By the time I finished the noodles, the rain had already stopped.
The garden was overgrown with weeds. There was no way father could clear them out in his condition.
Thus, I put down the chopsticks, grabbed the spade and went to clear them out.
Sitting in his wheelchair, father watched me work with a smile on his face.
It wasn’t long before there was a knock on the door.
“Who is it?” Father asked.
There was no response, but I knew immediately who was outside the door. I immediately dropped the spade and opened the rusted door. As expected, it was the world-class beauty in purple uniform. She looked up and down before teasing me. “You are aware that a Heavenly King and weeding is an odd combination, right?”
I let out a chuckle before saying in a soft voice, “They can call me whatever they want, but here, I am only my dad’s son.”
He Yi stepped into the house after that. I noticed that she was purposely wearing her badge in the open. What is she planning?
When father saw He Yi for the first time, he thought that his eyes were playing tricks on him. After giving them a rub and confirming that he wasn’t seeing things, he asked, “You are…?”
He Yi stopped in front of father and smiled respectfully at him. “Uncle, I’m Lu Chen’s boss. Did you forget about me already?”
“Ah?” Father’s eyes lit up in recognition. “Are you that girl who came to visit half a month ago?”
I had not heard about this. “You’ve been to my house, Eve?”
He Yi pursed her lips as her eyes turned red. “I thought you were gone at the time, so I checked your household register and came here. I was going to take uncle to Suzhou to take care of him, but he wanted to stay here, so I had no choice but to give up.”
Father smiled at He Yi and asked, “Are you an acquaintance of Lu Chen, young lady?”
“Yep!” He Yi smiled back before pointing at me. “I’m his boss. In the company, he must address me as boss~~”
I was stunned. Seriously, what on earth is He Yi planning?
A hint of relief broke out of father’s expression. “So Lu Chen is working now?”
He Yi showed off her badge before smiling. “Look, it’s a GGS software company. I’m the department manager, and Lu Chen’s a core member of our department. Also, GGS is an international company and one of the Top 500 companies in the world!”
Father looked really relieved. “Hehehe, good. I’m very glad. I’ve been worried that Lu Chen would have an unstable job and lead an unstable life. Oh right, manager, why are you still standing outside? Come in and take a seat. You shouldn’t have come all the way to this small village…”
I didn’t know what to say. Giggling, He Yi stuck her tongue at me before she grabbed my arm and pulled me into the living room behind father.
I had bought this house after I competed in the WSL and won a prize money of 250k RMB. I had meant it to be my father’s retirement house. Now that I took a closer look, I realized that the house looked a bit newer than before. In fact, some of the renovations looked like they had been done just recently. It had to be He Yi’s handiwork.
I couldn’t believe I had missed something this obvious. How careless of me.
Father was very cordial with He Yi. “Manager, I don’t have anything besides a couple of countryside dishes to offer you during your visit. I hope you don’t mind!”
He Yi nodded with a smile. “Of course not, uncle.”
I asked her quietly, “Has the car been fixed already?”
“No, they told me to go back in the morning. I came on a motorized tricycle, it was unbelievably bumpy…”
The chat went on for a little while longer before I rose to my feet. “Dad, I’m going to sweep mom’s grave.”
He Yi also rose to her feet in a hurry. “I’ll come with you!”
But my father asked in surprise, “But manager, why would you want to visit his mom’s grave?”
He Yi turned red as her lies finally caught up to her. She glared at me, and I hurriedly said, “She’s been cooped up in the city all day and night, and she felt like checking out life in the countryside and breathing some fresh air to relax.”
Father’s puzzlement faded away. “Ah, I see. See you later then!”
The second I stepped out of the house with He Yi, I let out a deep sigh of relief.
He Yi was also breathing rather heavily after the fright my father gave both of us. She laughed. “Wow, that was scary. I had no idea what to say just now. Thank goodness you’re a quick-witted person, Lu Chen…”
I stared at her expressionlessly. “Fuck, that was a do-or-die situation, you know?”
“Hehe!” He Yi giggled in a rare moment of embarrassment. After that, she said, “Anyway, you were going to sweep auntie’s grave, right? Should we buy some paper money first?”
We arrived at a small shop. The owner was an old auntie past 60. She smiled at me when she saw my face. “Aiyo, you’re Carpenter Lu’s son, Lu Chen, right? You haven’t been home in a while, have you?”
“Mn.” I nodded. “I would like to buy some paper money, please.”
She nodded, but jolted in surprise when her gaze strayed from me to He Yi. “Ah?! Is it just me, or does she look like a star on TV? Lu Chen, is she your girlfriend?”
“I… er… well…” Having no idea how to answer the question, I wasn’t able to give an answer no matter how much I stuttered.
But He Yi grabbed my arm affectionately and smiled brightly. “That’s correct! We’re visiting a grave after this, so can you please get our paper money quickly, auntie?”
The shop owner broke out of her reverie and immediately got to work, but that didn’t stop her from lavishing He Yi with praises such as, “I’ve never seen a prettier girl than you”, “Are you actually a celebrity?”, “Not even celebrities are as beautiful as you” and so on. He Yi was so delighted that she looked like she wanted to slaughter a chicken and became sworn sisters with the auntie on the spot.
