The little black snake finally untied the knot by itself before dawn. It looked dizzily around for a long time before its eyes fell on the edge of the cardboard box.
With a flick of its thin tail, the little black snake crawled to the wall of the cardboard box and began to work its way to the top. The cardboard box Yan Yue had found was previously used for flower fertiliser and wasn’t too high, only 60cm. Considering the “intelligence” of the little black snake, Yan Yue felt that 60cm was enough. Besides, there was still Dahei outside to keep watch.
Sure enough, the little black snake spent a long time trying to climb to the edge of the box. As soon as it poked out its head, Dahei, who had been lying next to the box, immediately raised his head vigilantly, his black eyes looking at the little black snake. The little black snake hesitated for a long time, then changed direction aggrievedly, and crawled back to the bottom of the box.
Dahei’s ears twitched and he calmly closed his eyes and went back to sleep.
It was just after six o’clock when Yan Yue woke up. The kang bed beneath him was burning too vigorously, and he had slept uncomfortably. He quietly sat up and saw that Lu Lingxi’s body was half exposed; apparently the young man also felt roasted. No wonder Yan Yue’s arms felt empty in the middle of the night. After lowering his head and giving Lu Lingxi a kiss, Yan Yue pulled up the blanket for him, dressed and went to take a look at the little black snake.
Dahei had long heard Yan Yue’s movements and was lying on the floor quietly watching him. Yan Yue stroked Dahei’s head. It wasn’t that he didn’t want Dahei to go on the bed, but the bed was too hot and Dahei didn’t want to go on it himself.
Inside the cardboard box, the little black snake was circling around, biting its tail, and when it saw Yan Yue coming, it poked its head curiously. Yan Yue looked at it for a long time, then reached out and picked it up by the seven-inch point (seven-inch point is considered a weak place of a snake, but of course it’s not exactly located at seven inches but depends on the snake’s length). Last night he had been dreaming about this stupid snake and wondered where it had come from. The little black snake wasn’t afraid of being pinched at the seven-inch point but looked at Yan Yue for a while, and the tip of its tail hooked up slightly, tentatively wrapping around Yan Yue’s wrist.
The little black snake seemed to find that this was a good idea, so it wrapped itself around Yan Yue’s wrist and refused to let go. When Yan Yue released his hand to put it back into the box, the little black snake bit on Yan Yue’s sleeve and refused to go back.
Yan Yue: “……”
Yan Yue had no choice but to let the little black snake hang on his wrist. The good thing was that this little snake was very obedient. Yan Yue said not to move and it really stiffened its body and didn’t move. If you didn’t look closely, you wouldn’t even notice that the snake was still alive.
It was almost seven o’clock when Lu Lingxi sat up, rubbing his eyes. Seeing that he was ready to get up, Yan Yue came over and gave him a kiss and said softly, “Why don’t you sleep a little more? What do you want to eat in the morning? I’ll go and make it.”
“Anything is fine.” Lu Lingxi put on his sweater and looked down and suddenly saw the little snake on Yan Yue’s wrist. He blinked in surprise and reached out with some curiosity to poke it. The little snake shook its head dully and hesitantly crawled a little in Lu Lingxi’s direction. The smell that attracted it was right here, very pleasant and comfortable. Yan Yue then watched as the little black snake let go of him, the tip of its tail moving a little towards Lu Lingxi’s finger.
Dahei’s head appeared, his two front paws resting on the edge of the bed as he stood half-upright and looked at Lu Lingxi with a gentle gaze. Lu Lingxi’s attention was immediately drawn to him; he smiled as he reached out to pet Dahei’s head. When the little snake saw Dahei, the tip of its tail, which was stretched out in mid-air, froze for a few seconds and secretly changed direction, wrapping itself around Yan Yue’s wrist again.
Yan Yue hooked the corner of his mouth, thinking that this snake wasn’t completely stupid.
Lu Lingxi got up and wanted to go to the Lingshui River to see how the eelgrass had evolved. Yan Yue had emails to reply, so Lu Lingxi didn’t bother him and took Dahei out on his own. It wasn’t yet seven o’clock and the sky was a little dark. Most of the villagers had just woken up. There were noises, dogs barking, chickens crowing, and the whole village seemed to break out from the silence of the night and become a little bit more alive, full of vigorous vitality and hope.
As he passed by the big willow tree, Lu Lingxi paused for a moment. He clicked on the white panel and the roots of the big willow tree kept extending in all directions. Just in the direction he was going, the roots had extended past the bottom of the Lingshui River and continued to stretch across the river. The opposite side of the river was also within the boundaries of Lingshui Village, but there was no one living there and it was basically some abandoned land. Further over there was a small hill, and Lu Lingxi had no idea what was on the opposite side of the hill.
Despite the fact that it was now the winter period of dormancy, the big willow tree was still very much alive. Lu Lingxi tilted his head and looked at the willow tree, which seemed to have grown a little taller, and imagined what it would look like when it evolved again.
