Timing is Everything…..
“Don’t leave me! NO! NO! NO! NO! Qian Qian! NOOOOOOOO!”
Bai Qian bolted awake from her restless sleep filled with instant panic and anxiety. She shook with fright until she felt Ye Hua’s soothing fingertips tenderly stroking her hair, and in her ear, he muttered a baby’s lullaby cradle song. He sang,
The water is wide
I can not get o’er
And neither have I wings to fly
Oh, go and get me some little boat
And both shall row, my love and I.
Where love is planted, O, there it grows
It buds and blossoms like some rose
It has a sweet and pleasant smell
No flower on earth can it excel.
There is a ship sailing on the sea
It’s loaded deep, as deep can be
But not as deep, as in love I am
I know not if I sink or if I swim.
The water is wide
I can not get o’er
And neither have I wings to fly
Oh, go and get me some little boat
And both shall row, my love and I.
Faintly, he crooned the classical melody in his smooth, gentle voice that she hadn’t heard it since she was a very young child. But it filled her with a strange sensation of nostalgia, and the sudden yearning for a baby out of nowhere. It was an absurd desire at her advanced age, and Bai Qian quickly cleared her mind of such unrealistic wants.
She blamed her ancient and old maid-like hormones before considering, perhaps she was going through menopause early. Bai Qian was still a bit young for the ‘change’, but it could have been due to her virgin spinster lifestyle. Or maybe her body was in an absolute state of shock from her recent sexual activities?
Still, the somewhat sad and melancholy tune made her cry. Bai Qian covertly hid and wiped her silly tears away before turning back towards his dark, warm, expressive eyes full of affection. Carefully, he watched her but why did she see something more in Ye Hua’s loving gaze?
What she noticed was something unexplained, ambiguous and obscure in his eyes that bore into her soul deeply, and made her remember an old question she’d often asked herself about her lost past.
“How many times have we met?” Bai Qian’s faint questioning voice sounded far away, dream-like and distance when she spoke.
Ye Hua returned in a tone very much like hers that was also far away and dreamlike, “We met in the winter on a snow capped mountaintop. You were dressed in all white like our arctic surroundings. You were an angel who cared for me but my mind forgot you when I was born.”
“Miraculously, we met again in the spring on a lush valley full of massive pine trees. You wore simple but beautiful clothing in all natural shades of the earth similar to our happy, and humble home. You were the mortal who saved my life but you left me with a hole in my heart.” Ye Hua’s gentle touch moved to her bare back and he continued in the same wistful tone.
He uttered, “Our third encounter was during the dog days of summer by the seaside on the Eastern Sea. You were wearing sea foam, jewel green that matched and flowed like our watery scenery. But you were the devil who dragged me through hellfire and left my soul blackened.”
Bai Qian’s body tensed and she lightly cleared her throat when Ye Hua added.
“Our fourth connection was in autumn among blossoms of eternally blooming peach trees. You were dressed in pale baby blue like the sky overhead, and made everything that surrounded you pale in comparison to your incredible beauty. You were…are someone else, someone new neither you or I know and…” His soft voice trailed off.
Recognition dawned on her face, and Bai Qian put up her bravest front even though she was shaking internally. All her inner warning red flags flapped wildly, and she felt sickened sensation in the lowest abyss of her stomach.
Because in her the intense, profound feeling of panic, trepidation and dread-like foreboding overcame her, overwhelmed her entirely. Then Ye Hua’s enigmatic expressions took on another meaning like a mysterious prophecy. His vague statements were double edged swords and she wondered was he the one?
For years, Bai Qian anticipated someone to finally step up and take their shot at her, but never did she think he would appear as her lover. Was Ye Hua the predestined lover, that she’d expected for as long as she could recall? Or was he the ill-fated individual there to deliver her well deserved Bàofù? A wolf in sheep’s clothing would fit with everything else in her disordered, messy life.
“And what?” Bai Qian asked somewhat afraid of his reply. Afraid Ye Hua would say something else inexplicable and perplexing.
