Tea Leaves and Purple Robes

Family Outing, Visiting Friends, and a Message

Match Thirty-Three: Family Outing, Visiting Friends, and a Message:

-Ju-

This was Yao’s idea, really. I appreciate the gesture. I finished getting Jing dressed. Besides, he could use a nice day out. I made it down to the living room. Yao looked up from the couch.

“Ready to go?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said. My husband stood up.

“Let’s go,” he said. I settled Jing into his stroller and followed Yao out the door.


The morning was cool and wet for our autumn. I think it might have rained last night. The stroller wheels ran over the wet leaves below. I turned to Yao.

“What made you want to do this?” I asked. He shrugged his shoulders.

“Just felt like it,” he said.

“So where are we going?” I asked.

“Nowhere, really,” Yao said. “I just wanted to walk around the city.” I just nodded. I took a look around Beijing. Has this city always been so bright? I shielded my eyes.

“Since when has this city been so bright?” I asked.

“Bright?” Yao asked.

“Yes,” I said. “It’s too weird.”

“Heh,” was all he said.

“Heh,” I said back. I kept my eyes around us. It’s another busy day on the streets. Those women could be anywhere. It actually wouldn’t be too hard for them to disappear into the crowd. We were out in the open.

We stopped at a crosswalk. A group of children stood in front of us. For some reason, I started to count the little red hats.

“Fourteen,” I said.

“Huh? Fourteen?” Yao asked. I pointed around at the hats in front of us.

“Fourteen hats,” I said. Yao took a count for himself.

“Oh,” he said. The children crossed the street. We followed behind them. I almost wish that I had a camera to film my neighborhood. It would be like those videos of people walking around cities to film for relaxing their viewers. But I don’t have a YouTube channel. I would also probably get in trouble for filming for no reason. I felt Yao nudge me in the side. I whipped my head around.

“What?” I asked.

“See something interesting?” he asked. I smiled and shook my head.

“Nothing,” I said. Jing had been quiet up to this point.

Yao and I took the baby to the park. Because why not? I guess you just take your baby around the park when you to your baby out for the day. We walked along the walk path. I put my head on Yao’s shoulder. This is the first time that I’ve felt so relaxed in a while.

“Thank you for this,” I said.

“You’re welcome,” he said.

“Say, where are we going for lunch?” I asked. “I want some chicken.”

“What kind of chicken?”

“Hm… I want something sweet and spicy.”

Yao chuckled. “I’ll say what I can do.” I couldn’t help but smile.


We stopped at a local Szechuan diner. Yao, Jing, and I sat near the window. The rea alone made me smile.

“Mmm,” I said.

“Good?” Yao asked.

“Sort of,” I said. “This isn’t really my favorite tea.”

“Then why did you get this?” he asked. I shrugged and shook my head.

“Just felt like it,” I said. I took another sip of the tea. I shuddered as the dark liquid hit my tongue. We had Jing facing the café so that he could see everything. I took a napkin and wiped his little mouth. A teenage waiter came to our table.

“Welcome, are you ready to order?” he asked. I sat up straight.

“Chicken with white rice, please,” I said. The waiter wrote down my order.

“How hot do you want it?” he asked.

“I want to burn my mouth off,” I said. “I’m in the mood for fire.” That child took down the note.

“And you, sir?” he asked my husband. Yao looked at the menu.

“Twice-cooked pork,” he said. “White rice and mapo tofu.”

“How spicy do you want it?” the waiter asked.

“Really hot,” Yao said. The boy wrote down everything.

“Okay,” he said. “I’ll be right back.” The waiter turned and walked to the back. Yao squeezed my hand.

“What?” I asked. Yao didn’t say anything. He smiled at me instead. Our son cooed for attention. I turned and gently shushed him. Guess it’s time to feed him. I reached down and pulled out a fresh bottle for him. Our food arrived shortly after.


“Hey, can we stop by Tina’s place really quick?” I asked outside of the cafe. “I haven’t seen her in a while.” Yao took a moment to think about my request.

“I think we can do that,” he said.

“Yay!” I said as I clapped my hands together. “I love you so much! You are the best!” I wildly hugged my husband. Yao just patted me on the back.

“Yes, yes,” he said. I pulled out my phone and called Tina up.

“Hello?” she asked.

“Tina!” I said.

“Ju? It’s so good to hear from you!” Tina said. “How have you been?”

“Good,” I said. “Are you busy right now?”

“No, why?” she asked. I felt like flying up from the sky.

“Sweet!” I said. “We’ll be right there!”

“Okay, bye-bye,” Tina said.

“Bye,” I said. I hung up the phone grinning. I turned to Yao, holding up my phone.

“Shall we get going?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said. We headed off to Tina’s place with the baby in tow.


Yao and I made it up to Tina’s front door. I had to force myself to calm down as I rang the bell. I pulled the stroller back as the door opened. Tina stood six and a half months ago. We squealed like two hyper little girls. I happily hugged her. Yao just stood back and watched us. He shook his head to himself. Tina led me into her apartment. My husband pushed the stroller inside with him.

I don’t know how long we stayed at Tina’s apartment. I was just happy to be talking to my friend after so long. She and I had been so busy.

“Have you thought up names yet?” I asked. Tina shook her head.

“We can’t really decide,” she said.

“What do you think you are having?” I asked. My friend perked up.

“Mike and I decided not to find our until the baby’s born,” she said. I looked stunned for a moment before I perked up.

“That’s just what I did,” I said.

“Oh yeah, you did do that,” Tina said. The whole, Yao sat off to one side with Jing. He didn’t say a word. He just bounced the baby in his arms. Whether he was bored or not, I couldn’t tell. Mike wasn’t home at the time either. I think it was work or something. I didn’t ask. I was just happy to be talking to my friend again after many months.


My boys and I finally made it back home by nightfall. Honestly, I really did lose track of time. When I am with Tina, Mei, and or both, time just disappears. I don’t know how that happens. I stretched my arms above my head.

“Let’s just order in tonight,” I said. “I don’t feel like cooking tonight.”

“Fine by me,” Yao said. I made it into the living room when I noticed the light on the answering machine blinking. (Heh! An answering machine. My father bought that in the 90′s. Only his old clients and contacts use it. Somehow, I didn’t have the heart to throw it out.)

“Hm?” I asked. I couldn’t remember the last time anyone left a message on the answering machine. Who called while we were out? Curious, I walked over and pressed play.

“One new message,” the machine said.

“Hey, Liao-Xiānshēng,” an old man’s voice said. “We need to talk. Lady Fan is back. She will be coming to Beijing in two weeks’ time. I had to warn you before it was too late. I don’t know how you’re going to get out of this one. I wish you luck.”

“End of messages,” the machine said. It beeped as I stood there with a confused look on my face. Who was Lady Fan?

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