Original link: https://yihui.org/cn/2022/07/denver-shadow/
When the night falls
And you are all alone
In your deepest sleep
What are you dreaming of
When you know you’re in a nightmare and you can’t wake up no matter what, how do you get out of it or overcome it?
1. The silhouette of the wooden house
After driving into Colorado, I realized what a plain is. The clouds in the distance were almost touching the ground, and I had never seen a cloud that low. Under the sky, except for the endless yellow grassland, there is only one highway 80 going straight west. It would be nice if Van Gogh was here, I think. I randomly hooked the steering wheel with one finger of my left hand, and drove at a speed of eighty-five miles to the gap in the distance. The lonely shadow of heaven and earth let me go. Probably the most free person in the world. I thought so at the time.
The song in the car is placed in “Chess Pieces”. It was once said to be one of the “Humble Quintets”.
On Colorado’s highways, there is a warning sign every other section to inform drivers: Colorado law stipulates that the left lane can only be used for overtaking, and normal vehicles must use the right lane. There are only a few cars on this Tongtian Avenue, it’s just superfluous, I laughed at it. I want to choose which road to choose, and why do I care so much. Even if I drive in the left lane, I will not stand in my way or be chased by anyone. I thought so at the time.
The prelude to “Sunshine Airport” sounded in my ears. Someone once said that the song sounded like a ghost.
There was still more than an hour before the destination, and there were many cars on the road, and the hot summer air suddenly became cold, and then the gust of wind blew the car a little bit, and I started to hold the steering wheel with my whole hand. It didn’t take long for it to rain heavily, and the sky was dark at four in the afternoon. I slowed down a bit, turned on the lights, and put the wipers in the fastest gear. The wipers were as fast as the drowning people were waving for help, or waving frantically, warning people not to go any further. At some point, the tire pressure indicator light on the dashboard came on again. It’s weird that all the tires were freshly changed before the trip. Could it be because of Denver’s high altitude?
Just after six o’clock, I got off Route 34 and arrived in front of the B&B community I booked. The eight-hour drive made my body a little stiff, but the thought of being able to stay away from the depressing hustle and bustle and enjoy the mountains and rivers here in the next few days relieved most of the fatigue along the way. The community is located on a mound beside Yingshan Lake on the west side of the Rocky Mountains. The landlord had told me that there was a large dirt slope to climb before reaching the house. At first I climbed the wrong hill and drove to a dead end. At the end of the road was a seemingly empty house with a wide open backyard door. Like most American houses built in the mountains or in the suburbs, it bears a sign: Private residence, no trespassing. From the backyard of this house, I saw that the house I rented was on a higher slope on the right, but I didn’t see where the way to there was.
After detouring for more than ten minutes, I didn’t meet anyone in the community, and I finally found the slope that the landlord said. It was really steep, close to forty-five degrees. Since I got to Denver, the accelerator has been flaky, so I slammed on it up the hill and parked the car in front of the garage.
I entered the password 3719 and pressed the open button, but the garage door didn’t move. Tried twice, still can’t open. I inadvertently realized that the four numbers in this code were joined together to form a cross.
This is a brown-red double-storey wooden house, which seems to be a little old, and it is at least 100 meters away from the nearest houses and woods around it. In the open space, except for large weeds and yellow dandelions, there is only a solitary spruce on the right, like the guard of the house, standing there quietly.
There is snow in the empty forest, and no one returns on the wild road.
I looked back at the car and the right front wheel was indeed a little slack. The landlord also gave me the code for the front door, so I walked up the porch stairs. Seven or eight meters away, a crow landed on a crooked cross-post and stared at me, with a dead branch or maybe a bone in its mouth.
On the outer glass door was a combination padlock that had rusted a bit, and it took me a few tries to turn it open. After entering through the door, there is a spacious living room. The ceiling of the living room is the roof, about eight meters high. The two ceiling fans above are squeaking and spinning, blowing two woodcarved wild ducks on the coffee table. Now I regret that I was greedy and booked such a big house. The east, northeast, and south sides of the living room are all tall shutters. Pulling up the shutters, you can clearly see the Yingshan Lake below and the snow-capped mountains in the distance. Outside the east window is the spruce. The crow on the cross has disappeared.
I walked through the living room and kitchen, found the garage door switch, raised the garage door, drove the car in, unloaded my luggage and groceries on the road. In the messy garage, I saw the barbecue grill the landlord had mentioned earlier. BBQ is my favorite and one of the reasons I booked this room. When I opened the grill, it was covered with black grease, as if it hadn’t been cleaned in years, which was a little disgusting. I went into the kitchen with a large bag and a small bag, and put all the food in the refrigerator. After closing the refrigerator door, I was surprised to find that snow began to fall outside the window. It still snows in Denver in the summer. I came to the living room window. It was dark outside, and the spruce branches were swaying in the wind. The ceiling fan was still running. It’s kind of ridiculous to blow a fan on a snowy day. I found the switch, but found that the ceiling fan can only turn down the wind speed, but not shut off.
Take a breath. I took out the computer, sat down on the sofa, casually put my feet on the coffee table and the computer on my lap, and started writing a travel note. When I finished writing, I accidentally kicked off a wooden duck. Maybe its material is too brittle, and it broke the neck when it fell.
Just when I was thinking about how to glue it, I heard a faint sound of running water from the bedroom upstairs, so I put down the duck first and followed the sound upstairs. In the corner at the end of the stairs stood a small ceramic bear, staring blankly at me. I turned and entered the bedroom with the door open and heard the sound of water coming from the toilet tank. When I opened the pool cover, it turned out that the rubber valve underneath was slightly suspended by the buoyancy ball, and the flushing port was not tightly covered. I closed the water valve, the water level in the pool rose to withstand the buoyancy ball, and the sound of the water stopped.
I went downstairs and went back to the kitchen to start making dinner. Ripped through all the drawers and cabinets and found the cookware to be very old. I took out a non-stick pan and wanted to make a simple stir-fry, but the coating on the bottom of the pan was already rough, so I gave up, threw it on the stove, and used my own pressure cooker to cook a little at will. The small red mud stove, it is snowing in the evening, so naturally I have to drink a few cups. The hot pot was eaten with half a bottle of red wine, and the snow stopped. Tiredness mixed with a hint of drunkenness hit me, I cleaned the pots and pans, and prepared to go upstairs to sleep.
