Bonus ChapterChapter 4 – Li Jianbo
Two days into the new era found Li Wei, still curious about a lot of things. Although she found this era rather bizarre, she had begun to pick up a few things—albeit gradually.
The small glass ball that lit up the room every night was called an "Electric bulb". The box that emitted sounds — constantly, was called a "Radio". The contraption Lin Ming Hua and his son rode on was called a "Bicycle". The small piece of wood used to start a fire, needed for cooking, was called a "Match", and the powder used for washing clothes was called "Detergent".
In the past two days, Li Chunzhi monitored her daughter’s physically weakness; she knew that Li Wei needed time to recover. Afterall, Li Wei had been through some rough patches. That was why Li Chunzhi didn't want Li Wei to hurt herself again, so she let Li Wei stay at home; she didn't want Li Wei to go out—at all.
In fact, Li Wei chose not to go out, either. Instead, often, she chose to sit down on a chair, lay her head on the table and quietly listen to the gentle music playing on the radio—with emotion. Today, she was doing just that when a deep male voice, from the radio, began singing: "Those dark like eyes coupled with your gentle smile are very hard to forget, even though your face has changed (T/N: Here, change can be swapped with 'gotten older' i.e.: "…even though your face has gotten older."). Time waits for no one. If we look back, we'll realize it has been several years already… "
Li Wei resonated well with this song. It made her recall the carefree life she had, back when she was 10 years old; she was free and had little to no worries, at all. However, at the age of fourteen, she assumed an imperial role and was moved to the palace. She never went back home after that. She was only twenty years old when she was tasked with ruling and defending her nation, as the Empress Dowager. Reminiscing quietly, she realized that it had indeed been several years already. Could she really not return to her own time anymore?
As Li Wei sat there, lost in thought, she heard someone say, "I'm back!"
Li Wei looked up and noticed a youth standing right outside the open door. It was the same youth from before; he had short hair and was dressed in an unbuttoned grey coat which revealed a dark blue sweater, within. The youth carried a school bag on his back and held a net pocket in his right hand. There was an enamel cylinder in the net pocket. Li Wei guessed that the handsome youth was around fifteen to sixteen years old and was the second son of the family.
Recalling what Li Chunzhi had said before going out, Li Wei stood up. "Oh, you're back. I have served your meal already."
Li Jianbo acknowledged her with a nod and dropped his school bag. He pulled a book out from the bag, sat upright at the table, and began to do his homework.
Li Wei, who already made to step out of the room, stopped. She turned back to the youth and smiled: "Eat your meal first." With that, she turned and left the room.
When he heard that, Li Jianbo took a break from the arduous task before him, looked across the table and noticed a bowl of food, neatly served. Quietly, he pulled it over… When Li Wei came back, a short while later, she noticed that the bowl was completely empty and sparkling clean. Smiling, she quietly cleared the table and left, so that she wouldn't disturb him—he was working hard, after all.
After cleaning up, Li Wei checked the time and left the house — towards a chicken coop. She picked up a big wooden bowl filled with rice bran, that had been prepared long ago, and poured it into a big tub. She then let the chickens out and watched them quickly surround the tub.
At this moment, someone called out to Li Wei from outside the fence: "Wei-wei!"
Li Wei snapped out from her reverie and looked outside. A girl stood outside the fence; she seemed to be at the same age as Li Wei’s. The girl was dressed in a yellow gown and had her hair was tied into a ponytail. Her name was Wang Yulan, Li Wei's childhood friend.
Li Wei hesitantly opened the gate for Wang Yulan. As soon as she walked in, Wag Yulan asked Li Wei, "Are you alone at home?"
Li Chunzhi had gone out to the fields—to work. Li Minghua and his son, Li Jianping, had gone to the Brickyard, in town — to work. Only Li Wei and the youth, who was studying hard in his room, were left at home. Li Wei paused for a bit and replied, "The student is at home too." (T/N: Raw says "reading youth" which just sounds weird.)
