Song Yan was pulled up by his teammates. He was covered in soot and sweat, hugging the child, he shouted: “Xu Qin!”

Xu Qin had already hurried downstairs, rushing over: “Give me the child.”

Song Yan handed the unconscious child to Xu Qin, then took the water bottle from Suo Jun, gulping a few mouthfuls of water.

Xu Qin quickly did a check up on the child, and concluded that he did not suffocate and was still breathing weakly, but passed out from the smoke. She loosened the child’s shirt, wet a towel and wiped his cheeks and chest, then quickly picked up the child and walked towards the exit. When she got to the door, she turned around and asked: “Is the elevator working?”

Suo Jun said: “It’s safe.”

“Okay.” Xu Qin picked up the child and went downstairs.

An ambulance was parked downstairs, it had arrived at the scene together with the fire department.

Xu Qin handed over the child to a colleague, and the ambulance left the scene quickly.

When Xu Qin returned to her home, the firefighters were walking out one after another, some of them were hunched over on the ground and rolling up the water hoses.

Yang Chi passed by her and smiled: “Thanks, jie.”

Xu Qin asked: “All good?”

Yang Chi: “The fire is extinguished, and the door downstairs has been opened now. We’ll go downstairs and check everything again.”

Xiao Ge also thanked her: “Good thing we borrowed your balcony, otherwise it wouldn’t have been so fast.”

As he talked, he wiped the sweat from his face.

Seeing that his palms were red, Xu Qin said: “If anyone is injured, I can take a look. I have a first aid kit at home.”

Xiao Ge was taken aback for a moment, looked at his hands, and waved them: “It’s alright, we’ll go finish our work first.”

Xu Qin didn’t try to keep him. A group of young men swarmed out. Song Yan came out of the living room and passed Xu Qin at the entrance.

“Thank you.” Song Yan said.

Xu Qin shook her head.

The whole team quickly evacuated.

The room that was bustling and extremely tense a moment ago became empty again in an instant. Xu Qin stood at the entrance and glanced at the huge living room. All the people had left, leaving a room full of water stains, black ash and blotches, in complete disorder.

The sun shone on the water-drenched and dirty floor, reflecting a dazzling black light.


Song Yan and the others went downstairs to check the scene of the extinguished fire, found the origin point, and contacted the property manager and the owner. The owner was still rushing to get back.

Song Yan left two team members to deal with the aftermath, and the rest retreated.

Everyone packed up their things and prepared to withdraw. When they got to the elevator, Song Yan ordered: “Yang Chi, accompany the instructor to inspect the equipment, and Xiao Ge will write a report after returning.” After giving the instructions, he said, “I will stay here and leave later.”

Yang Chi didn’t react in time: “It’s enough to leave Xiao Fei and Lao Jiang here, captain, go back early and get some rest.”

Song Yan said: “I’ll go upstairs.”

Yang Chi wondered: “2701? To do what?”

Song Yan: “If you mess up someone’s house, you need to help clean it up.”

Yang Chi: “That’s true, ge, I’ll go with you, I’ll help you clean up.”

Song Yan: “No need, one person is enough, more will be trouble.”

Yang Chi: “How will it be more trouble, ge, I get things done quickly……”

Suo Jun stretched out a hand from the elevator, grabbed Yang Chi by the collar and dragged him in, pressing the door close button with his other hand, and raised his chin to Song Yan: “Go.”

Song Yan turned and ran into the stairwell, taking a few strides up the stairs. When he arrived at Xu Qin’s house, the door was open, and the sound of running water came from inside.

Song Yan walked into the entrance hall and looked around. The living room was in a mess and there was no one there. Xu Qin came out of the bathroom with a towel in her hand. Seeing Song Yan, she was a little surprised, and asked: “Did you lose something?”

“No.” Song Yan looked at the floor, “I borrowed your balcony, I’ll clean up the house before leaving.”

Xu Qin did not refuse.

Song Yan took off his thick protective clothing and put it at the entrance, then took off his shoes and walked in, heading straight for the bathroom, glanced around, and asked: “Where is the mop?”

Xu Qin: “Don’t have one.”

Song Yan looked back at her, and his eyes fell: “Using a towel?”

Xu Qin weighed the towel in her hand and coughed: “This is the only thing I have.”

Song Yan stared at her speechlessly for a while, then shook his head, so speechless that it was almost funny: “This is useless. Wait here.” After he finished speaking, he walked out.

Xu Qin asked: “Where are you going?”

