Published at 16th of April 2016 10:45:02 PM

Chapter 12

Having locked the door of her home securely, Chen Nian walked to the stairwell – only to find Bei Ye patiently waiting for her to appear . The overnight rain had cleansed the dirt from the yard . The flowers were in full bloom, adding dashes of bright colors to the yard . Bei Ye was carefully selecting various flowers when Chen Nian approached him, so focused in his task that he failed to notice the sound of her approaching footsteps .

When Chen Nian squat beside him, Bei Ye had already plucked two flowers, curving and twisting them into a long and elaborate ear cuff . He helped her put on the ear cuffs, and commented, “It looks good on you . ”

Chen Nian: “……”

Chen Nian touched the flowers on her ears . Although the flowers were mildly itchy, she didn’t take them off .

She was extremely careful when putting on her helmet .

The two youths rode on Bei Ye’s motorcycle, only stopping when they were one street away from the school compound .

“Let’s get off here . ” Bei Ye suggested .

“Sure . ” Chen Nian replied softly .

She knew that he didn’t want her friends to gossip about her when they saw her together with him .

Hopping off the motorcycle, she returned the helmet to him . He passed her the bread and snacks which he had earlier purchased for her, meticulously instructing her, “You must finish all the food . ”

“Okay . ” Her voice was as soft as silk .

She peered into the bag of snacks, and inhaled the scent of the freshly baked bread . Bei Ye began to explain, “I got you a new flavour, red bean buns . – Do you like red bean?”

“I do . ” Chen Nian nodded her head .

“Oh, and this . ” Bei Ye retrieved a hair clip from his pocket . The hair clip had a rather simple design, and was light green in colour .

Slightly stunned, Chen Nian retrieved the hair clip from Bei Ye .

“You……” Bei Ye pointed to her fringe, “When you lower your head, your fringe always falls before your eyes . ”

“Thank you . ” Chen Nian felt her face growing hot, and lowered her head .

Bei Ye turned away, a small smile forming on his lips . When Chen Nian raised her head, she discovered Bei Ye’s small smile, and stared at him .

“What are you looking at?”

“Why are you……smiling?”

“Little stutterer, I always feel like laughing aloud every single time I hear you speak . ”

The laughing that Bei Ye referred to was different from the laughing that Chen Nian referred to previously .

Flushing, Chen Nian lowered her head once more . As she looked down, her attention was caught by the silver key that hung from her neck . Although she hadn’t found an occasion to use the key, she simply wanted to keep the key hung around her neck . He too, wanted her to keep the key hung around her neck .

Bei Ye stared at the key hanging from Chen Nian’s neck, his heart seemingly entangled by the string from which the key hung . Gently caressing the key with his hand, Bei Ye spoke up after some time, “Go on . ”

Chen Nian walked a few steps before turning back to look at Bei Ye . With his hands in his pockets, Bei Ye quietly followed her from a distance (about five to six metres) away, with a calm expression on his face . His eyes seemed to possess a mysterious power that could calm and soothe all of Chen Nian’s fears and worries .

Taking a deep breath, Chen Nian began walking towards the school compound, knowing that Bei Ye would always be following her from behind .

When Chen Nian was 10 metres away from the school compound, she suddenly spotted Wei Cai . With a cigarette in hand, Wei Cai leaned against the walls of the school compound, surrounded by a bunch of female hooligans . When she saw Chen Nian, her lips formed into a nasty smirk, and she began to start towards Chen Nian . However, before she could even close the distance between her and Chen Nian, Wei Cai’s gaze shifted to the person behind Chen Nian . Seemingly startled by what she saw, Wei Cai ground to a halt .

Safe in the knowledge that someone had taught Wei Cai and her friends a ‘lesson’, Chen Nian calmly walked past Wei Cai and her group of friends . Safely entering the school compound, she turned back – only to discover that once again, Bei Ye still trailed behind her from a distance away .

Pressing her lips together, Chen Nian left . After some time, she couldn’t resist the urge and turned back once more . This time, Bei Ye was already gone .

Chen Nian walked to the classroom, a overwhelming sense of security and safety filling her heart . Seating herself down, she took out her textbook and started revising her languages . It was only during self-revision time in the afternoon when Xiao Mi discovered the flowers hanging on Chen Nian’s ears .

