Chapter 14 : Arc 1- Rural Love 14 : A Kiss
Huang Dan held the pumpkin in his arms. “Sister Cui Ling, my mom asked me to deliver this.”
Wu Cui Ling wiped her hands on the dishcloth, took the pumpkin and put it in the kitchen. When she came out, she was carrying a small turtle1. “Big Brother fished this in the pond this morning. Take this back and boil it for soup.”
Huang Dan took it over. “Ge can even catch turtles. I can’t even catch a fish.”
“Thud.” Li Gen chopped the firewood in half, “I’ll take you fishing when we head back.”
Huang Dan heard a voice coming from the room. It was Wang Yue Mei calling for Wu Cui Ling to push her out.
Wu Cui Ling hurried into the room.
Huang Dan looked up and saw Wang Yue Mei seated on the wheelchair with neatly combed hair. There wasn’t even a strand of her hair that had fallen off, showing a melon face shape and willow eyebrows. She was wearing a navy colored short gown with slanted buttons. Although the corners of her eyes had fine lines, her temperament was still very good. When compared to Wu Cui Ling who was beside her, Wu Cui Ling had more ordinary features. She also seemed much frail and lacked the charm granted with the passing years.
Wang Yue Mei was inharmonious with the whole Shatang Village, or more like, she intended to live like this. Even at the age of 50, she still remained the same and persisted in living out a unique flavor.
This thought would also surface whenever Huang Dan saw Wang Yue Mei. He thought that if Wang Yue Mei wasn’t paralysed, she would surely live a more exquisite life.
He didn’t know how she got paralyzed.
Wang Yue Mei asked Wu Cui Ling to push herself into the courtyard. “Dong Tian, your mother said she would be finding a wife for you.”
Huang Dan peeked secretly at the man who was chopping firewood. “En.”
Wang Yue Mei laughed, “Aunt feels that Xiao Fang on the river farm is good and diligent.”
Before Huang Dan made a statement, Li Gen said, “Mother, what do you care about that?”
Wang Yue Mei said, “Mother finds that Xiao Fang to be pleasant to the eyes. You don’t like her, doesn’t mean Dong Tian will not like her.”
Huang Dan said, “Aunt, I don’t like her either.”
Wang Yue Mei showed a regrettable expression. “Then what kind of girls do you like? Aunt will pay attention for you.”
Huang Dan said, “Somone taller than me, stronger than me. Can fetch me water and plant vegetables. Can cut rice crops and transplant rice seedlings. Think of me, and even takes me out to play.”
Wang Yue Mei was stunned when she heard this.
Wu Cui Ling who was beside her laughed and said, “Dong Tian, you are not looking for a wife, are you? You want to be a wife.”
Huang Dan pursed his lips in a shy and embarrassed manner.
Li Gen threw the firewood into the pile. He turned his head and laughed. “I think it’s a good pursuit. Dong Tian, if you meet that kind of person, you have to grasp tight.”
Saying this, he even winked and made signs.
Huang Dan, “…”
After chatting for a while, Wang Yue Mei saw that Huang Dan was about to leave and she said, “Cui Ling, go to my room and bring the bag of longans for Dong Tian.”
Wu Cui Ling went to fetch the longan immediately.
Huang Dan said, “Sister Cui Ling, there is no need.”
Wu Cui Ling stopped and took a look at Wang Yue Mei.
Wang Yue Mei said to Huang Dan, “That’s from someone else. This aunt knows those isn’t some cheap longans. You take it back and give it to your mother. She loves this sort of things.”
Wu Cui Ling gave the bags of longans to Huang Dan. “Dong Tian, just take it.”
Huang Dan looked at the longans. Chen Jin Hua asked him to send a pumpkin. Wang Yuemei returned the gift with a turtle and a bag of longans as if she was protecting her self-esteem.
Weren’t they old sisters for decades? Did they have to make it so competitive in sending each other gifts?
Or was he thinking too much?
Huang Dan didn’t stay much longer. He carried the turtle, passed by Li Gen and exchanged glances with him; Meet in the forest at night.
Chen Jin Hua who was standing at the door, lost her temper when she saw the items in her son’s hands. “Dong Tian, mom asked you to send the pumpkin to Aunt Wang. Why did you bring something else back?”
Huang Dan said, “Aunt Wang insisted on giving.”
