The place on the drawing truly existed.
Ning Ning looked at the abandoned tracks in front of her. There were no trains and there was no one around, there were only weeds. With a gust of wind, two little white flowers in the middle of the tracks were swaying gently.
“Do you remember the way here?” Ning Yu Ren placed both her hands on Ning Ning’s shoulders while standing behind her.
Ning Ning shook her head.
“Then we will redo the walk.” Ning Yu Ren said with a smile.
It was a rare holiday, a rare occasion where Ning Yu Ren did not have to film, but the two of them ultimately did not go to the park or the playground, they didn’t even go for ice cream or cake. The time was spent on the road. Ning Yu Ren drove Ning Ning to the suburbs, to the abandoned tracks in front of them.
Once was not enough, they came back two to three more times.
“Do you remember now?” Ning Yu Ren asked.
“Yes.” Ning Ning said.
“Can you walk out of here alone?” Ning Yu Ren asked again.
This set of tracks had been abandoned for quite a long time. Year after year, day after day, the road that used to be here had already been drowned in weeds. Cars could not come in, one had to get off a car and go on foot through lush vegetation before they could find this set of tracks.
“Yes.” Ning Ning answered. They went in and out two to three times, Ning Yu Ren even made markings on the trees with a knife. Even if she just relied on these markings, Ning Ning would be able to find a way out. She just had a little doubt, what exactly did Mama bring her here for?
“Good girl.” Ning Yu Ren patted her head with a smile, then slowly turned her head around to look at the abandoned tracks.
What did she see on the tracks?
It caused her so much fear, unacceptance, sadness and rage.
“Let’s go.” Ning Yu Ren suddenly gave Ning Ning’s back a pat. “You go ahead, Mama will follow you from behind to see if you can walk out of here on your own.”
“Ok!” Ning Ning nodded. She started walking as she looked back at Ning Yu Ren, not understanding if this was a game or if this was training. The possibility of this being a practice might be bigger, because the moment she took a wrong turn, Ning Yu Ren would drag her back to the tracks and make her redo it. This time, Ning Ning did not dare to deliberately go the wrong way, she stopped from time to time and looked at the markings on the tree. After half an hour, she finally walked out and saw the main road outside, their private car parked on it.
“Good job!” Ning Yu Ren clapped her hands. The mobile phone on her waist rang, she picked it up. “Hello.”
“I had people investigate the composition of the medicine you gave me last time,” a man’s voice rang out, “the results are out.”
“What is it?” Ning Yu Ren asked with a smile.
“It’s part flu medicine and part sleeping aid.” The other party said.
“Alright, I understand.” Ning Yu Ren continued to smile. The smile was like the forest behind her, dark and gloomy, hidden inside were countless dangers which could not be seen with the naked eye.
At the same time, in Ning Yu Ren’s house.
Xu Rong was preparing a meal in the kitchen when the door opened behind her.
“Xiao Yu, come taste this…” Xu Rong had scooped up pieces of soy-braised pork, she turned around and frowned. “…What is with your clothes?”
Xiao Yu was standing at the door, wearing a brand new red dress. She held the edges of the dress and smiled. “Mummy, do I look nice?”
“Change out of that quickly.” Xu Rong bade as she looked in the direction of the door. “They will be back any minute now.”
The smile that was originally on Xiao Yu’s face slowly disappeared. She looked down and mumbled, “I don’t want to wear her old clothes.”
“…Mummy will buy new clothes for you when I get my salary.” Xu Rong turned the stove off and turned around, then pulled Xiao Yu back to the room to change out of the clothes—she put on Ning Ning’s old clothes and socks carelessly on Xiao Yu.
Although they were said to be old clothes, they were actually given away once they were but worn only a few times, they didn’t look any different from new clothes.
But Xiao Yu was still dissatisfied, she longed for the bright and beautiful red dress she just changed out of, she told Xu Rong, “Mummy, I don’t want to go back to primary school anymore.”
“Shh.” Xu Rong quickly interrupted her, “How many times must I tell you? Don’t mention that you are already attending primary school, you have to say that you are six years old, you are still attending kindergarten.”
“What does it matter?” Xiao Yu pouted. “There’s no one around anyway.”
Xiao Yu looked a little older than Ning Ning, but that was not the reality. She was already eight-and-a-half going to nine years old this year, because she developed later and her birth was registered later, so she was only six years old to the rest of the world, fitting right into the criteria for the little female lead of <<Dreams of the Future>>.
“Mummy is afraid that you will get too complacent and let it slip during important occasions.” Xu Rong sighed again and brought Xiao Yu into her own arms.
Xiao Yu snuggled in her arms and said gently, “Mummy, I really don’t want to go back. I want to stay here and be like Auntie Ning, to be an actress.”
“What’s good about being an actress?” Xu Rong wrapped her arms around Xiao Yu’s shoulders with tender affection. “You chanced upon this opportunity because it so happened that Ning Ning fell sick, Your Auntie Ning and I have a good relationship, that was why you can substitute for her, but this kind of opportunity usually only happens once…”
“Can’t Ning Ning fall sick a few more times?” said Xiao Yu, unwilling to take it lying down, she looked up at Xu Rong. “Mummy, I really want to act.”
Xu Rong fell silent.
“I want to be an actress like Auntie Ning, I want to be rich like her.” Xiao Yu’s eyes slowly turned red. “This way I won’t have to wear someone else’s old clothes, you will also not need to work for someone else. We will live in a big city and never have to go back, never have to get beaten by Daddy and Grandma.”
