The Moon Will Always Come to You - Chapter 23
Chapter 23: Dickinson
Ruan Zhizhi’s quality of sleep was poor, and that night she suffered from insomnia as expected. The dull pain caused by her hand injury was already insignificant now. She tossed and turned restlessly in bed alone. She didn’t know why, but as long as she closed her eyes, Shi Yan’s face would appear in her mind.
What did he mean by what he said to her on the balcony before leaving that day? “Other people”, did that refer to him? In the end, did he really like her as she thought…or was it all of it simply his whim?
He was always like this. Obviously he was 99% good to her, but the remaining 1% just refused to explain clearly.
But what Ruan Zhizhi never thought was that so long as Shi Yan didn’t confess to her, it meant that she would never have a chance to reject him.
That night, she held all kinds of complicated and unspeakable thoughts in her mind. It was not until very early the next morning that she finally entered the land of dreams dizzily.
That day at around seven in the morning, just when the sky started to brighten, Ruan Zhizhi heard the sound of knocking outside the door, one after another. Neither urgent nor impatient, but very rhythmic.
After undergoing a fierce ideological struggle in her mind, Ruan Zhizhi finally decided to crawl out from the warm blankets and open the door.
She initially thought it was the express delivery man, but when she opened the door, she saw Shi Yan standing in the corridor with a paper bag.
Today, he was dressed in a simple black sweatshirt with a pair of white sneakers on his feet. He looked very clean and refreshing. At this moment, the sky’s light was shining faintly, and he stood quietly in the murky stairwell, illuminating the entire corridor in an instant.
Seeing that Ruan Zhizhi had appeared to open the door, he still had a cold and indifferent look on his face. After shooting her a glance, he entered the house unceremoniously.
He changed his slippers and walked to the dining table in the living room, then opened the paper bag in his hand. He took out a bowl of congee, a box of pan-fried dumplings, and a few small side dishes, arranging them neatly on the tabletop.
After finishing, Shi Yan turned around, tilted his head, and regarded the drowsy-eyed Ruan Zhizhi before him: “Still haven’t woken up?”
Ruan Zhizhi’s face flushed slightly and she bowed her head absentmindedly to straighten her messy hair. “Not yet.” After speaking, she couldn’t help but quickly defend herself: “You got up too early, it’s still not light yet. Besides, it’s the weekend.”
Shi Yan raised his brows, completely ignoring her justification. “Go brush your teeth, the congee will get cold in a while.”
She couldn’t help but rub her eyes and look at the tall figure in front of her one more time. After confirming that she wasn’t dreaming, Ruan Zhizhi nodded in confusion, then turned around and walked into the bathroom.
She walked to the sink and stared at the neat row of toiletries arranged on the shelf. For a moment, she actually didn’t know where to start.
At that moment, there were shallow footsteps behind her, and then a person encircled her. The distance between that person’s chest and her back was very close now. The fragrance on his body was clean, with a faint, lingering hint of tobacco that made her heartbeat race as easily as blowing off dust.
The man behind her embraced her, then reached for the toothbrush and toothpaste from the shelf. Ruan Zhizhi inhaled deeply and secretly raised her head to look at the half-length mirror in front of her.
From the mirror, it could clearly be seen that her height only reached Shi Yan’s chest. His chest was pressed to her back, and both of his hands were making intimate movements, as if he was hugging her from behind, and he was now…bowing his head, squeezing out toothpaste intently.
After squeezing the toothpaste, he turned on the faucet and filled a cup of water, then handed the toothbrush to her: “Brush your teeth.”
He even considered the trivial matter that it was inconvenient for her to squeeze toothpaste with one hand.
Ruan Zhizhi grasped the toothbrush in her hand. When she watched Shi Yan’s back as he turned and left, an inexplicable feeling slowly bubbled up in her heart.
In this way, Ruan Zhizhi finished breakfast under the full care of Shi Yan.
