Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
“Wang Fen from Grade 3 Class 2, Chen Cai from Grade 6 Class 1, and Lu Rong from Grade 3 Class 1, come to the communication room to get your remittance slip.” At the end of class, the loudspeaker on the roof of Longquan Elementary School resonated throughout the campus.
Longquan Elementary School was the village school, and the students were all children from several villages on Longquan Mountain, many of them were left-behind children whose parents were working outside.
The parents started to mail the remittance to the old people at home, but the old people were very insensitive to their own names, and sometimes the letter carrier shouted in the village, “Who is Wang Donglai? Who is Wang Donglai from the east end of Longquan Village?” No one answered even if they shouted for half a day.
The old people looked at each other, and only after a while did someone poke the person next to them, “Wang Daga, your name seems to be Wang Donglai.”
The latter simply sent the money order directly to the school, so that the children at home could pick it up. The school address was accurate and convenient, so every now and then, there were students in the envy of the surrounding people, both reserved and excited to go to the communication room to collect the money transfer slip.
Lu Rong was lying in the classroom doing his homework, only hearing the horn blaring, but not paying attention to the content, until his classmate urged him, “Lu Rong, go get your remittance slip, it’s in the communication room.”
Lu Rong was a bit stunned, since he had never heard his name on the loudspeaker, and after repeatedly confirming it, he went to the messenger room apprehensively, still not quite believing it inside.
“Wang Fen’s, here, take it. Lu Rong… Lu Rong… has Lu Rong come yet, who’s Lu Rong?”
Lu Rong took the money order from the teacher who sent and received the letters, and started to read the words on it on the way back to class.
“…Shen Jize …Shen Jize.”
When Lu Rong returned to the classroom, the students gathered around him.
The class was always like this, if anyone received a money order, the whole class had to look at it. The thin paper was passed around, and even if they only touched it for a second or two, they could feel the joy as if they were the ones who received the remittance slip.
——That was the only thing they could feel on a normal day, the concern and love of their parents from a distant place.
“Lu Rong, Lu Rong, who sent you the money?”
“Is it your parents? How much did they send?”
“Lu Rong doesn’t have parents, it must be from someone else.”
But Lu Rong didn’t care about these words, his eyes were shining, his face was red with excitement, and he couldn’t stop laughing in his seat.
It was only after a long time that he said proudly, “My brother sent it to me. See, Shen Jize, that’s my brother’s name.”
He said this with his chin raised a little proudly, reluctant to say that it was his husband’s support money sent to him, his gut feeling telling him not to say that, since he would be laughed at.
“Your brother! Your brother is so nice. See how much money there is, check it.” The classmates all stared at the remittance slip in his hand.
Lu Rong unfolded the remittance slip carefully, and several heads immediately bent over it.
“17,800! Lu Rong, your brother sent you 17,000!” A little fatty shouted out in shock.
Lu Rong was shocked by this huge figure.
Another student slapped him on the head, “Below the word ‘hundred’ is the number one. It’s one hundred and seventy-eight.”
“These are for the pencil books my brother asked me to buy.” Lu Rong, like the other students who had received the money order, kept an uneasy eye on it, fearing that it would be torn, and rushed anyone who looked at it for a second longer.
When the remittance slip returned to his hand, the surrounding students dispersed. He was happy to look carefully, touch the words on it with his hands, and then carefully put it into the book compartment of his bag.
But before he could be happy for a while, he remembered Grandpa Cai’s cane and started to feel sad and happy.
Throughout the afternoon, he was distracted in class, reaching into the compartment of his school bag from time to time to see if his remittance slip was still there.
When school was over, he rushed out of the classroom at the first opportunity and ran along the mountain road to his home.
Puppy was waiting at the entrance of the village, wagging its tail and pouncing on him from afar, before it had a chance to pamper Lu Rong, it ran after him towards the village. Lu Rong ran panting to the village council, rushed into the house and asked, “Uncle Chen, was there a phone call for me?”
Uncle Chen was lying on his desk copying documents and said without looking up, “Lu Rong, don’t you call every Saturday? It’s only Friday, so you’ll have to wait for the call tomorrow.”
Lu Rong’s sweat slid down his forehead, “Last week my brother told me when he called that he could call me if he wasn’t tutoring this Friday.”
“Okay, then you can wait.” Uncle Chen said.
“Mn, I’ll sit where grandpa is.”
Lu Rong sat behind an empty desk, put down his school bag, pulled out the books inside and started doing his homework. When the homework was done, he stood by the cream-colored telephone and waited quietly and extremely patiently.
The water on the small stove boiled, Uncle Chen added it into the water bottle, and put on a pot of cold water. When the boiling water sounded again, Uncle Chen looked at him and said, “Rong Rong, I have to go home to make dinner. You might not get a phone call today, so do you want to follow Uncle or stay and wait?”
Lu Rong said, “Uncle Chen, if you have something to do, go first. I’ll wait, in case there’s a phone call. Don’t worry, I’ll close the door when I leave later.”
He was so young but very organized, Uncle Chen smiled and stroked his head, “Okay, then I’ll go first.”
After Uncle Chen left, the dog also quietly came in and slept at Lu Rong’s feet.
Lu Rong’s left hand was on his cheek. His right hand gently touched the phone, when it suddenly burst out loud ringing, he was startled, and then quickly grabbed the receiver.
When he was about to say hello, he changed his voice and said in a raspy voice like an adult, “Hello.”
“Hello, is Lu Rong there? I’m his brother.” Shen Jize’s voice came over the phone, slightly distorted.
“Meow, meow meow.”
Shen Jize froze and asked uncertainly, “Is Lu Rong there? I’m his brother.”
“Meow meow meow～～”
This time it was a small, sweet little kitten.
“Woof, woof, woof.” Shen Jize laughed twice and then started too.
“Meow meow meow.”
“Woof woof woof.”
After a long time of barking at each other in various accents and laughing, Shen Jize asked, “Rong Rong, did you get the money I sent for my family? I kept a little for myself and sent the rest to you.”
“Yes, I did.” Lu Rong replied in a sweet tone, “I received it today and put it in my school bag.”
Shen Jize heard his pleasure and smiled, “I’ll send it to you every month.”
But Lu Rong remembered Grandpa Cai’s cane, and after a moment’s hesitation, he said, “Brother, you’d better not send it to me, because all the money you gave me during the summer vacation was taken away by Grandpa, and he said he wanted Uncle Shen to pay you back, and I almost got a beating.”
Shen Jize was shocked, “Didn’t I tell you to hide it? How did Grandpa find it?”
“I hid the money in the closet and Grandpa found it when he was looking for clothes…” Lu Rong’s voice was getting smaller and smaller, revealing a strong sense of frustration.
“Did you tell Grandpa that I gave you the money?” Shen Jize asked.
Lu Rong, “Yes.”
Shen Jize, “And that didn’t work?”
Lu Rong, “He just said no.”
“And did you say that I paid for my family?”
“Yes, he laughed first, and I thought it was a yes, but then he laughed and went to the top of the cupboard to get the cane, and I was so scared that I held his legs and slid to the floor, so I didn’t get beaten.” Lu Rong said with palpitations.
Shen Jize was silent for a moment and then sighed, “It’s too hard to pay for a family, but I thought that everyone else in your village would be happy to receive it… Did he receive the gift my mother sent to my uncle the other day, asking him to pass it on to Grandpa?”
After he brought home the bag of preserved meat from Grandpa Cai, Mother Shen went out that day and bought a whole bunch of specialties from the capital and sent them to the mountain, asking Shen Yan to pass them on to Grandpa Cai no matter what, and also called the village committee to invite Grandpa Cai to take Lu Rong to the capital to play.
“Received it.” Lu Rong said.
“Did you see the chocolate I stuffed inside? Those are real Dove chocolates.”
Lu Rong smiles at the mention of it, “I’m going to eat all the chocolates.”
“I’ll send it to you again, but be careful not to eat too much, so your teeth don’t hurt again.”
“Got it.” Lu Rong fished out the remittance slip and said sadly, “But it’s so hard to spend the money to feed my family.”
Shen Jize said in a serious tone, “Even if it’s hard, you have to collect it. Just hide it well, don’t let Grandpa find it again.”
Lu Rong was shivering, “Brother, can’t you pretend you’ve already sent my support money?”
“No.” Shen Jize’s voice was heavier, his tone deeper, “That’s my responsibility as a husband.”
Lu Rong: I don’t want to be forced to accept the responsibility sent by my husband…
“Don’t send it, okay? I’m afraid that if Grandpa finds out…”
It was true that it was a joy to receive the breadwinner’s money, but it was also really painful to hide it with fear and trepidation.
Shen Jize considered for a moment and then said, “I’ll save the money and give it to you later.”
“Okay!” Lu Rong’s spirit was instantly restored.
The two of them talked for a long time, chatting about everything. Usually, with Uncle Chen in the house, Lu Rong was a little shy and responded like a kitten. Today there was no one in the village office, so he opened up and talked.
He rattled on about the bird’s nest that he didn’t empty last time, and the eggs inside have become baby birds. When they went for a piggyback ride, one of the pigs couldn’t stop and rushed back to the pen, almost throwing a boy into the manure pit.
Shen Jize also told him how he now studied very seriously and there were nights he studied until dawn.
——The start of the school year homework had not been done, so he wrote it at four o’clock in the middle of the night hidden in the quilt. He also said that he has been elected as a class president again, so he had to cope with not only his heavy academic work but also his duties as a class president, which was fulfilling but also tiring.
——As a member of the sports committee, he had to carry basketballs before class and return them to the equipment room after class.
It took until it was getting dark outside before the two said goodbye. The goodbyes were followed by a lot of meowing and woofing.
Shen Jize was a very ritualistic person, even if he was still woofing the moment before, when he hung up the phone, he had to say, “Honey, take care of your health, study hard. Bye.”
Lu Rong, who had just finished meowing, also put away his smile and said in a serious tone, “Honey, take care of yourself, study hard. Bye.”
