Chapter 13: What can i do to compensate you?
But, he’s now a wanted murderer!
What’s waiting for him in the future, maybe it’s only prison…
After Tang Xiao Tian left, Qu Wei Ran lies down on his bed peacefully, making the whole room silent. Lu Pei Gang strides towards him and said,
“Mr. Qu, it’s time for your massage.” Qu Wei Ran opens one of his eyes and responds back to him lazily. Lu Pei Gang bends his waist and starts to massage his right arm; this type of massage therapy is pinpointing acupuncture points. When he barely uses his strength, it gives Qu Wei Ran a sore and tingling feeling, but if he don’t use his strength, the massage therapy wouldn’t be effective. As Lu Pei Gang massages, he subtly glances over to Qu Wei Ran and sees his face turning white and his eyebrows narrowing, as if he’s trying to suppress the pain from the massaging. He don’t understand this man sometimes, getting himself into this situation just to have a moment’s fun, is it worth it? Forcing his old comrade to the depths of hell, doesn’t he have a trace of sadness or guilt in him?
“Mr. Qu, does it feel better today?” He asks, continuing to massage him like a robot. Qu Wei Ran slowly opens his eyes and give him a gentle smile.
“It’s very sore.”
“Sore?” He asks suspiciously.
“All of my joints feel sore.” He turns his head towards the window and looks out to the sky.
“It’s going to rain.” Lu Pei Gang follows his gaze and looks out to the sky, the sky is clear and the sun is shining at the highest point, where did he get the premonition of rain? He turns his head back and looks at Qu Wei Ran, whose eyes are still gazing at the window, as if he’s waiting for his premonition to happen.
That evening, as Qu Wei Ran falls into a deep sleep, it starts to drizzle. Lu Pei Gang opens the windows and looks down to the pedestrians who are frantically trying to find shelter.
“It’s really raining?”
The rain is pouring harder, and on the driveway near the Qu’s family villa, parked a jeep. There’s no one inside the jeep, but if you look closely, you will see a man sitting on the right side of the jeep. He is sitting on the cold and dirty ground with his head down, the rain wetting his jacket. The raindrops fall down from his short hair to the corner of his eye, then down to the bridge of his nose. There are bruises on his face, his lips are trembling slightly, his camouflage jacket is disheveled from the struggle before, but he remains sitting. He is sitting still, like he’s been sitting there for a thousand years, ten thousand years, not being able to move an inch.
June tends to rain heavily; a light drizzle turning into heavy rain, the raindrops knocking against the window glass. The woman standing behind the window looks out at the distance, extending her arm out of the window, feeling the falling raindrops. The video store across the street is playing an unknown English song, lightly dispersed in the rain, giving it a sorrowful feeling. Suddenly, the woman is pulled backwards. She stumbles two steps back and turns her head, looking at a young teenager who is frowning at her.
“You can’t touch cold water.” The woman gently lowers her head and the young man uses a towel to wipe off the raindrops on her hand. The young man’s hand is really beautiful, his white skin covering his long and lean fingers, his clean palm carrying warmth. She blinks her eyes and turns his hand over, holding onto his hand. The young man stops what he’s doing and looks at her with his head down. The two stand still in silence, his exhaled breath gently blowing onto the hair on her head. The woman didn’t say anything and just holds onto his hand.
The rain’s still falling down, the cloudy sky turning dark. A strip of wind blows into the narrow opening of the window and blows onto both of their hair. The woman shivers slightly, so the young man extends his arm out and turns his body to close the window, closing off the sounds of the wind, the rain, and all the other sounds outside. After he closes the window, he turns his body around.
“Yawang, go to bed.” He tells her sternly. Shu Yawang blushes as she shoots him a glare. She climbs onto the bed and drapes the blanket over her, looking back at him. He just came back from outside, not bothering to remove his jacket. He unties the plastic bag and takes out a thermal food container that he bought in a supermarket. He turns open the cover and the smell of chicken broth is dispersed into the room. He hands over the container to her and she receives it with both hands. The young man takes out a spoon from the bag and hands it over to her.
