I will always remember that afternoon, catkins fluttering under the bright sun like snow in the hot summer, the boy stood on the basketball court and locked eyes with me. That was a rare bright moment in my long and boring life.
The first time I saw Xu Jiamu was on a fine afternoon. I didn’t know why I slept very deeply that day. When I woke up, it was almost time for class. I didn’t make it to school on time even though I ran all the way. The bell had already rung by the time I reached the concession stand.
I simply stopped running, bought the usual yogurt ice cream at the shop and nibbled on the way. I am a very old-fashioned person. For example, I have been using my favorite blanket that I was using since elementary school until now. No matter how far I had to walk, I always go that one restaurant I’m used to, and my favorite ice cream flavor had never changed. My mother often says that this is both a good and bad thing for me, I think so too.
There is an old willow tree in our school. It is said that it has existed since the establishment of the school. The lush tree looks very majestic and provides a good shade but I don’t feel that way in spring. When the catkins float into my hair and get into my nostrils, I just want to cut down that tree.
I was given a short lecture by the guard at the gate before I was allowed to go in. The first thing I did as I walked in was to protect the ice cream in my hand, for fear that the catkins would stick to it.
The sound of basketball slamming on the floor caught my attention. I looked over and saw a tall boy playing basketball alone. He was wearing a gray sweater and black sweatpants. His hair was a little long, his bangs just slightly covering his eyes. I couldn’t see his face clearly but I was not curious about that, I just felt admiration for this brother as a fellow student.
Really, I thought I was already pretty brave to not be in a hurry even though I was late. I didn’t expect that there were people who were not only in a rush and are even in the mood to play basketball.
Oh yes, and he’s not even wearing his school uniform.
I suddenly remembered the first class was English class and recalled the scary look on the English teacher’s face… I couldn’t help but shiver a little and hurriedly accelerated my pace and ran towards the teaching building.
I looked back before going up the stairs. The basketball drew a perfect arc in the air.
Wow, three points.
With that level of skill and that height, he might be in a sports club. Then I don’t think it’s strange for him to be out playing basketball during class time.
The basketball bounced on the ground a few times and rolled away. The boy suddenly turned around, and I was caught off guard and met his eyes.
He was not particularly good-looking, but it’s the type I like very much. He has a fresh and pure look. He didn’t seem to think that there was a girl peeking at him.. his expression was a little stunned.
I liked his eyes very much. They were the standard peach shaped eyes that looked really bright and clean, they looked as if there is always hope and vigor in them.
I quickly turned my eyes away and ran to the classroom, feeling flustered. Didn’t I just casually lock eyes with someone, what’s so special about that.
I don’t know what was special either.
I was quite lucky. It’s been five or six minutes since class started when I got to the classroom and the English teacher hasn’t arrived yet which was strange. She has always been the most punctual teacher and she usually arrives early.
As soon as I sat down, my deskmate poked at me, “What’s the situation, why are you late?”
“Overslept.” I replied impatiently. “What’s the matter, how come Sister Shao isn’t here yet?”
“Looks like her former students are here. She’s still in her office.”
I didn’t care who was coming. I only felt happy about not having an English class for the day. I actually do pretty well in school. I can rank first or second in my class, and be in the top 50 of my entire grade, but I just don’t like learning English. I don’t know why, maybe I’m too patriotic?
“Oh.” I lay on the table listlessly, inexplicably thinking of the boy just now, I wonder if he had returned to his classroom now…
“Be quiet.” Sister Shao walked into the classroom. I swear, I’ve never seen her smile so brightly like that from the time I started school. “Today, the senior brothers and sisters from the previous class I taught came to see me. This year, you all are in your second year of middle school and they are in their second year of high school, just about to sit for the exam. I invited them to come in and share some learning experiences with you guys.”
I was still lying on the table, not interested in what she was saying. My deskmate had already gotten used to my appearance and didn’t say anything, she just looked out of the classroom excitedly.
I don’t know what happened, all I could hear was the warm applause and the low voices of girls in the back murmuring, “He’s kind of handsome.”
I got a little interested so I lifted my head up and glanced at the podium indifferently. I bumped into the familiar eyes again and froze.
It was him, the one I thought was a sports student.
He also didn’t seem to expect to see me again, we both looked at each other for a few seconds, then looked away tacitly.
In addition to him, there were actually several other seniors, who introduced themselves one by one, from No.1 High school, No.33 High school…only he came from No.4 High school.
I snorted, I guessed correctly, he should really be a sports student. Strangely, he is from the worst school among them, but he seemed to be the most confident and outgoing one.
In fact, the learning experiences they shared were more or less the same. They were feeling awkward and we were getting bored.
Until it was his turn.
“I’m not good at studying so there’s nothing to say, just learn English well. Knowing English will save your life, really.” He said in a joking tone but it sounded really sincere, and the people listening were amused by him.
The English teacher also laughed, “Did you all think he was flattering me?”
No one answered, but they all thought so.
“He was very naughty in middle school. He didn’t study hard. He was bad at everything except English. If he didn’t get a 147 in the English test in the final high school entrance examination, he would not have been able to get into his current school.”
147… I’m speechless, it’s a score I couldn’t even dream about.
Hearing my name being called, I quickly stood up without thinking.
“Maybe you two can put your brains in a mixer? This kid is bad at everything except English and you are good at everything except English.”
My class broke into laughter and I felt my face burn a little.
I looked at him, and he was laughing too, looking at me with curved eyes, showing two tiger teeth.
What are you laughing at…
Fortunately, the teacher didn’t tease me too much. After saying a few words, she let me sit down. I didn’t show it on my face, but my heart kept pounding. I looked out the window and pretended not to care what they were saying, but my ears were secretly listening.
