“No matter what, I won’t give the sacred egg to you!” Athena* remained unyielding, with her head up high and her long hair flowing behind her.
*[Athena is from the cartoon, Saint Seiya (Knights of the Zodiac). “The story follows five mystical warriors called the “Saints”, or “Knights” in some adaptations) who fight empowered by a mystical energy called “Cosmo” . The Saints have sworn to defend the reincarnation of the Greek goddess Athena in her battle against other Olympian gods who want to dominate Earth.” (Wiki)]
Yu Zhou Zhou’s version of Athena was currently holding the ‘sacred egg’ to her chest- a white egg stolen from the kitchen.
She spent a long time finding a white egg from the basket of brown eggs. Although there was a little chicken poop stuck to it, but she earnestly washed it clean. White eggs were more grandeur than brown eggs she thought.
In Yu Zhou Zhou’s dictionary, if she wanted something to seem grandeur, she only needed to add on the word ‘sacred’. For instance, sacred water…sacred egg.
In her mind, on the handsome devil’s face flashed an expression of being unable to endure, “Athena, don’t force me to harm you……”
It was a summer’s night. Outside the window, crickets chirped happily in the grass. Mama Yu wasn’t back yet so Yu Zhou Zhou was home alone. She didn’t open the lights, instead, she played out her tragicomedy in the dimness of the room.
In Yu Zhou Zhou’s script, the Demon King had long stopped being purely evil. In the cartoon*, the handsome Demon King who fell in love with Athena yet could not have her and finally was forced at the sacred temple to let out the water bit by bit to drown the goddess- Poseidon, made her blush and her heart beat faster without realising.
*[ In this story arc, Athena “offers to be locked inside the main pillar in Poseidon’s Undersea Temple while it fills with water that would have otherwise flooded the Earth” (Wiki)]
Facing the Demon King, she blushed but inside, she told herself firmly again and again: No, the one I love is Seiya.
Plus, those saints who died like this to protect me, isn’t it because they all love me?
Yu Zhou Zhou’s version of Athena put her hands on her face, suddenly, because of this dilemma of feelings, she felt a sense of fear.
She had understood from a very small age that love was a very scary thing that was hard to deal with- even though she didn’t know what love exactly was.
Mama Yu had gone to take care of grandma, leaving her in this single story house on the outskirts of town. The house was temporarily rented after they relocated. It was very simple and crude with only one room. The kitchen was shared between the few families and the toilet was a communal one outside. It was dirty and stinky and scary, Yu Zhou Zhou never dared to go alone.
She really wanted to live at grandma’s house. Grandma’s house was an apartment building in the city, it was within the living quarters of a university.* She liked grandma’s little house, it was her little stage. She only had to stand on the stage to feel charged with inspiration.
*[Alongside students, local residents can also live in what is called the ‘family zone’ (living quarters) of universities, basically living on land belonging to the university.]
However, third uncle and little uncle also lived in grandma’s house. There was seven people living in four rooms and one living room, so there was no room for her and her mom.
But, the outstanding goddess Athena didn’t care about disgusting environments. The damp room grew mould which was too horrible to look at, but she didn’t have to open the light- when it was pitch black, there were no boundaries in the room. One moment, it was a splendid and magnificent temple, the next, it was a dim and gloomy prison room. Sometimes, it was a holy and pure snow mountain and a grand and tranquil lake……
Your stage was as big as your heart- when she understood this, China Central Television had not even been named CCTV yet.
Yu Zhou Zhou stood on the floor without moving. However, she could hear the imaginary sound of water flowing- yes, Poseidon was incessantly letting water in to the temple. Currently, it had not reached her ankle yet but she couldn’t move a step because she had been locked.
Athena held the sacred egg lightly, anxiously thinking of those talented saints.
No matter how bad the scenario, a hero will always come, they definitely will.
Every girl is Athena, as long as we don’t give up.
Just as she was thinking, she suddenly heard someone outside the window shout, “Yu Zhou Zhou!”
Her hand trembled in fright, and the egg in her hand hit the corner of the table. Immediately after, she could feel a cold and sticky liquid flow down her middle and index fingers.
She was in trouble, what was she going to do?
The voice outside the window didn’t stop at all.
“Yu Zhou Zhou, Yu Zhou Zhou, you’re at home right? You’re ignoring me again!”
