Chapter 28: Being loved is a huge blessing (3)
Momo’s whole body shivered unnaturally. Wasn’t it already Spring? The heater was still on, so why did it feel so frosty? Momo poured every ounce of energy into making eye contact with Chen Mo. Through clenched teeth, she explained, “What I mean is: Miao Yuan left. She moved out of Xi’an. She’s broken up with you.”
Chen Mo’s gaze turned on her, sharp as a knife cleaving through flesh, as if wanting to bisect all the lies to locate the truth.
“Where is she? I want to talk with her face-to-face.” Chen Mo’s voice was cold and sharp.
“She left. She doesn’t want to see you!” Momo shuddered under his gaze. It was too intimidating and oppressive. She definitely mustn’t allow Chen Mo to find Miao Yuan. He’d kill her. It really was terrifying. Momo finally understood why her best friend chose to slip away quietly.
Milu walked over and grasped Momo’s hand under the counter. “Miao Miao left a letter for you.”
The letter was short, only two to three sentences. Miao Yuan had spent the entire night writing multiple pages, before slowly whittling down its length till only a few sentences remained. She only owed him a heads up. Anything more would be superfluous and meaningless. The reason why they would break up could be boiled down to those few, relationship-breaking, points:
Our personalities aren’t compatible.
We don’t suit each other.
I feel like you don’t really love me.
I think breaking up is the best for now.
Chen Mo clutched the paper into a wrinkled lump. “Where is she right now?”
Momo and Milu subconsciously squeezed each other’s hands tighter. She clenched her teeth even more as she replied, “I have no idea. Even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.”
Chen Mo lowered his eyes slightly before quickly looking back up and sweeping the surroundings. Milu immediately grabbed Momo and took a step back. He yelled, “What are you doing!?!”
The cafe customers noticed the commotion and looked up in puzzlement.
Chen Mo smoothed out the letter, folded it, and placed it in his pocket. He took one last look at Momo and Milu before turning to leave. The two heaved a sigh of relief. Milu ran out to check where he had gone. When he came back, Momo was still apprehensive.
“Has he really left?”
“That was too scary. How could Miao Miao date that sort of person?” Momo patted her chest.
“Don’t know. Scared me half to death. It was like I died. God, bless me.” Milu drew the sign of the cross on his chest with his fingers.
“Should we phone her? J*s*s Chr*st! I had even spoken good words on his behalf! Sigh… I had never thought that he was this scary before!” Momo breathed deeply, clearly shaken by the recent experience. “Find Miao Miao’s family’s phone number for me. Thankfully, she cancelled her phone contract after getting on the train. On the bright side, now that guy definitely won’t be able to find her.”
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This situation was unrealistic for Chen Mo. He told himself to calm down; he was approaching insanity. He spent a little time to recall when he had been this distressed before in order to figure out how to resolve his anger. But, in the end, he disappointingly came up empty-handed. In his lifetime, no one had ever messed with him like this!
What was this kind of thing called?
It hasn’t even been two weeks. Ten days ago, you were calling me and crying, saying you wanted to meet me. Ten days later, you’ve left me a letter with several sentences, packed everything up, and left. That’s too excessive. Even if you’re headstrong, you can’t do it to this degree. He felt that he definitely, definitely, couldn’t forgive something of this degree. He would most certainly drag Miao Yuan out and give her a good lecture, and let her know that feelings weren’t something to be played around with. Chen Mo glared upwards, enraged, and had no idea what to do, so he went to the training field to run laps.
At first, the young soldiers all looked in admiration and reverence, inspired by his actions.
“No wonder he’s captain.”
“It’s clearly a rest day yet he still trains.”
Then later on: “Something’s off.” “Hey, do you remember how many laps the Captain has run?”
The third platoon leader called Cheng Hui to come back to the troops, causing the man in question to sweat. Through the phone, the third platoon leader was clearly agitated.
“Oh no! Something’s wrong with the Captain! He’s already run 80 laps around the field! I wanted to stop him but he gave me a death glare as if I was a target for extermination!. Come immediately and take a look!”
