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XCGS Chapter 3


t/n: Told myself I’d finish updating before school started but that didn’t happen. Too lazy to read over this so I’ll just throw everything out over the next few days. Enjoy!

No. 227, Qishan Back Street

By the time her emotions and memories started to become clear, she was only left with one thought: she wanted to be with him.


Hi Clare,

I still have all my old phones.

I got divorced five years ago, Sheng Xia is in the third grade now.

How are you and Chris?

I’m also very concerned about your situation.

Sheng Xiyuan

2017 May 13


Xie Jiayang and Sheng Xiyuan met over sports, they were both on the School of Information and Telecommunications’ basketball team. Only after playing together for two months did he realize that Sheng Xiyuan was his girlfriend Deng Fei’s classmate.

The basketball team practiced every Friday afternoon until five. The boys always walked out in the groups of twos and threes hollering for a dinner get-together, but Sheng Xiyuan always declined their invitations for personal reasons.

Deng Fei told him that every Friday night, Sheng Xiyuan home tutored a highschooler  programming, earning 200 yuan from each two hour lesson. 200 yuan every week and 800 every month was enough for his living expenses, but he also worked as an outsourced employee for a company outside school to make extra money, earning about 1500 a month.

Xie Jiayang thought this person was a miser, why work in college, he should be studying. Deng Fei snickered that he was just envious of him for earning 200 yuan from each 2 hour lesson. That Sheng Xiyuan could enter the Olympiad in high school, we worked to death just to get into college while he got guaranteed admission.

Saying this, she rubbed his head: “Word hard, if you can’t, let your son screw him over later.”

Xie Jiayang felt sour and didn’t reply.

Afterwards, everyone worked on projects and prepared for competitions together, gradually becoming closer. By their sophomore year, Xie Jiayang, Sheng Xiyuan, and Deng Fei were already good friends. One day, the three were supposed to have dinner together, but Sheng Xiyuan said he was busy again and couldn’t come. Deng Fei was displeased, so Xie Jiayang said they’d have a good meal themselves, without Sheng Xiyuan.

They agreed to go to one of the most expensive restaurants in the city, but just as they sat down and saw the prices on the menu, they froze on the spot. As they glanced left and right, struggling to decide whether or not to thicken their skins and leave, Deng Fei suddenly leaned over and mysteriously said: “Look left.”

Xie Jiayang turned his head and looked out the window. Deng Fei turned his head: “Aiya look at my left!”

Sheng Xiyuan and a strange man and woman were sitting in a booth eating.

Xie Jiayang sent him a text: “So you were going to eat at a fancy restaurant, no wonder you didn’t want to take us.”

From not far away, they saw Sheng Xiyuan lower his head to look at his phone, say something to his companions, and walk towards them. Seeing him come closer and closer, they instantly panicked, covering their faces with the menus until Sheng Xiyuan’s usual gentle, calm voice sounded above their heads: “Are you going?”

“Going where?” Deng Fei said sarcastically.

“Today, someone treated me to dinner. I said my friends were also here and wanted to say hi. They said we should all eat together, her treat.”

“Rich lady?” Deng Fei’s eyes drifted over.

“Yup.” His voice carried some amusement, “Come on Miss, bring Xie Jiayang.”

That was the first time Xie Jiayang met Zhang Kelai and Zhang Kesi (older sister and younger brother). His first impression of them was that they should be pretty wealthy, or he should say generous. His second impression was that these sibling’s names were very foreign-sounding, strange. Only later did he learn that they weren’t from China, they were actually from Canada. Their dad returned to China for business and brought them over as well. Sheng Xiyuan was the brother’s home tutor.

“They said they came to acknowledge their ancestors and return to their homeland.” Sheng Xiyuan explained.

“Then why’d they leave in the first place.” Deng Fei retorted.

Xie Jiayang sipped his milk tea and said: “They have money, they can live well anywhere, what’s wrong with leaving and then coming back?”

They were rich enough to casually give Sheng Xiyuan a newest model cell phone, though to return the favor, Sheng Xiyuan began tutoring Zhang Kesi math.

