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CA Chapter 21

Translator: Hua


As night fell, each group prepared for the night shooting.

  

The room was crowded with people, and there was nowhere to go, but it was enough to make it difficult for Qu Yanting to sit or stand. He went up the stairs until he reached the fifth floor. Then the noisy voices downstairs finally became distant.

  

The voice-controlled light was as dim as a candlelight. Qu Yanting sat down on the stairs. When the light went off, he was too lazy to command it to light up again. With his elbows on his knees, his hands supporting his lowered forehead, he was trapped in the darkness.

  

Not long after, someone came up from downstairs.

  

Qu Yanting had just warmed up the cold steps, hesitating whether to hide on the sixth floor. But before he could decide, the other party had already climbed the stairs beside the handrail.

  

With a flick of his tongue, the light turned on.

  

It was Lu Wen who came up with Ye Shan’s makeup and hair. Holding the script, he wanted to find a quiet place to recite his lines. He sat down on the steps and didn’t see Qu Yanting sitting on the stairs above the corner.

  

Qu Yanting also said nothing. His breathing was barely audible.

  

The script was opened. Lu Wen lowered his voice to read sentence by sentence, repeatedly adjusting the pauses and stress, and then read it again for the second time. His serious appearance was different from usual.

  

One of the scenes to be filmed tonight was a crying scene. The whole process was an emotional outburst with Tao Meifan as the objective. Lu Wen felt a lot of pressure when he was acting with the senior.

  

Besides, Qu Yanting also came to see the shooting, staring at him playing Ye Shan.

  

After reading for the second time, Lu Wen closed the script and recited the lines from beginning to end.

  

Qu Yanting heard it in his ears. He wrote very clearly, and Lu Wen could recite every word. After memorizing it, Lu Wen still felt it was not enough, and started the fourth time.

   

Qu Yanting could not remain silent anymore, and coughed slightly.

  

“F*ck!” Lu Wen was shocked. There was a f*cking person here!

  

He got up and rushed to the corner. Finally, he found Qu Yanting sitting on the stairs. According to the first come, first serve principle, it was not easy to ask him “Why are you here?”, so he just stood there.

  

Qu Yanting just wanted to say: “Don’t read too loud, do it silently.”

  

Lu Wen explained: “I didn’t know that you were there. I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

  

Qu Yanting said: “I asked you to keep your voice down.”

  

Lu Wen returned to sit down, imitating Qu Yanting’s posture to prop up his forehead, pressing his thumb on his temple. He was quiet for a while, and then he asked: “Can we discuss something?”

  

If Lu Wen’s tone was not too gentle, Qu Yanting thought that it was some director, producer, or investor who was talking to him.

  

He slowed down a bit: “What’s the matter?”

  

Lu Wen said: “If I screwed up the acting and there are too many people on the set, Can you scold me in a place where there’s no one around?”

  

Qu Yanting slid down his palm and held his ten fingers to cover the lower half of his face. Trying to cover the smiling voice, he said dully: “The crew had too many eyes, so I can just wait until we go back to the hotel.”

  

Lu Wen said seriously: “Then go to your room or to my room?”

  

Qu Yanting suspected Lu Wen had got some kind of psychological shadow. It was a pity that actors would be scolded for acting badly. It was not something that could be prevented in the first place.

  

Without encouragement or pressure, Qu Yanting only objectively said: “You don’t have to think about how to act. Enter the role of Ye Shan and just follow the reaction in your consciousness.”

  

Everything was ready on the set, and the two returned to 302.

  

The monitor was moved into the room. Qu Yanting was seated next to Ren Shu. The night shooting was not easy. Qu Yanting put a large cup of strong tea on the table. Ren Shu said, “Thank you.”

   

“Actually, I’m used to it.” Ren Shu said, “I hope the shooting goes smoothly.”

  

Qu Yanting asked: “What do you think?”

  

Ren Shu replied: “I’m not too sure. This is Xiao Lu’s first crying scene. Let’s give it a shot first.”

  

Qu Yanting muttered to himself: “If he did well, don’t praise him, he is likely to become proud. If he did badly, don’t scold him. It will become even more troublesome. You need to wait until the filming is finished. Don’t affect his mood.”

  

“Okay.” Ren Shu laughed after agreeing, “You know him quite well.”

  

Qu Yanting muted his phone and began to watch the shooting.

  

Today was Saturday. Ye Xiaowu went out to play with his classmates. He hadn’t come back yet, and the room looked deserted.

  

Mother Ye took a large pile of laundry from the balcony and carried them into the bedroom. The house was small, Ye Shan and Ye Xiaowu slept on the upper and lower bunk bed and shared a desk. After Mother Ye folded the laundry, she rolled up her sleeves to tidy up the messy desk.

  

The books of the two brothers were all piled on the table, as well as the comics and magazines borrowed by Ye Xiaowu. Mother Ye classified them one by one. She didn’t need to look at the name on the test paper. The high score ones were Ye Shan’s, and the failed ones were Ye Xiaowu’s.

   

Piling up a stack of comic books, Mother Ye sighed and checked whether there were any still in the drawer. As soon as she opened it, it was filled with test papers from last semester. She took them out, folded them one by one, and found that there was a notebook hidden in the bottom layer.

