Ke Bu took out the key and opened the door. His dad was still at work at this hour. He threw his luggage on the floor, laid down on the couch and turned on the TV. After a while, he rolled around on the sofa and unlocked his phone, yet there was nothing on the screen.
“Not even a text message, that’s how much he cares for me.” Ke Bu started playing with his phone. No, no, no, how can this be, is my phone broken? Is there no service? Ke Bu then dialed Chu Haoyu’s number and a lazy voice could be heard: “Hello, Ke Bu, is something wrong?”
“Bye.” Ke Bu hung up. His phone was not broken and it had service, too. If that was the case, there was only one possibility — Zhi Li just did not text him. He did not even know what to think. Ke Bu suddenly stood up and threw his phone on the sofa. This is too strange. Why am I acting like a young girl yearning for love? During the last holiday, Zhi Li did not contact him, yet he was still able to get by nicely.
It took him a while before he was able to get rid of Zhi Li, Su Youyan, and those animals and take advantage of this opportunity to enjoy a quiet life. Now, only one person would be eating instant noodles. Ke Bu took out a packet of instant noodles and tore it open. While pouring in the water, he looked at the clock on the wall. It was already six o’clock. I don’t know if he ate yet…someone with no common sense like him, if nobody reminds him, he’ll starve to death. Ke Bu shook his head and thought: This isn’t the time to think about that! Ke Bu picked up his chopsticks and started stuffing his mouth.
After eating instant noddles, Ke Bu pulled out from the utility room his piggy bank, Mr. Black Bear, which had bare fangs and brandished claws: “From now on, I’m challenging you. Every time I think of you, I’ll give you money, ahahaha, after the winter holiday, my cold treatment will make sorrow penetrate your soul. Be aware of this, Zhi Li.” Ke Bu used his fingers to lightly scrape Mr. Black Bear’s nose.
When the door opened, the sound of footsteps began to get closer and closer. Ke Bu then placed Mr. Black Bear under the table. When Ke Bu looked at who it was, Ke Qinxing smiled at Ke Bu: “You’re back. You could’ve sent me a text message to let me know, I would’ve picked you up at the station.”
“No need, weren’t you at work? I can come back by myself.”
The two could not recall when it all began. It was not like family. It felt more like two strangers staying in the same room. This became Ke Bu’s way of avoiding quarrels, but because of this, the gap between each of them began to get bigger and bigger. As soon as Ke Qinxing wanted to get close to his heart, Ke Bu would hide further away.
“Did you have fun going there with your friends?”
“It wasn’t bad.”
“Is that so? That’s good. I bought some food—you must be hungry. I’m going to cook.”
The usual Ke Bu would have had said that he had already eaten instant noodles. In his mind, Zhi Li’s words flashed through his mind, so he ended up nodding. Looking at Ke Qinxing’s busy figure in the kitchen, Ke Bu’s mood was complicated. He was both looking forward to the New Year, but was also afraid of the New Year. After dinner, Ke Bu went to his room with the piggy bank. He lied on his bed, looking at the white ceiling. He found money in his bag and put it into Mr. Black Bear.
On New Year’s Eve, Ke Bu would look at the door from time to time, as he brought dishes to the table. The doorbell rang and Ke Bu ran to the entrance, opening the door. There stood a middle-aged woman. She turned to Ke Bu and gave him a motherly smile. She patted Ke Bu’s face with her hands and said: “Sorry, I’m late. There was a traffic jam.”
“I was wondering why you weren’t here yet, Mom.” Ke Bu’s mother, Wu Xi, put on her slippers and walked into the house. “Let me get you some tea. Why don’t you sit down first; we’re about to eat,” Ke Bu added.
“Don’t worry about me, go help your dad.”
Today was the only day each year that their family would get together. Three people sat at the table, and the atmosphere started getting awkward after some small talk. Ke Bu clenched the bowl in his hand. The seemingly cozy scene was all but self-deception. Ke Bu understood that they did all of this because of him. Obviously, it could be stopped. Obviously, he could be like Zhi Li, who could look at his parents’ feelings a little bit more openly and naturally. However, when Ke Bu tried doing it, it was very difficult. He was the only bond between his parents, and he always thought naively that, maybe one day, his parents would get back together. And, that unattainable wish had been stalling them so much so that it became a chain, binding them. They could not let go of the hands that should have been let go and in the end, what they got was their own hate for each other. They were parents who doted on him pitifully.
