Sponsored Chapter by: Henny


***

    “Clang—” something hit the door with a heavy muffled sound, then “pop”, the thing fell to the floor, as if it was shattered to pieces.

    “Mama! Mama!” Eight-year-old Yang Xuan clenched his fist and pounded the door of his room with all his strength, “Mama, open the door!”

    However, no one came to open the door for him, and all he got in reply was a loud crunching sound of a vase hitting the floor.

    “Yang Chengchuan! Where did you hide the divorce notice?! Don’t think I don’t know what you two are up to—” Yang Xuan heard his mother’s hysterical cries outside the door. Fearing that his mother would do something to hurt herself, he anxiously peeked into the doorway, but the doorway was too narrow for him to see anything, so he could only anxiously raise his arm and pound on the door. For an unknown amount of time, the side of his arm swelled up before he sat down on the floor, listening in silence to the sound of the wind and rain outside.

    Once that demon spirit had invaded his mother’s body, he would be locked in his room, unable to do anything but listen to the sounds outside.

    “Xiao Xuan, my Xiao Xuan.”

    Some time later, Yang Xuan heard his mother’s voice, through a solid wood door, sounding soft and gentle.

    After a manic outburst, the demon spirit exited his mother’s body and she returned to her usual gentle and modest appearance.

    Yang Xuan sniffled, raised his hand to wipe the tears from his face, then stood up with his hand on the ground, raised his arm to turn the door handle and pulled the door open.

    “Mama…” He tried his best to act as if nothing had happened, but as soon as he opened the door, he froze.

    His mother sat in a mess of broken porcelain; her arms scratched and bruised, her back against the couch, her eyes staring blankly in the direction of the door.

    “Ma–” Yang Xuan lunged over and looked sharply at the staggered wounds on his mother’s arms, which were oozing blood and stinging red. He panicked and drew tissues from the table and squatted to wipe the blood from his mother’s arm, but she felt no pain and was silent in his every movement.

    Yang Xuan lifted his head and tentatively shook his mother’s shoulder: “Mama, does it hurt?”

    Her eyes were still vacantly open, devoid of the breath of a living person. At that moment, Yang Xuan’s heart was in his throat, and he was engulfed in a great panic. He reached out his hand, his fingertips trembling uncontrollably, trying to get close to the tip of his mother’s nose, and the closer he got, the more his fingertips shook, and before he could get completely close, he retracted his hand in fear and cried out in despair: “Mamaaa—”

***

    Yang Xuan fiercely opened his eyes in the darkness, and then exhaled heavily.

    Dreaming of this scene again…

    He sat up with a frown, raised his hand to push the wall switch, and turned on the overhead light. He got out of bed and went to the balcony to get a lighter, sat on the edge of the bed and silently smoked a cigarette. When the cigarette was almost burnt out, the panic and despair that was in his heart during the dream gradually dissipated.

    In fact, that scene in the dream never happened. His mother would always put herself together and release him from the room once her sanity returned to normal. But Xuan Yang has been dreaming about this scene since he was 7 years old. In that dream, he would always pull open the door and then see that his mother had committed suicide.

    That’s what he was most afraid would happen.

    Yang Xuan doesn’t like birthdays, especially after his mother is gone.

    His mother used to celebrate his every birthday, and although her mental state has been erratic, sometimes good, sometimes bad, after that incident at the age of 7, she adjusts to her best every year on the day of his birthday.

    On every birthday, his mother used to write him a letter. The content of the letters was varied, sometimes profound and sometimes superficial. At that time, Yang Xuan often commented that he did not understand them well, but she never explained them to him.

    “You’ll understand naturally when you grow up.” Is what she always said.

    Yang Xuan pressed out the cigarette, stood up and walked to the display cabinet. He raised his hand and took out a brown paper bag from the top layer, held it in his hand, and sat back on the bed. He pulled out a pile of letters from it and looked down at the familiar and distant handwriting on it.

    “Happy 14th birthday, Xiao Xuan! Congratulations on turning one year older and getting one step closer to freedom and beyond, that’s something to be happy about.”

    “However, I’m still a little sad and upset (mixed with a little happiness, of course) to think that in four years from now, you’ll be away from your mother to venture out on your own. I really want to jump to a few years later to see you grow up, my baby. I think you’ll grow up to be a mature but not worldly, kind but not weak boy… Your mama is looking forward to seeing that day.”

    “Xiao Xuan, you must always remember to respect the rules of this society, but don’t be bound by them and be a free and kind person. Remember, kindness is the most valuable quality in this world, and no matter what happens, please make sure you don’t let it get away from you.”

    ……

    This was the last letter his mother left him, and it was signed with the same phrase “Mama loves you!” for more than a decade.

    Yang Xuan stuffed the letter back into the envelope, lay down on the bed, and put the envelope over his eyes, blocking the harsh light from the ceiling.

    “Mature but not worldly, kind but not weak…” What does that look like? “Respecting the rules of society without being bound by them”, what should he do then?

    Yang Xuan felt that he had many questions to ask his mother, but she was no longer able to answer him. However, even if she was still around, she probably wouldn’t answer it all for him either. Yang Xuan can almost predict that his mother will laugh and say, “You will naturally understand when you grow up.” But now that he’s grown up, how come he still doesn’t get it?

    Compared to his mother, his father Yang Chengchuan’s demand for him is much easier to understand: “to become a recognized elite class in this society” just like himself. This is evident in the birthday gifts he gives. Expensive suits and watches represent all that he expects of him.