Song Yan was bending over to put on his shoes, turned to look at her: “Going downstairs to buy a mop.” He straightened up and asked, “Is there anything else your house is missing, I’ll buy it all together for you. Broom, detergent, rags……” Halfway through, he stopped to observe her expression for a moment, and asked, “Don’t have anything?”

Xu Qin clenched one hand into a fist, put it next to her mouth and coughed: “Yeah.”

Song Yan: “…”

The man turned and left.

Ding, the sound of the elevator going down came from the corridor.

Xu Qin walked to the entranceway, peeked outside, and went down. She stepped back to look at the firefighter jacket on the ground. It was huge and very thick. The clothes were dirty on the outside and reeked of sweat inside.

Xu Qin went to the balcony and looked down. After waiting for a while, she saw Song Yan running out of the corridor, and quickly disappearing around the corner.

It was the first day of November, the ginkgo leaves downstairs were a sheet of golden yellow.

Autumn was bleak, and the cold wind blew across the balcony.

Xu Qin retreated into the house.

Not long after, Song Yan came back with a mop in one hand and a large plastic bag in the other.

“This much?” Xu Qin looked over and saw that there were several colorful absorbent rags, as well as ordinary rags, as well as detergents, scouring balls, brushes, etc.; he also bought several rolls of garbage bags.

Xu Qin frowned slightly, and asked, “Why buy so much?”

Song Yan was rolling up his sleeves: “You’re not embarrassed to ask?”

Xu Qin: “…”

Song Yan snorted: “This looks more homey now.” After speaking, he took the mop into the bathroom, and turned on the tap to rinse.

The sound of water burst forth.

Xu Qin stood still for a while, then took out a large rag from the plastic bag, and followed him into the bathroom.

Song Yan turned on the faucet, repeatedly swiped the mop, wetting the cloth strips; Xu Qin went to the sink and scrubbed the dry rag.

Two sources of water sounded.

Song Yan lowered his head and twisted the mop, without looking sideways, as if he didn’t care, asked: “What’s wrong with your throat?”

“I have a cold.” Xu Qin replied.


There were sounds of rushing water, after a long while, Song Yan asked again, “Are you ready?”

Xu Qin nodded: “Ready.”

“En.” He turned off the tap, drained the water from the mop, and went out.

Xu Qin wrung out the rag and followed him out.

Song Yan was mopping the floor on the balcony. He had long limbs and lots of strength. After pushing back and forth twice, he had wiped the huge balcony floor clean. If it was a cleaning lady, she would have to tidy up and down for a long time.

Xu Qin took the rag and walked over to wipe the balcony railing. Song Yan had just turned around and pushed the mop out to wipe the corner, and was about to pull back when Xu Qin bumped into him head-on, tripped on the mop cloth, and slipped.

Sharp-sighted and deft, Song Yan grabbed Xu Qin’s arm vigorously and pulled her back.

Xu Qin hurriedly stood still, her heart pounding.

Song Yan let go of her: “Be careful.” He continued to mop the floor.

“Oh.” Xu Qin released a breath, and walked to the railing to wipe off the water stains and black ash.

There was a strong gust of wind on the tall building, which made her shiver.

Song Yan suddenly reached out, grabbed the rag from her hand, and confiscated it.

“Go in, it’s windy outside.” He was expressionless when he said this.

Xu Qin: “I can—”

“I’m not responsible if your cold gets worse.” Song Yan said.

Xu Qin then went back indoors. Behind her, Song Yan closed the floor-to-ceiling windows.

Originally, the air was circulating and the north wind was blowing through. Now that the door was closed, there was a sudden warmth in the room.

Song Yan was cleaning the railing outside, it was dirty from being stepped on by firefighters. Seeing that his rag was dirty, Xu Qin took a new one out of the plastic bag, wet it under the faucet, returned to the door, and opened a sliver to change the rag for him. He handed back the dirty ones and took away the clean ones. She took the dirty ones to rinse out.

He was very nimble in his work, very focused on cleaning, and he quickly finished cleaning up the balcony.

Song Yan returned indoors, closed the door, went to the bathroom to rinse out the mop, and returned to continue cleaning the living room full of footprints and water stains. When sweeping next to the sofa, the mop accidentally hit the coffee table, and a small card fell off. Song Yan picked it up, it was Xu Qin’s ID card. He lingered on it for a second, then put it back where it was.

Xu Qin was hesitant to sit still, and boiled a pot of water with the new kettle.