When Cheng Hui reached the station, he headed straight for the training field. Chen Mo was there, still running unceasingly. He’d probably already reached a hundred laps from how the third platoon leader was inferring. Cheng Hui stood at the field’s edge and hollered. Chen Mo turned around and put up three fingers. Cheng Hui was confused, but Chen Mo said in a rough voice, “Wait a moment for me.”
Three laps later, Chen Mo stopped next to Cheng Hui and slowly jogged in place.
“What are you doing?” Cheng Hui felt this was quite strange.
“Nothing, I’m just in a bad mood, so I’ve been running it off.”
At first, he just wanted to run. After 10 laps, he felt like it wasn’t enough so he ran to twenty. After 20 laps, he felt it still wasn’t enough so he ran up to 50. At the end, he thought that he might as well run a hundred! By the time Cheng Hui had arrived, he was only three laps away.
“Is something the matter?” Chen Mo asked, his body soaked in sweat. He picked up the clothes lying that he had tossed to the ground and draped them over himself. He then headed to the office for some water. Cheng Hui followed, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. It should be me asking you that.
“What’s the matter with you? Why the sour mood? Wasn’t it just last night that you were happily wanting to visit Miao Yuan? Did you get into an argument with her and she refused to forgive you? Hey, Chen Mo, let me just tell you this as a brother. Sometimes you need to apologize and comfort her with nice words…”
“We didn’t fight. She outright dumped me.” Chen Mo discovered that he had left last night in a hurry. He hadn’t even disposed of the tea leaves in the cup. He couldn’t be bothered with cleaning them out, refilled it with cold water, and drank it. Cold tea filled his stomach, carrying a bitter taste from having been soaked overnight. It immediately extinguished the fire within him.
“What?” Cheng Hui asked in disbelief.
“We broke up. She dumped me.” Chen Mo said.
Cheng Hui laughed. “Hey, Chen Mo, don’t be in such a hurry to feel down in the dumps. Lemme just tell you, young girls are all like this. They constantly talk about breaking up. She just wanted to sound you out a little, and is waiting for you to comfort her. Don’t assume it’s for real. Just look at you…after returning, you expended so much effort running laps while Miao Miao might just be squatting somewhere and crying. Women are all like this. When they say no, that’s the moment they want you to beg and fawn over them. From now on…”
Chen Mo held his cup in a daze. “Brother Cheng, she didn’t want to sound me out. She directly left. She quit her job and went back to her hometown. I just called her phone, and even her number has been discontinued. She really wanted to dump me and never see me again.”
When Chen Mo said the last few words, his heart throbbed with a sharp pain, as if a part of it was broken. At first he thought that it was due to excessive exercise, but after doing breathing exercises—as was his habit—he found out that it wasn’t the case…
So it couldn’t be that.
Chen Mo felt that he needed to piece together what was going on. No matter what, he had to find out the truth. Even if there was no reincarnation after death, he had to die in peace, and not have his soul be in turmoil over this situation.
In truth, Cheng Hui wanted him to be more open-minded at first. He said 22 was the minimum age that males could marry, with 17 being the age for enlisting. What did this mean? This meant that women were even harder to nab than enemies. So, when it came to love, losing in the hands of a woman couldn’t be more normal. You just had to observe the records from ancient times to see how many men had fallen in the hands of women. Why else would there be the term “femme fatale”?
But, Chen Mo still felt like he needed to understand what was going on, or else he wouldn’t be satisfied. Even considering that what was done could not be undone, didn’t he still have a next time? He couldn’t just be kicked out of the round without having any intel on what was happening. He had to know where he had unintentionally revealed himself, and where the bullet had come from.
He just couldn’t believe that such a sweet girl—one who had always looked at him with a warm smile; had always been bursting with energy; had always succeeded in making him happy and fulfilled, could change in such a short amount of time. Why? He needed an answer! Miao Yuan owed him an explanation.
From up until now, Chen Mo was grateful that Miao Yuan wasn’t with him during his most explosive and rage-filled moments, or else it truly would have scared her! That delicate, flower-like girl would sometimes drop him a somewhat chilly gaze. He saw her inwardly curling up behind those eyes. He asked Captain He of the criminal investigation squad to pull up Miao Yuan’s contact information of her hometown. This action drew a lot of disdain from his colleagues.
