Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 6

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Ah, so this is how it began. 😉

Chapter 6 — A Person in Aimless Drifting (3)

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or re-posting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.

 

“You took that seriously?” Lu Chen brought his head down and gave a chuckle, using a somewhat frivolous tone to cover up for the absurdity of that one sentence.

Last time, his second shu[1] [paternal uncle] had also used words of this crude, dirty type to escape disaster. Lu Chen had been panicked so had not really thought things through this time, but he did know that those words truly had crossed the line.

“Not at all.” Relaxing her fists, she acted as if nothing had happened.

He grinned again. “Don’t take it to heart. My dad is an ass after he drinks. Last time, he beat Hai Dong, too. I was scared there would be troubles if he really did come in.”

These two who had not even reached the age of majority, just two kids, were trying extremely hard to act nonchalant.

He felt inside the pocket of his school uniform—empty. His hand paused.

He touched the latch lock again. Only after he was certain it would not be kicked open did he turn and go over to the desk to rummage for cigarettes. Textbooks and practice exercise papers were scoured through until they were a mess. He wanted to find something, anything, but he found nothing. And so, he arbitrarily grabbed an English practice paper, crumpled it into a ball with both his hands, and tossed it into a corner.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

After a dozen or so minutes, there was no more movement outside.

“I’m going to take a look. Lock the door.”

He was gone for more than ten minutes and still did not return. Feeling unsettled, Gui Xiao furtively opened the door. Inside the service bay, there truly was no one, and all that remained were cars that were either dismantled, with their parts scattered, or repaired. Skirting around patches of water on the concrete floor, she discovered Lu Chen sitting on the floor beside the large, dark-green metal door.

His school uniform’s sleeves were rolled high, revealing his bare, bruised forearm, which was resting on his knee. With his head bowed and his palm supporting his forehead, he blocked out all sources of light that could disturb him.

He was utterly motionless.

<>The translator would sincerely appreciate it if you would read this translation only at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the actual site of posting. Thank you.

The wind blowing from the northwest was even fiercer than it had been this evening when she arrived. According to last night’s weather forecast, there would be northwest winds of force 6 or 7 as well as a sandstorm.

As she simply stood in this tall, open garage, Gui Xiao felt there were sand grains colliding against her face and nose.

Many years later, Beijing had very few sandstorms, but she could still remember the scenes from that period when flying sand would assault her face and when she arrived home and washed her hair, there might be a thin layer of sand on the bottom of the bathtub…

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

“Are you all right?” Beside him, Gui Xiao squatted down slightly and asked in a soft voice, “Are you still feeling unwell somewhere? I’ll go with you to the hospital?” She saw the injury on his arm, but what concerned her was that there might be more on his body.

He tilted his head to the side to look at her.

“You really do feel unwell?” Gui Xiao was intimidated by his gaze.

“How are you going to go with me? It’s not like you can drive.”

“I’ll ride my bike and take you there.”

As if even God was mocking her innocence and naivety, the increasingly fierce gale suddenly blew over her bicycle. Lu Chen narrowed his eyes and let them come to rest on that lonely little bicycle lying in the northwest wind. “With that bike?”

His retort choked off Gui Xiao’s words. “… No matter how small it is, it’s still a bike.”

But there was reason to his question. With his height, she really did not know how he would be able to sit on it.

Lu Chen lowered his head and laughed.

Standing, he brushed the dust off of himself, walked over to the corner, and, with one hand, picked up Gui Xiao’s bicycle, which he tossed into the trunk of the only car, a silver sedan, out in the yard. “Let’s go. I’ll take you home.”

“ ’Kay.” Observing that his motions were deft, she reckoned she must have been overthinking things.

However, when she sat into the car, she began to wonder, was he the age of majority yet? He shouldn’t have his driver’s license yet[2]

<>This translation’s actual site of release is hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Please support it by reading it only from there. Thank you.

The entire way, the heat was on but the windows were also open, and the wind poured in unabatedly through them.

His heart filled with his own thoughts and worries, Lu Chen did not even notice it. With no one talking to her, Gui Xiao was bored and looked around everywhere. It was only then that she noticed that inside the storage compartment was the Motorola flip phone that he used. During that era, even very few adults used mobile phones and there was only the same one or two models, so she was able to recognize it. Gufu[3] [Uncle] had given this same one to Gugu for her birthday, and Gui Xiao’s mom had even privately berated him about it: RMB 15,000 for a mobile phone—he sure had money to burn! So it turns out, owning an automobile repair shop was so lucrative?

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

The car drove past the main gates and was not stopped.

This car that Lu Chen was driving had a vehicle pass for the military compound. Huang Ting’s mom had specifically applied for it for him so it would be convenient for him to come at any time.

With his left hand propped on the open window and only his right hand on the steering wheel, he drove into the military dependents’ residence area.

