Deep sleep is a safe haven for the exhausted body, resisting the cruel reality.
A dream is an illusion created by a stubborn brain that does not want to sleep.
In the dream, there were spiral stairs leading deep down. Standing on the topmost step, Chu Yunhan looked up somewhat confused, but couldn’t figure out how he got there. Above him was a circular piece of sky, overcast, as if it was about to rain heavily. He stood confused for a while, before taking a step down. The steps were somewhat cold and he discovered he was barefoot. This spiral staircase was very long. Just when he was about to lose patience and stop, he realized he had reached the end.
At the bottom of the stairs was a door. The gray wooden door, with green moss growing on the door frame, stood alone in the middle of the circular space at the bottom. The door was not closed tightly and white light leaked out from the gap. He stretched out a hand to push it open, but the door suddenly disappeared, and the bright light made him squint.
He heard the gurgling sound of boiling water.
There was a familiar sight before him. In the kitchen, a middle-aged woman was making soup. She picked up some with a spoon, blew at it, had a taste, and smiled satisfied. She turned off the fire, filled two bowls, and walked carefully to the study.
The tall man at the desk raised his head and smiled at the woman who walked in. The teenager reading to the side also looked up.
“I made sweet soup, one bowl per person.”
The boy stuck his tongue out. “…Mom, do you want to poison father and me?”
“Little white-eyed wolf, won’t you drink it?” she feigned anger. “It’s really good this time.”
“Not drinking … Give it all to dad.”
“One bowl per person. If you don’t drink it, you are not going out tonight,” the man said.
“Dad! I have an appointment tonight!”
“Then drink the soup.”
“But I don’t want to die…”
“End of discussion.”
“Is there an occasion?” He reluctantly took the bowl, sniffed it, took a spoon and licked it tentatively with his tongue, felt it was okay, and spewed it out after taking a big mouthful. “Mom, how much sugar did you put in? It’s inedible!”
“Is it very sweet? The rock candy was clumpy and I couldn’t crush it. I wanted to put it in the soup, let it dissolve a bit, and then take it out. But then my hand slipped and the whole piece fell in, and it was too late to fish it out.” She pouted. “I just tasted it, it’s okay. How can you exaggerate so much!”
“It’s so sweet, I almost threw up!”
She turned to the man frustrated. “Is it really bad?”
“It’s delicious.” The man drank it all without changing his face, and said solemnly, “Everything you make is delicious.”
“…Dad, did she torment you into losing your sense of taste?” The boy looked at him incredulously.
The man ignored him and continued, “But in the future these things should be done by the cook. I won’t feel at ease if you do everything yourself.”
“My husband is still the best…” She was so moved that she leaped forward like a puppy.
“Hey, I’m still here! Can’t you two choose a more private place to display your affection?” The boy shook his head unable to watch, put the bowl down, and sneaked out.
“Where are you going? You are not allowed to visit bars.”
“Hey, today is Yichen’s birthday, I will prepare a surprise for him.” The teenager caught in the act grinned.
“Come back before ten o’clock in the evening, otherwise your pocket money for next month will be gone.”
“I know. That’s so annoying.” He curled up his lips and walked out of the study, passing by Chu Yunhan, who was standing by the door, his eyes bright and clear, full of youthful vigor.
He didn’t see him.
Because all this was just a dream. In this way, his brain replayed a long-forgotten memory for him, assigning the present him the role of a bystander.
His father, his mother, his younger self.
The once unremarkable scene in his memory unexpectedly became the one he missed the most, making him burst into tears in his dream. He looked at his father and mother in the study, unable to get closer. He couldn’t move or speak. He could only watch everything turn into a fuzzy cloud of smoke and watch their silhouettes blur until they disappeared.
The door appeared again.
He pushed it open impatiently, but his parents were gone.
In the slanting wind and drizzle, the raindrops fell in the pond, making tiny ripples that dispersed in circles. Down the promenade of the old house, a young man sat on the ground, staring at the chessboard with furrowed brows. After a long time, he sighed annoyed, threw the white Go piece in his hand back into the rattan chess pot, and rubbed his hands. “I shouldn’t have taught you how to play Go, but I only realized it now.”
“Did the two kids ask you to let me win?” The quiet handsome trenager sitting across the chessboard smiled.
“No need, a real man can afford to bear a loss.” He leaned back on the cushion and said, “I prepared a grand birthday party for you, yet in the end you didn’t even show up, but hid in the old man’s place. It’s really…You don’t like the hustle and bustle at all, what are you going to do in the future?”
“I’ll be fine.”
“Well, what kind of birthday gift do you want? I will get it for you.”
The boy smiled and said, “No need, you just need to accompany me for a few games.”
“…You’re so easy to please. I’m too lazy to go back tonight. My dad will definitely have nothing against it if I stayed here. Shall we play again later?”
Behind this door was him.
