Ning Ning and Lian Lian met through an audition video.
Ning Ning portrayed two roles in that video, acting as the leading and supporting female characters in <<Person by the Pillow>> at the same time—Yan Qing and Yun Lin.
She had acted too realistically, to the point where she included details only the person in question would know.
It didn’t matter if Yan Qing saw this video, it also wouldn’t be a big problem if Lian Lian were to see it—at least that was what Ning Ning thought before she watched <<My Angel>>.
But she didn’t think so anymore.
She took out her mobile phone and gave Lian Lian a call.
The phone rang for a few times before it was answered. Ning Ning sorted out her emotions before she said with a smile, “For the sake of having a deeper understanding for the role of Mu Er, I visited her old home.”
Lian Lian did not answer for a while, but she did not hang up either, thus Ning Ning continued.
“…Along with her alma mater, I met her classmates, friends, neighbour, boss, landlord.” Ning Ning said, “That’s when I discovered…”
“What did you discover?” Lian Lian finally spoke.
She had always claimed to need to have her beauty sleep at ten everyday, that it was the iron clad rule. But her voice right now was very clear. It looked like the rule did not matter. What mattered was who was the person calling her, and what was the content of the call.
“…I discovered that Mu Er had never had a friend named Lian Lian in her entire life..” Ning Ning said, “No one had seen her, Mu Er had not mentioned her to anyone as well…”
“What’s weird about that?” Lian Lian laughed, “Is it a must for you to introduce a friend to everyone you know?”
“It’s not weird for anyone else, but it’s a little weird for the two of you.” Ning Ning held her phone, “I remember that this is what you’ve written in the biography—the both of you lived on the same street, attended the same school, grew up in the same living conditions, sharing the same dreams and also the same devilish little brother. The two of you were similar in every way, including your looks. Under such circumstances, how would the people around her only see Mu Er and not you?”
“Hold on.” Lian Lian suddenly interrupted her with a slightly dangerous tone, “Who told you we looked identical?”
Indeed, her biography was very detailed, it even included the name of the street and the school.
But the only detail that was left out, the most important detail—Lian Lian and Mu Er looked identical.
“There is only one explanation.” Ning Ning took a deep breath. “Mu Er disappeared once Lian Lian appeared. Once Lian Lian had appeared, Mu Er had ceased to exist, so…should I address you as Lian Lian, or Mu Er?”
The other party fell silent for a long while. Lian Lian’s voice rang out once again, saying coldly, “Come out, I am at the entrance of the theater.”
At the entrance of Life Theater, a car was parked silently under the night sky. Lian Lian was leaning on the car. There were already a few cigarette butts on the ground. She took out a lighter and lit another cigarette up.
Lian Lian looked up and smiled at Ning Ning the moment she walked out of the door. “Refer to me as Lian Lian, Mu Er used to be a food item, but that term has turned into something bad recently1, especially because I am wearing black today.”
Ning Ning did not care what her name was, she had a more pressing matter on hand.
“How did you know I was here?” Ning Ning looked at her with caution.
“I didn’t know that you were here before I arrived.” Lian Liang motioned to what was behind her with her chin. “I saw that after I got here.”
Ning Ning looked back and saw that the movie poster from before was still on the wall.
Starring: Mu Gua, Ning Ning.
Nothing on it had changed, the fatty was the same fatty, the gift box was the same gift box, the letter was the same letter, the words on the letter were the same words. The situations surrounding Ning Ning seemed to have not changed as well. But the history she had experienced was true history, which proved one thing—the little fatty was doomed to die! No matter if Ning Ning transmigrated, his sister was fated to meet Pei Xuan, he was also fated to die for his sister.
Just as Ning Ning turned around and looked at the poster, Lian Lian’s voice rang out from beside her ear, asking, “Should I address you as Yun Lin, or Ning Ning?”
Ning Ning looked back at her with surprise.
“There’s nothing to be surprised about. When you investigated me, I investigated you too.” Lian Lian inhaled from the cigarette aggressively. “There are a lot of people named Pei Xuan, but not a lot of them are bad guys, there are even less of them that would toy with a person’s life. Hehe, the Pei Xuan in <<Person by the Pillow>> is most likely the one I know.”
Although she had this hunch from a long while ago, Ning Ning still felt shivers hearing it out of Lian Lian’s mouth.
“Didn’t you say you don’t remember him…” Ning Ning let out a bitter laugh just as she finished her sentence.
So what if she didn’t remember? Pei Xuan wouldn’t have left. He had spent so much effort on turning her into an imitation rich mistress from a wealthy family, how could he have left without getting something out of it? That was why they had more than enough time to be reacquainted with each other, more than enough time to collude with each other.
But this was a personal matter, an outsider should not be the one to probe.
Thus there was no reason to go deeper into that question, Ning Ning asked her the most pressing question, “So? Have you already told him about me?”
Lian Lian walked slowly towards Ning Ning with a cigarette between her fingers.
Then, she slowly reached out with a ticket in hand.
An even-number designated ticket.
Ning Ning did not take the ticket. She looked at Lian Lian with doubt and caution, she didn’t quite understand why Lian Lian was doing this.
“Take it.” Lian Lian said.
“There’s no free lunch in this world.” Ning Ning said.
“Then take a guess. If you can guess what ticket it is, I will give it to you.” Lian Lian laughed. ”I will even tell you how these types of tickets come about.”
