I sat obediently in the tea shop to wait. He only strolled in leisurely 2 hours later.
“What is it!” He asked before he even sat down.
“Last night, did you send Miss Luo back?” I asked.
“She went back herself!” He casually responded.
“Then, will she be coming to our home again in the future?” I asked again.
“She won’t!” He affirmed resolutely. Then, he lit up a cigarette. “You came to look for me for this?”
I nodded my head, and after pausing for a while, I shook my head.
“Xiao Bei is expecting, I want to give her a present. You know, Xiao Bei is my only friend!” I lowered my head.
Xiao Huan smirked. “No problem.” After which, he tipped me a white and gold card. “Now everything is settled, right!”
I shook my head.
“What else is there!” This time, he was really annoyed.
My face paled in fright. I fidgeted with my dishevelled hair and replied in a soft voice, “I’m hungry!”
I don’t know why he didn’t throw a temper after he heard these words. After a moment of silence, he stubbed his cigarette. “Waiter, over here!”
Then I gaped at him in shock. He actually didn’t leave, he had remained seated to accompany me for the meal.
“Si Ying!” His eyes swept past me. He said faintly, “You are my wife, I will buy you the best things and give you contentment that others will never have. But you are too easy to satisfy and this makes me upset, do you understand! What I owe you is money. You need to give me opportunities to return it to you!” He said so with utmost seriousness.
I lowered my head without responding.
“Say something!” He became slightly angry.
What to say. Inexplicably, I laughed again. I said, “Xiao, do you still remember when we first met?”
He did not make a sound. He obviously could not recall.
“I saw you in my father’s office. Back then, you were in the middle of a conversation with a foreign client. You were courteous and well-mannered, stylish and laid-back. Even though I didn’t understand a single word of English, I knew that you had won over that foreigner because he gave you a thumbs up! And you merely flashed a faint smile, magnanimous and full of confidence.
Xiao sipped a mouthful of tea. “Oh? Is that so?”
“Mm!” I nodded my head. Then I continued, “Xiao, in your life, the only thing you did not have confidence in was marrying me to obtain Yuan Sheng Conglomerate. Which is why you hate me!”
Xiao sipped another mouthful of tea. Shaking his head, he spoke unhurriedly, “ Si Ying, it’s not that I hate you. Only, you can’t catch up with me, and so I have no way of loving you. But I will take care of you. Without you, there wouldn’t be the me of today. I will never forget this.”
I looked at him. I don’t know why, but as long as he spoke to me sincerely, I could never be angry at him no matter what he said.
“Then, have you ever loved Luo Qing?” I asked.
Xiao Huan chuckled. He said, “I once loved her!”
“Will you stay by my side till the end?” I asked again, my heart slowed down.
Xiao Huan adjusted his posture and lit another cigarette. After pondering for a moment, he said, “Perhaps! In any case, I won’t be the one who brings up divorce!”
I stared at him. “Then, what if I leave you voluntarily? Would you feel lonely! After all, we’ve lived together for three years!”
“Pfft! You leave me?” He guffawed. “Where can you go if you leave me, I’m too lazy to even think about it!” As he said this, he stood up. “Go back soon once you finish eating. Your current appearance is too humiliating to be seen by others!”
I gazed at his departing silhouette. When he walked out of the tea shop, the shop assistant at the door blushed as she told him that he was welcome to patronise the store again. He walked out coolly, and then crossed the road. Right opposite was the Yuan Sheng Headquarters. His dynasty!
One week later, I visited Xiao Bei. Xiao Bei was pregnant and the child would be called Nan no matter whether it was a girl or boy.
I peeled an apple for Xiao Bei at her bedside. Xiao Bei said with a smile, “Si Ying, don’t be so anxious. I’m only one month in!”
I rapped her head. “From now on, you are not allowed to do anything. You can only eat, drink, pee and poo, you can only smile! You must definitely give birth to Little Nan well.” After I said this, I passed the apple to her.
