[Extra 2: Side character’s story part 2]
In a blink of an eye, forty-two years had passed.
Chen Tian closed his eyes and held onto the Bodhi beads in his hands. The beads were bright and round and looked like round lychees. The beads were spun around in his hands but they didn’t not make any noise.
“Aren’t you an atheist? You’ve recently become Buddhist?” Li Shenzhou sat next to him at a tea table. There was only calmness left on this face filled with wisdom and age.
Chen Tian continued to close his eyes and, after a while, responded: “When people are old, they need to find faith for themselves.”
“Is that so?” Li Shenzhou did not refute. He peeled a few lychees and popped them into his mouth before chewing them slowly. “Your wife is very virtuous.”
“Yeah. To have a good family and wife, what else can I ask for.” Chen Tian continued to slowly respond with his eyes closed, as if he really wanted to become one with the heart of Buddha.
Li Shenzhou suddenly sighed: “In fact, the reason why I am here today is because I want to tell you something.”
Something. Something that he had kept hidden for a whole lifetime. He actually had deeply thought about whether or not he should reveal the truth to Chen Tian. Firstly, his family situation has already settled down and his son is already grown up. Secondly,…..Li Le Yuan once asked him to hide it from Chen Tian.
But he really couldn’t bear it anymore. As he got older, his heart had become softer. When he was younger, he didn’t feel anything but now that he is older, he realised that it had left an unforgettable scar deep into his bones.
In the earlier years, he also persisted with visiting Li Le Yuan’s grave every year to clean it. As time went on, he became lazy. Two years ago, when he went to visit he saw that the tombstones of others nice and clean while Li Le Yuan’s tombstone grew numerous amounts of weeds. His photo was also severely damaged by exposure to the sun, rain and wind.
At that time, he was angry to the point that his hands shook. He pointed at the caretaker and shouted: “I pay you so much money for the cemetery every year and you manage the graves like this?!”
The caretaker was a young man who had seemingly just started recently and didn’t understand. He replied in fluent English: “The tomb had not been visited in at least ten years ——- Also, we only just repaired it half a year ago!”
With that sentence, Li Shenzhou fell silent.
That’s right. He himself as a friend of the dead is so negligent, how could he have the nerve to scold a foreigner.
He moved his gaze across to the cross shaped tombstone.
The photo on it was a little fuzzy but you could still see his young profile. As for them, they are all old now.
Li Shenzhou stood before the grave and slowly lowered his head.
“Actually, I wanted to talk to you about Li Le Yuan.” Snapping back from his memories, Li Shenzhou looked at Chen Chen Tian embarrassed, “Sorry, as I get older, I start thinking nonsense.”
“Oh? What about my wife?” Chen Chen Tian opened his eyes and stared at him with great interest.
Li Shenzhou was speechless. He could only sigh and say to Chen Chen Tian: “Not your wife, I meant the other one.”
(KKnotes: If you all haven’t noticed, Wife = Li Yue Yuan, ExBF = Li Le Yuan, this was why Chen Tian asked her about her name back in ch57 and possibly the reason why he…..yeah….)
As if all the light was drained out of him, Chen Tian sat on the sofa silently for a long time.
Li Le Yuan died on his 21st birthday.
Early in the morning, he called. That day, Li Shenzhou had spend the night playing World of Warcraft and was planning to wash up and go to sleep but instead he received a call from Li Le Yuan.
Li Le Yuan who was on the phone was very calm and didn’t exhibit any signs of emotions however he was also like a black and white film; oppressive and gloomy. He only spoke one word: “Li Shenzhou.”
“Did you want to give me a midnight prank call?” Li Shenzhou yawned and didn’t attempt to hide his fatigue.
The phone call suddenly cut and there was no longer any sound. For some reason, Li Shenzhou felt a little worried and also a little confused but he didn’t think much into it and changed into his pyjamas before climbing into bed.
Four days later, Li Shenzhou’s inbox received an email from Li Le Yuan. There were only a few words; a simple three words: “Don’t tell him.”
At that time, Li Shenzhou’s inner doubts deepened. He stopped getting ready for work and replied with one phrase: “What happened??”
A few hours later, there was no response. Li Shenzhou was worried and decided to make an international call but no one picked up. He felt extremely frustrated inside and, not wanting to give up, he made a few more calls but none of them connected. Li Shenzhou felt irritated and decided to head out for lunch first and forget about this issue. He dragged a few of his good friends out with him to eat……..and threw everything to the back of his mind.
When he got the news of Li Le Yuan’s death, it was two days later when the foreign police office informed him. At that time, it had already been a full week since his death.
