Chapter 49: Hong Xiaobei’s story (Part 1)
“How many times have I told you not to gamble anymore?! Do you have to lose everything before you’re willing to quit? Do you have a conscience?” Xiaobei’s foster mother shrieked at the husband of hers. He gambled on a daily basis.
Each time, Xiaobei’s foster father would only sigh and accept the lecture. Afterwards, he would quietly sneak out. He wouldn’t dare to return until his wife had calmed down.
But this time, his expression was a bit unusual.
“Okay, calm down, mom. Don’t be so angry.” Hong Xiaobei hugged her foster mother as she rubbed against her embrace and coyly comforted her, “I am already in University. This is my first year, and my workload isn’t too tight at the moment. I’ve already found a part time job. After I get my wage, I’ll be able to take on some of the financial load for the family.”
“Passing this top ranked University entrance exam was no easy task. I want you to focus on your studies. Don’t work a part time job. I don’t want you to worry about adult responsibilities.” Xiaobei’s foster mother sighed. Her husband was useless, and that’s why she was suffering. But she didn’t want her child to suffer as well.
Hong Xiaobei had more she wanted to say, but her mother cut her off, “Listen to me. As long as you study well and become successful in the future, mom will be satisfied.”
Xiaobei’s foster mother looked outside and then turned to the clock that was hanging on the wall. “It’s almost dark. Go and find your father and tell him to come home!”
“Ai! Okay!” Hong Xiaobei smiled as she ran outside. Everyday, her mother would be worried about her father going out alone. She would always tell her to bring him home before sunset.
She knew that her mother had a sharp tongue but a soft heart.
But goodbye always have a tendency to arrive without a sound.
“Dad? Dad?” Today was different from all the other days. Regardless of where Hong Xiaobei looked, she couldn’t find her father. There was only a little bit of sunlight left. The sky was turning dimmer and dimmer. Hong Xiaobei was beginning to have a dire premonition. She was imagining the worse case scenario. Perhaps the creditors had captured her father and ….
As she was thinking, there were a bunch of people surrounding the river bank in front of her.
“No….it can’t be….it’s not! It can’t be….” Hong Xiaobei mumbled. She warned herself not to overthink. However, she carried her half curious and half unstable heart over as she squeezed through the crowd and tore through all the whispering.
“What happened to that guy? How come he fell into the river?”
“What do you mean fell in? I saw him jump in on his own! Ai, poor man. He was probably going through a hard time so he decided to commit suicide.”
Hong Xiaobei finally broke through the crowd. The first thing she noticed was the person lying on the ground. The man who committed suicide was her father.
“Dad! Dad!” Hong Xiaobei screamed and sobbed at the same time. She fell down onto her knees and tears instantly streamed down her face. She didn’t even realized her knees were gashed by the soil. She wailed and begged. She begged her father to open his eyes to look at her. “Dad, wake up! Dad! It’s me, Xiaobei! Please open your eyes and take a look at me!! Dad! Dad!!”
Sadly, Xiaobei’s foster father could no longer hear her screams. While they were on their way to the hospital, all of his organs had stopped working. He was declared dead.
Meanwhile, Xiaobei’s foster mother was at home preparing dinner for them to return. She finally picked up the phone after a long delay. Initially, she thought it was the creditors calling to demand payment. So the moment she picked up, she yelled, “Why do you guys keep pressuring us? You want to pressure us to death!?”
“Mom….” it was Xiaobei’s tearful voice. She was so emotional that her voice was barely audible. “Mom, come to the h-hospital…h-hurry…! D-dad…he…..”
By the time they met again, it was farewell.
“My child’s dad, how can you leave us like this? Now, your child is fatherless and I’m a widow. How can you be so cruel…?” Xiaobei’s foster mother wept next to the body. Her hopeless coarse cry could be heard in the entire building. Hong Xiaobei will never forget that moment for the rest of her life.
