That night, Gao Yulan couldn’t sleep well over what had happened. Wen Sha framing her and Yin Ze’s teasing made her even more sullen. With more resentment, she finally decided to pack up.
The enemy was too strong; the army was no match. There is only retreat.
She decided to not look for work, and not to look for men. Recently, everything had been very unfavorable for her. She was going back to her father and mother’s home to seek some family warmth.
Gao Yulan’s parents lived in City C. From City A, where the company was, it was about 4 hours by car. Taking the bus was very convenient. Loving their daughter, Father and Mother Gao had let their baby daughter fight her own battles and work in City A. Because it was within range, they could still monitor her.
The next day, Gao Yulan appeared at the doorway with her luggage in hand. Gao’s mom was startled by her sudden return home without notice. It wasn’t even a holiday. There wasn’t a wedding, or even a funeral.
Gao Mama held Gao Yulan and looked her over.
Yep, looking out of old eyes, her wrinkled face recognized her daughter standing outside. Gao Yulan didn’t respond.
Mama Gao hurriedly called Papa Gao at work. The old couple had decided if their daughter’s heart was broken, they’d help her; if she was sad, they couldn’t let her remain sad; if she was angry, they wouldn’t ask until a more suitable time. They also decided to take advantage of their daughter coming back to find a son-in-law.
Love is a good thing. It can heal, cheer people up, be ambitious, and take care of their daughter for half of her life.
The old couple discussed until Mama Gao was at peace. They decided that to welcome their daughter back, they needed to create an atmosphere of good communication. She bought a lot of food to make a delicious dinner.
Roasted pork, spare ribs, stewed chicken soup, mapo tofu, and braised fish—six dishes and a soup spread across the huge table made Gao Yulan jump back in shock.
“Dad, did you win the lottery?”
“Nope, but almost.”
“Well last week, a halo was around me and I got a good drawing. The prize numbers came out and all I saw, I was not lacking at all.” Papa Gao’s tone was full of pride.
“Since it wasn’t lacking, how is it ‘almost’?” Gao Yulan was surprised that her father had the time to guess the numbers correctly for the lottery. ┇Thinking┇Rabbit┇Doing┇Line┇Reviewing┇Reading┇
Papa Gao sighed, looking regretful. “However, when I was writing them down I felt there were two that would change and I overlooked it. Later, there were two changed, and then the lottery began and I compared them to my numbers.” Papa Gao had a face of remorse. “But the last one wasn’t right either.”
Gao Yulan was expressionless. Saying ‘almost’ wasn’t even close. She patted Papa Gao’s shoulder to console him. “Ah, that can’t be considered ‘almost’. Just do your own thing.”
Papa Gao frowned, reluctant to put two chicken feet into his own bowl. “You are what you eat. I’ll eat these claws to snatch more money.”
Speaking of the lottery, Papa Gao had a lot of experience. He was eating on one side while talking about it endlessly. In his excitement, Mama Gao kicked his leg, and Papa Gao hurriedly controlled his words. She then piled food onto her daughter’s plate and asked why she had come back.
Gao Yulan ate while she thought of what to say. Her mother and father weren’t stupid. To appear so suddenly, how could it be any good? So she was straightforward and told them everything about how she’d lost her job. She didn’t mention the process of how she was framed, and only told them how the company and her colleagues were villains who mocked her for not having a boyfriend.
Hearing this, Mama Gao slapped her thigh. “Lan Lan, we can’t let this go like that. Quickly find a man and bring him back to company to show them.”
“Right, Lan Lan, don’t be sad. Dad knows a lot of young guys and can introduce you.” Papa Gao quickly added, striking while the iron was hot.
Gao Yulan lowered her head to eat, but she was happy on the inside. As her father’s words became more flexible, she suddenly became aware that family was warm but it could also get too hot. She broke out in a cold sweat.
“Dad, Mom. I’m fine, don’t worry. I came back because it’s been awhile since I’ve seen you. I already have an idea for looking for a boyfriend and happiness.” She thought then added, “Don’t set up any blind dates for me. I won’t go.”
Papa Gao and Mama Gao heard her and had the mutual thought to stop asking. In the evening, the old couple talked in their room about their daughter’s setback in the outside world. It was a good opportunity—now she had come home. They just had to cheer her up. After staying for a while, a good guy would come along and naturally she wouldn’t leave. They couldn’t set up a blind date but that was a small problem that they could handle easily.
“Tomorrow, just you watch.” Mama Gao vouched, full of confidence.
Early in the morning the next day, Mama Gao woke up Gao Yulan to accompany her to practice Tai Chi. It was important for younger people to exercise and stretch to have a clear mind.
Gao Yulan thought, ‘Alright, to practice boxing—maybe even fight off a god.’ So she was full of energy.
Surprisingly, Mama Gao’s Tai Chi practice was an imitation. The old lady teacher’s dance of a fighting technique was called “suburb”. Some old men followed the old woman and made the gestures. It was like a flurry of magic!
Being the only youth, Gao Yulan stood out. The people walking to and fro in the park would look at her and smile. The group of old men and women danced in high spirits, and Gao Yulan watched them stupidly with huge eyes. She wanted to blend in and be able to do the dance too.
Who could’ve told her that old people shadowboxing was this graceful? Even her mother was moving in a flurry with them.
