Jia Ling, my girlfriend for three years, died in a car accident.
Even though her car was not the one which had an accident, she died. She had rushed out of her car on the accident scene, trying to rescue the baby stuck in its back seat when another car on the road slammed into her from the back as the driver wasn’t able to apply the brakes in time.
It was my birthday. She had a birthday gift in her pocket, a silver pendant.
On her funeral, I wore it and promised to her before her photo, “I will wear it for a lifetime.”
However, in less than a year, I lost the pendant.
I was swimming. The pendant had been hanging around my neck before I entered the water. It disappeared after some time.
I called Zhang Mu. He pushed back his meeting and came over. We searched the bottom of the pool the whole day but couldn’t find the pendant.
After swimming for more than a dozen laps, Zhang Mu mused, “Qian Qi, it’s such a small pool, did the pendant grow feet and run away?”
Zhang Mu was my bosom buddy who grew up with me since I was a child. From kindergarten to college, we studied in the same institution. Our friendship was so deep that we could wear each other’s underwear. Of course, I never asked for them back.
Before my relationship with Jia Ling, Zhang Mu had pursued her for some time.
A gentle, kind and beautiful girl like her was fancied by many. She was also friends with Zhang Mu, but she chose me.
Although Zhang Mu was handsome, he was a famous playboy. He had many girlfriends. A clever girl would never choose him as a boyfriend.
Fortunately, this incident did not damage my friendship with Zhang Mu.
When he came to know that Jia Ling accepted my confession, Zhang Mu smiled: “You are cheap.”
Of course, in compensation, I had to feed him every day at my house for more than a month.
It had become a kind of a conditional reflex. As long as I encountered something I couldn’t cope with, I would call Zhang Mu. No matter where he was or what he was doing, he would leave it and rush to me.
At the night of the accident, I sat on the floor and dialled Zhang’s number, but I couldn’t make a sound.
Zhang Mu didn’t know what happened, but he realized something was wrong with me. He pacified me on the phone. After a few minutes, he spoke again, “Qian Qi, open the door, I am outside.”
Like an unknown saviour, he would appear at the most helpless moments in my life, anywhere and anytime.
In the past six months, I often had the same dream. Jia Ling would appear wearing a white dress just like the one she was wearing before she died. She would tie the pendant to my neck and whisper in my ear, “Remember, wear it all your life.”
But I lost it.
”Forget it. Don’t look for it anymore,” I sighed.
Zhang Mu climbed up from the pool, took away the towel from my hand, wiped my face and patted my shoulder: “Let’s go to a jewellery shop and find one exactly the same. I will buy one for you.”
Can it be the same? I rolled my eyes.
Zhang Mu came closer with his wet body. I frowned and retreated: “What?”
”I say, dude,” he held out his index finger and hooked on an object hanging around my neck. The corner of his mouth twitched. “What is this?”
I looked down to find the silver pendant on my neck.
Everything was because of my carelessness. After returning home at night, to prevent the same mistake from happening again, I pulled out the pendant and kept it in the last drawer of the bedside table. I locked it.
The next morning, as I woke up from my sleep and got up to brush my teeth, I found the pendant hanging around my neck.
The silver pendant shone brightly under the morning sun.
I dialled Zhang Mu’s number and called him over.
”I remember it very clearly. I locked the pendant into the drawer.” I held my head, “It’s not right; it’s not right at all.”
Zhang Mu patted my shoulder: “Calm down.”
The last drawer of the bedside table was still locked as if it had not been touched.
He took out the key and opened the drawer. There was no sign of the drawer being touched except the pendant that should have been in there, had mysteriously appeared on my neck.
“There is only one explanation,” Zhang Mu said. My heart jumped to my throat, looking at his serious face. He continued, “You sleepwalk.”
I slammed a fist into his abdomen: “You sleepwalk! Your whole family sleepwalks!”
”Who can enter this room without awakening you? Even open the locked drawer, take out the pendant and tie it to your neck? Only you can!” He shrugged.
Is it because I have regarded this pendant as a part of my body in my subconscious mind?
I touched it. The coldness made me shudder.
”I will stay the night here,” Zhang Mu said helplessly. “I can monitor whether you sleepwalk or not.”
Before going to sleep, he took off the pendant and tied it to his neck, “I am a light sleeper. I will wake up immediately if I hear any movement. If you sleepwalk in the middle of the night to grab the pendant, I am sure with my conditional reflexes. I will throw you down.”
”I am not that weak,” I rolled my eyes.
Anyway, with Zhang Mu around, I felt at peace.
However, his sleeping habits were bad: stretching his leg on me, or turning over and holding me as a pillow.
I was tortured for a long time. Half-awake, I found a vague, white shadow standing beside the bed. I flinched but couldn’t make a sound.
Deep snores from Zhang Mu echoed in my ear.
The white shadow gradually approached me and got onto the bed. A chill spread throughout my body and cold sweat formed on my palms.
I shivered and tried to escape but couldn’t move as if I was nailed on the bed.
Something crept up from my feet. Although I was covered with a quilt, I still felt chilling cold and got goosebumps.
Zhang Mu was definitely not a light sleeper. It had not turned out like he said, “I will wake up with a small movement.”
”Qian Qi…” the white shadow approached my face. Her voice was sharp.
It was Jia Ling.
Jia Ling in a white dress leaned over and gazed at me with a sad look: “Qian Qi, you promised me. You promised that you would wear it for a lifetime.”
I couldn’t make a sound. I only stared at her.
She touched my face: “I know, you have forgotten me.”
I was shouting in my heart.
”Why him?” Jia Ling turned her face and looked at Zhang Mu, who was sleeping next to me. Her face got covered with haze: “Why are you with him?”
