It was still pouring when Lu Yang reached the bottom floor with his suitcase, though the downpour wasn’t as heavy as this afternoon when he got back.
Dragging his suitcase, he stood under the eaves at the entrance of the stairs. The incandescent light flickered on for a bit, then went out. The strong breeze slanted the rain outside toward him, and the icy coldness of the wind blew on his skin, even as the rain soaked his pants.
There was a piercing pain on his palm, and so he turned his attention from the rain outside to his hand. He looked down at the hand holding onto the suitcase handle, still wrapped in his tie.
Earlier, he’d inadvertently crushed the suitcase handle. The suitcase had been dropped previously, and it had developed a small crack in the handle. He hadn’t noticed it before, and only saw it when he was packing up earlier.
Earlier, he’d become angry at Chen Yuchuan. Due to constant boxing and fitness exercises, his arm and hand strength had always been quite strong. Therefore, when he exerted force, the handle completely shattered in his palm.
He bent down and undid the tie wrapped around his hand. Then, clutching the blood-stained tie in one hand and dragging the suitcase with the other, he quickly walked to the car.
The car was only a few meters away, but he still ended up stepping on a few puddles as he put the suitcase into the trunk. By the time he was done, his hair was starting to drip, and the coagulated blood on his palm was washed away by the rain. His hand was full of blood again, and the blood ran down his fingertips, hitting the mud-tattered ginkgo leaves.
He got in the car, rewrapped the wet tie around his hand, and placed his hands on the steering wheel.
He’d come back in the afternoon, waited from four o’clock until it grew dark, and then waited from the onset of darkness until late at night, before Chen Yuchuan finally came back.
Ling Qun had sent him a picture of a drunken Chen Yuchuan sitting in a box at his bar, his face a little red and his arms folded a little defensively, looking lonely in the dim light of the box.
Although Chen Yuchuan’s eyes were closed in the photo, Lu Yang knew that he wasn’t asleep, because his chin was set hard. Looking closely, he could see that Chen Yuchuan’s jaw was tight, chin taut, obviously with a sullen breath, as if he would rise up in the next second, stare at him fiercely, scold him, or pick a fight so that he could vent.
The first time Lu Yang felt that Chen Yuchuan had the idea of divorce was about five months ago. After Lu Yang was discharged from the hospital, he rested for half a month. Chen Yuchuan’s idea of divorce came after he’d completely gotten better. Chen Yuchuan wouldn’t have entertained the idea of divorce otherwise.
After he was discharged from the hospital, Chen Yuchuan took good care of him. He followed the doctor’s precautions precisely and without error.
In the beginning, he would always carry a small notebook in his pocket, filled with the doctor’s instructions regarding what Lu Yang could eat, could not eat, what he could do, could not do. Yes, Chen Yuchuan remembered it clearly in his small notebook, but only he could understand what was written in that notebook of his.
One month after Lu Yang was discharged from the hospital, he no longer required any special precaution. He accidentally found Chen Yuchuan’s notebook in the crack of the sofa and opened it to look at a few pages. There were no blank pages anywhere to be found, but even after looking at it for a long time, Lu Yang could not understand a single word.
He turned, then, to tease Chen Yuchuan, who was sitting on the sofa beside him, watching TV. “Xiao Chuan’er, if you weren’t by my side, I really wouldn’t be able to remember all this.”
After he finished speaking, he thought Chen Yuchuan would react the same as before. He would stubbornly deny the concept of them not being by each other’s side and say, “How could I not be by your side? I’ll stick to you for the rest of my life.”
But that time, Chen Yuchuan just turned his head, gazed at him for a while, and forced a smile. “Yang ge, you’re all better now. You don’t have to have me by your side. It’s great that you’re all better…”
After he said this, Chen Yuchuan got up and went into the kitchen. Lu Yang remembered sitting in confusion on the sofa for a long time, the small notebook still in his hand, until he heard the sound of tableware and chopsticks crashing onto the kitchen floor. He immediately dropped the notebook and ran over.
He found Chen Yuchuan crouched on the ground, picking up remnants of broken porcelain from the floor. He heard Lu Yang come in and raised his head nervously. Ignoring his sliced finger, he urged him to go back out. “Yang ge, don’t come in. The plate is broken. Be careful not to hurt your feet or your hands. Wait until I clean everything up first, and then you can come in.”
Lu Yang saw that Chen Yuchuan’s index finger was still bleeding. He walked to Chen Yuchuan’s side with a cold face and reached down to pull him up.
But Chen Yuchuan ignored him. He remained crouched, still picking up broken shards with his head down. “Yang ge, I’ll come out after cleaning up. You go first.”
Lu Yang didn’t say a word. He simply bent down, directly picked Chen Yuchuan up, and walked out. Chen Yuchuan didn’t say anything nor did he struggle. Lu Yang sat him on the sofa and began to tend to his finger.
“There’s a broom. Do you have to use your hands?”
