Mind Reading - Chapter 1.1
“That’s when you know you found somebody really special. When you can just shut up for a minute and comfortably share silence.”
——Movie: Pulp Fiction
When Su Tang met Shen Yi for the first time in S City International Airport’s car park, she didn’t realize that this man lived in a completely soundless world.
It was a sunny day in early August and summer heat was still blazing at nightfall. Shen Yi wore a light blue shirt, gray pants, leaning against the front of his black SUV car. He fixed his gaze on Su Tang as she walked this way, making her feel like he was a car seller.
The person who welcomed Su Tang in the hall was driver Old Chen, he approached Shen Yi together with Su Tang, “Designer Su, this is Mr. Shen, Shen Yi.”
Su Tang studied civil engineering and she just struggled to graduate in a public university for civil engineers in France without a job. When Old Chen heard that she planned to try for construction design companies in S City, he started to call her ‘Designer Su’ since then. Su Tang felt awkward at the sound of it but not so much that she had to tell him to stop calling her that.
Su Tang smiled brightly, “Hello, Mr. Shen. Thank you for picking me up for my grandma.”
Shen Yi smiled and nodded. He walked over and opened the door for Su Tang while gesturing ‘please’.
“Merci,” Su Tang spoke French subconsciously, but realized what she said before she even moved. She stuck her tongue out and quickly added, “Thanks.”
Old Chen, who was helping Su Tang putting her luggage in the truck let out an exaggerated laugh as if he just heard a hilarious joke, “Designer Su, don’t you know that he’s deaf?”
Su Tang froze with one foot on the footrest and looked back at Shen Yi in embarrassment. The handsome man still smiled like a car model. Seeing that Su Tang suddenly turned around and looked at him, his smile sweetened a few times and made Su Tang feel dazzled under twilight.
OldChen finished putting the luggage in and walked towards the driver’s seat. He poked his completely hairless head and glanced at Su Tang with intentional curiosity all over his face, “Designer Su, didn’t Doctor Zhou tell you that?”
Doctor Zhou was Su Tang’s grandma. She was a high level nurse at a private sanatorium when she was young and she had written a few books about intensive nursing, making her quite famous in the circle. After retirement, the sanatorium hired her back as a consultant. She lived in an apartment there and they called everyone wearing a white coat a doctor.
Her grandma only told her that someone would be at the airport to pick her up and his name was Shen Yi, a tall man in his twenties. But, her grandma did not tell her that he was a man with such an obvious existence and of course, her grandma did not tell her that he couldn’t hear voices.
Su Tang didn’t know whether Shen Yi was offended with her rudeness as she sat in the car feeling guilty. Shen Yi followed and sat next to hear, closing the door after settling down.
There was a light fragrance on Shen Yi, it wasn’t perfume, a smell which made Su Tang feel safe. It was familiar but she couldn’t remember what it was. She couldn’t help herself but to steal a glance at Shen Yi, but she didn’t expect Shen Yi to be looking at her too.
The car model’s expressions blanked for a second after meeting Su Tang’s curious gaze. It seemed like he realized something as his smile faded, but it didn’t completely disappear.
Old Chen sat on the driving seat and smiled profoundly, “Doctor Zhou said that you two are childhood friends, but it doesn’t look like it……”
Su Tang stared at Shen Yi’s refined face. Her parents divorced when she was three years old, they both remarried and neither of them wanted her. She grew up with her grandma as an obedient child and studied hard, she never even had a proper relationship at 24 years old…… Where did this giant childhood friend pop out from?
“That’s what I thought. A pretty and excellent girl like you should have high standards, there’s no way you’d like this deaf guy……”
Su Tang questioned if her mandarin degenerated so much over the three years in France that she couldn’t tell whether Old Chen was complimenting her or he was being sarcastic. She didn’t reply, but took out her phone from her bag, opened a new note and typed something before passing it to Shen Yi.
——Do you know my grandma?
Shen Yi looked at the screen, then at the person who lifted the screen to his face and nodded. He took Su Tang’s phone and slowly typed back with pursed lips.
——You can speak, I can read your lips. But my Chinese isn’t that good, please speak slower. If you can speak English, I can read it more accurately.
