SWFM 159

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Chapter 159: Her transparent soul

 

Mrs Xiang felt awkward at Xu Tingsheng’s words. After returning, she could not keep from rebuking Xiang Ning, saying that she had intentionally messed things up between the two.

Her head lowered, Little Xiang Ning pursed her lips, holding back her tears as she remained silent. Just as Xu Tingsheng understood, if this girl felt that she had been in the wrong, she would admit her mistakes in a huffy manner. For example, she might question, “What fierce are you being?” But when she felt that she had not been in the wrong, she instead wouldn’t rebut, wouldn’t explain, wouldn’t utter a sound.

Finally, it was Mr Xiang, watching on from the side, who was unable to watch this go on any longer, cautiously murmuring, “Like my daughter’s heinous just from asking a few questions. Can Little Ning asking her teacher questions be wrong?”

Because of this sentence, Mrs Xiang let Little Xiang Ning go, fuming in silence at Mr Xiang. When sleeping that night, she stubbornly faced away from him, not uttering a sound. Mr Xiang remained silent as well, pretending to be asleep.

Finally, it was still Mrs Xiang who caved in and started speaking to him, having thought of a very serious problem, “Say, do you think Little Ning could, could…stop pretending to be asleep. If you were, you’d long be snoring.”

Having been exposed, Mr Xiang could only ask, “Could what?”

“I’m saying: Could Little Ning have fallen in love with Tingsheng? Look at how she behaved today. If it wasn’t causing trouble due to jealousy, what else could it have been? Oh no, what’s to be done about this?” Mrs Xiang asked worriedly.

Mr Xiang said without even thinking about it, “What’re you even talking about? How old is Little Ning now …Even if she’s to like someone, it has to be in senior high at least.”

“That’s also right,” Mrs Xiang said, tugging at the sheets, next suddenly realising that something was wrong as she then remarked, “Hey, you old Xiang! What’s that about being in senior high at least? Even senior high wouldn’t be fine!”

“Wasn’t it you who said it? Even senior high students are getting into relationships now. Even university seems a little late,” Mr Xiang rebutted Mrs Xiang with her own words from just earlier.

“I was talking about other people’s kids. How could it be the same for our Little Ning?”

“……”

As Mr and Mrs Xiang were discussing this topic on the first floor, Little Xiang Ning who slept alone on the second floor was feeling wronged for a long time. Next, she hesitated for a long time before finally still calling Xu Tingsheng’s number.

Little Xiang Ning asked, “Uncle, Mum said that I was intentionally causing trouble today. So…do you like my cousin?”

Xu Tingsheng said, “I don’t like her. I don’t like her at all. Are you feeling wronged?”

“Yeah,” Little Xiang Ning said, “Uncle, can you sing me a song?”

Little Xiang Ning suddenly wanted to listen to Uncle’s singing. When they had been dating, Xu Tingsheng had once hugged Xiang Ning while singing right into her ear. That song was called <Tiny Tiny Sun>.

“You are like a tiny tiny sun, with a warmth that always gives my cold heart a place to keep warm. How habitually I move towards you, wanting a little friendliness and a lot of reliance to mend my fragile soul. You always smile like a flower; you always see me drunk in despair…”

This had been the truest illumination of the feelings between them at the time. This girl had a transparent soul and the purest smile, resembling a tiny, tiny sun that gave Xu Tingsheng the perfect amount of radiance and warmth.

“I can’t sing now. I’ll definitely sing for you in a couple of days,” Thinking of how he would be performing a few days later, Xu Tingsheng gently refused.

“How about I sing for you then?” Little Xiang Ning asked.

“Is it that choir song you’ll be singing?” Xu Tingsheng smiled as he asked, guessing whether he would be hearing <Unity is Strength> or <Every Time I Lightly Walk Past Your Window>.

“Like real. Let me think. An old Uncle like you, you should only listen to very old songs, right?”

“…It seems that way.”

“I’ll sing a song that my mother likes, then. I only know a few verses of it, not even its name.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll start then…cough, cough…” Little Xiang Ning cleared her throat, beginning to sing, “You said you’d come see me in a couple of days, but as soon as I waited it was more than a year, three hundred and sixty five days of…”

Her voice was soft and tender. She sung off-key, and also messed up some words.

Yet, on the other end of the phone, Xu Tingsheng was covering his mouth as he clenched his teeth to keep himself from weeping unrestrainedly, letting the tears flow freely down his face.

There had once been a day when Xiang Ning had said ‘I’ll miss you’. Back then, she still hadn’t known that this person would vanish just like that, that she would never be able to get through to that handphone number ever again.

One day in the future, Xiang Ning had said, ‘I just wanted…to see you again, and, tell you I always believed you would come and find me.’ That day, she had turned and walked off into the rain amidst the darkness of the night. It was the last time they would ever meet in that life.

Two days, separated by three years. She had waited for that person who had forsaken her without a single word for three whole years.

Xu Tingsheng didn’t know whether Xiang Ning had looked for him in these three years. He had been out in the world searching for a chance to recoup his losses, having even once gone as far as Vietnam and Cambodia…where he had worked in the area of imports and exports for a year.

Those three years of hers were worth him waiting an entire lifetime now.
……

24th May, around 6.30pm.

Xinyan Junior High’s anniversary performance was held at the school field. A red, celebratory dance stage had been erected atop the usual stage. At Xu Tingsheng’s suggestion, apart from having changed to the best audio system that they could get their hands on, Xinyan Junior High had not made any major changes in any other areas.

