Chapter 55 – Struggle of Human Nature 2

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The car in front started to move slowly, but Mi Cai was oblivious. Her shoulders trembled slightly, and the car behind was already honking impatiently.

I finally gently patted Mi Cai’s shoulder and asked, “What’s wrong?”

Mi Cai lifted her head and wiped away her tears with her hand, but she didn’t look at me. She said, “It’s nothing,” then put the car in gear and drove forward with the flow of traffic. The song “Love’s Proverbs” finally ended, and the car gradually returned to calm.

I didn’t plan to let Mi Cai know that I was working at Baoli, so I had her drop me off at a station. Before parting, I asked her, “Hey, can you help me move tonight? It would be convenient with your car.”

“If I don’t have to work overtime today, I can.” Mi Cai didn’t refuse.

I smiled and said, “Okay, I’ll call you after work.”

Mi Cai nodded, closed the car window, and started the car. In an instant, she disappeared into the vast flow of traffic, and I stood there for a long time, thinking about how she had cried over the steering wheel because of a song, and my heart was filled with a sense of loss.

I didn’t want to delve into what “Love’s Proverbs” reminded her of, but I did feel sorry for her, and this sympathy deepened my guilt.


When I arrived at the company, before I had a chance to catch my breath, Circle called a “brainstorming” session with our planning and copywriting team.

During the meeting, everyone’s opinions turned into a verbal battle, stirring up a storm of ideas. But I sat in the corner, absent-minded and silent, until the meeting ended.

After the brainstorming session, everyone took their folders and left. I remained seated, my mind completely lost.

Circle lit a cigarette and waved it under my nose. The smell of tobacco brought me back to reality, and I asked him awkwardly, “Is the storm over?”

“I just want to know where this storm blew you off to?” Circle’s tone was somewhat displeased. He was always meticulous at work.

I didn’t say anything, took the cigarette from Circle’s fingers, lit it, took a deep puff, but Circle took it back, extinguished it, and threw it in the trash.

I frowned and said, “What the hell are you trying to prove with me? I’m agitated!”

Circle was taken aback, then realized why I was agitated. He pulled up a chair and sat down next to me. Before he could speak, his expression had already perfectly conveyed the bitter advice that was about to come.

“Are you still bothered by the situation with Zhuo Mei and Mi Cai?”

“The thing that’s bothering me… From yesterday until now, I feel like a criminal who’s committed a crime but hasn’t confessed. Do you understand this feeling? It’s like a fishbone stuck in my throat!” I said each word heavier than the last, venting my inner repression.

Circle sighed and spoke to me in a softer tone, “Zhao Yang, I made it very clear to you yesterday about the pros and cons of the situation. No matter how guilty you feel, it’s still an internal matter of Zhuo Mei. We must stay out of it.”

I fell silent again. There was no point in discussing this matter further with Circle. He couldn’t see it from my perspective, but he wasn’t wrong either. Although Circle and I have been friends for nearly ten years, we are not the same kind of people, so our lives are different. At this moment, I understood why Circle and I, who graduated from the same university, are living different lives after graduation.

After a while, I said to Circle, “I’ll sit here for a while longer. I’ll figure this out on my own.”

Circle nodded and reminded me, “I still don’t know what you think about this promotion plan. Let’s talk about it later.”

“Okay,” I replied.

Circle took another cigarette from the pack and handed it to me, saying, “Go to the smoking room. Be mindful of your behavior in the company.”

I took the cigarette from Circle’s hand and looked at him numbly…

Circle patted my shoulder and then turned and left. My fingers were spinning the cigarette rapidly, but I felt even more numb.


At noon, Circle and I were eating lunch in the company cafeteria. We chose a relatively quiet corner and didn’t immediately start discussing the promotion plan we were preparing.

Circle said to me, “Yan Yan is free tonight. Let her cook a few dishes and come to my house. Let’s have a few drinks.”

“I can’t tonight. I’m moving.”

“You haven’t sorted out the moving yet?” Circle asked in surprise.

“No, I just found a suitable house. I’ve been busy lately!”

Circle nodded, fell silent for a moment, and then said, “Zhao Yang, not to criticize you, but you’re at the age where you should be settling down. If you can settle down, you should.”

I asked Circle seriously, “We’ve been graduated for so many years now. Our classmates and friends who should be stable are stable, and those who aren’t are desperately trying to settle down. Why do I feel like I’m living in an illusion?”

Without thinking, Circle replied, “It’s because you’ve been living too selfishly these years. But your selfishness is filled with strong idealism. Zhao Yang, you have to understand, a castle built of sand on the beach, no matter how exquisite, will collapse at the first wave. Your pain and instability stem from this!”

Circle’s words left me bewildered. I knew that the wave he was talking about was the harsh reality, and my pain came from my unwillingness to accept reality. So I would fantasize about that castle in the sky, and the woman with long hair waiting in the city.

Circle said to me again, “You really shouldn’t think about the power struggle at Zhuo Mei anymore. People always live in reality. It’s good to have a conscience, but this matter has gone beyond the simple scope of conscience. If you measure this matter with conscience or humanity and tell Mi Cai in the end, reality will immediately slap you in the face. Zhao Yang, learn to respect reality. Don’t take risks!”

“Why are you bringing this up again?” I said to Circle with a hint of dissatisfaction.

After a brief silence, Circle sighed softly, “Because I know you, so I worry…”

I remained silent. Although Circle and I are not the same kind of people, as nearly ten-year-long brothers, he indeed knows me better than many others. If I didn’t measure this matter with humanity and conscience, how could I be so tormented?

Circle continued to speak to me in silence, “If Chen Jingming takes advantage of the internal strife of Zhuomei to bring two top-tier brands into our Baoli Department Store this time, with such a great achievement, he will almost certainly be promoted to the position of deputy general manager of the company. You and I, as his confidants, will truly have a firm foothold in this company, especially you, Zhao Yang, this is a sublimation for your life, your life will change qualitatively because of this.”

I lit a cigarette, took a deep puff, tilted my head back, closed my eyes, and exhaled all the smoke from my mouth as if venting. For the first time, I felt my decades-long belief was wavering. Perhaps I should really respect reality. I have reached the age to settle down and start a family. Now I finally see the dawn of life. If I extinguish it with my own hands, my future life will struggle in the dark.

“Let’s talk about your thoughts on this promotion plan.”

Circle’s words temporarily pulled me out of the mire of struggle. I finally nodded, ready to discuss my thoughts on this promotion plan with Circle.


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