It’s a Courtyard House
Man Qingxuan stared at the skirt, her eyes shining, “Wen Le, did you strike it rich?”
Bao Xiaofan denied this speculation, saying, “No, her scholarship hasn’t come in, and Wen Le just donated her royalty. She shouldn’t have struck it rich…”
“Your dad’s allowance, right?” Cheng Hui said with a tone that seemed to see through everything. “Tell me, how much discount did you get at the mall today?”
Man Qingxuan suddenly realized and complained, “Wen Le, you’re not being fair. You didn’t even invite us to the mall sale.”
Bao Xiaofan said, “Ah, my first thought when I saw this skirt was that a guy had given it to you. If I didn’t know you better, I would think you had a boyfriend.”
Wen Le hesitated, “I…”
I just happened to have started dating a guy…
Wen Le was about to reveal the truth when the dormitory door was pushed open and Ai Fei walked in.
For some reason, whenever Wen Le saw Ai Fei, she was reminded of the initial conversation with the teacher. Although there was no confirmation that Ai Fei was behind it, the seed of suspicion was planted, and it was easy for resentment to grow.
Wen Le looked at Ai Fei and stopped talking.
Bao Xiaofan, Man Qingxuan, and Cheng Hui greeted Ai Fei as she entered but then shifted to other topics as if by unspoken agreement.
Wen Le also greeted Ai Fei as usual. Perhaps Ai Fei thought that Wen Le still didn’t know who was responsible, so she acted as if everything was normal, chatting and laughing like before.
Ai Fei also noticed the skirt in Wen Le’s hands.
Although Ai Fei usually left early and returned late, appearing completely devoted to her studies, she was also well-informed about the popular brands on the market. She could even name many of them in casual conversation.
Ai Fei was the one who received financial aid but actually used luxury skincare products. Her skincare products were all around a thousand yuan each, but she kept them well hidden.
The outermost layer on her desk was filled with inexpensive hand sanitizers, hand creams, and various small bottles, giving the impression that she was living frugally. However, hidden behind this outer layer were high-end skincare products, mostly from luxury brands.
Ai Fei was the person in Room 307 who used the most expensive skincare products, apart from Sun Youmei.
Of course, all of Wen Le’s skincare products were gifts from her aunt, and they had no logos, so they couldn’t be compared in terms of branding.
When Ai Fei saw the skirt in Wen Le’s hands, she exclaimed, “Wow, Wen Le, this skirt must be a limited edition from their brand. Gao Shijing wore one like it, and I’ve seen people dissect it online; it must be around six thousand.”
Gao Shijing was a popular rising star, known for her good fashion sense. Her outfits were often dissected and discussed by online influencers.
Wen Le smiled and didn’t say anything, placing the skirt inside her wardrobe.
Ai Fei put down her bag and started packing up her stuff, but her eyes were fixed on Wen Le’s wardrobe the entire time.
Wen Le frowned uncomfortably. She didn’t know if it was psychological, but ever since she started suspecting Ai Fei, she felt like she had changed, becoming somewhat unsettling.
As Wen Le pondered over Ai Fei’s odd behaviour, she forgot to tell her roommates about her situation with Zhou Kao at the moment. After finishing her routine, she noticed her vibrating phone on the desk.
The contact name for Zhou Kao in Wen Le’s phone had changed from “Zhou Kao” to “Playboy,” and now it was reduced to just a set of numbers.
Wen Le was quite sensitive to numbers; she had memorised Zhou Kao’s phone number a long time ago. So when she saw that sequence of numbers, she immediately recognized it as Zhou Kao’s phone number.
Since their classes were different on alternating weeks, and tomorrow being Monday they had the first two periods of classes in the morning, they didn’t talk for long. After reminding Zhou Kao not to forget his medication, Wen Le was about to hang up.
Suddenly, Zhou Kao asked, “Do you like the skirt?”
Wen Le recalled the red skirt and replied with a smile, “When did you buy it?”
Zhou Kao answered, “I saw it when I had dinner with my senior last time. This skirt reminds me a lot of the one you cut apart previously.”
Wen Le asked, “You still remember how that skirt looked?”
Zhou Kao said, “I remember every single one of your looks.”
Wen Le’s lips curled slightly, “Alright, I like it.”
Zhou Kao’s lips curled too, “Show it to me next time.”
Wen Le responded, “Let’s see how you behave.”
Wen Le hung up the call and got into bed. Cheng Hui turned over and yawned, casually remarking, “Are you so busy lately? Anyone who doesn’t know might think you’re in a relationship.”
She continued to chuckle while staring at her phone screen.
Wen Le: …..
This human lie detector is not as sharp anymore.
The next day, the class leader talked about signing up for this year’s autumn sports meet. The sports meet mainly involved freshmen and sophomores, with freshmen being the primary participants. The sophomores had fewer slots available, so the class leader suggested that students who hadn’t participated last year should sign up enthusiastically.
Since Wen Le was in charge of holding signs last year, she didn’t participate in the events. She directly registered for a short-distance running event.
When Wen Le returned to her dorm, she started rummaging through her clothes. Cheng Hui walked past her with a bottle of milk, asking, “What are you looking for?”
Wen Le replied, “Clothes to wear for the sports meet.”
Cheng Hui asked, “What about the sportswear you wore in physical education class?”
Wen Le pulled out a pair of black pants from the wardrobe. “I think these are a bit tight. They’re okay for physical education class, but for sprinting, they might restrict my movement.”
