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

Chapter 13

“Together with you, I want to idle away the time,

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Be it lowering our heads and watching the fish swim by,
Or walking away after leaving the tea cups on the table,
Ignoring the beautiful shadows they cast .
I even want to idle away the sunset,
Taking a casual stroll with you, killing the time
Till the stars gradually fill up the entire night sky .
I even want to idle away the time when the wind arrives,
Sitting quietly in the corridor, entranced,
Till the sorrowful clouds in your eyes
Have been blown away, out of the window
I have squandered by world, it has passed me by . ”

Chen Nian sat quietly on the rooftop, basking in the warm glow of the setting sun . Her sweet voice filled the entire rooftop as she quietly recited various poems . Bei Ye sat beside her as he concentrated on strumming his guitar .

The gentle breeze blew across the rooftop, playfully ruffling the numerous papers and the hair of the youths .

Having completed her recital, Chen Nian turned to look at Bei Ye . Just then, Bei Ye had succeeded in managing to strum a complicated stanza . Turning his head to gaze at her, he pronounced his verdict, “You improved . ” Lowering his head, he continued strumming his guitar, beginning to practise another stanza . As he wasn’t entirely familiar with the stanza, he repeated the stanza several times .

The youths were busy practising .

The aroma of delicious food from the alley below wafted into the noses of the two youths . One could easily find the entire city’s delicacies in the alley – Steamed pudding, fried beancurd skin,  deep fried sesame rice cake, and sweet potato pastries .

Chen Nian expressed her amazement, “Before I met you, I never knew, that Xi Cheng had, such a place . Xiao Mi said, that the red bean bun, is the best red bean bun, she ever ate . ”

Bei Ye turned to look at her .

Chen Nian explained, “Xiao Mi is, my deskmate . ”

Bei Ye asked, “Will you two continue to be friends in the future?”

Chen Nian nodded her head in seriousness, “Yes . ”

“Why are you so confident? After graduation, everyone is bound to scatter, each pursuing his or her own dreams . ”

“Xiao Mi would also, come to Beijing . We promised to meet there . ”

Bei Ye fell into a deep silence .

Suddenly realising the deeper meaning of her words, Chen Nian lowered her head dejectedly . Gradually, an irrepressible idea began to form in her head; the words rushed to the edge of her lips and she slowly opened her mouth . However, before the words could tumble out of her lips, the very thought of what she was contemplating frightened her, and she swallowed the words in a hurry .

Reigniting the conversation, she enquired, “Is this, your hometown?”

“No . ” Bei Ye replied, “I’m not from Xi Cheng . My mum and I moved here when I was younger . After we arrived, she simply left me to fend for myself at the welfare centre . ”

Chen Nian didn’t know how to continue the conversation .

“What about you? Were you born in Xi Cheng?”

“Yes . But my mum went to Zhu Hai, to work . ”

Bei Ye didn’t respond, and simply continued to strum his guitar, the lone, solitary notes hung quietly in the air, unable to form a simple melody .

Chen Nian gently swung her legs from the edge of the roof . Gazing at the railway track far into the distance, she began to recall that special day when the two of them decided to run away from home . Gradually, a restless desire began to bubble up inside of her .

“Bei Ye?”


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“Hmm?”

Placing her hands firmly at the edge of the rooftop, Chen Nian leaned forward and gazed at the sprawling town beneath her . Just as Chen Nian was about to keel over and fall into the concrete jungle beneath her, she suddenly jerked her head up and declared aloud, “I can’t wait . ”

“What can’t you wait for?”

“I can’t wait, to leave this place, to leave my hometown… I want time to pass, even faster . ”

“Why do you want to leave?”

“If I leave, to a faraway land, I’d be able to mature into an adult . ”

“Why do you want to mature into an adult?”