At the dining table, Ruan Zhizhi was still eating the last pan-fried dumpling when she heard Shi Yan, who had been silent all along, suddenly demand: “Go with me to school later.”
Ruan Zhizhi was stunned for a moment. Struggling to swallow the last half-mouthful of dumpling, she asked indistinctly, “Go to school for what?”
“If you’re by yourself at home, I won’t feel at ease. It’s safer to keep you in my sight at all times,” Shi Yan replied casually. His eyes didn’t reach her, but his tone was unyielding, and there was absolutely no room for her to refuse.
Just like that, Ruan Zhizhi was dragged by her left hand that was wrapped like a zongzi. Putting on a camel-coloured trench coat, she blindly followed Shi Yan out the door.
Once again arriving at the campus gates of A University, the students walking around them in twos and threes laughed and scolded each other as they passed by. Everyone’s faces were full of youth, as if everything was promising. Ruan Zhizhi watched them and couldn’t help feeling from the bottom of her heart that she was getting old.
Walking into A University’s campus alongside Shi Yan truly took a lot of courage. Furthermore, Ruan Zhizhi had an injury on her hand, attracting the eyes of even more passersby.
Inexplicably feeling a lack of confidence, Ruan Zhizhi lowered her head and quickly followed behind him. Her head drooped down, looking like a student who had made a mistake.
When they entered the third teaching building, they still had to walk through the confined area in the corridor. This space was tightly closed off and sealed. Last time, Shi Yan had brought her through here. Since Ruan Zhizhi was a little claustrophobic, she still had a deep memory of this stifling, narrow space.
Shi Yan stood in front of her and took the lead to walk into the darkness first. He had just walked a few steps when he thought about it and stopped. He turned around to face her, a probing look in his eyes.
After a long time, he stretched his hand towards her and said in a low voice, “If you’re afraid of the dark, take my hand.”
Ruan Zhizhi bowed her head and hesitated for a while, but nevertheless summoned up the courage to reach out and softly grab his little finger.
His fingertips were ice-cold.
Shi Yan looked down at the hand that was gripping his little finger very carefully. He smiled imperceptibly.
The pair walked through the dim, tight corridor one after the other. As if to embolden herself, Ruan Zhizhi took the initiative to converse: “Have I told you that the reason why I’m afraid of confined spaces is all because I was trapped in a chemistry lab during a circuit failure when I was in university? At that time, there were many dangerous flammable and explosive drugs in the laboratory. After the power went out and the door couldn’t be opened, I was scared stupid. I was afraid I would hear the sound of an explosion in my ears any second, and then my life would carelessly stop there.”
“I know.” Shi Yan’s reply was very nonchalant. After he finished speaking, he paused and added in an extremely soft voice, “That day, I was also inside.”
These words barely scratched the surface. In an instant, Ruan Zhizhi was astonished.
All kinds of thoughts screamed and flashed through her mind.
Right…Shi Yan and her were once university schoolmates. So that time, if he was also trapped in the same lab for an experiment, it was completely reasonable.
“Ruan Zhizhi, you really don’t remember? After the circuit failure that day, you lost your mind out of fear and pulled my hand. You cried and told me that you didn’t want to die. You told me not to let go of you.”
Shi Yan’s voice resounded in the air. Every word and sentence was so clear that it could not be mistaken. It was clearly within reach, but in her ears it was as unfathomable as a hallucination.
Ruan Zhizhi lowered her head, her flushed face almost dripping blood. Even the hand holding his little finger seemed so ill-timed at this moment.
Of course she remembered this incident. But at that time, she only grabbed the person closest to her out of complete instinct. In the darkness, she couldn’t see clearly whether the other party was a man or a woman. It was merely because of her extreme panic and fear that she spoke out those humiliating words without thinking.
She didn’t expect…for that person to actually be Shi Yan.
It was simply unbelievable.
A pair of wide eyes stared at him like a rabbit. Ruan Zhizhi seemed to have lost the ability to communicate for a second. Shi Yan no longer spoke, and the atmosphere sank into silence once again.
