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“Hurry, hurry up! There are some complications with the birth; one of the twins is dying! We need to move fast!” Someone called out in the hospital’s maternity ward while rushing through the corridors.
A group of people kept flowing in and out of the delivery room as the healthy cries of a baby reverberated out of the room. But, while this child was closely embraced by their father, the other lay lifelessly on a surgery table.
The doctors and nurses surrounded the table as they initiated emergency procedures, and not long after, a weak scream came from the child. The mother, who was lying on the delivery table, tensed up and slowly exhaled a deep breath of air. She was exhausted, both mentally and physically, and her face looked fatigued.
The father, who was holding the other child in his trembling arms, handed the child over to one of the midwives and then collapsed on a nearby chair. It was clear that this had not been a simple birth, but at least now both children were alive and safe.
Time went by, and the two twins grew up. They were named Jiang Yingyue and Jiang Fengmian. Jiang Yingyue was a healthy girl who grew up strong and stubborn, while Fengmian was a sickly boy who had to spend most of his days at home or in the hospital.
When he finally went to kindergarten, he was often bullied because he looked like a girl, but when that happened, Jiang Yingyue would step up and protect him, often ending up in fights.
When Jiang Yingyue was five years old, she started training in martial arts. Every day, after kindergarten ended, she would go to the nearby dojo and train. This was the place where she met her new best friends, Li Qiang and Zhou Yan. The two boys were also training there frequently, and the three of them shortly became very close, even ending up going to the same school after kindergarten.
In the beginning, they would protect Jiang Fengmian together with Jiang Yingyue when people tried to bully him. But as time went on, Jiang Fengmian became weaker and weaker. He could no longer leave their home, and every night Jiang Yingyue would stay together with him; they often slept together in the same bed, and she told him stories about the events that happened in the outside world.
Jiang Fengmian was now always at home, so he did not get much interaction with the outside world except for the stories he heard from his sister, but he never envied her. He always listened to her stories with great curiosity, and his eyes would always be glowing with wonder and amazement.
Jiang Yingyue started going to school soon after, and she found out that Li Qiang and Zhou Yan were in the same class as her; and because of their friendship, they were soon known as the three musketeers. Everyone tried to get closer to them, but because of their years of childhood friendship, it was impossible to get anywhere between them.
Some of the children tried to bully Jiang Yingyue, but because of her stubbornness and strength, no one managed to succeed. She was also always supported by Lin Qiang and Zhou Yan, so no one could even get close to her.
“It is your ninth birthday in a few days,” Zhou Yan said with a smile on his face as he was looking at Jiang Yingyue, who was casually skimming through their math textbook. Her chin was resting on her palm while her other hand flipped the pages casually.
When she lifted her head, the long black hair that framed her feminine and adorable face left a longstanding impression on everyone in their class. Zhou Yan and Lin Qiang both smiled at her and pulled over their chairs to sit down by her table.
“I am going to celebrate with Fengmian,” Jiang Yingyue said with a smile on her face. “I am going to skip the training on that day. I just want to be together with my brother.”
The two friends exchanged glances and nodded their heads with a smile. Since they had become Jiang Yingyue’s friends, they knew that she treasured every moment she spent with her twin brother. Although he was sickly and rarely stepped out of his room, she and her twin brother were closer to each other than they were with anyone else. As a result of that, Jiang Yingyue was filled with excitement about planning the birthday that she and her brother shared.
“So what are you giving him this year?” Lin Qiang asked curiously. Jiang Yingyue flashed a brilliant smile at her friend. “I already have the perfect gift prepared for him,” she said with a serious face while nodding her head.
“Fengmian is always locked up in the house because of his condition, so he does not have the strength to go outside. I have taken pictures of everything in my everyday life, and I am going to gift him a photo album with all the places I have been telling him about all the time.”
“So that’s why you have been taking pictures all the time recently. I was wondering what was going on with that.” Zhou Yan chuckled with a nod of his head.
“I don’t get a lot of pocket money.” Jiang Yingyue sighed. “My parents are hard-strapped with paying for the medicinal bills and my tuition on top of that. All I can do is work hard to make Fengmian smile.” Jiang Yingyue smiled so brightly that it made her look much more mature than an almost nine-year-old child.
