Return Her to Me
“Hello, Yu Ren,” he said, “your daughter is not here.”
Ning Yu Ren felt faint. Her body swayed, then she fell to the side.
It caused a commotion around her. Her assistant and the director both came running. The director asked worriedly, “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine.” Ning Yu Ren forced a smile as she was helped up by her assistant. “Maybe I have been too tired recently, I’ll take a short break.”
If it were anyone else who had said that, they would definitely be on the end of a scolding from the director, but Ning Yu Ren was different. She was a well-known workhorse in showbiz, it was the same when she filmed <<Dreams of the Future>>. She was almost always on the set. She would wake up at five to memorise her lines every morning, putting in more time and energy than anyone else.
“Go, go.” The director waved his hand. “Quickly go lie down in the resting area. Do you need a day off?”
Ning Yu Ren shook her head with a smile, then hurried into the resting area.
She quickly called the person back after closing the door, her voice was anxious. “Did you look around the area?”
“I did, she’s not here.” The other party answered, “I even had people watching Xu Rong. Ning Ning is not with her either, she went home alone.”
Ning Yu Ren hung her head down, her eyes slowly lost their glow. She looked like she had turned into a walking corpse.
“Don’t worry.” The other person said, “No cars can come in here, you can only walk. It would take ten to twenty minutes to walk in or out, she…or they, could not have gone far.”
“…Ok.” That was when Ning Yu Ren recovered a little, she said with a trace of earnest hope in her voice, “You have to find her.”
“I will.” The other party let out a chuckle. “You said it, she is my daughter after all.”
After she hung up, Ning Yu Ren leaned on the door and slowly slid to the ground. Her whole body was shivering. She was overcome with emotion and put her left hand into her mouth. Separated by the glove, her teeth were biting down ferociously on the back of her hand.
It was not until the mobile phone in her left hand rang again that she came back to her senses.
“Hello?” She answered the phone frantically, “Did you find her?”
“…” An unfamiliar man’s voice rang out after a moment of silence. “Hello, your daughter is with me.”
Ning Yu Ren felt faint again, she sat up suddenly. “Ning Ning!”
“Mama.” A little girl’s voice rang out from the other end. “I’m fine, I got lost, this big brother helped me.”
“Got lost?” Ning Yu Ren asked, “What about Xu Rong?”
“She brought me somewhere I don’t know.” Ning Ning answered, “She said you are waiting for me here. Mama, where are you now?”
Ah, it did happen.
Ning Yu Ren thought as she said gently, “Mama is still on set. Ning Ning, pass the phone to the big brother beside you.”
The person on the phone was switched.
“Hello, I am Ning Yu Ren, the actress who acted in <<Person Within the Painting>>.” Ning Yu Ren said, “How do I address you?”
“My surname is Wen.” The other person paused for a moment. “We’ve met before. <<Person Within the Painting>> was shot by my father, his surname is Shi, he was the director for <<Person Within the Painting>>.”
The world is such a small place…
“…So it’s you.” Ning Yu Ren murmured. She remembered the past, remembered an old acquaintance. She breathed a sigh of relief, her tense body relaxing. “If it’s you, it’ll take a load off my mind…”
“Where are you now?” Wen Yu asked, “Should I send her over?”
Ning Yu Ren closed her eyes for a moment before opening them again. “No, don’t send her here.”
There was a commotion at the other end of the call. Ning Ning shouted for the phone repeatedly and finally snatched the receiver out of his hands. “Mama!”
“Ning Ning, remember the person Mama had mentioned to you before?” Ning Yu Ren said gently, “Mama will get him to pick you up immediately.”
“But I want to go to you.” Ning Ning said anxiously, “I have so many things to tell you.”
Are you also sitting in the audience seat of Life Theater just like me?
Are you really my mama? Or are you someone else?
