Lu Lingxi’s primary school was located in Jing’an District of Zhongjing, and at this time of the summer holidays, there were no students at the school, so it was very quiet.
The two of them were stopped at the entrance of the school by the old man who was guarding the door, and Lu Lingxi greeted him, saying that he was a former student here and had come back for a visit. He and Yan Yue looked neat and didn’t seem to be bad people. The old man looked at them warily for a few moments, asked Lu Lingxi’s name again, and let them in.
“Thank you, Uncle.” Lu Lingxi smiled and thanked him, pulling Yan Yue and running inside in a flash.
The old man looked at Lu Lingxi’s smiling face and smiled too, thinking that this child was quite likeable. But this name felt a bit familiar, as if he had heard it before. Where exactly was it? The old man’s memory was failing him. He seriously wrote down the words “Visitor Lu Lingxi” on the blackboard at the entrance and went back to his booth to read the newspaper.
A few minutes later, the headmaster of the school personally delivered Lu Guangjing to the school entrance. Lu Guangjing had approached the school some time ago with the intention of donating an indoor stadium, and the school was very welcoming of donations, so the headmaster personally accompanied Lu Guangjing on several visits to the school. The school was not aware of the Lu family’s affairs; they had only heard vaguely that a child from the Lu family had attended school here eleven years ago but had later dropped out for health reasons. Now that that child had passed away, the family wanted to do something to commemorate that child.
“Mr. Lu, don’t worry about the stadium, I’ll call you when I’ve made arrangements on my side…”
The headmaster suddenly closed his mouth halfway through the sentence. He noticed that Lu Guangjing seemed to have seen something and was staring, deathly pale, at the small blackboard hanging on one side of the wall, looking somewhat lost. The headmaster followed him and saw the words “Visitor Lu Lingxi”. He was slightly stunned. Wasn’t this the name of the child who had died in the Lu family?
While the headmaster was stunned, Lu Guangjing had already turned to him in a daze and said in a low voice, “I’ll leave first.”
The headmaster wanted to ask what was going on with this Lu Lingxi, but he felt that it was a bit ugly for him to get too curious since Lu Guangjing’s son had passed away.
After sending Lu Guangjing away, the headmaster couldn’t hold back and asked the old man at the door who this Lu Lingxi was. The headmaster’s face immediately went white as soon as the old man described the young man. His age matched up, as did his previous experience of going to school here, and it went without saying that he had the same name and surname.
In the end, the headmaster was so scared that his legs went weak as he muttered in his heart that he had seen a ghost in the daytime.
Meanwhile, Lu Guangjing closed his eyes, feeling that God was reminding him to remember to atone for his sins all the time. In recent times, the name ‘Lu Lingxi’ sounded very frequently in the Lu family’s old house. Even though Lu Guangjing didn’t live there, he heard rumours in the old house about his father’s other son and grandson. Lu Guangjing didn’t care about business matters. He just occasionally thought of the child with the same name as Xiao Xi. He couldn’t help but wonder: if Xiao Xi hadn’t had an accident a year ago, what would he have been like now? Unfortunately, there were no “what ifs” in this world.
Halfway in the car, Lu Guangjing opened his eyes and said, “Let’s go to Li’s house.”
The driver simply took a turn, giving Lu Guangjing a sympathetic look while the man was not paying attention. The servants at home were saying that Mrs. Lu had gone crazy. She was mad at the eldest young master and was now taken away by her parents. The driver thought that if the boy in his family dared to be so unfilial in the future, he’d definitely break his legs.
The driver thought he was being stealthy, but his glance was still noticed by Lu Guangjing. Lu Guangjing smiled to himself; the driver was new and didn’t know about the previous affairs of the Lu family. If he knew, he wouldn’t have sympathised with him, but would have scolded him for deserving it.
When he arrived at the Li family’s house, Li Caiying’s elder brother, Li Yao, was there. His attitude towards Lu Guangjing was not polite, “What are you doing here? I’ve arranged for a lawyer to send you a letter. Caiying wants to divorce you, so get ready.”
Lu Guangjing whispered, “I won’t divorce, it’s my responsibility that Caiying has become what she is now, I…”
“It doesn’t matter now who is responsible,” Li Yao interrupted him. “I know my sister well, she has problems with her personality and is too obsessive. Back then when you were having an affair, I advised her to get a divorce, but she insisted on having a child to tie you down. When Wei’an was born prematurely, her spirit was not quite right. When Wei’an became ill, Caiying felt sorry for Wei’an and all her motherly love was given to him. All these years, the Li family only watched Caiying revolve around Wei’an but didn’t realise that her spirit was becoming more and more unstable. By the time it broke now, it was already too late.”
He said that, giving a somewhat mean glance to Lu Guangjing, “Now don’t say that you want to take care of Caiying. To be honest, I don’t trust you. No matter how many mistakes Caiying has made over the years, when she married you, she wanted to have a good life with you. But what about you? I don’t want to talk about what happened back then, but had you paid more attention to Caiying’s emotions later, she wouldn’t have become like this.”
“You don’t need to explain.” Lai Yao added, “I know you’re sad that Xiao Xi died.” He paused and said, “…Xiao Xi was a good kid, and now it can be regarded as Caiying’s retribution.”
Li Yao sighed, and Lu Guangjing’s heart trembled, “Wei’an…”
“Don’t mention Wei’an to me.” Li Yao coldly averted his eyes, “Caiying wronged Xiao Xi, but she has never wronged Wei’an in the slightest. Since Wei’an feels that his life was worse than death all these years because Caiying’s obsession forced him to live, then the Li family has nothing more to say to him.”
