The media has been broadcasting news about environmental issues in recent years, harping on about the Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming.
Who knew if it was Greenhouse Effect or something else but that year, the first snowfall came earlier than previous years.
Bai Lu wondered if God also loved drama, because that day, it was snowing a lot.
On Sunday morning, the snow began to fall. The sky was gray and dense with clouds, not a single ray of sun could be seen.
Snow was too common in the north, the residents here were used to it. So they had no sense of poetic love for first snow, they were already busy with their lives.
Wu Hanwen was late today.
“Hey, so he have started to slack off now?” Li Siyi wondered, shaking his head as if he had gotten his answer.
Bai Lu stopped her pen and looked at the empty seat behind her.
As long as Bai Lu could remember, she hadn’t seen Wu Hanwen take leave of absence ever. He was always diligent in studies and a regular student, even sickness couldn’t keep him home from coming to school.
The only time she saw him take an early leave was when there was an epidemic of bird flu. The whole school was under martial law, every morning the teacher with a mask would stand at the classroom door to take the temperature of every students. That day Wu Hanwen had a cold and was slightly feverish, so the school teacher told him go home. Fearing that he might not able to study at home, Wu Hanwen requested the class teacher to send him the videos of every classes. Only after getting them did he honestly went home to recuperate.
Turning back, Bai Lu took out her cell phone under the desk to send a text message to a certain someone.
[Bai Lu: I’ll come over at noon.]
After writing, she clicked on the address book, and choosed the name “Enduring Winter”.
The message was successfully sent, Bai Lu continued to study. But she was distracted for a while. Her woman intuition was saying something was about to happen, which was making her severely uneasy.
A message came from Xu Hui, a very short message with only one word-
[Enduring Winter: Ok.]
Bai Lu looked up and saw snowflakes roaming outside the window. The white snowflakes were like feathers, dancing in the air before falling on the ground gently.
The school’s heater wasn’t working properly. Sitting beside the window, she was cold to the bone.
Until the end of school at noon, Wu Hanwen didn’t come, which was unlike him.
Bai Lu carried her backpack and walked outside.
The sun finally shone after playing hide and seek with the clouds in the morning. The temperature also started to rise slowly, hovering back and forth at zero degrees.
The snow started to melt at the gentle heat, so the ground was a little wet and muddy.
Bai Lu wasn’t carrying any umbrella.
She brought an umbrella, it was in her bag but she was too lazy to bring it out. On such a cool but warm day, she felt powerless to do anything.
After crossing the road and walking into the neighborhood, Bai Lu came to Xu Hui’s house.
The door was not closed, Bai Lu entered the house and found that the curtains were closed again.
Something felt different than before, it was cloudy, and because curtains were closed, the house was dark as if late at night.
The TV was turned on and a movie was playing on it. The light coming from the screen showed a figure lying on the sofa.
Bai Lu walked to the window, stretching out her hand, she was about to pull open the curtains.
A dull voice came from the couch behind her.
Bai Lu’s hand was on the curtains, but didn’t pull open. She heard Xu Hui’s voice, which was like crawling in the dark and whispering.
“Don’t, don’t ……”
Bai Lu stepped back, adjusting the curtains properly. She didn’t know why Xu Hui’s voice sounded so different than before. It sounded very fragile and weak. Gone was the arrogance and coolness of his voice, he sounded so innocent and…hurt.
Turning around, she wanted to turn on the light when he’s voice whispered in the dark again, with the same weakness as before, “Don’t turn on the lights either ……”
Bai Lu looked at him in the dark.
Xu Hui’s voice was very small, very delicate, sounding like a child in pain.
“Just say it ……”
Feeling a little concerned, Bai Lu walked over and asked, “What’s wrong?”
She couldn’t see Xu Hui’s face, but listening to his voice, she felt that he was a bit out of his self.
“Nothing.” Xu Hui sat up from the sofa, he looked at the dark dully, seeming confused.
Bai Lu took a step to the sofa and almost tripped over to the floor. She looked down and saw that there was a pile of empty wine bottles lying across the floor.
“Your friends came over last night?”
Xu Hui didn’t reply, Bai Lu thought he didn’t hear her but she heard him answer, a little late than usual.
Bai Lu suggested with a good heart, “You are very young now, don’t drink too much.”
Xu Hui didn’t say anything.
Bai Lu put her beg on the ground and bent down to pick up all the bottles to put them aside as she said, “I know you can drink a lot.”
Xu Hui lowered his head, his hands clenched tightly together, seeming to enduring something.
“Well, you know everything about me ……”
Bai Lu briefly cleaned up the bottles and then sat down on the sofa a little further from him.
