“Wait up, wait up!” Li Shan Zhu shouted breathlessly at the elevator with a grocery basket in hand.
The doors that were about to close then opened up again. He walked into the elevator and held his knees as he panted, then looked up at the middle-aged woman and smiled. “Thank you, Auntie Zhang.”
“Little Li, you have people over at your place, right?” The middle-aged woman looked at the groceries in his basket. “You bought so much, do you have a lot of guests?”
Li Shan Zhu blushed. “No, just one.”
Middle-aged women are all half a detective, she knew what was going on with one look at his expression, she smiled. “Girlfriend?”
Li Shan Zhu blushed even harder, he shook his head and said, “Not yet, she…she said if I can make a good meal, she would seriously consider it.”
“Ah, then you cannot be careless with your cooking.” The middle-aged woman started to give him ideas. “Do you want Auntie Zhang to teach you a few secret recipes? When Auntie Zhang was younger, I relied on these few dishes to conquer Uncle’s stomach before conquering his heart…”
The child she had been holding hands with looked at her naively, “But Mom, you only know how to cook instant noodles, instant noodles and instant noodles…”
“Little brat, why do you have to be so honest!”
After bidding farewell to the mother and daughter, Li Shan Zhu returned to his home.
The basket was very heavy, not only were there all sorts of vegetables, there were also fish and meat. Just like what Auntie Zhang had said, if everything were to be used, it was enough to serve a full table of people.
He took a deep breath before he called out, “Big Sister Little Ai, open the door for me.”
No one answered for a very long time.
The once excited smile on his face slowly faded away. He placed the heavy basket on the floor, took out his key and opened the door. The moment he opened the door, he forced a smile on his face, “Big Sister Little Ai, I’m sorry I came back late, I’ll immediately cook for you.”
The house was empty, no one was in sight. The house was in dead silence, even the pair of shoes Ning Ning had worn to his place was nowhere to be seen.
The colour of Li Shan Zhu’s face paled. He tossed the basket in his hands and rushed into the door.
But Ning Ning was not in the house.
“Big Sister Little Ai.” Li Shan Zhu stood in the living room with his head lowered. His expression was unclear, only his suppressed voice was audible, “Where did you run off to…”
At the same time, on a certain rooftop.
At noon, the sun was scorching. If a person were to stand under the blazing sun for too long, their vision would begin to go hazy, as if the entire person was melting under the sun rays.
“The next scene is crucial.” Ning Ning closed the phone in her hand. She looked at herself, or rather, she looked at Zhang Xin Ai and said, “As a woman, there is no way to move Wen Yu. If I want to move him, I can only do it as one identity…a patient.”
Ten minutes later, a taxi stopped below the rooftop.
A tiny dot emerged from the taxi, looking up towards the rooftop. He then hastened his footsteps and entered the building.
Not long later, footsteps rang out behind Ning Ning. They got closer to her, until finally, a handsome young man stepped over the last step of the staircase and stepped on the roof.
It was Wen Yu.
He stopped in his tracks and looked at the long-haired woman not far in front of him.
She had his back towards him as she leaned on the guardrail by the side of the roof, there was a cracking sound from her biting on something. The sound suddenly stopped and she slowly turned her head around.
It was a popsicle.
When a person ate a popsicle, they would only eat the ice, but she was chewing the stick along with the ice. That wooden stick was roughened from her biting, it had teeth marks all over it.
“You’re here.” She smiled, Wen Yu seemed to be able to see wooden scraps on her mouth.
“…What’s in your mouth?” Wen Yu asked.
Ning Ning was taken aback. She looked down and spat, wood fragments and crushed ice fell onto her palm. She furrowed her brows then tossed those things away along with the half-eaten popsicle. She bent down. After some rustles, she took out a tub of ice cream from the plastic bag beside her feet.
Wen Yu scanned the contents of that plastic bag.
Potato chips, chocolate, cake, cookies…
They were all high calorie tidbits.
“288 calories.” Ning Ning scooped a spoon of ice cream and reached out to him with it, “Want some?”
Wen Yu shook his head.
She immediately put the spoon in her mouth. One spoon after another, the ice cream that had 288 calories was quickly wiped out by her. She did not even wipe the cream left on her lips before immediately opening a bag of potato chips. She revelled in the aroma of the bag of potato chips then looked at Wen Yu. “500 calories, do you want some?”
“Aren’t you worried that you won’t fit in your costumes the next time you act?” Wen Yu asked abruptly.
The hand that opened the bag froze. “I am.”
“Since you’re worried, why are you still eating?” Wen Yu asked.
“Only when I’m chewing something…” Ning Ning leaned back on the railing, putting potato chips in her mouth as she looked at the ground below. “Will I not want to jump down.”
Wen Yu gazed at her for a moment before he suddenly shook his head with a smile. “You will not jump, the person you love the most is yourself.”
Upon finishing his words, he turned around and left. Step by step, he walked towards the staircase, and in the end, he left the building and flagged down a taxi.
