Xinya shook off all of his depressing thoughts and started to focus on the here and now. He was granted a second chance to do things right. This time, he won’t have to dig in garbage cans for food or sleep outside in the cold for months on end.
The first thing he did was grab his smartphone and open a bank account for himself, afterwards he transferred the money his mother left him to it. In his last life, he waited until the day after his birthday to do so because he was so depressed, not knowing that his stepmother found out about the money and had it merge with the family account.
When he learned about what his stepmother had done, he was enraged but there was nothing he could do. He wanted to get a job but the jobs he could do needed experience, or so said the employers.
Those days were the hardest, it wasn’t until a year later that his only friend found him out on the street. Her name was Pan Wei, a childhood friend of his and the only woman he could tolerate. She is the daughter of one of the previous household’s maids. His stepmother fired her mom because she couldn’t stand how close her daughter and Xinya were.
Xinya stopped talking to her after his stepmother banned her from the house and took his phone away. When she found him on the streets, although they weren’t as close as they used to be, she still helped him a great deal. She fed him, let him stay with her for a while, brought him a VR headset and taught him how to make money in the game. If it wasn’t for her, he knew for sure that he would have been dead a lot sooner.
Sadly, Wei died of VR sickness two years later. She used a VR Pod that allows one to stay inside of it for 24 hours if one chooses, as long as it is stocked with the standard nutrient solution. One day she had asked her roommate, who was going to the store to buy more for her. Being deceitful, her roommate bought expired ones for cheap, so she could pocket the money.
Wei died because of that roommate’s selfishness, nobody would have known but luckily the roommate had a case of a guilty conscience and turned herself in.
Clenching his fists, Xinya promised himself that he wouldn’t let that happen this time. Opening up his contacts he dialed the number of the person he owes everything to. The phone rang twice before it was picked up.
“Xinya… is that you?” A bell-like voice said.
Tears gathered in his eyes, it’s been so long since he heard his friend’s voice. He thought that he would never be able to hear it again.
“Yes, it’s me.” He said.
The two of them talked about everything that had happened. He told her about what his stepmother did and how he was disinherited and kicked out of the house.
“That bitch! No wonder you acted so jitterily when she was around.” Wei shouted angrily. “I should have noticed that something was wrong.”
“Don’t beat yourself up, nobody noticed.”
“But I should have, I was your best friend. After that woman banned me I was so angry and then I got angry at you because you stopped contacting me. I thought you were only my friend because it was convenient… what a fool I was.” Wei replied sadly.
Xinya finally knew why Wei did so much for him in the past after learning the truth, she must have felt really guilty that she doubted him.
“It’s alright, really. I’m away from her now.”
“That’s true, but where are you staying now?” Wei asked worriedly.
“Some cheap motel in the slums.”
Wei let out a horror-filled gasp before saying, “What are you doing at such a place?”
“I didn’t have any money for somewhere better and could only get the money my mother left for me today.” He replied.
“That’s right… it’s your birthday today.” Wei said softly into the phone.
“Yeah, it is, but it’s not worth celebrating this year.”
Huffing angrily at the situation, Wei says, “Fine, but next year we’re partying twice as hard to make up for this year. By the way, tell me where you are, you’re coming to stay with me.”
“Alright, but I won’t stay there for free.” He said while telling her his address.
“I’ll come to pick you up in a bit, make sure you have your stuff ready.” She said bossily.
“Don’t worry, I only have one bag and it’s already packed.”
“One bag? They only let you take one bag with you?”
“Yeah…” He replied meekly.
“Your stepmother is making me hate her more and more. I don’t even know why that stupid bitch tried to seduce you, with you being gay and all.”
“How did you know?” He asked, startled.
“Please… if you never tried anything with me, obviously you’re gay.”
Xinya couldn’t help but let out a laugh at her nonsensical words.
“It’s good to hear you laugh again, it’s been a long time,” Wei said softly.
He knew then, just by her words, how concerned she had been about him and felt like tearing up again but held it back to console her.
“Yes, it’s been a long time.” He said finally.
“I’ll be there in an hour, wait for me.” She said before ending the call.
Closing his phone, Xinya had a slight smile on his face because he knew things would be different this time.