“Alright, you can go now.”
Once again, Li Yao interrupted Lu Guangjing’s words and instructed the housekeeper to send Lu Guangjing out. The Li family no longer wanted to have anything to do with the Lu family. After sending Lu Guangjing away, Li Yao turned and went to Li Caiying’s room. The doctor said that Caiying had just fallen asleep after being sedated. Lai Yao looked at his sister’s pale, thin face and let out a deep sigh. He didn’t know how Caiying had gotten her life into this mess. The elder son she had given her heart and soul to was a white-eyed wolf, and the younger son who was well-behaved and sensible had died early. The man she had held onto all her life was a wimp, and she was paranoid and severely insane in her middle age. If she had known this day would come, would she have still looked at Lu Guangjing back then and insisted on marrying into the Lu family?
There was no one left to give an answer to Li Yao’s question.
Lu Guangjing stood at the entrance of the Li family’s house and took one last look, hunched over and got back into the car. Caiying had gone mad, Xiao Xi had died, and Wei’an had been sacrificed by the Lu family as a scapegoat. Lu Guangjing had come to Li Yao to see if Li Yao could find a way to save Wei’an but Li Yao… Lu Guangjing couldn’t blame Li Yao for being heartless; after all, Caiying had been stimulated by Wei’an. The previous quarrel between Wei’an and Caiying flashed in his mind, and Lu Guangjing shrank back in his seat wearily. He was really unaware that Wei’an had actually been living his life in resentment for so many years.
He and Caiying had put so much thought into Wei’an, but in the end it turned out that they had selfishly forced Wei’an to live, that they had wronged him. Lu Guangjing really didn’t know what had gone wrong. Why had Wei’an turned out to be like this? He still remembered how well behaved Wei’an was as a child and how good his relationship with Caiying was. But in the blink of an eye, nothing was the same as he remembered.
When Lu Guangjing arrived home, the house was empty and no one was there, and even the maid had gone somewhere. He sat hunched over on the sofa and looked at the family portrait hanging on the opposite wall… Soon he would be the only one left in the family.
Not far from the Lu family’s house on the street, Lu Lingxi looked at the Lu family’s house from afar. He had lived there for eighteen years, yet the house still felt unfamiliar.
Yan Yue bought a cup of lemon tea from a roadside cold drink shop and handed it to Lu Lingxi. Lu Lingxi looked away, took the lemon tea and suddenly said, “Big Brother Yan, let’s go back to Fengcheng, I miss Mom.”
Yan Yue raised his hand, stroked Lu Lingxi’s hair and said softly, “Okay.”
The two of them talked to Ye Kang, went home and packed their things quickly, and drove away from Zhongjing that afternoon. The highway from Zhongjing to Fengcheng was full of cars and the traffic jam was very bad. Yan Yue casually said, “We should have taken the high speed train back.”
Dahei immediately barked, reminding of his existence.
Lu Lingxi laughed, scratched Dahei’s chin soothingly and made a call to Wang Shuxiu.
“Mom, Big Brother Yan and I are on our way home. There’s a bit of traffic on the highway, it’ll probably be night before we get home.”
“Why so soon? Didn’t you plan to spend a few more days in Zhongjing?” Wang Shuxiu was a little surprised.
Lu Lingxi held the phone and said seriously, “I miss Mom.”
“Little bastard.” Wang Shuxiu scolded with a smile, “What do you want to eat when you come back tonight? I’ll make it for you.”
“…glutinous rice ribs.”
After hanging up the phone, Wang Shuxiu used her big belly to send Xiao Feng to go buy ribs quickly. If it was any later there would be no good ribs. Xiao Feng took his wallet and prepared to go out, instructing Wang Shuxiu as he was leaving, “Xiaohua, stay at home and don’t worry about anything, wait for me to come back to wash the rice.”
“I know.” Wang Shuxiu glared at him. Xiao Feng smiled and touched Wang Shuxiu’s stomach, feeling the baby’s movements under his palm. He looked at Wang Shuxiu very tenderly, “Xiaohua, what do you want to eat? I’ll buy it too.”
“The fridge is full of food, don’t buy anything.” Wang Shuxiu stopped him.
Xiao Feng smiled and went out, thinking that Xiaohua liked to eat the miso pork from the shop in front of the street. It so happened that Dahei was also going to be back, so Xiao Feng decided he would go and buy some pork for the evening. Xiao Xi liked glutinous rice and lotus roots, and Yan Yue seemed to like the braised pork sold in the same shop. Xiao Feng would get some, as well as… He kept walking, figuring out what to buy, all the family’s favourites.
The family? Xiao Feng smiled silently. When the child in Xiaohua’s belly was born, they’d just go to take a family portrait again. This time, Yan Yue would also be called and, by the way, there was Xiaohei who had lost a tooth recently.
As if by a tacit agreement, Lu Lingxi was also talking to Yan Yue about having the family photo taken again. “We’ll do it when the little brother is born. Big Brother Yan, Dahei, Xiaohei, we’ll all go together.”
Yan Yue surely didn’t mind, and Xiaohei poked his head out of Lu Lingxi’s bag when he heard his name, contentedly tying himself in a knot around Lu Lingxi’s wrist.
The traffic ahead restarted and Yan Yue’s lips curled up as he smiled at Lu Lingxi, stepping on the gas and driving in the direction of home.