Like this, they walked all the way to Shi Yan’s office quietly. Since it was a weekend, the office was completely empty, without a single person.
Shi Yan walked over to the water dispenser, poured a cup of hot water for her, and placed it on his work desk. Uneasy, he urged, “I’m going to proctor an exam now, I’ll be back in about an hour. Be good, stay here and wait for me. If anything happens, call me right away.” Once he finished speaking, he thought for a while, then added, “There are candies in the drawer on the left, if you feel dizzy, just eat a few.”
“Okay.” She nodded in a daze. Ruan Zhizhi still hadn’t returned to her senses from the shock just now.
The other party was unperturbed, as if nothing had happened. He stroked her hair with a calm expression, then seized a stack of exam papers and walked out of the office lazily.
He really seemed to enjoy touching her hair.
Ruan Zhizhi watched his retreating figure. Once again, she deeply felt that it was a pity for a man like Shi Yan to be a university professor.
Sitting alone and staring blankly in the office was really boring. With one hand, Ruan Zhizhi used great effort to take her phone out of her bag and customarily opened a pattern matching game to pass the time.
After playing for a while, she felt a little pain in her eyes, so she put the phone down and started to get lost in thought.
Her heart swayed mid-air, ultimately swaying to the words Shi Yan had said a moment ago.
If…the person she had grabbed in a moment of desperation that day in the lab was truly him, then he should have already known about the existence of Ruan Zhizhi.
Ruan Zhizhi narrowed her eyes and began to carefully recall the occurence that day. Such a deep memory, even after so many years, could not be forgotten.
She remembered that after the power outage back then, she was extremely frightened. She firmly captured the hand of the person next to her, and in a sobbing tone, begged them not to let go of her hand.
At that time, the power outage lasted for about an hour. She clutched that person’s hand and rambled incessantly about the things that happened from the moment she was born until she entered university. This consisted of her despair when her parents divorced, how she had been bullied by her landlord when she first came to the United States because she was in an unfamiliar place without friends or family, and how she had always silently liked Li Sichen but could not get a response.
In her life of twenty years, in just that brief period of an hour, she had told a stranger about everything without reservation.
From beginning to end, that person never said a word, but from beginning to end, they also never let go of her.
She remembered that their palms were warm, but their fingers were cold.
In the end, the lights finally came back on. The door of the laboratory was also opened from the outside by maintenance workers. Ruan Zhizhi cheered with everyone. She was so happy that she didn’t even glance back at him, hurriedly running out to get her cell phone so that she could call Li Sichen and report that she was safe and sound.
Her train of thought sank into the memories that had long withered and yellowed. Ruan Zhizhi’s eyes were blankly fixed at a certain point in the air. For a long time, her thoughts were incapable of calming down.
Shi Yan knew who she was from the beginning. So, he helped her over and over again and was tolerant of her, was that how it was?
From start to finish, from past to present, she seemed to have enjoyed his care all along. Yet she had never done anything for him.
After going on a mental journey to outer space for a long time, Ruan Zhizhi returned to her senses and felt a little dizzy. Recalling what Shi Yan had said before leaving, she lowered her head and fumbled to open the drawer below the left side of the desk. Sure enough, there was an opened package of fruit candies inside.
Taking one out easily, Ruan Zhizhi peeled off the candy paper. Just as she put it in her mouth, she saw that there was also a stack of bookmark papers placed in the drawer.
In any case, there was no one around. With some curiosity, she took them out and discovered a few excerpts and notes written by Shi Yan.
Shi Yan’s penmanship was really good. Pen to paper, it was like moving clouds and flowing water. The power in his handwriting radiated from the paper. There was an unconstrained feeling, as if doing as he pleased.
Ruan Zhizhi held up the bookmark. Written on it was a line in English: Had I not seen the sun, I could have borne the shade.
This was a four-line poem written by the American poet Emily Dickinson. If translated into Chinese, the meaning was probably—
I could have endured the darkness if I hadn’t seen the sun.
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