When Chen Yuchuan got home, he saw a few more small advertisements on the door for repairing electrical appliances, and his heart was full of fire again.
No one cared about entering or leaving the old community, and stickers were posted every day. Chen Yuchuan put the key in his pocket and raised his hand to tear off the sticker, but only half of the sticker came off.
Cursing, he scrapped at it with his nails, and it took a long time for it to become completely clean. When he pulled his fingers away, the area underneath his nails were full of sticky paper fibers.
Chubby had heard Chen Yuchuan’s voice at the door and was scratching at the door from the inside. As soon as he opened the door, Chubby threw himself on him, wanting to lick his fingers.
But Chen Yuchuan raised his hands, refusing to let Chubby lick it. “Let me wash my hands first, and then I’ll get you food and water.”
There was still a son at home, making him feel a lot better. At least the house wouldn’t be as deserted as last week.
Chubby wagged his tail and followed Chen Yuchuan into the bathroom.
As he washed his hands, he talked to Chubby and kept scolding the idiot head. Chubby agreed with him, grunting in response to his words.
After Chen Yuchuan finished washing his hands, he stopped cursing. But when he turned around, he felt a wrenching pain in his lower back. He dried his hands with a towel, unbuttoned his shirt, turned to his side, lifted away his shirt, and looked in the mirror. The right back side of his waist was blue.
When he was fighting that yellow hair earlier, he didn’t avoid a punch and so it landed on his lower back ribs.
Chen Yuchuan tilted his head, clasped his waist with one hand, and pressed the other hand into the blue skin, evoking a little pain.
He usually wasn’t someone who was afraid of pain. A little bruise was nothing, but just now, he felt a great deal of pain. And once that flash of pain was over, it didn’t dissipate but linger even more painfully, so much so that the bridge of his nose and his fingertips began to ache.
He put his shirt back down, covering up the patch of bruises and no longer looked at it.
If he didn’t look at it, it wouldn’t ache so much. He didn’t bother to completely redo the buttons on his shirt, leaving the last three open to reveal a large swatch of red skin on his chest.
Although Chen Yuchuan had been talking to Chubby, once the pain was over, he suddenly felt a little empty. No, his entire person felt empty.
Chubby followed after him, barking a few times until he finally reacted. He changed the dog food and water for Chubby, turned on the TV, and changed it to a random channel.
Then he laid on the sofa and closed his eyes. After a few minutes, he scratched his head and got up. After walking around the room with his lower back burning, he found that he seemed to be a little too degrading and passive.
The flowers on the balcony were all wilted, and the clothes he’d put in the washing machine were still in the drum since yesterday morning. He hadn’t dried them at all, and when he tried to smoke a cigarette, the lighter wouldn’t catch.
In the past, when Lu Yang was home, Chen Yuchuan wouldn’t do any housework at all. He would laze around, not wanting to move. But when Lu Yang wasn’t home, he would take the initiative to clean up the house himself.
But recently, he seemed to have lost his mind. He didn’t know whether to water the flower plants first, wash the clothes in the washing machine again, or go downstairs to buy a new lighter.
In the end, Chen Yuchuan decided to pack up Lu Yang’s things first.
When Lu Yang came back to pack up the things he’d left behind, he took only the clothes in his closet and some of his own daily necessities. It wasn’t like a family split at all and more like a business trip.
Now, there were still traces of Lu Yang everywhere in the house. His toothbrush and towels were still in the bathroom; his slippers were in the shoe cabinet; a pair of socks were hanging in the balcony; there were two ties in the drawer; and then there was a watch, a pen…
Chen Yuchuan found a large cardboard box from the second bedroom, put in all the things Lu Yang hadn’t taken away, and sealed the box a few times with tape. Finally, he put the cardboard box in the closet of the second bedroom, and after making sure the closet door was firmly closed, he locked the second bedroom door and threw the key at the bottom of the drawer.
Out of sight, out of mind.
After he packed up Lu Yang’s things, he first watered the flowers, then he washed his clothes and waited until the clothes were washed and dried before finally going downstairs to buy a lighter.
By this time, it was midnight, and Chubby was already asleep, and so Chen Yuchuan lay down on the sofa again.
The TV had been playing the midnight news, and it finally ended with the weather forecast.
The wind outside was stronger than when he had left the boxing gym, and now it was loudly tearing at the windows.
Chen Yuchuan was so irritated that he got up, turned off the TV, and closed all the windows. He took a sleeping pill in preparation for bed, and as he put the sleeping pill box in the drawer, he saw the picture frame on the bedside table.
He picked up the picture frame. It was a photo of him and Lu Yang.
This picture had been on the bedside table for 16 years, and he still remembered the photo had been secretly taken by the master of his garage.
