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

Chapter 5

“29 . In the ocean, the clownfish’s brightly coloured body often causes it to be the target of numerous predators . Although the bright and vivid colours of sea anemone give it a beautiful exterior, its tentacles are highly poisonous . Thus, the rest of the marine animals often stay away from it . However, the mucus coating on the clownfish contains some unique properties that allows it to survive the sea anemone poison and live safely beside the sea anemone . Whenever the clownfish encounters danger, the sea anemone would use its body to shield the clownfish from its predators . Similarly, the immobile sea anemone would use the clownfish as bait and attract other fishes to its vicinity in order to prey on them . The clownfish would also share its food with the sea anemone .

In the world of nature, such relationships are known as ( ) . ”

Chen Nian swiftly wrote the answer “A” on the answer sheet .

It was the second half of the school semester, and the school began to hold mock tests once every month . The students no longer complained and whined like they did in the first half of the semester; those whose results were poor had already given up all hope, whereas those whose results were excellent simply treated these tests as regular checks to verify their understanding of the school material . In addition, these tests also helped them to accumulate more courage and confidence for the final graduation exam .

Integrated Science was Chen Nian’s best subject . Within an hour, she had alrady completed the final problem in the Physics paper . She flipped to the front of the paper and started checking her answers and shading her answers in the Optical Answer Sheet (OAS) . The pencil lead moved swiftly across the OAS . The shaded circles were black and reflected a mild metallic shine . They reminded her of the eyes of the youth in the dark of the night .

She suddenly recalled the deep kiss he gave her that night .

But within a second, she had already collected her thoughts .

Very soon, students started rising from their seats and submitting their exam scripts, causing a slight stir within the classroom . Wei Cai and her group of friends always handed in their script ahead of the deadline, so that they would be able to head out and play . The teacher warned them to keep their volume down so that the other students would not be affected .

Affected? Nobody would be affected – not a single student seated in the first half of the classroom raised his/her to look at Wei Cai, their energies totally focused on solving the questions . Conversely, the students seated in the second half had already been preparing to head out of the classroom .

Just as Chen Nian completed the Chemistry paper, Zeng Hao rose from her seat . Although Zeng Hao’s results were extremely good, Chen Nian was still mildly surprised at the unexpected speed at which she solved the questions .

The resultant effect of watching a good student hand up her paper earlier than expexted was vastly different from that of a delinquent student handing up her paper early . The moment Zeng Hao rose from her seat, an invisible pressure settled on the remaining students who were still struggling with the papers, and they casted numerous peeks at her from their desks . There were times when Chen Nian, too, would hand in her paper early and walk towards the podium with an calm and collected expression, casting the invisible pressure on the rest of the students .

You had to be the first in order to exert pressure on the rest; being the second was meaningless .

Zeng Hao raised her head and walked out of the classroom calmly . She didn’t stray far from the classroom, and simply leaned against the railing, watching the sky .

Chen Nian lowered her head and resumed solving the exam questions . When she completed her Biology paper, she cast a quick glance at her watch . There was 40 minutes left . She took a swift look outside the window . There was nobody at the railing . Zeng Hao was gone .

That day, after the incident with the counterfeit money, she told Zeng Hao all that she knew . After she confessed to Zeng Hao, she never contacted Zeng Hao again .

Chen Nian checked through her answers a few more times . Gradually, people began to hand up their exam scripts . Chen Nian didn’t bother rising from her seat, and instead started to practise her writing on the scrap paper . Higher marks would be awarded to the composition scripts with nice and neat handwriting .

The bell rang, signalling the conclusion of the exams .

The female toilet was flooded with people . Ah, it was always troublesome for females to head into the toilet, because they always had to queue for a cubicle . Every single female in the toilet was chattering excitedly about the exam questions . Gradually, people grew impatient from the long wait, and started banging on the door of the innermost cubicle .

“Hey, what’s going on? Who’s inside? Why aren’t you coming out? Could you not poop since you’re experiencing constipation? There’s so many people waiting outside . ”

No response emanated from within .

Chen Nian glanced at the female who had raised her voice – it was a student from another class . Although the surrounding female students also chimed in and expressed their dissatisfaction, it was to no avail as they weren’t allowed to pry the door open .

On the way back to the classroom, two invigilators walked past her . They were discussing the papers, “Zeng Hao seems to have submitted her paper in a hurry . She failed to notice a glaring error . ”

Chen Nian had checked through her paper multiple times . She felt that she would be able to do well in this round of examinations – hopefully, she might even manage to reach 610 marks . Every single time she sat for an exam, she would always have harbour some indistinct hopes that soon, she would be able to finish her exams and leave this place . She would be able to go to some place further and better . She would be able to go to the North .

The students congregated outside the classroom, chatting and laughing . Chen Nian returned to her seat and gradually lost herself in her thoughts . In front of her, Hu Xiao Die’s seat will still empty . Once again, the image of Xiao Die’s pale and shivering body flashed across Chen Nian’s mind .

A shadow loomed over her, and Li Xiang suddenly appeared in front of her . He sat himself down on Hu Xiao Die’s seat, and turned to smile at her . His smile was as bright as the afternoon sun, “Chen Nian, how did you find the exam?”

“Normal . ”

“Your results have been rather stable for the past few exams, scoring 600 marks would definitely be no problem for you . ”

Chen Nian pursed her lips slightly, and managed a faint smile .

Li Xiang looked at her, “Where do you want to continue studying after graduation?”

“Depends on results . ”

“Go to Beijing!” Li Xiang’s eyes shone brightly . “It’s right beneath the Emperor’s foot[1]! There’s history, and there’s culture too! Nowadays, people all refer to Beijing as the ‘City of Emperors’ – doesn’t it sound grand and magnificent?”

Chen Nian kept mum .

Xiao Mi pitched in as well, “Li Xiang, aren’t you encouraging people to head to Beijing only because you’ve accepted the offer from Beijing’s university?”

Li Xiang openly admitted his motives, “Of course, I hope that I won’t be alone in the University without a single friend from High School – if that’s the case, I wouldn’t even have a friend to eat out with on weekends . However, to speak the truth, Beijing’s such a great city! Don’t bother staying here, it’s so meaningless . ”

Xiao Mi laughed aloud, “Don’t worry . Chen Nian and I both want to go to Beijing . Isn’t that right, Chen Nian?” She gave Chen Nian’s arm a slight push .

Chen Nian calmly replied, “Perhaps…… . I can’t……can’t get in…… . ”

Xiao Mi glared at her, “That’s impossible! Unless you decide to miss the exam!”

Li Xiang: “You’ll definitely be able to get into Beijing! Shall we arrange to meet in Beijing after examinations?”

Chen Nian didn’t respond to his request, and simply gazed out of the window .

“Li Xiang, I heard that your aunt is teaching in the High School Affiliated to Beijing Normal University . ” Xiao Mi said, “Our small school definitely won’t be able to compare to such a well known High School . Could you please help us to get their test scripts? I think it would be useful for us to practice using their scripts!”

Li Xiang was extremely glad . He could almost visualize his colourful and wonderful University life away from home . “No worries, just count on me . ”

Just then, the shrill clang of the bell rang out, signaling the start of class . Li Xiang returned to his seat .

As it was class time allocated for the students to engage in self-studying, Chen Nian took out last month’s test paper and analyzed the questions which she had answered wrongly . When she raised her head, she realized that Zeng Hao’s seat was still empty . After the conclusion of the monthly exam, teachers are generally busy marking the exam scripts . With no supervision, self-studying had always been undertaken based on the students’ own initiative . Those who didn’t wish to self-study were generally considerate enough not to loiter around the classrooms, and would head to the field to play . Chen Nian mulled over Zeng Hao’s absence for some time before finally deciding to continue with her own revision .

However, Zeng Hao still failed to appear after a long period of time .

When it was nearing the end of self-study class, Chen Nian strolled out of the classroom . The corridor was empty, and the entire building was extremely quiet . The only noises came from the faraway field where various students were playing basketball .

The toilet was located at the far end of the corridor . It was so quiet, Chen Nian could hear the water dripping out from the tap, and the splashing sounds it made as the water droplets fell onto the ceramic floor .

The door of the innermost cubicle remained tightly shut .

Chen Nian stealthily tiptoed over to the innermost cubicle . The occupancy indicator was red . Chen Nian slowly pulled out some tissue and lay it on the floor . Carefully, she knelt down, lowered her body such that her head was nearly plastered onto the ground, and peeked into the cubicle .

She saw two legs, along with some red liquid .

Chen Nian straightened her body gingerly, and disposed of the tissues in the rubbish bin . When she reached the entrance of the toilet, however, she chose not to exit; instead, she chose to turn back into the toilet, and dumped all the rubbish around the entrance of the innermost cubicle .

When she returned to the classroom, Xiao Mi asked, “Did you go to the toilet? You should have called me along as well!”

“Nope . ” Chen Nian replied slowly . “I couldn’t…… . solve a quest……question, went to……consult teacher . ”

“Did you manage to find the teacher?”

Chen Nian shook her head .

“Let me take a look at the question . ”

Chen Nian pointed to a question offhandedly . Xiao Nian looked at the question for some time before exclaiming, “You can solve it using this method . I’ll teach you!”

Just then, Wei Cai and her group of friends entered the classroom . When her gaze collided with Chen Nian’s, Wei Cai shot her a cold, harsh look . However, Wei Cai’s face displayed no other emotions .

Chen Nian collected her gaze, and glanced at her revision materials . One statement instantly leapt out to her – “The eagle preys on wild rabbits and snakes . When the amount of wild rabbits sharply decreases in the ecosystem, there would be a sharp increase in the percentage of snakes being successfully hunted . ”

After school had ended, Chen Nian and Xiao Mi walked out of the classroom together . Wei Cai brushed past the both of them . Xiao Mi took a quick look at Wei Cai’s arrogant posture before asking Chen Nian, “Nian, I’ve been mulling over something . ”


“Do you think that it could be Wei Cai?”

Chen Nian turned her head sharply to look at Xiao Mi .

“There were several times when I saw Wei Cai intentionally picking on Hu Xiao Die in school . I felt that Xiao Die was very affected by the bullying . ” Xiao Mi didn’t wait for Chen Nian’s response before shaking her head severely, “But it shouldn’t be . Who would commit suicide over some bullying incidents? Since our teacher warned us not to spread rumours, I haven’t been able to discuss this incident with anyone else . ”

Chen Nian kept silent, a creeping sense of danger crawling up her spine .

As Chen Nian and Xiao Mi’s homes weren’t located in the same area, they parted ways at the school entrance .

Chen Nian had just turned round the corner when she heard a sharp whistle ring out, along with the urgent braking of a motorcycle . Chen Nian turned her head around, only to find Bei Ye on a red and black motorcycle . He was donning a black t-shirt and jeans, and carried a huge guitar case on his back . His entire person seemed to be glowing, as though he was a beautiful picture .

Chen Nian stared at him .

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With his back remaining arched, he turned his head to look at her, his fingers softly drumming the handle of the motorcycle . Having looked at her for some time without receiving any response from her, he straightened up his body, his brows furrowing slightly . “Come over here . ”

Chen Nian walked over to him, and stood at the edge of the curb .

He gestured to his back with his jaw, “Come up . ”

Chen Nian was about to crawl onto the motorcycle when he stopped her . “Wait . ” He threw a helmet over to Chen Nian . It was similar to his – it was a black helmet, with some white bolded numbers at the side .

It was brand new .

As the helmet was slightly tight, Chen Nian had to expend some effort in putting it on properly . After wedging the helmet onto her head, she clumsily hooked the strap together .

Bei Ye took a quick glance at Chen Nian and pushed her hands away . With a quick tug on the strap, Chen Nian staggered and stood right before him . He lowered his eyelids, his fingers quickly managing to tighten the strap properly .

With Chen Nian’s helmet strapped on properly, he removed his guitar from the back and hung it on her . Upon receiving the guitar case, Chen Nian did a slight stagger – the guitar was rather heavy .

Chen Nian crawled onto the motorcycle . Bei Ye had planted his feet onto the ground to support the motorcycle, but when Chen Nian crawled on, the motorcycle slightly swayed to the side . Frantic, Chen Nian quickly grabbed hold of Bei Ye’s shoulders . Chen Nian’s palms could feel the warmth emanating from the hard bones under his T-shirt . Meanwhile, Bei Ye remained stationery, his hands still perched on the handles .

When Chen Nian had seated herself properly, she released her hold on his shoulders .

The motorcycle roared into the distance, the youth speeding in the night breeze .

As Bei Ye intended to bring Chen Nian out for dinner, he came to a stop when they reached a restaurant . Chen Nian crawled off the motorcycle, staggering slightly as she hadn’t recovered her balance . Just then, Chen Nian accidentally staggered into a pedestrian behind her, her foot stomping on the pedestrian’s foot and her guitar case crashing into the pedestrian’s face . Chen Nian immediately whipped around, “So……Sorry . ”

The male pedestrian was flanked by two others, “Don’t you have eyes?”

Bei Ye removed his helmet and swiftly hopped off his motorcycle, “Well, you clearly have eyes at the back of your head . ”

Chen Nian saw that Bei Ye had succeeded in angering the pedestrian . She immediately used her body to block Bei Ye and apologized profusely, “So……Sorr……”

Enraged, the pedestrian hollered, “Do you really stutter or do you simply not want to apologize . ”

Chen Nian could feel Bei Ye pushing against her – she wasn’t going to be able to hold him much longer .

Another pedestrian looked at Bei Ye and pondered for a bit before breaking out into a sudden, mocking smile, “Well, well… . Isn’t this Bei Ye? Isn’t your mum the whore and your dad a rap……”

Bei Ye pushed Chen Nian aside, a strange smile forming on his lips . He threw his keys to her, “Hold them for me . ”

Chen Nian hurriedly caught the keys, and gripped them tightly in her palm .

He did a cursory scan of the three pedestrians, before unleashing a sudden kick on the opposing party . Chen Nian’s eyes widened in surprise . She could no longer discern the reason for his sudden fight – is it because of himself, or is it because of her?

With the flames of war ignited, even the plastic chairs from the roadside stalls weren’t spared .

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The three pedestrians weren’t Bei Ye’s match, and were quickly defeated .

Bei Ye dusted his palms . Having totally lost all desire to eat at the restaurant, he returned to Chen Nian’s side and retried his helmet and keys from her . Perching himself onto the motorcycle, he inserted his keys and swiftly put on his helmet . He glanced at her whilst tightening the helmet straps, “Are you staying here to enjoy the show?”

Chen Nian hurriedly clambered onto the motorcycle .

When they reached a traffic junction, the traffic light suddenly turned red . The inertia caused her body to keep moving forward, and she found herself plastered against Bei Ye’s back, like two pieces of scallion pancakes on a frying pan .

The summer clothes were extremely thin . Coupled with the fact that the two of them were seated at such close proximity, Chen Nian wasn’t able to escape the smell of Bei Ye’s sweat . Slightly embarrassed, Chen Nian gingerly shifted her butt backwards . However, given that she was seated on the slope of the backseat on top of carrying a huge box at her back, the effect was minimal .

She froze on the spot .

The glow of the setting sun shone on them . The numbers on the timer of the red light gradually decreased with the passing of each second, from 153 to 59 . Finally, Bei Ye turned back to look at her, his gaze colliding into hers . He didn’t avert his gaze .

“You seem very surprised just now . ”

“I was……afraid……that you would……” Chen Nian pursed her lips, trying her best not to repeat the word ‘would’, and continued “get, beat, up . ”

“You thought that I was going to lose?” He raise his eyebrows, a cold smile forming on his lips .

“That day……”Chen Nian stammered, “The first time……”

He maintained his posture, with his head turned back towards her, his gaze meeting hers over his shoulder . Even though he knew what she wanted to say, he nevertheless chose to patiently wait for her to complete her sentence . Chen Nian continued, “I saw……you, you were……getting beat……up . ”

“I had a fever that day, and there were too many of them . ” He had a certain degree of pride in him . “Don’t you know the saying – ‘A wise man knows when to retreat . ’?”

“Oh . ” Chen Nian replied, nodding whilst supporting the helmet on her head .

Bei Ye looked at her for some time before concluding, “You look rather stupid . ”

Chen Nian: “……”

Having stared at each other for far too long, Chen Nian lowered her head, and asked softly, “You……you’re good at…… . at fighting?”

“That’s not a good thing?”

Chen Nian shook her lowered head gently, and raised it once more . Her clear gaze held his, and she declared, “I think… . . it’s good . ”

Bei Ye’s face betrayed no hint of any expression . He scrutinized her for some time before turning back . Chen Nian fell into silence .

When the light turned green, Bei Ye took a left turn .

Chen Nian pressed her lips together tightly . In order to reach her home, Bei Ye had to go straight .