Aerial Rain
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MSRV Extra 3 Part 3 – An Illusory Dream (III)

When Chi Wen slowly rose up, he didn’t open his eyes immediately. He rolled his eyes around, prepared himself, and then stealthily opened them. A wave of disappointment swept over the moment he saw the dark underside of the bunk above. But not dwelling on it for long, Chi Wen saw the slightly bright sky outside and quickly got up and sneaked out.

He had intended to return the pot in the middle of the night but had slept until dawn instead. Fortunately, the cook wouldn’t come so early to prepare their breakfast.

Chi Wen hurriedly placed the pot back in its original position, locked the kitchen door, and then returned to his room. As he lay on the bed, he wondered how he would find his parents. He didn’t know where they were or how far they were from the orphanage.

One must have money to travel. Chi Wen searched around his bed but found not a single coin. However, he soon remembered; with so many people in the room, his younger self definitely didn’t keep any valuable things here. He had a vague impression that he had hidden his savings somewhere outside, but couldn’t remember the exact location. He’d have to search for it.

Around ten o’clock, the kids got up for breakfast, which was the usual thin porridge. Chi Wen, not being picky, finished his bowl quickly and then ran outside.

Doudou wanted to follow, but he saw a bit of porridge left in his bowl and couldn’t bear to leave it. By the time he finished and ran out, Chi Wen was nowhere to be seen.

Chi Wen went to his secret base and finally remembered where he had hidden his money. It was buried under some weeds on a slope behind the orphanage. Following his memory, he dug up the tin can and looked inside. He set aside a few small toys he had once cherished and quickly counted his savings.

Growing up in the orphanage, Chi Wen had only learned about saving money in the past two years. But where could such young children find money? Some were picked up from corners, and some were New Year’s money given by the director. There were mostly coins, one and fifty cents, and even some ten and twenty cents, the largest being a five-yuan note. In total, he had seventeen yuan.

This was a fortune for a child, but Chi Wen had to travel far to find his parents, and this amount was nowhere near enough. The orphanage was in a county under a fourth-tier city, far from the capital Beijing.

Chi Wen initially thought about heading south first but then realized that in this life, his mother might not have gone to Shanghe Village.

Both his parents were from Beijing, and at this time, his father should be there.

Chi Wen decided to first go to Beijing to look for them. If his parents weren’t there, he could wait at Apple Entertainment and look for Uncle Yuan.

With a direction in mind, he next considered how to get to Beijing. A child traveling alone was out of the question. He couldn’t board a plane, and the risk of transferring between high-speed trains and other modes of transportation was too high…

Chi Wen pondered how exactly he would make his way to Beijing. After reburying his money, he headed back toward the orphanage. Before he could reach it, he was intercepted by Chi Daqian and two other kids.

Chi Wen looked at Chi Daqian. He hadn’t settled the previous score yet, and this child had come looking for trouble again?

“Chi Wen, are you hiding some tasty food? Hand it over now!” Chi Daqian stood with his hands on his hips.

“I don’t have any.”

“I don’t believe you. The director likes you best; she must have secretly given you candy. Hand it over.”

It was true that the director often gave Chi Wen candy secretly, and unfortunately, Chi Daqian had seen it once, so he’d always remembered and occasionally came to rob Chi Wen of his things. Until he was seven, Chi Wen was always bullied. Then, one time, he snapped and hit Chi Daqian on the head with a brick and beat him fiercely, scaring him off. Since then, Chi Daqian has always avoided Chi Wen.

In their orphanage, children who had been there since infancy took the director’s surname, Chi. The director’s name was Chi Mo. Sometimes they called her Mother Mo or Mother Director, mixing it up.

Of the eleven children currently in the orphanage, only three bore the surname Chi, including Chi Wen and Chi Daqian. The third was a girl with a cleft lip, who was silent and hardly noticed among them. Chi Wen, being the youngest taken care of by the director since infancy, sometimes received extra care from her. Perhaps this was why Chi Daqian had always targeted him, bullying him even though there were younger kids around.