Only those two sounds were all she could get out of her mouth at such an awkward, and stressful moment. Bai Qian’s agitated, tense physical movements betrayed her almost perfected appearance, and performance of impartiality and utter indifference. When it tightened up like a coiled spring anxiously as she reached out and put on her robe.
Being nude with him suddenly felt uncomfortable due to her strong nerves, and emotional disturbances. She enveloped, secured and tied the waist sash too tightly because of the strain in her numb hands.
Ye Hua’s keen sight saw her distress and his little smile was endearing, when he replied with sincere tenderness, “I guess that’s up to us.”
“Up to us you say… I see but I have a couple of questions and it’s up to you whether to answer them or not.” Bai Qian said as she summoned a bottle of wine, and finished the entire container in a few giant gulps.
She started to express her line of questioning and integration, that sounded much more like a soliloquy or self-monologue, “I have a couple of unsolved curiosities and riddles, that I’d like to voice because I think it’s now necessary. Let me start by saying acting dumb or oblivious is the most effective weapon. People let down their guards if they think you’re a full on drunk or just stupid. It’s the most surefire way to slide under the radar.”
“You son, A-Li, has been following me around like a shadow from a safe distance for almost 30,000 years. Then he made his grand reveal, appeared as if he couldn’t pay his bill, and was getting kicked out when he had a pocketful of Qingqiu’s pearls.”
“He performed the role of a complete stranger on the day we met by ‘accident’, when we both know he’s incredibly clever and intelligent. Still, if it was just A-Li, I could and would probably let it go but it’s the trifecta of he, your brother and now you.”
“Your older brother, High God Mo Yuan, has been sending me wine for 40,000 years on every single birthday, and Zhe Yan’s been taking credit. That’s not his style because he is extremely proud and doesn’t need to do such a thing, so it has to be all Mo Yuan’s design.”
“He lied and said he sends everyone that wine, when I know for a fact he makes a tiny small batch every year. The grapes he uses are from his rarest most prized collection and he grows very, very small limited quantity.”
“Now, you’re in my bed and acted as if we’ve only met but my body remembers you, Ye Hua. We’ve loved each other before and I want to know are you here to hurt me or love me? Maybe both? I wonder because sometimes you glance at me as if I were your nemesis, but other times with profound sorrow and remorse as if I were your most earnest desire.”
She rethought her question and amended, “No, don’t tell me. Please, I don’t want the last few days with you to become something ugly and regretful. Let me say this. A-Li told me that you have only one eye due to an illness. I find this fact most regrettable considering you are the Heavenly Lord of Nine Heavens. I’d like to suggest and propose for whatever I’ve wronged you, I’ll give you one of my eyes to repair your vision.”
Ye Hua moved swiftly. Too swiftly and she flinched away when he hugged her. He shook or was it her? Bai Qian turned her face in the opposite direction, and refused to allow him to see her cry because she couldn’t control her tears. Why did the absurd idea of giving him an eye come so quickly? Who the hell in their right mind took and gave each other eyeballs? But it was always on the tip of her tongue since their first meeting and like the insane, unbalanced woman she was, the crazy words came flying from her mouth.
She half expected Ye Hua to go running out of the Fox Den in fear for his life but instead, he embraced her as if his life depended on it and answered, “Qian Qian, we’ve come full circle finally. You don’t need to be afraid of me. You’ve always been highly sensitive and immensely intuitive.”
“Between us, who can say who owes whom what? It’s much more complicated than you can imagine. I’m here to love you as I’ve tried in the past. However, I think now is the perfect time for us.” Ye Hua said this and added his unusual metaphorical explanation.
“You and I have been connected in the same fastened loop always. Sometimes, you’re running ahead and other times behind, but we can’t disconnect or separate from each other. We will forever run into each other eventually. Timing is everything.”
“I can only imagine your fears since there is so much mystery in your life, but I’ll only tell you the truth if you want to know. However, you must ask me first because I won’t do it voluntarily. It’s not my place.” Ye Hua declared and looked strangely relieved which only confused her more, but then one particular question stuck out in her mind.