After confirming that the door to the living room was locked, I turned off the lights in the living room, and was about to go upstairs when I suddenly saw a figure on the ground climbing up the blinds. , it’s just my own shadow from the lights on the porch outside. I didn’t look back to confirm.
There seemed to be a slight click at the door, perhaps the snow from the eaves fell to the ground.
I plan on taking a quick shower and going to bed. The bathroom is very small, which happens to be that I like small bathrooms because I am a bit cold in the shower, and small spaces are warmer. The water flow is not very strong, but it is enough. I finished shampooing, and when I was about to finish the lather, I felt that the water in the nozzle was getting colder and cooler. I adjusted the water valve to the hottest end, stepped up the flushing, and the water was already cold. Seeing that there was no hope of hot water coming out, I had to come out to dry, put on my pajamas, and then go downstairs to the boiler room to see why there was no hot water.
The boiler room is at the back of the kitchen. The closet on the right and the washing machine and dryer below take up half the space, the sink on the left, and the large boiler in front and the various water and gas pipes and wires that connect it. There was a hissing sound from the boiler, as if it were about to die. The panel flashed the code E05, about an error code, I didn’t know anything about boiler repairs and had to contact the landlord online. The landlord apologized repeatedly, saying that it was already past eight o’clock in the evening, and it was impossible to find a repairman tonight. He suggested that I go out and find a hotel to stay for one night, and he would reimburse the expenses. In addition, he said that there is a black switch at the bottom left of the boiler, you can try turning it off and restarting a few times. I turned it on and off a few times, and each time the boiler let out a deep roar as if it was trying to gather enough energy to spit, and then returned to the hissing sound before it died.
I went to the garage to turn on the lights, and saw that the wheel that was slack seemed to be more slack. I thought that there was a steep dirt slope outside, and it might not be easy to drive after the snow. I pressed the garage door switch to see how thick the snow was at the door, but the switch didn’t work. I wonder if the garage door’s circuit was frozen. It seemed that there was no choice but to stay in this house tonight.
The air conditioner panel shows that it is now twenty-six degrees. When the boiler is broken, there is no heating. Under normal circumstances, the room temperature in an unheated house will drop by about half a degree every hour, so it should still be nineteen degrees before the maintenance worker is called tomorrow morning, which is not too cold for me.
I went back through the kitchen to the second floor again. The house has various ornaments hanging on the walls, such as deer heads, bows, oars, etc. on the living room wall. There are two accessories on the kitchen wall that amuse me a little bit, a metal wiper for shredding vegetables on the west wall and a cast iron pot on the east wall. What kind of accessories are they?
The bedroom has a skylight on the sloping roof, and the night sky can be seen from the bed. I opened “Tao’an Mengyi” and read it for two minutes, before I fell asleep before turning the page.
2. Grim bear
In a cedar forest, a little black bear was catching fish beside a turbulent mountain stream. There were a lot of fish trying to migrate, and the bear could easily catch the fish that he couldn’t finish, so it only took a bite of each fish and then lost the brain, which was very comfortable. It kept eating and eating, and the water kept rushing and rushing. Clap la la… Clap la la… In the end, the fishes that were thrown away all lined up in a square array and flew towards the west sky, their scales gleaming. After the black bear was full, he lay down on the ground full of dead branches and leaves, and gradually turned into a white doll bear, and the ground began to grow green, full of the breath of spring. I went up and lay down with the white bear, feeling the warmth and softness of its fur. The water in the creek is still splashing…crashing…
I don’t know what time it was at night, but I stretched my legs that had been curled up for a long time and kicked a hard and icy object at the end of the bed. I thought it was the railing at the head of the bed, but the cold thing seemed thick. I retracted my feet, and was half asleep and half awake, thinking about what the hell was going on, when I suddenly felt a chill on my back, as if something had got into my bed, exuding a chill. As a cold air blew on the back of my neck, a hoarse voice sounded in the silent bedroom, saying: “Why did you turn off the water?”
This time I lifted the quilt and jumped to the ground, completely awake.
The thing stood up slowly against the quilt, and exposed its feet first. By the dim light of the skylight, I could see that it didn’t look like a human foot; the left foot had white fur, and the right was a bone.
“Why did you turn off the water in the toilet?”
The quilt slid to the ground behind, and a white bear stood on the bed. Except for the missing right ear and a black scar on its head, it is completely white, and even the eyeballs are white, or maybe it has no eyeballs, I can’t see it clearly. It jumped out of bed, and another burst of cold came. I retreated to an armchair in the corner.
“Hmph, it seems that you have forgotten. Ten years ago, you pretended to approach me, but then knocked me unconscious and took the soles of my feet. In order not to be discovered by the forest guards, you brought me back and imprisoned me in this bedroom. In ceramic molds outside. Didn’t expect you to be back here today.”
My head was gooey and I asked, “What are you talking about? I just thought the toilet was leaking too loud and wasting water, so I shut it down. I don’t understand what you’re saying, I haven’t done that cruelty. thing.”
“It hurt me so badly, and I was imprisoned for ten years, and now I’m still arguing!” The white bear stretched out his hand and grabbed my neck. It was like a can of liquid nitrogen with the valve open, and it exuded a cold mist. The temperature in the bedroom dropped to about freezing point, and the skylight glass cracked a crack. I felt a little suffocated, shivering in the thin pajamas.
“Please let go…” I pleaded, squeezing my voice, “Let me think about…”
It loosened slightly and I could breathe, but the air was still so cold that my nose hairs were stuck. I seem to think of the warm and supple white bear, but what happened after that, I really can’t remember.
“Now that I am disabled, I can’t leave this house. The only thing I can do is listen to the sound of running water from the toilet. It also reminds me of the free days by the stream in the past, and you are so hard-hearted. took my last solace,” he continued, breathing cold.
“Ah, I’m so sorry! I’ll go and turn the water back on right away!” I pushed its hand away with difficulty, got up from the sofa and ran to the bathroom, quickly locked the door, and didn’t know if I could stop it. In any case, its resentment must be quelled first. I removed the lid of the toilet sink and found that the buoyancy ball was missing, so I had to gently lift the chain on the water valve with my hand to let the water flow down.