Xiao Bei took a big bite of it before looking at me. Suddenly, a wisp of distress surfaced in her eyes. “Si Ying, why don’t you move in to live with us! Don’t stay with him anymore!”
I was stumped for a moment. Then, I laughed, “Ah, Xiao Bei wants to raise me. But I’m a parasite who doesn’t know how to do anything!”
Xiao Bei plastered her forehead on my hand. “Si Ying, you don’t have to do anything. Me and my husband will take care of you, give you a family, give you warmth. Our child will call you mother! Si Ying, don’t stay with him anymore!”
I shook my head. “Xiao Bei…” As I was about to speak, I suddenly felt the world spin. My head collapsed onto the bed.
I have no idea how much time passed, I felt someone hit my face continuously. I opened my eyes and saw an anxious Xiao Bei.
Xiao Bei dabbed away the sweat on my forehead and asked worriedly, “What illness do you have? Why have you been fainting so often recently?”
I closed my eyes, not looking at her. I said, “Xiao Bei, how did my dad die?”
The hand that was busily wiping my forehead paused. A few seconds later, she hugged me and cried. She said, “Uncle died of brain cancer.”
I closed my eyes. I told Xiao Bei, “Xiao Bei, don’t cry. Apart from my dad, your hug imparts the most warmth to me. I don’t want you to be sad. To be honest, I’ve been mentally prepared for this a long time ago. Cancer is hereditary in nature , the only thing that differs is the timing of onset for each individual. For someone like me who scowls daily and has a hollow mind, it’ll be strange if I didn’t fall ill!”
Xiao Bei sat down, her eyes all red. She asked while sobbing, “Does he know?”
“He doesn’t.” I shook my head. “I don’t plan to tell him either.”
Xiao Bei nodded her head, not saying another word. She understood me best.
“Why does Xiao Bei come over every day!”
One Sunday, he took a nap and only got out of bed at two in the afternoon. The moment he came out of the bedroom, he saw Xiao Bei in the middle of testing my vision.  “You’re sick again? Did you get it checked at the hospital?” He asked me while yawning.
“Mm, my vision has just been getting worse, it’s not a big issue!” I said.
“Oh!” He nodded his head and yawned again. His hair was dishevelled and he looked adorable.
“Xiao!” I called him. “Can I ask you for a favour!”
He reclined on the sofa. “Say it!”
I walked over and sat beside him, before stretching my hand out and resting it on his thigh. “Let’s sleep in separate rooms!”
He sat up abruptly and looked incredulously at me. “Why?”
“Because I’m now a Buddhist. I want to purify myself!” I casually made up an excuse.
He reacted as though he had heard a joke and burst into laughter for quite some time before he finally said leisurely, “No way!” Then, he grabbed my hand and brought it to his chin, rubbing it against his stubble. The back of my hand felt prickly. He played like this for some time before finally speaking, “Si Ying, don’t make things difficult. You know, I am someone with needs!”
“But, you still have Luo Qing!” When I said this, I didn’t dare to look at him.
Xiao Huan laughed, “She is someone with her own life to live. Si Ying, she is not my wife!”
I sat in his arms and looked at the wedding ring on his fourth finger. It had already lost some of its original lustre. During these few years of marriage, we had never conversed properly with one another. My ring and his ring had never touched, because we had never held hands.
I embraced him tightly. “Xiao, I really love you, which is why I am afraid of making love with you. You only act to satisfy yourself! Am I right? You also don’t want children, which is fine, I don’t mind. My entire life can fit in your palm. Can you give me some space to fantasise so that I can slowly become independent?
Chang Huan looked at me and seemed pensive. “If you want independence, I can help you. But this does not come into conflict to the matter of sleeping together!” As he said this, he carried me and walked into the bedroom. I know, he just wanted to satisfy himself!
As he closed the door, I asked him, “You really don’t love me?”
