Someone grabbed my shoulder. I saw Cheng Jia Yang in front of me.
I’ve never seen this side of him. His eyes were wide open with fury, his face contorted with rage. He looked at me ferociously, “Qiao Fei, you’re living very well.”
He clamped my arms, his fingers embedded into my flesh. I tried to shake him off, but we were at the campus playground so I couldn’t act presumptuously. I said in a low voice, “Cheng Jia Yang, let go of me.”
While seated in his car, Liu Gong Zi simultaneously commanded Jia Yang to do the same. At this, Jia Yang remembered the other subject to vent his anger at and punched Liu Gong Zi straight in the face. At that moment, I wanted to escape from Jia Yang’s grasp, but he only clenched me tighter, completely thwarting my efforts to break free.
Liu Gong Zi got out of his car, blood streaming down his nostrils. He held onto Jia Yang’s other arm, “I bothered your woman so I deserved that, but let her go.”
“Who do you think you are?!” Jia Yang shook him off and threw another punch.
Liu Gong Zi blocked with his left hand while he thrusted his right hand hard into Jia Yang’s stomach. Jia Yang hugged me tighter, but his body doubled over in pain.
“Let her go.” Liu said, his hand already shaped into a fist, ready for his next move.
Jia Yang reciprocated by punching back twice with one hand. His eyes were wide open as he fully took in the situation. Fresh blood stained his face, the red merging with the droplets of rain that fell onto his face. Despite this, he continued to clutch me relentlessly.
I caught Liu Gong Zi’s returning punch, “Please leave.”
He looked at me.
Liu grabbed his nose and spat out the blood in his mouth onto the ground before returning to his car. As the engine started, he rolled down the window and looked at Jia Yang and me, “Fei Fei, look at him. Why not consider my suggestion some more?”
This man had incited so much chaos, even to the extent that I thought everything was suddenly humorous. Who did I even bother? Why can’t I just live a quiet life?
Liu Gong Zi sped off, puddles of water splashing behind his car.
Finally, it was just Jia Yang and me in the torrential rain. I could feel the coldness of my drenched clothing against my bare flesh, and my mind and body were just as cold.
My downcast eyes stared at the green grass, which were splattered with Jia Yang’s blood.
His hands still clutched mine tightly.
I knelt down and looked at him, the blood on his face contrasting with his pale complexion. It was shocking.
“Okay, please let go of my hand.”
“No.” He firmly replied.
This guy didn’t even know how to fight, much less fighting with one hand against Prince Liu. He had already suffered to this degree, but he was still as stubborn as ever.
I asked, “What do you want?”
“Come with me.”
“Nevermind, Cheng Jia Yang.” I said, “That isn’t my place.”
“You had something to tell me.”
“There’s still time in the future. Everything’s just too chaotic at the moment, and both of us haven’t changed. Look, we’re inside my school. No matter how much you look down on me, at least allow me to preserve some of my reputation. I still have to stay here for another year.”
I felt his grip on me gradually loosen until I was able to finally free my arm, which had the shape of his fingers imprinted on it in red.
I stood up and as I slowly left, I heard Jia Yang hoarsely shout, “Qiao Fei!”
On May 1st during the holidays, I smoked while trying to understand and figure out many things.
How well Jia Yang treated me would move people if they knew, but I felt more and more pressured.
We needed to have a long talk, but I wanted to find the right time. I wanted to explain things clearly to him.
When I had finally found a suitable time, another problem arose.
On the first day after the break, the school’s dean, Professor Wang, told me to go down to his office. I thought it was related to my participation in the National French Speech competition, even bringing along my written manuscript as I went to find him.
They were in the middle of discussing our recent discoveries, and the advisors were also present.
When the Director saw me, he didn’t seem too enthused.
I seated myself down on the sofa, but an advisor pointed to a chair across the desk and instructed, “Qiao Fei, you sit here.”
As I wondered what the situation was about, they placed a fax in front of me.
It was written in No. 2 bold characters, and clearly stated that I had been working at the nightclub “Allure” the previous year. The sharp-tongued language overwhelmed people, to the extent that someone even asked, “could this be tolerated?” I wondered who it was that hated me so much.
Director said, “Qiao Fei, I always thought that you were a good student…”
My mind went blank.
Whoever this person was, he/she wanted to harm me, but not kill me.
