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Published at 17th of May 2016 06:09:38 PM

Chapter 21

In Chapter 21 of The Youthful You Who Was So Beautiful, Chen Nian and Bei Ye begin their period of separation as the police begin to clamp down on investigations in relation to Wei Cai’s death . The greater the distance between the two of them, the more unlikely the police will discover their connection and the clues linking Wei Cai’s death to them . But, as Chen Nian senses the police getting one step closer to discovering the ‘truth’, she begins to break down and wonder – how long more is she able to hide her ‘involvement’ in Wei Cai’s death?


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“Chen Nian?”

“Hmm?” Chen Nian appeared to be rather distracted; she continuously glanced at the blazing sunlight outside the window, and had to be constantly reminded by Zheng Yi and his fellow officers to redirect her attention back to them . Turning to them, she would gazed at them with her dark, black eyes, her clear and upright gaze seemingly asserting that her words contained nothing but the truth .

“Do you hate Wei Cai?”

“I’m alright . ”

“What do you mean by ‘alright’?”

“If you didn’t mention her, I would not, think about, this person . ”

This answer left the police officers speechless, and Zheng Yi was at a momentary loss of words . Having answered the questions, Chen Nian turned her head towards the window once again . It was now 12:30PM . It was the hottest period of the day, the sunlight blazing down in its fiery glory, easily shattering the air into small, minuscule crystals .

Senior Yang persisted, “What about now? Now that you’ve been reminded of Wei Cai, do you hate her?”

Disrupted once again, Chen Nian turned her direction towards Senior Yang, “I’m alright . ”

“Only ‘alright’?”

“I have, already forgotten, how she, looks like . ” Chen Nian’s stutter seemed to have worsened .

Like the other officers, Senior Yang was momentarily stunned, and was unable to formulate an appropriate response .

In the deathly silence of the interrogation room, Chen Nian’s clear voice rang out, “I heard, that, the faces of those who died, who gradually, fade, from people’s memories . But those, who are still, alive, their faces would, always remain crystal, clear, in people’s memories, even if, they haven’t met, for many years . ”

Zheng Yi appeared to be intrigued by Chen Nian’s comment, and seemed to ponder over her comment whilst the other police officers simply brushed it aside . All of a sudden, Senior Yang interrupted the conversation, “Where were you the day Wei Cai went missing?”

Chen Nian slowly raised her eyes, and gazed directly into Senior Yang’s eyes, “Which day?”

On realising that his usual tactic of catching suspects off guard through sudden interruption hadn’t worked on Chen Nian, Senior Yang sighed internally before continuing the conversation, “The day after you were bullied and humiliated by Wei Cai . ”

“I was in school . ” Chen Nian replied .

“Why didn’t you take medical leave?”

“I need to, revise . Time was, running out . ”

The officers were incredulous at her answer; yet, there was nothing the police officers could say in response to her answer .

“You were in school the entire day?”

“Yes . ”

There was no way Chen Nian could have lied about her presence in school – a simple trip to the school office would easily verify her alibi .


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“Where were you at night?”

“I was at the movie theatre . ”

“You went to watch a movie?” A glimmer of suspicion flashed in Senior Yang’s eyes . “You chose to watch a movie at that time? What about our revision? Did it suddenly become unimportant to you?”

In the face of Senior Yang’s aggressive and pointed questions, Chen Nian took her time to formulate her reply, “Because, it was …… a classic movie . ”

“You went to the movie theatres by yourself?”

“No . ”

“Who did you go with?”

“My classmate . ”

“What is the name of your classmate?”

“Li, Xiang . ”

“Who suggested going to the movie theatres?” Zheng Yi interrupted the questioning .

“He did . ” Chen Nian replied .

This was something that was extremely easy to verify as well . Once again, the group of police officers lapsed into a momentary silence . Exchanging meaningful glances with each other, the officers realised that they had no other questions for Chen Nian .

Senior Yang strode out of the interrogation room, and commented, “This young girl is simply too calm . ”

Zheng Yi responded immediately, “What are you hinting at?”

