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Sun Yuhe was worthy of being Xu Hui’s best friend of many years. His explanation of Xu Hui’s nature of being ‘insecure’ and ‘clingy’ was very reasonable. Even Bai Lu herself was moved by his message. But when she realized Jiang Ru and her retched ending, she quickly forced her heart to harden.
Xu Hui unwillingly but slowly became used to Bai Lu’s busy life. They didn’t call each other often, but text messages were frequent.
The contents of his text message had changed. He no longer asked Bai Lu to come and meet him on purpose, but the contents he sent started become weird in her eyes, rather than communicating or asking how she was, he kept sending messages about himself and how was his day passing. As if telling them to Bai Lu was fun.
Bai Lu glanced at the time and found that the second class of the morning had finished. He sent her at least three messages till morning and she was…. exhausted just by reading them. Because of those messages, she couldn’t concentrate on classes.
She was just thinking what should she write for him to stop sending messages when another message came…
“I got scolded by the faculty director. What did I do wrong? Is not listening to his nagging consider a crime now? I want to throw him in the pool and feed him to the fish.”
After each class was over, Xu Hui would review those teachers-
Language teacher: her chest is so small but she still dares to wear deep v-neck, tell me, does she want to humiliate herself?
English teacher: every time I listen to his pronunciation and accent, I want to take off his shoes and stuff it in his mouth.
Physics teacher: is Earth’s gravity affects him stronger than anyone? Why do I feel that he is shorter than previous year.
Math teacher: how can he take so time to solve such an easy problem……
Looking at the last text message about the math teacher, Bai Lu fell into a slight trance.
“If I say he used to study better than me, would you believe it?”
The conversation with Wu Hanwen seemed like it was just yesterday, but it still lingered in her mind like it just happened now, with a long lost effect.
Coincidentally, just when she thought of Wu Hanwen, the same noperson came back from outside with a smile blooming on his face.
“Yo yo yo yo ……” Li Siyi in the back seat put down the book in his hand and looked at Wu Hanwen’s face which was full of spring breeze.
“So happy ah.” Li Siyi teased as Wu Hanwen sat down. He poked him on the shoulder and ask, “any good news?”
Bai Lu also turned her head to look at him. Both of them stared at him with eager eyes.
Wu Hanwen finally couldn’t help himself, his smile blooming more like a daisy in summer, he somehow surprassed his giddy feeling as he replied and nodded his head.
“Ah, yeah, I have some good news.”
Li Siyi put his two fat hands on Wu Hanwen’s shoulders and shook them vigorously.
“Did you won the first prize? Which university choosed you? Is the information accurate?”
Wu Hanwen was in good mood so he didn’t threw Li Siyi’s hand away from his shoulders. He calmy put them down as he replied, “If I won the first prize, a letter should have came to me. We need to wait more to get the accurate results.”
Hearing his answer, Li Siyi was a little disappointed, but he quickly regained his enthusiasm when he remembered another question.
“Which university did you choose ah?”
Wu Hanwen was a little embarrassed as he replied, “I choosed Shanghai Jiaotong University……”
Li Siyi was shocked. He looked at Wu Hanwen with puzzlement as he asked, “Why Shanghai University? Why not Tsinghua or Peking University? With your result you could get admitted.”
Wu Hanwen shook his head as he explained generously, “I have to take the college entrance examination and get the best result if I want to get admitted to Tsinghua University, which is a hassle. Why would I need to take exam twice? So my family considered it and thought that what I choosed is better for me.”
“Why are you so lazy!” Li Siyi couldn’t help but mock him as he squeezed his(Wu Hanwen) shoulder. What taking exam twice? It’s not that he(Wu Hanwen) would die if he took the college entrance examination. He(Li Siyi) was fully aware of his thoughts. If it wasn’t for Bai Lu then who else. Love ah, really makes people stupid.
Wu Hanwen laughed, his shoulders shaking, “don’t squeeze me ……” saying this, his gaze involuntarily fell to Bai Lu.
In the late afternoon, the sun shone through the window and covered the classroom in a warm light. Under the gentle light, he was struck by her soft smile.
