Zhaocai ignored him.

       Not eating any of the dog food, it ran to my room and nestled into a little fluffy ball on my bed, hunched its head under the quilt to seize my scent. A practical protest against Xie Chenmin’s pretense of not understanding his words.

       ……

       Our house has two bedrooms, which were reserved for us to calm down after a conflict.

       I was often working on codes day and night, and he was often mad about it.

       This man expressed himself in a roundabout way. He said that the sound of me staying up late typing on the keyboard was disturbing his sleep.

       I know he actually wanted me to rest early, but what he said undoubtedly put me on the wrong side.

       In fact, in order not to disturb him, I turned the brightness of the screen to the lowest level and moved as gently and slowly as I could. As a result, I felt my eyes were deteriorating and my efficiency was as fast as a turtle.

       He said he didn’t want me to stay in the cold living room all the time to work, but at the same time he thought I was disturbing his sleep by his side, and to be honest I was a bit offended.

       But I didn’t get angry, just turned off the computer and said “Oh”, then moved the machine to my bedroom.

       I was up until midnight when he came over to me.

       He gently put a glass of hot milk on my table, rubbed his fingers for a long time, and said sorry to me.

       I didn’t have time to pay attention to him.

       He just lay beside me or some other place, just like Zhaocai, who had nothing to do, quietly browsing Weibo or playing games.

       It just so happened that after I finished the crucial step of debugging, he handed me something funny he saw and I had to stop after I laughed.

       He tried to pretend that he wasn’t sleepy and that he was in good spirits.

       It was often two or three in the morning by the time I pulled myself out of my concentration.

       After that, whenever I came home to work, he would do what he did the first time, consistently and repeatedly.

       This was a very cunning trick.

       Because I didn’t want him to stay up so late.

       And I couldn’t kick him out and say that he was annoying me. To be reasonable, he stayed quietly beside me and didn’t affect me at all.

       If I had to say something about the outcome, it was that I would look at the watch.

       And turned off the computer at eleven o’clock.

       Never put off work that could be done during the day until the evening. With the level of hard work I did in the company during the day led my colleagues to think that my college entrance examination was not over yet.

       ……

       We would argue about trivial things like this.

       Just as he blamed me for forgetting to remind the store not to put chili peppers when ordering takeout, and about the mobile phone that was always on Do Not Disturb mode. I blamed him for leaving the air conditioning on at night and blowing until he woke up in the morning, and being annoyed that I would have to give him a call to confirm every time I arrived at the office.

       Friends and colleagues who could accept us often joke about how on earth did we both get this far, generating electricity for love?

       We also didn’t know why.

       Maybe it was because, well, only the two of us know. As soon as I ate spicy foods, my tonsils become inflamed, and it hurts so much that I couldn’t even speak.

       He sends me daily WeChats to remind me what medication to take, what the weather was like and whether I should bring an umbrella or add clothes, what the traffic conditions were like, which egg and soy milk on the road was greener and healthier, which I often couldn’t see because my phone was in Do Not Disturb mode.

       Only the two of us know that he occasionally got migraines and couldn’t stay out in the cold for too long.  For my convenience, he chose a house far away from his company, and he was usually still driving when I arrived.

       We both know that, so without asking for any reason, we had come together like this.

       ……

       Xie Chenmin turned on the bedroom light, and Zhaocai, who was curled up and shivering in the dark, dared to raise its head.

       Although it was afraid, it still had to protest. Zhaocai has a strong personality and was very stubborn.

       The bed quilt was lifted, and Zhaocai stood up unexpectedly. It saw Xie Chenmin burrowing under the covers and wrapping himself up tightly.

       Zhaocai stared at him.

       He said, Aren’t you capable of not being afraid anymore? Go, turn off the lights.

       Zhaocai didn’t understand and tilted his head at him.

       With its cleverness, it seemed to hear something irreversible in Xie Chenmin’s tone.

       So the little guy lost its temper, clawed Xie Chenmin’s back, and licked the back of his neck.

       Because there was the smell of two masters here, Zhaocai finally felt a little more at ease and nestled beside him to sink into a dream.

       The lights were on all night.

