I wish I had something to say here, but… Read, and you will understand.
Chapter 16.1 – The Roles People Play (1)
There were doctors continuously coming and going from the room, and Zhousheng Chen had also stepped inside.
She felt even more panicked.
She forced herself to continue looking — at the sun shining high and bright, at the mottled shade cast by the trees, at the handful of Interpol agents and Zhou family members downstairs. After a while, she reached unsettledly for her milk tea, and the tassel on the eighteen prayer beads around her wrist swayed with her motion, the rose-colored tourmaline decoration on the string of the tassel bumping against the glass of the cup and producing a light, clinking sound.
For some reason, she seemed to sense that someone was watching her.
She sought out that uncomfortable gaze. It was Zhou Wenchuan.
However, when she located him, he had already shifted his gaze away and had gently stretched out his hand to stroke Wang Man’s abdomen.
Wang Man lowered her eyes to watch him, lightly placing her hand over his as both their hands covered the position where the baby was. The Wang family was not the large, wealthy family that the Zhou family was, but it had always been secure and stable. For Zhou Wenchuan, she had conceded again and again, but still she could not understand why matters were becoming more and more complicated… Those authorities downstairs had gradually narrowed their investigation down to him.
In the immense Zhou family, there were far more people than simply him, alone, who were involved in shady business. Yet, it was him, alone, who was embroiled in real troubles…
The door to Wenxing’s hospital room abuptly opened…
A middle-aged doctor strode out and, with an extremely grave expression, directed a nurse to call several other doctors. Everyone outside of the room stood up anxiously, watching the people dash in and out.
From early this morning up to now, there had already been three life-threatening instances. This was the fourth…
After a dozen or so minutes, Zhousheng Chen emerged from inside and cast a glance in the direction of Mei Xing and Shi Yi.
Shi Yi and Mei Xing walked up to him, and she gently reached out and took hold of his hand. He returned her grasp and said, “Wenxing wants to see the two of you one last time.”
Her throat clenched and tears nearly spilled over from her eyes.
Originally, this had been a sterile room, but it was apparent that later, the people who entered were no longer required to don isolation gowns. They passed through two consecutive automatic doors and stepped inside. Her legs unable to hold her up anymore, Zhousheng Chen’s mother was sitting on one side of the room, continually wiping her tears with a handkerchief. Wenxing lay upon the bed, her eyes open and fixed on Shi Yi and Mei Xing.
The two walked over to her.
Wenxing first took Shi Yi’s hand in hers, and with great difficulty, she wrote several words in her palm: mobile phone, recording, listen.
Shi Yi nodded, then turned to Zhousheng Chen. “Give me Wenxing’s mobile phone.”
Zhousheng Chen immediately strode out and very soon returned with a bag. From within, he pulled out the phone and handed it to Shi Yi. Seeing that Shi Yi had the phone in her hands, Wenxing slowly moved her gaze away to look at Mei Xing.
She no longer had the strength to speak. Inside the oxygen mask, a faint white mist could be seen forming recurrently.
Very faint. Even breathing required so much effort.
She only gazed at Mei Xing, her eyes unblinking.
Mei Xing crouched down to accommodate her eye level so she could look more comfortably.
Shi Yi could not bear to watch any longer, and lowering her head, she turned on the phone and slipped on a pair of earphones.
In the voice memo list, there was a file named, “11.”
She knew it must be this one and tapped to open it. It was Wenxing’s voice:
Sister-in-Law, I’m sorry.
I’m a selfish person. If I’m to die, I’ll definitely leave all my last minutes for Mei Xing. I need to remember him so that next life, I can find him. That’s why I made this recording very early on, to give to you.
This recording… I don’t know where to start.
From really young, I grew up outside of the country, so I’m not really close to the people in my family. The only ones who were truly good to me were my two older brothers. Of course, the one who treated me best is, for sure, Big Brother. But, since I was a kid, I’ve had this sense that Mom doesn’t really like Big Brother.
Later, as I grew up, I found out a secret.
In the recording, there was the sound of Wenxing’s little laugh. After a slight pause, she continued speaking:
But, I can’t tell you the secret. I feel like anybody who knows it will have bad luck. Like me. Like Second Brother.
Shi Yi listened, very baffled.