“Nothing . ” Senior Yang replied in a casual tone, “One’s demeanour and disposition is frequently influenced by one’s environment, one’s personality, and one’s experiences . More accurately, it is often influenced by encounters one recently experienced . ”

Xiao Yao interjected, “This means, that Chen Nian’s overly calm disposition could be a result of her being in a state of extreme self-protection which she is unable to extricate herself from?”

“Yes . ” Senior Yang nodded gravely . The officers had only questioned Chen Nian about her whereabouts before Wei Cai’s disappearance out of convenience – after all, Chen Nian was already in the police station to shed light on the bullying Wei Cai inflicted on her . Based on Chen Nian’s responses, Chen Nian didn’t appear to be involved in Wei Cai’s disappearance . “In any event, do remember verify Chen Nian’s answers with Chen Nian’s teachers and that boy named Li Xiang . We need to ensure that she isn’t lying . — Separately, with respect to the group of 23 suspects, we need to think of further means to shrink the suspect pool . ” Having instructed his group of officers, Senior Yang headed back to his office .

Zheng Yi remained rooted on the spot . After some time, he turned back towards the interrogation room, and opened the door . Chen Nian remained seated in her original spot, her gaze fixated on the bright beams of sunlight shining outside the window . The cup of water in front of her remained untouched .

It was such a hot and humid day . It was impossible for Chen Nian not to feel thirsty .

Zheng Yi gently rapped on the door . “Chen Nian, you may take your leave now . ” Zheng Yi led Chen Nian to the canteen, where the two of them had their lunch . Zheng Yi specially bought a bottle of water for Chen Nian . On receiving the bottle, Chen Nian immediately opened the bottle cap, easily downing half the bottle in a single shot .

After lunch, Zheng Yi walked Chen Nian home .

“Chen Nian . ” Zheng Yi spoke her, the his tone careful and gentle .

“Yes?”

“You can always talk to me about things that are troubling you . ”


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“Nothing’s troubling me . ” Chen Nian shook her head .

Glancing at Chen Nian’s lowered head, wisps of melancholy wormed their way into Zheng Yi’s heart . Ultimately, however, Zheng Yi kept his mouth shut, and didn’t pursue the point – instead, he simply reminded her to remain focused on revision for the upcoming examinations . Chen Nian nodded her head in response .

As Chen Nian ascended the stairwell to her home, she suddenly remembered that Bei Ye had taken the keys to her home . However, on reaching her home, she discovered that her keys were inserted in the keyhole of her gate . Ah, if Bei Ye dared to leave her keys in such an open area, it necessarily meant that Bei Ye was somewhere nearby, watching over her .

Upon coming to this realisation, Chen Nian immediately raised her head and began looking around frantically for Bei Ye . However, he was nowhere to be found .

The bright rays of the summer sun trickled down onto the city, its glow causing the entire city to glimmer like fish scales . The bright sunlight pierced Chen Nian’s eyes, and she unwillingly lowered her eyes and rubbed them gently . In that very moment, her heart ached terribly, and she pursed her lips together in a grimace . After some time, a sense of serene calm returned to her heart, and she opened the door and entered her home .

Her books had all been returned to their original spots, along with her clothes . She could no longer return to Bei Ye’s place . The both of them had to be strangers from this point forth .

There were two huge shopping bags placed on her table . The two bags were filled with vegetables, groceries, noodles and innumerable snacks . Chen Nian strode over to the refrigerator and jerked it open – in the fridge, freshly bought fruits, milk, fruit juice and frozen dumplings lay in neat rows . Her bed and the electric fan had also been cleaned .

Chen Nian turned on the electric fan and opened the windows in her bedroom . Innumerable trees and buildings stood erect outsider her window . With the windows wide open, Chen Nian gently lay down on her bed and gazed at the scenery outside . Gradually, Chen Nian felt a sense of security settling over her, and she fell asleep .

After all, there would always be someone out there, watching over her .

