Posted in C-Novel Translation

Chapter 3 – Castle in the Time (Time City) 时光之城 by 皎皎 Jiao Jiao

Time flies. It is already the end of week 1 in April. And where I am, it is the end of week 3 of our Movement Control Order (MCO). For now, we have another week to go but my feel based on the current situation, we might get it extended further. Haiz.

We are back with Chapter 3 today. The ending of today’s part makes me wished to quickly move to the next chapter. Getting exciting… Hahaha.

Enjoy the read! I hope you all will enjoy this novel as much as I am enjoying my read while translating it. Stay safe and healthy wherever you are. 

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Chapter 3:

Leaving the hotel entrance, the hour band showing almost noon. Seeing that it so late, I decided not to go back to school. I took the subway to the city center. After father’s funeral, in order to raise the cost of living, I have been working as a waitress at a chain Italian restaurant in the city center called Manro. I had the interview yesterday and am starting my training today.

The restaurant is just one street away from the city’s downtown square. The buildings next to it are either five-star hotels or the headquarters of major banks and multinational companies. Opening a restaurant in such a place is presumably unique. Decoration can only be described by burning money and luxury. Yes, people come here to eat because of the environment. The taste is secondary.

© 2020 TINKERBELLSAN ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Translated for If you are not reading this from, then this translation has been posted without the permission of the translator.

Hastily glancing at the menu, I found the price of each dish in the restaurant is really expensive. I worked heard here for half a day and it was not enough to order a slightly decent dish here. Fortunately, staff meal is free.

I went to see the manager. He is a fat middle-aged man with a good natured look.

© 2020 TINKERBELLSAN ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Translated for If you are not reading this from, then this translation has been posted without the permission of the translator.

I have not graduated. Of all the part-timer in the job, I am probably the highest paid one in Manro’s as a waitress. If I am lucky, I will get good tip and the work schedule is reasonable. I will be working in Manro for four days a week. Tuesday, Thursday and weekend from 4 pm to 1030 pm. And the morning time is free.

‘Is there any problem with the timing?’ The manager asked me.

‘No. No.’ I whispered. ‘That’s fine. Thank you.’

As he was speaking, there were knocks on the door.

Someone walked in, and then stood quietly beside me while bowing slightly down at the manager.



The voice is very pleasant. Very clean male voice with no trace of impurities. I turned my head to see who it was. I felt a bright light in my eyes and I was very surprised.

I know that the waiter in high-end restaurants like Manro must have been pretty but the appearance of the boy next to me was far above average.

He is very young. He is half of head taller than me, dressed in a black and white uniform. He is very thin, but the width of his shoulders could line the well-dressed white shirt, the meticulous black bow tie under his neck and the straight trousers were made for him perfectly.

The manager pointed to him and said: ‘His name is Shen Qin Yan. Later, he will bring you around.’

After the greeting, Shen Qin Yan and I greeted each other.

After leaving the manager’s office, he took me through the hallway to a room that was probably the staff lounge. I said to him, ‘I’ll trouble you in the future as I don’t know anything.’

Shen Qin Yan glanced at me, nodded and said no more. He bend down to take out uniform from the cabinet.

© 2020 TINKERBELLSAN ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Translated for If you are not reading this from, then this translation has been posted without the permission of the translator.

It is a very ordinary look, but it makes my heart jump. I just didn’t have a chance to really look at him. And now I finally had the chance. His eyes are black and clear, and he is extremely attentive when looking at people. His nose is high and straight. His pale lips thinned. Loveable looks.

I have always been able to control my expression and my tolerance towards people who look beautiful is extremely high.

Therefore, he is not able to see my excitement. It is just the matter of people growing up well and naturally allow some restraint and pride.

‘Try it.’

‘Okay.’ I took the uniform. ‘Shen Qin Yan. Thank you.’

He shook his head and said that it was okay.

I looked down at the lace on the black and white skirt. I was a little bit dazed. The clothes seemed very cumbersome.

Shen Qin Yan was ready to turn around when he suddenly stopped again. After a pause, he asked me, ‘Don’t know how to wear it?’

