Through the flower garden, Bai Lu and Jiang Ru left the neighborhood.
At 10:30 p.m., the Sixth Middle School’s gate was already closed, compared to Jiang Ru’s break up thoughts, Bai Lu had to think more about how to explain to the security guard and hostess aunt when they return later.
“Here it is.” Jiang Ru said.
They were standing at a crossroads, the light was still red. Across the road was a row of roadside stalls and snack bars, and at the turn was a large, dark iron gate.
The Sixth High School and the vocational high school were only two blocks apart, but the scene and atmosphere were completely different.
At this time of the night, there were very few pedestrians in front of the Sixth High School, and only the senior dormitory building was lit up for the college entrance examination candidates to study. But the entrance of the vocational high school was as lively as a food court.
Once ten o’clock passed, a row of barbecue stalls were set up on the road.
The students of the high school were the main customers of these small restaurants. Bai Lu had been studying in the Sixth High School for more than two years and knew a little about this neighboring school. The service art vocational high school was also a boarding school, but there was no access control, or even if there was, the set up was in vain.
The time was a busy time, all the stores were filled with young-faced high school students.
No one here was honestly wearing school uniforms. Their button of the shirt were open, revealing their chest and bosom, or tied around the waist. At the corner of one barbecue stall two young couples were hugging each other, shoving food in each others’ mouth.
The green light came, but Jiang Ru did not took any step to cross the road.
Bai Lu looked at her strangely and found that her face was tinged with red and her lips were tightly closed.
She was nervous.
Seeing her so nervous, Bai Lu hesitantly said, “Do you have his phone number? Should I call him to come out?”
Jiang Ru nodded, “Yes but……”
Bai Lu asked again, “Do you want to call him?”
Jiang Ru gripped the strap of her school bag, lowered her head, and fondled her school uniform skirt with her other hand.
“It’s better if I go look for him, I know where he is.” Jiang Ru said.
“Where is he?”
Jiang Ru raised her hand and pointed across the road. Bai Lu followed and looked over, it was a fast food restaurant.
“He’s usually there at this time of day.” Jiang Ru said, “eating with friends ……” Jiang Ru suddenly paused, her face became more red, not in embarrassment but in nervousness. Bai Lu pulled her hand, it was icy cold.
“You don’t have to be so nervous.” Bai Lu said.
Jiang Ru’s hand gripped her hand a little tighter, as if to draw strength from Bai Lu.
Bai Lu looked across the road before asking, “Do you still want to go?”
“Yes.” Jiang Ru gritted her teeth, ” I have to go.”
After waiting for another traffic light, Jiang Ru took a deep breath and walked across the road.
She touched her hair several times along the way, and pursed her lips. Bai Lu really did not know how to comfort her.
The store was open. Jiang Ru pointed a dozen of meter away and said to Bai Lu, “Wait for me there.”
Bai Lu shook her head and said, “It’s better if I accompany you.”
Jiang Ru also shook her head and said with a hesitant look on her face, “You …… wouldn’t like that group.”
Bai Lu tilted her head as she asked “Do you like them?”
Jiang Ru shook her head again and whispered, “I don’t like them either …… but I like him.”
Jiang Ru took a deep breath and turned her head toward the fast food restaurant.
Bai Lu looked up, the store is called “Coco fast food”, the sign was not lit up like other stores so she couldn’t see it from far at night.
Jiang Ru went in the front, behind her Bai Lu silently followed, they stopped at the entrance of the store.
Jiang Ru again took a deep breath before opening the door of the store and entering.
The store that was lively a moment ago became surprisingly quiet. The inside of the store wasn’t much big and only one group of people were present there. Jiang Ru walked over to that group of people.
After she entered, the store became completely silent. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that she, an unexpected guest had entered.
“What did you come here for?” Jiang Ru just reached the table of the group when a girl asked.
“I didn’t come looking for you ……,” Jiang Ru’s voice sounded even lighter than it had just been.
“Shut up!” The girl didn’t seem to think Jiang Ru could offend her, so her voice suddenly became louder, “Who are you looking for?”
Jiang Ru’s voice trembled.
“Xu Hui ……”
Bai Lu leaned at the door of another fast food restaurant beside the one Jiang Ru went in and waited for her friend’s return. She inadvertently lowered her head, only to find that the door was dirty, not wiped for a long time.
Bai Lu took a half step back. She didn’t hear the voice coming from the store, neither could she see anything inside. Her gaze landed on the trees standing on the sides of the road.
“Looking for me for what?”
Inside the store, a boy of seventeen or eighteen was stitting there with his friends, his voice still carried a slight youthfulness.
