The Man at the Funeral
They had arrived early, the funeral had yet to start.
Ning Ning knew why Li Ping Ping came this early.
“My condolences, Mr Pei.“ Li Ping Ping told the man beside her attentively and considerately while holding the flowers.
The man was the husband of the deceased.
He was wearing an expensive black suit, he revealed a branded watch when he looked down as he was checking the time. The way he dressed was enough to make any Tom, Dick or Harry look handsome, moreover, he was naturally handsome.
But Ning Ning did not dare to get close to him.
“This is?” He turned his head and looked at her.
Li Ping Ping seemed like she did not want to introduce Ning Ning, but she did not want to leave a rude impression on him, so she could only reluctantly say, “This is mine and Yan Qing’s colleague, Yun Lin.”
“Nice to meet you.” The man reached his hand out to Ning Ning. “Thank you for coming to Yan Qing’s funeral, I am her husband, Pei Xuan.”
This was why Ning Ning did not dare get close to him.
He had the same name as the former doorman of Life Theater who defected.
Were they the same person? Ning Ning looked at his face. She felt like it looked like him, but it also didn’t look like him at the same time. She was busy escaping with Shi Zhong Tang at that time, she did not notice what he looked like.
—She really thought that his lips looked identical, they were both frivolous.
“Hey.” Li Ping Ping’s voice of displeasure rang out beside Ning Ning’s ear.
This was when she came back to her senses, she had already shaken hands with Pei Xuan for quite some time.
She frantically pulled her hand back and looked down shyly, doing it all according to her character.
“Yun Lin, is it?” He looked at her with what seemed like a smile, his attitude towards her seemed to be different from his attitude towards Li Ping Ping. This made Li Ping Ping who had been met with cold rebuke despite her efforts very angry.
Li Ping Ping waited for Pei Xuan to leave with a funeral parlour staff before she told Ning Ning coldly, “We are friends right?”
Ning Ning could guess what she wanted to say next, but she still conformed and asked, “Yes, what is it?”
“Then you should stay away from him.” Li Ping Ping snorted coldly, then looked at the back of Pei Xuan with fiery eyes. She said in a determined tone, “He is mine.”
Of course Ning Ning would not fight with her, she only felt that she had a better understanding of Li Ping Ping—after all, not many people would lay their hands on the husband of their deceased friend or colleague immediately after they had passed away.
Afterwards, the guests slowly arrived. The funeral started, stalks of flowers were laid on the coffin, two people with white hair cried their eyes out. Ning Ning overheard the discussion of the people beside her, “Those are Yan Qing’s parents, right? Poor things, they gave birth to such an unfilial daughter.”
Shouldn’t they be crying because they were sending their daughter off? Why did it turn into them being sad about their daughter being unfilial?
It was a good thing that there was someone else with the same doubts. The person asked, “What happened? Tell me.”
“You didn’t know? Yan Qing was discovered to have committed adultery and was reported to the school, that was what made her commit suicide out of guilt. Sigh, I pity her husband. He’s so young and handsome, so successful in his career. Out of all the women to marry, he had to marry a cheater…”
Rumours, gossip, hypocrisy, insincerity, all these filled the room like haze, making it hard to breathe.
“Please end quickly.” Ning Ning said in her mind.
After the funeral ended, she began playing her role in this life.
“An odd-numbered designated ticket allows a customer to transmigrate as anyone besides the main character.” Ning Ning thought while she tidied her stuff back at the dormitory, “He or she might be beside me and even know me…”
“What are you doing?” Li Ping Ping asked as she walked in the door.
“Spring cleaning.” Ning Ning turned her head and looked at Li Ping Ping, thinking, “Take her for example, she could be the other customer.”
“Then help clean my side as well, I’m going out for a meal.” Li Ping Ping waved and left.
After Ning Ning watched her leave, she slowly turned around and looked at the room.
A person’s room reflected their personality, especially for someone working as a teacher, especially for Yun Lin who had a conventional personality and not much nightlife. The room was her only home after she got off work, it was the place where she spent most of her day.
So if Ning Ning wanted to know what kind of a person Yun Lin was, she could start from her room.
“Let’s begin.” Ning Ning said to herself, “If I do not want to be found out by the other customer, I have to completely transform into Yun Lin.”
A movie named <<Yun Lin>> had begun filming. As the main character for this movie, Ning Ning would have to portray a junior high school teacher named Yun Lin.
Yun Lin was a teacher who struck fear in the students. Ning Ning realised that if she were to stand in the hallway, half of the students would keep quiet out of fear.
Based on their reactions, Ning Ning pushed her glasses and adjusted her expression, causing her to have an even stricter and more grim expression. The lesson plan in her hands looked like a cane to the students. She stepped up on the dais and looked across the classroom, not a single student dared to look at her.
“Let’s start the lesson.” Ning Ning said imposingly, “Attention.”
With a rumble of chairs, the students stood up and said in a uniformed voice, “Good morning, Teacher.”
