Yup, Xiao Qiu is heading straight towards Li Chuan once again. However, a new “rival” has appeared on scene. I don’t think he’s going to pose much of a threat to Li Chuan and Xiao Qiu’s love though. She’s still got the same attitude towards other guys as before, even though Li Chuan has been gone for so long. Obviously, no one can measure up to him.
If each day’s transportations costs weren’t able to be expensed, based on my inherent frugalness, I would definitely have squeezed onto a bus instead of taking a taxi to work. Ever since discovering that working as a translator was so mentally challenging, I started forming the same habit as Li Chuan. I would rather spend money than bother myself with the details. There was another advantage to taking a taxi. It saves the inconvenience of asking for directions.
I took a taxi to the nineteen story Xiang Lai building, CGP’s Chinese headquarters. The HR manager, Cai Jing Fei, greeted me. She took me to tour the offices of each department, the conference rooms, the lobby, and coffee shop. I discovered that there weren’t many employees at CGP. Together, there were about 30 in total, including three foreign architects, two who spoke French and one who spoke German. Although they had thick accents, they were all extremely fluent in English. Cai Jing Fei said that these three foreign architects didn’t understand much Chinese. If they have to deal with clients, they must go through an interpreter. In addition, all important company documents, especially tender documents and design files had to be prepared into three languages, Chinese, English and French, and sent to the Switzerland headquarters. In addition, more than half of the Chinese architects here were not proficient in English, French, or German. Therefore, all important announcements and mail had to be translated into Chinese to be passed down. At the same time, if the Chinese architects had to contact headquarters, a translator also had to be included. “Therefore, the work of the translator group was very important and very busy.”
Of course, I knew that Xiang Lai building was where Li Chuan worked. When I was together with Li Chuan, he had mentioned it more than once. But Li Chuan always kept work and personal life separate. He was extremely unwilling to allow outsiders to bother his personal life. So, I only recognized one person in CGP and that was Li Chuan’s secretary, Zhu Bi Xuan.
After listening to Cai Jing Fei’s introduction, I suddenly realized that the translator who left the country on a F2 visa was Zhu Bi Xuan who had been working here for seven years.
After seeing all the main offices and common areas on the nineteen floors, Cai Jing Fei said, “The chairman, the vice-chairman, the chief architect and their secretaries all have their offices on the twentieth floor. Please come this way. The chairman was originally going to meet you today, but he had some pressing matters and had to head out. We’ll see vice-chairman first.”
We went up in the elevator to the twentieth floor and headed into an office space decorated exceptionally luxurious. On door of the second office, I suddenly caught sight of a plate saying “L.C. Wang.” In that instant, my heart felt as if it was being squeezed and I couldn’t breathe.
“Do you not feel well?” Cai Jing Fei asked, noticing that my pace has suddenly sped up.
That’s right, I didn’t feel well. I wanted to run away in anxiety.
“No. Perhaps I’m a little nervous that I am going to meet the vice-chairman.” I feigned a relaxed smile.
Cai Jing Fei said, “The office just now is the office of our company’s chief architect, Wang Li Chuan. He is a Swiss-born Chinese person and can speak fluent Chinese.”
I asked, “Mr. Wang isn’t here today either?” The office door was semi-transparent. If there was light inside, one could see it from the outside.
“Mr. Wang used to be the chairman and the chief architect of CGP. He is now the chairman of the headquarters in Switzerland, our superior. He still has many design projects in China on his hands, so we keep his office. Once in a while, he returns to Beijing to work. It’s not too frequent.”
“So he was promoted.”
“It should be said that the job required it. CGP Architects is a part of the investments by CGP International. It’s Chief Wang’s family enterprise. Our current chairman and vice-chairman here were both once his trusted lieutenants.” Adoration was written all over her face and exuded from her speech.
“Chief Wang doesn’t like other people calling him Chief Wang. If you run into him, you can just call him Mr. Wang. Even though he comes from money, his character is exceptionally gentle and he is extremely low-key. Before, he would always eat lunch in the dining hall with everyone else.”
“Mr. Wang is brilliant and talented, a legend in the architecture circle. When he was transferred away, everyone here was was broken-hearted.”
“Oh.” I felt that Cai Jing Fei’s tone was filled with emotion.
In a daze, I followed her into the third office. The first room after entering was where the secretary worked. There was an interior room deeper in. “Xiao Tian, this is our new translation department’s English translator, Annie. Is it convenient to see Mr. Zhang right now? I made a reservation yesterday.”
“Please come in. Mr. Zhang is waiting for you.”
