Chapter 76 – Crazy

Around 11:30 in the afternoon, Mi Cai and I arrived at my house. My mother opened the door. Mi Cai handed the gifts she had bought to my mother and said, “Auntie, I was in a rush yesterday and didn’t have time to buy you gifts. I hope you and uncle will like these.”

My mother couldn’t stop smiling, but she politely said, “We love them, we’re just happy that you came to visit, you didn’t have to go to such trouble.”

Mi Cai smiled, and my mother enthusiastically invited her in.

Once inside, Mi Cai politely went to the kitchen to greet Mr. Ban, who was cooking, before sitting down on the living room sofa.

I found a magazine for Mi Cai to pass the time before dinner, and sat next to her with another magazine.

A little while later, my mother and Mr. Ban called us to dinner. Mi Cai and I put down our magazines, pulled out our chairs and sat down. We kept a considerable distance from each other, showing no intimacy typical of a couple, because we both anticipated that during dinner, Mr. Ban and my mother would interrogate us.

Sure enough, as Mi Cai and I started to eat after taking a sip of juice, my mother looked at Mi Cai and asked, “Girl, how did you meet our Zhao Yang?”

Mi Cai looked at me, smiled and answered, “Auntie, I bought the house that Zhao Yang used to rent in Suzhou, and that’s how we met.”

“Just like that?” my mother asked with a puzzled tone.

I quickly took over the conversation, “How else would it be? It’s a simple matter. Since Mi Cai is here today, let her explain it to you in person, so you won’t keep wondering.”

Mr. Ban and my mother both focused their attention on Mi Cai, waiting for her explanation.

Mi Cai put down her chopsticks, and said seriously, “Uncle, Auntie, Zhao Yang and I are just friends… I know you’re wondering why I came all the way to find Zhao Yang. I need to explain… Actually, Zhao Yang’s work in Suzhou was going well… But because he helped me, he lost his job. I feel guilty and sorry for that, so I came to Xuzhou to find him, hoping to help him with his work and make up for my guilt.”

Mi Cai’s appropriate explanation satisfied me, and I quickly added, “Mr. Ban, mom, that’s the whole story. Do you understand now?”

Mr. Ban remained silent, but my mother looked disappointed. Then she comforted herself by saying, “It’s okay, feelings can be cultivated. You two take your time…”

Before my mother could finish her sentence, Mi Cai and I looked at each other again, both seeing helplessness in each other’s eyes. My mother didn’t understand, even if Mi Cai and I had ten thousand years, we couldn’t cultivate a love like that of the Supreme Treasure and the Purple Fairy.

Finally, after my mother’s interrogation, we finished this somewhat torturous lunch, but also breathed a sigh of relief, because we finally convinced my mother and Mr. Ban to accept the fact that we are just friends.

It was already afternoon, Mr. Ban went to work as usual, and my mother was called away by a few friends to play mahjong, leaving only Mi Cai and me in the house.

I lit a cigarette in front of Mi Cai, saying, “I’m smoking now, don’t object, this is my house, I’m free to do whatever I want!”

“Are you trying to get back at me?”

“Not really, just that I felt very uncomfortable being controlled by you in that room… You even said that I could find a room of my own, climb onto the roof and smoke, and no one would bother me. Do you know how frustrated I was then?”

Mi Cai retorted, “Since you’re so free now, why don’t you climb onto the roof and have a smoke? It’s a rare opportunity, you should let out your frustration.”

“I’m already very satisfied smoking in front of you. I’m a low-key person, I wouldn’t do something as flashy as smoking on the roof.” I said, and blew a long puff of smoke towards Mi Cai.

Mi Cai frowned and waved away the smoke.

I laughed out loud, saying, “Now you know what ‘a leopard cannot change its spots’ means, right?”

Mi Cai: “……”

The afternoon sun lazily streamed through the window onto the sofa. The wind blew the yellowing leaves as if they were performing a ballet in the air. I lay on the sofa, wishing time could stand still at this moment.

Mi Cai seemed to enjoy the tranquility of the afternoon even more than I did. She had already fallen asleep on the sofa, her face peaceful and serene.

I got up and fetched a down blanket from the room, gently laid her down, took off her shoes, and covered her with the blanket. I left the sofa, giving all the comfortable space to her, who was sleeping soundly.Standing by the window, I lit another cigarette, my thoughts drifting habitually. I knew that Mi Cai had come to Xuzhou specifically to persuade me to return to Suzhou with her, to start working and living there again. But it was only after much heartache that I had made the decision to leave Suzhou. Now that I was back, was there any need for me to return?

In fact, there was no need for me to go back. But every time I thought of Suzhou, an indescribable emotion would surge in my heart. This emotion always prevented me from completely letting go of the city in my heart. I felt a bit hurt, a bit unwilling, yet I also resisted the idea of returning to my old place. As this emotion continued to ferment, I became even more unsure of what to choose.

Mi Cai seemed very tired recently. She slept soundly and long, not waking up until the evening. She looked at the quilt on her body and asked me, “How long have I been asleep?”

“It’s almost dark.”

“Oh, have you been standing here like a fool all this time?”

“I learned it from you. Remember when I was sleeping by the river, you sat next to me like a fool for an entire afternoon!”

Mi Cai looked at me helplessly and said after a while, “Let’s not talk about that.”

“If we don’t talk about this, what else can we do?”

“Take me to try the local food in Xuzhou. It’s my first time here, you should play the host.”

“Alright, I’ll take you to try our local hot pot in Xuzhou. But I have to warn you, it’s very spicy!”

“I’m not afraid of spicy food. I told you that when we went to CC’s restaurant last time.”

“The place I’m taking you to is not just ordinarily spicy. You, a girl from Suzhou, better not speak too soon.”

“How spicy is it?”

“Spicier than you can imagine!”

Mi Cai seemed a bit unsure and asked, “If it’s too spicy, can I ask them to put less chili?”

“That restaurant doesn’t do less spicy. If you can’t handle it, we can go somewhere else.” I said with a hint of disdain.

“Let’s go, I won’t back down from your Xuzhou challenge.” Mi Cai said, steeling herself.

“Don’t act like you’re here to conquer Xuzhou. Don’t forget that I’m here to guard it.”

“Are you really that great? Or are you just crazy?”

“Say that again!”

“You’re crazy, right?”

“Do you believe I could strangle you?” I glared at Mi Cai, somewhat infuriated. She was going too far. I was just kindly inviting her to have hot pot.

Without saying another word, Mi Cai dragged me to a mirror and calmly asked, “Look at yourself in the mirror. Don’t you look like a lunatic?”

I was speechless.

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