Cheng Jia Yang
Fei’s final exam grades were not bad. For the holidays, she had planned to visit Harbin with a small group of people as a vacation. Before leaving, she went to the mall to buy a thick winter coat. When she tried it on and showed it to me, I noticed that there was something different about her.
“Did you gain weight?”
“Yes, a little.”
“Did you weigh yourself?”
“Gained 15 pounds.”
“Gained 15 pounds and you call that a little?”
“I thought something was a little off when I came back.”
“Aish! Shut up!”
I walked over and helped her zip up the coat, “It’ll affect your image if you get too fat.”
“I’m okay with that.”
“We’ve recently cooperated with the Ministry of Commerce in France for a project.”
“What did you just say?” Fei asked, her eyes glistening with enthusiasm.
“Hehe, magical Cheng Jia Yang is equipped with many internship opportunities for you. Plus, the French pays well. This way you won’t have to run around the country with a group. No wonder you’re tired.”
“Great! I must study hard and improve every day,” she was extremely happy. “When I’m at Harbin, I won’t eat anything in order to lose all the weight I’ve gained.”
But trust me, you should never believe a woman when she says she is going to go on a diet. When Qiao Fei steps off the returning plane after five days, she would have probably gained at least five more pounds. “What?”
“Bars, Harbin sausages, river fish hot pot,” she hugged my waist then continued, “Gege (affectionate term for older male friends), give me a break. This is my first time going, I won’t be able to experience anything before the struggle.”
I pushed her away, “When you gain too much weight, your brain activity will decrease.”
“No wonder I’m always sleepy.”
“When you get fat, you’ll be like a waitress.”
“No, no. I can’t even fit into that outfit.”
To be honest, if Fei gains a little weight, she’d only become more beautiful given her height. But I liked her original tall and slim figure. If she continued to put on weight like this however, she would soon surpass me.
“As if. After we went to the sports club to get a membership card, you started dieting and exercising more often.”
“Okay. I’ll completely listen to you then.”
When I had my arms around her at night, I placed my hand on her warm, soft belly. The fact that she had gained some weight wasn’t too bad since her body felt nicer under my touch. But an abrupt thought came to me as I touched her there.
“You’re suddenly gaining weight… Could it be because of that?”
She stared at me, her eyes widening, “What? Don’t scare me.”
I couldn’t manage to say the word ‘pregnant’ so instead, I said “Baby.”
She was still stunned as she muttered “Impossible.”
We were always well aware of this becoming a possible issue, but negligence is inevitable.
“Has there been any abnormalities with your menstrual cycle?”
“Let me think.” Fei was in deep thought for a brief moment, “No problems.”
Silence passed between us while we each carefully thought about the same thing.
I looked at her and she looked at me.
In fact, I wouldn’t be afraid if we had a little child. As long as I was with her then I was happy. I felt that we could be together, for a lifetime even.
We could give birth to a child, spend a little money, then give birth to another one.
Boys. Boys are easier to raise. Furthermore, I wouldn’t have to worry about him getting bullied somewhere.
One would learn French, one would learn Spanish.
One would be named Cheng De Fa, one would be named Cheng Fa Si.
Four people would fill the dining table, bringing different cultures together.
As I pondered for a while, I started to laugh. Unfortunately, Fei had yet to graduate from college and still had a long future ahead of her.
I looked at her again and she also looked back at me.
“What are you thinking about? Why does your laugh sound so sinister?”
“Nothing. You’re thinking too much. Hurry up and sleep.”
I turned off the light.
Before the Spring Festival, Fei had bought train tickets to return home.
There were a few events and several plans scheduled during this time of the year, so I was in an idle mood.
On the morning of New Year’s Eve, a gathering was hosted by the State Council. The ministers have all taken the time to attend this, and my father had ordered me not to be absent.
I raised my glass for a toast with one person then wished another a happy New Year. I drank white wine, one glass followed by another, and my colleagues did the same. As soon as we were about to have fun, someone called out my name.
“Cheng Jia Yang.”
I turned my head to the sound of the voice, it was Wen Xiao Hua.
“Hey, hello.” I said, then shook her hand.
“Hello, happy New Year.”
“Thank you, thank you. Isn’t this such a coincidence?” I asked.
“It’s not a coincidence. I accompanied my father here.”
We were still in the middle of greeting each other when my father approached us. He was with an official of the same rank as him.
My father said, “Jia Yang, come see Mr. Wen.”
Mr. Wen was Wen Xiao Hua’s father. He was responsible for the financial sector at work. His recent performance had been outstanding which made him a favorite among all the ministers. He shook my hand, “Jia Yang has already grown up this much? Cheng Brother (term used for friendship between two long-term male friends), how can we not be old anymore?”
“Xiao Hua, how do you two know each other?” My father asked.
“Jia Yang has been on my program before.”
I knew that drinking more would only produce a scene, not to mention this woman’s unabashed interest in me.
My father said, “During the New Year, I’ll invite you guys to dinner.”