“Lu Chen?”

“Mm?”

“Are you going to repeat the grade?”

Lu Chen looked over at her. “Do you want me to?”

Gui Xiao felt as if her thoughts had been seen into. She wrestled inside herself for a while, but in the end she still nodded.

“I reported in this morning. I’ll be going to class tomorrow.”

“Really?”

He gave an “mm.” Then, stepping on the brake, he lifted his chin and pointed it towards the dependents’ residence building. Gui Xiao realized that they had arrived. The time was too late, though, so she dared not say much more. After Lu Chen had lifted her bicycle down from the car, she watched him leave.

She pushed her bike into the garage and locked it up.

Wait, something isn’t right. How does he know where I live?

The northwest wind swirled through the opened bicycle shed, which was acting like a wind funnel. Gui Xiao felt as if the chill of the blowing wind had penetrated to her heart, but inside her heart, something burning hot was surging upwards, silently engulfing her like the rising tide.

<>It would be greatly appreciated by the translator if you would read this story only at its actual site of posting, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Thank you

After that night, Lu Chen began attending class.

Before long, Gui Xiao, who often went to the office to hand in test papers, heard the teachers talking about him. As he had gone from the middle school campus directly into the high school one and, moreover, there were not many students in the high school, with only one class per grade, even these middle school teachers very soon heard that there was an additional repeating student.

“That child, when he first started first-year middle school, his grades were so good. He just fell in with some bad influences.”

The rest of the teachers of the various subjects had all taught for many years, and there were some who spoke up in Lu Chen’s defense. After all, it really was not easy for him with the kind of dad that he had, where every other day or so he would be coming to school with bruises. It was already pretty good that he could keep going with his studies. Besides, the number of students who actually graduated from this middle school and continued to the next higher level of schooling was especially low. Every grade had more than four hundred students, but only thirty to forty would move on to high school. The fact that he occupied one of those slots was already very good.

“I asked the head teacher of his class. That child’s results in his mock exams last year were all quite good. He had put in the effort in his studying. They had thought that he would be able to get advanced enrollment for university and put in his post-secondary picks. No one expected that he would end up not showing up for the exams.”

“He was beaten again, right? That child seldom wears short sleeves, even in the summer. When he gets hot in phys-ed class and rolls up his sleeves, it’s all injuries on his arms.

No wonder… Last year, that summer day had been so hot and the billiards hall had been so stuffy, but he had still worn a long-sleeved sweatshirt.

But Gui Xiao at this time was young, having just turned fifteen. Yes, her heart ached for him, but without having experienced what he had, she ultimately was unable to understand it first hand.

For example, that day, he had not showed up for the college entrance examinations simply because he had gone behind his dad’s back and applied to get into military academy and consequently, a few days before the exams, he had been given a beating and locked up in the auto repair shop for a full two days and three nights. The exam for the first subject had already ended before his mother at last secretly let him out. But alas, he still ended up missing out on that chance.

These were not things that Lu Chen would ever tell her. Every time, it was through friends or teachers that she heard about them, and it always felt as if she was listening to someone talk about a television drama. Only later did she comprehend that this sort of life did indeed exist.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

After Lu Chen came back to repeat the grade, the two were always able to run into one another at school.

There was always a feeling in Gui Xiao that he liked her, but Lu Chen did not express anything, and she therefore could only act reserved and lady-like.

<>Please support the translation by reading it at its actual site of posting, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com.  Thank you.

Some time in May, Hai Dong and Meng Xiaoshan were quarrelling and declaring that they were going to break up.

Supposedly, there was some sort of unclear relationship between Hai Dong and the prettiest girl in Gui Xiao’s grade, Zhao Minshan. As a result, Meng Xiaoshan, with her blunt, straightforward temper, had had a fall out with him. The two had been together since they first started at the school and had dated for more than three years already. Hai Dong was confident that Meng Xiaoshan would not truly be so hardhearted and set on this, so he had begged Gui Xiao to help him persuade her. Agreeing to his request, Gui Xiao rode her bicycle to the mouth of that little lane behind her school’s back wall.

The lane was narrow and the walls of the yards of the houses on either side were tall, preventing the sunlight from shining in.

Lu Chen sat straddled on his mountain bike, one foot against a low brick wall that lined the bottom of the tall wall.

Gui Xiao was surprised. “You’re here, too?” She peered towards the large metal gate of Meng Xiaoshan’s home. “You’re not going in?”

Before Lu Chen could answer, Meng Xiaoshan, who had been obstructed at the doorway of her own home, came charging out. Hai Dong chased after her, pressing her to the wall. “It’s not like you don’t know about that girl. Let’s not even mention that she likes to hit on guys; she also likes to spout nonsense. Last year, she even pursued Lu Chen…”

With a laugh of annoyance, Lu Chen flicked his unextinguished cigarette butt at Hai Dong’s calf. “What are you talking about?”