She looked very relaxed. She praised him with encouragement and a little mischief in her voice.
It was the same line –
“President, you are really awesome ……”
Wu Hanwen’s face burned so he quickly lowered his head. Pursing his lips, he whispered, “You should also choose this university ……”
Bai Lu looked at him in puzzlement. She couldn’t understand how is her choice of university any matter to him. As the old saying goes, if people are in good spirits, they thinks everything is good.
Although she was quiet as usual, but she still looked radiant, like a gem that had been polished carefully. With every glance, Wu Hanwen felt she was smiling at him.
The phone vibrated again, and while Wu Hanwen was talking to someone else, Bai Lu took this chance to glance at the phone.
Xu Hui was in Gym class, because senior Gym class are unattended, there were no teacher in the Gym class.
He sent a selfie of him.
In the picture, he was sitting on the bleachers of the playground, with his school uniform jacket off to one side and the very familiar black shirt inside.
The wind blew his hair, making them a bit messy.
Unlike her, his hair looked darker and shinier under the afternoon sun.
Xu Hui’s perspective was from above, looking up at the camera, the angle made his eyebrows extra clear.
There were no message attached with the picture. Maybe he thought sending his picture was considered talking. Or maybe, he had other intention for sending the picture.
He was also different from Wu Hanwen. If he didn’t smile, he looked very cold.
Bai Lu remembered Wu Hanwen’s words again –
“He used to study better than me.”
The word ‘used to’ felt like a faraway dream, because now they were both heading down a completely different path.
Bai Lu lowered her head and looked at the screen, as if looking at him. No one could understand what was in her mind.
She looked at the teenager under the sun, all the complex emotions and the painful resentment slowly faded away.
All her senses become straightforward and simple. In the silent afternoon, two lonely teenagers were thinking of each other.
For the first time for that day, Bai Lu replied to his message while sitting in the classroom.
[Bai Lu: What are you doing?]
Xu Hui probably didn’t expect Bai Lu to reply to his message at all and sent a series of question marks in quick succession.
Bai Lu: “……”
Then, another text message was sent.
[Xu Hui: Oh, you saw it?]
Bai Lu wanted to laugh but held herself.
[Bai Lu: Yeah, I did.]
Everything became quite again.
The class bell was about to rang, Bai Lu was about to put away her phone when Xu Hui sent her another message.
[Xu Hui: Are you free on Sunday, can you come to meet me?]
The bell rang, and the English teacher entered the classroom with her usual short heels stepping on the corridor with the usual thump, thump, thump.
Bai Lu’s fingers quickly flew on the keypad. She replied his message as soon as possible and quickly turned off the phone.
Wu Hanwen turned his head at that moment, just in time to see her put the phone back into her school bag. His lips parted but he didn’t say anything in the end.
On Sunday morning, Bai Lu called her parents and told that she would not be going home that afternoon. Her mother only thought it was because she was busy with study and didn’t mind, but told her to pay more attention to her health and not to study till exhaustion.
After the study session at noon, Bai Lu packed her school bag and prepared to leave.
“Do you want to go to the library this afternoon?” Wu Hanwen asked her.
Bai Lu turned around, “You’re already admitted.”
Wu Hanwen ‘tsk’ed and said “Hey, haven’t you heard the old saying? Time and tide wait for none. You have to study like moving with currents, if you don’t advance in time, you will fall back. You can’t be too satisfied with a little achievement.”
Bai Lu looked at him silently for a while before speaking, “You should apply for a teacher training college and learn how to become a teacher. You are a very good teacher material.”
Wu Hanwen heard her words with dumbfounded expression and kept quiet for a long time. Bai Lu took this time to put the bag on her shoulders.
He finally asked what he wanted to ask all along, “Where are you going? Going home?”
Bai Lu smiled, but didn’t answer Wu Hanwen’s question, and left the classroom after saying goodbye.
It was past one in the afternoon when she arrived at Xu Hui’s house. It was obviously a beautiful sunny day, but the curtains of Xu Hui’s house were all pulled up. It was only in the afternoon but the house was so dark that it looked night had fallen.
The curtains were made of heaviest material. It made the house darker than it originally was. Bai Lu as usual knocked on the door, the door opened and a half-awake Xu Hui was revealed.
“Why don’t you open the curtains?” Bai Lu asked after entering the house.
“Too sunny, my eyes hurt.” Xu Hui replied in a lazy voice.
“Are your eyes sensitive to light?”
Xu Hui may have stayed up late again, he had dark circles under his eyes, his voice hoarse and lazy, as if he would fall asleep the next moment.
He was dressed in a wide half-sleeved shirt, and leggings, a casual summer dress, his feet bare without any footwear.
After opening the door, he fell on the sofa again, without moving an inch. When Bai Lu reached the sofa, he dragged her to the head of the sofa to sit before lying his head on her lap.
Bai Lu sat down on the the sofa, Xu Hui’s head resting on her lap. She felt a bit uneasy having such a heavy head on her thighs but she somehow endured. Thankfully, she always wore leggings under her skirt so Xu Hui’s head wasn’t touching her thighs directly.
“What time did you sleep?” Bai Lu asked after a long time.
Xu Hui replied in a daze: “Five o’clock ……”
“Of night or morning?”
Bai Lu raised her eyebrows and did not know what to say.
Xu Hui suddenly moved.
Since Xu Hui’s head was on her lap, everytime he moved, his head rubbed on her sensitive skin, which made Bai Lu very uncomfortable. She wished she could push his head away and sit aside. Not being able to endure the silence any longer, she asked, “What did you call me here for?”
“To watch a movie.”
Xu Hui rolled over and pulled out a small box from under the coffee table. He opened it, inside there were all kinds of movie discs. He picked the box and handed it to Bai Lu before lying down again on his previous place.
Bai Lu’s was surprised, Xu Hui’s movies were all genuine, and looking at the printing on the cover, it could be seen they were bought from an expensive shop in the city.
There were movies of different languages, Chinese, Korean, Japanese. The movies were also of different genres, romance, war, science fiction, thriller ……
Bai Lu estimated at least a hundred movies would be there.
Buying them was not a small amount of money for a high school student.
Xu Hui separated the movies by category, so it was very convenient to find what he wanted.
He doesn’t live a simple life …… Bai Lu thought in her heart. In fact, he lived a lot more meticulously than many of his peers.
Bai Lu unconsciously flipped through the movies before suddenly stopping.
Xu Hui looked half asleep, but once Bai Lu stopped, his gaze turned on the movie discs.
“Oh, the ‘Yellow Sea’ ……” Xu Hui’s said lazily, “Do you remember? When we first met, I was watching this movie. I didn’t finish it that day, so I went to the store and bought it.”
Of course she remembered. How could she forget such fateful day. But she couldn’t understand for whom that day was fateful.
Bai Lu softly humed, she was about to flipped through the movies again when.
Her hand was suddenly pulled.
Bai Lu turned her head and looked at Xu Hui who was now lying on his side in the sofa. Tilting his head he looked at her and asked, “Why don’t we watch it again?”
“Haven’t you seen it?”
“You’ve seen it twice, I’ve only seen it once.”
Bai Lu’s fingertips trembled she wanted to pull her hand out of his grip but Xu Hui’s grip tightened.
“OK ……”Bai Lu helplessly replied.
The disc was inserted, but none of them actually watched the movie.
During the movie, Bai Lu’s eyes were on the TV but her brain was not.
Xu Hui, on the other hand, had his eyes fixed on the screen but his senses were on Bai Lu.
“Are you tired of working part-time?” He asked suddenly.
“No.” Bai Lu replied, almost roboticly.
Xu Hui turned his head to look at her before asking again, “Is your sister all better?”
“I don’t know.”
She watched the TV in silence, watching the hero behind bars for the third time.
She didn’t notice him leaning in closer. It wasn’t until he spoke that she was surprised to find his voice so close.
Yet there wasn’t the slightest part of him that crossed the line that she was genuinely worried about.
“Don’t work so hard …… look at your little body, you are like a bean sprout.”
