Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 3 Book of Exchange – Chapter 1 Fish
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 1 Fish
Time went by quickly, a third of my college semester had already passed. October had gone and Yan City welcomed a new November. Cold weather swept this city, winter was coming.
Students began to wear warm coats or puffer jackets, and I was no exception. Maybe I wore even more layers than Su Xiaoyun and Shi Yitong, who came from the south.
“Achoo!” I rubbed my nose as I shivered with cold.
Seeing me like this, both Su Xiaoyun and Shi Yitong laughed.
“You come from the North, I can’t believe you are so sensitive to the cold.”
“Although the outdoor temperature drops below zero in the North, we still have indoor heating,” I rebuked. “Before I came to Yan city, I thought the winter in the South would be warmer, I never expected it to be so cold. The inside is as cold as the outside.”
“Of course,” Shi Yitong interjected. “Didn’t you ever hear of the internet saying that the cold in the North is like a physical attack, while the cold in the South is like a magic attack? A weak person like you, at most you can endure the physical attack, but your magic defense is null. Hahaha!”
“And it never snows here,” Su Xiaoyun complained. “I have never seen a white snowfield in my life. I saw the small snowflakes before, but it never stacked on the ground.”
I groaned immediately, “I’ll be dead if it snows in this cold weather!”
Su Xiaoyun and Shi Yitong laughed at my miserable look, making the students around us look at us like we were lunatics.
As a matter of fact, I clearly knew why I was so sensitive to the cold was because I had been spoiled by Wen Jiubo and his old residence.
I once mentioned to them that the vegetation surrounding Wen Jiubo’s residence was always green and would never wither. It meant that if Wen Jiubo was home, the temperature would be warm enough to allow flowers to blossom. Though I didn’t know what kind of spell he used to maintain that kind of temperature, it was amazing to have such an environmentally friendly, energy-saving, natural heater. As a result, I came to his house almost every day the past week in order to warm my frozen body.
“Gu Yu, if I didn’t know you, I would suspect that you skip classes to come here to warm your hands and feet.”
Wen Jiubo wore a thin robe with his long hair gathered at the back of his head. He held a blooming Chinese rose in his hand, carefully cutting off all the thorns with a pair of scissors.
I whined about his false accusation. “Skip class? You have taught us for such a long time, haven’t you noticed that I’m a good student?”
“Really?” Wen Jiubo laughed. “I’ve never seen someone sleep during a lecture and be called a good student.”
“That’s because you forced me to talk with you the entire night before.” I rolled my eyes.
“Don’t malign me,” Wen Jiubo disagreed. “You were the one who was the most excited among us.”
I was tongue-tied and chose to ignore him by lying down on the bench in the porch, looking up at the blue sky and enjoying the warm spring-like wind.
Lately, there were no clients at all, and patients who needed herb medicine were also hardly seen. Therefore, Wen Jiubo put up the closed sign on the door and began to enjoy a relaxing hermit-like life.
Of course, as an employee, I was eager to slack off, that’s why I had some inane arguments with Wen Jiubo.
Wen Jiubo finished pruning the Chinese rose in his hand and inserted it with some other flowers into a simple ceramic vase. I narrowed my eyes to see his movements. I really respected Wen Jiubo for that, the art of flower arrangement required patience and high aesthetic taste, which I would never learn how to do it.
All of a sudden, I caught a glimpse of something. It was a small fish tank beside the vase and a small goldfish was swimming in it.
“A goldfish?” I muttered. Was there always a goldfish inside his room?
“Uh, this.” Wen Jiubo noticed me staring at it and he looked at the fish tank. “A friend of mine gave it to me today. I couldn’t reject him, so I put it here. If you’re not busy, can you help me feed this fish?”
“Your friend again?” I instantly sat up, walked to the fish tank and gently tapped the glass. “You don’t look like a sociable person, and yet you have so many friends.”
I opened the fish food bag that was placed next to the fish tank, poured some on my palm and dropped them into the fish tank.
At first, the goldfish was wary of strangers, but after some attempts, its fear was defeated by its empty stomach, it swam to the surface and ate all the food.
“It has quite the appetite.” Watching the goldfish still swimming at the surface to try and get more food, I touched the water surface with a finger. But surprisingly, the goldfish mistook my finger for fish food and bit me.
“Hahaha…Seems that it likes me.”
“That’s because you have fat fingers and it thought your finger was its food,” Wen Jiubo joked.
“No, look.” I tapped the glass and the goldfish immediately swam to the place from where the sound came. “It likes me.”
Wen Jiubo gave in. “Whatever you think. However, you aren’t a goldfish, you’re unable to know what it thinks. Maybe in its eyes you’re a giant monster.”
I suddenly lost interest because of what Wen Jiubo just said. I stood up and looked at him. “You can’t say that. Even though we are different species, we still share some common feelings, like love, hate, anger, fear…and so on. We can share these emotions even without words.”
Wen Jiubo remained silent for a minute before he carried on, “But, even if we can feel it, what difference does it make?”
“Uh?” I didn’t understand.
“Humans and goldfish are two different species, even if they have the same simple emotions, they cannot be conveyed.” Wen Jiubo smiled and came near the fish tank. “The water inside the tank is a completely different world from the other side. You can’t speak of empathizing with someone if you see things in a different way.”
I disagreed, thinking hard about how to argue that point, but was interrupted by him.
“Humans are the same. If they stand at different heights, they will see a different world, as a result, they may never truly understand each other.” Wen Jiubo tapped the fish tank and said.