Wang Yulan smiled: "Oh, I forgot today was Saturday. Let's go talk in your room."
Li Wei nodded, and the two young girls went into the house — to Li Wei's room. Wang Yulan pranced over to Li Wei's bed and sat down. Feeling uncomfortable with Wang Yulan's over-familiarity, Li Wei cringed. "Why not sit on the stool instead."
Wang Yulan obediently moved over to the stool. Gently, she turned to face Li Wei and asked, "Wei-wei, I heard you're not studying anymore."
Li Wei affirmed with a nod.
With a cheerful disposition, Wang Yulan replied: “No big deal, if you don’t want to study anymore, that's fine. I also have some free time at home, so I’ll accompany you. We’ll go cut some grass for the pigs and get some timber up in the mountains — just like we used too. Don’t get yourself down.”
Realizing Wang Yulan's goodwill, Li Wei slowly nodded.
Wang Yulan inched closer — with a worried expression — and continued: "We are friends, no matter what, right?. Wei-wei, are you doing ok? I heard some rumors, out there… about you. Can you tell me what's going on?"
Feeling surprised, Li Wei replied with a question of her own. "What do these rumors say about me?"
Wang Yulan studied Li Wei quietly for a while, then, she replied, "Some people said that you were caught by the teacher while sneaking around with a boy. Some others said that you played a lot… with the boy. Some more people said that… " She stopped, unable to continue.
"Those are just silly rumors. Besides, it's too late to do anything about them. Why are you bringing them up again?" Li Wei snapped.
Wang laughed sheepishly, "… don't take me seriously; I won't bring it up again. Anyways, I don't believe those rumors — at all. The day is still young, so let's move on from this topic."
Move on… of course, Li Wei wanted to move on, but she was unable to return back to her own time; she could only move on — with the conversation.
Wang Yulan remained in Li Wei's room all afternoon. She only went back home when the sky began to darken.
When Li Chunzhi returned, Li Wei followed her, to help cook. As the Empress Dowager, Li Wei never engaged in manual activities, so she was rather clumsy. When Li Chunzhi could no longer stand it, she suppressed her anger and complained, "What can I still count on you to do? Look, you can't even start a fire."
Li Chun seized the match from Li Wei's hand and gently struck it against the black strip on the matchbox. It lit up, and she used it to light the firewood, for the stove.
At this moment, Li Jianbo finished his homework and felt a bit sore, so he stretched to loosen up.
He heard the doorbell ring and realized that Dad and Big brother were back; In a rush, he put the book back into his bag and sped out of the room.
The room wasn't his; in fact, their house only had a few rooms and Li Jianbo had to share a room with his Big brother, Li Jianping. If his Mom and Dad had money to renovate the house, they would surely build more rooms, first. After all, Big brother was approaching the age of marriage, so he had to have his own room.
As soon as Li Jianbo came out, Lin Minghua noticed him. "Oh, Jianbo, you're back already?" Li Jianbo nodded in excitement, "Dad! Big Bro! Welcome back."
They all ate dinner together and didn't have much to do after. So, they all went to bed. Only Li Jianbo and his big brother, Li Jianping, stayed up to listen to the radio.
"Don't you have exams next week? I thought you won't come back this weekend." Li Jianping asked.
"I have no money left and my rice has already finished, so I had to come back." Li Jianbo smirked.
Li Jianping playfully punched his little brother. "Oh, well… do your best in your exams, brat." Back when Li Jianping was in school, he hardly studied and played all day. He only reached the fourth grade before dropping out of school, all together.
"Has everything been alright at home?" Li Jianbo asked.
Li Jianping was silent for a while. Then, he decided to Li Jianbo about his sister. "It was fortunate that you placed a call to the Brickyard on Lamba Festival Day. I went a home to take a look and if I hadn't… our sister — she would have drowned."