Chen Jin Hua picked up a broom beside the wall and waved it at her son. “So you have to take what she gives? Why did you think of Aunt Wang’s situation? What did mom teach you? Why don’t you learn?”
Huang Dan took the turtle, longans and dodged behind.
Chen Jin Hua didn’t hit very hard. Her health wasn’t good and she couldn’t catch her breaths. She sat down against the door frame with her face blue.
Ying Xiong’s mother who was going out to pour the pot’s water saw the situation. She quickly put down the pot and pulled Chen Jin Hua up. “What are you doing? If the child did something wrong, just talk to him about it.”
Chen Jin Hua made an “aiyo”; she was almost dying.
Ying Xiong’s mother cried anxiously, “Dong Tian, hurry help your mom into the house!”
Huang Dan came back to his senses. He went over and with the help of Ying Xiong’s mother, they supported Chen Jin Hua into the house and laid her on the bed.
Chen Jin Hua’s breaths evened out and her complexion looked much better.
Ying Xiong’s mother sighed and called Huang Dan to one side. “Dong Tian, your father died early and your mother struggled to raise you by herself. Her body is not as good as when she was young. Don’t make her angry.”
Huang Dan said, “Second Aunt, I know that.”
Ying Xiong’s mother patted him on the arm. “Well, Second Aunt is going back. Take care of your mother.”
Huang Dan shut the door. “Mom, do you want water? I’ll get the cylinder for you.”
Chen Jin Hua waved her hand. “Dong Tian, remember your mom’s words. You cannot ask anything from Aunt Wang in the future, no matter what it is.”
Huang Dan said, “Okay.”
Chen Jin Hua touched his hair. “Since you’ve already taken the turtle and the longans, then let it be this time. Aunt Wang will be unhappy if Mom gives it back to her. Mom will see how she should cook the turtle and cook it for your tomorrow. As for the longans, put it aside first and use it when you want to give someone a gift.”
Huang Dan said, “Mom, Aunt Wang has Ge and Sister Cui Ling. She’s more comfortable than we are.”
Chen Jin Hua said, “You don’t understand. Mother and Aunt Wang are sisters for many years. We should help each other.”
She did not continue the topic and asked Huang Dan to peel the broad beans for dinner.
The smell of cooking smoke permeated the village, and almost all the guys ended their busy day and went to rest.
Zhang Ying Xiong grabbed a big rooster and plucked its feathers. He was making a shuttlecock for his niece. “Dong Tian, you caught several snakes this time, aren’t you loaded now.”
Huang Dan was peeling broad beans at the moment. “Still fine.”
Zhang Ying Xiong mentioned about the man that was bitten by a venomous snake. His lack of an arm signified that his family’s labor force was very much weakened. His wife could not bear this suffering and had run away with another man directly, leaving their two-year-old boy and seven-year-old girl behind. He could only rely on his aged parents and live his days in misery.
Huang Dan threw the broad bean into the basket. Life was fragile, livelihood was difficult.
“When my dad heard about it, he immediately stopped scolding me for running away at the last minute and being useless.” Zhang Ying Xiong puckered his lips. “Dong Tian, I’m glad you are fine.”
Huang Dan said, “En.”
That was what Chen Jin Hua said too. She touched the holes in his leg, saying it was good that he was fine.
The sound of a rattle-drum came from the east of the village. It was the retailer that sold miscellaneous articles. He carried two containers with hair clips, rubber bands, headdress flowers, buttons, needles and thread, glass beads and other gadgets.
The little girls and young women in the village all came out and surrounded the retailer.
Huang Dan was pulled forward by Zhang Ying Xiong and realized that on top of the container was a glass panel. He could see what was in the container.
The retailer would only come to the village twice a month. The items he sold were inexpensive and very popular with the villagers.
Huang Dan took a black hair clip with dark floral patterns on it. It was rather beautiful. He asked the price and said to Zhang Ying Xiong, “Lend me 50 cents.”
Zhang Ying Xiong dug into his chest pocket and passed a note folded into a triangle. “Here.”
Huang Dan bought the hair clip.
Chen Jin Hua was cooking in the kitchen, when she saw the hair clip, she said, “This hair clip is suitable for your Aunt Wang. Mom’s here is dirty and messy, wearing it will just diminish the hair clip.”
Huang Dan put it on to her. “Who said so? Mom looks good with it.”
“You’re making your mom happy again.”
