Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 10

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To all our readers here at Fanatical, MERRY CHRISTMAS! Wishing you tidings of comfort and joy.

Gui Xiao asked, and she got an honest response. I don’t know how else she could have responded. 😦

Chapter 10 — A Love That is a Luxury (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.

 

Their two gazes locked.

She could not say it, could not say that she did not love him. Yet neither could she go against her own conscience and tell a man who was soon to be married that she did love him.

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

In this instant of stillness, it was as if she could see that youth of the past, right in this spot, yanking her up from the ground and pushing her behind himself, protecting her. All those feeling that she had suppressed, that she had forced herself to forget, now came swelling upwards and swallowed her levelheadedness. Gui Xiao’s hands were jammed inside her pockets and they held on to the inner cloth lining, clutching it so tightly that every joint of her fingers felt swollen and ached with pain.

She heard herself, her voice light, ask him, “Bai Tao told me yesterday, you’re getting married?”

There was no answer.

Lu Yanchen threw into the plastic trash bin that cigarette that he had crushed, and then felt at his pants pocket, completely forgetting that the half packet of cigarettes was in the tight grip of his other hand. Gui Xiao watched him as he did all this, then watched as he halted all his actions. After remaining frozen in one spot for a long moment, he also crumpled that cigarette pack in his hand and threw it into the trash bin.

“… Lu Chen?” She called his name.

Finally, Lu Yanchen lifted his eyes, his smile self-mocking. “That’s right.”

Something rushed into her throat, choking her up. She asked, “When?”

“Next month.”

“… Congratulations.”

He shook his head, not saying anything else.

<>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.

A gust of cold air rushed in through the seam around the door and blew against the back of Gui Xiao’s head. The door had been pushed open by just the right amount. It was Qin Xiaonan.

The child should have eavesdropped outside on the entire conversation, for when he stepped in, his eyes were flustered. Gingerly he shuffled over to Gui Xiao. “Auntie.”

Gui Xiao’s mind started back. Her eyes were stinging, but still she tried her best to calm her emotions, saying to him, “Uncle Lu is getting married. He’ll be really busy. Those things I reminded you about on the way here, you need to remember them yourself, too. Also—” She had originally wanted to tell Qin Xiaonan that he should be a bit more obedient and well-behaved towards Lu Yanchen’s wife since, after all, he would be living with her for a good several years. However, she also felt it was not her place to do so.

In the end, she merely ruffled Qin Xiaonan’s head and, in passing, also wiped away a small patch of black that had been rubbed onto his face from somewhere. “Also, if you’re picked on, remember what I told you: Every transfer student has to get past this hard stage. It’s okay. After some time has passed, everyone will accept you.”

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

Outside the door, someone called Lu Yanchen’s name. It was a woman’s voice.

“You carry on with what you were busy with,” Gui Xiao said. “I’m going now.”

“Wait.” Lu Yanchen yanked open the drawer beneath the television cabinet and pulled out a black wallet. “Paying you back for the suitcase. How much?”

“A hundred,” she stated.

The brand of this suitcase was a very well-known one, and its aluminum alloy shell was also very recognizable. Gui Xiao, though, was certain that Lu Yanchen, having spent so many years in the military, would not have had time to pay attention to such things.

Sure enough, Lu Yanchen did not suspect anything. From his wallet, he took out five or six red money bills. But before he had even handed them to her, he changed his mind again, emptying the wallet of all its red, RMB 100 notes and handing them over to her. “This is for Qin Xiaonan’s clothes and also these days that he’s been living in your house. We’ve troubled you.”

“You don’t need to keep track so precisely.” She pulled out two token bills and replied, “You helped me out in Erenhot, too.”

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

Likely because it had been so long without a response from Lu Yanchen, the person outside lost patience and took the liberty of pushing open the door.

“You didn’t come out even though I called you. You have guests?”