Chu Yunhan looked at the young Chu Yichen and his younger self with compassion in his eyes. The past he couldn’t go back to and the present he couldn’t bear to see, which one was more painful?
The clock on the wall stopped swinging, and the clock hands slowly moved counterclockwise. The tree blossoms went from wither to full bloom, and then turned into small buds. The shadow cast by the sun changed its trajectory and gradually fell to the east. The raindrops flew into the sky, leaving no traces behind.
It was snowing.
The boy in the down jacket pulled the woman’s hand and walked forward. He slipped, and the arm of the Transformer in his hand broke. He got angry and lost his temper, “I shouldn’t say it, but I want to say it. What’s so special about the boy Second Uncle picked up?”
The man who helped him up said angrily, “Impudent! How can you talk like this!”
“I don’t want this kind of bastard to be my brother!” the boy shouted, and ran away furious. He nearly bumped into someone on the courtyard arch bridge.
He looked up and met the other’s gaze.
Black hair, fair face, a small body dressed in a suit. He was sizing him up with an indifferent expression. Those eyes were dark, calm and collected, filled with a bright light, like the gems he received on his birthday.
He stared at him dumbfounded.
His mother touched his head and said, “Silly boy, this is your brother. Go over and say hello.”
He didn’t know why he felt somewhat nervous. He walked over slowly, and after holding back for a long time, asked, “Well…Do you like Transformers?”
The other party was slightly startled, then smiled. His appearance was gentle, like a soft breeze, which made him look beautiful.
“I like them.”
The world spun, toppled over, and tottered, as if it had become a huge music box, and the snow in the sky was blinding.
Chu Yunhan woke up.
There was still a feeling of dampness in his eyes and small water stains on the pillow. A needle of nutrient solution was pierced in the back of his hand, and the room was filled with the refreshing smell of ointment. The slight movement gradually woke up the pain in the back. His waist and abdomen were sore and weak, and his lower body was hurting with unspeakable dull pain. He felt like a doll that had been torn apart and put together again. Every part of his body had been tossed up and down.
He curled up and buried his head between his knees.
This was the safest posture, yet he was still terrified.
The house he had lived in for a long time had now become a cage he was trapped in, unable to escape. The person who used to laugh at Yanyan with him had now become a ruthless existence that terrified him.
Master, slave. In the shackles of this identity, he would no longer be an autonomous person in the future.
Chu Yichen kept his promise.
He finally had a taste of “losing everything”. He had lost his identity, his freedom, his happiness, and finally – himself.
If everything was taken away, what was the meaning of being alive?
Chu Yunhan raised his head and looked out the window.
The sky was gray, covered in a thin layer of mist. It was about to rain.
He pulled out the IV needle and got up, his legs supporting him with difficulty. The dizziness and pain made him hold onto the bed for a while before he recovered. He walked to the window and pushed it open. The wind rushed in like a wave, messing the soft hair on his forehead.
A bird flying across the sky screamed and Chu Yunhan kept looking after it until he could no longer see it. He stepped on the stool and stood on the edge of the window, staring in the direction where the bird had disappeared.
There was a noise behind him.
Chu Yunhan turned his head to take a look. Seeing the person who walked in, he shivered slightly. Then, for the first time in his life, he saw a panicked expression on that calm face.
“Chu Yunhan…” Chu Yichen stood frozen in place, his voice seemed to tremble, “What are you up to…”
He looked at him, his lips moved as if he was about to say something, but in the end he didn’t say anything, just smiled faintly. He turned his head back and looked at the distant sky. His eyelashes drooped and he closed his eyes. The hand holding the window let go, and he fell straight down. Like a bird with no intention to return after leaving the nest, determined, without the slightest hesitation.
At that moment, Chu Yichen, who pounced at the window and almost fell down together with him, was hugged by the housekeeper who rushed up at the same time.
He cried “Young Master!” almost mournfully, and the bodyguard and Hei Yu outside the door rushed over. They saw Du Chuan hug the man tightly and shout, “Call Dr. Zhang, Eldest…below.”
Hei Yu was also stunned. When he finally reacted, he hurriedly sent his subordinates to find Zhang Jun. He himself stayed upstairs and looked at Chu Yichen with worry. He didn’t know what to say for a while and only whispered, “Young Master…”
Chu Yichen was held tightly by Du Chuan. Like a body that had lost its soul, he sat on the ground, staring blankly at the window. As he threw himself at the window just now, he grabbed the window frame hard and there was blood on his fingertips.
In the state he was in, Hei Yu and Du Chuan didn’t dare to move, they could only wait anxiously for news. They had been following Chu Yichen for many years and knew of his obsession with Chu Yunhan, so they were aware what losing Chu Yunhan meant to him.
The two looked at each other and saw the anxiety in each other’s eyes.
If that person died…
Then, the person in front of them might also…