Afterwards, Zhang Kesi began frequently appearing on the Xin University sports field to play basketball with them. Xie Jiayang saw the name Chris on his basketball. Zhang Kesi explained that it was his english name, but everyone still called him Zhang Kesi because saying Chris felt weird. Sometimes, his sister could come to the school to pick him up. Around 2003, a red sports car driving into school was still very conspicuous, attracting gazes from across the field. Zheng Kesi would say he had to leave, start running and yell, “Clare, why’d you come pick me up so early,” both outdated and foreign, truly a spectacle.

So Clare Chang was Zhang Kelai, and Chris Chang was Zhang Kesi. But they never called them Clare or Chris, at least not in any circumstances Xie Jiayang and Deng Fei could remember.

Chen Yuan found Zhang Kelai and Zhang Kesi in Sheng Xiyuan’s old cell phone contacts, there were even text logs.

On that phone, Zhang Kelai’s most recent text was from August 2007.

“All the paperwork is done, you don’t need to rush to return the money to me. The proof of property is shown in the picture.”

A picture from 2007 displayed an address: No. 227, Qishan Back Street.

This location of this address could be considered a downtown area 10 years ago, with markets, hospitals, and parks, everything you could need. Aroun 08, because of city policy changes, a new city was built, and this place gradually calmed down, but it was still a densely populated area, although mostly full of old people.

On Saturday afternoon, Chen Yuan knocked on the door of No.227.

A young girl half-opened the door, holding a child and looking at her suspiciously. Chen Yuan tested the waters, asking: “Excuse me……if Sheng Xiyuan here?”

Once these words left her mouth, she was surprised to feel a strange sense of anticipation, though she didn’t know what exactly she was anticipating.

The girl once again suspiciously looked her up and down and turned to shout into the room: “Sis!!”

A woman around forty years old walked out, asking what was wrong, and the girl said she was looking for Sheng Xiyuan, but there was no Sheng Xiyuan here? The woman suspiciously glanced at Chen Yuan and shook her head: “You’ve got the wrong person.”


It was in the midst of May, the weather was clear, the sky was like an inverted lake, and the lake was like a mirror. The city was full of balsam trees crowned with clouds of green, children ran across the open fields flying kites, young parents pushed strollers out to bask in the sun or have picnics, and pet dogs also indulged in the pleasant atmosphere, rolling around in ecstasy.

Chen Yuan expressionlessly sat on a bench in Qishan park for an afternoon until Deng Fei called: “Didn’t we agree to go to your mom’s house to have dinner, aren’t you coming to pick up the kid?”

Driving over, from a distance, she saw Deng Fei with Little Deng and Sheng Xia eating ice cream at the convenience store at the entrance to the neighborhood. Deng Fei saw her get out of the car and waved at her with a gorilla-like gesture. Chen Yuan knew she was doing this to amuse her. Before leaving, she grabbed the car door: “Are you still replying to those emails?”

Chen Yuan told her not to worry, and Deng Fei reached over to straighten her collar, sighing: “You can’t live like this for a lifetime.”

Chen Yuan smiled but remained silent.

At the dinner table, Sheng Xia ate another big bowl of rice, and reached for some meat, notably red meat. Normally, with Chen Yuan’s temperament, she wouldn’t let her act like this, it wasn’t good for her body, but today, she only busied herself with her own food. The Chen parents noticed this but didn’t dare to speak.

On the way home, Sheng Xia spent half the ride in silence until Cheng Yuan stopped at a redlight and suddenly said: “You ate ice cream today.”

“I know.”

“You ate more than one bowl of rice just now.” She seemed a bit mad, “You ate so much braised pork but not a bite of vegetables.” Chen Yuan turned to look at her: “Should I praise you for eating well?”

“Green light green light!” She yelled.

Chen Yuan was still angry when they got home, but she didn’t have the energy to speculate on the child’s mental state. After dragging her daughter into her bedroom after showering, she lay on the sofa and fell asleep.

