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Mother Xu replied happily, “To watch a movie!”
Xu Zhao was very puzzled.
Mother Xu gave Xu Zhao a simple explanation. It was after the busy farming season. The higher ups wanted to create some cultural development or whatnot, so they chose a war film that highlights resilience to screen in the countryside. Eight villages from a ten mile radius would gather at one village to watch the movie for free to cultivate patriotism.
The screening location was South Bay Village.
As soon as Mother Xu learned of this news, she quickly started moving stools to save seats so that the good seats weren’t stolen by others and they wouldn’t be able to see anything. After she finished speaking, Mother Xu moved the large stool from the courtyard and left. When she exited the courtyard, she turned back again to look for mud by the door. She used it to draw three lines on the large stool to make a mark. Not long later, she came back early to make dinner.
Just after dinner, it was still bright outside. Mother Xu called Xu Zhao to go watch the movie.
Xu Zhao asked, “Is it suitable for Xu Fan to watch?”
Mother Xu said, “Why wouldn’t it be suitable? It’s just about kids fighting against the Japanese1A bit of history lesson is needed to understand this. Before and during WWII, Japan set out to conquer many countries. One of the countries being China. They brutally un-alived and r*ped millions of Chinese. Due to this, China holds a huge grudge and hatred towards Japan, and many people still do to this day. This led to the raise of patriotic wartime movies of China defeating Japan. This is the kind of movie they’re watching.. The higher ups said it was suitable for young and old.”
“Suitable for young and old?” Xu Zhao said.
“That’s right. That’s what they said.”
“All right. You guys go first. I’ll give Xu Fan a bath first then go. It’s been too hot recently.”
“Okay. Hurry up or else there won’t be any seats.”
“Mn, got it.”
After Mother Xu left, Xu Zhao gave Xu Fan a bath, rubbed on heat rash powder, and dressed him in the pink sportswear Cui Dingchen bought for him. Once he put it on, it could be said that he was one of the most handsome boys in the village. When walking in the village, he was complemented by everyone, making him ecstatic. They saw the village committee forming a dense crowd of people.
Xu Fan habitually looked around in a daze. He grabbed Xu Zhao’s and sat beside Mother Xu and the others. After seeing the familiar Xu and Li families, he immediately became lively again. It was then that Xu Zhao noticed that there was a sign erected beside the simple and crude curtain that said—the movie “Sparkling Red Star” will be screening at eight o’clock.
It was only 7:10 right now. Xu Zhao turned to speak to Mother Xu, “Mom, the movie doesn’t start until eight.”
Mother Xu smiled and said, “I know.”
“There’s still fifty minutes until the movie starts.”
Mother Xu didn’t mind and said, “It’s only fifty minutes. We can sit and chat for a bit, and the movie will start very soon. Sit for a bit and rest.”
However, Xu Zhao couldn’t sit still. Although he had a good relationship with his fellow villagers, it was only limited to greeting each other when they were free or helping out if someone needed something. As for chatting with them, Xu Zhao really couldn’t cope with it. Especially when all the villagers surrounding them stared at Xu Fan and him, constantly complimenting how good he and Xu Fan looked, and how capable he was and whatnot.
Although Xu Fan was young, he had thick skin and loved being praised. But Xu Zhao wasn’t the same and really couldn’t stand it. Xu Zhao hugged Xu Fan and left to get some fresh air. Coincidentally or not, they bumped into Zhou Xiangqian at the entrance of the village committee.
Zhou Xiangqian’s eyes brightened when he saw Xu Zhao. He found work in a factory in West Prefecture City. The factory had good benefits, but the work was very busy. It was rare for him to have a day off and rush back to South Sun village. He was about to find a reason to go to South Bay Village to find Xu Zhao when he heard that South Bay Village was screening a movie, so he quickly ran over to watch the movie.
He never expected to actually bump into Xu Zhao!
They hadn’t seen each other in two to three months. Xu Zhao was even more handsome than before, causing Zhou Xiangqian’s heart to tremble. After a while, he finally called out, “Xu Zhao.”
Xu Zhao greeted with a smile, “Are you here to watch the movie?”
“Mn, are you also here to watch the movie?”
Xu Zhao nodded. “But it hasn’t started yet.”
“Then we’ll just wait a bit.” After Zhou Xiangqian finished speaking, he asked again, “Are you still busy now?”
Xu Zhao said, “It’s already night time. Even if I was busy, I can’t do it now.”
“Then can we talk?”
In fact, Xu Zhao had clearly told Zhou Xiangqian over the phone before. This was simply raising old problems again. However, Zhou Xiangqian didn’t give up. Xu Zhao’s attitude didn’t change, and he continued insisting that the two of them didn’t suit each other.