Time passed slowly, everything felt natural. Neither of the two talked to each other, the room was quiet, there was only the sound of the mop sliding across the floor, mixed with the gurgle of the kettle.

When Xu Qin was in the open kitchen and turned her head, the mop just happened to clean a path among the water stains in the living room, and the sunlight reflected on it, shining brightly. She narrowed her eyes inadvertently, and saw Song Yan’s figure blending into the golden autumn sun.

She stood here making tea while he mopped the floor at home.

At that moment, the memory seemed to freeze. Looking back, this was a very quiet autumn afternoon, a very ordinary day, like every day in the past.

When the water boiled, Song Yan had already finished cleaning the living room, washed all the mops and rags, and placed them neatly in the bathroom.

“Have a cup of tea before leaving.” Xu Qin poured boiling water into a glass, the tea leaves rolled up and down, and a faint green color emerged from the tea. She looked up at him, “You sweat a lot, need to replenish water.”

She filled three glasses of water one by one and placed them in a row on the counter.

The water dispenser was on the side, useless.

Xu Qin said: “The water is a bit hot, please sit first.”

Song Yan said: “I’m dirty, so I won’t sit.”

Xu Qin felt a little awkward, but he was unusually open-minded. His trousers were full of stains, he had been rolling in the fire, no part of him was clean. Standing in the gleaming shiny room that had just been cleaned, it was particularly noticeable.

Xu Qin moved her eyes away and pointed to the high stool by the bar: “Sit on this, I’ll just wipe clean later.”

Song Yan thought for a second, then went over and sat down.

The three cups of water were full of steam, and wouldn’t turn into lukewarm water within only a second. The two waited in silence.

Xu Qin asked: “Are you injured? Let me take care of it for you.”

Song Yan glanced at his hands: “No.”

Xu Qin: “How about your wrist, the skin may have been rubbed raw.”

Song Yan paused for a second and looked up at her. He didn’t even notice that the skin on his wrist was broken—it was caused by wrapping it around the safety rope.

With a calm expression, Xu Qin went to fetch the medicine box. Song Yan stretched out his hand on the table, she cleaned him up briefly, applied medicine, and suddenly asked: “Are you busy with work?”

“It’s alright.” Song Yan said, “There are things every day, big and small.” After a pause, he said, “I’m not as busy as you.”

“It was my turn to come to the emergency department on a shift, otherwise I wouldn’t be so busy, and,” Xu Qin glanced at him, “our job is not as dangerous as yours.”

He snorted faintly: “I think your work is dangerous enough.”

Xu Qin understood that he was referring to the needle.

She wrapped gauze around his wrist: “Done.”

The vapor in the three glasses of water was less, and dense water droplets condensed on the mouth of the glass.

Song Yan picked it up and drank it down in one gulp. After drinking all three glasses, he wiped the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand and said: “Thanks.”

Without much delay, he got up to leave, and she followed to see him off.

Song Yan walked to the entranceway and picked up the firefighting suit off the floor. There was a small spot of stains on the ground, he said: “Can you clean it yourself?”

Xu Qin: “Yes.”

“Good.” He went out.

Xu Qin stood by the door, watching Song Yan leave, a voice suddenly sounded in the bottom of her heart.

Let’s be together, okay?

The elevator dinged and the door opened. Song Yan walked into the elevator, turned around and pressed the floor, and then looked directly at her.

Xu Qin also looked at him,

Song Yan, let’s be together, okay?

But ultimately she didn’t say anything, and the elevator door closed, blocking their sight.

The corridor was quiet again, and the fire hydrant was whole and brand new, as if nothing had happened.



Xu Qin closed the door, looked at the small puddle of stains at the entrance, and then at the shiny and clean living room, suddenly feeling that the house was so quiet she couldn’t breathe.

She clenched her hands tightly, walked to the sofa, and sat down. She sat upright and squeezed her hands tighter and tighter.

Suddenly, she stood up abruptly, and ran to pull open the French windows, a strong wind rushed in.

She threw herself on the window sill railing, and shouted towards the people downstairs: “Song Yan!”

A string of birds were startled in the golden ginkgo forest.

On the bleak autumn path, the man in the fire suit stopped and looked up.

Xu Qin couldn’t see his expression clearly, and was about to open her mouth to shout something at him, but the cold wind came, like a big hand strangling her throat.

She stopped and took a deep breath: “You are on vacation tomorrow, aren’t you?”

One second, two seconds, the world was silent.

In the next second, Song Yan turned and left.