Chapter 6: Start Over
Qinyang had been sitting in front of her computer screen for more than twelve hours finishing her clients’ remaining requests. All day, she had been so busy that she needed to skip her meals and forgo any ideas of taking a break.
Finally, after the last project was completed, she prepared to post an announcement that she would be closing down the website. Her decision was a precautionary measure just in case she got the job offer that Zixuan applied to for her.
When Qinyang first started her freelancing career right after college, she had trouble finding clients. So, she had asked her friend to design a website for her where she could publicize her design portfolio and attract more clientele.
Through her website, Qinyang had made a name for herself with her unique design styles. Her creations quickly caught people’s attention because of the special, signature flair she brought to all her designs. Before long, clients swarmed her website asking her to design for them. Suffice to say, her name became quite notable in the designing industry.
Despite her fame, nobody had ever seen Qinyang’s face. She made sure of that after an incident several years ago. Whenever a client wanted to discuss a design, she would only communicate via email or phone call. No video calls or private meetings. If the client wanted to meet personally, that was where Zixuan came in. She played the role of Qinyang’s in-person intermediary.
Another thing that Qinyang kept secret from her clients was her real name. She signed every design under a pseudonym, Aurora. As a result, none of her clients knew much about this mysterious Aurora, but they didn’t mind as long as they were satisfied with the designs she produced.
Qinyang stretched her hands upwards and yawned.
“Finally… I’m done!”
She rubbed her eyes, which felt strained from staring at the screen for too long. Afterward, she stared at nothing and wondered what to eat for dinner. Suddenly, she realized that she needed to do one last thing.
Qinyang picked up the phone beside her and dialed a number.
The person on the other line picked up with a sing-song voice, “Yo, Aurora! What can Luciel do for you?”
Qinyang chuckled, “Luciel, can’t you speak like a normal person?”
“Goddess of Dawn, how may Luciel help you?” he replied mirthfully.
Qinyang looked at her website and smiled.
“I wanted to ask if you could help me release an announcement on the website saying that we will be shutting down soon.”
“Huh?!” Luciel fell back onto his seat in shock and faked a few sobs, “Why do you want to shut it down? You know how hard Luciel worked on that website for you!”
Qinyang really owed a lot to Luciel, especially since he had helped her get back on her feet during some of the most difficult times in her life.
Hearing him sulk on the other side of the line, Qinyang pinched the bridge of her nose and explained her reasoning.
“I might start working for a corporation soon. If I do, I won’t be able to accept requests anymore or even use the website. I will be in a completely different environment.”
“Corporation?” the man reiterated in surprise. “Luciel thought you didn’t like socializing?”
After all, he knew her fear of interacting with strangers.
Qinyang didn’t reply for a moment and bit her lip, heaving a sigh.
“I don’t know… I have to step out of my comfort zone someday,” she tried to be positive about it, but her tone spoke otherwise.
Luciel had always known that she needed to face reality one day, and that only made him want to protect her more. He gazed warmly at his phone screen.
“If you ever feel uncomfortable, you know Luciel has your back.”
An overwhelming sensation welled up in Qinyang’s heart. She stared at her feet, holding back her tears.
“Luciel won’t delete the website,” he sighed, unwilling to erase all his hard work. “Luciel will just disable it for now just in case you need it again.”
Qinyang understood his sentiments and didn’t press the matter further. She closed her eyes and pulled herself together.
“Thank you, Luciel. I owe you again.”
“No, we don’t owe each other. We have always been there to help each other.”
They talked a bit more before they bid each other goodnight and hung up the call. Immediately after, Qinyang’s phone rang again. She raised an eyebrow and click her tongue at the name displayed on her phone.
“What do you want?” Qinyang greeted the caller unhappily.
“Can’t you sound a bit happier when you hear my voice?” Zixuan teased.
Qinyang rolled her eyes and tapped her fingers on the table.
“After the trick you pulled last week, don’t you owe me an explanation? You sent my resume and portfolio to a corporation without my consent. What if I didn’t agree to it?”
“Alright, alright, I’m sorry,” Zixuan apologized lazily and tossed the magazine she was reading aside. “I just couldn’t stand the idea of someone as talented as you confining yourself at home.”
The line fell silent for a while. Qinyang took a deep breath and nervously hugged her stomach.
“What if I can’t do this?” her voice wavered. “What if I panic and don’t say anything? Will they laugh at me?”
Zixuan’s expression softened and she switched her phone to her other hand.
“You can do this, girl,” her tone was reassuring. “So what if you fail? There is no harm in trying. The fact that you agreed to this is the first step to overcoming that fear of yours.”
The other woman’s personality was sometimes a bit too optimistic for Qinyang, but she never took it to heart. In reality, Qinyang did need someone like Zixuan in her life to push her, even just a little bit.
Qinyang offered no reply and the call fell silent once more. She couldn’t help the slew of negative thoughts filling her mind.
Zixuan’s loud voice cut through her pessimism.
“That’s it!” Zixuan exclaimed as she stood up on her bed, “Qinyang, change your clothes! Let’s go out now! I’ll meet you downstairs in 20 minutes.”
“Huh? It’s 11 pm! Where do you want to take me?”
Qinyang unconsciously walked towards her wardrobe and grabbed some clothes, confused.
“Don’t be so uptight,” Zixuan nagged. “Like hell you know what is late! You work like there’s no tomorrow. I know a Korean BBQ restaurant that’s open until morning. Time to cheer up that depressing soul of yours!”
Qinyang chuckled and grabbed her handbag.
“Sure, but you’re paying, right?”