Through the cracks in the door, I could see the shadows of those feet. “Not enough! Not enough! I want more water!” it cried. So I went ahead and turned on the sink faucet and the shower head in the bathroom. “Why did the sound of the toilet stop?” I had to go back to the toilet and carry the chain in the water.
“The water is too fast!”…”The water is too small!”…
I keep tweaking it with its complaints, but it’s always unsatisfactory. One hour, two hours, three hours… I was numb, sleepy and tired standing in front of the toilet, and the chill of the air didn’t go away at all. I had already wrapped all the towels on the shelf. The water in the toilet sink was getting colder and colder, and finally it started to freeze. I changed my left hand to hold the chain, and put my right hand on my face, but it didn’t get hot.
The complaints outside the door continued. I wanted to change my hands again, but found that my right hand was stuck to my face and couldn’t be removed, and my left hand was frozen in ice and couldn’t be pulled out. Looking down again, my feet began to turn into ice cubes, and then my calves and thighs turned into transparent icicles. The white bear outside the door was extremely dissatisfied. It stretched out its bone claws from under the crack of the door, and was about to turn the door lock, but I couldn’t move.
While I was anxious, I suddenly thought, how could my legs freeze into transparent icicles? It must be a dream! Thinking of this, I tried my best to pull my hand away from my face, it hurt so much that it seemed like I was about to lose a layer of skin, and finally woke up. When I opened my eyes, my face was glued to the cold book cover, and my hands and feet were numb from sleep.
I rolled over and lay down for a while before recovering. Looking out from the skylight, it was dimly lit outside; I glanced at the time, it was only half past four in the morning. I couldn’t sleep, so I got up and went downstairs to make breakfast. Walking out of the bedroom, I saw that the ceramic bear was still standing at the entrance of the stairs, as if nothing had changed. When I touched it, it was cool, just the touch of normal ceramics. As I was going down the stairs, I heard a few bangs and bangs in the living room below, as if a pile of things had fallen to the ground.
3. Decapitated Duck
The ceiling fan was still creaking softly, blowing a faint wind. I walked to the sofa in the living room and saw a small pile of wooden ducks scattered on the ground. Each one had a broken neck, and the black eyes on the severed head seemed to shoot a hateful look at me.
I only broke one duck last night, why are there several more now? I looked at the seven dead ducks in bewilderment, thinking that no matter what, I don’t know how much the landlord will make me lose if I break things in the house, so I still try to stick them up so that the landlord can’t see flaw.
I rummaged through the drawers and cupboards on the first floor and couldn’t find any glue. Otherwise, just like when I was a child, stick with rice. Anyway, I have to eat breakfast in a while, so it is better to cook a pot of porridge, so that after eating, you can stick the duck with rice grains. I added rice and water to the pressure cooker, set the time, and went back to the living room.
Suddenly I remembered that I bought a bottle of honey yesterday, maybe it was sticky enough. I went back to the kitchen and got the honey from the workbench. Passing by the stove, I found that the pan I didn’t use yesterday was standing on the stove, leaning against the stove power switch, with the handle facing up. I remember last night I just lay it flat and don’t know why it’s standing this morning. Looking into the pot again, there was still burnt oil residue stuck to it, giving off a rotten smell similar to tung oil, as if it had not been washed for several months. I’m reminded of the grease residue from the grill in the garage, has anyone brought them to the pan?
Am I still dreaming? I looked around, and nothing else was out of the ordinary. Perhaps the metal wiper hanging on the wall was more rusted, and the cast iron pan seemed darker.
I leaned on the sofa in the living room, and while vaguely suspicious, I smeared honey on the broken neck of the duck, and then pressed the duck head tightly against my neck. The excess honey squeezed out of the crevices, like tears squeezed out of closed eyes.
If a person has been instilled with the concept of “be strong and persevere” since he was a child, he will bear it to the end and never shed tears when he encounters an unbearable thing as an adult. However, unless he has unparalleled luck, he will eventually encounter something that will break his spine and make him cry. Even so, he closes his eyes hard, quickly squeezes the tears away, and wipes them dry, continuing to maintain his strong label.
I glued the last duck and held it half-ly on the sofa, waiting for the honey to dry and watching the sky slowly light up outside. The spruce was still standing straight out the window. In the distance, there are mountains with white heads one after another, and there are countless lakes under the mountains, full of endless tears of white-haired people. Whose bitter and desperate tears are in this long, narrow and quiet Yingshan Lake? …
My body swelled rapidly, getting taller and taller, and the Rocky Mountains soon dropped below my knees, and my head was already sticking out of the clouds. Maybe it’s because the air is too thin, I’m having difficulty breathing. I raised my hands to look, but they were transparent, I couldn’t see them, they just felt strange, swollen, numb, and numb. In the daze, I waved my arms with brute force like Xingtian, to disperse the dark clouds that surrounded me. Soon, the clouds were all fanned out by me. The poisonous sun in summer hit the ground, sunning all the snow-capped mountains, drying the lakes, and finally drying a flock of wild ducks. I crouched down and looked at the scorched earth, unable to believe that I did it all. I did not mean it. At least, I don’t have such great malice.
The rapid beeping of the pressure cooker pulled me back to the couch in the real world, where the porridge should have been cooked. It seems that getting up too early is easy to get sleepy. The wooden duck was still in my hand, but when I looked down, its head fell to the side, and the broken neck was densely filled with ants, crawling out in a black pressure. Soon some of them crawled into my hands, hairy. I got goosebumps. I quickly threw the ducks away, jumped off the sofa, and shook my hands vigorously. The ants that I couldn’t get rid of were blown away with my mouth.
The other six ducks I glued on the coffee table were the same, all their heads fell off again, and the ants on the coffee table were crawling in all directions. So much honey attracts so many ants?
Oh no, not six ducks! There were dozens or even hundreds of dead ducks on the ground around the coffee table, all staring at me with black eyes.
I only broke one duck, why are there so many out now? So many decapitated ducks, when do I have to stick? And what happened to the ants here?
