Zhang Man returned home, and as soon as she entered the door, she heard Zhang Huifang on the phone in her room, supposedly calling one of her best friends.
She recounted her story in an indignant tone, accompanied by occasional sobs.
Zhang Man frowned. She had just watched her mother move a glass of wine with elegance and decisiveness to Zheng Zineng, and thought she didn’t take it to heart at all.
But clearly, Zhang Huifang’s strong and proud nature makes it impossible for her to show her vulnerability in front of people, and she can only hold back her tears and cry at home.
Zhang Man is a little worried, tiptoeing to the door of her room, she pressed against the door and listened to their conversations.
On the other end of the phone is one of Zhang Huifang’s best friends, called Xu Yan, who used to be in a band with her, which Zhang Man has also met. Although Xu Yan didn’t pursue studies when she was young, and instead became a band member in a bar, her temperament was much quieter than Zhang Huifang. In her 20s, she married and gave birth to a child, and later changed her career to become an accountant, living a very good life.
“Yan Yan, I really didn’t expect him to be this kind of person.”
While dropping tears, Zhang Huifang pulled some tissues, and enabled the speaker mode on her phone for convenience, making the other side’s voice clear to Zhang Man.
“Fang, no offense but you’re 35 this year, not 15! You’ve got several wrinkles at the corners of your eyes, so how come your vision still hasn’t grown? After all these years, how can you still be so quick to judge a book by its cover?”
Xu Yan paused, and sighed: “But this time it’s really not your fault. That dog, Zheng Zineng, who usually acts like a human being, always has a smile on his face. I never thought he would be such a scum!”
Zhang Huifang sobbed a few times and calmed down a little: “Yeah, I’ve been in contact with him for a while, and he has always acted like a gentleman.”
She paused for a moment and her voice was much softer: “And… he clearly disclosed before… that he did not want children in the future. If I am with him, he will help me to take care of my Man Man in the future… As you know, I will never have another child since I already have Man Man. So I made up my mind this time. I thought I’d try it for a while, and if I could, I’d get married. I didn’t expect that he’s… Yan Yan, you don’t even know how humiliated I am today.”
Xu Yan finished listening, and then suddenly thought of her last relationship that ended without a hitch, and took a deep breath: “You do not want children… so you broke up with Xu Shang? Is it because he insisted on having children after marriage? Xu Shang is an honest man who treats you well. He and his former wife have been divorced for so many years and have never looked for him, and they have no children. There is a lot of pressure in the family, so it is normal for him to want a child, isn’t it?”
Zhang Huifang sounded a little anxious: “I know. Xu Shang is very good to me, and to be honest, I also like him very much, more than those boyfriends before, and he… is a very attractive man. But that can’t be helped, his mother is old and he must want a child, right? If he does… What about my Man Man?”
Xu Yan paused for a long time and asked again, “Then there were two or three before that I thought were good and got along with you… Did you break up with them too because of this reason?”
Zhang Huifang calmed down for a while and sounded less agitated.
“Not all, although there is one or two who said they do not want children afterwards, I felt that they really don’t care about my Man Man. It is impossible for them to sincerely treat her as their own daughter… Yan Yan, although I have had many boyfriends, I am not a self-centered person. Before settling down, I have always kept my distance. I think I’ll try a few more and should be able to find the right one… this time, it’s my bad luck.”
As she spoke, she looked into the mirror and removed her eyeliner from her crying eyes.
“…You know me, I was capricious and irresponsible when I was young, and my Man Man was a total accident in my life.”
“When I had her, I was still a child myself and didn’t know how to bring up a child at all. Besides, for me at that time, love and youth were all that mattered, and I wasn’t that attached to her. But now… I can’t stop thinking about my Man Man.”
“She has never seen her father since she was a child, and I’m not close to her, her temperament, I as a mother have to take most of the responsibility. I’ve always wanted… to find someone who would love me and love her more and give her the kind of dad she wanted since she was a little girl. But after so many years… it’s just too hard. Yan Yan, do you think I should stop looking in the future? Even if there’s no father, she still has me as her mother. Although I’m not a decent mother, I can still take good care of her…”
She finished choking up. She was in her thirties but suddenly she was whimpering, as if she was the same young girl who sat in the hospital hallway sixteen years ago, holding a laboratory test sheet while breaking down in tears.