She gradually adapted to the darkness and also saw Xu Hui sitting quietly on the sofa. His head lowered, bangs covering his eyes so she couldn’t see the expression on them. His back hunched over as if he was defeated by someone mercilessly. Sitting in darkness like this, he looked very pitiful.
Such darkness magnified the silence infinitely.
Bai Lu didn’t know what to say. She never was a talker, she was always a listener. Although the first few times it was her who initiated conversation with Xu Hui, it took a lot of effort from her. Now that her goal was achieved, she couldn’t find anything to say.
Xu Hui raised his hands, rubbed his face, and asked, “Have you eaten?”
“I have” Bai Lu replied before asking, “How about you?”
Xu Hui did not answer, and after another moment, Bai Lu saw Xu Hui turn his head and raise his hand to pat the sofa next to him.
“Come, sit here.”
Bai Lu stood up and sat next to him.
The smell of alcohol wafted over to her nose more heavily. She resisted the urge to pinch her nose and sat silently.
People who aren’t a good drinker do not have enough enzymes in their bodies to break down alcohol quickly, so the taste will be much heavier than that of people who are good drinker and will also get drunk easily.
“I went home two days ago.” Xu Hui suddenly said in a low voice.
Although it was low, but Bai Lu heard him. She replied in the same hush tone.
“Is that so ……”
“I had another fight with my family.”
Bai Lu lowered her head, she was sitting beside him and looked like an elementary school student because of her short stature and hunched back. The warmth coming from the body next to her made her aware how close they were.
Bai Lu listened to Xu Hui and asked in a soft muffled voice, “Did you win the fight?”
Xu Hui lowered his head even more, as if ashamed of his answer, “No ……”
His voice was too hoarse, Bai Lu took out a bottle of water from her school bag and handed it to Xu Hui.
Xu Hui took it and said thank you.
Holding it in both hands, he tried but couldn’t unscrew the bottle even after several tries. Bai Lu looked at the pathetic him whose hand slipped for the third time and still couldn’t open the bottle. She wondered why did he look so weak.
“I can’t open it, can you help me?”
Bai Lu took the bottle and asked as she unscrew the lid, “What the hell did you do yesterday?” After unscrewing it, she passed the bottle to him again. Xu Hui tilted his head and took a few sips.
She thought the reason he looked out of place must be because he went home.
“Did ever won a fight with your family?”
“No.” Xu Hui murmured, “Never won once …… I can’t win ……”
Bai Lu shook her head in disappointment and whispered, “Stupid.”
Xu Hui hunched over even more, “…… quite stupid.” It was unclear whom he was calling a stupid, himself or Bai Lu.
The movie finished playing, the sentence ‘thanks for watching’ was showing on the screen.
“I told my dad that I wanted to leave home.” Xu Hui whispered, “I borrowed some money from him and decided to live alone.”
Bai Lu was a little surprised hearing him. For him, who was a rich second generation, is hard to live alone. She looked at him and couldn’t help but ask, “Where do you want to live?”
“I don’t know.” Xu Hui paused and said in an uncertain tone, “He called me this morning and told that he agreed to my request. I was in a daze at that time, he scolded me for this.”
Bai Lu listened quietly as Xu Hui went on a rant by himself.
“I spoke to Ah He before, he said that I have a rich life, I won’t be able to live alone without my father’s support. At that time I denied it, but now I that I think about it, really can’t do it……” He paused before continuing, “I grew up without any hardship, no matter how my family is, at least I don’t have to worry about money or other things.”
Bai Lu softly ‘mmm’ed, Xu Hui monologue continued.
“Xiao Bai, you know what, this morning my father promised me he will give what I had asked for, and in a few days, the money will be transferred to me. The moment he hung up the phone, I suddenly realized-“
He paused, the words stuck on his throat and choked him, but he pushed them down and finished the sentence.
“I suddenly realized I have nothing left.”
His grasped his head, his breathing getting heavier.
Bai Lu interrupted him.
Xu Hui subconsciously looked at her.
She understood the reason why he didn’t turn on the lights and didn’t open the curtains.
He had cried too much, his eyes were swollen and red. Although it was dark, Bai Lu’s eyes adjusted to the dark and she could see him clearly.
Bai Lu looked at him with unblinking eyes.
“When there is no home, you have to built it by yourself. You can’t be disappointed in yourself now.”
Xu Hui looked at her steadily as he suddenly asked her a question, ” Will you be with me?”
Bai Lu’s felt her heart skipping a beat. But her face remained unchanged as she gently shook her head.
Xu Hui looked at her expectantly, “will you……”
Bai Lu wanted to shake her head again but Xu Hui suddenly grabbed her arm.
Bai Lu was a little startled but slowly calmed down as she understood he wasn’t in the situation to do anything. She couldn’t help but concentrate on the hand holding her arm, his long fingers had no strength at all. No wonder he couldn’t unscrew the bottle at all.