Gui Xiao turned around. The face that abruptly appeared before her was very familiar—it was Zhao Minshan. Her long, straight black hair splayed over her shoulders, and she wore a black parka and matching scarf. Very simple, and very pretty. Mainly it was because the person herself was pretty, so regardless of what sort of clothing she wore, it could not go wrong.

The two stared at each other. Zhao Minshan was also taken aback. “You’re… Gui Xiao? Do you still remember me? Class No. 2’s Zhao Minshan?”

Gui Xiao gave an “mm-hmm” and answered, “You haven’t changed at all. You’re still so beautiful.”

Back then, the ones most well-known in their grade were Gui Xiao and Zhao Minshan. One was a young girl surrounded by friends who were all gang leaders and boss-level people, be they male or female, who had retired from the gangland life, and so she gave people the bizarre feeling that she could not be crossed. The other was a girl who since primary school was known for her pretty looks and since middle school was so beautiful that the boys in the seven or eight nearby villages all liked to chase after her, such that several times each day there would be someone obstructing her way.

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

Zhao Minshan chimed out a soft laugh. “You’re the one who’s gotten even prettier. I almost didn’t recognize you. It turns out the friend that Lu Chen’s mom was talking about is you? What a coincidence. Lu Chen’s mom said he had a friend coming here today. I was thinking, I’ve never even seen any of the friends he made over these years that he was away from here, and so I came over for a look and for everyone to get to know each other. I hadn’t expected it would be you. Such a coincidence.”

Zhao Minshan was sighing incessantly over this. Lu Yanchen stuffed his wallet into his pants pocket, not uttering a word.

“This is your kid?” In a warm, amiable manner, Zhao Minshan assessed Qin Xiaonan.

Gui Xiao painfully handled all of this, explaining, “It’s the child of one of his comrade-in-arms. He asked me to help get the child into a school as an out-of-region student.”

Zhao Minshan paused in surprise for a moment. In front of Gui Xiao, it was not appropriate for her to ask too much, so she mumbled, “I never heard Lu Chen mention it.”

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

The wife he would be marrying next month was standing right before her now. A guilty feeling suddenly arose in her. Their dialogue only a moment ago in this room had been so contemptible, so shameless. A suggestive air of something more had been everywhere between the two of them.

Gui Xiao, you so, so crossed the line!

A chill came over her entire body. She did not want to stay for even a single moment longer, so vaguely she said, “The boy’s been brought here. If there are no other matters, I’m going to leave first.”

“It’s nearly time for lunch. How about you eat here and then go?” Zhao Minshan fished out her mobile phone and looked at the time, then gave a glower to Lu Yanchen. “She’s come all the way here and you’re not even asking her to stay for lunch.”

“No, it’s okay,” Gui Xiao hastily interjected. “I’m meeting up with Meng Xiaoshan.”

“Oh… Meng Xiaoshan?” Back when they were in school, Zhao Minshan had already been on bad terms with Meng Xiaoshan, and furthermore, because of that incident with Hai Dong, she had been taught a lesson by Meng Xiaoshan. The relationship between them these ten and more years had been very tentative. Therefore, after hearing this statement from Gui Xiao, Zhao Minshan did not continue to insist and merely said, “Then don’t worry about it.”

Gui Xiao smiled and gave a nod at Zhao Minshan. Lu Yanchen’s shadow was in her peripheral vision, but she did not look at him again, only turning and striding out of that room. Walking back down the same route that they had come, she got into her car and put it in reverse…

All of a sudden, her car smashed into the stairs in front of the security gatehouse.

The uncle-age security guard was given a fright, and shoving open the door, he shouted, “Miss, are you okay? Are you hurt?”

Through the windshield, Gui Xiao nodded nonstop at the uncle while placing her right hand in front of her brow and continually making a gesture of apology.

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

Her car drove away on that road, which would not be considered wide, and turned in the direction of the canal.

