At the time Zhang Man came out of Li Wei’s house, it was not yet dusk, so she planned to go back and sort out the questions she had done here and prepare again.
It was very windy outside, not raining or snowing, but with a bit of humid moisture, even the billboard next to the road was blown to one side by the high wind, so fragile that it seemed to be folding down in the next second.
She glanced up at the darkening sky and tightened her jacket.
It’s only been sunny for a day, and there’s probably going to be another snowstorm tonight.
The bus was going fast, and the driver seemed to be rushing to get home from work before the snowstorm, but he still missed it—the snow started to fall in the sky before he reached the station, leaving him no buffer in the process.
Zhang Man got out of the bus, put up her hood and walked from the station to the neighborhood. The worst thing about winter inis not the rain or the snow, but the wind.
The sea breeze was howling, she was a little unsteady, so she had to squint and walk fast as she tried to hurry home.
However, before she reached the floor of the building, she heard noises of people and heartbreaking cries which, on such a snowy day, were like an ominous knife cutting through the quiet.
Zhang Man frowned, quickened her pace and walked to the next unit building. She found that a circle of people had gathered at the scene and a police car with red lights was parked outside the crowd.
Feeling the pressure on her temples, she struggled to push her way through the crowd.
In the midst of the crowd, a family of three was breaking down and crying. There were two adults and an elderly— whom she was familiar with, it was the grandma who had lost her granddaughter in her previous life.
Zhang Man’s heart tightened, her scalp tingled, and she had a very bad feeling.
Sure enough, in the next second, she heard the grandmother’s hoarse, heart-rending cries.
“My baby girl ah! My baby girl… was snatched away! The… man wearing a hat, he… snatched my baby girl from my arms… I couldn’t catch up… she *hic… my baby girl, s-she *hic hic*, k-kept crying… she w-was calling me… yelling grandma—AaahhhHHHG!!! DEATH TO HUMAN TRAFFICKERS! PEOPLE WHO ROB CHILDREN DESERVE TO GO TO HELL!!!— “
She cried her heart out— a sixty to seventy-year-old woman with white hair is slumped in the snow, wailing and sobbing. Some women with children nearby can be seen with tears falling down their faces.
This kind of pain of losing a loved one is something that people are unable to restrain no matter the era, filled with heart-wrenching pain and misery.
Next to the old lady was a woman who looked less than thirty and was probably the child’s mother. Her hair was disheveled, her face was pale as she sat on the ground, and she couldn’t care less about the heavy snow either. She just cried there continuously as if she was about to lose her breath.
The slightly calmer man next to the two of them, choked with red eyes, while recounting what happened to the police officer next to him.
Zhang Man’s heart was pounding.
Why did it still happen? She thought she warned them all and that it shouldn’t happen again…
There was a lot of chatter from the crowd in the surrounding neighborhood.
“Aiyo, this old lady is so pitiful, I heard that she went out to buy food with a small child today, and kept the child in her arms at all times, but on the way back, the child was robbed by a man wearing a hat.”
“Tsk, tsk, tsk, human traffickers nowadays are too rampant, stealing children instead of robbing them… I wouldn’t dare take my granddaughter out anymore.”
“I’m gonna tell you something but don’t spread the word, okay? This family is estimated to have offended the Bodhisattva. Some time ago when I went out with Mrs. Zhou, the old lady kept babbling that children should not be put in the stroller since they could easily be carried away. As a result, she held it in her arms the whole time but was still snatched away. Aren’t her words poisonous or what?”
“Don’t mention that ah. It’s all fate. What’s not in your fate, you can’t touch it, what’s in your fate, you can’t escape.”
–What’s not in your fate, you can’t touch it, what’s in your fate, you can’t escape
The wind suddenly struck, dense snow fell from the sky, drifting in her hair and clothes, a couple of pieces also fell on her bare neck.
Zhang Man felt like her head was about to explode. In this freezing weather, the coldness spreads from every pore on her neck to the inside, causing her to shiver.
The dense goosebumps, in this instant, crawled all over her arms.
She suddenly realized that many things can’t really change even if she thinks she has the power to do so.
After Zhang Man left, the youth kept on holding the peace charm she gave him and sat on the couch, quietly doing nothing.
It’s been a long, long time since he had this feeling of not doing anything, and yet he didn’t feel bored and instead found that every corner of his heart was warm.
He remembered the serious and grave expression on the young girl’s face when she handed him the peace charm just now.
She seems to be very serious about a lot of things.
