Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 1 Book of Thunder – Chapter 62 The Color of Autumn on the Mountains (1)
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 62 The Color of Autumn on the Mountains (1)
My name is Zhang Shanqiu.
Bow (弓) plus length (长) for Zhang (张), mountain (山) for Shan and Autumn for Qiu (秋).
When I was young, my mother and father once told me that this name was given to mean ‘the color of autumn on the mountains’. The place where my mother and father first met was on the top of a mountain covered in the color of autumn leaves. When I was young, I didn’t really understand it, but I felt in my heart that it should be a very beautiful scene.
In my family, I was third. I had an older brother and an older sister, as well as a younger sister. Maybe it was because I had a weak constitution and was often sick from a young age that both my mother and father doted on me, and growing up, I rarely had to do any dirty or tiring work. My older siblings were also very caring and even when we didn’t have much money, my mother and father tightened their belts and still made me attend senior high.
In those times, there weren’t many people willing to send their children to senior high. The majority of children chose to learn a trade at a trade school so that they could go directly to work after graduation. However, after finishing senior high, if you couldn’t get into a university, then the job you would be able to find was probably likely to be worse than those who went to a trade school. Both my older siblings and even my younger sister, none of them had the fortune to be able to go to senior high.
Luckily, I, who carried my parents’ hopes, didn’t let them down. After I graduated, I was really able to do my best and get into a teaching university, and then I eventually succeeded in becoming a high school teacher.
I still remember at that time, my mother and father looked at me with delight in their eyes. Whenever they met someone, they would tell them that their daughter, Zhang Shanqiu, had gotten into university and become a teacher, and how much pride I had brought them. When they spoke, their faces were filled with pride and joy.
That’s right, my name is Zhang Shanqiu and when I was younger, I held my head high, filled with pride and arrogance. The pinnacle of my life was when I had just graduated, everyone was looking towards me with envious eyes and even mothers with their young children would say, “Look at your Auntie Shanqiu, you need to be like her when you grow up. Do you hear me?”
But in the end, my life wasn’t meant to be as smooth as I had imagined. It was as if the heavens had decided to take back their blessing, throwing me down into the fires of Hell.
When did all of that start… let me think.
Oh, that’s right. It started from when I met that man.
From when I met that man called Wen Jiubo.
“What’s your name?”
That man had a pair of eyes that shone like obsidian, a straight proud nose, and smiling lips. His hair was long enough to reach his shoulders. It was the first time that I had seen a man with long hair, but he didn’t seem feminine at all, still extremely handsome.
At that moment, I almost couldn’t say my own name.
“Oh… Shanqiu. I mean, Zhang Shanqiu.”
“Shanqiu.” He spoke my name as if carefully tasting each word. “Shanqiu as in the color of autumn on the mountains?”
I looked at him, startled, but he only smiled slightly and walked away from my gaze.
That man was handsome, mysterious and also unexpectedly learned and capable. I had once stood quietly, hidden outside his classroom to eavesdrop; beautiful poetic lines and phrases had fallen from those lips like a song of nature.
I was merely a normal female teacher, he stood upon a pedestal that I could see but not reach. I didn’t ever allow myself to even imagine that he might glance towards me.
However, fate had a way of tricking you, and our paths ended up intersecting.
I still remember that night when that skunk was scrabbling left and right in my bathroom. I was screaming loudly while he laughed, pulling me into his arms, putting his hand across my mouth.
It was as if his touch was magic, even my heartbeat fluttered with his body’s warmth.
“Okay, it’s fine now.” His voice was deep and gentle. His long fingers pointed at the little creature running amok. “Look, it’s not a demon, it’s just a skunk.”
My face was full of fear. “Skunks are terrifying! They can drop an extremely stinky poison bomb!”
“It’s fine, as long as we don’t go near it, it won’t —”
Quick as a wink, the skunk suddenly turned its back to us and a sudden stench sprayed towards us.
“Oh! Save me, it stinks!”
“Quick, open the window!”
… From then on, our lives intersected.
There were many times when I lay in his arms, but when I looked at him I felt as if he had never kept me in his heart.
“Do you love me?” I asked him quietly.
He never answered, only narrowing his eyes, looking into the distance.
“Did you ever love me?” Every time I had an opportunity, I would always persistently and consistently ask him this.
“You know my answer.” If I asked too many times, he would smile gently like this. His eyes reflected the glitter of the morning light and made one mistakenly think: there was love within.
But the reality was, every happy memory was nothing more than a fleeting illusion.
At the start of the second year, Wen Jiubo left Bei Ning. Before he left, he didn’t even bother to send me a single text. I questioned many of my colleagues and with great effort managed to catch him before he got on his flight, asking him angrily,
“Jiubo, why are you leaving? Why are you leaving without saying a word to me?”
But that man only stood in place, silently looking at me, his gaze as deep and dark as hell.
“Why?! Did you ever love me?” I yelled at him, heartbroken, causing many travelers in the airport to look towards us.
But he didn’t give me any sort of answer, only silence, and then he left just like that.
After Wen Jiubo left, I went through a few months where I couldn’t eat or sleep. During the day, I was so dispirited that I basically couldn’t carry out my job, making many mistakes when teaching. In the end, on a rainy day, I was politely dismissed from my job by the principal.
My family’s attitude towards me did a one-eighty. Without mentioning my older siblings, even my younger sister, who had always been polite to me, began to follow the adults’ lead and rebuke me.
“Sister, do you think you can continue on like this? You lost your job just like that, now where are you going to find another job like it? You’re already twenty-six, and you haven’t had a serious boyfriend. Look, hasn’t our older brother already married such a beautiful wife? And our older sister’s marriage is set as well. You don’t have anyone else to turn to, mom and dad have complained to me a lot of times already.”
As long as I was at home, I could definitely hear many different people grumbling and complaining to me.
“Shanqiu, my classmate’s relatives introduced me to a boy, he’s a soldier and a pretty decent man. Do you want to go meet him?”
“Shanqiu, you can’t carry on like this, have you asked about the job? Did you find a new one yet?”