Perhaps because he was in a daze for a bit too long, Dahei licked Lu Lingxi’s fingers, reminding him not to forget the purpose of coming out. Lu Lingxi curved his eyes and smiled, saying to Dahei on a whim, “Let’s run together and see who comes first?”
Dahei looked at Lu Lingxi with a somewhat indulgent gaze and gave a low bark. As soon as Lu Lingxi started running, Dahei immediately followed but never tried to overtake him. One man and one dog were having fun running, and the dogs in the village followed them when they saw Dahei. In a short time, a bunch of dogs followed behind Lu Lingxi. These dogs were restrained and didn’t dare to overtake Dahei. A few of them wanted to show off in front of Dahei but just when they ran a bit faster, they were reprimanded by Dahei.
From behind, it looked as if Lu Lingxi was being chased by a pack of dogs, running for his life.
Lu Lingxi: “……”
The people in the village almost laughed to death when they saw it. They didn’t know why this child, Xiao Xi, was so pleasing to the dogs. Usually when he met the village dogs, they liked to come up and show their faces in front of him, but this time they simply ran after him.
Lu Lingxi himself couldn’t help laughing halfway through the run, especially when Dahei refused to let the dogs run free in order to save his face. He stopped in his tracks in amusement and hugged Dahei and gave him a kiss, thinking that Dahei was just too sweet.
One man and one dog walked slowly, and the dogs from the village dispersed. When Lu Lingxi arrived at the edge of the Lingshui River, he was followed by two or three dogs.
Speaking of which, the development of the eelgrass ecological community greatly exceeded Lu Lingxi’s expectations. It had only been a short time but through the ice, you could see that the river flowing out of Lingshui Village was already crystal clear. Across the river, a wild dog broke the ice to drink water and barked excitedly when it saw Dahei.
Dahei always appeared calm, unless he thought there was danger. When he heard the dog barking across the river, he only responded in a low voice and squatted quietly by Lu Lingxi’s side. Lu Lingxi found a stone by the river and broke the ice surface, took out the small bottle he was carrying and filled it with water, intending to go back and test it. Through the thin ice, you could hear the sound of the water rushing below, and the green eelgrass stretched in the water, full of strange beauty.
Lu Lingxi was in a good mood all morning because of the purification of the Lingshui River. After breakfast he and Yan Yue went to the plant nursery to have a look around. After they carried a few bags of flower fertiliser to put in the trunk, the two of them prepared to go back to Fengcheng. The first problem they faced was what to do with the little black snake?
Lu Lingxi and Yan Yue were not afraid of snakes, but there was still Wang Shuxiu at home, and it would be bad if she was scared.
“Let’s leave it here, the plant nursery is so big, it can move around as it pleases. Just tell Xu San to remember to leave some food for it in the corner every day,” Yan Yue said.
The little black snake understood Yan Yue’s meaning, and the tip of its tail wrapped tighter and tighter around his wrist, and in the end it even bit Yan Yue’s sleeve, looking like it refused to leave.
Lu Lingxi was a bit soft-hearted, “Why don’t you take it back with you?”
The little black snake gave a hiss, and Yan Yue took the opportunity to pick it up by its tail. The little black snake, with its tail held by Yan Yue, tried hard to hook its body around Yan Yue’s wrist but couldn’t reach it. Yan Yue looked at the silly way it was wriggling and was speechless for a long time before agreeing.
Lu Lingxi stroked the little black snake and named it Xiaohei (Little Black), along the lines of Dahei’s name. “From now on, you will be called Xiaohei, remember?”
Xiaohei hissed and hooked around Yan Yue’s wrist with satisfaction. Under Yan Yue’s gaze, Xiaohei wrapped tightly and became motionless again.
Wang Shuxiu didn’t immediately notice that there was an extra snake in the house. It was almost the end of the month, and because of her wedding to Xiao Feng, Wang Shuxiu was a little too busy during this time. On Monday, when the restaurant was less crowded, Wang Shuxiu and Xiao Feng were going to take wedding photos. Originally, Wang Shuxiu felt that these were unnecessary, she was too old to take any wedding photos. But Xiao Feng insisted on taking them, and also took Lu Lingxi with him, saying that he would take some family photos as well.
Wang Shuxiu was happy in her heart, so she agreed. At this time, Yan Yue couldn’t go along with him no matter what. Even if he was thick-skinned, he couldn’t tell Wang Shuxiu that he wanted to be added. The studio Xiao Feng had booked was owned by a friend of his and was very famous in Fengcheng. Because of his friendship with Xiao Feng, the owner of the studio personally received them, and even found the best make-up artist and photographer.
Xiao Feng and Lu Lingxi both dressed rather simply, changing their clothes and applying a little make-up. Wang Shuxiu was a bit more troublesome, with four or five layers of make-up and a styling session. Xiao Feng didn’t rush and sat patiently waiting for Wang Shuxiu to put on her make-up.
