Chapter 8: Dating a Martian (2)
A joyous moment can paint a soul a glimmering gold, as was the case with Miao Yuan, whose heart glowed golden from simply seeing Chen Mo today. Just the sight of him made her heart thump, her blood course, and her whole being radiate a warmth.
Of course, these physiological reactions likely arose because she had been corralled into bed and then drowned in a heap of blankets, which had left no inch of her exposed.
She felt lightheaded and sweat heavily, seemingly expunging all her sweat out. Yet afterwards, she felt infinitely better.
Chen Mo had half the day off so he sat by her side. But soon, he began to feel awfully awkward and thought that perhaps, the girl was feeling just as awkward. Thus, he decided to go to the diner at the street corner to buy her dinner. Hopefully, it would trigger an appetite.
His notion of caring for the sick was still stuck at a rudimentary level: feed them well and bundle them up. The masses could only sigh and resign to their fate, thinking, We can’t ask for too much.
Luckily, Miao Yuan was easily pleased. She was so happy come dinner time that she ate with her head in the clouds and almost choked on a pepper.
Early next morning, she bounded through the cafe door, full of life. Momo was greeted by this sight and stunned speechless by the rapid recovery. She gazed upwards, hot tears streaming down her face. Wow! Just as I thought, the power of love is amazing!
Meanwhile, Miao Yuan bashfully scooted closer until she brushed shoulders with Momo. “I’ll treat you to dinner tonight.”
Momo’s eyes flitted into a sideways glance, as if sending Miao Yuan a secret signal. “So you got with him?”
Miao Yuan blushed a deep crimson from the pressure cooking her alive. She could only return a silent nod.
“What did it feel like?” Momo asked.
Miao Yuan peered into the distance. “It’s kind of like if Jay Chou1 himself went to your doorstep to serenade you.”
“Wow, like that?” Momo then sneaked closer under the guise of working. “Come come, tell me the specifics. How far did you two go?”
“We exchanged numbers, and then…,” Miao Yuan paused. “And then he promised to treat me to a meal.”
Momo clucked her tongue disdainfully.
“Don’t worry, don’t worry…” Miao Yuan scratched her head, drawing circles with her fingertip. “We’re taking it slow.”
Momo’s eyes were full of doubt. Even so… “Slow? You’re slowly becoming a monk!”
Miao Yuan was unperturbed by the comment and calmly dumped the butter into the mixer before turning it on.
Her phone slept in her pocket, serenely still and blanketed by her body’s warmth. The thought that it contained Chen Mo’s number put her at peace.
Modern society had its advantages. In ancient times, star-crossed lovers could be separated for a whole decade, not knowing of the other’s life or death. Had there been cell phones, would there have been so many unmarried women and lonely men back then?
Even if she didn’t call him, just thinking about how she could made her giddy.
Sometimes, life was like this: just thinking about it was enough. Take antique collectors and their priceless pots. A pot worth millions couldn’t feed or clothe a person, yet looking at it could bring much joy. Miao Yuan viewed Chen Mo’s phone number with the same feeling.
When the boss came over during her rounds, she saw Miao Yuan spacing out for what seemed like an eternity. The boss suspected that Miao Yuan’s fever had fried her brains. Why else would such a smart girl be laughing like a dunce?
The dunce in question scooted up to her boss. As if quoting some profound words by God, she stated, “Boss, it’s winter now.”
The boss nodded. Right, it’s very cold.
Seeing this approval, Miao Yuan continued.
“Winter is a time of opportunities! You see, holidays come one after the other: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day…”
The boss kept nodding, but silently wondered, What’s going on with you?
Miao Yuan’s eyes seemed to sparkle as she spoke. “We have to make the most of this time by promoting new products. We have to take advantage of New Year’s.”
Upon hearing this, the boss became delighted and clapped her hands together. “This is too great! I love seeing you like this, so full of energy. Young people have such fresh ideas! Momo, learn well from Xiao Miao’s behavior!”
Momo threw a hard, unyielding look of contempt at Miao Yuan, who let a giggle slip out.
Momo was peeved. What is this? This is clearly the private abuse of the public interest. This is taking a kick at socialism, then pulling the wool over its eyes!
However, Miao Yuan only sent her a glance, her eyes radiating sparks that seemingly said, Don’t blab too much, okay? I’ll compensate you later.
Momo thought for a while. Then in a clear, loud voice she said to the boss, “Aye!”
The boss chuckled as she left.
During childhood, the best part of celebrating Chinese New Year’s was saving the best piece of chocolate for last. Similarly, Miao Yuan was saving the best part of her day for last. All day, Miao Yuan checked and checked her phone. Only after closing shop did she finally bring herself to call Chen Mo.
Sadly, no one answered.
