Li Chuan’s Past (沥川往事) : Chapter 19 8


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The picture above is of winter jasmines which flowers during the winter months. This chapter is the start of many more heartbreaks for both us and Xiao Qiu. Let’s try to get through it quickly, shall we?

[Chapter 19]

The next day, Li Chuan didn’t call me. At night, I called him. No one picked up. I couldn’t sleep for the whole night. There was an ominous feeling in my heart.

The day after that, he called with an explanation, “Sorry, there were too many things to take care of in the office. I was too busy and didn’t have time to return your call. I’ll come pick you up to eat lunch today, okay?

He said it was an apology, but it felt empty to me. His voice was very calm and indifferent, a stagnant feeling. I felt a deep chill in my heart.

I believed that he would take me to some restaurant to eat like usual. Unexpectedly, he brought me back to Long Ze Garden.

The French windows of the loft were open wide. The sun shone through brightly and a gentle spring breeze caressed the jade green curtains.

“Sit here and relax.” He went to the kitchen and took out an apron, “Today I’ll be the chef and bake salmon for you.”

Evidently, he had already bought the ingredients. The plastic bags were marked with “Ping Kang Supermarket.” We went to that supermarket often.

He made clam chowder, my favorite type of soup. Tossed a Swiss salad. And then, he poured some olive oil into the pan and fried the salmon until it was partially rare before placing it into the oven to bake. Li Chuan didn’t cook often, but when he did, everything was of quality.

I faced the sunlight from the windows and stared off into the distance. After quite a long time, when I came to, I realized that there was an area with trees right outside the window. There was actually a large garden.

“Ah, I’ve been here for so long, how come I didn’t notice. So you actually have a huge roof garden? It’s filled with flowers?”

— Besides making love in his loft, we basically didn’t do anything else. I was afraid of cold, so Li Chuan never opened the windows.

“Don’t go out when I’m not around. Be careful not to fall from the building.” He said.

I informed him immediately that I was afraid of heights and would never even ride chair lifts.

The dishes were quickly done. He split the salmon into two halves, added juice, and piled salad on top. The reds and greens on the plate made it look really nice.

I cut the salmon with the knife and placed a slice into my mouth with a fork.

“Have you been busy with studies lately?”

“It’s ok, not too busy.”

“Did you do well on the final exams last time?”

“Second place out of the whole grade, so I didn’t get the scholarship. The Hong Yu Award is only given to the grade’s top student.” First place was Feng Jing Er. There was still a gap between us. But, I wasn’t actually too sad about it. I really did try my best.

Li Chuan didn’t say anything. He knew that I was very competitive when it came to studies.

Then, he continued to eat in silence. I did also.

After awhile, I finally asked, “Did you receive the phone call?”

He stared blankly, “What phone call?”

“The phone call you were waiting for.”

“Mmhmm.”

“It’s something really troublesome, right?” I sat down next to him, grasped his hand and placed it onto my lips. I softly kissed them.

“Mmhmm.”

“Everything will eventually be resolved. Cheer up, okay?”

“Mmhmm.”

We went into the bedroom together. He didn’t let me turn on the light. Thus, I lit two candlesticks at the bedside. He undid my clothes and kissed me tenderly.

In my arms, his body quickly became excited. He then used both his arms to lock my hands, pressed his face on mine, and entered my body with extreme force. In pain, my body abruptly contracted and he took the moment of weakness to enter. “Does it hurt a lot?” He nipped my ear and asked.

“Just a little.”

I was in a lot of pain, but at the same time, my heart felt empty and really wanted him.

Every time we were together, Li Chuan was always very cautious. Today was a safe day for me, so he was much more daring. His motions were fierce as if he was going to crush me to pieces. During the whole process, he was completely engrossed and didn’t say anything.

A drop of water fell onto my face. I opened my eyes to look at him, but he buried his face into my bosom. That drop of water slowly flowed down. It flowed down to my lips. I slightly licked it. It was salty.

Li Chuan’s body was actually very weak. Sometimes he had to expend several times the energy to do something that seemed easy to us. I gently caressed his handicapped body in the darkness, feeling only tenderness towards it in my heart. Under the candlelight, he propped himself on both arms, appearing very helpless. After reaching his climax, he was reluctant to leave my body, and refused to withdraw for a long time.