Soon, the bell rang and all the students rushed out of the classroom. Jiang Yingyue went with Lin Qiang and Zhou Yan to the dojo where the three of them trained together for a couple of hours before returning to their respective homes.
During the practice, Jiang Yingyue was unable to focus as she usually did. She was constantly preoccupied, and she had a nagging feeling in her heart that kept making her feel uncomfortable.
Jiang Yingyue was eager to go home. She felt restless and uncomfortable. There were only a few days left until their birthday, but at the same time, she felt as if something was wrong. Her nose was itching, and she felt as if she was walking on pins and needles.
A sudden panic erupted in her body, completely unexplainable, and her face paled like a sheet. She started running towards her home. She shoved the door open at her arrival and rushed up the stairs towards their room.
Usually, she would be calm and collected, every step taken gently and cautiously, so as to not cause any panic for Jiang Fengmian, but right now she was gripped by an unexplainable fear that something was wrong. When she burst into the room, her worst fears were proven right.
Inside, her mother and father were sitting down with tears streaming down their eyes and holding onto a limp and lifeless Jiang Fengmian.
A smile hung on his pale lips, curved into a sad smile filled with exhaustion. This expression would be forever carved into Jiang Yingyue’s mind as the world before her eyes blackened and she collapsed on the floor.
The cause of death was proven to be a virus that would give most people a simple cold, but because of Jiang Fengmian’s weak health, it had proven lethal to him.
When Jiang Yingyue woke up again, she could barely breathe. She felt as if someone had taken a knife and twisted it inside her heart, and at the same time emptied her entire mind.
All she could think about was that her Fengmian was gone. She felt as if she had lost her own life, and she was feeling listless and depressed. She never cried, but the sadness within her had taken root and refused to let go.
The world which had previously seemed full of color and happiness was suddenly grey, and she did not believe that she would ever feel happiness again.
Lin Qiang and Zhou Yan often came to visit her, but they always found her sitting on the bed in her bedroom looking out the window with an empty gaze. She would not even look at them anymore, nor would she speak.
She felt that without Jiang Fengmian in her life, she had no reason to continue living.
When the funeral was held, very few people were gathered together and said their farewell to Jiang Fengmian. Their family was not big, and there were only a few friends present.
It was a grey day, and the rain fell heavily from the sky, blanketing the entire entourage in a heavy atmosphere. No one interrupted the priest who held the sermon and spoke about how Jiang Fengmian had been weakly from birth but had experienced the love of a family; that although he died young, he was fortunate, and that now he would return to the embrace of God.
Jiang Yingyue felt it all to be very ironic. Although she wished for him to be in a better place, she was aware that it was impossible. Death only meant that one vanished from this world, and this was something that frightened her. How could she ever allow Jiang Fengmian to vanish, to be gone forever?
If time did indeed heal every wound, would it also mean that as time went by, she would eventually forget about him too? That she would be happy and live a great life without thinking about the twin brother who meant the most to her? She could not accept it.
Jiang Yingyue was like a ghost. Her entire world was destroyed, and she felt as if she had lost half her life, half her soul, half of everything she was. She often went to the grave to offer her respects, or to just spend time together with her brother who was now far away from her.
“Darling, we already lost one child. We cannot lose our second one!” One day, when Jiang Yingyue came back from the grave, she overheard her parents discussing her.
“I don’t know what to do,” her mother cried. “I love Fengmian and Yingyue with all my heart. We always knew that Fengmian’s life would not last long, but now even Yingyue has given up on living. What can we do to bring her back?”
Hearing the worry and sadness in her parents’ voices, Yingyue’s eyes finally focused again. Her eyes swept across the staircase and went into the room where she had had all the precious memories of herself and her brother.
Looking around, she found all of Fengmian’s clothes, and then she slowly dressed into these boy’s clothes. Afterwards, she went to the drawer and picked up a pair of scissors. After looking at them for a short while, she nodded her head with a determined look on her face.
“You are no longer alive,” she began speaking to herself while finding a mirror and sitting in front of it, “but that does not mean that the world should forget about you. I will live my life as Fengmian, and I will let Fengmian experience life outside this small house. I know that I will never be the real Fengmian, but as long as I can fill this painful hole in my chest, then I don’t care.”
Without hesitation, Jiang Yingyue took her long braided hair and started cutting it shorter and shorter using the scissors.
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