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Till the End

Chapter 2, Part I

Yi Ru couldn't believe how quickly her father and she could get along. After that incident of running out on him, he has turned around and is a good father. They would do most things together now; Xiao Yao even allowed her to come into Yue Ru's room with him. She would sit near him and he would tell her stories of her mother, his adventures with this sleeping lady, and stories of his other friends. She begins to understand his pain and regretted having thrown tantrums and humiliated him in front of the villagers. She apologized to him but he said it's his fault for not knowing how to be a father, and that everything was in the past now; they have a new start.

At times when little Yi Ru was alone, she would sit in her room and look at the candy that that lady had given her. She didn't dare eat it, because she thought if she did then there was no proof that she had met this lady; that it might have all been a dream. Even if it was a dream, she didn't want to wake up from it. To her, this lady was like an angel sent from heaven to come down and comfort her when she was so lonely and lost. She often imagined in her mind that this lady was her mother, and that the candy was a gift from her mother. She murmured to herself over and over, "Thank you mommy..." when she thought everyone was asleep, and that she was the only one awake in the night.

But one time Xiao Yao was walking by her room and heard her murmuring so he came up to her door. He was about to see why she was still up but stopped when he heard what she was saying. It pained him that Yi Ru could not grow up to know her mother, but hearing his child murmured these words only make it more painful. He opened the door and saw Yi Ru quickly put something behind her back.

"What are you hiding, little one?" He asked softly. Yi Ru shook her head to say nothing, but Xiao Yao gave her a knowing look and she slowly pulled out the candy from behind, and guiltily looked down. Xiao Yao eyed the candy then bent down to her. "Where'd you get that?" She glanced up at him then looked back down, biting her lower lip. She was struggling about to tell him or not; she did not want their relationship to turn bad again because of this.

"I... a lady gave it to me..." she said slowly, then looked up at him. She was relieved when he did not seemed angry, but just questioning.

"Who's the lady?" Xiao Yao asked. This made her look down again. This time she will make him mad for sure. "The one that... I lied to you about." Xiao Yao's eyes grew slightly bigger; he thought he knew who she was talking about. He grabbed her arms, but not too hard that it would hurt her.

"The one that talked to you before I found you at that corner?" he asked urgently. Yi Ru, thinking he is getting mad, nodded quickly but her freightened look made him let go. "I'm sorry... I didn't mean to scare you. But do you know who she is?" Yi Ru shook her head.

"She only told me not to tell anyone that I saw her, or she would get into trouble... or something like that. I'm sorry father, I didn't mean to lie to you..."

"Shh... it's ok. Do you remember what she looked like?"

"Yea... like... like... an angel!!!" Yi Ru smiled happily as she pictured that lady in her head. But Xiao Yao grew a bit impatient yet excited at the same time.

"Yi Ru, you need to try and describe her to me." Xiao Yao urged her as Yi Ru scratched her head. She definitely remembered how the lady looks but didn't know how to describe her. No words seemed to be able to fit the lady's description. The questionable look on her face told Xiao Yao that she couldn't tell him what the lady looked like. This made him disappointed, so his body slumped over and he sat flat on the ground. He stared endlessly at the ground, while deep in thought, and didn't even noticed that a tear had slipped down his face. Yi Ru did not want to see her father like this but what could she do? She quickly racked her brain for something to do, when she remembered that lady's words.

"Father, don't cry," she said as she wiped his tears. "No matter what happens, remember, don't cry." Xiao Yao's eyes lit up at those words and stared at her speechless. Yi Ru thought of what she could do next, so she smiled then tapped his nose. Xiao Yao's eyes grew bigger at this gesture and he grabbed her arms again.

"Who taught you to say that?" he asked her a bit roughly. "And show you... you... this...?" He tapped his own nose to indicate what he meant. Yi Ru, a little frightened at his outburst, stuttered a reply.

"It was... was... the same lady that... that... gave me this candy..."

"Really!?!?" Yi Ru quickly nodded. "Do you know what's her name? Where she lives? Does she know who you are?" On and on he asked her questions of this lady but Yi Ru just shook her head no. Running out of questions, and no answer, Xiao Yao got discouraged and sighed. He turned to Yi Ru and gave her a slight smile. He told her to go to sleep, then tucked her in and sat there watching her fall asleep. When she was sound asleep Xiao yao crept out of her room then walked out of the inn. He walked slowly as he looked up at the night sky with its full moon.

"Ling'er..." he whispered to the moon, "could it be that you're still alive?.... but.... how is that possible...........?"

Chapter 2, Part II

The following days, Xiao Yao spent many hours out in the streets to try and find Ling'er. He looked in this town and the surrounding towns too but he could not find his wife. Often he asked around if anyone had seen a really pretty girl with small eyes and a round oval-shaped face. He usually got a sarcastic answer like: "Wake up from your dream! Only angels can look that pretty!" or "Sorry, haven't had the honour to meet an angel."

