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Chapter 4: Ants Crawling into the Heart (Part 5)
After dinner, Zhou Buwen and Jiang Yisheng helped Wu Julan pack up the utensils. The four of us sat in the courtyard and talked while enjoying the breeze.
Yesterday was their first meeting after being away from each other for so many years. Nervousness and excitement made them want to continue talking. This evening, everyone had relaxed themselves, holding a can of beer, chatting and even their bodies were less tense. Jiang Yisheng even directly lifted his leg and placed it high on the back of another chair.
The moonlight was bright and clear, the evening breeze was cool, the insects were chiming, and flower petals danced as they fell.
Zhou Buwen looked at the familiar courtyard, then looked at Jiang Yisheng and I, in a daze, “It feels like we’ve gone back to our childhood days, as if nothing has changed.”
Jiang Yisheng smiled and swirled his can of beer. He stretched out his index finger and swayed it, “At least there’s one thing that has changed. We definitely didn’t have the guts to sit openly and drink beer when we were younger. We’d always hide behind the rocks along the beach and drink!”
Zhou Buwen and I couldn’t control our laughter. I said, “I really didn’t expect that we could still eat together, talk together. It’s as if everyone walked into a maze, thinking that we’ve all split up. Little did we know that there’s only one exit and everyone ended up gathering at the exit.”
Jiang Yisheng squeezed me a little and mocked, “Cousin Wu, do you know that your cousin is so eloquent?”
Wu Julan smiled plainly and didn’t say anything, probably because he knew that the emotions of those in the courtyard had nothing to do with him.
The knocking on the door sounded, “Knock, Knock.”
Wu Julan opened the door. Zhou Buyan entered with two boxes of gifts, “Sister Shen, I heard from my cousin that you got injured. So I bought you some tonics.”
I saw it was two boxes of bird’s nests and found them too expensive. But it would have soured the relationships and been too impolite to outrightly reject them, so I could only remember this kindness in my heart and repay them in future, “Thank you.”
Zhou Buyan sat down for a short while, then Zhou Buwen said, “It’s not early anymore. We still have to catch the ferry tomorrow morning so we’ll need to return to the inn.”
Anyway, there are plenty of chances to meet up in the future, so I didn’t make them stay.
After waiting for them to leave, I locked the gate outside, watched Wu Julan pack up the courtyard and the sound of the door knocking rang out again.
I found it odd and opened the door, seeing Zhou Buyan standing outside the door, I asked, “What’s wrong? Did you leave something behind?”
Zhou Buyan smiled and said, “I told my cousin that I need to go back and pick up my phone but I actually didn’t leave anything behind. I just wanted to say something to you privately.”
I looked at Zhou Buyan and quietly waited for her to continue.
Zhou Buyan said, “I heard that you got robbed of over sixty thousand yuan. Your savings are probably limited and so it would be a stretch to set up an inn. Considering that you’re my cousin’s good friend, I’ll be honest with you. I don’t have high hopes for your inn. Tourists often pick inns that have either unique views or convenient transportation, while you have nothing over there…”
I interrupted her sentence, “Miss Zhou, what exactly is your point?”
Zhou Buyan smiled confidently, “My point is that I really like your old mansion so please sell it to me. I don’t really care if there isn’t a property deed. You’re free to name whatever price. If you really don’t want to sell it to me, I’m also fine with renting it. I’ll just rent for two years, with an annual rental of twenty thousand paid up front, and two years later, the house will be returned to you in perfect condition.”
Is she trying to throw me money? I felt dizzy for a while and said, “I’m touched by your generosity. If it was an ordinary house, I would have agreed to you instantly. However, this isn’t just a simple house, it is the home that my grandfather left behind for me. I really cannot sell it to you nor can I rent it to you.”
Zhou Buwen said anxiously, “But you have so little money…”
“Those loaded with money have their own lifestyles and those with little money also have their own lifestyles. Even if I don’t have a single cent, I’ll still be able to open this inn. Miss Zhou, I have said this very clearly.” The smile on my face remained polite but my tone sounded cold.
Zhou Buwen stared at me deeply for a moment and said while faking a smile, ”I hope you won’t regret it in the future. When the time comes, I might not be this nice to talk to. Forty thousand is nothing to me but it isn’t a small sum to you…”
“You— say too much shit!” Wu Julan’s voice came from my side, interrupting Zhou Buyan’s words abruptly.
I turned my head to look at him, instantly all the feelings of dismay turned into smiles. Zhou Buyan’s face was flushed with anger. She glared at Wu Julan and said, “What, what…did you say?”
As if Wu Julan didn’t see her, he helped me take two steps backwards, and with a sound of “clack”, he gently closed the door.
I looked at him astonished but he behaved as if nothing had happened, “You go up first. I’ll come up after I clean up the rubbish.”
I heard a sound of frustration coming from the other side of the door and looked at Wu Julan who was engrossed in doing his work and suddenly understood, The greatest insult to a person is to ignore a person’s presence.
Returning to the bedroom, I saw that the time was past nine o’clock. I decided to heed the doctor’s advice to sleep early to quickly recover.
I clumsily used one hand to slowly brush my teeth and wash my face. When I was limping out of the toilet, I saw Wu Julan standing outside my room instead.
“What’s the matter?”
He took out the medicine and cotton ball and wore the disposable medical gloves. Then, I realised that he planned to apply medicine on me. The doctor has specially reminded me to apply medicine on the wounds on my leg once every morning and night for five consecutive days.
I quickly said, “You don’t need to do that. I can do it myself.”
He looked at me and said, “Bend down.”
I hesitated and didn’t move. I was aware of my wounds. If it was sitting, or lying down, or standing up, as long as I don’t move, it would be alright. But once I moved, not to mention any actions that required motion such as going to sit down or stand up or bend down – just any of these minor actions could affect the wounds, causing it to bring pain. Trying to apply medicine on my leg, and using just one hand, it would definitely be painful.
I grit my teeth, and when I was about to bend down, Wu Julan had walked next to the bed and said, “Lie down.”
I glanced at his expressionless face and decided that it was better to not challenge him, then laid on the bed obediently.
Wu Julan first dipped the cotton ball with the brown disinfectant on my wounds, then applied the ointment prescribed by the doctor on the wounds.
Although he was wearing disposable medical gloves, the thin layer of plastic may have isolated the bacteria but it didn’t isolate the warmth and touch. His fingers were long and fair but weren’t soft. They felt firm and full of strength. I started to believe that he survived solely with his strength through manual labour but when he applied the ointment, I didn’t feel any pain, even the cold from his fingers made me feel comfortable.
Not sure whether it was the silence causing the awkwardness or the awkwardness causing the silence, neither of us spoke. My heart had an indescribable feeling of panic and confusion, as if ants were crawling into my heart. I suddenly broke the silence, “Your hand is really cold. I bet your blood circulation is bad. Do take note of your body and don’t overwork yourself.”
Wu Julan gave me a look, not letting out a single sound and continued applying the medicine.
I didn’t have any more courage to say anything, and could only remain silent in this awkwardness and feel awkward in this silence.
After the injuries were attended to with much difficulty, as if I was finally relieved, I immediately said, “Thank you! Rest early too!” And almost added, Please quickly leave.
Wu Julan packed up the disinfectant and ointment, and said calmly, “Goodnight.”
After I watched Wu Julan walking out of my room, I fell softly on my bed, as if my bones were removed, and the disturbing feeling of frantic and confusion remained lingering in my heart.
T/N: YES YES YES!!! The plot’s starting to get interesting even more from here onwards~!
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