Hearing the young and timid voice, she immediately knew that it was Ben Ben.
Although his voice wasn’t very loud, as soon as he started shouting, there was no end to it. Yu Zhou Zhou was currently panicking over how to deal with the cracked ‘sacred egg’ and had no time to reply.
“Yu Zhou Zhou, Yu-“
“Stop shouting! I’m in trouble!”
Many, many years later, when Yu Zhou Zhou thought back to the premature end of that white egg, she would remain puzzled- it was only an egg, why was she so terrified as though the sky was falling?
She took out the key from the drawer and put it around her neck. Then, she walked out the door, her hands still shakily holding that egg. With every step she took, a little bit of egg white would spill out, making her hands all slimy.
“What happened?” Ben Ben curiously came over.
“The sacred……egg cracked.”
“Then just throw it away.”
……Yeah, why didn’t she just destroy the evidence? She gave a shameful laugh. However, she didn’t know how to deal with the egg white on her hands. In that period, there was pretty much no such thing as tissues. She didn’t dare rub it on her hands so out of desperation, she rubbed it on her face.
She’d just wash her face later.
Unfortunately, the seemingly small egg had so much egg white. After she rubbed it on her little face, she still had quite a lot on her fingers. Yu Zhou Zhou stared at her hands for a few seconds then resolutely reached out- and rubbed it on Ben Ben’s face.
“What are you doing?!”
“I’m borrowing a place to rub it on.” She seemed to be naturally devious.
Ben Ben’s face turned red. Moths lingered under the orange lightbulb outside the door. The light was so dim that his face couldn’t be seen clearly so Yu Zhou Zhou naturally could not see his blushing yet also unwilling expression. She could only see a pair of especially bright eyes.
It seemed like that lonely star that shone in the West.
“Why are you looking for me?” Now that Yu Zhou Zhou had wiped clean her hands, she pulled his hand and walked to the window of her house, thinking that not only could she be able to chat with him, she could also stay aware and safe guard the house.
Since small, Yu Zhou Zhou firmly believed that she was very smart- she was the goddess Athena after all.
“Your dad drank too much again……” Yu Zhou Zhou’s inquiry seemed to have opened the tap in Ben Be’s eyes. He didn’t need any preparation when he cried. And because the egg white tightened his face after it dried, he couldn’t open his mouth, shedding only tears.
Sigh, how immature. Yu Zhou Zhou thought inside but she also felt quite worried. She didn’t know what to do to stop this pretty child in front of her stop crying.
Ben Ben and his father were also renting a cheap room on the outskirts of town. Yu Zhou Zhou didn’t know what Ben Ben’s name was, everyone called him by his nickname. Even his father kept saying that his full name was hard to pronounce and spell so it was better to just change Ben Ben to his real name. Yu Zhou Zhou was very surprised when she heard this, if he thought the name was difficult, why didn’t they give him a simpler name at the start?
Later, she accidentally heard some neighbours gossiping. The gossip spread to the children who followed suit in gossiping- Ben Ben wasn’t his father’s biological son. Ben Ben’s adoptive mother wasn’t able to get pregnant. His adoptive parents had saved the lives of his biological parents so his biological parents gave him to them.
Hence, the neighbours all said, “Look, he must have come from a prominent household. They are able to give birth to so many children so confidently.*”
*[Although there was the one child policy, rich households could bribe their way to having more children. Hence, the neighbours believe that because Ben Ben’s adoptive parents were able to give him away so generously, it must mean that they are able to have more children=rich]
They all said this, they said that Ben Ben’s biological parents were very rich and didn’t live in the capital of the province but rather, in that rapidly developing port city in the East. When Ben Ben’s adoptive father got drunk, he would hit him. In the quiet night, many people were still awake, but they only listened to Ben Ben’s cries. Nobody went to help.
Ben Ben’s adoptive father beat him until he got even angrier, and he would always start cursing. His words were mumbled but his voice was very loud.
He said that Ben Ben brings ill luck, that Ben Ben’s biological parents returned his kindness with ingratitude. That he lost two fingers for them yet they sent him a bundle of ill luck which killed his wife. That this year, it made him lose his job and even the resettlement fee for his house got messed up by the demolition office……
“Cry, keep crying, if you have the f*cking energy, go find your mom and dad, aren’t they rich?!”
