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


Chapter 18

In Chapter 18 of The Youthful You Who Was So Beautiful, we see the extent and depth of Chen Nian’s trust in Bei Ye – even if Bei Ye was indeed the one who murdered Wei Cai, and even if he was the rapist who goes around sexually assaulting various girls in a huge raincoat, Chen Nian remains unfearful, and unafraid of him . Her faith and trust in him – that he would never hurt her – is so deep, and so unwavering, that it’s extremely foolish, and yet, so very touching . In this Chapter, we also see the police start to clamp down on Wei Cai’s murderer – will the halcyon days of these two youths last much longer?


 

“Lichen is an amazing organism . ” Xiao Mi exclaimed to Chen Nian .

Chen Nian was cleaning her desk . As the graduation exams were slightly more than a week away, she began to clear her books from her desk .

“Don’t you agree? Lichen can only be produced from algae living among the filaments of a fungus in a mutually symbiotic relationship – the algae produces food for the fungus by photosynthesis whilst the fungus gathers moisture and nutrients from the environment . If you separate the fungus and the algae, both would be unable to survive independently, and would eventually die . ”

Zeng Hao, who had originally been packing her bag, turned back on hearing Xiao Mi’s words, “Xiao Mi, you have such plentiful and abundant feelings, it’s really a pity that you didn’t enter into a relationship when we’re still young and schooling . Well, you still have a couple of days left – do you want to hop onto the train before it’s too late?”

Xiao Mi kicked Zeng Hao’s chair in protest, “There’d be better boys waiting in University . ”

“Not necessarily . ” Zeng Hao’s eyes subtly shifted in another direction .

Xiao Mi noted the change in Zeng Hao’s gaze, and laughed, “You’ve already set your sights on someone, haven’t you?”

Zeng Hao didn’t bother hiding her admiration, and admitted freely, “When the graduation examinations are finally over, I’m going to pursue Li Xiang . ”

“Ah! Then you should try to enter Beijing’s universities as well!” As graduation neared, the impending separation began to loom over the students, and everyone began to fervently wish that there would be no lack of familiar faces in their new environments .

“Sure! I don’t want to stay in this district anymore, I hate the people here . ” Zeng Hao replied . Regardless of whether it was the deceased Hu Xiao Die, her, or Chen Nian – the memories and images of the bullying they suffered, and the coldness and indifference of their classmates, remained vivid in her mind .

Zeng Hao: “When I’m in University, I’m going to learn how to dress myself properly and how to put on make up . I’m going to try to participate in more extracurricular activities and get to know a wider circle of friends . ”

Xiao Mi too, had great hopes for University, and turned to look at Chen Nian, “Nian, when we’re in University, you’d be the undisputed department belle . ”

Chen Nian raised her eyes lazily to look at Xiao Mi, “Because I would be the only girl in the Department of Mathematics or the Department of Physics?”

Zeng Hao burst out laughing, and pinched Chen Nian’s face playfully, “You’re such a dork!”

Chen Nian subtly turned her face away .

Xiao Mi couldn’t contain her laughter either, “I take back my words – you’re not going to be the Department belle, you’d be the School Belle! School Belle! — Nian, if you select an Engineering school, you’d have a ton of suitors . Have you ever thought about your ideal type?”

Chen Nian carefully placed the Oxford Advanced Learner’s English Chinese Dictionary in her school bag, and zipped it up . In a soft voice, she replied, “If I commit murder, he commits arson . ”

Zeng Hao: “……”

Xiao Mi: “……”

Chen Nian continued slowly, “But I won’t murder anybody, and I don’t want him to commit arson either . ”

Zeng Hao pushed Chen Nian’s hand gently, “Your jokes are always so cold . Basically, your ideal type is someone who would love you to the point where he would willingly die for you, isn’t it? But there’s nobody like that in the present day and age!”


Xiao Mi chimed in as well, “Yeah, tell us seriously – what’s your ideal type?”

“Someone who treats me as a…… little child . Wherever I go, he would……follow . If I’m not within his line of sight, he would feel anxious and uneasy; and if he’s not within my line of sight, I too……would feel anxious and uneasy . ”

“Nian, you and your boyfriend sound like the clownfish and the sea anemone!” Xiao Mi laughed, “Or the lichen?”

“NO! NO! NO!” Zeng Hao shook her head vigorously . “Chen Nian, with this kind of mindset, the happiness and bliss in your relationship will not be long lasting . Equality is extremely important in a relationship, the relationship between you and your significant other is not one of father and daughter, nor is it one of brother and sister; you will need freedom and space . It’s not healthy for the two of you to be so interdependent on one another . You have to try to change your mindset . ”

“Oh . ” Chen Nian replied .

Having cleared their desks, the three students strolled out of the classroom . Zeng Hao suddenly suggested, “Since we have a holiday tomorrow, why don’t we go to the Wen Qu Xing Temple to pray? We can even call Li Xiang along!”

Curious, Xiao Mi enquired, “You believe in Bhudda?”

“Well, to be honest, I’m more interested in climbing the hill in order to reach the temple . We can even shop along the market stalls lining the streets leading to the temple! We can grab lots of food there . ”

“Stop right there – the weather’s so hot now, be careful and don’t overeat . After all, examinations are nearing . We can always eat tons of good food after examinations end . ”

“Well then, we could always go to the amusement park after we have climbed the hill . ”

“That sounds great! I want to play whack-a-mole! — Nian, why don’t you come along as well?”

Chen Nian saw the familiar figure hovering on the street opposite the school compound . Shaking her head gently, she rejected the offer, “No, it’s alright . ”

“Why don’t you come along as well? It’d be fun if everyone goes . ” Zeng Hao tried to persuade Chen Nian .

Using a nasally voice, Chen Nian began to fib, “I think I’m coming down……with a cold . I want to eat some medicine and rest the entire day tomorrow . ”

“Ah, then you should probably stay at home and rest well! Remember to take your medicine – if you really do come down with a cold, you’d probably need an entire week to recover . If that’s the case, you can forget about revising in the days leading up to the exams . ”

“Yup . ” Chen Nian nodded her head weakly .

Chen Nian bid Xiao Mi and Zeng Hao farewell at the entrance of the school gates . Walking towards the direction of Bei Ye’s home, she only stopped when she was some distance away from the school compound .

Bei Ye caught up with her immediately .

Sagging under the heavy weight of her school back, Chen Nian’s back was slightly bent as she walked forward, as though she was carrying the shell of a snail . The cloth around the shoulder straps of her bag were drenched, and clung onto her skin . Bei Ye stepped forward, and took her school bag from her .

Chen Nian straightened her back, and followed alongside Bei Ye .

In a quiet voice, Chen Nian said, “I don’t have class tomorrow . ”

Bei Ye responded, “For the entire day?”


“Yup . ”

“Do you want to stay home to revise your work, or would you rather head out to play?” He asked .

“Head out to play . ”

“Okay . ”

The two youths continued walking on their separate paths silently .

After some time, Bei Ye asked, “That person you met on the streets in the afternoon – is that the police officer you know?”

“Yes . ”

“Why did he come looking for you?”

“He said, I must be careful and wary, when dealing with boys around my age . He also said–”

Bei Ye interrupted, “What else did he say?”

Chen Nian continued, “He said, that I should not go, to another boy’s home, alone . And to stay away from deserted and isolated areas . ”

Bei Ye fell into silence . After some time, on detecting that Chen Nian was waiting for him to continue the conversation, he glanced at Chen Nian, “He told you all that — and yet, you still follow me home?”

Chen Nian lowered her head, and pressed her lips tightly together, “So what if I choose to follow you home?”

The corners of Bei Ye’s lips curved up into a slight smile .

