Flight CZ5376 finally jumped to arrival status on the electronic board.
Ten minutes later, passengers began pouring out of the exit. Zhang Heng and his grandfather were standing in front of the waiting crowd. They watched as people passed by, but saw no familiar faces.
Zhang Heng’s phone rang – it was his mother.
“I’m sorry. So sorry. Sorry. You must have waited a long time. We didn’t expect our flight to be delayed. We still haven’t located one more luggage. Your gifts are inside. Please wait for us… just a little while more.” “No problem. Don’t worry about it. Take your time,” Zhang Heng assured. Ten minutes after they hung up, and after everyone had left, Zhang Heng finally saw the two hurrying out of the arrival hall.
“Dad!” A woman with healthy-looking skin, looking no older than thirty, dropped the small luggage in her hand and began running. When she accidentally kicked the plastic leg of the queue barrier, she stopped to rub it, gritted her teeth, and continued running
“Hey, slow down! Don’t fall over.” The man walking behind her carrying an oversized suitcase seemed a little flustered.
He was in a black Calvin Klein down jacket with a brown scarf around his neck. There was a pair of sunglasses in his chest pocket and looked to have sprayed on a healthy amount of cologne. He was good-looking, but his hairline was receding and was a small belly had developed.
When he saw Zhang Heng, he looked taken aback. “Who are you?” A second later, he smiled broadly. “I’m kidding. So, did you miss us, handsome young man?”.
Zhang Heng took the oversized luggage from the man. “I’m all grown up now. Can we be a little more mature?”
“Tsk, tsk, tsk. I really miss the time when you were young. Whenever I went downstairs to buy a bottle of soy sauce, you would cry and shout, Daddy! I want daddy! Where are you, dad… You were so cute back then.”
“No such thing happened. Now, don’t go around making up stories anymore,” Zhang Heng grunted. “Last time, you told me that you pulled me out of a frozen lake during winter. When I asked grandfather, he told me that it was all made up. If you have Alzheimer’s, treat it as soon as you can and don’t delay it.”
“This one is true. You were very attached to me when you were a kid.” Zhang Heng’s father scratched his head and looked around the airport. “Where’s your girlfriend? Didn’t she come with you?”
“If I have a girlfriend, the first thing I’d do is to keep her away from you.”
“That’s a pity, your mother and I also prepared a gift for her. She will definitely like
As they spoke, a red figure suddenly pounced on Zhang Heng from the back.
“Hahaha. I feel like you’ve grown much taller since we last met – it wasn’t noticeable on video. Oh, there are muscles too! Not bad… not bad at all! Looks like someone listened to his mum. Train hard now… it may be difficult, but you must maintain your physique until you finally trick someone into becoming your wife. Then you can let loose and eat anything you want.” “Ah… I didn’t let loose, alright. It’s because you never finish the food you order, and we shouldn’t waste food anyway. So, I ended up eating non-stop,” Zhang Heng’s father defended himself.
Although Zhang Heng was mentally prepared, he had to admit that he still underestimated their real stamina. They didn’t stop talking for one moment, from the airport arrival gate all the way to the underground parking lot. The conversation did not stop even after they got into the car. As they drove through the city, they pointed out the changes it underwent, very much like the pair of returning overseas Chinese they were. Halfway through the journey, however, the two became a little quieter.
It wasn’t because they had nothing to say, but because they were hungry.
“I’ve prepared all the ingredients. Just hang on a little longer. Once we get home, we can eat hot pot,” grandpa said to Zhang Heng’s mother.
The latter gave her father a thumbs up, an excited smile breaking over her face. “You’re the best dad in the world! No doubt about it.”
Zhang Heng’s father turned to look at his son sitting next to him. “Shouldn’t you be saying something?”
“I think you are still a long way from that.”
“Ah, see, that’s why I really wanted a daughter. Girls are more loving. They are the apple of every father’s eye,” Zhang Heng’s father sighed.
When the four finally reached home, Zhang Heng’s grandfather took out some sliced beef, tripe, and cut vegetables from the refrigerator, then added the boiled bone broth to the copper pot.
While they waited, Zhang Heng’s mum opened the oversized luggage, took out something wrapped in bubble wrap and newspaper, and handed it to the old man, “Dad, Guojian picked this piece of British bone china* for you.”
“Thank you.” Although grandfather’s expression remained solemn, it was obvious that he was pleased with the gift. Since retirement, his three major hobbies had been playing chess, drinking tea, and tending to the garden in the backyard. Upon receiving the porcelain tea set, he seemed to ease his looks upon Zhang Heng’s father, becoming more affable.
Zhang Heng’s father made an OK gesture to his wife who was under the table, indicating a smooth pass.
Then Mother Zhang took out another box. Compared to the previous tea set, the box was tiny, about the size of a jewelry box. Zhang Heng raised his eyebrows, “What?” “I’m sorry I haven’t been around all these years. I’ve been absent throughout your adolescence. This has always been our shortcoming as parents.” Zhang Heng’s father looked atypically serious, no longer as cheeky as before. “Moreover, we couldn’t return for the New Year for two consecutive years. We owe you two New Year gifts. We’re going to make up for all of that,” Zhang Heng’s mum continued, then handed the box to her son. She encouraged him to open it up and look inside.
“Err…” Zhang Heng opened the box, revealing a car key inside. “Congratulations, son. This is your first car!” Zhang Heng’s parents shared a look. “You should get your driver’s license. It’s only a polo, but I hope it could at least help you get a girlfriend.”
“Don’t worry about the license – I’ve put it under a classmate’s name,” Zhang Heng’s mother said. “You can go get your plate number, and the car will be yours when it’s your turn. We’ve already paid for a year’s insurance. Of course, you have to find your own way for the gas, parking, and the next year’s insurance. We won’t be increasing your pocket money. It may be a little early, but you need to prepare to be part of society…”
“Thank you.” Zhang Heng put the key away and thanked his parents.
He had actually been considering on purchasing a car. During his extra 24 hours every day, all public transportation would stop functioning. Although there was always the shared bicycle, it was a rather slow way to travel, and it severely limited the scope of his activities.
Things would be much better if he had his own car. To him, money was not a problem, where after all, one game point could be exchanged for 30,000 or 40,000 yuan. License plate numbers were difficult to obtain in Beijing. If it weren’t possible, Zhang Heng would have to consider renting a license plate. But now, the problem seemed to have solved itself.
The Polo was actually enough for him. If it was not up to par, he could always modify it himself. After all, his car tuning and maintenance skills were at Level 2.
Bone china: a type of porcelain that is composed of bone ash, feldspathic material, and kaolin