Could it be that I didn’t really wake up? I looked up at the deer head on the living room wall. The deer head seemed to read my mind and began to spin, turning into a puff of white smoke and drifting away from the fireplace chimney. Yes, I must still be dreaming. But the swarms of ants still looked very uncomfortable, so I ran from the living room into the kitchen and closed the sliding living room door. There was no lock on the door, so I tied one end of a lamp’s plug wire to the dining table leg and the other to the doorknob so the door wouldn’t open.
4. A searing pan
But the indicator light of the pressure cooker is on, which means that I have indeed cooked porridge just now. The panel of the pressure cooker shows red L0:01, which means that the food has been cooked and then kept warm for one minute.
Anyway, I definitely don’t want to go back to the living room. Fill your stomach first. I can’t get enough with just some porridge, so I think I’ll have to bake two egg pancakes. When I went to the stove and looked again, the pan was flat on the hotplate again. The rough pan bottom coating is the same as seen last night, and the pan is clean and free of oil stains.
Pancakes can only be used in a pan. Although the pressure cooker I brought has many functions, it is not a non-stick pan after all, so I can’t use it. I rinsed the pot with water, wiped it dry and put it back on the electric stove ring, then took out the eggs, flour and potatoes from the refrigerator, and planned to bake a few shredded potato omelettes. Take a potato to peel and find that the skin of the potato is wrinkled and seems to be stale. I’ve bought potatoes at Walmart for so many years and I’ve never come across a potato that goes stale overnight. When I cut it down, I saw that it was dark brown inside, and it seemed to have rotted. I took the second potato and slashed it again. The black juice like pus flowed through my fingers and dripped into the pool from the back of my hand. I was shocked, and suddenly felt that the air in the kitchen was not right, and there was some kind of corrosive thing filling the kitchen.
I no longer want to think about whether this is a dream or a reality. Dongpo once sighed that the world is a big dream; Zuo Shuai also said that entering the world is an illusion. We can’t escape the big dream of the world, so why should we care which small dream or the deeper dream in the small dream.
Luckily the eggs didn’t look bad. I cracked four eggs in a large glass bowl and added a few teaspoons of flour, a pinch of salt and a handful of chopped green onion to the egg mixture. Heat the oil pan, stir the egg mixture, then hold the silicone spatula in the right hand, lift the heavy glass basin with the left hand and pour some egg mixture into the pot. I felt that the first time I poured a little egg liquid, so I lifted the pot and wanted to add some more egg liquid, but when my hand slipped, the pot fell into the pot, and my left arm also scalded on the scorching edge of the pot. I reluctantly moved the basin out of the pot, and then went under the faucet to rinse my scalded arm. When he turned over his elbow, he saw a scar more than an inch long underneath. After a few minutes, I served the omelette. Looking at the arm, there was a series of small blisters on the scar. This is the worst burn I’ve had in over ten years of cooking.
“Is a pressure cooker that good?”
I was looking at the scar in front of the pool when a word came from behind. I hurriedly looked back and the pan stood up again.
“As soon as you came yesterday, you despised me for being rough and shabby, and when you dropped me, you picked up your favorite pressure cooker.” Pan said angrily, “It’s clean, beautiful, dignified, and versatile. It cooks meat, cooks porridge, Evaporated cakes, roasted chicken legs, brewed sweet wine, fermented yogurt, everything, no wonder you can’t live without it all day.”
I don’t understand this allegation. I do think the pressure cooker works great, it’s a handy cookware, but it’s just a cookware. Every piece of kitchen utensils has its own purpose, and there is no strong or weak purpose for these purposes, or I will be particularly biased because of a certain purpose.
“No, last night it was because I was a little late when I got here, and I was too hungry and tired, so I cooked something in a pressure cooker and ate it.” Time and starvation are only part of the reason, and part of the reason is that the coating of the pan is not looking good. I’ve been taught in the past that a rough coating can be toxic. Although I don’t really believe this statement, when faced with an unfamiliar pot in an unfamiliar kitchen, I still choose to cook with a stainless steel pressure cooker. “I’m not in a hurry to make breakfast today, and I have energy, so I still use you to bake egg pancakes. You and the pressure cooker have their own advantages.”
“I don’t care about this morning! I’m only talking about last night. You used all the pressure cookers last night, and what about me? You say, is it useful?” The frying pan entangled.
“It’s useless.” I admitted.
“Look, look! What you’re thinking is that I’m useless! I’m a useless kitchen utensil!”
I didn’t expect it to catch such a talk. If I had heard this conversation from someone else, it would have been a good joke. But here, I just feel speechless.
It shouted loudly, the body of the pot started to get hot again, smoke was coming from the pot, and gradually puddles of black oil stains I had seen slid down on the stove, like a pile of dead ants.
It continued: “The pressure cooker can not only cook all kinds of meals, but also call you when it is ready. After the porridge was cooked just now, it saw you and winked at you. I can’t stand it!”
wink? I’m scratching my head. Oh, it’s probably talking about the time indication at L0:01 just now, the two zeros are like a pair of eyes, and the colon in the middle is blinking, maybe like winking. This observation and interpretation is beyond my expectations, and I still can’t answer the call.
“Finally, you finally remembered me, but you didn’t care about me, and smashed me hard with a glass basin. I have to give you some color to see.”
It turned out that I scalded my arm… “Yes! Report to the commander! I saw the color, it’s brown!” I raised the brown scar on my arm and joked helplessly like a good soldier.
It seems that the potatoes on the ground were also corroded by it last night, and the eggs survived in the refrigerator. I don’t have a lung with two lobes strong enough to filter rot, so I can’t stay in this air for long.
I didn’t say more, I ran to the dining table with the porridge and egg pancakes in my hand, finished breakfast in silence, stared out the window for a while, thinking about what happened just now. In this house, whether I actually sleep or not, it seems that as soon as I stop moving, I fall into a new dream.
The metal wipe was rubbing on the back of my hand, and I could see the flesh at the joints being wiped off by small pieces, and the blood poured out like teardrops, filling the pit, and then dripping down. I already knew it was a dream, and the wound was painful, but it didn’t need to be bandaged. Just wait and time will heal it.
The cast-iron pan was getting thicker and heavier on my head, and it was about to break my spine. Although I just had to bow my head to get rid of it, I couldn’t get rid of it because a pot so heavy would break the furniture in the house. I’ve broken wood ducks and can’t break anything more.