All this time, though, her hands were trembling and utterly unable to hold the steering wheel. She had no choice but to step on the brakes and pull over to a stop beneath a large poplar tree on the bank of the canal, where she rummaged through her purse for her mobile phone.

After all sorts of little trinkets tumbled out chaotically, she at last found her phone and dialed the one person in this town with whom she was closest, Meng Xiaoshan.

When the phone was picked up on the other end, Meng Xiaoshan was in the middle of berating one of her employees. “That table’s bill has to be waived, too. Go and give a nice apology! Gui Xiao?”

Gui Xiao pulled in two deep breaths. Then, with a tremor in her voice, she said, “I’m hungry.”

“You hurry out to the dining room! I’m going to take a call first.” After the sound of a door thumping shut reverberated over from that end of the line, Meng Xiaoshan asked her in a puzzled tone, “Gui Xiao, your voice doesn’t sound right. Has something happened in your family? Do you need to borrow money? I’ll send some over to you?”

“No…” A layer of mist swayed in front of Gui Xiao’s eyes. She did not dare to blink, for fear that even the slightest motion would cause it to spill over. In a pitiful voice, she answered, “I’m just hungry. I didn’t eat before I left the house this morning. I happened to be driving past here and remembered that last time you said you’d treat me to a meal.”

How could she possibly fool this well-seasoned person? Meng Xiaoshan did not say any extra, useless words, however, thinking that she would wait until she actually saw Gui Xiao in person and then take things from there. She asked, “Where are you?”

“By the canal.”

“The canal? Which intersection?”

Gui Xiao swiped at her face with the back of her hand—it became covered in dampness—and replied honestly, “The little junction outside… Lu Chen’s family’s auto shop.”

<>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.

After Gui Xiao left, Lu Yanchen took a seat alone on the couch, his hands folded and propped against the bridge of his nose such that they shielded the greater half of his face from view, gazing lost in thought at that suitcase.

When the shop was expanded, the heating for this room had not been installed properly, and it was basically equivalent to having no heat.

He had come back from the borderlands and was not bothered by this type of chill. However, he still appeared as if he was frozen by an iciness that was deep within him and pervaded outwards.

Zhao Minshan removed her parka. Dressed in a thick, black cashmere sweater and trousers, she wanted Lu Yanchen to see her most beautiful side, but after sitting for less than half a minute, she could not handle it. In the silence that imbued the entire room, she pulled her parka back over and draped it on her shoulders again. Propping her chin on her hand, she surveyed her surroundings as well as that child, who, like Lu Yanchen, seemed fraught with pensiveness in his heart.

Seeing Lu Yanchen staring at that suitcase, she took a couple of extra glimpses at it, too, and then, rather surprised, she sighed, “Your comrade is so rich that he gives such an expensive suitcase to his kid to use? Last time when my [paternal] aunt went to Taiwan, I wanted her to bring one back for me, but once she told me it cost seven thousand, I couldn’t make myself spend that much.”

After saying this, she could not hold back another sighing remark that people really should not compare themselves with others.

Zhao Minshan had spoken for so long, but Lu Yanchen had not given her even half a word of response. With awkwardness, she grabbed two cups, poured herself and Qin Xiaonan each some water, and pushed one cup over to the boy. “You’re coming to Beijing to go to school? What about your dad and mom? Are they coming, too?”

Qin Xiaonan’s mind was completely occupied by those words spoken between Gui Xiao and Lu Yanchen. He so wanted to cry, just wanted to cry.

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

A grown man was treating her like thin air, and even the child was, too. More than half the enthusiasm that had been brimming over in her when she came had now been doused out.

But then she thought, this man had also been like this in the past, carrying this terribly magnetic manner of giving everyone and anyone he wanted the cold shoulder.

