The Remaining Life Has Its Limits

Chapter 16

Qin Nan provided her with workout clothes, changed into sneakers, and brought boxing gloves and hand targets with her to the rooftop. When they arrived there, Ye Sibei was still a bit bewildered.

It was already evening, and there weren’t many people on the rooftop. Qin Nan led her to the open space in the middle, placed the gloves and targets aside, took out some white cloth from the gloves, and instructed her, “Extend your hands.”

Ye Sibei extended her hand in confusion, Qin Nan grabbed her fingertips with one hand to stabilize them, causing Ye Sibei to tremble slightly. Qin Nan spoke calmly, “Spread out your fingers.”

Ye Sibei suppressed her discomfort and spread out her fingers. Qin Nan wrapped the white cloth around her fingertips, layer by layer.

“The first year out of school was tough. Low pay, lots of work, and older employees always bullying the newcomers. I was thin back then, short in stature. So, I did a hundred push-ups every night. Later, I saw people boxing, so I found tutorials online and learned how to box. Whenever I felt wronged, I’d box, thinking about who made me upset. The day they were alone, I’d approach them and beat them so badly that even their dads wouldn’t recognize them.”

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As Ye Sibei listened to him speak, she looked up at him.

Although he wasn’t bulky now, he looked lean and strong, clearly not someone to be messed with. It was hard to imagine him being bullied when he started as a car apprentice at seventeen or eighteen.

“Pinch it,” when the wrapping was almost done, Qin Nan squeezed her hand into a fist, demonstrating for her, “Move it around, see if it’s tight enough.”

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Zl Fkclk xshle bla byde pzktbvzu yde pbssj bla blye, “Lsv vktbv.”

“Mbl svbla byde.”

Ckd Lyd oayrrle wr sdl byde qsa bla, vbld bye bla sqqla vbl svbla. Gqvla oayrrkdt kv wr vbl pyxl oyu, bl blzrle bla rwv sd vbl csmkdt tzshlp yde cltyd elxsdpvayvkdt, “Wkapv, pvyde zkjl xl. El’zz pvyav okvb vbl qkapv xshl. Ebld usw vbaso y rwdnb, alxlxcla, kv’p dsv fwpv uswa yax; kv’p y obszl-cseu xshlxldv.” Tl pzsozu elxsdpvayvle vbl xsvksd, “Zswa oykpv yde bkrp pbswze yzps lmlav qsanl. Ebld usw rwdnb, vblal’p y pzktbv asvyvksd, zkjl vbkp.”

Gqvla Ckd Lyd elxsdpvayvle vbl xshl, bl vwadle vs bla, “Ps usw wdelapvyde?”

Zl Fkclk eked’v iwkvl wdelapvyde obyv bl oyp vaukdt vs ynbklhl, cwv pllkdt bkp plakswp lmralppksd, pbl dseele.

Ckd Lyd rwv sd vbl byde vyatlvp, pzktbvzu cldv bkp jdllp vs pvyckzkgl bkxplzq, yde vyrrle vbl vyatlv, “Usxl sd,” bl qkmle bkp tygl sd bla, “Psd’v vbkdj ycswv yduvbkdt lzpl, fwpv bkv blal.”

“Ekzz R bwav usw?”

Fbl blpkvyvle, yde Ckd Lyd pxkzle, “Rq usw nyd bwav xl, R’zz valyv usw vs ekddla.”

“Come on.”

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Encouraged by Qin Nan, Ye Sibei tentatively punched towards the hand target.

“Haven’t had dinner yet?” Qin Nan turned his head and raised his voice, “Focus!”

Ye Sibei hesitated, then exerted more force and punched again.

Qin Nan remained motionless, continuing to shout, “Right fist! Use all your strength!”

Gritting her teeth, Ye Sibei fiercely punched, and seeing Qin Nan still steady, she finally relaxed and listened to his commands, punching along with him.

Ye Sibei’s movements weren’t actually standard, but Qin Nan didn’t correct her. He even started to move with steps, continuing to add on, “Lift your knee and kick here, yes, just like that!”

“When my hand goes towards your head, you squat.”