Sister Shao told us to ask the seniors about the difficulties we faced regarding our studies. Except for a few lively ones, no one took the initiative to speak up. When the class was about to end, a boy raised his hand boldly.
“Senior brothers and sisters! Are we allowed to fall in love in high school?!”
The English teacher gave him a glance with a fake smile, and then turned to the people on the podium with a look of gossip.
Maybe they didn’t expect that someone would ask this kind of question. The seniors exchanged looks with each other but no one stepped forward to speak.
He might have felt everyone’s embarrassment, so he opened his mouth, “Junior, there are also school rules in high school. High school students can’t fall in love early, don’t be too eager, wait until you’re in the university.”
Everyone laughed and the atmosphere improved again.
The class bell rang not long after, and Sister Shao said that those who wanted WeChats of the seniors to ask about their learning experience could ask for it. Many students rushed forward but I stayed where I was and didn’t move.
He has a good appearance and has the most people around, many of them are girls. I looked at their blushing faces and found it a little funny.
I was not making fun of their girlish feelings, I just thought since it was obviously impossible, why would they even entertain the idea.
I picked up my cup and went to the water room, I gave him one last look when I reached the front door and then walked out without looking back…
It’s the fourth time, the fourth time to meet his eyes. But I still didn’t say anything, I tightened my grip on the glass and entered the water room.
When I came back, the seniors had already left. It seemed they had a class reunion. I couldn’t explain why my heart felt empty.
“Jing Wei,” a girl who had a good relationship with me came over, “I noted down the contact information of all senior brothers and sisters, do you want them?”
I am very envious of her outgoing nature; I would never dare to ask someone for their contact information.
“Me? Forget it…” I hesitated, but still refused.
Maybe I was too good at pretending. In the eyes of others, not only am I good at my studies, I am the darling of the teachers. I don’t usually share my emotions with others. Except for the class flower, I have no other close friends so they thought I didn’t want the seniors’ contact because I was being narcissistic.
But the truth is, I am sensitive and suspicious, I’m just average in appearance and even a little fat. My best friend is the class flower, and all of her friends, each of them better-looking and more popular than the other. How am I arrogant, I clearly just wanted to hide the inferiority complex in my bones.
“Hey, I know you study well so you don’t need it, but don’t you need to improve your English? Why don’t you add that senior from No.4 High School and ask him how he studied?”
Ask the studying method…well, it makes sense. Yes, I just want to ask him how he studied English.
I pretended to be a little reluctant, “Um… okay, thank you.”
That string of ID was copied by me on the title page of my English textbook, next to my name. To this day it is still there, properly placed in the cardboard box where I kept the book.
I have quite the freedom with my cell phone, unlike most of my classmates, whose cell phones’ usage were strictly controlled by their families. My parents spend most their time arguing and fighting with each other to care about how long I’m using my phone.
I entered the string of numbers, hesitated when it was time to press the add friend button, before finally clicking on it. I watched the screen displayed that the friend request had been sent, and my heart trembled inexplicably.
He didn’t accept my request right away. I think they should be at the reunion at this time so he probably didn’t have time to look at his phone.
With his personality and appearance, he should have many friends.
I sat on the bus absentmindedly, checking my phone from time to time until I got off the bus. Unfortunately, he still hadn’t accepted my request. Sure enough, he was just giving out his WeChat at that time just to give the teacher face, how could he really want to associate with a group of naive middle school students.
I forced myself to stop thinking about it.
Anyway, it’s just asking for a studying method, it doesn’t matter if he accepted it now or later.
He accepted my request that night, but I was already asleep and didn’t see it.
The next day was the weekend and when I woke up, I saw several small red dots appearing on my rarely used WeChat app. It was him.
yee: “I’m sorry, the class reunion ran a little late, I just saw the request.”
yee: “Are you that little school tyrant?”
yee: “Tsk, young people going to bed so early…”
The corners of my mouth curved involuntarily.
Utopia: “Hello, senior.”
This time he replied very quickly.
yee: “Hello hello.”
yee: “Looking at your username, it seems you like philosophy?”
Utopia: “It’s okay, I prefer novels, I just like the title of the book.”
Maybe because of my young age and because i live in a small city, there are very few people I meet who likes reading. Most people don’t even know that my username is the title of Plato’s work, even fewer people ask me the meaning of my username… the fact that I can even talk a few words about it made me a little excited.
yee: “What a coincidence, I also like to read novels.”
yee: “Any favorite authors?”
Utopia: “Zweig, and Wang Xiaobo.”
yee: “A letter from a strange woman?”
Utopia: “Actually, I prefer The Anxiety of the Heart”
yee: “Not bad, but I don’t like that male lead.”
Utopia: “Me too!”
We chatted for a whole morning without realizing the time. I thought he was a sports student, and was in No.4 High School because he was not good at his studies. But I discovered that my assumption was wrong. He was very knowledgeable, he even said some of the works and passages that I’ve never heard of. I felt an indescribable joy, as if I had finally met my confidant in this era, my whole body and mind became soft, and the hairs on my body shivered with excitement…
I didn’t get out of this situation until my mother called me to eat, and I said goodbye to him with reluctance.
Utopia: “I’ll go offline first; let’s chat next time. Goodbye senior.”
yee: “I’m kinda happy that I met you.”
I know that he is just like me, happy to meet a confidant, but I still feel an inexplicable shyness, my face felt a little hot. I calmed down and solemnly typed in a few words.
Utopia: “Me too.”
Xu Jiamu, even if you were just being polite, from the bottom of my heart, I am really happy that I met you.
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