That night, Yang Chengchuan saw the thick gauze on Tang Junhe’s forehead. After knowing why, he wanted to wring Yang Xuan’s neck, and then he proceeded on hitting the child’s buttocks. He gave Yang Xuan a tongue-lashing. “Will you go to the riverside to play in the future?! If I caught you going again and dared to take your didi, see what I will do to you then!”
Yang Xuan did not speak, and refused to shed tears while being beaten. Afterwards, he only took two bites for dinner and went back to his room to sulk. He didn’t know why his father was so angry with him.
As soon as Yang Xuan left, Junhe was not in the mood to eat. He turned his head frequently; his mind flew from the meal to the closed door behind.
Yang Chengchuan put small batches of food in Tang Junhe’s bowl, he said in a chiding tone. “No matter what, your gege still made a mistake. Don’t worry about him and let’s continue to eat.
Tang Junhe lowered his head, he mumbled nervously: “It’s not that gege wanted to take me to the river, it was I who insisted to take me with him.”
Yang Chengchuan didn’t expect such words from him, he couldn’t laugh nor cry. Surprisingly, his two sons who have only been together for 20 days from birth till now can actually take the blame for each other now. He patted Junhe’s head and asked. “Do you like your gege?”
Junhe nodded: “Like.”
Yang Chengchuan lowered his voice once more. “Do you like Baba?”
Junhe looked up at him, his clear eyes showed resistance. Yang Chengchuan’s heart couldn’t help but suddenly turn cold. His youngest son knew that he was his father, but he just didn’t want to recognize him.
Holding a gleam of hope, he said softly to Junhe. “You can ask me to take you to the riverside tomorrow to play. We could buy you Transformers after too, how about it?
Junhe shook his head immediately.
Yang Chengchuan sighed.
Tang Junhe put his chopsticks down on the dinner table and said. “I’m full.” Then he jumped off the chair, walked to the closed door, pushed it open, walked in, and closed the door again.
Yang Xuan was lying on the wooden floor surrounded with Lego, looking sullen. He did not look up when he heard Junhe walking in.
Tang Junhe leaned over and lay next to him. “I’m sorry.” He whispered.
Yang Xuan curled his mouth and asked. “What are you sorry for?”
Tang Junhe said: “You were beaten by your Father.”
“It’s true that I’ve also caused you to lose a lot of blood, so we are even.”
Tang Junhe turned quiet. He silently accompanied Yang Xuan to play Lego.
“Will your Father beat you too?” Yang Xuan urgently asked.
“I don’t have a Father.” Tang Junhe calmly said. “I only have a mother named Tang Xiaonian. She… will probably beat me too.”
His tone was so casual that Yang Xuan didn’t realize that not having a father is a serious matter. He just repeated Tang Xiaonian’s name and commented: “Tang Xiaonian… your mother’s name is much easier to remember than yours.”
Yang Chengchuan took the two boys to the playground during his day off over the weekend. Overcome with boredom, the person beside him asked. “Is that two your sons? How old are they?”
Yang Chengchuan replied: “The elder is 7 years old and the younger is 6.”
“They look really good.” said the man enviously. “It seems that you’re talented in that area. With their good genes, it’s only natural to be jealous.”
Yang Chengchuan was frustrated by his words but his appearance was extremely deceptive. He listened then humbled “What is there to be jealous about?” but he was truly happy deep inside. When the two little buns came running in tandem towards him, he triumphantly led them to the mall and bought two clothes for each of them.
The two wore identical denim jackets with a plaid shirt and a baseball cap on their heads. They were completely dressed in hip hop clothing. Yang Chengchuan followed behind watching his two sons, one big and one small, playing along while capturing everyone’s eyes.
Because of these two matching clothes, Tang Junhe never saw Yang Xuan again in the following ten years.
That afternoon, the sky was slightly heavy, dark clouds piled on the horizon, slowly moving westward by the wind. It’s natural to think that a downpour would appear in the next second.
Yang Xuan was teaching Tang Junhe an origami of a paper airplane in the living room. At first Junhe didn’t want Yang Xuan to teach him, so he snatched the paper and said he could fold it himself. He quickly finished a paper airplane, using the simplest method of folding.
“Look, I can do it.” He put the paper airplane in his palm and took it to Yang Xuan, clearly fishing for a compliment.
“Oh.” Yang Xuan didn’t even try to look at it. “I know how to fold in 12 kinds. I wanted to teach you but since you can fold yourself then forget it.”