However, she could sense that the key points Wenxing wanted to say were coming later.
I seem to have said a bunch of useless things and started to waste time.
Shi Yi, actually… I want to tell you, I’m very, very sorry.
Those few days you were in Wuzhen, my second brother wanted to do some bad things to you… I’m guessing Big Brother must not have told you this. If he hadn’t been prepared for it, you might have been hurt. After it happened, lots of people found out about it right away, but everyone chose to keep quiet.
Including me. I admit, the people in my family are all really selfish, and we just protect people in our own family.
Later on, before Big Brother could come back, only Xiao Ren went to Wuzhen… You know that in the Zhou family, Xiao Ren is very special, so him there with you meant no one dared get close to you guys anymore… I admit, I can’t compare with Xiao Ren.
And then later, you came to stay in our house.
I came back for my sickness…… And then…… You fell into the water. And you were poisoned and unconscious. None of those were accidents.
I don’t know how much you’ve guessed. Who could get close to you like that, or what was the reason for doing all those things? Shi Yi, I really hope that you can guess because that way, my guilt would lessen, even just by a little bit…
The only people that Big Brother trusts completely are me and Mei Xing, right?
Actually, that’s not quite right. Big Brother even suspected Mei Xing for a bit…
Shi Yi, you’re so smart. I’ve said so much, you should be able to guess who it is, right?
Shi Yi raised her head and looked at Wenxing.
Her recording was still sounding in Shi Yi’s ears, but now, her eyes only held Mei Xing.
Perhaps, only now, in this time, could she so brazenly use such a way to have Mei Xing stay with her.
I… never intended to hurt you, but I still ended up hurting you. Many times.
I caused you to fall into the water, and I went in to save you.
I poisoned you, but I also put myself into a situation where I needed to be revived.
I was trying to use this way — this way where the two people Big Brother cared the most about were getting hurt — to make Big Brother scared that he’d lose you and drag me into the mess. To make him give up… this family, and to leave this place. Shi Yi, I’m an extremely selfish person. In the critical moments, I can only be concerned about my own family. I don’t want to watch them fight it out until one has to die in order for the other to live.
So, all the consequences, I brought onto myself.
You’re a Buddhist, right? Karma. Reincarnation. Just deserts for this life.
Shi Yi, I’m sorry. If there’s a next life, I’ll make it up to you, for sure.
The recording ended there.
Shi Yi’s hand was clenching the phone. She was unable to describe what she was feeling.
Many things she had not known now all floated to the surface, and behind all of these were also many complicated relationships and entanglements. It could be because the agony of drowning and intense abdominal pain were in the past now, or maybe because she knew that after death, there was indeed another journey of life awaiting, but she did not feel a great resentment.
Her mind was rather blank, and she did not know what she should be thinking. All she felt was grief.
Amid the oppressive quiet, her tears, without any warning, began to fall, and she could not stop them anymore.
Wenxing’s eyes blinked once, very faintly.
She had been gazing for too long. She was tired.
Her eyes were stinging very badly, and she really wanted to close them to rest for just a moment…
She seemed to want to smile at Mei Xing, but she did not know whether, after more than a dozen hours of emergency resuscitation, she now looked haggard and in a sorry state or her face looked hideous…
Ever so slightly, she moved her finger.
Mei Xing seemed to understand what she wanted and placed his cheek against her cheek.
He remembered, when she was little, she would sit on his lap and would like to nuzzle her cheek against his like this, then grin at him with blinking eyes. If he wanted to set her back down, she would immediately cover her chest with her hand and cry, “Don’t put me down, don’t put me down! I’ll be unhappy. And once I’m unhappy, my heart will hurt. Ow! My heart hurts…”
Whether it had been true or false, either way, a little girl’s affections had evolved into such deep feelings.
Wenxing was exhausted from watching him, and without warning, her eyes closed… In that stifling silence, Mei Xing slowly brought his forehead down and pressed it into Wenxing’s palm.
Sobs came over Shi Yi almost uncontrollably, and she raised her hand, biting down on it with all her might to prevent herself from weeping out loud…
The monitoring equipment in the hospital room silently declared that she was gone.
She truly did as she had said. She had selfishly left all her remaining strength for Mei Xing.
