Ji Linqiu was carrying two bowls of cold noodles over but found that Jiang Wang’s expression was off. He immediately furrowed his brows and asked, “Xingxing is missing?”
Jiang Wang picked up his coat and nodded, quickly pulling out a red bill and slapping it onto the table, “Boss! Something’s come up, we won’t be eating. Please cancel the order!”
Ji Linqiu stretched out his hand and held him down, “You go to the train station, I will wait for him near the house. In case the child comes home, I can let you know.”
“He has no money on him, where could he have gone?” Jiang Wang raised his wrist and looked at his watch, “There are still buses running at this point. But I don’t know if he has any change in his pockets.”
“It’s best to ask a few more friends for help, and also ask the police to check the surveillance cameras.”
“Okay, let’s split up.”
Jiang Wang never thought that the child would run away, especially since he sent him to the ticket gate with his own eyes.
Peng Xingwang was just eight years old this year, and his mother wasn’t around for half of his life. So even if Du Wenjuan went to buy drinks in the park, the child followed closely and never let go.
How could it be… why did he suddenly run back?
The night was like an endless web of darkness covering the streets in a layer of gray.
The dim yellow lights made everywhere else the light did not reach look even more bleak and dilapidated.
Jiang Wang stepped on the gas all the way and ran two red lights in a row, his eyes constantly searching the roads on both sides for any sign of the child.
He felt anxious and bitter, but also strangely happy.
It was as if, finally, he had been chosen in this world.
——Even if the one doing the choosing was his young self.
The railway station square was empty. After the man got out of the car, he stretched his hands in front of his mouth like a trumpet and roared all the way:
“I’m here to pick you up! Where are you?!!”
Some passersby looked at him like a psychopath, but Jiang Wang ignored them as he shouted while running.
But the square was lonely and empty, there were not many children at all.
Jiang Wang was about to call a friend at the police station when a voice came from behind him.
“The kid went to the bus stop.”
He subconsciously turned his head and realized that it was the old man spinning a top who was here earlier when he said goodbye to Xingxing.
“Did you see it clearly?”
“He was wearing a black and white coat, it looked like a zebra, didn’t it?” The old man bent over and picked up the spinning top and put it in his pocket ready to go home. “I wanted to stop him but the child kept walking for fear of encountering a trafficker. He dashed away as soon as he saw me and got on the bus.”
Jiang Wang said thank you, stuffed all the money he had in his hand to the old man and bowed, regardless of whether the other wanted to give it back.
He quickly ran to the bus stop and called Ji Linqiu.
“There is no one at home,” Ji Linqiu thought carefully, his tone uneasy, “The train station is far from here. Even if you take the bus, you have to transfer at least once. I’ll check the route and send it to you. You can drive and look for him along the way. The child may have gotten off at the wrong stop.”
Jiang Wang agreed quickly. He answered another phone call and listened to Du Wenjuan’s crying and explanation while continuing to drive to find the child.
He was afraid that something would happen to Peng Xingwang. He drove the car and even forgot to turn the air conditioner on, which made his back gradually drenched.
The No.62 bus came and left but Bus No. 14 he hadn’t seen at all. He didn’t know whether it was out of service or changed its route.
The man kept looking, but he still didn’t see the child as he arrived back home.
It was so late and there was no money in his hand, where could he go?
He could also use the phone booth to call the police.
When he was about to turn back to look for the child for the second time, his cell phone suddenly rang.
The child cried out of breath.
“I’m here, I’ll pick you up right away.” Jiang Wang forcibly suppressed all his emotions, for fear of scaring him, “Where are you?”
Peng Xingwang also panicked, crying and hiccuping.
“There is a Jiaxing Department Store here, there is… there is a Chen hardware store. ”
“Don’t run, give the phone to an adult next to you, I’ll talk to them.”
It took a while for the phone to be transferred to the grocery store owner’s wife. The other party explained with a few words and quickly gave the address.
By the way, she also complained, “You have to take good care of such a young child, what if you lose him for the rest of his life?”
Jiang Wang apologized again and again and drove over with Ji Linqiu.
Peng Xingwang took the wrong bus and went all the way to the west of the city only to find that he didn’t recognize anyone nearby. He got off the bus in a panic to find someone for a call.
Jiang Wang drove as fast as possible all the way, but it would still take at least ten minutes to drive over.
“Slow down,” Ji Linqiu whispered, “Pay attention to safety. ”
Jiang Wang was extremely anxious, but fortunately, Teacher Ji was by his side talking about what happened in the train station.
“Those things are too unfamiliar to Xingxing.” Ji Linqiu’s expression was not very friendly when he mentioned Chang Hua, “It’s hard not to be afraid when someone demands something from a child so roughly.”