‘No…’ I replied. This is the disadvantage of being a waitress for the first time.

He nodded and stepped back. He stood at the door and said, ‘I will look for someone to teach you.’ Then he closed the door.

I wondered if this young man is really stingy with words.

As I was changing into my uniform, I think it would not matter as I will gradually get familiar with it.

I soon realized after further contact; Shen Qin Yan have been working in this restaurant for more than a year. And his experience level is different from mine.

He rarely speaks anything out of work, only the rules and regulations. He brought me around the restaurant, go to the kitchen, introducing me to all kind of tableware and asked me to recite the menu. Sometimes, I become dizzy with those complicated dishes. He never tried to push me to repeat over and over again. He was never impatient. No matter how stupid my question is, he will answer them. But that’s the limitation of the communication with him. He usually does not way a single word. His young face has no expression. Sometimes, I am too tired to recite the menu, trying to make a joke to ease the atmosphere. But he will give me the black expressionless look.

So, the atmosphere will suddenly be dropped to zero. Cold.

He is good at this. I have seen a lot of wise men. It is rare to see a simple-low-key, calm and reliable one.

I have also made rapid progress under his guidance.

© 2020 TINKERBELLSAN ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Translated for If you are not reading this from, then this translation has been posted without the permission of the translator.

A week later, I became familiar with the process. And I finally remember most of the menu. It is now learning the etiquette. The restaurant is too high-grade and has strict requirements for employees. Although, I only work part-time, I only take two days and two night shifts a week, there are many rules that I must follow.

The thick employee rules stipulated in the etiquette including how to smile to guests, how many degrees to bend when bowing and how to walk without making a sound. So, I had to stand with a stiff smile all afternoon. It’s really a sore back. I thought it was a mental work only but now I am doing physical work too.

I thought of this and felt the pain all over. It is really painful.

Before Dad became ill, although our lives were not rich, we never had to live working hard for food and clothes. I had never been so poor that I have to work to maintain my livelihood. After dad became ill, I dropped out of school to take care of him. But the person lying in the hospital bed is the only father in this life. And he is willing to work hard, even if he does not have enough himself.

But now, for the compliments of guest whom we don’t know, the psychological gap will always be difficult to adapt. And then to add, one will always have a smile on the face.

Now, everything makes me feel deeply what kind of situation will children who do not depend on their parents will suffer. Everything will have to work hard for, and every penny must be earned with their own hands.

Without the protection of my father, I feel very tired.

© 2020 TINKERBELLSAN ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Translated for If you are not reading this from, then this translation has been posted without the permission of the translator.

I had to look at his face to relief my depression. I always felt that looking at him seriously, it was as if I am seeing a straight green pine rising from the ground. Once again, as the sun is setting, we started to get busy again. Shen Qin Yan finally let me go to take a rest. It was easy as the restaurant was getting a little empty. I sat down in the staff lounge looking very tired.

Shen Qin Yan knocked on the door and walked in. After watching me for a while, he suddenly asked, ‘Tired?’

He rarely talked to me anything out of work. I was in a slightly better mood and nodded, ‘This job is not easy.’

‘Have you been a waitress before?’

‘Not at all.’ I smiled. Seriously, the first part-time job is working in a high-end restaurant. I also felt that my starting point is too high, and I think too highly of myself to accept it.

‘What did you do before?’

I spread my hands and told the truth, ‘When I first told you that I don’t understand anything, it’s not hypocritical. I didn’t have any experience except reading books and working for teachers. Bother you.’

We have known each other for more than ten days. This is the first time we have talked about ourselves. Probably because of my sincere attitude, his expression is much softer. The corner of his mouth is hooked, and he smiles. I think that was the first time I saw his smile outside of working hours.

He said, ‘No, you are serious in learning.’

‘You can’t be serious.’ I was feeling better and smiling. ‘Frankly speaking, I need money to pay for tuition.’

He looked surprised. ‘Are you a student of Jinghai University?’

I submitted my resume during the interview. So, it is not a surprise that he knows about my school.

‘Yeah. I am a joke isn’t it?’ I sighed.