Cheng Hui said, “You’ve been close to her for nearly half a year, yet you still don’t know her home’s phone number? A person like you…if it were me, I would have broken up with you, too.”
Chen Mo gave a bitter laugh. That’s probably true. Clearly, he’s the one who got dumped. Yet, he is also obviously the one who is broken-hearted. But, why is it that everyone feels like he’s the one who was in the wrong? That he had mistreated his fellow comrade on the battlefield??
While digging up the address, an incident occurred. Chen Mo gave Miao Yuan’s hometown and her birthday. But with those pieces of information, no matter what, nothing would come up. Later, Captain He suggested, “You probably remembered her birthday incorrectly.” Chen Mo thought, no way. But as the circumstances showed, that date really wasn’t her birthday.
Why did you need to trick me?
Chen Mo couldn’t understand. Is it really important as to when you celebrate your birthday? Why would you even lie about this?
Captain He copied Miao Yuan’s address for Chen Mo. While handing it over he reiterated, “You absolutely have to give an adequate response. You must keep calm. You cannot make a move wrong. Most definitely! Even if you retreat ten thousand steps, she still dumped you. Such an innocent maiden accompanied you for nearly half a year. She didn’t cheat you out of money or material. So in the end, you were the one who had profited. You lost nothing.”
I did not lose anything. I just feel unwell. I’m not willing to resign myself purely because of this situation.
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A thousand miles away in Jiangnan, where the spring wind blew and the world was green, Miao Yuan hugged her blankets in slumber. She dreamed of a sun that set on Chen Mo’s shoulder. Gold mixed with forest green. A truly beautiful colour. She dreamed of the winter ferris wheel. A snow so white, a world so pure. She dreamed of crystalline sunlight, cold yet warm, just like Chen Mo’s breath.
She dreamed of Chen Mo holding her hand, of his lips kissing hers, of him hugging her so tight that they knotted. A hug that made her lose all strength, leaving only the desire to lean on someone. She dreamed…
Miao Yuan suddenly felt absent-minded. It was as if last night’s stars were a dream. Only…it had lasted too long, making it feel real. They met, loved, and broke up. Love’s taste was bitter yet sweet. But, upon opening her eyes, she knew that it was but a realistic fantasy. She was still that dumb girl who would hide behind the shop counters and sneak peeks at her crush. Upon noticing her gaze, Chen Mo would turn his head to ask if something was the matter and, in a panic, she would stretch out her arm and point to the cake on his plate.
Perhaps our story should have ended at that moment. Ended when my heart still wildly thumped for you. Ended when the unknown ambiguity about you was still perfection.
Miao Yuan felt the light of dawn spilling into her room like grains of sand.
It was about time.
She said to herself, “The sun is up. Open your eyes.”
He Yuedi went to work in the morning. She wasn’t in a good mood lately. Her daughter had a job and was perfectly fine. Suddenly she came home, crying and saying that she was heartbroken; that she needed to stay at home for a few days. At home, she seemed out of it all day and soaked her face in tears. Anyone who would go through that sort of thing obviously wasn’t feeling good.
The door creaked. He Yuedi quickly brushed her teeth. Miao Yuan slowly walked to her side and said with a slight smile, “Mum, I’m better now.”
He Yuedi held the toothbrush in her mouth and was taken aback for a good while. “…huh?”
She had already cried her tears, broken her heart, and been tormented. She had even just weighed herself and found that she had lost a few pounds. Miao Yuan felt that it was enough. She needed to start rebuilding after the catastrophe. Thus, Miao Yuan called her middle school friends up. “If you’re breathing and can walk, come the hell out! I’m treating you guys to dinner. Karaoke too.”
The private karaoke room was lit in a rainbow of colours. Miao Yuan gripped the microphone and had one leg up on the coffee table. “I am now officially declaring that I’m heartbroken! I am suffering!”
Tao Di lay on the sofa and shouted as accompaniment, “Miao Yuan, if you’re a man, STOP!”
Miao Yuan chucked sunflower seeds at him. “Go die! Crossdressing is not my thing!”
Familiar, sentimental lyrics sounded. When Tao Di saw the opening, he said, “Damn, which pighead was blind enough to pick this song…” He was just about to delete it from the queue when Miao Yuan yelled, “Stop!”