Miao Yuan wilted and a million thoughts tumbled in her mind. She dejectedly lowered her phone and placed it back into her pocket. The phone felt cold and hard.
Miao Yuan prepared for the walk home. In the old city, nighttime was a hushed emptiness. She wrapped a large scarf around her neck and tugged fur-lined mittens onto her hands. Hugging herself into a ball, she trudged against the wind.
A tranquil, silvery tune broke the silence, sounding strangely sweet.
Miao Yuan had finished listening to the prelude before realizing that it was her own phone ringing. Fumbling, she tried to fish her phone out from her pocket and grab a hold of the tiny thing. When she looked at the screen, she almost dropped her phone.
Black against white, two distinct words—Chen Mo.
Miao Yuan bit her frozen lips and couldn’t contain herself. Using her most tender voice, she answered with a simple, “Hello?”
“Sorry, I just turned off the lights to attend roll call. I left my phone in the office so I didn’t hear it ringing.”
Chen Mo’s voice was as calm as always, but Miao Yuan inexplicably felt that it also carried a sort of temperature, the kind belonging only to him. It was the perfect temperature—enough to warm her heart.
Miao Yuan felt a bit embarrassed for bothering him, and said, “Actually, nothing happened. I just wanted to tell you I’m feeling better now.”
“Oh, I was busy the entire day and forgot to ask how you were feeling.”
Miao Yuan smiled, her eyes curving into crescents. “Do you still have to work in a while? I didn’t disturb you, right?”
“No, I’m resting.” Chen Mo thought for a moment. “Oh, I might as tell you about my daily schedule, like when I’m working, when I’m on break, when I can’t meet, and when I’ll be free and waiting for your call.”
Waiting for your call.
Miao Yuan’s heart leapt. Despite knowing that he couldn’t see her, she still stubbornly blushed against the cold winds. Softly, she asked, “Then, in the future, can I call you often?”
Chen Mo heard that wavering voice, and said with a laugh, “Of course you can! I’m usually completely free after 10 pm.”
Miao Yuan was over the moon. She raised her head and saw a sky full of twinkling stars that seemed to wink at her.
Their call soon concluded.
Chen Mo hung up, and his thoughts started to drift. His heart felt strange. What do you call this sort of feeling? Love? Is this what love is? To have someone who calls you every night just to tell you about their day? To slowly come to care for that person? To can’t help but wonder whether that person has recovered? Is this what love is?
He spun the phone on his fingertip before dialing a string of numbers.
A vibrant voice sounded through the phone, bringing tones of laughter from thousands of kilometers away.
“Yo, stranger,” Lu Zhen said, with his characteristic frivolity.
“Ah, you’re off?” Chen Mo then collapsed into a chair.
“Yeah, I haven’t officially entered the state of confidentiality yet. Do you have a personal or private matter? Well either way, talk to your heart’s content.”
“Chen Mo, I didn’t hear wrong, did I? You said it’s personal?”
Chen Mo felt embarrassed and went silent.
Hearing no response, Lu Zhen knew he had crossed the line. “Grandpa Mo, can’t I be wrong once in a while? Say whatever’s on your mind! You can’t just say a few words and then hold the rest back. You’re toying with my heart!”
“I… have a girlfriend.”
Chen Mo originally thought that the person on the other side would shriek but he was surprised to be proven wrong.
A chilling moment passed before Lu Zhen faintly said, “Chen Mo, welcome back to Earth.”
Chen Mo was the first to break into laughter.
“Is it really that bad?!”
“Of course! How about you try and tell this news to our team. I bet you Fang Jin would make his way over tomorrow.”
“D-don’t lead him on. There’s no sign of anything happening yet!”
“That’s true,” Lu Zhen said sympathetically. “Knowing his rashness, he might storm over and pressure you two to consummate the marriage, saying, ‘I’m giving you three months to pop a son out for me!’ ”
Chen Mo hadn’t yet replied, silently embarrassed.
Meanwhile, Lu Zhen completely misunderstood this silence. He cried out, “Chen Mo, you couldn’t have already done it, have you?”
Chen Mo immediately felt shamed, and beat the table, roaring, “What are you imagining?”
“Oh, oh, nothing, nothing at all. I’m a person who lacks virtue. I’m a person full of warm, lustful thoughts. Don’t learn from me!”
Though an apology sat in his mouth, his heart cackled with malice. This time I’ve hit the jackpot. Grandpa Mo is embarrassed!
The inner cackling eventually died down and Lu Zhen circled back to the main topic, asking, “Uh, Chen Mo, in the end why were you looking for me?”
“Oh… nothing much.” Chen Mo was grasping for words. He had nothing going on in particular. It was just an impulse. He just wanted someone who would listen to all that was on his mind.
- Jay Chou is an extremely famous Taiwanese musician. Like Beyonce levels of famous.