Assistant Architect by Xi He Qing Ling
Chapter 70: Door
At the beginning of the month, Zhang Siyi wasn’t idle. Early in the morning, he went to worship Buddha at the temple. Afterwards, he went to his uncle’s house to celebrate the New Year and visit with his relatives and Grandmother who also lived there. Since she is very old, hard of hearing, and in poor health, she used a wheelchair all the time.
Since Grandma was the last living grandparent that Zhang Siyi had, he took the initiative to give her a hefty one thousand, six-hundred-dollar red envelope. His uncle and aunt praised him for his filial duty. He relatives always said since childhood that Zhang Siyi will have good prospects in his future. They believe he has been making a lot of money in Haicheng.
So touted, Zhang Siyi pulled out a five hundred red envelope and gave it to his cousin who was still in high school. His aunt laughed.
Zhang Siyi family responsibilities for New Years of “going to visit relatives and friends” was completed. Zhang Siyi Father was the eldest son on his side of the family. Also, out of many cousins, Zhang Siyi was the eldest grandson. All the extended family on his father’s side came to his uncle’s house to visit and thus, Zhang Siyi didn’t have to travel anywhere. Under his Mother’s instructions, he prepared a five-hundred-dollar red envelope for each of his cousins.
His Mother was only partly aware of Zhang Siyi’s income, so she didn’t realize how generous it was of Zhang Siyi to give away his bonus. He has long felt like he was being squeezed dry. Looking at his credit card statement, it already showed a negative balance. Zhang Siyi simply wanted to cry. Where does all the money go so fast?!
At the end of the evening, with many hugs and well wishes, Zhang Siyi left his uncles house. His phone vibrated and was surprised to see his childhood friend, Shen Hao, calling. He wanted to tell Zhang Siyi about Song Mia wedding day and that they needed to go out for food and drinks.
Remembering the one thousand eight hundred ‘red-bomb’ from her engagement party, Zhang Siyi felt pressured. The three of them are childhood friends so he can’t make an excuse not to give a red envelope. If he doesn’t figure something out how will he be able to show his face?
Although the card is overdrawn, Zhang Siyi decided to use his credit card to pay for it. Calculating in his mind, he realized he only has 200 left and he still needed to buy a train ticket. He won’t be able to make a payment towards his credit card until next month. At least he didn’t have to spend money while he was staying at home.
While worrying over his finances, his Mother interrupted his thoughts: “Weren’t you going to visit the Gu residence? When were you planning on going?”
Zhang Siyi: “I am not busy these two days…”
His Mother urged: “Didn’t Gu Yu mention the third? It’s already the fifth. Hurry up before the New Year is over!”
Zhang Siyi impatiently waved his hand and said: “Yes, I know!”
Indeed, despite these past two days being busy, the days weren’t so busy that he didn’t have time to contact Gu Yu. It’s just that Zhang Siyi was being evasive due to his previous conversation about Gu Yu’s underwear. With his mother’s push, he stopped dilly-dallying and sent Gu Yu a message asking him if he was home tomorrow.
Gu Yu replied quickly: “For New Years?”
Zhang Siyi: “Hmm.”
Gu Yu: ” I thought you were reluctant to give me back my underwear that’s why you hadn’t made contact. It’s already the fourth.”
Zhang Siyi: “…… That’s not it!”
Gu Yu: “Ha-ha. What time tomorrow? I spoke with my family and they said you should come for lunch. Does that work?”
…… Huh? And lunch? o////o
Feeling the importance of visiting Gu Yu’s home, Zhang Siyi felt pressured. Knowing that Gu Yu is paying close attention to his visit, his nerves started to rise. After taking the package his mother prepared, at nine o’clock in the morning, he left his house.
Gu Yu’s family home is located in the old city section and was built in the 1990s. The neighborhood is close to Zhang Siyi’s high school alma mater where many faculty members reside. Zhang Siyi took a taxi directly to the address that Gu Yu provided.
Standing in front of the door, Zhang Siyi saw the old iron gate and electronic doorbell in disrepair. He pressed it a few times, but there wasn’t a response. Helpless, he sent a message to Gu Yu on his phone. Gu Yu texted him back: “The doorbell is broken. I’ll be right down.”
Since Gu Yu’s family lived on the third floor, soon Zhang Siyi could hear someone coming down the stairs. Knowing that Gu Yu is personally coming down the stairs to open the door for him, Zhang Siyi heart pounded in synchronize rhythm to the ‘stomp-stomp-stomp’ from the steps on the staircase.
It’s been a few days since Zhang Siyi saw Gu Yu and he noticed how much better Gu Yu looked. Maybe the difference in complexion was because he was well-rested after the busy, stressful work days before the holiday. Now, at home, Gu Yu face looked peaceful and happy.
He was wearing loose casual lounge wear and his feet were covered with a pair of round-headed cotton slippers. His attire was rather sloppy and not elegant, but Zhang Siyi felt it was another type of handsome; warm, comfortable, home.
“Here we are.” Gu Yu opened the door and smiled at him: “Come up.”
