Fanatical

Fangirling Chinese Novels

The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 15

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Happy birthday, Peanuts!

Can you feel the electricity in those little stares and breaths? And good thing Qin Xiaonan’s survival instinct is so sharp. LOL. You don’t want to get on Uncle Lu’s bad side.

Chapter 15 — The Road Ahead is Still Unknown (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.

 

There is a term: after-the-fact realization.

That evening, Lu Yanchen, worried about Qin Xiaonan, left halfway through the meal. Because her younger guy cousin and cousin’s wife were both present, the two of them had not really gotten to say much to one another. Only when Gui Xiao was finished eating and went to pay the bill was she told that the gentleman who left earlier had already settled the bill for this meal. Gui Xiao did not talk on the phone with Lu Yanchen that night either and only sent him a few text messages, giving the excuse that she wanted to see Qin Xiaonan and arranging to meet him the next morning.

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

As a result, when Gui Xiao locked gazes through the front windshield with Lu Yanchen as he strolled out of the auto repair shop, she finally found the reason behind last night’s tossing and turning and insomnia—everything had happened too quickly.

It was just like those days in the beginning after they first held hands. There had been no signs that it would happen and she had not been prepared, so for a very long period of time, she had been uneasy and had repeatedly stressed to him, “If we’re together, then we’re not allowed to break up. Lu Chen, if you dare break up with me, I’ll cry to death for you to see. You’re not allowed to just treat this as playing around. You have to guarantee—swear—that to me. All types of quarrelling are okay, but you’re just not allowed to break up with me.” These were words that Gui Xiao would often say when she was young, probably because he did not appear to be someone who could give you a sense of security.

Back then, every time Lu Chen heard these words, he would simply ignore them. But the more he ignored them, the more she would stress them, repeating them incessantly, like she was untiringly playing them on an infinite loop.

Thinking back on it now, she sure had been melodramatic when she was young. Later, she had asked the people around her and learned that almost everyone in their first love is a drama queen, and that the younger you are, the more you put everyone through this torture… But now, as she reflected on everything, it felt as if that had been a different lifetime.

<>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.

Walking up to her car, his fingers holding a pop-top aluminum can, he casually took a swig of Sprite and then looked at her through that layer of transparent glass.

The winter light cast itself into the car, tracing out the outline of the lower half of her face. Because of the angle, he could not see all of her face clearly, but he was able to notice that there was a faint, dewy layer of lip gloss on her lips. Back when they were young and dating, they were still students, so she would not have had the chance to put this sort of thing on and had been clean and unadorned. Yesterday, though, when he kissed her, there had been a sweet taste similar to that of cherries.

That moment had enraptured him and made him lightheaded. Being unaccustomed to it was one thing, but he had finally vividly felt that type of desire between a man and a woman that could not be expressed in words.

Gui Xiao rolled down her window.

Tipping his head back, Lu Yanchen knocked back the last couple of swallows of his Sprite, crushed the can between two fingers, and then set his elbow on top of the car door, telling her in a low voice, “Drive in. I’ll inspect your car for you.”

Right as Gui Xiao was about to start the car once more, he spoke again. “Come out. I’ll drive it.”

Gui Xiao was also thinking that he was more familiar with this, so she got out of the vehicle and handed it over to him.

It was only a short distance to go inside from the entrance of the shop. Gui Xiao did not get back into the car and instead, following the route on which Lu Yanchen drove in, she walked in.

The old, uncle-age man at the door, when he saw them, appeared to have some sort of impression in his memory of this car and girl. Holding his own little radio, he swayed and bobbed his head as he poked it out beyond the edge of the window of the security gatehouse to watch the excitement and gossip. He was thinking, since the return of this eldest son of the Lu family, there had been nothing but excitement, truly no end to what you could watch. On one end, there had been the uproar of the breaking off of the engagement, and then straightaway on this end, there was a girl coming to the door looking for him.

It seemed this girl had been here before? The more this old uncle thought about this, the more he found it interesting, and closing his window, he continued to muse on it and fill in details with his own imagination.

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

The post-Lunar New Year period was the busiest time for the automobile repair shop.

In the yard were row upon row of cars waiting to be inspected and repaired. Six inspectors, each of them surrounded by many people, were present, receiving cars that had come on site, listening to one person talk about various malfunctions and defects and then going over to another person to hold a discussion and decide upon the work required for a vehicle and materials needed. While they were at it, they would tell people that this was the busy time around the Spring Festival and that they would need to wait. There was one customer who only had a small problem with his car, having merely been scratched by a passing taxi while it was parked and only requiring some paint sprayed on it, but was informed that he would need to wait at least ten days. Right when the customer was on the verge of throwing a tantrum, he saw Lu Yanchen driving straight in, and was utterly astounded. “Eh? We’re all still lining up here. Why is the guy over there driving himself right in? You’re not going to do something about it?!”

