Before Liao Nanqing was ten years old, Li Qin, like all mothers, was a gentle nagging woman. Her skin was pale, with a faint scent of jasmine in the sun. On a good day under the sun, the red plaid dress on her body would make her look more gentle.
Liao Nanqing especially liked to take a small stool and sit beside her, watching her peel edamame and arranging vegetables.
Her long ink-black hair was tied into a simple bun, and when she smiled, there were two small dimples at the corners of her mouth, and her eyes became crescents. Liao Nanqing’s complexion was just like Li Qin’s, and so were the dimples when he smiled. They were mother and son, connected by blood.
Liao Nanqing sat on the stool and carefully tore open a candy.
He fed it towards Li Qin’s mouth. The strawberry-flavored candy was Li Qin’s favorite, and his favorite.
A mother’s preference could always influence her children quite a lot.
Liao Nanqing looked at Li Qin’s gentle smile, his heart was warm and fluttering, he said, “Mom, when I grow up and make money, I will buy you lots and lots of strawberry candies.”
“Little fool, when you grow up, you want to buy sweets for your wife, how can you buy them back for your mother?” Li Qin laughed at him.
“I don’t want a wife, I’ll buy it for my mom.” Liao Nanqing insisted, the red scarf on his chest was tied crookedly.
Li Qin stopped refuting him and gently wiped her hands with her apron and tied the red scarf for him. The slightly cool fingertips lightly touched Liao Nanqing’s neck; it was soft, with the fragrance of the green and tender juice of edamame.
She said in a gentle voice, “Alright, you’re in the second grade, and you can’t even tie the red scarf.”
Her modal particle1it actually felt weird to me to translate it to modal particle here but it is what it is. Thought about using ‘tone’ instead but it’s really modal particle lol had always been these two words, alright.2好啦 – hao la
This included at his stepfather’s house a few years later. But the tone of the voice changed, from mild, to impatient.
In the gloomy room, Li Qin held his newborn son, and looked at Liao Nanqing sitting in the corner with a faint look. She turned her head first, and then as if she couldn’t bear it, she put down the little son who had just fallen asleep, went over, squatted down and touched Liao Nanqing’s head. Liao Nanqing raised his head, sinking deep into the cliff as if caught a glimmer of light. He desperately yearned for Li Qin’s care.
But Li Qin then yanked up Liao Nanqing as she got up, anxious, and trying desperately to restrain herself from the panic, and said urgently, “Go to your room and stay there, your Uncle Zhang will be back soon.”
Liao Nanqing was unwilling and hugged Li Qin tightly: “Mom, the room is too dark, I am afraid …”
Li Qin’s heart was deeply moved, but she had no idea how to comfort Liao Naqing. All the words were in vain, and they couldn’t help themselves. Li Qin’s eyes were extremely hesitant, like stagnant water flowing, contaminated with resentment. This was an invisible rope tied to her and Liao Nanqing.
The memory was paused and it was black; it was an abyss at the moment.
As soon as she spoke, the youngest son in the cradle burst into tears without waiting for her to finish. Li Qin was anxious, she wanted to go and coax the child. But Liao Nanqing was terrified. He clung to her tightly and didn’t let go, and stubbornly called her: “Mom, mom…”
This sound disturbed her.
She pushed Liao Nanqing away: “Okay! How long are you going to bother me? Your brother is crying like this, can’t you hear it? Can you also understand mom? Go back to your room!” She hurriedly picked up her little boy, coaxing and patting him gently, as if this was the beginning of her new life.
The dim vision gradually blurred, and Li Qin’s face became more and more ambiguous amidst the baby’s noisy cries…
Liao Nanqing woke up from his dream crying at two o’clock in the morning.
He woke up beside Su Beimo in the newly rented apartment in City B. Su Beimo was woken up by him and raised his hand to turn on the lamp beside him. Liao Nanqing, fearing that his tears would be seen, scrambled out of bed and nearly fell down as he ducked into the bathroom. Su Beimo followed and stood outside the bathroom and knocked on the door
Worried, he asked, “Nanqing?”
Liao Nanqing washed the tear marks off his face, and went back and forth several times. He looked at the mirror for a long time, and after feeling like there was nothing unusual anymore, he opened the door, “I went to the toilet.” However, his wet eyes exposed all the uneasy feelings.
“Why are you crying?”
Su Beimo, seeing his reluctance to talk, held his cold hand and asked him, “Go back to sleep?”
Liao Nanqing shook his head and then nodded again.
