use the word cute to describe her? After a quick glance, she wears her bag over her shoulders and awkwardly smiles back.
When everyone arrives downstairs, they all bid their goodbyes to each other, leaving with their cars or calling a taxi. Shu Yawang lifts up the collars of her coat, not in a rush to call for a taxi. She drank a lot this evening, her stomach rolling with urges to puke. She wants to take a walk, breathing in some fresh air. Even though the winter wind gives off a bone-chilling effect, there are some things that also gives off the same effect.
Although T City is a bustling place, there is no sight of anyone or anything after midnight. You can see some cars driving by the streets here and there, but that’s about it. She stuffs her hands in her coat pockets and continue walking, the heels of her boots making a crisp, clanking sound as she walks.
“Shu Jie!” a voice behind her calls out. Yawang stops and waits for him. He runs to her side, his youthful face displaying a radiant smile. She looks at him in a trance, invoking an untouchable memory from her brain like an invading, ferocious tsunami. She clenches her fists tightly as she grinds her teeth, waiting for the heartache to pass by.
“Shu Jie you’re also taking this road?” Yu Chen asks with a shy smile. “My house is nearby.”
Yawang nods her head slightly. She wants to turn her body, but her foot didn’t listen, and she starts to fall forward. Yu Chen hurriedly clutches her arm with his hand, pulling her back up with all his strength. She slams into his chest from the force, but thanks to the soft, warm coat he’s wearing, it didn’t hurt her one bit. His embrace feels soft, and she can smell a faint smoky scent from him, similar to her memory.
After Yawang stabilize herself, she separates from him. Just at that time, a car’s headlights beamed at them. She squints her eyes, looking at the man that steps out of the silver Jaguar XF. He looks at her with a familiar smile. She push Yu Chen away and steps back, raising her head to look up at him. He still looks like how he is before with his handsome facial features and a faint smile, a warm and decent-looking man, but his eyes give off a mysterious expression.
“Yawang-ah.” He calls her name. He always add an “ah” behind her name.
When they were married, he said, “Can you give me a home? Our home.”
When they were divorced, he said, “I can’t give you happiness, you also can’t give me mine.”
She clenches her fists again, being paralyzed from where she is standing. It’s as if she is trapped in a warp. It’s been a very long time since she last saw him. He twitches the edge of his lips and looks at Yu Chen, then he laughs.
“Yawang-ah, you got a new one? Did you forgot how old you are?”
She looks at his handsome face that carries a hint of playfulness that she never saw him have before. She gives a slight nod and said,
“Long time no see.”
Qu Wei Ran raises his hand and wrapped it under her chin, smirking back at her.
“You got really old.”
She raised her eyebrows and pursed her lips, shrugging it off with her shoulders.
“Can’t help it, women get old really fast.”
Qu Wei Ran lowers his head as he asks, “Xia Mu is twenty-three this year right?”
He spreads out his hands as he measured her out with them.
“Still not tired of looking at your old lady face?”
“Hey, how can you say that?!” Yu Chen shouts out, glaring at Wei Ran with his narrowed eyebrows. Yawang inhale a deep breath, she don’t want to deal with him. She turns her body to leave, but Wei Ran quickly grab her by the arm.
“You’re mad? You’re mad at me after I said a few things to you? Haha.” He chuckled, irritated from her response.
“Qu Wei Ran.” She calls his name. “I’m not the one who’s mad, you are.”
“Haha, yes, I’m the one who’s mad. It’s always been me.” He reply back with a glare, his smile disappeared as his eyes turn dark from the anger of betrayal.
“Who’s the one that caused this? Who’s the one that ran off with a man who’s barely eighteen years old? Right now I want to know, did my curse work five years ago? You and him, you’re not happy right?”
Yawang sighs as she looks back at him.
“Mr. Qu, our marriage is a joke. Whoever I’m with, I don’t need your blessings.” She turns her body away from him and nods towards Yu Chen.
“I’m leaving first.” She stretches her arm out to hail a taxi and tells the driver her address once she close the door. She didn’t turn her head back to look at him, but she knows he is looking at her with his sharp eyes, gazing over her.
Yawang leans her head against the car window, feeling exhausted. She can never think that she will meet him again in T City. She suddenly thinks that everything that had happened in past, had happened in her past life.
“Miss, we’re here.” She pays him, take her receipt, grabs her bag, and opens the door to leave.
She walks up to the second floor and opens the door, turning the living room light on along the way. She drops her bag onto the sofa and collapse on top of it. She closes her eyes as her body aches from this busy night. She is so tired that she don’t want to move. Someone opens the door, but her eyes remain close, because she knows who open it.
“It’s this late already?”
“Don’t sleep in the living room, you can catch a cold.”
“Don’t just mmm me, move it.”
Yuan Zhu walks toward the sofa and pulls Yawang up.
“You always leave me with no choice!” Yawang opens her eyes as she laugh softly, seeing her roommate in her cotton pajamas, unruly long hair, and a pair of glasses that hide her beautiful eyes.
“Why are you looking at me like that? Hurry and go take a shower!” She gives Yawang a slight push. Yawang sits on the sofa, not moving an inch. Then she calls out her name,
“I met my ex-husband today.”
“Huh, and then?” Yuan Zhu sits beside her excitedly with a nosy expression.
“Don’t you always wanted to know why I got divorced?”
“It’s because…there is a person…” She stops as she thinks for the appropriate wording for it.
“There is a special person in my heart, someone I can never forget.”
Tonight, she wants to tell a story; a story she can never forget, a story she can never make clear of.
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