Vice-Chairman, Zhang Qing Hui, was a highly capable, middle aged man. His skin was dark, he had a short stature and an aquiline nose, characteristic features of southerners. Sure enough, his speech carried a thick Chongqing accent. He shook hands with me cordially. The three of us exchanged a few simple greetings, so it can be said that we had become acquainted with each other. He had a call and we took the opportunity to come out.
My office was in 1902. It was diagonally across from the elevator. There was a really nice desktop in the office. In addition, the company had issued a Sony laptop to me. It was small and light. I would never have even dreamt that I would get a Sony laptop so quickly.
I turned on the computer and started using [email protected] — my exclusive company account — to check email. My task was to translate every mail that CGP specialists had sent to me waiting for me to translate. I was to translate from English to Chinese or from Chinese to English. Other translators were in charge of French and German.
There was an extremely large amount of communication between Switzerland and Beijing, there was a huge list of emails. I took a cursory look over them. Among them was a letter from Li Chuan welcoming Mr. Rene to the France branch. Mr. Rene had taken over the post of Mr. Jian as the chief architect of the France branch. It was a standard email that had been sent to CGP worldwide through his secretary, Lu Si.
It only took me three minutes to translate it into Chinese and forward it to everyone in the company. At the same time, I also happily discovered that this job was fairly effortless. I finished translating all the documents within two hours and then went to the dining hall to eat lunch.
The dining hall was on the eighteenth floor. There was no need for the elevator, walking took a really short time. The dining hall was laid out like a buffet and provided both Western-style and Chinese food. I took some fried rice, a plate of fragrant spicy fish pieces, and a cup of coffee and started to eat alone at a table. Shortly, a fashionably dressed lady, holding a plate of salad, asked me extremely politely whether she could share a table with me. I promptly nodded.
“I am Emma of the French group. My Chinese name is Ai Yi Meng. You must be the new English translator, Annie, right?”
“Yes.” I stood up to take the tea cup from her, “I am in 1902, nice to meet you.”
“I am in 1904. Our offices are pretty close. You look really young, did you just graduate?”
“Yes, I am here from Jiu Tong.”
“Bi Xuan just left last week. It was really sudden and the company needed someone urgently but didn’t want to start the hiring process. So they directly scooped you out from Jie Tong” She smiled at me, breaking out her charm. “I heard that they paid a high price.”
“Nah,” I said, “Jiu Tong has recently taken on a lot of contracts and it’s really busy over there. They’re also lacking people.”
“We were all trying to guess who would come. We prayed every day that Jiu Tong wouldn’t seen an old fogey over.” She said, “But you are so young, so we are also really surprised. Are you even twenty yet?”
“Twenty-two. You?” I thought that she didn’t look too old either.
I was surprised, “No way. I think you only look around twenty-five.”
“First of all, I’m not married. Second of all, I eat salad and take vitamins every day.” She used her fork to stab a few pieces of leaves with Italian dressing on them and ate with gusto.
“Hey, call me Emma.”
“Emma, how long have you worked here?”
“I was amongst the first employees here. Ten years. I was only your age when I came here.”
I thought to myself, ten years ago, Li Chuan was still not yet twenty years old and hadn’t graduated college yet. Evidently this company was already established when he came.
“Looks like you really like it here.”
“That’s right. Do you know why I’m still single?” She suddenly smiled mysteriously.
I shook my head.
She leaned over and whispered, “I’ve tried to seduce every chairman who has been here and have never succeeded.”
Seeing my stunned face, she chuckled, “You are indeed still a young girl to believe in it. — Of course I’m kidding. Do you like to go shopping after work? I know of a couple stores that sell fairly good clothes. Also, do you go to the spa? I have a few gift certificates to them, given by others. Li Sha store does pretty good facials. I have two certificates for there. I can’t use both, so I’ll give you one.”
She stopped speaking and took out a certificate from her bag and placed it into my hand.
“Thank you Emma Jie!”
She tore into a small bread roll, eating it in a refined manner, and saying, “The bag you have in your hand is very unique.”
She really knew her stuff. Li Chuan had bought this Gucchi bag for me.
“Is it? Someone gave it to me.”
“Ex. We split up a long time ago.”
“You boyfriend must have made a lot of money.”
“How do you know?”
“I saw this bag five years ago. It was extremely expensive. I struggled over whether to buy it and wasn’t willing to. The real thing costs more than twenty thousand. It’s more expensive than a nice laptop. It’s quite fashionable paired with your pair of Calvin Klein jeans. It’s fashionable but not eye-striking.”
Li Chuan had also bought these jeans. He didn’t like to go shopping, but his eye for clothing was impeccable. I looked at the bag in my hand and quickly said in a careless manner, “This must not be the real thing.”
