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I never knew the differences between Beasts (shou)and humans. Was it that humans ate the Five Grains while a Fang Hua Beast understood the taste of of flowers? Yifu was nicer to me than any other person in the world. He was a Fang Hua Beast, but still prettier than any human girl.
Every year on the tenth day of the tenth month, yifu would always go by himself somewhere and return tired and sleepy. His snow-white boots would be caked with yellow mud as well as a thick odor of incense wood. Then, he’d spent an entire day in his room alone to drink away his sorrows. At that time, he resembled any one of those lovesick, spurned young men. But I enjoyed seeing him drinking, because only then would he act like an ordinary person, wanton and self-indulgent.
Yifu really was pretty.
A small lamp emanated a pale yellow light, gentle and mild. The cinnabar mole beneath the corner of Fang Hua’s eye was red like fire. The shadow of his eyelashes covered up his pupils, while the space between his eyebrows tried its best to conceal his worry. Like this, he poured himself a cup of wine to enjoy, each movement filled with unrestrained refinement.
I remember someone once told me that a mole beneath the eye shaped like a teardrop meant that person would have a life full of misfortunes and frustration.
Fang Hua’s alcohol tolerance was not good. Even so, he talked more after he drank.
“Isn’t there a saying among mortals? That one moment of intoxication can separate you from 1,000 woes? Why can’t I get drunk even after 1,000 cups?” He swayed and tried to point at me, but found that he couldn’t stay still. So he waved his sleeve and gave up the useless motion, continuing to pour the jug of wine in his mouth. His clothes were already soaked.
He still has enough face to call himself sober, I scoffed.
My chopsticks picked up a piece of radish and wrapped it in a mantoubefore placing it in my mouth. Lifting my eyes, I spared him a glance before knocking against the table. “Yifu, why are you wasting wine? It took so much work to brew half that jug.”
He froze, stupefied, but it took a long time before he understood and sat down with the jug in a protective embrace. Two pupils swept over me in an overwhelming moment of sorrow. “You smelly rascal, I raised you for two years, but it still looks like you’re not even worth a jug of wine.”
You’ve raised me for two years but still can’t tell that I’m female.
I shook in mirth as I gave him a sidelong glance. He was blabbering loudly with one foot on the bench, body stretched out as he raised his sleeve to pick up a giant piece of meat with his chopsticks. Next, he chomped a vicious bite of mantou to stuff in his mouth.
A lady doesn’t lower herself to the same standards as a drunkard.
Suddenly a pair of jade-slender hands shot out to press down upon my sleeves. Before I could react, he groped downwards. Startled, goosebumps rose on my skin and–
–I loudly cried out, “Not good!”
Those delicate, flawless hands wrapped around my chopsticks. His sudden tug caused my body to ram into the corner of the table, the impact right on two areas of flesh. Pain made me suck in a deep breath.
…I teared up.
Will this affect my growth? I already looked like a tomboy. I glared at him, my precedent of bad luck.
“For two years you’ve eaten this and that, aren’t you fed up with it by now?” Fang Hua knitted his eyebrows. He was drunk, and after staring at the meat for awhile, lowered chopsticks to put an oily piece in his mouth.
This guy deserves to die, he’s fooling around with me again.
I opened my eyes wide and looked at him. “You’re not allowed to spit it out.”
His expression changed to one of extreme sullenness. In the end, he still swallowed. Don’t joke with me. Who knew how expensive meat was nowadays?
“…it still tastes as bad as I remembered.”
“A flower-muncher like you shouldn’t try to eat meat like me. If you’re not used to it, don’t snatch it from me the next time your drunkenness gets the best of you.”
“Actually, someone fed me this in the past,” he threw the chopsticks aside and plopped onto the bench. With his sleeves fanning out, he sprawled on the table as his voice lowered to a subtle noise. “The taste wasn’t so hard to stomach then.”
A heaven-shattering revelation. I swooped over to ask, “Yifu, who was it that fed you?”
He raised his head in disappointment, eyes slack. “It’s been a very long time, long enough for me to already forget that person.”
Forgive me. My face can’t hold back its look of disbelief.
He suddenly smiled and gathered himself together. Spreading out his sleeves, he scooped me into his lap. Drunkenness must have be contagious, because even I was a little giddy. Fang Hua’s head rested on my neck, his shiny, crow-black hair messily scattered over my body. Yet his voice was gentle and soft like a woman’s, an ancient spring breeze that had birthed life for a long time, whose caresses stirred my heart. His eyelashes trembled with laden sorrow, and the cinnabar mark beneath his eye was like a teardrop, startling to see.
He said, “This expression of yours is very similar to his…”
He’d never used this sort of voice to speak to me before.