“Drink.” Yawang looks down at the large container of chicken broth and narrows her eyebrows. Ever since the day she needs to take the abortion pills, she’s been drinking chicken broth for four days straight, it’s to the point where she wants to puke. She dips the spoon into the broth and stirs it, not being able to feel the bottom of the container with the spoon.
“It’s too much.” Xia Mu stares at her silently with a sullen face.
“You have to finish it.” She pouts and lifts her spoon, drinking it one spoonful at a time with Xia Mu watching her. Yawang sees him constantly watching her and feels bad, so she extends the spoon over to his lips.
“Want some?” He hesitates for awhile, then leans over to have a sip. She gets another spoonful and extends it to his lips.
“Another sip.” He glares at her, unwilling to have another sip, but seeing her smile, he’s unable to reject her, so he have another sip. Shu Yawang is about to give him another spoonful when Xia Mu presses his hand over hers.
“Finish it yourself!” She purses her lips, feeding herself spoonfuls of soup dejectedly while Xia Mu looks at her with a faint smile.
The TV is playing in the room, playing the local news from S City News. The female anchor is listing out all of the local news headlines.
“Today is the day before the first day of our annual gaokao (National Higher Education Entrance Examinations). Let’s see how our students are preparing for the examinations, here’s our students from S City High.” The TV shows the students burying their heads in books; the familiar school, the familiar classrooms, the familiar school uniforms. Shu Yawang stops drinking the soup and stares at the screen, her heart clenching as her nose prickles.
“It’s almost the day of the examinations…” Xia Mu turns his head around to look at the screen, his eyes showing a gloomy expression. He nods his head lightly and murmurs back a “yes.” She bites her lips, the feeling of self-blame and guilt pressing against her chest, making it hard for her to breathe. She feels she’s going to go crazy whenever she thinks of Xia Mu’s future. Yes, Xia Mu is a high school senior. Xia Mu should be taking the entrance examinations. But now, he’s hiding in a motel! If it’s not because of me, Xia Mu will definitely be in the classroom studying, taking the examination, receiving acceptance letters from brand name universities, his future looking bright and beautiful. But, he’s now a wanted murderer! What’s waiting for him in the future, maybe it’s only prison…Yawang shuts her eyes, not daring to ask, not daring to ask Xia Mu what’s going to become of them, will he regret this, will he hate her. She does not dare to ask, even if he don’t hate her now, don’t regret this now, what about in the future? How is she going to compensate him, compensate his future, his life, his youth?
“Yawang?” Xia Mu asks softly from near the bed. “Why are you crying again?” She lowers her head and shakes it violently.
“No, I’m not crying.” He extends his hand and wipes away the tears on her face gently, watching her in silence. Yawang wants to lift her head up and smile at him, but she can’t do it.
“Yawang, don’t cry. I can’t stand it when you cry. When you cry, I want to kill.” She quickly raises her head and looks at him with widen eyes. He looks back at her, his clear eyes showing sincerity and, and the feelings for Yawang, very pure, very deep, carrying the passion of youth. Yawang is silent for awhile, then suddenly speaks up to ask him,
“Do you really like me that much?”
“Yes, really like you.”
“Even if I…even if I got married, you still like me?”
“Yes, still like.” She holds onto her hands together tightly and turns silent. Suddenly, it looks like she have made a decision when she said,
“Alright what?” Xia Mu asks, looking at her suspiciously. She shakes her head, not answering back. She takes out the kissing fishes necklace around her neck and removes one of the fishes, using a red string lying on top of the bed to make a necklace for it and tying it around Xia Mu’s neck.
“It’s for you.” Xia Mu touches the silver kissing fish and looks at her in confusion.
“For me? Why?” Didn’t he give this to her? That time, he told her to keep wearing it, to never remove it. Now, why is she giving it to him? She wears the necklace back around her neck and lifts up her head.
“It’s for your eighteenth birthday, I’m giving it to you six days in advance, you like it?” Xia Mu gives a small pout.
“You’s so stingy.” How can she gives me half of what I had given to her?
