It was a cold night in November and the pedestrians on the streets were all in a hurry to go back to their cozy homes.
Xia Mo, with her schoolbag on her back, strolled to where she lived.
Just as she reached the stairs, she heard a noise from upstairs.
It gave her a fright, but she rushed upstairs without hesitation.
The door was left wide open and she could clearly hear her father cursing and her mother sobbing.
“Dad!” Xia Mo cried. Her heart ached at the sight she saw, a messy room and her parents struggling against each other.
Xia Zhixiong, her once loving father, stopped swearing, and loosened his hand that was grabbing her wife’s hair.
Her mother, Ma Yi, also stood up and wiped her tears.
They both looked at the door and saw their 18-year-old daughter.
“I’ve got to go.”
Embarrassed and upset, Xia Zhixiong grabbed the plastic bag on the ground and was about to set off.
However, Ma Yi immediately jumped towards the bag in his hand and shouted, “Give me the money!”
But Xia Zhixiong was prepared for her sudden move, he dodged swiftly and slapped her hard on the face.
“Pa!” With a scream, Ma Yi fell backwards and hit the corner of the wall hard.
She passed out with blood all over her head, looking lifeless like a broken doll.
“Mom!” Xia Mo was totally dumbstruck. She ran to her mother and held her in her arms. The blood left on the wall was dreadful enough, but she felt more blood beneath Ma Yi’s hair. She cried out and looked for his father.
But he was nowhere to be seen.
Xia Mo wept hopelessly…
Then, footsteps were heard from the stairs, followed by a young boy rushing in. He looked at the two on the ground and asked worriedly, “What happened, Xia Mo?”
“Jianan, my mom…” Xia Mo seized his hand at once, as if finding a life-saving straw, “My mom is hurt.”
Sung Jianan then noticed the blood on the wall and Xia Mo’s hand. He bent down and carried Ma Yi. “Let’s send her to the hospital first.”
Xia Mo rose to her feet and searched through her mother’s purse, only to find a measly fifty. She had to take a chance on her mother’s coat.
“Don’t waste time. I’ll get some from my mom,” Sung Jianan said as he rushed out with Ma Yi in his arms. Xia Mo followed him downstairs a step later.
Sung Jianan went straight to his own home, which was on the way out of the building, and kicked the door vigorously. His mother hurriedly opened the door and said furiously, “I thought you’ve run away for good!”
“Mom, I need five hundred!” Sung Jianan anxiously interrupted.
Mrs.Sung’s mouth gaped as she was planning to give her son a lecture. However, seeing the bleeding woman in his arms, Mrs. Sung swallowed her anger. She grabbed a coat, and started descending the stairs, “Come with me. I’ll get a taxi.”
Xia Mo followed them silently, tears flowing continuously.
At around 10 pm that night, they finally made it back home. Ma Yi’s head was wrapped in gauze bandages.
At the door of the Sungs’ apartment, Ma Yi turned to Mrs. Sung, looking rather abashed, “Thank you so much for what you’ve done for us today. I will pay you back as soon as I can.”
“That’s no big deal. Just take your time.” Mrs. Sung waved her hand. “It has been a tough day for you. Go home with your daughter and take a rest.”
“Mom, I’ll come back later…” Sung Jianan said to his mother.
He wanted to help Xia Mo clear up the mess in her home, but Mrs. Sung grasped his arm and began to scold him.
“Do you know what time it is now? And your homework isn’t finished yet!”
Mrs. Sung put on a serious face and warned her son. “Your father will beat you up if you dare to run away again!”
Ma Yi held Xia Mo’s hand and smiled awkwardly. Xia Mo took a grateful look at Sung Jianan and left with her mother.
They stood at the doorway of their home, the lights were out, and the hall was as dark and quiet as usual. Xia Mo took a deep breath and stepped into the room.
Once they got home, Ma Yi started to pack up for her daughter. She took a pack of sanitary pads out of a closet and gave it to Xia Mo.
“Take this, my girl. There’s money inside. Leave as soon as possible and don’t come back. Find a place to hide for a few days. Don’t go to school or try to contact me, at least not for a year.”
Ma Yi couldn’t help sobbing as she continued, “Or you can go to D City. Auntie Heng will take care of you.”
“Mom, what happened?” Xia Mo had lost her composure and started to cry as well, “What about dad?”
Hearing about the man she used to love and rely on, Ma Yi couldn’t help but be dejected. “He’s ran away! He borrowed money from the loan shark and failed to repay the debt, so he took off with all our valuables at home. We were abandoned!”
“Loan shark? Abandoned?” The answer came as a bolt from the blue. She completely fell apart. What she feared the most had finally became a reality, and her dreams now seemed so unreachable.
It was over. Her family, her dreams, and her future were all doomed.
Before she could even finish lamenting, another misfortune has come at an instant. The debtors came at their home and showed no mercy.
Three tall and strong men in black threatened, “Pay back the money, otherwise, work as prostitutes!”
Their eyes filled with greed as they looked at the slender figure of Xia Mo, before leaving with a disgusting smile on their faces.
Terrified by the incident, Ma Yi pushed her daughter out of the door. “Leave now. Go to Auntie Heng at this address. When I find your father, I will get divorced and meet you there.”
“Mom…” Xia Mo shook her head and refused to let go of Ma Yi’s hand.
“Be a good girl, Mo. Leave now. I will find a public phone and call your Auntie Heng in advance. Just go,” Ma Yi held back her tears and tried to comfort Xia Mo. “Don’t worry. Everything is going to be all right. Don’t be afraid and hurry up. There’s one thousand in this bag. Be careful with the money.”
Still, Xia Mo refused to leave by herself.
“Do you want me to beg you? If you don’t get out of here first, how am I going to leave?” Ma Yi became anxious. “We can’t leave together, Mo. Just listen to me, okay?”
The tears in her mother’s eyes urged Xia Mo to leave, albeit hesitantly. She held the bag in her arms and ran towards the railway station.
But when she finally arrived at the station, the sight of the empty hall made her reluctant again.
No! Leaving her mother alone was not the right thing to do!
After a very short pause, she made up her mind and fled the station. There might be a last resort.