Su Beimo simply took his hand and sat on the sofa, went to the kitchen alone and pounded for a while before he brought out a cup of hot milk. He put the milk in front of Liao Nanqing, while he himself sat next to Liao Nanqing and yawned. “I’m taking tomorrow off. Let’s clean the house together, and then I will take you to familiarize yourself with the surrounding environment.”
Liao Nanqing lowered his eyes and apologized, “I’m sorry.”
“I made you ask for leave again.”
If it wasn’t for the fact that he went to see Li Qin yesterday, their tickets back to City B wouldn’t need to be rescheduled. The time that could have been used to tidy up the house was forced to disappear. Last night, by the time they returned to their apartment in City B, it was already very late. Liao Nanqing had been muddled all day and fell asleep after a simple wash.
Looking around now, Su Beimo had taken care of most things while he was asleep.
Liao Nanqing turned his head and saw Subeimo leaning on the sofa with his eyes closed, his slight breathing was gentle. Liao Nanqing took a thin jacket from the side to cover Su Beimo, and only when he got close, he was pulled into Su Beimo’s arms.
His ear was pressed against Su Beimo’s chest and he heard Su Beimo exhale deeply, “I didn’t sleep.”
Liao Nanqing squeezed and hugged him.
Su Beimo opened his eyes and rubbed Liao Nanqing’s head, “Don’t keep saying sorry in the future.”
“En.” Liao Nanqing answered in a low voice.
“There is no need for so many apologies and thanks between lovers.” Su Beimo hugged him tightly, smelling the fragrance of shampoo in his hair, and said in a deep voice, “Don’t be afraid, I’m by your side, what is there to be afraid of.”
Liao Nanqing blinked without saying a word.
“Hold me tightly if you have a nightmare, don’t hold back when you have something in your heart.”
Liao Nanqing nodded: “Okay.”
Afterwards, Liao Nanqing intentionally pulled Su Beimo’s fingers, one by one, and then ten fingers interlocked. The window was ajar, it was not yet to the night when the air-conditioning must be turned on; the wind was chilly. Liao Nanqing’s palm was infected by Su Beimo’s temperature and warmed up little by little, this warmth also brought some sleepiness.
Liao Nanqing thought for a long time: “Su Beimo, does your mother love you?” A mindless sentence, stiffly stuck in the throat, extremely uncomfortable.
“Love.” Su Beimo did not lie. Although his mother, Zhao Qin had divorced Su Jing for many years, she always contacted Su Beimo from time to time. Even if she didn’t see him frequently, her love for Su Beimo couldn’t be denied.
The way to give love was just different, Su Beimo was clear about this.
A hint of envy appeared in Liao Nanqing’s eyes and then disappeared as he said, “My mother loves me too.” He added, “Used to love, but now I’m a nuisance and a burden.” He said it lightly, like a murmur in a dream.
Su Beimo patted him on the back without speaking.
Liao Nanqing breathed out slowly, and accepted the reality bit by bit in his heart: “My mother doesn’t want me anymore.”
The fragrance of edamame and green grass in the dream would always remain in the misty dream, and one day, even that would disappear. Liao Nanqing couldn’t keep it, it disappeared in his life, in his dreams, and also disappeared at Li Qin’s fingertips.
It was fleeting, and he was afraid it was useless to stay.
Su Beimo kissed the top of his hair: “You are not a nuisance or a burden. I will always be by your side.”
In the middle of the night, the wind was blowing softly, accompanied by Su Beimo’s soft voice, and the rain was drizzling and ticking sparsely, and the nightmare turned into a sweet dream.
City B, which had just rained, had fresh air.
Early in the morning, Su Beimo opened the windows wide, letting the wind blow from the outside to the inside, giving the house some air.
In the kitchen, Liao Nanqing was frying two eggs. They were oddly shaped, but they were still edible. The rice cooker was stuffed with millet porridge, and Su Beimo pulled out two packets of pickled zha cai3or also known as mustard tuber from his suitcase and threw them on the table.
“Su Beimo, my egg doesn’t seem very good!” Liao Nanqing wrinkled his brow and drizzled soy sauce on the fried eggs. “Maybe it’s not delicious.”
Su Beimo went over to serve the porridge, saw the two fried eggs, and thought for a moment, “Let’s eat boiled eggs in the future.”
“Next time it will be fried well.” Liao Nanqing was aggrieved, took a bite with his chopsticks and was surprised, “It’s delicious.”
