Xu Qin drove all the way back to the Meng’s house, Meng Yanchen’s car was at the door.

Xu Qin entered the house and noticed that the atmosphere was different, Meng Yanchen was sitting at the marble table in the dining room with his head down eating noodles. Fu Wenying sat on the side, folded her arms on the table, and looked at Meng Yanchen with a loving expression.

Hearing the sound of the door opening, Meng Yanchen glanced that way, his gaze stayed on Xu Qin for a second, and then retracted flatly.

Fu Wenying seemed to be in a particularly good mood, and smiled: “Qin Qin is back?”

Xu Qin called her mother.

Fu Wenying: “I haven’t eaten breakfast yet, come and eat noodles with your brother. I was afraid that you would forget and have to call you, but Yanchen said no. It seems that I worried too much about it.”

Xu Qin lowered her head and took off her shoes, searching in her heart, and suddenly remembered that today was Meng Yanchen’s birthday.

She forgot.

As soon as she raised her eyes, she saw Meng Yanchen looking at her out of the corner of his eye. When he lowered his head to drink the soup, his eyes were still flat and traceless.

For so many years, his character like Xu Qin couldn’t be clearer. He was exactly the same as her, and to what extent his heart was depressed, there was not a trace of waves on the surface.

Xu Qin changed into her slippers and walked to the dining room, sitting down opposite Meng Yanchen.

Fu Wenying asked, “Eaten breakfast yet?”

Xu Qin wanted to lie, but she really couldn’t eat anymore, so she said, “Already ate, I’ll drink a bowl of soup.”

Fu Wenying instructed Aunt Gui1 to serve the soup.

She smiled and looked at Xu Qin, and then at Meng Yanchen, her gaze lingering on the two: “So fast, the two children in our family have grown so big.”

Xu Qin took the soup bowl from Aunt Gui.

Fu Wenying said: “When I gave birth to this kid, I was tormented miserably, laboring in the hospital for seven hours, but he refused to come out. Your father also said that this child will be a worry in the future, and I will be brutally hurt.”

Xu Qin and Meng Yanchen moved in synchronization, lowering their heads to drink the soup.

“In the end it was all nonsense, there was no child in the house who was more worry-free than Yanchen, and growing up he has never made me sad. Remember when you were a kid—”

Fu Wenying said more than usual today, telling about Meng Yanchen’s birth. She tells it every year on his birthday, and no child disturbs a mother’s memories on this day.

Meng Yanchen had to go to work soon, and after eating the noodles, he went upstairs to clean up.

Xu Qin also returned to her room, took a wooden carved little Meng Yanchen from the shelf, and walked to his room to knock on the door.

“Come in.”

Xu Qin pushed the door in, Meng Yanchen stood in front of the floor-to-ceiling mirror to get dressed, he had changed into a black shirt and was putting on cufflinks.

Perhaps because of the black shirt and black trousers, it seems that his figure was exceptionally long, and his face particularly cold.

Xu Qin turned the wooden carving in her hand and handed it to him.

Meng Yanchen glanced at it, took the carving from her hand, turned around pulled open the drawer, and threw it in, there were a bunch of small Meng Yanchens in the drawer.

He closed the drawer, hit it lightly, and snapped it shut.

He didn’t look at her and continued to put on a thin sweater.

Xu Qin stood in place for a few seconds before saying, “Happy birthday, may your wishes come true.”

Meng Yanchen did not answer.

Xu Qin turned around and walked out, walked to the door, and heard Meng Yanchen’s faint voice behind her: “Nothing else to say?”

Xu Qin stopped in her steps.

There was nothing to ask about Ye Zi, Meng Yanchen’s character was clear to her, whether it was his upbringing or his cleanliness, he couldn’t do that kind of thing.

He made this just —

That’s it.

Today was his birthday.

Xu Qin said, “No.”  and went to pull the door.

Over there, the cabinet door slammed shut.

“Didn’t come back to question me?” Meng Yanchen asked, “Don’t say you ran back because you remembered my birthday.”

Xu Qin held the edge of the door and said, “You’re very excessive.”

“How?” He straightened his shirt collar in the mirror, and actually laughed slowly, “Hurt your sweetheart’s poor self-esteem?”

He has always been polite and self-denying, and he has rarely been so mean, but every time he aimed at Song Yan. And with his low-key and unassuming personality, how could he go to a police station to say hello for a trivial matter, let alone take his car to pick up people, which was nothing more than to draw a deep ditch between Song Yan and her.

He had never been a person who used power to bully others, she knew it all too well, but this time-

With a slight push of Xu Qin’s hand, the door that had just been opened closed tightly again.

She looked back at him: “Meng Yanchen, what do you want to do?”

Meng Yanchen also looked back at her: “What do you want to do?”

Xu Qin did not speak.

Meng Yanchen looked at her for a moment, turned around and opened the wardrobe door, a long row of various coats hung straight, he picked one of them, paused his fingers on the hanger, and said: “Of course, if you’re just playing, it’s okay. If you’re serious, I advise you to stop it.”

