The music festival ended and the guests left one after another.
The bustling crowd was full of chatting voices. Tonight’s most watched young singer met a successful businessman with a calm aura.
He greeted politely, “President He.”
He Xiao looked sideways and responded to the greeting.
Then he said, “Your acceptance speech was very good.”
The young singer hadn’t seemed to have expected this compliment and he looked surprised.
Then he immediately smiled. He waved at this person who was both strange and familiar before being escorted away by his assistant.
He Xiao watched the somewhat shy smile disappear into the sea of people.
After a long time, he finished the greetings and conversations with other people and got into the car alone.
The driver skillfully asked him, “President He, where are you going now?”
“Then the things you brought back from this business trip…”
“Send it tomorrow.”
“Yes, President He.”
The low-key black luxury car drove to a star rated hotel located near the group’s headquarters.
Along the way, He Xiao looked at the night scenes flashing by outside the car window and recalled the short but unforgettable acceptance speech.
His hatred stayed in the past.
Now He Huaili and Sheng Xiaoyue were the ones hating him.
Thus, he wasn’t qualified to return to the home that was always filled with warm lights.
Every time he came back from a business trip, he would buy many souvenirs and special products.
It was just that he could no longer take it home in person.
In the past, He Xiao always thought that these actions were done in order to show that he loved his mother and that he fully accepted this mother who wasn’t blood rated to him—just like in the past many years.
But one afternoon, before boarding the plane, he still habitually walked into the souvenir store of the airport.
He hadn’t realized what he had done until he walked out of the store and his secretary took the initiative to hold the gifts with fancy patterns.
It was only then that he realized his mother, who wasn’t blood related to him, hadn’t spoken to him for several days.
It was because on an ordinary afternoon, He Xiao suddenly told her and He Huaili that when he was eight years old, he actually didn’t want his father to remarry.
Sheng Xiaoyue was still smiling when she heard this. “I can guess even if you didn’t say it. At that time, I could tell from the look in your eyes that you missed your mother.”
Then He Xiao said something she couldn’t have guessed.
He said that he had always been spoiling his younger brother but didn’t really want to be nice to him.
He just hoped that his younger brother, who was born with a golden spoon in his mouth, would become a useless person.
It was because he hated this brother who was too lucky.
However, his clever brother had already discovered this and wasn’t fooled.
At these unimaginable words, the beautiful smile gradually became helpless.
“He Xiao, what are you saying?”
The mother who always thought she had a happy family and two sons was in a panic.
“Don’t joke about this type of thing.”
But she looked at He Xiao, who had grown up, and could accurately judge that he wasn’t lying.
She heard He Xiao say, “I’m sorry.”
A long time later, He Xiao still couldn’t forget his parents’ panicked eyes at that moment.
Especially Sheng Xiaoyue.
She didn’t have time to hate. She couldn’t digest that her happy family had been subverted with just a few sentences and instinctively showed a sad expression.
Deep sadness was mixed with disappointment and disbelief.
He Xiao couldn’t help wondering. In another future world, would his younger brother also react similarly after suddenly learning that the happiness he had was in vain?
Thinking like this, he felt that his apology was even more despicable.
It was because he couldn’t tell the truth about the novel to his parents in front of him.
He Xiao chose to tear off the mask he had been wearing for nearly 30 years and to reveal his despicable and dark self because the current ‘He Qiao’ had a good life and had never been wronged by him.
His parents would only hate him and wouldn’t feel despair.
Then what if they knew that in the future that hadn’t come, He Qiao would die unexpectedly?
If they knew that the current ‘He Qiao’ was no longer their real son…
He Xiao didn’t have the courage to reveal this matter to them.
He had been having nightmares all year long.
On New Year’s Eve a year ago, he suddenly learned the secret about this world.
He Xiao couldn’t sleep and once went to see a psychologist.
However, he couldn’t say anything when he actually sat in the spacious and clear treatment room. He just sat in silence.