The cabin has been off the heating since last night, and I was already feeling a little cold in my pajamas. I woke up and the wiper and wok were back on the wall. It was nine o’clock in the morning, and the person who repaired the boiler hadn’t come yet. I wanted to try again to see if the boiler could be restarted successfully overnight.
5. Small boiler room
Just in case I happened to be unable to hear in one of the inner rooms when the repairman came knocking on the door, I was going to go to the living room and turn the lock behind the door first, so that he could open the door himself and come in. I untied the wires that tied the door between the living room and the kitchen and pulled open the sliding door. The ants in the living room are gone, but a whole bunch of dead ducks are still there. After turning the lock and opening the door, I found that the storm-proof glass door on the outer layer of the door was locked, and the combination lock that I had hung on the side after I opened it yesterday was put back into the keyhole. I tried to push and shake for a long time, but I couldn’t open the door.
So I went to the garage again, and the garage door still wouldn’t open, and my tires were completely flat. I took out my mobile phone, and it showed that the indoor wireless network was still connected, but I couldn’t access the Internet, and there was no mobile phone signal in this remote mountainous area. Now I am really trapped in this wooden house, with no way out, I can only hope that the repairman will come to help me open the door sooner.
With a crunch I pushed open the boiler room door and walked through the narrow passage between the sink and the washing machine to the boiler. It was still breathing in a low voice, and the effect of restarting was similar to last night. It seemed that professional maintenance personnel had to come.
There was a small dusty window above the sink, and a few small cobwebs in the corner. I saw that it was already bright outside, but the window was not very light, so it was a little dark in this small room. When I looked back at the boiler again, I found that the black and red wires had turned into snakes, twisting and crawling from the wall and ceiling towards the door. Immediately, the door behind me was covered with black and red snakes, intertwined and wriggling, hissing red letters at me. Although I’ve always been bold, snakes are hideous and terrifying creatures, not to mention when I’m faced with a horde of snakes.
At this moment, what little sanity is left of me thinks back to my drive on Interstate 80 yesterday. I used to be so free to run to a wider freedom, but the road to freedom is getting narrower and narrower, and now I am trapped in a small boiler room. Is this what I have been negligent, or is it a trick of fate? I thought I could choose all the lanes without having to pay attention to some pedantic traffic rules, but when I randomly chose the pressure cooker, the result was a scarred punishment. Who the hell is making irresistible rules for me?
“Cough…you…don’t even think about…going out…” A weak voice came from the boiler, “you…have to…fix me…cough…”
It turned out that the boiler was trapping me. “Why keep me here? I don’t know how to fix boilers!” I asked it aggrieved.
“You turn the switch on and off…I’ve been tossing me to death…a dozen times…I can’t let you…just go away like this!” The boiler’s tone became stern, “My intake pipe is blocked with hay…suck it… No gas…my heart is already cold…I need gas…or my parts will freeze…”
“I’m sorry, but I said I can’t fix the boiler, and I’m very cold now. Even if you imprison me with a house full of snakes, I really can’t give you what you want.” I said there was nothing I could do. . A few snakes came up through the gaps in my slippers and climbed up around my ankles. I know it’s probably not true, but the skin is rubbed against the scales of these cold-blooded animals. If it wasn’t for the fear that the snakes might come and bite me together, I really wanted to pick up the tails of these snakes and slap them on the ground or wall.
Things are so strange. The door was unlocked, but the handles were full of snakes. The window was not closed, but a few beams of light could not pass through. Cold people ask for energy from cold people in a cold way.
I carefully removed the snake from my legs, then climbed into the washing machine, put a towel on it, and sat cross-legged, hunched over to maintain my body temperature. I stared out the window, waiting for the repairman who would not come.
6. The Spruce Redemption
It was about three o’clock in the afternoon in the blink of an eye, and mottled shadows appeared on the window glass, which seemed to be the shadows of trees, but I remembered that there were no trees on the west side of the log house. When the shadow got closer, I saw a spruce moving slowly towards the window.
“Hello! I know you’re surprised, but don’t panic,” said Spruce. “I’m the spruce tree to the east of this log house. You don’t know me, but I’ve known you for a long time.”
“How did you know me?” I was indeed a little surprised.
“We were neighbors and good friends in our previous life, and we played together from childhood to adulthood. Later, you continued to be reincarnated as a human being, so your memory of the world was erased, and I became a tree, and the memory was preserved. You don’t need to worry about it. Now, I know that you are in big trouble now, so I will come and check the situation, but first of all I want to explain that I am just a tree, there is no way to save you directly, at most I can only talk to you here.”
“Okay, I know that the only one who can really save me is myself. But it’s a bit too miraculous to meet an old acquaintance from a previous life in this wilderness.”
“Self-help is your only way, you just understand.” Yunshan nodded, “Every family has a book that is hard to read, and everyone thinks their own book is the hardest to read. If you don’t mind, I’ll give it to you. Read my scriptures.” Next, Yunshan told me some past events.
“I came here six years ago. Before that, I lived in the woods in the distance, playing around all day long without worrying about it. One day, another tree told me that there was a lonely wooden house here. It looked Weird. It also encouraged me and dragged me to look at it. At the time, the wooden house was closed and gray, and it was dark inside, but I could vaguely see its solid foundation, and the whole room was very unique. Very good A house, it just looked a little dejected, but the dejection was mixed with a little bit of fun, and it also revealed a bit of pity. At that time, my heart was a little turbulent, and I even wanted to laugh. Later, I decided to protect it. Accompanying it, its windows gradually brightened, but I quickly ran into two troubles.”
“What’s the trouble?” I asked curiously, this former friend who had just reunited with me.
“First of all, it’s not long since I moved here, the cabin may be a little over-reliant on me, after all, it has been isolated for too long before. Every time I go back to the old woods to play, it is a little unhappy and will turn off the lights. , pulled the curtains, and even smoked me from the chimney. After it was upset for several times, I finally asked why. It turned out that it was worried that the tree that dragged me over would drag me away again, because The tree looked tall, majestic, and experienced, and I like to play around. I thought about it for a long time and decided not to go back to the woods again.”
“So you never saw the tree that brought you here?” I asked it, a feeling of admiration in my heart.