“…Mama also has a lot of things to tell you.” Ning Yu Ren said with difficulty, “But now is not the time. Go with that person first. Once Mama is done dealing with the business I have on hand, I will look for you immediately, alright? Now let me speak to Big Brother Wen Yu.”
Ning Ning handed the receiver to Wen Yu unwillingly.
“Your aunt was the person who helped me get my foot into show business, she was also the actress I idolized the most, so I named my daughter after her.” Ning Yu Ren said, “For Wen Xiao Ning’s sake, do me this favour.”
Hearing a name he had not heard in a long time, Wen Yu closed his eyes. “..What do I have to do?”
“Bring her to the bus station nearby… No, better bring her to the nearest gas station, it’s warmer there.” Ning Yu Ren said, “Buy something for her to eat and drink and wait with her, I will immediately send someone to go fetch her.”
“Alright.” Wen Yu promised her. “What is that person’s name?”
He wasn’t sure what Ning Yu Ren had told him, but Wen Yu suddenly froze.
“What’s wrong?” Ning Ning looked up at him, “What did Mama say?”
“…Nothing.” He hung up and looked at her with a complicated expression for a while, then bent down and held her hand. “Let’s go.”
The two of them left the phonebooth and walked towards the nearest gas station. The snow was constantly falling, Ning Ning coughed repeatedly as she walked.
Wen Yu sighed again. “You’re wearing too little.”
Ning Ning wanted to say something, but she coughed again. She was wearing quite a lot when she had left home, but just before Xu Rong left, she peeled her hat and coat off her.
The sound of a zipper opening rang out from behind her. She looked back and saw that Wen Yu had taken off his coat. The white coat that was as long as her entire person wrapped her up from head to toe. Wen Yu knelt down in front of her and pulled the zipper up to her neck, then pulled the hood over her head, the fur surrounded her face.
“Endure it for a little longer.” He encouraged her gently.
Ning Ning nodded. Holding his hand, the two of them left two long trails of footprints in the snow. A trail of big footprints, a trail of small footprints.
Half an hour later, at the gas station.
Wen Yu had bought a few bags of snacks from the convenience store at the gas station. He had also requested for two cups of warm water before he returned to Ning Ning.
“Who is coming for me later?” Ning Ning took the cup of water he handed over. She held it with both hands, absorbing the warmth of the cup.
Wen Yu seemed to not have heard her. He looked out the door, distracted. He only came back to his senses when Ning Ning tugged his sleeve. “What did you say?”
Ning Ning could only repeat what she said, “Who is coming for me later?”
“Your mama’s…friend.” Wen Yu answered with great difficulty.
Ning Ning narrowed his eyes and stared at him. Wen Yu’s response was very strange, she probed him further, “What is his name? Do you know him?”
“His name is…” Before Wen Yu could finish, a car slowly approached the entrance.
The two of them looked out of the glass door together.
Ning Ning even could not help but take a step closer.
What Mama said before made her feel, this person that Mama had dispatched was most likely the father she had never met.
She hated him for never showing up in her life, she also hated him for not showing up when Mama was sad and tired. But sometimes, she could not help but hold onto some hope that he had his reasons…
The car door opened, a man walked out of it.
Ning Ning’s pupils shrunk and her nostrils flared uncontrollably.
Because the person who got out of the car was… Director Chen!
After Director Chen got out of the car, he chatted with a staff member as he refueled his car. He was looking around his surroundings as if he was looking for something, his vision was even locked on the door.
Don’t come in! Don’t come in!
Ning Ning quickly hid in a corner and curled herself up, screaming repeatedly in her mind.
Maybe her prayers were answered. Director Chen seemed to be here only to refuel, after his tank was fueled, the staff member pointed him in a direction. He then quickly got in the car and drove off.
Outside the store was too cold, the staff member was rubbing his hands as he walked back in.
“Uncle.” Ning Ning walked up to him impatiently. “What did that person say to you?”
