Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 1 Book of Thunder – Chapter 50 Second Aunt Zhang Shanqiu
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 50 Second Aunt Zhang Shanqiu
“Like mother, like daughter. Even though you clearly can’t deal with your own problem, yet you still raise a ruckus about not accepting other people’s help.” Wen Jiubo’s words held some sarcasm, he was obviously a bit angry now.
My anger flared up again as well. “You didn’t even ask if I needed your help!”
“Then what do you plan to do now by yourself?” Wen Jiubo crossed his arms and looked at me, raising an eyebrow. “Are you planning to live on the street corner, or are you planning to go back and beg your mother to take you back?”
“That’s my problem, it doesn’t have anything to do with you!” I turned, planning to leave, but Wen Jiubo grabbed my arm.
“Stop! Why are you throwing a tantrum like a child?!” Wen Jiubo said loudly, scaring me.
Wen Jiubo sighed, looking at me. “Did you think that I would think less of you because of this?”
I stopped, pulling away from Wen Jiubo’s hand. I held back the feeling of shame as I spoke. “That’s obvious, isn’t it? Growing long hair, wearing dresses… what normal man would do things like that? If you’re disgusted, then whatever.”
Wen Jiubo actually started smiling after hearing this. “If you say it like that, then am I also disgusting? I have long hair, and it’s really long.” Wen Jiubo said as he purposefully touched his hair.
I stared at him, almost unable to speak. “That’s — that’s not the same!”
“You’re right. Do you know why it’s not the same?” Wen Jiubo stood up straight, voice calm. “It’s not the same because growing out my hair was my choice whereas you were told to by your mother, so clearly it’s not the same. Whether it’s growing out your hair or dressing up like a girl, there’s nothing wrong or shameful about either of them. The only true shame lies in that you have to follow someone else’s orders, right?”
Even though I didn’t want to admit it, but Wen Jiubo’s words hit home. I fell silent.
“Anyway, let’s first find a place to stay.” Wen Jiubo held out a hand to me. “I know a hotel nearby that’s both cheap and clean. We’ll set aside the problem with your mother for now. We’re in Bei Ning for something more important after all.”
I nodded, breathing in deeply, and then started walking forward again.
Not far from the train station, we saw the hotel that Wen Jiubo spoke of. After a brief inquiry, it turned out that Wen Jiubo had already reserved rooms here, obviously having come prepared.
“Your mother, was she always like this?” After putting down the luggage, Wen Jiubo casually asked.
“I guess.” I opened up my luggage bag and took out all of my toiletries in one go.
“When did it start?”
I sat on my bed, a little depressed. “From my first memories, she was already like this. I think she divorced my dad when I was three, so I don’t even know what my own dad looks like. All my impressions of him come from her criticisms and complaints that he was a deadbeat, philanderer, and someone who ran away after betraying her. From a very young age, she raised me as a girl, making me grow out my hair, wear dresses and then after I got older, she spent a lot of money on branded cosmetics to use on me. Sometimes I didn’t feel like her child, I felt like a doll in her hand.”
“My mom’s life was always tough. I heard that my grandmother got pregnant with her by accident and they never wanted her. They tried to abort her three times but failed, and so they kept her in the end. As the youngest child, no one in the family spoilt her, instead they bullied her. She worked hard from a young age to pay for her own school fees and studied on her own merit. Afterward, she met my dad in college, and thought she had found her prince charming. She didn’t even think twice before she married him, but never imagined that she would end up like that.” I sighed, staring fixedly at a corner of the bedsheets. “I’m not ‘me’ to my mom, instead I’m her second chance at life. It’s like playing a game, the player named ‘Gu Xiping’ lost, which she found hard to accept, so she changed to another account called ‘Gu Yu’ so that I could pass the level she got stuck at last time. I’m not actually me, just merely my mom’s second chance at life.”
Wen Jiubo looked at me silently, only speaking up after a while. “But, you didn’t try to fight against this destiny. Instead, you just went with the flow.”
“I did my best.” I laughed bitterly, reaching out a hand to bury in my hair. “I deliberately failed my entrance exams so that I could go somewhere far away from home, the further the better. But even now, I still…”
Just when I had my head lowered, contemplating my problems, I felt a sharp pain on my forehead. I immediately covered up my forehead and looked up, seeing Wen Jiubo’s finger in mid-air.
“What are you doing?! That hurts.”
“I understand your situation now. The problem between you and your mother will need to be resolved somehow but at the moment, we have more urgent things to do.” Wen Jiubo waved the letter from my second aunt in front of me. “Did you still want to investigate the case with your second aunt and grandmother?”
I roused myself and nodded. “Of course.”
In my family, my second aunt’s personality was always the odd one out. After she divorced her husband, she had never had another relationship, remaining single until now. My second aunt’s house was quite far from my mom’s but was rather close to my grandmother’s. It was probably because of this that my second aunt brought my grandmother to live with her.
Wen Jiubo and I took a taxi for about half an hour before we arrived at my second aunt’s doorstep. Even though it had already been over a year since I had last been here but my second aunt’s little high rise apartment was still the same as in my memory. Apart from the few patches of missing paint on the door, there weren’t any other changes.
We went upstairs and knocked on my second aunt’s door on the fifth floor.
“Coming! Who is it?” There was the sound of footsteps from inside and then the door opened.
“It’s me. Didn’t you ask me to come?” Wen Jiubo answered, smiling.
My second aunt, Zhang Shanqiu, opened the door. I was just trying to figure out how to greet my second aunt before I noticed that she wasn’t even looking at me. Instead, she was staring at Wen Jiubo, mouth slightly open in surprise.
“You’re… Mr. Wen?” My second aunt said haltingly.
“Of course, it is indeed me.” Wen Jiubo smiled. “In the flesh, no lie.”
My second aunt covered her mouth with a hand, even her eyes went faintly red, as if unable to believe her own eyes.
“Mr. Wen, it’s really you! Oh my gosh, I never thought you would actually come!” My second aunt said, overcome with emotion. She reached out a hand as if wanting to touch the person in front of her, but she withdrew it, shaking. “It’s really you… You haven’t changed a bit, still exactly the same as all those years ago. Ah, how long, how long has it been since we last saw each other?”
“About twenty years.” Wen Jiubo said quietly.