There was a row for the school leaders in the first row before the stage, after which were more than a thousand students and teachers who had arranged chairs there in neat rows. Yet behind them were dozens of media entities, with their entire arsenal of cameras and recording devices.

Those fans of Rebirth who had come specifically for them were unable to enter. Thus, some sat on the walls surrounding the school field, some sat on the various branches of trees both big and small while others watched on from the windows of nearby houses they were borrowing…

Yet more people were squeezed onto that small hill behind Xinyan Junior High Xu Tingsheng had occupied countless times before. They were eating, drinking beer…if they lit a mini-bonfire, that would basically have been warping this junior high anniversary into a mini music festival.

There were actually more people outside than there were inside. The local police and security companies Xinyan Junior High had contacted were nervously patrolling the surrounding area.

The Principal spoke. Then, a higher-up of the Education Bureau spoke as well.

Little Xiang Ning was helping Su Nannan to straighten her skirt backstage. Su Nannan would soon be standing in front to sing. With so many people and cameras outside, the girls were all inevitably feeling rather nervous.

“Don’t be nervous. Let’s just not look at them later,” Little Xiang Ning comforted Su Nannan.

Actually, she was feeling pretty nervous herself, her heart beating and beating really quickly, her throat feeling dry as even her speaking voice had turned hoarse. With that thick red makeup on her face, she resembled a red salted duck egg…

“How ugly! Luckily, Uncle Liar isn’t here.”

This was what Little Xiang Ning had thought while facing the mirror just after her makeup had been put on. Fortunately, it was the same for her fellow classmates as well. Put all together, they were like a great basket of red eggs. Still, she still felt a little desolate. Due to the anniversary today, it seemed like her parents aside, everyone else had forgotten that today was her birthday.

Liu Xueli would usually remember the birthdays of all the students in her class. When in class, she would say ‘Let us all wish XXXXX happy birthday!’, even giving them a small card. Yet, she had forgotten all about it today. Even Su Nannan and the others hadn’t remembered.

“During the next tutoring session, I’ve got to get Uncle Liar to wish me a ‘Happy Birthday’ that he owes me,” She thought.

“It’s time, it’s time!” A teacher came backstage, yelling frantically.

Little Xiang Ning ascended the stage with everyone else, assuming her position before inhaling deeply. Tonight’s first programme was choir, <Every Time I Lightly Walk Past Your Window>.

Little Xiang Ning sang very earnestly, even though she was just one amongst many.

The cameras flashed on and on. There were people taking photos from far away, and there were those crouching before the stage to take them…then came thunderous applause, both from and outside of the school field.

Whilst having come for Rebirth, those outside the school field still displayed sufficient patience as they exhibited great enthusiasm and encouragement at the performance by the students.

After all, all of them had once experienced such times before.

The second programme was a poetry recital, <My School>.

The third programme…

More than one hour into the programme, Rebirth had still yet to ascend the stage. The audience began feeling impatient. Her performance having ended, sitting close to the front of the stage to the side of the crowd, Little Xiang Ning was also waiting impatiently.

As she was really feeling impatient, she decided to just go backstage. That way, she would get to see Rebirth earlier.

Currently, those who knew the programme sequence were asking one another: Have you seen Rebirth?

Everyone shook their heads.

The music teachers who were in charge of the programme found Chairman Zhang, “It’s almost time…will that Rebirth stand us up? If they suddenly don’t appear, our school would really have turned into a real joke. A riot might even start here.”

“No, don’t worry, it’s definitely not like that. Those are our kids,” Chairman Zhang consoled.

Actually, he was feeling rather uneasy himself. What he had been told was: When it’s time for us to go on stage, give me a call, and I’ll come right out.

“Come out, come out from where?”

Chairman Zhang surveyed the small backstage for a while, not seeing where Rebirth could possibly come out from. He took out his phone. It was almost time for the performance. He should be able to call them now, right?

Behind the performance stage, behind the ordinary stage on the school field, in a tiny equipment storage shed…crouched five people.

“This is the best you could think of? We flipped over the wall and entered at noon, and we’ve been crouching here for more than three whole hours now,” Retrieving a bottle of mineral water from the plastic bag beside him, Xu Tingsheng moistened his throat before complaining to Fang Yuqing in exasperation.

“My legs are numb. I feel like I’m gonna throw up soon,” Fu Cheng said.

“Tell me if you’ve got something better?” Fang Yuqing rebutted.

This was really the best plan he could think of, even though it was rather more tiring, the environment rather more intolerable.

“Everything else aside, the clothes and the masks are pretty well made,” Tan Yao stood up, tugging at his slick clothes before lifting up and waving the mask that he was holding.

The costume that Fang Yuqing had prepared consisted of standard Air Force jackets, with even the accessories on the chest and arms having been provided. Everyone’s figures being rather good, they were really crazy cool with it on. As for the the black half-mask, it covered half their faces from the forehead to the tip of the nose, with only the eyes and the mouth being visible as it was similarly very flashy.

Everyone was indeed very satisfied with these two items.

“This is the route of an idol,” Tan Yao commented happily.

Xu Tingsheng’s handphone vibrated.

He picked it up, listening and saying ‘yeah’ a few times before responding, “Alright, we’ll be coming right out.”

“Everyone, get up and start activating your ligaments. Ready yourselves!”


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