“I don’t want, to be a weakling . Those who are young, are all weaklings . ” Chen Nian continued, “When I’m an adult, I will be able to protect myself . ”

Bei Ye’s strumming came to a sudden stop, pausing for a mere second before resuming . Bei Ye glanced at Chen Nian’s side profile, his fringe falling gently onto his forehead, “There are people willing to protect you . ”

“No . ” Chen Nian shook her head, “Danger is always lurking; one can never be… fully protected by others . ”

One can only rely on oneself .

Youths always have hearts filled with the desire to mature into adults; they tremble with feelings of anxiety and restlessness; they are akin to arrows that, despite being on the edge of release, are obstinately held back by the hands of the archer .

Chen Nan gazed into the distance, a look of determination forming on her face . Bei Ye simply stared at Chen Nian, the same look of determination forming on his face as well . Finally, Bei Ye said, “You will definitely be able to find a better place . ” You will grow up, and develop into a better person .

“What about you?” Chen Nian turned her head to look at him .

“It’d be the same wherever I go . ” Bei Ye smiled, his slightly forlorn expression not escaping Chen Nian’s eyes .

“Do you want……to leave your hometown?”

“Are you asking whether I want to leave this place?” Bei Ye continued strumming his guitar, the melodious notes smoothly flowing from his fingertips .

“Yes . ”

“I want to . ”

“When?”

“As soon as possible . ”

Chen Nian lips curved into a gentle smile . It won’t be long before they would be able to leave this place .

“I cannot continue staying here much longer . ” Bei Ye announced . Before Chen Nian could truly contemplate Bei Ye’s words, he had already continued in a calm, and distant tone, “I’m reaching my tolerance limit . I hate every single person who lives here . ”

Thoughts of Bei Ye’s parents suddenly barged into Chen Nian’s mind, and the memory of Bei Ye being mocked and bullied by various youths flashed before her eyes . Quietly, she replied in a gentle tone, “I too… . . dislike every single person here . ”

The words quietly tumbled out of her mouth, her agreement ringing loud and clear in Bei Ye’s ears, as though her agreement with him was sufficient to transform them into similar people, into people who stood beside each other on the same battlefield, into two youths who stood side by side, their shoulders touching each other as they faced the harsh and cruel world together .

Upon hearing Chen Nian’s agreement, Bei Ye fell into silence once more .

I hate this city .

Thankfully, I wasn’t able to meet you earlier – if I had met you earlier, I would have fallen in love with every single person in this city .

And that would have killed me .

As his fingers flew across the guitar, the deep, melodious voice of the youth gently flowed out of his lips .


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“That bright laughter reminded me of those flowers of mine; those flowers that bloomed for me, in every quiet corner of my life . Once, I thought that I would always stay by her side, guarding her and protecting her . But we have long separated, I can no longer find her amidst the crowd . ”

The days where the two youths were able to sit side by side were numbered . Deep down in their hearts, the both of them knew that their separation was imminent .

Chen Nian raised her head, the breeze gently caressing her hair as she gazed at the azure blue sky .

Beep…… The sharp shrill of the bird trainer’s whistle pierced Bei Ye’s quiet melody, causing a huge flock of white pigeons to fly past the two youths .

When the familiar sound of the train engine rang out, the two youths stood up and made their way down the emergency stairwell . As Chen Nian hadn’t been paying attention to the steps beneath her, she unintentionally took an infirm step, and was about to crash onto the floor when Bei Ye hurriedly scooped her back into his arms and softly reminded her, “Be careful . ”

Whispering into her ears, his deep, soft voice was akin to a gentle morning melody . Chen Nian flushed, her face reddening in embarrassment as she held tightly onto Bei Ye’s arms .

Bei Ye arms remained encircled around her as he lowered his head slightly amd gently kissed her earlobes . Trembling, Chen Nian squeezed her eyes shut . His kiss, his breath – they wormed their way into her ears, causing her to shiver in excitement .

Chen Nian felt her face burning up .

His kiss was like a small slab of honey . She was happy and delighted; and yet, she was also fearful and sad .

Bei Ye fetched Chen Nian to an area near school . Hopping off the motorcycle, Bei Ye continued to trail behind Chen Nian, quietly gazing at her as she walked into the school compound . As per their usual custom, Chen Nian turned back and returned Bei Ye’s gaze .