”I was in his car that day. We were coming to your place. There was an accident halfway. I got out of the car to save people, and another car crashed over. I was lying on the ground in blood, waiting for him to come. But he drove away… he drove away!”
The gentle and beautiful face warped. Her hands covered Zhang Mu’s neck.
”If he had taken me to a hospital that day, I would not have died, Qian Qi, I would not have died!” Jia Ling had tears in her eyes, her hands lingering on Zhang Mu’s neck.
Zhang Mu’s eyes were shut tight. A deep red mark appeared on his neck, and his breaths faltered.
Why did you want Jia Ling to die?
Jia Ling seemed to be able to read my mind. She yelled, the harsh scream almost breaking my eardrum.
”He was pursuing me all this time. ‘How am I am no better than Qian Qiqiang? The guy with no money is not worthy of you. I will give you everything you want. This is your bosom buddy. What do you say?”
”On one occasion, he broke into my house, drunk, and tried to force himself on me. When I resisted, he cursed out. He couldn’t get what his friend could. So he should die for me.”
”Why didn’t I tell you? If I had, would you have believed me? A bosom buddy who grew up with you from a young age or a girlfriend who has been in contact with you for only three years, who would you believe?”
”Qian Qi, such a person, can you forgive him? This man who pushed me to hell, can you forgive him?”
Can you forgive?
How can I?
If I had rushed to stop Jia Ling then, maybe I could have saved Zhang Mu.
I wanted to smile, but my face was stiff, and I couldn’t show any expression.
Go to hell.
I closed my eyes, not looking at Zhang Mu, who was losing his breath little by little.
If I could have fallen asleep then, how good would it have been…
I woke up frantically to see the day had turned bright. Zhang Mu, beside me, laid limp. The pendant on his neck was broken in half, its pieces scattered on the edge of the bed.
I got up and reported to the police.
The police arrived and took away the cold body. I went to the police station to record a statement. The final forensic identification result showed suffocation, death caused by unknown reasons.
Only I knew the reason.
I threw the broken pendant into the stove; the burning flame quickly swallowed the silver light.
Jia Ling and Zhang Mu… I knew nothing.
All had passed.
I didn’t see Jia Ling again afterwards. I assumed her soul achieved reincarnation.
I turned off the light and laid down on the bed. Yesterday, I was laughing and joking with Zhang Mu on this bed. He promised he would wake up even with a slight movement. But he didn’t.
He never woke up again.
I touched the place where Zhang Mu had been lying. A cold hand held my hand.
A familiar figure turned over and pressed me under, whispering, “I did say that I will wake up with a little movement.”
I stared at Zhang Mu on top of me.
A familiar face and a familiar smile, as if everything that happened last night was just a dream.
My eyes stayed on his neck. It had an intact, unbroken, beautiful silver pendant.
I could produce no sound in my throat.
”This is yours.” Zhang Mu took the pendant and tied it around my neck. He laid back beside me and stared at me.
”When I saw this pendant at the mall, I felt that it was made for you. I packed it in a beautiful box and kept it in my car. When I was taking Jia Ling to your house, she found the box. She asked me why would I gift this to you? Jia Ling was smart, at least smarter than you. She had already discovered my feelings for you.”
”I was too weak to express my feelings. I resisted them, being content with your friendship. It was all in vain. The more the resistance, the stronger the inner desire.”
”As we were talking, a car got into an accident. She kept the pendant in her pocket and rushed to save someone. I was immersed in the confusion of my secret being exposed. I saw Jia Ling being hit by a car and fall to the ground.”
”If she disappears, would my ugly and despicable feelings ever be known to the world?”
”If you don’t have her, would you be mine?”
”My heart was completely covered in darkness at that moment. I drove off from the scene at the fastest speed.”
”And this pendant, everyone thought to be a birthday present by Jia Ling, became her last relic. Whenever I faced this pendant, I would remember her death. The reason Jia Ling told you to wear this pendant for a lifetime was because she hoped for me to live in remorse and fear day and night..”
”Jia Ling was a very kind girl. She shouldn’t have died. I hurt her.”
”But I have never done anything indecent with her. She made up those lies so that you would stand on her side and hate me.”
”Qian Qi, the kind person who has died, is no longer a living being.”
”If a ghost says something, you shouldn’t believe it.”
And I believed it.
I believed in Jia Ling’s words and watched my buddy who grew up together with me, die. I ignored Zhang Mu as he died, and he ignored Jia Ling and drove away. What’s the difference?
Zhang Mu’s face grew closer as he leaned towards me.
Lips covered with frost, he clung to me.
”I can hurt anyone but you.”
A bosom buddy who grew up with you from a young age, or a girlfriend who has been in contact with you for three years, who would you believe?
The air around us stood still.
I asked: “When Jia Ling appeared last night, did you wake up?”
Because when she held his neck, he did not resist or struggle.
Since I did not believe in him, his heart gave up.
Therefore, he chose to die.
He did not answer. I hugged him and buried his head in my arms.
”Why didn’t you confess?” I muttered.
Zhang Mu smiled slightly, raised his hand to cover my eyes and whispered, “I love you. From the beginning to the end, from life to death, I have always loved you.”
I love you.
Always loved you.
From now on, he would never come to me anywhere, anytime to solve problems, my problems.
When I would be helpless and desperate, I could no longer dial his number.
Why hadn’t I realized this?
I kept my palms on his cold hand and wanted to respond.
Suddenly, my neck was crushed. Cold seeped through my skin as the hands that pressed against my neck got tighter and tighter. Zhang Mu looked at me with pity and softly said in my ear, “You have forgotten, if a ghost says something, you shouldn’t believe it.”