My Mister Ostrich - Chapter 35
35 - The Drifting Winter Rain
I didn't know what to do, so I came to look for you, Pang Pang.
Only when Pang Qian was sure that the argument outside the room had concluded, did she finally take her hands off of Gu Mingxi's ears. She sat down weakly and let out a sigh. Gu Mingxi slowly opened his eyes, and the two of them looked at each other. The only sound they heard was the soundtrack playing from the computer speakers.
The music was meant to excite and rouse someone, not at all fitting to the current atmosphere.
Gu Mingxi's complexion had already returned to normal. He stood up and said, ’’I'll go out to take a look.’’
When he passed Pang Qian, she immediately grabbed at his shirt sleeve, which made Gu Mingxi stop in his tracks.
Pang Qian stood up and said, ’’I'll go with you.’’
The two of them walked out of his room and slowly walked toward the living room. It was oddly quiet in the house, not a sound to be heard. Pang Qian was a bit afraid. She knew that Gu Guoxiang and Li Han had been fighting. And then she heard the loud slamming of a door, though she didn't know who left the house.
When the got to the kitchen, Gu Mingxi saw his mother.
Pang Qian had gone into the kitchen previously. It had been very clean, cozy, and carried a delightful food fragrance. Li Han had been standing there in her apron, preparing lunch. But now, everything was in disarray.
Li Han sat on the ground, leaning against the refrigerator. She still wore her apron, but her hair was a mess, her eyes were hollow, and her body was covered in stains.
All the food dishes had been smashed. The blackfish, braised beef, corn and chicken soup... All the serving dishes were in pieces, the soup was all over the floor. Some of the broken dishware had even traveled several meters into the living room.
Gu Mingxi crouched down next to Li Han, and said gently, ’’Mom.’’
Li Han was silent for a long time. Gu Mingxi called out to her again before she gradually returned to her senses.
Pang Qian was already picking up the broken pieces of dishware. Li Han called to her, ’’Qian Qian, don't bother with that. You might hurt your hand.’’
Pang Qian stopped, and looked fearfully at her.
Seeing Gu Mingxi's family business, Pang Qian felt somewhat apologetic. She'd heard the arguments between Gu Guoxiang and Li Han very clearly. She'd been shocked. So now that she was facing Li Han, she felt a bit awkward.
Li Han slowly crawled back to her feet. She was in a difficult position, but her expression returned to its usual gentle demeanor. She said to Gu Mingxi, ’’Mingxi, there's nothing to eat at home. Take Pang Qian out to eat lunch. I'm going to take a bath and clean things up here.’’
Before Gu Mingxi could answer, Pang Qian said, ’’No need! Auntie, it's about time I headed home anyway.’’
Li Han said, ’’That won't do. You came so far to get here. How can you leave without eating lunch? Mingxi...’’
Gu Mingxi didn't wait for her to finish before he said, ’’Mom, I'll stay at home with you.’’
Pang Qian nodded. ’’Mm. Auntie, Gu Mingxi doesn't need to come with me. I'll just go home.’’
She turned to leave when Li Han called out to stop her. Her voice sounded very weak, carrying a hint of pleading. ’’Qian Qian, Mingxi, go out for a walk, okay? Really, I just want to be by myself for a little while.’’
Gu Mingxi looked at Li Han carefully, and asked, ’’Mom, will you be alright by yourself?’’
Li Han wiped at her forehead with her hand. She closed her eyes and nodded.
Gu Mingxi turned to Pang Qian, ’’Then... Pang Pang, let's go out to eat.’’
Pang Qian and Gu Mingxi left together. They took the elevator down, walked out the compound, neither one speaking.
They stood on the street and Gu Mingxi took a look around, trying to find a small shop to eat at. Pang Qian pulled at his sleeve, ’’Gu Mingxi, I think you should go home to your mom.’’
Gu Mingxi turned to look at her, ’’No, I'll go after you eat.’’
’’...’’ His tone was firm, and his expression was stubborn. Pang Qian closed her mouth and obediently followed him down the street.
But they didn't find a place to eat. It was New Year's, so everyone had taken time off. And the big restaurants were very far away. Pang Qian followed Gu Mingxi as they walked around for a long while. Cold and hungry, she finally said, ’’Gu Mingxi, I want to go home.’’
Gu Mingxi still said, ’’No, we haven't eaten yet.’’
’’I'll eat when I get home.’’
’’There's nowhere to eat here, not even a snack stand.’’
’’We'll keep looking.’’
’’We've already walked down a bunch of streets.’’
’’There's a big market up ahead. There's definitely got to be a KFC over there.’’
’’I don't want to eat KFC!’’
Pang Qian stopped in her steps and pulled Gu Mingxi's sleeve. Gu Mingxi's down jacket was pulled taut by her. Without looking back, he said, ’’There are restaurants up ahead. We just have to walk a little farther.’’
’’Gu Mingxi, I'm so tired.’’ Pang Qian sounded like she was nearly in tears. ’’I want to go home. You should go home too and stay with your mom.’’
Gu Mingxi sent Pang Qian to the bus station. The two of them stood side by side. It was noon, but the sky had actually gotten darker. The wind had gotten stronger as well, scratching their cheeks as it whirred past.
Pang Qian was wearing gloves and a scarf. Her hair was blown into a mess by the wind. She said, ’’It looks like it's going to rain.’’
’’Mm.’’ Gu Mingxi asked, ’’Did you bring an umbrella?’’
Pang Qian pointed to the small backpack she had on, ’’Yeah.’’
’’I'm really sorry about today,’’ Gu Mingxi said. ’’Next time, I'll treat you to a big meal.’’
’’Okay, I want to eat lamb skewers.’’