Xu Rong almost teared up as she listened to Xiao Yu. She hugged her and said, “Alright, I will beg your Auntie Ning later to get her to think of a way for you to continue acting.”
“Ok!” Xiao Yu kissed her cheek happily.
For the sake of her request, Xu Rong put in all her efforts to make a lunch full of color, fragrance and taste. The mother and daughter pair sat by the table anxiously as they waited for a long while, waiting until the food on the table almost went cold. They received a call from Ning Yu Ren saying, “I have matters to attend to here and won’t be back for lunch, the two of you can go ahead and eat.”
“What’s the matter?” Xu Rong asked carefully.
“Nothing much, it’s a personal matter.” Ning Yu Ren said vaguely, “Let’s leave it for now, bye bye.”
As the call ended, Xu Rong looked at the receiver in her hand with a complicated expression and thought: She wasn’t like this before.
The relationship the two of them had were closer than what it seemed. The two of them had grown up together, had gone to school together, they had continued to remain in contact even after they went their separate ways. Compared to Ning Yu Ren who was slowly making a place for herself in the world, Xu Rong’s situation was not as good. She was married off early, but was unable to get pregnant. She was scolded and beaten by her husband and mother-in-law. She did all the dirty work. She had finally gotten pregnant, but it was a girl, so the both of them were beaten and scolded together. Xu Rong told all of this to Ning Yu Ren, Ning Yu Ren pitied her and let Xu Rong work for her.
So Xu Rong was not just a nanny, she was also Ning Yu Ren’s listening ear.
Although Ning Yu Ren was rich, she experienced a lot of stress from her career. There were things she wanted to complain about, things she was sad about that she wanted to talk about. She would not talk about them to anyone, but she would do so to Xu Rong. Recently, however, for some reason, Ning Yu Ren had suddenly stopped complaining to Xu Rong, not telling her anything.
“…Don’t tell me I’ve been found out?” Xu Rong could not help but shudder as she thought of that possibility.
“Mummy, when is Auntie Ning coming home?” Xiao Yu shouted at her from where she was seated by the table, “I’m starving.”
“Auntie Ning said she is not coming back, you can start eating first.” Xu Rong answered. Although her stomach was gurgling, she had no time to eat. She walked briskly back into her room, opened the medicine cabinet and took out the little bottle that was hidden in the deepest part of the cabinet.
“It was just a moment of folly…” Xu Rong looked at the bottle and muttered, “I just thought that, as long as Ning Ning recovers later, Xiao Yu would be able to act in the entire movie… She, she has such a strong desire to act…”
She shoved the bottle that was held in her hand into a pocket on her clothes, then returned to the living room to have lunch with Xiao Yu. Xiao Yu was still young, she was also starving, so she was concentrating only on eating. She did not notice that Xu Rong was distracted and was forcing a smile.
After lunch, Xu Rong brought Xiao Yu back to her room for a nap. She gently sang a lullaby until Xiao Yu fell asleep. She lowered her head and kissed Xiao Yu on her forehead, then held tightly onto the bottle in her pocket and left the house.
The bottle in her pocket was not flu medicine, they were sleeping pills.
Xu Rong did not even dare to throw this bottle into the bin by the entrance of the house. She took a bus and did not even alight after a few stops, she only got off the bus at the final stop. She scanned her surroundings, looking for a place where she could dispose of the bottle.
In the remote suburbs, there was not even a bin in sight. However, there was no need for one. Even if she were to toss the bottle into the grass by the road, it would quickly be lost in the midst and not be found by anyone in a long time.
Just as Xu Rong was about to take the bottle out and toss it, a few people suddenly came out of the vegetation in front of her.
She quickly put the bottle that she had taken halfway out of her pocket back in. She walked to the station entrance, pretending like nothing had happened, as if she was just waiting for the bus.
The few people also walked towards the bus station, she could only make out that it was a family once they got close. The father was holding a little boy in his arms and spanking him repeatedly. “Little brat, who told you to run about? Who told you to run about?”
The little boy would not stop crying, his mother looked heartbroken at his side, saying, “We finally found him, don’t beat him up too much.”
“But I have to say, this place is truly desolate. If it was not for the sake of looking for him, I would not have known that the forest was that deep and that there would be a set of abandoned tracks within.” The eldest sister said.
“It’s a good thing it’s still summer, he’s fine even after getting lost for half a day. If it had been in the winter, he might not have made it back.” The second sister said.
“Touch wood! Let the spirits not hear what u just said since u didn’t mean it! You quickly knock on wood three times!” The mother said angrily.
A bus drove over, the family went up the bus one by one. The bus left the station, leaving Xu Rong alone.
She watched as the bus left, then walked towards the vegetation the group of people had emerged from. It was a rough walk, a tree branch got stuck in her hair. Xu Rong forcefully broke a few branches, simply throwing the broken branches on the ground and stepped over them with a crunch.
“Even an adult would have a hard time walking around here, not to mention a child.” She mumbled before stopping in her tracks.
In front of her were a set of abandoned tracks. There were no trains, there was no one around, there was only weeds. With a gust of the wind, two little white flowers gently swayed in the middle of the tracks.
For some reason, as she looked at the set of abandoned tracks in front of her, she mumbled the sentence she just heard repeatedly, “It’s fine to get lost in here for half a day in the summer, if it had been in the winter, one might not make it back.”