There was a red alert for smog, the light and shadow in the courtyard were hazy. When you looked up, you could only see the red walls and ocher tiles above. The world was muddled, and the surrounding CBD buildings had long been hidden by the clouds of dust.

Zhai Miao squatted on the steps of the entryway to the east wing, dilly dallying, tying and untying her shoelaces, tying and untying her shoelaces. The door on the opposite side opened with a creak, and Zhai Miao got up immediately: “Ge!”

Song Yan ignored her, went into the bathroom next door, squeezed out toothpaste and brushed his teeth.

Zhai Miao ran in, she could see in the mirror that his eyes were bloodshot, and there were faint black circles below them. He was a bit dispirited, probably because he hadn’t gotten any sleep.

Zhai Miao stood by the door and asked in a low voice: “Will you go meet her?”

Song Yan didn’t answer, rinsed his mouth, bent down, used both hands to splash some water to his face, dried his cheeks with a towel, and shaved his stubble. The electric razor buzzed.

Seeing that he was unwilling to speak, Zhai Miao sighed, grabbed the strap of her backpack and turned to leave. Feeling that it was too unbearable, she came back to him again: “Ge, I just want to remind you a little, she was drunk.”

Zhai Miao said: “She only cared about venting, she was irrational, and the problem between you two has still not been resolved. If you rush over like this, what if things become entangled and unclear again?”

“I know.” Song Yan said, twitching the corner of his mouth.

Zhai Miao was taken aback.

Song Yan didn’t say much more, and lifted his chin to look at the mirror, shaving the stubble on his chin.

After they went their separate ways in Si Xi Di, she had stopped contacting him for nearly a month and a half, which was already enough to prove that she had no further plans to. If Zhan Xiaorao hadn’t disrupted things and provoked her, time and reason would have gradually worn away everything.

Little by little, if their fate takes an unexpected turn, being in the same city but never meeting again, it would mean another ten years of silence.

In any case, what this woman was best at was dullness and silence.

Zhai Miao lamented: “Then you still— will go to meet her? Ge, you are 28 now, not 18. If you torment yourself again, you will be ruined!”

Song Yan lowered his head, put down the razor, rested his hand against the sink, was silent for a while, and asked: “Zhai Miao, after what happened last night, what will happen if I don’t go to look for her?”

Zhai Miao was a woman, so naturally it was very clear: “Then I won’t look for you again even if I die.”

“So I need to go find her.” Song Yan looked into the mirror again and continued to shave.

Zhai Miao was stunned, speechless.

Yes, he had no other choice.

If you go, there may not be a good outcome; but if you don’t go, the outcome would inevitably be doomed.

It was just that the situation had reached a point of no return, and ultimately he was still reluctant to let go.

Zhai Miao said softly: “Ge, do you really like her that much?”

Song Yan remained silent.

Zhai Miao: “Didn’t you say it before? That it’s okay not to meet. It’s fine not to meet.”

Song Yan said: “But since she came to me, I have to go meet her.”

Zhai Miao didn’t understand, and turned to look in the direction of the front gate: “Is she here?”

Song Yan had already cleaned himself up, walked out of the bathroom and returned to his room: “Go to school, don’t worry about my business.”

“Hey—” Zhai Miao was about to say something, but Song Yan had already closed the door.


When Xu Qin woke up and realized that she was in the Meng family home, she couldn’t help but be surprised. She knew that she was drunk last night, but she didn’t understand why Meng Yanchen and Xiao Yixiao had brought her here.

And she had no way to ask, it was now nine o’clock in the morning, everyone had gone to work.

Well, at least she could be alone for a while.

She rolled over, closed her eyes, and buried her head in her arms. What happened last night, although the details were blurry, the outline was clearly remembered — she went to Song Yan’s house drunk and acted crazily.

Her cheeks were hot and burning, but she was more annoyed than ashamed…

Shouldn’t have drank, shouldn’t have gone to look for him while delirious.

She had poured another layer of ice over the already frozen relationship between the two, pushing a standstill into a deadlock.

At this point, if they didn’t make abrupt changes, it would be the end.

But making changes was easier said than done.

Her phone rang, it really was Song Yan.

Xu Qin didn’t know whether to feel happy or worried, she hesitated for a few seconds, then answered the phone: “Hello?”

Song Yan’s voice was quiet: “It’s me.”

Xu Qin also whispered: “I know.”

Song Yan: “Are you awake?”

Xu Qin: “En.”

There was a brief silence.

Song Yan asked again: “Where are you?”

Xu Qin: “At home.”

Song Yan said, “I’ll come to find you.”

Xu Qin: “The home on the west side.”

Song Yan didn’t answer for a moment, and there was another brief silence.

Xu Qin: “Wait for me for a while, I’ll be back soon.”

Song Yan: “Okay…..let’s do that then.”

Xu Qin: “En.”

Putting down the phone, Xu Qin buried her face in the pillow, she had pushed herself to the edge of being torn apart — if it wasn’t Song Yan, it would be her family.

There was no room to retreat anymore.

