The Untold Story - Chapter 9

Published at 21st of December 2018 09:58:59 AM

Chapter 9

After driving for almost an hour, Yang Zhao arrived at the Golden Huaken . Yang Zhao parked her car in the parking garage, picked up the fake leg, and carried it home .

This being her first time lugging a hunk of leg home, she took the most deserted route possible .

”So heavy…” Within minutes, Yang Zhao’s arms were protesting from the effort . “Just what is this made of?” she mused . She lifted her free hand and knocked on the limb . It gave a low, dull thunk . Not high quality material then, she decided .


Once home, she rested the leg against the corner of the wall, setting it upright . She stood beside the fake leg and compared it to her own, fascinated . Not surprisingly, the prosthetic leg was much longer than her own .

Yang Zhao studied it for some time, then sank into a sofa and lit a cigarette .

Half squinting, she gazed at the fake leg through the foggy tendrils of smoke, expression unreadable .


That night, Yang Zhao slept fitfully . She had a dream . It was a disjointed dream, full of strange, incomprehensible things . When she woke up and checked the time, she saw that it was only 3am .

Yang Zhao ran her fingers through her hair and sat up in pitch darkness .


Quiet as the Golden Huaken was during the day, it took on a mystical level during the night . As she sat there in the vacant room, disoriented from her sleep-fueled stupor, she was seized by a sudden feeling—that she was floating in the starry sky .


That cab driver… for reasons unknown even to herself, Yang Zhao thought of Chen Mingsheng .

In the short time they had spent with each other, one image stood out to Yang Zhao: that of Chen Mingsheng’s sleeping visage .


The first time she’d seen it was at her place, when he’d dropped off to sleep on the sofa after buying her medicine .

The second time was in the rehab center, while he was on the drip .

Then, while she was driving him home, it happened again .


It seemed that for the past two days, all Chen Mingsheng did was sleep .


“Ah…” Yang Zhao murmured softly into the darkness, “might have been speaking too little…”


Yang Zhao sat till daybreak . Incredibly, she did not feel an ounce of fatigue, only a brimming, boundless energy .


She was waiting .

—Waiting for Chen Mingsheng .


Yang Zhao knew Chen Mingsheng would come looking for her . He did not look like the type to have so much spare dough to blow on another prosthetic leg . Besides, he could not drive his cab without putting on his prosthetics .

True to expectations, her wait was not in vain—he arrived, just shy of eight o’clock in the morning .


Having no access card nor knowledge of the door’s security number, the only way he could contact Yang Zhao was via the condominium’s security guard .

Yang Zhao kept his prosthetic leg away and went down personally to meet him .  


“Ms Yang…”’

When Yang Zhao saw Chen Mingsheng again, he had changed into a fresh set of clothes: a grayish blue long-sleeved sweatshirt and linen trousers . His right trouser leg was pulled up high and clipped to his belt .

Heedless of the seasonal chill, Chen Mingsheng had dressed lightly .

Yang Zhao thanked the security guard and said to Chen Mingsheng, “Let’s head up . ”

Chen Mingsheng clutched his crutch . “Ms Yang, I…”

“It’s Yang Zhao . ”


Yang Zhao was dressed very casually . On her feet she had on a pair of sandals, while her pitch black hair tumbled past her shoulders, highlighting her smooth fair neck .

Chen Mingsheng nodded slightly and followed behind Yang Zhao .


When she entered her apartment, Chen Mingsheng did not follow suit .

Yang Zhao turned back, looked at him, and said, “Come in . ”

Chen Mingsheng said, “I won’t be going in . I’m leaving after getting my stuff . ”

Yang Zhao folded her arms across her chest and regarded him . “If you don’t come in, how’re you going to get your stuff?”



Without another word Yang Zhao turned and went into the bedroom, leaving Chen Mingsheng standing there awkwardly, mulling over this dilemma .

Entering the apartment meant removing his shoes, but doing so was not a simple matter . It meant sitting on the ground, yet he had no desire to have direct contact with the ground .

Yang Zhao re-emerged from her bedroom some time later, having changed into a skirt . It was a dark green skirt—long enough to brush her ankles—with a simple but flattering design .

Chen Mingsheng’s black eyes contemplated Yang Zhao in silence .


Yang Zhao took a sip from her mug . “What’s the matter?” she asked mildly .

Chen Mingsheng’s voice was deep and stiff, “I’m not going in . Where’s my prosthetic leg?”

Yang Zhao set her mug down . “Don’t misunderstand . I bear you no ill will . You haven’t recovered enough to start driving now . ”

Chen Mingsheng furrowed his brows .

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Yang Zhao continued, “I’ll return your prosthetic leg to you once you’ve recovered enough . ”

For a long while, Chen Mingsheng gazed at Yang Zhao . He said quietly, “Don’t you think you’re being a little too nosy?”

“Think what you like . ”


Chen Mingsheng’s face colored with anger .

“Where’s my leg?”

“You’ll have to come inside if you want to find it . ”

“What exactly do you want of me?”

Yang Zhao took a few steps forward and stopped before Chen Mingsheng .

“To come in and have a seat . ”

Chen Mingsheng frowned as he looked at Yang Zhao . Yang Zhao was bare-faced, free of makeup . She was not considered beautiful, but there was something unique about her bearing, icy and cool, and it had a way of drawing people in .

Chen Mingsheng gripped his crutch, unmoving .

Yang Zhao lifted her eyes to him and said coolly, “Don’t bother taking off your shoes . You can enter like this . ”

“Give it back . ”

Yang Zhao arched her brow .


Chen Mingsheng’s face was all hard lines and distinct planes . He looked at Yang Zhao and gritted, ”Give it back . ”

Seeing the way Chen Mingsheng was now, Yang Zhao could not help but laugh lightly .

