Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
After breakfast the next day, Grandpa Cai put on Lu Rong’s gloves, hat and scarf before helping him to sit in a bamboo woven backpack. Squeezed at his feet was a blue-flowered bundle containing a dozen hard-boiled eggs.
Grandpa Cai carried Lu Rong to the village entrance, a group of children gathered around and asked questions, following him all the way. When he reached the place where he met the big black dog yesterday, Lu Rong couldn’t help but hold the rattan with both hands and poke his head out to whisper a warning in Grandpa Cai’s ear.
“Grandpa, there are big dogs here.”
This was the second time he spoke from last night to now. Grandpa Cai froze, smiling and said, “Don’t worry, grandpa isn’t afraid of big dogs.”
After that being said, Lu Rong still looked around a little uneasily, but fortunately didn’t see the big black dog again.
A man came along and exchanged pleasantries with Grandpa Cai, knowing that he wanted to go down the mountain, he hurriedly stopped, saying that the road at the pass ahead had collapsed, and that the road crew couldn’t pass, and people couldn’t go down the mountain.
Waiting for that person to leave, Grandpa Cai turned and asked Lu Rong, “Rong Rong, if we can’t go down the mountain, what do you want to do?”
Seeing that Lu Rong didn’t make a sound, he added, “Grandpa will carry you to see.”
Lu Rong was carried from the country road onto the highway, and they didn’t walk long, when he saw that the whole section of the road ahead collapsed, broken in a long section; apparently they couldn’t pass.
Grandpa Cai stood far away and asked Lu Rong, “We can’t get through. Can we find your parents later?”
Lu Rong mumbled to say that he didn’t have parents, so Grandpa Cai asked again, “When the road is open, we can go down the mountain, but live with grandpa for a few days first?”
Grandpa Cai waited for a few seconds and then heard a small ‘mhmm’ behind him.
“What a good boy.” He laughed.
On the way back, Grandpa Cai was teasing Lu Rong, who was wrapped around his neck and started to say more and more words.
“I’m afraid the teacher won’t give me a red flower.” His voice was still small and whispery.
“What?” Grandpa Cai missed what he said.
“I didn’t go to school again today, and the teacher will scold me.” Lu Rong was a little scared at the thought.
Grandpa Cai laughed, “Don’t be scared. When you go home, the teacher will definitely not scold you.”
Lu Rong was torn and finally said, “But I don’t have a home, and Wang Tu won’t let me go back.”
“Who is Wang Tu?”
“He’s my brother.”
“What about your parents?”
“I don’t have a mom and dad. Wang Tu said they are in heaven, and I have Uncle Bai.”
Lu Rong was brought up by Wang Tu in that villa and never saw any outsiders, but there were times when he woke up in the middle of the night to find a tall uncle sitting next to his bed, leaning over and looking at him.
Every once in a while he would get trapped by a nightmare and couldn’t get out of it. But he didn’t panic at all, because the uncle would always appear in his dreams, leading him forward.
As he walked, the dream moved. He used to open his eyes for the first moment, infinitely attached to call out to the person sitting next to the bed, ‘Dad’.
‘Wang Tu is the person I sent to take care of you, and he will watch over you as you grow up, and I will visit you often.’
But Uncle Bai rarely came, so Lu Rong was scared and happy when he woke up in his dream, because he could see Uncle Bai. He was a little sad, thinking that Uncle Bai might not know he was here, so what if he couldn’t find him in the villa the next time he dreamed?
Grandpa Cai was silent for a while, stopped and asked, “Rong Rong, where did Gao Chenggang find you? The man who brought you here… where did he take you away from?”
“From the street.”
“And do you know what the name of the place is?”
Grandpa Cai asked again, “And where were you before Gao Chenggang took you away?”
“I was in a trash can.” Lu Rong leaned his hand against the edge of the back of the rattan, more upset when he thought of Uncle Bai. He didn’t want Grandpa to keep asking and he felt like crying, but luckily Grandpa really didn’t ask anymore.
A gray rabbit appeared in the snow beside the road, fluttering its ears and standing frozen.
Lu Rong looked at the rabbit with tears in his eyes, and watched it hopping away, as if he had forgotten to be sad again.
“That’s a rabbit.” He couldn’t resist explaining to Grandpa, with his childish voice.
“Rabbit? Wow! Rong Rong is so good, recognizing the rabbit.”
Lu Rong said, “Rabbits love carrots and cabbage and have red eyes.”
Grandpa Cai put down his backpack, carried him out, examined the child’s red eyes, patted the back with his hand one by one, and said, “Rabbits have red eyes and not only eat carrots and cabbage, but also love eggs.”
When Grandpa Cai carried Lu Rong back to the village, the children gathered around excitedly and sent them back like stars.
Grandpa Cai explained to the inquiring adults along the way, “The road has collapsed and the car can’t get down the mountain.”
The adults laughed and said, “Uncle Cai, you are alone anyway, so let this child stay with you for a few more days.”
Grandpa Cai went to the village council, built a fire in the small iron stove, sat Lu Rong next to it, and patted the head of the microphone covered with red cloth on the long table, “Hello, hello, hello…”
Lu Rong heard a distant echo from outside, “Hello, hello, hello…”
“Ah, I have a notice. The road has collapsed, and rocks are blocking the road. Cars cannot pass and no one should go down the mountain for the next two days. And ah, our village actually encountered the matter of buying children. At 7:00 pm, each family should send an individual to the village council to hold a meeting…”
Lu Rong listened and stretched out his hand to roast by the fire, and from the open doorway, he saw a few balls of fluff rolled outside.
They were the little yellow puppies he had seen yesterday. He got up haughtily and walked to the door, holding the corner of Grandpa Cai’s coat at the table and pretending not to care as he looked out.
