Proofreaders: happyBuddha, Kai, m@o, Marcia
He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and of the lions on the beach. They played like young cats in the dusk and he loved them as he loved the boy. He never dreamed about the boy.
–Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
Xu Ping knew very well he was dreaming.
He saw the broken glass under his feet, the withered China roses in the planter box, and the blood red sunset.
He walked up the concrete staircase and gently pushed open a worn wooden door covered in green paint.
He saw his twelve-year-old self being held up by two other children as Lu Jia smashed a brick into his head.
“Better that he dies! Retard is in the genes! So when Xu Ping gets married, his son’s gonna be just like his brother, all retards!”
“Liar! You liar!” He heard his young self screaming with anger.
“Me?! Your mom’s an idiot, and she gave birth to another idiot! So what if they look good?! Hah! Their brains are made of mush!”
He lunged forward to throw a punch at Lu Jia, but the scene suddenly changed. The abandoned room turned into a tidy living room.
“What did you just say, Zhang Jinmin?! You say that again! Don’t think I don’t know about your dirty little secrets! I know what you’re hiding in that book of yours! Take it out, I dare you! You disgusting–”
Then, he heard the sharp shriek of a woman. “Did you just hit me?! Don’t do disgusting things if you don’t want people talking about it! The others may not know who you keep hidden in your heart, but I do! Go tell the Party you want a divorce! Go! I dare you! Tell them who you wrote that screenplay for! Tell them how Xu Chuan’s role came to be! Hah, you thought nobody’d find out? You may look prim and proper, but are you really?! You disgusting pervert!”
The door slammed open with a bang. The two adults came out locked in battle as they exchanged insults. He Mei’s hair was flying wild. Mr. Zhang’s face was in a scowl.
“Shut up! Shut up! I’ll kill you!”
Without much thought, Xu Ping took a step back.
Someone grabbed him from behind. Xu Ping turned his head to find his brother.
“I don’t feel good, Gege,” his brother said with a flushed face and a frown.
“What’s wrong, Xiao-Zheng? Talk to me!” Worried, Xu Ping smacked his brother’s face lightly.
In response, his brother began sucking on his neck as he caressed his chest and crotch.
“Gege, I like you. I want to do it with you. Give it to me, Gege.”
He pushed Xu Ping down and began tearing at his clothes while rubbing his older brother’s groin.
“Stop, Xiao-Zheng! We’re brothers. We shouldn’t….”
Xu Zheng tore off his brother’s underwear and took the older boy’s erection into his own mouth.
“Ahh!” Xu Ping let out a long moan in his dream. He had never felt so good before.
“No, Xiao-Zheng, stop this….” He tried pushing at his brother’s head as it hovered above his crotch only to find his arms weak and limp.
He watched as his brother spread his legs and swallowed him deep. The younger boy’s sweat dripped onto his stomach. He watched the beautiful back of his brother rise and fall.
He asked himself if he was dreaming.
He thought as he grabbed onto his brother’s short hair. This is ridiculous. This is ridiculous.
But he couldn’t bear to stop now.
He opened his own legs and propped his arms behind himself as he arched his neck back.
He let his voice go free, even telling his brother to take him in deeper and suck him harder.
With his dick in his mouth, Xu Zheng took a glance at his brother before dropping down again.
The pleasure streamed up his spine like waves of electricity. He reached orgasm amid the death-like euphoria that threatened to suck dry even his bone marrow.
He watched as his brother wiped off the sticky whiteness from his lips before kissing him. The white t-shirt was wet with sweat and clung onto the beautiful, muscular body.
He French kissed with his brother, their saliva dripping down from their lips.
He heard his brother’s voice as his brother cupped his hands around his face: “You’re not my gege, and I’m not your didi….”
Xu Ping sat up in bed, panting.
The Big Ben alarm clock was still ringing on his nightstand, and he smacked the top to silence it.
It was six o’clock exactly. The sky was still dim as the first rays burst forth in the night sky. The faint white sliver that was the moon was still visible against the pale blue back drop. He could hear the brushing sound coming from the street cleaners on the roads.
Xu Ping lay panting with his arms around the blankets. He touched his face to find his forehead covered with cold sweat.
His brother was still fast asleep on top of the blankets with a leg straddled on Xu Ping.
Xu Ping pushed the leg and the blankets off.
His crotch felt damp and cold. The sticky mess on his inner thighs felt like disgusting, squirming bugs, sending shudders down his spine.
He was sitting on the bed with his arms around his head when he suddenly jumped to his feet and shot towards the bathroom.
