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Published at 24th of April 2016 02:25:44 PM


Chapter 20

In Chapter 20 of The Youthful You Who Was So Beautiful, we begin counting down towards the graduation exams and Chen Nian and Bei Ye’s ticket out of this horrid town . However, with the police beginning to clamp down on Chen Nian, will the two be able to escape this town and find their true liberation? As Bei Ye witnesses Chen Nian getting cornered right in front of his very own eyes, what could he possibly do to protect Chen Nian? Once again, I apologise for the late update, and I’m thankful for all your sweet words and encouragement . (: I’m glad I managed to churn out a chapter before the week is done!


 

7 more days till graduation exams .

During Physical Education class, nobody remained in the classroom to revise; instead, the entire class flocked down to the fields to exercise in an attempt to relax . The form teacher constantly reminded the class to stay away from sports like tennis and basketball, as they could very well injure their hands in so playing . Thus, the entire class was restricted to jump rope and jogging .

Zeng Hao dragged Li Xiang, Xiao Mi and Chen Nian over to play badminton . After some time, Chen Nian grew tired of playing badminton, and left the group to jog around the field . Before she realised it, she had already arrived at the isolated corner where the special youth had once leapt over the school gates to stand in front of her .

As she neared the corner, her sharp eyes discerned the sleeve of a white t-shirt peeking out from beyond the gates . Surprised and elated, she ran to the gates and grab hold of the metal railings, “Why are you here?”

Bei Ye stretched out his index finger, and ran his fingers over hers before replying, “I know that you’re having Physical Education lessons now . ”

“There’s still 7 days to graduation exams . ”

“I know . ”

“If we factor in the days where graduation exams are taking place, which are a grand total of two days, we could stay by each other’s side after ten days!”

Bei Ye gave a quiet chortle, “Right now, we’re already staying by each other’s side every single day . ”

“……Oh . ” Chen Nian nodded her head .

The warm afternoon glow filtered down through the leaves of the trees . Bei Ye tore his gentle gaze away from Chen Nian’s face, and finally settled on a figure that had appeared behind her, cool frostiness beginning to form in his eyes . Lowering his voice, he murmured, “Someone’s looking for you . ” Before Chen Nian could react to the sentence, he had already disappeared beyond the gates .

Chen Nian turned her head behind, only to see Zheng Yi strolling over from a distance away . Chen Nian perfectly understood that if Zheng Yi resorted to looking for her at this hour of the day, it must be concerning something way more serious than simply warning her about the rapist at large . Shaking off the dust on her clothes, Chen Nian began to walk towards Zheng Yi .

There were a couple of exercise contraptions located in a corner of the field . Chen Nian headed straight for elliptical machine, and hopped onto it . Meanwhile, Zheng Yi sat on the sit-up bench next to her, silently watching her exercise on the elliptical machine for a period of time before finally speaking up, “Chen Nian?”

“Yes?” She answered in a casual tone .

“Do you remember me telling you previously, that you should come looking for me the minute you encountered any trouble?”

“I remember . ” Chen Nian lowered her head, her legs pumping rhythmically on the elliptical machine, as though they were a pendulum clock .

“But you never once came to look for me . ” Zheng Yi let out a short, bitter laugh .

“I……” Chen Nian shook her head, “I didn’t encounter any …… difficulty . ”

“No difficulties? Wei Cai and her group of friends were constantly bullying you – why didn’t you tell me that?” Zheng Yi had finally discovered the connection between Wei Cai and her .

Chen Nian paused momentarily, before resuming her rhythmic motion on the elliptical machine . “Even if I chose to confide in you …… how would that have helped the situation?” She returned the question to Zheng Yi .

“I could ……” Zheng Yi couldn’t bring himself to continue his sentence . The very reason why Chen Nian was relentlessly tormented and bullied was because she had told him the truth about Hu Xiao Die’s death . And because of numerous other reasons, he was unable to protect her and to guard her from harm . At this very moment, Zheng Yi was seized by memories of sending Chen Nian to and fro from school – her thankful and expectant gaze whenever she ran to him from the alley near her house, the look of trust and reliance every single time she gave him every single time before she stepped into the school compound – all these no longer existed in the present day and age .

The sun blazed down, raining down heat on the people beneath it . Beads of sweat began to form on Zheng Yi’s forehead .

“What did they do to you?”

“They insulted me, and slapped me . ”

“What else?”

“That’s it . ”


“That’s it?” Zheng Yi locked his gaze onto Chen Nian’s side profile .

The pendulum clock finally ceased its motion . Chen Nian turned towards Zheng Yi, and asked in a quiet voice, “If not, what else do you think happened?”

Initially, Zheng Yi had a huge ton of things he wanted to say to Chen Nian – but after listening to Chen Nian’s words, he was over come with a overwhelming sense of deflation, and he couldn’t bring himself to say a single word .

The school bell rang, signalling the end of Physical Education lesson . Chen Nian hopped down from the elliptical machine, and headed back towards the classroom .

Zheng Yi returned to the police station with a heavy heart . On reaching the police station, his colleagues informed him that there has been a minor breakthrough in Senior Yang’s criminal profiling, and that the police officers have already begun to single out youths who fit into the specific criminal profile – namely, those who frequently play truant, those who have an antagonistic relationship with their parents, and those who own a motorcycle, etc . However, despite their attempts to narrow down the suspect pool as much as possible, there were still about 20 to 30 youths who fit the criminal profile .

Xiao Yao placed the photographs of the 20 to 30 youths in front of Zheng Yi .  Zheng Yi felt mildly put off by the easy manner in which this group of youths were labelled as suspects, and pushed the photographs aside in irritation .

Easily discerning Zheng Yi’s unhappy mood, Xiao Yao enquired, “There’s no progress on your front?”

Zheng Yi took a few deep breaths in an attempt to calm himself down . After some time, he finally spoke up, “Wei Cai has a friend named Luo Ting .  I always had a vague feeling that she was hiding something with respect to Wei Cai’s murder; thus, I stopped her a few times to question her . Although she was rather tight-lipped at the start, she eventually confessed that Wei Cai had bullied and abused a girl the day before Wei Cai died . ”

“How did they bully and abuse that girl?”

“They hit her and insulted her……” Zheng Yi’s furrowed his eyebrows, “Luo Ting said that she left early, so she didn’t know exactly what had happened after she left . ”

“Have you questioned the victim of the abuse?”

“Yes . She refused to say what happened . ”

“Have you tried asking the people who lived around the area where the abuse happened?”

“I’ve sent people to investigate that specific area . ” Zheng Yi replied wearily, “We’re still looking for witnesses to the abuse . ”

“Hmm…… Do you think that this incident is linked to Wei Cai’s death?”

“I don’t know . ” Zheng Yi replied in a clipped tone, rubbing his face and his neck vigorously with his hands . He could feel an insane desire bubbling within him – he wanted to figure out the truth behind Wei Cai’s death; he wanted to know exactly what abuse Chen Nian had suffered . This heavy desire weighed on him, overwhelming him to the point that he feels that he was going to break any minute .

“Have you been overworking yourself lately? Your emotions don’t seem to be extremely stable . ”

“Yes! I’m extremely unstable now! Wei Cai, Luo Ting – and the whole bunch of female hooligans – all of them should have been incarcerated at the earliest opportunity!!” Unable to repress his infuriation any longer, Zheng Yi raised his head and punched his desk forcefully .

Xiao Yao lapsed into a stunned silence .

A deathly silence settled between the two colleagues . Realising his momentary lapse in control, Zheng Yi moderated his voice level, declaring as calmly as he could, “Even if nobody reported this incident of abuse to the police, I will nevertheless uncover the truth behind this incident . ”

“And? What happens after you uncover the truth?”