No matter whether it was the dullness after his father’s remarriage in his childhood or the nightmare of transmigrating into the novel that haunted his heart now, he couldn’t easily say it to others.
The psychologist on the opposite side patiently accompanied him in silence.
After a few times, the experienced psychologist took the initiative to say, “Mr He, I don’t think you need my comfort or explanation.”
“Your only problem is silence so what you need most is to get something out.”
“Perhaps it isn’t to me.”
But the person He Xiao should apologize to the most had disappeared.
It wasn’t until the dark cobwebs were dragged into the sun and the weak prey was irreversibly swallowed by the swamp that he understood he didn’t hate the person who had chased after him since childhood and called him brother.
He Qiao was innocent and so was Sheng Xiaoyue.
The only thing they did wrong was to come to this dusty home.
It was the dust laid by him alone.
A long time ago, the innocent and beautiful mother asked her youngest son to sit obediently at the table and reasoned with him, “Your brother is older than you and should eat twice as many chicken wings as you. Do you remember what twice is?”
The usually naughty son was particularly obedient and raised his fingers seriously. “I remember. It is three and six.”
The much older other son smiled and shook his head. “It’s okay, let him eat.”
The young He Qiao was stubborn. “I will only eat three.”
On the side, He Huaili smiled happily. “There are so many chicken wings and there are more than nine. The two of you can eat as much as you want.”
“No, my brother will eat six and I will eat three.” The childish voice was young but firm. “The rest are for Mom and Dad.”
At that time, He Xiao had already entered the darkness. Every time he recalled similar scenes, he just felt that his childhood and youth were shrouded in bright shadows that wouldn’t go away.
He deliberately distorted these obviously sincere loves.
It was as if this would make his life easier.
He Xiao, who had never said a word, finally opened his mouth when he went to see the psychologist for the last time.
He asked the question, “What is real death?”
“I’m a psychologist,” the other person said with a smile. “So my answer is…”
“To be forgotten.”
The light answer was imprinted in the air that had been frozen for too many years.
He was afraid that his mother, who rarely tasted chicken wings in her short life, would be forgotten.
She would be completely covered by shades that were too bright and beautiful.
Sheng Xiaoyue was different from his biological mother but they both loved him the same. This made He Xiao seem to see his mother, who had been away for many years.
It was just that he never admitted it because admitting it would be like a betrayal of his mother, a real betrayal.
He didn’t dare to admit it. He didn’t dare to admit the existence of these two women at the same time like He Huai did.
He was afraid that he would be the last person to remember his mother.
Death wasn’t really a farewell, forgetting was.
So on that ordinary afternoon, He Xiao walked into his father’s study and saw the two photo frames that had been brought back from the chairman’s office.
In one photo frame was a family portrait taken eight years ago. He Huaili had just turned 50 years old and was surrounded by his smiling current wife and his two sons who had faintly similar eyes but very different temperaments. One was educated and restrained while the other was enthusiastic and straightforward.
The other frame showed a family portrait taken 30 years ago. It was a dusty street store and a plainly dressed family of three under a humble sign.
He Xiao had never taken the initiative to pick up these two photo frames until today.
He approached and his fingers touched a slightly cold frame, only to find that there wasn’t a trace of gray on the glass.
Both frames were clean.
Someone remembered to wipe off the dust every day.
He Xiao stood there in a stunned manner for a long time.
The only person who was wrong was him.
Then he turned around and left the study. He found his parents who knew nothing and confessed to them about his miserable self.
He apologized, although one person could no longer hear this sorry.
After confessing, He Xiao felt that he was no longer qualified to live at home so he took the initiative to move to the hotel.
The driver took the souvenirs and special products brought back from the business trip and brought them to the house he rarely went to again.
The days passed like water.
He Xiao no longer needed days off. He worked every day, holding meetings, inspections, business trips and business talks.
He had a very busy life. As he stayed in hotel rooms in different cities, he regained his ability to sleep.
It seemed like he should’ve never had a home in the first place.
