Fangzheng nodded. “How long has it been since you have taken a look at yourself?”
Huang Lanlan was taken aback. A mirror appeared in front of her. She cried when she saw her reflection. Wasn’t her reflected self that shrew that resembled a rabid dog? She started silently sobbing. She realized the problem, something she had never carefully considered. All these years, she always believed that Jiang Song had changed but the real person that changed was not Jiang Song, it was her! After Wei Shuqiao’s death, she changed. She became suspicious of everything and everyone around her. She was plagued by nightmares and did not like to look into mirrors. She was afraid she would see something ominous as legends depicted like the one she had killed, Wei Shuqiao!
Therefore, she never used a mirror no matter if she was putting on makeup or doing something else. Even if she occasionally saw a mirror, she would try her best to not look at it or ignore it. This habit had lasted for two decades. With her suddenly seeing herself today, she finally understood one thing… She sat on the ground and sobbed silently for a long time before saying, “I understand now. It wasn’t Jiang Song that changed. I was the one that changed. All these years, the skeletons in my closet have made me turn into something that no longer resembled a person. Jiang Song must have figured it out long ago. Heh heh… He never said it but he must hate me. Venerable Fangzheng, do you think that there is any reason left for me to continue living?”
“Since Jiang Song has not left you, it implies he always loved you. At least, the past you, that pure and innocent girl that smiled like a blooming flower. Not the present you. If you wish to obtain his love, all you need to do is transform back to what you were in the past.”
Huang Lanlan sagged. “Transform… back? That’s… too difficult.”
“Look at that boulder. Push it up the mountain and This Penniless Monk will help you in your transformation. How about that?” Fangzheng looked at a boulder beneath the mountain peak in the distance.
Huang Lanlan looked at the boulder that was almost her height. She shook her head, “It’s too big. How will I be able to push it all the way up?”
“How would you know if you don’t try? Or are you saying that you aren’t willing to even give it a try, for Jiang Song?” asked Fangzheng.
Huang Lanlan was taken aback. She clenched her jaw and ran over. She pushed the boulder with all her strength and only managed to roll the boulder forward a little. However, she did not wallow in despair. She looked hopeful. “I managed to move it by pushing!”
Huang Lanlan pushed desperately, with only one thought in her mind: “For Jiang Song, I have to succeed! It was unknown where she found her strength but bit by bit, she pushed the boulder to the mountaintop. When she could not push it further, she would stop for a breather and hold the boulder up. Despite the elements, she finally managed to push the boulder to the mountaintop, although it had taken her ten years.
Huang Lanlan shouted in excitement, “Venerable Fangzheng, I did it. Help me! Can you help me complete my transformation?”
Fangzheng, who was standing on the mountain, returned her question with a question. “You could push such a large boulder up a mountain. How hard is a mere transformation in comparison? Think about the reason you had for pushing the boulder up an entire mountain. Then, tell me your answer.”
Huang Lanlan was stunned. Thinking back carefully to the reason she followed her conviction for the past ten years, there was only one: She wanted to make Jiang Song love her again because she loved him! Was it really impossible for her to give up everything and transform back to herself?
She spent a year thinking as days passed and seasons turned.
While Huang Lanlan was lost in her thoughts, spring came. The snow melted as a flower bloomed.
There was suddenly a figure appearing in front of her. It was the white and flawless Fangzheng who smiled like a radiant sun.
Fangzheng gently touched the flower. “It withered last year. Back then, it was so ugly but this year, it bloomed again, as beautiful as it was in the past. But this beauty needs to last till the bitter winter…”
Huang Lanlan’s eyes lit up. She stood up and kowtowed thrice to Fangzheng. “Thank you, Master. I understand. If I can transform back to my former self, I’m willing to redeem my sins! I will cleanse away my sin and let my husband see me as the best i can possibly be. We have lived our entire lives together. I do not wish for us to depart this world with the regrets we have or had. For him, for me…. and also for Wei Shuqiao.” Huang Lanlan smiled.
Fangzheng smiled as well as he looked up into the sky. “And here comes the boom.”
Huang Lanlan looked up in response and heard a boom. She jolted awake as she heard the knocking sounds of a wooden fish and the reciting of scriptures. Everything in front of her had vanished, leaving only the temple hall and the Ten Thousand Buddha plaque in front of her.
Huang Lanlan looked at her surroundings in shock before looking at Fangzheng. She could not help but say, “Fang…”
“Amitabha. Patron, the monastery will be closing for the day.” Fangzheng stood up and cut her off.
Huang Lanlan gave him a deep, penetrating look but he countered it with a smile. She gave him a deep bow before leaving. When she began descending the mountain, she turned back and saw a young white-robed monk standing by the monastery’s door as he slowly closed it. Eventually he disappeared from Huang Lanlan’s sight.
“It felt like a dream. Now that I have awoken from my dream, it’s time to face reality.” Huang Lanlan descended the mountain.
Midway, she met Huang Lanping, Huang Lanyu, and company who were ascending the mountain after having dinner.
“Sis, why are you coming down? Aren’t you barricading the door?” Huang Lanping looked at Huang Lanlan with a sorry heart. Regardless of what others thought of her, she was still his younger sister. His heart ached for her even if others did not. Yet it troubled him, seeing her become worse by the day, with her capricious and odd temper, near the point of being called a lunatic. He was not afraid to join Huang Lanlan in her crazy bouts of rage for he was more afraid she would be gone if she ever failed to get her way.
Huang Lanlan smiled. “Brother, thank you for everything you have done for me all these years.”
“Uh? Sister, what’s… what’s wrong with you?” Huang Lanping felt that she had changed. Her words were odd but her eyes were limpid. She no longer had that usual deranged and ashen look.
“I’m over it. Brothers, Sister-in-law, Cousin, I will still be the Ah Lan from twenty years ago. I will no longer be the present shrew, Huang Lanlan. I want to turn over a new leaf and regain all that I have lost,” Huang Lanlan smiled, a hopeful glimmer in her eyes.
Huang Lanping, Huang Lanyu, Ding Qian, and Tian Ye were stunned. What exactly happened? Huang Lanping laughed as he hugged Huang Lan with tears rolling down his cheeks. “Ah Lan, you know something? I have been f**king waiting for you to say that for twenty years! For twenty years, I have been causing trouble because of you. The villagers here all think of me as a hooligan but I never regretted it. Now that you are good, I’m good too… In the future, let’s be good people together.”
Huang Lanlan cried as well…
Huang Lanyu and Ding Qian cried in response. Tian Ye was completely dumbfounded.
The entire family descended the mountain and returned to their village. Huang Lanlan gave Jiang Song a telephone call. And when Jiang Song, who was working at the construction site, received the phone call, he immediately ran off without a word.
“Jiang Song, why are you leaving? I’m telling you, if you dare skip work, don’t even think about this month’s salary! I’ll use it to buy cigarettes to give to everyone!” shouted the foreman jokingly.
“I don’t want it! Haha… I don’t want it! I don’t want anything!” Jiang Song dashed as he laughed heartily.