–Winter, snowy night, seaside.
Under the snowy sky, Zhang Man hugged the youth she was in love with.
The waves lapped against the rocks and sand, the sea breeze whistled, and snowflakes fell silently on the ground, in the sea, and many, many more, landing also on the faces and bodies of the two.
The extremely low temperature gave Zhang Man goosebumps, and even though the youth’s cold embrace at this time did not give her any warmth, she tried hard to hold herself back from shivering.
She could only calmly feel his uncontrollable trembling and choking sobs.
She thought that perhaps the most difficult step had already been taken.
In an extremely severe mental shock, people will begin to delirium, the same way Li Wei just did—he could not distinguish what is reality, what is false. If no one comes to wake him up at this time, the collapse of his worldview will cause an irreparable blow to his psyche.
And yet, Zhang Man is not optimistic at all…
No matter how much he knew the world was real, it was still too big a blow for him.
No one wants to admit that they are really “crazy”. He used to not care about what people said because he thought he wasn’t and he felt that they had misunderstood him.
How sure he was before, at this moment, after he learned the truth, the panic in his heart will be more intense.
What’s more, he lost two of the most important “people” in his life in a flash.
Pain can never be measured.
—was what Zhang Man was thinking. At this moment, his heart must be experiencing deep pain that she could not imagine.
When the two finally got home, the youth seemed calmer than before, but still didn’t talk.
The two people’s hair, and clothes have long been wet by the rain and snow, and their shoes have been soaked by the waves on the beach, as if they had just been fished out of the sea.
Zhang Man led him inside, pressed his shoulders and sat him on the big sofa in the living room, and went to the bathroom to boil hot water for him. But as soon as she took two steps, the youth followed her.
Like a lonely shadow, it can only follow its master.
“Li Wei, you go sit on the couch for a while, I’ll plug in the water heater. We both need to take a hot shower or we’ll catch a cold.”
The youth reached over and pulled her sleeve, looked at her, shook his head and did not speak— a pair of dark eyes stubbornly looking at her.
Zhang Man softened almost immediately.
She really can’t do anything with him either.
“Alright… You can stand by and watch me then?”
The youth nodded and took her hand.
When the hot water was ready, Zhang Man pushed him into the shower, and he was unwilling once again.
Zhang Man laughed softly and teased him, “We can’t both wash together, right? If you are willing, I have no problem.”
His voice sounds so hoarse, different from the low-pitched, mellow, and gentle voice he had before, at present, it carries an indescribable burning sensation, as if he had taken a sip of sulfuric acid.
“Will you join me there? You stand by and keep me company…… I don’t want to be alone.”
He never wanted to be alone again.
Zhang Man looked at him…The usual sure and confident youth… It seems, he has never been so confused and helpless until now.
In her heart, a sharp pain spread and she had to compromise.
Fortunately, in his bathroom, there is a separate shower room, and a waterproof shower curtain hung inside the glass door— after pulling it closed, she sat in the doorway without seeing anything.
The youth was clearly in an extremely agitated mood.
He was calling her name almost every half minute to make sure she was out there.
Zhang Man was helpless, so she resorted to being outside, singing softly.
Her mind is also very confused right now, so she can’t remember too many lyrics. One after another, she sings the words where she remembers them, and hums them randomly when she doesn’t.
Good thing it does work.
When the youth came out after showering, she also went in to take one. The youth, like her, moved a small bench to sit at the doorway to wait for her.
He sat upright, his eyes staring at the snow-white tiles plastered on the bathroom walls, wondering about something.
The two were separated by a glass door and shower curtain, one draped in a bathrobe, the other wearing nothing in the shower, but without any distractions or desires, they just sang and talked like a couple of old friends.
Zhang Man was trying to hold back her voice from shaking as she sang, but still under the dense hot water, her tears flowed.
She loves him too much yet he endures too much pain for his age.
She didn’t know what to do to soothe the excruciating wounds in his heart. She even knew nothing of how to love him in order to fill his boundless loneliness.
It seems that no amount of love is enough.
This is where she suddenly felt small.
Compared with the world, and time, and fate, her power is so small. She used to think that she have many advantages, and her stubbornness was a good thing.
She had thought, if one year isn’t enough, then five years, if five years isn’t enough, then ten years—that there’s always a way she can get him out of his fate in peace no matter how long it would take.
But what happened today was just as big a blow to her.
Whether it’s the grandmother who still lost her granddaughter, or him who still discovered his paranoia.
She then realized that she was actually incapable… to fight fate completely.
Zhang Man wiped away the water on her face and tears, and kept consoling herself in her heart that no matter what, no matter how it ends up, as long as she loves him and he loves her, it’s always better than the previous life.
The two of them finished tidying up and it was already more than eight o’clock in the evening. Zhang Man couldn’t help but worry about Li Wei, so she called Zhang Huifang and talked her into agreeing to stay at Li Wei’s place tonight after making promises.
She then takes the youth by the hand and pulls him into the bedroom.
The youth’s eyes were downcast; the slightly longer hair in front of his forehead was blocking his eyes as he had just washed his hair. He hadn’t said much, but he seemed calm and well-behaved.