“But what needs to be remembered is,” Ji Linqiu said softly, “Before you pick up Xingwang, it’s best to call his mother and let her know.”
“Call his mother for what?”
“This kind of escape of a child… is probably the most unforgivable betrayal in the world.”
Ji Linqiu put his forehead against the window of the car, looking out as he slowly talked.
“Many people can never leave their original families for the rest of their lives.”
“But having your own sense of independence, choosing a tortuous path against your parents’ expectations, or disappearing and running far away. These are all like betraying the bindings of blood from deep within.”
This kind of binding was like an umbilical cord that would never be broken, from birth to death.
If handled properly, it was a bridge connecting family ties.
If you resisted and struggled against it, it was a prison that tortured your heart.
Jiang Wang held his breath for a few seconds.
He unconsciously remembered his past life, but in the end, only allowed those pictures to flash by for a short time.
Peng Xingwang had already cried like a little fool in the grocery store on the strange street. When he saw Ji Linqiu, he howled and ran over to hug him tightly. All his fears broke out again, and his snot-covered nose smeared all over.
Ji Linqiu didn’t avoid the sticky tears and snot, his eyes were distressed when he looked at Xingxing.
Jiang Wang squatted beside him, stretched out his hand, and touched the child’s flushed face.
“Brother… don’t hit me,” Peng Xingwang sobbed, “I was wrong, I shouldn’t have run away, don’t be angry with me.”
“I won’t hit you.” Jiang Wang reached out and took the child into his arms, hugging him very tightly. “Your brother is only worried that you are injured, and won’t blame you.”
“But Mom…” the child was desperate, “Mom won’t forgive me.”
Jiang Wang had just worked hard to calm Du Wenjuan’s emotions, he even had to stop the car on the side of the road for five minutes before approaching the store.
The woman also didn’t expect that her child would choose a distant relative in the end. There was also the pain of being abandoned.
“Mom knows you were just scared.” Jiang Wang wiped his tears with a tissue, and explained seriously, “She loves you very much, and brother loves you very much too. We all hope you grow up happy.”
“As for how you want to choose and when you want to choose, there’s no rush.”
The child was already crying stupidly, “She will be angry, I left her and ran away, I hurt her.”
Jiang Wang thought that he was fortunate to bring Ji Linqiu over, otherwise, it would be even harder to deal with both the mother crying over the phone and the son.
He hugged the child onto the stool and dialed the phone.
Du Wenjuan quickly answered the phone and was also choking back her tears, but her mood was much better because she had calmed down in advance.
“Don’t be afraid,” she coaxed the child who was at a loss: “Mom loves you, Mom won’t be angry, as long as you are well.”
“Do you really still love me?” Peng Xingwang burst into tears, “Mom, I’m sorry.”
“Uncle scared you, and Mom should’ve confirmed it before taking you away,” Du Wenjuan said slowly, “It’s okay, you can spend the summer vacation at your brother’s house, and you can come to me when you’ve thought about it.”
Peng Xingwang kept apologizing, the phone was only hung up when he was about to cry himself to sleep.
Jiang Wang asked Ji Linqiu to take care of Xingxing, bought a few cigarettes from the grocery store owner, and paid with a card.
He then handed the cigarettes to the owner.
“No, no, you take it.” The owner’s wife pushed his hand aside and said, “We appreciate the thought, but we feel a bit embarrassed.”
Jiang Wang looked at the cigarettes in the plastic bag and said nothing more before taking them.
By the time they drove home, the child had fallen asleep from exhaustion, with tears still hanging from his eyelashes.
Jiang Wang and Ji Linqiu gave a brief farewell, and then Jiang Wang went to take a bath and sat next to Peng Xingwang, watching him under the night light.
In fact, there were no emotions, he was just hungry.
The man looked at his sleeping young self for a long time and felt that the child was somewhat familiar and unfamiliar.
He was now 28 years old, and he would never choke on crying and ask anyone if they still loved him.
It even seemed that he never believed in the word love, to the point that he refused to say it to his younger self.
Children seem to have no barriers, they could get hurt easily, and they could love easily.
Loving kittens, loving pigeons on the side of the road, loving the brother who has been lying to him, and loving the mother who had a new family.
Simple and fragile, easy to deceive and coax.
Jiang Wang gently stretched out his hand, touching the child’s petal-like soft cheek with his rough fingertips.
It was hard for him to believe that this child was also himself.
Thinking about how he had lived for 28 years, and how he grew from Peng Xingwang to Jiang Wang. This change was as incredible as his time travel.
“Go to sleep.” The man said softly: “Have a good dream.”
Was on the edge of my seat translating this… I thought Brother Jiang and Teacher Ji would end up in a brawl with traffickers (و •̀ ᴗ•́ )و