“I’m stingy? Then give it back to me!” She acts like she’s trying to grab the fish back. Xia Mu twists his body to avoid her, and continues to pout. Yawang withdraws her hand and hugs the thermal food container. Her heart is like a clear lake, it’s not having raging waves or struggling. A flash of lightning can be seen from the window, followed by a loud clap of thunder. Shu Yawang looks at the chicken broth inside the container, Xia Mu, I finally found something I can do to compensate you. If…if you go to prison, no matter how long, I will wait for you. If at that time, you still like me, I will compensate myself to you.
The June showers don’t seem like they will ever stop, they keep on falling and falling. From afar, below the dim streetlights, the man sitting beside the military jeep finally stands up. He opens the car door and sits inside, his face drenched with rain water, his reddened eyes showing clear persistence. But, he’s not the only one who’s being persistent. The second he stands up, the second he makes his decision, another person from afar also makes her decision. The two who loved each other, have made two different decisions, one remains persistent, one decides to give up.
The next morning, the rain finally stops. After the rain shower, the ground exhibits a fresh and earthy smell, the quiet city slowly bustled about. Shu Yawang open her eyes slowly as she hears the car beeping sounds from outside the window, her vision fuzzy from sleepiness. She turns her head to the other side of the bed out of habit, but sees the cover being draped over with no one there. She turns suspicious and sits up on the bed, facing towards the bathroom.
“Xia Mu?” The bathroom is quiet, with no replies to be heard. She leans against the bedside and thinks where can he possibly be. Did he went out to buy chicken broth again? She pulls the covers away and is about to step down from the bed when a letter lying diagonally from the pillow catches her attention. She narrows her eyebrows and picks up the letter, lowering her gaze to read the content. Her suspicious expression quickly turns into shock, the letter slipping off from her hands. She quickly pulls the covers away and jumps off the bed, running out of the room with her slippers, pajamas, bed hair, and reddened eyes.
Yawang, I have a lot of things to tell you, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to leave if I see you cry, so I wrote this letter. Yawang, I know there are some things you don’t want to hear…but, I’m still going to say it. Listen to me for one last time, okay? This is the last, afterwards, I don’t think I will have the opportunity to. Yawang, I like you. I don’t know when it started since I’ve been noticing you. Maybe it’s from the time you hit me, or maybe it’s from the time you teach me how to draw. Actually, if I think about it seriously, you’re not pretty enough, not caring enough, not smart enough, and you don’t like me enough. But, Yawang, I like you. I liked you for a really, really long time. Yawang, I know you like Tang Xiao Tian. Even though I never liked him, you’ve been liking him this whole time, more than me, you liked him much more. So…if you keep on liking him, then, at least, I can not hate him. Yawang, Tang Xiao Tian came back, you should go look for him. Yawang, we have heard before of how Tang Xiao Tian’s father wanted him to become a real man and to become his pride. I remembered when you heard that, your eyes were sparkling, they were so beautiful. That time, you also said this, you said you want me to become your pride, I’ve always remembered that. Then, Yawang, the me now, did I became your pride? Yawang, these past few days, even though you are hiding this from me, how can I possibly not know this case is being disadvantageous to us? I must go and turn myself in, there is no coward in the Xia family. There was never one before, and there won’t be one ever. Yawang, I know you think you ruined me, but I really don’t regret this. Even if it’s a life sentence or a death penalty, I won’t regret it, I only regret that I’m not able to kill that bastard for you! Yawang, you must be crying now, don’t cry, okay? I’m leaving with no regrets, so don’t feel sad, okay? Yawang, I heard of this saying before: the biggest happiness in this world is two people loving each other and the second biggest happiness is seeing the person you love happy. I’m not able to have the first biggest happiness, but Yawang, can you help me with the second biggest? Yawang, I like you. So Yawang, you have to be happy.
Shu Yawang runs around the streets aimlessly, not knowing where to go, not knowing where to find him, not knowing how to stop him!
“Xia Mu, Xia Mu!” Shu Yawang cries as she runs around aimlessly, her voice choking from the tears. Her whole body is shaking in fear, she’s useless, she can’t find him! When she stops by a telephone booth, her blank gaze is suddenly captivated by the red telephone. She stumbles inside and quickly dials a familiar number. The phone rings two times before someone picks up.
