Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 8

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Can’t you guys just feel the winter wind in these chapters?

Their interactions when they were teenagers are just so sweet and cute. First love. ❤ LOL at the Titanic scenes. 😂 But in the very last paragraph, perhaps you can get a glimpse into why Gui Xiao has never forgotten that young man of her youth, even after all these years.

Chapter 8 — A Love That is a Luxury (1)

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.

 

Those days in the winter break of her first year of high school, when the two had spent all their time together, were the coldest period of that year’s winter.

The automobile repair shop normally used solar power to heat the water for the shop’s mechanics to shower, so when winter came, the water was frightfully cold and not many people went into the shower room. However, he had considered that if he were to return home to have a hot shower, the trip home and then back here again would waste time that could have been otherwise used to keep her company. Hence, he slid out from beneath the car, upper body unclothed, pushed open the door, and went into the shower room. When he stepped back out again, he was so cold his fingers were stiff and numb.

He opened his room door and walked in. Gui Xiao was huddled on his single bed, swathed in the quilt, and she had even extended her feet into the spaces between the tubes of the radiator heater for warmth. Seeing him, she immediately lifted up the quilt. “Hurry! Get in, get in.”

But it was only when they were both under the same quilt that they realized that this honestly was a torturous thing to do.

Worried that she would be bored, he had rented a television and VCD player for her to watch. The hottest movie at that time had been Titanic, and the disc she had selected to watch was that one. When the two were under the same quilt keeping warm, the movie was playing the scene where, against the background of rushing wind and rolling waves, the male and female lead were kissing at the bow of the ship. Gui Xiao was so embarrassed she did not make a sound. Lu Chen was leaning against the deep-green-painted headboard and maintaining a space between them that could fit half a person in it.

“Lu Chen.”

“Mm.”

“There’s someone in my school who’s especially annoying. He always intercepts me after school. It’d be so good if you were around.”

“He’s trying to pursue you?”

She nodded.

The two carried on watching the television, both their hearts feeling restless and agitated. On the television screen, the male and female lead had gone into a luxuriously decorated stateroom. Rose had changed into a robe and was requesting to be a model for the male lead’s drawing… Gui Xiao did not dare continue watching, but neither could she make herself open her mouth to say that they were going to pause the movie.

“Don’t you know how to draw, too?” she asked in a soft voice.

With a grin, he gave an “mm-hmm.” “What do you want to do?”

She just wanted to change the subject…

“Not going to watch anymore.” Her slightly-stiff voice seemed as if it was tickling him. “Don’t want to watch.”

Lu Chen was not in the frame of mind to keep watching either. Feeling for the remote control, he pressed the stop button. The image switched to the blue standby screen of the VCD player. He wanted to ask her whether she wanted to watch anything else, such as Young and Dangerous[1] or something. There were still more than twenty discs with which they could kill time.

He held the remote control and tapped it against his right hand a few times.

Reaching a hand over and touching his arm, Gui Xiao discovered that he still had not warmed up yet. “How about you and I switch spots? You’ll be better really soon if you’re next to the heat.”

He, the one to whom care and concern were being shown, answered indifferently, “No need.”

This person who had been sitting with his back resting against the headboard now leaned in towards her.

His hands clasped her waist. Even through her sweater, she could sense the iciness of his fingers.

<>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.

In the evening, only the two of them remained in the automobile repair shop.

Lu Chen drove into town and bought quite a bit of fish, shrimp, and vegetables and brought them back.

The place where cooking was done was adjacent to the room that he slept in, in the farthest corner of the service garage. Initially, Lu Chen would not let her go in, afraid she would get dirty inside. Gui Xiao, though, insisted on keeping him company. He tidied things up for ten minutes and also cleaned out the plastic pail that leftover food was dumped into, washing it thoroughly, before finally letting her come inside. By the white, ceramic sink, he deveined the shrimp one at a time and tossed them onto a plate. Those translucent shelled shrimp, with beads of water on them, glistened and were pleasing to the eye.

“How are you going to cook them?” From behind him, Gui Xiao slipped her arms around his waist. The feeling beneath her hands was genuinely oh so nice.

“How do you want to eat them?” He wiped his hands clean and began to pick leaves off the vegetables, throwing out any that were even slightly too late in harvest and not fresh and tender.

“How about you stir-fry them together with some egg?”

Lu Chen let out a chuckle. “You sure aren’t opposed to choosing things that are troublesome to make.”

Gui Xiao was cheery. “I’m not the one cooking anyway.”

The little flare that sparked alive from the gas embraced the black bottom of the wok, having sprung out from the blue pilot light and becoming a pale flame with yellow tips, and then with a poof, it enlarged into fire. Not bothering to reply with even half a sentence of unnecessary words, Lu Chen poured out some oil and began to beat the eggs.

