The visitor was a middle-aged man with a slightly chubby figure and a somewhat bald head. Perhaps because he was running in a hurry, his bare head was covered in sweat.
Du Lin obviously knew the man and quickly greeted him, “Brother Cheng, what’s wrong?”
The slightly chubby man known as Brother Cheng didn’t bother to wipe the sweat from his head and hurriedly pulled Du Lin to look at the azalea he was holding in his arms, “You still remember this pot of azalea I bought last time, right?”
Du Lin nodded. The full name of the azalea in Brother Cheng’s hands was Azalea ‘Belgian’, a hybrid cultivar that was highly sought after in the flower market because of its large, eye-catching flowers and the fact that it could bloom all year round. There were different varieties of Belgian azaleas depending on the colour of their flowers. The pot that Brother Cheng bought was ‘Racehorse’. Its flowers were usually white, with a brilliant pink edge and occasional red spots haloing inwards from the edge, making them very pretty to look at.
“What’s wrong with this pot of racehorses?” Du Lin asked.
Brother Cheng carefully placed the flowers on the table and said eagerly, “I don’t know what’s wrong, it’s just that the petals are falling so badly. Look, it’s only been in bloom for a few days and it’s almost gone.” Brother Cheng had been on a business trip this week, and the flowers were fine before the trip, but when he came back today, something was wrong. Where had they all gone? The family couldn’t tell what happened, so Brother Cheng hurried to see Du Lin with the flowers in his arms.
After listening to Brother Cheng’s words and pinching the soil, Du Lin had a rough idea in her mind. There were just a few reasons for Belgian azaleas to stop blooming. She turned her head towards Lu Lingxi and beckoned, “Xiao Xi, come and take a look, tell us what the cause is.”
As soon as Brother Cheng came in, Lu Lingxi had already looked at the flowers through the panel. Hearing Du Lin’s words, Lu Lingxi quickly walked over, and Yi Hang followed suit. The azalea in front of them was actually blooming quite well, but the flowers were a bit scarce and there was a feeling that the flowering period was about to pass. On the white panel, the three-dimensional azalea rotated in a circle, from the root system to the flowering plant. Lu Lingxi glanced at the plant’s needs and looked at Brother Cheng to ask delicately, “Did your family put this pot of flowers together with a fruit plate?”
Brother Cheng looked at Lu Lingxi in amazement, “How do you know, little brother? This pot of flowers was blooming so well that the old lady put it on the coffee table, with several fruit plates stacked next to it, saying that it looked good together.”
As soon as Brother Cheng finished speaking, Du Lin laughed helplessly. “Didn’t I tell you? You can’t put azaleas with fruit trays when they’re in bloom; the ripe fruit will emit ethylene, stimulating the azaleas to drop their petals and end their flowering period early.”
“Oops, I forgot.” Brother Cheng exclaimed as he slapped his head.
“So there’s nothing else?” Brother Cheng looked carefully at Lu Lingxi.
Lu Lingxi shook his head; the panel showed that there was nothing else wrong with the pot of azaleas.
Brother Cheng was relieved and vigorously patted Lu Lingxi’s shoulder, praising him, “Not bad, young man.”
Lu Lingxi smiled shyly, and Du Lin looked at Lu Lingxi with even greater satisfaction. She did not expect Lu Lingxi to be so knowledgeable. When signing the contract, Du Lin took the initiative to skip the probationary period, and the salary was also very generous.
“Xiao Xi, is it okay to start working tomorrow?”
Lu Lingxi hesitated for a few seconds and nodded affirmatively.
“That’s good, come tomorrow and we’ll do the handover. I’m afraid I won’t be able to come often during this period. The shop is in your hands, call me if you don’t understand anything.”
After setting a time for the handover the next day, Lu Lingxi recalled that he had to go to the bookstore to buy some books, so he didn’t stay in the shop much longer. Yi Hang was amazed by Lu Lingxi’s performance, poking him every now and then along the way, “Hey, Lao San, when did you get to know all this anyway? How come I didn’t know you knew anything about flowers and plants?”
Lu Lingxi felt a little guilty at this question and just smiled without saying anything.
Yi Hang poked a few times without getting an answer, and his attention quickly shifted. “Hey, have you ever thought about what you’re going to do with your paycheck?”
Lu Lingxi froze for a moment; the figure of Wang Shuxiu flashed in his mind. He wondered what Wang Shuxiu liked. Jewellery, pearls, or clothes?
“What are you thinking about?”
“Thinking of buying a present for my mom when I get paid.”
Yi Hang scratched his hair and clung to Lu Lingxi, “Okay, Lao San is sensible, your big brother is finally relieved.”
Lu Lingxi: “……”
The distance from Tiny Garden to the bookstore wasn’t far. The two did not take a bus and walked all the way. Yi Hang remembered Lu Lingxi’s amnesia and at every intersection pointed the direction to Lu Lingxi several times. In his words, this was called strengthening memory. The place where they walked belonged to the central part of Fengcheng, and the area was very prosperous. It was the time when people got off work and the crowd was very lively.
Yi Hang was standing by the side of the road with Lu Lingxi waiting for the green light when he suddenly pointed at a car in front of him and exclaimed.
“Damn, look at that car, the latest model of Jaguar.”