“Yes. It’s not just that tree, I’ve been standing here for years, hardly saying a word to any other tree. I’ve been playing for years and it’s time to settle down. I don’t want to wait for the future. When I leave this world, I leave behind nothing but a void after a lifetime of fun.”
I was silent for a while. I felt a little incredible – when it was smoked and suspected, it didn’t want to escape, but stayed more firmly. What kind of mind and emotion was that. And I, once I sensed that air, just felt corrupted and just wanted to escape. I looked at the scar on my arm and remembered what Daario said over and over in my head: Don’t be irritated or overwhelmed by pain; pain is a reminder to you that you have something important waiting for you to learn.
Perhaps, this scar was not given to me by the pan, but a reminder from God. It’s just that I seem to need more time to comprehend, what is waiting for me to learn.
“You don’t need to think too much now. In the future, there will be more time to think slowly.” Spruce noticed my meditation and interrupted me: “Actually, you don’t need to be too serious. In my eyes, this wooden house is Sometimes it’s a complete joke to get angry. Look at the smoke on his head, and he’s screaming ‘No!’ ‘No?’ ‘Not at all!’ Denying that he was angry.”
I suddenly realized that I can’t remember the last time in my life when I was happy. It’s probably been sealed by negativity for too long. Listening to its description of negative emotional scenes, I was surprised to find myself amused. In the past, I was especially afraid of confronting other people’s negative emotions, and I was extremely averse to conflict. Whenever I am in a conflict, it is difficult for me to separate myself and see myself and others from the perspective of a bystander, and I will only be driven around and entangled by emotions. Maybe this is what I have to learn to overcome.
“Let me tell you about the second trouble.” It continued, “After I made up my mind to settle here, I found out that the builder of this log house didn’t like me very much. She felt that there were spruce everywhere around the house, and she planted a tree in front of the house. An ordinary spruce is really meaningless. For a long time, she had a very cold attitude towards me; she made things difficult for me today, and threatened to poach me tomorrow. She disliked the spruce for being too thin and tall, There is no value to this log house, it’s better to plant a large cypress tree, so that you can enjoy better privacy indoors, and it can help the house when a snowstorm comes. Although her attitude makes me sad, I don’t I blame her. On the contrary, I try to say hello to her by swinging the branches every day. I will invite all kinds of birds to sing in front of the window. Sometimes I let small animals such as foxes and squirrels climb my branches. The log house added some vitality and anger. After three years, she finally changed her attitude towards me. Not only was she no longer cold, but she liked me even better than the log house, and she always pulled me to chat.”
I was shocked again. To me, repaying kindness only exists in legends and stories, and it doesn’t always feel so real. It is hard for me to imagine that an ordinary creature can have the willpower to pay such patience and sincerity to melt away the frost of others. In the face of the frost, I can only care about my own trembling; let alone endure it for three years, even if it is three hours, I feel that I have been frozen to pieces, and the pain is unbearable. What I admire even more is that the spruce is innocent, and the ruthlessness of the builder is not caused by it, but it can finally melt the frost into a hot spring; as for me, even if I know that the frost is caused by myself, I also understand that It’s much easier to defuse it than a spruce, but I’m still just hiding, trapped in the icy forest and unable to extricate myself. For the first time, I realized that I was actually a coward, but I deceived myself by labeling myself “strong” for so many years.
“Okay, I’ll just talk about the things in this life. You’ve probably heard about it: all encounters in the world are reunions after a long absence. This time we parted for a long time, and we didn’t have to be a little too long. A parting is a lifetime. If you are willing to listen, I also want to tell you something about my past life.”
The sun was sloping westward, and the thin shadows of the spruce trees on the windows were getting higher and higher.
I never thought about why the fir trees are so tall and pointed, but now I finally have a vague realization that it is their perseverance and perseverance. They condense the amazing vitality in their bodies at the top of the tree, waiting patiently and waiting. One day, they will penetrate the dark clouds, pierce the night sky, and pick a shining star to hang on the top of their tree, which is the ultimate proof of their efforts, the crowning glory of their lives. They are ordinary, but also unstoppable.
After a few seconds of pause, Spruce continued: “When you were a child, you lived in the small bungalow next to my house, and my house was a three-story building. At that time, you were very naughty and always liked to do some adventurous things. I am a few years younger than you, She is also much less courageous than you, so I often can only watch you play with envy on one side. For example, the roof of my house is my grandma’s flower orchard, surrounded by only a very short brick fence, how dare you ride on it , and throw plastic bags containing water down to play. The water bag slams on the roof of your house and smashes flowers, and then the water trickles down the eaves from the tile ditch. A little cloud of rain. Although I find it very interesting to look at, I don’t dare to play like that anyway. You take me up the mountain and down the river, fishing for fish and shrimp, setting fire to ride a bike, slingshot to catch flies, cotton ball to catch frogs , firecrackers and fried cow dung… It wasn’t until you were twelve years old that you went to the town to go to high school and live on campus, and we gradually stopped playing together. Later, you were admitted to university and went to a city 1,500 kilometers away. At the beginning We still had correspondence, but it became less and less, and we gradually lost contact.”
Naturally, I don’t remember a little bit of the old things, but there are still two children full of childishness in front of me. “What about later? Have we met again?” I asked.
“No.” It replied with a smile, “After that, our life trajectories were completely different, and we never saw each other again. However, don’t feel sorry for now, the story doesn’t end there. Long story short, I went to a university after graduating from college. Working in a big city, but I didn’t know that would be the beginning of a series of nightmares for me. Whether it was at work or at home, it left me scarred. Originally naive, I was unknowingly involved in the power struggle in the company. I used to be my brother The two colleagues treated by my sister secretly joined our hostile camp. In order to defeat our side, they even lured me into a trap, fabricated evidence and slandered me, accusing and attacking my leadership of dereliction of duty, causing the company to fall into a huge crisis. Risk. I have never suffered such a betrayal in my life, and I have never thought that human beings can deceive and fight each other like this. For a time, I was like a rootless weed, beaten and crushed by a hurricane of sand and dust. , ripped apart, and then rolled up to a completely unfamiliar altitude of 10,000 meters, and then was thrown down in horror, shattered to the ground. Every day after work, I feel that all my thoughts are lost, and the tears that break the embankment keep flowing.” Speaking of this, Spruce His tone was a little trembling, and the calm before was gone.