“Nian, what are you wearing on your ears?”

Stunned, Chen Nian hurriedly removed the flower cuffs from her ears .

Xiao Mi peered over, “Wow, flower cuffs! They’re so pretty . I used to wear flower cuffs a lot when I was younger, but I stopped wearing them after I grew up . Ah, Nian, you’re sill so young at heart . ”

Xiao Mi wore the flower cuffs for a short period of time before returning them to Chen Nian .

Chen Nian found the thickest textbook in her drawer – the Oxford Advanced Learner’s English Chinese Dictionary – before carefully pressing the flower ear cuffs between the pages of the dictionary . She hid the dictionary in its original spot, as though it contained a small, special secret .

Just as she returned the dictionary to its original spot, her mobile phone rang . Hurriedly retrieving her phone from her bag, she discovered that the caller was Zheng Yi . Chen Nian shot a quick glance at Xiao Mi . Xiao Mi nodded her head, indicating that she would help Chen Nian stand guard .

Chen Nian bent her body till she was well hidden by her desk before picking up, “Hello?”

“Chen Nian,” Zheng Yi’s voice rang out, “I’ve been extremely busy the past two days, so I couldn’t check on you . Are you alright?”

“Yes, I’m alright . ” Chen Nian replied in a low voice .

“I hope nothing bad happened to you on your way to school today . ”

“Nothing . ”

“That’s great . I’m going to be extremely busy with a huge case for the next few days, so I won’t have time to drop by . However, please do not hesitate to give me a call if you encounter any form of difficulty or trouble – I’ll rush over at the very first instance . ”

“Sure . ”

Chen Nian squirrelled out from below her desk . As she was feeling mildly peckish, she retrieved her bag of food from her schoolbag . Peering into her bag of food, she discovered that there were four huge buns in the bag . As there was absolutely no way she could finish four buns on her own, she gave Xiao Mi two buns .

“Ah, this is great! I haven’t had the opportunity to eat breakfast today . ” Xiao Mi bit off a huge chunk of the bread, exclaiming in delight, “This is so yummy! Where did you buy it from?”

Chen Nian didn’t respond, and thought internally – freshly baked bread was way more delicious .

The bell rang, signaling the start of class . When Chen Nian reached into her schoolbag to retrieve her textbooks, she found the packet of dried plums which Bei Ye had previously passed to her . Acting on impulse, Chen Nian quickly stuffed a dried plum into her mouth .

Just as Chen Nian straightened herself up, the form teacher waltzed into the classroom . Chen Nian heaved a sigh of relief – thankfully, the form teacher hadn’t noticed her . On reaching his desk, the form teacher launched into his usual tirade, instructing the students to be extra careful of safety issues as the graduation exams neared .

The students paid little heed to the instructions as they viewed it as the usual, general form of instructions which the form teacher was bound to dispense every morning . However, during break, someone raised the recent rumor that a female student from the neighboring school had been raped; the student recounted the tale in great detail, claiming that the rapist was donning a raincoat when he approached the victim at night . Some students cowered in fear after having heard the story whilst others simply brushed it off as mere rumors .

During their afternoon stretching session, Zeng Hao accidentally brushed Chen Nian’s hand .

Chen Nian glanced at her .

“Chen Nian, I’m sorry . ”

Chen Nian remained silent, solely focused on stretching her legs .

“Chen Nian, I’m truly sorry . ” Zeng Hao choked up slightly .

Chen Nian turned towards Zeng Hao, “We’re……the same . I wasn’t……truthful either . Initially . ”

“But you still chose to tell me the truth in the end . ” Zeng Hao was feeling extremely miserable and despicable . Tears began to cloud Zeng Hao’s eyes as she continued, “Wei Cai and her group of friends scolded me and hit me . When they kicked me and punched me, the hearts of my parents ached as well . That day, my parents broke down after we returned from the Public Safety Bureau . However, there was little that we could do .