Day after day, Xiao Yao walked home late in the night, disappointed, tired, dreary. His health was not helping him either, as he would often have coughing fits. Yi Ru was scared for her father; he sounded like he was dying each time he had a coughing fit. She didn't want him to be sick then die and leave her. He was her only blood-relative and the closest person to her. She urged him to go see the doctor but he kept saying that he was fine; that his throat was only itching. She didn't know what she could do for him, so she often went out to the bay and prayed.

"Oh Mighty Heaven, please make my father better," She was down on her knees in the sand, with closed eyes, praying to the gods. "Please do not give up on his life. Please don't take him away..." She went on asking them not to take Xiao Yao away and promised them many things in return until she felt a light tap on her shoulder. Yi Ru looked up into the beautiful lady's face and jumped up onto her feet; her face lit up into a big smile.

"It's you, Angel jie jie!" Yi Ru cried out to her as the lady bent down to her eye-level.

"Mei mei, you're looking better than the last time I saw you." The lady smiled back at her and tapped her on the nose. "Now were you praying that I was dead? Is that why I've turned into Angel jie jie now?" The lady teased her. Yi Ru did not get it so she was frantically trying to explain that she only thought the lady was as pretty as an angel would be. The lady laughed a little and said she was only teasing.

"Now, what were you doing though?" She asked as she walked over to a big rock and sat on it. Yi Ru followed her.

"I was praying for the gods not to take my father away."

"Why? What's wrong with him?" The lady asked her gently. Yi Ru looked down at the sand sadly.

"He always said he was fine but his coughing is getting worse each day. Sometimes I even hear him coughed through the whole night." She looked up at the lady, her eyes teared up. "I don't want him to die...." The lady looked at her for a second then pulled her into her arms.

"Oh honey, you will not lose him. Trust me..." Yi Ru sniffed as tears were spilling down her cheeks. "Now what did you promised me? Not to cry, remember?" The lady wiped Yi Ru's tears with her fingers. Then with Yi Ru's face in her hands she slowly lifted it up to her face, as they looked at each other. "Your father will be fine..." the lady said softly. Yi Ru did not know what it was, but just that look in the lady's eyes made her believed and trusted this person.

"He will always be there for you. Watch you grow up... watch you get married... He will die, and old... old man... with many grandchildren beside his bed surrounding him with love..." Yi Ru nodded to say she understood, and slowly smiled a little, as the lady wiped the last of her tears.

"Now... if you find wishing to the gods is not enough..." the lady continued while she bent down and snatched something off the sand. "Then wishing on this might do the trick." She opened Yi Ru's hand and placed a little pebble stone in her palm. Yi Ru eyed the stone a little confused. "Wish on this seed and when it sprout, then your wish will come true."

"But... it's a stone. How will it sprout?" The lady laughed a little and closed Yi Ru's hand around the stone, then enclosed her own hands around Yi Ru's little hand.

"If you believe in it, it will sprout. So wish real hard and believe in the powers that this little seed can do." Yi Ru nodded then smiled. "I would never lie to you, now would I?" Yi Ru shook her head then held up her pinky to the lady.

"A woman's word..." The lady smiled then linked her own pinky to Yi Ru's.

"A woman's word." They laughed together, and Yi Ru put the stone safely in her pocket. She suddenly remembered something.

"Angel jie jie..."

"Now, if we're going to be friends then you must call me by my name. Call me Xuan Ling. What's your name?"

"Yi Ru."

"That's a pretty name, little Yi Ru." Xuan Ling tapped Yi Ru's nose again.

"Xuan Ling jie jie, will you come home with me? My father have been trying to find you." Xuan Ling grew silent as she thought about it. "I'm sorry Xuan Ling jie jie, I know I promised you not to tell anyone I saw you, but father had saw you walked away so..."

"No, it's ok. You don't have to be sorry. But I don't get why he's trying to find me if we don't know each other?"

"He said that... you might be... mother..." Xuan Ling laughed lightly at this.

"That's not possible little Yi Ru. I've never even held a guy's hand before so how could I have gotten married and had this cute little girl here." Yi Ru stood up insisting that her father would not lie to her.

"Father said mother and him had always tapped each other's nose. And you're doing the same thing to me..."

"Oh honey, this tapping thing is just a habit I've had for as long as I can remember. Maybe your mother and I are just a little bit alike.... where is she though?" Yi Ru looked down.

"She's... dead..."

"Oh... I'm so sorry little Yi Ru."

"It's ok... she died when I was little. I never got to meet her."

"But if she's gone... then for sure I can't be the person your father is looking for." Yi Ru pouted and stomped her foot on the sand.

"Father wouldn't lie to me!" Xuan Ling looked at her, not knowing what to say or do. How could she be someone else and not know it; could Yi Ru's mother be so much like herself? "But I want you to be my mother..." Yi Ru whispered. Xuan Ling took the girl into her arms and comforted her.

"I promise you little Yi Ru, that we'll be the best of friends. And I will care for you like you're my own daughter. Ok?" Yi Ru hugged her back and whispered into her ear.

"Xie xie..."

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