Tearful, sad, and heart wrenching, that’s how a goodbye feels like but it gets worse when you have to put a smile on your face to hide the fact that along with that goodbye, you’re leaving a part of yourself behind.
It was exactly as Ru once said, love wasn’t actually scary. It was the feeling of loss that love invoked that was the scariest part. However, every beginning comes with an end and every end opens the door of the new beginning.
As soon as Ru was away from Xiao Zhiren’s sight, she clutched her shirt tightly. The ache in her chest was so intense that she wasn’t able to feign nonchalance. She had to accept that she lost herself to Xiao Zhiren and now, she was left empty. And this feeling of emptiness was beginning to slowly crawl up within her.
"Ge!" Xia Haoran ran over to her side and held her arm. He noticed the sweat on her face. "Ge, is it hurting?" She tilted her face to look at him as she shook her head. "Where is it hurting?" Ru ruffled his hair.
"Didn’t I say it’s not hurting?"
"As if I will ever believe you again in my life," retorted Xia Haoran.
Ru pulled his ear, "You brat! Dare say that again! How dare you question me?"
"Says the one who forgot me for ten years," grumbled Xia Haoran.
Ru chuckled at him grumbling like that and squished his face saying, "Aiyo, my rice cake is still as adorable as always. If you keep being this cute, I’ll soon forgive you for losing your chubby cheeks."
From a distance, Rong had been noticing these two for a while before he stepped closer, and seeing the forced smile on Ru’s face, he said, "You don’t have to do it, you know."
Ru looked up at her elder brother and questioned, "What are you talking about?"
Rong placed his hand on her head as he looked into her eyes, "You clearly love him and it’s obvious how much he loves you, and yet you’re choosing to walk away?"
Ru’s eyes lowered as she replied, "Love and pain are only two sides of the same story. Oftentimes, we let love rule our senses but we can’t forget, it’s always the pain that brings us back to reality. Love and pain might be the two sides of the same story but they can never be in harmony. Pain has the tendency to destroy us as much as love does. Eventually, the pain will overwhelm the feelings of love until we become numb to it." She looked up at her brothers and tried to smile as she added, "When love becomes painful one, it’s better to let it go. No matter how much you want to hold it back. You’ll be only hurting yourself and your partner."
She looked towards the sky as she went on, "Right now, we both have become the reminder of pain to each other. Whether of past or present. So, if we have filled each other’s past and present with pain, how can we say we’ll be able to become each other’s happiness in the future?
"It’s easy to say that just love is enough but it’s a fact that love is never enough. Eventually, we have to face the harsh reality of life that is not as sweet as love seems to be."
Both people around her pulled her in their arms and hugged her tightly.
"Why are you both hugging me?" Ru was trying to get out of their grasp but to no avail as they both were familiar with her tactics way too well.
"We want to," they both answered.
Ru sighed and let them hug her. Maybe she needed that hug right now from these two people. She needed a reminder that there were people who really loved her. Her chest was feeling stuffed up and her eyes felt slightly wet that shocked her beyond words. She was definitely gonna claim that her eyes were sweating, there was no way she’d say she had tears in her eyes. That was the pride, she’d like to keep holding on to right now. She needed that!
When they both pulled away, Xia Haoran said, "Ge, don’t forget. You still have us."
"I know," replied Ru before adding, "Let’s go home. I’m tired now. I just want to go back and hug my papa. I miss him a lot."
Xia Haoran chuckled, "Before that, you’ll have to pass through grandfather."
Ru exhaled a long breath, "At this point, I’ll gladly kneel in the ancestor hall for even a month. I don’t care anymore! I just want to go back to where I came from."
She knew she lost herself but she also knew that she took something from Xiao Zhiren. And it wasn’t just that red thread on his wrist that she sneakily cut off, it was also a piece of him that she’d have to take everywhere with her from now on. It’d be a reminder. A reminder of her first love.
This name would stick to her for the rest of her life. Either as her pain or her first feeling of love. He was someone who would always have a tender place in her heart. He was also someone that left a bruise of longing within her.
She didn’t know whether their story ended here or was just left unfinished. Whatever it was, she was certain they didn’t belong to each other. Not anymore. It was always meant to be a sad fate, they both must have momentarily forgotten that.
It was time for Xiao Zhiren to go back to his rightful place. It was time for him to become the eldest son of the Ji Family rightfully. He had lost his identity for too long, it was time for him to get it back. And Ru knew it was gonna be another battle for Xiao Zhiren to forget about everything he did to his own father and his mother whose memory was stuck at the moment she lost him.
He had too many responsibilities, including the job to find his younger brother’s lost innocence.
As for her... She had an even bigger responsibility. As the last born of the Ximen clan, she’d never let that name be forgotten. It was something she owed to her bloodline. It was the debt of bloodline, she couldn’t coil away from.
With a cigarette held between her lips, she looked over at the creek surrounded with lush green trees. Just right across from this place existed the valley where she grew up known as Shadowwick. When she first came out, she didn’t know it’d take this long to come back here.
The cigarette was snatched from her mouth as Xia Haoran scowled, "Ge, that’s unhealthy!"
Ru rolled her eyes up as she replied, "Little brother, this is the last time. Once I crossed over, my grandfather is gonna break my legs. Let me have it one last time."
Seeing how Xia Haoran threw it away, she was feeling at a loss. What a waste! Slowly, she rummaged out her favorite lighter and after a moment of playing with it, she stretched her arm and threw it into the water saying, "Somethings are better left out of this sacred place." She took a deep breath as she added softly to herself, "Some feelings are better left out of this place as well."
They say the most romantic kind of love is the unfinished kind. It not only set your heart on an eternal fire, but it also leaves a mark on your soul that can’t be removed. There was so much that happened between them and yet, it concluded to a story waiting to be written all over again.
"Are you ready?" asked Rong with his hand around her shoulder.
"As ready as I can be," she replied. "It’s about time we return to our roots."
As her brothers walked ahead, Ru looked back one last time as she said, "You and me. It’s a bleak possibility but it’s a neverending tale. Because I know I’ll be haunted by your love in the still of the night." Her lips curved up into a lopsided grin as she put her hands into the pockets and whistled roguishly while following her brother towards the place she called home.