Chapter 10

They went out to eat for breakfast and got some sugar pancakes and soy milk. 

Ah Tou liked to have breakfast at the street stalls (1) because there were signs of human life there. If she were to eat at home, she would end up feeling sleepy again. Besides, seeing so many people awake in the early morning was really motivating and would make her feel all refreshed and prepared for the day. 

Liang Yanyan didn’t bring any extra clothes with her, so she picked out some larger ones from Ah Tou’s closet, although they still looked small on her. Ah Tou had a lot of leather clothes, which Liang Yanyan looked very pretty in once she tried them on. 

When they got up in the morning, the two did their makeup together in front of the mirror. Ah Tou was very interested when she saw Liang Yanyan’s skills. The other woman didn’t look so young last night after she removed her makeup, but that quickly changed now with just a few strokes. 

“You’re good at doing makeup.” Ah Tou said while they were eating breakfast. 

“You think it’s makeup?” Liang Yanyan carefully examined the disposable chopsticks and made sure there were no stains before using them to pick up a steamed bun.

“Well, you’ve basically changed your whole temperament. I think it’s amazing.”

“Are you trying to act cute?” Liang Yanyan chuckled as if she thought Ah Tou was being funny.

Ah Tou was at a loss for words. “I mean it.”

“In fact, makeup isn’t enough to change your temperament. You need to revise yourself entirely. That includes your body as well. ” Liang Yanyan looked at Ah Tou before suddenly making a cute expression. She then made a manly expression and quickly changed it to a forlorn expression.

She did it so perfectly that Ah Tou was totally stunned.

“Are you an actor?”

“You’d think that I changed to someone with a different temperament because I had controlled my facial expressions. But I actually changed my whole body language, too. That’s why you couldn’t observe any flaws,” Liang Yanyan said. She only ate one steamed bun before stopping. “It’s not clean.”

“It’s a breakfast stall, how clean do you think it is?” Ah Tou kept eating, “Are you an actor? Where did you learn acting from?”

“No, what I do is much more complicated and dangerous.” Liang Yanyan lit a cigarette and watched the people coming and going around them. Ah Tou finished the last steamed bun in front of her and started drinking her soy milk. “Taotie’s Food (2),” Ah Tou said. “There’s a club at my university called Taotie Club. The only requirement for joining is to be able to eat in a way that makes people feel that the food is particularly delicious. Our president is making a lot of money doing mukbang (3) now.”

“If you’re tired of making small talk, just don’t say anything,” Liang Yanyan said to her. “I’m not interested in things at your school.”

“You knew?” Ah Tou was a little embarrassed. She really had used up all of her strength in trying to find a common topic between them. She had a little social anxiety and wasn’t able to communicate with others for a long time now.

The two became silent. Ah Tou stretched contentedly after finishing off two sugar pancakes, a basket of steamed buns, a fried dough stick, and a glass of soy milk. “Where did the tattoos on your arms come from?” Liang Yanyan asked.

“Huh?” Ah Tou replied, “I did them myself. Why? You don’t like bad girls? You look a lot more street smart than I do, ok? You also have a tattoo!”

“The main psychological implication of getting a tattoo is to swear sovereignty over one’s body. A tattoo is a declaration of your control over your own body. For many kids who grow up in Chinese families, it’s the only way for them to declare their freedom to their parents,” Liang Yanyan said. “You were still trying to act cute just now, so I figured you didn’t fall into this category. I got my tattoo because I’m like those kids I just described. How about you?”

“I… I just think it looks good,” Ah Tou said. The story behind her tattoos was so complicated that she didn’t even want to mention it right now. 

Liang Yanyan smiled and suddenly said, “You like to paint, do makeup, and tattoo human bodies. All of these things are processes for reshaping the human body. This reshaping also includes controlling your limbs. You seem to be very interested. Do you want to learn more? I can teach you some time.”

“How did you know?”

“The works you’ve put on canvas are far less vivid than the ones you’ve tattooed on yourself. The life drawings you drew in your sketchbook weren’t even you. You modified a lot of things and tried out various possibilities. This means that you don’t like being yourself but want to become someone else. It also indicates that in your heart, you don’t want to live a single life, but long for various kinds of lives, ” Liang Yanyan said. “You’re an extremely greedy woman.”

Ah Tou looked at Liang Yanyan, but was too stunned to come up with a response.

She had honestly never thought about this problem before, but Liang Yanyan’s words made her feel like this was exactly the case. When she woke up this morning, she had felt much better. Although she knew that she would definitely break down when she returned home and saw that Tintin wasn’t there, she forced herself to push the matter aside for now. She was so intent on ignoring it that she didn’t really listen to Liang Yanyan carefully. 

Now that Liang Yanyan brought her back on topic, Ah Tou immediately blushed. She knew what Liang Yanyan meant by what she had been modifying.

“I was actually just practicing.”

“That makes sense,” Liang Yanyan said. “But it’s not impossible to live different lives in one’s lifetime. It’s not a fantasy, you just need to know what you have to give up.”

Ah Tou nodded. It seemed as if Liang Yanyan had just said something super cool, but Ah Tou didn’t really understand it. She paid for their breakfast and then looked at Liang Yanyan, “So, are we going to catch the ghost now? Do we need any equipment?”

“We’re waiting on one more person,” Liang Yanyan said. “Xie Yuchen has prepared everything for us.” 

“We have more teammates?” Ah Tou was surprised.

At that moment, someone approached their table and placed four beer bottles down. Ah Tou looked up and saw a man wearing black sunglasses. “Good morning everyone, greetings! Anyone down for a glass?” He smiled at Ah Tou and moved to sit down in the empty chair at their table, but Liang Yanyan moved it away so he couldn’t, “Did Xie Yuchen tell you to come and take someone away? Just leave the thing and go away. If you don’t go, I will.”

“Why so violent? Are you from Zuan (4)?” Black Glasses put down his bag, which looked particularly heavy. “Are you sure you don’t want my help? It’s free.”

<Chapter 9><Table of Contents><Chapter 11>

****

TN Notes:

(1) Also known as breakfast stalls. They’re stalls set up on the side of the street that serve breakfast foods. They’re often out in the open and each vendor usually offers a variety of food. More info here

(2) An ancient Chinese mythological creature that really likes to eat. It usually describes someone who is greedy for food. More info here.

(3) Genre of online broadcast consisting of the host eating while interacting with their audience

(4) A faction in the online game “League of Legends”, but in the text, it refers to a sub-China server named after Zoan. The server is famous for hosting a lot of bad-tempered players. The China network has 29 servers. More info here.

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