The “pleasures” of exercise were finally too hard to endure. Gao Yulan hurriedly pulled her mother to escape. Walking up to Mama Gao, she heard two boxers say, “Those youngsters being so fond of sleep won’t come out, while we do it again and again.”
Gao Yulan, hearing the words, felt it was strange. The old lady’s eyes seemed to be sizing her up. She had an ominous premonition.
Gao Yulan, one hand carrying vegetables and the other carrying a fish, shopped with Mama Gao for half a day. They were in front of a pork stand with slabs of pork to be picked from. She watched her mother look at each piece of pork, unwilling to leave, and couldn’t help but feel baffled. Then came a plump lady with curled hair. She looked at Mama Gao and grinned, then looked beside Mama Gao at Gao Yulan and gave a pleased nod.
Mama Gao, in a cheerful mood, said, “Sister Yan, you came out to buy food too. Such great timing. This is my daughter Lan Lan. Lan Lan, quickly call Aunty Yan.”
“Mom, you haven’t finished buying stuff. Let’s go, it’s dirty out here.” A young man came over, complaining to Aunty Yan.
Aunty Yan pulled him over. “This is our family’s Qiang Zi. He usually doesn’t come out but he came with me today.” Mama Gao quickly said some polite words, boasting Qiang Zi’s image—how he’s a talented person, respectful to his others, is so considerate, and so on. Hearing this, Gao Yulan exerted all her strength as her mouth twitched.
Qiang Zi rushed Mama Gao and Gao Yulan to nod their heads, so Aunty Yan would quickly finish with her purchases and leave. Aunty Yan quickly said, “You young people really hate to stroll around. You wait with Lan Lan and I’ll go with Lan Lan’s mom to buy food. We’ll come back later.”
It turned out these two elders had planned a blind date. Going out to buy groceries? Choosing pork? Her mother really had talent to plan a blind date.
The two mothers went away happily, leaving Gao Yulan and Mr. Qiang Zi to look at each other in dismay.
Then Qiang Zi sneered. “I was wondering why my mother’s leg was feeling unwell, and why she was insisting me to come out. Turns out there was an arrangement.” He cast a glance at Gao Yulan and spoke again. “You come to this kind of market? There aren’t better places to meet?”
Mr. Qiang Zi’s tone disgusted Gao Yulan, especially with his self-righteous attitude. It was their families. Why did he blame her first?
She looked at him from the side, then looked around at the pork vendor’s stand and said, “You’re wrong. This isn’t a bad place, but to specifically come here…”
She drew out her sentence, seeing Mr. Qiang Zi raise his eyebrow with curiosity. She pointed one finger towards a pig head and said loudly, “…is to compare, if a man is a fool, then of course buy the pig head!
[TL: The words fool and pig head are the same in Chinese so she’s comparing him to a pig.]
She finished loudly to the seller. “Boss, I want this pig head!”
That night, after having a feast with the pig head, Mama Gao and Papa Gao once again shut their bedroom door to whisper plans. Today’s plan had failed. The first one that morning they hadn’t even met, and the second one put them on bad terms. Setting up a blind date wasn’t easy and the old couple had to plan once again.
Papa Gao vouched, “Tomorrow, just you watch.”
The next day, Gao Yulan wouldn’t go out if it killed her. She woke up to eat, then went back to sleeping. Apart from going out to buy food, Mama Gao accompanied her daughter at home.
Gao Yulan was at ease at home, away from any danger.
At dinner time, Papa Gao still hadn’t come back. Mama Gao told her daughter to eat and that Papa Gao had gone out drinking and wouldn’t be coming home for dinner. Gao Yulan didn’t care. She ate, watched TV, and went to the bathroom with a magazine.
She didn’t read the magazine at all in the bathroom, instead absentmindedly thinking of Wen Sha’s matter. She had framed her, saying that there was no alternative. The photo had been used to make a scandal with Wen Sha. What benefit was there to say that she was Wen Sha’s girlfriend?
Don’t tell me that she was afraid of a bad reputation for the company and therefore threw out a sacrificial victim? If there were two people that had made a mistake, the company would choose one and the other would be thrown away. Gao Yulan was not important to the company; she was disposable, so naturally they chose Wen Sha.
Gao Yulan’s anger grew more and more. So cunning, so treacherous!
Then she heard the door of her home open and her drunk dad call out loudly, “Lan Lan, Lan Lan, you come out…”
“I’m not coming out, I’m in the bathroom!” Gao Yulan loudly shouted, and thought her dad really was troublesome when drunk. He was always so loud.
Sure enough, Papa Gao shouted, “Come out, why are you in the bathroom?”
What are you doing in the bathroom? Gao Yulan, in bad mood, loudly replied, “Shit!”
“Oh oh, let’s chat first.” Papa Gao’s voice was loud. “My daughter is shitting, you wait a little. Wife wife, you look at Little Guo—I looked for him to be Lan Lan’s boyfriend.”
Gao Yulan shivered and almost fell into the toilet.
What happened? Boyfriend?
She just shouted out ‘shit’, right? And after that, her wise father said she was shitting, right? Right?
Gao Yulan rubbed her forehead as black clouds formed above her.
The Heavens really wanted her to be in the bathroom? Must she have to act with integrity?
Author’s Note: Writing happily is hard!