Zhou Wenchuan, who had not been allowed to enter the room, was standing outside the door, and when he saw everyone’s reactions, he realized the situation had reached the worst possible outcome… His hands balled tightly into fists, and his eyes instantly grew red as he shoved away the people who had been blocking him.
He charged in past the first automatic door.
But the second door was still tightly shut. He pummeled the glass, but the people inside the room seemed as if they did not hear anything. In the end, he gave one last fierce pound. Zhousheng Chen finally turned around and cast a look at him.
A very cold gaze. One never seen before.
In that instant, Zhou Wenchuan actually felt fear. While he was still frozen where he was, Zhousheng Chen had already motioned to someone to open the door, stepped out, and seized him by the collar, dragging him into the hospital room where he gave him a vicious kick in the leg.
Zhou Wenchuan buckled to his knees with a thump as they hit the floor. A few seconds later, the black muzzle of a gun was shoved up against the back of his head.
The hand holding the gun belonged to Zhousheng Chen.
He did not speak a word and simply lowered his eyes to look down emotionlessly at Zhou Wenchuan.
His eyes, because of the painful emotions, were frighteningly red.
“Zhousheng Chen…” In shock, Zhousheng Chen’s mother pushed herself up on the arm of the chair until she was standing. “Zhousheng Chen… Put down the gun. I asked the doctor… The harm caused by those drugs was not very significant. Your brother did not want this…”
Wang Man had also thrown herself at Zhousheng Chen’s feet and was kneeling before him. Sobs wracked her so fiercely she nearly fainted as, again and again, she brought her forehead to the floor and cried, “Eldest Young Master!”
Zhousheng Chen showed no response, his finger still on the trigger.
The sound of her weeping cut off abruptly. She clutched tightly to Zhousheng Chen’s pants, and gradually her body curled up into a ball. A large amount of blood could be seen soaking through her dress. “Eldest Young Master… I beg you…” Her entire face was contorted in pain. This sudden miscarriage shocked everyone.
Zhou Wenchuan suddenly whipped around, pulled her into his arms, and lifted her entire body up.
With the muzzle of Zhousheng Chen’s gun still pressed up against him, he rose to his feet.
The two brothers locked gazes, their eyes both the same scarlet color.
“Xiao Chen [Little Chen]…” Zhousheng Chen’s mother hand was grasping tightly at her own chest, and her tears began to stream forth. “Mom’s begging you, just this once. Mom just lost a daughter. You can’t make her lose a son now, too…”
When I used to read this scene before I had translated it, it was a sad scene, one that I would sigh regretfully over. I had not thought, though, that it would stir my emotions too much such that it would be difficult to translate. Then, as I was first translating Wenxing’s last words to Shi Yi, I was very carefully choosing each word, almost surgically, you could say, to best communicate Mo Bao Fei Bao’s original writing. However, it just wasn’t right.
And so, I took a step back and immersed myself into Wenxing’s role. I spoke the words aloud first before I transferred them over to text form, as if it really was me leaving this recording. A girl who put up a happy front, who possibly could have truly been happy if she had not come from such a family. A girl desperate to put an end to the fighting between the only two people in her family who had truly treated her with genuine affection. A girl eaten away by guilt for the things she had done and the person she had hurt to accomplish what she felt she needed to do. A girl fearful of being found out because her big brother might forever hate her. A girl so overcome by hopelessness and disappointment in her family that she would harm her own life, and in the end, even give it up, just to provide an escape for the brother she loved. Disappointment, fear, desperation, hopelessness, guilt… with no end in sight, it felt. If all of it could end, perhaps she could just love and be loved. But if it was not meant to be, that girl would save her final moments for the man she loved because it was only then could she ignore everything else and blatantly love him, baggage free.
Anyways, as a result, I’m an emotional wreck right now. (Poor hubby came running over wondering why I was weeping at my computer.) When I started the prep work for this chapter, I quickly realized I would be in no state to reply to comments when I normally do, so you may have noticed I replied to all your comments from last post quite a bit earlier. Therefore… please comment away as you always do, but forgive me if, for the time being, I bow out from participating in any detailed discussions you may have or if I do not answer certain questions. I will come back to any I’ve missed when I’ve gathered myself and the emotions are less raw.
1 of 1 Prologue
50 of 56 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogues