Meng Fu was slightly out of it as he stared at the pink envelope in his hands. He was just about to tear it open when Xie Zhenzhen stopped him.
“Hey, show me some consideration! I’m a girl after all, you know? Open it when you get back and tell me your answer after.” Xie Zhenzhen’s cheeks were blushing pink like the summer lotuses of that year.
Xie Zhenzhen smiled. Then, she cheerfully rode off on her bicycle. Only after heading home did he open up the letter to discover that a love letter had been contained within the simple envelope.
It was rare to even see a love letter these days, and Meng Fu found himself smiling as he read through it. As he smiled, he even felt touched. This was the first letter he had ever received, and he found this girl pretty cute too.
It was just after the college entrance exams then.
During that time, his parents had been in jail for five years.
He was alienated by everyone.
And it was Xie Zhenzhen who approached him.
“Flowers? You shouldn’t have.” Meng Fu had asked her to wait for him after they came out of the cinema, but she didn’t expect to see him with a bouquet of flowers.
He smiled as brilliantly as a flower.
Cupping the girl’s cheek, he lowered his head and lightly pecked her lips.
“I feel so happy right now. My crush became my boyfriend…Doesn’t it feel like one of those idol dramas?” she said.
Her heart filled with joy as Meng Fu held her in his arms.
“You’ve been watching too much TV.” He left a gentle knock on her head pamperingly.
Xie Zhenzhen giggled. She wouldn’t tell him how many girls were secretly in love with him, nor would she tell him that many people didn’t actually mind his family background — they were just overly proud.
Thank god she wasn’t like that, and she didn’t care what people thought of her either.
“So what school are you applying to? I’ll apply for the same one,” Xie Zhenzhen asked. Then, seemingly having thought of something, she continued, “My grades aren’t as good as yours, so I probably won’t be able to get into the same university as you. Still, being able to study in the same city is nice too.” Before Meng Fu could respond, she muttered to herself, “What will I do if we’re not in the same school and another girl tries to seduce you?”
“I’m applying for A University’s School of Law. Don’t worry, who else is going to like me but you?”
Law…How ironic, now that he thought about it. His parents were in jail for embezzlement and now he was going to study law?
“Then…I’ll apply for C Uni. It’s close to your school so I’ll be able to see you often.”
“Meng Fu, you have a good sense of justice — I’m sure you’ll definitely make a great lawyer. In a few years, you’ll be standing in the courtroom in a suit. You’re definitely going to look super cool! All the girls and aunties will definitely be lining up to hire you. As for me…I’ll be your assistant! Wouldn’t that be nice?” Xie Zhenzhen began to envision their future life. Sitting in the cafe, she turned to look at Meng Fu’s silhouette reflected on the window. Must be nice being oblivious about how popular you really are…
“It’s raining,” Xie Zhenzhen said as she looked at the drifting rain outside of the window. As she spoke, the rain came crashing down. “Oh no, we won’t be able to leave any time soon.” She laughed, thinking that the rain had come just in time. she didn’t feel like going back so early.
It showed 11 PM on her watch.
It didn’t seem like the rain was going to be stopping soon.
When he saw the incoming call from Meng Yi on his phone, he apologized and excused himself. “Xiao Yi, what’s wrong?”
“Meng-Meng, when are you coming home? It’s storming, I’m scared.”
He thought that Xiao Yi should have been asleep at this time, but he did not expect the thunder to wake him up. He couldn’t help but worry.
“I’ll be right back, don’t worry.”
“Okay. Come quickly. I’m going to hide under the covers and count to one thousand. You better show up.”
When Meng Fu hung up, Xie Zhenzhen had already packed her bag. “Let’s go, we can take my car.”
“I’m sorry, I have to hurry back.”
“Don’t sweat it, we can still go on a date some other time.”
Raindrops splattered heavily on the ground. Standing at the doorway, Meng Fu couldn’t help but feel uneasy.
“Let’s go.” Looking at Xie Zhenzhen’s heels, he caressed her head and calmed down slightly.
“I’ll drive.” Casually shaking the raindrops off his body, he passed a pack of tissues to Xie Zhenzhen.
With rainy days come muddy roads.
Meng Fu had not had his driver’s license for long, so he wasn’t too great at driving.
Later in prison, he would think to himself how if he had driven just a little slower, if he could have been a little more careful, then would the tragedy still have occurred?
“Your phone’s ringing,” Xie Zhenzhen reminded him.
Meng Fu was concentrating on driving. “Is it Xiao Yi?”
“Can you answer it for me?”
“Meng-Meng, I counted to one thousand, why aren’t you back yet?” Xie Zhenzhen pushed the phone to Meng Fu’s ear. Out came Meng Yi’s voice of complaint.
“I’ll be back real soon, so why don’t you count to two thousand instead?” Meng Fu tried to negotiate.
“But I can only count to one thousand!” Meng Fu cried out, upset. A tear rolled down his cheek to the bed sheet.
Xie Zhenzhen felt amused at their interaction. She gave Meng Fu a light pat on the arm and said with a cordial look in her eyes, “Your brother’s so cute. Can I go and see him as well next time?”
Meng Fu turned over and answered her.
Meng Yi’s voice was still breaking up on the phone. “Meng-Meng, I’ll count another one thousand, okay? And then…”
But before Meng Fu could hear what he said, a loud noise filled his ears.
A truck was coming at him head-on. When Meng Fu turned back, he could only react subconsciously with a sharp turn, and the vehicle braked to a halt.
Xie Zhenzhen was stunned and pale with fear. Seeing the four or so garbage cans they knocked over around them, she patted her chest to calm herself. “Oh thank god it’s just a bunch of garbage cans.” She laughed self-soothingly. “Say, Meng Fu, I guess you could say we just avoided a big disaster, huh? I’m sure great blessings are waiting ahead of us.”
“Zhenzhen, I think I drove into someone just now.”
Xie Zhenzhen affirmed that she didn’t see anyone. Reassured, Meng Fu continued driving. It was raining so hard, he figured his eyes must have been playing tricks on him.
But unexpectedly, he received a summons from the police two days later. His conviction came so quickly and the evidence was overwhelming. A blurry video was played of the car he was driving, and that car hit a woman in a black dress.
The police told him that the woman died of blood loss. If he had resuscitated her in time, then that woman might still be alive right now.
Moreover, that woman was two months pregnant when she died.
Meng Fu gritted his teeth. He couldn’t speak. Dressed in a prison uniform and handcuffed, he confessed to everything.
“I’m so sorry, Meng Fu. The police called me over the other day, I had no idea someone died. I panicked and blurted that you were the one driving. I’m sorry, this is all my fault, but I was so scared. I shouldn’t have driven to the date, I shouldn’t have talked to you when you were driving. Maybe…Maybe then that accident wouldn’t have happened.” Xie Zhenzhen sat across from Meng Fu, tears streaming down her face. Her face looked so haggard and her eyes looked so lost as if she still hadn’t accepted it, as if it was a dream.
Meng Fu could only wait to wake up from this nightmare.
“It wasn’t your fault. I should have gone down and checked. Those were two lives I took, and I should be punished by the law.” He dropped his head and looked down on the table.
He always thought that the tables in jail were no different than the ones outside, but now he saw the difference. Everything in here reeked of crime and sin.
“No, no…Meng Fu, I’m so sorry…” Xie Zhenzhen collapsed onto the table and lost herself in her tears, shoulders trembling as she sobbed.
“Don’t cry. It’s not like I’m going to be in for life.” Even though clearly she was the one who came to comfort him, he was the one doing the comforting instead.
“But, we’re going to university soon!” Xie Zhenzhen said, lifting her head, voice still muffled from her crying.
“Well, when the letter comes, toss it away for me, will you?”
Time was up, the guards stated. He stood up and as he reached the door, he suddenly thought of something. Turning back, he paused for a moment before saying, “Zhenzhen, let’s break up.”