Chapter 23: Chen Jiaman

Lu Chenzhou didn’t come back down the rest of that day. Instead, he called a driver to send Cheng Xi back home.

Originally, Cheng Xi had wanted to chat some more with Lu Chenzhou’s grandparents to understand Lu Chenzhou’s background and his home environment while growing up. However, they were too agitated. Regardless of what topic she brought up, they were always able to maneuver the conversation back to questions like: “When do you and Zhou plan on getting your marriage certificate? Do you want a grand wedding feast?”

Or, they would say something like, “The two of you aren’t young anymore. Why don’t you prepare to have a baby? His father doesn’t care, but we’re still young and can help you raise the kids.”

In front of two grandparents excitedly hoping for great-grandchildren, even the psychiatrist Dr. Cheng was completely and utterly defeated.

When Cheng Xi returned home that day, she almost felt like there would be more surprises lying in wait for her. The entire day had seemed like a dream—from Lu Chenzhou forcefully booking all of her appointment slots, to Baldy’s appearance, to signing that contract with Lu Chenzhou… everything seemed so unrealistic.

She fell into her bed, exhausted. But then she saw that Chen Jiaman’s nurse had sent her a video of Chen Jiaman; it was getting close to nighttime and she had started becoming active again, this time by repeatedly hitting the doorframe in an attempt to get out.

Cheng Xi packed up some supplies and rushed to the hospital. On the way there, she received a call from Lin Fan, his tone apologetic from the very beginning. “Sorry, I was busy and haven’t been looking at my phone. Did you call?”

Cheng Xi rapidly walked past a traffic light. “Yes.”

“Is something the matter?”

“...Nothing. I just wanted to see how you were doing.”

“Oh.” 

The two didn’t know what to say to each other.

Time had caused them to drift apart. In the past, even when passing notes, they had an unlimited amount of subjects to talk about. But now, with cell phones to their respective ears, a slight awkwardness permeated even the sound of their breathing.

Cheng Xi had already reached the hospital. “If there’s nothing else, then I’m going to hang up. I’m busy right now.”

“Okay.”

Cheng Xi didn’t have any time to reminisce about the past; she went straight to Chen Jiaman’s ward. When she arrived, she encountered a crowd of doctors and nurses on duty coming out from the room.

“Dr. Cheng, you’re here?” One of her colleagues greeted her. “We’ve taken care of it.”

Cheng Xi responded without much thought, and instead turned her gaze into the ward. She saw Chen Jiaman tightly bound to the bed; her four limbs were spasming, her gaze expressionlessly staring at the ceiling, and her mouth emitting low moaning noises like a wounded beast.

“Weren’t you guys going to wait for me?” Cheng Xi asked as she headed inside, her voice taking on a rare edge of censure. 

Behind her, the doctor that had just greeted her replied dismissively, “What would have changed? Wouldn’t we still have used a tranquilizer needle in the end? Rather, if you run around on such a cold night, wouldn’t your rich boyfriend be worried?”

Cheng Xi stopped and turned to look at him, finally recognizing him. When she recalled more, he was even her senior—both of them had been Cai Yi’s students. When Cheng Xi had started her doctoral program, he had been on the cusp of graduating; but when Cheng Xi had graduated, he was still at that cusp. Cai Yi had frequently said that he had a good family, a good background, but not good brains. She didn’t understand why he wanted to be a doctor when he could simply lie back and relax.

Cheng Xi huffed in exasperation even as she smiled at him. Before he could reciprocate, however, she steeled her expression and said seriously, “Chen Jiaman is my patient. Thank you for your help tonight, but I hope that you’ll ask me before administering any other kind of treatment to her in the future.”

Having said this, she turned and went into the ward, closing the door with a bang.

As the door shut, she heard him outside, shouting, “Eh, is she blaming me?”

Several of the nurses holding Chen Jiaman down released their hands. At this point, Chen Jiaman was slowly calming down.

“Dr. Cheng.”

Cheng Xi waved her hands in dismissal. “I know how hard you all have been working these past few days, but you should all be familiar with the reason why I don’t want to use tranquilizers. They can certainly make her calm down faster, but what about afterwards? Have you realized yet that every time you forcibly inject drugs into her body, she resists it more and more the next? Whether this is making her better or making her worse, others might not know, but shouldn’t you all?

“But we don’t have a choice either. She isn’t the only patient that’s staying here; once she starts making a disturbance, all the other patients will, too.” Upon seeing Cheng Xi’s expression relaxing, the speaking nurse used her eyes to direct the others to leave, before she lowered her voice and said to Cheng Xi, “Dr. Cheng, the other doctors said that your accepting of this patient would be a lot of work for no reward because even if you cure her, even if she becomes rational again, she would realize that she was the one who killed her grandmother, with whom she was living with… Do you think that, with her mental condition, she could ever recover?”