Chen Nian: “Everyone said that, Wei Cai was first…… before she was murdered . There were a few similar cases previously as well . They speculate that the murderer is the same man who committed those sexual assault cases . Someone young, around our age . ”

Once again, Bei Ye didn’t respond to Chen Nian’s speech . After a while, Bei Ye suddenly raised his head and asked, “Aren’t you afraid? That I’m, in actuality, the culprit?”

Chen Nian shook her head without a moment’s hesitation, “I’m not afraid . ”

Bei Ye turned his head towards her, his black eyes boring into hers, “Even if the culprit really is me — you’re still not afraid?”

Chen Nian looked at him calmly . Shaking her head firmly once more, she repeated, “Not afraid . ”

Speechless, Bei Ye gazed at her quietly . After some time, he sighed, “Silly girl . ”

Chen Nian plucked a strand of green foxtail and played with it as she followed in Bei Ye’s footsteps dutifully . Cocking her head to one side, she playfully used the green foxtail to lightly brush against Bei Ye’s palm . Surprised, Bei Ye retracted his hand and turned back to look at her . Gazing at her like how an adult would gaze at an impish and playful child, he snorted in disdain and continued walking ahead .

Chen Nian happily caught up with him, and used the green foxtail to brush against his palm once again .


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Amused, Bei Ye asked, “What are you doing?”

“Where are you going to bring me tomorrow?”

“You’d find out when we reach . ”

“Oh . ” Chen Nian fell into step beside Bei Ye . She was still using the green foxtail to brush lightly against him palm . Bei Ye was used to the sensation by now, and simply let Chen Nian continue her childish actions .

“The place where we’re going – is it fun?”

“What do you think?” Bei Ye answered her question with another question .

“It’d be fun . ” She answered firmly .

“How do you know it’s going to be fun?” Intrigued, Bei Ye asked .

“I just know . ”

Smirking, Bei Ye retorted, “Why, are you a deity?”

“I’m not a deity, but I just know . ”

Many years later, when Chen Nian had matured into an old and frail granny, she could still vividly recall every single conversation she had with Bei Ye .

She was a man of few words, and so was Bei Ye . Most of the time, the two of them remained silent as they walked towards their destination – as though they were two strangers who didn’t know one another . Even the occasional exchanges that they had, were silly and boring; strangely, however,

Even after many, many years had passed, Chen Nian could still clearly recall every single emotion and feeling she experienced whenever she conversed with Bei Ye .

It was like ripples across the smooth and calm lake .

—–

Zheng Yi had just returned from an investigation outside . Just as he strode into the office, his colleagues called him over, “Hurry up – Leader Pan’s meeting is starting now . ” Swiftly putting down his glass of water, Zheng Yi hurried over to the meeting room .

Senior Yang was responsible for investigating the two cases of rape that had occurred in the past month, and was currently briefing the team, “……During the rainy season, two victims were raped in the night when they were alone and in an deserted area . As the rain was quite loud, it successfully masked the rapist’s approaching footsteps . Additionally, their umbrellas caused their field of vision to be more limited than usual . ”

The forensic scientist chipped in, “At that time, the suspect was wearing a raincoat, and he had masked his face as well . Bits of the plastic raincoat were found in the nails of the victims – they were probably leftover from the struggle . ”

Senior Yang continued, “According to the victim’s description, it is a very ordinary and common raincoat . We have not found any clues to date . — The two victims also mentioned that the rapist had used a knife to threaten them into succumbing . Furthermore, during the assault, the impression that the rapist gave the was that he was rather young, tall and skinny . According to our analysis, the suspect is likely to be between 17 to 19 years of age, and is most likely of the same age as the victims . However, because both victims had reported the incident too late, we are unable to retrieve more helpful clues from the two incidents . ”

Another officer interjected, “After these two cases, no other new cases have been reported . ”

Senior Yang continued, “Because the victims are relatively young, I suspect that some of them chose to remain silent . ”


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Leader Pan asked, “What about the corpse we discovered? What do you all think about that?”

Zheng Yi carefully made his way to a corner of the meeting room, and gently sat himself on a chair .