On waking up from her afternoon nap, Chen Nian went to the fridge and grabbed a cold drink, along with some grapes . Having ate the grapes, she made her way to school . Just before she entered the school compound, however, she turned back, casting a final glance behind her before stepping into the compound .

Bei Ye stood upright at the end of the road leading up to Chen Nian’s school compound, patiently waiting for her to enter her school compound . On seeing Chen Nian turn back to glance at him, Bei Ye let out a deep sigh before turning and leaving .

Chen Nian’s journey to school was no longer fraught with danger as it was in the past, but it had long become his habit to trail behind her, guarding her every step to school and protecting her from harm . And before he even realised it, it had already transformed into his hope, the highlight of his day .

Just then, Bei Ye received a call from Da Kang inviting him to head out to play . Initially, Bei Ye wanted to reject Da Kang’s invitation, but decided to invite Da Kang to his home after some thought .

By the time Bei Ye returned home, Da Kang was already waiting beside the shutter door, a green foxtail hanging from his mouth . With his helmet in hand, Bei Ye opened the shutter door and entered his home; Da Kang trailed after Bei Ye, noisily shutting the shutter doors behind him . The room was still humid and moist, but Da Kang raised his eyebrow in surprise, “Your house appears to be cleaner?”

Bei Ye replied in an even, calm tone, “The house was packed yesterday . ”

“Who did? The small girl who previously hid behind your back?” Da Kang responded, sarcasm and unhappiness dripping from his voice .

A distant, self-mocking smile formed over Bei Ye’s lips, “I dumped her a long time ago . ”

“Oh?” Da Kang’s eyebrow arched even further, “Why?”

“Noisy, and annoying . ”

“Oh . ” Da Kang nodded understandingly . However, Da Kang nevertheless found it amazing that Bei Ye had actually managed to put up with the girl for such a period of time – after all, having grown up with Bei Ye, he had never ever seen Bei Ye express interest in any single female . All the females who had expressed their interest in him were also easily rejected by Bei Ye – as such, Bei Ye’s handsome face was unfortunately wasted by him in such a manner .

In any event, since Bei Ye dumped the girl a long time ago, it must mean that Bei Ye wasn’t interested in her either .

Da Kang plopped himself down on Bei Ye’s bed, and stretched his long limbs out wide . Bei Ye furrowed his brows as he glanced at Da Kang, and was about to tell Da Kang to get off the bed when he remembered that it was Da Kang’s habit to lay on his bed every single time he came over . Swallowing his words back with some difficulty, Bei Ye turned his gaze away from Da Kang and glanced elsewhere . In any event, he had already changed the bedsheets and pillows after Chen Nian left .

“Bei Ye, you know, Lai Zi mentioned that he was leaving for Guang Zhou to explore and carve a road out for himself – but what is there in Guang Zhou to explore?”

Bei Ye grabbed two bottles of beer from the fridge . Easily ramming the bottle caps off along the sides of the table, he handed a single bottle to Da Kang .

Retrieving the bottle of beer from Bei Ye, Da Kang took one huge gulp before continuing his rant, “Isn’t he just mad over me telling him off after the quarrel that day? I can’t believe he really left for Guang Zhou . Although he doesn’t lose his temper easily, he’s exactly like a wrathful woman when he loses his temper, and it’s nearly impossible to appease him . A few days ago, Lai Zi actually called me in the middle of the night to bid me a final goodbye – does he really intend on severing all ties with me? Ah, did he call you as well?”


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Bei Ye nodded his head in a noncommittal manner .

Da Kang took another swig of beer, and continued the conversation, “What about you? Where do you intend on going? Are you going to stay in Xi Cheng, or are you going to leave?”

“I’m leaving . ” Bei Ye replied .

“Where to?”

Bei Ye lapsed into a momentary silence, before replying in a quiet voice, “To Beijing . ”

“Wow, sounds extremely high class . ” Da Kang responded sarcastically .

Bei  Ye drank a gulp of beer, blatantly ignoring Da Kang’s comment .

“All of you are leaving – I’m the only one left behind in Xi Cheng . ” Sorrow crept into Da Kang’s voice as he continued rambling, “I really thought that the three of us would always be brothers who stuck by each other . I never once thought that we would all separate and head into different directions after we grew up . In the past, the lady in charge of the welfare centre always told us that things would get better after we grew up – but what’s so f***ing good about growing up?

“Yeah,” Bei Ye agreed, “What’s so f***ing good about growing up?”

The moment those words left Bei Ye’s lips, Da Kang immediately reversed his initial position, and began to encourage Bei Ye, “It’s alright – just leave if you have to . Go out and explore the greater world out there . But, don’t forget me when you’ve struck it big . ”

“Sure . ” Bei Ye replied, “If I do leave in the end . ”

He was like a tree – even though he wanted to fly, he had grown innumerable roots before he even realised it .

“Ah,” Da Kang finally recalled an important matter, “Has the teacher given you a call? We need to collect our graduation certificates . ”

“The teacher called . ” Bei Ye gave Da Kang’s butt a small kick . On receiving the hint, Da Kang lazily shifted his body to one side of the bed, giving Bei Ye some room to lie on . Bei Ye toppled onto the bed, using his arm as a makeshift pillow, “What’s so great about that certificate? Why should I even expend the effort to collect it?”

“Our graduation certificate is important! After all, it is proof that at the very least, we did learn a specialised skill . Nowadays, many university students cannot even compared to specialised skill workers like us . ”

“Oh, please . ” Bei Ye mocked Da Kang, “You actually believe that nonsense?”

“It’s true! I even managed to land myself a job! I’m going to set up a company by myself if I managed to save enough money after a few years . Unfortunately, I’m not like you – I don’t have a wealthy uncle and aunt who are unable to bring themselves to abandon you despite their constant refusal to acknowledge your existence . ”

Bei Ye didn’t respond to Da Kang’s comment . Annoyed at himself for speaking without thinking, Da Kang tried to diffuse the situation by changing the topic, “Hey, by the way, have you heard about the raincoat man? I heard that the criminal is actually around our age . ”

Bei Ye turned his head to look at Da Kang, “Why do you say that?”

“Well, when I retrieved my graduation certificate with a few other of our friends yesterday, there were a couple of odd men seated in the teacher’s office who began to scrutinise us the moment we stepped into the office . Based on their gaze and their aura, I suspect that they’re actually police officers . ” Da Kang let out a cold snort, “The form teacher’s really sneaky too – he called all the hooligans in to collect the certificates together, and treated us as though we’re all suspects, f*** . ”

Bei Ye didn’t respond to Da Kang’s rant . The breeze from the electric fan caused wisps of his fringe to fall into his eyes . He shook his head a few times out of irritation .

Undeterred by Bei Ye’s silence, Da Kang continued the conversation, “Hey, remember to collect your graduation certificate . ”

“I know . ”

……

Chen Nian saw Zheng Yi once again as she was doing clean up duty after school had ended . However, this time round, he wasn’t looking for her – instead, he was looking for Xu Miao . As Xu Miao walked past Chen Nian, she handed her broom to Chen Nian, “Ah, you were originally scheduled for clean up duty, not me . I guess I’ll make a move then . ” Chen Nian remained rooted at her original spot, unmoving .

The school building was mostly void of people at this hour . As such, although Zheng Yi and Xu Miao had walked a distance away, Chen Nian could still hear every single word they exchanged .

“…… After you cut off all contact with Wei Cai, she understood that you no longer wanted anything to do with her . However, I checked Wei Cai’s call log, and I discovered that despite not having attempted to contact you for over a week, Wei Cai suddenly decided to call you the day she went missing . Why do you suppose she suddenly called you that day?”

“Didn’t I already explain this to you the previous time?” Xu Miao’s voice was extremely soft .