Before he got into the car, Wen Yu inexplicably looked up.
On the very high roof, there was a tiny figure bent over the railing, looking down at him, shovelling potato chips into her mouth one handful by one handful.
He narrowed his eyes, as if fragments of potato chips had fallen into his eyes.
The car he was in drove on for ten minutes. The figure which had been continuously chewing potato chips would not disappear from his sights. The frown on Wen Yu’s face grew deeper right up until the taxi suddenly came to a screeching halt.
“…What’s happening there?” Wen Yu’s attention was drawn towards the people outside the window.
“They look like they are burning something.” The driver answered. He slowed down the car and drove past the crowd.
It was only when they got closer that Wen Yu realised that they had passed by Zhang Xin Ai’s house without him noticing. This woman clearly had skillful means, but she was unexpectedly unpopular with the audience. When she was at the peak of her popularity, there weren’t this many fans by her residence, but once she was in trouble, there were actually so many haters who showed up to burn her posters, her discs, greeting her ancestors.
How many of these people were true fans? How many of them were there to kick her while she was down?
That was really strange. What happened to Zhang Xin Ai’s good interpersonal relationships? The lovers she had? Why were they not standing up for her at this time?
“…Turn back.” Wen Yu said suddenly.
The taxi returned back to the starting point again.
Wen Yu returned back to the roof again.
A mess entered his sight. Empty bags were scattered on the floor, it looked like someone had just had a banquet here. Ning Ning had her back to him, she was curled up among the mess on the floor. He quickly walked over to her. As he was halfway there, he smelled something strange and sour. He only realised once he got close that there was not only rubbish by her side, there was also a puddle of vomit.
Wen Yu frowned as he looked down at her. “You ate everything?”
The previously bulging plastic bag that was enough to feed a person for three days had long been emptied. The brightly coloured packing was thrown on the floor—the chocolate, cookie, cake, etc… Some of them were in Ning Ning’s stomach, some of them became part of the puddle of vomit on the floor.
No matter how pretty a woman was, she would look as filthy as a beggar among that pile of stuff.
If her lovers from the past were to see her like this, they would definitely cover their nose and run as far away as possible, those with mysophobia might even delete her phone number as they ran away; but Wen Yu did not. He bent down and helped her up. “Hold on, I’ll send you to the hospital.”
As she had just vomited, her breath had a smelly and sour smell, but Wen Yu was not disgusted by it. On the contrary, he got a little bit closer to her to make out what she was chanting.
“288 calories, 500 calories, 586 calories, 433 calories…” A string of numbers came out of Ning Ning’s mouth, they were the calorie content of the snacks she had just eaten. She looked like she was in a trance. “I can’t eat anymore, help me eat a little, stop me quickly…I cannot control myself anymore…”
As she finished, she raised a trembling hand which was holding half a piece of cookie, it continued to put the cookie into her mouth.
Wen Yu held her hand with a heavy expression on his face. “Don’t give up on yourself.”
Ning Ning looked distracted for a moment before she focused on his face. “Everybody has already given up on me.”
“So you have to reflect upon yourself.” Wen Yu bridal carried her once he said that. He continued to talk as he went down the stairs. “Others would be sincere to you if you were sincere to them, they would treat you like a toy if you treated them like a toy. For the secret which you thought could stay safe forever to be exposed…it was only a matter of time.”
Ning Ning fell silent for a moment before she asked, “You hate me so much, why did you come back?”
“Because I am a doctor and you are a patient.” Wen Yu said blandly. He walked out of the building in that moment, stepping out of the darkness. “I don’t like you, but I will not give up on you.”
Ning Ning looked at him for a moment before she suddenly smiled. “With a personality like yours, it’s only a matter of time before you get taken advantage of.”
Unexpectedly, Wen Yu looked down and smiled back at her. “With a personality like yours, it’s also only a matter of time before you get taken advantage of.”
Ning Ning was stunned.
Whether he actually saw through her acting or not, Ning Ning was not sure. He might not have seen through her, that was why he brought her to the hospital and paid for the medical fees—he even agreed to give her one counselling session after the surgery. Or maybe he had seen through her, that was why he came and went away very quickly, he did not stay longer than he needed to and had a professional look on him.
If this were the real Zhang Xin Ai, she would probably have been fuming. Even after she paid the price of gaining three kilograms, all she got was three minutes of pity from him.
Ning Ning on the other hand breathed a sigh of relief. She did not need him to love her, she had only needed him to pity her and give her a little bit of help so she could hold out until the weekend. That was it.
“Just one more day.” She told herself before entering the operating theater, “Just one more day, everything would end.”
In the end, just as she came out from the operating theater, she received a call from Li Shan Zhu.
“Big Sister Little Ai.” He wept on the phone, asking almost as if all hope had turned into dust, “Will you feel guilty if I jump off a building right now?”
Ning Ning, “…”
The time was Friday, July 16th 2004, eight at night.
There was only one and a half days before Zhang Xin Ai’s death.
Just one and a half days!! Can you not!!