Chapter 153: The Little Girl Within the Memory
Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
Her mother looked at her in the eye and passed the books to her. “Take a look. You’ve always loved reading every since you were young.”
Xia Qingyi took the books, felt the heaviness of their weight, hugged them to her chest and thanked her mother.
Han Liang had just returned downstairs. He changed his shoes at the entryway, placed his keys on the table, walked to the living room and raised his head and saw the two of them standing at the second story corridor.
“What are you two doing?” Han Liang asked.
“Mom just gave me two books to read,” Xia Qingyi went downstairs hugging two books to her chest and waving another in her hand.
“What kind of books?”
“Mom said they were books I read in the past, ummm… Andersen Fairy Tales . I want to read them again.”
Han Liang scanned through the book title and turned his head around. “They’re children books, and yet you like reading them again.”
Xia Qingyi said, “It feels good.”
Han Liang asked again, “What do you want to eat tonight?”
“I’ll eat whatever Mom cooks,” Xia Qingyi was already sitting on the sofa and casually flipping through the books, looking indeed like a child reading books. Most of the books had colorful illustrations, and the words were printed in huge sizes with phonetic transcriptions labeled at the bottom, making them look like comic strips.
“You don’t have to go for class the day after tomorrow. I requested leave for you, and we’ll go to Uncle’s house for a meal together.”
“Uncle?” Xia Qingyi remembered the words she had heard them say that night at the door.
“Yup… your uncle heard that you’d returned, he missed you and wanted to see you.”
“Oh.” Xia Qingyi said, “Is his house far from here?”
“It’s pretty far, around a six to seven hours drive from here, we’re thinking of staying there for a day.”
Xia Qingyi nodded her head and said okay.
When the day to go to her uncle’s house came, Han Liang woke her up early, and the three of them started driving to her uncle’s house after they had finished eating at nine in the morning.
Xia Qingyi did not have much impression of this uncle. She could still vaguely remember a few things when her mother told her about her uncle from the back seat, but only a little, and only memories from when she was very young.
Xia Qingyi asked her mother why most of the things she could remember were from when she was young.
Her mother said that their family had interacted more with her uncle when she was young. When she was still young, they would put her at her uncle’s house if anything had happened at home, and pick her up after two days. They moved here after she had grown up, and did not contact him much, so it was normal that she did not have much impression of him when she was older.
But Xia Qingyi kept feeling that there was something wrong.
She sat in the passenger seat, Stories of Greek Myths that she had taken from her mother two days ago sitting on her lap. She thought that she could look at it in the car. But after going through it in detail, the book showed no signs of being used by someone else before. Other than the myths which she had no interest in, she did not discover any useful information.
Unknowingly, they soon arrived at her uncle’s house. Han Liang got out of the car and opened the car door to carry some things they had brought for her uncle. Xia Qingyi got out and went to the back to help her mother out.
Her uncle’s house was located within a rather luxurious looking area. The three of them arrived below the apartment. With his hands full of things, Han Liang said to take the lift straight to the twelfth floor, where her uncle’s house was.
Not long after, they stood in front of her uncle’s house. Xia Qingyi rang the doorbell, and after a while, someone opened the door. This made her feel surprised.
“You’ve arrived,” Uncle Luo Su stood at the doorway, smiling. “Come in quickly, don’t remain standing outside.”
He looked plump and sported a buzz cut, making him look amiable. Xia Qingyi did not know whether she had imagined it, but she felt like her uncle had been staring at her ever since she had entered.
“Come, come, come… sit on the sofa… are you thirsty? I’ll bring some water for you to drink,” Luo Su hurried to the kitchen.
They sat on the sofa. Only Xia Qingyi was a little cautious and sat in a rather uptight manner, her hands placed on top of her knees. She was a little surprised that her uncle passed a cup of water to her first, and hurriedly thanked him as she accepted the cup from him.
Luo Su sat at the sofa on her side after he had finished handing out the water and looked at her. Xia Qingyi felt a little scared seeing him stare at her, and carefully asked, “Uncle… is there something you want to say?”
Luo Su smiled and shook his head. “No, it’s just that I haven’t seen you for a long time.”
“Didn’t Mom say that I would occasionally come and visit you here in the past?”
Luo Su glanced at her mother, and quickly said, “Ah? Yes… but you would come for only once a year, and plus you had an accident earlier on, so I haven’t seen you for a year and a half.”
Luo Su looked at Xia Qingyi and muttered to himself, “I almost can’t believe that you’re actually back.”
Xia Qingyi felt that the words he said were strange. She furrowed her eyebrows, sipped at her water and kept quiet.
Luo Su continued to look at her for a while, and was finally dragged away by her mother to cook in the kitchen. There was only Han Liang and Xia Qingyi left in the living room. Han Liang quietly sat beside Xia Qingyi, leaning his arm against the sofa as he put it around her shoulders.