  

Mother Ye took it out, not knowing it was new or old. There was no name written on it.

  

The camera zoomed in close-up. The cover was lifted, and the word “Before dawn” flashed past. It was Ye Shan’s neat and vigorous handwriting. Seeing the handwriting was like seeing the person himself. Qu Yanting remembered Lu Wen’s foolishness as he squatted outside the door and stuffed in the papers.

  

Mother Ye turned page by page, her cheek muscles gradually tightened.

  

The door lock in the living room made a sound. Ye Shan came back. Before dawn, he had gone to the seafood market to buy goods and spent the whole day at the fish stall.

  

Going into the bathroom to wash his hands, he called out “Mom, business was good today.”

  

After washing his hands, Ye Shan walked to the bedroom: “Mom, from now on I’ll go on Sundays too, so you can have an extra day off.”

  

Mother Ye didn’t respond. When Ye Shan walked in, she turned around with an expressionless face, and gloomy eyes.

  

Ye Shan saw the notebook in Mother Ye’s hand and his expression changed. He rushed over anxiously, and stopped timidly when he was close to the table. He didn’t dare look at Mother Ye’s expression.

  

“Mom…”

  

“What is this?”

  

Ye Shan remained silent and did not answer. Mother Ye didn’t want to be in a silent deadlock with him. She asked again: “What is this? What are you writing?”

  

Ye Shan was at a loss for words. The undried water droplets covered his palms, blending with the sweat.

  

Mother Ye lost her patience. She turned to a page he had written recently, and read the line: “Three o’clock in the morning, mom scolded me. Ye Shan, did I scold you? What do you mean by this?”

  

Ye Shan shook his head in panic: “Mom, I just wrote it down randomly, it’s nothing!”

  

Mother Ye ignored him and turned to the previous page: “The day before yesterday, at 4:57 in the morning, Mom slap me in the face.”

  

On the 7th, at 2:00 in the morning, I was locked out of the door, and my mother ignored me.

  

On the 3rd, at 4:30 in the morning, my mother took Xiaowu back home alone, but I couldn’t find them.

  

Mother Ye turned page by page, reading sentence by sentence: “On the 29th, at 3:30 in the morning, I dreamed that it was the day of the entrance examination…”

  

These were all Ye Shan’s dreams. He couldn’t remember when it started,  but Ye Shan’s dreams became more and more frequent. In the middle of the night when he woke up, he could hardly fall asleep again, so he got up and recorded the contents of his dreams.

  

Ye Shan begged Mother Ye to stop reading. He stretched out his hand to grab the notebook, but Mother Ye vigorously swung it away.

  

Mother Ye’s breathing was slightly rapid: “Have you been having nightmares?”

  

Ye Shan’s eyes were already red, he denied: “It’s not…”

  

Unfortunately, Mother Ye didn’t believe it. She stared at him and asked, “Ye Shan, you wake up in the middle of the night because of these nightmares? But all your nightmares are about your mother?”

  

Ye Shan shed tears, and Mother Ye questioned him: “Dreaming about me scolding you, beating you, and won’t let you go home? I take Xiao Wu away, I don’t want you, do I?”

  

“Ye Shan, are you paranoid? Are you mentally ill?!”

  

Mother Ye glanced at those words again, raised her hand, and slammed the notebook against Ye Shan’s chest. She sobbed and said, “I’m busy day and night, pulling you brothers. It’s great, in the end, I’m the villain in your dreams!”

  

Ye Shan took a step back, and the notebook fell by his feet.

  

“One dreams at night what one thinks in the day.” Mother raised the volume of her voice, “Let’s make it clear today, how dissatisfied are you with me? How many grievances are in your heart!”

  

Ye Shan bit his lips to suppress the sound of crying, a stream of tears flowed down, he couldn’t say a word.

  

A strand of hair fell on the side of Mother Ye’s temple. She looked wretched and haggard. She pressed her chest and said bitterly: “Okay, if you don’t say it, I’ll say it for you..”

  

Ye Shan cried and begged: “Mom…I was wrong…”

  

However, Mother Ye has already said: “You think I’m not treating you well, I don’t take you seriously, don’t you? You go to the fish stall to help out. You do this and that, but I only love Xiaowu even more. In your heart, you feel very upset, right?!”

  

“The thing you are most aggrieved is that I forced you and Xiao Wu to exchange admission tickets and asked you to take the exam for him, so that you couldn’t get into the key high school. Isn’t that right, Ye Shan?!”

  

Ye Shan desperately denied it, and couldn’t help crying: “No, it’s not…”

  

 “What?” Mother Ye had tears in her eyes, “I’m your mother, I give you nightmares.”

  

“Mom…”

  

“Okay, then dream of how your father died if you can!”

  

In an instant, Ye Shan’s expression became dumbfounded, his knees softened, and he threw himself down on his knees in front of Mother Ye.

  

Mother Ye’s voice finally lowered, like reminiscing an old news, and also like dropping a sharp knife on Ye Shan’s head: “If you hadn’t made a fuss about going to the movies when you were eight year old, your father wouldn’t have rushed back to pick you up …… and wouldn’t have had an accident on the way.”