    Yang Xuan can even imagine how he would look wearing them— it would be just like Yang Chengchuan. But he does not want to become something like that, even if he becomes the most mediocre type of person, he will never allow himself to become another Yang Chengchuan.

    While it’s true that Yang Chengchuan, who wore such an expensive suit and watch, reaped countless envious glances and respect from ordinary people along the way… Just what’s the point of all that? In the end, he is nothing more than a pathetic adult who even looks down on his own son.

    Then… if his mother was still around, how would she want him to treat his half-brother? Yang Xuan remembered the look in Tang Junhe’s eyes when he looked at him, which seemed to burn more brightly than those flickering candles. Despite not wanting to be lit, he could not convince himself to hate that radiant source of light—after all, who would hate the beam of stars that lit up in the endless darkness?

    He raised his arm with his eyes closed, fumbled with the wall switch, and turned off the overhead light with a sigh in the darkness.

    ***

    The next morning, Tang Junhe came down early and waited at the entrance of the building. Because of the fractured foot a few days ago, he had a new excuse to let Yang Xuan give him a ride on his bike.

    “Ge—” Seeing Yang Xuan walk down from the elevator, Tang Junhe called out to him, his crisp voice resonating in the corridor during morning hours. 

    Yang Xuan let out an “en” and walked to the bike, unlocked it, and drove it out of the building, with a long leg across the seat to support the ground.

    “Gege, you ride first, I’ll jump up from the back.” Tang Junhe said as he stood behind his side, carrying his school bag.

    Yang Xuan asked sideways: “Isn’t your foot broken?”

    Tang Junhe scratched his head and said, “But I want to try…”

    “Try it later.” Yang Xuan paused before speaking out.

    Since his “ge” said that, Tang Junhe had to hold his school bag and simply sit on it— this way of getting on was too demoralizing, he thought. But the depression lasted only a few seconds before he was happy again. After all, he could go to school with his brother again and, it seemed that his brother didn’t hate him very much after all.

    Tang Junhe grabbed Yang Xuan’s school uniform and couldn’t help but hum in a small voice. While humming, he was thinking in his mind how he could find a way to go to his brother’s room for a while later in the evening.

    “–The evening was so long, it would have been nice to stay with Yang Xuan for a while”, he thought.

    When they were almost at school, he suddenly had a plan.

    “Ge, have you finished eating the cake?” He asked while seated in the back seat.

    “No.” Yang Xuan said, subconsciously waiting for his next question. But Tang Junhe did not continue to ask anything, which made him feel a little puzzled.

    Only in the evening did Yang Xuan understand why he had asked that question in the morning.

    At 10:15, Yang Xuan suddenly heard a few tiny knocks at the door. From his bed, he got up, walked slowly to the door, pulled it open and looked at Tang Junhe.

    “Ge, I’m a little hungry…” Tang Junhe slightly raised his chin to look at him, his eyes filled with tentativeness and expectation, “I want to eat cake…”

    “I’ll get it for you.” Yang Xuan let go of the door handle, turned around and walked to the freezer, bent down and took the cake out, then handed it to Tang Junhe and said, “You take it back, I don’t really eat this.” For some reason, although he knew that Tang Junhe would insist on eating the cake in his room, Yang Xuan deliberately said this to him, and just as expected, in the next moment, he saw the anxious look in Tang Junhe’s eyes again, unaware of the flicker of emotion in his eyes, which could be described as “not going as planned”.

    “But I do not have a fridge in my room, it is easy to spoil… there’s no room for the fridge in the living room either,” Tang Junhe quickly explained, and tentatively requested, “Ge, why don’t I eat it in your room…? A little bit is enough for me…”

    “Then eat it here.” Yang Xuan appeared indifferent, and after saying this, he leaned back into his bed and continued reading.

    Tang Junhe laid the cake box on the floor, put the cake on it, and then sat directly on the floor. Turning sideways to face Yang Xuan, he cut a small piece of cake and began to eat it.

    While eating with his head down, he secretly observed Yang Xuan. Yang Xuan was reading a book called “The Razor’s Edge“, turning a page toward the back every now and then, oblivious to Tang Junhe who was sitting on the floor eating cake.

    Tang Junhe ate the cake contentedly, calculating in his heart that if he ate a small piece a day, he should be able to eat for a week, right? That means, this week, he can go to Yang Xuan’s room every night… Thinking of this, he felt that the decision to skip class and buy a cake was really the right thing to do.

    After eating a small piece of cake, Tang Junhe returned the cake to the box, squatted up and put it back in the freezer, then stood up and said, “Ge, I’m full.”

    “En,” Yang Xuan put down the book in his hand, and raised his eyes to look at him, “go back to bed.”

    “Ge, what time do you sleep at night?”

    “Around eleven o’clock.” Yang Xuan said.

    Tang Junhe felt some regret for not eating more slowly… therefore with this in mind; he had already planned on how he would eat the cake tomorrow.


Translator’s Note:

I’m not sure if that is really the book YX is reading but at least I tried finding it, right? 😀

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Mei

A Japanese language student that decided to translate Chinese Novels during the pandemic. If you want to support us, you can buy us a ko-fi. To maintain the site and support the translators as well.

Thank you for reading!

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Maria

Thank you for translation! I really like this novel!

Jinx7

I really have this strong feelings that YX isn’t YCs Biological son 😁

Thank You For That Hardworks

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