Chapter 19: Fu Cheng’s Secret
Ms Fang continued to praise a few other students, one of whom was Fu Cheng, whose history grades had improved tremendously.
“Fu Cheng’s overall grades improved greatly too! Keep up the good work!” Looking at Fu Cheng, Ms Fang smiled and pumped her small fist.
Fu Cheng grinned back, nodding enthusiastically.
On the surface, Fu Cheng’s response was not any different from the other students who had been praised as well, with a smile suppressed to give a calm, joyous air whilst trying hard to appear composed. Only Xu Tingsheng knew how much this praise meant to him, how blissful it was.
At this moment, Fu Cheng’s heart had probably soared beyond the distant heavens.
“Maybe… he instantly had a ‘reaction’, “Xu Tingsheng had a lewd thought.
The person Fu Cheng fancied was Ms Fang, Fang Yunyao.
In fact, many boys would have had crushes on their female teachers during their school years. For instance, in this very class, the number of boys who liked Ms Fang was no less than 12.
The total number of boys in Class 10 was 12.
This went to say that even Xu Tingsheng liked Ms Fang to some extent. His subsequent choice in his previous life to become a history teacher, rather than one of any other subject, had in fact been influenced greatly by this.
Fang Yunyao possessed an appeal that the young senior high girls lacked.
The flood of the adolescent hormones of puberty left the boys utterly unable to resist such a woman. She was beautiful and elegant, gentle and warm, but more importantly, while she was youthful, she was at the same time also more mature than these younger girls around them. This kind of maturity was like that cherry atop a cake, dark red and full, sparkling and translucent, bright and crystal clear, causing people to stare, to thirst for it, greedy, insatiable.
This kind of more crush which was more illusory than real featured even more frequently in the ‘fantasies’ and ‘dreams’ of the boys.
Fang Yunyao would, on occasion, act more like an adolescent girl than a teacher. For instance, she would sometimes tell the students about her grievances, throwing a tantrum like a spoiled child.
Each time such a scene played out, all the boys would collectively appear bewitched, the entire dormitory tossing and turning in their sleep.
Yet, Fu Cheng’s feelings were distinct from that of all the others, for it had been concealed for a long time, had persisted for longer, and was much more genuine.
Even when Huang Yaming and Xu Tingsheng had already begun going into relationships, Fu Cheng appeared completely unlike an adolescent boy. Although he was on decent terms with quite a few girls, never once did he ever entertain that kind of notion. No matter how pretty and elegant or sexy the girl, never once did he express any interest in them.
In his previous life, Huang Yaming and Xu Tingsheng once advised him to go for a health checkup, to see if his body was developing normally. It was only a long time later that they found out that this fella’s hidden desires actually ran so deep, his appetite furthermore being so huge.
If Xu Tingsheng did not expose this, following the developments of his previous life, the both of them would only find out about Fu Cheng’s secret two years after their graduation from senior high.
On the day Ms Fang had gotten married, Fu Cheng, Huang Yaming and Xu Tingsheng had gathered together for some drinks at a city far away from Libei County. At first, he had still seemed fine, his behaviour perfectly normal other than appearing rather more frank and straightforward from having drunk some liquor.
After getting drunk, Fu Cheng had begun to cry before he had finally uttered those heaven-shocking, earth-overturning words, “Today, the most beloved woman of all my life got married.”
One must know that in senior high, he was the only boy in Class 10 who had never spoken of having a crush on Ms Fang. In fact, not even once had he even joined in with the other boys in discussing her.
It was only then that Huang Yaming and Xu Tingsheng had found out that Fu Cheng had actually liked Ms Fang all along, that deepest kind of affection that harboured even dreams.
Many boys might have liked their female teachers, driven by adulation or the fantasies of their puberty. Yet, this secret love would not hinder them from pursuing and dating the girls by their side. Fu Cheng, however, was an exception in this regard. What he had always thought was that if Ms Fang had not gotten hitched by the time he graduated from university, he would go forth to confess to her.
He never got to see that day. Ms Fang had gotten married when she was 28 years old. Twenty-eight…actually, wasn’t that already pretty late? This became yet another ‘why were you born then, for then I was not’ story.
“Why have you been hiding it from us all this time? Like no one hadn’t liked Ms Fang back then,” Huang Yaming had asked him at the time.
“It was different; mine was different from yours. For me, I liked her to the point that even saying it out would feel like a kind of sacrilege,” Fu Cheng had replied.
“You guys fancied Ms Fang, but which of you ever thought about it seriously, actually truly considered marrying her one day? … No one, right?… I contemplated it, kept on contemplating it, mulled over it every single day. But there was nothing I could do…” Fu Cheng had gotten very drunk at the stage, slumping over the table as he slurred on his words.
In Xu Tingsheng’s previous life, this tale had actually not ended here, because Ms Fang’s marriage had not been the end of things.
4 years into her marriage, unable to bear the domestic violence that beset her, Ms Fang got a divorce, taking her two-year-old daughter off to distant lands. His hopes reignited, Fu Cheng resigned from his job without hesitation, heading for the city she was in. There, he had pretended to cross paths with her in a coincidental reunion, after which he had silently cared for and protected her.
However, his confession had ultimately still been rejected. Ms Fang had said that she would never be able to accept Fu Cheng.
Fu Cheng had shamelessly hung around at Ms Fang’s place just like that, brazenly helping her to do everything he could, and Ms Fang had also never remarried. During that period, Fu Cheng’s parents had gone over a few times, making a racket, saying that Ms Fang had no sense of shame in having seduced their son. In this way, Fu Cheng’s relationship with his family had become fraught, and Ms Fang had been alienated from him further.
In Xu Tingsheng’s previous life, this issue had persisted even up to the time of his accident, whereupon it had been still hanging and yet to be settled.
“What if I pushed Fu Cheng into making the confession earlier?”
Xu Tingsheng pondered on this, but it was clear that at this point in time, it was not actually a viable option, being completely meaningless.
“Is there a way to stop Ms Fang from marrying that violent maniac, that man who looked intellectual and cultured on the surface but was really a dark and scary person?”
This was another issue that Xu Tingsheng felt extremely helpless about.
126 marks for Language, 138 marks for English, attaining first in class yet twice more, also amongst the top three in the entire year.
The students of Class 10 were already all but numb to his achievements.
When inconceivable things keep on happening one after another, it would be like you meeting your 100th alien on the street one fine day, upon which you would think to yourself ‘Ah, there goes another alien’ and then just walk past it.
Of course, it was also thought by some that Xu Tingsheng might have cheated.
Everything else aside, Xu Tingsheng’s English grades were already completely illogical, defying all one knew of the world. One must know that in the previous monthly tests, he had scored but 57 points for English.
Those who harboured such suspicions, ranging from students to teachers, were evidently not just a few. Quite a few people felt that this possibility might really be true, just that till now, no one had yet said it out loud.
During the time allocated for extracurricular activities, the sole activity for the twelfth graders was basically self study. Xu Tingsheng was no exception. He was still somewhat behind in his intonations as well as comprehension ability for English. Also, the vocabulary part of Language could not be tackled solely through the accumulation of intense reading as he had originally thought.
Xu Tingsheng borrowed a classmate’s notebook of frequently mistaken words and phrases. Page by page, he thumbed through the book. Whenever some appeared for which he habitually got the pronunciation or meaning wrong, he would jot them down in his own notebook to aid his future revisions.
The teachers also stayed close by, ever ready to clarify the doubts of and guide these students who were about to take their university entrance examinations.
In the staffroom for twelfth grade Combined Humanities, Old Zhou sat at his place by the window, the warm rays of the sun streaming through it, gently showering his face. His eyes narrowed slightly, Old Zhou drank a mouthful of tea, then began softly crooning some Beijing opera:
“I stand atop the city’s ramparts gazing upon the mountains, listening to the incessant upheaval outside. Tall banners stream high amidst the wind, yet are actually troops sent by Sima…”
“Mr Zhou seems to be in high spirits,” said Mr Zhang, a vice chairman of the student affairs office who also taught twelfth grade himself.
Old Zhou raised his eyelids, chuckling, “Is something up, Vice Chairman?”
Vice Chairman Zhang found a stool for himself and sat down, “Nothing, nothing…Class 10 performed very well this time, especially those students who were originally rather undelectable…”
Old Zhou did not respond.
Vice Chairman Zhang could only continue, “Speaking of our understanding on these students, as their form teacher, Mr Zhou, you should know them the best. I wonder what you think of their grades this time round?”
Old Zhou remained like a monk in deep seated meditation, not responding, for he had long since guessed the purpose of Vice Chairman Zhang’s visit.
Vice Chairman Zhang paused for a moment, then unhappily continued, “You see, I also teach history myself. I’ve taken a look at the history answer scripts of that Xu Tingsheng from your class. All the multiple choice questions having been answered correctly aside, the essay questions were tackled to point so thoroughly and precisely it was shocking. I am not sure that even I myself might be able to achieve such a level on the paper, so…”
Old Zhou exhaled, “What is it that you are trying to imply, Vice Chairman?”
“Does Mr Zhou think that there is any possibility that Xu Tingsheng could have cheated?”
“Oh? Who could he have copied?”
Old Zhou’s returning shot had immense killing power; it was virtually able to utterly annihilate all those doubtful voices. Xu Tingsheng had been number one in the entire Jiannan City for Combined Humanities, and even the second placed student in Libei Senior High had scored close to 30 marks lower than him. Vice Chairman Zhang, you yourself just said that even you might be unable to do the paper to such a standard. In that case, who could he have copied?
An inner struggle played out on Vice Chairman Zhang’s face before he hesitantly ventured, “I’m thinking that these three students could possibly have stolen… gained access to the papers beforehand?”
Old Zhou stood up, “If Vice Chairman wishes it, I can get Xu Tingsheng and the others to come over, and you can directly interrogate them yourself… However, I hope that Vice Chairman had best be able to come up with the corresponding evidence. Otherwise, this would be attacking the proactivity of the students in working diligently to improve. What with the university entrance examinations right around the corner, I think that that would not be a very wise move to make.”
“Old Zhou, that’s why I’m asking you first…”
Vice Chairman Zhang was trying to explain himself, when Old Zhou, Zhou Xueyin, had already walked out of the staffroom in a huff. Ever since the overall results had been released, this sort of discussion and doubts had not ever ceased. Usually having a good temper, Old Zhou was now finally beginning to fume a little.
Yet, there was something else which would make him simmer even more.
Class 10 was located right beside the staffroom. As Old Zhou left the staffroom, he was just about to enter the classroom when he noticed that there was already a person standing at the front.
Class 7’s form teacher Zhang Xiuyun was in fact not a teacher of any subject for Class 10. Yet, at this moment, she had suddenly materialised in Class 10, facing the entire room of Class 10 students.
And here she asked, “Students of Class 10, does copying feel swell?”