Chapter 12 – Request for co-renting

It was late at night, and I was sober. I zipped up my jacket, lit a cigarette, and walked aimlessly on the street under the neon lights. My mind was filled with endless trivial thoughts. I suddenly felt tired of my current life and wanted to do something for myself, but I didn’t know where to start, so I became even more confused.

Passing by a hotel, I looked at the lights scattered from dozens of windows, as if peeking into the bodies moving up and down on the bed, causing the whole hotel to shake. Tonight, some people were enjoying the ecstasy of the night in warm rooms, while others were walking on the street, enduring the loneliness of the night.

But it is because of such a contrast that the world appears so three-dimensional and real. I should understand that this world is originally a complex contradiction. Loneliness and loss always have to be borne by someone, so I don’t need to feel wronged or complain.

But the moon tonight is so beautiful, shining on the loneliness that has nowhere to hide. So, I beg the celestial beings in the sky to turn off the moon’s power. I am willing to bear the loneliness, but it doesn’t mean that I am willing to expose it in this cruel world!

Back at my place, I habitually stood downstairs and looked around. I didn’t see Mi Cai’s car. I went to the opposite side of the building and looked again. The car was there. It seemed that Mi Cai was used to parking her car here.

I squatted next to the car, smoked another cigarette, and went back upstairs. Then I stood at the door of Mi Cai’s room for a while before knocking on her door.

“Mi Cai, are you asleep?” I asked in a low voice.

“What’s the matter?”

“I want to talk to you.”

Mi Cai’s response was within my expectations: “There’s nothing to talk about between us.”

“At least let me say thank you in person for tonight. I’m really grateful to you!”

“No need.” Mi Cai still refused me with three words.

“I insist. If I don’t say it, I won’t feel at ease!” I said without getting Mi Cai’s consent, and opened her door in the name of gratitude.

The light in the room was still on. Mi Cai was sitting at the desk, looking at a book or maybe some documents.

Mi Cai seemed to be used to my rudeness and didn’t react to my entering the room without permission.

I came up behind her and glanced, asking, “What are you reading?”

Mi Cai ignored me and kept her attention on the documents.

I stood there like that, brewing in my mind how to tell Mi Cai that I intended to continue living here.

“Do you think it’s appropriate to stand in a woman’s room late at night?” Mi Cai asked coldly.

“I just want to say thank you, nothing else.” I quickly said.

“Then say it and leave.”

“Oh…” I agreed and asked in a pleasing tone, “By the way, did you take your medicine tonight? I heard you coughing just now.”

Mi Cai closed the document, frowned, and looked at me, saying, “If you have something to say, say it quickly. I’m going to rest.”

“You asked me to say it, so don’t turn against me when I do.” I hurriedly said.

“Then don’t say it.”

“I can’t do that. Once words are spoken, they can’t be taken back. You asked me to say it, so I will say it…” After a moment of contemplation, I finally said, “The truth is, I don’t want to move out at all!” After saying that, I instinctively stood up straight, trying to suppress Mi Cai with a powerful aura and make her agree to my request to stay.

Mi Cai looked at me calmly and said, “I said you don’t have to pay back the money for now, so you have no reason not to move out.”

“I said I don’t want to move out at all. Don’t you understand what I mean?” I raised my voice.

“But you have promised me more than once to move out. Is your promise so cheap in your own eyes?” Mi Cai’s words were cold, but her eyes flashed with anger.

“What’s wrong with letting me stay here?” I was also angry with my words. While Mi Cai didn’t understand me, I didn’t understand her either. There are many people who share apartments in this city. Why am I so dependent on this room while she keeps pushing me away? Besides, I think I am a very reliable roommate and a safe person to live with.

Mi Cai retorted, “Tell me what’s good about it.”

“Everything is good!” After thinking for a moment, I said, “With me living here, if there’s any neighborhood dispute in the future, I can easily handle it for you. Let me tell you: I’m the boss of this neighborhood…”

“Don’t be so childish, okay?” Mi Cai interrupted me.

I sneered, “You don’t believe it, do you?… You can go to other neighborhoods and see if there are square dance aunties disturbing the peace every night. Have you seen any in our neighborhood?… No, right? Let me tell you: Although this neighborhood doesn’t have property management, having me here is much better than any property management.””Even if what you’re saying is true, it can’t be a reason for you to continue living here. You must move out,” Mi Cai insisted firmly.

I was angry again, “Are you out of your mind? What’s wrong with me living here? At least when the pipes are blocked or the lights are broken, I can fix them. If it rains and you’re not home, I can help collect the clothes. Like today, you’re sick, I can’t just stand by and do nothing. I have to buy medicine for you, make you some ginger soup… Why do you insist on making both of us unhappy?”

“I’m not unhappy.”

Mi Cai’s words left me speechless. After an awkward silence, I finally said, “Anyway, I don’t want to move. I owe you so much money, I think it’s more important to pay you back than to move.”

Unexpectedly, Mi Cai asked, “Why do you think paying back the money is more important than moving?”

Without much thought, I replied, “Paying you back will make me feel at ease, but moving makes me feel like I’m alone and empty. If it were you, would you choose to pay back the money first, or move out first?”

“You can live somewhere else if you move out from here. Where does this feeling of emptiness and helplessness come from?” Mi Cai continued to ask.

I looked around the room, a wave of indescribable emotions welled up in my heart. Mi Cai didn’t understand my feelings and attachment to this house. Every time she asked me to leave, she never considered my feelings. But then again, she didn’t have to. My deep attachment was mine alone.

I lit a cigarette to ease my feelings of loss and helplessness.

“Don’t smoke in my room, okay?”

Mi Cai’s words were filled with disgust, but I couldn’t blame her. I had been too presumptuous, forgetting that I was still in her room.

“Sorry, I’ll smoke on the balcony,” I said quietly.

After finishing a cigarette on the balcony, I returned to the living room. To my surprise, Mi Cai was not in her bedroom but sitting on the living room couch.

For the first time, she initiated a conversation with me, “You haven’t answered my question just now.”

“You were asking why I would feel empty and helpless if I moved out, right?”

Mi Cai nodded.

I sat down on the couch opposite Mi Cai, closed my eyes, and the countless days and nights I had spent here surfaced in my mind like a series of clips.

After a long silence, I finally said, “I moved in here two years ago. The days when I first moved in were the darkest days of my life. I suffered from insomnia almost every night… The reason for my insomnia was that I had a lot on my mind, but I couldn’t share these thoughts with anyone. But keeping them to myself was painful. So, I treated the floor lamp, the cabinet, the wall clock, even a mop in the room as my friends, telling them the thoughts I couldn’t share with anyone. Although they never responded, they were very patient. No matter how long I talked, they were patient. So, after venting, I didn’t feel so bad. I’m grateful to them, grateful for everything in this room. They are my support, my friends. That’s why I don’t want to leave. I love this room. Even though it’s simple, it’s the safest, warmest place in my world…!!”

After I finished speaking, Mi Cai looked at me with a complicated expression. I had no idea what this complexity meant, I was just anxiously waiting to see if she would let me continue to live here.


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