Ning Ning’s symptoms regressed considerably once she started treating everything as a movie.
She could even smile at Chen Guan Chao while his saliva was landing on her face.
“What’s with you today?” Chen Guan Chao ruffled his hair as if he was going crazy, pacing up and down the stage before stopping in front of Ning Ning. He stared at her with bloodshot eyes. “Where did your acting skills disappear to?”
Ning Ning raised her hand to wipe the saliva off her face then smiled at him. “This is the true level of my acting skills.”
Her acting skills came from Qu Ning’er, it came from an unforgettable hatred. It proved that what the Director said was right. She was an actress with a fatal flaw, she was unable to portray any other state of mind besides hatred, unable to portray any other character besides Qu Ning’er.
But Chen Guan Chao could not accept this reality, he shouted at her for the eighth time, “Again!”
Sounds of lament filled the surroundings, everyone had tired looks on their faces. Everyone looked at Ning Ning with rather unpleasant expressions. Under Chen Guan Chao’s intense pressure, no one had had a sip of water since that morning. Anyone who was as frail as the Socialite had showed signs of stroke, everyone was at their limit—including Ning Ning.
She was wearing a blue one-piece costume, it was wrapped up tight against her like a set of armour. She was already drenched on the inside. Ning Ning suspected that she had left a trail of water on the places she had passed by.
There was a row of standing bronze mirrors in the corridor, Ning Ning walked past the mirrors very quickly. A silhouette was left in the mirrors, like a spirit had flashed by. Suddenly, a song could be heard beside her ear. She turned around to look and saw a young actor on the stage that was supposed to be empty. He had peach-coloured makeup, rolling up his sleeves while he sang.
This was quite an important scene in <<Phantom of the Theater>>. After each show ended, rookie actor Lu Yun He would sneaked onto the stage to practise his singing. There was a part which he could not get right. He started crying after repeatedly singing it. At this moment, a female singing voice rang out beside him, the voice sang the part he was not getting right. Again and again, repeatedly, till he successfully finished singing the entire song.
Lu Yun He was delighted. He looked up at the other party and smiled. The Phantom who was overlooking him from the balcony also slowly cracked a smile.
Chen Guan Chao named this scene as <<Seeing Heaven>>.1
At the beginning, everything went smoothly; but at the end, when Ning Ning smiled at him from the balcony, he did not smile back at her. Instead, he shouted back, “I want a first love’s smile, not a smile which looks like it comes from a corpse. Ahhhh!”
She was at her wit’s end. Ning Ning recalled the memories of her first love, then let it influence the nerves on her face and smiled at him.
…The end result didn’t look good. Everyone took a step back, revealing frightened expressions. The scene resembled ‘I gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes back at me’.
“No!!!” Chen Guan Chao shouted crazily, “Do it again!!!”
At night, Ning Ning crawled into the coffin wearily. Someone nudged her from behind. She turned around to look, only to discover that it was Wen Yu. He handed the lunchbox in his hands over. Ning Ning opened it up to look then laughed, “I thought they would not even leave rice for me, but they actually give me side dishes.”
She did not have good relations with the crew. Because she was weird and reclusive, she was always alone in the cellar. She felt that there was no need to explain anything to anyone because this was a movie, there was no need to maintain a normal social circle, so it was only right that she had become ostracised.
She poked her cold meal with her chopsticks. Ning Ning suddenly asked, “Have you eaten today?”
Wen Yu quickly nodded, he even took out his exercise book and handed it to her. There was a drawing of his dinner on it, the contents were exactly the same as hers.
A drawing done ahead of time…
Ning Ning did not call him out on it, she smiled and ate her meal. On the second day, while they were giving out the meals, she secretly followed Wen Yu. She saw that he collected two lunchboxes from the canteen staff, but he did not go back to the cellar immediately. He ran to a deserted place and opened up the two boxes.
One of them only had rice, the other had more or less the same contents as everyone else’s.
Wen Yu grabbed his chopsticks and evenly distributed the meat and vegetables among the two boxes. Upon thinking, he put the only two pieces of meat into Ning Ning’s lunchbox.