“You must be tired from work?”
“It’s okay, it’s just that I’ve been working overtime for the New Year lately.”
“Is that so? Make sure to take care of your health.”
This was the dialogue between Ke Bu’s parents. After going to Zhi Li’s house, Ke Bu was surprised that his own family life was so fake. This scene looked as if they were weaving an illusion for him. All three of them kept in their minds to pay attention carefully to their own words. When they were no longer in each other’s eyes, there was only a sense of unfamiliarity. Ke Bu looked out the window. He wondered whether Zhi Li had received the parcel that he sent him or not. Indeed, he was so cheap, so cheap so that he sent his own thoughts to him.
“Young master, your parcel has arrived,” Auntie Qing handed a parcel over to Zhi Li. Lan Yin stood behind Zhi Li and measured the parcel with her eyes, “Ke Bu sent it?”
“Seems like it.”
“I guess he wanted to surprise you on New Year by cutting himself into pieces, stuff his body parts in a parcel, and send it to you.”
Zhi Li took the parcel in his hand and weighted it. “He’s not this light.”
“Maybe in order to save on the postage, he only put a part in it.”
Zhi Li unwrapped the parcel and there was a box inside. The box was filled with soft papers. In a glance, he saw Mr. Black Bear with his teeth and claws. Zhi Li took Mr. Black Bear out and shook it up and down — it was full of coins.
“What dirty trick is this?” Zhi Li looked at Mr. Black Bear.
“It’s a hint: ‘I’m only with you for the money’ or ‘If you don’t give me money, I’ll eat you like a black bear,’” Lan Yin said.
The next day, Ke Bu sent Wu Xi out.
“Just accompany me up until here, it’s not that far.”
‘Uh-huh, I’ll come see you when I can.”
“That’s so strange. In the past, you’d usually stay with me for a few more days, what happened this year?” Wu Xi caressed Ke Bu’s head.
“Mom, don’t force yourself because of me in the future. You and dad don’t get along, do you? Do what you want in the future, you don’t owe me anything.” He did not expect that those words that he thought to be so difficult to say, turned out to be easy to speak out. Wu Xi was dumbfounded. She did not say anything for a moment and only smiled, and after she waved her hand to Ke Bu, she got into the car.
Snow was falling from the sky. Ke Bu was shivering with cold. He rubbed his hands and the phone in his bag rang. He took out his phone and said, “You really don’t know how to pick a time. It’s cold and now you think about calling me? Where the hell were you before?”
“I forgot to bring my phone’s charger.”
“Your excuse is too insincere.” Ke Bu walked up the slope step by step. He wanted to be comforted but found it hard to speak out. He tried hard to act as the matchmaker for his mom and dad all these years. In the end, he finally gave up. Ke Bu struggled climbing up the steep slope because he was all wrapped up in bulky clothes. It made it even more inconvenient for him to move and difficult to get his feet together. The water vapor coming out from his mouth was quickly dissipated by the wind. There was a man, standing by a pole, with one hand in his pocket and the other, holding his phone. He turned with his clear and beautiful face to look at Ke Bu, waving his phone, “Is this considered sincere?”
Ke Bu’s hand dropped, that was holding the phone. He just stood there, with his line of sight on Zhi Li. He walked over to Ke Bu and took his thumb and middle finger, flicking Ke Bu’s forehead and said: “You still have this unsophisticated look.”
“It doesn’t hurt, so this is a dream? Goodbye my hallucinations.” Ke Bu was just about to leave when Zhi Li pinched Ke Bu’s face, forcefully, “Are you an idiot?”
“It hurts, it hurts, what are you doing here? Nobody asked you to come. I don’t suppose it just happened this way, right? Or are you having an affair with someone here?” A series of questions were thrown at him but Ke Bu did not wait for Zhi Li to answer. Ke Bu knocked his head against Zhi Li’s arms and said: “One day, I’ll have you take responsibility for making me greedy.”
“I have too many responsibilities.”
“It’s too late to regret it now, maybe you should be more enthusiastic and hug me back.”
“I can’t hug you right now with all these bulky clothes.”
Ke Bu smirked in Zhi Li’s embrace and said, ” I’ll die if I don’t wear it, it’s so cold. What the hell do you know.” His hands held tightly on Zhi Li clothes — the warmest was still here.