Lin Anran started drawing illustrations before he graduated. After he graduated, he set up a place in the corner of the living room at home as his workstation. It held his computer, his tablet, and other painting tools.
His working hours everyday were fairly relaxed, but he was still able to submit his papers on time.
Lin Anran was currently working on some children’s puzzles based on the theme of ecological protection. This morning should have been his drawing time, so he sat at his workstation and thought about it. But instead of turning on the computer, he pulled out a piece of white sketch paper.
He found a photo of Shang Hao giving a speech on his tablet, angled it in front of the white paper for a good perspective, and adjusted it with both hands.
This morning, the news media had released the news report on the renewable energy conference. Lin Anran had immediately hurried to receive Shang Hao’s new material x1.
What he intended to draw now was this new picture.
Shang Hao was on the screen giving a speech. His neat and tidy suit made his figure taller, making him look straighter and more majestic.
The family of commerce behind Shang Hao was very impressive. They were a well-known, large family consortia spanning several generations, making them one of the truly orthodox wealthy families in China. Though times were constantly changing, the huge ship that was that family seemed to be able to sail on smoothly, forever standing despite the tumultuous waves of each new era.
This man was the next leader that the Shang consortium had taken pains to diligently train.
Lin Anran retracted his thoughts. He checked the proportions visually and began to draw.
A rough outline of a human figure was first sketched on the white paper, and it was gradually refined with every stroke of his pencil. The tip of the pencil brushed the man’s hair and then the corners of his eyes. Shang Hao, who was giving a speech, slowly appeared on the white paper.
Lin Anran zoomed in on the photo from time to time to capture his cold expression when speaking to the media. Shang Hao’s eyes were dark and deep, and when he looked at people, he always gave a sense of oppressiveness.
Lin Anran was already quiet, with a more tolerant temperament than others, so he never stood up during this sitting.
He drew meticulously. Except that the illustration was in black and white, the Shang Hao sketched out in front of him looked almost like a real person.
After making the last stroke, Lin Anran retracted his arm. He slowly exhaled from the depths of his body and stared at the finished product in front of him. This portrait of Shang Hao.
He moved his fingers and quietly picked up the pencil again.
This time, his drawing was much simpler and neater. When he was drawing Shang Hao, his every stroke was as fine as possible. But when he drew this second person, Lin Anran finished in a few seconds.
Lin Anran had moved down and, in a few strokes, there was a little dummy with a round head sitting on Shang Hao’s shoulder.
Why was this a little dummy? Because on its round head was only a pair of confused eyes; there was no mouth at all.
The round-headed little dummy wanted to sit on top of Shang Hao’s head. But Lin Anran was not courageous enough, and after thinking about it, he let this idea go.
Lin Anran glanced at the overall picture one last time. He moved his pencil and habitually signed the date and the name of the work in the lower right corner of the paper.
Work: “Haohao x Ranran”
Afterward, he looked back at the drawing. A round-headed stick figure little dummy sat on the tall Shang Hao’s shoulder, looking up at him.
The little dummy had no mouth, could not speak…and was dumb.
This round-headed little dummy was just like this.
He was a dull and inarticulate person.
Lin Anran put down the pencil. No more changes were needed. He focused on the finished drawing.
From realism to cartoons, the completely different styles of drawing make the picture look a little bit incongruous, as if two people were not in the same world at all.
But it sat on Shang Hao’s shoulder foolishly, as if sitting on a huge and secure planet. It silently looked up at him.
Lin Anran turned his head again and looked quietly at the video that had been looping.
Then he reached out to the screen and gently touched the side of Shang Hao’s face with his finger.
Later that night, Lin Anran was lying on the sofa alone, playing intently on his tablet.
Recently, the contents on his favorite webpages had increased, and the list was starting to pile up a bit messily. Lin Anran bookmarked them one by one and arranged them according to date and event.
This one was a profile page about Shang Hao. This one was an interview with Shang Hao last month. This one was an analysis of Shang Hao’s investment trends in the past year, written by The Financial Times….
In the quiet living room, the ding ding sound of the doorbell was abrupt. Lin Anran raised his ears reflexively and put down the tablet in his hands.
“Xiao Ran.” To his surprise, his aunt’s voice came through the door. “It’s me, Aunt.”
Hearing her voice, Lin Anran was taken aback and hurriedly stepped into his slippers to open the door.
Didn’t his aunt just come here yesterday? It was already eight o’clock, and tomorrow was still a working day and his aunt still had to get up early to go to work. Why did she come at this time? Did something happen?
Lin Anran opened the door and saw Lin Huiyan standing outside the door with a smile. It didn’t look like anything was wrong.
She immediately raised the things in both hands to show Lin Anran. “Look, what good stuff did I bring you?”
Lin Anran was taken aback and asked in a surprise tone, “….Soup?”
He quickly took the stuff and let his aunt through the door. Following Lin Huiyan, Lin Anran couldn’t help but ask, “Didn’t I drink some yesterday?”
“Hey, what do you know? How can this be the same? The last one was stewed with five-finger hair peaches to invigorate the spleen and lungs. Today’s soul has cordyceps flowers and northern and southern apricots to warm the body and nourish the stomach.”
Lin Anran was dumbfounded. He really didn’t understand these things, so he honestly put the bag full of things on the table.
Lin Huiyan took off her coat and said with a smile, “What’s more, let me tell you, today your uncle’s friend brought him a lot of crabs of all kinds. There are some that are really big and fat. I thought that you’ll certainly like it so I hurriedly brought you some while they’re still fresh – They’ve already been steamed. Look.”
Lin Huiyan shifted through the things on the table, opened a bag, and pointed it out to him.