The door slammed closed so hard that the metal latch broke and tumbled down with a clunk.
Spitting profanities, Xu Ping began ripping his clothes off.
His pajama shirt and pants fell to the floor along with his underwear. He stepped into the tub and turned on the cold water without even drawing the shower curtain.
Icy water hit his skin before dancing to the bottom of the tub.
Xu Ping shivered as goose bumps began to form all over.
With his hands on the white porcelain tiles, he let his hair get wet.
His mind was a train wreck, loud and obnoxious, but nothing could really get to him.
He wanted to drown into somewhere deep, somewhere without sound and worry, where he didn’t have to ask himself why, or worry about tomorrow.
He turned the water higher as he closed his eyes.
The water quickly took away his bodily warmth. The burning sweat, the sticky fluid, all the dirty evidence was washed away.
The colder the water, the surer he was that he had become clean once more.
Xu Ping looked up, startled.
Xu Zheng was standing at the door wearing only underpants.
“What do you want?!” Xu Ping barked rudely.
Xu Zheng stared at Xu Ping.
Xu Ping drew the curtains sharply. “Can’t you see I’m taking a shower?! Get out!”
Xu Zheng stood there for a moment before quietly leaving.
A turbulence rippled through the peace that Xu Ping had achieved. The cold shower had gone to waste.
He grabbed a towel to cover his lower half and brought the dirty clothing out with him.
Xu Zheng was sitting at the dining table with his head down. He immediately stood up when he saw his brother.
Xu Ping walked past him without sparing a glance.
“I need the bathroom,” Xu Zheng said to Xu Ping’s back.
Xu Ping stopped, barely turning his head around. “Why are you telling me that?! You still need me to help you go peepee?! Just go do it yourself!”
The atmosphere in the house was strange all morning.
Xu Ping was helping his brother with the shirt buttons when he put too much force into his hands and one button flew off, tinkling as it skittered across the floor and under the wardrobe.
“Fuck!” Xu Ping swore furiously as he yanked the shirt off from his brother.
Xu Zheng looked at his brother steadily for a moment before asking quietly, “What does fuck mean?”
Xu Ping glared up at his brother, unable to speak for some time. He would have planted one right on the smacker if it were a person with even the average amount of intelligence.
He tried to hold it in as he took out another grey shirt from the shelves. “Lift your arms.”
Xu Zheng followed the command. He gazed down at his brother buttoning up his shirt for him and breathed in the nice smell belonging to his brother.
He never really knew how to read between the lines.
“Gege, what does fuck mean?”
Xu Ping glanced at Xu Zheng only to scoff out of anger. He thought about it for a second with his head tilted and lips pursed. “I’ll show you later.”
He took his brother out at six-thirty sharp. As long as the weather allowed, the brothers would go around the field of the nearby elementary school every weekend.
Xu Ping unlocked his bicycle, and just as his brother tried to hop on the back seat, he stopped him.
Xu Zheng stared back with big, dumb eyes.
“I ride the bike. You run. The elementary school field.”
As he explained, he jumped on the vehicle and shot forward several metres before turning his head around, rushing the other boy impatiently. “Are you coming or not?! Hurry!”
Then, he sped off.
It took Xu Zheng a second to register the situation, but he quickly ran after his brother.
There weren’t many pedestrians on the streets on a Saturday morning. The warm sunlight rained down on Xu Ping. The shops along the street had not opened for the day yet. Only the farmers who had come into town at the crack of dawn were hollering at passersby with their vegetables in baskets beside them.
Xu Ping spotted a middle-age lady walking her dog on the other side of the street. The golden retriever was sniffing around the base of the trees while its tail wagged back and forth.
Xu Ping took one glance back at his brother. His lips jerked a bit, and he pedalled faster.
The old man working at reception wasn’t there, so Xu Ping rode right into the field.
The broom flowers were in full bloom; the stems were crawling with shiny golden buds. The jasmines had budded too, and soon their delightful fragrance will fill the entire schoolyard.
Xu Ping stopped by the 400 metre track. The sun had just risen.
He could hear his brother’s footsteps as he leisurely pushed the bicycle to the bleachers.
“Don’t stop. You usually run five laps, but today you have to do ten. I’ll sit here and count for you while I memorize some vocabulary.”
Xu Ping jumped onto the bleachers and took out his notebook after sitting down.
Xu Zheng stood panting.
“What, you got a problem?” Xu Ping looked up.
Xu Zheng shook his head and began running towards to the track paved with black gravel.