When Lu Rong got home, Grandpa Cai was cooking dinner in the kitchen. He took out the scalding remittance slip and looked around his tiny bedroom, but couldn’t find a place to hide it. Finally, he uncovered the pictorial and stuffed it into a crack in the wall.
That night, it suddenly rained heavily in the mountains, and Lu Rong dreamed that someone was playing with firecrackers in his ears, only to wake up and realize that it was the sound of crashing rain. He had never seen such a heavy rain. The sky looked like a hole had been opened and water was pouring down.
The light was on in the outer room, so Grandpa Cai opened the door, and the dog got in from its kennel under the eaves and ran whimpering to Lu Rong’s bed.
“Grandpa.” Lu Rong stroked the wet dog’s head and called out.
“Rong Rong don’t get up, there is no one in your old lady Li’s house, and the house might collapse, I’m going to take a look. I’ll be back in a while.” Grandpa Cai said.
Lu Rong put his face close to the glass window and saw Grandpa Cai, wearing a straw coat and rain boots and holding a black umbrella, hurried out of the courtyard and stepped into the pouring rain.
A white light flashed, and the world was so bright that it sank back into darkness. A few seconds later, a thunderstorm rose, making the glass windows shake.
Puppy whined uncomfortably, and Lu Rong patted him soothingly.
A few moments later, lightning fell from the sky in quick succession, seemingly hitting distant trees with an ear-splitting crashing sound. The lights in the house were bright and dim, but the rain wasn’t slowing down at all, and the water in the yard didn’t have time to flow out, forming a shallow pool.
Lu Rong stared at the door of the courtyard, Grandpa Cai didn’t come back for a long time, he began to feel uneasy, hugged Puppy and said, “Be a good boy, I’ll go get Grandpa back.”
The puppy only wagged its tail in understanding.
Lu Rong put on his clothes and pants, pulled out his little rain boots from under the bed and put them on, then took an umbrella from the cupboard. The moment he opened the door, the wind blew in with the rain mist, a cold pounding all over him.
He hurriedly opened the umbrella to block, closed the door and went out of the yard. The road in the village was flooded with water, like a small stream, and as it flowed over his boots, it made a small splash on the barrel of his boots.
Lu Rong looked around and walked towards Li’s house at the east end of the village.
On the way, all the lights were on and no one could sleep. The rocks in the back of the mountain were washed down by the rain and rumbled from time to time, causing people to be frightened.
Lu Rong’s body soon became soaked through, and the small umbrella couldn’t keep out the rain. His long pants were wet on his legs, and with the rainwater seeping down into his boots, he felt very uncomfortable.
Li’s family was a single house, and after leaving the village, there was a mountain road to walk. He just walked to the entrance of the village, when a lightning bolt fell on the west end of the village. After a prickly burst of sparks, the entire village was plunged into darkness.
The power was out.
Through the curtain of rain, a faint light appeared ahead; it was someone with a flashlight.
Lu Rong chased a short distance ahead and got a good look at his figure. The person walking slowly and cautiously forward was none other than Grandpa Cai. He didn’t dare to rashly go forward. If Grandpa Cai saw him appear here, he would certainly be angry, and would drive him back, so he could only silently follow behind, like a small tail.
Grandpa Cai’s legs weren’t too handy, especially in the darkness of the night, the wind and rain and slippery roads made him walk very slowly. Every step was quite steady, and it didn’t look like he was going to fall down.
Lu Rong followed quietly a dozen meters away, the wind, rain and darkness allowing him to hide his tracks from Grandpa Cai. Lu Rong was ready to find a place to hide after following him for a while, and then followed him back when Grandpa Cai came out later.
At this point, he was keenly aware that something was wrong.
It was an innate instinct that allowed him to smell the scent of danger. The sweat hairs on his neck were standing up, and his heart kept beating. Lu Rong stopped and looked around, not seeing very far in the rain, the mountains and fields were only a vague outline. But when he looked up, through the hazy light of the sky, saw a huge black shadow on the cliff swaying a few times, falling from the air.
And directly below the dark shadow was Grandpa Cai, who was slowly advancing.
The sound of thunder and rain obscured the movement of the collapsing rocks, and Grandpa Cai was unaware of what was happening above his head, nor did he know that a huge rock was falling and would crush him to pieces in a few moments.
Lu Rong’s pupils suddenly tightened, staring only at the black shadow in the air.
A white deer leaped up from the rain curtain, shooting forward like an arrow, and when the boulder was about to hit Grandpa Cai, it lowered its head in the air, picked up the back collar of the shirt with its two silver horns, and leapt out with the man.
Everything happened in a flash, and Grandpa Cai only felt himself instantly rise in the air, not landing, only a few seconds later did his feet touch the ground. At the same time, there was a loud bang behind him, the ground seemed to be shaking with it.
Grandpa Cai stood in place for a few seconds, but didn’t return to his senses, and waited until everything calmed down before turning his heads with trepidation to see. Behind him there was a huge stone, and it landed exactly where he was just now. In addition, there was no one else in the area.