“It just happened that I also made braised beef today, so I brought it together. This can be stored in the refrigerator so it’ll last longer. You live alone by yourself so how can you have a truly good meal? Don’t shake your head.”
No wonder the bag was so heavy today. Surrounded by his aunt’s kindness, Lin Anran quickly thanked her aunt, and then rubbed his head.
Lin Huiyan had already sat down at the dining table. At this moment, she seemed to think of something. She stood up again and said to Lin Anran, “Look at me, I’ve forgotten that you’re not living alone now.” She looked around. “Did I bother your friend?”
“No bother. He hasn’t come back yet,” Lin Anran said.
“Oh…” Lin Huiyan retracted her gaze and sat down again. “That’s good.”
She opened the lid of the lunch box she brought, and asked Lin Anran to sit down. “Quickly, I came all the way from home. It won’t stay hot for long. The bag in it is crab vinegar. Xiao Ran can help aunt taste it first to see if he likes it.”
Seeing that his aunt wanted to watch him eat it, Lin Anran had to sit down and open the lid of the lunch box.
When the lift was lifted, the soup was still emitting steam. The bright red hairy crabs were packed in the box, exuding the fragrant smell of seafood.
“Auntie, you can eat with me.”
“No need. I have eaten enough for dinner. These are all for you.” Lin Huiyan waved her hand again and again.
Lin Anran was very obedient. He took a crab and gnawed on it silently. Lin Huiyan asked him how it tasted, and watched happily when Xiao Ran nodded vigorously and cooperatively.
Lin Huiyan smiled as he watched him eating, and suddenly asked casually, “What does your friend do for work? It’s already so late but he hasn’t returned yet.”
“He works a lot of overtime,” Lin Anran explained.
Lin Huiyan nodded, while telling him, “Eat more. There’s still a lot left. I even brought some for your friend.”
After Lin Anran was done eating, Lin Huiyan wanted to clean up after him, but he stopped her. He also took the initiative to wash the thermos pot his aunt brought, so that she could take it back with the one from yesterday.
Lin Huiyan loved stewing soup so much, it wouldn’t work without these heat preservation pots.
Splashes of water sounded from the kitchen. Lin Huiyan looked away from Lin Anran’s back. She stood up and walked slowly and casually into the living room alone, looking around.
In addition to the room Lin Anran was currently sleeping in, the house also had one guest room. At this time, Lin Huiyan had already walked to the door of the guest room.
She gritted her teeth, apologized guiltily, put her hand lightly on the doorknob, and silently opened it.
She still had a trace of hope in her heart. But the room was empty. It only had a few simple furnishings and was emptier than a hotel room. It looked as if it had been vacant for a long time, with no traces of anyone living there.
The guess in her heart was verified in an instant.
Sure enough, Xiao Ran wasn’t living with anyone.
There were no so-called friends, no second person. She closed the door gently and walked out silently, feeling her heart starting to ache again.
Xiao Ran, just like when he was a child, made friends with people in his fantasy again.
After Lin Anran came out of the kitchen, she quietly took the washed thermos and told Lin Anran to go to bed early.
Lin Anran agreed.
Lin Huiyan didn’t say anything in front of Xiao Ran until she was about to leave. Originally, she deliberately picked this point in time, just for today’s matter.
She had to find time to have a good talk with Dr. Zhou. She was very worried about Xiao Ran.
Lin Anran watched Lin Huiyan walk into the elevator as usual.
After closing the door, he returned to the sofa and picked up the tablet again. He wanted to concentrate on the job at hand, but he ended up sitting on the sofa in a daze.
He didn’t know how to communicate with people, but he wasn’t a child. He could understand some things without it being said clearly.
Lin Anran knew that he was very strange.
Having been shrunk in his own shell for a long time, he usually didn’t understand what was going on. His personality always seemed so out of place when compared to other people.
Of course he didn’t understand. If he understood, other people wouldn’t have regarded him as a freak.
He had always been a weird person in the eyes of others, and he had long given up being conflicted over it.
It was hard for others to comprehend that, after living in a house alone by himself, there was now a second person living with him. If he could provide a reasonable explanation, he would make it clear to everyone.
But he didn’t know how to speak.
Of course, he didn’t know. Ranran was just a little dummy with no mouth.
He didn’t want to be a freak, but he had long accepted that fact. He could even admit to himself that he was often the weird one in a crowd of people.
But Shang Hao wasn’t. He was different.
As Lin Anran thought about this, he bit his lip hard. Even the aunt who was closest to him would not believe him.
He didn’t know what to say. Just that, he wanted them to understand, even if he was a freak, Shang Hao was different.
Lin Anran got up and walked to the place where he often drew. He picked up the newly drawn character sketch again.
Every strand of Shang Hao’s hair on the paper was from his own pencil. Shang Hao was in the middle of making a speech, and he looked steady and serious, completely ignorant of the fact that a little dummy with a fat head was sitting in his shoulder.
Lin Anran didn’t know what he was thinking. He stared at the drawing for a long time, and the expression in his eyes slowly changed.
His expression slowly became firm, and he picked up the eraser on the side. He wiped off the little person with two legs dangling from Shang Hao’s shoulder.
Then he sat down at the table and grabbed the pencil again.
There was an idiom called self-deception. So, could people deceive themselves?
Lin Anran first fixed the erased spot, moved the tip of the pencil to the top of Shang Hao’s head, brushed a few strokes, and drew another little dummy.
The round-headed dummy had now moved from sitting to standing, and the confused and innocent pea-like eyes had also become resolute and brave. He wore a cloak on his back that fluttered with no wind. The little dummy did not have a mouth, but his firm eyes seemed to shout loudly.
Just now, Lin Anran made a decision.
Since explanations were useless, it was better to follow the normal rules that would make them accept.