A tree-lined runway stretched through City C’s Xianghu Park. The trees were lush and green.
Ruan Mengmeng took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. As the blazing August sun gradually flared up and the coolness of the park faded, she peered upwards through the deep canopy of trees.
Each swing of her meaty little arms felt like a heavy-as-hell lead ball dangling from her wrists. Ruan Mengmeng, who was barely upright and mobile, limped over when he saw the bench.
Many people were in the park for their morning exercise. She was the only one who appeared like a small plump girl among the grandparents and younger brothers and sisters.
Ruan Mengmeng was soft and still had baby fat, so when she was puffing and panting and crawling like a turtle, she was teased. After two months of perseverance, almost everyone in the park knew her.
Not long after, the energetic and fit long-legged sister stopped by her side, “Mengmeng, how many laps have you run today? You’re just lazy and not running?”
Ruan Mengmeng stretched out two white fingers, “Two laps is my limit. I can’t run anymore. The sun is getting to my head. I’m afraid of the heat.”
The long-legged sister leaned down and pinched her face, “Cute little fatty, you have to persevere tomorrow too.”
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Swyd Yldtxldt eked’v tlv ydtau yv clkdt rkdnble, yde dseele, “Qs qsa kv, pkpvla.”
“Tyby, uswa eye alyzzu eked’v tkhl usw vbl oasdt dyxl; psqv rlapsdyzkvu, psqv xlyv, psqv hsknl, vss nwvl, xwy~”
Mbl zsdt-zlttle pkpvla oyp nbllaqwz yde ldvbwpkypvknyzzu nszswaqwz, jkppkdt bla yv vbl easr sq y byv. Nwnjkzu, pbl bye czsnjle bla xswvb okvb bla byde kd yehydnl.
Swyd Yldtxldt pyke, “Fkpvla, R’zz cl sze ldswtb vs tlv yd RP nyae kd y qlo xsdvbp. Zsw nyd’v jllr eskdt vbkp. “
Mbl zsdt-zlttle pkpvla pyke, “Eydv vs alplahl uswa qkapv jkpp qsa obknb zkvvzl bydepsxl twu? Ps R jdso bkx? “
Swyd Yldtxldt pyke kd bsaasa, “Ls, ds. Mblal’p ds zkvvzl bydepsxl twu.”
Mbl zsdt-zlttle pkpvla vlyple, “Tybyby, kq usw byhl psxlsdl usw zkjl, usw byhl vs vlzz pkpvla. R nyd blzr usw okvb uswa alqlaldnl. “
Swyd Yldtxldt pxkzle pbuzu. Fbl zssjle ldhkswpzu yv vbspl zsdt zltp plhlayz vkxlp, rsjle bla zkvvzl clzzu, yde pjkrrle sqq vs vbl hltlvyczl xyajlv vs cwu qsse.
On the way, she bought four cartons of AD milk from a small shop on the side of the street. The sweet and sour taste reminded her of the brother from her childhood – He Yiyang.
She recalled that the first time she met him was in the summer of fifth grade.
He had worn a baseball cap backward with a dark blue printed T-shirt, baggy jeans, and imported sneakers that she later learned the brand name of. When she did, she was shocked by the price.
His fair, handsome face had been drawn. His eyes were screwed up in displeasure, and the corners of his mouth had been pursed tightly as he shook his head.
When his father spoke to him, he didn’t listen at all. Rebellion was written all over his body. The type of rebellion that didn’t cooperate with adults. In the end, his father still had no choice but to bend over backward to even coax him.
Ruan Mengmeng had been stunned!
He was a boy from the big city who was completely different from her. Not only was he handsome, but he also had adults surrounding him. He was too impressive.
The first time Ruan Mengmeng saw He Yiyang, she idolized and worshipped him. She spent the whole summer running after him, calling him brother and brother, hoping he would take her along for the ride.
