*PLEASE NOTE* This is a translation of the extra that was released exclusively with the physical copy of Green Plum Island.
“Have you really made up your mind?” Jiao Changyue signed her name on the transfer document and capped her fountain pen. She pressed her palm down against that thin sheet of paper, as if I only had to shake my head for her to tear it to pieces.
But no matter how she phrased her question, my answer would always remain the same. “Yes, I’ve made up my mind.”
“You worked so hard to get into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Are you going to leave after being here for just two years?” She didn’t understand. “Because of Yan Kongshan?”
“No.” After graduating, I successfully assumed a position at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Over the past two years, I was steadily promoted, and Jiao Changyue came to value me quite highly. Some people even regarded me as her successor and predicted that I was going to become the next spokesperson after she stepped down.
To tell the truth, I felt somewhat awkward at the beginning when I first started working for her. After all, she was Yan Kongshan’s ex-girlfriend, and on top of that, she had almost made him lose his faith in love forever.
I thought that she was the snake temptress type—beautiful, but actually vicious and poisonous. However, as time went on, I discovered that she was purposeful, decisive, and incredibly charismatic. To her, love was something that could be discarded at any moment, and it was much less important than her ambition and work. Although the way she conducted herself could indeed be described as “ruthless” at times, it definitely wasn’t meant in a negative sense.
Gradually, even I couldn’t help but start to admire her. I found her work capability to be sincerely commendable; it was undeniable that she was truly someone who was extremely worthy of respect.
Perhaps I was too inexperienced back then, or perhaps she was just too shrewd. Either way, she guessed correctly that Yan Kongshan and I were in a relationship, and she proceeded to tease me about it quite a bit over the next few years.
Whenever I requested the occasional vacation to go back to Green Plum Island, she would always warn me to return on time and to not get ensnared by a certain clingy person.
“This has nothing to do with Ah Shan. I already finalized my plans a long time ago, back when I was still in school. My thoughts on this matter have only solidified after working for two years.”
At that, she sighed and handed the transfer document to me. “Since that’s the case, I wish you the best of luck at your new position.”
I took the sheet of paper and said, “Thank you.”
My spirits soared after I smoothly obtained the transfer document.
For the sake of giving my family a pleasant surprise, and also to prevent them from needlessly getting their hopes up, I had kept my transfer application a secret this entire time. I hadn’t told anyone else about this, and only the heavens knew how long I had been holding it in.
I went back to the dorm and finished packing. Then, I immediately set out for the airport.
The transfer still needed some time to process, which meant that I suddenly had a few extra days off that I could allocate freely.
Without hesitation, I decided to fly back as soon as possible so that I could fully spend this short break with my lover and relatives.
I bought a ticket for the earliest flight available. I would arrive in Hong City at ten PM, and it’d probably be midnight by the time I took a taxi all the way back to Green Plum Island. But that didn’t matter. If it meant I could see the people I missed dearly even just a little bit sooner, I could endure any exhaustion.
I came to a stop in front of Yan Kongshan’s house, luggage in tow, and picked up a small stone from the ground. Waving my arm, I deftly threw the stone at his second floor window.
The light was on in his room. Shortly after, a tall and broad silhouette appeared behind the curtain.
I tilted my head back. The moment Yan Kongshan pulled aside the curtain and peered down, I opened my arms in his direction and curved my eyes in a huge smile.
Yan Kongshan pushed open the window and stared at me, stunned. Quite a while passed before he finally said hoarsely, “How come you’re back?”
The last time we saw each other was during New Year’s. It was already early summer now, so we had been apart for a little less than half a year.
“Aren’t you gonna welcome me?” I stayed in the same position with my arms spread open.
Without another word, Yan Kongshan turned around and left the window. Only about half a minute passed before the front door opened. Clearly panting, he gripped the door, looking like he was still in a state of vague disbelief.
We stared at each other silently for a long moment. Then, we simultaneously raced towards each other and embraced tightly.
Yan Kongshan hugged me fiercely, with so much force that my bones ached slightly. I buried my face in the crook of his neck as I latched onto the shirt on his back with both hands. My fingers curled in, crumpling and wrinkling the material of his T-shirt.
Even though we frequently wrote letters to each other and called daily, longing still seeped into our bones bit by bit, corroding our bodies more and more with each passing second.
“You should’ve told me beforehand that you were coming back.” He nosed at the ends of my hair and pressed a gentle kiss to my temple.
I thought that he wanted me to tell him in advance so that he could’ve also prepared himself mentally. But then he said, “That way, I could’ve gone to pick you up, and I could’ve seen you even sooner.”
Oh heavens, I truly loved him so much.
In the past, I was always thinking that I had to let him know: no matter how far away I went, I would always return to his side in the end. But it was only when I actually left him, when I actually went to make my way in the world, that I learned just how difficult parting from someone really was.
We hugged in the courtyard for a while before we finally separated.
“How long are you staying this time?” Yan Kongshan laced his fingers through mine as he lifted my suitcase with his other hand and started walking back towards the house.
I swayed our hands and said suspensefully, “A lifetime.”