Next, she began to read directly from the book. Indeed, she read everything on the lesson plan word for word, letting her students take notes through listening. She did not write anything on the blackboard—because her handwriting was different from Yun Lin, she was trying to minimise any writing on the blackboard so that no one would notice the difference.
This method of teaching was obviously not the same as what Yun Lin normally did, but no one dared to point it out. Ning Ning looked at the students as she deliberately read a word from a poem wrongly. A few top students glanced up at her, but all of them chose to remain silent, no one dared to correct her.
Their reactions proved Ning Ning’s hypothesis, Teacher Yun Lin who was bullied by (other) adults was actually an imposing person to the adolescents.
At this time, the school bell rang. Ning Ning closed the lesson plan. “Attention.”
With another rumble of chairs, all the students stood up again. “Goodbye, Teacher.”
The effectiveness of this lesson was of course bad. What was worth celebrating was that they would not need to go through this suffering again, because summer vacation would start the day after tomorrow. The students could rest for at least a month, and Ning Ning could use this month to practise writing on a blackboard to get used to the curriculum. She strived to not let her students notice anything weird in the next lesson.
But things always happened out of a person’s expectations.
The funeral from before was the end of Yan Qing, but it was also her beginning…
“Will you marry me?”
Ning Ning was completely shocked when the words came out of the other person’s mouth. She only answered with a huh after a very long time, then asked with a blank expression on her face, “What did you just say?”
“It was love at first sight when I saw you at the funeral.” A smartly-dressed Pei Xuan in gold-framed glasses was standing in front of her, he looked at her with a sincere expression. “Will you marry me and become my wife?”
Ning Ning felt sweat rolling down her back.
She realised that she could not reject him.
It was not that she couldn’t, it was Yun Lin who couldn’t.
While Ning Ning was doing spring cleaning, she found Yun Ling’s diary. Ning Ning had never thought that this language teacher who looked like a serious old-fashioned nun from the middle ages actually had a maiden’s heart.
Her diary was full of entries of her crush.
Her crush was…her roommate’s—Yan Qing’s—boyfriend, Pei Xuan.
“1st January, sunny day. I fell in love with Mr Pei Xuan at first sight.”
“4th February, rainy day. I met Mr Pei on the streets, he was accompanying Yan Qing on a shopping trip. The umbrella in his hands was covering her completely while his shoulders were wet. I quickly bought an umbrella from a shop nearby, but I could not give him the umbrella even after they walked into the room.”
“16th February, cloudy day. Yan Qing brought back a box of imported chocolate, she said it was from Mr Pei. She gave me one, I could not bear to eat it, I have been keeping it.”
“16th March, rainy day. The chocolate melted… hmph.”
“4th April, cloudy day. Yan Qing told me Mr Pei proposed to her. I’m so envious of her, I also want to have a perfect love life with such a perfect person, then have the perfect wedding.”
The book was filled with love that was difficult to express.
How could a person like her reject a proposal from the person she loved?
…She could not reject him based on her emotions, so she could only reject him based on morality. Ning Ning hugged herself tightly and turned her face around. She bit down on her lip and said, “Yan Qing had just passed away, we really shouldn’t, at this time…”
Pei Xuan was taken aback, then let out a bitter laugh. “Apologies, I was too impatient.”
The two of them were standing under the streetlight on the road by the school. The sky had already turned dark, the students had already gone home for vacation, every classroom was in pitch-black darkness, only the staff dormitory was still lit.
Ning Ning remained silent for a while, then she suddenly asked him, “Why me?”
Pei Xuan was someone whom someone else could fall in love at first sight with, but Yun Lin was not such a person. Her looks were extremely ordinary, she was slightly plump, she dressed in a very old-fashioned manner so she looked like a middle-aged auntie1 going to the grocery despite being in her twenties.
At least an auntie would have a kind look in her eyes, Yun Lin’s eyes were a little fierce.
It was the type of eyes possessed by a headmaster whom the students were afraid of.
“I’m not pretty, my personality is not cute, why did you pick me?” Ning Ning looked at him doubtfully.
This was a very normal response. Even if it were Yun Lin herself, she would probably agree to the proposal at first then suspect that he was playing with her.
“… I am just tired.” Pei Xuan suddenly sighed. He slouched his usually straight posture, looking like he was overwhelmed, “Yan Qing is pretty and cute, but she…I just want to look for an ordinary girl now.”
Once he finished speaking, he looked up at Ning Ning with a tired and gentle look, “Someone like you.”
Ning Ning seemed to be embarrassed from being stared at, she looked down shyly…she had to do that, because that was probably the best confession Yun Lin had ever heard in her life.
Even if you were this ordinary, I would still love you.
If you didn’t think too deeply about it, this would be like a fairytale. A fairytale about the person whom I fell in love at first sight with who also fell in love at first sight with me.
Right, if you didn’t think too deeply about it…
1Auntie is a general way of referring to older woman in Chinese culture, similarly to how the Japanese use obaa san.