© 2020 TINKERBELLSAN ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Translated for If you are not reading this from, then this translation has been posted without the permission of the translator.

‘Admirable.’ He replied.

Jinghai University that I am attending is considered to be one of the most famous school in China. And it is on the top three in the ranking. To famous students, people’s admiration or dissatisfaction are often relatively high. Shen Qin Yan probably belongs to the former. Looking at my look, he definitely though I was making money for myself to go to college.

I didn’t bother to clarify. I just smiled and asked him: ‘What about you?’

‘I haven’t been to college.’ He turned away, seeming not wanting to talk about this. He walked to his own locker and took out a notebook and handed it to me. ‘Go back and read through them first.’

I open the small book. I was amazed by the beautiful and smooth writing. And when I started reading the content, it records the full experience of how to memorize the menu to how to deal with the chefs. There were tips on how to let the brain work at high speed. At the same time, one can read about the experience from the memorable guests’ orders and many more. Such precious experience gives me mix feelings.

In the next two weeks, I took out the spirit of perseverance when I was in the university. I learned various skills and almost harsh etiquette in the restaurant during the day. And I revised the menu in the empty dormitory at night. During the training period in the restaurant, it was finally possible for me to get onto the actual job.

Sending away the guest at the last table, changed the tablecloths and then I can finally take a break.

Shen Qin Yan nodded at me, with his thumbs up.

I sighed. Praised by him, it feels …… strange.

In all fairness, Shen Qin Yan’s good look is also very outstanding in Manro. I spent a few days getting acquainted with other waitress in the restaurant. There are many people talking about him. The news heard by all parties is a piece of gossip and I also know about it.

Shu Bing is in the same group know that Shen Qin Yan is only 20 years old this year. And he is one year younger than me. When I heard this, I was shocked. Shu Bing also said that not only did he not go to university. He didn’t seem to finish his high school. He wandered alone in the city and started to make living when he is only 16 or 17 years old.

© 2020 TINKERBELLSAN ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Translated for If you are not reading this from, then this translation has been posted without the permission of the translator.

When I was 16 or 17 years old, I was very happy in school. There are no worries about my livelihood. I always felt that the sky was falling and there was a tall man. As for him, how did a 16- or 17-years old kid be in this harsh situation? I live in a society where I cannot imagine any hardship. He is different from a part-time student like me. He works hard. He goes to work six days a week and has only one day off. He always does his own thing properly. He can treat his guests as warmly as spring and whisper when he talks. He would usually leave the restaurant immediately after work, never staying back.

I used to look at his exquisite face. Now that I look at him more often, obviously life have been rough on him, but his face has no trace of being squeezed by life. He only has calm and low-key that is incompatible with his age.

‘What’s wrong with me?’

I looked at him so blatantly. He naturally sensed it and finally asked me why.

His brown eyes are very transparent. His eyes and expression are a little weird. I think he was probably scared by my loving eyes.

What a calm person I am. I do not look away quietly and as if nothing happens. ‘Nothing, nothing. If you look good, I will just look at you more…. Hahahaha.’

This excuse was clearly found to be unqualified and inappropriate. And in some countries, there would already be a sexual harassment charge. After all, he and I are far from being familiar with each other. Just a little better than the beginning and now we can talk about family relationship.


© 2020 TINKERBELLSAN ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Translated for If you are not reading this from, then this translation has been posted without the permission of the translator.

Shen Qin Yan opened his mouth to speak but then calmed down. His eyes swept behind me and he said to me ‘There is guest.’

I turned around and saw the guest whom were entering through the revolving floor. I felt a “chuck” in my heart and my breath suddenly became unstable.

My body reflected my subtle mood and I can’t keep up.

While I was hesitating, Shen Qin Yan had walked towards them and greeted them.

I followed him. ‘I will go to. I know them.’



I love travelling and exploring the world, see things from the lense of my camera.... this is my space in sharing the many exciting places that I have visited as well as some of the wonderful gastronomy experience. I also loved baking while exploring new recipes. From time to time, I will also be sharing unique dishes that I cook for my family as well as sharing some of my baking experience / recipes.

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