At long last, he released me and said softly, “I’m going to go take a bath.”

After I finished freshening up, he had already finished dressing into a new outfit. In his hands were car keys, “You have class in the afternoon, right? I’ll drive you back.”

From afternoon till night, I continuously held onto the cellphone he bought me. I turned the volume and the vibration to the highest. But I didn’t get a call from him.

The next afternoon, the cellphone finally rang. I quickly picked it up, “Hi.”

“It’s me, Li Chuan. Where are you?”

“I’m in the dorm room.”

“Come down for a bit, okay?” His voice sounded particularly calm, filled with not a trace of emotion, “I’ll be in the usual place, the parking lot.”

I walked the road to the president’s building a thousand times. Today, I felt a burst of ill wind.

In the distance, I saw Li Chuan in a black suit, light grey shirt and shiny blue tie. His pale, slender hands on the dark cane. He watched me with no expression on his face.

The parking lot was empty. The winter jasmines were in bloom.

I sucked in a breath, feigned a relaxed mood, and said “hi” to him.

He looked at me, then hung his head. After that, he lifted his head and said. “Xiao Qiu, I’m here to bid you farewell.”

My heart ached dully. But I raised my spirit and forced a laugh and a nod, “When’s your flight?”

“5:15.”

“I’ll send you off.” I looked at my watch. There were still two hours till the flight.It took at least an hour to drive from here to the airport. Li Chuan did everything ahead of time. He would never wait until the last moment. This definitely wasn’t his style.

“There’s no need. Just say farewell here.” My long hair was disheveled by the wind. He lifted his hand to place the strands on my forehead behind my ear.

My heart quietly trembled, but my face remained tranquil. I laughed and tried to cover up the anxiety in my heart, “That’s fine too. When will you be back? I’ll come meet you.”

He looked at me in silence. After a moment, he said, “Xiao Qiu, I’m not coming back. Please forgive me.”

I stood there stupidly. My mind was a complete blank. My tears flowed out uncontrollably.

Li Chuan never knew I looked like this when I cried, because I have never cried in front of him. He inhaled deeply and looked at me in silence. His gaze was empty and felt cold. He had returned to the way he was when I first met him. That Li Chuan rarely smiled. He sat there by the window, drinking coffee, keeping himself at a distance, cold like an iceberg.

I loudly asked him, “Why? What actually happened? Did I do something wrong?”

For a split second, his gaze flickered. A complex feeling flitted across. It seems as if he wanted to say something, but was unable to say it. He restored his calm state and said in a cold voice, “You didn’t do anything wrong.” He paused and added, “It’s better if you don’t know.”

“No! Tell me! I want to know! I want to know!” I howled angrily at him.

He grabbed my hands tightly and kissed me on my forehead with force. “I’ve left a letter in the Long Ze flat.” He said, “After reading that letter, please forget about me as quickly as possible.”

And then, he let go of me. Opened the car door resolutely.

However, as he was getting in, in that moment, he suddenly turned back and his gaze finally held a trace of anguish. He said, “Goodbye, Xiao Qiu. Take care.”

“No! Li Chuan! I love you! Don’t leave me!” I cried bitterly.

His car sped away.

I stood there motionlessly.

I didn’t know whether it was raining or I was crying. Whether it was the leaves on the tree shaking or me trembling.

I took a taxi to Long Ze Garden, swiped the key, went up the elevator.

Inside, everything was still there. The furniture, the appliances, the cutlery, the antiques on display.

Inside, nothing was there. Everything of Li Chuan’s had disappeared. His clothes, designs, wheelchair, toothbrush, books, even his drawing pencil, eraser, shampoo, cotton swabs for applying medicine, razor for shaving, and slippers in the wardrobe.

The photographs on the walls had also disappeared. Our couple picture.

So clean, so thorough, as if he had never lived here.

On the coffee table, a white envelope quietly sat there. It was very thin. I opened it and despaired even more.

A white sheet of paper. It had a name on it, “Chen Dong Cun,” and a number.

I called the number with my cellphone. It was a man who answered, “Hello.”

“Are you Mr. Chen Dong Cun?”

“Yes, may I ask who this is?”

“I am Xie Xiao Qiu.”

