The Complete Guide to the Use and Care of a Personal Assistant
First Published on Chaleuria
Ling Miao sat in the chair. He lowered the head he had previously held high; he stared at his toes and bout after bout of indignation ran through his heart.
Ling Miao was someone who responded to a softer touch but not to force. If Su Yuyang had spoken those words with an angry or sneering tone, Ling Miao definitely would have quarrelled with Su Yuyang. But Su Yuyang seemed to know Ling Miao inside and out; his tone had been light and he hadn’t seemed to be lecturing Ling Miao so much as cajoling an injured cat.
Ling Miao had thick skin, but that was when he had the moral high ground. Right now, Ling Miao was in the wrong, so he couldn’t be tough even if he tried.
Su Yuyang looked at Ling Miao thoughtfully. A sob sounded as if floating in from afar.
The sound landed in Su Yuyang’s ears, causing him to frown. He sighed: “I wasn’t blaming you. I was…”
“Yeah, I’m an idiot.” Ling Miao’s self-effacing words cut Su Yuyang off. “College roomies said I was stupid because I talked back to a prof who was already having a bad day. Now…
Su Yuyang, I feel terrible.
Editing is a pretty easy task, and it’s something I do every day. But I? If the main character’s name is spelled wrong once, that’s not strange, but it was wrong throughout the entire draft and I didn’t suspect a thing. I just went ahead and edited.”
After a period of silence, Ling Miao begged: “Su Yuyang, give me a chance.”
“Please don’t fire me.” Ling Miao raised his head and looked at Su Yuyang; his ordinarily bright eyes had clouded over… Su Yuyang raised his hand and touched Ling Miao’s shoulder, and the upward tilt at the corner of his lips was carefree. “I don’t intend to fire you.” Thanks to you! When you’re wearing such an expression, I just can’t say the words to fire you!
“Really?” Ling Miao’s eyes shone.
Su Yuyang smiled and said: “Udon worry¹—Xiao Miao, I’m hungry.”
Su Yuyang said the words “I’m hungry” very meaningfully, and Ling Miao inexplicably turned red. He batted away the hand Su Yuyang had placed on his shoulder and said, all flustered: “If you’re hungry, then eat.”
“But you haven’t made lunch, Xiao Miao.”
“Ah… I’ll go cook.” Ling Miao scrambled into the kitchen. Watching Ling Miao’s vanishing silhouette, Su Yuyang laughed under his breath.
While Ling Miao was cooking, Su Yuyang entered his study—in order to prevent Ling Miao from forgetting to delete his draft again, Su Yuyang had ordered Ling Miao to use the desktop in the study to edit, while Su Yuyang himself holed up in his bedroom to write.
Thinking of Ling Miao changing the main character’s name everywhere he saw it, Su Yuyang decided not to use the undo function, and straight up permanently deleted the document. After the previous incident, Ling Miao hadn’t dared to edit online any more.
After washing up, Ling Miao returned to the study and prepared to begin round two of editing, but found that the fruits of his morning labor had disappeared without explanation. A search of the entire hard disk returned no results.
“Su! Yu! Yang!” Ling Miao shouted in a rage. The grinding of his teeth was as if he wanted to mince the owner of the name to pieces.
“Hey, Su Yuyang.”
Ling Miao’s enraged shout had passed through the walls and entered Su Yuyang’s ears. The familiar prelude let Su Yuyang know to prepare to be on the receiving end of Ling Miao’s rage. But something seemed amiss this time: after a period of time that spanned the length of about one song had passed, Ling Miao had not followed up with anything.
The unusual turn of events worried Su Yuyang. After another song-length of time, the neighboring room was still silent. Su Yuyang, who was getting more and more anxious, pulled out his earphones and pushed open the study door like a gust of wind.
“Is something the matter?” Ling Miao yelled.
Su Yuyang stood in the doorway, feeling trapped.
Ling Miao did not notice Su Yuyang acting strangely. He slammed his hands on the desktop keyboard and said, “If nothing’s the matter, don’t stand behind me. It’s scary.”
“Eh… don’t hit my keyboard. It was a thousand bucks.” Su Yuyang promptly changed the subject.
“Fuck, a simple keyboard costs a thousand bucks. Rich and tasteless.” The sour note in Ling Miao’s voice made Su Yuyang feel awkward.
Su Yuyang looked at Ling Miao’s resentful expression and felt a tug at his heart. He said hurriedly, “That—continue editing. It’s just that the mechanical keyboard sounds good, but please use less force when typing, it’s disturbing me.”
Without giving Ling Miao time to reply, Su Yuyang closed the study door.
“Whoo—” Su Yuyang leaned against the door and exhaled. He felt some doubt: Was it a mistake to keep Ling Miao around?
Ling Miao’s eyes had not left the door since Su Yuyang shut it behind him. It was as if his gaze was trying to pierce through the door and Su Yuyang’s back to stare directly into Su Yuyang’s heart.
It could have been ten minutes or half an hour that passed before Ling Miao turned his gaze back to the monitor. He placed his hand on the mouse but did not know what to do.
Su Yuyang had said to type more softly. However, in the time period between Ling Miao returning to the computer to continue editing and Su Yuyang opening the door, Ling Miao had just been reading Su Yuyang’s update from yesterday and had not typed a single word.
“Su Yuyang, you really still do want me to leave.” Ling Miao’s brain conjured an image of Su Yuyang’s expression as he was standing in the doorway. Ling Miao laughed in frustration, “But if I leave, where can I go? And, Great Novelist, you said I could stay, so I’m going to stay. If, someday, you ask me to leave, I… I’ll figure it out when that day comes.”