The owner of the studio accompanied him and chatted with Xiao Feng. He said with some regret: “It would have been better if you had taken photos in summer. We could have gone to the beach and taken a seascape series. Now that it’s bare everywhere outside, we can only shoot indoors, so Sister-in-law is a bit wronged.”
Xiao Feng nodded without taking his eyes off Wang Shuxiu, “She is a bit wronged.”
Wang Shuxiu was halfway through her make-up when she heard Xiao Feng say this and gave him a rather angry look. Xiao Feng looked at her and a smile appeared on his face.
The interaction between the two of them was seen by the studio owner, who thought that Xiao Feng had turned from tempered steel into soft fingers. Who would have thought that Xiao Feng would leave a lot of young girls behind and find a divorced woman with an oil bottle. There were rumours outside that Xiao Feng had closed the venue because of this woman. The studio owner didn’t believe it before, but now it seemed to be true. He felt that Xiao Feng was definitely sincere, otherwise he wouldn’t have taken a wedding photo and brought his cheaply-gained son with him.
At this thought the studio boss’s eyes fell on Lu Lingxi who was sitting quietly aside. He smiled kindly at Lu Lingxi, “Nephew, we’ll take a family photo series later. This dog is also on board. It just so happens that there is a pet Tang suit in the shop, so let’s give it a festive outfit, too.”
“En.” Lu Lingxi nodded and looked at Dahei with a faint smile in his eyes. Nowadays it was very popular to dress up pets, and Lu Lingxi had even thought about buying an outfit for Dahei, but unfortunately Dahei didn’t like it, so Lu Lingxi let it be. He still didn’t know what Dahei looked like in clothes.
The studio owner gave an order and the staff quickly brought in the clothes. Although Dahei looked very docile, the young girls in the studio still didn’t dare to approach him. Lu Lingxi took the clothes and instructed Dahei to put them on. Dahei was very cooperative and put on a Tang suit with red fortune characters on it and a flat leather cap from the same series on his head.
When he squatted in front of Lu Lingxi, Lu Lingxi was about to laugh to death, took a dozen photos of him in one go and sent them to Yan Yue.
Yan Yue’s text message came quickly, with a big smiley in it.
The studio owner jokingly handed over a pair of sunglasses, and Lu Lingxi put them on Dahei, clutching his stomach and laughing even harder.
Even Xiao Feng laughed as he looked at this picture. He was very fond of Dahei. Don’t look at Dahei’s docile and harmless look now, he remembered that Dahei almost bit his leg off. He knew how powerful Dahei was when he saw the dogs in the community trembling in fear at the sight of Dahei.
“Okay.” The make-up artist’s voice diverted their attention, “The bride is coming out.” After he finished speaking, everyone looked towards the changing room. Wang Shuxiu had changed into her wedding dress and slowly walked out.
For a moment, Lu Lingxi was completely dumbfounded. He unconsciously curled up the corners of his mouth, thinking that his mother was really good looking now. Over the past six months, Wang Shuxiu had changed quite a lot. Perhaps it was because she didn’t work at the KTV anymore, but she rarely wore those dresses she used to wear; her clothes had become conservative and the world-weary aura around her was basically invisible. After getting together with Xiao Feng, Wang Shuxiu was in a good mood and her career was going well, so she usually looked radiant. With the make-up artist’s efforts and dressed up, she looked stunning just standing there.
The studio boss looked speechless for a moment, understanding Xiao Feng’s choice.
A smile slowly appeared on Xiao Feng’s face, and his words were brief and concise, “Looks good.”
Even though she was accustomed to big storms, when Wang Shuxiu heard Xiao Feng say this, she actually blushed like a young girl.
The photo shooting began immediately after Wang Shuxiu changed her clothes. After a few photos were taken, Lu Lingxi felt that it was quite a physical job. Both for the photographer and for the bride and groom taking the pictures. He sat aside with Dahei and quietly watched Wang Shuxiu and Xiao Feng strike various poses under the photographer’s guidance.
“Come on, the two of you come closer together, yes, just like that, one reaching out and putting a hand on the other’s shoulder. Okay, ready for the photo.”
“Good, very good. Now let’s change the pose, the groom smiles at the bride, yes, just like that, don’t stand still.”
Lu Lingxi curved his eyes and looked at the happy smile spreading across his mother’s face, then looked down and sent a text message to Yan Yue.
“Big Brother Yan, I miss you.”
“Good boy, I miss you too. Let’s find some time to bring Dahei and Xiaohei and take a family photo too.”
“Okay.” Lu Lingxi looked at the text message and smiled. The photographer called him. “This time we’ll take a group photo. Xiao Xi takes the big dog and sits on the ground. Yes, the dog crouches there. Put on sunglasses and smile for the camera.”
“Okay, just don’t move, we’re taking the picture.”
As the photographer’s words were said, the three people and the dog in the photo smiled at the same time, their happiness captured forever.