Xia Qingyi tried to ignore his action. Seeing that there was no one else in the house, she asked, “Where’s the rest of Uncle’s family?”
Han Liang said, “Your aunt is on a business trip to Q City, and said she would come back in three days. Their children are at school; I think he’s going to pick them up later.” He inched a little closer to Xia Qingyi. Xia Qingyi quietly pretended to look around and stood up to escape from his embrace and started walking around the living room.
“Is this a photo of his family?” Xia Qingyi picked up a photo from the table. It was a family photo, with a man, a woman, and a little girl around seven or eight years old inside it.
Han Liang walked over, and looked at it. “Yup, this is his family.”
“Oh… right… why haven’t I found my family photo at home… I don’t even know what my father looks like.” Xia Qingyi suddenly thought of this.
“Oh, that. Your mother kept it. Ever since your father passed away, there’s not a single family photo in the house.”
Xia Qingyi looked at the other photos. Han Liang was summoned to the kitchen by her uncle for some reason.
She walked and stopped around the room. Seeing that there was a photo album on the coffee table next to the television, she swiftly took it and flipped it open. Most of it was photos of her uncle’s family. There were solo shots, couple shots, and also photos of the three of them together. They smiled so sweetly in the photos that even Xia Qingyi could not help but smile as well.
She continued to flip until she saw an old photo, and her hands froze.
The little girl in the photo looked very similar to her. She was probably around seven or eight years old, was standing in the courtyard with her face all dirtied, a small shovel in her hand. Wearing a dress, the girl was smiling happily at the camera.
She also noticed that in the far distance of the photo, there was another girl on the grass as well. She was wearing two ponytails, her back was facing the camera, and she was sitting on the grass doing something.
Xia Qingyi’s eyes moved from the girl smiling at the camera to the girl with her back facing her.
She kept feeling that this girl’s back view was very familiar, as though she had seen it somewhere before. And there was an inexplicable intimate feel to it.
“You’re looking at photos of you when you were young?” Luo Su walked over and looked at the photo Xia Qingyi was looking at.
She was a little surprised by him, and nodded her head. “Yes.”
“You were really playful when you were young. This photo was from my previous house when you insisted on playing with the shovel with Xiao Pang next door, and made yourself all dirty. Your mother almost wanted to scold me for taking care of you until you became like this when she came to pick you up.”
“Then what about this girl?” Xia Qingyi pointed at the girl sitting on the grass behind.
“My daughter. She was looking at the flowers on the ground at that time.”
Xia Qingyi looked at it a few more times and then closed the album. “I’ll go to the kitchen to check on Mom.”
Luo Su nodded his head and followed behind her.
They were sitting around the table and eating when Luo Su’s daughter came back. She was probably around seventeen or eighteen years old. Her wide blue and white school uniform was tucked in around her waist, and she was wearing ripped jeans and carrying a huge schoolbag. She silently noticed the people eating around the table and made a beeline for her room.
“Luo Meng! Stop right there! Where are you going? Can’t you see that we have guests?” Luo Su saw that she had immediately walked towards her room once she reached home and was angry.
Luo Meng reluctantly turned her head and threw her schoolbag onto the sofa in the living room. “After being locked up at school for so long? Don’t I have any freedom at home? I’ll go wherever I want to go.”
Luo Su looked a little awkward. “Your… your cousin finally came back, can’t you just sit down and eat and talk a little with her?”
Luo Meng glanced at her and snorted. “She… I’d rather not! What does her coming back have to do with me? Why must I talk with her?”
“Luo Meng! Don’t go too far. You can mess around however you want usually, but today’s not the day for you to throw your tantrum!”
But Luo Meng did not take his words to heart. She frowned and continued to walk back to her own room. Luo Su apologetically looked at the three of them at the table and said, “I’m sorry, I spoiled her too much. And she’s in her rebellious period now, so please be tolerant towards her. Don’t worry, I’ll go and make her come over and eat with everyone.” After he finished speaking, Luo Su stood up to go after Luo Meng.
“Uncle, there’s no need to trouble you. She doesn’t have to come if she doesn’t like it. The more you control her, the more irritated she could become. We’ll just eat together,” Xia Qingyi said to him, not wanting him to take another trip.
“No, no, how can this be. The three of you just eat first, I’ll go check on her and see what she’s fooling around with,” Luo Su still stood up and left the table.
Xia Qingyi wanted to continue speaking, but Han Liang next to her suddenly stopped her and said in a low voice, “Don’t bother, let them settle their family issues themselves. We should eat first.”
She did not say anything else and looked at her mother beside her. Her mother was still eating, her expression calm, as though she was used to these kinds of things happening.