All kinds of complicated thoughts filled her mind, she had a splitting headache.

She finished washing up quickly, and went downstairs to go out, when she turned her head inadvertently, and saw the door to Fu Wenying’s study was unlocked at the end of the hallway.

Xu Qin thought she was at home and went over to say a greeting.

When she got to the door, she realized that there was no one inside, just that the maid forgot to close the door after cleaning. Xu Qin casually went to pull the door closed, glancing over the study room, unexpectedly finding that the furnishings inside hadn’t changed a bit over the years.

The last time she entered Fu Wenying’s study was when she was young.

She looked at the mahogany desk, the dark vermilion carpet where the peonies bloomed, and her breathing sank slightly. She suddenly saw the younger Meng Qin standing there with her head down. Fear made her slender legs tremble slightly.

Fu Wenying sat aside with an icy expression.

She stepped forward, pulled Fu Wenying’s arm, and whispered: “Mom—”

Fu Wenying shook off her hand: “I’m not your mother, I don’t have a disobedient child like you.”

She said nothing, just trembled.

“Didn’t I tell you before that you are not allowed to date outsiders?  You’re not being moral and self-respecting, if you want to be with him, then you don’t need to study, don’t need to come back to this household, don’t need to call me mother anymore!”

She was in a daze for a long while, and then tugged at her in a panic: “Mom—”

Fu Wenying opened her hand again, carried an icy expression for a long time, and finally issued an ultimatum: “Qin Qin, if you listen to your mother from now on, mother will send you to study abroad and give you the best life; but if you want to act out of your own accord, and don’t care about this family, mother will send you back to Liang City right now, and will never let you come back to Di City. From now on you will have no father, mother, brother, and no home. Even if you go to cry in front of your father and brother it will be of no use, I’ll do as I say.”

She was in a daze, and slowly took her hands off the corner of her mother’s clothes.

Fu Wenying got up to leave, but she finally said softly: “Mom, I will listen to you.”

Xu Qin remembered that back then, that silent little girl stood there without a word of excuse or shed tears, she accepted everything silently.

And the image of her standing there, isolated, helpless, and about to be abandoned, was just like the image of her standing outside her parents’ bedroom when she was a child and watching them argue about wanting a divorce and saying they didn’t want her anymore. It became a nightmare she could never get rid of.

Xu Qin closed the door, stood there for a while, put on her face mask quietly, and left.


When Xu Qin arrived at the entrance of the Zong Lu Gardens community, Song Yan had already arrived, smoking a cigarette under an evergreen tree. He was wearing a gray slim coat, and at first glance, he looked a little thin.

Spotting Xu Qin, he put out the cigarette.

Xu Qin had covered her face with a mask, only her eyes were exposed, and asked: “Why didn’t you wear a mask?”

The smog was heavy today.

Song Yan said: “Forgot.”

Xu Qin took one out of her pocket and handed it to him: “I brought an extra one.”

Song Yan took it, lowered his head to put it on, and asked: “Have you had breakfast?”

Xu Qin shook her head.

Song Yan’s eyes stopped at her eyebrows and asked: “What do you want to eat?”

Xu Qin’s eyes stopped at his mask, and she replied: “I want to eat congee.”

Song Yan: “What kind?”

Xu Qin: “Plain congee……with nothing else on it.”

There was no plain congee sold in the congee shops in this area.

Xu Qin said: “I have water and rice at home.”

The two walked towards the community together with tacit understanding, without saying a word. After entering the elevator, they stood on either side, separated by a short distance. Their gazes deliberately avoided coinciding with each other, and even if they met, they always fell on the eyebrows, below the nose and lips, passing by each other.

After returning home, Song Yan opened the cupboard, saw a brand new bag of rice, and asked: “Why did you buy rice when you never cook at home?”

“It was issued by the hospital.” Xu Qin said.

Song Yan asked: “When did they issue it?”

Xu Qin: “Forgot.”

Song Yan looked down for the imprint on the bag: “It won’t expire, right?”

Xu Qin: “How can rice expire?”

Song Yan saw the production date clearly: “It doesn’t have one.”

Song Yan took out the bag of rice and asked: “Do you have scissors?” Seeing her blank eyes, “……Well, a kitchen knife is fine too.”

Xu Qin found a kitchen knife and handed it over.

Song Yan cut open the packaging bag, and Xu Qin handed over the soup pot. Song Yan scooped a cup of rice in and put it under the faucet. Xu Qin was puzzled and asked: “Is that enough?”

Song Yan glanced at her.

Xu Qin: “It looks like very little.”

Song Yan said: “There will be more after cooking.”

Xu Qin: “Oh.”

Song Yan washed the rice, added water, put it on the stove and lit it, after two or three strikes, there was no flame.

Song Yan bowed his head and tried again, while asking: “When was the last time you used natural gas?”

“……” Xu Qin pursed her lips and said, “It’s never been used.”

Song Yan: “……”

Xu Qin probably wanted to make up for it, so she turned to look for her phone: “Maybe it’s broken, I’ll call the property owner.”

