When old wounds are ripped open, does it matter who hurts more?
Su Yun Jin. Stop dwelling on it. Don’t think of Lu Lu or Zheng Xiao Tong and most definitely not Cheng Zheng. It doesn’t matter if you can figure it out or not because any conclusion will make you none the happier. Yun Jin’s last conscious thoughts revolved around this before she finally fell asleep from the mental exhaustion.
She was deep asleep when her phone rang. She peered at the time on her screen before answering the call. It was past midnight.
She wasn’t in the least bit surprised. If he let her off easy, he wouldn’t be Cheng Zheng.
“Yun Jin I’m sorry. Were you sleeping?” he asked.
“Nope. What’s up?”
“I just recalled leaving a file in your car this morning. I need it urgently. I was wondering if you could pass it to me now?” There was no hint of apology in his tone.
Yun Jin sighed. “Was it in a yellow folder? When I returned home earlier, I left it with the security guard. If you need it now, go get it from them.”
The line fell deathly silent for a long while.
“If there’s nothing else, I’ll hang up now. Thank you for the meal today.” Yun Jin tried her best to be courteous.
Unfortunately, he did not pay any heed to her attempts at being civil as he mused “You must really want to avoid me.”
“Cheng Zheng, what’s the point of us meeting up still?”
“I don’t care. Come down; I have something to tell you.”
“Anything that should be said has already been said four years ago …”
“COME DOWN NOW SU YUN JIN!”
“What do you want to tell me? You don’t even know it yourself do you … I won’t be going down. If there’s nothing else, I’ll hang up now.”
“Just you try hanging up.”
Yun Jin snapped her flip-phone shut before removing the battery and lying on her bed once again. She was plagued with sleeplessness the entire night.
The next day, Lu Lu didn’t show up to work. She called Yun Jin to report sick. After Yun Jin confirmed that it was a minor ailment, she didn’t pursue the matter. If she really was Lu Sheng’s niece, then this job was of no importance to her. Yun Jin was only worried … When Lu Lu saw Lu Sheng, the fear and trepidation on her face was apparent. Could there be a sinister reason behind it? In this huge world, how many people truly possessed a clean past? More often than not, people had a dark secret past they didn’t want dredged up.
She decided to call Yu Hua from her office. Lucky for her, it was Yu Hua’s day off.
“Previously didn’t you mention your hospital had a few outstanding bachelors? If it’s convenient, isn’t it about time you introduced one to me?” Yun Jin decided that beginning a new relationship, a new life, would help her move forward and escape the clutches of her “neighbour”.
Yu Hua had been on call the night before so she had the raspy voice of a groggy person “Have you thought it through?”
“Don’t you always say if one was determined to forget, one needed to start afresh? I must bury the memories completely, and as fast as possible.”
Yu Hua was an efficient person. Within half a month, she arranged for Yun Jin to meet him in a formal setting. Although it was a little rushed, the other party had good qualifications. He was just over thirty and had clean features and was also one of the best in his specialty. In addition, he had a sense of humour. Even though Yun Jin had not carried high hopes, she couldn’t help but admit that Dr Wu was a decent candidate.
It was hard to believe that a man like Dr Wu was still single. One contributing factor was his studies occupying much of his attention in his undergraduate years. Another point was people who possessed good qualifications demanded as much from their prospective match.
Actually Dr Wu had been married once. In fact, it was only last year when his wife died in an accident. Even with such a past, Dr Wu had no need to feel troubled about finding another suitable half since he was still a good catch himself.
Su Yun Jin and he were of similar age and there was nothing to criticize about her appearance or temperament. In terms of their social standing, Yun Jin and he were of almost level footing. More importantly, Yun Jin was quiet and elegant. Although sometimes when she bowed her head, he could discern a deep sadness in her eyes, at this age, who could still possess a clean past?
