The Complete Guide to the Use and Care of a Personal Assistant
First Published on Chaleuria
Ling Miao couldn’t sleep. The instant he fell asleep, he dreamed that Su Yuyang had stopped breathing. Looking at the empty and quiet room, the ghost stories he had read before now all came to mind and he had even more trouble sleeping. He looked for something to do.
He took out his phone and turned on the flashlight. With the guidance of the light, he turned on the light in the room. Silver lamplight filled the room, calming Ling Miao instantly.
He put the bedside desk up, then felt thirsty. He glanced around the room and noticed a cup by the laptop.
The cup was only half-full, with a lid beside it. Ling Miao surmised that Su Yuyang had drunk half of it, then forgotten to put on the lid.
Ling Miao hadn’t the courage to go out and get more water. He stopped caring about whether this cup was Su Yuyang’s. He walked over, picked it up, and took a great gulp. He was about to return to bed when his gaze was drawn to a stack of papers on the desk.
The paper on top of the stack was densely covered in writing. As Ling Miao glanced at it, he saw words like ‘Chapter XX.’
“The outline of a new novel?” Ling Miao’s eyes lit up. The fear in his heart dissipated and was replaced with excitement. He picked up the paper and started reading closely.
There were two colors of ink on the paper, black and red. Black seemed to be a plot outline, red seemed to be suggestions. Ling Miao had only to read two chapters before he was sure that this wasn’t the outline of a new book. Su Yuyang was writing suggestions, or something similar, for an existing book. Finishing one sheet, Ling Miao picked up another sheet.
The stack of paper was arranged so that the latest chapters were on topin front. After Ling Miao discovered this, he looked at a few sheets in reverse order and found that Su Yuyang’s feedback was extremely incisive. If edits were made according to Su Yuyang’s suggestions, this book would be passable, even if it wasn’t a work of art. Ling Miao envied the author of the book being reviewed in these pages. He even thought about asking Su Yuyang to critique him. If Su Yuyang didn’t agree, he’d use good food to tempt him. If Su Yuyang still didn’t agree, Ling Miao would use the surefire tactic of pestering him.
But Su Yuyang had written his critique in such detail. It had to be an incredibly taxing effort, both mentally and spiritually.
Ling Miao picked up another sheet and began reading in detail. Suddenly, two words made his heart stutter—’Xiao Miao.’
“Xiao… Xiao Miao?” Ling Miao looked closely, then looked again. He had seen correctly.
Ling Miao fished out the last sheet in the stack. At the top, written in red and center aligned: ‘Hundred Transformations Deity: Detailed outline and someone’s suggestions.’
“This…he actually wrote this for me?” Ling Miao clutched the thin sheet of paper, his lips trembling as he tried to find the words to describe his current emotional state. He sat down on the bed in shock. Looking at the hundreds of sheets of paper on the desk, his breathing gradually grew erratic.
Su Yuyang had written about each chapter, from the first to the most recent one numbering over 700, on a separate sheet of paper. 700+ chapters is about 2 million words…
“Since when has Su Yuyang been fixing it?”
Ling Miao looked at Su Yuyang tenderly. He caressed Su Yuyang’s pallid face with a finger, laugh-scolding: “Idiot, the book’s already this bad. What’s the point of fixing it? Even if you want to help me, wait for me to start a new book! Fuck it, I was going to end it early because of you! I learned from you and was gonna just write an outline for the last few chapters. Ah. I keep thinking that after Hundred Transformations, I’ll make a new penname. A penname with a bad history—the less I use it the better.” If Su Yuyang could hear Ling Miao’s words, he’d surely jeer: “It’s just a failed book. Who cares if you have a bad history?”
Ling Miao took out his phone and opened his novel. Summarizing Su Yuyang’s comments, he started reading it from the beginning.
It had to be said: Su Yuyang was an excellent writer and an excellent reader. He saw many of the problems in Ling Miao’s novels. These were problems Ling Miao could have found for himself, but there was no way he could read his own novel from a reader’s point of view.
Initially, Ling Miao had intended to just read Su Yuyang’s suggestions. Trying to edit would just be masochistic.
Of writing, editing, and reading, editing was easily the most painful part and the one that frustrated Ling Miao the most. So, sometimes he didn’t even bother editing typos. I don’t have many subscribers anyway, so it doesn’t matter if I have to refund. That was Ling Miao’s way of thinking, and probably one of the reasons his novel was failing.
But then Ling Miao thought about how Su Yuyang had painstakingly given feedback, and about his own feelings for Su Yuyang. If Ling Miao didn’t edit he’d feel uneasy, so he decided to edit!
A phone was fine for reading a novel, but editing definitely needed a laptop, so Ling Miao opened his laptop.
When one completely immerses oneself in something, time passes without one realizing it.
It was, again, a phone call that pulled Ling Miao back from his state of complete concentration.
This time, the call was from Feng Ji.
Ling Miao’s hoarse voice sounded even worse than it had last night. Like a broken flute, it made earsplitting noises.
Feng Ji had also guessed that Ling Miao wouldn’t be in a good state, but hearing Ling Miao now, things were even worse than he had expected.
“I found a doctor. He’ll head over in a bit. Are you at home?”
“A… a doctor?”
