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NAN CHAN Chapter 35

Author:Bettygift Category:urban Update time:2024-06-11 09:23:43


Chuanzi ran until he was gasping for breath, but still, he did not dare to stop. He made his way through the shrubs, twigs in hair. His arms were raised to shield his face, and now they were burning with pain from the scrapes. He heard nothing except his own urgent breathing.

Chuanzi ran, disoriented, until he tripped and rolled down the slope into the stream. His arms were shaking as he propped himself up. He wanted to continue running, but his legs refused to obey. Chuanzi supported himself with his elbows and lifted the upper half of his body out of the stream. He sprawled on the muddy grass and took big gasps of breath. His head was spinning. Finally, he buried his head among the grass to retch.

It was not until the sun sank in the western hills that Chuanzi was able to recover. His hand trembled as he groped around his chest and took out the flattened steamed bun. He took big bites out of it. As soon as he filled his stomach, he braced himself against the trees and walked on gingerly.

The pitch-black night was like a dream. Chuanzi could not tell reality from hallucinations. His body alternated between feeling cold and hot. He felt as if he could make his way home if he continued on like this. When he touched himself later in the night, his body was scalding hot, while his soaked clothes were cold from the blowing wind. He was so feverish he felt dizzy; even the sound of his breathing sounded far away.

Chuanzi collapsed onto the ground. He could no longer get up. He seemed to hear the dogs barking. A pair of boots stepped across the thorny undergrowth and stopped before him.

◈     ◈     ◈

Chuanzi was burning up. Someone wiped him down and changed the cold handkerchief on his forehead all night. The woman leaned against the bed and wiped his tears away. Through the night, her jade-like hand never stopped brushing his damp hair and stroking his forehead.

In his dreams, Chuanzi was dreadfully pale, like an exposed corpse under the hot sun. He longed for those fingers. It reminded him of a woman, but he had forgotten her appearance. The ensuing pain overwhelmed him. He had left home, and it seemed as if he could no longer return home.

Chuanzi was at a loss. He could only wail under this fiery torment. He feared it all, because he could no longer remember how his mother looked like. The illness stripped him of his remaining courage, turning him back into a defenseless child. Crying was the only way he could vent it all out.

The woman embraced Chuanzi, and her gentle and warm shoulders and arms became Chuanzi's refuge. He leaned against it and plunged into the bottomless darkness.

◈     ◈     ◈

It was the daytime when Chuanzi woke up. He inclined his head in a blank stare. He did not remember fleeing, nor did he remember cowering. He gazed at the scene outside the window as if he had not seen the flowers and plants for a very long time.

The door opened and a man of a stocky build entered. He sat down at the edge of Chuanzi's bed and reached out a hand to feel the latter's forehead.

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