“Listen to me, come on, left, left, left, left, right, left kick, right kick, squat…”

Ye Sibei didn’t speak; she followed his instructions.

At first, she would think about many things, but as she kept punching, her mind slowly emptied, leaving only Qin Nan’s commands: punch, punch, lift knee, squat.

As the movements became more proficient, with every punch hitting the target, feeling the force venting fiercely, there was an indescribable sense of exhilaration.

She seemed to forget everything, indulging in the excitement and pleasure brought by adrenaline and dopamine. She didn’t want to stop at all. Qin Nan observed her state, seeing her movements slowing down, he stopped in time. As she stumbled towards him with a punch, he clasped both hands around her fist, “Stop, rest.”

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“I’m fine.”

Ye Sibei, drenched in sweat, looked at him eagerly, her eyes filled with longing. Qin Nan shook his head, released her hand, and began dismantling his own hand target, walking towards the rusty iron stairs beside him, “I’m done. Another day.”

Ye Sibei felt a bit disappointed, but once she stopped, she also felt tired. She simply followed and sat down beside Qin Nan, looking up at the sky tinged red by the lights.

The night breeze blew over, cooling the sweat on her face, Qin Nan took her hand, removing the boxing gloves for her, slowly unwinding the white cloth wrapped around her hands.

Ye Sibei watched the man opposite her with meticulous movements. She looked at his bold brows and eyes, feeling a kind of tenderness she had never felt before.

For the first time, she became curious about this person, “Did you come to the rooftop at night before just to box?”

“Yeah.”

Qin Nan lowered his head. “Moving around helps ease the mind.”

“Why didn’t you continue high school back then?”

“Poor grades, my dad left, and I thought continuing school would be a waste of money. It was better to start working early.”

“Do you regret it?”

“Not really, whether I regret it or not,” Qin Nan put the removed white cloth aside and took Ye Sibei’s hand, “I’m doing fine now, that’s what matters.”

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“That’s true.”

Ye Sibei smiled. “Apart from smoking, drinking, and boxing, what else do you like?”

Upon hearing this, Qin Nan paused in his movements. He looked up at Ye Sibei, his gaze somewhat complicated. After a while, he finally spoke, “Watching movies, cooking, reading martial arts novels.”

“Are you lying to me?” Ye Sibei was somewhat skeptical.

Qin Nan gave her a cool glance, grabbed her other hand somewhat roughly, and began unwinding the white cloth wrapped around it. “Ye Sibei, you’re not very selective in choosing a husband. A guy who only graduated from high school, with nothing much, just likes smoking, drinking, and boxing. What are you marrying him for?”

“Aren’t you the same?”

Ye Sibei withdrew her hand, hugged her knees, and looked at him as he sorted out the boxing gloves. “I didn’t have a job back then, I was introverted, average-looking, had a younger brother, and the dowry was high. What were you marrying me for?”

“You’re a university student.”

“You make tens of thousands a year.”

After the two finished speaking, they looked at each other and couldn’t help but laugh.

After a moment, Ye Sibei spoke softly, “Actually, I used to be pretty outstanding. Unfortunately, you didn’t see it.”

Qin Nan handed her water, and Ye Sibei took a sip. She didn’t know why, but she hoped Qin Nan could know more about her good qualities. She spoke softly about her past, “I was the top student in liberal arts in our high school.”

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As she spoke, Ye Sibei suddenly remembered something. “Which middle school did you go to before?”

Qin Nan paused for a moment in his movements, seeming to recall something. He answered softly, “Middle School Seven.”

“That’s a pity,” Ye Sibei turned her head, “I was in Middle School Two, class of 2006. If you had been in our school back then, you must have heard of my name. I was among the top few every year.”

“Quite impressive,” Qin Nan took out a cigarette from his pocket, leaned against the stairs behind him, “You’re a university student. Why didn’t you stay in the provincial capital?”

Upon hearing this, Ye Sibei fell silent for a moment, then smiled and said, “Couldn’t stay.”

Ye Sibei recalled her days of sending out resumes everywhere and attending interviews. “It wasn’t easy to find a job after graduation. Finally, I found an accounting firm where the monthly salary was over 5,000, plus high project bonuses. I worked well, and my annual salary was over a hundred thousand in the first year.”