“This is the police……”
Against the strong London accent, his poor level English skills were once again getting tested along with his fragile mentality.
Fortunately, after the police said a bunch of things, there was a sentence that Li Shenzhou understood.
Li Le Yuan died, and the last point of contact was him.
His mind chaotic, Li Shenzhou boarded a plane and leapt through several countries to reach London that was thousands of miles away. He didn’t know what to think and didn’t know what to say. His face was pale to the point that he looked like a corpse that had just crawled out from a morgue.
Wasn’t he doing well? Why did he suddenly do this?…….He swore on the computer that he used to play World of Warcraft, isn’t this too unscientific?
However, he was indeed dead.
Li Le Yuan originally didn’t interact with him much. Apart from knowing that he is Chen Tian’s lover and the fact the he saw him off at the airport, he wasn’t very familiar with the youth.
He remembered that Chen Tian once said that Li Le yuan liked Tagore’s “Bird Collection”, Wilde’s fairy tales; Saint-Exupery’s “The Little Prince”; he also remembered that he wasn’t a very memorable young boy and wasn’t someone who could be considered as handsome or feminine. His results were also not very good…..otherwise, he would not study the philosophy strand.
That youth who liked to laugh suffered from depression and killed himself.
He could hardly imagine the darkness hidden behind those shining eyes of his but he could see the dense layers of helplessness and despair that was revealed in his diary.
“I feel like I am not like myself anymore. Unfamiliar people, unfamiliar things, everywhere are blond haired blue eyed foreigners……”
“I wanted to talk to my mom on the phone she just told me to ‘get lost’. She said she didn’t have such a disgusting son.”
“I’m not wrong. Love is not wrong. I love someone and he is a man. It was just that. Why should I be considered to be in the wrong?”
The police told him that they had read through his diary and determined that he had committed suicide due to depression. They had also found definite evidence of Li Le Yuan seeing a psychiatrist and the fact that he was a loner at school.
The diary which no longer had investigative value had become his will.
Hearing from the polices recount, he had slit his wrists and immersed them in a bathtub of warm water and eventually died of excessive blood loss.
It is said that the water in the bathtub was a dazzling bright red, but the face of the youth who had collapsed by the bathtub had a peaceful smile.
“The heaven is not unfair but I can only go to hell.”
This was the last sentence written in Li Le Yuan’s diary.
“You’re lying.” Chen Chen Tian smiled and said this to Li Shenzhou. His expression did not change. Even the angle of his smile did not change, “This joke is not funny.”
“ I am telling the truth.” Li Shenzhou looked at Chen Chen Tian expressionlessly but there were tears in his eyes.
The smile on Chen Tian’s face grew further: “You’re lying. He is living well abroad. He married a foreign woman with a good figure and even received a green card and citizenship. He now lives in a suburban villa in London. His daughter had already married and his grandson is soon about to start middle school………..”
Li Shenzhou suddenly squeezed his eyes shut.
He couldn’t bear to interrupt him. It was obvious that it was just his wishes.
“This joke is not funny at all.” Chen Tian said as the corners of his smile slowly faded. As if he was afraid that he didn’t believe in it, he repeated it again, “ It is not funny at all. Really.”
“I have already been diagnosed with late stage liver cancer. Someone who is about to die doesn’t like to lie because they have already said too many lies in their lifetime.” Li Shenzhou said this slowly, turned around and didn’t dare to look at Chen Tian’s expression. “I am now hospitalised at the pubic hospital in the city……Anyway, I will head off first.”
Li Shenzhou fled. He fled like a soldier who had deserted the army.
April 13th was a fine day. After two months of delay, the hospital’s critical notice was finally sent from Li Shenzhou.
Chen Tian directed the driver to the public hospital in the city where there were many people and cars flowing through.
“Stop here. I’ll go see an old friend.” Chen Tian said this to his driver. His wrinkled face was shrouded in sadness, “I’m getting old now…….Xiao Wang, you should make the most of your life when you’re young.”
The young driver nodded understandingly, “Old Chen go carefully. I will wait for you in the hospital parking lot.”
Holding a bunch of fresh flowers, Chen Tian did not take the elevator and instead walked to Li Shenzhou’s room.
Pushing open the door, the room was bright and Li Shenzhou was surrounded by his wife and children. Seeing Chen Tian’s arrival, he said to them: “You can go out first. I have something to say to Chen Tian.”
Li Shenzhou’s wife glared at him with red eyes: “We’ve been married for so many years, what kind of things would I not know about. Can’t I just stay here with you?”