But the Chi Wen now was not the easily bullied child he used to be. Sensing the lingering pain in his body, he coldly retorted in a slightly childish voice, “I said I don’t have any.”

“Why did you run so fast, then? You must have eaten something behind our backs.”

“Yeah!”

“If you won’t hand it over, then we’ll search you.”

The three kids rushed at him, intending to pin Chi Wen down and search him. But Chi Wen, not about to let them succeed, quickly dodged and tripped one of the kids, sending him sprawling forward. Then he kicked another.

“Ah!”

“Ouch!”

Chi Wen had several years of Sanda training, and even with his small stature, he was more than a match for them. After taking down the two kids, he focused on Chi Daqian, pinning and hitting the bigger boy.

Chi Daqian couldn’t even roll over, only managing to block the punches with his hands, yelping and pleading, “Stop, stop…”

Chi Wen turned a deaf ear, determined to give Chi Daqian a good lesson today. Eventually, his hand started to hurt from the hitting, and only then did he stop. Clenching his small fists, he warned, “If you dare to mess with me again, you’ll understand why the flower is so red!”

Chi Daqian, covering his face, quickly fled with his two underlings. When did Chi Wen, this little brat, become so tough? Just yesterday, he was the one getting beaten…

Just wait, he would definitely get his revenge!

After the kids left, Chi Wen shook his hands, then huffed over his small, pain-stricken fists. With hardly any flesh on his hands, the bones hurt when he used them to fight.

Suddenly, Doudou appeared, his face full of admiration. “Chi Wen, you’re so amazing!” Clearly, he had been hiding nearby during the fight but didn’t dare to come out.

Chi Wen glanced at Doudou. Avoiding harm and seeking benefits is human instinct; he didn’t have any particular opinion about Doudou but didn’t plan to get too close either.

Doudou followed behind Chi Wen, curiously asking, “Chi Wen, are we doing that again tonight?”

“Depends,” Chi Wen said nonchalantly.

“Oh…”

Chi Wen grew restless just sitting around in the orphanage. He couldn’t just wait around; he needed to go out and see if there were any opportunities to make money. Before winter arrived, he hoped to save enough for travel and living expenses to quickly make his way to Beijing.

So, taking the chance when no one was paying attention, Chi Wen slipped out of the orphanage. The orphanage was located in a remote area, but there were residential buildings around, albeit old and dated. Chi Wen noticed that passersby avoided him; looking down, he saw his clothes were filthy, unrecognizable, and his hair was dirty and tangled. He had just washed his hands and feet the day before, but they still looked grimy. There was no helping it; his skin was dark, and it had always been that way due to the years of dirt.

The orphanage couldn’t provide the kids with enough clothes; Chi Wen only had one set of clothes that fit him, and so did the other children. They would only wash their clothes after many days of wearing.

After some thought and observation, Chi Wen approached a kindly-looking old lady with a grandchild about his age and pleaded pitifully, “Grandma, could you give me a set of clothes?”

The old lady, upon seeing such a gaunt, overly thin child who looked about the age of her grandchild, took pity and said, “Wait a moment, I’ll get it for you,”

Chi Wen waited at the door for a while until the old lady returned with a set of old clothes and two buns. “Here, boy, take it.”

“Thank you, grandma!” Chi Wen said sweetly. After thanking her several times, he found a spot to eat the buns and then went to a riverbank to wash his hair and clean his body before putting on warm clothes. Although second-hand, compared to the thin, dirty clothes he wore before, this long-sleeved and long-legged autumn outfit was incredibly warm.

Now cleaned and dressed in clean clothes, Chi Wen transformed from a dirty little beggar to a clean one. He put his hands in his pockets and found something inside. Pulling it out, he saw several one and five-yuan notes, which should have been put there by the kind old lady.

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