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238 The Artist Meets Her Birthmother

    The time had come.

    Yujia was about to go visit her birthmother for the first time since she transmigrated into this body, a little more than a month ago.

    Earlier this morning, Yujia had even purposefully made sure that she was dressed in robes which resembled the Fourth Miss's closet. Her robes were made of a simplistic light blue fabric, the quality of the fabric not quite comparable to her Lingxin uniform or the other silk dresses Yujia owned. Still, however, she hoped that by wearing something closer to the typical outfits of the Fourth Miss, Madam Liu would be less wary of Yujia.

    The closer that Yujia got to actually talking to her birthmother, the more nervous Yujia became. She wasn't quite sure what to expect. Considering the Fourth Miss and her past, including how she was abusive towards her own maid, Yujia was a bit scared to see what kind of woman the mother of the Fourth Miss would be.

    Hui'er had been adamant to tell Yujia where exactly her birthmother lived. Earlier on, before she left the villa, though, Yujia talked around with a few servants. She had a basic understanding of where in the city Madam Liu lived, and if she needed more specific instructions, she figured that she could ask the neighbors of Liu Yuxi.

    Yujia went into the kitchen, packing some leftover soup in a nice basket. She imagined that her birthmother would appreciate some sort of gift from her daughter.

    Sure enough, once Yujia set out, she had to do some asking around. It seemed like she didn't need to ask too much though- people living near Madam Liu recognized her face, due to the Fourth Miss and her past of frequent visits.

    Only, when Yujia found herself stepping foot into the small, fenced off front yard that belonged to Madam Liu, she was taken aback.

    To say that Madam Liu, or Liu Yuxi, lived in poor conditions was an understatement.

    Yujia used to think that the Yang Villa was in pretty shoddy conditions. The walls had cracks, the courtyard she lived in had flourishing stray weeds, and it was evidently the villa of a small merchant.

    Now, looking at where the Fourth Miss's birthmother lived, Yujia didn't think that the Yang Villa was all too bad anymore.

    The front gate which divided Liu Yuxi's house from the others was broken. It was already dangling in the wind, and with a light push, Yujia walked in. Though this was a clear security and privacy issue, it was more there for show. The wooden gates around the house were built so low that someone could easily climb over. And besides, at another look, Yujia knew that there were no reasons for any thieves or criminals being interested in breaking into this residence.

    The front yard was a mess, some broken wood chips and logs tossed in one corner. Though summertime was coming, the grass was all yellow and sickly. A piece of the land on the side had a few plants- vegetables?- growing out of it, but they looked as wilted as the grass. Weeds grew freely amongst this area.

    When Yujia looked forward, at the house, she didn't need to step any closer to see its broken state. The bamboo poles making up the walls of the house were chipped, missing in some places. At the front of the house, there seemed to be some sort of kitchen set up, but it was all a mess. The few pots, bowls, and cups in it were tossed in random places. A knife and a chopping board were on top of a crooked table, while another pile of wood resembled a table that had collapsed on itself. Flies buzzed around the unwashed bowls and utensils.

    Yujia stepped through all of this tentatively, observing her surroundings carefully.

    She arrived at the front door of the house- a door that barely held onto the hinge. Raising her hand for a knock, Yujia then realized that the slightest push of her hand made the door swing open with a creak.

    The house interior was just a small room. An old table was on the right, with a single cracked cup and a mismatched teapot. A bed without any canopy was on the left. Barely any light streamed into the room from the only window it had, due to the moth-eaten curtains draped over it. The floor had some wooden flooring, surprisingly, but the planks were tearing up. Dirt was tracked everywhere.

    It didn't look like a place for a human to live comfortably.

    Yet on the bed, there was a person. A woman. She laid there, eyes closed, her breathing so shallow that she was almost perfectly still.

    Yujia thought she was dead. But walking closer, she realized that this woman was only sleeping.

    And seeing this face, a face that despite the yellowing skin, the wrinkles all over her face, and the graying hair, Yujia could still see similarities. She saw features in this woman that Yujia had, but her other half sisters in the Yang Household did not share. The shape of her face, the cheekbones, the slope of her nose, and the curve of her lips- Yujia saw all of these similar features on her own face, when she looked into the mirror every morning.

    Only, it was slightly more difficult to tell. It took focus to notice these shared details, all because of the sickly state this woman lying on the bed was in.

    She should've been in her forties. Except when Yujia looked down at this sleeping face, she saw an old, dying woman, much, much older than that.

    This woman, lying on the bed in front of her right now, was none other than Liu Yuxi.

    Yujia didn't know what she expected when she envisioned Madam Liu. This person was not it.

    Then, the eyes of this woman blinked open. She stared at the ceiling for a brief second, before she looked over at Yujia.

    Light came to her eyes. She sat up- with a bit of difficulty, but still managing to prop herself up- a smile simultaneously blooming across her face. The smile wiped away some of the folded wrinkles on her face. It was a smile, so jubilant, that it made her see younger. And seeing this woman wide awake, Yujia realized that Liu Yuxi must've been a beauty when she was younger, the kind of beauty suffered under the cruel hands of time.

    She continued her blissful smile, hands raising towards Yujia, the way that a mother beckoned to her daughter to come into her embrace.

    "Daughter," she said, "I have not seen you in a long time. I missed you."
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