After it was finally her turn to take some time off, Xu Qin caught a bad cold. It wasn’t clear if it was due to the cold weather, or a lack of mental energy after a period of intense work, leading to a decline in immune resistance. 

Xu Qin didn’t want to take any injections or medicine, saying that she could just recover from the cold after suffering a little bit, and it could also improve immunity. She just wanted to get a proper two to three days rest, no waking up, no thinking, just make up for sleep. 

Fu Wenying said that she was making trouble and asked the family doctor to put an IV in her.

Xu Qin closed her eyes and fell into a deep sleep. When she woke up, it was already dark, the room was dimly lit, and a floor lamp was on next to the sofa.

Meng Yanchen was sitting on the sofa reading a book, while Xiao Yixiao was sleeping soundly on his side.

Xu Qin looked at Meng Yanchen’s gentle countenance quietly for a long time; when Meng Yanchen raised his eyelids, he met Xu Qin’s gaze.



“Feel better now?”


Meng Yanchen came over and sat by the bed: “The nasal congestion is still very heavy.”

Xu Qin glanced at the IV: “With an injection like this, I’ll be fine by tomorrow.”

Meng Yanchen saw her hands exposed outside the blankets, and wanted to caress her, but he didn’t.

There were flowers and stuffed animals next to the bed. Every time she got sick, Xiao Yixiao would give her a plush toy, but these flowers……

“Who sent it?”

Meng Yanchen: “Jiang Yu.”

Xu Qin: “How does he know?”

“Mom told his mother.” Meng Yanchen spoke very briefly, unwelcoming.

So what if it was unwelcome. He was also arranged by Fu Wenying to go on a blind date once a week, and he couldn’t refuse. If not the minister’s family, then the political commissar’s family, there was no other choice.

Meng Yanchen asked: “Do you like Jiang Yu?”

Xu Qin stared at the medicine dripping from the infusion tube and said: “I don’t like him, but I don’t hate him either.”

Meng Yanchen asked: “That means— can you accept getting married to him?”

Xu Qin stared at the medicine drop without moving her gaze: “I can’t.”

Meng Yanchen didn’t comment, sat for a while, and said: “I’ll go down and get you some congee.”

He left, and the room fell into silence. Xu Qin let out a breath, and was about to close her eyes when she heard Xiao Yixiao’s lazy voice: “Since you can accept it, why are you still unhappy?”

Xu Qin turned her head: “You didn’t sleep?”

Xiao Yixiao sat up and rubbed his eyes: “You guys woke me up.” He didn’t come over, but sat under the floor lamp on the sofa, his face shrouded in a halo, and he complained lightly, “You two, I’ve given up. Can you stop being so miserable and cheer up a little, there’s still plenty of life’s pleasures to enjoy.”

Xu Qin didn’t beat around the bush: “Meng Yanchen–– I accepted it a long time ago. Back then when my mother asked me to change my surname, I understood what she meant. He even tried to persuade me, I already had no other thoughts towards him.”

Xiao Yixiao: “Now you changed your surname back to––”

“I didn’t change it for him.” Xu Qin interrupted.

For a moment, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

Xiao Yixiao thought about it for a while, then asked, “Do you really like that guy Song Yan that much?”

Xu Qin was silent for a while, and said, “I don’t know.” She sniffed, “I don’t know if it’s because I can’t have him, or because life feels too dull— I don’t know.”

“Then it seems like you do like him a lot.” Xiao Yixiao sighed for a long time, feeling very troubled, “Okay, I, your ge, will come analyze it for you.”

He came to her bedside, sat on the carpet, hugged his legs and was at eye level with her: “Qin Qin, let me ask you, how much is his monthly salary? —Fireman, let me think, five or six thousand?”

Xu Qin argued: “He is the captain.”

“Heh. Okay, let’s give him seven or eight thousand. We are in a first-tier city here. Do you know how much the white-collar workers in the financial district next to your house earn? After four or five years of work, the salary is raised to at least twenty to thirty thousand. A girl raised by an ordinary family, who went to university and studied for a master’s degree, is already outstanding enough. If she falls in love with a firefighter, her parents will still object, believe it or not it will cause a big disturbance. Even if it’s a university student who is not as outstanding, who wants to like a car mechanic, a taxi driver, or a pancake cart seller, can her parents agree? Class is something you don’t usually see, but once you talk about marriage, it’s the most cruel hurdle, understand? Don’t blame your mother, she can see it more clearly than you: love passes by in a flash, reality—”

“But only when I see him, do I feel alive.” Her emotionless interjection made Xiao Yixiao suddenly shut up, as if everything he said just now had been shattered into ashes, completely without strength.

“What did you say?” Xiao Yixiao asked with a serious face.

“Do you understand that feeling? Being choked by your neck and held in the water, but wanting to surface again and take a breath of air.” She looked at him, twitched the corners of her mouth quickly and lightly, with ridicule and pity for herself, “That kind of feeling is like—— even though one is already dead, but still wanting to live again.”