But she didn’t break away from.
“Say, which university do you want to go?” Xu Hui struggled to look at her, “which city …… which city do you want to go? Or do you want to go abroad?”
Bai Lu’s mind blacked out, “What?”
Xu Hui pressured her to answer, “Say ah.”
Little by little, Xu Hui’s hand regained its strength.
“I’ll give you the money, and you can use it on whoever you want. You must want to go to college, right? I’ll go with you.”
Bai Lu shook off Xu Hui’s hand and stood up.
“What are you saying?”
Xu Hui stared at her closely, an anger unlike him gradually seemed to be errupt from his eyes.
“It’s not enough?”
Bai Lu’s jaw tightened, “What are you talking about?”
“What am I talking about?”
Xu Hui seemed to want to laugh, but but could not laugh even after trying several times. Finally, what left his mouth was a choked sob.
“You don’t know what I’m talking about? Hmm? …… Bai Lu?”
Bai Lu felt her hands and feet getting cold. She new clearly what he was talking about but her mind couldn’t help but deny.
He had called her many times before, but this was the first time she felt sensitive by the way he called her name.
He looked at her dryly, waiting for an answer – or an explanation.
Bai Lu, roused by such a gesture from him, stood up straight and looked at him silently.
“There’s nothing to say.”
After a few seconds of silence, Bai Lu spoke again, “Nothing ……”
Xu Hui slowly stood up from the sofa.
It’s been only few days since she saw him, but he seemed to have lost weight.
“Bai Lu ……”
He called only her name, but his voice couldn’t help but tremble.
It was impossible to understand the tone of his voice and what it was filled with. Was it anger, aggravation or sadness, Bai Lu couldn’t understand it.
“You can’t do this.”
“I can’t do what?” Bai Lu asked with faint pretence.
Xu Hui bit his lips, trying to surprass himself from lashing out at her.
He drew in a big breath because of Bai Lu’s rhetorical question and asked.
“You don’t know what?” Xu Hui pointed at Bai Lu, his mute voice becoming more pronounced as he raised his voice.
“You’re still asking me what? You’re still pretending with me at this time?”
The house felt colder on that cold day. Bai Lu couldn’t help but hug herself to get some warmth, as well as some confidence to stand in front of him. She needed something to back her up, something to warm her heart, otherwise, she wouldn’t be able to stand his confrontation.
Xu Hui slowly put his pointed finger down, his haggard face contorting as he asked calmly. “Don’t you have anything to explain me?
Bai Lu mouth pursed into a line, she didn’t open her mouth in stubbornness.
Xu Hui seemed like a piece of glass that will break in the next second, he nodded his head, getting the answer he wanted from her silence, tears were flowing down his face.
“Okay, then you apologize to me, I’ll pretend it never happened ……”
Bai Lu remained quiet.
Xu Hui suddenly hissed and yelled, “You give me a fucking apology-! You were very good at saying sorry before! How come you can’t do it now!? Why don’t you say it when you should!?”
Bai Lu didn’t flinch at his shout, because she knew this was coming. Her fingers unconsciously tightened around her arms as she whispered, “Why do I have to apologize? Did you apologize?”
Xu Hui looked at her calmly, tears still flowing from his face like a river. “I have no need to apologize to you.” He hardened his face as he screamed again, “I don’t care about the others, it has nothing to do with me!”
Bai Lu looked at the crying him before picking up her bag from the ground, turning around and leaving. She could understand from his stubbornness and arrogance that he would never apologize, to her or to anyone. And it greatly disappointed her. She also understood better than ever that she had to leave, forever.
But Xu Hui naturally would not let her go, his strength came back as he ran to her.
They tangled at the door, Xu Hui pressed her against the door as his arms around her tightened.
“You know yourself that I treat you better than others!”
Bai Lu tried to push him away as she argued, “Don’t others treat you better too? Do you care that?”
“I don’t care!” Xu Hui started screaming hysterically, “You’re the one I found, I found you*! I don’t care about the others, but you can’t do this to me! Even if I treat them fucking badly, it should be me you think of first!”
[T/N: Don’t know what this sentence means. Maybe he is talking about finding his soulmate or something?]
Bai Lu knew she couldn’t push him, so she didn’t bother. She spoke gently as if trying to sooth him, but her words were harsh, piercing his heart and soul.
“It wasn’t you who sought me out, I ‘made’ you to sought me out.”
Xu Hui’s ragged breath fell on her cheek, she resisted the urge to scratch that place. With how tightly he was hugging her, she couldn’t move even a little let alone scratching her cheek.
Bai Lu sighed, as she lifted her chin slightly and said in a fake angry tone, “Let me go.”
