Chapter 16: Guns & Roses (4)
Miao Yuan once again shifted the plush bunny in her arms, finding it awkward no matter how she carried it. Yet she wasn’t willing to let Chen Mo help her, because if Chen Mo was holding the bunny, he wouldn’t be able to hold her. Miao Yuan looked at Chen Mo’s hand on her shoulder and smiled as brilliantly as winter jasmine1.
Miao Yuan had promised to buy Momo zenggao2 as a show of respect, so after leaving the amusement park, they rushed straight to Dapiyuan3. Since the shop’s rice and jujube cakes were famous, the line was really long. Miao Yuan held the bunny while she and Chen Mo affectionately chatted and the time flew by. With a hot sweet ball of rice and jujube cake in hand, it looked like she was cupping a steaming heart of love. They also ate dinner at Dapiyuan, dining at Musa’s Casserole4—it was best known for its strong flavored oxtail soup that was cooked to tender perfection.
Chen Mo worried if he had ordered enough food, but discovered that Miao Yuan was actually a pretty good eater; her appetite comparable to that of two cats5. He saw a girl sitting one table over, pecking at her food like a bird. He concluded that Miao Yuan’s biggest virtue is that she isn’t a picky eater, nor a fussy one. Chen Mo remembered that his team’s third platoon leader had also seemed to have met a girlfriend recently. He heard time and again how the couple always had to eat out somewhere fancy, forcing the leader to borrow money. As Chen Mo thought about this, his heart felt a bit of adoration towards Miao Yuan. His hand rose to gently stroke her face, “Is there still something you want to eat?”
Miao Yuan raised her head and revealed a charming smile full of pearls. “No, I’m full.”
“Oh,” Chen Mo’s disappointment was evident from his tone, but quick to recover, he offered, “I know of a pretty good barbecue place nearby.”
“Oh… This…” Miao Yuan rubbed her belly and considered seriously, “I just examined it a little and found the room in my stomach is like a sponge filled with water. If you squeeze a little more, it can be filled”
Chen Mo laughed as he watched her, paid the bill, and casually scooped up the big bunny with one hand. Miao Yuan quickly took a step closer and snatched it back without flinching. Chen Mo was shocked, I wasn’t going to steal it from you.
The wooden barbecue stall was hidden in a suspiciously dark alley, but its alluring aromas made it worth the risk. Miao Yuan looked at the big bunny’s shiny white fur and her heart wavered. Chen Mo stood at the mouth of the dirty looking alley and beckoned her closer.
Miao Yuan looked up as if she wanted to say something. Again, Chen Mo tempted her with, “This meat is really delicious!” Miao Yuan frowned, fiercely conflicted.
Chen Mo rubbed her hair and merely laughed. “I’ll bring it out for you to eat!”
Miao Yuan bit the corner of her lip as she watched Chen Mo’s back disappear into the dark alley. It was amazing, just like the story of first love.
As Miao Yuan’s hands were occupied with the bunny, she simply opened her mouth to accept the sizzling meat from Chen Mo. The barbecue had been marinated and roasted to a tender perfection, completely eliminating the lamb’s usual gamey flavor. He forgot to ask what Miao Yuan liked, so he chose a commonly preferred selection of lamb and tendon, Huddling close, the couple polished off their small feast in the mouth of the alley.
The December sky darkened early—6 o’clock and it was already painted into a sheet of black. The night sky was clear and bright; the stars dotted it like scattered diamonds.
Chen Mo stood in front of Miao Yuan to shield the wind, creating a small, warm space in his enclosure. Miao Yuan contentedly ate the meat, her five senses entirely consumed by the delicious aroma of lamb. This really was the most delectable meat she had ever consumed in her life, she happily thought.
God popped out from behind her with a small, triangular tail and gently poked her. Little girl, at such an age, you can’t just casually say ‘lifetime.’
What a pity Miao Yuan had dressed too thickly and couldn’t feel it.
On the road back, they saw someone selling sweet and thick rice-wine6. It was a piping hot sugar sweet in a big cup, drinking it would fill a person with a soothing warmth. Miao Yuan egged Chen Mo to take a sip. He was unyielding. Miao Yuan pestered him until he mentioned: if he gets drunk, then what do they do? Miao Yuan’s eyes curved up as her face beamed in delight, “ If you get drunk, then I’ll carry you back and molest you!”
Chen Mo tilted his head and gave a meaningful laugh. Miao Yuan’s heart suddenly jumped. Feeling there was an ounce of truth in her joke, she forced two hollow laughs and didn’t dare mention it again.
It was freezing outside and Chen Mo couldn’t return too late, so he sent Miao Yuan home early. Miao Yuan held the bunny as she stood in front of her door, before she shyly asked, “What time is your morning roll call?”
Chen Mo replied, “9:30 p.m.” Miao Yuan pretended to glance at her watch.
“There’s still some time and it’s cold outside, why don’t you come in and stay a while?”
Miao Yuan started boiling some water to mix hot chocolate. GODIVA cocoa powder: a super, freaking expensive brand. During some online shopping, Miao Yuan had bought some on impulse but had been unwilling to drink it. As they sat on the sofa, they held two porcelain cups with the liquid. The big prize bunny was placed in the middle, artificially separating them.
Miao Yuan asked Chen Mo if he wanted to watch some TV, to which he affirmed. Thus, the bright screen illuminated the furniture in the room with a myriad of colours. On TV, a thousand-year old cliche drama featuring a young idol was being aired. Adding the ages of the three actors together, it would have definitely reached over one hundred; they acted as if they were young to play out the romance of youths. The plot was always: a self-proclaimed bland girl thinking herself as ordinary, who had two flawlessly perfect men heartachingly pursuing her. Due to being kindhearted, she could never choose one guy. She would also be proud: on one hand she would accept help; on the other, she would feel pitied upon.