Tang Junhe looked at the piece of paper in Yang Xuan’s hand. He turned it over and folded it over and over, and finally a powerful-looking airplane was made. Yang Xuan took the paper airplane, breathed a sigh of relief, raised his arm confidently and threw it away.
The paper airplane flew up, flying high and far until it went out of the window.
“Wow~” Tang Junhe was dumbfounded; he pulled Yang Xuan’s arm and begged him. “Gege, teach me.”
“Didn’t you say you already know how?” Yang Xuan raised his chin and looked at him.
“I don’t!” Tang Junhe said honestly. “None of those in the kindergarten can fold as awesome as you.”
“I knew it.” Yang Xuan beamed, he looked proud. “Come here, I will teach you.”
He taught everything to Tang Junhe step by step and asked him to fold it with him. In the whole process Yang Xuan was patient. Junhe is also very clever, Yang Xuan only taught him once and Junhe would easily learn it. Junhe took the folded paper airplane and followed Yang Xuan. He blew at the tail of the plane, raised his arms high and was ready to release it in his hand.
Suddenly there was a faint sound coming from the door outside. Tang Junhe maintained his position and turned his head to ask Yang Xuan: “Who is it?”
“Who else can it be but my Baba?” Yang Xuan said. “Don’t worry about it, let’s continue.”
Tang Junhe threw the paper airplane out.
The moment it was thrown out, the door of the house was opened and a tall and thin woman walked in.
The paper airplane flew straight forward, hitting the woman’s body and was caught by her. She held it in her hand.
Before Tang Junhe could react at the sudden appearance of the stranger in front of him, Yang Xuan cheerfully called out the word “Mama” by his side. Yang Xuan jumped off the sofa and leaped towards his mother’s arms.
Many years later, Tang Junhe’s memory of that scene has been blurred. He only remembered that the woman was tall and beautiful, but she looked emaciated and sad.
He remembered that woman came over and asked him what his name was, who was his father, who was his mother, how old he was this year, where was his home, where he went to school, and if he had been here for a few days.
When she asked these questions, there was no expression on her face and her voice was soft and gentle yet Junhe couldn’t help but feel a little afraid of her.
“Mama, stop asking you’re scaring him.” Yang Xuan lay on the sofa, resting his head on her lap, acting like a baby.
“Why are you asking him those things?”
“You go study and do your homework.” The woman said, still speaking softly. “Mama has some questions for this little brother.”
“I don’t…” Yang Xuan continued. “I don’t like to do homework.” As soon as he said that, he was taken by his arm by the woman and led to the study room, he was locked in.
Tang Junhe remembered that after he answered her questions, the woman took out the phone from the bag on the side and walked to the window sill and shouted something emotionally on the phone. The words were frequently mixed with Yang Chengchuan’s name.
Tang Junhe also remembered that when the woman walked out, her face was covered with tears. She looked very much like his mother, Tang Xiaonian when she cried.
The rain started outside, and the raindrops slammed on the window fiercely, crackling like a drum, as if foreshadowing the next scenes that would come.
After a few more while, Yang Chengchuan hurried back in panic, his whole body was wet with rain, and the hair on his forehead was tangled in a lock, looking a little embarrassing. The next moment there was a fierce dispute between them. In a sense it couldn’t be called a dispute either, it was just a person shouting hysterically while the other is lying through his teeth.
Tang Junhe didn’t understand what was going on; he shrank in the corner of the sofa, even gasping carefully.
He heard a series of fierce slams on the door from the study. Yang Xuan yelled “Baba!” for a while and “Mama!” again and again. He continued shouting even when his voice broke. Tang Junhe could imagine Yang Xuan anxiousness behind the door but he dare not walk over to open it for him.
That afternoon, Tang Junhe was sent home. Perhaps due to the fright from the adults, even before he saw Tang Xiaonian’s face, he had already developed a high fever.
He didn’t remember Tang Xiaonian’s expression at the time or what she said. He just vaguely felt that Tang Xiaonian would cry too, afterwards there were cold tears falling on his hot forehead that made him shiver more.
Later Tang Junhe went to elementary school and learned idioms, only to understand what happened that afternoon can be called ”To come to light”. The last touch of color that Yang Xuan brought to his childhood was smudged by that heavy rain on that afternoon and the fierce fever made it look more blurry. Looking back, even though those memories were no longer clear to Tang Junhe it was still beautiful and tempting.
I’m so gonna miss the mini version of them…