Chapter 23

Translator: XHu

Editor: Isabelle

Quality Check: Kittsune

First Published on Ainushi.

 

When I woke up from the haze, my head felt like it was splitting open with pain. I groaned as I collapsed on the bed; everything that happened to me gradually began to clear up in my mind.

Those two despicable bastards!

I furiously clenched my hands into tight fists. I had submitted to all this humiliation, compromised with them to live this life, but when was all of this going to end? If I continued to live like this, the hatred in my heart would accumulate more and more, and one day it was bound to explode. At that point, it’d end in mutual destruction for all of us.

I’m going to run! Even if I run away, the worst outcome is that I die!

Enduring the pounding pain in my head, I walked into the closet and began to pack away the clothes that I had arrived with into a traveling bag. Then, I pulled out all the physical cash from the drawer where all the expensive trinkets were. I didn’t plan to bring my bank card or the credit card they gave me, because if I used them, it’d be extremely easy to trace me.

I returned to my room, grabbed a piece of paper and pen from the desk next to the window, and began to write a letter. Honestly, they didn’t deserve anything like this but I wanted to leave a note so they wouldn’t go look to trouble my family.

“I’m leaving. I hope you can forget about me, and please don’t look for me. Even if you don’t agree, please do not bother my family. I’m not going home but I will keep an eye on them. If you harm them, I will immediately kill myself.”

Carrying simple clothes and a small amount of cash, I left the luxurious cage that was the Zhao residence, hoping to fly away to some remote place never to return…

———

I walked aimlessly for a very long distance. I didn’t have a passport, and I had no way of fleeing to another country. My only choice was to get away from Taipei as far as possible, far away from them.

At the train station, I randomly purchased a ticket. I didn’t even glance at where the destination was. My only wish was that it would bring to me a place where I could be free, and live the remainder of my days in peace.

When I got off the train, I aimlessly followed the stranger in front of me and got on a bus that I similarly had no clue of where it was headed. This rickety bus stopped and went, and a few hours passed by. It finally stopped at a remote and small road, and yet I still sat there blankly staring at the desolate scenery outside the window. The fat-looking bus driver turned around and gave me a curious look. “Miss, why aren’t you getting off the bus? It’s the last stop. Where are you headed to?”

I came back to my senses. “Mister, I’m just going for a walk. I don’t have any destination in particular.” I smiled as I picked up my luggage and prepared to get off the bus.

“Miss, this is still quite far from the nearest village. If you follow the road, the walk might take a few hours. You’re better off riding the bus back to the train station.” The bus driver kindly advised me.

“No thank you.” I waved my hand at him. I didn’t even look back as I started walking along the bumpy and tiny road that was filled with potholes. What would be out there waiting to greet me? My heart was filled with a certain kind of anticipation…

———

At the end of the small road was a dilapidated and impoverished village. I was slightly surprised to discover that this kind of place still existed in Taiwan since the city was rich and abundant with modern amenities. A majority of the residents in this village made their living from farming, and essentially lived a life of self-sufficiency. Only a few “well-to-do” families in the village owned televisions, and some families didn’t even have a single electric light.

I ended up settling down at the only clinic in the village. The doctor in the clinic hired me to be a nurse, only because I knew a little bit about first aid.

The doctor was also a person who had self-exiled himself from the city — I heard this from an auntie in the village — apparently his wife and his one year old child had passed away in a car accident. Despite being a doctor, he was unable to save the people whom he loved the most, so he left the city. My guess is that the way he ended up here was about the same as mine.

Apart from treating the injuries of the villagers, the doctor also took care of pigs, cows, and all sorts of livestock. You could say that these domesticated animals were the most valuable possessions for the families here. As for me, apart from serving as the nurse for this tiny clinic, I also became a teacher for the children. There was no school here, and I heard that the nearest school was twenty miles away. Many of the children had never gone to school before.

When I arrived, I didn’t bring any books with me, and the teaching material I ended up using was what the doctor had purchased from a mail order for me.

I stayed here skittish and on edge for one week, afraid that the the twins would suddenly pop up in front of my eyes. But as time slowly passed, I was eventually able to calm down. Regardless of how powerful and influential the Zhao Family was, they weren’t omnipotent. They probably wouldn’t be able to find this tiny village that had basically been forgotten by society.

“Lil’ Sissie, here’s some fresh vegetables we just dug up and brought for you. It’s very tender.” One of the stocky aunties raised her voice from outside the simple and crude door of the clinic, her voice extremely shrill.

“Aunty, thank you,” I politely expressed my appreciation and received the enormous bundle of vegetables. Part of the the portion here was also for the doctor. Since the villagers here were all very poor, the doctor often did not take money for treating them. As such, they often brought the vegetables and fruits that they grew at home to give to him as thanks. Incidentally, I frequently benefited from this.

“Lil’ Sissie, you’ve got such good looks, do you have a boyfriend?” After handing the vegetables to me, the aunty did not leave right away. Instead, she rather amicably hit me up for a chat.

I didn’t want to reply to this question and I didn’t want to think back to everything that had happened to me in the past. I smiled wryly for a moment and didn’t answer.

After chatting with me for a little, the aunty left indignantly as she failed to get the answer she wanted.

I sat on my chair and stared at the mountains in the distance. I didn’t know why, but somehow I felt that this was the calm before the storm. I could only hope that I was mistaken.

 

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