“Miss, Song, have we really never met before?”
Song Yuan recalled Ji Junpei’s expression. Aside from his slight surprise when Rong Ting called her Mom, he had been extremely calm.
This wasn’t very surprising. None of her friends would believe that she had a five- or six-year-old child. Her parents were intense, which led to her being perceived by others as a good girl during her school years until even now. Let alone Ji Junpei, even her BFF1 Xie Ya wouldn’t believe that Rong Ting was her biological son.
But whether he believed it or not, it had nothing to do with her.
She was leaving for B City in a few days. With his passive and strong-minded character, once she rejected him a few times, he wouldn’t appear before her again.
After Song Yuan returned home with Rong Ting, she looked at the child, contemplating. She couldn’t help asking, “You don’t have anything to ask me?”
This child hated the men who showed up near her and would sometimes throw a fit. This time, he had been so calm. It wasn’t his style.
Rong Ting shot back a doubtful look. “What does Mother Empress think gu should ask?”
Song Yuan laughed. “Nothing, I was just curious. Did you forget? One time, I ran into an old classmate and chatted with him for a bit. You got upset2, and when we got home you lost your temper and said that I was exchanging amorous looks3 with other men behind your Father Emperor’s back.”
At that time, she had quarreled with Gugu.
If nothing else, she felt it was extremely impolite for Gugu to behave like this. If he weren’t her child, she would have no authority to discipline him, but he was her son. In modern times, one must respect one’s elders.
Gugu had been very indignant. They also had an hour-long cold war due to this. Of course, Gugu used his actions to show that a man knew when to yield4. He took the initiative to come to her room to find her and ask for a reconciliation.
Rong Ting was a bit embarrassed hearing her bring up the previous matter, but he straightened his back and coughed lightly. “Mother Empress, that was then, and this is now.”
“What?” Song Yuan asked him with great interest.
“Gu is not stupid. Mother Empress has many admirers here.” Rong Ting gave her a glance and said in a small voice, “But Mother Empress’s heart only has Father Emperor.”
This was a huge misunderstanding.
Song Yuan shook her head and explained very seriously, “I didn’t accept the others because one, I haven’t met anyone I liked, and two, it’s not the right time.”
She didn’t want to tell Rong Ting that it was also because of him. This would give the child immense pressure.
Rong Ting knew that it was inappropriate to talk about Father Emperor with Mother Empress. Mother Empress didn’t remember anything, and Father Emperor was not here; it was useless to say any more.
He changed the subject and asked, “Mother Empress, who was that man just now?”
“My upperclassman in college.” Song Yuan briefly introduced Ji Junpei. “He’s really amazing. He was the province’s top scorer in science in his year.”
“A top scorer? Rong Ting mused thoughtfully. “That is quite amazing.”
“This sort of top scorer should be different from the top scorer from the ancient times5.” Song Yuan had previously read novels that illustrated how difficult the imperial examinations were. She tapped her chin. “Your ancient time’s top scorer is the nation’s number one. Xuezhang was the province’s number one. There’s a difference between that of the province and the country.”
“Oh.” Rong Ting gave Song Yuan another glance and seized the opportunity6 to boast7 of his Father Emperor. “Then that means he is not as good as Father Emperor. Our top scorers are not as amazing as Father Emperor.”
After saying this, he knew he had touched a minefield. He immediately slipped away8 and fled to the bathroom.
Song Yuan: “…”
Very soon it was the day of the party. Rong Ting had invited three buddies, whose mothers brought them over early in the morning.
These mothers were very polite. All of them brought over milk and fruit, making it seem as though they were truly guests9.
Song Yuan was somewhat embarrassed. After twenty-something years, she finally spoke those famous words for the first time: “You should have just come; you didn’t need to buy anything.”
“It’s for your Rong Ting to eat.”
“That’s right, that’s right, it’s for Rong Ting.”
Originally, Song Yuan had planned to eat with these mothers, as well, but they all had things. One of the mothers tugged her hair. “I finally was able to get the kid out of the way, so I made an appointment with my Tony laoshi10 to dye and do my hair.”