The inspector ripped off the cost estimate sheet and placed it into the other party’s hand. “The boss’s son.”

Gui Xiao by chance was passing by, and hearing this, an inexplicable feeling of guilt came to her, like she was getting preferential treatment because she had special connections.

When she stepped inside, the garage’s dozen or so mechanics were busily working away in full swing, but seeing a woman walking in, they looked her over a few extra times. Some had seen Gui Xiao previously, while others had not. After some discussions in low voices amongst themselves, the grins they gave were obscure and suggestive. Lu Yanchen had not been back for more than ten years, but once he returned, a girl had come here twice, both before and after the Spring Festival. They would for now not even take into account his engagement to that great beauty in town; just this little interlude alone already bested many of the single chaps here.

Feeling somewhat uncomfortable from all these stares on her, Gui Xiao quickened her steps and hurried to her car, which was already at the very back of the shop and turned off.

Lu Yanchen threw his aluminum can into the wastebasket. Without even looking back at her, he stated, “Alignment’s off a little, and it’s also quite noisy. I’ll check your tire pressure for you in a bit, do a wheel alignment, then take a look at your tires. Does the car shake pretty badly when you’re warming it in the morning?”

“… It’s not bad, I guess.” To be honest, she hadn’t paid attention.

“Problem with a clogged intake valve. The car’s not out on the highway often. If you take it out more, it’ll fix itself.”

He spoke about things, from air filters to cleaning out carbon build-up, while Gui Xiao listened blankly to him. Her only thought was, he knew how to bamboozle people even better than those authorized car service dealers. She remembered that she seemed to have been bamboozled not long ago into doing a wheel alignment. Could it be that it hadn’t been done properly?

But she felt that anything Lu Yanchen said was sound, professional judgment, so she did not concern herself with it. Instead, she looked around, searching for the kid. “Where’s Xiaonan?”

“He’s gone fishing.” Lu Yanchen walked over to a corner by the wall and crouched down slightly, looking for tools.

Only a few days after he had gotten here, Qin Xiaonan had already charmed everyone, and all the people in this auto shop liked him.

At first, everyone truly had believed that Qin Xiaonan was Lu Yanchen’s son with some woman from outside the town, but after they sorted the situation out, they all felt that things were not easy for the child. It so happened that today was a day off for quite a few of the young men from nearby villages who worked in the auto repair shop, and they had talked about drilling a hole in the ice surface of the canal to fish with either rods or nets. The novelty of this idea had enthused Qin Xiaonan, and he had chased after them to go along.

Gui Xiao followed Lu Yanchen’s lead and, beside him, also crouched down. “What’s this called?”

“Box wrench.”

“What about that?”

She pointed at the set beside a plastic case.

“Socket wrench.” Saying this, he picked up a few sockets, demonstrated how to attach them to the ratchet and then take them off again, and explained which one was for which nut and from where, such as the lug nuts on wheel rims and tires…

His fingers were long, and coupled with the fact that he absolutely was a skilled worker in this trade, he looked as if he was playing around with anything he picked up. What was more, he had a habit of always bouncing a couple of times each thing he held in his hand.

The action was natural and confident, and also flippant.

Watching him, Gui Xiao remembered that when he played pool, he had also exuded such an air.

As Gui Xiao moved in closer to look, her faint, warm breath continually brushed over the spot on his hand between his thumb and index finger. Lu Yanchen’s hand paused. His motions suddenly were not as smooth as they had been just a second ago. Finally, he arbitrarily tossed everything into the plastic case and, with both hands empty, straightened back up.

“Weren’t you going to check my car for me?” Gui Xiao was puzzled.

“I’ll do it in the afternoon.” Taking Gui Xiao by the arm, he pulled her all the way back up. “Let’s go.”

Somewhat baffled, Gui Xiao followed him.

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

Once the two of them had stepped into the room and there were not so many random people around, Gui Xiao became a little more relaxed.

Seeing that Lu Yanchen had shut the door, she circled over to the desk behind the couch and offhandedly leafed through the writing workbook and test papers that Qin Xiaonan had brought with him from Erenhot. The very first time she came here, Hai Dong, Meng Xiaoshan, and those other people had cared only about drinking and chatting, but she had noticed that all that was on this desk were practice exam papers, a thick stack of papers clamped together with a black, metal paper clamp… Later, when they were dating, Gui Xiao had still remembered this detail and every time she bought something to clip papers together, she would always buy two sets of the same style, one for him and one for herself.