Zhang Man heard this, and her heart was already incomparably shocked. When she came back to her senses, she found that her face was already cold.
She covered her mouth and tried not to make a sound as she quietly made her way out.
The building was dimly lit, with one or two broken voice-activated lights. She walked numbly down the long staircase and pushed open the unit door.
Coming face to face with a cold, icy wind.
The wind that whistles at night is becoming more and more ferocious, and when it passes through certain objects, it also emits a sharp swooshing sound. Zhang Man slowly crouched down in the doorway, with such temperature, her thoughts were much clearer.
It is impossible to say that she has never resented Zhang Huifang.
She was not used to her mother’s chaotic private life and hated the fact that she was not living peacefully all the time. For a long time in her childhood memories, the word “father” was the most unmentionable pain in her heart.
She had no idea who her father was, she only knew that her mother changed boyfriend after boyfriend for a long time. Gradually, she never bothered to ask this question again and looked coldly at her mother’s all kinds of romantic entanglements to keep herself out of it.
Zhang Huifang even caused her to hold a skeptical attitude towards marriage and love all the time.
She still remembers Zhang Huifang’s ex, Xu Shang. The two have been in a relationship for a year, longer than many of her previous boyfriends, so long that even Zhang Man assumed that her mother should settle down this time. But a few months ago, the two parted ways calmly, and when she asked her about it, she downplayed it by saying it was due to personality differences.
She also vaguely remembered several people who seemed to be quite suitable, and then all ended up in vain.
She has always thought that it was Zhang Huifang who was averse to the old and refused to settle for the new. She grew tired of the novelty, so she changed boyfriends one after another.
Never thought that many of these actions would be because of her?
It turns out that the truth was the other way around all along, and it was she who had been dragging her mother down.
Why did she never understand how hard it would be for an unmarried mother with a child to live in this society?
Zhang Man suddenly recalled the breakup between Zhang Huifang and Zheng Zineng at the end of her previous life.
The house they bought in H City was secretly sold by Zheng Zineng for gambling, and then the three had no choice but to rent a very dilapidated house. That house is very far from the center of Z city, almost to the suburbs, and it is still a small two-room house, all of which is less than 70 square feet.
It was Zhang Huifang who chose the place, which is close to her school. At that time, Zhang Huifang herself worked in the city center and had to take the bus for more than an hour every day.
She remembers that the house was really old and the locks on the doors to her room were rusted and couldn’t be locked. Zhang Huifang at that time was busy in order to pay off his gambling debts, so she didn’t bother her with this matter.
That day Zhang Huifang was not at home, Zhang Man was in her room to change clothes, and as a result, Zheng Zineng entered her room without even knocking. Zhang Man who had just put on her underwear, saw him come in and screamed in fright, fumbling to put on her blouse. However, the man did not feel the least bit embarrassed or apologetic, but instead stood boldly in the doorway looking at her with a sickening gaze in his eyes.
He was, at that time, her nominal father.
This happened several times, and it even became worse.
Zhang Man finally could not stand it and at one point took advantage of Zheng Zineng’s absence and told it to Zhang Huifang.
She still remembers that Zhang Huifang’s face turned ashen in that instant, her lips bitten to the point of bleeding, the whole person grasping the door frame and shaking, looking terrible.
That afternoon, her mother locked herself in her room for several hours; she had no idea what the other was thinking.
When the evening came, Zhang Huifang told her to go into her room to do her homework and not to come out no matter what happened. Zhang Man looked at her seemingly calm, nodded, and went inside without saying anything.
However, when Zhang Man heard the loud commotion and opened the door, she saw Zhang Huifang chasing the drunken Zheng Zineng with a kitchen knife, chasing him from the kitchen to the living room. Her eyes were red and frightening, like she really wanted to cut him to death with a knife.
Zheng Zineng got scared and ran away, and did not return for several days after that, and then the two agreed to divorce.
