Translated by Andrew F. Jones
Mandarin Films presents…
A China Film Studio Production
SPRING IN A SMALL TOWN
Directed by FEI MUTranslated by Andrew F. Jones
[Yuwen walks along city wall]
VOICEOVER (V/O): Living in a small town, living a life where nothing ever changes. Everyday after I’m done buying groceries I like to walk for a while along the top of the city wall. It’s already become a habit with me. Walking along the city wall, I feel as if I’ve left this world behind. My eyes see nothing. My mind is empty. If it weren’t for the vegetable basket on my arm and the medicine for my husband in my hand, I might not go home all day.
SUBTITLE: Wei Wei As Zhou Yuwen, the Wife
V/O: Home. In a small lane, past a little bridge, is the back gate to our house. Now we have just one servant, Lao Huang. Lao Huang always throws the dregs from the medicine pot out the back gate. That’s Lao Huang’s superstition.Our Dai family house was mostly destroyed by artillery fire. No one can live in the main house anymore. I live with him in the garden courtyard. We each have our own room.
LAO HUANG (LH): Young master? Young master? Young master? Gone out so early?
V/O: Li Yan doesn’t see me more than once a day. We never say more than a couple of words to each other. I leave in the morning to buy groceries. He goes into the garden where no one can find him. He says he has tuberculosis. I think it’s neurosis. I don’t have the courage to die. He doesn’t seem to have the courage to live.
LH: Young master. You came into the garden early again. Aren’t you cold without your scarf?
LIYAN (LY): It’s spring.
LH: The mornings are still quite chilly all the same.
LY: It’s not so cold.
LH: Now that it’s spring, your health should be improving.
LY: I’m afraid my health is like this house destroyed beyond repair.
LH: You need to look after yourself and be more optimistic. The house can slowly be rebuilt. Don’t we have peace now, after those eight years of war?
LH: Should we change your prescription today?
LY: No need. I’m sure my wife will bring the medicine home.
LH: Yes, she’s gone grocery shopping.
LY: Has sis left for school yet?
LH: The young miss? No, not yet.
[Liyan’s little sister stands by a window]
V/O: Sis lives on the other side of the flower garden. She doesn’t seem like she was born of the same mother as Liyan. She has her own little world.
DAI XIU (DX): Brother! Brother! Brother. I made my own little potted landscape last night. What do you think? I’ll take it down to show you.
LY: Don’t come down here. Go to school now.
V/O: Her brother can never forget the splendor of the past, but his sister feels no nostalgia for the past. The decline of the Dai family means suffering and despair for Liyan, but his sister feels no sense of disappointment.
When I come home after buying groceries, I go into the kitchen. Then I get the medicine I bought and bring it to Liyan. When we see each other, maybe we won’t exchange even a single word before parting again.
LY: Yuwen, you’re back from buying groceries.
YUWEN (YW): Yes.
LY: From now on, I can have Lao Huang go out shopping instead.
YW: Isn’t he busy enough already? It’s my job anyway.
LY: I’m worried about you going all alone.
YW: What’s got into you?
LY: I’ve failed you.
YW: No, you haven’t.
LY: I can’t stand it, that you accept you have accepted your fate as such.
YW: Here’s your medicine. It’s the same prescription.
LY: Thank you. I don’t want to take it.
YW: Then I’ll but some more.
LY: No, don’t go. Let’s talk.
YW: Did you sleep well last night?
LY: Not too bad.
YW: It’s good that you are able to sleep.
LY: Only because of the sleeping pills.
[Liyan throws down his medicine]
YW: Why are you acting like that, Liyan? Why so much anger all the sudden?
LY: I don’t know why either. I can’t help myself. I’m a failure. The family fortune handed down for generations disappeared on my watch. That’s one thing. And we’ve been married for eight years, of which I’ve been sick for six and lived separate from you for two or three. My little sister is still young and you’ve been the only one around to take care of her. I don’t want to see you continue to suffer like this, spending your days doing needlework in little sister’s room, living such a desolate life, day after day. I don’t know if it’s better if you leave me or if I leave you…
YW: Don’t go on like this.
LY: We can’t go on like this. We need to have a real discussion.