’’We can eat whatever you want,’’ Gu Mingxi smiled.
The bus came and Pang Qian got on. She found a window seat and looked outside.
Gu Mingxi was still standing at the bus stop sign, with a tall stature and calm face. He kept looking after Pang Qian, so she waved at him, ’’Hurry back home.’’
Gu Mingxi smiled, ’’I know. Be careful on your way home.’’
The bus started up. Pang Qian was glued to the window, watching Gu Mingxi disappearing into the distance. The street was very empty, and there were nearly no people out. Gu Mingxi's figure was especially prominent.
When Pang Qian could no longer see him, she turned her head back, sitting there, staring into nothing.
Pang Qian felt that even if she had covered Gu Mingxi's ears earlier, so that he couldn't hear the argument being had, he still knew what happened.
There was a word that Li Han used several times- Slut.
’’If you go to find that slut...! I'll just die for you to see! I'll take my son and we'll die together!’’
’’Has that slut caused you to lose your ability to think clearly? Gu Guoxiang! You don't even want our family anymore?!’’
’’What's so good about that slut? She's young? Pretty? She must be great in bed!’’
’’And the people at work all call you Chief Engineer... Gu Guoxiang, I'm warning you. If you don't break off your relationship with that slut, I'm going to report you for having an affair! I'm going to let everyone at the metals company know that you're a beast in human clothing! Refined scum! You son of a bitch, I'm going to ruin you. Don't forget how long we've been married. All the shameful things people shouldn't find out about, I know each and every one of them!’’
The wind brought in clouds, and the sky quickly turned dark. After awhile, heavy rain poured down, accompanied by thunder and lightening.
The rain swept across the bus windows. The cars on the road all turned on their headlights, some even turning on their emergency lights. Pang Qian was thinking that it hadn't even been 10 minutes yet. She wondered if Gu Mingxi was about to get home yet.
Because it was raining, the streets were a bit jammed up. It was an hour and a half before she finally got home. She was very hungry, but she didn't dare tell her parents that she hadn't eaten lunch. She just feigned a gluttonous stance and had Pang Shuisheng make her a bowl of sweet potato soup. She hid in her room and gulped it down.
It continued raining through the evening. When it was nearly time for dinner, the phone in Pang Qian's house rang. Pang Shuisheng picked up the phone and called to Pang Qian. ’’Daughter! Gu Mingxi is on the phone!’’
Pang Qian walked out of her room. Thinking it was rather strange, she picked up the phone. She only heard the sound of the pouring rain and the swish of cars passing by.
’’Gu Mingxi?’’ Pang Qian asked with some confusion. ’’Are you outside?’’
Gu Mingxi didn't say anything, only gasping for breath.
’’Where are you?’’ Pang Qian became anxious. ’’I'm asking you, where are you?!’’
He finally spoke, ’’I'm near your house.’’
’’Pang Pang, can you come out?’’
’’Yeah. Tell me the address, I'll be there right away!’’
’’Don't tell your parents about what's happening in my family.’’
’’Oh, then I'll wait for you.’’
Pang Qian put on a coat and walked out with an umbrella. Jin Ai'hua stopped her, ’’It's time for dinner, and it's raining outside. Where are you going?’’
’’I...’’ Pang Qian turned to her dad and pleaded. ’’Dad, I'm going to see Gu Mingxi. You guys eat first, don't wait for me!’’
Pang Shiusheng was startled, but then pulled Jin Ai'hua back. ’’The kids must have some kind of activity. Let her go.’’
Jin Ai'hua muttered, ’’What the hell is Gu Mingxi playing at. Didn't Pang Qian already go over there for lunch? What's he doing here now?’’
’’Don't get involved in the kids' matters.’’ Pang Shuisheng said to Pang Qian, who was putting on her shoes, ’’It's raining. Make sure you cover Gu Mingxi with the umbrella. Don't let him catch a cold, understand?’’
Pang Qian nodded before rushing out the house.
She carried her umbrella as she followed the road from the Golden Compound out to the street. She walked and walked and eventually just started running, without any regard to the puddles and dirty water that splashed onto herself. Gu Mingxi said he would wait for her at a convenient store near the bus stop. After about 10 minutes, she finally saw him. As she expected, he was thoroughly soaked in water, looking like a drenched chicken. His IC bus card hang from his chest. His backpack was still on his shoulders, bulging with something. But it had already been soaked through from the rain.
’’Gu Mingxi!’’ She ran over to his side, angry and anxious. She looked him over, then said, ’’What are you doing here? What happened? Did you run away from home?’’
Gu Mingxi took a deep breath and looked at her, water drip-dropping down from his wet hair. His face was all wet and his lips had turned purple. His jacket was soaked with water as well. Pang Qian pulled at his right sleeve and discovered that it was very heavy. When she let go, the sleeve swung back to his side.
Pang Qian pulled out a napkin and helped Gu Mingxi dry off his face. He was quiet for a long time. Then he finally said, ’’Pang Pang, my mom went back to her family home. Her plane ticket is tonight. She bought a ticket just for herself, and she already left.’’
Pang Qian, ’’...’’
’’My dad... I called him. He said he was out of town and wouldn't be back for a few days.’’
’’He told me to go to my (paternal) grandparent's house, but I don't want to go.’’ Gu Mingxi lowered his head. ’’It's winter. I can't stay at home by myself. The sleeves on my clothes are long, and I can't take them off on my own. And I can't cook food. There aren't any convenience stores near our house. I told my mom that I could go with her, that I hadn't seen my (maternal) grandparents in a long time. But she just cried. She kept crying and ignored me.’’
He lifted his head to look at Pang Qian, his eyes dark and heavy. ’’I didn't know what to do, so I came to look for you, Pang Pang.’’