They were already a low income family with a lot of debt. Now that her father had killed himself, it was a significant blow to them. Most importantly, she and her mother loved her father dearly. Yet, he had chosen to abandon them like this…
In the gloom alleyway, Hong Xiaobei felt like she was the most pitiful woman in this world as she withdrew herself into a corner and quietly wept.
“We’re a family. Even though we have debt, we’re supposed to face it together. Dad, now that you’ve abandoned me and mom, I’ll never forgive you!”
Hong Xiaobei wouldn’t dare to say those words in front of her mother. She only said this while she was alone crying in the corner.
After her father’s death, Hong Xiaobei and her mother took on all the debt responsibility. They were forced to live more conscientiously. Hong Xiaobei worked at a fast food shop behind her mother’s back.
“Oh?! Little Princess! Long time no see. I didn’t expect to see you at this type of place!”
That day, while Hong Xiaobei was working her butt off, a handsome guy was sizing her up and down. “Why are you here?”
“What did you say?”
“Xu Weishan, didn’t you go to England after getting that full scholarship? I thought you were living the good life. When did you return back to the country?” The guy placed his arm on the table as he asked out of astonishment.
“Sorry, customer. You’ve got the wrong person. My name is not Xu Weishan.” Hong Xiaobei pointed to her name tag. “My name is Hong Xiaobei.”
“Don’t try to act in front of me! Ha! I have information that can be used against you now!” The guy took out his cell phone and began taking lots of pictures of her. “Ha! I’m going to tell your parents you’ve secretly returned from England. What are you going to do?”
Hong Xiaobei thought she had encountered a pervert, so she kicked the guy out of the fast food restaurant out of anger.
She held onto the mop and had her arms on her waist as she stood by the doorway. Hong Xiaobei looked at the guy’s basketball uniform. It had his name embroidered on it. She heatedly stated, “Kevin, right? I’m going to tell you again. You have the wrong person. I don’t know you. Please leave immediately or I will call the cops now and say you’re harassing me.”
“Go ahead! Call the police! When your parents come, let’s see who gets in trouble!” Kevin refuted. He believed Xiaobei was his childhood enemy, Xu Weishan. He could still recall how she used to bully him. This time, he could finally get revenge.
Hong Xiaobei rolled her eyes. She didn’t think there would be a day where she had to prove her own identity. She took out her identity card from her bag and flashed it in front of Kevin. “This is my ID. Name: Hong Xiaobei.”
While Kevin was speechless, Hong Xiaobei had put her ID away and returned back to work in the fast food restaurant.
“Did I meet a ghost in the middle of the day?” Kevin shook his head as he stared at Hong Xiaobei’s rear view. He didn’t believe his eyes. Was it because he hadn’t seen Xu Weishan in a very long time? He got her confused with someone else?
“Customer, your delivery is here.” Because of the debt, Hong Xiaobei worked from morning until night.
Today, her job was to deliver food. So, Hong Xiaobei dialed from downstairs and spoke into the speakers while she waited for the customer to unlock the door.
This was a luxurious apartment building. Hong Xiaobei couldn’t help but accelerate her steps as she sighed and walked in. This was where wealthy people lived, eh?
“Customer, this is your order. Chicken for two, a bottle of coke, pizza….”
*Chuckle*. Hong Xiaobei was busy confirming her order, so she never looked up. But she lifted her head after hearing the sudden burst of laughter.
It was the pervert from the last time! He was covering his mouth and trying to suppress his laugh.
“Why is it you?” Hong Xiaobei instantly had her guard up. Seeing him put her in a bad mood.
“Enter to talk.” Kevin shifted his body over, indicating for her to go in.
“No need. Just give me the money and I’ll be going. I still have other deliveries.” Hong Xiaobei coldly rejected.
“But the money is inside. If you don’t come in, you can’t get it….” Then, Kevin took the delivery from Hong Xiaobei’s hand. He pretended to close the door.