Although the fax failed to present any hard evidence and therefore, was insufficient to expel me from school, it had successfully done its job in discrediting me in front of the school administrators.
Director said, “ Of course we can’t listen to one side of the story only. But Qiao Fei, you have to be careful from now on. As for the speech contest, don’t prepare for it yet. The teachers need to deliberate further on this issue. Even if this is all an accident, I hope you can understand our need to be cautious.”
Of course I understood. If a scandal broke out, it would be treated as a taboo in the school. How could I possible act as the school’s representative on a national competition?
I thanked the Director and then exited his office.
I found the nearest corner and gave Cheng Jia Yang a call, “I want to see you.”
We met at a cafe an hour later.
I was first to arrive. As I watched him approach me, I noticed that his forehead was glistening with sweat and a bandage covered the corner of his right eye.
Cheng Jia Yang sat on the chair across from me. He loosened his tie out of habit, then he looked at me. He was thin and his face was pale, which made him seem pitiful.
My heart ached and softened at the sight of him.
Cheng Jia Yang
“Are you feeling better?” Fei asked me.
She placed her hand on the table, her fingers were slender and her fingernails were coated with a transparent layer of polish.
“I was waiting for you to call me,” I said.
“Jia Yang, something happened today.”
I looked up at her.
“Someone faxed Professor Wang to inform him that I was a former employee at Allure.”
I was shocked speechless at this news.
“I’ve been having a lot of bad days recently.” She continued, “I haven’t even bothered anyone, and now people think of me this way. Cheng Jia Yang, let’s break up.”
She finally said it.
Several days ago, it was raining really hard outside. As I returned to the lodge on the main street alone, I felt both physically and mentally exhausted, as well as unbearably embarrassed.
As I faced the mirror to clean my injuries, I thought about who had made me this way and started to hate the woman in front me. I resented her, and her increasingly erratic and unpredictable temper. I resented how she could live alone comfortably, resented how she had already attracted a new man after a few days of separation from me. I remembered the “attitude” problem Jia Ming had brought up, which made me feel more and more wronged. What did she even see me as?
However, the incident Fei had experienced today completely shocked me. Who would do such a thing to harm her?
She was mad at me, and finally decided to break up.
However, it was difficult to deny that she was longing for an excuse to get rid of me.
I lit a cigarette. The possibility scared me. I looked at her face; she always had a healthy complexion, vibrant and thriving. This made me angry. Compared to how I left her several times without notice, this made me feel more wronged.
“What do you see me as?” I asked.
She briefly pondered before answering, “Jia Yang, there won’t be anyone else who will be as good to me as you are. But I feel too much pressure being with you, and this is in regards to many aspects: family, background, the thing you call ‘birth’, as well as money. These are all things I can’t avoid. There are also your friends. I fearfully face every single one of them and I feel overwhelmed by everything. What do I see you as? Jia Yang, you are like an expensive gift that I can’t afford. When I’m with you, I feel so happy that I forget about everything else, so retribution hits me afterwards. I forgot about my own origin.”
The tears I was trying so hard to hold back escaped from my eyes. I heard myself say, “Did I do something wrong? Why are you being like this to me? I’ll stop everything if that makes you happy. Whenever I say ‘birth’, I’m referring to Xu Dong. If I knew you were so sensitive to this word, I wouldn’t dare to utter it even if I was tortured. I know you don’t like meeting my friends, so in the future, don’t meet them. If you don’t like it when I talk about money, I won’t bring it up either…”
She put her hands on top of mine, “Jia Yang, it isn’t your fault this time. It’s because we’re too different. Like water and oil, we can never become one. Separating now is better than resenting each other later. You’ve been so good to me, and I will never forget that. You’ll find a good girl in the future while I’ll find someone ordinary like myself. We will have lives that fit us.”
When she said this, I finally realized the utter hopelessness of sharing a future together with her, and my tears burst into a flood.
She came around the table and put my head in her arms.
Jia Yang cried like a little child.
I hugged him, only feeling his thin frame.
I remembered the money, the opportunities, the luck, joy and physical pleasures he gave me, but I also remembered the pain.
I thought about our mutual dependence on each other.
This hopeless feeling was too complicated, and I wanted to leave quickly as an instinct to protect myself.
I consoled myself and told myself that Jia Yang was indeed good to me. I have already used my body, and stripped my flesh and blood for him (gave him everything).
But not before long, I couldn’t help but place some of the blame on him.