An internet celebrity’s return to her hometown
It was a weekday in late September. Through the window, the sky was clear with few clouds, like an over-enhanced desktop background. The car drove smoothly, making a faint vibration that gave one the comfortable feeling like a swaddled baby, or nestling in a lover’s arms. It was a good time for a nap, but Zhu Xiao’ao wasn’t tired.
She sat in the back of the car, the matcha latte in her hand down to its foamy dredges, with a mildly bitter flavor left. From the passenger’s seat, her assistant He Meili took the cup from her and put it in the rubbish bag. This girl, in her early 20s, had signed on just two months ago. She had bright eyes, excelled at both office work and outreach, and was uncharacteristically calm for her age. Come October, Zhu planned to make her full-time.
She’d just gotten her hands on 30 million RMB in capital, and would have a lot of planning to do, but for the time being, she didn’t want to think about it. The trees on the sides of the road were mostly poplars, and between them lay cows, sheep, and people. Most of the landscape was green, but apart from the occasional torch tree that lit the scene up like fire, the colors were fading now. This pastoral scene didn’t seem much different from 20 years before, proving that it’s not things that change, but people. Zhu was quite happy, as if on vacation, but it had become a habit to muse.
Homecoming Queen is a story from our issue, “Beyond Go.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.