The Perfect Relationship by Xi He Qing Ling
Chapter 3: Huaihe Apartment
Located in a high-end residential area, Huaihe Apartments had a rather impenetrable security system. After gaining admittance to the underground garage by swiping an access card, there was an elevator for use that services people’s homes directly.
Regardless of the apartment being Yin Dong’s private residence, he had given Yang Jiajia, his agent, an access card in case of emergencies. Even though his assistant, who also was on the plane when it crashed, took care of his daily necessities and travel arrangements, Yan Jiajia had also been to the house a number of times.
“1806, this is the one.” Yang Jiajia said and handed the key card to Yin Chang: “You hold onto it.” As he pushed opened the door and flicked on some of the lights, he pointed out the locations of the various rooms of the apartment to Yin Chang: “The guest bedroom has an attached bathroom. Please wash and get some rest.”
Before leaving, he explained again: “Make sure to listen to Yao Manhuai’s advice. With your father’s accident and your return to China being exposed by the paparazzi, you can’t leave the apartment and go out alone for the next few days. If you need anything, call me directly. It’s easy for me to come over.”
“Alright.” After seeing him off, Yin Chang collapsed on the bed in the guest room and within a few minutes, fell asleep.
The sky was already bright when he opened his eyes again. Yin Chang looked at his watch and found that he had slept for less than four hours. He sat up from the bed and swung his feet over the side with a slap. It was then that he noticed the pillows and comforter that covered the bed. They were printed with Transformers characters and checking the sheets underneath the blanket, they too were printed with Transformers.
……I was too exhausted to pay attention last night. Did my father set this room up for me?
When he was a kid, Yin Chang was obsessed with Transformers. Any time his father went to visit Yin Chang he would bring a small gift and every time, Yin Chang wanted Transformers. Over the years, he had brought him similar gifts and various models to assemble. As a result, the nanny had to move them to a large display case in a different room for all of them to fit.
But that was a long time ago and his preferences have long since changed. Yin Chang stroked the sheets and sighed softly.
Perhaps many people would envy him for having a movie-star as their father, but Yin Chang had more than once, fantasized about his father being a regular guy. That way, his father would have been able to spend more time with him.
However, although harsh, reality has taught him that a person can never ask for more then what was given. Even when Yin Dong was very busy with work and only had the time to see him twice a year, it was much better then being separated forever.
Last month, when he just turned eighteen years old, Yin Dong made a promise to him on the phone. He would make it up to Yin Chang and see him after they finished filming abroad.
It was like a dream. In the blink of an eye, the person was gone.
Sitting on the bed with his head hanging low, blinking back his tears, Yin Chang raised his hand to wipe his eyes then swallowed his bitterness. With a sigh, he got up to wash.
In the guest washroom, there was also a character cup and toothbrush. Yin Chang chuckled bitterly. How old was he? Did Yin Dong still think of him as a kid? After washing his face, Yin Chang went to the kitchen to get a glass of water to drink, then toured the rest of the place.
By no means was the apartment small, but it wasn’t very large either. At 100 square meters (~1076 sq ft) there were two bedrooms, one living room and a kitchen. The interior was tidy and minimalistic, yet with the scattered fashion magazines on the table and articles of clothing on the sofa, it was clear that someone lived here.
Looking around, he saw that Yin Dong’s bedroom was connected to both a walk-in closet and a study. Remembering what Lawyer Wang said last night about him being adopted, he walked into the study feeling apprehensive. He wondered if his father left any evidence about his life behind. Were there personal artifacts from his birth? mementos from his mother? a love letter perhaps?
The several books on a wooden table caught his attention. Looking at them more closely, Yin Chang read the titles of three of them out loud: “Adolescent Mental Health” ; “How to Communicate with a Rebellious Child” ; “Parents’ Wisdom.”
They were neither professional books about acting, nor novels for entertainment nor philosophical ones. The books had obvious traces of use. Many edges of the pages were folded inside. Flipping through one of the books to where a page was folded-in, the chapter was labeled ‘Rebellious boys need to be understood,’ and along the margins, there were many notes written there by a reader.
Yin Chang started reading the chapter:
“…..Adolescent boys are at a stage in their lives where they are trying to perfect their personality. Many changes in temperament and emotions are normal. In the eyes of adults, some children step out of line during this period in order to explore themselves, but more often then not, it is a method of seeking attention…..”
What the heck, Yin Chang thought. He had long passed the age of rebellion. Moreover, ever since he was a young child, he had always played the role of a good son. Even Fiona, who had taken care of him for 12 years, said that there was no one more obedient in the world then him.
Yin Chang couldn’t understand. What was his father doing reading these books?
While thinking about it, he noticed a stack of scripts on the bookshelf nearby. Ah. Yes, this makes sense Yin Chang thought. Perhaps, Yin Dong was making a film with a rebellious boy character and needed to do some research.
Yin Chang put down the book and moved his attention to the drawers in his father’s desk. Opening them, he looked inside. Other than work-related papers, there was nothing significant. After some time passed, the phone rang. It was Yang Jiajia.
