The room was clean and thickly carpeted. The edges of the tables and counters were wrapped in thick cloth. There was a fruit plate on the coffee table but nothing sharp like knife or fork.
“Doctor Gao, please come in.” A woman in a white dress welcome Doctor Gao and Chen Ge into the room. She looked to be in her forties and took good care of her appearance.
“Has Wang Xin’s condition improved?”
“I’ve given her the recommended sleeping pills and anti-depressants, but the effect has not been as positive as I hoped.” The woman smiled weakly. “If anything, her condition hasn’t improved, but all the side effects did show themselves—dry heaving, shivering, and shaking hands. She could not even grip the chopsticks during lunch, and the food fell all over the table. Doctor Gao, do you think Wang Xin can still be cured?”
“Believe me, she will get better.”
“Hmm.” The woman then noticed Chen Ge behind the doctor. “And this is?”
“My name is Chen Ge.” Chen Ge did not want to waste time. “Can I please meet your daughter?”
“This…” The woman turned to Doctor Gao to ask for his opinion.
“I will join him.” After Doctor Gao nodded, the woman reluctantly let Chen Ge into the room. “The child is in her bedroom. After having one spoon of lunch, she started wailing.”
The woman walked to a door. She knocked lightly on it for quite some time, but there was no response. She placed her hand on the door knob, twisted, and opened the door a sliver. The woman sighed wordlessly before moving back.
“Let’s go in.” Doctor Gao looked at Chen Ge. “Do not say anything to provoke the patient, before you do anything, please discuss it with me.”
“Okay,” Chen Ge promised before he was let into the room. The carpet in the bedroom was even thicker, and the edges of the cupboards and table were all sanded off. There was not anything sharp in sight; even the windows were installed with anti-theft netting. There was not a bed in the room. Instead, there were two thick mattresses placed together. All of the decorations were white, and there were no personal effects.
Doctor Gao moved to the side, and Chen Ge finally saw the woman he was looking for. A slender girl was lying on the mattress. The white shirt with a round collar barely covered up her frame, her skin was white to the point it looked translucent, and she appeared fragile, like too violent a movement would cause her body to snap.
Realizing that she had guests, the girl slowly sat up in bed. While Chen Ge expected a raging mental patient, the girl was surprisingly normal, if a little reticent.
Doctor Gao squatted down beside the mattress to maintain a level eye contact with the girl and asked kindly, “Wang Xin, does your head still hurt?”
The girl shook her head and took a glance at Chen Ge before putting her head down.
“Then, have you been sleeping?” Doctor Gao asked, but this time, the reaction elicited was much more intense. She reached out to grab at her own hair, and when she released, there were strands of black hairs stuck between her fingers. That was how strong she was as she yanked her hairs out.
“Still can’t sleep, huh?” Standing up, the brows of the good doctor were deeply furrowed. “Neither of the medicines had an effect?”
“Doctor Gao, may I speak to her?”
“Wang Xin’s current condition is considered stable, so go ahead.” Chen Ge mimicked Doctor Gao and squatted down. The girl probably assumed he was also a doctor, so she did not show much resistance. She merely pulled her sleeves down to cover the red welts on her arms, which felt like they were the result of her own rabid scratching.
The girl before him was frail; she gave the impression of a paper kite, like a single thread was everything that connected her to survival. A single mistake, and she would be lost among the dark clouds before being torn apart by the storm.
“Wang Xin.” Chen Ge pulled out the ballpoint pen from his pocket. “Your friend wants to talk to you, so I brought her with me.”
Wang Xin glanced at the ballpoint pen but did not show any special emotion. She probably wanted to smile at Chen Ge’s attempt at a joke but found herself unable to do even that.
Doctor Gao beside him and the woman who was eavesdropping at the door were confused; they did not understand what Chen Ge was up to. Chen Ge was not discouraged by Wang Xin’s lack of reaction. He retrieved a piece of white paper from the desk and placed it on the mattress. He hovered the pen above it and prepared to start the Pen Spirit game.
Chen Ge was facing away from Doctor Gao and facing Wang Xin. He moved his lips but made no sound as he mouthed the incantation to invoke the Pen Spirit. “Pen Spirit, Pen Spirit, you are my…”
As his lips opened and closed, Wang Xin’s focus was slowly attracted to Chen Ge. She turned to look at Chen Ge fully and reading the words on Chen Ge’s lips; she flailed her arms around and shrunk back into the walls like she was reminded of something horrible.
“What are you doing‽” The woman dashed into the room to stop Chen Ge alongside Doctor Gao.
“I’m helping her solve the issue in her heart.” Chen Ge shielded the ballpoint pen in his hand. “No one knew what happened to Wang Xin, but that is the source of her illness! Just give me one minute, I only need one minute!”
His conviction was firm as he squatted beside the mattress with the pen in his palm. Initially, Chen Ge merely wanted to finish the Pen Spirit’s mission, but when he saw how tortured the girl was, he felt the need to do something.
“Why don’t we give him a chance?” After a long confrontation, Doctor Gao chose to trust Chen Ge. “During my sessions with Wang Xin, she has never shown this kind of reaction before. Perhaps this is a good sign.”
Doctor Gao eventually convinced the woman, and they agreed to give Chen Ge three minutes. The two walked to the door, and Chen Ge stood up to close the curtains and the door.
“Wang Xin, your friend has been trying to reach you.” He placed the pen above the paper again and continued to chant. “Pen Spirit, Pen Spirit, you are my spirit from my previous life, and I am your spirit in this life…”
As Chen Ge continued to mumble, the girl hiding in the corner started to get increasingly feared. The nightmare-like memory that had haunted her for years started to appear in her heart. As cruel as it was, Chen Ge forced himself to continue. Not long after that, the pen hovering over the paper started to move on its own. Then, beautiful handwriting appeared on the white paper, handwriting that was different from Chen Ge’s own.
“Wang Xin, I really didn’t expect that a mindless joke would create such a lasting wound in your heart; you must hate me very much, right?”
Wang Xin was stunned when she saw the familiar handwriting. At that moment, her mind was blank; she also did not know what to think anymore.
“You have nothing to do with my death. I merely wanted to scare you when I saw you coming with another friend. Who would have thought the rope would be too tight and the chair would slip?
“You did nothing wrong; it was a silly prank gone very wrong.
“I’m so sorry, Wang Xin. I don’t ask that you could forgive me, but I hope that you can remove the bad memories from your mind and strive to live the best life on behalf of the rest of us.”