“Dad.” She cries.
“Yawang?” Her dad’s voice suddenly turns anxious. “Where are you?! Is Xia Mu with you?”
“Dad…” Yawang bites onto her lips hard. “Xia Mu turned himself in.” The person on the receiving end is shocked, then suddenly yells into the phone.
“How can you let him turn himself in?! If he turns himself in now, his life is over! Commander Xia won’t be able to save him! How can you let Xia Mu turn himself in?!”
“Dad…” A tear falls down to her face. “Dad, I’m going to sue Qu Wei Ran for rape.” Her father turns silent for awhile, then asks her seriously,
“You’re sure about this?”
Actually, on the day after Xia Mu shot Qu Wei Ran, Yawang went to the hospital for a check-up for evidence. It’s just that after a series of events that happened that makes her not wanting to press charges. But now, she’s sure about this, she wants everyone to know what kind of person he is! She wants everyone to know that Xia Mu is not those reckless children that don’t care about consequences! It’s her fault, everything is her fault. She should not have been so weak, should not back away. It doesn’t matter what happens after she sues him, she’s not afraid, she’s not going to regret it!
“Yawang, come home first, Dad will help you.”
“Okay.” She hangs up the phone, standing in the telephone booth for awhile before turning her body to leave. The news of Xia Mu turning himself in and Yawang suing Qu Wei Ran for rape have quickly passed to the Qu family. At first when Qu Wei Ran hears about this news, he is shocked, but then he starts to laugh, anticipating for what to happen. After he laughs, he suddenly looks lost, no one is able to understand what’s he thinking of.
Three days before the trial, Shu Yawang sits on her bed as the windows are shut closed in her room. Her mom heaves a sigh outside of her room as her dad exhales out a puff of smoke. When Yawang’s mom opens the door, Tang Xiao Tian walks straight into their home. Her nose prickles and she shakes her head at him.
“Xiao Tian, go back. Go back, child.” Tang Xiao Tian glances over Yawang’s room.
“Auntie, I’ll wait for her here. She don’t come out for a day, I’ll wait for a day. If she don’t come out for a year, I’ll wait for a year.”
“Why bother?” She asks as she shakes her head sadly. He remains silent and stands idly, waiting in silence. How can he leave when his Yawang is here, in her room. He’s so close to her….but, why does he feel like he won’t be able to find her again? Why does he feel like Yawang is gone, his Yawang is gone.
Two days before the trial, Commander Xia personally visits the prison center to see Xia Mu. Xia Mu is still like his quiet self, but as he sees his grandfather’s haggard face, he gives him a comforting smile. Commander Xia is stunned to see his smile, and his eyes turn moist as he nods his head.
“You and your father are so alike, especially when you two smile.”
One day before the trial, Lu Pei Gang is cleaning Qu Wei Ran’s room when he finds a photo of a girl. The girl is about eighteen to nineteen years old. She’s wearing an orange jacket and standing on the border of Lijiang, one of her hand holding onto her hair that keeps on blowing from the wind, and smiling sweetly towards the camera.
2004, June 23rd. Xia Mu’s 18th birthday.
The murder case that have been pushed back for three months have finally start its trial! In the S City Supreme Court, the gallery filled with curious spectators. The Qu family’s lawyer standing in the middle of the courtroom, presenting all the evidence against Xia Mu. Shu Yawang looks at Xia Mu who is standing by the defendant’s stand. He looks exhausted, his handsome face showing no expression, listening to the lawyer listing his crimes like the person the lawyer is talking about is not him. Qu Wei Ran, who is wearing a suit and sitting by the plantiff’s stand, have a cheerful expression. The Qu family’s lawyer turns his body around to face the witness stand.
“Miss Shu Yawang, you said it’s because my client raped you that the defendant uses a gun to hurt him, correct?”
“Based on your statements and the results from the blood test, you were drinking that day?”
“How much did you drank?”
“I don’t remember.”