He pulled out a gray coat, and hung the wooden hanger back up.

Xu Qin asked, “So you are now in charge of me as a parent?”

Meng Yanchen: “Otherwise?”

Even the confrontation between the two was unusually calm, like a lake without wind.

Xu Qin watched him put his coat on and said, “Meng Yanchen, don’t mind my business anymore. Who I marry, who I go on blind dates with, who I fall in love with, who I play with—it’s none of your business.”

After saying this, there was silence in the room for several seconds.

Meng Yanchen didn’t look at her, he lowered his head and straightened his cuffs. He had always been meticulous with his clothes, and he had never missed any detail – shirt cuffs, thin shirt cuffs, coat cuffs, layer by layer.

Finally, he said, “It can’t be him.”

Meng Yanchen said word by word, “Just him.”

Xu Qin paused feeling ridiculous: “Why——”

“He doesn’t deserve it.” He interrupted quickly and calmly, as if disgusted by saying one more word, “I beg you to find a decent one.”

Xu Qin lowered her voice: “Watch what you’re saying.”

“Did I cross the line?” The corners of Meng Yanchen’s lips curved and said lightly, “What has he done for you? If he had any trace of sincerity towards you, when you guys were separated for that reason, a man should grit his teeth and desperately climb up and try his best to be a man. If he had any trace of sincerity towards you, he will not be just a firefighter until now, and he can’t even afford to give you a decent necklace.”

Xu Qin’s jaw was tight, as if she had been poked at the most embarrassing scar.

She was not a little girl who lived in dreams without knowing the world, nor was she a little girl who pursued Plato’s spiritual love. She was also hypocritical, she was also worldly, she will calculate, she will compare.

If she wanted to abandon everything she had, positions of power, money, wealth, parental affection, just for him;

So, why should he?

What does he have to ask her to do that?

When she stood at the door of the police station in the morning, she was thinking that when she looked at the back of Song Yan leaving, she didn’t catch up.

At that time, she couldn’t come up with an answer, and now, Xu Qin still didn’t want to understand, didn’t want to think about it, and didn’t want to tear this scar open for Meng Yanchen to see.

She smiled faintly as if she hadn’t heard this, and asked instead,

“What have you done for me then? It was you who told me not to like you anymore, you said that you would not care about me in the future, and it was you who said that you wanted me to change my surname and be the daughter of the Meng family and your sister. Are my feelings machine programs? Well, I listened to you, and now you are meddling to control me again, and under the guise of caring for me, don’t you think it’s false?”

Loved ones, hurting each other, fatal with one blow.

Meng Yanchen listened to her words, his figure paused, then he pulled open the watch cabinet, picked out a watch from it putting it on his hand, he lowered his head buttoning the wristband, his lips had a trace of obscureness.

“Why did I advise you? Oh, why did I advise you in the first place? If you didn’t change your surname, mother would have sent you away. Never again in this life—” The words behind were cut off like that.

Xu Qin was taken aback, never knowing that there was such a reason behind it.

“If I liked you, if I liked you—” He shook his head and didn’t continue, as if the consequences would make him lose his voice.

“It took me more than ten years to accept the reality that you will marry someone else after all, but Song Yan, no.”

Meng Yanchen buttoned his watch, pulled up his sleeves, and turned to look at Xu Qin,

“What are you going to do, huh? For him, go beg our parents, or make trouble with the family? What about me, what do you want me to do at this time? Have me watch from the side? Watch you go humbly and heartbreakingly to our parents for his sake, or ruthlessly watch you break up with us for him? You say, at this moment, seeing that you are about to be torn in two, should I speak for you, or should I not help you?”

Xu Qin looked up at him, clearly watching a trace of desolation and anger flash on his calm face, he strode forward, wanting to hold her shoulder, but his palm suddenly popped open when he was about to touch her, as if she was taboo and untouchable,

“I ask you to give me even a little respect. If you and he can be together, why—”

He took a deep breath, and again, couldn’t say any more.

Why couldn’t you and I?

If you and he could fight everything together, why couldn’t you and me.

Meng Yanchen quickly turned around and looked at the huge lawn downstairs outside the window.

The leaves on the ginkgo tree fell halfway to the ground and spread on the grass.

Suddenly, the world became so lonely that nothing had to be said.

With his back to her, he gently pulled open the innermost drawer, when closing the drawer again, his hand knocked the carving down.

She didn’t see, he helped little Meng Yanchen stand up.

“You wished for my wishes to come true?” He touched Xiao Meng Yanchen’s head, “Do you know what is going on in my heart, wishing my wishes come true?”

“Forget it.” Meng Yanchen said, he closed the drawer and went out.

Xu Qin stood in place, heard his footsteps and quickly went downstairs out of the yard, heard his car start, leaving quickly.

She looked out the window and saw that the sun was shining and a yellow leaf had fallen.

She felt that her heart was like that leaf, riding the autumn breeze and drifting down from the tall trees, tired like never before.