  

In the close-up shot, Lu Wen was dull for three seconds.

  

Qu Yanting’s eyes left the monitor and fell on Lu Wen’s back, kneeling on the ground. The wide shoulders tightened, trembling with every breath. The back lowered in a shallow arc, looking so helpless and inferior.

  

He saw Lu Wen grabbing the corner of his mother‘s skirt and said in tears, “Mom…I know you hate me.”

  

So I made a lot of effort just to please you, to get the same closeness between mother and son just like my younger brother. Those frequent dreams did not magnify and reflect grievances at all, but the fears formed by guilt over the years.

  

Mother Ye softly denied: “Ye Shan, you are my son, I will not hate you.”

  

But before she became a mother, she was also a wife who loved her husband deeply. In the long and bitter years, she experienced another pain.

  

“When I see you… I always think of your father.”

  

Tao Meifan pushed away Lu Wen’s hand.

  

Lu Wen’s eyelids were flushed. He blinked and sat on the ground slowly. He hung his head and picked up the notebook, tears pattering on the paper.

  

He tore off the pages.

  

Weeping, crying, howling.

  

One record after another, every early morning after waking up from a nightmare, was completely destroyed.

  

Everything on the scene seemed to stop working, there was only Lu Wen’s heartbreaking cries. He held the shredded paper in his hand, and hoarsely said “I’m sorry.”, but his lips and teeth trembled without making any sound.

  

Qu Yanting slightly avoided this scene. He pulled away his immersion from all of this. He was unable to distinguish whether it was Lu Wen or Ye Shan, or who else?

  

He couldn’t breathe. He got up and quietly left the room.

  

At the same time as the door was closed, the picture freezed, and the filming of this scene was over.

  

When the staff came in, Ren Shu immediately got up and strode towards the two actors, clapping as he walked. The cameraman stepped aside: “I’m almost crying.”

  

Tao Meifan wiped the corner of her eyes, and asked with a smile, “Director Ren, how was it?”

  

Ren Shu nodded again and again: “I’m satisfied, really, I am too satisfied.”

  

Tao Meifan said: “This scene is really good, Xiao Lu is not timid at all.”

  

Lu Wen was still sitting on the ground. He was not as experienced as his senior, so he couldn’t get out of the role as quickly. He cried so much that his temples hurt suddenly when he just stopped crying.

  

Ren Shu dragged him: “Get up! Xiao Lu, I’m still worried that you won’t be able to catch up with Teacher Tao’s rhythm. I didn’t expect it to go so smoothly. The mood and body language are all in place, fine and smooth. The performance was quite good.”

  

Lu Wen’s face looked as if it was painted. His eyes were red and swollen. He looked like a sad blind bear.

  

Tao Meifan joked: “Let my son take it easy and wash his face.”

  

Confused and disoriented, Lu Wen went to the bathroom. He splashed his face with cold water, and seemingly returned his senses. He completed the process of entering and coming out of the play, but it left him with a sense of melancholy and emptiness.

  

There were so many people here, he wanted to be alone for a while.

  

Lu Wen went downstairs and walked to a place with fewer people. He thought he was aimless, but with Ye Shan’s emotion, he walked towards the grapevine without knowing it.

  

In the script, there was also a grapevine like this in his hometown in the north. It was planted by father Ye when he was still alive. When they moved to Chongqing, Ye Shan planted this one.

  

Lu Wen walked over and paused when he got close, not expecting anyone inside.

  

Under the grapevine, Qu Yanting sat alone. He lay his face sideways using his arms as a pillow. He leaned on the edge of the table regardless of the dirt. The light of the fluorescent lamp above hit between the protruding brow bone and the bridge of his nose, like moonlight falling on the mountain peak. His eyes were hidden in the dark.

  

Lu Wen was surprised. He thought that Qu Yanting had already left. He didn’t know why Qu Yanting was staying here.

  

Startled by his presence, Qu Yanting straightened up. There were no fluctuating waves in his eyes, but there was a temperature that was probably a little bit colder than the late night wind.

  

After looking at each other for a while, Lu Wen spoke first: “I didn’t screw up.”

  

Qu Yanting said hoarsely, “You did a great job.”

  

This was the first time Qu Yanting had praised him since they met.

  

Lu Wen was not surprised or proud of himself. The director praised him, and Teacher Tao also praised him. The director applauded excitedly, and Teacher Tao smiled and said the scene was good.

  

He stared at Qu Yanting, and asked in a deep voice, “Then why are you not happy?”


Hua: Mother Ye… giving him cold treatment is even worse then outrightly abuse him. And you say you don’t hate him….(;′⌒`)

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Comment

  1. Avatar Sekstifire says:

    Geez, this is heavy. I like how the exposition is handled though. Compared to just telling the audience, “these are the characters, this is their backstory, their relationships are like this,” it’s a lot more interesting to not reveal everything and give the audience the chance to wonder things like why the brother with good grades isn’t at the fancy school.

    1. Avatar Yenna says:

      Ikr, I was kinda in tears at that.

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