The man immediately said, “Miss Xie, this is Chen Dong Cun law firm. I am a lawyer of Chen Dong Cun. Mr. Wang Li Chuan has entrusted two matters with us. Miss Xie, do you have time right now? Can you make a trip over? Of perhaps if you let me your address, I’ll bring the documents over for you to look over.”

I said in a cold voice, “What matters, what documents? Can you roughly tell me about it over the phone?”

“It’s like this. Mr. Wang has placed the two lofts that he owns in Long Ze Garden under your name. He has already signed all the documents. You only have to bring your ID and sign a couple of places before getting the two lofts. Mr. Wang said that these two properties were gifts and you can do whatever you wish to them. You can live in them yourself, and you can also sell them to someone else. In addition, Mr. Li Chuan said that if you needed money, you can call us at any time.”

I laughed bitterly inside. This was Li Chuan’s style. Whether he was here or not, he would always “take care” of me.

“Miss Xie, are you still listening?” Lawyer Chen was still waiting for my reply.

“Mmhmm”

“Then, Miss Xie, when can you come to complete the paperwork.”

“Mr. Chen, please tell Wang Li Chuan, “I said, “thanks for his good intentions. I don’t want anything of his.”

“Miss Xie, please listen to me–”

I hung up and left Long Ze Garden as fast as possible.

April 1st. Today was April fool’s day.

****
Hi Li Chuan,
The results for the mid-term exams are out. I did pretty well. I even got a 86 on my worst subject, intensive reading. Are you pleased? For lunch, I went to a small store at the North Gate with An An to eat beef noodle soup. I added a lot of cilantro. It was delicious. At night, I went for a study session and brought a cup of strong tea. There, I finished reading the last “Demigods and Semi-Devils” book. That’s right, I wasn’t studying. I wanted to take a break. – Xiao Qiu.

***
Hi Li Chuan,
I’ve practically written an email every three days. Have you read them? My days at school are very boring. I am still working at the café. Do you still remember Ye Jing Wen? You left a notebook in her hands there. I asked her for it now and she won’t give it to me. I am a little jealous of her. You didn’t leave anything with me, but she has your notebook. Today, I ran into Professor Feng Jie Liang in my department. He is Feng Jing Er’s father. I don’t really like Feng Jing Er too much, but her dad is really kind and even very charming. Perhaps it was because he studied novelist Lawrence. I made dinner for myself. A cucumber, two five spice tea eggs. There are a lot of smokers in the internet café. I’m going to a study session now. – Xiao Qiu.
***
Hi Li Chuan,
Four month have already passed by without any messages from you. You are really determined. I have dreams every night. I dream that there is mail in my inbox. It doesn’t matter, I think I will only have to use “Hi, Li Chuan” as “My dear diary” and it will be fine. Keeping a diary is a good habit. Isn’t that right? If I end up famous one day, others will need to use this to research me. I chose seven classes this semester. My classmates all say I’m crazy. I’m not crazy, because I finally got the Hong Yu Award. I no longer need to work anymore, so can spend more time studying. The bad part is that a music department student has moved into the dorm room next door. She keeps the window open and practices singing everyday. We’re all nearly going crazy because of her. When will this midnight singing end? – Xiao Qiu.
**
Hi Li Chuan,
It’s April 1st again, April Fool’s day. Do you remember that we split up on that day? You can’t hide it from me because I could see the pain in your eyes. You’ve never hurt me before. If you had not choice but to hurt me, it must be for the good of something more important. Alright, the painful recollections will now stop here. One day, I had a really scary nightmare. I dreamt that you were in pain. That night, I ran to the internet café in the middle of the night and googled your name for the first time. Fortunately, there was no news of the famous, young, architect, Mr. Wang Li Chuan. You obviously haven’t been participating in public activities either. With you leaving so abruptly, I was wondering what was going to happen with all the designs projects you had in China?

But, it looks like your company still remains in Beijing and continues to do business. It’s that laughable. These aren’t things that I need to worry about. I only hope that everything is well with you. – Xiao Qiu. Also, don’t think that the Xiao Qiu in the email you are reading about is the actual Xiao Qiu. The actual Xiao Qiu has changed. You probably won’t recognize her anymore. But Li Chuan, will you have changed? You won’t right? You are forever the love of my life.


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