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175 The Artist, Moving Forward

    Yujia tossed and turned for a while before she realized that she really couldn't fall asleep. At all.

    She wanted to. By all means, she really, truly, absolutely wanted to. Falling asleep meant that she could sleep through all her problems. Yet no matter how hard she tried, she really just couldn't fall asleep.

    Maybe she was too hungry to do so.

    Or maybe, it was Zixu's words echoing in her mind.

    She finally sat up once she came to the conclusion that she probably had zero chance of falling asleep.

    The fire between her and Zixu was still burning, and she could see that his eyes were closed asleep. She stared at him.

    Did he really mean what he said about her story? Zixu didn't seem like the type to be spiteful for just the sake of being spiteful.

    If he meant it, then Yujia had some heavy advice to take in.

    Moving forward.

    She never really thought of it like that. And if she did, she still couldn't bring up the will to. She told Lu Feifei to move forward. She told Hui'er to move forward.

    She wanted to move forward. She knew that it was not healthy to dwell herself on these things.

    Yujia just couldn't bring herself to. Every time she tried to move forward, she would just recall those memories again, and the painful process of seeing those memories flash in her mind would just be too discouraging.

    How does one move forward, then? Did moving forward truly mean going through her pain enough times so that she grew used to it? To experience the memories so many times that she could grow desensitized to it?

    That didn't sound right.

    Her heart twisted in her chest. Yujia stared into the fire, as if the fire could give her an answer. She wished that it would.

    At one point in time, Zixu opened his eyes. Maybe he was never asleep in the first place.

    He asked quietly, his voice barely louder than the crackling fire, "Are you cold?"

    That was what made Yujia look in his direction and realize that he was awake. She shook her head, replying slowly, "Maybe. Can't fall asleep." She curled her fingers into her palm, then stretched them back out. "Wish I had alcohol."

    Zixu exhaled softly, ignoring her words. "You must be cold. The night wind is chilly."

    He stood up, stretching his two arms out and walking next to her. Carefully, he untied the strings of the cloak he was wearing, then placed it on the ground next to her, spreading it evenly.

    "The grass is scratchy and difficult to sleep in. The ground is cold. Sleep on this, and maybe you'll fall asleep easier."

    After saying this, he went back to leaning against the tree, his eyes closing again.

    Yujia looked at the cloak he laid out on the ground, then back at Zixu. She pulled the cloak closer to the ground she just laid down at, patting it down.

    "Thank you," she murmured, "What about you? Aren't you cold too?"

    He was wearing fairy thin robes underneath too.

    Zixu, his eyes still closed, replied, "Last time you caught a cold. Your body is still recovering. You need it more than I do."

    "Thank you," Yujia whispered again, letting herself fall onto the cloak.

    She wrapped the cloth that she wasn't lying on around herself. The lingering warmth from when Zixu was wearing it still clung to the cloak, warming Yujia up. Mimi trotted to the other side of Yujia that was less covered by the cloak, lying down right there. Warmth radiated off of Mimi's fur as well.

    She closed her eyes, wrapped within this warmth, and fell asleep.

    ...

    When the morning came, Yujia saw Zixu sneezing. The fire had died down, leaving nothing but ashes and the morning sunlight.

    "Are you okay?" she asked. She handed the cloak back to him.

    Zixu looked at her with raised eyebrows. "Just a sneeze. I'm not that fragile of a person."

    But he took the cloak back from her, dusted the dirt off the back, and tied it back around himself.

    "Do you think we'll get out of this forest today?" Yujia looked to the river, this time not tearing her gaze away.

    Zixu looked too. "Let's just wait and see, I guess."

    His words were true.

    In less than an hour, a fisherman's boat could be seen in the distance of the river. Both Yujia and Zixu rushed to the riverbank, watching the boat approach them.

    When it did, the old man rowing the boat stopped, looking at the two of them with a puzzled gaze. "What are you two young folks doing here, so early in the morning?"

    Zixu immediately responded without any falter, "We're siblings who took a walk outside of the capital yesterday and got lost. Could you possibly take us back to the capital, if you know which direction that is?"

    Siblings?

    Yujia looked at Zixu, the corners of her lips twitching up. Of course, siblings. That was the best answer to give this old fisherman, one that would not be anything incriminating or strange.

    The old man responded, "Sure. You say you're from the capital? That sure is peculiar. The capital is a long way off from here... how far have you two walked?"

    Yujia gulped.

    Did they really walk that far?

    "I suppose we were really lost," Zixu said with a laugh.

    He seemed at ease talking to this old man, but Yujia noticed a tightening in his jaw, and a stiffness in his pose that he didn't have yesterday. She also recognized the usual polite smile he kept on his face.

    "Well, get on the boat." The old man gestured behind him.

    Zixu thanked him, about to take a step onto the boat, but saw Yujia's clear hesitance.

    She stared at the boat, her palms at her side beginning to sweat. A few memories flashed back, of a painted boat pushing her under the water. Of feeling water clogging up her lungs, choking her throat.

    That was when she felt a warm hand grab hers. Her eyes cleared up. She glanced at the hand, then at the person who held her hand.

    Zixu.

    Zixu tugged encouragingly at her hand. "Come on, little sister. What are you waiting for?"

    Yujia wrapped her fingers tighter around his hand, taking in a deep breath. She closed her eyes, and let calmer memories of water rest in her mind.

    She was about to step in a secure boat. Nothing bad could happen.

    With that, she took a shaky step on the boat. Then, she raised her other foot and stepped in as well. Zixu went in after her, supporting her back as the two of them had a seat. Mimi leapt in with a command uttered from Zixu.

    Now that the two of them were on, the fisherman began to row again. The boat swayed gently in the river as it moved forward. Yujia felt her breath tightening again as she looked at all the water around her. Zixu had let go of her hand by this point.

    Her hand instinctively reached out and grabbed Zixu's. She looked up, seeing his eyes widen a bit. He didn't return her gaze and instead looked off into the distance. Yet he didn't move his hand.

    Yujia's fingers were clenched around his palm. She counted her breaths and squeezed her eyes shut, pushing those terrifying memories out of her brain.

    She was okay. She was okay. She was okay.

    As if their thoughts were connected, Zixu, at this moment, finally looked to her, his other hand placing over hers. "You're okay. You're safe," he whispered.

    Yujia opened her eyes. She couldn't force a smile on her face, but she could feel her heart settling down from the irregular rhythm it was thumping at. For a brief moment, she managed to breathe again.  Find authorized novels in Webnovel,faster updates, better experience,Please click www.webnovel.com  for visiting.

    Perhaps this was not moving forward, but for now, for Yujia, it would be good enough.
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