OMF V4C67 The Perfect Child

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Dark clouds covered the entire sky, looming over him, growling and twisting in an endless manner, enlarging the shadows around him and lighting up the room with pale white light. He shivered. His tiny hands clutched the hems of his sleeves and he retreated to the side but it wasn’t like he could escape from a storm.
The wind blew across the Nine Heavens and rain started to patter down. Jing He shivered and shrank even further into the corner of the courtyard. He covered his ears so as to not hear the thunder and pressed his eyes close so as to not see the lightning. He curled up and remained like that for the following hours.
Far from him, lightning finally struck and the screams of the gods rose into the air. Jing He jerked and tears streamed down his cheeks. He wanted to go out and go back to his parents but he was afraid. Why was nobody coming to get him? Why was nobody searching for him? Not only scared but now even feeling alone he cried even harder.
The night finally went by.
“Jing He! Jing He!”
Jing He awoke in the very same courtyard, his hands and face as cold as ice and his clothes wet from the morning dew. He blearily opened his eyes and looked ahead. That seemed … like the figures of his parents?
“Mother …” He called out but his voice was too weak to reach them.
Jing He panicked. Would they leave him here? He extended his tiny arms but he had, after all, hid in a corner where he would be safe from the rain. How could they see him? Tears once again sprang to his eyes and he tried to crawl out of his hiding place. He pulled himself forward on the ground until finally a small, white hand could be seen.
“Jing He!” The one who spotted him was his mother. She ran over, pulled him out and picked him up.
His father was right behind her but the initial relief written on his face was soon replaced by anger. “Just what do you think you did?! How could you run away like this? Did you want to die?!”
Jing He paled even more in the face of his father’s fury. And finally, he couldn’t take it anymore. A spell of dizziness hit him and he fell straight to the ground, enveloped in darkness.
He could only recall bits and pieces of what had happened after that. Sometimes he was awake and conscious, sometimes he was awake but who knew where his consciousness had gone? And most of the time there was nothing but endless darkness and the feeling of never waking up again.
He was vaguely aware that his uncle had carried him somewhere and that he had been ill for the following weeks, hovering between life and death all the time. His mother had been sitting next to his bed, holding his hands and crying. She only did one other thing in those weeks: Screaming at his father to get out as soon as he dared to come close as if all this was his fault. And, yes, she seemed to have believed that.
Jing He could remember. There was that one thing he remembered in absolute clarity although he’d rather have forgotten about it.
His uncle had been there sitting next to his mother and trying to convince her to take at least a short break. “Bai Fen, I’ll be here,” he had said. “Nothing will happen to him.”
“I won’t. I won’t leave him alone. I’ll stay with him.”
His uncle sighed. “What’s the use in that? Look at him. He hasn’t been conscious for three days already. And even before that …”
“I won’t!” She was adamant.
“He won’t wake up just because you stay here.”
“But at least I won’t be away if … if …”
“It’s alright. I understand.”
“How could you? You don’t have children. You’re not even married. You don’t know how this is. Nobody does. I … I also would have liked to be like a normal goddess. Bearing and raising some cute children. Who wouldn’t like this? If I had known … If I had known …” She started sobbing again, making Jing He’s heart ache even now that he remembered it. It had been worse back then.
He really wanted to wake up. He wanted to wake up and tell her that she didn’t need to be so sad. Look! He was alright. He was her cute child that she could raise. Wasn’t that enough? Wasn’t that good?
“Bai Fen …”
“I’ve already lost two of them. I can’t lose Jing He, too. I can’t.”
“You won’t. I’m sure he’ll wake up. And then … and then we’ll just pay better attention. It was my fault this time. I didn’t guard him well enough. He somehow slipped out.”
“If he didn’t, he’d be dead already. It’s the curse, Qiang Yan, the curse. None of the children of the Heavenly Emperor are exempt from suffering under it. I honestly … don’t see any possibility to raise him until adulthood. One way or another, Heaven will take him from us. I should … never have married his father. If he was the son of a normal family, then he wouldn’t have to suffer like this. Wouldn’t it be better that way?”
His uncle sighed. “It’s hard. I know that. But you’ve already married the Heavenly Emperor and you’ve already given birth to the heir to the throne. This is nothing that can be changed anymore. Let’s just … do our best.
Look at him. Isn’t he quite big already? That’s so much better than the last two times. This time it’ll certainly work out.”
“Let’s hope so.” His mother had squeezed his hand while he was once again enveloped by that darkness.
He managed to live through it. Although his life had never been the same. Causing mischief just one time had actually led to such a disaster. How could he continue being a willful child? The things that had happened, the things he had heard … it had changed too much.
From the day he woke up again Jing He had only ever been the perfect child for his parents. Never doing anything they didn’t want him to do, never saying anything he wasn’t supposed to say. And with the years, a character had formed that he himself didn’t want to examine too closely. Because if he did, he might feel like being struck dead by the lightning that night or being swallowed by the darkness in the weeks after might have been a better fate.

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