After we went inside, he placed the suitcase down in the entryway before he raised an eyebrow slightly and turned to look at me, puzzled.
I wrapped my arms around his neck and rested all of my weight on him. “From now on, I’m never leaving again. I applied for a transfer, and it’s already been approved. I’m going to be working at the island’s Fundamentals Department in the Ministry of Education.”
To me, I was able to fulfill my dream because I had experienced what it was like to be a diplomat. I didn’t actually feel too much regret over my decision, since I could still shine and do well in other places. Just like Yan Kongshan—even though he wasn’t a diplomat anymore, his bookstore had become a part of Green Plum Island, and it brought happiness and strength to many people.
“Really?” He gazed at me for a long moment. He sounded like he was asking a question, but an unconcealable smile slowly emerged at the corners of his mouth.
I nodded vigorously before I stood on tiptoe and kissed him on the lips. “Really.”
Once he received my affirmative reply, his smile ended up fading instead. He caressed my cheek with his palm, as if he was cradling an extremely precious treasure.
“I love you.” As he spoke, he lowered his head and kissed me.
My eyelids lowered, and I inevitably lost myself in his kiss.
Since I went to bed a little late, I slept all the way until I woke up naturally the next day, and it was almost noon when I finally got up.
After I washed and got ready, I went downstairs and saw that Yan Kongshan was busy cooking in the kitchen.
I hugged him from behind and stretched my head forward to take a look at what he was boiling in the pot. I sniffed and said, “It smells so good.”
He stirred the beef, which had been stewed to softness, and patted my hand. “Go prepare the bowls and chopsticks.”
I hummed in agreement and cheerfully went to fill the bowls with rice.
A filling meal later, Yan Kongshan and I nestled into the couch to watch a movie. As we were watching, we gradually fell asleep with our limbs intertwined and overlapping. If Yan Kongshan’s alarm hadn’t gone off eventually, who knows how long we would’ve slept there.
I rubbed my eyes and crawled up. “What time is it?”
Yan Kongshan turned off the alarm and said, “It’s four. You can keep sleeping, I have to go pick up Qiuqiu now.”
“I’ll go with you.” Since I wasn’t able to see Yan Wanqiu for several months, I missed her quite a bit too. She was at the age where she grew the fastest, and she almost seemed to have a different appearance every day. Each time I came back, she was a little taller than before, and I even felt regretful that I was missing the chance to watch her grow up.
Some things that slipped by could be exchanged for an item of equivalent value. But other things were simply lost forever, and once they were gone, there was no way to ever get them back.
I came back in a rush last night and didn’t notify anyone beforehand. I also woke up late this morning, so I didn’t have time to see Yan Wanqiu and Grandpa. Since Yan Kongshan probably didn’t know for sure whether I wanted to personally surprise them or not, he didn’t reveal my return to either of them and kept it solidly under wraps.
As a result, the moment Yan Wanqiu walked out of her school and saw me standing in front of her, her jaw almost fell off from shock.
Rooted in place, she spent a little time recovering before she glanced at Yan Kongshan. Once she confirmed that she wasn’t imagining things, she essentially screamed as she threw herself at me.
“Mianmian!” She jumped up nimbly and wrapped her legs around my waist. “You’re back! You’re back! I missed you so much! How come you didn’t say anything before coming back?”
She was eleven years old now, and she was already a big girl. I nearly couldn’t bear her weight, so I patted her back with amusement and told her to get down first.
“If I told you, how would it be a surprise then?” I took her hand. Under the gazes from the surrounding crowd, I went back to the car with her and Yan Kongshan.
“If you told me, I could’ve gone to pick you up with Ah Shan.” Yan Wanqiu squeezed herself forward into the space between the passenger and driver seats. As she grew older, her features lengthened, and she lost some of the adorable roundness she had during her childhood. Instead, she gained a bit of a young lady’s delicacy and charm, which made her look even more similar to her mother. “That way, we could’ve seen you even sooner. Wouldn’t that have been great?”
I was stunned when I heard her answer. Should I have expected this since they were related by blood? Her response was unexpectedly and exceptionally consistent with Yan Kongshan’s.
“In that case, I’ll make sure to tell you next time.” I said, “If there is a next time.”
More than anything else, Yan Wanqiu was clever and sharp. She immediately noticed what I was trying to hint at.
“Why won’t there be a next time? Are you not leaving anymore?”
I grinned as I glanced back and stopped beating around the bush. “That’s right, I’m not going anywhere. From now on, I’m going to stay here with you guys.”
Mouth half-open, Yan Wanqiu’s expression froze for three whole seconds on “astonishment.” Then she wrapped her arms around my neck from behind and tightened her grip, seat included, as her entire being laughed and shrieked.
I almost couldn’t breathe because of her chokehold on me, and I coughed as I loosened her arms slightly. Infected by her happiness, I also couldn’t stop smiling.
“Let’s go pick up Grandpa.” Yan Kongshan had already been attacked by the pleasant surprise last night, so he was much calmer now, and he only spoke slowly once Yan Wanqiu was more or less done going wild.