Nervously she took a deep breath and Bai Qian’s lips quivered when she whispered, “A-Li is a Fox. His Fox magic is similar but not identical to mine but it is just like my father’s. Your son is almost a twin to my brother. Unless my father or brother, Bai Zhen, had a secret child with a Celestial, there’s only one other possibility. Is A-Li…my son? Am I his birth mother?”
The dead silence scared her most and he answered nothing for an extremely long time. Instead, wordlessly Ye Hua hesitated and intently stared into her confused eyes, but Bai Qian already knew his unspoken answer. She felt all the blood drain from her face and she couldn’t catch her wind.
Gasping and choking, Bai Qian was instantly breathless and weakly she immediately dropped. She plummeted, collapsed and crumpled directly to the hard ground, as if she’d lost all the strength in her legs.
Visibly was her extreme distress and she bellowed out in misery. Vigorously Bai Qian repeatedly pounded, hit herself in the chest over her heart with her fist violently. The sharp, harsh thumping sounds of her fist punching herself echoed out, as she wailed in pure agony.
Bai Qian sobbed uncontrollably, “Why can’t I remember him? What kind of terrible and undeserving mother am I, that I couldn’t recognize my own son for 40,000 years?!”
She lamented endlessly for hours before falling asleep from fatigue, but continued to cry out her son’s name in her sleep.
“Shifu, don’t you hear me anymore?”
“Shifu, have you forgotten your Shì Qī?”
Mo Yuan’s jaw clenched involuntarily. He focused on centering his inner turmoil and silence the voice from the past in his head. The ghost of Bai Qian was back to haunt him but he countered, resisting feeding into and giving energy to a phantom.
“Shifu, how could you turn me away like you did? I thought you loved me but instead, you gave me to Ye Hua.” Mo Yuan ignored the voice and waited for it to fade as it usually did.
“You let a puppy bully you. You, my warrior god, allowed a mere youth to dominate you, your desires and your wants. Or maybe, you don’t love, desire or want me anymore. Otherwise, how could you be so mean to me and push me away like you did?”
Today, the voice was relentless. The sound was Mo Yuan’s hidden subconscious and the sentiments he held back, but that didn’t make them disappear. It was nothing but denial on his part because he still loved, desired and wanted her.
Perhaps more than ever but his word of nobility… Words of nobility were also his self-imposed sentence, the self-penalty of eternal loneliness and seclusion.
“Shifu, have you ever looked at A-Li and thought he could have been our child? Chang could have been born to us. Any baby I have with Ye Hua could technically look identical, to the ones we could have had together. You and Ye Hua being twins…you could have married me.” Her haunting voice rustled in the seclusion cave like the wind.
Her knife-like words pierced his heart and twisted causing agony. Mo Yuan talked out loud and it echoed in the cave. In his sanctuary of seclusion, it resounded, “I did it for you and Ye Hua. I did it for your family. It’s been long enough and last time, you almost died. I can’t. I refuse to ever see you like that again. Go away now…live your life and I’ll live mine.”
She was ruthless and touched his cheek. He flinched, opened his eyes and she was there as always the ghost of Bai Qian, “Shifu, do you genuinely want me to go away forever? Don’t you miss my kiss? My touch? My scent? I’m sorry I hurt you last time but I’m different now. I wouldn’t hurt you and you know this.”
He wanted to cry. Mo Yuan sounded weak, fatigued and wistful, “I know…… I know you’re different or back to the way you were before your heavenly trial, and that keeps me up almost every night.”
It sounded as if Mo Yuan were arguing with himself when he yelled out “I know you would love me as I always wanted from you but what’s done is done, and I’m not going back on my oath. I allowed A-Li to trick me and he is your son. Not just a mere child but your flesh and blood. Leave and don’t come back this time.”