Chen Mo indifferently listened to the story. The drama’s heroine was currently using a frosty, detached attitude to request a man to give her half his wealth so she could save her boyfriend. The two people made agonized expressions as they spat out elegant insults at each other. Chen Mo noticed how fanciful Miao Yuan’s mind was prone to distractions from new things.
Thus, she quickly became drawn in to the apexes and nadirs of the TV drama. Chen Mo thought she was adorable, like a cute animal that could not settle down and was curious about all around her. Her erratic and terrified doe-like eyes were endearing making him want to tease her, “What’s happening on the screen?”
“Eh… oh, that man’s a very wealthy young master. Originally, he really liked the female lead, but was later dumped by her. It turned out she never liked him in the first place. Because it was impossible for her to making a living at that time, she had no choice but to stay by his side…” Miao Yuan described in stammers.
“What about now?”
“Now, the male lead has met with a mishap and… he’s the heroine’s boyfriend! He was hunted by the triad and, needing money to save his life, the heroine then came to ask for the young master’s help.” Miao Yuan sighed with regret. “Ai… Honestly, I think the young master still likes her, but he’s now taking out his revenge. How did he change so much? I was really rooting for him at first, but like this, he’ll only push the heroine further away…”
Chen Mo couldn’t help but want to laugh. Silly girl. He looked her in the eyes, “What does the guy owe her that he has to help her save someone?”
Miao Yuan was at a loss for words and froze for a long time only to embarrassedly say, “Oh, that’s right! I-it seems like… she’s actually relying on the fact that he likes her.”
Truthfully, I suppose it’s fine, Chen Mo thought. There is nothing wrong with letting naive girls believe that such a kindhearted young master exists. To believe that someone could love them unrequitedly for no reason, and to believe they have the right to be proud and willful; that whatever they do wrong will be excused.
These same people aren’t frivolous juveniles, but innocent little girls who dream of the springs in their youth. That’s fine.
As the old saying goes: If young men never did youthful things, then they would not be called youths.
For naive young girls to dream of romantic fantasies, there is nothing wrong with that. But the question is, if Miao Yuan also set this kind of criteria for him… Chen Mo sensed a slight headache incoming. The tall, handsome, rich boyfriend candidate #2 was still grabbing onto the woman, recounting his pain.
He heard Cheng Hui’s wife loved watching Taiwanese idol dramas; she compared Cheng Hui with the Taiwanese idol standards all the time, pestering police instructor Cheng beyond his endurance. But seeing Miao Yuan’s drama now, it didn’t seem much better. Chen Mo painfully imagined if there would be a day Miao Yuan hoped he could also drive a sports car and wear famous brands. He stared at her, like a dummy, thinking it wouldn’t be worth it. To fulfill this young girl’s youthful ego… T-That… How can this be endured!?!
“You really like this kind of drama?” Chen Mo questioned, feeling guilty of his ulterior motive.
“When I’m bored, I watch it.” Miao Yuan declared. The movie was unoriginal, definitely not something memorable.
“Do you particularly want to meet such a person?” Chen Mo pointed to the man on the screen.
Miao Yuan split her sides laughing, “How is that possible, this kind of person can only exist in a movie. How could someone like that exist in real life?”
Chen Mo gave a deep sigh of relief. Fortunately, fortunately.
“Chen Mo? What…” Miao Yuan’s heart started to beat nervously.
“It’s late, I have to go.” Chen Mo reached past the furry, stuffed animal, pressing his hand onto Miao Yuan’s shoulder.
Miao Yuan nodded reluctantly, not wishing to part from him
Chen Mo noticed the colour of Miao Yuan’s face change. In the shadow, the lips flashed like a ray of light. It was mentioned in the TV drama: when the male lead leaves, he had to kiss the female lead goodbye. Chen Mo thought, well…I can do this much, and it doesn’t seem like she dislikes it either, right?
Miao Yuan was waiting for him to say something but, to her surprise, Chen Mo descended on her with a kiss. This kiss was lighter than the one on the Ferris wheel. The tongue was warm and moist as it rolled around in a circle and then slowly withdrew. Miao Yuan’s entire face burned deep red and her head gave off steam. She lowered her head, her eyes spiraling about in a daze.
“I’m going.” Chen Mo said with a smile.
Miao Yuan nodded absentmindedly, completely forgetting to send him off.
The door quickly opened and closed with a bang. Miao Yuan suddenly threw herself onto the sofa. The man and woman in the TV were right in the middle of playing out the climax. Mournful expressions, intertwined together, they cried bitterly, “Listen to me explain…”
Miao Yuan spitefully thought that these two people acted too energetically.
- Native to china. In general, jasmines are popular flowers associated with love and romance.
- Rice and jujube cake. It’s a typical breakfast food in Central Shaanxi. Layers of glutinous rice, dates, and kidney beans are sealed overnight in a special ancient earthen utensil called a zeng. Sweet but not sugary, it smells fruity and sweet, and the bite is springy.
- Dapiyuan street is one of various streets that comprise Xi’an Muslim Food Street, a well-known Muslim food community.
- Though casserole is a popular food item in Muslim Food Street, Musa’s Casserole is a particularly noteworthy restaurant because it uses oxtail to brew its soup, making it delicious and tasty.
- Reference to a chinese meme.
- Yellow cassia wine or jade juice in the ancient times. It’s a famous beverage in Xi’an. Resembles soya milk with a little sweetness.