SWFM8: Within the sea of memories
After eating lunch, while Xu Tingsheng, Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng were heading back from the school buildings, some bold girls began shouting as they hid behind other classmates:
“Xu Tingsheng, remember to call me next time you go to the roof to drink and sing.”
“Xu Tingsheng, the world is so vast, let me accompany you in experiencing it.”
“Xu Tingsheng, good luck.”
The crowd-drawing guy in question, Xu Tingsheng, was currently in great agony. Today’s matter itself already had him in great agony. Being ‘crowd-drawing’ was even more agonising, and most agonizing of all was when he saw the two people coming up to him one by one.
Wu Yuewei had already been unable to pay attention to her lessons for the entire morning. In the meantime, her teachers had gotten her to answer questions a few times, and she had only managed to react with the nudging of her tablemate sitting beside her. After she had stood up, she had been dazedly unable to say anything at all.
Faced with such a situation, a good student would be treated by the teacher as such, the teacher asking, “Are you not feeling well today? Sit down then, and make sure to rest properly.”
Wu Yuewei sat down, but couldn’t gather up her thoughts at all.
She thought about the bloodstains at the corner of his mouth, thought about his self-reflection on the stage, thought about him saying ‘This world is so vast, I wish to experience it.”
“He didn’t have to do that, be willing to be maligned in order to protect me, being wronged, yet not willing to say out the truth.”
Over this period of time, that roommate who had originally been very close with Wu Yuewei had suddenly began distancing herself from her, even looking a little afraid to associate with her. Wu Yuewei knew that this was definitely related to Bao Ming’s bunch, and by extension also related to Xu Tingsheng.
Wu Yuewei didn’t know what exactly Xu Tingsheng had done, but she knew that he must have done something in order to protect her, helping her to shake off Bao Ming’s bunch.
If not for Xu Tingsheng having instructed her not to expose her involvement in this matter, Wu Yuewei would definitely long since have been unable to continue sitting in her classroom. She wanted to see Xu Tingsheng, wanted to talk to him.
As they were eating lunch, the female students beside her were discussing him, and as she listened, her tablemate suddenly turned and asked her, “That person – he was that senior whom you stopped on the road in our first year of senior high, right?”
Wu Yuewei appeared dazed for a moment before she suddenly hugged her tablemate, her heart filling with joy.
Her tablemate appeared totally baffled by this.
Wu Yuewei smiled radiantly, saying, “Thank you. I will go and find him now.”
Wu Yuewei had managed to think things out. She could definitely go and find him in an aboveboard manner. Anyway, many people already knew that she had once stopped him, knew that she liked a senior.
Her tablemate shook her head, “Don’t go, you will be laughed at for shamelessly chasing after him instead of the other way round. Didn’t you already get laughed at enough back then.”
Wu Yuewei clenched her small fists, “I precisely want to chase after him… shamelessly.”
Not being able to stop her, her tablemate could only helplessly sit back down. She had been tablemates with Wu Yuewei ever since they had started senior high, being best friends, but she felt that she still didn’t understand Wu Yuewei enough. In everyone’s eyes, she was an obedient girl, pure and quiet, even usually appearing a little timid. However, in sharp contrast to that was a very brave, very crazed, or perhaps very silly side of her. For example, on the first day of school, under everybody’s gazes, she had stopped a senior. For example, she had accepted the suggestion of her roommate who obviously had not harboured good intentions to perform such an ‘experiment’. For example, now.
Wu Yuewei bought a box of medicine from the medical centre, then stood by the roadside, waiting for Xu Tingsheng.
Xu Tingsheng, Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng came over.
Wu Yuewei came over, saying in a very soft voice to Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng, “Thank you.”
Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng disloyally abandoned Xu Tingsheng and first took their leave.
“I know that I was wrong; I won’t be like that again in the future. In the future, I will be good like you say and study properly,” Wu Yuewei said with a lowered head.
Xu Tingsheng smiled, “That’s good. With your results, you have to at least get into Jianhai University.”
Consequently, Wu Yuewei’s university of choice changed from Qingbei University to Jianhai University as she said, “Does it still hurt; I bought medicine.”
She reached out, wanting to touch the scabbed corner of Xu Tinsheng’s mouth.
Xu Tingsheng took a step back and avoided her hand, receiving the medicine from her, “Thank you. You should quickly go and eat too.”
Wu Yuewei said, “I’ve already eaten.”
“So fast? Lessons have just ended.”
“For our music lesson, our teacher didn’t come last week, and wasn’t here today as well. My tablemate pulled me away and we sneaked out…not just us, many classmates ran off as well.”
“Oh, not needing to queue up is really good. Then, I’ll go eat first.”
“I still like you, like I always have,” Wu Yuewei suddenly said.
“…but I don’t like you anymore; I didn’t know anything back in junior high,” Xu Tingsheng said as gently as possible.
Wu Yuewei thought for a moment, “You’re lying.”
Xu Tingsheng smiled bitterly, “No, I really don’t like…you are good at studying and also beautiful. Study hard, there will definitely be many people who like you in the future.”
Wu Yuewei thought for some time more before raising her head to meet Xu Tingsheng’s eyes, “It won’t affect my studies, I promise.”
Xu Tingsheng felt like he completely didn’t know what to say at all.
Now, Yao Jing walked over, pushing a box into Xu Tingsheng’s hand as she said, “Fu Cheng told me everything; well done.”
Then, she brushed past Wu Yuewei as she left.
This morning, Yao Jing had felt a little restless, especially after having heard the news that the fight Xu Tingsheng had been involved in was over of a girl. Having always been free-spirited and relaxed, unease had sprung up within her heart.
Luckily, Fu Cheng had helped her to alleviate the tensions plaguing her.
Fu Cheng did not reside in the school dormitory, not having heard what Xu Tingsheng had told Huang Yaming the previous night. This meant that he still didn’t know that Xu Tingsheng already no longer felt the same way about Yao Jing. Therefore, he had warmly helped to explain matters for Xu Tingsheng. While in order to protect Wu Yuewei, he had not been able to explain things too specifically, the intelligent Yao Jing had still understood the meaning within his words.
“Righteous and civic-minded, afterwards unwilling to say out the truth even while maligned in order to protect the girl’s reputation?” Xu Tingsheng’s image within Yao Jing’s heart instantly rose as she felt that he had considered very well, done very well.
Hearing the others all discussing Xu Tingsheng, Yao Jing felt that as his ‘upcoming’ girlfriend, it seemed like she should do something for him. Therefore, after her lessons, she had gone to the medical centre and bought a box of medicine for him. Just having seen Xu Tingsheng, she handed the medicine over to him.
With her personality, this could already be considered a very clear conveyance of her thoughts and a very gentle form of care.
Seeing Wu Yuewei, and seeing Xu Tingsheng in the midst of conversing with her, yet not having heard the contents of their conversation, she would naturally not think too much. This was just simply how she was.
From Xu Tingsheng’s viewpoint, as opposed to Wu Yuewei, Yao Jing was the greater problem. For instance, Xu Tingsheng could directly say to Wu Yuewei that he didn’t like her, but this would be impossible with Yao Jing. After all, he had been the one who had pestered her for so long before this, and the other party had just expressed her opposing stance. Saying such words at such a time-would it affect her university entrance examinations? After all, only slightly over two months were left.
“Right, university entrance examinations.”
Xu Tingsheng suddenly felt that he was once more able to relax. Matters that could be solved by time should just be solved by time. After the university entrance examinations, after his departure, everything would naturally be settled.
“Time, there is still a lot of time.”
As Xu Tingsheng thought of Xiang Ning, two figures simultaneously appeared within his mind. One was that wild little girl carrying a skyward braid, while the other was that beautiful and refreshing, gentle and tolerant Xiang Ning whom he had once been in a relationship with.
“Having to slowly await your growth like this – it really is torturous!”
Taking the two medicinal boxes, Xu Tingsheng found Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng at the canteen. The two had already bought their food, and were currently looking at Xu Tingsheng with rascally smiles on their faces.
Xu Tingsheng pretended not to see this as he focused fully on eating.
Bao Ming’s bunch entered, sitting down at a nearby table. Seeing the trio, amidst their discussions, unfriendly looks were directed over every once in a while.
“It looks like we’ll have to settle this sooner or later,” Huang Yaming said.
Fu Cheng shook his head, “They should be harbouring intentions on my handphone.”
Huang Yaming considered aloud, “What about we say that we have already shared around the picture, asking them to give up?”
Xu Tingsheng raised his head, saying quietly, “Don’t say anything. Rather than us telling them things, why don’t we let them think about it for themselves; they will be able to. Now… if they look over, we’ll look back; just be composed and smile at them.”
Bao Ming felt extremely powerless. As he stared viciously over, the three nutjobs over there would meet his gaze, smiling vigorously at him. When he wasn’t looking, they instead remained eating and conversing happily where they were… what was this situation? What did it mean?
Originally, he had had the intention of going over and forcing them to delete the picture, or perhaps even forcibly snatch away Fu Cheng’s handphone. However, those three over there looked like they did not fear them at all. Thinking for a bit, Bao Ming felt that they had definitely already made a backup copy of that picture.
Then, did there still remain a need to continue with this? His weak point being grasped by someone did not make for a very good feeling, but forcing them too much also seemed like it would not be a very rational choice.