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

The next day when she went there again, the people in the auto repair shop already recognized her and would even give a nod and say hello to her. Gui Xiao was thin-skinned and too bashful to reply. She jogged in and found him beneath a small van that was jacked up and taken apart until its parts and pieces were strewn about.

Lying on a grease-stained foam mat, he was actually wearing a button-up shirt, its sleeves rolled up above his elbows, and a silver part of some sort was clamped between his lips. His lips were thin, his face had a nice shape and contours to it, and his complexion was fair, too, so he looked very attractive whenever he was biting down on something. This particular action carried a type of attractiveness that fell somewhere between that of a youth and a man.

The only issue was that the angle from which he looked at her was awkward. Glancing at her, he took the object out from his mouth with his left hand. “Go wait inside the room.”

Gui Xiao’s arms were hugging her legs. “I don’t want to go. I’ll just stay here and watch you work.”

“The garage is too cold.”

Gui Xiao did not want to go in, but she was afraid he would get angry. After contemplating briefly, she wordlessly stretched out her right hand and put on a look like she was pouting coyly, wishing to hold hands with him. Powerless against her, Lu Chen set down his wrench and searched around for a towel, wanting to wipe his hands clean first.

“You don’t need to wipe them. I’ll wash my hands in a bit.”

Defeated by her determination, he shifted over a few inches and, reaching his hand out from beneath the car chassis, took ahold of her fingers.

The two held hands noiselessly for a while.

After quite some time had passed, someone carried a box of parts over. Gui Xiao swiftly pulled her hand back and fled from there. She went into his room, truly more at ease when coming here than even when going back to her own home. Once she had removed her down coat, she, without needing any prompting from anyone, squatted down in front of the VCD player and began rummaging through the discs. Thinking that she still had the other half of Titanic that she had not watched yet, she shoved that disc in. The result of that decision, though, was that when she was watching that ever-so-lively and vivid scene where the hero and heroine were in the car together, he came into the room again.

Oh, God.

She made a grab for the remote control. However, the remote control was not being cooperative and slipped along the edge of the quilt and down to the concrete floor.

Lu Chen slid a glance to the picture on the screen of Leonardo Dicaprio, his upper body ungarbed, lying on top of the female lead, and also the car’s condensation-coated glass window that even had a distinct handprint on it… And then, rather meaningfully, he swept his eyes over Gui Xiao.

Gui Xiao seized the quilt and covered half of her face with it, feeling like her boyfriend had caught her red-handed while she was watching some sort of X-rated film.

I didn’t do it on purpose. I just want to watch the ending.

Why does this movie have so many of this type of…

“Tidy up and then go eat.” Lu Chen fished out a pack of smokes from the pocket of his pants. Biting down on a cigarette, he yanked away the quilt that she had been using to cover her face. “Don’t always just watch this type of thing. Focus on your studies.”

<>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.

Before he joined the armed forces, he went to her high school to see her one time.

It was winter again.

At the main gates of the school, she was pushing her bicycle and chatting and laughing with some classmates. She had just tugged up her scarf and thrown her leg over her bicycle when she saw the young man standing beneath the streetlamp and poplar trees to the right of the school’s secondary door. A boy already in university is, after all, different from high school students. As he simply stood there, the collar of his thick, padded jacket turned up to block out the wind, those eyes that were showing, with their upward tilt, were enough to pick up any young girl.

In Meng Xiaoshan’s words, so long as Lu Chen was willing, there was no girl he would not be able to pick up.

When Gui Xiao saw him, she could not even move her legs to take a step.

Very pathetically, her nose began to tingle. She did not even have time to explain anything to her classmates, and simply pushed her bike down the slope and headed towards him. Lu Chen was cognizant that this was the main entrance of her high school and many eyes were watching, so he did not show any further intimate actions. Taking her bicycle from her, he straddled it and sat down first. “Come on up.” Gui Xiao obediently hopped on and then, from behind, grasped a corner of his padded jacket.

And so, amid the after-school streams of people, the two cycled away.

Lu Chen was not familiar with this place, and Gui Xiao was also worried that there would be trouble if people she knew saw them while they were outside. Hence, the two of them went to a hotel.

He went upstairs first; she took the elevator and followed shortly after. Once she stepped into the room and saw that large bed with its snowy-white linens, she was struck stupid… But Lu Chen only took a stroll once around the room and then left. Before long, he came back carrying a big, jam-packed bag of KFC. She ate, and he watched.

They did not do anything. When she had eaten until she was full, he tidied up the garbage that littered the entire table. “Hurry home.” In the end, she was the one who could not bear to leave and stayed longer, and longer still, dragging things out all the way past eight o’clock. In a flowerbed stood an evergreen tree, its height  half that of a man, leaves swaying, shadowy and indistinct, exuding a cold, cheerless feeling.