“Alright, then come over for dinner in the afternoon,” Song Yuan generously offered. “I bought a lot of food, and the auntie’s very skilled. Let the children play together in the afternoon. How about coming over for dinner when you are done?”
The mothers had no objections. They were also getting along very well now.
Song Yuan had also brought Rong Ting to their houses to freeload a meal.
After the mothers left, Song Yuan looked at the lively and cheerful boys, then at Rong Ting who stood in the center with a rare relaxed expression on his face. She immediately felt at ease, and she said to the children, “We have Lego at home, and I also bought a TV subscription, so you can watch any movie you’d like. We have some sci-fi movies you like, and I bought Monopoly, which you can also play.”
The children cheered, clearly immensely satisfied with these arrangements.
“You can eat any of the fruit on the table. Gugu, there are potato chips, seaweed snacks, and Yakult in the cabinet. You know where they are.” Song Yuan spread her hands. “Auntie will make french fries today. I’ll call you when they are done. I’m going out now to get the cake. Do you guys want pizza? If you do, I’ll also buy that on the way.”
“Want want want!”
“Auntie, I want to eat! I want to eat pizza!”
“I want to drink Coke!”
The young boys were very noisy, but the room’s atmosphere was great. Song Yuan nodded, smiling. “Okay, okay, then wait until I come back with a large pizza. There’s Coke in the snack cabinet, but you guys can’t drink too much. It’s bad for your teeth. Then I’m heading out. Gugu, take good care of your friends. Call me if anything happens.”
“En.” Rong Ting sent Song Yuan off at the door and reminded her, “Mom, be careful when crossing the road. Don’t walk with your head down, looking at your phone.”
When outsiders were around, he would always call her “Mom.”
When Song Yuan left, the boys sat on the carpet and started playing Monopoly.
As they played, one of the boys whispered, “Rong Ting, your mom is so nice. My mom doesn’t buy me Lego or let me eat snacks. She just wants me to read books. I don’t have any entertainment.”
This sentence opened up the conversation.
“My mom too! She always works me like an ox11. Do you know what that means? Anyways, it’s miserable.”
“My mom wishes she couldn’t give me any entertainment. Can’t watch TV, can’t play on my phone, but she’s on her phone playing all the time!”
“My mom’s the same. Last time, I didn’t get a little red flower12, and she told me that she and my dad graduated from a famous university, so why couldn’t I even add or subtract? But I’m still young. Adults are really devils. They’re so terrible!”
The children gathered together to complain about their parents.
Rong Ting was concentrated on the game of Monopoly. Listening with one ear, he said, “Be content with what you have. It’s nice to have a mom.”
Any children who complained in front of him about the immense stress of studying wouldn’t get half an ounce of sympathy from him, no sir!
Song Yuan ordered an eight-inch cake from the bakery.
She didn’t know why it was, but every time she invited people over to her house, she would want to buy a cake, thinking that it would set an excellent mood.
When she entered the bakery, she happened to spot Rong Heng inside, buying bread. The two could already be considered friends, so naturally they would want to greet each other and have a chat. But Song Yuan still remembered her father’s words.
Adults were different from children. When considering becoming friends, one would consider whether their three views were appropriate and whether they were of the same social stratum.
Clearly, she and he were not of the same class.
The two walked out of the bakery at the same time, with Song Yuan holding the cake and Rong Heng holding a bag. Seeing that they seemed to be heading in the same direction, they left together.
“After going back that day, I kept thinking about that time over and over. I was afraid that, because I had lost my memory, I had even forgotten that I had once offended Uncle.”
When Rong Heng smiled, he was like a modest gentleman. Song Yuan had felt him to be easy to get along with before; now, after knowing of his background and identity, she had an even better impression of him. It was very rare for a person with this sort of status to still be so gentle and considerate. It was evident that he had an home environment that he was also raised well.
Song Yuan laughed upon hearing his words. “Why? Don’t think too much about it.”
Rong Heng nodded, smiling. “It’s probably because I lost my memories and have no impression of my past friends that I particularly cherish the friendships I have now. Miss Song, I will be returning to B City in two days. The elders are already urging me to return. There is something I need to confess to you; otherwise, I will continue to feel guilty.”