Bai Lu whispered, a little uncomfortable for his closer presence, “I’m fine.”
“How come you……”Xu Hui sighed but didn’t finish the sentence.
Silence fell again.
He sat right by her side, bending his back and leaning forward. From Bai Lu’s point of view, it looked like a prawn that had fallen to his side.
He spoke indifferently, his eyes fixed on the screen.
“Xiao Bai, I went home that day.”
Bai Lu felt that everything in the house suddenly became quiet. She couldn’t hear anything except his whisper. The cries of the hero on the TV or the occasional honking sounds of the passerby cars, nothing seemed to enter her ear. Her senses were so focused on his whisper that she felt they were in a sound-proof world.
Even the light seemed frozen.
“In fact, I had always thought about going back to meet them, but usually I go back only when my father is at home. At least if he is there, we don’t fight ……”
Talking about his home, the teenager’s tone became lighter. As if he was exhausted just thinking about his home.
He buried his face in his arms as he continued, his voice sounding muffled: “My friends have always told me it wasn’t my fault. Although I know they are just consoling me, I still couldn’t push the guilt away……”
Bai Lu felt one of his hands being held by Xu Hui. She almost flinched but again, endured, trying to paying all her attention on the TV screen, not on the warmth felt on her hand.
His palm was large, fingers slender and long. His palm was sweating and fingertips were shaking as he played with her hand that was small compared to him.
“I really want to see Xiao Heng …… but I don’t know how should I face him. He must hate me, the whole family hates me.”
He muttered to himself for a long time, and finally found himself at a loss for words. Feeling irritated, he subconsciously started blaming Bai Lu.
“You and I are same, right? You shouldn’t have said that about me that day, it wasn’t good …… where did the gentle personality go when you first met me? You’re not fucking good to me at all ……”
Bai Lu turned her head and saw Xu Hui’s face buried in his arms, revealing a slender neck, her hand still grasped tightly in his hand, under the black hair, his skin looked even whiter.
Bai Lu gently pulled her hand from his grasp and rubbed his head.
Xu Hui’s body was very hot, probably because of excitement. He didn’t even relent when Bai Lu pulled her hand.
He was still muttering nonsense, and after feeling Bai Lu’s hand on his head, he shuddered lightly and turned his head from his arm to look at her.
His eyes were tinged with slight haggardness and seemed very lonely. Bai Lu rubbed his head as if soothing a child. But her hand stopped hearing his next words.
“Take off your glasses.”
Bai Lu shook her head.
“No.” Bai Lu said softly, “my glasses have nothing to do with it.”
Xu Hui raised his head as he glared at her, “you became so arrogant because I treat you better, right?”
Bai Lu tilted her head sideways and nodded unconsciously.
Xu Hui took a breath to control his anger. His sulking mood and angry eyes said he might try to insult her saying that he has a lot of beautiful girls chasing him. So she should be grateful that he treats her better…..
But Xu Hui did not say anything.
After sulking for a while and bulging his face, his body leaned on Bai Lu, trying to put his head on her lap again.
“Get some sleep.” Bai Lu whispered, her hands gently rubbing his hair.
Like a soothed child, his body curled up.
“Then I’ll lie down for a while ……” he murmured, “You watch the movie by yourself, we’ll watch something together later ……”
Bai Lu rubbed his head and nodded as Xu Hui added, “I couldn’t sleep last night ……”
“I know.” Her soft voice seemed like had a power that lulled him to sleep. It didn’t take him long to fall asleep. Soon, the house was filled with his even breathing apart from the sound of the TV.
Bai Lu looked down at him.
His sleeping face was clean and looked very innocent.
Bai Lu looked at him for a moment before moving her gaze back to the screen.
Out of nowhere, she remembered the conversation she had with Wu Hanwen that day.
Wu Hanwen asked her if her thoughts on the matter of approaching Xu Hui were still the same now, as they were at the beginning.
She replied casually, “It’s been long, so I forgot.”
At that time, she replied that she would make everything better, that she would send back everything the way it was before.
But, now the prophecy seemed to have come true.
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