Senior Yang replied, “We think that it’s likely that the two culprits are, in actuality, the same person . ”

Senior Yang glanced at the forensic scientist . Taking the cue, the forensic scientist spoke up, “The autopsy report indicates that minor bruising and injuries on the deceased’s wrists, shoulders, and thighs . Furthermore, the genitalia of the victim showed signs of injury; signs of tearing were observed in the victim’s vagina . However, no ejaculation was found in the victim’s body; the perpetrator is likely to have used a condom . These injuries are highly similar to the injuries suffered by the victims in the two sexual assault cases . However, due to the humid and hot weather, and the fact that the victim had been buried in the mud, it is very difficult to accurately determine the victim’s time of death . More likely than not, her time of death is estimated to be in the middle of this month, from 10th of May to 16th of May . As the victim had disappeared on 12th of May, the timeframe can be narrowed to 12th of May to 16th of May . ”

“Zheng Yi, any views?”

“As both parents of the deceased were working, they had no time to monitor their child; thus, they have absolutely no idea what time she left the house on 12th of May, or where she had gone that day . On the day of her disappearance, she only made one call the entire day – to her friend, Xu Miao . ”

“Xu Miao?” Senior Yang asked curiously, “Isn’t that the girl who was also involved in the bullying incident the previous time?”

“Yes . I have already questioned Xu Miao about the deceased’s disappearance . That day, the deceased had called her and invited her out to play . However, Xu Miao rejected the invitation as she as in school that day . Xu Miao also told the deceased not to contact her in the future . ” Zheng Yi paused slightly  before continuing, “Previously, the deceased and Xu Miao were the best of friends, and were involved in innumerable fights together . However, after the previous bullying incident when the deceased and Xu Miao were brought into the police station, Xu Miao’s parents began to monitor her extremely closely, and made it a point to fetch her to and fro from school . They even conducted random checks to make sure that Xu Miao wasn’t playing truant . This essentially meant that the Xu Miao had cut off all contact from the deceased . ”

At this point, Zheng Yi was suddenly reminded of Xu Miao’s words from before – “Thankfully, I listened to my Dad and Mum and stopped my nonsensical activities . Otherwise, I’d be unlucky too . ”

Puzzled, Zheng Yi asked, “What do you mean by that?”

“Oh, I didn’t mean anything in particular . It’s just a gut feeling that I had, but it turned out to be wrong . ”

“What gut feeling?”

“Mm, I felt that she was murdered, because somebody hated her . ”

At that time, Zheng Yi hadn’t managed to respond before Xu Miao continued, “But, I head that she had been raped . Which was why I said, my gut feeling wasn’t accurate . ”

Zheng Yi glanced at his colleagues seated around the table, and piped up cautiously, “I feel, that we shouldn’t be too quick to tie these two cases together . There’s a point in the murder case which I’ve been bothered by . ”

“Which point?” Senior Yang asked .

“The deceased’s clothes and shoes – where have they gone?” Zheng Yi asked . “Why did the culprit take special care to remove the deceased’s clothes and shoes? The deceased is a local, and she has various relatives and friends here – so that effectively eliminates the possible reason of the culprit wanting to remove items which helps with identification of the victim . ”

The room lapsed into silence as the officers mulled over the issue . After some time, Senior Yang responded, “Adopting a psychological analysis, removal of the victim’s clothes represents the culprit’s desire to further humiliate the victim . ”

Zheng Yi latched onto the loophole, “Does that point towards the possible existence of a personal grudge between the victim and the culprit?”

Senior Yang paused for a while before shaking his head, “Not necessarily . Another reason could be that the culprit simply harbours an enmity towards females in general . This hatred towards females is very common in serial rapist cases . ”

“Then–” But before Zheng Yi could complete his sentence, the forensic scientist had already cut him off .

“There was another point we mentioned earlier which you might not have caught,” Forensic scientist Zhu clarified, “The deceased, Wei Cai – similarly, there were bits of raincoat found underneath her nails as well . We compared the material of the raincoat with those found in the two sexual assault cases, and found that they came from the same raincoat . ”



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