“Oh, he’s looking for someone.” The staff member smiled. “Looking for a little girl roughly your age, but the girl he was looking for is wearing a yellow hat and red coat. I told him that there was a little girl that was dressed up like that in a Santana1 that refuelled here twenty minutes earlier, it drove off in the direction of the city.”
Ning Ning did not speak. She grabbed the white coat with both her hands, a section of her pink wool sweater neckline was revealed underneath her white coat.
This was how she was dressed at the moment, but approximately two hours ago, she was sporting a yellow hat, a red woolen coat and white shoes…but now her coat and hat had been taken away by Xu Rong.
After the staff member had left, Ning Ning slowly turned to look at Wen Yu, she smiled with difficulty. “He was not here to look for me, right?”
How could Mama entrust her to Director Chen!
“He loves children, especially when you are still this cute. If you were to ask anything from him, he would give it to you. If you wanted to go play, he would be willing to bring you anywhere.”
From the above description, how many does he fit into!
Ning Ning was unwilling to believe that the person Mama had mentioned was Director Chen, but if it was really him…it might explain why Wen Yu had that weird look when he was on the phone.
In <<Phantom of the Theater>>, at the moment when Wen Xiao Ning lost her life, both Wen Yu and Mama had seen Director Chen let out a shout of inspiration with their own eyes after which he sat by the body and wrote his script. He didn’t send Wen Xiao Ning to the hospital, he didn’t call for help from anyone nearby, it was almost like he was just sitting idly by, watching her die.
Both Mama and Wen Yu had developed an opinion of Director Chen after that incident.
What was different from Wen Yu was that Mama and Director Chen were both in the show business, they had to brush shoulders with each other. If they were to be put together in the same crew, then they could not avoid interacting with each other. If they were close outside of work…then how would Wen Yu be able to take it?
Because, on a certain level, not only was “Wen Xiao Ning” Ning Yu Ren’s lifesaver, she was also her mentor who had helped Ning Yu Ren get her foot into the door…
Wen Yu did not answer her, he was looking behind her.
What was behind her?
Ning Ning slowly turned her head around.
A tall man had been standing behind her for an unknown amount of time.
He seemed to have just come in, snow was still on his head and shoulders, a cold chill emanating from his body. He smiled at Ning Ning. “We meet again, little girl who likes to eat cream custard bun.”
Ning Ning looked at him and wailed in her heart. It might as well be Director Chen!
“Why did you come here alone, where is your mother?” Pei Xuan knelt in front of her and smiled, then he looked up at Wen Yu, “This is…”
“Wen Yu,” Wen Yu said coldly, “Yan Qing’s student.”
Pei Xuan looked like he had never heard of those names. He stood up to shake Wen Yu’s hand. “Greetings.”
A hand wearing a white glove was holding tightly onto his hand like a handcuff, he didn’t let go.
“Do you want to know what happened to Teacher Yan Qing?” Wen Yu said coldly.
“My apologies. I don’t know who you are, neither do I know this Yan Qing you mentioned.” Pei Xuan’s expression did not waver, it even looked like the expression of an innocent man who had been maligned. “You must have mistaken me for someone else.”
Wen Yu stared holes into him and smiled. “Even if you were to turn into ash, I would not have mistaken you for someone else.”
Then, he let go of Pei Xuan’s hand, bent over to pick Ning Ning off the ground and walked towards the door.
“Hold it.” Pei Xuan’s voice rang out from behind him.
Wen Yu did not stop. He continued to walk out of the door.
“I’m the one Ning Yu Ren sent.”
Wen Yu stopped in his tracks and turned his head along with Ning Ning to look at him.
“Might I trouble you,” Pei Xuan reached a hand out and smiled politely, “to return the little girl in your arms…to me.”
1The Volkswagen Santana is a three-box sedan, based on the second-generation Volkswagen Passat (B2). It was introduced in 1981 while production started in 1984 for Europe and 1985 for China. Wiki article
E/N: Nostril flaring Ning Ning is back!