Chapter 32.1: I love you, so will you come back? (1.1)
Chen Mo sat in the car for a long while, as the sun journeyed past its apex and slowly set in the west. He sat all the way until…shops started closing.
He quietly watched his surroundings with a calm patience. It was as if he had returned to a few years prior, when he was observing a target and didn’t have a single stray thought. His line of sight was drawn in by Miao Yuan’s every movement. Apparently, that man was a baker. He placed soft, white lumps of dough onto a griddle, while Miao Yuan would occasionally help him with an egg wash. There was also another young girl on the side who always came and went in a hurry, but her movements were methodical. Every field has its specialties, if one focused on doing something well, it would be a truly beautiful sight.
It was late in the evening, when Miao Yuan smiled and bid her coworkers good night. The man lowered the shop shutters with a metal hook, which rumbled loudly as they dropped down. Chen Mo saw Miao Yuan look in his direction. It seemed like there was a curious spark in her eyes, as if she were about to walk over. His heart suddenly jumped. He turned the key, ignited the engine, and left. From the rearview mirror, he saw Miao Yuan stand on the curb and stare blankly before turning her head and walking the other way. Chen Mo made a U-turn at the next intersection and circled around to block Miao Yuan’s path.
At 10 pm, the streets bustled as Chen Mo easily tailed her. Just like always, this girl had no awareness of her surroundings. Miao Yuan lived in one of those old dormitories that were built in the 90s. Though the building was old, it wasn’t dilapidated. The walls outside had a fresh coat of paint, but the corridors inside were stained, with paint peeling off their walls. Chen Mo saw the motion-detector lights slowly light up one by one. Then, on the fourth floor, a warm yellow light shone from an open window.
Chen Mo thought of what Miao Yuan had said in a previous conversation many months ago. ‘When I have my own house, the entrance hall and living room lights must be yellow. Though fluorescent lights are bright, only a fire-coloured light can warm a home.’
He once had a home, but he ran away from it. Later on, he was left without one, and the dorms became his new home.
Chen Mo walked to the bottom of the building and looked up. He stared, in a daze, at that warm yellow light until it went out.
That day, Yuan Jie waited till lights out yet still didn’t get the cake, but with his cowardness, he didn’t dare ask Chen Mo as to why he reneged on the promise. Thus, Chen Mo naturally forgot about the matter completely. On the second day, the bright-eyed masses became acutely aware that Chen Mo was slightly out of it, but they didn’t say anything. The less said, the better. Everyone took a page out of Chen Mo’s father’s book when he named his child: they stayed silent.1
That night, Chen Mo woke up in the middle of a dream. He saw the bright moonlight from outside the window and suddenly thought things through. Why did he have to hide from her? They had broken up because they were incompatible, and separated on amicable terms. There really was no need to secretly follow her like a stalker!
Chen Mo thumped his brain and thought, So I’ve really become dumb.
Then, his heart clenched again. And, indeed, I love her.
Chen Mo made special preparations. He filled his stomach and changed into a fresh set of clothes before heading out…to buy some western pastries.