SWFM 122

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Chapter 122: Prayers

 

Apple would originally have held on stubbornly for much longer. As she had said previously, she wanted to wait till she could lift up an umbrella of her own, walking shoulder-to-shoulder with Xu Tingsheng, even being able to shield him from the winds and the rain when he so needed it.

Yet, Fang Yunyao who was lying comatose on her sickbed and the helpless Fu Cheng…had caused her to feel afraid, afraid that there might suddenly come a day like this when it would all be too late.

Thus, she did not stubbornly hold on, instead saying, “Xu Tingsheng, I won’t sing anymore. Take me with you. I’ll do your laundry and cook your meals for you, okay?”

Yet Xu Tingsheng did not give her the answer that she wanted.

Actually, the answer was one that she had already known long ago. It was just that she couldn’t understand how this man could be so good to her whilst also so cruel towards her at the same time.

Apple viciously bit Xu Tingsheng on the shoulder through his layer of clothes, really using all her strength in doing so.

Having vented, Apple took two steps back, saying as she looked at the wincing Xu Tingsheng, “Xu Tingsheng, I really wish that I could hate you.”

She ‘really wished’ it. Yet, something that someone really wished to do would usually also be something that was very difficult or even impossible for them to achieve.

Puffing up her cheeks and taking a few deep breaths, Apple then considered for a moment before saying, “We’re agreed then. When I hold a concert, you’ll definitely come?”

“I’ll definitely come. I’m mostly just afraid of you biting me…it hurt,” Xu Tingsheng said.

It really did hurt. Someday in the future, when he went to listen to her concert, how would things be like between them then?

Apple proudly bared her sharp fangs…Xu Tingsheng ran away, Apple ferociously chasing after him with bared fangs and extended claws. Really, let there be no paparazzi today.
……

After having caught up on sleep at the motel in the morning, it was Huang Yaming and Song Ni who had been assigned to stand vigil outside the hospital ward for the afternoon.

After the few of them had eaten lunch together, just having returned to the motel, Xu Tingsheng received a call from Fu Cheng.

“Auntie says that she wants to go to a temple and pray for Ms Fang. Do you know if there’s anywhere nearby that’s rather more efficacious? Take us there.” Fu Cheng asked.

Jiannan City was a place that Xu Tingsheng could not be any more familiar with.

And so, Xu Tingsheng drove Fu Cheng, old Mrs Fang and Apple to a temple in the northern suburbs of Jiannan City with more than a hundred years of history. This was one of the most popular temples in the entire Jiannan City, the incense sticks burning numerous and strong.

It was said that if one prayed sincerely with all their heart, their prayers would be answered.

Xu Tingsheng was not too devoted towards religion, actually being rather more ‘anything goes’ towards it. He was only familiar with this temple because he had come here once before. Technically, this once before was something that should happen seven years down the road.

In his previous life, just a short while after Xiang Ning had begun her fourth year of university, when the relationship between them had at its peak, the two of them had come to this temple together. Xu Tingsheng had been dragged along here by Xiang Ning to kowtow in prayer, both of them having afterwards extended a hand into the bamboo tube and drawn out a lot together.

It was only Xiang Ning who had gone to get the lot deciphered. Thus, even now, Xu Tingsheng still didn’t know what it was that that lot had meant. Everything that had happened afterwards had been completely different from the blissful future that Xiang Ning had interpreted for him.

Back then, having returned from getting the lot deciphered, Xiang Ning had been frowning.

Whilst not really being a devout Buddhist, Xu Tingsheng’s heart had abruptly twinged involuntarily out of the blue as he had hurriedly asked, “What’s wrong? Was that lot bad?”

Xiang Ning had hurriedly raised her head and smiled at him, shaking her head as she replied, “Nah. The lot said that I would marry an uncle who’s many years older than me, who also doesn’t have much money at all…sigh, I’m so pitiful.”

“How much older?”

“Five years.”

“Oh, what a coincidence. I just happen to be five years older than you. Will you marry me?”

“Huh, how shameless. Daring to propose just like this.”

“Lord Buddha said it.”

“Lord Buddha also said that I will marry very far away.”

“That’s bad. Jiannan doesn’t seem very far away from Yanzhou?”