When the big yellow dog turned its head, he hurriedly shrank back, waited for ten seconds or so, and then peeked back at the puppies.
“…Whoever has news of what Gao Chenggang concealed from the public, will be locked up in the warehouse, and sent to the police station when the road is open!” Grandpa Cai suddenly raised the volume in a stern tone, and the loud speaker set up on the tall tree followed suit, and the puppies shivered in fear and ran in panic towards the big dog.
Lu Rong watched with rapt attention.
After finishing his speech on the loudspeaker, Grandpa Cai locked the door of the village council, picked up Lu Rong and walked to the kiosk at the entrance of the village.
“Li Zheng, get me two pairs of socks for the little boy, the thicker the better.”
“Are you carrying this child on your back? He’s so small, only as big as a little girl.”
“Then I’ll take the girl’s clothes, anyway, wearable shoes, and a children’s toothbrush is also needed.”
After washing his feet in the evening, Lu Rong changed into a pair of pink socks with yellow flowers on them.
After watching cartoons on the black-and-white TV for a while, he went to bed even though he wasn’t too sleepy, so he didn’t fall asleep as quickly as last night and started thinking about Wang Tu.
After thinking for a while, he huddled under the blanket and shed tears silently, rubbing his wet face on the pillow.
Lu Rong heard Grandpa’s voice, “Good boy, sleep well, when the road is repaired, we will go down the mountain.”
A warm, rough hand fell lightly on his body, with a sense of calm security, Lu Rong gradually put away his tears, dazed and sleepy.
“Scratch my ear.” He slurred his words as he was falling asleep.
Grandpa Cai began gently stroking his little ears.
“A little below, and scratch my back.” He grunted softly.
Grandpa Cai scratched his back through his fall coat.
Lu Rong stuck his thumb in his mouth and sucked on it, but Grandpa Cai took it out and he continued to keep sucking, his mouth moving and sucking air, finally falling asleep.
Lu Rong remembered lying asleep in bed, but when he consciously opened his eyes, there was an empty street in front of him, with stores on both sides closed and the snow a chilly white in the moonlight.
There was silence all around, no one and no sound, the darkness in the distance with shadowed outlines of houses, cold and silent. He didn’t panic or shout or cry, only looked down at himself. When he saw that he was wearing the same autumn clothes and pants that he had worn when he fell asleep, he understood that he was dreaming again.
For as long as he could remember, he had gone to strange places in his sleep several times. He wandered through the intricate alleyways, always unable to find his way out, and couldn’t meet anyone. He couldn’t walk for a while before he would get anxious and start crying in a low voice, and finally shouted out loud for Brother Tu.
But Uncle Bai would always appear in the dream at the right time, leading him in the right direction, telling him not to be afraid, just look for the light, then he would find the way out.
But today’s dream wasn’t with Uncle Bai, only himself, so he was a little panicked. He stood in place for a while, feeling very cold, and both feet curled up on the cold ground.
Noiselessly, Lu Rong disappeared from the street and a small fawn stood where he once did.
The fawn was about the size of a small dog, with pure white fur, slender hooves, watery round eyes, and two small silver bumps on top of its head. 1
——A small cut, not even a knuckle long, was just emerging from the tops of the two tender little horns.
The fawn fluttered its ears sensitively and ran through the empty streets, its hooves making a very soft clattering sound, dropping a long string of small plum blossoms on the snow.
The moonlight came in through the window pane, sprinkling a layer of cold white on the interior.
There were two rolls of covers on the bed by the wall, and Grandpa Cai and Lu Rong were each sleeping deeply.
Lu Rong’s dark lashes began to flutter and his eyes slowly opened. He turned his head to look around, listened to Grandpa’s snoring, and was thrilled and excited when he realized that he came out of his dream by himself.
It was just a pity that he couldn’t tell Uncle Bai and Wang Tu that he had finally found the light all by himself and rushed out. The night was quiet and there was a rustle of falling snow outside the window. Lu Rong rolled over contentedly and fell asleep again.
Every day, Grandpa Cai carried Lu Rong to see where the landslide had occurred, telling him not to worry, and that the road would be repaired when the snow stopped, and then he could go back down.
Lu Rong nodded his head very obediently and told him he wasn’t in a hurry.
He was worried that the teacher would be angry, but now he was numb to it.
Besides, it was so much fun now that he didn’t have to go to kindergarten every day. In the morning, Grandpa Cai picked him up from his blanket, fed him two eggs and then went back to sleep. When he woke up, Grandpa Cai would carry him to the village council, stopping and talking to the adults he met along the way.
The adults would give him a sweet, roasted sweet potato or a handful of crunchy fried peanuts from their pockets.
Grandpa Cai caught a little yellow puppy and asked him to name it. He thought long and hard about it, and gave the little yellow puppy a solemn name, Puppy.
While the adults sat around the village council house reading papers, he chased the puppy around the yard in circles.
Intermittently, Grandpa Cai bought many more things at the village kiosk.
Lu Rong had an extra set of cotton jacket, autumn clothes and pants, as well as his own small towel and small wooden basin. He put on a coffee-colored corduroy cotton jacket and pants, round and fluffy, put on a cotton hat that covered the ears of the local children, grabbed Puppy, and followed the egg boy who came to pick him up to plant ocotillo and cut cow grass with them.
In winter, there was no green grass anywhere, only a kind of grass called cattle rake that still grew luxuriantly, with clusters of green in the snow, sprouting shallowly. Lu Rong stood at the edge of the ground with his puppy in his arms, watching as they plucked away the snow and cut the grass.
He thought to himself, ‘This grass looks very delicious, but I don’t dare to turn into a fawn.’
- If you want to learn more about what deer represent in China, please read this article, it’s pretty interesting.