Ning Ning looked down at the ticket in her hand for a very long time, before slowly looking up and squeezing a few words out from the gap of her teeth, “Designated ticket. One of the two types of designated tickets, the even-number designated ticket that designates time. Now it’s your turn, tell me how this ticket came about.”
The normal tickets had too much of a limitation, the dangers of a staff ticket were far too great. On the contrary, the two types of designated tickets were the most useful, but they were also the most rare. Up until now, Ning Ning did not even know how those tickets came about, she also did not know any ways to collect them.
“The designated tickets are the same as the normal tickets. They are both sent by the theater, a maximum of three per person.” Lian Lian answered, “The difference is, the meaning of a standard ticket is—a person yearning to change their life. That’s why there are many people who get normal tickets, because humans are selfish. But when a person does not want to change their life, when they want to change the life of another person, but that person had already unfortunately entered the theater and become one of the staff members…”
She put the even-number designated ticket into Ning Ning’s hand as she spoke word by word, “Then, the theater would send the person these kinds of tickets. Not only does it designate the time or character, it designates a specific masked person!”
This sentence was enlightening. Ning Ning held her ticket. Somehow, she immediately remembered something from a long time ago, she remembered the first designated ticket she got. The designated ticket had come from Wen Xiao Ning, grasping Ning Ning’s arm on the verge of death while roaring hoarsely: “1988! 1988! 1988!” It was not an attachment to time, but an attachment to a certain person. It was not remorse against time, but a remorse towards a certain person.
“You want to rescue Mu Gua?” Ning Ning asked her while holding the ticket.
Lian Lian looked at the direction of the entrance with a complicated expression. The entrance was so dark and so deep, she could not see the inside. She could only vaguely see the outline of a mask. Who was looking at her from the darkness?
“You portrayed him in such a terrible manner in your biography.” Ning Ning looked at what she was looking at, “I thought you hate him a lot.”
“I do hate him a lot.” Lian Lian hmph-ed coldly. “He’s so fat and chubby, like a lump of melted butter, so pasty. He also always had it out for me. He was clearly the little brother, but he would always order me, the elder sister, around. Mom didn’t even stop him, both of them had treated me like a maid…”
She rambled on and on, venting her grievances continuously.
After she was done venting, she sighed. “In the end, I received two tickets. One of them is with Pei Xuan, the other is with you, they are both designated tickets…”
A person could deceive one self, but they could not deceive Life Theater.
If you wanted to alter your fate, the theater would send you normal tickets.
If you wanted to alter the fate of a designated target, the theater would send you designated tickets.
No matter how you cursed or swore, how much you denied it, the type of ticket you received would prove the type of desire you had in your heart.
“…Anyway, I will not go rescue him, you can do it if you want.” Lian Lian tossed her cigarette on the floor and crushed it under her high heel, then she turned around. “While you’re at it, let me tell you something. Not only has Pei Xuan changed his name, even his age on his identity card has changed. He’s like a brand new person, having money and power. He doesn’t only have those few lackeys anymore. I am also an accomplice under him, so it is very clear to me that at present, the two of us cannot beat him…unless one of us returns to the past, back to the time before he gained money and power.”
“Of course I’ll be the one to go back.” Ning Ning shouted at the back of Lian Lian.
Lian Lian’s figure froze.
“You’re afraid of Pei Xuan, me too.” Ning Ning said, “I know that he is very sinister and very cunning, he might even be very rich. He could even be a certain famous director or the boss of a certain movie company. He might be able to destroy my future with one word, that is why I want to go back to the past, back to when he was just cunning but not crafty, I will deal with him with even more caution.”
“…Up to you.” Lian Lian left with that sentence. As she opened the door and bent down to enter the car, she suddenly turned around and rushed towards Ning Ning, reaching out, wanting to take her designated ticket back, but she retracted her trembling fingers at the last moment. Lian Lian combed her hair back with her hand. Ning Ning did not know when it happened, but Lian Lian’s face was full of tears.
“Are you alright?” Ning Ning asked.
“I’m fine.” Lian Lian shook her head. “It’s just…twenty years ago, I could do anything for my brother, but I don’t have the courage for it anymore…”
Lian Lian seemed to have aged a decade after she said that, her back quickly hunched. She bid Ning Ning goodbye, then stumbled towards her car. When she opened the door of her car, she muttered to Ning Ning with her back faced to her, “If you are really going back to the past, could I trouble you with something…? Turn me back into Mu Er, work in a normal job, marry someone normally, it would be best if I married the video tape store boss, start gaining weight after giving birth to a few kids… If Mu Gua would dare to laugh at me, I would just laugh at him back.”
She choked, “…Because he would have had a family by then, he would have gotten even fatter from his wife feeding him…”
Ning Ning was stunned, then slowly looked back at the theater entrance behind her.
She didn’t understand. The little fatty had already slimmed down, why did he remain as a little fatty when he turned into a masked person?
The answer might be beside her.
Why must she marry the video tape store boss out of all the people in the world? Because it was her brother’s expectation. Why must he be a fat-masked person when he could be a slim one? Because it was his sister’s expectation.
So much expectations, so much silent love, so much unspoken words, they could actually be summed up in a sentence—You are my angel, I want to protect you.
1The term “mu er(木耳)” usually refers a type of fungus that is edible with a few variations, wiki article. But over time the term “black mu er(黑木耳)” which is one of the variations of the fungus, has also become a slang for females who have dark g*nitals with the connotation that they were so because the owners are ‘loose’.