The road beneath our feet eventually turned uneven and muddy. Mother’s grave was set at an empty place outside the town.
The shoes He Yi was wearing didn’t count as high heels, but they were still high enough to make the trek hard for her. She could barely keep her balance every couple of steps, so I had no choice but to hold her with one arm. Frankly, we looked like a pair of passionate lovers on a countryside date.
“Lu Chen, uncle isn’t doing too well lately. The responsibility is on you, you know!” He Yi berated me.
I replied, “I know, but my father’s world is completely different from mine. He could never join our world, just as we could never join his. It’s not something that can be forced.”
“You can still improve his material life. Didn’t I give you a lot of money earlier? Why didn’t you spend them on uncle? It doesn’t look like his life has changed at all since I last saw him, so of course I’m going to berate you for it.”
“Wait, what? You mean the card? Is there a lot of money in it?”
“What? You don’t know?” He Yi looked at me in astonishment.
“I thought there’s only like 200k in it? That’s about how much we got from selling our equipment in Spirit of Grief, right?”
He Yi stared at me before punching me on the shoulder. “You stupid, there’s 4 million inside that card! You’re telling me you haven’t even checked it all this time?!”
I fell quiet. As it turned out, neither my dad nor I had checked the contents of the card. There was no way he wouldn’t mention it otherwise.
He Yi smiled at me, exasperated. “Sigh, I don’t even know what to say anymore…”
I grabbed her hand and gave her a pained smile. “Thank you, Eve…”
He Yi stared at me blankly for a few seconds before she caught herself and looked down in embarrassment. Then, she said quietly to me, “Let’s not keep auntie waiting any longer.”
The sun was starting to set at the horizon, and the night’s chill was starting to enter the air. My mother’s grave was located between a pair of fields and a nearby river.
“This is it.”
I stopped in front of the grave and stared at a smiling photo of my mother. For a time, I was filled with an indescribable sense of emotion.
He Yi murmured beside me, “Auntie was so beautiful…”
My nose tingled, and I crouched to light up the paper money. The sound of burning crackled silently beside my ears.
I was only 16 when my mother passed away. I was at the age where I was most rebellious, and I couldn’t remember how many times I made her cry with my rowdy behavior. She didn’t support my decision to play Starcraft competitively, nor did she agree with my apparent addiction to games. However, she never cared any less about me because of her disapproval, and she never stopped calling my name even during her final moments.
Eight years had passed since then. Every time I thought back to the past, all I felt was a mixture of complex emotions and a sharp guilt for my irresponsible behavior.
I left home to participate in a Starcraft league tournament, leaving my mother heartbroken as a result. By the time I came back, she was already gone forever.
I didn’t know how far my dreams would take me, but I knew that my mother’s love for me had never left my side. I just didn’t know how to appreciate it when I was younger.
I was so engrossed in my memories that I almost didn’t notice that the flames were burning my hand. The only response I could muster was the streaks of tears flowing down my cheeks.
The paper money was wet with my tears.
“Lu Chen…” He Yi called out to me softly.
I looked away to wipe away my tears, but to my surprise, He Yi hugged me and said, “It’s okay now. Whatever happened in the past is in the past. I’m sure auntie is watching you from the heavens, and she wouldn’t want to see you sad, would she?”
I nodded. “I’m fine, Eve. I really am.”
While waiting for the paper money to burn completely, He Yi smiled at me and said, “Would you like to say something to her?”
I nodded again and turned to the gravestone. “Mom, I’m a working man now. Look, this here is my boss…”
He Yi couldn’t help but laugh. “Well, if living at the base counts as working then I suppose that I am your boss.”
Then, He Yi put away her smile and said seriously, “Don’t worry, auntie. Lu Chen is pretty forgetful sometimes, but I promise you I’ll take good care of him!”
Something tells me that I should probably stop her from talking further, but I'm not quite sure why...
We returned home after the visit was over. I slowly walked out of the gloom that cast a shadow over my heart.
“Lu Chen, you got a lot of rewards after killing the boss at the ninth floor of Devil Spirit Hall, right? I was going to ask Mingyue about it this morning, but I kept forgetting because of work.”
“Mn.” I nodded. “It was a pretty sizable reward. I got a Level 80 Dark Gold–grade sword with the Outstanding attribute, a pair of Level 70 Dark Gold–grade boots, and an HP recovery skill book that is usable by undead players only. It looks like my solo grinding won’t be ending anytime soon.”
He Yi smiled beautifully at me. “Why grind alone when you have friends? Bring me with you, I want the EXP…”
“Actually, you have the strength to solo grind an average map now, sis.” I returned the smile. “Your only problem is your offensive power. Your defense is perfect, but without an AoE skill or a powerful offensive skill, you won’t be able to grind as efficiently as you’d like.”
He Yi replied, “It’s fine. Slow and steady wins the race, the skills will come to me eventually. Once we head back tomorrow, I’ll grab Mingyue and grind somewhere with her. I’ll try to hit Level 70 as soon as possible!”
It was night. The stars looked pretty dim tonight, and gentle moonlight passed through the window.
He Yi was arranged on the second floor, in the room next to mine.Previous Chapter Next Chapter