My mother told me that bad students like Wei Cai were beyond the school’s reach, and that no one was capable of keeping them in check . She pleaded with me, telling me to concentrate on the upcoming graduation exams, that I couldn’t entangle myself in their affairs . If Wei Cai continued her attempts to take her revenge on me, it would be my future on the line . Wei Cai and her friends had nothing to lose, but I had everything to lose . ”

Chen Nian could only nod in response .

“I’m sorry . Sorry I couldn’t do anything for you when the classmates were bullying you earlier on . ”

“You couldn’t have, done anything, anyway . ” Chen Nian responded in a distant tone .

Chen Nian’s words didn’t offer Zeng Hao much comfort . Zeng Hao pressed on, “Are you better now?”

Chen Nian thought over the question before responding, “I’m in, a pretty good, state . ”

“Is Wei Cai still harassing you?”

“…” Chen Nian gazed at the azure blue sky . “I finally have……someone who……protects me . ”

After school, Chen Nian headed straight towards the entrance of the school . She no longer had to wait by the guardhouse . Chen Nian could already spot Bei Ye from a distance away . He was waiting by the street opposite the school .

Amidst the sea of students donning their clean, white uniforms, Bei Ye and Chen Nian’s gaze met for a brief second before they quickly turned their heads away .

Like a secret signal .

Bei Ye made his way towards her, fighting the surging crowd as he did so . Chen Nian started towards the direction of her home . Taking a quick glance behind her as she turned the corner of the street, Chen Nian easily identified the pale youth five to six metres away with his hands stuck in his pockets .

Chen Nian felt a sense of security settling over her .

In the heat of the summer, the trees offered plenty of shade, and the flowers were in full bloom .

Day after day, Bei Ye maintained the same distance from Chen Nian as he protected Chen Nian in her journey to and fro from school .

After school ended, he would walk her back to the entrance of her house; alternatively, they would head to the rooftop of his home, the two youths seated side by side as they practiced speaking with the Primary School textbook . The very next day, Bei Ye would appear at the entrance of her home in the wee hours of the morning, a bag of freshly baked bread and packets of chips, sweets or dried fruits in hand . After handing these over to Chen Nian, he would then silently escort her to school by trailing behind her once again .

After that short school holiday, Chen Nian was extremely busy with her studies . As such, the two youths rarely had the opportunity to speak to each other . Other than the time spent to rectify Chen Nian’s speech, the two youths were silent in each other’s presence .

There were times when Chen Nian could discern various wounds on Bei Ye’s neck and arms . Although she knew that he had entangled himself in a fight once again, she never inquired about his recent fights .

There were times when Bei Ye overheard students from Chen Nian’s school discussing various examination questions . Although h knew that she had sat for another mock examination once again, he never inquired about her recent results .

That was a foreign area that didn’t concern him/her .

One day, as Chen Nian turned the corner of the street, she glanced behind her to look at Bei Ye out of habit – only to see Li Xiang running towards her .

“Chen Nian!”

“Yes?” Chen Nian shot a quick glance at Bei Ye, who had been trailing behind her, before turning back to Li Xiang . Li Xiang began to walk alongside Chen Nian, their shoulders nearly touching as they walked .

“Your house……isn’t……in this……direction . ”

“Oh, it’s my aunt’s birthday today, so I’m heading to her house for dinner . ” A bright and cheery smile broke over Li Xiang’s face . “Chen Nian, you seem to have improved in this round of exams compared to the last round of exams . ”

“The questions were… . . easier . ” Chen Nian replied .

In actuality, Chen Nian’s ranking had dropped during this round of exams . After all, it would be impossible to claim that the bullying inflicted on her by Wei Cai and her classmates had absolutely no impact on her .

However, at this precise moment, Chen Nian wasn’t concerned with her ranking at all . Rather, she was more concerned about the gaze she felt on her back, because she could clearly picture the cold and distant expression on Bei Ye’s face at this very moment .

Li Xiang ran his fingers through his hair awkwardly . He knew that Chen Nian’s ranking had dropped – thus, he originally intended to spur her on by encouraging her . However, given the half-hearted and absent-minded response he received, it was evident to him that he should not have brought up the topic of her results . In an attempt to salvage the situation, Li Xiang hurriedly took out a stack of exam papers from his bag and handed it to Chen Nian, “Here you go . ”

Chen Nian looked at him, a puzzled expression on her face .

Sponsored Content

“It’s the exam papers and revision materials distributed by the more established schools in this district . ”

“Thank you . ” Chen Nian accepted the stack of exam papers .

“There’s only one month to examinations, so hang in there!” Li Xiang smiled encouragingly, “Don’t forget, we agreed to meet in Beijing . ”

Chen Nian remained silent, a chill crawling up her spine .

When they reached the intersection, Li Xiang bade her farewell . Now, the road Chen Nian was on no longer had any students from her school . Bei Ye stepped forward, striding over to his motorcycle which had been parked by the roadside and jammed his helmet onto his head in a huff . Chen Nian stood beside him, staring at him quietly . Bei Ye didn’t say a single word . After some time, Chen Nian kept the stack of exam papers in her bag and quietly walked over to him, taking the initiative to wear her helmet by herself .

Bei Ye seated himself on the motorcycle without sparing Chen Nian a single glance, a pervasive sense of loneliness and silence radiating from his back .

Like countless of mornings and evenings, Chen Nian seated herself on the motorcycle by using Bei Ye’s shoulders as support . The moment Chen Nian properly sat herself on the motorcycle, Bei Ye turned on the ignition engine and dashed into the glow of the setting sun .

They didn’t head home . This morning, Bei Ye had informed her that there a rock concert would be held at Xinghai Park in the evening, and asked her whether she was interested in attending . Chen Nian had agreed .

Parking his motorcycle in the parking lot, Bei Ye strolled into the park with Chen Nian . The park was extremely crowded . The two youths were akin to two parallel lines; however, no matter how many people squeezed between the two youths, they never lost sight of each other .

As they passed by a hotdog stand, Bei Ye purchased two hotdogs . Bei Ye stuffed one hot dog to Chen Nian alongside a bottle of iced red tea, his movements rough and choppy . All this while, Bei Ye deliberately averted his gaze, still refusing to spare Chen Nian even a single glance .

Chen Nian gazed at the back of Bei Ye’s head . Without uttering a single word, she trailed after him, walking whilst she ate .

More and more people were streaming in to the park . The stagehands had already begun to to set up the sound system .

Chen Nian wasn’t stupid; she knew the meaning of Bei Ye’s silence . She knew that he was angry . She too, felt guilty for his anger .

Chen Nian mulled over various topics she could raise in order to break the ice before finally settling on one, “You’re not performing?”

Bei Ye lowered his head and looked at her . The eyes of the youth were akin to the gradually darkening sky behind him, its dark mysteries unfathomable by the ordinary man . Chen Nian’s heart skipped a beat . Carefully averting her gaze, she continued in a quiet voice, “Your, guitar . ”

“I play for leisure . ” His distant voice rang out as he turned his attention back towards the stage .

In other words, it’s nothing to boast about .

Undeterred, Chen Nian praised Bei Ye in a small voice, “You were very good, the previous time, when I heard you, play . Very, very good . ”

Bei Ye’s facial expression remained cold and distant . However, a small, quiet grin formed on the other side of his face which Chen Nian was not privy to .

Chen Nian saw that Bei Ye remained unmoved, and thought internally, “Ah, this youth is so difficult to please . I need to try harder to coax him into a better mood . Perhaps I should ask him to play for me on another occasion . ”

Just as Chen Nian was about to open her mouth, a series of glaring drum beats blasted from the speakers – the concert was about to begin! The atmosphere in the park was instantly ignited . The youths raised their hands in the air, shouting and shrieking as they shook their bodies to the music .

The music blasted into the night, its deafening volume seemingly desirous of causing the stars in the sky to collapse onto the scene .

Chen Nian couldn’t decipher even a single word; the singers on the stage were howling and wailing into their mikes with all their might, as though they were anguished ghosts desperate for revenge . The overly loud music filled the entire park as Chen Nian was squeezed by the crazed crowd in all directions . Before she knew it, Bei Ye had disappeared .

Chen Nian started looking for Bei Ye .

One song ended . A second song ended . Chen Nian no longer knew where she was – perfume, body odour, and unidentifiable smells overwhelmed her as she slowly made her way through the crowd, a thin sheen of sweat gradually forming over her body .

Bei Ye was nowhere in sight .

Chen Nian didn’t know how many songs the band had played .

Gradually, Chen Nian grew frantic .

Sponsored Content

The guitarist was howling into the mike, “I managed to barge into your life, but I’m unable to walk into your heart; I……”

The deafening melody of the song came to a grinding halt . The drummer was still clashing awa at his drums, and the background music was still blasting from the speakers, but the mike had been snatched away from the guitarist .

“Hey . ”

It was a single word, but Chen Nian recognized that familiar voice instantaneously .

Chen Nian jerked her head towards the direction of the stage; separated by the sea of people, she stared wide-eyed at the blindingly bright youth on top of the stage .

“Little stutterer,” Bei Ye’s low, velvet voice rang out through the microphone, his silky voice echoing across the park like a dream, “Come to the side of the stage . ”

On the huge screen, Bei Ye’s dark eyes stared at her as he repeated, “Little stutterer, come to the side of the stage . ”

The crowd which had been crazily gyrating their bodies to the music gradually settled down, as though the magic spell which had previously been casted over every single one of them had now been lifted .

The guitarist on top of the stage snatched the microphone from Bei Ye’s hands, and shoved him in annoyance . Undeterred, Bei Ye immediately pushed the guitarist back . The two males were at the peak of their youths, and were extremely prideful – as a consequence, the fight naturally broke out between the two of them . When some stagehands tried to tear the two youths apart, they became unintentional casualties from the fight .

Ah, look! There’s a fight going on, how exciting! The crowd below was whipped into a greater frenzy, and leapt on top of the stage to join the fight .

Chen Nian jumped up, and immediately sprinted towards the direction of the stage .

The crowd was akin to a rice paddy filled with rice shoots . Chen Nian tried to push them away, separate them, knock them away with all her might, pumping all her energy into her legs as she flew towards the stage . Chen Nian pressed forward without second thought, as though she was sprinting across spacious and empty grasslands .

Bolts of lighting were tearing across the sky more frequently than ever . The fight on stage evolved as more and more people pitched into the fight . Chen Nian ran towards the stage, and began to shout blindly, “Bei Ye!!”

Frantic, she cried out, “Bei Ye!!”

All of a sudden, she saw him – just as Bei Ye, too, saw her in that very precise moment . As streaks of lighting began to flash across the sky, an increasing number of people began to swarm onto the stage, as though they were fish struggling in shallow waters . Chen Nian glanced around, and began to dash towards a less populated corner of the stage . Taking her lead, Bei Ye began sprinting towards that corner as well . As they met at the edge of the stage, the two youths reached their hands out to each other simultaneously, gripping each other’s hands as tightly as they could .

Bei Ye leapt off the stage, the two youths dashing into the night .

Upon reaching the entrance of the park, the two youths hurriedly jammed their helmets onto their heads, speeding off the very moment they sat themselves on the motorcycle .

The roads were entirely devoid of people at this late hour . The police cars drove past them from the opposite direction, their bright red and blue lights reflecting off the helmets of the two youths .

Chen Nian shivered in the night breeze, her eyes wide with raw excitement . The raging wind was akin to a pair of moist hands which were tightly suffocating her .  Speed and adrenaline rushes were things that youths their age constantly craved for . Confused and dazed, the youths frequently invested all their energies into attaining their goals .

Chen Nian’s arms tightly circled Bei Ye’s waist as bright neon lights rushed past them in a flurry .  On reaching the huge tree below Bei Ye’s house, the speeding motorcycle came to a sudden halt; the wind that had been whipping past the two youths, the sound of the wheels grating against the concrete road – everything came to a standstill .

In the darkness of the night, Chen Nian was pressed extremely tightly against Bei Ye’s back .

He didn’t move, tacitly allowing her arms to continue circling his body;

She didn’t move either, staunchly refusing to let go of him .

After the initial rush of excitement, a pervasive sense of hopelessness and loneliness gradually wrapped itself around the youths;

The melody of the band seemingly drifting past the two youths,

I managed to barge into your life, but I’m unable to walk into your heart .

But, in actuality, the lyrics do not convey a great sense of melancholy .

After all,

Some people are only able to walk into your heart; but they can never ever walk into your life .