The Complete Guide to the Use and Care of a Personal Assistant
First Published on Chaleuria
The nectarine pit was very hard and Ling Miao had thrown it with all his strength, so he had reason to believe Su Yuyang was in so much pain that he couldn’t talk—if he could talk, he wouldn’t be so silent.
Sometimes silence was scarier than anything that could be said, especially when Ling Miao had angered the person in front of him.
Ling Miao placed both hands on the keyboard. He looked like he was writing, but in reality, his heart was roiling like a pot of congee.
Su Yuyang could get angry, scold him, hit him, and he’d be able to take it. He only hoped that Su Yuyang wouldn’t chase him away.
“Ah.” A sigh landed in his ear, and in a fit of overstimulation Ling Miao fell off the sofa.
Turning to see Su Yuyang next to him, Ling Miao didn’t even register the pain in his butt. He mustered up the strength to scramble away from Su Yuyang, who was considering the nectarine pit in his palm with thoughtful eyes. Ling Miao’s heart clenched. Out of fear that he would die from his rapidly rising blood pressure, he opened his mouth: “That… Su-ge, I… that … that nectarine pit has my spit on it, quickly, throw it in the bin.”
Su Yuyang lightly tilted his head; his eyes met Ling Miao’s, and his icy gaze almost froze Ling Miao solid. Ling Miao shuddered and his voice caught as he said: “Su-ge, I’m really in the wrong. I’ll wash your clothes properly…”
“Ah.” Su Yuyang’s sigh cut off Ling Miao’s apology. Su Yuyang threw the nectarine pit into the trash, then wiped his hand off with a tissue as he said: “It’s my fault for giving you a hard time, but it was a bit much to hit me with a nectarine pit. Since you apologized, I won’t pursue the matter, either.”
Ling Miao quickly promised that he wouldn’t do something that dangerous again, so penitent he might as well have been kneeling on the floor.
Ling Miao’s strung-up heart didn’t relax until the door to Su Yuyang’s bedroom closed, but he still didn’t know what would happen from now on.
Su Yuyang was also sitting uncertainly in front of his computer staring at his draft.
In the afternoon he’d fallen asleep while writing, and, just like that, his afternoon’s work had been ruined. He wanted to salvage what he could while he still had a little bit of inspiration.
After a few lines, however, Su Yuyang couldn’t continue writing. Every nook and crevice of his mind was occupied with a certain person’s silhouette. This person’s outline was blurry, and his profile looked a bit like Ling Miao’s. However, this person’s movements were incredibly languid; he was nothing like Ling Miao.
Su Yuyang’s mind was still caught on Ling Miao’s image from dinnertime. Comparing the scene in his mind to dinnertime’s, the character grew another fraction clearer.
“Forget it.” Su Yuyang deflated, then sat up straight. “If I can’t come up with it, then I can’t come up with it. This character isn’t essential. Ah, I tried to plant flowers with the best of intentions, but the flowers don’t bloom. Maybe one day I’ll plant a forest and actually be able to bask in the shade.”
As Su Yuyang went on thinking, his mental block gradually receded, and scene upon scene appeared in his mind. His fingers danced across the keyboard. Because the scenes were already fully formed in his mind, he didn’t have to spend much time thinking. In addition, his typing speed left Ling Miao’s in the dust. By the time Su Yuyang had finished ten thousand words, Ling Miao was still thinking about his plot.
“Goddamn it.” Ling Miao slammed the keyboard. “What happens next? Do I go to a different place? I can’t go to a different place, the main character still hasn’t gotten one very important thing!” When Ling Miao got frustrated, he would begin to pull at his hair. Maybe someday he wouldn’t stop until he was bald.
Su Yuyang felt thirsty and left his room to get water. Ling Miao’s frustrated image entered his eyes, and inexplicably, he wanted to laugh. And he actually did laugh out loud.
“Su Yuyang, what are you doing out here in the middle of the night?”
“Seeing you frustrated,” Su Yuyang joked as he took a sip of water.
Ling Miao glared at Su Yuyang so hard his eyeballs were about to fall out. Su Yuyang packed up his smile and walked to Ling Miao’s side. He looked at the screen and asked, “Writer’s block?”
“Yeah.” Ling Miao’s strength seemed to have all been spent pulling at his hair, so his reply now was weak.
Su Yuyang thought for a bit then turned the laptop to face him. “Let me see.”
Su Yuyang skimmed Ling Miao’s draft; Ling Miao sat to one side, his breathing gradually evening out. Ling Miao’s gaze occasionally landed on his laptop screen, and occasionally on Su Yuyang’s face.
Ling Miao didn’t know what Su Yuyang was looking at, but he noticed that Su Yuyang was frowning. It was just a simple frown, but Ling Miao couldn’t tear his eyes from Su Yuyang’s face.
Only because Su Yuyang’s attention was completely on Ling Miao’s draft did Ling Miao have the courage to let his eyes linger on Su Yuyang.
This was the first time Ling Miao had observed Su Yuyang so closely.
Su Yuyang’s features were ordinary, and on first glance one wouldn’t find him to be particularly eye-catching. But if one were to pay close attention to him like Ling Miao was doing now, one might find that Su Yuyang had an inexplicable draw about him.
Su Yuyang radiated a languid air, and in contrast, his attentive expression was striking. The distinct feelings intermingled with each other, and Ling Miao could feel his heart sinking into a mire.
Second after second trickled by. Su Yuyang finished reading the five chapters preceding the one Ling Miao had been working on, and thought very hard before asking: “What are you planning to write next?”