Miao Yuan’s large, glistening eyes reflected the couple on the screen. In a calm manner, she said she wanted to sing it. These sorts of heart-wrenching songs were exactly what were needed for the first day. Once she sang till she went off tune, then it wouldn’t be as heart wrenching anymore. Tao Di was taken aback. He tenderly rubbed her head and made a hand motion. Go. Go sing.
The intro played, and Miao Yuan clutched the microphone waiting for the chorus’s peak. 1
“Next year today, I’ll have not seen you for a year. Who could bear to change?
I’ve left for for sixty years. If only I could recognize your sons and daughters.
When we parted, I could hear you say, ‘Goodbye!’
Chen Mo, who will you love in the future? Who will love you in the future? Be kind to her. Don’t let her run off…
People always need to live courageously. Let me make a wish again.
For example, learning how to handle heartbreak.
Next year today, don’t lose sleep again.”
Miao Yuan clutched the microphone as she sang with all her heart. When the chorus reached the high notes, Miao Yuan belted out a little higher, over and over:
“Next year today, next year today…
People always need to live courageously…
Learn how to handle heartbreak, and not lost sleep again.
Next year today, I’ll have not seen you for a year…
Who could bear to change?
Next year today!”
Tao Di burst into applause and cheered. He directed the other two best friends to ring the bell. Miao Yuan turned around, laughing and wiping tears. At the end, the closing stanzas quietly mellowed out.
“To have met you in this life, I must have used up all my fortune.
I’ve only discovered today that I’ve been breathing air!”
Tao Di clapped and jumped up to shake out the stiffness. “Even if it’s you treating us, mic hogs needs to go on a time out… ”
Miao Yuan chucked the microphone over. Tao Di picked it up and smiled. “Chucking things is even more of a reason to go on a time out!”
Miao Yuan sat on the sofa fighting over the popcorn with her middle school best friends. Tao Di stood in front of the television and bowed. “Next up, I’ll be singing a classic for everyone.” He then started waving the two microphones in his hands. “Brushy brushy—Brushy brushy—Brushy brushy—WOO…”2
Miao Yuan choked on her popcorn. Fatty Rong, who was next to her, spewed out the beer he was drinking.
The day became louder and more raucous as it went on. Miao Yuan’s plans for singing heartbreak songs went down the drain. By the end, the group was singing ‘Sparkly Red Star’.3 “The sky of a liberated city is clear… The people of the liberated city like it a lot… Hoo yeah hey hey! One ‘yeah hey’! Yeah hoo hey hoo hey! Yeah hoo hey hey …”
Miao Yuan and Tao Di then belted out ‘Tibetan Plateau’. 4 Fatty Rong was at the side jumping around like one of those traditional Mongolian dancers. Wu You laughed while cursing, “They’re singing Tibetan Plateau. Why are you bringing the Mongols into this?” Fatty Rong’s face collapsed in distress and became emotional. The excessive high notes strained their voices and by the end, they sounded hoarse. Miao Yuan drank a good amount of alcohol. She drank so much beer and wine that she got wasted and turned tipsy.
On the way back, the taxi could only drop them off at the neighborhood gates. Tao Di supported her as they walked in. Miao Yuan’s legs were like jelly, yet she still insisted on walking on the curb. Drunkards definitely knew how to make trouble for themselves. Tao Di didn’t know what to do with her, and could only support her. Miao Yuan pulled his hand as she slurred on about Chen Mo.
“Today I’m happy. It’s been half a year since I’ve drank. So that’s why heartbreak is a good thing. Breaking up is a good thing…though… I still feel horrible…”
Miao Yuan stood in front of the stairs to her home and looked up at Tao Di.
“Bro, I really feel horrible. Really really horrible.”
Tao Di nodded. “I know. It’ll all be fine, idiot. Heartbreak is a small matter. Losing face is what’s big. Ah, heartbreak. That’s also a life experience.”
Miao Yuan thumped her chest. “But I really feel very, very bad.”
Tao Di hugged Miao Yuan and smiled. “I know. It’s definitely worse than biology class in middle school. Definitely worse than knowing that you won’t ever marry me.”
Miao Yuan used all her force to kick him.