Her voice was low, but she made sure there was no room for error.
“Okay, okay ……if you don’t want to apologize, then don’t apologize.” Xu Hui released the tension in his hand as he slowly backed off in the end, “Let’s talk about it.”
Xu Hui wanted to fix everything. He didn’t know what did he do wrong, no, actually he knew but he couldn’t help but deny it. He knew, the moment he admitted his mistake, she would be gone, forever. But he never did anything wrong to her, so he was confused of her coldness. He wanted her to stay, and in order to make her stay, he was willing to back down.
But Bai Lu shattered all his hopes.
“There’s nothing else.”
“There is ……”
Xu Hui shouted stubbornly, “I said there is! How can there be not?!”
Bai Lu leaned against the cold iron door exhaustedly and tilted her head. She looked at Xu Hui, who was close at breaking. If it was any other time, she would be surprised to see this self of his. His insecurity and childish self, grasping something so tightly in fear of losing it, arguing with her like a stubborn child, just as Sun Yuhe described. Bai Lu wanted to comfort this side of his, soothe like a child he is, heal his wounds that he bared in front of her so easily. But in the end, she hardened her heart and gave the last blow.
“Everything is over, I came to say this.”
Xu Hui gritted his teeth and stubbornly shook his head, “No.”
Bai Lu tried to wiggle her body out of his grasp but was choked when he tightened his grip on her more.
Their body was literally stuck together, the distance was so close that Bai Lu could hear his heart thumping wildly.
Something fell on her cheek, she thought maybe the roof was leaking but then she realized, it’s temperature was too warm to be water.
Tears fell on her, but for some reason, she felt they seemed to fall directly on her heart, making a hiss sound as it touched her throbbing heart, burning the surface like liquid lava was poured on it.
His voice became weak again.
“I only thought of our future …… Bai Lu.”
She couldn’t speak. It’s not that she didn’t want to, but she couldn’t. Something was stuck on her throat, it wouldn’t go away no matter how much she tried, making her temporary mute.
Xu Hui suddenly sneered weakly, “If you want take revenge for your friend, don’t you think you should see the results before you go?”
Bai Lu looked at him calmly as she replied, “Am I not seeing it?”
Xu Hui failed to maintain the sneer.
Silence spread once again, Xu Hui lowered his head, trying another way to gain sympathy from her. He made his voice as pitiful as possible, making it in a way that it would evoke pity to whoever listened.
“My father just called me…… Don’t go now, at least not today ……”
Bai Lu nodded generously, “I’ll stay today, but I can’t stay again tomorrow.”
“Then stay!” Xu Hui suddenly screamed, realising his trick of evoking her pity didn’t work. He couldn’t help but laugh inwardly, how could he be so pathetic to beg her to stay? If she really pitied him, would she have done what she did?
Bai Lu slowly shook her head, “Xu Hui, I didn’t met you because I wanted to stay with you the way you wanted.” She paused before adding, “Not today or ever.”
Xu Hui didn’t say anything, the strength around her body slowly disappeared, as if he accepted his defeat. But Bai Lu didn’t stop, she continued to give blow after blow to his already wounded heart, “I didn’t want it to be like this, neither did think it would be like this.” She looked over to the sofa, where there was a paper bag she put before.
“That’s all the things you’ve sent me, the receipts are all in there, I returned everything you gave.”
Her gaze looked at him with the calmness that was surprising even for herself.
After a long moment of silence, Xu Hui slowly stepped back.
He seemed to really accept it, accept the fact that he was left alone.
He recognised his current feelings as bitterness and heartbreak, because it wasn’t unfamiliar to him.
“Then I’ll ask you one last time ……” He slowly stood up straight, his voice sounded hoarse because of the yelling he had just done.
“Did you like me even a little?”
“No.” Bai Lu flatly replied, as if it was waiting at the tip of her tongue.
Xu Hui finally let out a bitter laugh, he rubbed his face, and for the first time after she came, he laughed so easily and with such certainty.
“Bai Lu, you cheated–“
“You are not the one to talk.”
The smile froze on his face before slowly melting away. What remained was absolute calmness, like a cold field filled with snow and no sign of any life.
She opened the door and gave him one last look before leaving.
She wanted to say a word about not crying. A thread in her heart was pulled, but in the end, nothing left her mouth.
The cold wind blew, carrying the white snowflakes of the first snow, covering all the flowers and plants with its stubbornness.
Bai Lu, left all the gifts given to her there, and also, a broken teenager.
“…… Xu Hui, goodbye.”
Xu Hui stood against the cold wind, his face expressionless as tears streamed down his face, and froze before landing on the ground.
His tears looked exactly like those white snowflakes falling from the sky.