In the afternoon she did the questions, and he watched from the side as she frowned and thought about it all, page after page of drafts were finished with notes to make it all clearer. Her font was neat, partially rounded and one by one, she wrote hard on the paper, and even when she turned over the page, it was still easy to see the traces that were inscribed on the next page.
She drew a small circle after each formula, and inside the circle was a neatly arranged number label.
Her solution process consists of no fancy tricks or clever ideas. Most of them are based on the most basic and reliable solutions, and are done in a regular manner—something that can cure one’s OCD.
The two of them are actually, in a way, very different. Unlike his inattentiveness, she is quiet, but has her own love for the world.
She will do everything she can, within the limited scope available to her, to get everything done.
Such a girl came into his life so suddenly that he would wonder, from time to time, about her authenticity.
For him, it was like winning the jackpot on a lottery.
He then placed the peace charm in the breast pocket of his pajamas, against his heart.
But the next moment, he recalled how seriously the young girl said that she wanted him to find a safe and hidden place to put it at home and never lose it.
The youth shook his head, smiled and stood up, walking into the bedroom.
A hidden and safe place……
He opened the closet and in the bottom corner, there was a mahogany box with a combination lock—it was brought to him by the way when his grandfather sent someone to hand over his father’s inheritance to him, saying it was the most important relic of his father’s life, and he hadn’t opened it for so many years.
The password is his birthday.
He opened the mahogany box and an aged smell came over him.
He put the bright yellow peace charm into the box, and was going to close it there, but suddenly got interested.
The youth smoothly turned on the lighting in the room and opened the box on the bedside table.
The contents of the box are not really that much.
And the most conspicuous thing on it is a carved wooden comb, which has changed from the original purplish red color of the wood to a purplish brown color after settling because of the passage of time.
It’s comb teeth are not considered dense, but the wood is hard and has a delicate carving of plum blossoms on the intact sandalwood. The wood wax is oily and shiny, and after all these years, it still emits a refreshing aroma of sandalwood. The back of the comb is curved and the top is engraved with a word.
The youth was slightly stunned that it was Janet’s name.
He put down the wooden comb and picked up another yellowed photo.
The photo has a plastic seal, and the date is written in gold-stamped font in the upper right corner, and is slightly peeling. He carefully identified it and found that it had been seventeen years since the present day.
In the photo are a man and a woman, both looking their best age.
The man was in a straight suit, handsome and dashing and looked confident. He was wearing eyeglasses and had his arm around the woman with a sweet smile.
The woman on the other hand was stylishly dressed in a camel-colored trench coat with a plain white dress, a black and white polka dot silk scarf is also worn around her neck. With her long, slightly curly hair and the yellowing age of the photo, it makes her look like a modern girl who came around from a European street corner in the last century.
However, the most important thing is that the woman’s belly seems high up under her dress, which is hard to ignore, together with her chin, which is also slightly rounded.
The photo is set against the backdrop of the Seine, hidden in white mist, with the towering Eiffel Tower visible behind the two.
Unlike the changing times and human beings, those buildings have been standing there for decades, even centuries, welcoming the first sunrise every day.
A certain corner of Li Wei’s heart sank slightly. It turns out that when Janet was young, she looked like this, and now she looked somewhat different.
He closed his eyes to think about what Janet looked like now, and suddenly felt somehow unable to remember. He shook his head, it seems that he should contact Janet more in the future. It has been long since he thought of her recently.
There were several other items in the box—a heavy goldthat he would have worn as a child, and two strands of .
A knotted hair of a husband and wife.
At the bottom of the mahogany box, there is also an English reading book for children with a bit of curled edges, it was probably used to enlighten him as a child.
The youth cautiously drew out the book to read.
With a colorful cover dedicated to children’s books, “Benny the Little Lion” is written in an exaggerated floral style with a colorful English title. Below the caption, a cute little lion turned his head to face forward with one front hoof up, saying “hey!”
He was amused, it turned out that when he was small, he also read such a childish book.
He thought of Man Man again.
He wondered if she had read a similar book when she was a child, and read it in her milky voice.
When he thought of it, his heart itched and he couldn’t wait to pinch her face the next second.
While thinking, the youth opened the book, and casually turned into the first page.
It is indeed very enlightening, with each English sentence carrying a Chinese translation underneath, and a line of Chinese pinyin.
Very suitable for small children to see.
However, in the next second, the warm smile on the youth’s face, suddenly froze.
“Once upon a time, there lived a little lion in the forest, and his name was Benny. He was a happy little lion, he had the most gentle mother in the whole animal kingdom, Janet, and the smartest good friend, Nick. Their story begins now.”
The book slipped from his hands, and the youth stumbled and fell on the bed, his face bloodless, his mind buzzing.
