Quality Check: Kittsune
First Published on Ainushi.
I went back to the small village that I had gone to the first time I ran away. The last time I was there, I had drifted there aimlessly. This time it almost felt like I was coming home.
When he saw me, the doctor did not ask any questions and hired me once again. I felt very moved, because even though it had been so long, they still remembered me.
I once again became the nurse and school teacher for the small village.
I didn’t know why I wanted to come back here. Perhaps I thought that the most dangerous place was the safest place, or perhaps in my memories I saw this place as some kind of garden utopia. In the end, I had come here.
It was only after I arrived that I realized that the doctor was actually Yan Shui Lin’s eldest brother, Yan Bo Nian, the eldest son of the Yan family who had left home. I felt like fate was teasing me. What were the chances that I’d bump into someone related to me after running away to a place so far? Despite this, I still stayed.
“You look like you just ate five kilograms of goldthread herbs .” After dinner, he sat next to me and said this to me.
“It’s because your cooking is terrible, it hurts to eat it.” Earlier I had accidentally stabbed my hand with a nail, and to avoid infection, I was trying to keep my wound from getting wet. As a result, the doctor had been the one to make dinner, but it was nasty. I had no idea how he had managed to live so many years like this.
“You laugh now, but at least you get your dinner for free.” He shot me a stare.
“Doctor, why did you come here?” I suddenly asked. Even though I knew it must have been some kind of painful event that caused him to hide away here, I couldn’t help but ask. I wanted to know.
He looked at me for a moment, then shifted his eyes towards the many stars twinkling in the sky, and became quiet.
I suddenly felt a little regret. It was even more painful to rip the scab off of old wounds. I shouldn’t have been so cruel, even if I had my own wounds.
Just as I was about to change the topic, he suddenly opened his mouth.
“I came here to run away from the pain.”
This was the same reason why I came here.
“After I graduated from medical school, my father arranged for me to work in the family business. Soon after, I entered an arranged marriage that my parents picked for me. Since the bride was from a family well-matched to ours in social status, she was a beautiful and gentle woman, and it did not take long before we had a beautiful son. However, I felt like I was unable to breathe during all of this. It felt like I was always being controlled by someone else, and I wasn’t happy. I loved medicine, and I always dreamed that I could one day spread my wings and fly. I’d fly out of this cage, search for my own life, and run away from everything that tied me down — my family, my work, my marriage, even the affection of my family and love. The only thing I thought of was freedom. That’s why I ran away.” He slowly recounted his past, and his voice was quiet and muffled, as if it came from a very far away place.
“That day, it was pouring rain, and I had just come home after working overtime. On the way home, I felt like I was so insignificant and so pitiful. I made my decision to run away from everything. I went home and found my identification papers, packed away some clothes and money, and then got ready to leave. As I walked out, my wife asked me worriedly where I was going, but I didn’t answer her. I heartlessly pushed her away, got in the car, and drove away.
I moved into a hotel and started to enjoy my freedom, but I didn’t consider for a moment the feelings of others.
A few days later, I read something on the newspaper, and it was something that made my blood run cold. My wife and son were severely injured in a car accident. I rushed my way to the hospital. However, I was too late. My son had already closed his eyes forever, and I would never hear his sweet voice cry for his father ever again.
Due to severe injuries, my wife was in a coma. When I clutched her hand, she seemed to feel that I had arrived, and she miraculously opened her eyes. The first thing she said to me was, ‘Are you alright? I was worried.’ I shook my head, and I saw her beautiful smile.
She seemed to already know that our child had already left this earth, and she said that she needed to keep him company. She couldn’t stay with me any more, and asked me to pay attention to my diet, to wear a little more when the weather is cold, to not work overtime too late, and to be careful of my health. I grasped her hand tightly as I felt her slipping away. However, I wasn’t able to say anything. All I could do was hold her hand tightly, as if I could keep her from vanishing like this.
In the end, she still closed her eyes, and her soft hands turned cold and rigid in my palms. It was then that I suddenly realized that I had loved her all along, and that I never ever told her, ‘I love you.’
Her parents kicked and hit me in fury, saying that I had killed them. If I hadn’t left, she wouldn’t have driven a car out in the rain looking for me, and she wouldn’t have taken our child with her because there was no one at home to watch him, and the accident wouldn’t have happened.
I had killed them. My unreasonable and excessive selfishness had killed them, and my heartless behavior had killed them. Despite this, she never blamed me once, and still asked me to take care of myself.” His tilted his head back to look at the night sky, but a trail of sparking and translucent moisture slid down from his eyes.
“People only realize that they hold treasure in their hands after they lose it. Don’t let your stubborn and tangible cravings deceive your eyes. Some things, after you lose them, there is no way to recover it.”
He stood up, brushed off his pants, and then walked into the house.
Meanwhile, I remained sitting in deep thought.
 Goldthread herbs: Herbs in traditional chinese medicine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coptis_chinensis