“You don’t have to do this.” Ning Ning’s voice rang out from behind him.
Wen Yu looked like a kitten with its fur standing on its end when he got shocked. He quickly turned around and saw that it was Ning Ning, and cracked a shy smile of someone who had been caught red-handed.
“I don’t like to eat.” Ning Ning said blandly, “Rice, meat or vegetables makes no difference to me. You don’t have to give your portion of meat and vegetables to me.”
Wen Yu bit his lip and looked at her. Suddenly, he took out the exercise book he always had on him and scribbled a few sentences, then turned the book around for Ning Ning. It read, ‘I like to eat rice, I want to exchange my meat and vegetables for your rice.’
Upon reading this, Ning Ning’s heart felt an unexplainable wave of agitation, her expression grew colder, “We’re not exchanging!”
She left him there and walked away. She didn’t let him help her collect her meal on the following day and did it herself. She opened her lunchbox in front of the canteen staff and everyone else. The canteen staff did this in private and could not straight up admit it, her face twitched as she let Ning Ning exchange it for another box.
To Ning Ning, a freshly cooked meal was no different from freshly baked glass slags. Her face also twitched. The canteen staff in front of her shoved the box at her. “Take it!”
At that moment, Ning Ning’s spider senses were tingling……no, Ning Qu’er within her body was beginning to stir again. Just as she felt that a catfight was about to occur, a hand suddenly reached out from her side and accepted the lunchbox.
With his lunchbox in his left hand and Ning Ning’s lunchbox in his right hand, Wen Yu didn’t have a hand to spare for his book, so he held a piece of paper with his mouth. A phrase was written with puerile handwriting: ‘Thank you.’
The canteen staff read it and looked at his smile, she abruptly and gruffly said, “Put down the lunchbox! I will add another serving of meat and vegetables for you!”
Ning Ning was almost in a trance on the way back. She found out afterwards that within a span of a few days, Wen Yu had had way better relations with the crew as compared to her. It didn’t matter that he could not speak, it didn’t matter that his hands were too occupied to write, he could still blink both his big damp eyes, and look at you with a piece of paper in his mouth that said, “Thank you”.
She never knew that these two words had such magic power, it could actually easily change a person’s attitude towards you.
A few more days passed by, Ning Ning’s standing within the crew fell again because Chen Guan Chao’s patience seemed to be running out. He didn’t want to torture Ning Ning or himself anymore, so he diverted his torture on Ning Yu Ren. Ning Ning did not know whether Chen Guan Chao had given up on her, or if he had finally discovered Mama’s merit. She was sitting below the stage like an outsider now, admiring their performances. As she watched, tears started to flow uncontrollably.
“She acts way better than you do,” The Socialite said from beside her, “at least when she says ‘I love you’, it doesn’t look like she is a female ghost demanding for your life.”
“Yup.” Ning Ning smiled, “She is much better than me, she will forever be better than me.”
It was almost time for her to accept her fate. Not everyone could become as great an actor as Mama. A lot of people could only act as one type of character in their lives, this type of people are called specialised actors. Maybe she was one of those people?
She was not in a hurry, because the end of this movie was a year away. She had enough time to think about her future, but someone else was more anxious than her.
Consequently, for a few consecutive days, something strange had been happening to Ning Ning. Someone would always leave pieces of paper filled with words at her door, or along her usual route. She never picked them up. As a result, the other party thought that the pieces of paper looked ugly. The next day, they were left at her door and along her route in the form of paper cranes…
“What are you trying to do?” Ning Ning thought. She glanced at the big tree beside her, there was a kitten hiding behind it. She hesitated for a while before she picked up a paper crane and opened it. With one look she uncontrollably let out a little chuckle.
Written on the paper were several different methods of acting with puerile handwriting. To be more precise, they were methods of how to act out experiencing first love. The notes were all over the place, nothing was in order and everything was written in speech form. It was like the author wrote down every answer from the questions he asked from lots and lots of people.
Even if Ning Ning was useless, she had still graduated from a professional acting school. In those few years, she had seen quite a number of these. If she was to take any book from those days, it would be a lot more tidy than what was on the paper, it would also be a lot more professional. She glanced over to the tree, put the piece of paper in her pocket, then left without picking up the rest of the paper cranes.