“You made me cry. I thought I wasn’t beautiful enough for you. You told me the wine you sent wasn’t special and only for my father. I destroyed every bottle, and I smashed the heart with our initials until there was nothing but dust. I hate you now and for all you know I could be with Ye Hua. He might be kissing, making love to me and giving me endless pleasures.” She mocked hatefully after weeping sorrowfully.
She triggered his controlled rage and temper as he jumped up, paced the cave and Mo Yuan snapped bitterly. “What else is new?! If I recollect accurately, only Ye Hua gave you endless pleasures in the past. He was able to do what I couldn’t so I’m sure he’ll take good care of you.”
The seductive voice laughed at him and taunted, “In life, Shifu, timing is everything. I wasn’t ripe for you then but I am now, and you could have done anything you wanted to do to me. Don’t you want to try to please me again? Shifu, do you think it’s too late? Is it too late for us? We were once engaged to marry, and you should have been my husband for eternity instead of my Shifu.”
“Although, now you want me to leave you and never come back so I’ll go. Goodbye… Mo Yuan…”
The voice faded and the sense of genuinely being alone overwhelmed him. Mo Yuan punched the cavern wall in uncontrollable fury. Never had Bai Qian addressed him by anything other than Shifu. In the end, finally, she called him by his name and referred to him as her likely husband. How could her ghost drive him crazy?
The stabbing ache in his tearing heart hurt as much as the splitting in his throbbing head, and Mo Yuan felt overwhelmed by a single thought. And that only concept or idea was he wanted Bai Qian back… More than anything in the world, he wanted his Shì Qī back.
A-Li recoiled, cringed with disgust when he heard the ‘P’ word being thrown around everywhere, and repeatedly. Now was definitely not the right moment for their family reunion. Not yet but soon, their entire family would be coming together.
The missing one was his baby sister still suspended in the protective lotus, as she’d been for 40,000 years. Did she know he was there or sense his presence? Perhaps she did because she came to him as always and he spoke to her.
“Are you having fun being so close to Mother and Father? You’re so lucky you don’t have any ears yet and don’t hear them yelling the ‘P’ word! Our Mother is wild! Poor Father! They are disgusting! One day I’ll tell you what they were doing but for now, enjoy your precious innocence.”
A-Li used his potent magic and pulled Crimson Lotus from the pond. Warmly she radiated and shimmered when he teased, “Your gēge has missed you and it won’t be much longer, Chang’er. If my precise proficient calculations are correct and they’re always accurate… I say four to five months at the most. Mother should be pregnant again by then. When she’s 88989 minutes and 47 seconds pregnant that will be a perfect time.”
“I’ve been researching and have a different take on your life force shift than our Father. Pregnancy is a sheer miracle and everything must be perfect. He needs to consider the accurate Ph balance, acidity, hormones and her mental state are significant and relevant.”
“I say when our Mother becomes pregnant with the new baby, 88989 minutes and 47 seconds…that’s when you’ll go back. Why that number? Well, that’s how old you were when your heart stopped beating down to the last beat, but don’t worry because timing is everything!”
With his lips, A-Li gently caressed the flower’s tips and continued, “Yes, Chang’er, you’re going to be a twin. You won’t be identical but fraternal and her womb will be carrying the new baby, when we slide you back inside her already prepared uterus.”
“I need to talk to Zhe Yan about the actual deed, but I think it’s a straight simple energy transference. I could exactly do it myself after I get the fungal grass before then or grow some, but then everyone would know about your brother’s potent magic, and we can’t have that. It’s our little secret.”
“Zhe Yan has been sneaking Mother elixirs in her wine, to keep her private woman parts from aging and whatnot in tiptop condition for you. I’ve pictured the process in my head and see a successful outcome. I’ve seen you in my mind, but leave it to our silly Father to encase you in a flower of which she’s allergic!” A-Li shook his head disapprovingly at his father’s poor choice of flowers.
Most tenderly A-Li handled his sibling and explained while placing the flower in the pool, “You’ll always be the older one if the new baby is a girl too. Don’t you worry! Your gēge has your back. Now, inside the water and be good. I love you and we’ll meet soon.”
To be continued…..