[Extra 1: Side character’s story part 1]

***

Today, light rain fell in London. It was nothing new as London had always been a city prone to having dreary weather. However, it was almost guaranteed that over at A City, which is thousands of miles away, the weather is fine and sunny.

Li Shenzhou held a large bouquet of white daisies and stood before a cross shaped tombstone. You couldn’t tell what he was thinking; perhaps he was lost in thought, or perhaps he was reminiscing. After a long time, a small raindrop broke through the clouds and fell onto his face, waking him from his stupor. He carefully and slowly squatted down and placed the daisies coated in raindrops in front of the tombstone. His movements were very light, as if he was afraid of disturbing the person who rested below.

“Li Le Yuan, ” Looking at the black and white photo on the tombstone, Li Shenzhou smiled but it wasn’t enough to conceal the bitter emotions in his eyes, “Chen Tian got married today. I don’t dare go see him. I’m afraid that I would cry…..cry for you.”

Li Le Yuan in the photo continued to smile, as if he didn’t feel any sadness.

Li Shenzhou also did not expect Li Le Yuan to reply. If Li Le Yuan could talk, then it would really be called “meeting a ghost”. He only slowly lowered his head and looked at the daisies he had just placed down: “I always thought that you were cruel. Even after your death, you made me lie to him for his whole life. Afterwards, I realised that I was the one who is most cruel. Knowing that you will never open your eyes again, I still calmly lied to him. I lied and said that you married abroad and even found a beautiful foreign wife…..” Li Shenzhou’s voice was very soft when he spoke. So soft that his voice was seemingly drowned out by the mischevious wind blowing past.

“Now that he is married, will you be sad?”

Li Le Yuan. He forever slept in the ground. Although there is no air to corrode his skin or insects that would crawl over his face, but as his body slowly loses it nutrients and dries up, it will eventually become a pure, white skeleton.

*****

Chen Chen Tian is getting married. He is currently sitting in the dressing room as the makeup artist looked at him in distress. In his hands, he held onto the hair that reached his waist. Paired with the black formal suit, it was obviously very mismatching.

“Mr. Chen.” The makeup artist started speaking with much difficulty, “Can we help cut your hair?” Chen Tian was seemingly lost in thought. When he heard the words spoken by the makeup artist, for a moment he didn’t react. Feeling embarrassed, he said: “Sorry, can you say it again. I didn’t hear you earlier.” The smile on the makeup artists face went a little stiff but she still asked in a very friendly manner: “Can we help you with your hair…………”

———-“Chen Tian!” Before the makeup artist could finish her words, a bride wearing a white wedding dress suddenly burst into the room. Li Yue Yuan who had just finished her makeup couldn’t hide the joy and happiness of becoming a bride. Her hair was dexterously braided, coiled around and decorated with a small red flower. With Li Yue Yuan’s appearance, the whole room seemingly brightened up.

“Chen Tian, what do you think of this wedding dress?” Li Yue Yuan picked up her dress and twirled around like she was showing it off.

Chen Tian looked at her and clicked his tongue before replying with a smile: “En, not bad.”

“Have you prepared the red envelopes?” “Rest assured.”

“What about the flower?” “Ninety-nine roses”

“Which guests won’t be coming?” “It’s recorded at my mothers’ place.”

…..

The two continued like this for a very long time and, seemingly because there wasn’t anything else to talk about, Li Yue Yuan spoke up: “Why are you still not done? My makeup is already finished.”

“Miss. Li, don’t worry,” The makeup artist suddenly interjected, “We’re just preparing to cut Mr. Chen’s hair. Isn’t that right?”

Chen Tian did not answer and only looked at Li Yue Yuan. Li Yue Yuan was a little worried inside but, as if she realised something, she turned and returned his gaze without concealing her thoughts.

For a moment, Li Yue Yuan felt a little wronged.

Chen Tian turned his head away and, after a while, he said, “En, cut it.”

He didn’t mind that his woman liked to act coy since, anyway, things had already become like this………since they are going to get married, since he already silently accepted it.

After washing his hair and sitting on the chair at the hairdressers, the hairdresser couldn’t help but marvel: “I haven’t seen someone have such long hair in so long……” The rest of his words were swallowed down, “And to think that it’s a man.”

“Sir, what kind of hairstyle would you like?” “Block.” “Okay.” The hairdresser skilfully manipulated his scissors and within a few seconds, snipping could be heard.

Chen Tian was suddenly reminded of the past where before a woman married, their mother would help the girls’ hair while singing a nursery song: “The first brush will brush until the ends, the second brush will brush until it becomes white. Husband and wife work together, never parting in life or death…….” He couldn’t help but smile. Even he, a man, actually thought of something like this. It really is the so called ‘pre-marital syndrome’.

Dark black hair, together with some water mist, slowly fell to the ground. Soon, they would dry up and become like weeds, quickly losing its original lustre, and just end up tossed into the trash can. It would mix together with other disgusting garbage and finally be incinerated at a garbage disposal site into fine ashes.

His ten years of waiting, ten years of prayers, ten years of struggle, ten years of perseverance, ten years of expectations.

So many. So many of them. All gone in an instant.

***

Outside the church is a field of green pasture. The priest stood in the centre of the podium holding onto an English bible. With gold rimmed glasses and a saint-like beard, his face was full of seriousness.

His ocean blue eyes looked at the two newcomers standing in front of him and slowly said:

“Mr. Chen, are you willing to accept Miss Li to be your lawful wedded wife, and remain faithful to her till the end?”

After a long time, so long that it felt almost like a century, but also after a short time, so short that it was only like a blink of an eye,

“Yes, I do.” Chen Chen Tian took Li Yue Yuan’s arm and finally issued a solemn oath.

At that instant, Li Yue Yuan cried, her expression filled with happiness.

Everyone present applauded. Everyone present gave their blessings. Only she knew why she cried.

“Chen Tian. Now, I am your only wife. I don’t care who you used to love, who you liked or long for, I just want you to understand that there’s only me who can be with you always……There is no-one and no reason for this marriage to not work out. If you have anything to say, say it now or remain silent forever.” At an empty space at the wedding ceremony, Li Yue Yuan tiptoed and whispered into Chen Tian’s ear.

“I know…..you fool.” Chen Tian glanced at her from the side and eventually smiled.

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