“I walked around the kitchen and couldn’t find the broom, so I just used my hands.”
“Then why didn’t you call and ask me?”
“It’s just a few broken plates. It’s not a big deal. I just need to pick it up, I don’t need to look for you for anything.”
After Chen Yuchuan said this, Lu Yang didn’t say anything anymore. He just silently continued to put a band-aid on Chen Yuchuan’s finger.
At that time, Lu Yang clearly felt Chen Yuchuan’s desire to escape.
When he was in the hospital, he could sense that Chen Yuchuan was very scared. Chen Yuchuan would often sit on his hospital bedside with hands held tightly. Initially, he’d watched Lu Yang for a long time before he was finally able to touch his arm carefully through the cover and to poke at his gauzed-wrapped chest.
That month, Chen Yuchuan had trapped himself in extreme emotion, and Lu Yang knew that he was afraid.
At the time, Lu Yang thought that as long as he became well, as long as he was discharged from the hospital, Chen Yuchuan would get better.
But now, he looked at Chen Yuchuan, with his finger-wrapped band-aid, sitting by his side, and staring blankly at the TV with his neck shrunk. He knew then that Chen Yuchuan was still blaming himself, and that he wanted to run away again.
He had reassured Chen Yuchuan many times that the accident in the tunnel wasn’t his fault.
But every time, Chen Yuchuan would retort in a low voice, if only I didn’t offend those leaders, if only I hadn’t let you pick me up in the middle of the night, if only I hadn’t fallen asleep in the car, if only I had reminded you hurry up at a certain intersection or to slow down…
In the end, he would say, Yang ge, my temper is so bad. It seems that I will always bring you misfortune.
In Lu Yang’s eyes, Chen Yuchuan was like a little wolf with explosives all over his body. He usually held his head high, and when he became unhappy, he would turn his head and scold him, or he would jump up and take a bite. Of course, he wouldn’t really bite. He just wanted to express his unhappiness.
As long as Lu Yang coaxed him and rubbed his neck twice, he would recover.
But this time, this trick didn’t seem to be working. Lu Yang tried every method he could think of, but they always backfired. Chen Yuchuan would drill himself deeper and deeper into the tip of the bull’s horn, until he completely pushed the spear into himself.
He wanted to leave.
Upstairs, a couple suddenly began to quarrel loudly, and the scolding voices of the man and woman interrupted Lu Yang’s messy thoughts.
The car’s windshield was completely covered in raindrops. Lu Yang turned on the ignition and then turned on the windshield wipers to clean the glass. He took out his cell phone and looked at it. It was almost 3 o’clock.
He looked up at the fifth floor through the glass and saw a familiar figure standing by the bedroom window. The light was on. After a while, the figure moved away and drew the curtains, and he could no longer see anything.
It had only been a week since their divorce, and Lu Yang had never imagined that a week could be so long.
Earlier, when Chen Yuchuan pressed him down on the sofa and sat on his lap, an angry thought had suddenly popped into his head–
Chen Yuchuan, if you haven’t been good, then you’ll let me fuck you for the rest of your life.
But he held back, still reluctant.
If Chen Yuchuan wanted to leave, he would let him go for a while.
However, there was a time limit to his release. Although he himself didn’t know how much time he was willing to give him, it wouldn’t be too long.
When he proposed divorce, he only intended to give Chen Yuchuan a little space, except that this space could be considered a little bit more complete.
He waited until the light on the fifth floor went out before driving back to his house at Jade Lake.
Because it was barely like a home, and the contents were still for two people, he had not changed anything. He continued to have it cleaned regularly because Chen Yuchuan had been clamoring to move here a long time ago. It was just that Chen Yuchuan would say this, but he would be too lazy to move. In the past six months, he seemed to no longer have any intentions of moving here.
Lu Yang left the suitcase at the corner of the entrance and went to take a shower and treat the wound on his palm.
Although there was a standing medicine box, all the medicines in it had expired, and so Lu Yang simply found a roll of unused gauze, wrapped it around his palm, and went back into the bedroom.
Their bedroom was very large, about four times the size of their bedroom in the old apartment. Lu Yang must have been too used to living in the old apartment, because this bedroom and this bed was simply too empty for him to sleep on.
He laid in bed for a long time but could not fall asleep. Outside, the rain was still pouring. When he was taking a shower, he didn’t feel anything. But now, as he laid in bed, his calf started to ache.
In the past, when it rains, Chen Yuchuan would place a hot towel compress on his leg and then message him through the towel, no matter how late it was.
He never realized how painful rainy days were before now. It seemed that Chen Yuchuan had never allowed him to feel this kind of hurt before, and over the years, his message technique had become comparable to that of a professional. On the first rainy day after his leg was injured, Chen Yuchuan had even gone in search of old Chinese medicine to alleviate his pain.
Now, there was no one to apply a hot compress to his leg anymore, and this kind of pain was the kind that could not be ignored.