Credits for translations to dD. These are not my translations..I will take these down if she wishes.
That Frightening Night
It was May 1st, not quite summer yet. In the city, the chances of thunderstorms were low this time of year, so who would have expected that we’d be woken by the roar of thunder.
I’ve lived for nearly 19 years now, but I never knew that thunder could sound like that. And that lightning could flash so brightly. It was terrifying…
More importantly, that rumbling sound seemed to come from right above our heads. The lightning could strike us at any moment and leave us with only bones… It was too scary!
I buried my head into my sleeping bag and covered my ears to muffle out the sound of the thunder. But it was no use. Were the Duke of Thunder and Mother of Lightning having a fight tonight? The thunder continued to sound, and it seemed to be moving closer and closer to my ears. I was so scared my body went rigid and my head started to swell.
Zhong Yuan, also woken by the noise, turned over and murmured, “Nature wants to show off its power? What great weather.”
What a freak!
The fear inside me grew. Who knew if the next bolt of lightning would strike me right on the head? Was my life going to end here on this night? Please, no. I haven’t lived long enough…
Just then, I heard Zhong Yuan’s voice again. Alongside the lightning that turned the world bright as day, in that kind of atmosphere, it sounded so strange. “Blockhead, are you scared of thunder?”
I trembled as I replied, “I’m not scared of thunder. I’m scared of dying.”
Zhong Yuan laughed out loud. Then he said, “It’s OK. Even if you die, you’ll at least have a bunch of people who go with you.”
I wailed, “I don’t want to die. I hope everyone can live long and well. No one needs to die…”
Zhong Yuan extended his arm and gently pat my shoulder. “Don’t worry. It’s not that easy to die.”
I ignored him and wriggled out from my sleeping bag. I turned on the lantern we had and then started rummaging through my backpack.
Zhong Yuan asked curiously, “What are you doing?”
I answered, “Writing my will.”
I pulled out a brand new notebook and pen from my bag. Good thing I packed all these things.
Zhong Yuan also came out of his sleeping bag and slid over to where I sat. He asked, “Do you really think you’re going to die?”
My eyes swept over him and I replied profoundly, “Child, a person must always be mindful of potential dangers.”
Zhong Yuan knocked me on the head. “Can you really call me ‘Child’? Come on, call me ‘Brother Zhong’.”
Ugh… I glared at him without giving a reply. I flipped open my notebook and started writing my will. Hm, what should I write? If I were really to die, what kind of message would I need to leave for the living?
I tapped my ballpoint pen on my chin, and then finally, on the first page of my book, I wrote: Dad, I love you.
My handwriting looked frail and fragile, revealing the struggle and my resentment of death. I looked at those weak words and suddenly grew angry.
No, I’m not really going to die, am I? I haven’t even fulfilled my job as a daughter to my old dad yet…
Just then, Zhong Yuan snatched the small notebook from me. I turned and glared at him again, and that’s when I saw that he was looking at me strangely.
He must be making fun of me for my ugly handwriting. When I thought of that, I grew even more angry. Without any hesitation, I snatched my notebook back. “If you want to write something too, I can let you have a piece of paper.”
Zhong Yuan shook his hands. “I’m worried that after you die, your will will be lost, so I wanted to help you out. It may be useful for you to have an oral testament.”
Although I suspected that he had some ulterior motive, his words did make some sense.
Zhong Yuan continued, “So, aside from your dad, is there anyone else you have any words for?”
I thought for a moment, and then I said, “Tell those heartless roommates of mine to say some good things about me at my funeral.”
Zhong Yuan nodded. “Anything else?”
“Tell the laboratory professor that I’m sorry. And also, congratulations.” The guys in my class nicknamed me ‘Lab Killer’ because it seemed that every time we conducted an experiment, I would break some equipment or machine. That’s also the reason that I was in such dire straights and had no money for food or anything else.
Zhong Yuan asked again, “Anything else?”
I thought again and then shyly replied, “Tell Lu Zijian that he’s my idol.”
Zhong Yuan narrowed his eyes. “Anything else?”
“Something else?” I tilted my head a moment and then shook my head. “No, I don’t think so. My death may be grand and bitter, but I’ve lived a pretty modest life.”
Zhong Yuan asked, “You don’t have any final words for me?”
