Chapter 55: Apple’s demonic charm
The bus arrived at the academy city. Xu Tingsheng and Apple got off, Apple insistent as before on helping to carry one of his heavy bags. What happened next was that countless male seniors responsible for welcoming the freshmen immediately rushed forward in a mad scramble to relieve her of the bag on her shoulder.
Such actions of these animal-like male seniors, Xu Tingsheng himself had partook in before.
To them, this day of freshman matriculation marked a special occasion. It was like Zhao Zhongxiang saying in《Animal World》: The mating season has arrived on the vast prairies of Africa. The male hippopotami…
The day they had long yearned for had finally arrived, with these young female juniors finally fresh out of the oven as they arrived tantalisingly before them. This was one of the rare few occasions one would be able to see these male seniors dressed well and neatly. Today, having sacrificed the good ole’ times of playing Counterstrike at their internet cafes, they were gentle and considerate, warm and hearty, helpful and obliging.
In his previous life, Xu Tingsheng had gone along to receive freshmen in his second year of university as well. Furthermore, he had even gone all the way to the bus terminal to wait. There, a cute and delicate young female junior having been unable to squeeze into the school bus, Xu Tingsheng had instead brought her along in taking the public bus. The outcome was that what had originally been an hour’s plus journey had dragged on to almost two and a half hours with the destination still out of sight.
“Perhaps the roads are rather congested today,” Xu Tingsheng had explained to her.
In the end, it had been dark outside when the bus had finally come to a halt by a dilapidated road sign in a village, the bus driver saying, “Get off, this is the final stop.”
The young female junior had looked at Xu Tingsheng, then abruptly shrieked loudly and burst into tears, reaching for her phone to call the police.
Actually, Xu Tingsheng had just ridden the bus in the opposite direction…really, he was actually kind of useless in life, being afraid of heights as well as having no sense of direction.
The male students gathered around Apple.
“Welcome, junior! Did you come by yourself? That’s so brave…here, pass me your bag.”
“Which faculty are you from, Miss? I’ll take you directly to registration; there’s no need for you to queue up.”
A trishaw cut in from out of nowhere, “Junior, you can sit here. After you’re done with registration, I’ll send you to your dorm room. We can take the time to look around the campus as well; I’ll help you get familiarised with the area.”
Xu Tingsheng stood outside this circle, shouldering the weight of the other heavy bag. Bleakly, he stood there, alone and lost amidst the desolate wind. No one looked at him; no one paid any attention to him. In fact, no one had even noticed him.
Apple loaded her bag onto the trishaw and squeezed through the crowd encircling her to load up Xu Tingsheng’s bag as well.
She smiled, saying in a lovable tone, “Hubby, the people from your school are so nice! Let’s get your stuff settled quickly; I still need to rush home to feed our baby milk.”
With this, the male seniors became the ones lost amidst the desolate wind.
The duo followed the senior who had promised to bring Apple to find the registration ‘booth’ for Chinese, while the other seniors slipped away in misery. Xu Tingsheng brought himself through the registration process, receiving his meal card and other items. Coming out to find the trishaw senior still there, they went with him to the dormitories.
This senior had remained enthusiastic and warm-hearted. Although he now knew that Apple was just a family member, he nonetheless continued eagerly bringing Xu Tingsheng and Apple around the campus, visiting the key facilities and areas and introducing to them the prices and flavours of the respective restaurants on campus.
At the end of it all, beneath the dormitory building, the senior stealthily tugged at Xu Tingsheng, asking, “You’re awesome, bro…does Sister-in-law there have an elder sister?”
“Apple, do you have an elder sister?” Xu Tingsheng asked Apple.
Apple eyed Xu Tingsheng, eyed the senior, comprehended the situation and then laughed, “I don’t have an elder sister. Still, my mom is single.”
“You’re welcome; really please don’t mention it,” The senior pedalled his trishaw into a F1 car as he raced it away.
Xu Tingsheng’s room was on the 6th floor. He left Apple below looking after a bag, intending to carry one bag up first and return for the other later.
Expending great energy in ascending to the sixth floor, he found the door to Room 602 wide open.
Xu Tingsheng carried his heavy bag into the room. Six beds were already laid out with their respective occupants present, either sitting or lying down as they chatted together.
“Looks like I’m the second last one here.”
Xu Tingsheng found the bunk with his name pasted on it and set down his bag. It was only at this moment that the others in the room noticed that someone else had arrived.
One of them fished out a box of cigarettes, took two out and handed them over, asking, “Bro, want a smoke?”
Xu Tingsheng observed that 5 out of the other 6 people in the room were smoking. Since that was the case, he would not have to bear guilt over affecting others with his secondhand smoke. Thinking that this was a good time to catch his breath before going back down for his other bag, he accepted the cigarette, lighting it up and puffing on it as he sat on his bed boards and listened to the chatter of the others.
A short and stout darker-skinned guy stood at their centre, gesticulating as he said, “What was I saying? … Oh, right. I’ve already observed and confirmed that there are 50 people in our class, with 14 being guys. There’s still excess even if we split three to every one of us.”
Someone beside him replied, “How did you get into university with your math like that? Also, we have to consider quality.”
“Speaking of quality,” the one in the centre continued excitedly, “Do you guys know why I reached here so late?”
“Bro, I was ahead of you by just a minute or so,” He turned towards Xu Tingsheng and said.
“In fact, I arrived here long ago, but after having completed registration, I stood by the side of our Chinese booth and observed. Guess what, there are really quite a few good looking ones in our course, just that I don’t know if they will be in our class. Let me tell you, of them all, there was this one girl in particular whom, if she turns out to be in our class, would be a total windfall. If that time comes, we’d better not start fighting over her. That one, at least 1.68 metres tall, with slender waist and long legs, wearing a small, white singlet and super-short shorts…”
“Huge,” the short and stout guy raised his hand and drew an exaggerated semi-circle on his chest.
Xu Tingsheng sat at his position close to the door, interestedly watching, listening, …first watching some of them opening their eyes wide at the short and stout guy’s description, rubbing their hands together in anticipation, next noticing that they were suddenly dumping their cigarettes in quick succession, frantically throwing what remained of them onto the ground and stamping them underfoot or even just flinging them straight under their beds.
Placing their hands on their pants, some of the guys stood up uncomfortably, trying their best to remain calm whilst smiling towards the doorway. Xu Tingsheng turned to follow their gazes…
Apple stood there, the heavy bag at her feet, her fragrant sweat dripping as she panted, trying to catch her breath.
Xu Tingsheng appraised her. That one, at least 1.68 metres tall, with slender waist and long legs, wearing a small, white singlet and super-short shorts; huge…The short and stout guy’s descriptive skills were actually not bad at all.
“…that’s her I was talking about,” The short and stout guy winked as he said to the rest of them in a low tone.
“Hi, are you looking for someone? …We are from the same course, 03 Chinese. I am Tan Yao,” said a tall, handsome guy to Apple, still standing at the doorway.
From his accent, he seemed to hail from Shandong, and from his manner of speech, he seemed to be an old hand, well versed at hitting on girls.
Apple dropped the bag by the doorway before she strided directly over to Xu Tingsheng and plopped down beside him, “Hubby, this one’s almost dying already, and you’re still sitting here smoking…”
“Hi, everyone,” Apple waved at the guys in the room before pointing at Xu Tingsheng, “Xu Tingsheng, my husband. I’ll have to depend on everyone to help me take care of him from now on. I have to nurse our child at home and can’t be properly accompanying him.”
Aggrieved, the guy named Tan Yao looked bitterly at Xu Tingsheng. saying, “Bro, is there a need to hurt me like this immediately upon our meeting? Tell me, how are we supposed to get through our next four years together now?”
The short and stout guy came over and said, “Forget it, let’s just take it as one fewer predator that we have. Hopefully, there’ll still be some more good stuff in our class. Bro, my name is Li Xingmin. We’ve got to first be clear on this. You’re not allowed to touch any more of those in our class. They’re ours, all ours…”
Xu Tingsheng chuckled, “You guys go ahead and chat; I’m heading down to buy some stuff. Oh right, her name is Apple.”
Xu Tingsheng went down to get Apple some refreshments, at the same time buying some daily necessities as well.
When he returned, Apple had already laid out his bed, also having finished telling their story.
In this story, Xu Tingsheng and Apple had been classmates in senior high. Amidst their romance, the shotgun had accidentally gone off, and it was during their third year of senior high that Apple had unexpectedly gotten pregnant. In the end, she had chosen to give up on the university entrance examinations for the sake of giving birth to their child…
Greatly moved by their tale, as Xu Tingsheng returned, his roommates all came up one by one and patted his shoulders emotionally, “Bro, you’d better not let Sister-in-law down.”
Even a guy of small stature who had been silent all this while came up to Xu Tingsheng somewhat bashfully and said, “I am Zhang Ninglang of Jiangsu. I feel, I feel that you should treat Sister-in-law and your child a bit better.”
Actually, Xu Tingsheng could tell that some of his roommates didn’t really believe Apple’s story. It was just that they were playing along due to finding it interesting.
However, this Zhang Ninglang before him truly believed the story.
Xu Tingsheng remembered that he was the only one of them who had not been smoking earlier, that when everyone had been talking about girls, he had simply smiled bashfully by the side, that when Apple had appeared, he had been nervous to the point of not even daring to raise his head…This was a truly honest and sincere kid, a good kid.
Zhang Ninglang reminded Xu Tingsheng of a roommate whom he had had a very good relationship with in his previous life, and so he replied, “Alright, I’ll do that.”
Apple added, “Seeing that you are such a good kid, you can help Sister-in-law to look after this guy here in the future, right? Come, Sister-in-law will introduce you a girlfriend next time…what type do you like? How about someone like Sister-in-law here? I have a cousin…”
While Zhang Ninglang dared not look at Apple, his entire face blushing a deep red, neither did he refuse the offer. Which youth ever came to the verdant, vibrant campus without any yearning, without any hopes? However shy they were, it was all the same.