Luo Tang didn't go easily. Since he’d already stayed the night, he didn't go back early the next day. It wasn’t until after a nap at noon, when the sun was no longer so piercing afternoon, that Wei Ruxia sent Luo Tang to the station.
At three o'clock in the afternoon the setting sun shone brightly, and the alleys were filled with a cool breeze. Wei Ruxia stepped on the bluestone slabs one after another and chatted with Luo Tang.
"Will you go out when you get back? When do you usually have spare time?"
Luo Tang followed her and asked, "If I’m not out, what should I do?"
"I'm afraid there will be questions that I can't understand, and I want to ask you if you have the time." Wei Ruxia panted slightly from all her hopping. She turned her head and her face was a little red.
Luo Tang looked at her intently, and replied simply, "I have time, just video call me whenever."
This wasn't the first time that Wei Ruxia had asked Luo Tang to explain the content to her. Even when they were at home, they would just video call if they didn't want to go out. With the cameras on they could quickly give feedback on the questions and answers rather than taking pictures and just using voice.
Luo Tang's answer made Wei Ruxia smile. She turned her head and continued to step on the centre of each bluestone slab. As she walked, she asked casually, "Is anytime all right?"
The reason she asked this was because she was afraid that Luo Tang might have made some plans for his vacation. Luo Tang was actually a very self-disciplined person. He always planned when he would run, read, or do homework.
"Not when I’m in the shower." Luo Tang replied.
Wei Ruxia slipped and almost lost her balance. The teenager behind her reached out and grabbed her arm to stabilize her.
For a moment Luo Tang held her up, and the strength from his fingers still seemed to linger on her arm. Wei Ruxia touched the place where she was caught and said with a smile, "I don't know when you shower."
After sending Luo Tang back, Wei Ruxia returned to her grandma's house. At home, Li Suhe had already gotten up, and seeing her come back, she asked, "Luo Tang got on the bus?"
"Yeah." Wei Ruxia replied, looking at Li Suhe and the bucket and small iron hoe beside her, as well as a small bamboo basket made of bamboo sticks. Li Suhe liked to make handicrafts very much, and she made this little bamboo basket herself.
Before going to Wei Zishan's house, Wei Ruxia had lived with her grandma for two months, so she knew that she was preparing to go out to the vegetable garden.
It was four o'clock, the sun was low, and there was a cool breeze, the weather was just right.
"You can just lie down for a while." Wei Ruxia was still a little worried, "the vegetable garden will still be fine tomorrow."
Li Suhe was no longer sick, she waved her hand and said, "it hasn't rained for the past few days, and the vegetable garden hasn't been watered. Also, the grass hasn't been turned. I haven’t been doing anything for a few days now, it's good to move my muscles and bones."
Seeing that her face wasn’t so ghastly, Wei Ruxia didn't insist. She bent down and took the small bamboo basket, put the small iron hoe into the bamboo basket, and went to the vegetable garden with Li Suhe.
Li Suhe’s vegetable garden was next to the small stream where she and Luo Tang were strolling yesterday. It was a clearing next to the mountains and forests on both sides and the people in the town had cultivated it as a vegetable garden. They had divided it into small plots for almost every home, each looked like a green square that had been cut out.
When she was staying at her grandma's house, Wei Ruxia often came with her to the vegetable garden. Vegetables of various colours were planted in the garden, and two rows of garden frames were set up, one row held cucumber vines and the other row held kidney bean vines.
Li Suhe did everything very meticulously and her vegetable garden was well organized. When she saw the weeds next to the potatoes, she squatted down and cleaned them up.
"I'm going to fetch water." Wei Ruxia took the bucket and went to the stream.
The stream wasn’t far from the vegetable garden, and after Wei Ruxia fetched water, she took the bucket and went back. As she returned, she heard her grandma singing. Wei Ruxia smiled and poured the water into the vegetable field. The sound of gurgling water seemed to be in time with her singing.
Li Suhe noticed and looked back at her with a smile. Wei Ruxia carried the bucket and sang with her.
"I want to sing, me to you, while I'm still young,
Flowers bloom quietly, decorate your years, and my branches,
Who can replace you, love while you are young,
My dearest, the journey is long, let's stay together,
I will sing, me to you, give me your innocent smile..."
In the early autumn afternoon, the sky was golden and the sun was setting, within the verdant forest, beside the green small vegetable garden, the sweet voice of a young girl mixed with the seasoned voice of an old woman. It was a pleasant sound.
After singing a song, the two looked at each other and laughed. Li Suhe raised his eyes and looked at Wei Ruxia against the setting sun. The wrinkles on the old woman’s face were softened, making her look more kind.
"This song is very old, did your mother teach it to you?"
"Yeah." Wei Ruxia took the bucket and poured more water, the cool water splashing on her legs. She said, "But my mother likes White Birch best."