Xiao Hua was extremely happy and wished my father a happy New Year again. My tongue felt hard and I couldn’t say anything.
Wen Xiao Hua had the best of both worlds that day. When we got home that evening, my father taught me a lesson.
“You’re an adult now. Won’t you even wish an elder a happy New Year?”
I didn’t reply. Instead, I wanted to pick up a newspaper to read.
“You disappoint me, Cheng Jia Yang. Where have your manners disappeared to?”
I bit my tongue and listened to his lecturing as I counted sheep in my head.
One, two, Australia, New Zealand…
My mother disagreed, “Given who we are, do we really need someone to socialize with or entertain us? Besides, what’s so good about girls who know how to articulate their mind?”
My mother wasn’t entirely wrong. You really are my birth mother after all, coming to the rescue at the most critical moments. You’re such a good mother.
“I’ll control the child, you shut up.”
If my father continued to talk, I wouldn’t be able to suppress my laughter anymore.
To be honest however, Wen Xiao Hua’s temperament and demeanor were both impeccable. Furthermore, her use of sophisticated vocabulary added to her professionalism. This woman was practically perfect.
My uncle and aunt were next to save me from my father’s lecturing, coming over to wish us a happy New Year. They had brought over fresh lamb meat from their own farm which our nanny cleaned and cut into thin pieces for hot pot.
Uncle and aunt wondered about Jia Ming, asking about his absence from home during the New Year.
No one knew where he went.
Uncle said, “The second child is still more obedient.”
My father glanced at me.
Every family celebrated the New Year differently. I wondered how Fei celebrated it. Together with her mom, she must’ve cooked very tasty food; tea eggs for example.
After I was done eating, I watched some TV and played a little mahjong. I ate and drank a lot today and was starting to feel tired. I went upstairs to get ready for bed.
I called Qiao Fei, but her phone was switched off. Perhaps it wasn’t charged. I went to take a shower then called again. Her phone was still off.
My phone’s wallpaper was set to a picture of her. I fell asleep by staring at it.
In the middle of the night, I had a nightmare involving blood, a lot of blood. My dream felt similar to the movie ‘The Shining’.
I abruptly sat up in bed, covered in sweat.
I had a severe stomach ache, which felt like there was a screw drilling up and down my insides. It was so painful that I wasn’t even able to straighten my waist. I felt nauseous and gagged a little, then I fell off my bed and onto the ground with a “thump”.
When I woke up, Jia Ming was beside me. I could feel that the pain in my stomach had slightly lessened, but I was still unable to straighten my body.
“I gave you a pain reliever shot. You don’t have high alcohol tolerance, why did you drink so much?”
“It’s not that,” I said drowsily. “There’s no problem with my alcohol tolerance.” At that moment, I started to feel extremely uncomfortable and it wasn’t solely due to my stomach, but rather an overall uneasiness.
I took my phone and called Fei again, but her phone was powered off.
“That’s too much.” Jia Ming said.
I placed the phone down, feeling troubled. Fear and concern filled my mind.
Fei had travelled to Shenyang by train, which wasn’t an issue. I asked a friend there to help her buy train tickets home, but would she be able to find him? Would she be able to get her hands on the tickets? If not, this silly girl wouldn’t possibly take a bus home right? As the New Year approached, the northeast was heavily covered in snow and the long bus ride would cost more money.
I grew more and more anxious, but despite calling her phone multiple times, I just couldn’t reach her.
The situation remained hopeless until the next afternoon, when I had already bought a flight ticket to Shenyang.
Before I departed, I tried to call her again and she finally picked up. “Hello,” she said.
A wave of relief washed over me at the sound of her voice. I had felt like a drowning man who was about to suffocate any minute now, but someone had finally pulled me out of the water. I almost shouted, “Why do you always have this problem? Why is your phone always turned off?!”
“Who else could it be?”
“I just got home. My arrival to Shenyang was slightly delayed. My parents even reproved me.”
I wasn’t mad anymore when I continued to hear her voice. Possessing the urge to yell at her a moment ago was really hypocritical of me. I calmed down and quietly asked, “What happened? Did you need to make a phone call about something? If you missed the train, how did you get home?”
“I don’t know what to do with you anymore. I almost went over there to find you. Qiao Fei, how many times has it been already?”
“Ai.” I heard her sigh and my heart softened within a second. However, I could faintly feel that there was a problem, “What’s wrong? Why is your voice so quiet?”
“I’m a little tired today so I won’t talk to you anymore. Besides, the telephone fee is quite expensive.”
What I really wanted to say was I’ll give you $1000 in deposits. However, I recalled a similar situation in the past and swallowed my words, “I’m worried. My stomach ached a lot last night.”
“Last night? What happened?”
“Just had a nightmare in the middle of the night and when I got up, my stomach was hurting. Luckily, my brother came home and helped me out.”
“You’ve just arrived home, go get some rest.”
“Wish your parents a happy New Year for me.”
“Thank you. You too.”
I placed the phone down and took a stretch.
At least this coming year will be peaceful one.