Maybe he was tired, or maybe it was not exciting, his voice was vaguely subdued and sounded annoyed.
Jiang Ru looked at him as if possessed and asked hesitantly, “Can you come out with me for a moment?”
The girl who just questioned Jiang Ru laughed, “Interesting, who are you calling?”
Jiang Ru took a breath and replied, “I did not call you.”
The girl slapped the table, “You say that again?” Pointing at Jiang Ru she exclaimed, “Deadbeat thing!”
Bai Lu rubbed her feet on the ground, a fallen dead leaf was trampled by oncoming pedestrians. She was completely unaware of the war going inside the store. She was standing a little far away from the store so she couldn’t see what was happening inside.
Jiang Ru looked at the girl in astonishment as she asked, “Why are you cursing me……?”
“You try saying another fucking bullshit sentence!”
The girl suddenly stood up and screamed, she was wearing high heels, so she looked taller than Jiang Ru. The boys next to the girl were vaguely laughing, they had no intention of stopping the drama.
“All right.” Xu Hui interrupted the girl and said to Jiang Ru, “Why did you come to see me?”
How strange, both the teenage boy and girl obviously asked the same thing.
Why did you came to see me.
But Jiang Ru this time was very cooperative and replied, “I have something to say to you.”
The girl interjected again, “If you have something to say, say it here.”
Jiang Ru took a deep breath, ignored the girl and asked the boy again, “Xu Hui, are you coming out with me?”
Her tone sounded calm, with the unique dignity of a good student, but in such circumstances, this vague reserve and pride seemed fragile and embarrassing.
The girl was enraged by the indefinable feeling. Cursed words left her mouth like water.
The more direct you are at a young age, the more you hurt other people.
Jiang Ru was about to cry out, she hadn’t been so humiliated ever in her life before. She gave the girl an aggravated look as she asked, “What did you say? Why are you cursing me?”
The girl looked innocent as she asked back, “Am I wrong ah?”
Who knew where the strength came from but Jiang Ru glared at the girl and said, “Say it again.”
The girl gave a snort, and said word by word with a provocating tone, “Ugly! Bitch!”
Jiang Ru stomped her foot, “Xu Hui!”
“Okay.” The boy seemed like a starry-eyed emperor, who just watched the group of ministers quarreled, and finally he presided over the big picture. “Stop it, Xiao Ye, don’t go too far.”
“Hmph.” The girl named Xiao Ye snorted coldly and gave the boy enough face and stopped speaking.
Jiang Ru seemed to have hope again, “Xu Hui.”
But Xu Hui shattered her hope and said in a low voice, “What do you wanna say? Say it here.”
In public, this kind of conversation simply killed Jiang Ru. As if all the way coming here was for naught.
“Can’t you come out for a moment?”
Xu Hui did not speak, only stared at her. Silently telling he didn’t want to.
Xiao Ye muttered on the side, “…… really shameless.”
Jiang Ru didn’t care about Xiao Ye, and with strong resolution she said, “Then let’s break up.”
Xiao Ye from the side suddenly let out a “Pfft”, then covered her mouth, but did not laugh louder.
Xu Hui did not laugh and agreed immediately, “Okay.”
There was nothing more to insist on, Jiang Ru opened her mouth several times, but could not find to say anything. The tears finally fell one by one. She turned and ran out of the store.
She seemed to forget about Bai Lu’s presence and ran all the way outside.
The huge school bag swayed left and right behind her, awkwardly.
After Jiang Ru left, the group kept chattering as if whatever happened just now was everyday drama for them.
One boy said from the side, “Xiao Ye, you are too much, how could you curse others?”
Another boy also agreed with him, “Yes, she came out at night to find Brother Hui, you are just too jealous.”
Xiao Ye sneered and made a fuss with the boys, yelling she said, “How dare you talk about me! Did I say anything wrong? I’m going to bite you if you mess with me ah!”
The boy didn’t get scared by her screaming, he opened his mouth again and said, “In fact, she is not particularly ugly, she looks like that mainly because her head is too big, and she’s so thin. She suddenly came in like an alien and scared me.”
Xiao Ye giggled, “You are advising me not to curse but your mouth isn’t good either.”
“Xiao Ye sister.” Another boy suddenly said, “She is from Sixth Highschool. She must be good at studying.”
Xiao Ye snorted and said, “Nerdy bitch, women rely on learning are no good ah.”
The boy from before ask in puzzlement “What are you saying? Aren’t girls who are good at studying better than other girls?”
Xiao Ye shook her head and seriously explained, “The examination room depends on good study, but the love field must rely on the face. Nerds should go to nerds.”