“But my mom wasn’t happy,” Ye Sibei shrugged. “She went to the firm and caused a scene for two days. The firm fired me, so I cut ties with them and stayed outside on my own for six months.”

“At that time, I thought, I must make something of myself, but I had no prospects. I lost the job I had just found. I wasn’t considered a fresh graduate anymore, and I had no work experience. After searching around, I couldn’t find a suitable job. Finally, I found a decent job. In my first week at work, my boss made inappropriate advances towards me. I confronted him on the spot, and I was fired during my probation period.”

“Then I went to a private company. The salary wasn’t high, only 2,700 a month. I didn’t dare to live in a very poor area, so I rented a place in a residential area. Just the rent alone cost over a thousand each month. The boss had a bad temper and often scolded people. I didn’t dare to resign. I worked overtime every day. Being scolded constantly, I got used to it. If I dared to talk back, he would scold me for another two hours.”

“But life was tough,” Ye Sibei looked up at the sky. “As I suffered, I started to think, what am I aiming for?”

“One day, the landlord suddenly came to evict me, saying I hadn’t paid rent for several months. That’s when I found out the real estate agency I initially paid money to had disappeared. I was stupid. At that time, I wanted to save money, so I paid half a year’s rent upfront, thinking that such a big real estate company should be reliable. But they turned out to be scammers, specifically targeting people like me.”

“My salary for that month hadn’t come in yet. I had no money to give the landlord. The next day, the landlord broke in and threw my things outside. It happened to rain that night. I had nowhere to go. I stayed under the building for a while but was chased away by security. I thought about renting a room but felt it was too expensive. In the end, I dragged my luggage to the train station and waited. When it was dark, I saw those drunken men passing by, and I felt particularly scared. Suddenly, I thought, my mom was right. This city couldn’t accommodate me at all. I couldn’t survive here.”

“And then you came back?”

Qin Nan vaguely understood the reason for Ye Sibei’s return.

Ye Sibei imitated Qin Nan’s posture, leaning against the stairs. “That night, I caught a severe cold, ran a high fever, and passed out on the side of the road. When I opened my eyes, I saw my mom beside me, with red eyes, taking care of me. In that moment, I suddenly surrendered.”

“I suddenly felt that even though my family always scolded me and demanded money from me, at least I had a home. She wouldn’t kick me out. She would take care of me when I was sick. When I suffered outside and was bullied, I still had a place to come back to.”

“But even after coming back, things didn’t get any better.”

Qin Nan spoke affirmatively, but Ye Sibei remained silent for a long time.

“That’s my dilemma.”

Ye Sibei looked at the ground. “If my family was really bad in every way, I think it would be fine. Because then I wouldn’t have any way back, and I would have stayed outside long ago.”

“I’ve thought countless times, if my parents were really bad to me, or if they were particularly harsh, it would be better. But it’s just the opposite. Wenwen gets into fights for me, my parents cry for me, but they also ask me for money. They’d rather ruin my job to support their old age. They force me to marry for their own dignity.”

“They give you a little love, but not too much. They bring you back to this swamp, slowly dragging you down bit by bit. When your whole person is submerged, even if you want to escape, you can’t.”

“How could you not escape?”

Qin Nan looked at her and pointed to the safety door. “Now, walk out, go down the stairs, get in the car, drive towards the provincial capital, three hours on the highway.”

“Is it that simple?” Ye Sibei smiled. “Leaving aside other things, the car isn’t mine.”

“It’s yours,” Qin Nan took out the car keys and twirled them in his hand. “It’s joint property of the divorced couple. When we divorce, I’ll give you the car,” he said, then looked up. “Are you coming or not?”

Ye Sibei was surprised. “Now?”

Qin Nan nodded. “Now.”

Ye Sibei didn’t say anything. She looked at Qin Nan’s eyes, which were calm yet sprinkled with traces of amusement.

She used to dare not look directly at them. After a while, she suddenly smiled, grabbed the keys, and stood up. “I have a driver’s license. I’ll drive.”


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Mily [Translator]

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