Chapter 201: The one who lies
It was a sudden downpour that descended in July.
If you stopped your car somewhere, sitting in it alone, listening to the rain pattering away at the window, watching the crowds dispersing, before the rainwater obscured your vision and the temperature dropped…one easily felt helpless, like they had been forsaken by the entire world.
As Xu Tingsheng got off the car to buy some cigarettes, the Golden Retriever Dongdong leapt off along with him.
“What’re you doing down here? In this rain, you’ll be drenched to death!”
As the sound of the rain was too loud, Xu Tingsheng was virtually hollering this. Yet, Dongdong remained unmoved by this as it raised its head to look at Xu Tingsheng, yelping twice as if to say, “There’s only you left. Despite getting drenched, what would it matter? How would I dare to not follow close?”
Therefore, a human and a dog walked across the overhead bridge amidst the torrential rain, both getting thoroughly drenched.
Xu Tingsheng bought himself a box of cigarettes and Dongdong a packet of sausages.
It was really too hard to get a cigarette lighted up in the rain. Therefore, Xu Tingsheng went back into the car, igniting the cigarette before peeling a sausage for Dongdong. The raindrops pattered against the car and its windows. Inside, a man sat with a cigarette in his mouth, and a dog sat with a sausage in its mouth.
Xu Tingsheng showed a photo to a dog. There was Xiang Ning in the photo. Recognising her, the dog yelped, very pitifully. The human was very pitiful as well.
Xu Tingsheng had already properly adjusted his mental state when he returned to the riverside residence.The current him actually didn’t even have the right to be freely hurt and despondent.
He even had a lie ready.
Having been reborn, it was destined that Xu Tingsheng would be accompanied by endless lies in this life. Hereafter, the liar could only ceaselessly lie thereon, unable to cease in those lies. Those whose lives were full of lies like this were actually more prone to feeling lonely, because they had to bear just too many things on their own.
In the living room of the second floor of the riverside residence sat Fang Chen, Lu Zhixin as well as Yuqing whom he had called over to accompany Apple earlier.
Seeing the thoroughly drenched Xu Tingsheng as well as the Golden Retriever Dongdong that came in after him, the three of them all revealed strange gazes.
Ignoring their bemusement, Xu Tingsheng first asked.
Yuqing pointed at the closed door.
Xu Tingsheng pushed it open and went in.
Apple was hugging her knees as she sat on her bed. Hearing the noise, she looked up and saw Xu Tingsheng.
She slowly asked in a soft voice, “You’re back, Xu Tingsheng? You went to look for Xiang Ning, right? Xiang Ning was looking for you, right?”
“That didn’t happen,” Xu Tingsheng lied.
“You’re lying. You were so nervous back then, you know? I’ve never seen you looking so nervous before…it’s also been a long time since you left me alone like this so flusteredly. Therefore, it could only have been Xiang Ning, right?”
Apple asked slowly, not in a questioning tone.
Having lied, Xu Tingsheng could only continue lying, “It really wasn’t that. Don’t let your thoughts run wild.”
Then, he led Dongdong over, “I was helping a friend to look for his precious Golden Retriever, and even got drenched in the rain. It was nearly caught and beaten to death by the city management as a stray dog. We only just barely managed to save it from them.”
“Because it’s been rather strict in the city recently, with teams specifically for dog-catching and whatnot, my friend asked me to keep the dog here for a while. Thinking that it can help you to relieve your boredom and accompany us in running, I brought it back home. Look, is it okay?”
Looking first at the thoroughly drenched Xu Tingsheng and then at the similarly bedraggled Dongdong, Apple thought for a moment before awkwardly standing up and raising a hand to stroke his wet hair, “Sorry, I…”
“It’s fine,” The liar Xu Tingsheng couldn’t bear this ‘sorry’ as he continued, “Have you eaten?”
Apple shook her head. The three girls in the living room also loudly yelled that they hadn’t.
“It’s almost 7pm. I’ll hurry up and get cooking then,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“You should bathe and change your clothes first,” Apple said.
“Right. I’ll be quick.”
Xu Tingsheng quickly took a bath, changed his clothes and began cooking. The four girls happily helped to bathe and dry Dongdong before taking out various tidbits to feed him with.
Fang Chen pushed open the kitchen door, asking, “Where will the dog sleep?”
Xu Tingsheng said, “It can sleep below the sofa, by my feet. Lest someone comes to take off my pants again in the middle of the night.”
After having eaten and washed the dishes, Xu Tingsheng sat on the sofa for a while. Soon, Fang Yuqing came over, bringing the tea leaves for Zhong Wusheng and driving Yuqing back. Xu Tingsheng gave Zhong Wusheng a call, intending to invite them for a meal the next day.
Zhong Wusheng and the others had already left Yanzhou after eating dinner that day. After finishing their matters on hand, they would be returning to Libei very soon.