As Gu Yu was turning around to head back upstairs, Zhang Siyi reached out and stopped him: “Wait!” He glanced left and right and bowed his head. From out of his pocket, he pulled out Gu Yu underwear and quickly handed them over. “This is for you.”
Gu Yu: “……”
Fortunately for Zhang Siyi, Gu Yu was the one who came downstairs to open the door otherwise he didn’t know when he would get the chance to return the garment.
Gu Yu wasn’t anxious to hide the underwear. Holding the fabric in his hand, he slowly kneaded it a bit and asked: “Why are you so careful? It was just for one night.” In a low voice he added: “Or, did you do something else….?”
Zhang Siyi: “……” (o//a//o) I… I… I…
When Gu Yu noticed Zhang Siyi instantly turn red and stop talking, he used his free hand to cover his smile. Choking back a laugh he said: “You are so funny. Every time I tease you, you take it so seriously!”
Zhang Siyi nearly exploded. – Why am I serious? It’s not clear when you are joking!
“Brother! What took you so long?” A lovely female voice came from upstairs.
“Come on!” Gu Yu gave Zhang Siyi a look indicating to follow then turned around himself to walk back upstairs.
Upstairs, Zhang Siyi really saw the girl who he met previously at the entrance of KTV. She stuck herself half-way out of the door, staring with big eyes curiously at Zhang Siyi.
“Hey” Zhang Siyi stiffly raised his hand and said hello to her.
The sister smiled and said, “Are you the little apprentice at my brother’s work?” I remember you from last time at KTV. He also called you little friend. Hey, little friend … “
Gu Yu: “What’s with you calling him little friend? No matter how big or small he is, he is a year older than you. You should call him Brother.”
His Sister stuck her tongue out at Gu Yu and blew a raspberry at him then turned around and left.
Zhang Siyi was a little surprised. It turned out, Gu Yu bullied his sister too. He didn’t know why, but he suddenly felt more balanced.
With a hundred square meters, Gu Yu’s family home is very ordinary. The living area is small, but open to the kitchen and hallway. Not only on tables, but also alongside furniture, there are piles of old and new books everywhere. Although it is crowded, it doesn’t look messy. It is clear; a scholar resides here.
“Come in. Your name is Zhang Siyi?” Gu Yu’s Father stood up from the sofa and warmly greeted Zhang Siyi.
Wearing a pair of square glasses, Father Gu looked older than his own. He had a full voice and his complexion was very good. Perhaps because his eyebrows looked like Gu Yu’s, Zhang Siyi instinctively felt close to Gu Yu’s father.
Zhang Siyi changed his shoes and gave the gift bag to Gu Senior. He respectfully called him “Uncle Gu”, wished him a Happy New Year and said a few words.
Then Gu Yu’s Mother came out. Zhang Siyi only glanced at her and was stunned. With eyes that exude hope, and a soft calming demeanor, she embodies beauty. Quietly standing on the side, she made people feel very comfortable.
Zhang Siyi used to think that his mother was the most beautiful woman in the world. When she saw Gu Yu’s mother, he discovered what it meant to be innately beautiful. It is a kind of natural beauty that does not require emotional attachment. With such superb genetics, no wonder Gu Yu and his sister are so good looking.
Zhang Siyi spoke a little shyly: “Auntie.” She slightly nodded and indicated to the sofa in sign language, presumable for him to sit. Zhang Siyi was very surprised, but his thoughts were pulled back when Gu Yu also greeted her by voice.
Father Gu smiled and said: “Yu has talked about you. You two are very attached to each other. It must be fate.”
“Oh? Is it?” Zhang Siyi chuckled and glanced at Gu Yu who remained silent. Why does the word ‘fate’ sound strange? He explained: “I don’t know that it is so much about fate, but he and I were from the same high school. Although we weren’t studying during the same time, I have heard about his past deeds for three years since he was the top student for the college entrance examination.” Zhang Siyi scratched his head: “I decided to study architecture because of his influence back at school so it’s difficult to think about fate.”
Gu Dad laughed and said: “I am not talking about this. You have met when you were children.”
Zhang Siyi: “???” We met when I was a kid?
“You didn’t tell him?” Father Gu looked at his son in a meaningful way.
Gu Yu’s sister took this moment to pass a cup of tea to each of the three men sitting on the sofa then sat herself down on a cushion on the ground to listen to their conversation.
Zhang Siyi thanked her and elbowed Gu Yu’s side and asked: “Have we really met when we were kids?”
Gu Yu lowered his head and quietly peeled a grapefruit then said two words: “It’s stupid.”
Zhang Siyi: “……”
Witnessing her brother’s reaction, Gu Yu’s sister ‘pfffft’ lost her tea, and looked at Zhang Siyi with interest. She also wanted to listen to gossip and urged her Father: “You tell us Dad!”
Smiling, Father Gu looked at Zhang Siyi and said: “You were quite small at the time…… Yu was only ten and you were about…… this high.” He raised his hand above the coffee table…”
Zhang Siyi: “……” He and Gu Yu are six years apart, so he was only four years old!
Father Gu continued: “I was doing a municipal project and on my way to the construction Bureau to do a report…. Oh yes. Secretary Zhang was just a small director then……”