Hai Dong narrowly escaped getting burned as he hopped out of the way of the butt. Then he went back to persuading Meng Xiaoshan with a low voice and explaining things in his own defense.

The persuading was going and going and then somehow the two began kissing.

Gui Xiao’s mind had not caught up yet, and she was still watching. Giggling, Meng Xiaoshan stripped Hai Dong’s jacket off of him. “There’s a kid watching.” And then, she covered both their heads with the jacket and carried on.

With a chuckle, Lu Chen glanced at her. “How come you have such a huge sense of curiosity?”

Gui Xiao had no words to respond to that question. She really was just curious and wanted to have a look to see how… you kiss.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

That night, Gui Xiao lay on the bed that she had slept on for three years, her feet on top of the heater, a handheld game console raised high above her as she played Tetris. Amid the continuous congratulatory sound effects of lines constantly being cleared, her mind was filled with Lu Chen. She was already at a very high level in the game, but in just a moment of inattention, the various shaped blocks fell rapidly, like they were trying to flood the screen, and quickly stacked up to the top—GAME OVER.

She squandered away her time like this until past eight o’clock, when she got a phone call. It was Huang Ting.

“My [maternal] grandma is on IV in the hospital for the next few days. My cousin and I are here keeping her company. Want to come? He told me to tell you to come.”

Gui Xiao was nestled in a corner of the couch, her heart leaping erratically as she stared down at her own hands…

The fingerprint on her pinky was a whorl pattern, like a swirl. Same with her ring finger. Hmm. The rest of her fingers were all loop patterns. So remarkable. Mm-hmm—

Forget it. She would just go.

“You’re in the compound?” she asked.

Huang Ting’s own love life was melodramatic and absurd[4], like a thing of movies, so she basically had no interest in being a busybody in other people’s affairs. However, when it came to the two of them, she still could not restrain herself and dropped a little hint. “I said that you hate hospitals and definitely won’t come. My cousin said to just tell you that he was the one who told you to come, and then you would come for sure.”

Playing dumb, Gui Xiao gave some “uh-huhs” in answer, then hung up the phone and left the house.

<>Your support by reading this story only at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the actual site of posting, would be greatly and sincerely appreciated. Thank you.

The hospital in the compound was small, and there were only a few rooms in the inpatient ward. After only a few strolls through, she found Lu Chen. He was sitting beside the innermost bed, his head down, texting. Huang Ting, the one who had actually made the phone call, was long gone. Only Huang Ting’s mother was there, adjusting the drip rate of the IV…

Gui Xiao poked her head in for a look.

Spotting her, Lu Chen pushed his seat back and stood. “Second Yi[5] [Second Maternal Aunt], I’m going to head home first.”

“Hurry now and head back. I told you a long time ago that you should go.” Huang Ting’s mother’s back was to the doorway, so she did not notice the fishy exchange going on between the two.

With his hands in the pockets of his shorts, from the doorway of the hospital room, Lu Chen cast a glance at that small door at the end of the corridor. That was the inpatient ward’s first-floor back door. Gui Xiao followed behind him, in step with his stride, and the two one after the other walked out that small door.

The compound’s hospital was there for people to see the doctor when they had a fever or a cold, or to deal with some medical emergencies. As a result, this place did not have the feeling that big hospitals exude. It was small and clean, and when she stepped outside, it was as if she had strolled into a secluded little courtyard.

Japanese ivy crawled over the entire brick wall, its ends quivering in the night breeze.

All was quiet and still.

He fished out a cigarette. These last several nights, he had been here, very close to the military dependents’ residence building that she lived in. It was at most a ten-minute walk and then he would be beneath the window of the room she stayed in. Occasionally when he strolled over there, he had even been able to see that her window was half-open.

By his hand, the glowing dot of his cigarette flickered, sometimes dimmer, sometimes brighter. Lu Chen seemed as if he was putting together a long string of words in his mind, but when he actually spoke, it was much simpler than she had thought it would be.

“Do you like me?” he asked in a low voice.

A furious blush truly flooded Gui Xiao’s face. This was the first time she had ever experienced what it felt like to blush. Heat crept from her cheeks to her ears—blazing hot.

“Who asks something like that?” she protested in a small voice.

Lu Chen chuckled. Turning his back to her, he continued striding forward.

Gui Xiao stood there in a daze for a moment. That’s it? We’re done talking?

Suddenly, he brought his left hand behind his back, its palm facing upwards. His fingers curled inwards slightly in a beckoning motion. The meaning of that: give her hand to him.

