Chapter 45: Some beginnings, some ends
At the start of July, when the holidays were about to begin for the tenth and eleventh graders, the prospective batch of new students began their summer supplementary lessons. The school gave it a very nice-sounding name, called the ‘Junior-Senior High Transition Lessons’.
On the first day on which his sister, Xu Qiuyi, attended lessons in Libei Senior High, Xu Tingsheng did an exact same thing that he had done in his previous life. He brought along 7 to 8 boys, swaggering domineeringly along in escorting his sister to school, escorting her to her dormitory room and to her classroom, and even to the cafeteria as well.
What Xu Tingsheng basically asked of these people was to adopt stern expressions, looking as much as possible like they were bad guys.
Today, Xu Qiuyi was like a princess. Without even so much as a rag in her hands, she had a bunch of older bros helping to clean up her dormitory room, setting up her bedsheets for her. On her way to her classroom, a bunch of people helped her to hold this, carry that, resembling a guard of honour. When she arrived at the cafeteria, all she had to do was sit down. There would naturally be people helping to carry her meal over.
This was Xu Tingsheng’s goal. The number of hooligans was much greater in this era than any other. Xu Tingsheng wanted these people to know that behind this little beauty cum study queen was a bunch of very scary brothers…
Therefore, don’t disturb her; don’t touch her.
In Xu Tingsheng’s previous life, Xu Qiuyi had blamed Xu Tingsheng about this for quite a while afterwards, saying that this had caused the girls in her dormitory to fear speaking to her and her classmates to avoid her, such that she had been unable to make any good friends for a long period of time.
In this life, Xu Tingsheng ‘harmed’ her once more. Friends could be slowly made. In comparison, avoiding the harassment or approach of those with malicious intentions was much more important.
However, things didn’t develop like they had in his previous life, because virtually everyone in the school were familiar with these ‘big bros’. The legendary Xu Tingsheng, Huang Yaming, Fu Cheng…
There seemed to be absolutely no need for intimidation at all.
She was that Xu Tingsheng’s sister!!!
This was already enough. That older brother of hers was a legendary study king, his big red banner still drifting on the wall outside. But he was not just some mere study king. Getting into fights and whatnot all seemed inconsequential; would you dare to go smash the head of a suspected SARS patient with a brick?
You don’t? You don’t, and you still dare to disturb his sister?
Instead, Xu Tingsheng’s actions resulted in the number of onlookers continually increasing, with more and more people coming over to greet and try to get close with his sister Xu Qiuyi.
When Wu Yuewei carried a stack of notebooks and walked into their classroom, the atmosphere of the ‘spectators’ reached an unprecedented peak. Wu Yuewei was similarly very famous. She was famed for being an ultra study queen, and the story of her uncertain relationship with Xu Tingsheng was even more widely known.
Those were none other than Wu Yuewei’s full set of notes. As long as it was someone with the slightest bit of interest in their studies, who wouldn’t want them?
“But Wu Yuewei is from the Science stream!” Xu Tingsheng’s resentment ran deep, “Is this wanting to pull Qiuyi over to the Sciences? Can it be that my sister must still study the Sciences in this life? But here I am, knowing a whole bunch of Combined Humanities university entrance examination questions…”
In his previous life, the older brother of the Xu Family had studied Humanities while the little sister had studied the Sciences. This time, Xu Tingsheng actually very much wished for his sister to study Humanities. That way, there was just so much that he could help her with.
If his sister studied the Sciences, all he would be able to help her out with for the university entrance examinations were the essay questions.
Xu Tingsheng agonised over it for a while. Forget it, there was still a year’s time before the students ultimately chose their streams. At that time, he would see. If his sister truly was still more interested in the Sciences than Humanities, he could only let nature run its course.
Receiving the thick stack of notebooks, Xu Qiuyi asked playfully, “Senior Wu Yuewei? …Sister-in-law?”
Wu Yuewei stopped in her tracks mid-nod. Senior? Of course. But what about that ‘sister-in-law’?
Of course Wu Yuewei would be willing. She glanced at Xu Tingsheng, neither denying nor admitting the fact. Then, ignoring Xu Tingsheng completely, she just focused on chatting with Xu Qiuyi. Of course, the best topic of conversation for study queens was none other than: ‘studies’.
Xu Tingsheng and his bunch of pitiful ‘older bros’ could only bitterly retreat.
“Remember to come and watch your bro play football tonight; it’s the senior high farewell match,” Xu Tingsheng reminded Xu Qiuyi.
“I know, I know! Hurry up and go, you being here is nearly stifling me dead,” Xu Qiuyi waved him away without so much as a backward glance, her motions resembling the swatting of a fly.
In Libei Senior High, there was only Xu Tingsheng’s sister Xu Qiuyi who could deflate him as much as this. Still, wasn’t it precisely his wish to pamper his sister such that she would never ever have to be so sensible?
In his previous life, she had learnt how to associate with people and deal with matters early on, also having learnt how to cook and do laundry, becoming independent and strong…All these, however, were unnecessary. This girl, my sister, should just be pampered and spoiled. Why must she grow sensible? How tiring is that.
The football match had been decided upon two days ago. Xu Tingsheng had received a call from the captain of the team, similarly a twelfth grader who had already graduated, having been asked to participate in a farewell match. He was overjoyed by this invitation.
Some time after 3pm, most of those from the school team had already arrived. As there was no changing room, they just changed beneath the stands.
Xu Tingsheng had taken a long time just to find his jersey. More than ten years having passed, he had muddledly thought that it must be at the bottom of the pile. Only after having thrown everything out of his drawers and cabinets did he realise that his jersey actually hung just right by his bedside.
Right, this was still back in the day when he most loved playing football, played football the most.
The team members chatted as they put on their equipment, the new eleventh and twelfth grade players bidding their seniors farewell while the old boys who had already graduated sighed emotionally at already not having played football for more than two months due to the university entrance examinations.
“More than two months?” Xu Tingsheng thought, “It’s been nearly eight years for me.”
In his previous life, he had not played much football after having graduated from university. The school that he had taught in had not even had a decent football field.
Not having played for nearly eight years, could he still do it now?
Xu Tingsheng found the captain, saying with a bitter expression, “Captain, can I be a substitute?”
“Are you joking? All the graduates are going on, even those who were originally substitutes. Anyway, how could you possibly be a substitute?” The captain tugged lightly at Xu Tingsheng’s jersey-Number 10, the number of the central midfielder.
The two forwards of the team came over with smiling faces, one of them saying, “Give me a few more passes later. It’s the final match of senior high; I’d like a goal for commemoration.”
The other guy elbowed him away, stammering, “I…pass to me. I’ve called over the girl I’ve had a crush on for three years. I want to score…confess.”
Xu Tingsheng was incomparably agonised. He didn’t even know now whether he would be able to stop the ball.
“Come on, quickly get changed and gather over here,” The captain clapped his hands, beckoning everyone over.
“It’s our final match of senior high,” The captain said, “Let’s forget everything about tactics, victory and whatnot. Most important is that everyone has a great and enjoyable time out there. If you defenders want to score, just run forward. If there’s a penalty, let the goalkeeper kick it. Also, those who want to confess can leave at any time. You can come back after you’ve netted the girl…If you can’t? Then, don’t come back.”
They all burst out laughing. There really were two people who intended to confess today.
The captain’s eyes suddenly turned red, “For our days of playing football together.”
The team shouted loudly in unison, “For our days of playing football together!”
This was overflowing, passionate youth. Those days spent running beneath the sunset…
Xu Tingsheng thought that those experiences seemed a lifetime away. Then he realised that it was actually the truth. He truly was separated by such by a whole lifetime.
“That Liu Ming, come over here. I’ve got something to say to you,” The captain called over a player from eleventh grade, next pointing at the captain’s armband around his arm, “This, I’ll be wearing for the first half. In the second half…you’ll be wearing it.”
Liu Ming was stunned for a while before the big, tall stalwart mumbled with the tears streaming unimpeded straight down his face, “Captain.”
“Don’t be so wishy-washy with me or I won’t give it to you. His mother, but I really can’t bear it…I’ll be handing this team over to you,” The captain stroked his armband, crying more tragically than anybody else.
“You can rest assured, Cap.”