Couple of Mirrors – Chapter 46: Lifting the Veil
Zhou Heng stares disconsolately at the broken butterfly hairclip on the floor.
Then he begins to laugh. He flashes back to an encounter with Zhang Wan, who’s wearing an identical butterfly hairclip in her hair…
…and then an encounter with Chu Huizi, which begins with him slipping yet another identical butterfly hairclip onto her hair.
Zhou Heng’s father steps into the room. ‘A-Heng,’ he begins.
Zhou Heng rouses himself from his memories. ‘Father?’
‘When the trial begins tomorrow,’ says Mr Zhou, ‘you should plead guilty immediately. I’ll take care of everything that happens after that. As for Xu Youyi, you don’t need to worry about her any longer. I’ll—’
‘She’s carrying my child,’ Zhou Heng breaks in. ‘There’s seven more months.’
Mr Zhou stares in wordless surprise for a moment, then reaches out to pat Zhou Heng’s hand and stroke his hair.
‘I know what to do,’ he says somewhat ominously.
In the meantime, Xu Youyi and Yan Wei are leaving the hospital in their car, Yan Wei at the wheel. ‘This isn’t the way back to the studio, is it?’ asks Xu Youyi. ‘Where are we going?’
‘Didn’t you say you wanted to start writing your next book?’ asks Yan Wei.
‘Yes,’ says Xu Youyi, mystified. ‘What about it?’
‘Didn’t you also say the Americans had come up with some amazing new typewriter?’ Yan Wei goes on.
‘Yes,’ says Xu Youyi again. ‘What about it?’
‘We’re going to the department store to buy one!’ Yan Wei declares.
‘You must be joking!’ Xu Youyi exclaims. ‘I don’t have any money left!’
Yan Wei’s only response is to floor the accelerator.
‘I’ll buy it for you1’ says Yan Wei.
‘You’ll buy it? With what money?’ Xu Youyi demands. ‘Do you know how much it costs? Please stop messing around! Let’s just go home!’
At the department store, Xu Youyi can’t take her eyes off the typewriter.
‘Can’t you lower the price just a bit?’ she asks the salesman.
‘I’m sorry, miss,’ says the salesman. ‘This is our lowest price. You know foreign goods are always expensive. Why don’t you look at some other typewriters?’
Xu Youyi looks dejected. Her hands linger on the typewriter.
‘We’ll take this one,’ says Yan Wei. ‘Wrap it up.’
‘Of course!’ says the salesman happily. ‘Just a moment.’
‘This is too expensive!’ Xu Youyi exclaims.
She grabs hold of Yan Wei’s hand and starts leading her towards the exit. ‘Let’s make a run for it before they ask us to pay.’
Yan Wei pulls her back. ‘Why do we need to run?’
She brandishes a large wad of cash. ‘I said I would buy it for you.’
Xu Youyi stares at her in stunned silence.
As the two of them drive away from the department store, Xu Youyi casts a concerned glance at the box containing the typewriter.
‘Weiwei,’ she begins. ‘High-interest loans can be dangerous…’
‘Who says I took out a high-interest loan!’ Yan Wei demands grumpily.
‘Oh,’ says Xu Youyi. ‘Then did you get some sort of inheritance?’
Yan Wei flashes back to a memory of herself, standing in the middle of a battlefield, a lone survivor surrounded by the corpses of other soldiers.
‘Something like that,’ she tells Xu Youyi.
‘I thought so!’ says Xu Youyi, as they approach the studio. ‘The studio is as quiet as an undertaker’s, how could you possibly…’
Yan Wei brings the car to a halt outside the studio. ‘Once I start taking the business seriously, I’ll have lots of customers,’ she says earnestly.
‘Mmm,’ says Xu Youyi with a smile.
You’ve said goodbye to your past, Yan Wei reflects. I should make a fresh start too.
Xu Youyi gets out of the car and picks up the box with the typewriter in it, struggling visibly.
‘What are you doing?’ Yan Wei demands. ‘Don’t move!’
She takes the box away from Xu Youyi, who protests. ‘You shouldn’t be doing this! Give that back to me!’
Carrying the box, Yan Wei makes her way to the entrance of the studio.
‘Slowly!’ Xu Youyi calls after her. ‘It’s very fragile! If you break it, there’s no way you’ll be able to pay for a replacement!’
Huh? Wasn’t I the one who bought it in the first place? Yan Wei wonders.
She pauses by the front door of the studio. ‘Open the door!’ she tells Xu Youyi. ‘Do you want me to stand here until my arms fall off?’
‘All right, all right,’ says Xu Youyi, hurrying up to her.
Later that evening, Xu Youyi sits in front of the typewriter, tapping happily away at the keys.
Yan Wei, carrying a bowl of chopped-up ingredients, watches her. She really likes it that much? Yan Wei thinks with a smile.
She goes up to Xu Youyi. ‘How are you finding it? Do you like the way it works?’
Xu Youyi doesn’t reply directly. ‘Weiwei,’ she says. ‘I want to write a new book. A book about two girls who find salvation in each other. They each have their own troubles, but they’re brave and strong, and they’re willing to do anything for each other…’
She gives Yan Wei a sidelong glance. ‘Do you think that works?’
Is she just talking about the book? Yan Wei wonders, taken aback. Or…
A blush rising to her cheeks, Yan Wei replies haltingly, ‘I… I think it works.’
‘Did I say something wrong?’ she adds nervously as Xu Youyi turns towards her. ‘Why are you looking at me like that?’
Xu Youyi chuckles gently. ‘There’s something on your face,’ she says, as she reaches out.
‘Oh,’ says Yan Wei. Obediently she leans down…
…and Xu Youyi reaches up…
…and kisses her on the cheek.
‘Weiwei, thank you,’ she says.
The bowl of ingredients tumbles to the floor as Yan Wei grabs hold of Xu Youyi…
…and kisses her on the lips.
And after a moment’s surprise…
…Xu Youyi kisses her right back.
Please view the original manhua here.
- The title of this chapter in Chinese is 捅破窗户纸, literally ‘break through the window-paper’ (window panes in ancient China were made of paper instead of glass). This is a slang term meaning, roughly, ‘expressing that which is not ordinarily expressed’. One of the contexts in which the term can be used is a romantic one, specifically where two people have been harbouring romantic feelings towards each other for some time, and one or both of them finally gathers up the courage to give voice to those feelings. The chapter title has been rendered as ‘Lifting the Veil’ here; the bridal connotations of ‘veil’ are very much intended.