The wind caused the city to rattle. At night, the skies here would be clear and starry, and the smell of the sea would blow in. My mind would quiet down with the symphony of the night—the sounds of the wind, the sight of the stars, and the smell of the sea.
It was around the time when the evening lights were lit. I rolled out from underneath a car, covered in sweat because of the stuffiness, with oily stains on my palms. I would have never imagined myself doing this in the past. But now, I think it is good. After a day of work, I could enjoy venting through the ache and heat from my muscles.
I got up and grabbed a bottle of water to drink. Xiaohua gave my arm muscles a few bumps with his fist and said, “Brother Yu, you’re a man among men, a fighter jet among men! I’m really curious about what you did before this? You’re so smart, able to fix any machine or car after giving the manual a read. You’re just like a computer!”
I chuckled and answered, “That’s because they all have the same principles.”
Xiaohua and several other repairmen showed helpless smiles. One of them asked, “Brother Yu, let me guess, were you a policeman or a soldier? Is that why you’re so manly and capable?”
“No, I think he’s a professional race car driver,” Xiaohua said with the desire to stir up trouble. “How else can he be so good with cars? These cars are like brother Yu’s women, allowing him to bend them over freely.”
All the men let out wicked smiles, mocking the fact that I had no woman to call my own. I laughed out too and pulled out a cigarette from my T-shirt. Xiaohua helped me light it up.
When there was no work, I would sit in the shop and smoke. When the nicotine infiltrated my lungs from my nose, it brought me excitement with a hint of dryness. It allowed me to be a little self-indulgent and sober.
I never smoked in the past. Yet, Xiaohua now thinks that I am a longtime smoker. In fact, I would finish a pack of Yuxi in a day.
Leaning against the wall, I looked at the distant stars through the cracks in the ceiling with squinted eyes. It is said that people will become stars after they die, looking down at the people that loved them. There were so many stars in Dali’s night sky, but I had no idea which one was mine.
Xiaohua nudged me with his elbow and whistled.
That was how I saw her again.
A bright orange Mini SUV came in with a young and slender woman in the driver's seat.
“She’s pretty cute,” Xiaohua muttered. The other repairmen also looked at her.
I too looked over with a fixed gaze.
She had a head of long, thick, and jet black hair; it seemed like she never carefully took care of it and always had a lazy look. For example, she currently only used a rubber band to loosely tie up her hair. She was exactly like the last time I met her. Her face was delicate, and her eyes were particularly black and moving. Her temperament was far more sophisticated. After closing the car door, she raised her hand and inserted it into her pants pocket. She was like a young girl and a mature woman at the same time.
I noticed her arms, but I had noticed them last time. She wore a simple but unique T-shirt, light gray with a winding, difficult-to-understand image printed on it. Wrinkled sleeves draped over her thin arms. Pale skin and a fit body, she looked pure and sexy at the same time.
I never expected Xiaohua to ask me to go fix her car. After calling for me, Xiaohua winked at me; it was definitely on purpose. At that moment, I felt like someone had poked me in the chest with a stick. I finished smoking my cigarette, threw it into the bin, and stood up.
She did not recognize me.
Holding a mobile phone, she stood by the car. After taking a glance at me, she quickly lowered her head. She wore a somewhat reserved and slightly distracted expression. Her gaze seemed cold, yet her cheeks had a trace of red.
It was the same expression she had when we first met.
My long lost feelings of happiness suddenly surged from my heart. However, I did not want her to recognize me anymore. I leaned over and bent down to check her car.
She finally noticed something and decided to take action while making no effort to hide it. I listened to her distinct footsteps, circling around me slowly and carefully observing me. At last, she came right in front of me and looked at my face with her head turned slightly.
I looked up at her.
At that moment, her face became filled with a blend of expressions—astonishment, skepticism, and perplexity.
Good. She remembers me. The slightest feeling of tenderness surged from my heart because of this recognition. But, I knew she was a smart lady, straightforward with little sophistication. Since I did not want her to recognize me, I put on a calm and impassive face and continued to repair the car.
There are no obligations, but every bit of support helps, especially to help pay for editors and my bills.