Their eyes were filled with unspoken troubles that were buried deep in their hearts .

It was Saturday . As Chen Nian had to continue attending classes, Bei Ye had no activities that day . However, he wasn’t in the mood to hang out with his friends, and simply returned home . Chen Nian had tidied his house to the point where there wasn’t a single dust mote to be seen . Lying on the bed, Bei Ye inhaled Chen Nian’s remnant scent .

The graduation exams were nearing, and Chen Nian was about to depart from his life . But he was already so used to having her around . What was he going to do when she left?

A unexplainable sense of restlessness began to descend from the ceiling, smothering Bei Ye till the point of suffocation .

Frowning, Bei Ye hopped off the bed . Seating himself at the table, he flipped the Bible open . Chen Nian had flipped through the Bible on numerous occasions as she was practising her narration . Bei Ye casually glanced through the contents of the Bible, sifting through the thin, fragile pages without much care; just as he closed the Bible, his force unintentionally causing a single page to be torn off .

The Gospel of Matthew .

Bei Ye simply stuck the page back into the Bible . Turning back to his room, he caught a unusual sight out of the corner of his eyes – the two ducklings in the shoebox had died, and the rats had consumed their inner organs . Bei Ye efficiently disposed of the ducklings and the shoebox, his heart filled with complicated feelings . He would purchase two new ducklings tomorrow – hopefully, Chen Nian wouldn’t discover that the two sets of ducklings were different .

Bei Ye dozed off unintentionally, only waking when it was nearly evening . Hurriedly hopping off the bed, Bei Ye hastily put on a new set of clothes and sent a text message to Chen Nian . All of a sudden, he heard small rustling noises outside the shutter doors . Leaving his mobile phone on the Bible, he strode over to the shutter doors and heaved them upwards, only to come face to face with a beautiful woman .

It was his mum .

A cold, frosty expression settled over his face .

Momentarily stunned, the woman froze for a short while . She hadn’t expected Bei Ye to be in at this hour of the day . Gently smiling at Bei Ye, she explained, “I came to retrieve some stuff . ”

Bei Ye remained silent, and simply turned his body sidewards, allowing her to walk past him . Entering the house, the woman headed straight to the cupboard and started stuffing her clothes into her luggage . When she walked into the bathroom, her sharp eyes spotted Chen Nian’s female undergarments and Chen Nian’s skirt . Dragging her luggage out, she joked with Bei Ye, “You found yourself a girlfriend?”

Bei Ye didn’t respond, and simply stared at the mulberry tree outside his house .

“You little rascal – you look exactly like your dad; no wonder you have little trouble landing yourself a girlfriend . ” The woman reached out her arms to pinch Bei Ye’s cheeks, but her arms were mercilessly pushed away by Bei Ye .

“Tsk, you have the same, stubborn temper as your dad . ”

Bei Ye’s expression had frosted over, his gaze as cold as a glacier .

The woman knew that Bei Ye hated to hear her speak about his father . Shutting her mouth, she headed towards the shutter doors . Having taken a few steps, the woman turned back and retrieved a couple of notes from her purse, “Here, take them . ”

“No . ”

The woman’s arm lingered in the air for a short period of time . She didn’t force Bei Ye to take the money, and simply tucked the money back into her purse . All of a sudden, she spoke up, “Your uncle sneakily gave you some money, didn’t he?”


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Bei Ye chose not to answer .

“I’m your custodian . If he wanted to pass you some money, he should have passed them to……” On seeing Bei Ye’s gaze turn colder than before, the woman stopped mid-sentence, picked up her luggage and left .

Lowering the shutter doors, Bei Ye stomped on the shutter doors, causing it to crash onto the ground with a loud clang . Lowering his body, he locked the shutter doors swiftly and headed down the stairwell . The woman’s voice drifted across the empty grounds of the abandoned steel mill, easily finding its way into Bei Ye’s ears, “…… . Keke, you think I’m dirty? Where did you think your nephew came from?……”

Bei Ye didn’t bother about that woman . He wouldn’t even bid goodbye to her when he leaves for Beijing at the end of the month .