“If I couldn’t tell the difference between real and fake, how could I stay at this international company? When Cai Jie introduced you today, every female in the French and German groups saw this bag. They all said that you must be Xiao Guan’s newest girlfriend.”
I shook my head with all my might, “I’m not. Chief Xiao’s girlfriend is Tao Xin Ru from the human resources department.”
“How is that possible? I’m very familiar with Tao Xin Ru. She’s always been in unrequited loves. Even though Xiao Guan is fickle, his reputation in the industry is considerably good. He would never date someone from his own company. Tao Xin Ru is very intentional, she probably hoped to use her sincerity to have Xiao Guan give in. So she finally got him in the end?”
I denied again, “In short, I definitely, definitely, am not Xiao Guan’s girlfriend.”
“Really?” Emma’s looked past the top of my head, landing on the entrance of the dining hall. She chuckled and unexpectedly pinched my cheeks with her scented, delicate hands.
I raised my head. I saw that Xiao Guan had entered at some point and had walked over to stand in front of me.
“Chief Xiao.” I stood up at once.
“Annie.” Xiao Guan greeted Emma and I insipidly, “Meng Meng.”
“Chief Xiao, you are acquainted with Emma?”
“Uh-huh, Meng Meng and I are from the same school. She’s a year older than me, my senior. We often saw each other at school gatherings.”
“Xiao Guan, how come you had time to come to CGP today?” Meng Meng raised her head to look at him with a teasing smile on her face.
“I am here to discuss matters with Director Jiang. You know that I am also in real estate. I want to ask their architect to help with something.” He sat down and said to me, “How is it, Annie? Are you getting used to this job on your first day?”
“It’s really good. It’s more relaxing than Jiu Tong.”
“CGP’s work shouldn’t be relaxing. When the bidding begins, you’l have a lot of interpreting work to do. They are currently busy with the Wenzhou bid. Are you familiar with the Wenzhou accent?”
I immediately started to become nervous, “What? I have to interpret Wenzhou speech? I hear that there are many Hakka people there. I don’t understand a word of Hakka dialect.”
“Don’t be nervous,” he laughed, “the majority of those you will come into contact with are government employees. They will try their best to use Mandarin.”
“Oh.” I relaxed, “Then, who did you hand over the auction handbooks too.”
“Tao Xin Ru.” He said, “Director Tao curses at me everyday.”
“Chief Xiao, have you eaten lunch yet?” I asked.
“Not yet. There’s a Mongolian barbecue place next door. Everyone says it’s good. Are you interested in trying it? My treat.”
“Thank you…” I pointed to my meal plate. I hadn’t actually touched it, “I’ve already eaten quite a bit. Plus, my stomach doesn’t feel too well today…”
“That’s okay, next time.” He looked a little embarrassed. It was clear that his ego suffered a big bruise.
We continued chatting a bit, politely before he courteously bid farewell.
I turned my head and saw Meng Meng staring at me, baffled.
“What is it?”
“You, Annie. You actually rejected Xiao Guan in public? What is wrong with you?”
“Didn’t I say before? I’m not his girlfriend. Why would I cause a misunderstanding by going out to lunch with him?”
“Do you know that Xiao Guan considers most people below him and carries himself so highly that he rarely takes the initiative with a girl. Females are always infatuated with him and would rather treat him to a meal, but he would never go.”
“Okay, I admit, I have a problem. I don’t understand to grab onto a pole and climb up, okay?”
“Ai (Sigh), look at your foolishness. I remember I used to be so picky back then, but now I’ve gotten nowhere. Don’t get to my age before realizing what regret it.” She took out her cellphone and handed it to me, “Hurry and call him. Say that your stomach doesn’t hurt now.”
I laughed, shook my head, and handed the cellphone back to her, “The two of you look pretty compatible to me. Why don’t you call?”
I returned to my office and continued to work. After working for an hour, the phone rang.
“It’s me, Xiao Guan.”
“Chief Xiao, hello.”
“Is your stomach better?”
I had forgotten about it and started breaking out in cold sweat, “It’s…it’s better.”
“Can you eat Mongolian barbecue at night?”
“I…have…yoga class tonight.”
“When does it start?”
“When does it end?”
“I’ll come pick you up at eight. Tell me the location of your yoga class.”
I couldn’t do anything about it and gave him the address.
“Then, Annie, I’ll give you ten minutes to change your clothes. I’ll see you at eight-ten.”
I wanted to say something else but he had already hung up.
After finishing yoga, without changing my clothes, I stood outside the gym doors covered in sweat. At eight-ten, Xiao Guan arrive punctually in his car.
I opened the door myself and got in.
He drove slowly and didn’t say anything for a long time. I sat next to him and didn’t utter a sound either.