“Miss Shu, did you engage in a sexual act with my client willingly because of your drunken state? You want to help the defendant to excuse his crimes so you deliberately accuse my client?” The lawyer asks aggressively. Shu Yawang raises her head and gives a glare to the lawyer, nearly spilling out an outburst of profanity. At the end, she endures and clenches her jaw.
“No! I remembered very clearly!” She whips her head to Qu Wei Ran who is sitting on a wheelchair.
“If you don’t believe me, go ask your client, I’m sure he will be willing to confess about it!” Qu Wei Ran tilts his head to the side and smiles.
“Yes, I forced her, I remembered the smell of virginity on her, remembered her cries of pain.” Yawang’s face turns white, her lips bleeding from her biting. The gallery is filled with gasps, and Tang Xiao Tian who is sitting in the gallery stands up angrily and shouts,
“I’m going to kill you!” His handsome face is being twisted from anger and vengeance. Tang Xiao Tian’s father and Zhang Jing Yu pulls him down and he seems like he lost his sense when he struggles to escape.
“Order! Order!” The judge shouts as he pounds the little hammer onto his stand. However, Xiao Tian can’t keep in order, he’s going crazy! In his eyes, he only sees Qu Wei Ran’s disgusting smile, he wants to go up and tear him apart! It’s him, that devil! He ruined Yawang, ruined Xia Mu, ruined him! Qu Wei Ran, you devil!
In order to have the trial run smoothly, the judge order the security guards to take Tang Xiao Tian out of the courtroom, forbidding him to enter. As he is being dragged out of the courtroom, Shu Yawang didn’t dare to turn her head around to look at him. She don’t dare to look at him, scared to see his devastated face. She lowers her head and swallow back her tears, biting her lips, persisting to the end. She cannot cry, cannot leave, cannot be ashamed, this is the only hope for Xia Mu to lessen his sentence! She inhales deeply and lifts up her head.
When Tang Xiao Tian is out of the courtroom, he wants to rush back in, wants to kill that devil that destroyed everything! But then, a punch strikes his face and causes him to fall down to the ground. He looks shocked, his lips bleeding. Uncle Tang stands in front of him and yells out,
“Calm down! You’re not Xia Mu, if you kill someone, you’ll definitely receive the death penalty. How much pain do you want to give to the Shu family’s daughter?” Tang Xiao Tian slowly stands up and lowers his head, not saying a word. Uncle Tang exhales out a sigh.
“Think about what you should do now.” After he’s done, he turns his heels and walk away. Tang Xiao Tian looks like he have used up all his energy, resting outside of the court. The scorching sun shines right to his body, stretching his shadow on the ground. He gently balls up his fist, what to do? What should he do?
After at least two hours, the doors of the court are finally opened with people are exiting out of the court. Tang Xiao Tian scrambles up, wiping his face as he approaches a young man.
“What’s the sentence?”
“The kid got six years and the paralyzed guy got 4 years.”
“Yeah, too little right? I thought it would be at least ten years.” After he tells Xiao Tian about the sentence, he turns his heels and walks away with his friend. He exhales a sigh of relief, six years, that’s half of what’s expected. He separates himself from the crowd, walking back into the courtroom. He sees Yawang walking to the front, her parents by her side. She sees him and quickly shifts her glance elsewhere. His heart clenches and he takes a step forward, but don’t dare to get too close. Yawang raises her hand and fixes her fringe, then lifts her head to look at him. He takes another step forward and she forcefully smiles at him.
“I’m here.” He feels his heart trembling and his nose prickling.
“If there’s anything you want to talk about, can we wait until tomorrow?” Her eyes seem moist as she bites on her lips.
“Okay.” He answers softly, afraid that he might scare her away. Shu Yawang looks at him with a gentle smile, that smile is like how it was before, so beautiful to see. He believes in her, like how he believed in her before.
But on the second day when he sees the letter and the ring outside his door. That ring makes him realize, that smile deceives him for the first time. She returns the ring back to him and she writes the letter with her beautiful handwriting.
“Xiao Tian, people always said a hundred years’ effort of repairing a boat yields a thousand years of togetherness. I think, our fate have not add up to a thousand years yet.”
She left, she’s gone, disappeared, unable to be found. He finally let her go.
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