Couple of Mirrors – Chapter 27: A Two-Way Street
Her shopping done, Yan Wei leaps back onto the rickshaw. ‘I’ll double your fare,’ she tells the rickshaw-puller. ‘Just go faster!’
The rickshaw finally skids to a halt outside Yan Wei’s studio. ‘We’re here!’ the rickshaw-puller announces, panting for breath. Yan Wei leaps down eagerly, her arms full of shopping bags.
‘Xu Youyi?’ she calls, walking into the living room, which turns out to be empty.
She tries the kitchen next. ‘Xu Youyi?’ she calls. But there’s no one there, although the produce she bought from the market earlier has been arranged neatly in the kitchen cabinet.
She tries the bedroom and the bathroom in turn, calling out ‘Xu Youyi?’ Once again, no one is there.
She left… Yan Wei walks back downstairs, and sits down heavily on the sofa. Did she really change her mind, the way Zhou Heng said she would?
Yan Wei tortures herself by imagining how Zhou Heng’s visit must have gone. In her imagination, Zhou Heng bursts into the studio, a bag in each hand. ‘Youyi, I’ve brought you your things!’ he announces.
‘Why are you doing this?’ Xu Youyi demands.
‘I know you’re still angry with me,’ Zhou Heng explains. ‘It’s fine if you don’t want go home with me, but you’re pregnant now, and you should take good care of yourself and the baby.’
He opens one of the bags. ‘Look, this is the silk quilt you normally use, and I’ve aired your pillow for you.’
He lays out a selection of baked goods. ‘These are all your favourite cakes and pastries. I passed by Guansheng Bakery earlier, and I couldn’t resist buying some. There isn’t much coffee left at home, but I’ve already spoken to the chamber of commerce about that. I’ll bring you some fresh coffee immediately once the next freighter arrives.’
In Yan Wei’s imagination, Zhou Heng lays out a number of everyday items. ‘These are all the little things you always use. I know they’re not expensive, but it’s going to be inconvenient if you need to buy new ones all over again.’
Zhou Heng holds up an earring to Xu Youyi’s ear. ‘Do you still remember these earrings? I gave them to you when we first met. You said you liked their simple style.’
‘Zhou Heng, how did we end up like this?’ asks Xu Youyi.
In Yan Wei’s imagination, Zhou Heng falls to his knees. ‘I’m so sorry, Youyi. I wasn’t thinking clearly. I know it’s all my fault. I hope you can give me another chance. I’ll treat you and the baby well for the rest of my life, I promise.’
‘The rest of your life?’ asks Xu Youyi sadly. ‘Will you really?’
Yan Wei slaps herself repeatedly to get these unwanted thoughts out of her head.
Even though Xu Youyi always seemed so firm about leaving him, she muses sadly, they’ve been married for five years, after all. And now they’re having a baby as well…
She eyes the shopping bags next to her. What am I even doing?
She flashes back to her own past, to a military camp. One of her comrades points a camera at her as she sits with Good Luck in her lap. ‘Wei,’ he tells her, ‘even if we get out of here alive, people like us can’t possibly have a normal life.’
‘On the battlefield, there’s only life and death,’ he adds. ‘But the outside world is more complicated than that.’
In the flashback, Yan Wei looks at him thoughtfully.
Back in the present, Yan Wei is lost in her reflections. That’s right. I’m a killer, after all. What could I possibly hope for? Besides, I even killed Zhang Wan. She doesn’t know that yet.
Yan Wei picks up the shopping bags. Her leaving this way… perhaps it’s better for both of us.
She brings the shopping bags outside, heading towards the rubbish bin on the corner.
Memories of Xu Youyi assail her: their first meeting at the book signing; the first night Xu Youyi sought shelter at the studio; Xu Youyi leading her out of the police station during the fire; Xu Youyi writing by lamplight. Why do these images keep coming to my mind? she wonders. Are they just here to torture me?
Yan Wei lifts the lid of the rubbish bin.
Goodbye, she thinks resolutely…
…then looks up, startled by the beeping of a car horn.
She turns to see Xu Youyi waving at her from the wheel of a car. ‘Yan Wei, what are you doing? Get over here!’
Yan Wei, delighted, drops the shopping bags and rushes over.
‘Where did you go?’ she asks Xu Youyi, as Xu Youyi gets down from the driver’s seat.
‘I bought a second-hand car,’ says Xu Youyi. ‘A friend introduced me to the seller.’
‘Why did you buy a car?’ asks Yan Wei.
‘Get in and have a test drive,’ Xu Youyi urges her. ‘Do you like it?’
Yan Wei gets into the driver’s seat and clutches the steering wheel. ‘You bought this for me?’
‘Yes,’ says Xu Youyi. ‘I didn’t want you to keep chasing cars on foot. Unfortunately, I only have limited savings, so I could only afford a second-hand one.’
Yan Wei stares at her, and Xu Youyi adds mischievously, ‘Don’t tell me you don’t know how to drive.’
Yan Wei gives her an incredibly smug smirk.
‘Sit tight!’ says Yan Wei, as she turns the engine on, floors the accelerator…
…and takes off.
‘Do you really have to go so hard?’ Xu Youyi shrieks from the passenger seat.
Eventually, Yan Wei brings the car to a halt. ‘I saw Zhou Heng on his way here, bringing you your things’ she tells Xu Youyi. ‘I thought you had gone back with him.’
‘Yan Wei…’ murmurs Xu Youyi, and she gets down from the car.
‘Come with me,’ she tells Yan Wei.
Yan Wei follows her over to the rubbish bin. She opens it.
‘This is…’ Yan Wei begins, then realises what she’s looking at.
‘These are all the things Zhou Heng brought you?’
Please view the original manhua here.