Hard to Escape - novelonlinefull.com
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At first it was just a slight headache. I tossed and turned in bed, thinking it was the alcohol. But gradually, I felt that something was off. Unrelenting waves of pain washed over me, accompanied by fragmented images.
It was a narrow, cramped room, the air damp, humid, and so hot and stuffy that my body seemed to recall the uncomfortable feeling of the sticky sweat on my skin. And it also recalled some barely suppressed longing in my heart that seemed to be on the verge of bursting forth. Someone with their finger pointed at me was harshly reprimanding me for something, as I sat, injured, on the ground. Yet when I tried to watch more of this scene, when I wanted to see the face of the person scolding me more clearly, the turbulent waves of memory washing over me dissipated. Just like how, once the hurricane pa.s.ses, the churning seas once again smooth over into stillness as if the storm had never happened.
Then the scene once again shifted, into the rolling thunder of applause and bright flashes of light, like streaks of lightning. But this image quickly flashed past, and what took its place was a disordered courtyard. In the distance loomed the monstrous figure of a clock tower, its mottled walls painted in a saffron yellow. Yet that bright color failed to brighten its surroundings, and I could hear the sound of suppressed crying, I could feel the pangs of constant hunger, and I could feel the panic of knowing that these raggedy clothes, already insufficient for warmth, couldn’t ward off the colder chills of winter. The source of these emotions seemed to be my very own body, and I also felt, above all, a burning desperation to leave this place.
Once these images flickered away, the throbbing pain in my head only worsened. I held my head started to whimper. I knew that these must be my past memories, but they were too convoluted, too painful, and too oppressive. A scattered array of emotions poured over me as the memories flashed in my mind, following no order of time or logic. They all overwhelmed me in a single moment, drowning me.
I remembered a syringe being swiftly injected, the pain of falling down over and over, and someone looking at me with an expectant and prideful look in their eye. Some hated me, others adored me. Then the images and accompanying emotions disappeared, leaving me with a deep loneliness, resentment, and loss.
But my memories seemed to end at this point. I couldn’t string them into something that made sense. I couldn’t even comprehend what it was that I resented so much. Various faces flashed through my mind, all with different expressions and different features. They seemed to be trying to tell me something. Every face seemed to say, "Do you know who you are?"
Ah yes, who am I? Who really am I? And who really are you guys? But my mind seemed to be empty. No matter how hard I tried to find the answer, it was all futile.
I couldn't remember, I really couldn't remember, and the intense headache that came with my memories hurt so much that I wanted to die. As soon as I tried to recall anything, a deep pain that penetrated me to my very bones with almost a murderous intent eliminated all my other thoughts.
I huddled on the bed, finally unable to endure any longer. I began to scream loudly, "Stop it! Stop it!" The thunderstorm was still raging outside. I took a deep breath, and my pajamas were already soaked through with sweat. I felt like a fish scooped right out of the fryer, in a sorry state and on the brink of death. But my headache and memories showed no mercy. An endless kaleidoscope of images twisted and morphed in my mind at a speed and strength I couldn't withstand. Reality seemed to fold into itself.
I started banging my head against the wall in an attempt to drive out the pain.
As my head smashed into the wall, I finally felt like I returned to Earth again, but my body still didn’t feel like my own. I numbly gripped my head and continued to bring my head forwards. Then, my head slammed against something softer than the wall. Above me, I indistinctly heard something shouting my name.
He called: "Yan Xiao! Yan Xiao!" His voice was clear and strong.
I lifted my head and saw Yin Li's handsome face. His eyes lacked their usual coldness and were filled with anxious worry instead. But my vision hadn’t completely focused yet I and stared blankly at him, and then proceeded to hit my head with my hand. The unbearable pain seemed to have seeped into my very core, but what caused me greater despair were the fragmented images of my old memories. They made me doubt my own existence.
"Just kill me already, Just kill me." I cradled my head and thrashed about in Yin Li's arms. Then I felt him move, at first with some hesitation, but then finally he seemed to find his resolve, and tenderly yet firmly he cupped my face with his hands.
He hugged me tighter, as if to protect me. Then he softly stroked my head, as if to check for wounds. In his secure embrace, I could no longer bang my head against the wall and continue to hurt myself.
"Yan Xiao, don't be scared. I'm here." He continued to hold me in his arms, and then as if to placate me he kissed the ends of my hair. The warmth of his lips seemed to permeate to my very soul, carrying a strange yet strong power. I started trying to stop the flow of those memories, and curb my desire to inflict injury upon myself.
Because his embrace grounded me in reality more than slamming my head into the wall, Yin Li made me feel like my existence really was legitimate.
I desperately needed a piece of driftwood to keep afloat, and in this vast ocean, I only had Yin Li. Yes, I was Yan Xiao. I was Yin Li's fiancée. I knew who I was, and one day, I would come to remember the others too.
When Yin Li saw me calm down, he finally loosened his embrace. He put his forehead to mine, as if to check my temperature. Then his black eyes fixed on me. "Tell me what happened, Yan Xiao. Did you remember something?"
I lay in his arms and struggled to say, "Yeah, but only some pieces. I don't remember what they were about."
"Was I in those pieces?"
"I don't remember. I feel awful. If recovering my memories is this painful, I'd rather not." I nestled my head in the crook of his arm and spoke weakly. In reality, I didn't dare tell Yin Li that in those memories, he didn't exist, matters pertaining to him didn’t exist. There wasn't a single trace of his existence.
Fortunately, Yin Li didn't continue to question me. He simply rubbed my back to comfort me. "Then don't think about it." His expression cooled and he once again became the infallible Yin Li, who I couldn't read. I was too stupid, and Yin Li was too smart. I couldn't even tell which smile of his was sincere and which emotions he let through were real. People like him had complete mastery over their expressions and bearings.
But I didn't bother dwelling on that point. I was still struggling to free myself from those memories. Yin Li lowered me onto the bed and tucked me into the blankets. He turned around, apparently on his way out, so I grabbed his hand in a pleading manner. I didn't want to be alone.
Yin Li looked taken aback for a moment, but then his face smoothed back into its usual expression and he bent down by the side of my bed. His hand continued to hold mine in its grip as he said, "I'm here."
I lay in bed, staring into his eyes, trying to guess what he might be feeling. Yin Li's hand was warm and dry. This time, I didn’t get a headache. Though things still felt slightly surreal, I fell asleep at last.
Candle: This section was so emotional and moving that I didn’t have the heart to stick a translator note in the middle, even if it were greyed-out and sized-down… so here it is now! It’s honestly a bit of an unusual metaphor for the situation haha. I hope it didn’t break anyone else’s immersion in the scene ^^;; I definitely did a double take when I saw it >__>
从油锅里捞起来的鱼 (“a fish scooped out of the fryer”) isn’t an idiom to the best of my/Niang Niang’s knowledge, it’s a metaphor for Yan Xiao’s pain. Maybe the author was feeling hungry when she wrote this chapter…
How it goes down when Yin Li tucks Yan Xiao in bed:
[Yin Li pulls the blankets up to Yan Xiao’s chin]
Yan Xiao: TUCK IT TUCK IT TUCK IT DAWG
Yin Li: IM TUCKING IT DAWG IM TUCKING IT IM TUCKING IT