One day earlier, Xie Chenmin called all his relatives and friends, including his relatives, friends, colleagues and classmates, and of course the three outstanding roommates.

       The ‘Anti-Xie Chenmin Federation’ group chat was still there. It was just that there were fewer chat days and they were not frequently in contact.

       They didn’t know I’m dead yet.

       He had the loudspeaker on, and the volume was turned up to maximum. He moved Zhaocai’s small bowl of dog food to his feet to attract the big dog to him, and as he talked, Xie Chenmin would pet its white head.

       It was like he was about to share the blessings on the other side of these phones with someone.

       Zhao Cai didn’t mind him picking its food for his poor sake.

       I heard each one of them.

       He said, Lin Chu and I are getting married.

       They said.

       It’s amazing, Xie Chenmin, how did you get Lin ge to agree? Have you recorded it? Hurry up and send it to me so I can listen to it.

       If it was legal to throw those who did PDA in the future, would I still be able to live in the future?

       Hope you get a child soon and long and prosperous life for Min ge and Lin ge.

       Xie Chenmin rubbed Zhaocai’s head and said, Thank you guys.

       I heard an uncharacteristic silence on the other side of each call for a while. It was not just a coincidence, but a four-year tacit understanding. Then they all asked, Min ge, what’s the matter with you?

       The former Xie Chenmin would rant and tell them one by one to go back, and then make an appointment to have a meal together when he was happy. In short, he was not the type to say thank you.

       They agreed to ‘No words of thanks between great love’, and they would be punished for saying the word ‘thank you’.

       Xie Chenmin said that he was happy, so happy that he was a bit nervous.

       The silence was eased for a while, and they seemed to think that Xie Chenmin’s reaction was a mature reaction after years of hard-working, just like how one understood reading Chinese literature, and the feeling of perseverance under a thousand hardships to get to this point.

       They asked, What about Lin ge?

       He said, He was asleep.

       They said, It’s already bright outside, quick, tell Lin ge to get up and answer the phone.

       Xie Chenmin laughed, How dare I.

       Eventually, they relaxed and said, Aiyo, the years have thinned Min ge’s skin.

       I heard a long silence from his relatives, some of them said to take care of himself, while others just hung up the phone.

       I heard voices from the other side of the phone interspersed with scattered cool rain or awkward, hypocritical pandering.

       But Xie Chenmin was consistent, the first sentence after dialling was that ‘Lin Chu and I were getting married.’

       I didn’t really know what he was making these calls for, I just watched from the sidelines as he finished and stayed in place for a long time.

       Zhaocai licked his fingers.

       He regained his senses, looked at Zhaocai, and dialled the phone again.

       He said to his mother, Mom, please look after Zhaocai for me for a few days.

       His mother didn’t ask any further questions, only said, Okay.

       She added another sentence, Don’t let it be alone for too long, it is smart and it will miss people.

       Xiao Chu has left, it will be good for it to keep you company.

       I saw Xie Chenmin’s black pupils staring outward aimlessly in a daze, then turned to Zhaocai who was at hand.

       Zhaocai looked at him, his tongue twitched and his head tilted.

       He said, Oh.

       Zhaocai does miss people.

       Until now, it still hid the blanket that Jinbao sleeps on his stomach in its bed and wouldn’t let anyone move it.

       After welcoming Xie Chenmin back every day, he would habitually turn his head to the door and wait for a while.

       I remember when he gave it to me, it was still very small. It was so smart that it cowered in fear of being thrown away again in a strange environment.

       Xie Chenmin said, Chu, wait for me for a few years, and I will go to your city.

       When you’re alone, let this little guy keep you company.

       By the way, it is called Lin Zhaocai.

       I think this guy could remember my body heat and smell. On every night when he had nightmares, he always liked to whimper his white dog head into my elbow.

       My coworkers asked me if I was single.

       I said, No.

       They said, How come I haven’t seen you with anyone?

       I said, He is not in this city.

       They laughed and advised me that a long-distance relationship would not last long.

       I said, En.

       He was not in this city, but he was by my side.

       Zhaocai looked miserably like Xie Chenmin. As a eskimo dog, it has the energy to open things apart like a silly and cute husky. Every day when it woke me up with its tail and tongue, I feel like some idiot never left.


       Xie Chenmin hung up the phone and said to Zhaocai, Are you afraid of being alone?

       Zhaocai’s black eyes looked at him in confusion.

       He thought about it and said something else, Are you afraid to be the only dog?

       He didn’t know if Zhaocai understood, but it gave a woof anyway.

       Xie Chenmin stole a piece of dog food from Zhaocai’s bowl to reward it. He stroked the dog’s head and said, Me too.

       I didn’t know how that feels like either. It was like swallowing a glass of ice water on a cold, miserable night, the hysterical coldness stinging my internal organs and freezing my throbbing blood.

       I stretched out my stiff and empty hand in a vain attempt to touch his head.

       Xie Chenmin suddenly stood up and his body passed through my palm, and I probably touched his living heart there.

       He said, Wait here for a moment.

       Zhaocai gave a woof. and his eyes reflected the figure of Xie Chenmin rushing out.


       I remembered working overtime on my birthday that year.

       I was so busy that I didn’t have time to glance at my phone.

       It was not until the city’s heavy traffic circulate the cage of steel1the car… it was a car… normally that I just realized how deep the night was.