“Wait.” Song Yan stopped, squatted down, opened the cabinet to find the pipe, took a look, and said, “The valve is not open.”

He turned the valve, got up and started the ignition again, and it ignited.

“……” Xu Qin said, “Amazing.”

Song Yan: “……”

Song Yan put the lid on the pot, took a step back and leaned on the sink to wait for the water to boil, he stared at the jumping flames, but not at her, and asked: “You never eat at home?”

Xu Qin: “En.”

Song Yan: “What do you eat? Takeout?”

Xu Qin: “Takeout, and at the hospital cafeteria.” She also stared at the soup pot on the stove, not looking at him, and asked, “What about you?”

Song Yan said: “There is a cafeteria at the base. ……If I’m resting at home, Aunt will cook.”

Xu Qin said, “Auntie cooks delicious food.”

Song Yan: “En.”

There was a gap of one or two seconds of silence, the flames touched the bottom of the pot, and the rice water was gurgling.

Xu Qin continued the topic: “Is the food in your cafeteria good?”

“Not bad.” Song Yan said, “How about you?”

Xu Qin: “So-so, not very tasty.”

“Well. The food in the army is pretty good, it should be better than the hospital.” When Song Yan said this, he turned his head unconsciously and glanced at Xu Qin. Xu Qin felt his movements from the corner of her eye, and turned her head reflexively to look at him as if giving a response. Their gazes intersected in one place and they happened to look into each other’s eyes, very serious and straight.

Hearts thumped inadvertently.

Since meeting up earlier today until now, they had avoided and avoided, but were still caught off guard, gazes colliding for the first time.

The water boiled, the congee was gurgling, gently lifting the lid off the pot. The soup splashed onto the stove, making a sizzling sound.

Song Yan looked away, got up and went to lift the lid. Xu Qin also followed unconsciously to watch, the bubbling rice soup fell back, the rice grains were tumbling in the rolling water, and the aroma of clear porridge overflowed from the pot.

Xu Qin wrinkled her nose.

Song Yan asked: “Hungry?”

Xu Qin: “En.”

Song Yan: “Wait a little longer.”

Xu Qin: “Okay.”

Song Yan put the lid back on, leaving a gap this time. He took a step back and leaned back on the counter. Xu Qin naturally followed him to rest against the counter.

The two continued to wait for the congee to bubble. Maybe it would be good if they could wait like this forever.

In the end, it was he who broke the illusory silence and called her: “Xu Qin.”

Xu Qin: “En?”

Song Yan: “Do you remember everything you said yesterday?”

Xu Qin lowered her eyes and said quietly: “Some I remember, some I don’t.”

“En.” Song Yan asked, “You said, you won’t come to me again, do you remember this sentence?”

Xu Qin nodded, and then said: “I remember.”

Song Yan: “This time you didn’t drink right?”

Xu Qin: “No.”

Song Yan: “Do you still say that now?”

Xu Qin lowered her head and covered her face with her hands: “I don’t know.”

A short silence.

“If I come over to you, can you wait?” Song Yan asked, and before she could answer, he smiled briefly, “Waiting with uncertainty, even I feel wronged for you.”

The future was unpredictable. She was afraid, and he was not necessarily without pressure.

Xu Qin let go, turned her face to look at the floor of the living room: “Song Yan, I don’t know what to do now. I don’t know what to ask of you, what to ask of myself. I don’t know how to face you, how to face my family. I—”

“I know you are afraid and reluctant to let go.” Song Yan said, with a slight self-deprecating tone, “I also want to tell you, as long as you are resolute, let me handle the rest. If you dare to, I can take responsibility.

“But I know, these words are useless.”

Xu Qin’s eyes turned red all of a sudden, she quickly turned her eyes away and blinked away the mist. Yes, even if he was with her to face her family, she would be still afraid and reluctant to let go. The burden on that end of the scale was too heavy. He was undoubtedly aware of this.

Xu Qin trembled: “It’s because I don’t have enough courage.”

Song Yan shook his head and smiled very lightly: “To be honest, I feel guilty for putting you in such a situation.”

The tip of Xu Qin’s nose was also red, and she said softly: “I know. I know how you are……”

She couldn’t go on.

Song Yan was also silent, and took a long time to take another breath, calmly said: “I can guarantee that I will treat you well, treat you well every day, never betray you, never be cold, and do my best to create a better life for you. But what I can’t guarantee is whether this “well” will meet your requirements and your family’s requirements.”

Xu Qin had nothing more to say, all her hesitations, her worries, her unease, had all been expressed to the greatest extent by him.

“I know you are in a difficult position. I also know that if you really are together with me, you’ll be wronged. I understand it all, but—” Song Yan paused for a full ten seconds, and finally said, “You can no longer keep barging into my life so unscrupulously.”

His tone was calm, and after careful consideration, he pressed the final seal on their relationship:

“Be together, or never see each other again, make the decision.”

Xu Qin lowered her head, moved her lips, then pursed them tightly again, and a tear fell down.