Xu Tingsheng smiled as he waved towards Bao Ming, expressing through his lips, “This bro has been valiant enough?”
Bao Ming felt like he was being driven crazy, “Nutjob, his-mother-he-really-is-a-nutjob!”
After lunch, the trio went to the field and smoked a cigarette, then sat by the side of the field, covered in sunlight, under the mottled shade of the three.
Xu Tingsheng actually wanted very much to ask Fu Cheng and Huang Yaming one thing – how much did they know about the matter of the singing on the roof, and had they taken part?
Logically speaking, if such a thing had truly happened, it would definitely not be a small thing in Xu Tingsheng’s rather ordinary past life at all. It would be impossible that he possessed no impression of it at all.
Now, though, searching through his memories, he seemingly had no impression of this matter at all.
Xu Tingsheng felt like he had possibly suffered an injustice, the school catching the wrong person. However, he didn’t ask if this matter had really been done by him. With the incident having happened just not long ago, his question would inevitably appear very strange, and the suspicions of Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng might thereby be raised.
It was just a little bit of punishment – Xu Tingsheng actually didn’t mind it much at all. His true thoughts were that if this matter had really been done by him, while he had no impression of it in the least, might this mean that a discrepancy had appeared from with the memories of his past life? This was the real scary thing; it would cause the future to become unpredictable once more.
Just as Xu Tingsheng was about to give up on this, Fu Cheng lighted up a cigarette, “Who was the one playing the guitar that night?
The one playing the guitar? And a guitar? It really was me?
Xu Tingsheng was caught off guard for a moment before he replied in an intentionally relaxed tone, “It was me, of course.”
“That’s bull,” Fu Cheng said, “That guitar of yours was just bought a few days ago; getting some sound out of it would already be pretty good. Those people from our year who play the guitar told me that the proficiency level of the one playing the guitar that night was very high, at least higher than mine and theirs. It was definitely not you.”
Xu Tingsheng indeed remembered not having been able to play the guitar. However, he knew that Fu Cheng could, and was also rather good in it, having participated in a competition when he was in university. Therefore, if he said that it wasn’t him, it definitely wasn’t.
Xu Tingsheng chuckled, “That’s exactly why; actually, I was maligned.”
Huang Yaming continued, “Still pretending with us. That night, I saw you hugging your guitar and sneaking out. When I asked you where you were going, you refused to say no matter what. I also heard the song; that was your voice. Afterwards, it seems like you only came back some time after 2am, not having brought back your guitar.”
“So, who exactly was the one who played the guitar? Introduce that person to your bros?” Fu Cheng asked.
Xu Tingsheng extinguished his cigarette, striving to remain calm, “Hah, I just won’t tell you. Let’s go, back to the classroom, back to painstaking study mode.”
“It was a girl? …Oi, what girl do you still have to hide?” Fu Cheng questioned as he chased after him.
Xu Tingsheng did not speak.
“It really was me, and also someone else who played a guitar. He, or she, who was that person? … How is it that I don’t have any impression of this in my memories at all?!”
Xu Tingsheng felt the hairs on his body stand on end, his body trembling slightly as he felt like he had been swept into the deep sea by a whirlpool, his breathing growing difficult, pitch black darkness all around. The unknown could signify danger. Xu Tingsheng lost the powerful feeling of being in control of everything, with it being replaced by a feeling of panic and helplessness.
After that afternoon, Xu Tingsheng spent the next two days carefully corroborating everything he saw and heard with that within his memories-the appearance and personality of his teachers and classmates, significant events, little things all around, popular songs…none of them had deviated, everything he saw matching with that which lay within his memories.
“Was that incident the only exception? In that case, since it is already over…it shouldn’t be a problem,” Xu Tingsheng comforted himself.
People’s memories were originally never a hundred percent reliable. Many a times, they would be influenced by one’s subjective will, deviating from how things actually had been.
If a person’s memory was compared to an ocean, not everything would be visible on the ocean’s surface. Some things, submerged deeper within the ocean, could be buried within forever. At the same time, they could also float upwards due to some sort of trigger or occurrence.
Sometimes, a simple sentence or scene might suddenly cause one to remember something that had been long forgotten to them.
Meanwhile, there were some things which one perhaps forever might not be able to recall, although it had indeed occurred in the past, and had actually always been there.
For example, you were unable to recite from memory some lesson material in class, and your tablemate gave you a hint, with you thereby remembering it. It had actually never been forgotten, just buried deep somewhere, or perhaps obscured in some corner, covered in dirt. Therefore, learning inevitably had to be coupled with practice.
Xu Tingsheng told himself: My past memories are just like this. The information within is just so vast and jumbled; there would surely be some things buried deep within this ocean…this is not important-the most important is the portion which I can grasp.