This question was too cruel for Zheng Yi to bear . As a police officer, “uncovering the truth” often entails some form of punishment being meted out to the criminal offender who had perpetuated the crime . However,even if the truth was uncovered, there was nothing that could be done for this incident of abuse .

A mangled sense of fury and hatred rose in Zheng Yi’s heart, “Why can’t the law… . . ”

“Zheng Yi! Keep your emotions in check!” Xiao Yao whispered to him urgently . “They are underaged children! What would you have the law do? Incarcerate every single one of them? They’re still young!”

“Being a child does not entitle them to rise above the law!”

“No, it doesn’t . But would incarceration truly solve the problem? They’re still so young – they have yet to form a stable, concrete identity for themselves, and their personalities are still in the midst of formation . As adults, we are the ones that are solely responsible for the formation of their personalities, because the factors that contribute to personality formation (society, school environment and family) are societal constructs created by us adults . No matter which country you’re in, whether you’re in the West or in the East, the law will always be lenient towards children, because they always have an opportunity to rehabilitate . ”

Zheng Yi let out a short, bitter laugh, “I know . My university lecturer mentioned this before . ”

His criminal law professor once mentioned that the unique characteristics and personality ‘possessed’ by underaged offenders are often superficial and false in nature; even if an underaged offender commits the exact same crime as a mature offender, their trains of thought when committing the crime are extremely different . In fact, many underaged offenders have yet to truly form a criminal personality when they commit various crimes .


The absence of a criminal personality was the exact reason why rehabilitation and education could pull these underaged offenders back from the brink they were tethering upon; conversely, severe punishment and the lack of forgiveness would inevitably push them over the brink, and result in them growing to become greater menaces to society .

But,

What about the victims?

Zheng Yi ran his fingers through his hair in frustration . He couldn’t bring himself to imagine how the victim felt when confronted with the leniency afforded to underaged offenders – after all, despite being a police officer, he himself was unable to control his emotions and unhappiness . If there was no punishment, how could their evil deeds be forgiven? How could the frustration and hatred of the victim be appeased?

“Even then, we can’t eliminate the possibility that some children would be able to change; whereas the others would never be able to transform into better people . For the children that belong in the latter category, we ought to……” Zheng Yi continued protesting .

“Who’s capable of judging whether an underaged offender is capable of change? Who? You? Me? Or perhaps, Senior Yang? If we simply rely on subjective human standards and perceptions to mete out punishments, both you and I would not be in this profession, for we would witness too many ‘injustices’ occurring every single day . ” Xiao Yao cut Zheng Yi off before he could finish his sentence .

Zheng Yi’s lips slowly curved into a bitter smile . Perhaps, humans simply needed to learn whilst there are times when we need to invest our entire energies into accomplishing a certain objective, there are other times when we simply simply need to learn how to accept our inabilities and helplessness .

It was just that, right now,

He was still unable to accept his inability to change the situation .

Lowering his head, he slowly shook his head from side to side, “Xiao Yao, have you ever experienced the feeling of letting down a person who trusted you with her entire heart?”

“That feeling …… could really kill me . ” Zheng Yi’s voice was extremely low, as though it had broken into a million pieces .

………………… . .

It was the end of school .

Leisurely strolling across the wild fields, Bei Ye enquired out of curiosity, “Why did the police officer come to look for you again?”

“He came to ask me about Wei Cai . ” Chen Nian spotted a huge patch of pale blue Veronica Persicas, and bent down to pluck a few heart shaped fruits .

“What exactly did he ask?”

“He……” Chen Nian pondered over the incident with Zheng Yi, “He seems to be onto something . ”

Bei Ye: “Oh . ”

Chen Nian passed him a bunch of Veronica Persicas, “Do you know how to play with these?”

Bei Ye retrieved the Veronica Persicas from Chen Nian, and used his thumb and his index finger to pinch the fruit . With a sharp crack, the fruit exploded from within .

That night, Bei Ye didn’t have much to say . However, Chen Nian didn’t mind in the slightest – after all, the both of them were originally quiet people who exchanged very few words . After dinner, Chen Nian revised her homework for a fair amount of time before crawling into bed .

Ever since she moved into Bei Ye’s home, Chen Nian slept extremely soundly . In the middle of the night, she vaguely felt Bei Ye open his window – the night breeze blew into the room and grazed her skin gently . It was more comfortable compared to the electric fan .

After some time, Chen Nian was once again roused by the sound of water coming from within the bathroom . Chen Nian sat up on the bed groggily, and glanced at the bathroom . A beam of soft, yellow light shone from within the bathroom, effectively tearing the darkness of the room apart . Rubbing her eyes, Chen Nian staggered towards the bathroom and peered within . She recognized Bei Ye instantly . Bei Ye was topless, and seemed to be washing something vigorously in the basin .

The youth’s hair was entirely drenched, and water droplets fell from his hair as his body shook with the force he exerted whilst washing the unknown object . His fringe fell over his eyes, effectively serving as a cover for any emotion that his eyes potentially betrayed .

“Bei Ye……” Chen Nian’s gentle voice rang out quietly .

Bei Ye froze momentarily before whipping himself around, effectively covering the unknown item with his body . His dark, silent eyes stared at her piercingly .

“What are you doing?” Chen Nian asked, confused .

“……”


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After a few moments of silence, Chen Nian took one step into the bathroom .

“Hey!” Bei Ye’s voice was filled with warning .

Chen Nian stared at him obstinately .

“I’m washing my undergarments . ” Bei Ye smirked, “You want to come take a look?”

Stunned, Chen Nian stared at him wordlessly for a few minutes . After a few minutes, she came to a sudden realisation, and hurriedly lowered her head and ran back to the bed in embarrassment .

Bei Ye let out a silent sigh of relief . Using his long legs, he easily shut the bathroom door . Turning back to glance at the basin, he discovered that the dark red liquid that was originally in the basin had already been washed away by the water that was flowing from the running tap .

Bei Ye turned off the lights in the toilet and crawled back into bed . Chen Nian lay on the bed, the white moonlight gently illuminating her frail physique .  Knowing full well that Chen Nian wasn’t asleep, Bei Ye gathered her gently in his arms, his arms encircling her waist . His body fitted tightly with hers, as though the both of them were two bows that fitted each other snugly .

Chen Nian caught the distinct scent of beer, and asked him in her quiet manner, “You went drinking?”

“A little . ”

Turning herself round to face him, Chen Nian wrapped her arms around Bei Ye and returned his hug .

The two youthful bodies hugged each other tightly, their dark, black eyes gazing at each other . They could feel each other’s every single breath – their bodies shivered with mixed feelings of fear and anticipation, their bodies entire in sync with each other .

Bei Ye grazed his nose over her dark brows, her long eyelashes, and the tip of her nose . On reaching her lips, he slowly pressed his own lips against her, quiet and gentle .

The cool night breeze grazed over their skins, causing a shiver to run up their spines . Chen Nian returned Bei Ye’s kiss, slowly but passionately .

The soft clothing that originally hid Chen Nian’s body from view gradually began to loosen . The body of the youthful girl was like a slab of smooth, yellow butter . He ran his fingers up her spine, as though he was caressing a precious pearl .

The two youths hugged each other tightly, as though they were the only measure of sweetness and happiness left in each other’s world .

At the end, the two youths began to tire, and fell asleep in each other’s embrace .

Before sleeping, Bei Ye suddenly opened his eyes and asked Chen Nian, “Where’s the keys to your house?”

“It’s in my bag . ”

“I’ll send you home tomorrow . I’ll help you shift your books back as well . This place is simply too small . ”

“Alright . ”

……

6 more days to graduation exams .

The passing of time began to feel arduous and painful, and an uneasy sense of restlessness began to settle over the entire student population .

Except Chen Nian . Chen Nian remained calm as ever, her heart at peace as she continued her revision slowly and methodically . During class time, the students engaged in animated discussions about the latest television series and the ever-mysterious raincoat man in order to divert their attention from the upcoming examinations .

Chen Nian munched on her gummy bears whilst she packed her table . Her desk was almost entirely empty by now, with only a few reference books left in the small corner of her desk .

During the afternoon break, Chen Nian hurriedly headed towards the entrance of the school gates . Spotting Bei Ye from a distance away, she flew down the steps and began to run towards him . Similarly, Bei Ye had just begun to run towards her when a police car drove up beside her . Zheng Yi stepped down from the police car . It was clear that he was looking for her .

Chen Nian tore her gaze away from Bei Ye . Without sparing Bei Ye a single glance, she lowered her head and sat in the police car .


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Upon reaching the police station, Zheng Yi brought Chen Nian into the interrogation room .

As Zheng Yi hadn’t managed to string a complete sentence within his head, he went to pour a cup of water for Chen Nian and himself . As the water began to fill the cup, the jarring witness testimony rang in his head, “…… there were several people walking past who saw them beat that girl up . They stripped her of her clothes and dragged her around, parading her for all to see . There were innumerable people who stood by, watching the debacle unfold……”

The icy cold water began to overflowing, jolting Zheng Yi back to reality . The rest of his colleagues remained outside the interrogation room . He alone went in to question Chen Nian .

Chen Nian was dressed in her school uniform . She sat quietly in the interrogation room, waves of loneliness and isolation rolling off her frail body . Her head was lowered, and she seemed extremely tired .

Zheng Yi pushed the cup of water towards her, “Chen Nian?”

“Yes?” She raised her head and gazed at him .

She wasn’t nervous; neither was she confused . This made Zheng Yi even more uncomfortable – he simply didn’t know where to start, “What’s going through your mind right now?”

“Right now? It’s about time, I reached home . ” She pronounced each syllable slowly and clearly .

“Home?”

“Yes . ” The girl nodded her head . “If I, wasn’t here; I would have, been home . ”

She lowered her head once more, twisting her fingers into a knot . It appeared that Chen Nian no longer had anything to say .

Zheng Yi: “……”

“Chen Nian,” He exhaled deeply, “Wei Cai and her group of friends – what exactly did they do to you?”

“Wei Cai?”

“Yes . ”

“She hit me . A single slap . ”

“What else?” Zheng Yi persisted, “What happened after that?”

“I forgot . ” Chen Nian shook her head from side to side . “I don’t……remember . ”

She returned his gaze, her eyes wide with confusion .

Zheng Yi was at a loss for words, and turned back to gaze at his colleagues standing outside the interrogation room . When his gaze returned to Chen Nian, Chen Nian was staring at the blazing afternoon sun outside the window, her brows slightly furrowed . She was muttering to herself under her breath, “After lunch, it’s time for an afternoon nap . Sprinkle water, near the bamboo mat . ”

Zheng Yi rose from his seat and walked out of the interrogation room, shutting the door behind him .

Senior Yang: “Selective memory loss? Its a form of self protection after suffering an extreme attack – should we locate a psychologist to counsel Chen Nian?”

Xiao Yao: “You mean you want to awaken Chen Nian’s memory?”

Senior Yang: “Luo Ting left the scene early; when she left, Wei Cai and a few other girls and boys which she didn’t recognize were still abusing Chen Nian . The suspect could very well have been part of the group that was abusing Chen Nian . Although Luo Ting doesn’t have any impression with respect to those guys, perhaps Chen Nian would have some form of impression of them . ”

“That’s true . ”

“She’s about to take her graduation exams . ” Zheng Yi interjected all of a sudden .

“Ah?”

“She’s about to take her graduation exams . ” Zheng Yi repeated once more, his voice forcefully ringing out in the silent hallway .

 



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