Chapter 16: Returning Home (1)
Who is whose light?
Xiao Xi and I were walking on the path back to the dorm. This was the situation that I had envisioned countless number of times. A warm sun glow blooming ahead, clouds shading the shining sun and the man that I loved walking beside me. If he would only hold my hand, then I would be the most blessed person in the world. However, what was funny was that we were walking in front of each other and we didn’t say a word. However, at the entrance of the dorm, I hesitantly stuttered and struggled to say to Xiao Xi: “Xiao Xi, let’s work hard together!” After I finished, I made a victory gesture with my hands. Xiao Xi shook his head helplessly: “ you should study hard. Let’s talk about other things when exams are over.”
When I returned to the dorm, I called Julie to cancel future tutoring sessions, while telling her about the situation that today from start to end. On her end, Julie hatefully ground her teeth and shouted: “How could you miss such a prime opportunity? The shows on TV are not as exciting as this! You sure deserve to be on TV!”
I sighed. Right now, I could only do as Xiao Xi said and study hard. I would handle this after exams.
After completing my Liberal Arts Computer final, I estimated my grade and felt that chances for failure were low. I sent a text message to Fang Yuke, thanking him for all his help the past few days. In my heart, I thought that if this rascal seized the opportunity to blackmail me and force me to treat him to a meal, I was willing to sacrifice and pay up to $50 for each of us at a restaurant. I didn’t expect that Fang Yuke would subtly express his disdain. His reply was short and only had three words: Don’t mention it.
On the day that exams ended, snowflakes began to float in the air all of a sudden. As far as I could remember, after junior high, it seldom snowed in our hometown. Even if it did snow, it would disappear into the moist ground, unable to form due to the climate and thus finish. I did not expect that it would snow so heavily in Beijing. Big blankets of snow piled up on the road, producing cracking sounds when you stepped on them. After exams, I was completely relaxed and had a burning desire to destroy the pure white snow. There was snow everywhere so I ran up to step on it, as I fulfilled this lady’s desire.
Just as I was having fun stepping on the snow, I received a phone call from Fang Yuke. His voice was very nasal, I suspected that he had caught a cold.
“When are you going home? Have you bought a ticket?” Suddenly, I felt very blessed as I thought that I could go home with Xiao Xi, and suddenly felt excited and asked happily: “I haven’t thought about it. Are you going back home with Xiao Xi? Hehe, the three of us can go back together.”
A nasal voice came from the other end: “If Xiao Xi and I are not going back together, who will you follow?” Obviously I would go back home with Xiao Xi, but I was worried about how Xiao Xi was currently filled with fear and trepidation and I was afraid that we would spend the entire journey home in silence. If this happened, both of us would feel embarrassed. Forget it, an impatient person could not eat hot tofu**, I should take it slower.
I smiled evilly: “I hope that the three of us can go back together. It will be more lively this way. It’s not like we have anything else to do after exams, why do I have to choose who to go back with?”
- **Hasty men don’t get to eat hot tofu (idiom)- One just has to be patient, haste will ruin everything.
It seemed that on the other end, Fang Yuke was satisfied with my answer: “Alright then, the three of us can go back together.”
“Remember to book a ticket for the hard seats, we can get a 50% discount using our student passes. Don’t waste money and buy those bedded seats. I still want to save money.”
Fang Yuke said unhappily: “Can I pay for you or not? It’s tiring to sit for more than ten hours on the train.”
“Ughh, how can you seem so much like an old person? It only takes ten-ish hours. Time will fly by as the three of us play cards. Listen to me, or else, even if you buy those bedded seats, I’ll get a refund!” Fang Yuke compromised and agreed.
Before I hung up the phone, I comforted him: “Have you caught a cold? You should eat more medication,”
Fang Yuke said in a huff: “How can you still be this bad at saying things? You seriously want me to eat more medication? You should be advising me to drink more water…”
On the day that we were to go home, after considering for a long time, I decided to wear a thin, light colored winter skirt. In the past, before I dressed up, I would definitely wrap myself up like an Arab woman before leaving the house. However, I decided to abandon the image of looking like a bloated penguin. My heart cried out “I am a beautiful King Kong maiden! I am going into battle!” After this, I resolutely stepped out of the house.
The period when I waited for the taxi was the hardest to pull through. In fact, it proved I was not an unequalled King Kong maiden. When the small wind blew, I trembled incessantly, freezing until my teeth chattered together. I wished I could jump up and down on this street to get a little warmer. Fang Yuke was very “gentleman-like”, as he asked me, if I really didn’t have any money to buy winter clothing. I lightly cursed: “You self-centered show-off!” almost as if he was giving his respects to his seniors, as he expressed concern, while not attending to Xiao Xi at his other side. He directly said, “Buying a down-filled garment in Beijing is too expensive. Let’s just buy one in the South and forget about it.”
The taxi finally unhurriedly stopped in front of us. I used my eyes to indicate to Fang Yuke to sit at the front. However, even when I blinked until my eyes had cramped, Fang Yuke pretended that he didn’t notice. He even more eagerly forced his way to sit at the back. I glared at him, ruthlessly kicking him off the taxi. As I opened the front door of the taxi, the taxi driver said unhappily: “Princess, please walk a bit more carefully, don’t spoil my car.”
“Damn! This was not over!”
I had no idea why, but ever since I had nonsensically confessed, it felt as if Xiao Xi’s attitude towards me had taken a 180 degree turn. He used to be extremely warm towards me, and we were at least fellow friends. However, now whenever he looked at me, he would lower his head and look at the ground with so much intensity like there were a few hundred dollars there and he was afraid someone would steal it. Was he shy or intentionally distancing himself? If he was shy, that meant that I had a big chance and could chase him without holding back. In less than three days, after I had let his shyness fade and thickened his skin until it was like a concrete wall, he would calmly accept my sincerity. However, if he wanted to distance himself, I would have even more reason to chase him without holding back. I would have to let his skin become as thin as a Beijing Pancake, which would tear after just one poke. He would immediately surrender and submit himself willingly and bow down before me.
Of course my brain had not yet comprehended how to actually answer such a difficult question of the heart, whichever of the two it was. No matter what the answer was, I still would have to act in the same way in order to achieve the same result. So there was no point in worrying about it anymore.
When we first got on the train, I picked up a call from Ru Ting. I wondered whether or not this girl had actually dialed the wrong number. On that side, Ru Ting interrogated me on my plans for the next school semester.
I unhappily asked: “Ru Ting, we already quarrelled so badly the last time, Im really impressed at how you are still filled with so much greetings. Anyway, the new school semester has pretty much already been set by the school? And we’re not even that close, why don’t you just say what you want.”
Ru Ting forced a smile: “ I just want to wish you a smooth sailing with brother Xiao Xi and to ask you to take care of Fang Yuke for me along the way.”
“What do you mean ‘along the way’? Looking after your family’s Fang Yuke carefully is definitely my priority and I’ll develop my relationship with Xiao Xi along the way.” I said this while laughing loudly. I thought in my heart that Ru Ting was considered a friend of Xiao Xi and I had to give Xiao Xi some face. I wouldn’t hold any grudges towards this woman anymore. Anyway, in view of the fact that she inexplicably cared about Xiao Xi and me to a degree, I decided to mend our relationship so we could go back to normal. This was also taking into account the fact that she knew about the situation between Xiao Xi and Xiao Xi’s ex-girlfriend. I decided to go against my conscience and preferences, to become like sworn sisters with her.
Ru Ting was a smart person. After hearing my guarantee, she immediately said : “The quota for number of exchange students has already been set. Sister Yi Lian and the vice president will be going to America next semester, there will be there for around a year more or less. You don’t have to worry about brother Xiao Xi.”
On the train, I changed my usual on-train gluttonous image. I restrained myself and kept drinking plain water. Even if the sellers on the train pushed their little carts over, calling out beside me a countless number of times: “pickled chicken legs, spicy chicken wings-” I just persistently held on to the cup of water in my hands. My dear friend Fang Yuke suddenly threw off his usual bored-pen-spinning demeanor and bought a few bags of chicken legs and chicken wings, contentedly and shamelessly chewing on them with Xiao Xi.
I couldn’t take it anymore, aggressively slapping the table and standing up forcefully. Xiao Xi looked at my hesitantly: “What’s wrong?” With strength that could push down a wall and topple a country, I pointed at my cup and swallowed a gulp of water: “ I’m going to pour some water.” Fang Yu ku looked at me provocatively, without saying a word.
I asked the attendant for a cup and poured it full of hot water, carefully carrying the cup as I walked to back to the seats. I originally intended to exaggerate and look very impressed while saying to Xiao Xi: “After eating so much, you should drink some water~~” in order to live up to my definition of chasing him. However, in reality, when I carried the water to the table, my courage was completely gone. I stiffly said to Xiao Xi: “Drink!”
I didn’t expect that Xiao Xi would not stare at the ground and scrutinise the carpet patterns like he used to. Instead, he smiled at me, nodded his head and said softly: “Thank you”.
This was the kind of warmth one experienced when snuggling under a blanket. There was a soft kind of emotion growing in my heart, which made me feel as if I was in heaven. After confessing, I treated the love between Xiao Xi I like a battlefield. Every time, I would put on a mask, wear my armor, get up after falling, ignore any spilt blood and overestimate the strength of my heart. Xiao Xi’s smile was like the sun, illuminating every crack, causing my chest to tighten in my excitement. In the past, I had boastfully and carelessly said that I was the sun to chase away his shadow. Actually, it would always be that the one who was loved would be the other party’s sun. Just like how Yi Lian was his sun and Xiao Xi was mine.
As I thought of this, some depression was produced at the same time. As for me, who I was I shining my sunlight for?