Trooping down the stairwell, he hurriedly fastened his helmet, ignited the engine and zoomed off into the sunset .

……

Chen Nian sat on the steps of the school gates . The text message contained two, short words, “I’m late . ” Carefully placing the mobile phone in her bag, she propped her head up with her arms and patiently waited for Bei Ye .

“Why are you sitting here? Aren’t you going home?”

Chen Nian raised her head . It was Xu Miao . After Xu Miao resumed schooling, she became much more obedient . With an uncomfortable expression forming on her face, Xu Miao muttered under her breath, “I’m sorry about what happened in the past . ” Having completed her sentence, Xu Miao ran into her father’s car – her parents had been monitoring her rather closely after the bullying incident had been exposed .

As the sun began to set, Chen Nian remained seated at her original spot . Bei Ye still hadn’t arrived;

As the stream of students trickling out of school gradually diminished in size, Chen Nian overheard the discussion of a few passer-bys, “Oh dear, did you see the accident over there? It’s so scary! Nowadays, motorcyclists are……”

Stunned, Chen Nian flew down the steps . “Sorry to interrupt, but did you mention an accident?”

“A motorcyclist met with an accident at the intersection between Lan Xi Road and Xue Fu Road – he’s pretty young too! My guess is that he’s still a student . ”

“Color?” Chen Nian blabbered in anxiety, “Motorcycle, color?”

“I think it’s red and black . ”

Chen Nian broke out in cold sweat . Without second thought, she fished out her mobile phone and began dialling Bei Ye’s number .

In Bei Ye’s kitchen, where the glow of the setting sun bathed the entire room with a golden sheen, Bei Ye’s mobile phone silently vibrated on the black leather cover of the Bible .

Chen Nian dashed to Lan Xi Road . As she ran past a florist, the employee unintentionally splashed her with dirty water . However, even before the employee could apologise for his mistake, Chen Nian had already zoomed past him without a care . Chen Nian was entirely drenched in sweat by the time she reached the intersection . Frantically weaving through the crowd, Chen Nian managed to squeeze to the front . The accident scene was a disastrous mess – but, the motorcycle wasn’t the motorcycle she knew, and the motorcyclist wasn’t the motorcyclist she knew either .

Expending much effort to squeeze out of the crowd, Chen Nian heaved a sigh of relief . Thank goodness .

The sweat caused her uniform to stick to her back . She had to return to the entrance of the school to continue waiting for Bei Ye .

Having walked a distance away from the crowd, Chen Nian heard the familiar sound of a motorcycle engine from behind her . Turning around, she saw Bei Ye on his motorcycle, speeding towards the school compound . Chen Nian was about to flag Bei Ye over when she was suddenly dragged backwards by a huge force . Before Chen Nian even realised what was going on, the perpetrator had already covered Chen Nian’s mouth and dragged her into a dark and dingy alley .

The motorcycle zoomed past Chen Nian’s eyes .

Bei Ye stopped at a street not far from school, and dashed to the entrance of the school compound . He saw a few scattered students streaming out of the school entrance, but Chen Nian was nowhere to be seen . Frowning, he reached into his pocket for his mobile phone, only just realising that the sudden appearance of the woman had caused him to forget his mobile phone . Recalling Chen Nian’s mobile number with ease, he headed to the nearby convenience shop where he could call Chen Nian with the payphone . He dialled Chen Nian’s number, but nobody picked up .

Biting his lips, Bei Ye sprinted into the school compound, blatantly ignoring the security guard’s attempts to stop him . Bei Ye headed directly to Chen Nian’s classroom – only to find the student on clean-up duty obediently sweeping the floor . Chen Nian was nowhere to be seen .

The security guard continued to chase after Bei Ye, but Bei Ye had already dashed out of the school compound before the security guard could catch up with him .