He stripped my pajamas and kissed me gently. Through his teeth, he merely said, I’m sorry!
Sunlight stealthily engulfed the remnants of darkness. Before I had time to draw the curtains, it had already painted the room into a dotted portrait. I lowered my head and gazed at the rays of light hitting the ground, each seemingly beating with life.
It was 8am in the morning, the bed was empty. He had already gone to work. I folded the quilt and stood barefooted on the ground. The faint scent of cologne wafted from my hair, a trace he had left behind from last night.
I am a woman who lives a monotonous life. When he wasn’t around, it was even more routine. Every day, I got out of bed, ordered food in, watched television and walked the streets alone. Then, wherever I walked to, I would randomly choose somewhere to eat when I was hungry. If I didn’t feel like strolling, I would sit at home the entire day until he came back, and then exchange a few words with him. Although we didn’t speak much, but that would be my happiest time of the day.
In the past, Xiao would introduce me to some of his friends’ wives. He said that they were the same as me, living every day in indulgence. He wanted me to learn from them. But Xiao Huan should have known that I was different from those wives. Those dazzling jewellery and luxurious spas did not suit me. Every time I hung out with them, I was unhappy and would end up secretly giving Xiao Bei a call. No matter what the circumstance was, Xiao Bei would always come to pick me up, and then bring me out for a meal. When we ate, she would rap my head and say,
Our Si Ying is a dimwit! She has money but doesn’t know how to spend it!
At that time, I would cheer up. Every moment I spent with Xiao Bei was so carefree.
Truly, apart from Xiao, I liked Xiao Bei the most. Although Xiao Bei was completely different from me, she was an even greater woman than Luo Qing. In life, she never made compromises easily and had an unwavering willpower in her. She was optimistic and lively, sympathetic and good at reading others. Hence, I always listened to her ever since we were young. The only thing I didn’t pay heed to was the matter regarding my marriage to Xiao Huan.
But Xiao Bei said, “Fine, Si Ying, we’ve grown up together and I understand you. Although you clearly know that he is only using you, you are still willing to marry him. What else can I say? Because our Si Ying is dimwit, so even if your husband doesn’t bring you happiness it’s fine. I will bring you happiness.”
Xiao Bei was such a woman. Her resolution and her loyalty were traits that I hoped I would possess in my next life, and I prayed for these every day. I constantly thought: If I could become her in my next life, I would want to meet Xiao Huan again and become a woman that he admired; But if in my next life, if I was still me, I wouldn’t want to meet him again. Even if we bumped into each other, our shoulders would just brush against one another, there should not be love at first sight.
I turned on the television and randomly chose a channel. I started to sip coffee on the sofa, one cup after another. My entire mouth was flooded with this lingering bitter taste that brought on waves of headaches.
Every time my head hurt, I would gaze out of the window. Occasionally, the curtains would rustle in the breeze, and these small movements represented the world outside.
The appearances of those white-collared woman on the streets suddenly became like the joker card to me. They all say that men don’t like clever women, but I know, I knew all too well that accomplished man yearned for clever partners. Hence, they would never love a stupid and ignorant woman, even if they are married to you.
After finishing the coffee, small pieces of pills that had yet to dissolve remained at the bottom of the mug. I fished those pieces out and swallowed them bit by bit. Nowadays, I must depend on these sedatives  to live. Otherwise, if I was too alert, it would be easy for me to fall apart.
The countdown on my life has begun. Even though it was such a monotonous and cowardly life, I was still reluctant to leave it behind and to part with it!
Do you know?
How much I love you.
 This is honestly quite a sweeping statement. There are many other causes of recurrent syncope, cancer being one of the least common causes. Also, most brain cancers do not have a hereditary link! Alas, this is a novel not a factual webmd page, so that’s that.
 Brain tumours can compress on the optic nerve and cause visual disturbances. This explains why Xiao Bei is checking her vision.
 The author is referring to benzodiazepine, which helps with anxiety and insomnia.