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

The details of how the two of them ended up holding hands were blurry in her memory. But she still could recall that his hand was rougher than hers and also very warm. In that instant when they made contact, the sensation was as if she had been burned by a cigarette…

<>The translator would sincerely appreciate it if you would read this translation only at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the actual site of posting. Thank you.

✻ ✻ ✻ ✻ ✻

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

The temperature in the vehicle was climbing. Waves of heat and then waves of cold would come over her.

The windshield wipers mechanically swept away the snow. Because ice had formed on it, the view through the windshield was becoming increasingly hazy.

Gui Xiao grabbed a car cloth, planning on wiping it.

When her hand was on the door, her gaze unconsciously landed on that little restaurant standing there in this freezing, snowy night. Beneath the restaurant’s sign, which was circled by a string of small, illuminated light bulbs, Lu Yanchen pushed open the door and, not wearing a jacket, stepped outside. The wind whipped up his button-up shirt, exposing a part of his waist.

She seemed as if she could hear, through the car window’s single layer of glass, the sound of his boots crunching on the snow.

He came to a halt outside the vehicle door, his black eyes looking straight at her.

Gui Xiao lowered the window. A rush of wind flooded in, colliding into her until she could not catch her breath. “Is there something else you would like, Squadron Commander Lu?”

“Help me out with a favour.” He set his arm on the vehicle’s open window, but the name he spoke was a different one. “Xiao Cai.”

“Huh?” Xiao Cai completely had not caught up with the situation. “Commander Lu, please go ahead.”

Lu Yanchen truly did not appear to be joking as he requested, “I need to bring that kid to Beijing for him to go to school. Would you be able to help me find a relatively better school?”

“To Beijing?” Xiao Cai had become a record-and-play-back machine. “F-for, for this, Gui Xiao has connections and strings she can pull.”

Lu Yanchen’s black eyes finally shifted back to look at her, the one who was right in front of him. “Gui Xiao?”

<>Please support this translation by only reading it at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, its actual site of posting. This would be greatly appreciated by the translator.

This day was so cold that a person’s nose would tingle just from breathing.

After assessing the translucent state of the vehicle’s front windshield, Gui Xiao turned on the wipers once more in an attempt to remove some ice. She said, “Squadron Commander Lu’s family has always done quite well financially. This type of thing can actually be resolved by just spending some money. There’s no need to specifically ask us for help.”

Lu Yanchen, however, seemed as if he had just heard a joke. His reply came in a flat tone. “In the past, I’ve just been a soldier. How much money can I have?”

<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only

[1] 二叔 “er shu.” 叔 “Shu” is how you would address the younger brother of your father. The “second” implies that this uncle is the second-born amongst the siblings.

[2] In China, the legal minimum age to drive is 18.

[3] 姑父 “gu fu.” This is how you would address the husband of your father’s sister.

[4] 狗血 “gou xue.” This is a popular slang that literally translates as “dog blood.” It was originally used to describe the same repetitive, cliché, and/or melodramatic scenes found in movies and television dramas (such as breakups always happening in the rain, a girl taking a bullet for the man she loves but who does not return those feelings, main characters falling off cliffs but not dying, etc.). Therefore, when something is said to be “dog blood,” it means it is ridiculous and/or melodramatic, like something of movies.

[5] 姨 “yi.” 姨 “Yi” is how you would address your mother’s sister.

This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com only. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or re-posting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.


Additional Comments:

I find the lead-up to the hand-holding scene to be done so nicely. The undertone of innocent attraction. That uncertainty, guessing. You can imagine your thumping heart, the tingly sensation as you know there’s something going on but you don’t know when or if it will come to anything. Gah, the innocent love of youth.

 

Completed:
1 of 1 Prologue
6 of 43 Chapters
0 of 1 Epilogues

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21 thoughts on “The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 6

  1. Love it so far and yes the best part how they hold hands ❤️

  2. Aww. Her blush betrayed her. Hahaha. That was very frank of him huh. “Do you like me?”

    Thank you, Hoju!

  3. Woah…. so are the feelings confirmed or not? Yeesh author, you’re keeping my heart on tetherhooks

  4. Aah I love this 😍 thank you Hoju

  5. Still he doesn’t want to talk with her😰

  6. Enjoyed the chapter. Setting, question and hand holding bought a smile. Didn’t think Lu Chen came from a well to do family. Waiting for their next meet up and glad he came out with a reason.

    Thank you for the chapter, Hoju 🙂.

  7. No nonsense kind of guy. Very smooth with the hand thing!

  8. Thanks for the translation Hoju. I follow you, even if I don’t always write.
    I love this beautiful couple more and more

    • Thanks for following! Feel free to say hi whenever you want to.
      I’m glad this lovely couple are working their way into your heart . ❤️

  9. love their innocence love of youth
    thank you

  10. Thank you so so much for your hard work =) this story brings a smile to my face, had to re-read the hand-holding part twice hehehe

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