With the beginning of December, the cold air swept through the country in a blast of wind and rain, and many parts of the country officially entered winter.
Qixia Town was located in the southwest corner of Caifeng City. As a small suburban town in a prosperous provincial capital city, Qixia had grown considerably over the years, with wide roads, light rail, subway, shopping malls and other improvements, and more and more young people coming and going in the streets. Next to the starting point of the subway Line 15, the shopping mall celebrating its third anniversary was full of gongs and drums, with all kinds of businesses working hard to attract customers.
The wind was bitterly cold and just after three o’clock in the afternoon fine snowflakes started floating from the sky, mixed with the frigid rain, making freezing passers-by shrink and shiver. In the wind and snow, the staff wearing the red pig doll costume held a stack of leaflets, handing them to people in sight. Unfortunately, everyone was cold today; with their hands in their pockets, they ignored the leaflets handed to them by the big red pig. After half an hour or so, four o’clock finally came. The snow failed to create an atmosphere; it was grey and wet everywhere, and the sky was as dark as at night.
At exactly four o’clock, the big red pig turned around and walked into the staff lounge area of the mall. The huge red pig head was taken off, revealing an extremely decent and distinguished looking young man underneath, with white skin, thin eyebrows and long eyes, a high nose and pink lips. His slightly raised eyebrows and slightly upturned lips made him look like he was smiling quietly. In the words of a colleague who worked part-time with the young man, he had a look that could only be found in CG images. With such an unreal appearance, if he went to the entertainment industry, he could win a lot of fans by his appearance alone; it was a waste to work hard with them as a handyman.
“Time to change shifts.” Once he opened his mouth, it turned out that the young man’s voice was as outstanding as his face, extremely pleasant and soothing.
“It’s so cold all of a sudden. I still dared to wear short sleeves last week. I really don’t want to go outside in the wind.” A colleague complained.
“It’s okay in the pig costume, it’s quite cold-proof.”
“Yeah, better than stewing to death in a doll suit in summer.”
Lu Ying handed the pig head to the colleague who was taking over, put on a coat and hurriedly walked out with a large bag. Not long after, a black electric moped rode out from the alley behind the mall.
The sudden darkness made the roads that should have been accessible in all directions blocked, and the electric moped moved forward in twists and turns. When it arrived at the gate of the kindergarten, many children had already been picked up. Lu Ying stopped the moped and walked to the iron gate, looking at the children waiting in a small crowd with their school bags in the kindergarten’s courtyard. He smiled involuntarily and shouted, “Teacher Wang, I’m here to pick up Zaizai(1). I’m sorry I’m a little late today.”
Teacher Wang also smiled when he saw the young man and quickly pulled the little boy who was playing with his friends, “Zaizai’s Dad, you’re too polite. It’s raining today, the weather is cold and the roads are slippery, so you must be careful with the kid on your bike. Zaizai, your dad is here to pick you up.”
“Thank you, I’ll be careful. Zaizai, say goodbye to the teacher.”
The little boy smiled and waved, “See you tomorrow, Teacher.” As soon as he got close to the moped, he nimbly climbed into the front seat and sat there, waiting. Lu Ying put on his helmet and drove his son home slowly.
“What did you do in the kindergarten today?” On the way, Lu Ying casually chatted with his son.
“Playing, playing games in the playground in the morning and in the classroom at noon when I got up from my nap.”
“You had fun, right?”
“Yes! I was a good eater today, and the teacher praised me.”
Lu Ying cocked the corners of his mouth and his eyes filled with a smile: “Zaizai is great every day.” His son was the same as him. His biggest strength was that he could eat and was not a picky eater. Lu Ying used to worry about it. He didn’t expect that since Zaizai went to kindergarten, it would become his greatest merit. The teachers all loved Lu Zaizai who was never a picky eater and never had leftovers.
The apartment rented by the father and son was located between the kindergarten and the shopping mall where Lu Ying worked. It was a local community that was still under construction. Because the apartments didn’t have a real estate certificate, there were too many disadvantages and inconveniences in the transactions. Compared with the expensive commercial buildings in the vicinity, the apartments in this community were not only much cheaper to buy, but also cheaper to rent. Of course, the surroundings were also more chaotic. There were also many unofficially remodelled private apartments for rent. Lu Ying lived in a small single room apartment since leaving Qixia Mountain that year. The room of about fifteen square metres contained a one-and-a-half-metre bed, a square table and chairs, a bathroom, a small kitchen and a simple wardrobe. It was fully functional and not bad.