Sheng Xiaoyue hadn’t spoken to him in a long time. She never replied to any of the holiday greetings he sent and no longer called to ask him if the city where he was currently traveling to on a business trip was fun. They no longer watched soap operas together while she asked him if he had met someone he liked.
He felt a forgotten loneliness.
In addition to regret, He Xiao also had a trace of happiness.
At least she was just ignoring him.
He could see the news that Sheng Xiaoyue often posted.
She still felt heartfelt joy about the happiness of He Qiao and Chi Xueyan. She would smile at the pink roses that He Huaili brought home and cry and laugh at the fictional plots on the TV.
He Xiao thought that the original novel that the outsider He Qiao briefly mentioned to him must be the saddest story.
Everyone there had lost the ability to perceive happiness.
Or, it wasn’t a book and there was no outsider.
Sheng Xiaoyue, who loved her son deeply, had never noticed the abnormality in ‘He Qiao.’
He was an incompetent brother and Sheng Xiaoyue was the most competent mother.
He couldn’t question a mother’s judgment.
Therefore, he didn’t want to think about it any longer.
If it wasn’t for the matter of transmigrating to the novel, the sad story would become even crueler.
In any case, he was grateful for the arrival of the other person and for the hasty marriage that he had once despised.
It made his parents’ lives happier.
This was always what He Qiao did better than him.
In the midst of his busy work, the end of the year was approaching.
He Xiao was going abroad to attend a business summit.
In fact, the real trip was only two days but he had booked a return ticket for the new year.
However, on the way to the airport, he received a rare call from He Huaili.
“Are you going on a business trip again?”
“Yes, there are some necessary schedules.”
There was a long silence from the other end of the phone.
It seemed to be a type of silence that had quietly existed between father and son for almost 30 years.
After a long time, He Huaili said, “Your mother asked you to come back for the near year.”
He hung up the phone.
He Xiao made the driver turn around.
The schedule after the U-turn was really necessary.
He returned to the long-lost house.
Sheng Xiaoyue still didn’t take the initiative to talk to him. She looked away a bit evasively when she saw him.
However, He Xiao had a rare good dream.
It was because the room that belonged to him was spotlessly clean.
None of the souvenirs he bought were thrown away.
Nevertheless, he knew that Sheng Xiaoyue didn’t forgive him.
This made He Xiao try to minimize the time he spent in front of his parents.
There were still a few days to go before New Year’s Eve, so he stayed in his room as much as possible. Other times, he went to the study to deal with work and occasionally to the company.
Sheng Xiaoyue was busy with her own affairs during the day. She still regularly watched the soap opera at 8 o’clock at night, which was her favorite nighttime pastime.
Now it was He Huaili, who was idle at home, who accompanied her to watch it.
That night, He Xiao returned from the company and saw the warmly lit living room through the window. The TV was on and it was time for the commercials.
He Huaili was making tea while Sheng Xiaoyu was studying which package of melon seeds tasted better.
He stood outside for a while. Then he pushed open the door and prepared to go upstairs with light footsteps.
Then Sheng Xiaoyue suddenly spoke.
Her lively tone was the same as always. “Yesterday’s show is over and a new series will be released from today onwards. The name seems to be very good.”
She seemed to be talking to He Huaili next to her but she also seemed to be talking to the person who just passed through the living room.
He Xiao stopped.
The opening song started to play on the TV.
The night outside the window was like the widest deep sea, silently spreading out and seeping into the silence that had lasted too long.
A moment later, He Xiao sat down quietly beside her just as before. He was holding a thick stack of documents to be processed in his hands.
There was no conversation between them.
But he quietly put the tissue box beside Sheng Xiaoyue’s hand.
This was a very sad TV series. He had habitually read the synopsis in advance.
His mother would definitely cry.
She loved to talk, laugh and cry.
For more than 20 years, he had always remembered this.
He also remembered his mother, who would never grow old again.
They both had the gentlest eyes in the world.
The melodious opening song ended and the first episode began.
A gentle breeze ruffled the curtains of the window.
The light from the screen silently flickered on their faces.