Throwing away the yogurt bottle, Ruan Mengmeng stopped and tapped on WeChat to find He Yiyang’s avatar. She scrolled to the latest message He Yiyang had sent her.
[Are you bored? I’ll hack you if you harass me again!]
The tone was harsh but justifiable.
When He Yiyang’s parents died in a car accident not long ago, Grandpa He had rushed from the county to H City to deal with the fallout. On his way, he made a special call to Ruan Mengmeng to let her care for He Yiyang, as his childhood friend.
However, He Yiyang had not needed her care.
Ruan Mengmeng sighed and quit WeChat.
She had arrived at the vegetable market. As she walked past the fresh, clean fruit and vegetable stalls, looking at the red bell peppers, the carrots topped with bright green leaves, the lovely purple aubergines, and the watery slim cucumbers in a variety of colors, Ruan Mengmeng’s mood changed for the better again.
After she bought a pocketful of vegetables from Auntie Wang, a vegetable vendor she knew quite well, she went back to the first floor.
The owner of the butcher’s shop had a large waist and his shoulders were bare in the heat. When he turned around, his face was full of crossed flesh, but when he saw Ruan Mengmeng, he smiled. “Mengmeng, did you come to buy meat?”
She smiled and nodded her head, calling out to her uncle politely.
The butcher liked Ruan Mengmeng the most. To him, she respected the fruits of his labour. Just look at her, so round, lovely,… and well-coloured, he sighed. What a blessed girl.
By the time Ruan Mengmeng walked out of the market, her hands were full. The sun was in the sky, and there were dappled shadows under the trees.
He Yiyang pulled down the brim of his hat and pretended not to hear the whispered discussion between the two girls in the next seat.
“He’s so handsome. His profile is so charming and his legs are long. “
“I want to take a picture with him. Do you think he’ll agree?”
“I feel as though he’s quite cold. I don’t dare talk to him. Shhh, let’s take a picture.”
He Yiyang impatiently put the headphones around his neck and turned sideways.
The radio on the plane started to play notes. It was a three-hour flight from H to C. He planned to get some rest for a while. After all, he hadn’t slept for thirty-six hours.
Before he could close his eyelids, a small, fair, round face with a smile appeared in his mind.
It had been three years since he had seen Ruan Mengmeng, but he had not forgotten a single bit of her face. Although he had contacted her occasionally, he simply couldn’t understand why he could not forget.
He Yiyang came out with the crowd and waved when he saw his grandfather, who had come to meet the plane.
He Zhenhua saw his handsome and upright grandson walking towards him, looking calm and unhurried. A young man of just 17 years old, he had a dignified and steady demeanour. He was much more mature and reliable than the manic and depressed adults around him.
His son and daughter-in-law had brought up their son well, and he, an old man, was both pleased and proud.
Unfortunately, the moon waxed and it waned . His son and daughter-in-law had been killed in a car accident two months ago, leaving behind a company and He Yiyang, who was just getting on the right track.
He had taken a flight to H City overnight to take care of the aftermath and asked his legal team to help transfer all the shares of his son’s company to his grandson’s name.
When He Zhenhua had finished, He Yiyang held the two tablets  and said, “I want to go back to my hometown.”
He Zhenhua had been both stunned and worried. His grandson had been studying at a nationally renowned private high school in H City. With top grades, he was akin to the legendary academic bully. He only had two more years before he had to go to university, and he was to study abroad at an Ivy League school. He even had martial arts ability. At home, there was a slip of competition award medals with a high content of gold on the bookcase.
And yet, the first thing he wanted to do was to go back home with him and give up his future!
City C was only a third-tier city. It wasn’t even a provincial capital, and its educational resources and living environment were no match for H City. Besides, the old man still lived in the county town of C. Water flows to lower places, but people flow up to richer places , so how could his grandson do the opposite?
He Yiyang had just pursed his lips in silence and shook his head, his eyes resolute as if he had a plan.
Looking at his grandson, who was even a head taller than himself, what else could He Zhenhua say?