Ling Miao didn’t notice his voice starting to tremble. He put on a strong front and said: “Why a doctor?”
“How many days can he go without eating or drinking?” Feng Ji rolled his eyes, though Ling Miao couldn’t see it.
“Actually, I would suggest you send him straight to the hospital. But he doesn’t like going to the hospital, so if he wakes up and finds himself there, he’ll wage a cold war on you until you kneel and beg for forgiveness,” Feng Ji said with the air of experience.
“That’s why I said, one week!” Feng Ji explained. “Even though, before, he only slept three days at most, the doctor says that if it lasts a week, something is wrong!”
“Feng Ji, you’re joking, right?” Hearing the timespan Feng Ji had mentioned, the time difference was too much. His worry turned to anger and exploded out.
Feng Ji laughed coldly and said, not understanding: “Ling Miao, I don’t understand you. Before, you did everything you could to run away from Su Yuyang. Now that you understand your feelings, you stick to Su Yuyang like glue like you’re afraid he will disappear. This is quite the drastic and sudden change.”
Ling Miao didn’t assuage Feng Ji’s worries. He retorted: “Was it Yan-jie who told you I like Su Yuyang?”
“I’ve realized my feelings, but Su Yuyang may never wake up. This feeling of having gotten something, but being about to lose it—it’s like trying to hold water in my hands. No matter what I do, the water will slip through my fingers. I… I want to hold on to Su Yuyang. At least, I want to understand whether he hates me or not.”
“I think you understand why Su Yuyang chose to go into a coma.”
“I know what to do.” Ling Miao took a deep breath and encouraged himself. “So, as long as the knot in his heart is undone, he’ll wake up, right?”
“Logically, that should happen.” Feng Ji didn’t say anything definitive. He didn’t want…
“I understand. Thank you, Feng Ji.”
“Ling Miao, do you think you’re already Su Yuyang’s boyfriend?” Feng Ji said meaningfully.
Ling Miao was thunderstruck. Feng Ji had poured cold water all over him, thoroughly cooling his heart.
That was right. Everything he was doing now, he did placing himself in the position of being Su Yuyang’s boyfriend. But if he didn’t consider himself Su Yuyang’s boyfriend, what reason would he have to stay by Su Yuyang’s side and care for him while he was unconscious?
Thinking about it more, why was Feng Ji reminding him of this? Was Feng Ji still carrying a torch for Su Yuyang?
The terrifying notion flashed through Ling Miao’s mind, and his hand trembled so much that he almost dropped his phone.
Ling Miao’s long silence made Feng Ji realize he’d said something wrong. He glanced at his phone screen—the call was still going. He hurriedly explained: “Ling Miao, I just hope you don’t get in too deep. I don’t want you to be unable to extricate yourself once Su Yuyang wakes up!”
Silver light flashed through Ling Miao’s mind again. He stood frozen, looking out the window, and grimaced. “Thank you, Feng Ji. Relax. I… understand.”
You don’t understand anything!
Feng Ji was about to yell into the receiver, but there were customers in the shop and he didn’t want to be too brazen so he clamped down on his emotions. After taking several deep breaths, he asked: “What time are you free? I’ll bring the doctor over.”
“Anytime is fine.”
“I’ll be right over then.”
Feng Ji’s afternoons were busier than his mornings. Since Ling Miao had no preference for time and Feng Ji was worried about Su Yuyang, he decided to go immediately.
The doctor Feng Ji had called was his high school classmate.
It wasn’t the first time the doctor had examined Su Yuyang. The last time the doctor saw Su Yuyang, he was still Feng Ji’s boyfriend. This time Su Yuyang’s ‘boyfriend’ wasn’t Feng Ji, but Ling Miao.
The doctor gave Su Yuyang a cursory examination, then put him on an IV drip.
The doctor suggested taking Su Yuyang to the hospital for further examination, but Ling Miao shook his head and refused.
The doctor mentioned some things to take note of, and Ling Miao invited him to stay for lunch. The doctor decisively refused. Feng Ji spread his hands helplessly.
After seeing the doctor off, Ling Miao sat weakly on the bed.
“Su Yuyang, I’m back. What scars are there still left in your heart?” Ling Miao murmured, seemingly talking to himself. “I say, do you really intend not to wake up? Fuck it! If you don’t wake up, I’m taking you to the hospital in the morning! If you wake up in the hospital, don’t blame me!” Ling Miao didn’t know whether his threats had made it to Su Yuyang’s ears. His smile grew more desolate, but he kept on smiling.
“Su Yuyang, let’s make up.” Ling Miao put his hand on Su Yuyang’s and held it gently. “I’m not leaving any more. Will you wake up? Su Yuyang, how long are you going to sleep? I said, I’m not leaving! If you don’t wake up, I’ll leave at once! I’ll go somewhere you’ll never see me again, and you just wait to regret it!”
But, Su Yuyang, the day hasn’t come when you said you don’t hate me. How can I bear to leave?
Ling Miao’s five fingers interlaced with Su Yuyang’s. He felt something moving in his palm and turned excitedly to Su Yuyang, asking fervently: “Su Yuyang, you can hear what I’m saying, right? Quickly, wake up! If you wake up, I won’t leave! As long as you don’t chase me out, I won’t leave, for as long as I live!”