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Suddenly, This Summer - Chapter 9

Published at 11th of February 2017 03:53:52 AM

Chapter 9

Chapter 9: Keeping It In The Heart


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“Come to the field this afternoon . My first score will be for you . ”

 

When He Luo opened her English class notebook, she saw a note inside scribbled in blue-black ink . There was a drawing of a boy with a stern expression as he dunked the ball into the net . She cannot help but laugh .

 

“What are you laughing about?” Zhao Cheng Jie asked .

 

“Since when did I laughed?”

 

“You’re obviously laughing . ”

 

“I’m laughing at your coffee bean hair . ”

 

“?” Zhao Cheng Jie didn’t understand her words .

 

“Your bird nest hair . ” He Luo really couldn’t hold back her laughter .

 

“You must have taken the wrong medicine lately, you’re always so hyper . ” Zhao Cheng Jie turned his pencil case around and used the shiny surface to check his reflection . He kept on smoothing his hair over . “Does it really look that pathetic?”

 

Seatmate, I’m really sorry, I really want to laugh, really . He Luo sprawled on her desk and laughed so hard that her eyes turned into crescents .

 

The long winter had already passed . The snow covering the roads, the roofs, had all began to melt . The dry air carried a hint of moisture, bringing a feeling of comfort and refreshment . The trees remained as bare as they were, with all its vertical and horizontal branches . But the solemn grey of winter was dissolved by the humidity, the sunlight shining tenderly . With the ice and snow melting away, the seasons had begun their transition . Spring creeped a little closer, with its gentle hue of green, before spreading all over .

 

School had just barely reopened but the boys were all lively and excitedly met at every opportunity to play basketball . They were preparing for the upcoming citywide high school basketball league . Members of the cross-year school team often met in the afternoon to practice . There was only half an hour for lunch break . As soon as the morning classes ended, Zhang Yuan ate his chocolate bar and beef jerky . He tossed his sweater on top of his bag and began jogging near the class door, occasionally leaping and mimicking a ball toss movement .

 

The student on duty that day returned to class carrying lunch boxes . He Luo took her share and as she entered the door, she nearly bumped into Zhang Yuan . Her face red, she quietly said, “You shocked me to death . Are you running so fast to go reincarnate?”

 

“If you’re this slow, you won’t be able to see the first score . ” He shot a quick wink at her, showing her an OK gesture .

 

“What’s so interesting about seeing the first score?” A confused Li Yun Wei asked . She then laughed . “Unless you have the feeling that that will be your only score today?”

 

“Never mind just one score, I think someone don’t even want to let go of a single second . ” Tian Xin nudged He Luo . “Oh right . You two are being ambiguous lately . You two have been coming to and leaving the school together . Classmate Zhang Yuan, don’t you usually ride your bicycle?”

 

*

 

Truly, Zhang Yuan did not want to lose a single second on the court . He ran smoothly, almost gliding, and dribbled the ball with a stern expression . This Zhang Yuan looked distant and unapproachable, yet firmly attracted He Luo’s gaze . Even amidst the crowd, He Luo can pinpoint his location with a single look . Precise and accurate .

 

Or perhaps, she should say, in that moment that he appeared, he looked like he was bathed in sunlight, so bright and sharp he made the world paled in comparison . He was the one bright spot in a crowd, impossible to ignore .

 

The opponent today was the third year’s team . By the time He Luo arrived at the court, they were already five minutes into the game . Zhang Yuan had yet to show any of his skills . He was strictly on defence but in a sudden moment, he relaxed and straightened his back . He pointed at his opponent’s unravelled shoelaces and motioned for his team mates not to rush over . His expression was entirely calm, carrying a hint of prestige .

 

He truly was magnanimous and a gentleman . When He Luo described Zhang Yuan, she never fell short of adjectives to describe him .

 

He had already noticed her presence . He did not smile, he only glanced deeply at her .

 

Zhang Yuan easily shot down the opposing player’s rebound, moved into the gap in the midcourt, and swiftly passed the ball . He continued to cut deeper into the other team’s defence, leaping into the air to receive a long pass from his teammate . With a gentle shove, he threw the ball in the direction of the net . The ball wavered on the ring of the net for a moment before falling in . A nice ball! Still he only ran to his teammate’s side and exchanged a quick high-five .

 

My first score will be for you . When He Luo remembered these words, she had to take a deep breath in order to suppress the excited screams threatening to escape her throat .


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The players all looked worn and grim, the sweat falling . They used their jerseys to wipe it off, leaving streaks on their face . There was none of the splendour of a refreshing and beautiful youth .

 

“My seatmate must definitely be thirsty, I saw his mouth curling,” Li Yun Wei said . “He Luo, hurry up and buy some drinks . ”

 

“How can she leave?!” Tian Xin laughed . “She’s grown a hook in her eyes . I’ll go . ”

 

Before He Luo could stop her, Tian Xin had already run to the store to buy a bottle of mineral water . “They all spent a lot of effort playing today . There’s not even any break for them to rest . Your heart must be aching . ”

 

He Luo smiled dryly . “What are you all talking about?” She looked at Li Yun Wei . “If you’re going to buy, buy a few more . There are still other kids from our class on the court . ”

 

“Why are you looking at me? None of those kids are my loved ones . ”

 

“What loved one . You’re the welfare committee member, remember . ”

 

“You’re still refusing to admit it!” Tian Xin persistently nudged He Luo . “Go, hurry up and give him the water . Don’t you see someone waiting with her black tea?”

 

“Hey, hey, didn’t I say there’s nothing between us . ” She kept on walking backwards, her feet nearly touching the white line . The referee’s gaze flickered over at her every now and then .

 

“Even so, you can’t benefit that first year student . You don’t let the fertilised water from your field flowing to another’s field [keep the good things in the family] . ”

 

“Fine, fine . Let’s at least wait for the half-time, okay? If you push me anymore backwards, then I’ll be the sixth member in the team . ”

 

After the game ended, Zhang Yuan walked over the side of the court . He lifted the hem of his shirt to wipe his sweat . He Luo was pushed right in front of him, Tian Xin had also taken the opportunity to put the bottle of water in her hands . “You played well . ” He Luo smiled, keeping her hands hidden behind her .

 

Zheng Qing Yin ran over with a sweet smile . “Hey, you’re awesome today! What a beautiful alley-oop shot!”

 

“You can only consider it beautiful if it was an alley-oop dunk . ” Zhang Yuan smiled lightly and turned around with an open palm . “Give it to me . ”

 

“Take the time to wash up later . Our first class in the afternoon is politics, we’ll be having a small quiz today . ” He Luo placed the mineral water bottle in his hand and, with a smile, turned around to leave .

 

“Ah, don’t you like black tea the most?” Zheng Qing Yin took the mineral water away . “I have it here . ”

 

“Mineral water is pretty good . ”

 

“Black tea is better!” She stubbornly refused to change it .

 

“Then you drink it . ” Zhang Yuan smiled . “I have such a big bottle with me . ” He gestured . “It’s one litre, with chrysanthemum and boat sterculia seed, it’s very nourishing . ”

 

“Look at them . It’s almost time for class and they’re still not done with their conversation!” Li Yun Wei grumpily said . “And you really turned around and left . ”

 

“I think it’s fine . ” Tian Xin put on the air of a learned old person . “He Luo’s performance was too amazing, confident and generous . That’s the aura the official wife should have . ”

 

“What nonsense are you sprouting?” He Luo rushed over at Tian Xin and pulled her cheeks with a smile . “Be careful that I’ll pull your tongue out . ”

 

*

 

There were still a number of students doing their homework after school . There was a little green box sitting on top of He Luo’s desk .


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“Eh? It’s apple-flavoured candy!” Li Yun Wei picked up one and placed it into her mouth . “How sour!” Her entire face was scrunched together .

 

“I also have one . ” Zhang Yuan walked over to them and showed them a similar candy box, but it was of a lavender colour .

 

“Yours should be empty?”

 

“Who said . It’s all money . ” Zhang Yuan shook the box, there was a clanking sound . He placed the box on the desk, opened it, revealing a treasure box full of coins . He immediately covered it . “Did you see it? It’s a private fund!” He sounded like a child, as if he was Doreamon who was trying hard to buy dorayaki .

 

Bai Lian gave He Luo half of an apple she had peeled . “Come, help me with this question . ”

 

“Ah, you jumped the queue!” Zhang Yuan snatched the apple and took a bite before handing it to He Luo . “She promised to teach me grammar . She had already signed the slave contract with me . ”

 

“Are you asking for a thrashing?” He Luo stared at him wide-eyed . “I can get an apple after helping Bai Lian, what are you giving me for compensation?”

 

“I’ll give you a tip [money],” Zhang Yuan said with a laugh . He fished a few coins from Li Yun Wei’s pencil case .

 

“Use your own money,” Li Yun Wei protested .

 

“I need to save for my wedding fund, it’s a very tedious task!” Zhang Yuan firmly said .

 

“It’s all for the same person anyway, why care about it?” Tian Xin laughed, her excitement rising . He Luo shoved the apple back into Zhang Yuan’s hand . “Look at your bleeding gums, hurry up and eat more vegetables and fruits . ”

 

“I really can’t stand you two . It feels so sour to see you two being all touchy-feely,” Li Yun Wei lamented . “Let’s go home . I’ll go home and eat dumplings without the vinegar . ”

 

“Zhang Yuan, can I stay in your class for a little while?” Zheng Qing Yin popped her head at the door . “My class faces the north, it’s too cold . ”

 

“Little girl, the reason why our class is so warm is because we have too many lightbulbs [third wheels] here . ” Tian Xin pointed at her nose . “And it’s also the ultra-wattage lightbulbs . ”

 

“How come I can’t see any?” Zheng Qing Yin frowned .

 

“You’re still young . What isn’t appropriate for children, you won’t be able to see . ” While Tian Xin was still smiling, she felt a paper ball being thrown at her head with precision . She didn’t even have to turn to know He Luo and Zhang Yuan were both flushed with anger [or excitement] .

 

Zheng Qing Yin was biting on her lower lip, her breathing heavy . She carefully scanned the boys and girls sitting in the classroom before turning towards Zhang Yuan again . “Why are you not going home? Are you staying to be a lightbulb?”

 

“Can’t you tell? They’re the electrodes . ” Tian Xin languidly said, pointing behind her .

 

Following the direction of Tian Xin’s pointing, Zheng Qing Yin saw two girls sitting side by side . She ran towards Bai Lian and stared at her for a good moment, her chest heaving . “Is it just because she’s prettier than me?”

 

The apple Bai Lian was eating got caught in her throat and she coughed . She waved her hand . “You have the wrong person . I need to leave this gossip-filled place . ”

 

“It’s her?” Zheng Qing Yin scrutinised He Luo and snorted . She turned to Zhang Yuan . “Can you come out for a moment? I need to talk to you . ”

 

Zhang Yuan smiled but said nothing, only staring helplessly at He Luo .

 

“I’ll go home first . I’ll help you with your grammar tomorrow . ” He Luo began to pack .

 

“It’s fine if you listen in,” Zheng Qing Yin interrupted . “I don’t care if you listen . ”


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*

 

After the three of them settled in a McDonalds restaurant, Zheng Qing Yin asked, “Is it because she’s the first girl who confessed to you and you find it difficult to turn her down?” 

 

“No . ” Zhang Yuan shook his head .

 

“Is it because she often tutored you in English and you were touched?” she asked .

 

“Not that either . ”

 

“Then what is so good about her? She isn’t even attentive about you . ” Zheng Qing Yin’s eyes reddened . “When you sweated so heavily after a game, she doesn’t even hand you a towel . When you’re dressed so lightly, she doesn’t even give you your jacket after the game . You definitely don’t eat during lunch time; I saw you buying bread in the afternoon, eating as you cross the road . She totally isn’t attentive about you . ” As she continued, her voice choked with emotion . “I-If it’s me, I-I-I w-will bring a homemade lunch box… I-I like you more than she does…” She sobbed, staring at He Luo . “D-Do you know, you have him but don’t cherish him… you can’t deprive others of the right to like him . ”

 

“You . You must have read Liu Yong’s books . ” He Luo’s mouth was slightly open . She can only think of this to say .

 

“Doesn’t cherish me? I don’t think so . ” Zhang Yuan held her hand under the table . “We both just didn’t want to do any intimate actions in school . ”

 

“You’re always protecting her…” Zheng Qing Yin’s cries became even more anguished . “Do you really like her that much?” She turned to lean into Zhang Yuan’s arms but he stopped her at the shoulder .

 

“I’m sorry,” he said .

 

“You really won’t comfort me at all?” Her tears were gushing . “Then will you hug her?”

 

“Of course I will . ”

 

“Will you kiss her?”

 

“I don’t have the chance at the moment, I will try and fight for it in the future . ” His hand was pinched by a certain someone .

 

“Then… will you marry her in the future?”

 

“This is too far ahead in the future . ” Zhang Yuan burst out laughing . But after thinking for a moment, he said, “I’m including that in my future plans . ”

 

“If you’re willing to spend your lifetime with her, then you probably really like her,” Zheng Qin said sadly . She sprawled on the table, sobbing heartily .

 

Which other writer is she quoting this from? He Luo sighed and went next to her . “You’re very straightforward, very cute, also very brave,” she said . “I know you’re really upset but I’m sorry . I can only be selfish in this matter . ”

 

“You’re hateful, I hate you!” Zheng Qing Yin placed her forehead in He Luo’s chest, pounding her arms . “I hate you, I hate you . ”

 

“Just cry, cry it all out . You’ll feel better . ” He Luo caressed her back .

 

“You’re really lucky . ” Zhang Yuan smiled . “I haven’t even hug her yet . ” He Luo widened her eyes at him . He immediately said, “I’ll go buy some food, you must all be hungry?”

 

Zheng Qing Yin had tired herself out crying and was now quietly eating two fried chicken wings . The Mercedes-Benz had been waiting outside the restaurant for a good while . Without saying anything, she boarded the car . But she suddenly rolled down the window and told Zhang Yuan, “I like you! I like you now, I’ll like you forever! If there comes a day where you don’t want her anymore, you must tell me . ”

 

“Okay . ” Zhang Yuan grinned . “But I think you won’t be able to wait till the 22nd century . ”

 

“You…” Zheng Qing Yin snorted .

 

*

 

“Why are the kids these days so fierce?” Zhang Yuan shook his head as he watched the car drove away .

 

“I quite pity her,” He Luo said . “There’s nothing wrong with liking a person . ”

 

“You’re really generous . ” Zhang Yuan put on a serious expression and nodded . “En, you have the aura of an official wife . ”

 

“Who told you that?” She wanted to rip the girl’s mouth off .

 

“Even if you kill me, I can’t betray my seatmate . ” He burst out laughing . “If there’s an official wife, that means I can have a second wife, a third, a fourth, an eighth, a ninth . ”

 

“Don’t be so happy . You don’t even have an official wife . Did you forget the fortune-telling? You won’t have a wife in your entire life . ”

 

“I really won’t have one?”

 

“No!”

 

“Really won’t have one?”

 

“No!”

 

“I am really wronging you . ” Zhang Yuan sincerely said . “You’re following me purely based on affection without even an official title . ”

 

“Be careful that I knock your teeth out . ” He Luo waved her fist .

 

“You’re the one who originally said not to reveal our relationship,” Zhang Yuan said . “The others have actually noticed that we have been gradually becoming closer . ”

 

“It’s because Tian Xin and the rest like to gossip . ” She lowered her head, tugging at his sleeve . “It’s not that I don’t want to be attentive and take care of you . I just don’t want there to be a lot of talk about us . The teachers and parents will find out about us . ”

 

“What’s there to worry about, did we let our studies suffer?” Zhang Yuan retorted . “It seems like we even did better this time than in our finals . ”

 

He Luo thought, you don’t understand what my dad thinks . He thinks of me as a literature top scholar . Her head ached when she thought about Dad, of him pointing at the school ranking last year and saying, “40th place . If you can knock off the zero, how nice will it be . ”

 

Noticing that she did not say anything, Zhang Yuan immediately added, “Okay, okay . If you want to keep it a secret, then we’ll keep it a secret . But there’ll be little girls coming to look for me . You can’t be jealous or sulk quietly . ”

 

“You think too highly of yourself . ”

 

“Ah, didn’t you notice . ” Zhang Yuan rubbed his chin . “I’m still pretty handsome . You need to look closer . ”

 

“Then can’t you be a little aware of yourself?” He Luo burst out laughing .

 

“Oh, then I’ll be a little more aware in consideration that you brought me the chrysanthemum and boat sterculia seed drink . ” Zhang Yuan also laughed . “Ay, I’m not even full, let’s go and eat again . How about apple pie? I like that most . ”

 

“Don’t you like black tea the most?” He Luo raised her eyebrow teasingly .

 

“And you said you weren’t jealous . ” Zhang Yuan made a “ha” sound and avoided He Luo’s fist . He leaned in sideways, and whispered next to her ear, “But you look especially cute when you’re jealous . ”

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