“Dad, what are we having for dinner today?” The boy, who was at least a size bigger than his classmates, asked immediately after arriving home. Even though he had eaten dinner in the kindergarten before leaving, he was still hungry.
Lu Ying went to the kitchen to make dinner: “There are vegetables and meat, so you will definitely be full. You can play with your toys for a while.”
There was hardly any homework in the kindergarten, and since Zaizai was not allowed to go out on his own and there was no TV in the apartment, he could just play with his toys or draw with colouring pens and build little houses with building blocks.
Lu Ying cooked a large pot of noodles with tomatoes, meat and eggs, and rolled two large pancakes with shredded carrots and sautéed potatoes, all of which took no time to eat. Father and son ate their dinner at the only small table. Neither was talking, just burying their heads and eating; an indescribably exciting sight.
“Dad, I’m full. Look at my tummy, hee hee ~ round and smooth!” After Zaizai licked the bottom of his bowl and swallowed the last bite of his pancake, he lifted up his shirt and patted his belly, smiling brightly.
Lu Ying tapped on his belly seriously, “Is this watermelon ripe? I want to eat it when it’s ripe.”
“No, it’s not ripe! Hehe~ It’s my belly, you can’t eat it. Huh, you’re such a confused dad!” The fat boy hid his belly and tugged at his clothes, rolling his eyes at his dad helplessly.
Lu Ying rolled his eyes in response, “If you dare to call me a confused dad again, I won’t tell you the story of Peppa Pig in the future. Don’t follow bad examples.”
“No, no, Dad, I’m sorry, I was wrong. Dad is the smartest dad in the world.” The fat boy immediately hugged his father’s legs coquettishly, his little eyes turned into curved crescents with a smile, his expression very similar to his father’s.
Lu Ying nodded in satisfaction, “Dad is going to work. Will you play at home or work with Dad?”
If it were any other family, how could they take their children out in this cold weather; but Lu Ying still asked the child’s opinion.
Zaizai immediately jumped up, “I want to work with Dad today.”
“Okay, put on your little hat and let’s go!” Lu Ying gave the order.
“It’s raining outside, I want to put on my little Ultraman raincoat.” Zaizai excitedly pulled out a little blue raincoat and happily went out with his dad.
Lu Ying’s evening job started at six o’clock. He worked part-time to deliver takeaway at the pizzeria in front of the renovated community. The more rainy the day was, the better the business was. Wearing the uniform of the pizzeria, he would drive around the neighbourhood delivering orders one by one in the slight drizzle. He couldn’t take the kid on the moped with him when he delivered takeaways. Even if he had the guts to do that, the boss didn’t. What would the boss do if something happened? It was already the greatest tolerance to allow Lu Ying to leave his child in the shop while he worked.
At first Lu Ying hadn’t thought about taking the child to work, as it could easily be annoying. When he first moved out of the village, he thought that his son, who had always been ‘independent’, would stay at home and wait for him. He didn’t expect to return from work and see the fat boy’s face in tears. On the contrary, when he started taking his son with him, the boy immediately became tough again and would occasionally offer to stay home to play, saying he didn’t want to go out.
As they walked downstairs hand in hand, they came across a family of three neighbours living around the corner. Their eyes didn’t meet as they passed by each other; they clearly didn’t get along. When Lu Ying walked further away, the greasy-looking man with a big belly spat, “A big man wearing eyeliner all day long(2)! Who is he trying to seduce, it’s disgusting! Son, don’t play with that little brute. Such destitutes shouldn’t live in the city.”
The mother also laughed: “Most children from single-parent families have problems and children without mothers are uneducated.”
“He’s as fat as a pig, I won’t play with him.” The child agreed triumphantly.
The family of three, full of their sense of superiority, marched off.
Lu Ying, who ignored them, touched the fat boy’s head proudly. Even if his son was a pig, he was the cutest and best-looking little pig.
Unlike some people who were so ugly that they were worse than pigs.
- ‘Zai’ means ‘cub’ or ‘child’
- Lu Ying actually doesn’t wear eyeliner, his eyelashes are simply thick and dark. Not that there’s something wrong with wearing eyeliner, just for the readers not to get a wrong image 🙂