Vol. 1: chapter seven – shopping (part 1)

Li Xinwen, who headed for his room in a sprint, left Madam Li in a state of disbelief. The old woman could not believe her eyes upon seeing her supposedly injured son so lively as if he had not been in a car accident just a few months ago.

“I wonder what has possessed that boy, acting so rashly!” She shook her head and placed her hand to her forehead as if she had suddenly gotten a headache.

Li Xinwen excitedly entered his room and went straight to his closet. He removed the shirt and trousers he was wearing and replaced them with a simple white-coloured T-shirt and a pair of faded jeans. He looked at himself in front of the full-length mirror that occupied the entire left side of his closet. “That should do it!” he said, pleased with himself, and he headed for the door.

“Oh, I almost forgot!” he exclaimed before he ran back to the closet and took a grey cardigan off one of the hangers. Placing it over his white shirt, he took one final glance in the mirror and energetically made his way downstairs.

Li Xinwen reached the living room out of breath and found Madam Li seated on one of the grey accent chairs near the entrance of the living room, a recycled bag in one hand and holding her other hand to her right temple.

Ah‘Wen!” she exclaimed. She jumped up and approached Li Xinwen as if in a panic. “What has gotten over you?! Running all the way upstairs. What about your injuries?!” she asked while fussing over her son.

Realizing what he had done, Li Xinwen imagined himself smacking his own forehead for being so careless. He attempted to explain. “Ahh… I’m so sorry, Mom. I was just overcome with excitement, and it suddenly felt like I was filled with extra strength and energy!”

“Did I worry you?” he asked, gazing into Madam Li’s eyes to try to convince her that everything was alright. He rubbed her shoulder and planted a kiss on her forehead. “It’s okay Mom, you don’t need to worry. I’ll be careful next time. Okay?”

Madam Li let out a sigh and shook her head. “Yes, please be more careful Ah‘Wen. I am already this old and I can’t imagine seeing you in another accident, no matter how minor it may be,” she said as she grasped Li Xinwen’s forearm.

“I’m sorry for worrying you, Mom,” he apologized once more and quickly diverted Madam Li’s attention by saying in an excited tone, “Shall we go now?!?”

A smile replaced her worried expression as she recalled Li Xinwen’s childhood and how he always became excited whenever they would visit the supermarket. Although they had done the shopping together countless times in the past, Madam Li felt like it was a new beginning for them.

She addressed Li Xinwen with a smile. “Alright, Mom will overlook your carelessness this time.” Li Xinwen’s expression brightened even more as he looked forward to this outing. After all, this was the first time in both his lifetimes that he was going to spend with a figure he could fondly call ‘mother’.

“But Ah‘Wen, are you going out just like that?” Madam Li asked as she eyed his appearance, looking worried.

“Huh?” Li Xinwen realized that he might have done something wrong so he quickly consulted the original’s memories. Sure enough, he had forgotten to put on a disguise. The news about Li Xinwen from the recently held press conference was still being circulated by the media and was still a hot topic among the masses. If he were to go out just like this, it would surely invite trouble.

“Ah… I forgot about my disguise!” he smiled sheepishly. “I’ll go and get it now.” He was about to run up the stairs when he caught himself and instead walked carefully. When he was out of Madam Li’s sight, he sprinted, so as not to keep Madam Li waiting any longer. He grabbed a black Mao-styled hat, his Ray-Ban shades and a face mask, and ran until he reached the second landing. He then paused to put on his disguise and walked downstairs slowly to avoid worrying Madam Li.

Seeing her son with his disguise, Mother Li finally let out a sigh of relief. She was really worried earlier when Li Xinwen came down without any disguise. There was one incident when Li Xinwen had just debuted, when the drama he starred in had been very successful. At that time, Li Xinwen didn’t realize that his popularity had surged, and he went out without any disguise. By the end of that day, he was extremely exhausted, and he lost his cardigan to the excited fans. Since then, the number of times that Li Xinwen went out became less and less, and he only went out when necessary, or for special occasions.

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“We’ll just go to the supermarket nearby. There won’t be a lot of people this morning so we can buy groceries without any worries,” Li mother suggested with a smile, assuring her son of his safety.

“Alright. Today, just let Xinwen spoil Mom. Whatever Mom says, this Xinwen will do.” He grinned at her as he took the recycled bag from his mother. “I’ll carry this. Mom just needs to enjoy herself today.”

Mother and son stepped out of the house to a bright sunny morning. As soon as Li Xinwen stepped out of the house, his eyes naturally travelled towards the direction of the garage on the far-right section of the yard. It was a separate structure of considerable size and it looked like two or more cars could fit inside. Li Xinwen’s mind raced and he started going through the original’s memories, browsing through images and flashbacks showing the original driving a car. ‘I wonder if I’ll be able to pull it off,’ he thought, and he started to break into a cold sweat.

Seeing her son’s bleak expression, Madam Li quickly grabbed his hand. “Ah‘Wen, we don’t need to take the car. It’s nearby so let’s just walk, okay?” she smiled at Li Xinwen, trying to calm him. In Madam Li’s eyes, Li Xinwen looked like he was panicking, which was why she quickly suggested that they walk instead. Besides, it was true that the supermarket was just a few blocks away. When Li Xinwen heard Madam Li’s suggestion, a wave of relief washed over him. He was actually worried about the fact that he might need to drive.

Unlike cooking, driving involved greater risks and one could not rely solely on the body’s muscle memory – or the original’s memories for that matter. He looked at Madam Li and noticed that she was trying hard to mask her worried expression. ‘Perhaps this mother is worrying because of the original’s car accident. I can sense fear from her. Perhaps she’s afraid that there might be another accident…’ he thought, suddenly feeling a pang in his heart.

He took Madam Li in his arms to reassure her, and without saying anything, he felt her relax. He let go and looked at her, saying, “We’ll walk then. I also need some exercise after being confined in the hospital for a long time.”

Leaving through their front gate, Li Xinwen looked around the area. When Li Xinwen first arrived, he didn’t pay any attention to the area due to his nervousness and the overwhelming feeling of returning to a ‘family’. Now that he had time to look around, he noticed that the neighbourhood was actually peaceful, and similarly, big houses surrounded theirs. It looked like a wealthy neighbourhood.

After ten minutes of walking, they reached the outskirts of the neighbourhood. Li Xinwen immediately saw the supermarket located just across the road. There was no way anyone could miss the structure because of the big sign right above the entrance, which spelt the word ‘Supermarket.’ “Li mother wasn’t joking when she said it was just nearby,” Li Xinwen thought as he chuckled inside.

They walked a little bit more when Madam Li suddenly stopped, causing Li Xinwen to stop abruptly as well. Instinctively he reached around, and placed his left arm around Madam Li’s shoulder and pulled her close with his right hand as if to support her. “Mom, what’s wrong? Are you tired? Are you feeling ill?” Li Xinwen asked in a worried tone.

“No, Mom is not tired,” she said as she patted Li Xinwen’s right arm. “Ah‘Wen, did you not see the red light?” she continued, pointing to the traffic light for pedestrians.

Li Xinwen followed Madam Li’s finger and saw a glowing red light shaped into a human figure.

Li Xinwen quickly searched the original’s memories for this particular technology. Once he understood what it meant, he couldn’t help but feel helpless. In spite of his ability for cultivation and the skills he had acquired in Long Xing, his ignorance to everything in the mortal world was being amplified each day as he continued to encounter things and events that he had never seen in his previous world.

He had been able to absorb the original’s memories including his habits, family and personal information, and even all of his connections, but it seemed that absorbing all of that was not enough. If he really wanted to integrate himself fully to this world, he needed to absorb absolutely everything. ‘I’ll do it tonight…’ he thought himself.

“Of course, Ah‘Wen noticed the red light. I was just worried that mom might be feeling tired,” Li Xinwen said in order to avoid any further inquiry from Madam Li.

Madam Li let out a small giggle and said, “Oh my… my Ah‘Wen is such a gentleman as always. No wonder your fans go crazy over you. My son is not only handsome but has such a good heart, the way he worries and goes about spoiling this old woman,” to which Li Xinwen suddenly felt bashful; and as if the universe wanted to save him from being embarrassed any further, the pedestrian light turned green.

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“Then shall we cross the road Mom?” Li Xinwen said, diverting the topic from himself. He took Madam Li’s hand and they crossed the road. He made sure to look left and right before they stepped on what mortals referred to as a zebra crossing. ‘I wonder why they call it zebra crossing when there aren’t any zebras around…’ he thought to himself as they continued to cross. In the original’s memories, a zebra was an animal of some sort, with white and black stripes and resembled the horses they had in Long Xing. ‘Could it be that mortals also refer to themselves as zebras?!?’ and Li Xinwen couldn’t help but be bothered by this thought as they made their way to the supermarket.

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