Those arms held me tighter, warm breath brushing past my face with an intoxicating, sweet scent. It felt as if my ears were burning, and I could only hear my heart thumping from where he held in his arms. Fang Hua must have been grieving right now. Who was he trying to reach again through embracing me…? Suddenly, I felt ever more anxious than before.
“Yifu, you’re drunk.” I don’t know where I found the burst of strength to push him away.
There was the sound of a chair falling over.
He fell on the ground and laughed. The teardrop-shaped mole trembled, and Fang Hua laughed until his breath caught before betraying an expression weighed down with sorrow. “…nonsense, if it’s me, I can drink 1,000 cups without getting drunk.”
Something in my heart became a little harder to bear.
I didn’t even know what had provoked him in the first place as I knelt with the intention of pulling him up. But he dragged me instead and flipped over, the two of us falling on the long and narrow bed.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!
He hugged me and said in a quiet, lonely voice, “Stay with your yifu in bed for a night.”
I swallowed a few times and stared at his pretty, excessively beautiful woman-like face. My heart beat wildly, and my eyes hurriedly looked elsewhere. My fists clenched and unclenched, full of sweat.
However, with this undeveloped body, the most I could be was a long pillow for him. As it turned out, his eyes closed as he kept a stubborn hold on me. For a long time, his breaths were long and even, as if he really was falling asleep.
“Yifu, can you bring me with you on the tenth day of the tenth month next year?” I tugged at his sleeve, raising my head to look at his face.
“Un,” was the soft, one-word reply, but that too was a promise.
The color of the moon was like tidewater pouring on his body, and a fragrant aroma mixed with the smell of alcohol to fill the room. The man next to me was my yifu, whose looks rivaled an entire city.
The only thing I forgot was that he tended to forget things with his low alcohol tolerance.
I’ve never seen such an ethereal-looking person sleep so unwell. He tossed and turned me back and forth, squashing me against the wall the whole night, pain wracking my entire body while he had nightmares.
The next day he woke up with me in his arms.
I lifted my eyelids to look at him, waiting to see his reaction and explanation for forcing an underage youth into the criminal act of sleeping with him. As it turned out, he gave me a side glance and said carelessly, “I don’t like coming in contact with people.”
After saying this line, he did nothing more beyond maintaining his embrace. It was as if he meant to make it clear that next time, you shouldn’t slip away from me.
I was furious!
“Yifu, you can’t tolerate alcohol and that’s why you dragged me to bed.” I rolled my eyes.
“Nonsense again.” He pushed me aside and slowly got up, shaking his head with the expression of an elder who had no choice but to speak to a brat.
I was so shocked I could only stare tongue-tied.
With a frosty face, he grabbed a bronze mirror and began to comb his hair. Suddenly leaning in, he stuck a finger out from his spacious sleeve to rub at the shiny gloss on his lips.
He thought for a bit before slowly turning his body, propping his head on a hand and speaking uncertainly. “Shao’er, how many times have I told you? The next time yifu drinks wine, don’t make me eat meat.”
I’m begging you, don’t steal my meat next time.
“What kind of expression are you making? Yifu wouldn’t lecture you with no reason. Wrong things are wrong.”
I had no words.
“Also, why do I smell like alcohol?” he stood up, sniffing his sleeves, his face as luminous and cool as the full moon. However, the look in his eyes was a bit less doting. “Shao’er, this would be you in the wrong. Although we have a lot of fermented glutinous rice, you shouldn’t trick me by bathing in it…”
I suddenly stood up and kicked a stool.
…this person deserved to die…. …
For Mother’s sake, I’d rather call myself Piao instead of Shao before I brew wine for you next time!
radish (??) ?luobu, keep in mind these are probably pickled white radishessimilar to Japanesedaikon, not the little red things we see in Western salads. These usually have a mild flavor with a sort of sharp, spicy aftertaste, and are good eaten raw or with a little bit of seasoning like salt or sugar. precendent of bad luck (????) ?a sign of bad luck or a bad beginning, the exact idiom here originates from Confucianism. It refers to a person who first made tomb figures. Confucius condemned their use because the figures looked like people. ????????????shi zuo yong zhe, qi wu hou hu? “Didn’t the first man who made tomb figures die without leaving a heir?” couch bed(?) ?also called ata, used as a bed or a couch in a pinch. Resembles the ancient Chinese equivalent of a lounge chaise. They’re not very tall because they were usually raised on platforms within a room. You can read more about Chinese couch beds here, and Chinese furniture here. fermented glutinous rice (??) ?also known as jiu niang, a type of sweet sticky rice with trace amounts of alcohol typically eaten during a Chinese winter holiday. It’s quite tasty and almost a bit fizzy, thanks to the fermentation process. Also safe for kids to eat! Piao (?) ?a bit of a pun here. Piao and Shao obviously sound the same, but piao means to float, flit, or even fly/flee away. So Shao’er would rather run off than do Fang Hua the favor of wine brewing again.😛
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