Wen Yu came out from behind the tree and frantically picked up the paper cranes from the floor. Halfway through, a shadow loomed above him. He looked up and saw Ning Ning standing in front of him, spinning the paper crane in her hand, she asked him coldly, “What exactly do you want from me?”
She didn’t believe that anyone would hate her for no reason, she also didn’t believe that anyone would love her for no reason. Maybe she had loved before, but that feeling was dead now. Wen Yu’s care and concern made her feel uncomfortable. Ning Ning stared at him, earnestly wanting to find out the reason he was doing this.
Wen Yu was evasive about it for a while, but after Ning Ning pressed him, he finally wrote down a sentence in his book. He passed it to her with both hands, his expression was filled with expectation and nervousness.
Ning Ning thought it would be some kind of difficult request, but written in the book was, “Cook a meal and eat it together with me.”
“That’s it?” Ning Ning looked up at him and dully said, “What’s so difficult about this?”
Fifteen minutes later…
“Fire!!!” Ning Ning ran out as she shouted, the kitchen door slammed open with a bang. Behind her, Wen Yu was holding the still shaking door while he grudgingly shook his head. He walked back into the kitchen and rolled up his sleeves. He washed a stalk of spring onion then put it on a chopping board and thinly sliced it. At this moment, the water was boiled. He brought over a tiny stool to the stove, stepped on it and opened the pot. The dumplings in the pot were cooked. He added the thinly sliced spring onion into the pot, layer upon layer like an emerald green flower.
He filled two bowls with the dumplings and returned to the cellar. He placed the two large bowls on the table, the aroma diffused into the air. He looked back, a wardrobe was shaking.
Wen Yu turned back and started blowing and blowing and blowing at one of the bowls till it cooled. He brought this bowl over to the wardrobe, squatted down and knocked on the wardrobe door. A trembling voice came from within, “…What do you want?”
He could not speak, thus he had no means to answer her. He squatted patiently beside the wardrobe until she opened the door herself. She looked at him fearfully and cautiously, like an injured dog who didn’t even dare to ask for food from a person.
Wen Yu scooped a spoonful of dumpling soup and took a sip to indicate that it was not hot anymore, she could eat it now. He carefully passed the bowl over to her.
Ning Ning reluctantly took a bite to fulfill the promise of making a meal and eating it together, after which she refused to take a second bite. Avoiding the spoon he handed over, she gloomily said, “I don’t eat anything that is warm.”
Facing an adult who was picky, Wen Yu sighed like an adult. Like a Kindergarten teacher, he took a few sweets from his pocket. He thought that it was not enough so he also took out a collection of pictures and a few small glass beads, placed them at one side with a piece of paper that read, “I will give you one for every bite you take.”
Ning Ning could not help but laugh at him pretending to be an adult. After laughing she suddenly buried her face in her palms and choked, “…Why me? On that day…why did you pick a person like me?”
She had never done anything for him, but from the first time they met at the family meeting to discuss his adoption after his mother passed away, he walked up in front of her and reached out his hands towards her. Was it because he was well acquainted with the owner of this body, Wen Xiao Ning?
The sound of scribbling stopped. Wen Yu flipped the exercise book over and revealed his answer to her, “Because you looked very sad, like you were about to cry.”
Ning Ning was stunned.
“…What.” She laughed for a long time till tears started streaming down. “So you don’t actually need me, it‘s me who needs you……”
Ning Ning laughed and cried, she rubbed her tears carelessly and said, “I want to eat.”
The spoon was passed over to her, Ning Ning sobbed and bit down on the spoon. At this moment she looked out from the dark wardrobe, the cellar was still very dark, but his smile had brightened up the whole world, and at that moment, a saying naturally appeared in her mind—
In this Hell, I’ve seen Heaven.
1This is referring to the same scene they titled as Looking up to Heaven previously, the author had changed the phrase from, “仰望天堂” to 《看见天堂》, probably indicating a change from a working title to the final title judging from the punctuation used.