       ……

       Zhaocai once owned a cat, a little kitten whose name was cruelly decided by Xie Chenmin, called Xie Jinbao.

       With Zhaocai’s previous experience, I wasn’t surprised by how the name Jinbao appeared.

       The shame of it was that he even made a custom-made pet name tag, “Zhaocai Jinbao1Zhaocai means wealth, while Jinbao roughly means jewel/precious“, which were hung around their necks to show off how badly the owner named them.

       ……

       Jinbao was an orange cat with the ear that stood up that I found on the street. A tiny little bundle of misery that felt like it was going to die.

       But it was so alert that it was squealing with its last breath when I picked it up.

       When it was just brought home, Zhaocai’s big face was often scratched.

       But when Jinbao got a bit older, he started to become clingy. Jinbao was closer to one dog than to the two owners.

       In Zhaocai’s mind, everyone was on equal footing, but Jinbao might be slightly higher. Because when Jinbao came to grab its food, Zhaocai would quietly let the kitten and wag its tail to wait for the kitten to finish eating, but Xie Chenmin couldn’t even pick Zhaocai up while it was eating.

       The hierarchy in Jinbao’s mind was very critical, from top to bottom was probably Zhaocai, me, cat climbing frame and cat food, dog food, and Xie Chenmin.

       Xie Chenmin position was not as good as a eskimo dog and a cat climbing frame.

       In order to improve his presence, he often deliberately took Zhaocai in his arms to keep him warm while Jinbao nestled on my lap, licking its paws.

       But Zhaocai didn’t want to snuggle with him, and its eyes would cling pathetically to the kitten licking its paws gracefully, and whimpered.

       Jinbao ignored Zhaocai, because Zhaocai’s big tongue was so wet that half a day spent licking its fur was for nothing.

       So Zhaocai barked even more emotionally.

       I couldn’t bear to hear it and persuade Xie Chenmin, Can’t you let it go?

       ……

       If you saw Zhaocai, Jinbao must be nearby.

       The big dog and the kitten were always waiting together for Xie Chenmin and me to come home. Zhaocai was not afraid of the dark, and Jinbao was not afraid of getting lost.

       As days passed by, in the end, there was only one dog left.

       ……

       Zhaocai’s kitten had been gone for a long time.

       It was probably because of the congenital heart disease shared by its kin.

       Jinbao didn’t live long, and when he left, he was still in the warm bay surrounded by the big dog.

       Zhaocai probably thought that Jinbao had not woken up and delayed getting up for a while longer than usual until I went over to them both with Xie Chenmin. Zhaocai was still lying on his back, panting with its tongue out and wagging its tail at him and me, and prodding the little thing in his arms with his white dog head.

       I took Jinbao in my arms.

       Zhaocai never saw its kitten again.

       ……

       I wondered if the big dog dreamt about his kittens when he sleeps? Would he forget everything and continue to lick his orange fur and then get scratched in his dreams?

       It would, I think.

       ……

       It was probably dreaming and Zhaocai was up a bit later than usual. When he woke up, breakfast was in its bowl and the master had gone to work.

       Xie Chenmin still went to work as usual.

       I followed him into the car, got stucked in traffic, parked his car, squeezed into the crowd, and got on the elevator to the upper floors.

       He still used to listen to the weather forecast and the traffic situation in the car, which only the elderly were keen on nowadays. Then, in his free time in traffic, he habitually edited a message, and copied and paste it into the send message box.

       I saw him startled for a moment when his finger stopped at the send button, then he deleted the words one by one, turned off the radio, and put the phone away.

       He found the parking space and still couldn’t resist dialing my number, which he could memorize without having to find my contact.

       I just found out that the name of the contact he gave me was “Cold and Handsome Wife”.

       I wanted to kick him and put the keyboard across his neck to force him to change the nickname, but I couldn’t.

       I couldn’t even curse “Xie Chenmin, f/ck you”.

       The phone’s dial ring sounded. He got on the elevator and rose to mid-air, only to hang up because no one answered.

       Usually when I didn’t answer his calls, he would bombard me with messages, but today he put down his phone in an orderly manner.

       He was very popular with female colleagues in the company, as I could guess.

       A handsome and talented unmarried manager was a very dangerous combination to be placed in a group of the opposite sex.