Li Shenzhou’s children however were understanding and half pushed and half dragged their mother out.
“What I said to you the other day is true. I’ll write down the address of his grave….When you have time, go and see him.” Li Shenzhou said this and pulled out a piece of paper for his drawer. With trembling hands, he wrote down the address.
“I know.” Chen Tian said. Li Shenzhou’s hand shook harder. “I already know…….but I could only continue to lie to myself.”
Deep shock flashed through Li Shenzhou’s expression but very quickly, it morphed into a bitter smile. That smile was so grotesque but he insisted on maintaining it as he wrote down the address and handed it to Chen Chen Tian.
“I used to think that Li Le Yuan was cruel. Later, I noticed that the one who was most cruel is me. Despite knowing everything, I continued to deceive the world.” His expression showed immense exhaustion, “Now I finally know. The cruellest one is actually you.”
“You are much tougher than me. You knew everything but you continued to pretend not to. You date, love, marry, have children; for forty years, you didn’t mention Li Le Yuan even once.” Li Shenzhou said this all in one go. The room fell into a long silence, “Tell me, do you really have a heart?”
Chen Chen Tian did not answer. He looked at the address on the note over and over again, and finally hesitated a few times before stuffing it into his pockets: “I thought that I did.”
Li Shenzhou didn’t speak. He just waved his hand asking him to leave.
Chen Chen Tian had thought that he wouldn’t cry as time is undoubtedly the best antidode.
But some things could not be treated with anything. It was like Li Le Yuan’s sharp horns; stubborn and extremely cruel to oneself. It was also like the eternal love and hate between the young. You thought that it was gone but, in fact, it wasn’t and would follow you around like a shadow – like a plague in your heart.
He returned home and said to Li Yue Yuan who was watching TV, “I have to go to London. It may be for a while.”
He thought that Li Yue Yuan would be surprised and even if she wasn’t, she would at least ask him where he was going but Li Yue Yuan was a lot calmer than he had imagined. Very much so.
“Chen Chen Tian, let’s get divorced.” Li Yue Yuan said to him, “You sign the divorce agreement form first then go.” Li Yue Yuan’s voice was both calm and cruel.
Chen Tian’s hand that was tidying things up froze for a moment. After a while, he softly whispered: “Okay.”
Looking up again, he found that Li Yue Yuan had at some unknown point in time moved to stand by the door. Like him, Li Yue Yuan was no longer young and her face was engraved with deep wrinkles. Although she had aged, her charm still remained.
Li Yue Yuan cried. Under the sunlight, her tears sparkled and shone like crystals.
“Chen Chen Tian, I thought that even if I can’t make you fall in love with me, I could at least move your heart and let you accept me……” Her voice choked up but she still continued to proudly hold her head high. “But now you’re telling me, someone who had stayed by your side for forty years, that it is still incomparable to that man who was with you for two years!”
Chen Chen Tian took in a deep breath and tried to keep his tone calm: “I’m sorry.”
“Chen Chen Tian, you are the most disgusting liar in the world. You lied to others and you lied to yourself.” Li Yue Yuan suddenly stopped crying. Instead, she cracked open a mysterious smile, “You are very pitiful but you are not worthy of any sympathy.”
“I hate you.” Li Yue Yuan said this and never looked at Chen Tian again.
He arrived in London on May 16. This day coincided with Li Le Yuan’s birthday.
Three days ago, he and Li Yue Yuan divorced. Li Yue Yuan only wanted a million yuan to last her for her remaining years but because of his guilt , Chen Chen Tian gave her four million.
He applied to work as a caretaker and he was fortunately successful,
On May 29, his son called to tell him that he had married.
Chen Tian stood in front of Li Le Yuan’s grave and carefully replaced it with a new photo.
It was a photo of the two of them. That year, Li Le Yuan’s smile was very bright and next to him was the fat Chen Tian. Chen Tian couldn’t help but smile.
After another spring passed, the rose he planted at Li Le Yuan’s tombstone grew.
It broke through the soil, pierced through time and pierced through nearly half a century of love.
“Chen Chen, Chen Chen! Stop working on your papers, let’s go out and enjoy some greenery!”
“Chen Chen~~ In a few days it’s your birthday right? Should I make a birthday cake for you?
“Chen Tian! Get here within two minutes or I will break up with you!”
They were all things that happened a long time ago.
“Chen Chen, I love you. I swear that I will love you until the day I die. Do you love me?”
At that time he did not answer but now, while shedding tears, he slowly said one word: “Love.”
Li Le Yuan, like you are forever twenty-one years old, I will forever love you.