Tea Leaves and Diamond Bracelets

Quiet Afternoon, Little Bean's Future, and Yao's Past Life

Match Twenty-Seven: Quiet Afternoon, Little Bean’s Future, and Yao’s Past Life:

-Ju-

I love afternoons like this. We don’t have to do much. All of our businesses are smooth sailing. Hen-to and Fei are keeping tabs on my uncle and Junjie. Those two haven’t done anything yet. (I wouldn’t hold my breath, but I don’t want to think about them right now.) Yao and I just have the house to myself. I am about to be four months into this pregnancy. Little Bean is doing fine.

I walked into my living room and found Yao sitting on the couch. I smiled and came up behind him.

“Hey,” I whispered, hugging him from behind. Yao turned and looked up at me. I giggled.

“Did you just get up?” he asked.

“Nah,” I said. “I’ve been up for quite some time. What are you doing today?”

“Nothing,” Yao said. “You?” I shook my head.

“I don’t feel like doing anything either,” I said. “Hey, let’s do nothing together today.” I came around and sat down next to him. I broke into a little smile.

“You’re in an upbeat mood today,” Yao said. “Anything good happen lately?”

“Not really,” I said. I leaned my head on his shoulder. “Love you.” He patted me on the hand.

“I love you too,” Yao said. The silence in the living room put me at ease. The clock in the background reminded me of old times in the house. I would play in the hall while father held meetings in his office. Sometimes, I would peek in and see what was going on. Someone would always have their back to me, blocking my view though.

Come to think of it, not much has changed about this house. It looked the same as it did in the 90′s. Still, I notice more and more things about it.

“Yao,” I said.

“Hm?” he asked.

“Were the walls in here always this blue?” I asked. I pressed my hand to my stomach. Yao took a look around for himself.

“I don’t think so,” he said.

“Hm…” I said. I could already hear our child’s laughter filling the living room. Little feet running across the floor. When was the last time the living room floor was covered in toys?

“The house is going to be noisy again,” I said.

“Yeah,” Yao said. “Hen-to said it would be funny if we had twins.” I turned to him with big eyes.

“What?!” I shouted. “Why would he wish that on me?!” Yao patted me on the head.

“I can’t see two babies in the house,” I said. I shivered against him. He gave me a little smile.

“You’ll do go no matter how many children we have,” Yao said.

“I jut want one baby, thank you!” I said. He laughed at how red my face became.

“It’s not funny,” I complained.

“But seriously, you will be a great mother,” Yao said. I stared at him.

“You think so?” I asked. He put his arm around my shoulders.

“I know,” Yao said. I looked out our front window.

“Do you ever wonder what Little Bean will be like when they grow up?” I asked.

“Sometimes,” he said. I moved my hand from my belly.

“They will have to lead the clan after we are dead,” I said. “The cycle will not end. I took up the job from my father. Little Bean will take up the job from us. Then their children will take the job. Same their children and so on and so far.” I sighed and dropped my shoulders.

“What’s the matter?” Yao asked.

“It’s kind of a sad existence if you think about it,” I said. “You have no other career choices in life. You are born here. You will live most of your life here. And you will die here. Father died in this house. I will die in this house our descendants will die in this house.” I shook my head.

“I’m sorry if I am sounding so depressing,” I said.

“Not at all,” Yao said. “That’s just how it is.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Still, I love to think of what life he could have outside of the clan.”

“It’s nice to dream,” he said. I thought about all of the toys piled into my old room. Half for a girl and half for a boy.

“The families keep fighting on whether Little Bean will be a boy or a girl,” I said.

“Well, what do you want them to be?” Yao asked. I thought about it for a moment. And then I shrugged and shook my head.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I guess we’ll have to see when the baby is born.”

“I’m actually surprised by that,” he said. “Usually, your generation wants to know what you’re having before the child is born.” I shrugged again.

“I guess I am old-fashioned in that way,” I said. “I took your last name and now I am not going to know what Little Bean is until they are born.”

“But you kept the name of the clan,” he said.

“Yeah,” I said, nodding. “It’s been in that tradition and I don’t feel the need to change it. I will do my best as the first female clan leader though.” I noticed the worried look on Yao’s face.

“Something wrong?” I asked.

“Do you believe in past lives?” he asked in a low voice.

“Okay… that came out of nowhere,” I said.

“Do you?” Yao asked.

“I can’t speak that I do,” I said. “Why do you ask?” Yao started trembling.

“Honey?” I asked. Yao trembled as I reached for his shoulder.

“I worked in a restaurant,” he said in a low voice.

“Huh?” I asked. Yao grabbed my hand.

“I worked in a restaurant in the 1930′s,” he said. “I was a child and my family lived in a poor village. I had to go to work to support them.”

“Yao…” I said.

“No, listen!” Yao said. He trembled with his hand over mine. He lowered his gaze. “I worked day and night for little pay. We barely had anything to eat at times. We even had to sleep in the kitchen.”

“We?” I asked. He nodded.

“So… There were other kids there?”

“Yes.”

“What happened to you?”

“We all died.”

“No…”

“We were caught in a structure fire. We were locked in the kitchen. We couldn’t get out.” He pounded his fists in the air as if beating on a heavy door.

“We couldn’t get out. They had us locked inside. No one could hear us screaming. And then… And then…” I rubbed his back.

“Shhh… It’s okay,” I whispered. “You’re hear with me. You are not trapped in the fire. You’re here with me.” I pulled him into my arms. Yao broke down trembling.

“There, there,” I whispered. My own stomach turned. Was that what Man was talking about? I needed to call him as soon as possible. It was then I noticed Yao staring me straight in the eye.

“Please don’t leave me?” he asked. I pressed my lips together.

“I won’t,” I whispered. He rested his head against my chest.

“Thank you,” he whispered.

“When did you start to remember this past life?” I asked.

“Just before you got pregnant,” Yao said.

“And you don’t know why now?”

“No.”

“Oh…”

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