“Then what should we do?” Cheng Xi looked at her. “Should we let her live in her delusions, going about life like this?” Smiling, she continued. “Ms. Zhang, I’m a doctor. The first day I put on this white coat, my professor told me that this attire represents eight words: a worker for health, a caretaker of life. Before I met her, perhaps I could have pretended to not know. But after having met her, having her becoming my patient, I must do my very best to help her. At the very least, I want to wake her up, so that she can make that decision for herself.”

After everyone left, Cheng Xi stood alone in front of Chen Jiaman’s bed for a long time. Such a small, frail child, lying there without sound or breath, pitiful and lonely.

She bent down in front of Chen Jiaman, waving her hand lightly. “Chen Jiaman, do you want to get better?”

Chen Jiaman didn’t reply. She had fallen asleep, but wasn’t sleeping well. Cheng Xi didn’t know what Chen Jiaman was experiencing in her dreams, but tears were streaming down her face.

She wiped the tears from Chen Jiaman’s face time and time again, sitting in front of her bed for half the night. When it was close to midnight, Chen Jiaman woke up briefly. At that time, the room was dim, and the only light source was the soft starlight shining in from a window.

Chen Jiaman touched Cheng Xi’s hand. “Are you a ghost?”

This was perhaps the time of day at which she was most normal. Without hysteria infecting it, her tender voice carried with it a confused innocence, characteristic of girls her age.

“Yes.”

“How did you die?”

“Someone chopped off my head.”

Chen Jiaman then brightened up, clambered to her side, and whispered into her ear, “Someone also chopped off my head. It’s not so bad.” She started giggling, and then suddenly stared at Cheng Xi’s back, somewhat frightened. “There are so many ghosts, so many… Shh, don’t startle them.”

She pulled her blankets back and lay back down, covering herself tightly. It was the same position that Cheng Xi had seen her in earlier that morning, when she had been sleeping like a corpse.

When Cheng Xi walked out of Chen Jiaman’s ward, it was already bright outside, and the comforting sunlight of deep autumn was shining in from the depths of the corridors. But it only illuminated a white wall.

Instead of heading home, she went straight to the classroom. Originally, she had decided to work for a while, but she had been told that the head of her department had sent word that she was to rest for a while.

Cheng Xi immediately felt like she had taken two arrows to the knee, her face so hot that one could fry eggs on it. All these years, she’d been a diligent worker. Perhaps she wasn’t the best performer in the department, but she had certainly never encountered as unusual a request for leave as this.

The person who informed her looked at her expression, and comforted her. “Don’t worry about it; a break’s a break. If I were you, I’d take a long vacation and just forget about work.”

Cheng Xi tried to stem the rumors. “I really don’t have a filthy rich boyfriend. Booking my appointment slots was all someone else’s nasty prank.”

Her colleague merely dismissively replied. “Yes, yes, I know. A prank.” She raised her head toward the ceiling and sighed. “I also want a prank like this. Please, give me one!” 

"……"

With nothing to do, Cheng Xi could only return home. She slept the whole morning, and then called Cheng Yang in the afternoon. “Do you have time? If you do, drive me somewhere.”

Since she was free, she had decided to explore Chen Jiaman’s neighborhood before her father returned.

But Cheng Yang rejected her. “I’m busy! Find a boyfriend to play with---only a boyfriend will be at your beck and call.”

And then Cheng Xi suddenly thought of her brand new boyfriend Lu Chenzhou. She cradled her phone and considered her options for a moment before she took the contract out of her bag and called him. “Mr. Lu, can I ask you a question?”

She didn’t know if Lu Chenzhou was busy, but it took him a while before he coolly responded, “What is it?”

“As my boyfriend, will you perform some tasks for me?”

“What?”

“For example, driving me around and all that.”

Lu Chenzhou thought for a moment before replying, “Where are you?”

Cheng Xi reported her address.

“Okay, I’ll send a chauffeur to fetch you.”

“A chauffeur? You aren’t coming yourself?”

“Why should I go?” Lu Chenzhou’s voice was filled with confusion. “I have money, enough to hire a dedicated chauffeur. Why should I go through the bother of driving myself?”

Cheng Xi laughed. “Then, can I travel via plane?”

“Yes,” Lu Chenzhou replied without hesitation. “Just let me know where the nearest airport landing bay is.”

"……"

After taking an arrow to the knee, she then hit her foot with a stone she had picked up herself; this time, she even had to patiently persuade Lu Chenzhou to dismiss the idea of picking her up in a helicopter!

Only now did Cheng Xi finally realize that Lu Chenzhou was really that rich, and that he couldn’t take a joke!

Cheng Xi almost wanted to cry. “No, no, I’m really kidding. Don’t take it seriously. Really, I don’t need a helicopter, I promise!”

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