Cheng Hui’s eyes lit up with an idea. She played the role of a human microscope, rummaging through Wen Le’s pile of clothes, and pulled out a gray pair of sports shorts. “Yeah, these are good.”
Wen Le looked at the shorts and then realised that these were the comfortable, elastic shorts she had bought online. She originally got them for wearing in the dorm during the summer. However, when they arrived, she found that while the fabric was good, they seemed shorter than she expected. Later, because they seemed comfortable to wear as pajamas, she had left them untouched, and she hadn’t worn them yet.
Seeing the sports shorts, Wen Le frowned and hesitated, “This… won’t it be too short?”
Cheng Hui rolled her eyes, “Come on, this is a proper sports shorts. There’s no compromise on quality. It means everyone wears them like this.”
With a slightly disdainful tone, Cheng Hui patted Wen Le’s arm and said, “Others can wear them. Why do you have so many concerns?”
“Comfort that can win awards is more important, right?”
Wen Le nodded, “You’re right.”
Leaning against the wardrobe with her arms crossed, Cheng Hui scrutinized Wen Le from head to toe and said, “You’re a young lady, but you dress like an old-fashioned person. I’ve known you for so long, and I’ve never seen you wear super short shorts. It’s either long pants or long skirts. Tsk tsk, so old-fashioned.”
Wen Le chuckled, “It’s not that I can’t wear them, I just prefer this style.”
Cheng Hui commented, “Do you know the direct consequence of this style you’re sporting?”
Wen Le asked, “What?”
Cheng Hui replied, “Everyone is saying that you don’t show your legs because they’re ugly, thick, and bent.”
Cheng Hui took a sip of her milk and continued, “So, all those department and school beauties who are competing with you for the title of the campus belle love showing off their legs.”
Wen Le laughed, “Didn’t I wear a qipao last time that exposed my legs?”
Cheng Hui replied, “Beauty, your qipao covered till your ankles in the front. What could you see from that side slit? So…”
Squinting her eyes and clenching her fist, Cheng Hui was determined, “You should show everyone that there’s absolutely nothing imperfect about you.”
Wen Le put the clothes away and closed the wardrobe, “you’re childish.”
Cheng Hui asked, “So, are you going to wear it?”
Wen Le said, “Yes, why not? The competition comes first, everything else second.”
Cheng Hui snapped her fingers, “Beautiful.”
When Wen Le closed the wardrobe, the keys hanging on the lock swung slightly. She immediately noticed the two familiar keys – one big and one small. Wen Le took off the keys, gently touched them, and became lost in memories.
Wen Le remembered it was the summer vacation during her senior year of high school when she received a call from the local post office, saying her acceptance letter had arrived and she should come to collect it.
Since she lived in a mountainous area where express delivery was inconvenient, she rode her bicycle and took her ID card to the post office to pick up the package.
After a sweaty ride, she returned home with excitement, waving the document in her hand and shouting, “Grandpa! Dad! My acceptance letter is here!”
Her grandfather and father came out of the study, wearing satisfied smiles. Then, they went back to the study, each holding a small box, and told Wen Le, “These are your gifts.”
Wen Le opened the two small boxes with delight, only to find two keys inside. She was curious and somewhat disappointed, so she asked, “What are these keys for?”
Her father just smiled and said, “You’ll know when the time comes.”
Wen Le responded with an “Oh,” thinking that these keys were like a metaphorical encouragement, something like “unlocking the unknown doors.” She didn’t think much of it and slightly disappointedly put the keys away, hanging them on her keychain as if they were a kind of talisman.
But now, after the conversation with her father yesterday, Wen Le suddenly wondered if her family’s financial situation had changed. Could these keys be more than just symbolic? Could they actually represent a tangible gift?
Thinking about this, Wen Le’s eyes widened.
Cheng Hui noticed that something was wrong with Wen Le and asked, “What’s going on?”
Wen Le’s voice trembled as she replied, “Hang on, I…I need to make a call.”
Cheng Hui, sensing the urgency, also became anxious, wondering if something important had come up for Wen Le.
Wen Le took out her phone and found her grandfather’s number in her contacts. To be honest, after her father’s words yesterday, she still felt a strong sense of unreality. She took a deep breath and slowly dialed the number.
At that moment, there were only Wen Le and Cheng Hui in the dorm room. Seeing Wen Le’s nervous appearance, Cheng Hui put down the milk in her hand, sat down beside her, and accompanied her.
Each ring of the phone seemed unusually long. Wen Le took a deep breath, trying to calm her nerves. After a faint electronic noise, the call connected.
Wen Le carefully placed the phone to her ear and began by asking about her grandparents’ well-being. Grandpa Wen, Wen Bingqiu’s voice came through the speaker.
He had missed his granddaughter, who hadn’t been seen in a while. Though separated by distance, his affection was evident in his patient tone during the phone call.
After confirming her grandparents were doing well, Wen Le got to the main point. She hesitated to speak, her mouth opening and closing.
Grandpa Wen huffed and said, “Why beat around the bush? Just say it directly.”
With determination, Wen Le bit her lip and asked directly, “Grandpa, what did the key you gave me on the day I got my acceptance letter in the summer vacation of my senior year of high school mean?”
Grandpa Wen huffed a couple more times, his tone quite casual. “Oh, that’s the key to a courtyard near the east side of the Forbidden City. Why? Have you finally decided to visit it?”
Wen Le’s heart trembled slightly. She felt her grandfather’s words today were much more provoking than what her father had said yesterday.