Cheng Jia Yang
I faced some obstacles in the midst of my work. Qiao Fei didn’t mind this too much, but she knew how to accept new lessons. The previous “Three Free, Five at a Reduced Price” wasn’t interpreted very well, so she began to cram taxation homework and after a brief time, her translation of it was finally clear and logical.
When we spent time together during the weekend, I would browse online while watching her study at the table. A strange thought suddenly emerged: how outstanding would it be if my daughter was just as hard-working; she’d be both pretty and intelligent. Responsibility over a life was the beauty of being a father, and I would do my best to train her in the most optimal conditions, give her the best opportunities. Like watering a green plant.
Fei felt extremely joyous and recounted the day when her interpretation was successful.
“Do you know who I was partnered with?”
“Yang Yan Yan?”
“Can you give me some face, and at least pretend you can’t guess who it was?”
“I also don’t want to (make you lose face), but my IQ is too high and I can’t do anything about that. Quickly, say something.”
“It was a very smooth performance. I fixed all the mistakes I made last time and set the atmosphere perfectly. Of course, there were some other mistakes in the middle, but I’m very satisfied. Zhou Xian Fu also commented that I interpreted pretty well.”
“Awesome. Interpretation relies on accumulation, so as long as you do better than the previous time, that’s great.”
“Thank you Teacher Cheng. Plus, what I’m most happy about is that this time Yang Yan Yan looked as though she was out of power (the actual word the author used was energy as in “battery” energy).”
Fei was bursting with the energy of a child. At the computer, I played pool and pocketed a ball. I turned back and said to her: “You’d use that phrase? That your coworker Old Yang was ‘out of power’?”
She didn’t respond.
“The phrase does well to convey the competition and rivalry, but collaboration is also a very important aspect.”
“Why do you constantly turn everything into a lesson?” Fei asked from behind me.
I began another new game on the internet. My opponent was ‘I just don’t believe that I can’t register for it’. The game started off strong and I believed my opponent was a strong player, so I braced myself for facing the best.
“Do you know why? Age, experience, and the enthusiasm of a picky heart.” I turned back to face her. She smacked my head with a paper towel.
Xu Dong finally asked about my situation.
I said, “It hasn’t changed, it’s still her. It should be love, but I’m not too clear about it. Everything is such a daze, but we’re currently very happy after we overcame the early obstacles.”
“When will you bring her out and let your big brother take a look. While we’re not married, we still have a chance.”
“Go grab yours.”
“Then I’ll bring your future sister-in-law over, you bring that person over.”
I thought about it for a moment.
“It can’t be that your relationship isn’t going well and she’s unwilling to come out with you right?” Xu Dong looked at me suspiciously while he spoke.
I didn’t really mind his interrogation. Xu Dong was right, I should formally introduce Qiao Fei him. I called her to discuss about this matter.
“I invited a friend to play tennis on the weekend. You come too.”
“This weekend? I still have to go to Lao Zhou’s for work in the morning. Can you go alone? I don’t even know how to play tennis.”
Qiao Fei ah, Qiao Fei.
The moment made me recall the time last year when I had invited her to Wu Jia Yi’s premiere. She had used the excuse of leading a tourist group to decline me through a brief text, which was still stored on my phone. A long time has already passed since, and there was no way to investigate the situation clearly now.
As for today, she used work again to reject my invitation.
I wanted to tell her that of course I knew she had to work on the weekend, so I previously called Zhou Xian Fu to give her a break. Lao Zhou said: “Jia Yang, you must’ve been confused. We have assigned French holidays, so it’s the Easter break this week. I already told Little Qiao to rest a while back.”
“Hello? Jia Yang.” Fei’s voice sounded through from the other side.
“Oh, alright. Then we’ll make an appointment another time.”
I slowly placed the phone down, my other hand on the desk rotating a pen. My wishful thinking came from my heart and unpredictable women with a hint of bitterness.
A coworker at the table across from me was in the middle of a phone call with a travel agency. “Jia Yang, Jia Yang. Quick, help me take down some notes.”
I flipped open my notepad and scribbled down the numbers he dictated. Afterwards, I noticed that the pen ink had smeared onto my hand. The ink was by an international brand and a foreigner had gifted it to me, but I disposed of it anyway and went to the bathroom to wash my hands.
I positioned my hands below the opened tap, washing my hands for a prolonged period but the blue marks still remained. I watched my reflection in the mirror and instructed myself:
I laughed out loud, and lightly exhaled. I still had work to do. I still had my life ahead of me.