Lu Lingxi was startled by Yi Hang’s reaction and followed his finger to look over, seeing a black car that stopped on the side of the road, also waiting for the green light with them.
Yi Hang drooled enviously over the car. Lu Lingxi caught a glimpse of the licence plate number; the car was from Zhongjing.
Inside the Jaguar, Yan Yue’s face was expressionless as he held the steering wheel. His slender index finger was tapping rhythmically, the gesture vaguely revealing a hint of impatience. On the passenger side beside him, the screen of the silver-white mobile phone was glowing faintly, showing there was a conversation going.
“Ah Yue, are you listening to me?”
“How can you be so indifferent to Xiao Ya? She is your sister. I heard from the housekeeper that you refused to even see her. Do you know how upset Xiao Ya is?”
“This time when you returned to China, Xiao Ya was so happy to go to see you, but what did you do?”
“Ah Yue, are you still angry with Mom? Do you still refuse to forgive your mom?”
“Your father was the one who wronged me first back then, can’t I pursue my own happiness?”
The female voice in the phone kept going, the same phrases repeated over and over. Yan Yue suppressed the urge to throw the phone out of the window, waiting for his mother on the other side of the phone to hang up. As the light turned green and the traffic surged, the impatience in Yan Yue’s eyes dissipated a little. He glanced out the window carelessly and drove away from the intersection.
Lu Lingxi’s attention did not linger on the Jaguar; his mind was on how he should mention the matter of going to work to Wang Shuxiu tomorrow.
“Hurry up, the light is green.”
When someone shouted, Lu Lingxi returned to his senses and looked at the large signboard of the bookstore across the road, pushing his thoughts down for the time being.
Lu Lingxi had bought quite a few books at the bookstore, mostly about flower growing, agricultural cultivation and the like. Yi Hang was bored and followed behind Lu Lingxi, wondering what was so good about these books.
That evening, Lu Lingxi was reading with great interest a book on the management of common crops, which had a special chapter on the cultivation and management of tomatoes. According to the book, normal tomato sowing was divided into spring and summer sowing. Spring sowing had to wait until next year, which Lu Lingxi couldn’t wait for, but summer sowing was just right. In addition to the timing of sowing, the book also highlighted the treatment of seeds. Ordinary seeds needed to be disinfected before sowing. Lu Lingxi looked at the seeds in his hand. He didn’t really know how to tell if the seeds were good or bad; but these were the seeds that were rewarded from the upgrade of the panel, so they shouldn’t have been too bad. He decided to skip the process of disinfection.
After carefully studying how to sow the seeds, Lu Lingxi connected a hose from the kitchen and carefully watered the ground in the backyard until it was soaking wet. He and Yi Hang had already turned the soil over in the afternoon when they were pulling weeds. Lu Lingxi followed the instructions in the book, scattering the seeds evenly and then carefully covering them with a layer of nutrient soil.
After all was done, Lu Lingxi took a quick shower and sat on the balcony with his legs dangling, looking contentedly at the fruits of his labour. He wondered when these seeds would germinate. When would they bear fruit? Would the tomatoes they produced be tasty? He could not help but smile slightly as he imagined the tiny shoots growing day by day, the green fruits appearing and then growing bigger and redder day by day, heavily adorning the plants.
On the first night after leaving the hospital, Lu Lingxi had insomnia. He flipped around excitedly, unable to sleep. All he thought about were big red tomatoes. He couldn’t wait to open his eyes the next day and see the tomatoes in the backyard growing out.
That night, Yan Yue was also sleepless.
Unlike Lu Lingxi who couldn’t sleep because he was excited, Yan Yue’s insomnia was habitual. At two o’clock in the morning, Yan Yue pushed open the window, leaned out of it and lit a cigarette. He could not remember how many times he had been unable to sleep at night and waited for the dawn. Ye Kang said that his insomnia was psychological and that he had to adjust to it himself. Outwardly, Yan Yue did not comment on Ye Kang’s conclusion, but subconsciously he agreed with him, otherwise he would not have let Ye Kang, a half-baked psychologist, toss and turn him for years.
Yan Yue still remembered the first time he had insomnia when he was six years old. His parents had moved out of the Yan family mansion that day, leaving only him, the housekeeper and a few servants in the large home. Although his parents had already separated because of their bad relationship, and the so-called family living together was only a formality, that night, facing the empty house, Yan Yue still had the feeling that he had been completely abandoned by his parents. The whole night, Yan Yue did not sleep, but sat in the living room with his pillow until dawn, startling the housekeeper who woke up early.
From that day onwards, Yan Yue was unable to sleep more and more at night. He used to wander around the Yan family mansion alone at night, and only when he was tired of wandering, would he go back to his room to sleep. This went on for years until he grew up and began to learn to control his behaviour.
The housekeeper was the only one who knew about his insomnia in the entire Yan family. At first, the housekeeper was worried that he was afraid of the dark and turned on all the lights that could be turned on in the Yan household at night. Later, the housekeeper knew that he had insomnia and tried to turn off all the lights that could be turned off as soon as it got dark. After a few years, the Yan family’s servants were all used to going to bed as soon as it was dark. Even during the years Yan Yue stayed abroad, this habit in the Yan family mansion had not changed.