Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
In the evening, when they were getting ready for bed, one of them washed in the bathroom and the other sat in a wooden tub in the courtyard. Shen Jize was alone in the dimly lit bath room when he suddenly remembered what happened last night and became afraid. The small space was extraordinarily quiet, and something had to break it.
“Rong Rong, what are you doing?” He knew Lu Rong was outside taking a shower, but he asked loudly on purpose.
“I’m washing my Xiang Xiang.” Lu Rong’s voice came in.
Shen Jize had nothing to say: “You’re obviously washing your feet.”
Lu Rong didn’t argue with him, but said sweetly, “A-ha is a-ha.”
Shen Jize could only say, “Rong Rong, sing a song for me.”
“I don’t know how to sing.”
“Don’t lie, does your school not teach singing?”
“Hee hee hee…” Lu Rong laughed.
“Sing, sing to your brother.” Shen Jize took the soap and quickly rubbed it on his body.
Lu Rong sat in the wooden basin, reached out and picked up the water, watched it glisten under the stars, and then slowly poured it back into the basin.
“On LongQuan Mountain, apricot flowers bloom in March.
Holding a flowering branch in my hand, I hope my husband will come.
In April, the birds at the top of the hill are in full swing, in May, the apricot blossoms are white.
In July, apricots are hanging all over the mountain, when will he come…”
Shen Jize was about to continue, when he heard Lu Rong’s milk voice singing outside. The voice was thin and clear, but deliberately mournful and sorrowful, like death. He listened to a few lines, stopped soaping his hands, and almost laughed out loud.
Lu Rong often listened to the women in the village sing this song and learned it well, Grandpa Cai said that they were thinking of the men working outside. He couldn’t understand the emotion, but he could imitate it and sang it with great devotion, sitting in a wooden tub and babbling with emotion.
“Lu Rong, who are you thinking of? Where is your man? Hahaha.” The village people who passed by started laughing, “You’re killing me, you little child.”
Lu Rong wasn’t annoyed when he was interrupted, he just laughed and said, “I’m thinking of my wife.”
“Hahahaha!” The village people laughed even more.
Grandpa Cai came out of the house with a big towel in his hand and said, “What are you talking about? Get up, don’t soak anymore.”
The two of them lay on the bed, and the moonlight covered the room, and the cool breeze drifted in through the open window, bringing with it the sound of distant singing.
“On LongQuan Mountain, apricot flowers bloom in March.
Holding a flowering branch in my hand, I hope my husband will come…”
The song was different from the deliberate sadness that Lu Rong started, a faint sadness and yearning were embedded in it, lingering, longing. Apparently, some people started to hear Lu Rong’s song and also evoked thoughts.
Shen Jize left hand held his head to listen for a while, emotions slowly followed the precipitation, as he unknowingly became obsessed. He was only eleven years old and didn’t understand the meaning behind the song, but he was able to empathize with it, and somehow his heart was sore.
Lu Rong had been quietly pressed against his right shoulder, eyes from time to time glancing at the person above him, finally defiantly said, “She doesn’t sing as well as I do.”
“Huh?” Shen Jize snapped back to attention, stunned, and asked.
“She doesn’t sing as well as I do.” Lu Rong repeated.
“Oh, yeah, right.” Shen Jize said perfunctorily.
Lu Rong looked at him again for a moment, wrinkled his two thin, pale eyebrows, and suddenly climbed up and sat up straight. He looked like he was holding a flower branch with one hand, and made a motion of holding a needle and thread with the other, his little body twisted, and his mouth opened: “LongQuan—”
Shen Jize suddenly rolled over and sat up, reached out to cover his mouth in a hurry, “Yes, yes, certainly not as good as your singing. I know, no need to sing again.”
He coaxed with a few more words, his tone quite sincere, so Lu Rong then gave up the idea of performing again and lay down again. The two of them closed their eyes on the thin and fragmented song.
“Brother, pinch my ears.” Lu Rong said with a grunt.
Lu Rong pulled his right hand and placed it on his own earlobe.
When he slept with Grandpa Cai, he would pinch his ears and scratch his back, but in the past few days, when he slept with Shen Jize, he was embarrassed to ask for it, and his sleep had become less smooth.
Now that the two were close, he was rightfully asking for bedtime benefits.
Shen Jize perfunctorily pinched a few times, felt it was uncomfortable lifting his arms, then withdrew his hand and said, “No more pinching, sleep by yourself.”
“Then you help me scratch my back.” Lu Rong wriggled his body.
“No scratching either, go to sleep quickly.” Shen Jize was a young master at home and was served by his parents, and he also never served others. Now that he was good to Lu Rong, he was already at his limit.
Lu Rong himself turned his hand to scratch his back, scratching a few times out of reach, and then turned sideways to pinch his earlobe. After pinching for a while and feeling uncomfortable, he turned over and over on the bed like a pancake.
He closed his eyes and just put his feet on the wall next to him when a hand fell on his ear.
“Why are you tossing and turning? Lie down properly, and take your feet off the wall.” Shen Jize said impatiently while pinching Lu Rong’s ear.
Lu Rong immediately took off his feet, facing Shen Jize, and wrapped his arms around his waist.
“It’s hot, get away from me.” Shen Jize pushed the boy not very hard.
Lu Rong wrapped his arms around his waist and didn’t let go, and buried his face in it, his breath was hot and baked. He inhaled deeply twice, thinking that his brother smelled good, reminding him of those smells in the air when he turned into a deer running in the woods.
“I’m only going to pinch for two minutes, so fall asleep by then. Once the two minutes are up I’m not going to pinch anymore.” Shen Jize said.
“Nice try, just ten minutes.”
“Then five minutes.” Lu Rong softly begged, “Pinch for five minutes.”
Shen Jize’s silence meant agreement.
Lu Rong closed his eyes and yawned, enjoying the rubbing on his fingers.
Shen Jize felt the soft skin under his hand, his movement was very gentle, and he didn’t notice that his limit was pulled lower again.