When she was in primary school, she had already heard the renowned name “Lu Chen.” Later on when she was in middle school, there had been quite a few ruffians who would surround, pursue, and intercept her after school. This had not really been a big deal to her and she had generally been able to handle it with ease, but still there had been a time when she was unable to get around them. That time, it was Hai Dong who had saved her from the predicament, and with Hai Dong had been the famous Lu Chen.

During that era, the term “second-generation rich kid[1]” did not exist, but everyone knew that Lu Chen’s family was wealthy. Plus, he was handsome, and his mom’s family had people in the military. Anyway, he was the type of person for whom a girl’s heart could not help fluttering the instant she heard about or saw him.

But Lu Chen was older than her by too much, and there were no means for her to get close to him. Besides, Zhao Minshan herself was a realistic and self-interested person. She liked being the centre of things, where she was surrounded by people and chased after, so she had had no feelings to spare for this type of distant and hard-to-reach boy. In particular, though he and Hai Dong had been well-known when they were in middle school for making their way on the streets amongst hooligans and the likes, in high school Hai Dong had dropped out and he had curbed his ways as well. Hence, they could be considered as personages who had “retired from gangland.”

Zhao Minshan, at the time, had preferred to hang out with those minor ruffians who were faring very well in the hoodlum lifestyle, finding that more interesting.

Now that she thought about it, it really was sad. No matter how well you fared in that lifestyle when you were young, in the end, you still have to return to the dull and mundane. And regardless of how pretty she was, she still needed to marry. She had married, but their temperaments had been incompatible. Her temper, which had been bred from being popular and constantly pursued, had flared up, and so they had split and ended in divorce. However, in this town, though many divorced women still attracted attention and flirting from men, the number of men genuinely interested in them was pitifully few.

So, things dragged had out until she was now twenty-eight years old. In the city, this would be no big deal, but in rural areas it very much did not sound good when this age was mentioned. If this were a first marriage, it would still not be too bad, but with a second marriage, it was more problematic.

As Zhao Minshan cast a glance at Lu Yanchen, she, too, felt dazed. She had not expected that after wandering this way and that in life, in the end, things would still circle back to here and he would be the one she married.

When Meng Xiaoshan came to find Gui Xiao, Gui Xiao had already gotten out of the car. There, on this day in the middle of winter, she sat on the dirt ground of the canal bank. Her tears were all wiped dry, but the wind battering against her smarted her cheeks and also stung her eyes.

“You cried?” Meng Xiaoshan of course did not know about those things that had happened in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, but on the phone, when she heard this location, she was able to guess the reason for Gui Xiao’s abnormal behaviour.

Back when Zhao Minshan was going through her divorce, things had been so ugly that the whole town had known about it. Her family had lost face because of it and had been anxious for her to marry again. But though they had put in several years of effort and hassle and she was still as pretty as ever, it had been difficult to find someone within these rural areas who was acceptable to her family’s standards. Hence, since agreeing with Lu Chen’s family on the engagement and receiving the bride price just a short while ago, the people in her family basically wished that they could immediately hold the wedding banquet, and moreover, it absolutely needed to be a huge, extravagant celebration. They practically wanted to invite every person from the nearby seven or eight villages with whom they were even remotely acquainted.

The best restaurant in town belonged to Meng Xiaoshan, so how could she not know about this?

From her own car, Meng Xiaoshan grabbed two cushions, and then pulling Gui Xiao up, she stuffed one under her. Taking a seat as well on the other cushion, she said, “If you were born and raised here, you would have married someone when you were twenty-three, twenty-four years old. You’ve dragged things out until you’re twenty-seven now, and you still haven’t married. And what’s more, you’re crying because of your first relationship from back when you were a teen… Don’t blame me for berating you, Gui Xiao, but do you think you’re still sixteen?”

“……”

“Back then, when I said I was breaking things off with Hai Dong, wasn’t it a clean, complete break?” Meng Xiaoshan was so calm it was like she was talking about someone else’s matters. “All the things that deserved to be cried about, you should have already shed the tears for them back when the breakup happened. Who hasn’t had a first love before? If you’re just constantly thinking about your first love, are you even going to live your life?”