       I just remembered that it was my birthday today.

       The evening was a little cold. The tip of my nose was a little red from the cold, and I finally had time to take out my phone, which I had forgotten to charge yesterday and still had a pitiful one-tenth of the battery left.

       Xie Chenmin hadn’t spoken all day.

       I remembered that yesterday he said he had something going on tomorrow and he might not be able to return my messages in time.

       He probably forgot, and with his busy schedule, the significance of the day was not as important as it could have been. I put my phone away, wrapped up my clothes and caught the last subway train.

       The light and shadow outside the window were more beautiful than people’s life, but I couldn’t appreciate these bustling arts. I just felt it was noisy and took a short nap with my head tilted.

       I arrived home as usual and met Xie Chenmin.

       He was sitting on the stairs in front of my rental house. He sat quietly, like a stray dog that had been abandoned.

       He saw me from afar, didn’t speak, kept his eyes on me, and stared sulkily at me as I approached.

       I phrased my words for a moment and said, I thought you had something to do, why are you here?

       He was still sitting on the stairs, and looked up at me.

       I thought I saw some anger in his eyes.

       He shoved the box he was holding into my arms and said coldly, I have two days off today and tomorrow to wish you a happy birthday.

       I said, What’s wrong with you.

       He said, I’m going back.

       I was puzzled, grabbed his wrist, and said, Where are you going? If you have a day off, you can stay here tonight.

       He said, I’m here to break up with you.

       My heart skipped a beat, then choked on my chest, and I could only say, What?

       Xie Chenmin said, Let go of me.

       I held on to him, and asked suspiciously, Can you explain clearly what’s going on?

       He took a deep breath and said, I am very angry with Lin Chu now.

       I had never felt so afraid, and I had never thought about where Xie Chenmin’s anger came from. I just tried to grab the straw that could save me, pretending to be indifferent, Today is my birthday, if you want to break up, don’t do it today, yeah?

       Xie Chenmin turned his head to look at me, and said, Lin Chu, how heartless of you.

       He said, You said it yourself, what did you promise me?

       It’s half past eleven and you just came back.

       Who assured me that he didn’t have night shifts.

       The neighbour’s aunt said that you don’t come home until ten o’clock almost every day.

       You lie to me every day.

       You also know it’s your birthday. Why don’t you come back half an hour later and get the “no return for one night” achievement?

       How appetizing the computer is, you should follow it in your next life, what do you need me for?


       The ellipsis floated in my mind again after many years. Embarrassed, I swallowed a heart that was suspended in midair.

       I said, Xie Chenmin, just say everything you need to say, can you stop the weirdness?

       He said, I’ve been waiting for you since the time you lied to me about getting off work. The more I wait, the more I get angry.

       He got angry himself and calmed down his anger, and complained, What’s with your attitude? You can’t keep me?

       Well, I won’t break up with you today. Tomorrow we will be strangers and we don’t know each other. You will take me to the station the day after tomorrow.

       I couldn’t help but laugh.

       I laughed until some tears came out of my eyes.

       He said, Be serious with me.

       This bastard scared the crap out of me.

       I opened the door and said, Come in, stranger.

       Xie Chenmin came in like a balloon that hadn’t fully deflated and looked at the little Zhaocai who was wagging his tail to greet me and licking my palm. He couldn’t bear it. He said to me awkwardly, I missed you, Chu.

       I said, I miss you too.

       Xie Chenmin’s anger instantly disappeared.

       Then it was time for me to settle my score with this stranger.

       If it wasn’t for this joking tantrum of his, I wouldn’t have known that Xie Chenmin was so important to me.

       The slightest omen of losing him terrified me.

       I looked at him who was unpacking the cake box for me and thought to myself: How can someone be so nice and so stupid?

       His roommate said that he quit gaming and studied hard almost every day. He said he was also a man with a dream now, and it was in another city.

       He ran from there to me, clutching a custom-made handmade cake, and waited at the cold door from 7 pm until 11 pm.

       After he lost his temper, he carefully observed my expression, for fear that I would be angry at his momentary irrationality.

       He never thought to blame me.

       My eyes cooled down a bit, and nothing unusual could be seen under the light of a candle.

       Xie Chenmin sang the birthday song to me with Zhaocai. He sang unexpectedly well, but the man was never a well-behaved guy. He sang and kissed me on the cheek in a mischievous manner.

       He touched a cool line of tears.

       He was a little surprised and said, Chu.

       I said, Don’t you say a word.

       Before the candlelight went out, I made a wish, a wish for a world with him in it.

       I forgot what the cake tasted like, I just remember being a little crazy that day.

       I could hear him leaning down, panting heavily in my ear, saying, Chu, do you want to take a break?

       I said, Can you do it or not? If not, I’ll do it instead.

       He said, Give me a break.


       Xie Chenmin bought a cake and came back, and cut two pieces for Zhaocai.

       Zhaocai took one piece back to his bed, put it on the blanket where the kitten used to sleep, panted and ran back, and ate the other piece by himself beside him.

       Xie Chenmin said, Do you know how to sing?

       Zhaocai said, Woof, woof.

       Xie Chenmin sang.

       He looked at the candlelight and said, Happy birthday.

       The candlelight cut out his look, his voice, and reflected on my nothingness as it slowly began to take shape.

       It was past twelve, it was my birthday, my first seventh days of death.

       Although I am the only one who can see myself in my present form.

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