Su Tang stared blankly at Old Chen’s bright and bald head leaning against the driving seat in her seat for a good minute before realizing that when Old Chen criticized Shen Yi, he said everything outside Shen Yi’s field of view. Su Tang thought it was even meaner than talking about someone behind their back.
Su Tang looked down at what Shen Yi typed on the phone and frowned as she took the phone back.
——I forgot how to speak English. What about French?
Shen Yi shook his head apologetically.
Su Tang pursed her lips together.
——Let’s type and talk here, I don’t want Old Chen to hear us. It doesn’t look like you two are on the same side.
Shen Yi’s lips curved up at Su Tang’s childish way of expression.
——My driver is on holiday, he’s my stepmother’s driver.
Su Tang raised an eyebrow.
——Are you Snow White or something?
Shen Yi smiled quietly. His long and slim fingers relaxed and his typing speed made Su Tang feel dizzy.
——No, I’m Cinderella. My stepmother gave birth to a girl.
Su Tang looked up and glanced at Old Chen.
——A rat turned into the white horse who pulled the carriage for Cinderella, right?
Shen Yi smiled so much that she could see his teeth.
——Tell him that we need to get back before midnight or the car’s going to receive an infringement notice for me.
Su Tang blinked.
Shen Yi managed to understand Su Tang’s humor, and she couldn’t help but to giggle. It made Old Chen glanced at them through the rearview mirror, “Designer Su, do you actually know him?”
——Because rat isn’t allowed to pull a pumpkin on the highway.
“Sure,” Su Tang’s head was full of a bald rat who was trying his best to pull a pumpkin and she couldn’t stop smiling, “Just got to know him.”
Now that Old Chen mentioned it, Su Tang remembered the ‘childhood friends’ question again.
——Do we know each other from before?
——I’ve seen you before.
Su Tang didn’t know how to beat around the bush.
——Why don’t I remember anything?
——It was twenty years ago.
Su Tang pondered carefully. She was only four years old about twenty years ago, she only remembered clinging to her grandma and followed behind her everyday while wandering in the sanatorium her grandma worked at.
——In Boya Sanatorium?
Shen Yi looked at her surprisingly and quickly typed.
——Do you remember now?
Su Tang stared intensely at Shen Yi for a full five seconds.
——You filled in the form for body donation, right?
Shen Yi nodded seriously.
——I filled it in at eight years old before I went to the States, full body donation.
——Can you donate me some ability to remember things first?
Shen Yi laid back in his seat and trembled from laughing furiously. Su Tang discovered that he had a nice body too. He leaned towards the slim type but it didn’t affect his overall appearance.
Old Chen couldn’t help but to glance back through the mirror again, “Designer Su, no wonder Doctor Zhou compliments that you have a good personality. You can even chat so well with a deaf!”
Su Tang hated that Old Chen was calling Shen Yi ‘deaf’. She looked at Shen Yi and intentionally spoke slowly and clearly, “We were just chatting about the restaurants in Europe. There was one interesting owner who had a sign in front of the restaurant which said bald people and dogs weren’t allowed inside.”
Old Chen swallowed the rest of what he wanted to say.
Seeing that Shen Yi looked confused, Su Tang took the phone and typed again.
——Did I speak too fast?
Shen Yi shook his head and frowned lightly.
——I could read your lips clearly, but why bald people and dogs?
Su Tang was amused at Shen Yi’s serious face. She had a good laugh before picking up the phone again.
——It was a lie, did you believe it?
Shen Yi didn’t laugh back and forth in his seat like Su Tang, but he seemed to be lost in thought while looking at her gently with a quiet smile.
Su Tanf felt embarrassed from his gaze and coughed a few times before stopping her silly smile. She buried her head in her phone and typed another sentence.
——Do you usually use sign language?
Shen Yi shook his head calmly.
He smiled at Su Tang’s blank expressions and typed.
——There are more people who can read than people who know sign language.
——What about work?
——My assistant can translate sign language for me.
——What about living?
——I do everything myself, well fed and clothed as you can see.
Su Tang raised an eyebrow. This man had no temper and it provoked the evil gene inside her that’s been hibernating all her life.
——What about moaning?