Many times, Yu Zhou Zhou would sit on the bed staring at the dim light in that small house in the distance. She couldn’t sleep no matter what she did. She listened to Ben Ben’s cries, a man cursing and her mom, lying beside her, sighing helplessly.
She never asked her mom to go and help. Even though she was still very young, she dimly understood that her and her mom’s status was of a single mother and daughter. To put it more blandly, she was pretty much an illegitimate child. Back in the year, her grandma and grandpa managed with great effort to beg people with connections to get her a hukou. Or else, up to today, she would still be an unregistered resident and next year, she wouldn’t even be able to go to primary school.
The idle gossip from neighbours were actually the best way for the children to mature. No matter what Yu Zhou Zhou heard, she would not be like those characters in television dramas who would pale in an instant and let the bowl or vase or whatever they were holding slip from their hands then run off crying……She would not, she would only hide in a place others couldn’t see and draw in the mud with a popsicle stick, remembering all the words they said and slowly mull it over.
Even if there were many things she couldn’t understand, it didn’t matter. As long as she remember it first, she can wait.
Wait until she grows up.
Because Mama Yu always said, “When you grow up, you will understand.”
Hence, she didn’t ask anything. The child’s simple and sharp intuition told her that there were many topics that if spoken aloud, will bring deep hurt.
The summer night’s breeze lifted Yu Zhou Zhou’s fringe. Ben Ben sobbed as he spoke about how scary his father is, how much he didn’t want to go home……Yu Zhou Zhou lightly scratched her right arm which had just been bitten by a mosquito. She opened her mouth, “Play with me.”
Ben Ben’s crying stopped abruptly.
“Stop crying and play with me.” Yu Zhou Zhou didn’t know what she was saying either, “Why is a boy crying with no end in sight…..”
Once, some noisy neighbours had vulgarly said even Yu Zhou Zhou’s farts are like an imperial edict to Ben ben.
When the pure and kind Ben Ben heard Yu Zhou Zhou, he started happily being embarrassed for his previous tears.
“What are we going to play? The sky is dark now. I can see Yue Yue and the others groping around in the dark near that gate over there playing ‘traffic lights’, let’s……”
“Just us two, we don’t need to go find them.”
“Let’s play Saint Seiya Knights of the Zodiac.” Yu Zhou Zhou determinedly said softly.
At the time, what Ben Ben didn’t understand was that this mysterious performance act was a part of Yu Zhou Zhou’s treasured and private world. Inviting him was completely a massive yield.
Many years later, he still didn’t know.
Yu Zhou Zhou ran through the game’s basic procedures. Ben Ben slapped his forehead as if he could suddenly see the light and said, “Then you’re Athena?”
He beamed but Yu Zhou Zhou shook her head, “No, I’m Seiya, you’re Athena.”
“I’m a boy!”
“This has nothing to do with boys or girls.” Yu Zhou Zhou shook her head at him like a little adult.
Athena and Seiya were never as simple as just boy and girl.
It was a relationship of protecting and being protected. She is Seiya and hence, she is the protector.
Athena is Ben Ben. She is also mom and the sickly grandma, she is many people. Seiya needs to carry them all so he needs to constantly burn cosmos*. He may temporarily fall but he can never die.
*[“Cosmo is the main source of power in the Saint Seiya universe…Being able to burn Cosmo gives a person superhuman abilities like breaking rocks, hitting faster than the speed of sound, firing up to 100 blows per second etc.”(Wiki)]
Of course, Yu Zhou Zhou naturally didn’t think these through. At the time, she only had an unexplainable feeling of heroism and justice that she wasn’t able to see clearly herself.
Thus, in that summer’s night, the sound of children frolicking and adults playing cards all seemed far away. Ben Ben was obliviously brought into Yu Zhou Zhou’s world and he looked at her eyes shine like a pair of diamonds and listened as she excitedly said, “Your highness, leave quickly, I’ll stay here!”
From beginning to end, Ben Ben’s version of Athena only knew to be quiet, while Yu Zhou Zhou held a popsicle stick and wrestled around with the surrounding weeds, throwing Pegasus meteor fists around everywhere. He really wanted to ask her, when exactly that shadowless, shapeless demon king that was nowhere will be defeated.
The battle was too long, he was already feeling sleepy.
Ben Ben didn’t know that things like fate weren’t something Pegasus meteor fists could solve.