After a while, when it was a read light, he suddenly said, “Perhaps you don’t know this, but in college, I pursued Meng Meng before. There were many people pursuing her and I reluctantly fell in line. Once, she saw a piece of clothing she wanted, but it was really expensive and I didn’t have enough money to buy it for her. Of course, there were other things, but we broke up then.”
I waited for him to continue.
“Later on, we both graduated. I left my secure job and made a name for myself. She heard about it and took the initiative to find me. I didn’t pay attention to her and she got mad.”
“What does this have to do with me?”
“Today, you embarrassed me in front of her. She must feel happy after seeing me like this.”
“I didn’t know…”
“It doesn’t matter.” He said, “But, tonight, you must obediently eat Mongolian barbecue with him.
I felt that I didn’t really get his logic.
“Mr. Xiao, please stop the car.” I said coldly.
His face went white and the car stopped abruptly.
“May I ask whether you are an only child?”
“Yes, what about it?”
“Since you are an only child, perhaps you come to understand a principle later than those of us with siblings.” I opened the car door and said to him, “In this world, not everything revolves around you. Whether you are happy playing around with that girl has nothing to do with me and I don’t care anything about it. Goodbye!”
I slammed the door, turned and left.
The next day, I thought that Xiao Guan would fire me out of anger since I was still an employee of Jiu Tong. Instead a whole month passed without anything happening. I hadn’t heard any news of Xiao Guan and didn’t receive any calls or emails from him. I concentrated on working. When I was tired I would go by the trash bins downstairs and have a smoke. No one caused me any problems, and no one bothered me. I had an office to myself and would play light music as I translated. Sometimes I would finish work early, and I would go chat with Meng Meng next door or other translators. When they were tired from work, or at lunch time, they would often come to my office or drag me shopping. Besides the chairman, the architects and engineers, all other staff members were female.
One day, when I finished work, I was browsing the web and wanted to find a relaxing novel to read. I didn’t find a relaxing one, instead I found a green website.
I discovered that there were many romance fictions on there and, moreover, anyone could register a pen name and become an internet author.
I registered and chose a pen name in half an hour, Xuan Yin. In other words, it mean to conceal. Then, I read “Heaven’s Dance” online. There were three parts. I had the window open very small and if someone came in, I would close “Heaven’s Dance.” It made my working efficiency increase greatly. Every day I wanted to finish my work at the greatest speed so that I can get to reading the next chapter in “Heaven’s Dance” earlier. Unfortunately, after not even a week, I finished all of “Heaven’s Dance.” Afterwards, I finished reading all of Lan Lian Hua’s novels, and then I finished really all of Ming Xiao Xi’s, Shui Xin Sha’s, Qing Chuan’s…etc. When I discovered that I didn’t have any more to read, I used the pen name I registered to write a story.
I decided to give my story the title, “Li Chuan’s Past.”
I wrote a chapter and discovered that there were only 5 views. One reader commented with two words, “Add oil!” (加油, Jia You, to cheer on someone.)
Well then, I will write for the reader that cheered me on. I rapidly wrote the second and third chapter. I felt that my story with Li Chuan was very beautiful if you got rid of the final part. I restrained myself a lot in some places and in other places I was audacious. Believe me, the real Li Chuan is definitely even more beautiful than the one in my writing. I cried as I wrote, immersing myself in the beautiful memories. Since I couldn’t extricate myself from it, I incidentally pulled my readers into the emotional mess.
I really wished that Li Chuan was a character in my story who I could write as I wished and arrange a happy ending for the two of us.
Of course, it wasn’t real. But the Li Chuan in my story allowed me to gradually forget the real Li Chuan. The pain was described over and over again by me, and gradually diluted. The love was recalled over and over again by me, and became tedious. I watched as another Li Chuan became more and more real to me in my head, more and more closer. And the real Li Chuan became more and more dim, more and more small, becoming just a dot in the end and becoming farther away from me.
So many cigarettes, so much alcohol, so many sleepless nights. And that time when I stood alone on the roof garden of Long Ze. In the night wind, I gazed down at the specks of traffic below. If it wasn’t for my dad and my brother, I might have jumped down.
I finally found a way to bury my love and change my pain into happiness.
Every morning, the first thing I did when I got up was turn on the computer and see how many followers my story had. There were many new followers. Of course, every so often, someone would lash out at me, but I didn’t care. I didn’t require much. As long as someone paid attention to me, that was good enough.
I worked hard during the day and when I wasn’t working, I would write “Li Chuan’s Past” in my head. At night, I practiced yoga, went to bars, watched movies, danced, and played until I was tired and went home to pass out.
I started living a fuller life.