Gui Xiao eyes were on the boys and girls skating on the canal surface. “I’m hungry.”

“……” It was Meng Xiaoshan’s turn to get her words choked off in her throat.

<>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.

Meng Xiaoshan left her own car beside the canal and drove Gui Xiao’s vehicle back.

As she stroked the steering wheel, she remarked with a sigh, “The feel of a nice car is just different. Just look at this console, just look at this speaker system, …” The money she had earned over these years was not a small amount, and the car she drove was not bad either. These words were spoken purely to tease Gui Xiao and try to cheer her.

Shaking her head, Gui Xiao forced herself to oblige with a smile. “If you want to drive it, I’ll trade with you.”

“No thanks.” Meng Xiaoshan could neither laugh nor cry at this. “You’re still wallowing in misery and going on that life’s not worth living. How could I basically rob you while your house is on fire?”

With her forehead leaning against the window, Gui Xiao refuted her words. “I’m not wallowing and saying that life’s not worth living.”

I just feel like this life is already over.

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

[1] 富二代 “fu er dai.” This term, which literally means “second generation rich,” is a relatively new term used to describe a generation of young people born of wealthy families. Their parents are the “new rich” who prospered as a result of economic reforms in the late 70s and 80s.

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 promise that you won’t be sad through the whole Christmas season. Come back next update 🙂

 

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

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

  1. Merry Christmas to you Hoju and the whole Fanatical family. 💓 🍻🍺
    Thank you for this beautiful novel. I hope everything improves in the next chapter. Lu Chen loves her too.
    Eat a lot at Christmas. A hug from Colombia.

    • Thank you! I ate way too much (and am continuing to eat) this Christmas season. Hope your Christmas was wonderful as well.

      Hope you read the next chapter already. 🙂

  2. Thank you hoju merry Christmas see you on Friday hopefully it won’t be sad 😞

    • I’m catching up on comments after Christmas. Hope you had a merry Christmas too.
      I know you’ve read the next chapter already. 😉

  3. You better keep your words. I thought it was just a telephone game and rumors but it turns out true, my heart’s breaking.

  4. Why LY agree with his family arrangement…?.
    I hate him😰
    Thanks Hoju

  5. Oh! I forgot it totally. Merry Christmas~~~ 😚. Greetings from Perú (South America). I wish all your dreams become true.
    PS. Sorry again for all my complaints 😅 but I am just a old lonely single woman having fun and a bit of love through the reading of beautiful novel 😎.

    • You and kimchigal should hang out. She hasn’t warmed up to Lu Chen’s attitude. You guys can average yourselves out. LOL

      Have tons of fun! 🙂
      Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

  6. Merry Christmas Hoju 🎄🎅🎄
    OMG is he going to marry that girl?
    Till now I haven’t warmed up with his attitude 🤦‍♀️

  7. Ohno why would Lu Chen agreed on the arranged marriage? Poor Gui Xiao. I’d like to know what happened to Gui Xiao since they broke up.

    Thank you Hoju, can’t wait for the next update! 🙂

  8. what a chapter to start off the season
    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

  9. This novel breaks my heart one chapter after another. At must as i love it and await the new chapters, I dread the pain they couse me.
    I can feel the cold not only outside but in their broken hearts. 😭
    Thanks for translating it, and Happy Holidays!

  10. Happy Holidays! Sad chapter on such a lovely holiday ;( Maybe by the new years, we will get happy chapters.

  11. Thats not the answer I was expecting! Sigh. Have to wait for next chapter to see if it will be better. This one wasn’t satisfying. 😦

  12. Qin Xiaonan’s mind was completely occupied by those words spoken between Gui Xiao and Lu Yanchen. He so wanted to cry, just wanted to cry.

    mee too ! i want cryyyy

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