When the two divorced, Zhang Huifang sat on the floor that day, shaking. She told Zhang Man that she should never, ever tell anyone that Zheng Zineng had tried to harass her.
She thought at the time that Zhang Huifang could not afford to lose her face but now realizes that she is actually protecting her.
She was afraid that if word of this got out to her school, she would be ridiculed.
So that’s… how it is.
Therefore, even if Zheng Zineng lost money on gambling, she did not mention divorce but after hearing that Zheng Zineng had offended her, she carried a kitchen knife and wanted to kill him.
After that time, Zhang Huifang seemed to have aged many years overnight. She, who is originally enthusiastic about going out every day, shut herself up at home for more than a month. Later, she never fell in love again. Zhang Man always thought she was broken-hearted by Zheng Zineng and no longer believed in love.
It turns out that it’s not that she doesn’t believe in love, but she doesn’t believe that there will be such a man who will love her for herself and at the same time love her daughter as his own. Not because she is capricious and not willing to settle, but she wants a double portion of love for the both of them.
Which man can afford it?
That’s why it’s still on thin ice after all these years.
Zhang Man covered her face and burst into tears.
She did not know until today that it was not only when she was small, but also now, when Zhang Huifang mentions her with her best friend she always calls her “Man Man”.
Like she said, when she gave birth to her, she was a willful and petulant child.
—It was her(ZM) first time as a daughter, and her(ZH) first time as a mother.
The next day, Zhang Man went to Li Wei’s house for tutoring as promised, but she was obviously distracted.
What happened yesterday was too much of a shock to her. She began to be a little confused as to why life always had to go around in circles like this? People who are obviously in love with each other, why can’t they communicate their feelings directly, but have layer after layer of misunderstanding and thus distancing themselves from each other.
It is as if there is a hand that no one can see, laughing behind the scenes, manipulating people who are trying to live their lives, teasing them, alienating them, and making them carry regrets from moment to moment.
She and Zhang Huifang are like this, and in her previous life she and Li Wei were also like this. One has to make such a big detour to understand the other’s heart.
She was depressed, slumped over sickly and didn’t want to answer the problem.
The youth looked at her with difficulty, and also stopped reading the book he was holding and turned to her with a questioning gaze.
Zhang Man suddenly had a desire to talk, so she slowly talked to Li Wei about what happened between her and Zhang Huifang, and as she talked, she couldn’t help but shed a tear.
After she finished, she poked the youth’s arm: “Hey, Li Wei, why do you think when we want to know the truth of a matter sometimes, we always have to take so many turns? Why can’t something sometimes be communicated directly to the other person?”
The youth looked at her seriously, with infinite tenderness in his eyes, and that watery gaze gave Zhang Man great comfort.
He thought for a moment after hearing her question.
“Zhang Man, do you know what kind of distance between two points is the shortest?”
Zhang Man didn’t think twice: “Of course it’s a straight line.”
The youth shook his head: “The shortest distance is a straight line only if the space is flat, and if the space is curved, then the shortest distance will be a curve — there is no straight line in curved space. So sometimes life doesn’t go around the bend on purpose, because for relationships, that’s probably the shortest distance it can go.”
Zhang Man froze for a moment, knowing that he was attempting to comfort herself, her heart was pounding after the teenager finished that paragraph.
At this time, other people may tell her not to be upset, and then use their own life experience to guide her and reassure her that the relationship with her mother will definitely get better in the future.
But he didn’t.
Regarding feelings, he has no involvement and no experience in this area at all. She complains about this with him, but he doesn’t even have relatives.
Yet he still clumsily, trying his best to soothe her with his physical view of the world, telling her that it was all for the best.
Zhang Man’s heart was suddenly enlightened.
But he’s not wrong. Without the separation and the twists and turns, maybe the emotions wouldn’t be so deep. What’s more, she has been reborn, and the people she loves, and the people who love her, are all around her now.
After all misunderstandings are solved, none of them will leave anyone again. All this is not a detour, it is the shortest distance, the best arrangement.
Zhang Man looked into his eyes and said softly, “Li Wei, you are so nice.”
He is the best person in this world!
I don’t know about you guys but even I was amazed by Li Wei’s outlook on life.