I have forgotten who I was in my previous life, but there is still a lot of innocence in my heart now. I have also suffered a workplace betrayal, and I have shed tears of grievance for it, but compared with what Spruce said, I am quite lucky; at least I have not been framed. Apart from the repeated mental torture, I have also There are no other substantial losses.
“Oh no, I was wrong, I’m not a rootless weed.” It seemed to jump out of this painful memory quickly, correcting by adding: “I have roots. I’ll be forming right then. Family, however, because I was immersed in pain and crying all night long, the atmosphere at home gradually became cold. I was constantly scolded, reprimanded, disliked, disgusted, alienated… I couldn’t stand the endless chatter and Forcing some paranoid old ideas into me, staring at the window on the twenty-eighth floor for a time and having that terrible idea. Then I struggled on the edge of the cliff of despair, and I grabbed a life-saving straw in a daze. I was full of hope He Joy thought it was a life-saving straw, but it was just a wisp of misty smoke coming out of a charred wood. Soon, the smoke dissipated, I woke up from a dream, and I fell headfirst into the abyss. During the fall, I only saw a handful of charred charcoal in my palm. My clothes couldn’t wipe it off, and my tears couldn’t wash it away. Even if I leave this world, I can’t take this stain away.”
I was so dumbfounded that I forgot everything around me. The ruthless bear, the badly sticky guillotine, the hot frying pan, the boiler and snake that trapped me, and the wooden house that I couldn’t escape seemed to have been temporarily taken into another time and space. Before my eyes, there was only a vast expanse of white earth and a towering spruce tree, and occasionally a shining meteor streaked across the night sky.
“After a few days, I found myself awake again, lying on my bed, very weak, I could only open my eyes to look around, but couldn’t speak.” Yunshan regained some calm and continued to speak.
“Then your family should take good care of you until you recover?” I asked, thinking the story was almost over.
“They took good care of me, but it will be a few years since I recovered.” It replied with a wry smile, “I escaped from the place of right and wrong, but the person who rambled on me and insisted on my obsession didn’t let me go. , but told all my family about the smudges on my hands. So my last and safest harbor also became precarious. The charcoal in my hands melted into the tears I was about to cry at last, and became The thick black ink drips on my innocent family members, drop by drop, just like it drips on the rough and white rice paper. I see the ink spread and spread on them, but I can’t do anything, and I can’t say anything. I I feel that I have no hope of washing myself and washing them in my life. There is too much to be washed, there are too many… I am just an ordinary person, and in desperation, I made a not heinous mistake, I really can’t bear it Such a cruel and continuous punishment. When you accidentally kick off a wooden duck, can you expect an ant in one hand to repair a hundred ducks in the future?” Speaking of this, it asked for the first time I have a question.
“I can’t, and I never expected it to be so difficult to make amends. Like Sisyphus pushing a stone, it will never be pushed up and down,” I replied. But I thought, repairing the broken neck of the wood duck should be much easier than repairing the broken heart of a loved one.
“Yeah, you are also a mortal. You were a cow herder, a college student, a father, a son, a guide, and a working spirit. After all, you are still a mortal. We are all mortals, and mortals are not perfect. If you make a mistake, you will find the road to redemption difficult.” It comforted me a little, and then said: “When I lost all hope in the world, I couldn’t help but want to go to that window again, and it only takes three seconds to jump, and I can All sins are forgotten. I know my parents will be very sad, but thinking that my brother is married and has children, so the two white-haired people still have hope for a good life, I can rest assured. “
My heart raised in my throat, and I secretly shouted, “No, never!” But it was impossible for me to convey my voice of dissuasion and retention to the ears of those in the previous life.
If you feel that no one in the world cares about you, and you want to do stupid things in loneliness and despair, please believe that there will be someone in the distance who cares about you and has anxious voices trying to save you, but he may be too far away, even in the afterlife . In any case, please keep a trace of patience, a glimmer of hope, and don’t let down the ardent care he has yet to come.
As I was thinking, Spruce cleared her throat, and her tone began to brighten: “Do you know what saved me in the end?” Before I could answer, it said, “When I was finally sorting out my belongings, I found that a few years ago In a draft of the letter I wrote to you, I once copied a sentence from a singer: ‘You who have no choice, you must choose yourself!’ I woke up again from a nightmare that lasted for half a year. I can’t just give up, I can’t give up!”
A stone fell to the ground in my heart, and the moist corners of my eyes were filled with compassion and joy.
“The road ahead is not easy. During the day, I worked hard to live and rebuild my trust in human beings, but at night I would still be repeatedly attacked by past trauma, often have nightmares, and no matter how much I wanted to wake up, I couldn’t wake up. Come on. This has been going on for a few years before I gradually learn to live with the nightmare. I know it’s just a memory bug biting me and it won’t really do me any harm. I don’t know if you understand, a badly wounded heart Once the door is locked, it can be a long and painful process to reopen the door. Even if someone kindly strokes the door during the process, it will be scared to re-lock immediately. Anyway, walking in It’s so nice in the winter sun.” Spruce took a deep breath, “Let’s just tell the story of the past life here.”
I was silent for a while and asked it: “Did I know about you at that time?”
“You don’t know, I didn’t tell you. We’ve been separated by oceans, and I occasionally heard about you from my mother—your favorite Auntie Zhang when you were young—but we never got in touch again. I Take care to keep all our letters from that year. In retrospect, I think I was so lucky to have written that letter.”
Although the spruce told me not to feel sorry at the beginning, there is still a tinge of regret passing through me now that I have not heard the news that it has completely freed itself from the nightmare and opened its heart. It now ends the story, and there must still be many years of hard work behind it, but I just don’t want to let me know.
I looked up at the night sky, pondering and waiting quietly. The spruce doesn’t interrupt me anymore. Two hours later, I finally waited for the brightest meteor to appear, and hurriedly wrote a word on the palm of my left hand with the fingers of my right hand, grasped it tightly, took out the energy that I usually throw stones at the lake, and threw the word into the sky with all my strength. . I closed my eyes and prayed that Meteor would bring this one-word letter back to my past life. Let me be naive for a while and believe that Meteor really works.
