In Virtual Reality
ithin the well.
A burst of white light flashed.
The water well ghost's story was officially done when the flower pin dropped into the well.
They returned to Zhang's Pagoda Tree Village, which appeared to be desolate.
Fang Wen Wen first stroked her stomach, then her hair, before exclaiming joyfully, “Finally, I've transformed back!”
The girl in the pink and white puffy dress bounced thrice in place in excitement, then turned to face Xu Jin Yi on the other side.
“Hoodie-chan!” She rushed over, hugging Xu Jin Yi's arm.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you; else, I would have unjustly turned into a water well ghost.”
'This NPC was rather lively, but was she the delicate and frail [Fang Wen Wen] mentioned by [Tian Shi De]? Wasn't this pink filter a little thick?'
Xu Jin Yi remained silent and merely inquired, “Are you Fang Wen Wen?”
Fang Wen Wen was immediately alerted by those words.
“You know me?”
Xu Jin Yi: “Tian Si De, your boyfriend, is waiting for you at the end of the village.”
Fang Wen Wen was taken aback.
Her expression softened as she pondered something.
“Did you help Si De as well, buddy? Thank you really much! My boyfriend, he's a little timid but wants to be a real gentleman,” Fang Wen Wen grew more animated when her beloved was mentioned, “but where did you say he was?”
Xu Jin Yi pointed to the green stone and said, “I just took him to the end of the village, and he's waiting for you there.”
Fang Wen Wen: “…
She lifted her skirt and rushed there with a giant stride.
Xu Jin Yi had no idea what was wrong with her and had decided to follow her for the time being.
“What's wrong?” Xu Jin Yi asked as she ran.
“That dog choked to death by the paddy field at the village's end!” Fang Wen Wen replied promptly, “He's really not a human being! He tricked Liu Lili to the outskirts of the village to deflower her.
However, he sprained his ankle and slipped into the half-deep paddy, where he choked on the mud and water and suffocated.
Even after his death, he wasn't at peace.
He believed Liu Lili was the one who killed him.
When she saw him fall, she fled in fear.
Not to add, she was under no obligation to save him! Not after attempting to rape her! Who gave him this face?”
Fang Wen Wen collected her breath and kept running for her life.
“This place was not always known as Zhang's Pagoda Tree Village.
It was nothing more than the poor Paper Home Village (张家村).
After he died, he performed evil things and converted the village into his personal domain.Liu Lili is unable to leave this location.
She can only subsist in that gloomy well or the gossipy house.”
The dark figures on either side returned as soon as they stepped onto the green stone road.
But this time, Xu Jin Yi clearly heard what they said.
“Look at her foxy expression! Who is she attempting to seduce? Who among us in the village didn't sacrifice our lives by offering her a bowl of rice?”
“She's a fox.
How did Zhang Huai fall for her? With the death of the Zhang family's sole son, Old Man Zhang is truly out of luck!”
“Wasn't it Liu Lili who was pestering Zhang Huai? She is a woman with great ambitions.
In the past, weren't such women referred to as mistresses? She's so dainty that her name should be Liu Jiao Niang!”
“Liu Jiao Niang, Jiao Niang…
Liu Jiao Niang, Jiao Niang…”
'But I'm not Liu Jiao Niang, am I?'
'My name is Liu Lili(柳丽丽).
That's the name my mum gave me.
She wanted me to grow up pretty and lovely.'
'But, mother, didn't you also say it's bad for a girl to be too pretty?'
Fang Wen Wen halted and drew deeply, “Put your mother's ass down!!!”
Xu Jin Yi, following her, made a question mark on her face and gave her a dreary look.
“When the mouth gets this yuuuge, you (villagers) may as well stitch it shut.
It's cheaper to buy a few needles and threads than to clean up all the shit that comes out every day.
The little girl ate your food, and now she owes you? Are you so desperate for that debt to oppress the girl to death?—”
“—When you call someone a vixen, who is being rude and insulting? He wouldn't have drowned in a paddy field if that nasty dog could control his lower body! I could have lit some incense for him and sent him to heaven if he had gone quietly.
But he had no intention of becoming a good ghost.
He didn't dwell in peace after he died.
He took over the village and destroyed it.
I'm not sure what type of mindset you have to aid such individual.
Saying you're bad is an insult to the term; you're just pathetic! —”
“— And a mistress? Even if you don't use your brain, why wrap it in yellow waste? Great ability? Do you desire this ability or not? What a filthy mind you have; I'm scared of contaminating my brain by conversing with you! This community is filled with hypocrites who, under the pretence of compassion and morals, force a young woman to jump into a well.
“— Liu Lili!”
Fang Wen Wen took a deep breath and roared, “I'll offer you a famous saying! —”
“— Gardenia blossoms are so thick and big, and so fragrant and intoxicating, that you can't get rid of their scent.
Literate people dislike them because they are too vulgar and lack moral integrity.
The gardenia said to them: *”
The girl, who had just started university and lived in a period of freedom, openness, and equality, clenched her fists and screamed loudly and righteously.
“Fuck you! That's how I'd like to smell.
And I smell wonderful! What the fuck do you care! —” [TN: I like her.]
“— You're no longer in Zhang Huai's grasp! You are not subjected to the power of the villagers, either! They have no power over you!”
“— Liu Lili! You are the sole authority over your life! It is your life from start to finish!”
——— Translators Notes ———
 Excerpted from Mr.
Wang Zengqi's “Human Vegetation” / 节选自汪曾祺先生《人间草木》
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