Zhou Xiangqian still asked, “What if I started pursuing you again?”
Xu Zhao said softly, “I’m sorry.”
Zhou Xiangqian’s heart froze. He didn’t speak.
Xu Zhao smiled apologetically to Zhou Xiangqian, then pulled Xu Fan back into the village committee’s courtyard. At this time, the 60 watt light bulbs in the courtyard were already turned on. Two large light bulbs were installed beside the temporary stage, lighting up the entire courtyard very brightly. Chatters, giggles, and laughter could be heard inside the entire village committee’s courtyard. It was very lively.
Xu Zhao carried Xu Fan through the crowd to sit beside Mother and Father Xu. They saw Da Zhuang, and Da Zhuang also saw Xu Zhao and Xu Fan and immediately called, “Sanwa!”
Xu Fan happily called back, “Da Zhuang! You’re here!”
Da Zhuang nodded. “Mn, I’m here to watch the movie!”
“I’m also going to watch the movie!”
“Let’s watch it together.”
After Xu Fan sat his little body straight, his small meaty hand was stuffed into his pocket as he pulled out a cookie. A “snap” could be heard, attracting Xu Zhao and Da Zhuang’s attention.
Da Zhuang stared straight at Xu Fan.
Xu Zhao leaned toward Xu Fan and whispered, “Give half the cookie to Da Zhuang.”
Xu Fan immediately said, “No.”
“Give him half.”
“…” Xu Zhao said patiently, “Don’t you remember? The day before yesterday, you went to Da Zhuang’s house and ate his century egg and deep-fried breadstick. That afternoon, you even said that you would give Da Zhuang a small half of a cookie. Did you forget?”
Xu Fan’s little face was stunned as if he was recalling it.
Xu Zhao continued to gently say, “Let’s give Da Zhuang half, okay?”
Xu Fan finally nodded, then his small meaty hand pinched a small piece of the cookie as he handed it to Da Zhuang. Without waiting for Xu Zhao to say anything, Da Zhuang directly protested and said, “Sanwa, you gave me too little. It’s too little!”
Xu Fan twisted his body and turned around, not letting Da Zhuang look at the cookie in his hand as he said, “M-M-Mine is also l-l-little.”
“Yours isn’t little. You have a big piece of the cookie,” Da Zhuang shouted. “I-I saw everything just now.”
That was correct. Da Zhuang saw that Xu Fan pulled out a big cookie, but Xu Fan turned his little body again to face Xu Zhao. His back was almost completely to Da Zhuang as he said, “I don’t. I don’t have a big cookie. I have a small cookie.”
Da Zhuang insisted, “You do. I-If you don’t give me any, I won’t give you any next time either.”
Xu Fan hesitated.
Da Zhuang stretched his little head over and looked at Xu Fan’s hands.
Xu Fan turned his back to Da Zhuang and didn’t let him look.
The two little guys continued confronting each other like this.
Xu Zhao shook his head helplessly. He didn’t interfere with the two little guys. Instead, he tilted his head to look forward. In front of them, the staff for the movie screening were currently adjusting the projector. The people beside him were all chatting. A strong light shone on the crude and simple curtain. When a picture appeared on the curtain, Xu Zhao turned his head to look at Xu Fan and Da Zhuang to see that Xu Fan had finally given Da Zhuang a small half of the cookie.
Xu Zhao laughed as he held Xu Fan and Da Zhuang against his chest, so that the two little kids’ views weren’t blocked. He then watched the curtain in front of them with him.
Xu Fan pointed to the curtain with his small meaty hand that was holding the cookie and said that there was a big kid in there.
Xu Zhao replied, “Mn, there’s a big kid.”
A while later, Xu Fan called again, “Daddy!”
Xu Zhao asked, “What is it?”
“I also want to go inside.”
“Go inside where?”
“I want to go inside there and play with the big kid,” Xu Fan’s small meaty hand pointed at the movie as he said.
“…” How is it that his imagination could think of anything!
“Daddy.” Not long later, Xu Fan called again.
Xu Zhao looked at Xu Fan and softly said, “Baobao, don’t talk anymore. Let’s watch the movie. We can talk after we finish watching, okay?”
Xu Fan finally stopped talking.
Xu Zhao breathed out a sigh of relief and watched the movie with the other villagers. As he was watching, he heard the sound of a car. He thought the car came from the movie, but it wasn’t. He couldn’t help but wonder and looked all around as he held Xu Fan. He didn’t see anything and thought he was imagining things, so he continued watching the movie.