Even if it’s only one time.

Like those moments in her youth, to live it one more time.

She must.

In Xu Qin’s memory, she always made Song Yan angry, but he always forgave her time and time again.

Why did she stay with Song Yan in the first place? Maybe it was because she wanted his protection, maybe it was to anger Meng Yanchen, or maybe it was just that she was too stifled.

Regardless of which reason, it came down to impure motives.

All the ways Song Yan was good to her, she knew it all.

Did she care about Song Yan? Yes. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have told him: “My last name is not Meng, I am Xu Qin.

Was she happy with Song Yan? Yes. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be able to remember so many things so easily.

She ate very little. When she was living with the Meng family, she had a great fear of being driven away if she ate too much. Any pleasures of life gave the implication that it could be taken away. She often ate out with Meng Yanchen, but he was also a self-disciplined individual, she lived under his roof, learned to weigh others’ words and observe their facial expressions; it was inevitable she would be affected.

Unlike Song Yan.

Once Song Yan accompanied her to eat in the school cafeteria, seeing that she ate too little, he frowned and became unhappy: “Did you turn into a cat or something? Mice eat more than you.”

Song Yan thought that the food in the cafeteria was not to her liking, so he took her to eat stir-fry, at a local restaurant.

After moving to the north for so many years, she had still not eaten any authentic local dishes. She could not be accustomed to it, why was there something so sticky and thick like snot in the scrambled eggs with tomatoes. 

Song Yan said: “This is called thickening with cornstarch.”

Xu Qin frowned: “It’s so unpalatable.”

It was the first time Song Yan heard this way of speaking, and laughed at her: “It’s so unpalatable? Is it ‘good’1 or ‘unpalatable’?”

Xu Qin asked, “How do you guys say it here?”

Song Yan: “It’s fucking unpalatable.”

Xu Qin pursed her lips and remained silent.

Song Yan: “It’s really unpalatable.”

Xu Qin then followed up with a somewhat weird accent: “Really~~ unpalatable .” The pronunciation of ‘unpalatable’ almost rolled her tongue into her throat.

Song Yan laughed loudly: “Come again— it’s really fucking unpalatable.”

Xu Qin was silent again.

“What’s wrong?”

“Don’t swear.”

Song Yan: “Why can’t I say swear words anymore? —Follow along. Hurry, hurry, hurry,” he pushed her, “Why are you being so argumentative, hurry!”

Xu Qin was pushed a few times by him, she didn’t know which part was wrong, so she opened her mouth and said, “It’s really fucking unpalatable. This cook is a stupid cunt.”

“……” Song Yan was at a loss for words, “How come there’s even self-development now?” While speaking, he gestured to cover her mouth, “Girls can say fuck, but not stupid cunt, this word is uncivilized, uncivilized.” 

Xu Qin had half of her face covered by him, and she herself thought it was amusing after she finished speaking, so she pursed her lips and laughed silently, eyes curving.

After bickering, she continued to eat a big spoonful, Song Yan frowned: “What are you doing? Don’t eat these tomatoes if they don’t taste good. Spit it out.”

Xu Qin glared at him with a mouth full of tomatoes. At home, in front of Meng Yanchen, or in front of anyone, she would not dare to make such a move.

Song Yan kicked the trash can to her feet: “Spit it out.”

Xu Qin hesitated for a moment, and finally spat out the big mouthful of tomatoes into the trash can.


He really liked her. She knew it all.

He was not a good-tempered person, but he never said a single strong word to her; he was also not a patient person, but because he wanted to see her he sat in the classroom day after day; he was not a quiet person, but because she didn’t like to talk from time to time, so he stayed silent with her for an hour, two hours……

It was a Friday, and she was supposed to go home after school. She didn’t return home. He took her to roller skating, she couldn’t skate, she was stumbling, he patiently held her hand and guided her slowly.

His friends skated by now and then, laughing, whistling, teasing, and he shooed them away like a swarm of bees.

Xu Qin skated a few laps and said, “Let go, I know how to skate now.”

Song Yan: “Are you sure?”

Xu Qin: “I’m sure.”

Song Yan let go of her hand, but his arm was around her, following her closely.

Xu Qin skated by herself, skating faster and faster, she didn’t know how to turn, and she was not proficient in emergency braking skills. At the end of the rink, she got flustered and lost her center of gravity, suddenly falling towards the ground. She thought that she would have a hard fall, but Song Yan quickly stepped forward behind her and hugged her.

Holding her in his arms, he hit the ground himself. She was unscathed in his arms, not even hurt from the fall.

Song Yan bared his teeth in pain. Xu Qin stared at him blankly, as if she hadn’t had enough time to realize what happened.

Song Yan clutched his chest: “What are you still doing in a daze? Hurry up and come massage it.”

Xu Qin was still staring at him blankly, and after half a second, suddenly burst out laughing.

That was the first time Song Yan saw her laugh. She knelt beside him, giggling, and her thin shoulders trembled.