She remembered the song she heard most when she was a child was ‘White Birch Forest’ played by her mother. She didn't understand the love and sorrow in it, but she simply felt it sounded peaceful and nice.
The small iron hoe in her hand turned out the weeds in the dirt. Li Suhe didn't stop her digging, she seemed to be both careless and intentional, as she asked, "Do you miss your mother?"
Wei Ruxia held her bucket upside down.
She raised her head and glanced at Li Suhe, then smiled at her in the end, and said, "I still miss her, but it's okay, I have grandma with me."
There was a layer of pain in her throat, and Li Suhe wanted to cough, but held back. She watched Wei Ruxia water the vegetable garden carefully, with her slender limbs and her tender face. She lowered her head to weed and sighed softly.
"I want to grow up with you."
There was a big age difference between the elder and the younger generation, especially between granddaughter and grandmother. Such an age difference usually exists between every pair of grandparents and grandchildren.
Wei Ruxia watched the water in the bucket pouring continuously into the dry ground. Her heart that she’d filled with freshness seemed to have been taken away by God again.
There was congestion everywhere when on National Day, so Luo Tang's family rarely went out on holidays. After Yang Shuru finished translating for the day, she went to the dining room and brought the pineapples that had been cut by their chef, before they’d left and went into the living room.
The design of their home was rather simple, similar to the Republic era. This villa used to be where Luo Tang's grandparents lived. His grandparents were all translators. Later, on a business trip abroad, both died in an airplane accident. In order to appease Yang Shuru, Luo Tang's father, Luo Qinggu, left the Luo family mansion and moved here with his family when he was very young. Even still the decorations of the house hadn’t changed.
Luo Tang was sitting on the sofa in the living room, watching a replay of an NBA game on his mobile phone.
"That screen is so small, isn’t it uncomfortable to look at?" Yang Shuru put down the pineapple, took a piece and handed it to Luo Tang as she asked.
Luo Tang didn't answer immediately, he looked at the game indifferently and said, "It's fine."
He put the pineapple he’d been given into his mouth, the sweet pineapple smell awakened his taste buds. Yang Shuru sat beside her son and said, "You haven’t let go of your phone since you came back. Why, who are you waiting for?"
Luo Tang wasn’t a kid who liked to play on his phone. He usually read comic books during holidays.
Luo Tang didn’t answer this question. Yang Shuru suddenly thought of something. She stretched out her finger, poked her son's shoulder a little, and asked, "You haven’t fallen in love, right?"
Her son beside her didn’t react much, he raised his eyes to look at her, his eyes still calm.
Yang Shuru was taken aback by him. She took another piece of pineapple and said, "I was joking. It’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it, but I’m not an old-fashioned mother..."
The vibration of the mobile phone shook the heart in his chest, and Luo Tang stood up, so fast that Yang Shuru didn’t see the red on his ears.
"I'm going to my room." Luo Tang finished speaking, got up and went upstairs.
He walked upstairs as fast as possible. After stepping in the door, Luo Tang walked quickly to the desk and took out his textbook then finally, tapped on the screen to answer.
The signal in the countryside wasn’t the best, the call took a while to connect. The girl's cheeks showed up as she leaned closer to the camera. She leaned very close but her face was still pretty.
A pile of test papers and textbooks were piled up in front of Wei Ruxia, messy like her untied hair. As soon as Luo Tang connected, Wei Ruxia smiled, her eyes curving, clean and beautiful.
"You pick up?" Wei Ruxia asked. After the question, the teenager on the screen frowned slightly, so she said, "Have you taken a shower?"
Although Luo Tang was fully dressed, his white cheeks and ears were slightly pink, as if he’d just taken a shower.
Although presumably what Wei Ruxia said was a joke. Luo Tang looked at her with eyes as if he could move right through the screen, and could even smell the faint flowery fragrance on her body.
"Mm." Luo Tang replied lightly, he looked at the math textbook in front of her, opened onto the test questions, and asked, "Which question?"
The mobile phone was placed on a stack of books, and the teenager on the screen flattened his blank test with his slender white fingers. He hadn't done it yet, but he was ready to help her.
Wei Ruxia looked around, remembering what grandma said today. She rubbed her eyes, looked at Luo Tang and thought.
He was her friend, so they would grow up together, right?
I didn't put the author's note here becasue I'm about to reiterate it all here and there wasn't any cute theatre. Next chapter this novel enters VIP, which means they are paid chapters. Obviously I have them in English here, free of charge, but it would be great of you to support the original author and buy the original chapters! You can buy them one at a time so you don't have to commit, also, this book is quite short! Only 40-ish chapters, so it's very cheap (less than 10CNY ($2AUD))!! At time of writing (2021.03.06) this it's also on sale! So literally pocket schrapnel.
Final note, sorry about the spotty uploads, they are going to remain spotty until probably after the 14th. I'll try to upload everyday but if I don't, don't panic, I'm just up to my ears in moving boxes and I'll be back very soon!
The song they were singing: