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

Chapter 3

In Part 1 of Chapter 3 of The Youthful You Who Was So Beautiful, we delve further into the mystery of Hu Xiao Die’s suicide – did Hu Xiao Die say anything to Chen Nian before she died? If so, why is she keeping mum? Did Wei Cai play a role in Hu Xiao Die’s death? Everything remains shrouded in mystery due to Chen Nian’s silence . And once again, when Chen Nian runs into trouble, the youth in the white t-shirt makes a timely appearance to help her out . It appears that although Chen Nian’s spontaneous moment of kindness has been causing her to run into various forms of trouble, it nevertheless also offers her a safe harbour from which she can seek protection .


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The afternoon sun blazed down in its fiery glory . Chen Nian darted into the shaded pathway, coolness washing over her body .

The man-made mountain and the pavilion was linked to the back entrance of the school . As Chen Nian walked along the pathway, she spotted Zeng Hao, Hu Xiao Die’s good friend who had previously passed her a note in class .

Chen Nian knew that Zeng Hao had intentionally waited for her at this spot, and came to a stop .

Zeng Hao’s eyes were as swollen as walnuts . She stared at Chen Nian, “Why didn’t you reply my note?”

Chen Nian silently shook her head in an attempt to indicate that she had nothing to say to Zeng Hao .

Zeng Hao clenched her fist tightly, “They interrogated me several times too, because I was Xiao Die’s best friend . But I really had no idea what happened, so I’m not able to offer any form of help . ” As she spoke, tears began to fall from her eyes, “That day, Xiao Die was behaving weirdly . Everybody could discern Xiao Die’s drastic change – she no longer liked to talk, and she always appeared to be brooding over endless problems . I’m not sure whether she was unhappy due to her deteriorating friendships with the rest of her friends, but I don’t think it would have affected her so much . I did ask her what was troubling her, but she claimed that the deteriorating friendships weren’t the cause . Subsequently, she……”

Chen Nian stood there expressionlessly, and turned her head to take a quick glance at the classroom . The leaves rustled in the wind whilst the sunlight danced on the swaying leaves .

“I don’t believe that Xiao Die would…… But they said that when Xiao Die died, the entire school compound was empty, and that no strangers were present . Even the security guards have been eliminated as suspects . If Xiao Die truly did commit suicide…” Zeng Hao suddenly raised her head to look at Chen Nian, “Chen Nian, you’re the last person to see Xiao Die alive . Did she tell you anything?”

Chen Nian shook her head .

“Chen Nian, please say something . ” Zeng Hao was on the verge of a mental breakdown .

There was a silent pause . Chen Nian slowly opened her mouth, “Nothing . I’m not fa……familiar with……her . If you……you don’t even kno……know her secrets, how…… . how would I know?”

Zeng Hao insisted, “It’s impossible for Xiao Die not to have said anything if she truly did commit suicide . ”

Chen Nian looked at Zeng Hao straight in the eyes, and countered, “What……what would she say?”

Zeng Hao was stunned into silence .

Yeah . What would she have said?


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“Chen Nian, are you speaking the truth? Xiao Die really didn’t say anything to you before she died?”

Chen Nian: “It’s true . ”

The older one grows, the more excellent one’s ability to lie convincingly becomes . It’s as though this talent was naturally cultivated over the years .

Zeng Hao scrutinised Chen Nian . Chen Nian was as pale as ever, her skin resembling that of a person who’s perennially stuck in winter; Chen Nian’s eyes were extremely black and calm, and they resembled the dark winter night .

Zeng Hao’s shoulders sagged, “Alright . ”

Chen Nian managed to capture a glimpse of Zeng Hao’s discouraged and saddened expression . For a moment, Chen Nian almost wanted to remind Zeng Hao that it was more important to focus on the upcoming final examinations, and to stay away from Li Xiang – but in the end, Chen Nian simply kept her mouth shut .

As they walked into the stairwell, Zeng Hao, who had been trailing behind Chen Nian all this while, suddenly grabbed Chen Nian by the arm, the words tumbling out of her mouth, “Could it be because of Wei Cai? I always felt that Xiao Die couldn’t possibly have committed suicide over Wei Cai, but I can’t think of any other plausible reason! Tell me, is it because of Wei Cai?”

Chen Nian quickly wrenched her arm out of Zeng Hao’s iron grasp .

……

Chen Nian carefully stored three hundred dollars into her bag and stuffed the remaining one hundred dollars in her pocket . Having stored away all her money, Chen Nian walked away from the ATM machine . She took a quick glance at her surroundings before scurrying away .

Just as Chen Nian walked past the intersection, Chen Nian smelt the heavenly scent of freshly baked bread . She entered the bakery, intending to purchase two loaves of bread  for her dinner . She handed the one hundred dollar bill to the shop-owner, and waited for her change .

“Don’t you have smaller denominations?” The shop-owner furrowed his eyebrows .

Chen Nian pursed her lips and shook her head . The shop-owner began rummaging in the drawer, but was unable to find any fifty dollar notes . Annoyed, he looked into his bag for some change . On finding sufficient change, he immediately stuffed the notes to Chen Nian .

Chen Nian stood at the front of the queue, and concentrated on counting the change . $98 . 80 . She checked the ten dollar and twenty dollar notes, and proceeded to check the fifty dollar note . However, as the fifty dollar note was too old, Chen Nian had to spend a longer period of time checking the note . By then, a long queue had gathered behind her, and some customers began to mock her, “You’re taking so long just to check your note . Why don’t you bring a counterfeit detector around in the future?”

The shop-owner also began to rush Chen Nian, “Stop blocking the way . Everyone in the queue is waiting for you . ”

Chen Nian felt slightly embarrassed, and simply stuffed her bread into her bag before leaving the shop .


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Having walked some distance away from the shop, Chen Nian still felt a niggling sense of unease, and took out the fifty dollar note once more for a more detailed check . However, before she could discern any problem with the note, she spotted a few familiar faces – it was the group of hooligans who had extorted money from the boy in the white t-shirt a few days ago . They were headed to another destination whilst smoking various cigarettes . Chen Nian’s heart plummeted . She quietly crumpled the money into her fist before slowly moving her fist to her pockets .

Chen Nian tightened her grip on her bag and prepared to make a detour . Just then, the entire group recognized her, “You there! Stop!”

Left with no choice, Chen Nian stopped in her tracks .

“I heard you have a habit of stuttering . ” The leader of the group laughed aloud, “Say…say… two sen……sentences……we wanna lis……listen . ” The entire group burst into laughter .

Surrounded by the group of hooligans, Chen Nian lowered her head . She was like a small kitten which had been surrounded and attacked by a bunch of mice – her movements were clumsy, and she had nowhere to run to .

The hooligans continued mocking her for some time before turning to the main topic .

“Do you have any money on you?”

Chen Nian shook her head .

“You really don’t have any?”

“Yup . ”

“Humph . We let you off easy the previous time, so don’t lie to us . ”

Chen Nian bit her lip nervously before shaking her head .

“Well then . Search her body . ”

Chen Nian started to run without a moment’s hesitation, but she was easily caught . Although there were various passer-bys who witnessed the tussle, they simply increased their speed in an attempt to leave the troubled area . Not a single person dared to help Chen Nian . Courage was always a luxurious item possessed by precious few .

Very soon, the hooligans discovered the fifty dollar note that had been hidden in her left pocket, and the remainder $48 . 80 in her right pocket .

“What’s this? Ah?!” The leader smirked at Chen Nian, and raised his hand in order to give Chen Nian a good, hard slap . However, the slap never landed on Chen Nian’s face – Chen Nian had rushed at the leader in an attempt to retrieve her money from his hands . That sum of money was meant to pay for her living expenses .

The leader was immensely surprised at Chen Nian’s strength – she refused to loosen her grip on the money, and even scratched his skin to the point where he started to bleed . Angered, he grabbed hold of Chen Nian and lifted her by the collar, “Do you still have any more money? Ah?”


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Chen Nian’s face was deathly pale . She barely managed to breath out, “There’s no…none…left . ”

“This bi*** isn’t honest . ” The leader slapped Chen Nian a few times before instructing the rest of his cronies, “Search her bag!”

Chen Nian struggled, trying her best to resist the hooligans’ attempts to snatch her bag away from her . “There’s……no more money . It’s true! None……none left!” She said every single word extremely forcefully, as though she was cursing . She hoped that the hooligans would believe her lies .

But the hooligans didn’t believe her . They successfully snatched her bag away from her, unzipping it before emptying its contents on the floor . Chen Nian saw her Chemistry textbook (where the money had been hidden) drop on to the floor, with a corner of the hundred dollar note peeking out from its pages . Suddenly, her mind went blank, and a overwhelming sense of desperation and pain overcame her .

“Wait a minute! This fifty dollar note is a fake!” An angry shout drew the hooligans’ attention away from the contents of Chen Nian’s bag . A hooligan who was holding on to the fifty dollar note shouted infuriatedly, “The money’s fake!” The fifty dollar note made its rounds amongst the bunch of hooligans . After taking a look at the note, all of the hooligans declared that it was a counterfeit note .

The hooligans stared at Chen Nian, the anger unmistakable in their eyes – they were angered with what they thought was a deliberate lie spun by a cunning and sly girl .

“You dare to use counterfeit notes in an attempt to cheat us?!” The leader of the group raised his hand threateningly . Chen Nian hugged her head tightly .

“Hey . ” A cold male voice rang out .

The slap never found its way to Chen Nian’s cheeks .

Chen Nian peered out from under the nook of her arm . It was the boy in the white t-shirt . He stood in the glow of the setting sun, his pale, long arm dangling by the side of his body . He had a cigarette in his hand, the fumes swirling in darkening sky .

Previously, he had been at their mercy, and, along with his mother, suffered from a barrage of disgusting and humiliating insults hurled by the group of hooligans . Just as Chen Nian thought the situation would worsen further, to her utter surprsise, the group of hooligans restrained themselves and prepared to leave after throwing her bag and the fake fifty dollar note on the floor .

“Return the money to her . ” The youth blew the smoke out from his mouth . With a flick of his finger, the cigarette ash fell onto the floor .

The group of hooligans threw a wad of cash on Chen Nian’s school bag and left .

Chen Nian didn’t understand what just happened, but she wasn’t interested in understanding . Glancing at the youth, she noticed the new bruises that had formed above the youth’s eyebrows, as well as the numerous frightening wounds on his arm . Initially, Chen Nian had thought that the youth had been an object of bullying, oppressed and tormented – but it turns out that both the youth and the group of hooligans were the same type of people .

The white t-shirt youth remained rooted to his original spot and stared at Chen Nian, his unwillingness to help her pack her items unmistakably clear . Chen Nian squat down and picked up the money . Dusting the dirt away from her books, she carefully placed them in her bag before straightening up with her bag in hand .

The youth walked over to Chen Nian and stood in front of her . He towered over her, his body effectively casting a dark shadow over her .

When Chen Nian looked straight ahead, she could only see his jaw . However, she did not intend to raise her head and look him in the eye . She shrugged her shoulders, her body language clearly evincing her intention to leave .

“Hey . ”

Chen Nian lowered her head slightly . She knew that at the very least, she ought to thank him for his help .

The youth in the white t-shirt furrowed his eyebrows . Unable to stomach Chen Nian’s obvious disregard of his presence, he said, “Hey, Little Stutterer . ”

Chen Nian raised her head and looked him in the eye .

The youth gave a slight snort, “There’s still some stuff lying on the ground . ” With a nod of his head, he gestured at the fifty dollar note which had been lying on the floor .

Chen Nian picked up the fifty dollar note, and carefully examined the note for any Braille Dots . She soon discovered that the note was extremely flat, and that it did not possess the slight protrusion a real note would have had . Her heart felt cold and empty; she hated herself for having lowered her guard, and she hated her cheap sense of pride which she defended at the bread shop .

She replied, “Fake . ”

The color in the youth’s face changed rapidly . He snorted derisively, “I’m fake?”

Chen Nian knew that he had misunderstood . She wanted to explain herself, but no words came out of her mouth when she opened it . Hurriedly, she fished two other crumpled fifty dollar notes from her pocket and held them up to his eye level . She pointed to him and made some gestures that indicated that the two fifty dollar notes were the notes which he had returned to her previously .

“Your mon……money” She tried her best not to stutter, “Real . ”

The displeasure on the youth’s face gradually faded away . The youth asked lazily, “Where did the counterfeit money come from?”

Chen Nian didn’t answer his question . She took out thirty dollars from her wallet and passed it over to him . In a quiet voice, she slowly made her intentions clear, “Return…you . ” The youth scrutinized her for a few seconds, his pitch black eyes narrowing slightly . He began to feel feelings of displeasure once again . In the end, the youth simply accepted the money and silently put them in his pocket .

Chen Nian felt her face burning up . Lowering her head, she softly said, “Thanks . ”

The youth snorted in return . It was unclear whether he was mocking her, or whether he was expressing his feelings of disdain . Chen Nian could barely discern a bunch of people on the streets hollering a name . The youth turned to look at them before strolling in their direction . It was a group of rowdy hooligans . His companions .

Chen Nian tied her hair neatly . Tightly gripping the bag of bread which she had bought, she left in the opposite direction .

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