Seven, their own way back
After a few seconds, the meteor’s tail disappeared into the night sky. I opened my eyes and went back to the boiler room. The boiler was still breathing, the red and black snakes were still all over the floor, but I was no longer afraid.
“I’ve said before that you’re trapped here, and I can’t get you out.” Spruce returned to my predicament, “I understand, you’re a man who yearns for freedom at heart. You fished in a rural pond. Having lived with crucian carp and seen white cranes taking off in the rice fields in the spring, you will yearn for a free life until you die. The bondage you feel is not entirely your problem.”
“But I thought that when I entered a house, I should come here and be at ease. I always think about looking at different scenery outside the window, smelling different flowers, listening to different birdsong, climbing from a branch to Another branch, so I feel like a greedy bad guy.” I said one of my doubts.
Spruce laughed when she heard me say that. “Don’t think too much, how can there be bad people in the world who think they are bad?” It stopped laughing and continued: “What drives our desires and obsessions? To sum it up in a simple word ‘bad’. Don’t you remember? When we were young, our hens always liked to sneak into the rice fields behind the house to peck at the ripe rice. From a human point of view, hens This is ‘bad’. But what is a hen from a genetic point of view? Some people say that a hen is just a temporary tool for an egg to replicate the next generation’s eggs, so is it stealing rice There is no one who does not want to be free, but at the same time everyone must abide by the rules, just like the ancients said ‘stopping the ritual’. There is no absolute freedom in the world, and there should be no too strong constraints. Freedom and The balance between restraints also varies from person to person. For example, you are now bound in the boiler room, the boiler is desperate to find you for energy, and you are still in a state of being unable to protect yourself, I think the restraint of the boiler may be a bit excessive . There is a passage in the memoirs of a former Soviet composer: ‘If you want to keep something, the best way is to ignore it. Too much love is easy to destroy. Treat everything with indifference, especially The things you love. That way, they will have a better chance of survival.’ I think this sentence, might as well ask this boiler to taste it.”
The boiler finally quieted down. The snakes on the door, on the wall, and on the ground also began to crawl back, one by one turning back into wires.
“My little friend in the past life,” Yunshan called to me, “it’s getting dark, and I have to go back too.”
“Okay, thank you so much!” I finally looked into its eyes for the first and last time.
“Hi, thanks for what?” It thought I said something silly.
“Well, bye then!”
“No, we won’t see each other again. I didn’t tell you, I’ve used up all the time the spirit world has allowed me to talk to someone who has been reincarnated in my past life. If we talk any longer, you and I will be severely punished, all our memories. All will be erased, and you will be strangers from now on. Don’t worry, I believe you will be able to get out of this siege. Be patient and don’t be too harsh on yourself. Be content and cherish happiness. Concentrate on driving on the way back, don’t think wildly. You have to be good, Huh?” Spruce disappeared into the night after finishing her last words.
“Goodbye!” I said silently to its back.
The oldest tree in the world today is the 9,500-year-old spruce. Perhaps after my short life, I will soon be able to wait for the next opportunity to talk in the afterlife. Or, the afterlife of the afterlife. Let those two excited children, the world rejoice in memory…
I walked out of the boiler room, went to the kitchen first, filled the pan with detergent foam, rinsed off the grease stains with warm water, and put it on the rack of the dishwasher to dry. The pressure cooker is temporarily put away, and it doesn’t matter that I don’t use it these days. Then I went to the living room and turned up the fan for the ducks I had burned to death in previous lives. In the whistling cool breeze, the piles of dead ducks on the ground disappeared one by one, leaving only the original two on the coffee table. The one I broke is still broken, but I plan to stop deceiving the landlord and tell him directly how much he should pay. Finally I went upstairs to the bedroom and, amid the gurgling water, put on a thick white sock, a nightcap, and a quilt on the icy polar bear.
This night I rarely slept quite peacefully, and it was already bright when I opened my eyes. I got up and found a note beside the bed that said: Thank you for finding your kindness again, I have returned to the stream, don’t read. I feel like the interior seems to be getting warmer again. When I went downstairs, it turned out that the repairman had come to fix the boiler before I got up in the morning. It now thumps like a vibrant heart, allowing the air conditioner to start running normally again. The phone ding-dong, I received a reply from the landlord, saying that the broken duck was just a small accident, it was ok, and thanked me for telling him. I didn’t expect to be forgiven so easily. I took the pan out of the dishwasher and the bottom was smooth as new, so I made a pan of crispy potato patties for breakfast.
When I was packing up and moving to the garage, I discovered that the wooden house had a back door that could be easily opened from the house. Sometimes, people feel that they are prisoners in a cell, and they frantically push and shake the cell door, trying to get out, but they don’t know that there are many side doors and back doors that are actually open. But even if they were told there were these doors, they often just turned their heads and continued to shake the solid “prison door”. Because they had shaken it for so long, convinced that the door was the only obstacle holding them back.
I pressed the garage door button to open the door, but the door still didn’t move. At this point I tried another button and the door clanged up immediately. After working on it for a long time, I thought that the order of these two buttons was the same as that of my own, then I realized that the left switch controls the right door, and the left door is full of debris, it seems that the door is broken long time. When I first came the day before yesterday, I successfully opened the right door, but I just hit the left switch. How much of our panic and distress in life comes from small misunderstandings and inertia of thinking? Who can believe that there may be a simple mechanism to solve the most terrible problem?
The tires were not completely flat, as they were when they came. Although not full, but still able to open. If we can get on the road only after everything is completed, then we will probably never get on the road.
I certainly won’t forget to take another look at the spruce outside. The warm morning sun sticks its shadow on the wall of the wooden house. It stood quietly in front of the window, unmoved. It seems to have forgotten all the sufferings of the past and present. As if nothing happened last night. And facing the rising sun, I seem to have gained a new life.
When I left the wooden house and got into the car to go to the next station, I felt a strange warm current in my right hand holding the steering wheel. The music in the car played Cortaza’s piano piece “Just for You” dedicated to Beethoven. The quiet keys are hitting my quiet heartstrings.
I slowly opened the palm of my right hand. The word thrown out last night came into view. The same temperature, the same ten strokes.
This article is reprinted from: https://yihui.org/cn/2022/07/denver-shadow/
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