Gui Xiao ran her fingers over the words written on the test paper.

Lu Yanchen came over and stood behind her, only half a step away. “Do you understand it?”

“It’s stuff from first grade in primary school. How can I not understand it? In the past, our teachers made all the stencils by hand for our test papers and then would manually print the papers out, too. Every time we were done a test, our hands would always have some ink that had rubbed off on them, right here.” She touched the skin directly below her pinky finger. “You’d need to wash for a long time to get it off[1].”

“Really?” He, in contrast, did not feel this sort of sentimental stirring. “Our high school test papers were all bought by the school.”

“There weren’t many people in high school, just one class per grade, so it wasn’t worth it to actually make the stencils, unlike middle school with six classes to each grade.” Now that she thought about it, her middle school teachers were such nice people. Worried that buying test papers would be a waste of student money, they had cut all the stencils themselves, page after page.

Lu Yanchen was amused but did not bother arguing with her.

The middle school at which she had studied, he, too, had attended.

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

This room was north-facing and did not have windows, so at all times it relied on artificial lighting to provide illumination.

A fluorescent tube light hung above their heads.

Simple, and also drab.

Lu Yanchen looked at her, her back towards that fluorescent light, her shadow seeming like a faint splash of ink where it fell on the test paper and desk.

Reaching his arms out, he turned Gui Xiao, who was flipping keenly through the test paper, so that she faced him.

His fingers, rough and dry, slid down her jaw. He said, “How come you’ve all of a sudden grown up?”

Two years ago at the gas station, when he caught sight of her, he actually had not dared to believe it. Her appearance was still that same appearance, but it was just that she had suddenly grown up.

Later when he returned to Erenhot, he had even thought, if that day he had pulled her into his embrace when she was still staring at him, eyes teeming with daze and confusion, what would have come from it; what would life be like then? He had not had any thoughts of reconciling and being with her again since, after all, he had still been stationed on the frontiers and the situation was fundamentally no different from what it had been years ago. Except, one random day, on an assignment in the middle of the night, while he was taking a couple of drinks from a stream with shards of ice mixed in it, the thought had suddenly popped into his mind: if that day he had forcefully taken her into his arms and held her for just a little while, he would have no more regrets in life.

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

Here in this place and position, he had once used this same posture to kiss her.

At the time, Gui Xiao had still been too young and he, too, had only just passed the age of majority. He would repeatedly warn himself, intimacy could only go so far and then he would need to stop. However, occasionally, he would still unintentionally contact her still not fully developed breasts, the inside of her arms, or even certain places under her short skirt…

It had been impossible not to think too much about those, but they had remained only as thoughts.

But now, things truly were different.

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

Lu Yanchen’s hand that had been clasping her waist somehow slid down, and holding her behind her thigh, he lifted her up onto the back of the couch. The way he squeezed her hurt a little, and Gui Xiao’s body was also thrown slightly off balance. Gasping lightly, she protested in a soft voice, “… I almost fell off.”

The real, tangible body of an adult man, which carried with it a scorching heat, was moulded seamlessly against her.

“You won’t fall.” He gave a low chuckle, his glib manner completely like that of his days of youth, half serious and half joking.

<>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.

✻ ✻ ✻ ✻ ✻

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

When Qin Xiaonan pushed open the door and charged inside, Lu Yanchen was behind the couch, leaning against its back, biting a cigarette that he had just pulled out and lighting it with his lighter. He flicked a glance at Qin Xiaonan, who was carrying a grass carp that he had brought back to present as a treasure.

Gui Xiao sat on the couch with her arms crossed in front of her, her gaze fixated on the commercial playing on the television.

“I was in a hurry… to come back and see Auntie Gui Xiao.”

Based on his many years of survival experience, Qin Xiaonan inferred that he must have come in at an extremely inopportune time.

Catching sight of Gui Xiao’s motions from the corner of his eye, Lu Yanchen, his teeth clamping his cigarette, walked over and ruffled the boy’s head. “It’s not enough to just have a fish. We need to go out to buy some vegetables and other food, too.” Speaking and leading at the same time, he got the kid out of there.

Her body burned with waves of heat. Only now did she pull apart her arms, which had been blocking her chest the entire time. Lowering her head, she neatened her clothes that she had not had time to fix up earlier. Her motions were not the least bit nimble, the joints in her fingers too weak to apply any force.