YW: What’s there to talk about? All you need to do is take good care of yourself.
V/O: Pushing open the door to my own room…sitting down on my own bed. I don’t know how I can get through the days that lie ahead. The days pass by, one just like the next, one after another. I’ll take my needlework and go over to his sister’s room.It seems the sun is especially nice sitting in this room. I’ve long since forgotten the past. I’ll never think about anything again.Who could have known that someone would come? He came from the train station. He walked through the city wall. I had no idea that he would come. How does he know I live here?
V/O: He recognizes the back gate to the house. He stops. He steps through the medicine dregs. Yes, he studied medicine. He knocks on the door but no one hears him.[Zhang rings bell]V/O: He knows his way around Liyan’s house so well. He goes around the lane and into the garden in back.
ZHANG ZHICHEN (ZZC): Liyan! Liyan!
V/O: He even calls out Liyan’s name. I didn’t know that Liyan was his friend as well. He jumps through the wall of the flower garden.
ZZC: Liyan. Liyan.
V/O: Liyan recognizes his voice.
LY: Zhichen? It really is you!
ZZC: Surprised you, didn’t I?
ZZC: I yelled for a while and when no one answered I just came through the garden wall.
LY: What wind blows you here?
ZZC: The east wind, the south wind, and the northwest wind!
LY: Let me take a look at you…it’s you alright.
ZZC: It’s me alright.
LY: It’s you.
ZZC: It’s me alright. Ten years…
LY: Ten years
ZZC: Ten years…
LY: Ten whole years…
ZZC: …since we saw each other last.
ZZC: These last years? Hankou, Chungking, Changsha, Hengyang, Guilin, Kunming, Guiyang. *
LY: You were moving along with the war. You must have graduated?
ZZC: I’m a doctor now.
ZZC: And you?
LY: Me? I was a refugee from the war, and when I came back home and discovered that the house had been destroyed, I just sat and waited for you to come back.
ZZC: Oh really? So no big changes in your life?
LY: There is one thing. I got married.
ZZC: Oh! Congratulations to you!
LY: Lao Huang.
ZZC: Oh, it’s Lao Huang. Hello!
LH: Oh! It’s Young master Zhang.
ZZC: Yes, it’s me, Lao Huang. You haven’t even gone gray yet, Lao Huang. Liyan, he watched us grow up since we were little kids…
LH: Young master Zhang, where have you been all these years?
ZZC: In the interior.
LY: Lao Huang, clean up the studio very nicely so that he can stay with us for a few days. And tell the missus that we have a guest so that there will be an extra place set at dinner.
LY: And tell her to slaughter a chicken.
LH: You really must spend a few days here with us. Our young master has missed you so much. I’ll go get your things.
ZZC: Don’t bother about that.
LH: Alright then. I’ll go tell the missus first.
ZZC: I almost forgot to ask. How’s your little sister?
LH: She’s gone to school.
ZCC: We really can have a long talk this time…
LY: Spanning 5000 years…
ZCC: and bridging 9000 miles.
[Lao Huang looks for Yuwen}
LH: Young missus!
V/O: When Lao Huang told me for the first time, I still couldn’t have known that it was him.
LH: Young missus.
YW: What is it?
LH: We have a guest. He’s come all the way from Shanghai. The young master wants him to stay with us and he said you should slaughter a chicken.
YW: All right.
LH: Very good.
LH: Young missus. The young master wants the guest to stay in the studio rooms. I’ve cleaned and arranged the rooms for the young master’s guest.
YW: Does the guest have luggage?
LH: Yes. I’ve gotten everything ready and made the bed.
YW: What’s the guest’s name?
LH: His last name is Zhang. He was a classmate of the young master. Young master Zhang.
V/O: Now he’s saying that the guest’s last name is Zhang. Perhaps it could be him. Or it isn’t him.
LH: Young missus. The young master wants you to come so he can introduce you to young master Zhang.
V/O: I feel flustered. I maintain my composure. I don’t think it really could be him. Change my clothes. Fix my hair. I’m sure it’s just an ordinary guest. I stand in the covered walkway and look but I can’t tell for sure who it is.
[Yuwen approaches LY and ZZC]
V/O: He couldn’t have known that I married Liyan. Why have you come? What point was there in coming? How can I face you now?
LY: This is my wife, Yuwen. This is Mr. Zhang Zhichen. A classmate from long ago and a close friend.
ZZC: Big sister. So it’s you.
V/O: I’ve become his “big sister.”
LY: You know each other?
ZZC: We’re from the same town. We grew up next door to one another.
LY: That’s marvelous! Let’s go inside and sit down.
DX: Lao Huang, where’s Big sister?
LH: In her room.
DX: Big sister, where are you? Why aren’t you in my room embroidering?
LY: Sis, keep it down. We have a guest in the house.
DX: Who is it?
DX: Dr. Guo?
DX: I’m going to peek.
LY: Go right ahead.
ZZC: Ha! Still recognize me?
LY: Do you recognize him?
ZZC: Little sis! You used to be just six years old and this high…and then whoo!
DX: Oh, Old Zhang, how did you get here?
ZZC: Hmm. How did I get here?
[cut to DX singing a pop song]
ZZC, LY: Great song! Nice job.
DX: Now that I sang you a song you have to tell a story like you promised.
ZZC: I can’t think of one.
DX: How come?
ZZC: I’m stuffed full of the two lotus buns I ate!
[Zhichen and Lao Huang enter studio]
LH: Here you are, young master Zhang. These two rooms are all ready for you. You probably remember them. When the old master was still alive, he set them aside for the young master to use as a study. Young master Zhang…
ZZC: Oh, yes…
ZZC: No need to make tea, Lao Huang. I don’t want any tea.
LH: You don’t want tea?
ZZC: I’m not going to wash up.
LH: You won’t even wash your face?
LH: You haven’t retired for the evening yet?
ZZC: What’s that?
LH: It’s a pot of orchids.
ZZC: There’s no need to put out flowers at night.
LH: The young missus told me to bring them for you.
ZZC: I’ve been a lot of trouble for you today, Lao Huang.
LH: No, not any trouble at all. Time for bed.
[Yuwen knocks at the studio door]
ZZC: Please come in.
ZZC: I had no idea it was you. You brought water over here by yourself?
YW: He had me bring it over in case you get thirsty.
ZZC: I don’t drink tea at night.
YW: I’ll leave it just in case you need to wash up.
ZZC: Thank you.
YW: Here are towels and a toothbrush for you. Everything’s brand new.
ZZC: I have my own of all these things. You’re too kind.
YW: Keep them anyway.
ZZC: It’s been ten years since we’ve seen each other.
YW: Lao Huang even found some candles for you. After midnight the electricity goes off around here.
YW: When the steam whistle [in town] goes off at midnight, the electric lights go out.
ZZC: I’ll be going to bed soon anyway. I don’t need the electric lights.
YW: It’s terrible of us to make you sleep in this room. Nothing here is as it ought to be.
ZZC: No, I have everything I need.
YW: I didn’t know that the guest was actually you.
ZZC: Yes, it’s me.
YW: Are you missing any bedding? You ought to have an extra sheet and a coverlet. It gets cold at night.
ZZC: I’m not afraid of the cold.
YW: I’ll go get them.
ZZC: No, there’s really no need.
YW: I have to get them. I’ll be back in a moment. I’ll be back in a moment.
ZZC: Don’t bother on my account.
YW: No, I’ll be back in a moment.
[Cut to Dai Xiu in her room] [Yuwen returns]
YW: Are you sick? Do you have a fever?
ZZC: No, nothing like that.
YW: I brought an extra sheet and coverlet. I’ll make the bed.
ZZC: You’ve already gone to too much trouble.
YW: No problem at all.
ZZC: I’ll do it myself. I’ll do it myself. Thank you.
YW: How is his illness after all?
ZZC: Not too bad.
YW: He’s had tuberculosis for so long now. Is he in any danger?
ZZC: No, there’s no danger.
YW: Will he recover?
ZZC: Yes, he’ll recover.
YW: Tell me the truth.
ZZC: It’s just that…his heart isn’t in very good shape.
ZZC: But you mustn’t let him know.
YW: Oh. Why don’t you give him a thorough check-up tomorrow?
YW: See you tomorrow.
ZZC: Oh. Is he asleep?
YW: He’s asleep.
ZZC: Starting from tomorrow, have him sit in the sun every morning.
ZZC: These past few days the weather has been very nice.
YW: Hmm. It’s been sunny everyday.
ZZC: It’ll be sunny and clear again tomorrow.
YW: Yes, I think it will.
ZZC: See you tomorrow.
YW: See you tomorrow.
ZZC: What’s that?
YW: The electricity’s about to go off.
ZZC: Sounds like an air raid siren…So why are you turning the lights on?
YW: Because they are about to go off.
ZZC: Why don’t you sit down for a bit. That pot of orchids smells really sweet.
YW: Oh really?
ZZC: Have a seat.
[Cut to Liyan’s face]
[Lights go out. Yuwen bursts into tears]
ZZC: See you tomorrow.
YW: See you tomorrow.
ZZC: Thank you.
* * *
V/O: The morning of the second day.
DX: Brother Zhang!
DX: I wanted to give you something.
ZZC: What is it?
DX: No! Here, it’s this.
ZZC: Oh! Great! A little potted landscape. There’s a hill and a tree…
DX: A pine tree.
ZZC: And a little grassy spot. Thank you.
DX: Do you like it?
ZZC: Like it? I love it.
DX: I made it myself.
ZZC: Then I like it even better. Is your brother up yet?
DX: He’s up. He’s outside sitting in the sun.
DX: Are you going out to make a house call?
ZZC: I’m going to examine your brother.
DX: My brother’s not actually sick, is he?
ZZC: He’s a little ill.
DX: I think he’s mentally ill. Always in such a bad mood.
[Zhichen laughs and touches her hair]
DX: Hey! Brother Zhang, you…
ZZC: Oh, so little sis is all grown up now.
DX: Those orchids smell a little too sweet. That’s no good.
ZZC: Oh really?
LY: How am I doing?
ZZC: There’s no real problem. You just need to sit in the sun and rest. Morning, Big sister.
LY: How strange. Yuwen told me to sit in the sun today too.
ZZC: Even better, you shouldn’t spend too much time just sitting at home.
DX: Big brother. Today’s Sunday. I want to go out and do something fun.
LY: OK. Where do you want to go?
DX: I want to go sightseeing with Big Brother Zhang. What do you say? Do you want to go?
LY: You really should go out and look around. You haven’t been back in ten years after all.
ZZC: I had been wanting too anyway.
DX: [whispers to Liyan] I want to ask Big Sister to go too. Big Sister!
ZZC: [to Liyan] Will you come along?
LY: Can I go along?
ZZC: Of course you can. Let’s go together.
DX: Great! All four of us can go together! Go change your clothes, Big Sister.
LY: Let’s all go together, Yuwen.
DX: We’re all going together!
V/O: We go out walking with no particular destination in mind. We somehow end up on the city wall. I walk behind the rest of them. He…he stands and stops and waits for me.
We go rowing on the little river. Little sister sings a song.
* * *
V/O: The morning of the third day.[cut to YW by a door inside the courtyard]
ZZC: After breakfast, make up some excuse so that we can take a walk together. And talk things over.
YW: Where to?
ZZC: The city wall.
[cut to city wall]
V/O: A feeling of helplessness. Atop this broken-down and hollowed-out old city wall.
ZZC: How long do you feeling like spending up here?
YW: Being like this… I could spend all day.
ZZC: Would it be better if we walked somewhere else?
YW: Whatever you’d like.
YW: Because it’s up to you. You’re the one who asked me to go for a walk. I’ll go wherever you want me to go.
ZZC: You’re not the same person you used to be.
YW: Have I really changed?
ZZC: No. Before the war, if I’d ask you to go with me you’d say, `Whatever you like.’ And if I didn’t ask you to go with me you’d still say `Whatever you like.’
YW: Isn’t that what I just said? But I didn’t wait for you. I didn’t do `whatever you like.’
ZZC: If I asked you to come away with me, would you still say `whatever you like’?
YW: Do you really mean that?
* * * [cut to Liyan and Zhang Zhichen indoors]
LY: How’s my pulse? Is it OK?
ZZC: It’s fine.
LY: Do you think I can really get better?
ZZC: Of course you can get better.
LY: What kind of medicine do you think I should take?
ZZC: I think you should get plenty of rest and take good care of yourself. That’s the most important thing. Medicine is secondary. And you musn’t get angry.
LY: You mean, at her?
ZZC: Not necessarily at her.
ZZC: That’s because of your health.
LY: My wife is as good a woman as you you’ll ever find. But all because of my health, our marriage has become abnormal.
ZZC: There’s nothing abnormal about it.
LY: You don’t know. All the things a wife ought to do, she’s done: grocery shopping, cooking, taking care of the house. I’m grateful to her but also so ashamed that she’s so kind to a husband as sickly as myself. Of course, I’m unable to cry. Nor can I laugh. She cries all alone in her room and never smiles in front of other people. She just does her duty to me. She’s cold. The kinder she is to me, the more I feel that she’s cold. Do you understand what I mean?
ZZC: I understand. But I disagree with you on one point.
LY: What’s that?
ZZC: She’s not cold.
LY: We’ve been friends for so many years now. Can you talk to her for me? I had no idea that you two actually knew each other. It would have been better if she had married you instead.
ZZC: Don’t say such sad things
* * * [cut to Yuwen and Zhichen talking]
YW: I’m not this way with him because you came. I know that Liyan is good to me. That year when we got married, I forced myself to like him. Later, after he got sick, he became more and more eccentric, and I felt empty, at a loss. All I could do was think of you. After a year or two, Liyan became something like a responsibility that I had inherited, he became my husband. I serve him. I have to serve him faithfully. My heart is yours. But I feel sorry for Liyan. What would you have me do?
ZZC: What would you have me do?
YW: What are we going to do?
ZZC: Unless we…
ZZC: I leave…
YW: Unless he dies…oh!
V/O: I regret it. I’ve never even thought that to myself, so how could I actually have said it?
* * * [cut to Little Sister]
DX: Big brother Zhang! Big brother Zhang! Big brother Zhang! Big brother Zhang!
V/O: Another Sunday. The ninth day since he arrived.
DX: Big brother Zhang!
DX: It’s Sunday. I’m looking for Big brother Zhang so that I can ask him to go out and do something fun.
LY: So you like spending time with Big brother Zhang? He’s inside. Why are you shouting for him in here?
DX: How should I know where he’s gone?
LY: Don’t shout so loud. It doesn’t sound proper.
DX: Well, if you run into him, tell him I was looking for him. Thanks.
LY: Oh, so you are out here after all. Didn’t you hear my sister calling you?
ZZC: Liyan, I’m leaving.
LY: What’s this? You say you want to leave again?
ZZC: I’ve been here too long already. It’s too much trouble for you.
LY: No, that won’t do. You have to stay. Come on inside. My sister’s looking for you. Come on, why don’t you take her out to have some fun?
ZZC: One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. Good, good.
ZZC: I had no idea you were so good at singing and dancing. You don’t seem like a product of the Dai family. Does your brother approve?
DX: He doesn’t approve but he doesn’t disapprove either. But I think he really wants me to be a bookworm, studying at home all day long.
ZZC: It seems that you all like to come up to the top of the city wall. Why’s that?
DX: This is the only interesting place in town. You can walk along the wall forever and when you look so far into the distance that you can’t see anything at all you start to realize that the world isn’t so small after all. You know, Big brother Zhang, in a small town like this, and especially with a family like ours, you could suffocate to death. Take Big Sister: everyday when she’s done with the grocery shopping, she walks on the city wall. Maybe that’s the only way she can let go a little and it’s only after she lets go that she finds the courage to go on. Big brother Zhang? What are you thinking about? Did you hear a word I just said?
DX: So what are you thinking about?
ZCC: I was just thinking that maybe you’ll become a poet or a philsopher when you grow up.
DX: Nonsense! Who knows what you were really thinking about. But I was thinking that after I graduate I’d like to go to Shanghai and and study in a high school there. Do you think you could help me find a school, Big brother Zhang?
DX: Do you think you could help me find a school?
ZZC: Oh. Sure.
* * * [cut to Yuwen in the courtyard]
DX: We had a great time. I’m all sweaty.
DX: See you later, Big Brother Zhang.
ZZC: You didn’t go out?
YW: Nowhere to go.
ZZC: Are you a little angry?
ZZC: Let’s talk about it.
YW: I’ll come tonight.
* * * [cut to Yuwen and Zhichen in the studio]
ZZC: Promise me something. Never come to see me again behind Liyan’s back, OK?
YW: I have something on my mind. I have to ask you something.
ZZC: What is it?
YW: Where did you two go today?
ZZC: On top of the city wall.
YW: Was it nice?
ZZC: You’re the one who showed it to me.
ZZC: I watched her grow up.
YW: She’s sixteen this year.
ZZC: Still a child.
YW: She’s a child and yet you take her around with you to all sorts of places. Do you two think you’re fooling anyone?
ZZC: What’s that supposed to mean? I don’t understand.
YW: She’s Liyan’s little sister. I’m his wife. I’m responsible for her.
ZZC: Then I won’t take her out anymore.
YW: After I go back, I’ll tell Liyan that I came to talk with you. I wouldn’t want to do anything behind his back. See you tomorrow…I was just playing with you. Don’t be mad.
* * * [cut to Yuwen in Liyan’s room]
LY: Sit down. We have to talk.
YW: What do you have to say?
LY: What do you think of Zhichen?
YW: What do you mean by asking me that?
LY: Don’t ask questions. Just tell me what you think of him.
YW: Any friend of yours must be a good man.
LY: Oh no. He’s a much better man than I.
YW: Why bring him up?
LY: Sis is sixteen this year.
LY: So now you understand. I want her to wait a couple of years for Zhichen.
YW: You mean, you want to have Zhichen wait a couple of years for her.
LY: Right. Let Zhichen wait a couple of years for sis.
YW: But is sis willing?
LY: That’s why I wanted to ask you to talk it over with her. I’m her big brother. It would be a little awkward for me to bring it up.
YW: You mean, you want me to play matchmaker?
LY: Just talk it over with her first.
YW: What about Zhichen?
YW: Do you want me to talk it over with him as well?
LY: Of course, I can talk with him myself.
YW: Zhichen might not want to wait that long…
LY: Does he have someone else in mind? He seems to get on very well with sis.
LY: It seems like a perfect set-up.
YW: So that’s how you see it. Your little sister is still young, though, still in school. Do you really want to fill her head with this kind of notion at this point? I don’t want to talk to her about this.
LY: Just test the waters…
YW: There’s always time later.
LY: Very well.
YW: It’s getting late. Go to bed. You’re really not taking the sleeping pills anymore?
LY: No, not anymore.
YW: Then I’ll see you tomorrow.
LY: Please don’t go…
* * * [cut to Yuwen and Zhichen]
ZZC: [clears throat]
ZZC: What for?
YW: What do you mean?
ZZC: You’re…you’re going grocery shopping now?
* * * [cut to city wall]
YW: He wants me to play matchmaker for you.
YW: Don’t you get along quite nicely with his little sister?
ZZC: Ha. Ha.
YW: So you think it’s funny? I’ve been assigned a task and I’m going to do my utmost to carry it out. I’ve told you the proposal and now it’s up to you to think about it and let me know if you’re willing to go through with it.
ZZC: You’re joking, right?
YW: I’m perfectly serious.
ZZC: I’m telling you this whole thing is a joke. Has Liyan considered just how young his little sister is?
YW: Today is her sixteenth birthday.
YW: You seem to be implying that a sixteen year old girl really is old enough to be engaged after all. Are you willing?
ZZC: No, I’m not. I’m telling you that I am not willing. Are you satisfied? Yuwen, I’m begging you. Stop pushing me, stop torturing me. I’ve had enough. How I regret that back then I didn’t even know to arrange for a matchmaker.
YW: Why didn’t you know? Weren’t you willing back then? Why didn’t you?
ZZC: I was willing.
YW: Then why didn’t you?
ZZC: Wasn’t it that your mother disapproved?
YW: But she’s dead now.
ZZC: But you already have a husband.
YW: I suppose if Liyan gives you his sister, it’ll be the next best thing.
YW: I have my own conflicts. I don’t know if I want to go away with you anyway…
* * * [cut to Dai Xiu’s birthday party]
ZZC: It’s your sixteenth birthday. You should drink some wine.
DX: Who’s going to toast me?
ZZC: I will.
ZZC: What about playing guess-fingers [a drinking game].
DX: Big brother tried to teach me but I still don’t know how.
LY: Go ahead, try it out.
DX: OK, I’ll play.
[Zhichen and Dai Xiu play]
DX: Is that how you play?
[Dai Xiu loses]
DX: I don’t want to play anymore!
ZZC: But you have to drink the forfeit.
DX: Big Brother!
LY: I’ll drink it for you.
ZZC: You can’t drink that.
YW: I’ll drink it.
DX: Now you drink.
ZZC: Liyan, you’ve been to Sichuan. Let’s play the game Sichuan style.
LY: You mean like this?
[Zhichen and Liyan play]
LY: I really can’t drink wine?
ZZC: I’ll drink it for you.
LY: Lao Huang, Lao Huang, why don’t you have a drink?
[Yuwen drinks the wine]
LH: The young miss knows how to drink?
LY: Can you drink wine?
ZZC: Sure she can.
[Zhichen, Liyan, and Lao Huang play]
DX: Oh! Lao Huang wins!
YW: This is your birthday. I should toast you properly too.
DX: Then I’ll have some too. Yuck. Big Brother…
YW: [to ZZC] I’ll play a game with you. Not guess fingers or rock scissors paper, but the one that goes like this, and this, and this.
DX: I know that game too!
ZZC: We always played that together back home.
[Zhichen and Yuwen play]
DX: Big Sister loses.
YW: Hold on. Let’s switch to bigger cups! Lao Huang, bring bigger cups!
DX: Lao Huang, bigger cups!
YW: This time we’ll play three rounds. Whoever loses has to drink three cups.
DX: Three big cups!
[Zhichen and Yuwen play]
YW: You lose. Let’s go again.
[Liyan walks away in discomfort. Zhichen and Yuwen play again.]
DX: You lose.
YW: Drink up!
DX: Big Brother Zhang! You’re going to get drunk…Big Brother Zhang is getting drunk. Big Sister! Big Brother Zhang is drunk!
ZZC: Oh… so that’s where you are.[Zhichen sings popular song to Yuwen, as Dai Xiu looks on]
DX: Big Brother Zhang!
* * *
V/O: As if drunk, as if in a dream. Now the moon rises high in the sky and there’s a slight breeze.
[Yuwen walks to the studio]
YW: Let me go in!
ZZC: Go back. Don’t go in there.
[Yuwen cuts her hand on the glass pane. Zhichen bandages her hand]
YW: Thank you.
* * * [cut to Zhichen in studio]
V/O: He needs to take a sleeping pill. He’s thinks to himself that maybe I will commit suicide. All I have is regret. I want to die. I can no longer face the world. He remembers that Liyan has some sleeping pills.[cut to Liyan in bed]
LY: Who’s there?
ZZC: It’s me. Zhichen.
LY: You’re still up?
ZZC: My head hurts.
LY: You had too much to drink.
LY: I have some medicine over there. There’s still eight tablets left.
ZZC: I only need one.
LY: Help yourself.
LY: If you can’t see, I have some matches.
ZZC: No need. I found them.
LY: I want to take another one too.
ZZC: Another one wouldn’t do you any more good.
LY: How silly. You’re taking the whole bottle. Don’t take too many!
[cut to Zhichen in studio]
V/O: He pours out Liyan’s sleeping pills and replaces them with vitamins.
[cut to Liyan in bed]
LY: Is that Zhichen?
YW: No, it’s me. Are you still up?
LY: What do you mean?
YW: What about your medicine?
LY: Zhichen took it.
LY: You can’t sleep either? That’s strange. None of us seems to be able to get to sleep.
LY: Sit down. Sit down. Please light the candle.
YW: What for?
LY: To see you with.
YW: The moonlight is nice.
LY: Light a candle. Come here. Do you know how much I envy Zhichen? He’s young and vital and healthy. Since he’s been here, the house has been full of life. These last few years I have made life miserable for you, made you live a life of despair. But today, for once, I saw you happy. I was watching you when you were drinking. You’re still so young! I almost forgot that you are my wife and I thought to myself that I’m not fit to be your husband. I have to get better! I have to keep living. Otherwise I might as well just go ahead and die early and stop making you suffer. Tell me…are you still in love with Zhichen? Tell me the truth. What happened to your hand?
YW: I burned it boiling water.
LY: How could you be so careless?
YW: Why did you say so much to me?
* * *
ZZC: [clears throat]
LY: Yuwen’s out.
ZZC: Liyan, I’ve decided to leave today. I was going to leave a letter for you last night, but I couldn’t just leave without saying goodbye.
ZZC: I have to leave.
LY: Last time you wanted to leave, I convinced you to stay. I still need you here.
ZZC: Your illness isn’t that serious. Just make sure to take care of your heart. I’m of no use to you here.
LY: It’s not about me. It’s Yuwen. If you’re here, she’ll be happier.
ZZC: Yuwen…What Yuwen needs is you. I almost did something truly inhuman. But please trust her. The responsibility for everything that happened is mine. Thanks for the medicine.
LY: I hope you’ll stay on with us.
* * *
LH: Master, will you take your meal?
LY: Close the door.
LY: No, just leave it open.
LH: Young mistress, would you like your meal?
V/O: I want to live. I have to tell Zhichen to go away.[Liyan sees Zhichen and Yuwen talking in the garden. He goes inside.]
V/O: The first time he’s been inside my room in years.
LH: Young Master, would you like a snack? Young master? Young master? Huh? Young mistress, come quick! Something’s wrong with the master!
YW: Oh! Go get his sister! Lao Huang, go find Young Master Zhang as well, quick!
LH: Young master Zhang! Young Master Zhang! The master has passed out. Come quick.
ZZC: Go get me my doctor’s bag, quick.
ZZC: When did you find him like this?
YW: Just now.
ZZC: It was Lao Huang?
YW: Yes, Lao huang discovered him here when he came in to bring him a snack. Is there hope? You have to save him for me. Thank you.
LH: Young master…
YW: Go notify his little sister.
[Dai Xiu arrives]
DX: Big brother…Big brother…Big brother. Is he….? Big Sister, what’s wrong with him? he was just fine. What could have done this to him? You’re with him all day long. You should know what disease he’s suffering from…Tell me! Tell me! Brother…brother…
ZZC: Sis, you mustn’t disturb him.
DX: Big Brother Zhang, you’re a doctor. You have to save him! You can’t just let him die like this.
ZZC: He won’t…
DX: You’re his best friend. You have to save him.
ZZC: I’ve already given him an injection.
DX: Lao Huang, what can we do? Why didn’t you come and get me sooner?
DX: Big Brother Zhang!
YW: Liyan, We’re all here. We’re here. What were you thinking? What’s wrong…why did you?
ZZC: Don’t talk with him so much. Let him rest quietly as much as possible.
* * * [cut to Yuwen and Dai Xiu]
DX: He wants to eat. I already gave him something to eat. Try not to worry so much.
DX: Big brother Zhang is leaving tomorrow.
YW: But when your summer vacation starts…
DX: No. Big Sister…Big Sister. You and Big Brother Zhang are in love, no? Big Sister?
* * * [cut to Zhichen leaving, escorted by Lao Huang and Dai Xiu]
ZZC: Alright. Stop here. Why don’t you two go back?
DX: I want to see you off.
ZZC: That’s exactly what I meant it’s too far for you.
DX: Are you afraid we won’t make it? I can even carry your luggage for you.
ZZC: Still as mischievous as ever, eh? Try not to make your brother angry anymore.
DX: It wasn’t me who provoked him!
LH: Do you think the young master will recover?
ZZC: He’ll be fine.
DX: So when will you come back to see him?
ZZC: Next spring.
DX: No, come this summer vacation.
[cut to Yuwen and Liyan atop the city wall]
TITLE: The End
* During the Sino-Japanese war of 1937-1945, the Chinese capitol and the war effort were shifted to various cities (such as Chungking) deep in the interior of China, away from the Japanese-occupied eastern seaboard.