In Li Wei’s very empty room, a huge soft king-size bed stands out.
Both wearing bathrobes, Zhang Man pulled the youth, sat on the bed and asked him softly, “Boyfriend, can you find me something to wear to bed?”
Her own clothes are, well… soaking wet.
The youth nodded and pointed to the closet, gesturing for her to get it herself.
Zhang Man opened the wooden closet next to the bed almost as wide as the wall.
He didn’t have many clothes, and the closet looked a little empty, but each piece of clothing was neatly folded according to material and style.
Zhang Man picked one of his long T-shirts, which is more than enough for her height as a dress.
She tried to go to the bathroom to change, but she had barely taken two steps when the youth rose nervously from the bed and grabbed the sleeve of her bathrobe.
She looked into his obstinate eyes and let out a slight sigh in her heart.
He looks so much like a fragile child inside at this moment.
“Then, can you close your eyes? I’ll just change in the room.”
The youth nodded and sat on the bed with his eyes tightly closed.
To reassure her, he even turned his head on the side.
But his hand still grabbed the sleeve of her bathrobe.
Zhang Man smiled helplessly, “you…… how can I change my clothes if you don’t let go?”
Only then did he let go.
Zhang Man quickly got dressed and breathed a sigh of relief.
Even though his eyes were closed, he was, after all, right in front of her— and she was just… well… a little uncomfortable is all.
She took out another set of his pajamas from the closet, “Okay, I’m done changing, you change too and we’ll sleep, okay?”
He remained silent, took the pajamas, and reached straight for the bathrobe.
Zhang Man immediately closed her eyes. She can’t take advantage of him at this time.
She listened to the sound of his “fine rustling” changing clothes, and only opened her eyes when the sound stopped.
“Shall we sleep now, boyfriend?”
The youth reached out again to take her by the hand.
Zhang Man sat with him at the head of the bed and lifted the covers to lie inside, freeing up a spot for him.
After he too had settled down, she reached out and dimmed the lights in the room – leaving only the bedside one on. Tonight, she thought, he would not want to turn off the light.
The house is very soundproof. Although there is a fierce snowstorm outside, the room is very peaceful—Peaceful to the point that nothing seems to be happening outside.
The world is like this, the tragedies and misfortunes that happen to each person do not make any impact on this huge planet.
Zhang Man turned sideways and leaned into the youth’s arms.
She felt her tears, silently soaking the sheets beneath her cheeks— after a whole day of collapsing, at such a dim hour; she couldn’t resist, and finally shed a tear once again.
The youth suddenly reached out and hugged her tightly.
She heard his fiercely suppressed gasp of pain.
“ManMan…… they all left me, I only have you… You…… don’t leave me, okay?”
The cold of the winter night came through the wall, and then penetrated his chest, and the stabbing pain spread through his internal organs.
At the moment he can only feel a touch of warmth by holding her close— so that he doesn’t freeze into ice.
“I won’t leave you. I’ll always be with you, always.”
Zhang Man didn’t know how to comfort him, and could only whisper in his ear over and over again and reassure him.
Forever …… is it.
The youth calmed down a bit.
He thought that he could not be so selfish as to deceive her, and that she had the right to know all about it before making a choice.
“You know what, Janet… she… she’s really gentle.”
His voice was hoarse, like sand and gravel in a stream.
“She immigrated to Canada when I was very young, but came back to see me a few times a year.”
“When I first came to the orphanage as a child, I was very uncomfortable living there. But suddenly, one day, she came back. She waved at me from the fence outside. I snuck out the side door of the orphanage, and she was a long way away as she opened her arms to catch me and said, ‘Baby, it’s been a long time.'”
“Just like you, Man Man, she’s a gentle and beautiful person.”
“She took me to climb the mountain near the orphanage to see the red leaves all over the mountain. When I got tired of climbing, she sat at the top of the mountain and let me lie on her lap, singing a gentle lullaby to lull me to sleep.”
He said and laughed: “I still remember that time, I fell on the mountain and came back dirty, and was scolded for a long time by the aunt in charge of washing clothes in the yard.”
“The memory of Nick seems to have come to me only when I was a little older. When I was in elementary school, I was so bored that I went through the small library in the orphanage and pulled out the leftover junior high and high school physics textbooks that other people used, wrote down anything I didn’t know, and would communicate with Nick every month or two.”
“He would contradict me when I was wrong and praise me unstintingly when I came up with the right answer.”
“The other day when you came, he even said, “Li Wei, this girl, is your girlfriend? Very pretty.”
He recalled the only warmth he had left over the years and could hardly restrain the corners of his lips from curving.
But the next second, after remembering that it was all unreal, he clutched his head in pain: “But you know what? I suddenly can’t remember either of their faces today. The two people, who are so important to me, actually do not exist. It turns out that I have never had any family or friends. They… I imagined them myself. I’ve been… so many years…… I’ve been… for so many years……”
He said, with a slight choke in his voice.
“Man Man, I can’t accept it.”
Me doing this chapter: