Chapter 42: Cruel
There was also someone else who was drunk that night-Chen Yunlun. Whether intentionally or not, no one had told him this piece of news. Some perhaps gloated over his misfortune. Some, perhaps worried that he might not be able to take the news, therefore kept it from it.
Anyway, Chen Yulun got drunk, and had a very blissful dream. He even thought in the dream how good it would be if these were the olden times. Languishing in pride, robe adorned with red flowers, traversing the streets on a horse.
The next morning, Chen Yulun awoke. The dream shattered.
Many people had slept at Xu Tingsheng’s house the previous night. With there being insufficient rooms, a few boys had spread a mattress across the ground, smoking as they chatted, grabbing a few bottles of wine in the middle of the night and going back to the room to drink.
Fang Yunyao stayed together with Xu Tingsheng’s sister, Xu Qiuyi. They were still yet to know that in Xu Qiuyi’s upcoming first year of senior high, Fang Yunyao would be one of her teachers.
A young female teacher giving a lesson up front, a student listening to the lesson knowing of her ambiguous relationship with a former male student who had just graduated…
It’s too beautiful, I don’t want to think about it…
Tan Qinglin and Song Ni stayed together. Huang Yaming had asked Song Ni to help persuade Tan Qinglin to give up on repeating the year and go directly to university instead.
Huang Yaming woke up at 2am to go to the toilet, tottering as he went.
Still sober, Xu Tingsheng pulled him back, “It can’t be, right? This is my house, and that aside, other than Tan Qinglin, there’s also Song Ni sleeping there. Are you sure that you want to do such a deed that will anger both humans and divinities alike?”
Huang Yaming felt very wronged, saying that he just wanted to go to the toilet.
Xu Tingsheng didn’t believe him, pulling him back and refusing to let him go.
Huang Yaming held his stomach, saying that he really couldn’t hold it in anymore.
Not being to hold it in was actually a phrase that could be very easily misunderstood as Xu Tingsheng said, “Will it kill you to hold it in for a day? What if Tan Qinglin cries out? …Everyone collectively listens in on the room together?”
Hot tears filled Huang Yaming’s eyes, “…I’m talking about urine, I almost can’t hold it in.”
Actually having being awake all this time, Fu Cheng told Xu Tingsheng, “It just happens that I want to go too. I’ll help you look after him.”
“I’ll go too then,” Xu Tingsheng said.
The three didn’t go to the toilet, instead going to the small hill behind Xu Tingsheng’s house and playing a very silly game under the moonlight. Who could pee further, it was at most ten feet that year…it was precisely that year now.
Afterwards, the trio sat on the slope of the hill and chatted.
Xu Tingsheng asked Huang Yaming, “What do you and Tan Qingling intend to do?”
Huang Yaming said, “I’m just encouraging her to go for university now. It’s best if we enter the same one, but if it really isn’t possible, we’ll study in the same city, then get married after graduation.”
In Xu Tingsheng’s previous life, Tan Qingling hadn’t even blinked as she had dumped Huang Yaming, in the midst of repeating the year, without a second thought. This time round, many things had changed, such as that with Huang Yaming. Still, Tan Qingling’s personality wouldn’t change. As Xu Tingsheng had thought earlier, there was one thing the power of foresight that came together with rebirth couldn’t control-matters of the heart.
Xu Tingsheng said, “If one day, and I’m saying if, if one day, you don’t really possess any capabilities, just being a completely average guy, and Tan Qingling falls in love with someone who is richer and more capable than you, what would you do?”
Huang Yaming said, “She won’t.”
Xu Tingsheng could only discard this topic as he turned towards Fu Cheng, asking him, “What about you?…Already having said things to that extent just now, after Ms Fang wakes up tomorrow, what are you planning to do?”
Huang Yaming said, “Just directly push her down.”
Fu Cheng said, “I’ve been thinking about it ever since then… but haven’t been able to think of anything. Still, I find that things are pretty good this way. I’ve said whatever I wanted to say, and she’s heard it all as well. I’ve given her a promise, and also given her freedom. What comes after will be the work of time and destiny.”
Fu Cheng meant that he would wait, while Ms Fang could let nature run its course. However, this format was in itself already flawed. Ms Fang’s age made it such that she could not let nature just run its course. Fu Cheng had lots of time; she did not.
What if they began just like that? This was similarly not fair to Ms Fang. The pressure and fear she would have to bear would be completely incomparable to that bore by Fu Cheng.
This was a dead knot.
Finally, the topic fell to Xu Tingsheng, Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng being extremely curious about his ‘love at first sight’.
Xu Tingsheng said, “She’s called Xiang Ning.”
“Can we meet her?”
“After some time’s passed…no, in a few years.”
After the release of the university entrance examination results, schools would usually conduct a seminar regarding the filling up of the graduates’ aspiration forms, guiding them on such.
After Xu Tingsheng’s group had finished eating breakfast, they swaggered mightily to the school gates.
The large red banners were hung directly down from the tenth grade building closest to the school gates. On one of them was written: Warmly congratulating Student Xu Tingsheng’s glorious achievements. Top scholar for Humanities in Libei County, ranked overall third for Humanities in Jiannan City, first in Jianhai Province for Combined Humanities and also awarded the Award of Bravery in Libei County.
“What’s that Award of Bravery all about?” Xu Tingsheng was completely stumped.
Possessing superb alcohol tolerance, Vice Principal Lou seemed not to have been drunk the previous night at all as he came over in great strides, laughing heartily, “We got a commendation for you for that matter with SARS. How about it?”
“…Thank you, Vice Principal,” Xu Tingsheng had originally thought that that had already been the end of things, that that…violent action of his was not worth giving mention to at all.
They all raised their heads and gazed at the banner.
It was not just them. Including the tenth and eleventh grade students and the graduates and their parents who had come back to attend the seminar, a few thousand people gazed upon the large red banner that drifted with the wind, discussing it animatedly.
‘Splendor shines on the family’s door’. Suddenly thinking of this idiom, Xu Tingsheng felt pretty good.
At this moment, under everyone’s gazes, that banner regarding Xu Tingsheng suddenly grew taut, then drifted down from the rooftop with a ripping sound.
The wind was not big, and the other banners were all fine. Therefore, it must have been pulled off by someone.
A figure stood on the rooftop, an end of the banner in his hands.
Vice Principal Lou exploded, leading people in rushing up towards him.
One could not actually be charged for this kind of thing. Moreover, Chen Yulun was himself also a student who had attained glory for Libei. The school could not possibly charge him just over this matter.
Xu Tingsheng whispered something into Vice Principal Lou’s ear before striding over towards Chen Yulun.
“You’ve ruined me,” Chen Yulun said.
“That’s just a misunderstanding. You still have a result of 592 marks and a good university,” Xu Tingsheng said, “Have you thought about Song Ni? …She’s truly the one who has been ruined by you.”
Chen Yulun was rendered speechless.
“Her yearning towards a blissful relationship, her university entrance examinations, her future prospects and fate, her life, her psychological state…they were virtually all ruined by you. Therefore, I won’t sympathise with you.”
“What do you want?”
“I don’t need to do anything. The two of us standing here talking with so many others watching on-it’s already been a while, right? …I believe that this will be an eternal shadow cast over your heart.”
Xu Tingsheng was very cruel to be breaking someone through their mind like this. However, as he recalled Song Ni’s fate in his previous life, an originally obedient and quiet little girl trying to end everything through suicide, then leaving silently, very possibly going away with a permanent disability…even if it was just what she had experienced in this life, it was already sufficient for Xu Tingsheng to ruthlessly harden his resolve.
“This will be an eternal shadow cast over your heart.”
“This will be an eternal shadow cast over you heart.”
As Chen Yulun stood opposite Xu Tingsheng, while the latter was already no longer speaking, he seemed to be able to hear countless voices, those thousands of voices all buzzing within his ears:
“That fake top scholar.”
“What a narrow heart.”
“Ripping the banner…has he gone crazy?”
As Xu Tingsheng walked back amidst Huang Yaming and the others, many on the distant classroom buildings were waving to him, “Senior Xu Tingsheng.”
This senior was feeling shy. Actually, the seminar on aspirations was completely meaningless for him. He knew much more than the specialists, even many schools did. He could be precise and firm in his resolve. The reason he had returned was to get his aspiration form.
Xu Tingsheng’s group sat in Old Zhou’s office for half an hour, obtaining the aspiration form. Afterwards, Huang Yaming and the others went to attend the seminar, while Xu Tingsheng instead returned to his classroom alone.