Ling Miao didn’t say anything. Worried, Su Yuyang turned his head, only to find Ling Miao staring at him in a daze. Su Yuyang waved his hand in front of Ling Miao’s eyes. Ling Miao seemed to be in a trance, completely unaffected by the world around him.
“Ling Miao?” Su Yuyang frantically called Ling Miao’s name as he unconsciously grasped Ling Miao’s shoulder.
“Ah?” Ling Miao suddenly jerked his shoulder. He looked at Su Yuyang, still somewhat caught up in a daze, but by this time Su Yuyang had regained his composure. He turned the laptop around and sat down beside Ling Miao. He asked, “Where’s your detailed outline?”
“I only have a rough outline,” Ling Miao said self-consciously.
Su Yuyang sighed and said with displeasure, “The rough outline, then.”
Ling Miao clicked open his rough outline for the current volume. Su Yuyang closed the text and began to peruse Ling Miao’s outline, occasionally asking Ling Miao about his thought process. As Ling Miao answered Su Yuyang’s questions, he suddenly had a breakthrough; he finally understood why he was stuck.
Su Yuyang yawned, radiating sleepiness: “It’s late. I’m going to bed. You should rest soon, too.”
Compared to Su Yuyang, Ling Miao wasn’t in a much better state, but he wasn’t like Su Yuyang in that he didn’t have chapters in reserve. His update for the next day still didn’t exist, so he had to stay up all night writing. Seeing that Su Yuyang had retired to his room, Ling Miao made a cup of coffee, then went to the bathroom to splash his face with cold water.
With Su Yuyang’s suggestions in hand, the dam of Ling Miao’s writer’s block broke.
Hearing the pattering of a keyboard outside his door, Su Yuyang tossed and turned in his bed. By the time the sounds of the keyboard ceased, Su Yuyang was pretty much fully awake. Looking at the night-blue sky, Su Yuyang sighed: When I feel sleepy, the circumstances won’t allow it. Now that I’m not sleepy, the environment is perfect for sleeping…
Forcing himself to sleep was a pain even worse than failing to update. Su Yuyang took out his phone and began to read a novel—Ling Miao’s novel.
Ling Miao was woken by his alarm. He needed to be up early to prepare breakfast for Su Yuyang.
Su Yuyang’s routine was fairly set. Previously, Su Yuyang would have been up before Ling Miao had finished cooking breakfast, but today Su Yuyang hadn’t even opened his door by the time Ling Miao put breakfast on the table. Ling Miao worried that Su Yuyang might have fallen ill. He paced for a while in front of Su Yuyang’s door, then decided to knock.
“Su Yuyang?” Ling Miao did not knock hard, but firmly enough that anyone inside would have heard. When Su Yuyang didn’t answer after five or six knocks, Ling Miao went ahead and opened the door.
Su Yuyang was wrapped in his blankets, lying on his side, facing the door. Ling Miao walked up to him and felt his temperature and his breathing; only after Ling Miao ascertained that nothing was wrong did his strung-out heart begin to relax.
Since Su Yuyang was still sleeping, Ling Miao prepared to exit the room. As he turned, he caught a glint from the corner of his eye, and looked down to see Su Yuyang’s cellphone. The screen was still on. Ling Miao picked it up and looked—a novel was open in reading view, and the words on the screen were familiar to him.
“He’s reading my novel?” As the thought occurred to him, Ling Miao felt like he’d been struck by lightning. “Fuck, don’t tell me he fell asleep while reading my novel? That’s … that hurts my pride.”
From Ling Miao’s perspective, good novels energized the reader, who then wouldn’t be able to stop reading. He’d completely lost track of time while reading novels before, and then of course when he went to class the following day he hadn’t been awake at all.
Ling Miao’s heart had just been indistinctly pinched by Su Yuyang, and the pain was indescribable. Ling Miao was close to smashing Su Yuyang’s phone. But Ling Miao’s heart wasn’t made of glass. Even though it had been battered, it still continued to beat resiliently.
“Since I have easy access to a successful novelist, it’ll be good if I can get tips from him. But I don’t know if he’ll agree.”
Having made up his mind, Ling Miao decided: it’s courteous to be humble after receiving gifts and to be pleasant when you eat other people’s food. Great Shu Yang, you ate the food I cooked, now give me a few pointers, won’t you?
Fantasizing that after getting pointers from Su Yuyang his work’s popularity would grow by leaps and bounds and readers would praise it every day, Ling Miao rushed out the door.
When Su Yuyang woke up, Ling Miao had still not returned.
“Xiao Miao, is breakfast ready?” Su Yuyang called Ling Miao out of habit, but the expected reply did not come. Su Yuyang rubbed the sleep from his eyes as he walked to the kitchen. He looked: Ling Miao was not in the kitchen.
“Where did he go?” Su Yuyang yawned and lay down on the sofa, and a piece of paper suddenly drew his attention.
“Su-ge, I went grocery shopping. Breakfast is on the table. If it’s cold, warm it in the microwave.”
“He didn’t leave?” Su Yuyang looked at the note and relief flooded his every cell.
Close to noon, Ling Miao returned carrying bags of various sizes and complaining a bit. He said that next time he went grocery shopping he’d drag Su Yuyang with him. Su Yuyang said only three words in reply: “Go and cook.”
Ling Miao dragged his two big bags of groceries to the kitchen, complaining that Su Yuyang wasn’t helping him. Su Yuyang’s clear voice came: “Xiao Miao, remember to do laundry in the afternoon, and clean my room too.”
“I…” Ling Miao choked. He grit his teeth and let out a cold ‘hmph’: “Su Yuyang, will you die if you don’t remind me to do those things?”
Laundry… heh heh.Thinking of the clothes he had washed before, Ling Miao grieved for them.