“Yin Chang, did I wake you?”
“No. I’m already awake.” Yin Chang closed the drawers one-by-one. Not being able to find even a scrap of evidence pertaining to his life, Yin Chang felt disappointed and frustrated. Ever since Lawyer Wang reported the news last night, it was the first time he felt a sense of crisis in his life.
“It was very late when we arrived at your father’s apartment last night and I didn’t know if you would be awake yet. I thought you might be hungry so I ordered something to eat. I didn’t know if you liked Western food or Chinese, so I ordered both. The security will let you know when the delivery is ready. Eat and rest. I will pick you up around ten o’clock.”
“Okay, thank you.” Yin Chang said then hung up the phone. He glanced around and decided to give up searching through his father’s desk. He straightened up the papers then walked out.
A short while later, the security guards delivered the food. With a slight bow, he thanked them and closed the front door. At the entrance, a pair of children’s slippers caught his attention suddenly. He stretched out his leg to align his foot next to them. Clearly, they were slippers for a boy in their teens. Suspicious, Yin Chang worried.
Returning to the living room, Yin Chang sat down on the sofa and suddenly noticed another peculiar thing. Next to the coffee table lay a new box of Lego building set.
In foreign countries, Lego wasn’t exclusively meant for children. Many adults build large sets as a way of destressing and relaxation, but Yin Chang didn’t think Yin Dong would have such a hobby. As he unwrapped his food, he anxious thoughts ran wild.
Yang Jiajia was very thoughtful. There were two food options. One bag had Hong Kong-style porridge, fried dumplings and soybean milk. The other had a sandwich and freshly squeezed juice. While Yin Chang reached in to grab the sandwich, the phone rang again. This time, instead of a regular phone call, it was a video call on Skype.
When he pressed the ON button, his friend appeared on the screen. “Hey Bro, are you back in China? Let me see where you are now.”
The blond youth, approximately the same age as Yin Chang was the boy he had a dispute with years ago. Since then, they had become good friends. His name was Evan and he was the only foreign student to know who Yin Chang really was.
“I’m at my dad’s house.” Yin Chang raised his cell phone up and showed him around the environment.
“Looks empty. Is anyone there with you?” Evan asked, full of concern.
“No, it’s just me.”
Evan commented: “You look tired.”
Yin Chang didn’t deny it: “I am very tired.”
With sympathy, Evan said: “My poor Bro. I’m sorry for what happened to you, but everyone has to move on. You and your father usually didn’t see each other very much, right? Just treat it as him going to another place. Yes, he’s gone to heaven so you can cheer up a little.”
“I know.” Yin Chang replied then bit into his sandwich. Chewing, he mulled over the clues he found at his father’s house and couldn’t help telling his friend about the details he saw: “I think there is something going on with my dad.”
Evan: “What’s wrong?”
Yin Chang glanced at the Lego set at his feet: “Well, there are some things here grown men wouldn’t be using.”
Evan smirked. “So, it’s for women then? Did your father have someone he was seeing?”
“No.” If it was a woman, Yin Chang would feel relieved. He always felt that Yin Dong was too lonely. For all these years, there wasn’t even gossip about a girlfriend. Yin Chang wanted him to find another to be his stepmom. He used to think Yao Manhuai would be a great match, but they never were anything more than friends.
Evan asked: “What things are you talking about?”
“Kids’ stuff, ” he replied and pointed the camera at the Lego box. “Also, there are pair of small slippers here. The guest room has cartoon bedding, not to mention the kid toothbrushes in the bathroom. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was kid toothpaste and shampoo someplace as well. I don’t think this stuff is supposed to be for me.”
Evan laughed: “Well then, does your father have an illegitimate child?”
Almost spurting out his mouthful of food, Yin Chang choked and coughed. Evan gave voice to the suspicion he had growing in his heart. While he took a few moments to regain his thoughts, he closed his eyes to speculate. These items were for a child older than eight. Except for Yao Manhuai, he hasn’t seen a woman in his father’s life at all, so how was it possible to have an illegitimate child?
Convincing himself, Yin Chang told Evan: “Well, even if there are these toys here, there isn’t any presence of a child living here. The apartment is too stark and tidy for that.”
Evan: “Well, maybe it’s a child of a friend of your father’s?”
“Probably.” Yin Chang also felt like the possibility was more likely.
Evan asked: “When are you coming back?”
Yin Chang: “I can’t come back for the time being. There are too many things here that I need to take care of. My father is gone and now I have to take responsibility and deal with it.”
Evan: “Congratulations! You can no longer be such a carefree little boy anymore.”
Yin Chang smirked: “Don’t make fun of me. I’ve never been a little boy.”
Evan: “Okay, okay. You are very big…… So, are you feeling a little better after talking with me?”
Yin Chang said dryly: “Nope.”
After hanging up the phone, in fact, Yin Chang did feel a little better. Although concerned, Evan wasn’t overly intrusive about the details of the incident. His simple yet normal phone conversation alleviated Yin Chang’s unexplainable uneasiness.