Li Chuan’s Past (沥川往事) : Side Story 1 12



On a Christmas night N years later, Li Chuan and I sat on the sofa watching TV.

In the quiet night, Li Chuan suddenly asked, “Do you still remember the day we met?”

“Yes, I remember it quite well!”

“Let me quiz you and see if you have a better memory or I do.”

“Me.  I was young and it was at a time when my memory was at its best.  I could memorize a hundred vocabs a day.”

“That day,” Li Chuan said, “when you spilled coffee onto me, what music was the cafe playing?”

“……Let me think.  Hm, it was playing music from the radio.” Such nonsense.

“What music from the radio?”

“……popular music.”

“Which song?”

“Hm.”  I said, “Hm.”

“Was it from a male singer or a female singer?”

“Female, it was definitely a female singer.  Faye Wong.  She was the most popular at the time.  The radio played her songs every day.”

“Which song from Faye Wong?”

“……A Woman Is Easily Hurt.”

“That wasn’t it.”

“No?  Oh, Li Chuan, just admit it that you don’t understand Chinese.  It was Faye Wong.  She was singing ‘A Woman Is Easily Hurt,’ and then I was delivering your coffee.  I still remember that verse, I kept your kiss from last night, but you still felt so unreal.  Sunset came as I thought about you, and my face was full of tears.”

“You have great imagination.”

“That wasn’t it?”


“What was it then?”

(English) Rhapsody in Blue.

“Is it that jazzy music that’s a little decadent?”

“What is ‘Mi Mi Zhi Yin’?”

“It’s a little hard to explain.  If I must translate it to English, it would be (English) decadent music.”

(English) No.

“Alright.  No wonder you play this song everytime it’s our birthday.  I always thought it was weird!”

“How many years has it been?  I’ve been trying to remind you of it all this time, yet it never came to your mind once.  I feel so depressed,” said the miserable person.

“It was my first day at work, so I was nervous, okay?  I was too immersed in memorizing the menu and learning how to use the cash register, so I didn’t pay attention to the music.  Ask something else.  I definitely remember the other details.”

“You remember all the other details, is that true?”

“Of course.  That day was also very important to me too.”

“Well then, let me ask you.  What colour was my tie that day?”



“No?  Impossible.  I remember it very well.  It was brown.”

“Did you spill coffee on me?”


“What colour is coffee?”

“Coffee colour.”

“What colour was my tie then?”


“You’re really……just so dumb……”

“What did you say?”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“It wasn’t brown?”

“No.  Well, obviously it turned brown after coffee spilled on it.  I was asking what colour it was before that.”

“I don’t remember.  Just tell me.”

“I’m not telling you.  Keep thinking.”  He was starting to feel dispirited.

“Ask something easier……You can’t let me fail, honey.”

“Alright, let me ask you something simple.  What was on my hand that day?”

“Which hand?”

“Left hand.”

“There was……definitely no wedding ring.”


“You also……..didn’t seem to hold a big wallet.”


“You weren’t wearing a glove.”

“I wasn’t.”

“You were using a laptop, so you were definitely not holding a pen.”


“What was in your hand then?”

“Do you really not remember, or did you not notice it at all?”

“……I didn’t notice.”

“There was a white band-aid on my finger.  I was sharpening a pencil that day and cut my finger.”

“Okay, fine.  I failed.”

“Why do you think you failed?  This proves that you didn’t pay attention to me at all.”

“I’m innocent.  If I didn’t pay attention to you, why would I have spilled coffee on you?  The problem is that I only paid attention to your face at the time.”

“Alright.  Let me ask you something regarding my face then.  You’ll definitely be able to answer.  If you can’t, I’m getting a divorce.”

“Ask.  Go ahead.  As long as it’s a question about your face, I’ll definitely be able to answer.”



“Did I smile at you that day?”

“I’m very certain about my answer.  You did not.  You were frowning the whole time.”

“That’s incorrect.”

“You definitely did not smile.”

“Of course I didn’t smile after you spilled coffee on me.  But when I lifted my head and looked at you, I smiled.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“I did.  If I didn’t smile, you would definitely not have spilled coffee on me.”

“I think you gave me a tiny smirk, but it wasn’t obvious.”

“Classmate Xie Xiao Qiu, that was a smile.  You didn’t get any right.  You got zero.  How should I punish you?”

I shouted, “Wait!  I shouldn’t be the only one getting quizzed.  I need to quiz you too.  Maybe you’ll also get zero.”

He munched a mouthful of popcorn and said, “Go ahead, I’ll definitely get full marks.”

“What was I wearing that day.”

“Black t-shirt and a dark green apron.  Black pants and black shoes.”

“My hairstyle……”

“In a ponytail tied with a green rubber-band that had two blue glass beads.”

“Was I wearing lipstick?”

“Yes, it was cherry colored, right?”

“The first phrase I said to you was……”

“I’mu ter-la-buly soli, ser!” (I’m terribly sorry, sir!) He imitated my accent and girly voice.  It sounded close.  I jumped up to strangle him.

“Ow!  Ow!” he shouted, “This is domestic violence!  Didn’t you use to be quite gentle?”

“The above few questions are just a warm-up.  Here are the tough ones.”

“Ask away.  Just don’t strangle me.”

“Besides my work clothes, what did I wear that day?”  I was making it hard for him because I had already changed into my work clothes within ten minutes after arriving at the coffee shop.  It was impossible for Li Chuan to have noticed.

“You wore a pink sweater, the type that’s skin tight.  You were carrying a backpack that had a bunch of keys dangling on it.  You had a strand of beads on your chest in all kinds of colours.  You were wearing a green plaid mini-skirt and a pair of white running shoes.  You looked like a second year middle school girl from next door.”

I was completely defeated in shock, “How did you know all these details?”

“You were fixing your skirt with the side-mirror of a car, and pulled out a pocket mirror to check your hair.  You grinned at the mirror to see if your teeth were white enough, and even pinched your cheeks to make them blush.  Your hair was kind of messy, so you spit into your hands and rubbed it on your hair to smooth-out a few strands.  Then you turned your back to the car, and put your hand inside your sweater to adjust your bra.  In order to see your backside more clearly, you shifted the car’s side mirror.”

I looked at him stunned; dumbstruck.

“Anyhow, although you didn’t notice, you had already been coquettish and exposed yourself.”  Li Chuan was especially good with perverted words; whether they were from ancient times, modern times, or post-modern times, he knew them all.

“Nonsense…You’re talking nonsense!” I got mad from embarrassment.

“It was because my car’s windows were tinted, so you couldn’t see inside well when it was nighttime.  I was sitting in the car at the time.  I was afraid of scaring you and making you feel embarrassed, so I didn’t dare to go out.”

“Wang Li Chuan!  You dared to peep at me!”

“Ow!  Ow!  I’m sorry!  I didn’t mean to……I’mu ter-la-buly soli!”

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