Reading the yellowing page, it was like a key forgotten by the years had opened the door to his dusty memories for many years.
The youth’s thoughts became incomparably confused and uncontrollable, and two blurred faces, at this moment, flashed into his mind.
“Wei Wei, Mommy’s plane leaves for Vancouver tomorrow morning, you don’t have to see me off.”
“Mommy made you dinner, eat up, sweetie, it’s your favorite dish.”
“It’s not like that, although Quantum Entanglement does have this super distance effect, once you accept this basis, the next derivation will fall into place…”
“This girl is your girlfriend? Quite pretty.”
They were in his ears, constantly narrating, buzzing words like ringing bells, and causing him to develop severe tinnitus.
The heating in the house was set at an optimum 23 degrees, but the youth shivered.
He attempted to convince himself.
Janet went to Vancouver, that’s right, she emigrated when he was little. And Nick, whenever he encountered difficulties in learning would carefully answer for him, he’s his best friend.
But in the next second, there was a creepy voice in his heart, deep in his soul, questioning him.
WhO’s NiCk? Is hE sOMEonE yOu KnOw FrOm ThE oRPHaNaGe? Or iS hE sOmEoNe yOu WeNt tO sChOoL wItH?
WhO iS JAnEt aGAin? Is JaNeT reaLly yOur mOThEr’s EngLiSh nAMe?
If ThEy reALly eXisT, wHy hAVe yOu fELT sO, SO LONeLY fOr So mANy yEaRs?
WHy dO yOu eAT aLoNe, sLeEp ALoNe, aNd Do eVEryTHIng aLoNe eVErY dAy?
WHy wERen’T tHeY tHErE whEn yoU WerE hANgINg fRoM tHe cLOThEsLIne oN ThE bALcoNy bY yOUr fAThEr?
WHy wERen’T tHEy thErE whEN yOu wERe DisCaRDed bY yOuR gRaNdFAthER?
WhY wEREn’t tHeY tHErE wHEn YoU wErE stUFFeD WiTh EaRTHwOrMs iN yOur coLLaR?
WhERe wErE ThEy, wHeN yOuR liFE wAs tAKeN oVeR By A LaRgE sWaTh of dARkNEsS?
The two figures in his mind became more and more blurred, and in the end, he could only see two human faces without five features, miserable white and hollow.
It is like a ghastly figure coming out of Shura’s hell.
At that very moment, the youth remembered a fragment of the past that he had completely forgotten.
He remembered that he seemed to have made a call one day and ordered two dishes. Then, the delivery boy arrived more than an hour late, and he handed it to him, hoping he would not complain about their store.
He remembered that he opened that takeaway, poured the two servings into two separate porcelain plates, and threw the takeaway box into the trash.
He remembered the day he pulled the cap off the pen and, on the apology letter, wrote down his mother’s name.
He remembered the day he walked Nick out the door to the dark, empty hallway.
The sound-activated lights on the building would come on whenever someone walked past, but not that day. He even waved at the darkness, then closed the door.
The youth suddenly had a splitting headache at this moment, and he hugged himself in pain, shivering.
Who are they, exactly?
And who is he?
Bloodshot filled his eyes, and his brain gradually became delirious.
His eyes widened in fear as he looked around him. In the large bed and almost empty room, the cold, gray furniture in front of him seemed to scream at him.
“Fake, we are all fake! You yourself are actually fake too!”
He stumbled backwards and sat up nervously as he fell back into the soft mattress.
It’s all fake, everything in this world, all fake.
He felt like he had stepped into the air and fallen into a ten-thousand-foot cliff, his body and consciousness falling uncontrollably downward.
“No, no, don’t—”
Boundless darkness and fear, in this instant, completely overwhelmed him.
In desperation, the youth suddenly thought of the girl who was in his arms earlier and let him kiss her.
Her lips, with their real touch and intoxicating aroma, had left him wanting more.
Yes, yes, Man Man, he still has his Man Man.
Man Man would not lie to him. She had embraced him under his umbrella just now and in the afternoon, under the desk, she was still in his arms, kissing him back passionately and youthfully.
The youth’s panic-stricken heart settled a little, as if he had grabbed a lifeline.
He stood up shakily and took his cell phone out of his pocket, fumbling through the phone book.
And saw the only number that existed in it…
He shakes his hand and tries to tap in, but in the next second, he remembers the words she once said.
“Hi Nick, I’m Zhang Man.”
The phone slipped from his hand and fell to pieces.
A blizzard is coming.
Here it comes…
PS: Happy New Year everyone! I hope this year will be great for all of us~