With his notebook in hand, Xu Ping started memorizing his list of vocabulary albeit half-heartedly.
“Athletic: related to sports; related to athletes; strong, muscular.”
The morning air was still a bit chilly. He sneezed and rubbed his red nose.
The sun rose from the east of the field. The green grass had been divided into boxes by white chalk lines, and goal posts stood on the two ends. A flag pole wide enough to hold with two hands was in the middle of the bleachers, and the national flag was billowing in the wind.
Xu Ping watched his brother run. The boy’s legs were long, and his muscles were evenly developed, both flexible and high in stamina. He ran like a healthy lion, and the sight was breathtaking even from afar.
Xu Zheng seemed to have noticed his brother looking at him and waved his arms wildly on the other side of the track.
Xu Ping ducked his head down as though he did not see that.
“Tight: to be (tied or stuck) close; hard to disentangle; dense.”
Xu Zheng finally came back to the bleachers, gasping for air, after Xu Ping had gone over the list twice. The shirt he was wearing was dripping with sweat.
Resting his hands on his knees, Xu Zheng nodded exhaustedly.
Xu Ping looked his brother up and down while tapping the notebook on his own thigh.
“Okay! Now give me forty push-ups!”
Xu Zheng looked up with an upset expression.
“Ge….” he groaned.
Xu Zheng bowed his head, and the sweat trickled down to the cement. He breathed out, bent down and put his hands on the ground.
“The posture’s wrong. Do it again.”
“Use your arms, not your hips. Do it again.”
“Why is your butt sticking out? I never taught you to do that! Do it again.”
The sweat was forming a small puddle underneath Xu Zheng. His short hair was wet like he had just come out of the shower.
Xu Ping criticized his posture relentlessly, making him redo the set because of the smallest mistakes.
When forty finally came along, Xu Zheng collapsed on the ground.
Xu Zheng glanced at his brother and shook his head weakly.
“I’m so tired, Gege.”
Xu Ping crouched down by his brother.
“Do you want to know what fuck means?”
Xu Zheng nodded.
Xu Ping grabbed the other boy by the collar and straddled him. He stared right at Xu Zheng’s eyes and punched him in the face.
“Hit me back,” Xu Ping commanded flatly.
Xu Zheng shook his head.
Xu Ping threw another punch. This time Xu Zheng’s face flew sideways.
“Hit me back!”
Xu Zheng held his own face. “I won’t hit you, Gege.”
Xu Ping looked up at the sky for a second before showering his brother with more punches.
Xu Zheng’s arms were not enough to shield him. Xu Ping pushed his arms away and kept beating him. “Hit me back! Why won’t you hit me back?! Is it ‘cause it’s me?! You useless wuss. How many times do I have to tell you. Don’t take a beating for nothing. Why can’t you do that?! Take a punch! Hit me back! I didn’t make you run and train to be a wimp! Hit me back! It’s called self-protection, okay?! All animals know how. Are you so stupid you’ve forgotten?!”
Xu Zheng dodged left and right trying to escape. “I won’t! I am stupid! They say I’m a retard! I know it. I’m an idiot.”
Xu Ping froze. He grabbed his brother’s collar. “Who’s they? Who called you an idiot?!”
Xu Zheng turned his face away and didn’t speak.
Xu Ping dropped the younger boy back on the ground after waiting for some time.
“You’re not my brother. I don’t have a weakling for a brother.”
Before he even finished, Xu Zheng’s fist made him fall to the ground.
Xu Ping looked at his brother as he touched his bleeding lips.
Xu Zheng sat up using the steps nearby.
“Very good.” Xu Ping flashed a smile.
Xu Zheng watched him dumbly.
Xu Ping pushed himself up on the railing and spat out the blood in his mouth.
“Xiao-Zheng, I’ll tell you what fuck means. Fuck is a word we will never use with one another. If someone forces you to do something you don’t want to do, or if a man sits on you like I just did, you have to beat him until he begs for mercy no matter who that person is or how tired you are.”
“Also,” Xu Ping continued slowly, “Don’t let anyone call you stupid. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are different. We’re all dumb. We all have things that others don’t have. Xu Zheng is Xu Zheng, and you are a human being like everyone else. You’re all not much different from the rest of us.”
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ayszhang: SO BUSY I'll write in a comment here later!
EDIT: Hey guys :) The first week back to school is always a bit hectic. I didn't get time to send this to the proofreaders before I posted it, but our lovely proofreaders have replied with their corrections. So hopefully when later readers read this, it will be free of errors :)
Brother - English Translation by ayszhang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.