       I watched him socializing skillfully, laughing skillfully, jokingly calling out “Do me a favour, handsome guy, and pretty lady,” skillfully agreeing or backing out from an invitation.

       Suddenly a wave of sadness and frustration clogged my entire chest.

       The man was a very contradictory creature.

       I didn’t want him to feel depressed and heartbroken because of my death, but after I saw him as normal as ever, without many ups and downs in his expression, I also felt very sad.

       Xie Chenmin, are you f/cking heartless?

       I am dead and you will never see me again.

       I want you to be able to see me…………

       I will miss you.

       ……

       For an optimist, it was impossible to talk about missing someone who you could talk to by making a phone call and sending a WeChat.

       But that day I was taking a programming class and he sent a message.

       He said, Senior, I miss you.

       I saw it in a split second, but he withdrew in a split second2it might be the unsent message features where you can unsent your message so the other person couldn’t see it..

       I said, Take advantage to study more on your own while you don’t have classes. Don’t just hang out in the dorm with a group of people playing truth or dare.

       He sent back a string of ellipses, and the conversation ended.

       He ran from the east campus to the west campus in the evening, and said breathlessly, Do you want to go for a BBQ together?

       I just had a shower and he was sweaty.

       I said, Sharing bicycles is good.

       He told me that he had signed up for the long-distance running for the House Games and was practicing recently.

       I said, You really do have nothing to do.

       He said, Because I lost the Truth or Dare, the class committee signed me up.

       The penalty for the dare was to send a message to the first of the nearest contacts, addressing it plus I miss you, which could not be withdrawn until the other party sees it.

       The first contact at that time was not me, but a boy of the same level as him, and he was dead set on not sending it.

       So he was given the elegant name of ‘Straight Man of Steel’ by a group of people

       He didn’t tell me about it, I only found it out later.

       ……

       That day, I went out with him on a tandem to have a BBQ he invited me to and said to me, Senior, go watch my game.

       I said, Long distance races are boring.

       He said, Then you take your computer to code.

       I looked up at him.

       He said, I just want you to be there, it doesn’t matter if you watch me or not, I feel motivated that way.

       I asked why.

       He said, The Male God of the Planning Department is going to support me, I felt the honour.

       ……

       I took a leave of absence from my student council activities and rode my bicycle to the East Campus gym with my computer on my shoulder.

       In the middle of cheering and lively crowds, I put on headphones and tapped my keyboard in a refreshing and refined way.

       This drew a lot of surprised looks.

       I felt that it was about time, so I looked up at the track and noticed that Xie Chenmin had been watching me.

       When I met his eyes, he began to laugh, gestured to me, and mouthed to me, “Senior, come down!”

       At that moment, my headphones were playing Avril Lavigne’s new song since her return to the music industry.

       As I looked over at him, she sang “God keep my head above water3Head Above Water – Avril Lavigne.”

       I was not a person who could be touched by a scene, but I was in a trance for a moment.

       For a moment I lost my breath for no reason.

       He said, If I’m the first, you give me a surprise.

       I said, Why should I have to surprise you when you’ve forced me here?

       He said, Because I am awesome and dashing.

       I went back to code, and he said that it was useless for me to beg for mercy later.

       Not gonna listen, not gonna listen to what the bastard is saying.4

       ……

       But I still couldn’t bear to give up this awesome and dashing bastard.

       I was a person who sometimes could get a bit emotional and get worked up and forget about everything.

       The gymnasium was an easy place to get excited about.

       I couldn’t resist throwing my computer aside, squeezing through the crowd, and sprinting down to track three behind the finish line.

       Then I opened my arms wide.

       Xie Chenmin from track three was the first to be surrounded by cheers and applause.

       His breathing was rough, and when he rushed over, his breath hit me in the ear as he said, “Senior.”

       The long red ribbon of victory was sandwiched between the two of us and crossed the track.

       I got close to his beating heart and said, “Get up and walk around, be careful of sudden death5might refer to sudden heart attack because the heart is beating too fast.”

       I had a very deep impression of that day.

       Mainly because I lost my computer afterward.


Join our discord for easy updates on Died Before the Wedding 😀