Song Yan sent Zhai Miao to school, but Zhai Miao didn’t eat breakfast and ordered a bowl of noodles in the cafeteria.

Song Yan was on vacation, and it was usually difficult to be free, so he accompanied her and opened a bottle of Arctic Ocean. He drank his soda and thought about the difference between him and Xu Qin at the door of the police station. What she thought at that time, he could guess a thing or two.

There were students walking by in the cafeteria from time to time, Song Yan himself was good-looking, mature temperament, tall and long-legged, dressed stylishly, not like the gentle and scholarly boys in the school, inevitablely attracting the attention of the female students.

Zhai Miao kicked Song Yan’s leg under the table: “Ge, that beautiful woman was watching you just now.”

Song Yan continued drinking soda and ignored her.

Zhai Miao continued to kick: “You look back and see if she looks good.”

Song Yan put his hand in his jacket pocket, turned his head to glance, and when he turned back, he was losing patience: “Hurry up and eat, finish eating and go to class.”

“No class this morning.” Zhai Miao said, returning to the topic just now, “Ge, in fact, your conditions are quite good, If you don’t want to get married in a hurry, find someone to fall in love with first, don’t be so-”

Song Yan: “Food can’t even stop your mouth?”

Zhai Miao glared at him and continued to eat noodles, after a while, she suddenly looked up and asked, “Ge, you tell me the truth, do you still like her?”

Song Yan frowned, and was about to reprimand her for something, when the mobile phone in his pocket vibrated, he took it out and saw that it was a text message sent by Xu Qin, only one sentence:

“I’ll treat you to dinner tomorrow.”

An address was attached.

Song Yan stared at the text message and was silent for a few seconds. There was an inexplicable premonition in the heart, which was not good.

He replied with an “Okay.”

Putting away the mobile phone, Zhai Miao said: “Ge, just tell me the truth, I am seriously asking you. Do you still like her?”

This time, Song Yan actually smiled and said, “It’s best not to meet.”

Zhai Miao asked, “What if already met?”

Song Yan said: “Don’t want to not see her again.”

Zhai Miao’s shoulders slumped, obviously disappointed, but finally accepted: “Okay, I’ll be polite to her in the future, and don’t follow my mother blindly.”

Song Yan snorted speechlessly: “I thank you.”

Zhai Miao stirred the noodles in the bowl, the food was tasteless, and after thinking about it, she said: “Ge, I think she should like you too, why don’t you guys just get together?”

Song Yan didn’t want to talk about it, and prevaricated: “You don’t understand.”

Zhai Miao refused to accept it, she put down the chopsticks, and reasoned with him: “I understand. Isn’t it because her family is too prominent. I think you are a stickler. What modern people pursue is to be free and happy, to enjoy the moment. If you like her, be together, the future is too far away, let’s not worry about whether we can get married or not. Let’s talk about love first, go wherever you go, continue if you can, and separate if you can’t. The time, whether mental or physical, is not a disadvantage anyway.”

Song Yan: “Bullshit.”

“In the first place. Who stipulates that a relationship must have a happy ending? Let me say, ge, you obviously have the innate conditions to fall in love with countless of people, so why do you have a heart to stick to one thing?”

Song Yan endured her to a certain extent, and stood up: “I am leaving. Go to class.”

“Hey, hey, are you really leaving?”

Song Yan quickly walked out of the cafeteria and walked on the school path, remembering Zhai Miao’s words, he felt absurd, but he couldn’t refute it.

But he and Xu Qin walked into a dead end, but they couldn’t get out of it no matter what.

In late autumn, only ginkgo and evergreen trees remained on the campus, all golden and one dark green.

The students were in pairs, some sitting on benches reading, others running in the morning, and the faces of the young people were full of vigor and vitality.

Song Yan inadvertently remembered his college days, the countless days and nights of studying hard in the classroom and exercising on the playground.

Xu Qin didn’t know, he had gone back to school, passed the best military school, and gone through the most basic hardship, thinking that with that glamorous record and resumé, he could walk to the position she could see.

But he didn’t expect how deep the water was here, that a person thousands of miles away could move their finger, and he could fall into the abyss, forever.

Song Yan took out a cigarette from his jacket pocket, stuffed it in his mouth and lit it. The smoke was blown by the wind around his face, making his side profile sharp.

A few girls who walked by secretly looked at him and ran away in small steps.

Song Yan left the school without any regrets.

When walking to the subway station, he passed a road. There was a car parked by the sidewalk with a black and white license plate. Song Yan remembered seeing that license plate number a year ago.

But he turned a blind eye, twisted the cigarette between his fingers, and walked past the car.

1 桂姨 guì yí – Gui aunty. In the Asian world, one would normally call the generation above them, aunt or uncle even if they are not blood related – it’s a sign of respect. Aunty Gui is most probably the Meng’s all rounded housekeeper. Even if Aunt Gui is the same age as Fu Wenying, she would naturally call her Aunt Gui as it would the term that Meng Yanchen and Xu Qin would use. Fu Wenying may call Aunt Gui by her full name if it’s just the two of them.