These walls around me are tumbling down, as they descend, stones fly, shower hitting my head one after the other. Every brick’s finding its aim, me, yet I do not suffer. The whole world crumbled and ceases to exist, and my resolve is complete.
After giving birth, my frail body is merely an empty shell of a thing I used to be; I believe this since there isn’t any pain. I feel nothing and this numbing… this lack of sensation is Godsend, similar to losing my eyesight. I say this because Ye Hua is here, begrudgingly, and I’m grateful he can’t see my eyes, for they might betray me hence revealing my inner thoughts, feelings, or intentions.
“These are for your wedding dress. I told you that I’d marry you, SuSu.” He says in his cold, angry voice, while I fight the urge to tremble from the blast of bitterness. Loss of sight has made my hearing more acute, able to pick up vocal inflections that I never could before. Through his flat, monotonous speech pitch, just how tense his stone face must appear and how his dark, nearly black eyes must be full of pity, disgust, and duty when he looks at me, I know this is the case.
Dare had I the courage; I would tell Ye Hua to stop wasting his time and energy. I would say to him the past, and any history between us fails to matter since it was all deceptions anyway. I’d insist! I would demand he go away because I’m not his responsibility and burden anymore, but I play his game instead.
Both hands are reaching, at the same time, his icy hands like his chilly voice; severe gaze briskly guides my open palms directly to feel three different bundles of material neatly arranged on my bed. The first feels silky, refined, ornate, the opulent fabric’s wastefulness, my mortal fingertips detect as shame washes over me. It’s too precious for deficient me. The second is also cold to the touch, again silk or some other luxurious material. The third somehow seems most connective to me—flashes of a buried memories, crimson.
In my head vividly, a beautiful scarlet wedding dress from days gone past unfolds, melancholily.
Betrayal, my soft voice reveals me sounding wistful, “This one must be beautiful?” I ask. A face full of ice-cold water, a rude awakening, Ye Hua’s curt reply brings me back to reality: “It’s just like you, SuSu, common, plain, and neutral.”
“It’s just like you, SuSu, common, plain, and neutral.” Echoes as if bellowed out into a vast canyon. I am biting down, hard to keep my nervous giggles from escaping and exiting my lips. Madness? No, it’s another emotion. The only one I have left. Fear, I fear my once handsome lover, so I go through the motions like a puppet. “I’m sure they are lovely. Thank you, Ye Hua. Nai Nai will put them away for later. I’ll decide which one I prefer after my nap.”
Pretending to feel overcome with sudden fatigue due to my postpartum state, weakly voiced, applying the excuse of needing rest, my back lightly settles on the bed. A faint sigh of relief, I overhear. Yes, Ye Hua is as pleased to leave my bedside as much as I’m relieved to have him go. “I’m sorry you must be tired, and you can take all the time you need.” A forced pretense of an apology, then six feather-light, almost inaudible footsteps belonging to him leave my room fading away.
“Nai Nai, please take A-Li to the wet nurse. I’m tired, ” I lie and casually ask, “But please fetch me a pair of scissors and leave it by the bedside.”
Does my unusual request confound her because she asks, “Empress, scissors?” And I, as relaxed as possible, reply with a smile disarmingly, my voice ever coaxing, “There is a loose thread I keep feeling on the bedding.”
The eagerness in her sweet innocent tone makes me feel apologetic towards her, “Empress, Nai Nai will find it for you. Where did you feel it last?”
“It’s probably nothing at all, but Nai Nai bring me the scissors anyways.” Sense of priority, reminding her what’s foremost with new urgency in my tone, I remind,” You mustn’t keep A-Li your little Prince from his feeding.”
Isn’t one’s hearing a remarkable sense? Ahh, indeed, it is. I could detect the dash of new urgencies, like a charge of adrenaline or a sudden sugar rush in her naive voice when she agrees, and metal’s sound, the cutting instrument of my need gets placed beside my tea. Frantically she leaves with the fussing baby in her arms, and I wait… five seconds.
I’m alone, again, still, but this time I’m delighted about it.
Quickly with purpose, I leap from the bed, retrieving the wedding cloths Ye Hua brought for “our wedding”… sarcasm makes for pause. Giggling, the restrained laughter I’d barely held back returns with a vengeance. Now, alone I’m able to freely laugh at will as I throw the heap of materials to the bed. Scissors in hand, my fingertips seek out, stroking and find the one Ye Hua picked especially for me.
“It’s just like you, SuSu, common, plain, and neutral,” Echoes in my mind still.
Leave it to that liar of a dehumanizer to mock me further by bringing me plain, ordinary, and colorless fabrics for a royal wedding. Obviously, his choice of dull, colorless, typical material is how he sees me precisely! His common lowly mistake of the human woman!
I loathe you, Ye Hua, and if by some freak of cosmic nature, I somehow become immortal one day, I’ll never come back to you!” This delusional concept appears out of nowhere, repeating in my frazzled subconscious.
Stiff, anxiously ready, index and third fingers engaged, tightly closed blades separate blissfully like a needy whore’s thighs. The cutting motion and ripping sound coming from my hands are the closest things I’ve felt to bliss or rapture in ages. It’s pure mania. Some incomprehensible frenzied high flows through me like a drug as I violently tear, shred, and cut, feeling bits of wedding dress material pooling at my feet. Destroying this would be bridal gown isn’t merely a physical release but also a representation of how I view Ye Hua’s lies, promises, and my pathetic hopes and dreams.
The SuSu-like plain fabric’s armed scissor assassin is currently me. Yet, this retaliative response is payback symbolic of how Ye Hua ripped shredding every fiber of my material being with his cutting ways. He is Pyrite, fool’s gold, and I was the foolishly unfortunate miner who once thought myself wealthy.
In the end, everything turned out to be nothing. Nothing was everything.
Such a lethal divulgence. I’m soaring high while lifeless. Crying without tear ducts or eyes, is it possible for time to spin faster and freeze simultaneously at once? Perhaps I’ve entered another dimension somewhere between heaven and hell, a middle ground where that’s possible? Is this my place of Zen?
Maybe so, even after the mysterious moment comes to a sudden end. I’ve run out of fuel, material to destroy, and my right-hand cramping from the speedy harsh exertion. However, Zen, the strange inner serenity subdues remaining in me as I carefully count the torn pieces of my intended wedding dress’s shredded material. A single laugh or chuckle of acceptance sounds from me, and I know I will remember this moment for the remainder of my short life…
One hundred thirty-nine strips of torn material neatly place on the bed. Such bittersweet irony considering, it’s precisely 139 steps to Zhuxian Terrace from the entryway from the Hall of Beautiful Youth. In life, there are times when everything clarifies, and I know what to do now.
Regardless of Ye Hua’s intentions, the Hall of Beautiful Youth has been my jail-like home for nearly three years. And with the tearing of my so-called wedding dress like a ribbon-cutting ceremony to a new venture, leaving everything behind, taking my first measured step of many, I count down from 139, 138, 137, 136, 135…..