“You’re really stubborn . ”

“I don’t want to pick a fight with you . Just give it back . ”

Yang Zhao crossed her arms across her chest, took two steps back and stood firm .

“And if I don’t? How would you intend to pick a fight with me? Do you hit women?”

Chen Mingsheng had enough . “Are you sick in the head?” he snapped . “What can you do with that fake leg?”

“Get you to come . ”

Chen Mingsheng jerked his head up .


No matter what Yang Zhao said, she assumed the same expression, the same tone . She looked levelly at Chen Mingsheng and repeated, “Come in and have a seat . ”


An untimely thought came to Chen Mingsheng: when two nut jobs argue, the winner is surely the nuttier job .


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He limped inside and sat on that scarlet sofa while Yang Zhao turned and disappeared into the kitchen .

Chen Mingsheng sat dully and looked around . No prosthetics in sight .

Not that he was surprised . If she had hidden it away on purpose, there was no way he’d be able to find it so easily .


Some time passed, but Yang Zhao did not appear . Chen Mingsheng hesitated and debated if he should call out to her . If so, how should he address her? Ms Yang? Or Yang Zhao?

He was not willing to call either . All he wanted to do now was retrieve his leg and leave as soon as possible .

Just when his patience was at its limit, Yang Zhao brisk walked out of her kitchen and stared at Chen Mingsheng .

Baffled, Chen Mingsheng asked, “Did something happen?”

Yang Zhao asked, “How did you manage to get the fire going?”


Yang Zhao motioned toward the kitchen behind her and said, “Yesterday, how did you boil the water? Why can’t I turn the stove on?”


“Did it break down yesterday?”

Chen Mingsheng was struck speechless by this woman . He hooked up his crutch, used it to push himself onto his feet, and closed in on her in two strides . Yang Zhao noted with surprise that Chen Mingsheng’s strides were huge, despite only having one leg .

Yang Zhao brought up the rear as Chen Mingsheng entered the kitchen . She spoke while walking, “I tried lighting it up many times, but it wouldn’t work . Didn’t even make a sound . ” Wordlessly, Chen Mingsheng went over and gave the stove knob a twist .

“It doesn’t work, right?”


“Wait here, I’ll give the manufacturer a call . It’s still under warranty . ”

“You didn’t turn on the gas . ”


Chen Mingsheng pointed at the lower kitchen cabinets with his finger . “The gas valve isn’t turned on . You can’t light a fire like this . ”

”Gas valve?” Yang Zhao frowned, her puzzled eyes taking on a serious cast . “Where?” Chen Mingsheng pointed twice at the same spot again .

Yang Zhao bypassed him, opened the cabinet, and crouched like a cat . She peered inside .

“Which is it?”

”The blue one . Pull it across . “

“I see it,” said Yang Zhao . She straightened up, gathered her skirt into a bunch, and dropped down cat-like again . Her skirt spilled out across the floor as before .

Chen Mingsheng sighed, clasped Yang Zhao’s arms and pulled her aside .


”I’ll do it . ”

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After Yang Zhao was pulled aside, Chen Mingsheng passed his crutch to Yang Zhao . Yang Zhao accepted it automatically . Chen Mingsheng squatted on one leg and reached into the cabinet . Within half a second, without doing any form of checking, he was standing up again .


“Done . ”

Yang Zhao passed him his crutch . Chen Mingsheng shot her a look . “What’s the fire for?”

“To heat up the milk . ”

Chen Mingsheng had to ask, “Do you usually drink milk hot?”

“Not when it’s hot . ” She lifted the milk pot from the kitchen counter and raised it for Chen Mingsheng to see . “Since you found the milk pot yesterday, I bought some milk this morning to test it out . ”


Yang Zhao returned to the stove, emptied a bottle of milk into the milk pot, and tried lighting it again . She twisted the knob about . Nothing .

Yang Zhao opened the cabinet . “Maybe it wasn’t turned on yet . ”

Struck speechless once again, Chen Mingsheng gave up observing from the sidelines . He closed the cabinet, held down the stove knob, and gave it a twist . A tongue of flame leapt to life with a ‘pop’ .

“Eh?” Yang Zhao flicked a glance at Chen Mingsheng . “What’s going on? It worked the moment you tried . ”

Chen Mingsheng said, “Hold it down and twist . ”He pondered, then added to Yang Zhao as she continued her experimentation, ”What you just did was leak gas . Dangerous, that was . ”

Yang Zhao made a noise of acknowledgment and successfully started the fire .

“Well, that’s settled . ” She positioned the milk pot above the flames .


In all his years of living, Chen Mingsheng had never met a woman like that . He leaned against the kitchen’s countertop and asked Yang Zhao while she concentrated on her task, “You’ve never been in a kitchen before?”

Yang Zhao fixed her eyes upon the milk pot and answered, “Not this one . ” Then she added, “I know how to use the electric stove . ”

Chen Mingsheng asked, “So what did you renovate this kitchen for?”

“That wasn’t my doing . This is a showflat . I’m renting it .

“How do you normally eat?”

Yang Zhao looked at him . “Call for takeout . ”

Chen Mingsheng nodded and stopped talking .  


Before long, the milk started frothing and threatened to overflow . Yang Zhao set the milk pot aside and switched the fire off . She went to the living room to get a mug, poured half of the milk in, and handed it to Chen Mingsheng .

Chen Mingsheng shook his head . “Thanks, but I’ll pass . Keep it for yourself . ”

Yang Zhao said, “I don’t like milk . ”

Chen Mingsheng looked at Yang Zhao incredulously .

“So why did you get the milk if you don’t like it?”

“To test out the pot . ”