The group followed with a laugh, a boy suddenly joked, “Brother Hui, how did you make the girl fall for you? Give me some tips, we are single for too long, both physically and mentally exhausted.”
After a long time, Xu Hui jokingly said, “You have to have the face, sometimes nerdy women also look at the face.”
The crowd laughed again.
The waiter of the restaurant watched all the way how they mocked the girl and could not help but say, “Young man, that little girl also liked you, you didn’t do a good job this time.”
Xiao Ye was annoyed: “What ah, what do you mean not too good? Which love has a good side? He does not like her, but also have to force himself to like, just listening this make me so sick ah.”
Xu Hui did not speak, but the waiter was already choked a mouthful by her reasoning, and hurriedly said, “You’re right, you’re all right.”
“I know.” Xiao Ye said, “playing with people’s heart is not considered wrong. He has the ability to do so, who are you to stop him? There is no right or wrong in love. Love you a lot, stay together. Don’t love, then kick them off. Who is not like that? The one that is not like this should roll by themself, don’t make people upset.”
The leaves on the ground have been stepped on until nothing was left, Bai Lu stepped away and looked up, just in time to see Jiang Ru running away from the store. She called her but Jiang Ru didn’t seem to listen her. With a sigh, she followed Jiang Ru’s figure that ran away.
She met Jiang Ru, who was squatting and crying in that Lonicera bush.
Bai Lu squatted down next to her and said, “Don’t cry.”
Jiang Ru covered her face when Bai Lu suddenly asked, “Do you feel more humiliated?”
Jiang Ru nodded her head vigorously.
After a long moment of silence, Bai Lu comforted again, “Don’t cry, it’s not worth it.”
Jiang Ru cried harder, “You don’t understand ……”
Bai Lu tried to reason with her, “It’s really not worth it, you just be yourself, you don’t have to change anything.”
Jiang Ru raised her eyes, “They are also right.” Eyes red she said, “Bai Lu, I simply have a crush on him. It’s just me who loves him, but I want him to respond. It’s more than what you think. Since I forced him to like me, I have to pay my karma. I was too clingy with him, this might have made him disgusted with me.”
Bai Lu laughed to lighten the mood, “Good physics ah, so logical.”
But Jiang Ru didn’t seem to hear her, she started muttering to herself, “Boys like good looking girls ……”
Bai Lu shook her head, “Not necessarily.”
Jiang Ru looked at her and said resolutely, “He just likes it.”
Bai Lu smiled but said the same thing, “Not necessarily.”
Jiang Ru was puzzled, “What do you think then?”
Bai Lu paused and asked, “Don’t you think their remarks are superficial?”
Jiang Ru shook her head, “No, we are silly, too self-righteous. Always say that inner beauty is most important, who can see it ah.”
Bai Lu nodded in agreement, “Your self-criticism is really thorough.”
Jiang Ru pulled the corners of her mouth, trying to match Bai Lu, but her face remained miserable.
Bai Lu looked at the night sky and suggested, “Let’s go back.”
Jiang Ru was still sitting on the ground as if she lost her soul and didn’t respond. Bai Lu pulled her hand as she said, “Wait a few days and forget about it.”
Bai Lu dragged Jiang Ru’s arm and pulled her up from the ground. Jiang Ru’s body swayed so Bai Lu took off her(Jiang Ru) school bag off and carried it.
Jiang Ru walked and said unconsciously, “It’s that I didn’t give him enough love. Senior year is important, I can’t be with him wholeheartedly like that girl.”
Bai Lu whispered, “It’s not love then.”
Jiang Ru stopped walking and said stubbornly, “It’s love.”
Bai Lu sighed for the umpteenth time today, “You’re just taking the bull by the horns now,* I don’t think the feelings are that simple.”
[T/L: Saying or doing illogical things]
Jiang Ru didn’t say anything.
“Love is not something that is given and received easily. You have to be worthy for receiving someone’s love. The way you are treating him now isn’t considered love.”
Walking in the dim street lights, they were about to leave the neighborhood. The fragrance of flowers could no longer be smelt. The roadside had a faint smell of passing cars.
Jiang Ru who had been quite for a while suddenly asked blankly, “Then what do you call love?”
Bai Lu became quiet. She watched as a black car passed them with a flash to the neighborhood.
“It may have to be a little more intense.” Stopping in her tracks, Bai Lu looked at the gray and yellow street, pondered, and then said softly: “Either save the person you love or break their heart if you don’t ……”
The night wind carried the fishy smell of dirt. Their hair blew gently with the wind.
“This is how I understand love.”