Chapter 13: Recollections, Part 2

Li Jing Ming gradually lost control of his emotions. Ruan Zhan went and patted his shoulders, telling him to calm down. As for Xiao Xia, her tears were about to fall after listening to the part where Li Jing Ming’s mom came to visit. Although she didn’t know how the complaints against his wife’s family was related to the case, asking such open-ended questions and listening carefully was necessary to put together a case. She couldn’t leap to conclusions.

Li Jing Ming took a deep breath. He forced back his tears, sorted out his emotions and continued speaking: “A month before this case, our family planned a vacation during golden week to tour some historical town in the south. However, I received news from my hometown that my mother had fallen ill. Of course I had to make a trip, and my wife was very displeased. She felt I delayed the entire family’s plans. However, I had a bad premonition, and although she didn’t want to let me go, it wasn’t reasonable for her to stop me. Therefore, I was finally able to make a trip back. However, apart from giving me some travel expenses, she didn’t let me bring anything else. She didn’t even let me take my son. I could only go sell some blood. By the time I got home, my mom had no need for the money anymore. After making the funeral arrangements, I immediately went back. However, my wife still resented me for the delay. She forced me to immediately start packing for the trip. How could I be in the mood after my mom just passed away? But I really couldn’t overcome her and could only comply reluctantly. Perhaps due to my mental state, some problem occurred with my online hotel reservation. When we arrived, we found out we didn’t have a room reserved. There happened to be a large tour group that was trying to avoid golden week as well so there were no empty rooms. We could only leave the one three star hotel in the area and stay at a small inn called Leaf Garden that was renovated from a local home. The entire family treated me as a sinner due to this matter.”

A frightened expression appeared on his face. “At that time, I was in an awful mood. I felt ashamed for letting down my mom who gave birth to me and raised me. Furthermore, to put it plainly, it was my first time hating my wife and her family so much. This included my son as well. He had also been influenced by them and looked down on his weak and useless father. I hated how they humiliated my mom and stripped me of my dignity. I hated how they only let me know my mom was ill at the last moment. I wasn’t even able to see her before she died, and she never got to see her grandson. She died with grievance. I hated how they forced me to come along while I was grieving, as though the person who passed away was unrelated to me. I hated how they act sanctimonious in front of others while being cruel, selfish and petty in private. I hated everything they did to me over these eighteen years while still being able to keep a clear conscience. I really hated them at that moment. I never realized hate was such a strong emotion. I hated them so much I wanted to kill them all. That was the first time I argued with my wife. I vented my grievances over the many years. My wife was used to being in charge, so how could she tolerate my rebellion? Therefore, we argued more and more fiercely. My in-laws also ran over to help my wife. Not sure what came over them, but in the end their entire family started beating me. The owner of the inn tried to stop them but it was no use. Actually, her family had always been refined people. Although they often did shady things, they had never committed violence in public. Especially not with the entire family.

I was beaten black and blue. In the dead of night, I ran to the riverside near the inn to sulk. I had nowhere to vent my anger and resentment, so I started talking to my own reflection in the river. I grumbled for a long time, and when I finally felt a little better I casually said ‘I wish I could cut all their heads off, and feed them to dogs!” Actually, those were just words spoken in my extreme anger. However, at that time, a sharp male voice responded from the water, “I will grant you your wish!”

I was terrified and scrambled back to the inn. I asked the kind innkeeper who was waiting by the door whether this place was haunted. The innkeeper insisted it wasn’t, and was also very angry since my careless words could ruin his business. Looking at his firmness, I felt a little better. I decided it was an illusion conjured by my anger. Then, the innkeeper helped treat my wounds and sent me upstairs. The entire family was ignoring me and naturally wouldn’t pay for my expenses. Although there were over a dozen rooms, and our family was the only one staying there, I didn’t have the money for one. I could only sleep in the attic.

I was angry, tired, in pain and hungry. The attic was dark and damp so I didn’t sleep well the entire time. I drifted in and out of sleep until the middle of the night when I suddenly heard a dripping sound. It sounded like a light rain, but also like something was leaking. The weird thing was that through the attic’s sunroof I could see the clear starry sky. The sound seemed to be coming from outside the door.

I recalled what happened by the river and was too frightened to come out of the blankets. However, the sound didn’t stop but got louder and louder instead. In the end, it became the sound of running water, as though I was lying next to the river. I knew the others in the inn definitely weren’t able to hear this. It had come for me, and if I didn’t open the door it wouldn’t stop. Therefore, I could only muster up my courage and go open the door.

There was nothing outside. It was just abnormally dark. Then, I heard the dripping coming from behind me. I was scared stiff and wasn’t able to move. However, the door slammed shut by itself without any wind. I forced myself to slowly turn around. Although it was very dark, I could clearly see a large wet patch next to the bed despite it being dry. Then, a pair of wet footprints approached one by one, as though something was walking towards me. It then stood in front of me.

I acted brave as I shivered and asked “who are you?”, but was actually very afraid of hearing a response. But respond it did. It said I had helped it, so it was going to grant me my wish and cut off my entire family’s heads. I was extremely alarmed. I said I didn’t know how I had helped it, but those were just words spoken in anger. I didn’t wish to kill my family, especially using such a cruel method. I then said a bunch of other things out of fear, and don’t even know what I was trying to say. I said people weren’t unfeeling like plants. Although my wife’s family didn’t treat me well, they were still family. Having lived together for so many years, there would still be some attachments. I chattered for a while and only wanted it to leave. However, the surroundings were silent. If anyone had had seen me, they would definitely have thought a madman was talking to himself. Right as I thought it had gone, and let out a breath, the room suddenly started shaking violently. It was like I was in the river. The water chilled me to the bone and I couldn’t breathe. A voice yelled furiously by my ear. I was scared to death and couldn’t hear clearly what it was saying. I only heard it cursing me for not being a man, and saying spineless cowards all have to pay the price. I desperately begged it to leave my family alone but the suffocating feeling grew stronger and stronger. I thought it was going to kill me, but felt a chill in my chest and directly fell unconscious.

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