“Tired from the road?” He Zhenhua saw the pale blue colour under He Yiyang’s eyes and said, “Grandpa will help you carry your suitcase.”
“It’s alright, just some clothes,” He Yiyang said indifferently, avoiding his grandfather’s hand.
He Zhenhua was a little embarrassed. “Oh.”
He Yiyang paused. He took off his jacket and removed his hat, saying, “Grandpa, you can help me carry it.”
Looking at his grandson’s cold face, He Zhenhua felt quite amused and accepted his thoughtful offer.
When He Yiyang was a child, he would come back home every summer to play for half a month. For one thing, his son had wanted them to be close; for another, he had wanted He Yiyang to have a childhood of real outside playing. He had wanted him to experience things like catching fish in the pond and climbing trees to dig out birds’ eggs instead of dealing with technological products every day.
“Yiyang, I have a house in the city’s Hua Ya district, which is also close to the First Middle School. Why don’t you live there? ” He Zhenhua asked.
He nodded and picked up a wet tissue to wipe the sweat from his forehead; it was a hot summer in C City, and he was a little uncomfortable with the daytime temperature reaching forty degrees on a three-volt day.
He Zhenhua hurriedly opened the small fridge in the car and said, “Coke, yogurt, or green tea. Which one would you like to drink?”
How could there be AD Calcium milk ? This was the stuff he used to coax Ruan Mengmeng with when he was a kid!
He Yiyang glanced at his grandfather, who had an eager expression, and said indifferently, “I’ll drink mineral water.”
“Hey? Didn’t you use to like yogurt? ” He Zhenhua teased.
He Yiyang’s long eyelashes half drooped, “It’s not that I like to drink it.”
“You didn’t like it?” He Zhenhua pretended to be worried, “It’s also true that when you grow up, you won’t be sitting by the pond with Mengmeng. You won’t have lotus leaves on your head and your bare legs playing with the fish with your feet. Ah, back then.. “
He Yiyang was embarrassed and changed the subject. “Grandpa, the weather is hot. You should also drink more water.”
As he bent down to take another bottle of water from the refrigerator, his finger touched the bottle of AD Calcium milk.
Humph, who wants to drink this lactic acid drink? Mature men only drink water!
He Zhenhua glanced at He Yiyang’s series of small expressions and movements and was relieved.
Although he was still cold and silent, fortunately, the tragic death of his son and daughter-in-law did not break his grandson.
The deceased had already passed away, and the living should face the future while remembering.
“Yiyang, you still remember Uncle Ruan Hai, right?” He Zhenhua said.
Wasn’t Ruan Hai the little fatty’s father, Big Fatty? How could he not remember? He Yiyang nodded his head.
“I told him to take care of you,” He Zhenhua said, “Mengmeng is still your little plum. She loved to run after you when she was little, calling out to you. She is still the same now, with her cute little round face. When she heard me say you were coming back, she clapped her hands and turned in circles with joy. . .”
He Yiyang imagined the little fat girl spinning around…. uh, the output bar stuck at ninety-nine percent, and the picture was too beautiful to play.
He said, “She lives across the street from me?”
“Meng, Ruan Mengmeng.”
“Yeah, the little girl said when you come back, she’s going to cook a big meal for you.” He Zhenhua said with a smile.
Ruan Mengmeng had had a crush on him since she was a child, and now her enthusiasm was still undiminished. He Yiyang hooked the corners of his mouth in satisfaction.
“But I didn’t tell her when you’d be back,” He Zhenhua added, “Let’s give Mengmeng a surprise, right? Hahahaha…… “
The corners of He Yiyang’s mouth, which had just been raised, deflated, and he glanced at his grandfather wordlessly.
 It means when something has grown to a particular point, it will decline. Having declined to a certain degree, it would once again grow.
 memorial tablets which symbolize the spirit of deceased relatives.
 An old saying that means the better someone does, the more it benefits those below them.