The wind blowing on Gui Xiao made her unable to even open her eyes. She wanted to cry. She really did not want to part from him. Lu Chen pulled open his padded jacket and enfolded her in it against his chest, blocking out the wind for her. “Didn’t we already agree? I’ll come see you again next time.”

“When can I finish studying and being in school?” Her tears tumbled down. “It just won’t end. My mom even said I should get a Ph.D…. How old am I even going to be by then? …”

Get a Ph.D.? In the space of this thought, Lu Chen remembered Hai Dong’s words: “You’re just a rather good-looking green foxtail weed. Don’t look at me. I’m not even as good as you. I’m an ugly-looking green foxtail weed. I’m being serious with you. The gap between you and Gui Xiao, between your and her family backgrounds, is just too big, and in the future it’s going to be even bigger. Don’t refuse to believe it. There will eventually come a time when you won’t be able to handle the weight of that.”

Later on, when Gui Xiao recalled that day, she would only have two thoughts: If she had known ahead of time that that would be the last time they would see each other before they broke up, she should have at least gotten a kiss. And the other thing was, Lu Chen genuinely loved her at the time, for he truly had not let himself touch her in the slightest way, not even the tips of her fingers.

He had turned and left in the wind. Gui Xiao had cried all the way as she cycled.

After returning home, she had locked herself in her own room and, throwing herself on the comforter piled in the corner between her bed and the windowsill, continued weeping. She had also refused to eat. When her mother came to call her, she simply said that she had done poorly on an exam and needed to do some reflecting. When the hands of her watch pointed to three in the morning, she remembered that she still had a math assignment that had not been done yet, and so she opened her schoolbag. Stuffed in the corner of the bag, amongst a stack of textbooks, were a folder and a box.

Under the glow of her little 20-watt desk lamp, she spread open that folder… It was a pencil drawing that he had done.

He had drawn a scene from the previous year’s winter: she, bent at the waist, was in front of the television, fiddling with the VCDs. The little details—how her fingers pulled out a disc, her shadow that she cast as she stood beneath the light, as well as that spacious room, its table, and its chair—were all so clear that it was like an old photograph. And wrapped in this picture was a Motorola flip phone, the same one as his, its plastic film still not yet removed…

Later on, it was because of this mobile phone that her father had sniffed out clues that she was in an underage romance[2].

By then, he had already gone to serve in the armed forces. Her father had been very disparaging and biting with his jeering remarks: “Any child who is of any use and amounts to anything would apply to get into military academy. The ones who graduate from military academy and then take post-graduate studies in Tsinghua or Peking University will start out already as a deputy battalion commander. People like Lu Yanchen obviously are only trying to escape from life and haven’t thought through anything. Couldn’t get into military academy, but yet he still just has to go and be a soldier.”

Her father declared with certainty that in two years he would definitely still amount to nothing and would leave the military and go home.

And she, with the life experience that she had at age sixeen, was unable to win in any debate against her father. However, the Lu Yanchen in her heart was not like that, having not a single merit or redeeming quality to speak of.

He had many great qualities.

He did not complain or grumble. His goals were clear and defined. He treated everyone with kindness, consideration, and understanding. And his attitude towards his own life was that, no matter how hard he fell, he would be able to climb back up to his feet and continue walking straight and erect. Even if there is no romantic love, when you are amongst stories and people who are clean and pure, it will be like having that little mothball that in your childhood days was tossed by family members into the corner of the dresser: allowing you to be resistant to dampness, resistant to being eaten into and destroyed, and resistant to deterioration and spoiling.

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

[1] 古惑仔. Young and Dangerous is a series of films from the mid-1990s about young members in Hong Kong’s triad society.

[2] 早恋 “zao lian.” In China, dating under the age of 18, especially when still in school, is generally highly frowned upon and usually prohibited within schools. This is called zao lian, which literally means “early dating.” I will translate this as “underage dating” or “underage romance.”

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.

 

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

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10 thoughts on “The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 8

  1. Its sad that her father was against them but its also very normal from a parents perspective. Can’t say I would disagree with him. Waiting for the next chapter to find out why they broke up so badly. 😦 Thanks!

    • I think it’s understandable that her father is a opposed to the relationship, as someone who doesn’t know Lu Yanchen. I think the disparaging remarks he made are awful. Without knowing someone, aside from some very superficial info, he has already declared that he will “amount to nothing.” That’s terrible. 😦
      Haha, I don’t think you’ll get your answer next chapter. 😉
      Thanks for reading!

  2. those were some awkward scenes of titanic to watch together when you were in a puppy love relationship
    thank you

  3. Thank you hoju now I can see why she couldn’t forget him he was a gentleman all the way 🥰

  4. Gosh I cried along with GX, love them ❤

  5. That was a sweet winter break.

    Thank you for the chapter, Hoju 😀.

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