It was almost nightfall when Qian Qian finally pulled herself together. For hours, they sat in the forest without saying a word. Just as in childhood, most remember the terrible events more than the happy times, Ye Hua wondered if it were the same for her.
Her explosive reaction gave him a forlorn feeling. Had the recall of the most traumatic experience triggered her lost memories?
In a sense, her violent outburst felt somewhat therapeutic for him. He’d preferred the scene of Qian Qian attacking him fiercely, over SuSu pleading in sheer fear and horror not to take her eyes.
Ye Hua would remember Qian Qian’s fight.
He wished SuSu would have struck him instead of fading, and withdrawing her love before the last walk, by the lotus ponds in Nine Heavens to her suicide.
Qian Qian looked worn and frail when she stood. She stumbled and tittered from sitting too long. She glanced at Ye Hua with a somber expression.
His voice was light and hoarse from crying. Ye Hua asked, “Do you remember anything now?”
She sighed and replied weakly, “I do. I recall you said there’s wine and I need a drink.”
Back in the cottage, Qian Qian drank directly from the wine bottle. She gulped rapidly and finally said, “I don’t know why I reacted the way I did. It’s just that I wasn’t expecting to hear something so horrific…unbelievable.”
“I still can’t imagine a person doing such a horrendous deed to another person. I’m sorry I attacked you.” She spoke in a tired, exhausted tone.
Ye Hua’s soft voice came out in a whisper. “You finally let out what you probably felt back then but were too afraid to express. Such intense emotions bottled up for three hundred years, would cause anyone to behave as you did. I deserved it and had it coming. I wish you would have hit me back then.”
She shook her head at him and asked somewhat concerned, “Ye Hua, what are you going to do when you come to realize I’m not SuSu?”
“You are her, Qian Qian. Or at least you were SuSu. I know it’s true because I feel it in my heart. I see it with my eyes. The way I feel when I’m with you…it’s unquestionable.”
“But, if I’m not who you think I am, then what?” She asked.
Silence. Ye Hua said nothing and then eventually replied, “It’s impossible, but if I’m wrong then I need to wait for SuSu.”
Bai Qian looked at Ye Hua and a small smiled came to her lips. His love for the mortal was indisputable. His wicked, malicious actions were poor choices forced by those who exercised more power, but his affections for his wife, SuSu, were pure and sincere.
Yes, Bai Qian would help him find SuSu if she was still out there. Not only so Ye Hua’s lost love would be fulfilled, but also he could settle and correct his tragic past mistakes. Repair her broken, fractured body, heart and soul.
Bai Qian exhaled a profound, deep breath and she poured herself and Ye Hua a glass of wine. “Tonight we’ll drink and you can tell me the rest of your story. Tomorrow we’ll leave for the mortal realm down below. Once we’re there; I’ll show and tell you my tale.”
“So, after you took SuSu’s eyes, what happened?” She asked.
Ye Hua spoke of SuSu’s depression, and how she withdrew from everything around her especially himself. He told of his plan to marry her after he’d received the royal seal, and the birth of their child, A-Li. Ye Hua explained how he’d announced his marriage to her, officially to all the immortal realms.
“I brought you beautiful materials for your wedding dress. At the time, you didn’t reveal your real feelings. Even after I’d done such an inexcusable deed, you still tried to appease me. I honestly thought we were going to get married.” A dry, mocking chuckling came from his lips, at the sheer foolish overoptimistic mindset he had at the time.
Bai Qian sucked in sharply through her teeth and produced a soft hissing sound. “I’m surprised that she was still so thoughtful of your feelings, after you took her eyes. Woman are not that forgiving even to the ones they love most. So…I assume Su Jin has your wife’s eyes in her head, right?”
‘Yes,’ Ye Hua nodded and concluded to the disastrous end of his story.
“Three days before our wedding, you took a walk by yourself to Zhuxian Terrace. It’s crazy because I tried walking from the Hall of Beautiful Youth, to Zhuxian Terrace with my eyes closed at least a hundred times. I couldn’t make it once without getting turned around or lost, but sightless you did what I couldn’t.”
Ye Hua’s eyes watered as he came to the bitter end. “You, not only found your way but leaped off the punishment platform, after telling me we were both debt-free. I took your eyes, but you apologized for leaving me and then you were gone. I grieved your death for three hundred years. There wasn’t a single moment you weren’t on my mind.”
“After Mo Yuan returned from death, I wanted to know how his disciple, Si Yin, did what I couldn’t. That’s how I found you again. I’m sorry, but I stalked you like a sicko pervert for a year and watched everything you did, which was exactly what SuSu used to do. Your face is different but your mannerisms, voice, the scar…I was sure you were her.” Confessed Ye Hua most candidly.
Overwhelmed, Bai Qian exhaled and blew out a long puff of air. “Wow! That’s one hell of a crazy tale. I thought my mortal storybooks were heartbreaking, but your story is beyond disaster and misfortune. A total mess! What if we find SuSu and she can’t forgive you? What then?”
“I’ll do everything I can to change your mind. I can’t release you because if I do, my life will have been lived in vain. Qian Qian, you are the marrow of my bones. My core.” Ye Hua poured himself another glass of wine and suddenly felt depleted, and fatigued after his painful retelling of his first self-discovery, love, angst, helplessness, sorrow and profound inner self-hatred.
Bai Qian lifted her glass to indicate they should make a toast and proclaimed, “Let’s make a toast to SuSu. To her still being alive, finding her, hoping she can forgive you and then you, Ye Hua, can start repairing both yours’ and hers’ fragmented, broken hearts.”
Their cups made the distinct clink-like sound of glass hitting against each other. Then Bai Qian quietly went to bed and she dreamed. In her sleep’s picture, she saw in slow motion Ye Hua crying as he reached out his hand and said, ‘I’ll marry you and I’ll become your eyes.’
It was the backside of a woman. Her dark, sleek, shiny hair loose in soft waves parted down the middle and past her shoulders, to the middle of her back. Dressed in a Burberry taupe, silk, trench style coat with the waist strap tied behind to the backside. It created a cinched pulled-back appearance. Her clothing was tight skinny jeans in the shade of flat matte onyx. Saint Laurent, Jane leather, strappy black sandals with four inched high heels. He couldn’t see her top, but the black cuffs of her shirt peeked out from the bottom of her coat’s sleeves.
Qian Qian stood, turned around wearing Panthère de Cartier golden lensed aviator sunglasses. Her untucked, white, loose-fitting, silk, button-up blouse undone below her bra line but she was bra-less. Around her neck, a front-open gold choker style necklace. A creamy soft white luminous pearl on one end, and a black night pearl on the opposite end, both the size of a ripe cherries.
Smiling casually, she said, “Good morning, Ye Hua. Get dressed. We’re going to Qing and Goguryeo…I mean China and Korea. Beijing, Henan and Chŏngjin to be precise.”
Ye Hua turned his back to change when he heard Qian Qian’s casual inquiry. Offhandedly, she asked, “Ye Hua, I had a question. What did you mean when you said you’d marry SuSu and become her eyes?”
Swiftly, Ye Hua shifted back and openly gawked at Qian Qian in excitement and shock. In a low voice full of surprise, he questioned, “How do you know that’s what I said? I never told you that.”
To be continued…..