Dr Wu had been practicing for many years now and viewed such matters lightly. All he wanted was someone who was willing to share weal and woe with him and Yun Jin was perfect because she had the exact same criteria. After the two of them met, they went out on a few dates and both felt good vibes about the other. When one was young, they were consumed with desires of wild, unrestrained passion but they would inevitable come to realise that all one really needed was a companion through the lonely times, someone who tended to you when you were down. This was an apt description of Yun Jin ad Dr Wu. Theirs wasn’t love but if both hung in there, who could deny their loyalty and affection for the other?
In the month where Yun Jin’s and Dr Wu’s relationship was slowly taking off, she seldom saw Cheng Zheng. Even his car was seldom seen. On the occasional bump-in, he treated her as he would a stranger.
24th December. It was the Western world’s Christmas Eve celebrations. In recent years, China became more and more caught up with the traditions and practices of their Western counterparts. Frankly, they didn’t care much for the significance of the special day. A modern man needed such observances as an excuse to gather their loved ones for a reunion. Lovers needed such festivities the most.
This day so happened to be Yun Jin’s and Dr Wu’s monthsary. The two of them had a pleasant dinner together in which they brought up the interesting moments of their lives. They found to their great delight that they shared many common views; conversing with the other was a huge joy.
After dinner, they caught a movie in the cinema; after all Christmas was the box office’s prized festivity as it raked in the dough. Both of them had the same movie in mind – Confession of Pain. The movie flowed very smoothly as it explored the theme of love and murder with an undercurrent of suspense. Ninety minutes flew past and the two exited the theatre. The night had not been wasted.
“It’s rare seeing you so serious.” Dr Wu teased.
“I didn’t expect such a finale.” Yun Jin replied.
“That Tony Leung’s character would die?”
“No, that’s not it. I didn’t think he loved her that much.”
In the dying moments of the film, Xu Jing Lei’s character, Jin Shu Zhen, had a look in her eyes that made Yun Jin tremble. “You never once loved me …” she had eked out in her dying breath as she stared at her husband. There was no reproach in her voice as she made her statement emotionlessly.
The husband’s response, as portrayed by Tony Leung, was to shoot himself squarely within the eyes.
Yun Jin shivered slightly in the breeze.
“Whose heart doesn’t hold a troubled past?” Dr Wu said gently. “Yun Jin, are you cold?” he asked as he took off his jacket and placed it over her shoulders.
She hadn’t driven that day so he sent her home in his Lexus. There was some distance from the theatre to her place and they enjoyed the lights display along the way. It was a perfect complement to the festive mood.
Upon reaching her lobby, he got off to open her passenger door. Yun Jin slid off his jacket and pressed it into his hands. She had on quite thick clothing but strangely, she still felt cold. She rarely had such moments such as this, when she truly needed someone to rely on.
“Goodnight. I had a wonderful time this evening.” She smiled as she bade him goodbye before turning in the direction of the elevator. Every step she took, she could feel the emptiness in her heart gnawing at her.
Ask me to stay, don’t leave me alone.
“Yun Jin …” He called out.
She turned around and felt an impulse to cry. He stood far off in his original place “When you smile, you remind me of someone …”
Who do I remind him off? His deceased wife? Yun Jin didn’t want to clarify it with him. After all this had nothing to do with her.
He took a few steps forward and took her hand in his. “It’s the same for me. I feel very comfortable around you … The night is cold, you should go on up quickly before you fall ill.”
He kissed her lightly on her forehead. This was his first time kissing her. His lips were soft and icy. He was just like her; they were both susceptible to the cold.
Did he love the woman who smiled like her? Even if it was love, at the end of the day, he was still searching for a prospective wife just as Yun Jin was searching for a husband.
Yun Jin eventually withdrew from his embrace and continued on. In the end, he couldn’t give her the comfort she sought.
Suddenly she heard the familiar sound of fireworks. Not too far off, the night sky was alight in colours! Many years ago, she had once stood hand-in-hand with him on the balcony to admire a similar scene. To be more accurate, they hadn’t been able to view the fireworks back then because the neighbouring tall buildings had obstructed their view. He had merely said it was a great pity. Now the fireworks was right before her eyes but the feelings of bliss had long disappeared.