However, his mind couldn’t help but wander. In the end, he still wanted to go out to take a look. So he gave Xu Fan and Da Zhuang to Mother Xu and Da Zhuang’s grandma, saying that he would go home to take a look in case of thieves.
“There won’t be thieves. Da Zhuang’s mother and father are at home looking after Da Ni’Er. They’ll watch the house for us as well. There’s no need to go back,” Mother Xu said.
“I’m fine. I’ll head back to get some water,” Xu Zhao said.
“Okay, then bring some water back for Sanwa too.”
Xu Zhao whispered to Xu Fan. Xu Fan was addicted to looking at the “big kid,”and he easily nodded. So Xu Zhao turned and exited the crowd. He walked from the village committee’s courtyard and walked directly toward his house. When he arrived at his courtyard entrance, he saw Cui Dingchen as well as Da Zhuang’s mother, who was standing beside Cui Dingchen.
Da Zhuang’s mother glanced Cui Dingchen up and down, sensing something strange going on. She smiled and with an expression that said “something fishy’s going on,” said, “You’re looking for our Xu Zhao so late in the night.”
Cui Dingchen nodded politely and said, “Yes.”
Da Zhuang’s mother smiled and asked, “Why are you looking for him?”
Cui Dingchen replied, “I’m dropping off something. Can I ask where Xu Zhao went?”
Da Zhuang’s mother didn’t answer Cui Dingchen’s question, smiling instead as she asked, “Dropping off what?”
“Sister Li!” Xu Zhao called out.
Da Zhuang’s mother smiled and said, “Oh, Xu Zhao is back.”
Xu Zhao stepped up and greeted Da Zhuang’s mother.
Da Zhuang’s mother giggled as she returned to her house. Once inside her home, she couldn’t suppress her gossiping spirit any longer and dragged Da Zhuang’s father over to gossip as she said, “Honey, let me tell you. Xu Zhao is currently dating!”
“What?” Da Zhuang’s father, who had just put Da Ni’Er to sleep, asked.
“Xu Zhao is currently dating!” Da Zhuang’s mother insisted.
“What? Dating?” Da Zhuang’s father looked back at Da Zhuang’s mother and asked, “Dating who? Zhou Xiangqian?”
“No, it’s that Cui Ding-something. The Cui family’s youngest uncle.”
Da Zhuang’s father didn’t believe it at all. “What nonsense! The Cui family’s youngest uncle and Xu Zhao are good friends. Although Xu Zhao is amazing, he still has Xu Fan. The Cui family’s youngest uncle is a city-dweller. He drives a car and is rich. He might not like Xu Zhao.”
Da Zhuang’s mother insisted, “How could he not like him! Xu Zhao is one in a million!”
Da Zhuang’s father smiled. He shook his head as he said, “You think too much. They’re not dating. They’re not. It’s impossible for those two to be together.”
“How is it impossible? If you don’t believe me, then look!” Da Zhuang’s mother dragged Da Zhuang’s father out of the house. They walked to the courtyard entrance and leaned against the gate to glance over toward Xu Zhao’s house. They just so happened to see Cui Dingchen holding Xu Zhao’s hand.
Oh my! My god!
The Cui family’s youngest uncle really liked Xu Zhao!
Da Zhuang’s father was flabbergasted. When did this happen?
Da Zhuang’s mother was actually shocked as well. They’re even holding hands? Holding hands? Wasn’t this moving too quickly?
The couple leaned against the courtyard gate and watched.
However, Xu Zhao didn’t let Da Zhuang’s parents watch for long. After explaining to Cui Dingchen that he was watching a movie, he shook off Cui Dingchen’s hand and walked toward his house’s courtyard. Just as he entered the courtyard, Cui Dingchen said, “Xu Zhao, I need to leave now.”
Xu Zhao looked at Cui Dingchen with curiosity and asked, “Don’t tell me you were just passing by again?”
Cui Dingchen nodded and said, “That’s right.”
Xu Zhao thought for a moment before saying, “Then I’ll drop you off at the intersection.”
“Mn.” Cui Dingchen nodded.
The two walked toward South Bay Village’s intersection. When they were about to arrive at the intersection, Cui Dingchen stopped and turned to look at Xu Zhao affectionately. Using some force, he used one hand to bring Xu Zhao into his arms and wrapped his other hand around Xu Zhao’s waist. He gently whispered in Xu Zhao’s ear, “I really can’t bear to leave you.”
Hearing this, Xu Zhao’s heart filled with sweetness. The pleasant smell of soap drifted from Cui Dingchen’s body into his nose, and his heart felt inexplicably calm. He unknowingly placed his hands on Cui Dingchen’s waist, completely unaware of a certain person peeping at them in the darkness not too far away.