Zheng Yi reassured Xu Miao, “I’m not suspecting that you were involved in Wei Cai’s death . I just feel that you’re hiding something from me . ”

What Xu Miao was hiding, was, in actuality, what Wei Cai had told her over the call: Location – The hill behind the school building; The person due to arrive – Chen Nian .

Chen Nian didn’t doubt Zheng Yi’s ability for a single minute . From the very first moment her gaze collided with his, she instantly knew that this young officer wasn’t like other normal officers – he was extremely capable and passionate about his job .

Chen Nian tiptoed to the corridor and peered at the empty school compound beneath her . Zheng Yi tall physique was accentuated by Xu Miao’s tiny frame, and the two of them waked as they talked, before finally stopping beside the flower patch . After some time, Xu Miao exited the school compound and boarded her father’s car . Zheng Yi too, left the school compound after Xu Miao .

Chen Nian stood quietly at the corridor of the school building, peering over the railing in silence . An eerie sense of danger crept up her spine, and she felt a near physical force push her over the railing onto the grounds below .

Jerking back in fear, she whipped her head around – only to discover that the entrance of the classroom was wide open; the empty classroom was filled entirely with tables and chairs, without a single person in sight .

Chen Nian once again gazed at the school compound, and as her gaze drifted to the street across the school compound, she saw a solitary white figure standing erect at the convenience shop opposite the school compound .

Chen Nian ran back into the classroom . On recalling the exchange that took place between Xu Miao and Zheng Yi a few minutes ago, her hands and legs began to tremble uncontrollably . Haphazardly throwing the brooms aside, she hurriedly grabbed her bag and sprinted down the stairwell and out of the school compound . She didn’t even bother waiting for Bei Ye .

Chen Nian was flying across the innumerable roads . She didn’t take her usual route; instead, she selected random roads which she rarely used, and ran around blindly, as though she was trying to rid herself of a tail who had been persistently following her around . Chen Nian blindly charged ahead, only stopping when she reached the familiar field of wild grass . The setting sun shone dimly in the evening sky, resembling a giant yellow yolk .

Before long, Chen Nian heard rapid footsteps ringing out from behind her . Without a moment’s hesitation, Chen Nian began sprinting forward with all her might . However, no matter how energy she pumped into her two skinny legs, he still managed to catch up with her .

Easily catching up with Chen Nian, Bei Ye grabbed Chen Nian by the wrist, forcing her to come to a halt . With his brows furrowed, he questioned her, “Where are you going?”

Chen Nian tried to wrench her wrist out of Bei Ye’s grasp, but Bei Ye’s grip was like an iron shackle which she couldn’t get rid of no matter how hard she tried; Bei Ye began to drag Chen Nian back where she came from, towards the direction of her home, but Chen Nian was overcome with a fervent desire to head in the opposite direction, towards the direction of his home .

“What’s wrong?” Bei Ye’s brows were tightly knitted together .

“I want to go home!!” Chen Nian shrieked at Bei Ye as she struggled futilely against his grip .

Bei Ye surveyed their surroundings quickly . On ensuring that nobody else was in the vicinity, Bei Ye loosened his grip on Chen Nian’s wrist and turned towards her, his voice determined and soothing, “Your home is in that direction . ”

“I want to go home!” Chen Nian repeated herself, at a louder volume this time round .

Bei Ye fell into silence, his dark gaze taking in her anxiety, her frustration, and her fears . Gently stroking her cheeks, his soft, gentle voice rang out quietly as a small smile formed on his lips, “You understand what I mean, don’t you?”

I understand, Bei Ye, I understand . But……

“We can’t hide it forever . ” A small smile formed on Chen Nian’s lips as well, as she told Bei Ye gently, “I killed Wei Cai . We can’t hide it forever . ”

Before she even managed to complete her sentence, Bei Ye grabbed the back of Chen Nian’s head, pressing her tightly into his embrace .

“That’s nonsense . ” He pressed his face tightly against hers, “Listen to me . When I found Wei Cai on the hill behind your school building, she wasn’t dead . ”

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