I hit myself on the head. “Oh yeah, I nearly forgot… Zhong Yuan, can I ask you for a favor?”
Zhong Yuan nodded arrogantly. “What is it?”
I laughed and responded, “About that… Can you take a photo with your camera? And then burn it for me when I die? I…”
With an unpleasant expression, Zhong Yuan said, “Just wait for your death then.”
I was speechless.
He couldn’t even help fulfill such a small request? What a petty person.
I didn’t pay Zhong Yuan any more heed as I continued to write out the contents of my will. The more I thought about it, the more things I realized I had to say. I wrote very quickly in that dim light.
Zhong Yuan mocked from beside me, “You’re not planning on writing an autobiography, are you?”
I didn’t even raise my head as I replied grumpily, “None of your business!”
Zhong Yuan lazily said, “The thunder stopped. Are you sure you want to keep writing?”
I put down my pen and opened my ears to listen. Huh, it really stopped? It was quiet outside the tent, with just the light rustle of raindrops sounding. The Duke of Thunder and Mother of Lightning were done fighting?
I closed my notebook and let out a long sigh. “That’s good. My life is still safe.”
And then Zhong Yuan said, “I forgot to tell you. The place we set up camp keeps away wind, rain, and flooding. And our tents keep us from getting struck by lightning.”
I just looked at him without a word. In other words, I was overreacting earlier? There was no point in my writing a will?
I restrained my anger and asked, “Why didn’t you tell me that sooner?”
Zhong Yuan answered with a smile. “I thought you were putting on an act to entertain yourself.”
I didn’t know what to say.
The next day, the sky had already cleared up. The air was fresh but everything was a bit damp still. We had a simple breakfast and prepared to climb the main peak.
Hiking truly was an activity that required strength. I won’t tell you how tiring the climb was, as I’m sure anyone who’s ever hiked a mountain will know. As for those who haven’t, well, surely you’ve all climbed stairs before? The mountain was 1,700 meters above sea level. If the base of the mountain was flat, a conservative estimate would put us as having climbed 600 meters from midway up the mountain. How much is 600 meters? If one story of a building is three meters, then 600 meters would be a 200 story building. That’s right, we climbed a 200 story building, from the ground floor to floor 201, without the use of an elevator… Moreover, that’s a conservative estimate.
But there was a sense of accomplishment that came with climbing a mountain. When we made it to the top, dripping with sweat, our hearts swelled with grandeur as we gazed out at all the scenery below us. In that moment, all of that sweat felt worth it. What was life’s purpose? If you asked me that question then and there, I would have answered that the purpose of life was to conquer.
Still, no matter how heroic that moment seemed, we were like weaklings as we descended. Climbing up was easy. Getting down was hard. I truly came to understand that. We didn’t descend on the same path that we used to climb up. Instead, we chose a more challenging trail. There may as well have not been any steps built in. In some places, they were a meter high. Fortunately, I used to climb trees back at home. I spent all day climbing up and jumping down, so jumping down wasn’t so hard for me there. Some of the less athletic girls, on the other hand, had a tough time; sometimes they needed the boys to guide them down. There were some areas that didn’t have an official path, but rather the amount of traffic sort of created a path. It was bad enough that the path was rather steep, but some places were a bit sandy and slippery. I nearly lost balance a few times, but thankfully, Zhong Yuan grabbed hold of me from behind. Although he’d greatly annoyed me the previous night, since he was being so helpful, I couldn’t really stay angry at him.
After walking a while, we came to a rather dangerous part of the mountain trail. Not only were there no steps, the trail was also steep, slippery, and narrow. If two people met on the trail, one of them would really have to hug the side of the mountain for the other to pass by before continuing.
We traveled single-file down the mountain, moving carefully and slowly. One wrong step and we could be tumbling down the mountain. I was walking when I hit a very slippery patch. The rock under my foot loosened and I staggered, one leg going into the air. In a panic, I waved my arms around to balance myself out. The trail was really too slippery though, and I was about to slip off the trail…
Zhong Yuan had sharp reflexes, so he grabbed my arm and pulled me back up.
But I quickly grew dejected. Because while I was flailing around, I accidentally flung the camera from my hand. I was safe and sound, but it had fallen down…
I stared in the direction where the camera disappeared and couldn’t help crying out, “C-camera…”