In her dreams, she returned to the time when they hadn’t started dating yet.

Deng Fei arranged another gathering, wanting to be a matchmaker to the end, but Sheng Xiyuan wasn’t very keen on this, coldly expressing that he still needed to pick up his daughter, so he wouldn’t have dinner with them. Chen Yuan said your daughter goes to that preschool? Jiguan preschool is really close to my house. You drive, right? The traffic is really bad there so it’s hard to find a parking spot.

Down three, five to two, the reluctant Sheng Xiyuan reluctantly drove to a stop at Chen Yuan’s neighborhood, walked to pick up his daughter, and was dragged to Chen Yuan’s house for dinner.

This was the beginning of the story.

At the time, Sheng Xia was four years old and called her Auntie Chen, then Auntie, and then under Deng Fei’s bad guidance stickily called her Auntie Xiao Yuan[1].

The girl was already a little chubby at the time because of how much Sheng Xiyuan spoiled her. His mouth was strict, always saying she couldn’t eat anymore of this or that, but with a pout from her, he would wave his flag in defeat. Auntie Xiao Yuan was different, Auntie Xiao Yuan was bad, she always had a smile on her face but her mouth was very strict, never agreeing with her.

They always brought Sheng Xia when they met from when their meetings weren’t dates to when they were dates, passing by menswear shops where salesmen eagerly greeted: Come inside miss, your husband is both tall and handsome, he’d look great in this.

Sheng Xiyuan always felt embarrassed, but Chen Yuan never explained, so it wasn’t clear who took advantage of whom, and in this way, the two stuck together and became ambiguous friends for a year. Everyone around them knew that Chen Yuan was flirting with Shen Xiyuan, but the man appeared to have no interest in her at all for 80% of the time. She was not ashamed of this, on the contrary, the more frustrated she felt, the more courageous she became. Matchmaker Deng Fei felt regretful: “What’s so good about him, used goods with left-over baggage! What are you looking for?”

“Love.” Chen Yuan joked, but the moment these words left her mouth, she regretted them. Luckily, Deng Fei didn’t hear clearly: “Do what?”[2]

“Someone good at cooking.” Doing love was also good, his lips looked soft and he had a straight, muscular back, but she couldn’t say this[3].

Thirty three year old Chen Yuan suddenly opened her eyes in a field of darkness, frozen back in time. Just when did she fall into this web of love.

She couldn’t say.

She could only remember that they had bought some clothes for Sheng Xia, met some college classmates, and after exchanging some greetings, her companion playfully said with a smile: “Chen Yuan, that’s no good, how could you dress like that on a date?”

She suddenly felt embarrassed. For some reason, all the points and comments that everyone made behind her back which she treated with indifference for the past year all amassed at that single time and place. She felt so embarrassed she could evaporate on the spot.

Then she heard Sheng Xiyuan say: “No matter. I think you’re great.” He reached over and grasped her wrist, repeating: “I think you’re great.”

Later, Sheng Xiyuan once asked her with a face full of perplexity, I have nothing, only a fat daughter. What do you like about me, when did you start liking me?

She laughed, she couldn’t remember.

When she started liking him, what she liked about him, she didn’t remember, she already had no recollection.

At first, she only thought that this person was interesting, his eyes looked nice, but by the time her emotions and memories started to become clear, she was only left with one thought: she wanted to be with him. In the movie theater, as she watched his profile half illuminated by the light of the movie screen, she thought, I want to be with this person, no matter what.

Also, do you remember that house on Qishan street?

Sheng Xiyuan

2017 May 13

[1] 小垣阿姨 adds ‘little’ in front of Chen Yuan’s given name to signify closeness

[2] Here Chen Yuan says 做爱 (zuo ai) which literally means do love. If you lurk on the Chinese internet alot you might have seen the term “doi” a lot in fandom spaces. It means sex.

[3] 做饭好 literally means good at cooking. Has the 做 = do word to reply to Deng Fei’s question in the previous paragraph. Jokes don’t translate to english well


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