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I went to the bedroom to pack his things so he could come back to take.
I opened the wardrobe and saw the coat I bought for him. Back then, we just started dating and I saw this dress in a designer shop. I thought that the cream colour and cutting of the coat were perfect for him. He would definitely look good in it. I spent a month’s wages to buy it. When he donned the coat, it was as if a spotlight was shining on him. That moment, I was very sure that he would be very popular and successful.
I recalled how a man like him was being forced to take upon the role of a husband. That thought was pretty unbearable. I could somehow understand the feeling of his fans and reason of their hatred towards me now. It is a ‘waste of natural resource’.
I took out the clothes that he always wear and started folding it. In a TV drama serial, when a husband wants to leave the house for good, his wife would desperately try to pull him back and beg him not to leave. But here I was, helping him to pack his luggage. If Mom saw what I am doing now, she would definitely hit the roof. She had always led a straight and upright life. If she saw how her daughter was degrading herself, how could she not bite her tongue.
The house that we used to stay was only fifteen square feet in area size. The window faced a vine-covered wall and the ceiling fan gave off a ringing sound whenever it was switched on. There were a lot of mosquitoes in the summer. I would light up the mosquito coil and read my documents while he sat on the bamboo mat and played his guitar, humming songs that were specially written for me. He was the Siren that sings in the sea and I was the young girl on the boat, lured by him.
At that time, we had no money. Whenever we went out, he would wear his washed out jeans while I would go out bare faced. We rushed to the park early in the morning on weekends to buy two half-price tickets, wandering out only when dusk arrived. Later, the park started to charge tickets at full price and he brought me to climb over a wall. There was once when a security guard found out and we ran three stretches of streets before we managed to escape.
All these memories were memories that my parents, his friends and his fans did not know about.
He later became famous. Of course, he would be popular. Those who have listened to his songs would definitely agree. His posters were all over the streets and he started appearing on television. He only came back when I have fallen asleep, kissing me with his cigarette smelling lips before turning over to sleep.
All these memories were memories that other people did not know about either.
His female fans shouted and proclaimed their love for him. To them, I am just ‘that woman’ – the woman without a name. The Siren is still the Siren but the young girl has now become an unsightly woman and a hindrance.
In their eyes, I was a spoiled and pampered woman who drove a red Ferrari; swiped my husband’s credit card to buy luxury goods; have servants attending me at a wave of my hand. I am the woman who wore a leopard print jacket and had her nails painted red, covered with a strong stench of perfume that one could smell even from ten miles away.
I stopped what I was doing. To move and pack the five cabinets filled of clothing is easier said than done. I then went to pack the table and opened the drawer, only to see our wedding ring.
I froze for a few seconds, and then took the ring out of the box. I was in a daze and considered whether to let him take away the ring as a memento or not.
Sigh. After signing the papers, I have to think twice before speaking for fear that we might turn into enemies the next instant. My friend once confided in me that she merely complained about the faulty pen and the man shouted at her, “Why? You are that eager?”
I know Cheng Rui would never do that. He is a righteous and sentimental man. He is presentable, gentle and considerate. It is my honour to be married to him for six years. He no longer loves me, but he is still a good man.
I lost my mood to pack and headed back to the living room.
I remembered how we first met. I just broke up with my then boyfriend. Three years of relationship just evaporated into nothing. I drank a lot and a foreigner came over and started babbling foreign language to me. A pity that I was then a foreign language student but I could not understand a single word. That foreigner started to touch me and that was when Cheng Rui suddenly jumped down from the stage and yelled, “Don’t touch my woman!” He grabbed me by my hand, pulled me out of the pub and pushed me into a cab.
I kept laughing. Now that I reminisce about that past, I suddenly realised that I have always remembered every word he has said to me. It was a premonition.
After his second album was sold out, he heaved a long sigh of relief and finally turned back to see my melancholic smile. Because of his outstanding features, he wore a hat and a turtle neck shirt. I could feel the heat for him. We ran to the Tian’anmen Square. Cars drove past us, illuminating the dark night. We were intoxicated with joy and embraced each other as if we were each other’s first love once again; as if we were doing something as exciting as committing an adultery. I was suddenly weighed down with grief. I missed walking hand in hand with him along the street after finishing our dinner. I missed him dedicating the last song to me as he sang under the dimly lit stage. I missed the plain old simple happiness of being together day and night.
The clock on the wall struck ten. I stood up and went to the kitchen to grab a bite. I opened the refrigerator and there was only wine in there. I took a bottle, poured a full glass and drank it in one gulp. I walked towards the living room, sat down and switched on the television. The whole place suddenly came to life.
My mobile phone then rang. I jumped up, recalling that I have pulled out my telephone line.
Cheng Rui raised his voice, “Dan Xin? How come I can’t reach you by phone? I thought something happened.”
“Nothing! Nothing!” I quickly said, “When are you reaching?”
“There is a car accident and the road is blocked now. I will be slightly late.”
I laughed. Being late again. Even after getting a divorce, he is still playing the same trick.
I do not know since when, I began to live in waiting. Waiting for the man to come home, waiting for the man to call me, waiting for the man to remember me. I cannot remember how many times I have slept on the sofa waiting for his return, nor can I remember how many times I have waited in the restaurant for someone who will never come. It was then I finally understood that marriage is not the end, but another beginning. The story of ‘happily ever after’ continued to exist in fairy tales. How many girls have these romance novels harmed?
A girl in the television shouted, “Qian Wen!” I woke up in a state of panic.
That woman is still as ravishing and dazzling. For a period, rumours of her having an affair with my husband spread throughout the city.
I have seen her at a movie premiere. I wore a white dress while she wore a black halter dress, as if a battle against justice and evil was about to begin. We exchanged handshake and all the cameras were on us. The reporters tapped on the shutter button continuously, the bright flashlight blinded my eyes. I attempted to dodge but she had already started posing confidently in front of the cameras.
On the way back home, I asked Cheng Rui, “Do you find her attractive?”
Cheng Rui knocked my head with his finger, “Don’t talk nonsense!”
I always made jokes about them. I have a dark sense of humour. I find pleasure out of pain. Newspapers frequently reported about how compatible they are. I laughed at it as I read and chewed on my apple. Of course they did not use me to spice up the story. They never bother.
Later, I went online and saw the fans encouraging Cheng Rui to get a divorce. “Divorce that hag and get together with Qian Wen!” It was then I realised that the whole thing was no longer fun anymore. I did not know when I became such a distasteful and unlikeable character, being described as uncouth countrywoman. Cheng Rui became the talented scholar who married the wrong person while Qian Wen became his soul mate and confidante.
I felt terrible. I am just a kind-hearted and harmless woman. Why was I portrayed like an evil and ugly woman?
I knew him at his lowest point of life. Was it wrong for me to appreciate a hero? But I got together with him, so I was wrong.
I suddenly felt tinge of bitterness spreading in my mouth. I tilted my head back and drank another mouthful of wine. Cheng Rui have not arrived yet, but I have enough patience to wait and to keep on waiting.
The only time Cheng Rui got a break was after our marriage. It was the one and only time we travelled together but we went to a lot of places. At the foothills of the Alps, we stayed at a small but cosy inn. We covered ourselves with a big fleece blanket and huddled together in front of a fireplace next to the window as we looked out of the window. The scenery was beautiful. The mountain and meadow were covered with snow, and the sky was deep blue in colour.
As I gazed at the fleeting snowflakes against the backdrop of the sky, I wondered what lay behind this magnificence.
Cheng Rui asked me why I was not talking.
“When I was young, the adults always said that everyone has a star that belongs to them. For a period of time, I would look up the sky every night, thinking that there will surely be unique star that belongs to me only.”
He hugged me tightly, “I belong to you, to you one person only.”
But he was wrong.
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