“That’s not it, that’s not it. I said it wrongly. Lord Buddha said a little far away, but not extremely far away…just like from Jiannan to Yanzhou. Right, it’s just around that distance.”
……

As Xu Tingsheng stood by the doorway and reminisced on all this, Fu Cheng and old Mrs Fang were devoutly praying before the statue of the Buddha. At this moment, Xu Tingsheng was very willing to believe that Lord Buddha was really listening, that so long as one sincerely prayed with all their heart, their prayers would be answered.

Apple stood opposite Xu Tingsheng, leaning against the pole at the entrance.

“Let’s go in and pray for Ms Fang as well,” Apple said.

“Yeah.”

The two walked into the temple, kneeling down beside Fu Cheng and praying for Fang Yunyao’s safety.

As Xu Tingsheng was about to stand up after having finished praying, Apple tugged on his sleeve, saying, “Pray one for yourself.”

Thus, Xu Tingsheng knelt down once again. He knew not whether Lord Buddha might feel tired, because he had really prayed for too much. He had prayed for his family, prayed for his friends, prayed for Apple…

And finally, he had prayed, “Seven years later, I will be back. The powers of the Buddha are boundless, surely knowing who I came with previously, and who I will come with in the future. Please let it be that I will still be coming with her in this life. I further pray for a supreme lot, not desiring riches, just desiring…that those who are praying together, need never be separated again in this life.”

In having said ‘those who are praying together’, Xu Tingsheng had been referring to the past Xiang Ning, and also the future Xiang Ning. Yet, the one currently by his side praying together with him, praying for him, was another girl.

Would Lord Buddha be able to properly distinguish this?

Apple did not tell Xu Tingsheng what it was that she had prayed for.

As they left the temple, Apple’s handphone vibrated. She walked to the side and picked up the call. At first, she spoke in hushed tones, but her voice gradually began growing louder. Xu Tingsheng could vaguely make out that she was arguing with someone.

“Didn’t I say that I won’t be accepting commercial performances over this period of time?”

“…”

“My friend’s still in the hospital. She still hasn’t woken up yet.”

“…”

“I won’t go. Whatever if there’s a breach of contract.”

Apple hung up, looking rather perturbedly at Xu Tingsheng. She actually wasn’t willing to reveal her current harsh predicament in front of Xu Tingsheng. Ceaseless commercial performances, with a new album nowhere in sight…

There was an incident some time earlier that had left the management company unhappy with Apple.

Back then, the management company had been preparing to whip up a scandal between her and their most popular male singer. They had specially found some paparazzi to take capture a shot of the two of them leaving the recording studio together at night. Afterwards, they had gotten some minor newspapers to report the two of them as meeting together late at night, seemingly being very deeply in love with each other.

This sort of ambiguous, half-baked scandal was a usual method of this management company with which they maintained their artistes’ popularity. Yet, Apple had not cooperated with them. The next day, she had released a statement in her own name denying and clarifying this rumour with all her might. At the same time, she had expressed that she had someone she liked, that person being a member of the original Rebirth.

This incident had greatly aggravated the management company. If not for Apple’s current widespread popularity, they would likely have immediately clamped down on and suppressed her.

Xu Tingsheng did not know of this incident, being even less aware that the reason for Apple’s tough stance on the matter was that she had been afraid of him seeing the newspaper report and misunderstanding her.

Xu Tingsheng came up beside Apple, asking, “It’s your management company who called? You have a performance?”

Apple nodded.

“You should go. I’ll send you for a bit.”

“I won’t.”

“Since you chose to do this, you should do it properly. Don’t be wilful.”

Xu Tingsheng drove Apple over to the location at which the management company had dispatched a car to fetch her.

Before she got off, Xu Tingsheng asked, “Do you still remember those words I said to you that day?”

Xu Tingsheng had said many things to her before. Apple looked at him rather uncomprehendingly.

“If you meet with any difficulties, no matter how serious they are, remember to tell them to me. I will always be here, and my umbrella will grow bigger and bigger as well…don’t be afraid, behind you stands Xu Tingsheng. Actually, Xu Tingsheng really is Superman…however far and high you fly, I will still be able to cover you.”

Xu Tingsheng repeated these words that he had said that night before finally concluding, “Don’t let anyone bully you. I won’t allow it.”

“Yeah.”


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