Even after sitting for five minutes, her heart would not settle. She then buried her head in her arms, her mind filled with how just now, just now…

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

The town’s food market was on the east end. If it had not changed locations, to get there and back and also choose and buy the groceries should take at least half an hour. The entire way here, Gui Xiao had been thinking that she needed to see Meng Xiaoshan. She wanted to ask and be clear about how the whole matter had been dealt with, from breaking off the engagement to borrowing money, so that she would have an idea in her mind.

Therefore, taking advantage of this empty period before they were back, she picked up the phone and dialed. However, she only got to listen to Meng Xiaoshan chatter away on her side for less than two minutes while she, on this end, did not even get a chance to get to the point of the call, before the door of the room was pushed open.

It was a middle-aged woman dressed in a maroon-coloured down jacket, her face unfamiliar to Gui Xiao and her hair streaked with gray. When she strode into the room and saw Gui Xiao, she did not show much surprise, as if she knew clearly already that there was a young woman here about whom nobody knew anything.

“Call you in a bit.” Gui Xiao hurriedly hung up the phone and nodded at the woman. Not knowing how she should address the woman, she could only find some words to say that should have the least chance for error. “You’re looking for Lu Chen? He just went out. He should be back really soon.”

Anyone coming to this room looking for someone was undoubtedly looking for him. The only thing was, she did not know, was this person Lu Chen’s relative, a neighbour, or his mother?

Chaos filled Gui Xiao’s heart. She was worried that one wrong sentence from her would lead to trouble. Even if this was a relative or a neighbour, they still needed to avoid certain things and impressions that they might leave people. After all, he had just broken off a marriage engagement; it would be too easy to bring about criticism. If this was his mother… Gui Xiao had never heard Lu Yanchen mention even a word regarding his mother and also did not know anything about the other party’s temperament or disposition, so even more so was she afraid of saying the wrong thing.

“You are…?” The gray-haired woman posed a question in return.

Gui Xiao was not certain what the situation was, and hence she chose the safest wording. “His old schoolmate. Middle school schoolmate.”

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

[1] Referring to the mimeograph and the blue or purple ink used by the machine, which easily rubbed off from the papers printed from it.

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
15 of 43 Chapters
0 of 1 Epilogues

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24 thoughts on “The Road Home (归路) — Chapter 15

  1. Thank you for the update and Happy Birthday, Peanuts!

  2. Thank you hoju!! Could it be his mom I have to wait to find out and happy birthday peanuts!!

  3. Thanks, Hoju+!!

  4. Oh my 🙊 how far did they go this time? Second base?

  5. Thanks Hoju
    Happy birthday peanut..😍
    Oh boy Xiaonan..why?😅
    I wonder Are they done or not?

  6. lesson learnt for LYC…to lock the door(s) first XD
    thank you. Happy Birthday Peanuts!!!

  7. Thanks Hoju for the update.
    Happy Birthday Peanut.
    I love Lu Chen. I said it in a comment yesterday, but it seems that it did not go up. When we are teenagers, we magnify things. I hope everything goes well for this couple from now on.
    They are so beautiful together.

    • I don’t know what happened. I fished this comment of yours out of the spam folder. I’ll go digging through and see if the other one is in spam, too. 🤨

      Absolutely! Honestly, teenage hormones can wreak havoc. Things are magnified in a teenager’s eyes compared to an adult’s eyes. It’s not on purpose and it wouldn’t be right to point fingers and, from an adult’s perspective, declare that it is melodrama. In their eyes, it truly is a big deal, especially if there is no adult guidance (which Gui Xiao and Lu Chen both lacked, as evidenced by Gui Xiao being dumped out in the boonies and the way Lu Chen’s family treated him) to help them see the whole picture.

      Thanks for the comment!

  8. Happy happy birthday Peanut! Thank you for the update, hoju. Mm hope that their relationship is fine now. Can’t wait to know what’ll happen next.

    • Thanks for reading!
      Like Lu Yanchen thought: they are still in love, but they missed out in 10+ years of one another’s life, so they will need to do some catching up. 🙂

  9. Happy Belated Birthday! My mom was a teacher years ago and I remember helping her run off tons of mimeographed sheets. I remember that they’d come out of the machine cold and you’d have to be careful with the paperwork for a bit so the ink wouldn’t smear. This chapter brought back a scent memory of the ink and my purple hands after invariably picking up the sheets too soon.😊

  10. Belated Birthday wishes Peanut.

    Ha ha I think I have become too old to read between lines. Hope Gui Xiao will not be questioned too much by the lady.

    Thank you for the chapter, Hoju 😀.

  11. Cough cough what happened?! Lol , thanks Hoju…happy bday to Peanut ! 😊

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