Su Beimo listened, leaned over, hugged him from behind, held his hand holding chopsticks, and then took another bite at the place where he had bitten: “Well, it’s really delicious.” After that, he kissed Liao Nanqing’s mouth, which smelled of greasy soy sauce. “Come and drink porridge.”
Liao Nanqing’s luggage was not much, just some simple clothes.
Most of the apartment was cleaned by Su Beimo, and after having breakfast, the two of them cleaned up the house for a while. Su Beimo took Liao Nanqing to the supermarket and bought some groceries and chopsticks, and also some daily necessities. The two of them were like a young couple who wanted to start a serious life, they bought everything carefully.
Considering that Liao Nanqing wanted to find a part-time job to save money for tuition, Su Beimo contacted her high school and university senior, Lin Quan.
Lin Quan happened to open a bakery shop in City B. In the past few days, she was asking in her Wechat Moments if anyone needed a summer job, the food and accommodation were included, in addition to a ‘generous’ salary. Providing the accommodation was already enough, but providing the meal was really a good deal. But Lin Quan had always been generous and her family was not bad; she opened a shop purely to kill time and as a hobby.
After Su Beimo saw it, he immediately contacted her.
Lin Quan asked: “Your brother?”
Su Beimo: “En.”
Lin Quan: “Okay, come, ba. Summer internship. The salary is only three thousand a month, from nine in the morning to seven in the evening, and lunch is included. I don’t need to cover housing, then add the allowance, three hundred.”
“Is it okay to be so soon? Explain in advance that my brother can only help a little, you may still have to teach a little.”
“It’s rare for the campus grass Su to contact me. That bit of face always has to be given, doesn’t it?” Lin Quan laughed, “When will he come to work? I have a shortage of people here.”
“It may take a week to go to work, he just finished his college entrance exams. I plan to take him out to travel and relax. How about this, are you free now? I’ll bring the person to you first, and try in person.”
Su Beimo also told Liao Nanqing about it in advance, and Liao Nanqing was very satisfied and interested in his work. After all, he went out to find a summer job by himself, and at most he went to the back kitchen of some restaurants to help, which was very boring. Lin Quan’s bakery was short of an assistant, and compared with washing dishes and mopping the floor, it was much easier and the salary was half higher.
Since Liao Nanqing knew that Li Qin would not give him living expenses in the future, he wanted to earn more and more, at least before the start of the school year, to save enough money for tuition.
Liao Nanqing was lying on the sofa; listening to Su Beimo’s call from behind, there was a little expectation in his eyes.
When Su Beimo hung up the phone, Liao Nanqing followed him like a little tail.
“Are we going to travel?” He asked happily, but it didn’t take long before he was worried, “But will it be very expensive? But I still have all the New Year’s money you gave me before, I haven’t touched it, and I have a little money saved for myself.”
“Your results on the college entrance examination this time were unexpectedly good. This is a reward for you.” Su Beimo wondered if he had forgotten something so he reminded him again, “I said before, I will give you better in the future.”
“No IOU’s allowed.” Su Beimo had a headache, “How can it be so hard to spend some money for you in a relationship?”
“Because you spend a lot every time.”
“Then let me ask you, when you make money in the future, will you give me money to spend?”
“Yes!” Liao Nanqing didn’t hesitate at all.
Su Beimo patted his forehead: “So there’s nothing wrong with me giving you money to spend.”
If you thought like this, it seemed that there was really nothing wrong, people had to learn to think differently. Liao Nanqing calmed down, and Su Beimo continued to joke with him: “When you graduate and make money later, I will quit and lie home every day waiting for you to make money to support me.”
“Yes, I will also buy you delicious food every day.” Liao Nanqing made up his mind, “I will study well, graduate well and make money well.”
Su Beimo said: “You are a typical three-good student,4an honour system in mainland China extolling the virtues of good morals, hard study and sporting excellence my investment is quite worth it.”
Liao Nanqing said awkwardly: “Su Beimo, don’t keep teasing me, I’m serious. I’ll really support you, and I’ll support you for the rest of your life.”
Su Beimo took advantage of the situation and kissed him. Liao Nanqing felt that it was not enough and kissed back.
- 1it actually felt weird to me to translate it to modal particle here but it is what it is. Thought about using ‘tone’ instead but it’s really modal particle lol
- 2好啦 – hao la
- 3or also known as mustard tuber
- 4an honour system in mainland China extolling the virtues of good morals, hard study and sporting excellence