Returning to the convenience store, Bei Ye tried to dial Chen Nian’s number once more with the payphone . This time, Chen Nian’s mobile phone had been switched off .

The youth returned the phone to its original position . His hands began to tremble in fear .

His face dark with frustration, Bei Ye strode over to the security guardhouse and asked, “Where’s the female student who always sits on the steps of the school gates?”

The security guard had chased after Bei Ye till he was out of breath, and was extremely furious with Bei Ye, “Which school are you from? How dare you enter the school compound without permission……”

“I’M ASKING YOU A QUESTION!!!” Bei Ye roared .

Taken aback, the security guard stared at Bei Ye before pointing in the direction of Lan Xi Road, “She left in a hurry not long ago……”

Bei Ye dashed down the stairs .

The sun had set completely .

Wei Cai and her group of seven friends grabbed Chen Nian by her hair, dragging her into a deep, dark corner of the alley . They insulted her, slapped her, kicked her, and rammed her face into the cold and filthy ground beneath them .

The frenzied group of youths vented all their dissatisfactions with her on her battered body – their dissatisfaction with her stuttering, her beauty, her quiet nature, her excellent results; their dissatisfaction with her exposure of their dirty deeds, their dissatisfaction with her strong and stubborn nature, which prevented her from getting intimidated by them;

Perhaps, it wasn’t just their dissatisfaction with her – they also vented their unhappiness with the teacher’s scolding, their unhappiness with their parent’s chiding, their dissatisfaction with the boring and numbing state of their lives, their dissatisfaction with their hopeless and bleak futures .

The relentless torment and venting of the youths felt like an eternity . Propping her up by her arms, they began to tear at her clothes . Chen Nian struggled violently, using all her might to hold onto her school uniform . However, it was in vain . The group of females abused her with vulgarities, they slapped her face, boxed her head, and even kicked the area between her legs .

Despite the presence of the occasional passer-by, the group of females continued their abuse without any fear .

There was nothing that could inspire a sense of fear in this group of crazed youths .

Chen Nian’s shoulder was exposed to the world . Chen Nian held on tightly to her clothes, and began to shout for help – Please, save me! But the passer-bys simply averted their gazes, and hurried away .

Memories of Hu Xiao Die flashed before her eyes . It was as though Chen Nian could see Hu Xiao Die standing in the distance, staring at her without a single expression on her face .

Her skirt was torn into shreds, and the numerous textbooks that were scattered on the ground had innumerable footsteps imprinted on it . Darwin’s face was crushed into the mud .

Outside, a youth named Bei Ye ran with all his might on the pedestrian road, as though he was zooming past the innumerable lies and cruelty inflicted by others during one’s youth .

He still harboured a small flame of hope,

Don’t freak out .  He told himself sternly .  It’s going to be alright . You will definitely be able to find her .

Loud, mocking laughter erupted from the group of females . They tugged at the red string threading the key that was hanging on Chen Nian’s neck, and dragged her white and pale body through the alley, continually insulting her, as though they were butchers dragging a piece of meat .

“Come and look at the bi***! Come and look for free!”

They didn’t view Chen Nian as a youth who was as young as them, they didn’t even view her as a human being; rather, they viewed her as an animal, a beast . They revealed her, allowing her pale and frail body to lie exposed to the gaze of the males who were passing by . They allowed her to be the object of cruel jokes made by these males, and allowed her to be photographed and videoed by the very same males .

Like crazed, rabid dogs, Wei Cai and her friends tore at her undergarments . Chen Nian curled herself into a ball, trying her best to hang onto the remaining piece of cloth that covered her body . Amidst the struggle, the words of the Bible which she had previously recited came to her mind . As her tears flowed down her cheeks, she sobbed,

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven . ”

Rip…… . They tore her final piece of cloth away from her, leaving her cold and naked .

Chen Nian cried out, “Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us out debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors . ”

The raucous laughter of the surrounding females rang loud and clear, “Free viewing of the bi***!”

“And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one……”

In the name of love,

Amen .

But,

Is there a possibility,

That love doesn’t exist in the world?

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