“Are you disappointed that he didn’t ask you to stay?” she had just entered the elevator when she heard Cheng Zheng’s taunt.
“Yes, you’re absolutely right.” She couldn’t be bothered to think of appropriate responses anymore.
“And he’s the right one for you?” Cheng Zheng continued leaning against the wall as he smiled. “I only fear that he doesn’t even know what you want. After all, you want a man. How could that fleeting kiss pacify you? Why do you act all dignified and stop yourself from telling him?”
Yun Jin smiled at this “It’s rare that you understand me.”
He walked over to her side and his arms lightly encircled her waist as he whispered close to her ear “If a man is all you want, I am willing to step in.”
Yun Jin had no energy to flare up at him. “How come you’re so free tonight? Don’t you have to accompany your girlfriend?”
“Oh don’t you worry yourself with that. It’s not like you’ve never been a third party before.” His words had just escaped his lips when he kissed her forcefully. Hip lips still retained that familiar passion that made her ache.
Yun Jin leaned back slightly so that their lips parted to catch her breath “Even if I am willing to be a mistress, it doesn’t mean that I am willing to right the wrongs of the past. Cheng Zheng, it’s over between us.”
Cheng Zheng caressed her face lightly and asked half-sincerely and half-teasingly “And what if I say I regret it?”
“But I haven’t.” Yun Jin said slowly as she took his hand off her face. Somewhere inside, her heart was slowly icing over.
“You’re a selfish and cold woman … No, you’re not even human!” Cheng Zheng yelled in anguish.
Yun Jin turned around, unwilling to look at him as she tried to control her breathing as her chest started to heave.
“Yun Jin, teach me, how do I love another? And not just one but many others?” Cheng Zheng stood behind her devastated. “Really, I need to know. How do I become as cold-hearted as you?”
Yun Jin’s back was still to him as she said gently “It’s very easy. All feelings of love can disappear if you’ve despaired enough.”
“Despair? It’s been four years. I was so sure I could forget you. I told myself, it’s I who didn’t want you. Without you, I no longer had to agonize over whether you love me or not. Without you, I no longer had to live cautiously everyday in fear of losing you. I didn’t seek you out or contact you and refused to listen to news concerning you. That was until I met you at Left Bank. Actually, I had imagined all sorts of scenarios where our paths would cross again but this had never once crossed my mind … Su Yun Jin I hate you. And what’s more, I hate myself for simultaneously despising you and being unable to forget you! You have no right to mention despair. Have you experienced giving your all in loving someone only for it to amount to nothing? Have you experienced what it’s like to continue waiting for someone to reappear even though all seems hopeless …?”
“But you’ve never experienced what it’s like to lose a part of yourself! That night I had been waiting for you to come back. I planned to tell you that we should live well together because I was pregnant … When I first learned about the child’s existence, I was scared. But then, I slowly become more and more excited because the child was yours too; it was yours and mine! But what was the result of all my waiting? You suggested that we break up and that … I did not love you.”
Cheng Zheng froze, “Child?” His voice sounded dreamy and distant even in his own ears.
“Yes. I didn’t love you yet I was so cheap as to want to keep the child. We had already broken up and I knew that giving birth in such a circumstance was the world’s stupidest thing. But I still couldn’t bear to abort the child. Yu Hua said I was mad. Xu Zhi Heng also thought I was insane. Yes, I must have lost my mind to give up the opportunity to go for further training, the one that I had been waiting for for so long, because of the child. It didn’t matter whether the child’s father wanted me or not because no matter what, I was determined to give birth to the child of someone I didn’t love. But Heaven was out to punish me. When I was two months along, I experienced an acute onset of pain that made me go into shock. When I was sent to the hospital I was told it was an ectopic pregnancy. Even when it was only an embryo, it had already died inside me. The doctors had it removed … I will no longer be able to bear children.”