Grandpa’s tea egg cart wasn’t too far from home, and it just happened to be on our way back. The timing was perfect too.
When we turned the corner, I saw from a distance that Grandpa was sitting next to the road. I hastily sunk down in my seat so that he wouldn’t discover me too quickly.
Yan Kongshan stopped in front of the cart and got out of the car to help Grandpa tidy up.
“Aiyo, I can go back on my own, why did you come to pick me up again? It’s fine, Grandpa isn’t old to the point that he can’t walk yet.”
Although he said that, he still proficiently cut the power to the portable induction stove—starting from two years ago, Grandpa caught up with the times and finally discarded his charcoal stove for a more environmentally friendly induction stove. After cutting the power, he picked up a warm pot of tea eggs and climbed into the car with Yan Kongshan’s help.
“Tea Egg Grandpa, let me hold it.” Perhaps Yan Wanqiu was worried that Grandpa would burn himself if he got too excited later, so she took the initiative to take the pot of tea eggs first.
Grandpa rubbed her head and chuckled. “Qiuqiu is so dutiful.”
Yan Kongshan returned to the driver’s seat. A short while later, the car started moving again.
“The weather is getting hotter and hotter…”
I saw that the timing was about right, and I suddenly shot up in the passenger seat at the front.
“Grandpa, I’m back!”
Grandpa clutched his chest, eyes extremely wide. “Aiyo, who is this?” By the time he finished asking that, he already saw my face, so he instantly brought his hands up and began kneading my cheeks. “Mianmian? Isn’t this Mianmian? Mianmian’s back! When did you get back, why didn’t you let Grandpa know?”
“Because I wanted to give you a nice surprise.” Over the years, Grandpa’s hearing had increasingly worsened, and I had to bellow into his ears when I spoke to him.
“A nice surprise!” He patted my shoulder lightly and said, displeased, “If you had told me sooner, I would’ve gone to pick you up with Ah Shan. Grandpa missed you so much, and you didn’t even let Grandpa see you a little earlier.”
After Grandpa said that, everything abruptly became clear to me. The reason why Yan Kongshan and Yan Wanqiu had the same exact answer wasn’t because they were related by blood—it was because they loved me. Just like Grandpa, they thought of me as an important member of their family.
“You can see me every day in the future.” I loudly notified Grandpa of my good news. “I’m never leaving again.”
Grandpa checked, “Never leaving again?”
“Mn, I’m never leaving again.”
Grandpa didn’t ask why. He nodded continuously as he enveloped my hands between his wizened, warm palms, and his eyes slowly reddened.
“It’s great that you’re not leaving anymore, it’s really great.”
When I was leaving, none of them tried to make me stay, because they knew that I had my own life and dream to fight for. But when I told them I was going to stay, they were finally able to express their long-standing reluctance to part ways; they could finally tell me that they never wanted me to leave.
Too happy at night, Grandpa opened a bottle of homemade green plum wine and drank quite a bit of it. He eventually started talking nonsense, and he immediately fell asleep the moment he collapsed onto his bed.
Meanwhile, because Yan Wanqiu still had school the next day, she finished her homework and went to bed very early.
In the end, Yan Kongshan and I were the only ones left. We sat on a bench in the garden and enjoyed a drink while admiring the moon.
“My dad once told me that he often dreamed of Green Plum Island after he left, but he didn’t actually regret leaving this place. He also predicted that I would turn out like him one day—that I would leave and miss this island, but I would never return.” I tilted my head and leaned against Yan Kongshan, cheeks faintly warm due to being a little tipsy.
“He was wrong.” Yan Kongshan picked up his wine glass and took a small sip from it before he reached out and stroked my face.
I closed my eyes and rubbed my cheek against his slightly cool palm. “Mn. He was wrong, extremely wrong.”
I left this place, I missed this place, so I came back again. Why should people have to make things difficult for themselves? Live wherever you’d like to live, do whatever you’d like to do.
On this earth, there were people like Granny who didn’t want to marry and simply enjoyed being in their own company. There were also people like Sun Rui, who viewed being “in love” as an essential aspect of life. However, without exception, they were both following their hearts’ desires and doing the things that made them happy.
As Hai Zi said: “You’ve come into this world, so you should look at the sun.”
This was very true. Everyone was here, living in this world. How could you not experience the fierceness of summer? How could you not experience the overture of winter?
You’ve come into this world, so you should look at the sun, and you should live happily.
Yan: Green Plum Island was the first Hui Nan Que novel I ever read, and HNQ has quickly become one of my favorite authors. When I bought the physical copy of GPI over the summer, I noticed that there was a book-exclusive extra included in it, so I thought I’d translate it as a little token of my love for this novel!
Regarding Hai Zi: he was a very famous poet who ended his own life when he was 25. You can read more about him here. The line quoted is from his poem “夏天的太阳” (Summer Sun).
I’m not promising anything… but it’s very likely I will eventually end up translating a HNQ novel. Just haven’t decided which one yet hahaha. Hope everyone enjoyed this little snippet of Mianmian’s future life!