This had happened last Tuesday. After that, I assisted Wen Xiao Hua with the translation of several French documents even though it wasn’t urgent. When night came, I played online pool with “I just don’t believe I can’t register for it”. This rascal was either in high spirits or as bored as I was; we played every day and into the night.
I didn’t cancel my appointment with Xu Dong just because Qiao Fei said she couldn’t make it. If I could go myself, why wouldn’t I? On a Thursday afternoon however, Qiao Fei called me.
“Where are you?” she asked.
“Ah, I’m in the office.”
“Can you come downstairs? I’m waiting for you outside.”
“I’ll wait for you at the closest Manabe Coffee shop. Do you have time?”
“Yes, yes. Don’t go anywhere, I’ll come right away.”
I didn’t even say hello to her. In two, three steps and I was already sprinting down the stairs and out of the premises. I spotted Qiao Fei on the corner of the street.
“Why did you come over?”
“We only had a quiz today and a class was suspended too. I already finished my test and didn’t have anything else to do, so I came over to see you.”
I loosened my necktie and didn’t speak.
“Oh right, I asked Lao Zhou and he said that he would give me a break this weekend. Didn’t you say that you wanted to play tennis?”
I continued to watch her silently.
“I should tell you, I have absolutely no idea how to play tennis. I’ll make you lose face so don’t blame me.
“What? You, you changed your mind again?”
“No, no. I’ll go.” She said.
I wondered about all the thought processes she had gone through to finally arrive at the decision of allowing me to introduce her to my friend.
Had she lied to protect me or herself?
I didn’t want to think about it anymore because nevertheless, Fei was willing to go with my plan. She was willing to give me face.
Qiao Fei prettied herself up for the meeting. Her long hair was swept into a ponytail, her face was naturally powdered and she had on a subtle layer of green eyeshadow. She wore white Adidas sportswear, the skirt revealing a pair of strong slender legs.
Seeing her walk over, Xu Dong pointed at my face. “Ah, ah, ah, you little rascal. Isn’t she the girl we saw outside the foreign languages department?”
I was surprised that he actually still remembered.
His fiancee was still in the changeroom so I said: “Sorry. When I found her in the end, she was too outstanding so I kept her for myself.”
I certainly couldn’t mention the other strange origin (when Xu Dong accidentally introduced the two when he gave Cheng Jia Yang his present).
Fei came over and Xu Dong held her hand. “You are Fei? I have long admired you, are you Chinese? You look like a foreigner.
I said: “Fei, don’t mind him. This is my pet Xu Dong, he is accustomed to being passionate with his owner’s friends.”
Fei laughed. “Hi Xu Dong. Jia Yang was right, you are his best friend.”
“It’s pet.” I interjected.
After Xu Dong’s fiancee finished changing, we all went onto the court to play. I explained the basics of tennis to Fei and not before long, she was playing as well as me.
She had her own strengths; she had good stamina and served several aces. I laughed so hard in my heart, thinking that she seemed like a man, but I was afraid I would turn against her.
After one round, I got off the court to drink some water. Xu Dong sweetly said: “Jia Yang, tell me the truth. Did you bring in a professional player to get ahold of me?”
“Would that be likely?” I asked.
Fei seemed very happy. She grabbed some grapefruit juice and swigged it down.
“No,” Xu Dong answered then turned to Fei. “Besides the foreign languages department, I have seen you elsewhere before.”
I took a glance down at Fei’s hands just before she spilt the grapefruit juice onto her skirt.
I had always thought of myself as clever, but who knew I’d be so stupid all along.
Of course Qiao Fei knew my friend, and yet I was so clueless about the difficulties she had endured given how sensitive she is. How she had acted during these recent days had always been her trying to hide a heart full of scars.
She had tossed and turned, and finally made the decision to cast her concerns aside, just to save me some face. She even prettied herself and feigned happiness.
I wanted to tightly hold her hand when I saw hers almost trembling.
I glared at Xu Dong as he was about to talk. Whatever he had to say, it would probably determine whether we stayed as friends in the future or not.
“When you were little, weren’t you the host of “The Heavens and the Earth”, that kids program on the central station. If so, let me tell you, I’ve had a crush on you ever since I was young.”
His fiancee laughed.
Fei laughed: “No, no. I only came here for college.”
Xu Dong’s fiancee said: “Fei, your juice got onto your clothes, do you want to clean it up a bit?”
Fei had only just discovered it, and stood up to go to the restroom.
I watched her back and thought, I had to find a reason to quickly end this meeting.