Chen Jin Hua looked left and right at the water tank. She went into the house, took off her hair clip, wrapped it carefully in a handkerchief and put it in the wardrobe. She thought for a moment and placed it back on.
The moon was resting on the tip of a tree at the bamboo forest by the pond.
Li Gen held Huang Dan in his arms in one motion. “Ge misses you to death. Hurry let Ge kiss you.”
Huang Dan pushed the man, “Don’t kiss too hard.”
Li Gen, “…” This was really sad, even kissing had to be done gently, then could any other stuff be done?
He pressed the young man on a thick bamboo and arched his back. His nose dived into the other party’s neck and smelled the scent of soap. “Did you shower?”
Huang Dan looked back and saw the tenuous green bamboo leaves falling off one after another. Some fell onto his face, some went into his short gown.
Li Gen removed the two or three bamboo leaves from the young man’s short gown but did not take out his hand. He touched him shamelessly, “Have you eaten the turtle?”
Huang Dan said no.
Li Gen kissed Huang Dan’s ear. “That thing is very nutritious. Remember to cook it tomorrow. If you like it, Ge will catch two more for you next time.”
He coaxed, “Don’t keep your mouth closed, let Ge go in.”
Huang Dan said, “I’m afraid you’ll bite me.”
Li Gen pinched his waist and said, “I won’t bite, Ge is more than eager to spoil you.”
Then Huang Dan’s mouth was bitten. It was so painful that he gasped a breath, covered his mouth and then pushed the man away. There were tears in his eyes.
Li Gen’s breath was tight and his mouth was dry. He held up his arm and said, “Let Ge see if you are bleeding.”
Huang Dan kicked the man.
Li Gen grabbed his ankle. There was something surging underneath his eyes. His voice was hoarse and dry. “Ge really wants to put you in order right here.”
Huang Dan stared at him before he put his hand over his mouth. “Go to one side.”
Li Gen hugged the young man’s waist and fished him into his embrace. He pressed his hand and said in a low voice, “Help Ge okay?”
Huang Dan said not okay.
Li Gen held on to him, refusing to let go.
The man’s palm was rough, broad and powerful. Huang Dan couldn’t get away from it.
A moment later, Li Gen felt at ease.
He used his shoes and kicked at the side, destroying the crime scene. He looked at the young man’s butt, wondering when he could turn this man into his. He had to choose a safer place.
Huang Dan grabbed a handful of bamboo leaves and wiped his hands on it. “Ge, can I ask you something?”
Li Gen sat next to Huang Dan, looking lazy. “Ask.”
Huang Dan asked, “How did the two wives you had died?”
Li Gen’s expression changed slightly. His eyelids covered half of his eyes and the emotional fluctuations within it. “Are you afraid I’ll cause your death?”
Huang Dan shook his head. “I’m a man. It’s different.”
Li Gen swiped the match, and after a while, he whispered, “The first one died in the sedan chair. When she arrived at my door, she wasn’t breathing anymore.”
He lit his cigarette, put out the fire on the match by swinging it before throwing it away. “The second one died after drinking the pesticides on the third day of our marriage.”
Huang Dan looked at the match that fell on the bamboo leaves. “Why?”
Li Gen shook his head.
Huang Dan fell into silence.
There wasn’t a second person with Li Gen’s qualification within the vicinity of all these villages. Temporary disregarding the first woman’s death, then what about the second woman? Why did she drink the pesticides?
Li Gen was done with his cigarette. “It’s late. Let’s go back.”
Huang Dan’s legs were numbed.
Li Gen stood up and bent his back to the young man. “Come up, Ge will carry you.”
Huang Dan said, “It will be bad if someone saw us.”
Li Gen pulled him to his back. “Even the pigs are sleeping at this dead night. Who will be out?”
Huang Dan leaned over and put his hands around the man’s neck.
Li Gen supported on the young man’s butt.”I know you like Ge from the bottom of your heart, but don’t hold so tight. I’ll die.”
Huang Dan’s mouth twitched and he loosened his grasp. Suddenly he shouted, “Ge, look, there’s a meteor. Hurry make a wish now.”
Li Gen sneered, “What wish? It’s all about deceiving the kids.”
That was what he said, but he still secretly made a wish in that instant when the meteor streaked across the night sky. He wished that he could get along well with the person on his back for a lifetime, two lifetimes, three lifetimes, to the end of life.