But soon, the smile on her face disappeared, and as she looked behind him, her face became deathly still.

Song Yan turned around and saw Meng Yanchen. He had seen this person before, every Monday when Xu Qin came to school, he would follow in the car.

Standing by the side of the rink, Meng Yanchen didn’t even see Song Yan, didn’t even see the whole world, he looked at Xu Qin, and said: “Qin Qin, time to go home.”

Xu Qin lowered her head, was silent for a while, and began to take off her roller skates.

Song Yan didn’t stop her until Xu Qin got up to leave. Song Yan stood up and asked, “Who is he?”

Xu Qin whispered, “My brother.”

Song Yan smiled: “Do you think I’m a fool?”

Xu Qin didn’t explain, and walked towards Meng Yanchen with her head down.

Seeing that she was about to walk to the edge of the rink, Song Yan, who had stayed still, suddenly skated over quickly and grabbed Xu Qin’s hand: “Don’t go with him.”

Xu Qin looked back at him.

But his action of grabbing Xu Qin irritated Meng Yanchen.

The latter warned: “You let her go.”

Song Yan raised his chin and pulled Xu Qin into his arms: “Is it your place to care about my girlfriend?”

Meng Yanchen stepped forward and punched Song Yan in the face. Song Yan’s shoes slipped, and when he fell to the ground, he grabbed Meng Yanchen’s collar and dragged him to the ground. As soon as he landed, he turned around quickly and punched him back.

The two rolled into a ball and were beating each other so hard that their faces were wounded and their shoes were kicked off.

Xu Qin stood aside expressionlessly, as if she didn’t know anyone on either side of the fight.

Friends gathered around and finally pulled the two apart. Seeing that Song Yan was going to grab Xu Qin again, Meng Yanchen turned around first and asked Xu Qin, “Who are you going with?”

Song Yan stopped, looked at Xu Qin, and panted heavily.

Xu Qin, who had been in a daze, finally focused her eyes on Song Yan.

His friends surrounding them, Song Yan said word by word: “You’re not allowed to go with him. ––I’ll take you back.”

Xu Qin walked to Song Yan’s side and said softly: “Song Yan, I’m going home. I’ll come to play with you tomorrow, okay?”

Song Yan looked down at her with a cold expression.

Xu Qin didn’t explain further, turned and left. In front of all his friends.

His friends gathered around the same spot, not daring to speak out. Song Yan didn’t say a word, picked up the roller skates, and walked away. After taking two steps, he suddenly yelled and smashed the shoes on the ground.

On the next day, Saturday, Xu Qin came to the skating rink to look for Song Yan.

Song Yan ignored her, she just sat on the steps and waited.

Song Yan skated back and forth on roller skates like he was crazy, ignoring her. For an hour, two hours, Xu Qin sat motionless on the steps and waited.

His friend kindly tried to persuade her: “Go home, you disgraced Yan ge too much yesterday, he won’t reconcile with you. Go back.”

Xu Qin sat on the sidelines and waited, her eyes following Song Yan back and forth.

It was getting dark, and Song Yan had shown no intention of leaving. Tired of playing, he slid to the side bench, unscrewed the bottle and poured water into his mouth to drink.

Xu Qin walked over and said: “Song Yan, I’m hungry, let’s go eat.”

Song Yan gave her a cold look.

Xu Qin squatted down at his feet, like a kitten, staring at him with clean black eyes: “Don’t be angry, didn’t I come to look for you?”

Song Yan gritted his teeth angrily, swore, smashed the water bottle, took off his skates, got up and left.

Xu Qin followed immediately, and ran forward to grab his hand, but he let it go rudely in a fit of anger. She followed again, clutching the corner of his t-shirt tightly. This time he didn’t let her go, but his long legs were walking fast, and she was walking beside him keeping pace.

During the meal, he didn’t say a word from the beginning to the end, and Xu Qin was also on alert. She felt that he wanted to ask something, and wanted to ask about her relationship with Meng Yanchen.

But after the meal was over, he put down his chopsticks and watched her continue to eat slowly without asking any questions. At the end, he suddenly stretched out his hand to rub her head, and only asked softly:

“Little girl2, did you miss me?”

The question he wanted to ask the most, in the end the only question he could ask, the question that he tossed and turned all night wanting to know the answer to, is only this sentence.

Little girl, did you miss me?

I missed you so much I almost went crazy.

At that moment, a hole was torn in her stone-like heart, piercing in pain.

He said: I thought you wouldn’t come back.

Just because she came back, he forgave her so easily.

When they broke up, she said:

“I don’t like the dilapidated Wu Fang Street, and I think you will be a good-for-nothing.”

She thought for sure that he would never forgive her.

But after many years, his answer was: “Your original decision is not important.”

Xu Qin raised her hand to cover her own eyes, if she went to him again without knowing why, it would be bullying him too much.

1 “good” and “so” share the same Chinese character

2 term of affection