Then, Xu Tingsheng began feeling a little dizzy.
“You girls can play in the living room for a while more. I’m feeling a little tired today; I’ll sleep for a while first. Wake me up when you go to bed,” After saying so, Xu Tingsheng whose sofa had been occupied returned to the room that was once his and now Apple’s, plunging onto the bed.
When he blurrily awoke, he could already see sunlight illuminating the sheets.
Apple sat by the bedside, looking at him.
“I…what time is it?”
Knowing that he had slept for too long, Xu Tingsheng struggled to get up with some difficulty.
Apple rose and pressed him back down, “Lie down properly, you’re running a high fever. It’s two in the afternoon now. Now, drink some water and eat your medicine.”
Apple helped to prop his pillow up and support him into a sitting position. Then, she went to get some warm water and popped a few capsules into his mouth before bringing the cup up by him.
Sunlight illuminated her face, her expression incomparably earnest.
Xu Tingsheng raised his head, “Apple?”
“What? It must be very unbearable?”
“No, I’m feeling very warm and contented.”
Cheering up a little, Apple smiled, “You feel warm and contented so easily?”
“That’s right. At certain times in one’s life, it’s actually just like this. Meeting with very simple things, seeing very earnest faces, with someone being concerned about you, seeing you as so important…one would very easily feel warm and contented.”
Xu Tingsheng was ‘thirty-one years old’ now, or perhaps already ‘thirty-two’. He had once lived a desolate, despairing life, not having gained stability before. There was also this life of ‘solitude’.
Right, solitude, at every single second, every single moment. Even when he was interacting with Xiang Ning, while it was blissful, this solitude was still impossible to avoid. What he had was a story as well as the corresponding emotions of solely him alone.
He wanted to find back that story. In the end, the events of the previous day had proven that he was currently in the midst of getting further and further away from it.
Xu Tingsheng’s ‘at certain times in one’s life’ actually referred to the times after the relationships in a man’s life, after the ebb and flow of the great tides when he finally put down his unresigned, unbridled heart, yearning for simplicity and stability.
Xu Tingsheng had the appearance of a young, successful youth, yet had experienced the viscissitudes of two lives. Therefore, it was only inevitable that he was a conflicting entity.
Apple smiled brightly at him, “Your brain got burnt silly.”
“No,” Xu Tingsheng said, “Have you been here the whole night? …Hurry and get some sleep.”
Apple shook her head.
“Go, close the door,” Xu Tingsheng said.
Apple closed the door.
“Lie down,” Xu Tingsheng shifted over to the side of the bed.
Unexpectedly, Apple the hooligan appeared incomparably nervous now.
“You’re still feverish,” She said nervously.
Xu Tingsheng was taken aback, “What’re you thinking about? Can’t your mind be purer, girl?”
“Just lie down for a while. You sleep for a while, and I’ll rest by you and lie down for a while.”
Apple hesitated for a moment before finally cautiously lying down.
Discovering that she was still nervous, Xu Tingsheng asked curiously, “This isn’t right! Previously, you were so…what’s gotten you this nervous now?”
Apple said, “That was different. I knew that you definitely wouldn’t before. That was why I dared to tease you like that. Did you see me tease any other guys that way before? They really would have. That’s why I had to treat them coldly.”
“And I know that there more I was like that, the more scared you were, right? Also, didn’t I have a motive at the time? While it seems foolish when I think about it now, I really wanted to study in a better university back then, because I wanted to change the lives of my Mum and I, everything else aside.”
“So it was like this. What about now?”
“Now that we’re together, I’m instead feeling scared. We haven’t even held hands before.”
Xu Tingsheng’s fever burned on. Even two days later, though better, he was still somewhat feverish.
He went back to sleeping on the sofa, yet lived a life like a king. It was Apple taking care of him most of the time, but once in a while, when she was tired, Lu Zhixin would display a rare gentle side. At such a time, for Xu Tingsheng who was used to suffering her fierceness, it was virtually like the liberated peasants singing the song of revolution.
“Sorry, for always taking you as Superman. Like yesterday, we were still habitually waiting for you to cook and wash the dishes. We’ve all been spoilt by you,” Lu Zhixin said.
Another good thing about this bout of sickness was that while Apple was exhausted from taking care of Xu Tingsheng, her mental state and mood had improved greatly as a result.
Because she had found something she was happy to do, which she could find herself to be ‘very useful’ and ‘very valuable’ from, she had become active in her life as had never before.
She knew how to rest when it was necessary, knew that she had to eat more, because she had to take care of Xu Tingsheng.
She began learning how to cook even more diligently, even though the results were disastrous beyond compare most of the time. Just like this, when she opened the door with an apron tied around her waist one day, two strangers appeared outside it.
They asked, “Who are you? Xu Tingsheng lives here, right?”
Xu Tingsheng bolted straight upright, “Mum, Dad. You’re here.”