That day was the 15th day after he and Lu Yang had met for the first time, and the fourth day they had established their relationship.
That day, Lu Yang came to the garage in the morning to find him and they were walking side by side.
At the time, his master had claimed that he just wanted to take a picture of the scenery outside the garage and had accidentally captured them on camera.
But Chen Yuchuan knew that outside the garage was wasteland, and who would want to photograph that scenery.
Later, he’d asked for the photo, and after developing it, he’d put it in the picture frame and kept it at their bedside table. That picture had captured their beginning.
The people in the photos were really good-looking. Chen Yuchuan looked at his own youthful face. At the time, he was very thin, carrying the slender, thin feeling of a teenager.
He hadn’t changed into work clothes yet and so his face was still clean and he was wearing a shirt that had been washed so much, it’d turned a little yellow.
He’d never liked taking pictures very much and had only taken a few pictures as a child. He seemed to have realized that his master was secretly taking a photo, and so he was stubbornly frowning as he looked at the camera, lips pursed tightly, as if he was angry.
But really, he was just feeling a little awkward and a little confused.
Because Lu Yang was standing beside him, their shoulders pressed together. His head was tilted down a little as he looked at Chen Yuchuan, his eyes soft. The three-quarters of his profile that was captured on camera revealed a very gentle expression.
Ever since he’d told Lu Yang that he didn’t want to just try but to date seriously, Lu Yang had been going to see him every day, dawdling every morning in the garage until someone had to call him and urge him to leave.
In the afternoon, he would meet up with him, and later in the evening, he would follow him to the bar.
On the 15th day, when Chen Yuchuan finally got off work from his job at the bar, Lu Yang was sending him home and he’d asked him in the car, “Can you stop working at the bar?”
He had been carefully counting the night’s wages at least three times, and after slipping them into the innermost pocket of his clothes, he turned slightly to the side and looked at the street lights slipping by outside the window. He said, “My father is dead, and my mother has uremia. She has to go to the hospital for dialysis every few days. I have to work to make money for her.”
After he’d dropped out of school to work, he had no shame when facing others. He would even sell misery, saying that his father had died too early, and his mother had uremia. He alone had to shoulder the responsibility of taking care of his family, and his family was so poor that it was even hard to eat.
As a result, he sold alcohol in the bar night, trying to sell more and faster, and at the end of the month, he would try to wear down the owner of the garage, just to get more overtime pay.
But when Chen Yuchuan was sitting in the car and telling Lu Yang this, he not only didn’t try to embellish, he didn’t even dare to look at him.
He had lived for 18 years, and he had never been thin-skinned, but at this moment, it seemed to suddenly emerge from his bones.
Lu Yang was different from everyone else. Chen Yuchuan had seen a lot of wealthy people, and they always looked down on people like him. He himself knew that he wasn’t on the same level as those people.
So, 18 years old Chen Yuchuan was afraid. He was afraid that he and Lu Yang would never have an equal relationship, but he didn’t hide anything; he told him the barebone truth.
When Lu Yang said that he wanted to try, and Chen Yuchuan had replied that he wanted to try seriously, he hadn’t truly thought of what this meant.
At the time, his idea was really quite simple. He’d fallen in love with Lu Yang. He thought that Lu Yang was very handsome, and when he was with him, he felt warm and comfortable.
The days when Lu Yang would come to find him, he would inexplicably feel at ease.
Later, even though he’d told Lu Yang not to come anymore, his eyes would always look out for him, seemingly wrapped in a trance.
It was only after Chen Yuchuan had dated Lu Yang for a few days that he truly began to realize how big of a gap there was between himself and Lu Yang.
As he drove, Lu Yang was quiet for a few seconds, seeming to be thinking.
In those few seconds, Chen Yuchuan mentally prepared himself–
His first love might end after only four days.
At the time, he did have the thought of covering it up. But the moment that thought rose up, he scolded himself as a coward. Before, he’d talked so confidently and so easily, but now he was afraid to move forward.
At the traffic light intersection, Lu Yang stepped on the brakes.
The red long was very long, and Chen Yuchuan kept his face toward the car window, his chin tense. He counted silently in his heart, following the countdown second by second with the red light.
At ten seconds left, he felt a warm touch at the top of his head. It was Lu Yang’s palm.
Lu Yang pressed his palm down on the top of Chen Yuchuan’s head.
His hair in front was pushed down, covering his eyes, a little itchy when the hair touched his eyelashes.
Chen Yuchuan moved his neck, turning his gaze away from the red light to look at Lu Yang.
The red light turned green and Lu Yang put his hand back on the steering wheel. As he stepped on the accelerator, he said, “I’m rich, so you have to hold on tighter in the future and don’t let go…”