He stopped walking.
Song Yuan also stopped. The two of them stood on the sidewalk. He looked at her with a smile in his eyes, and she couldn’t help but hold her breath.
She didn’t know why, but she felt a bit nervous. What made her more curious was, what was it that he wanted to confess?
After listening to her dad’s exposition, she also began to wonder–why would he take the bus, and why would she always run into him?
She didn’t know what his purpose was, and she couldn’t come up with a guess. If it was out of the sort of love between men and women, then he must be extremely resilient, to still have the time to pursue a woman after narrowly escaping death. She didn’t think he was such a person.
“Actually, my family doesn’t know that I’ve lost my memories. I also didn’t want to make them worry, so I started talking less. They misunderstood, and they think that I suffered damage to my vocal cords and can’t speak. I came to this city to secretly see a doctor. On the day that I met you, I suddenly felt you were familiar, as though I had met you before.” Rong Heng laughed at himself. “It’s a bit cliche to say this, but I’m telling the truth. I thought, maybe my interactions with you would help me remember the memories I lost. So then I approached you and became friends with you.”
Song Yuan was stunned, unable to react.
“Sorry.” Rong Heng solemnly apologized to her. “I initially approached you for impure reasons, but as we got along, I felt that you, Miss Song, were truly very good, and I could relax while chatting with you. Now, I truly see you as a friend. If you need any help after arriving in B City, you can give me a call. I’m really very sorry.”
It was probably because he was too sincere, but Song Yuan couldn’t get angry when she heard him say this.
She felt empathy for the panic caused by a loss in memory. Although she had accepted that Rong Ting was her son and that she had once transmigrated to ancient times, those few dreams she had had were not enough to fill in the blanks. She didn’t dare to think too deeply about this; once she did, she would undoubtedly torment herself. The feeling of trying your best to remember, but your mind remained blank, was extremely discomfiting.
Song Yuan smiled at him, revealing a pair of dimples. She said softly: “It’s no problem.”
Rong Heng was startled, and he hurriedly lowered his head to conceal his true emotions.
The two continued ahead, neither of them speaking.
When they arrived at the entrance of the community, where they were to part ways, Song Yuan waved to Rong Heng. “Bye-bye, Mr. Xie.”
Rong Heng stopped. He gazed at her deeply and suddenly asked, “Miss Song, have we really never met before?”
Song Yuan thought about it seriously, then shook her head. “I don’t think so.”
She was still very confident in her memory, with the exception of her time in the ancient times. She still remembered all of her classmates from elementary school.
She most definitely did not come across a Mr. Xie from the B City’s Xie family.
It should be known that their two friend circles and lifestyles didn’t overlap, so it was difficult for the two of them to encounter each other. If she had come across someone like him, she definitely would have had an impression.
Rong Heng was clearly disappointed, but he cheered back up and said goodbye to her before turning to leave.
 铁瓷: lit. iron + porcelain. Beijing slang for your best friend
 鼻子不是鼻子, 眼睛不是眼睛: nose is not a nose, eyes are not eyes; to express extreme dissatisfaction with someone
 眉来眼去: lit. eyes and eyebrows come and go; fig. to make eyes (at someone)
 男子汉能屈能伸: (a man) can bow and submit, or can stand tall; to submit or assert oneself as the occasion requires; to be flexible
 状元: this term can be referred to the top score of the palace examination or for the top scorer in the college entrance exams. The palace examination was the highest level test of the imperial exams, so becoming the top scorer, or zhangyuan, was a huge achievement
 见缝插针: to see a gap and stick in a needle; fig. to make use of every second and every inch
 安利: to recommend or promote (someone or something)
 脚底抹油: to oil the soles of the feet (not literally)
 做客: it is generally considered to be part of etiquette for guests to bring over gifts when coming over to another person’s house
 老师: teacher or master; used to refer to (literal) teachers or masters at their craft, such as hairdressers
 老黄牛: slang that’s often used in the workplace to describe people who work hard and work overtime. I opted to use the English equivalent for clarity
 小红花: a popular reward system used to motivate students to complete homework, develop good habits, etc. etc.
Cheese: Happy Halloween to those who celebrated it!