Chapter 4: The Model Student’s Failed Speech
Just like that, a tense day of school ended. Everyone left to their own pressing matters- extracurriculars, tutoring, homework- each walking their own ways.
The warm sun fidgeted in the west sky. It wasn’t as hot as it was at noon; rather, the sun melted to a dark cherry, hidden by the wisps of evening clouds.
Even so, its summer rays blistered the soil, cooking the sidewalks to a crisp.
“It’s so hot!”
I wiped the sweat from my forehead.
I despise summer and winter—spring and autumn are more to my tastes.
The logic is simple: Spring is when everything comes to life.
Plants rip through the dirt, sprouting energy from its cores. Animals prance with joy after a hard, freezing winter. The world awakens, and yawns- beginning a new year, a new era.
Autumn is the season of harvest.
Crops straighten their stems, showing off their lustrous fruit; animals lick their newborns, relaxing in the cool wind. The world stops, and lies back- reclining in bliss and tranquility.
And what about summer and winter? What’s to praise about those?
If you’re not burning to death, you’re freezing to death. Two bloody, murderous seasons.
In the summer, I only stay at my air-conditioned house, the air-conditioned classroom, the air-conditioned cafeteria, the air-conditioned cram school…. All facilities with air-conditioning.
Watching my energetic classmates down at the artificial field, I couldn’t comprehend why they would do this to themselves.
Girls swung their rackets in the otherwise cooler badminton courts, chasing a misshapen ball back and forth. After a while of tussling, a heavy smash concludes the round.
People, balls, chasing, tussling.
Basketball and badminton are enjoyed by boys and girls respectively. With so much in common, they might as well be the same sport.
Foolish sports, foolish humans, and foolish me.
I sighed heavily, and straightened my back.
My head spun, and I felt like having a heat stroke.
I lifted my head slightly, and looked at the person who wanted to drag me out here so badly.
Her snow-white blouse fit her perfectly, accenting the curves on her body. Below, she wore a black skirt just above her knees, revealing a pair of straight, pale legs.
Her expression didn’t reveal much, except for those two large, glassy eyes that stared at me nonstop.
Her clear, innocent face was truly beautiful.
Even though she seemed like someone I knew, I couldn’t think of anything. Her relationship to me was like a huge blank.
She turned, and stepped forward. Her eyes didn’t move one bit, nor did she say anything.
I felt extremely uncomfortable. Under her dead stare, I didn’t feel any sense of privacy whatsoever.
She stepped again, and leaped in front of me. Her innocent face stuck in front of mine.
I couldn’t endure this bizarre encounter anymore, and spoke up.
“Uh… Classmate, do you need anything? Why did you bring me here?”
I moved backward instinctively. She stood so close, I could smell the faint scent of lilies on her breath. Little beads of sweat formed on her pale forehead.
Her thin lips parted.
She stepped forward again, but her expression still didn’t change.
Right when I tried to step backward again, she suddenly shot forward, pinching my cheek.
I was simply shocked, and tried to lift her arm away.
“Am…. I dreaming?”
She murmured. The light in her eyes changed.
Then, she hesitated, and started twisting my face.
“Ouch, ouch! Classmate, what are you doing?”
I yelled, and pushed her hand off.
A faint, purple bruise started forming near my eye. I could only retreat a few feet backwards.
“Fan Lu*, I…. Finally…. Finally…. Found you…”
*This girl spoke Lu Fan’s (our MC) name incorrectly, because she was relying on the false personal data he gave to the police. To hide his identity, Lu Fan flipped his real name backwards and gave that to the authorities.
She moaned softly.
In the blazing summer heat, with countless leaves slapping her head, the shoujo let loose an incredible grin of satisfaction.
Hearing those two words, I felt like my head was suddenly hit really hard. The peaceful afternoon was ripped from my sight. My mind was thrown back to two months ago, and my eyes could only see that unforgettable scene.
The terrifying height, my torn elbow….
To explain what’s happening right now, we need to cut back to twenty minutes ago—
We were in line.
The entire grade of first-years* filed into the massive lecture hall in neat, organized lines.
The hall was designed in the style of Middle-Ages Europe. There were walls of dark brick, a pair of Gothic pillars, and a giant studded clock right behind the podium.
Huge arches supported a space that can hold tens and thousands of students. French elongated windows stood gallantly at the sides, and the ceiling held a grand chandelier.
Often, the school would host extracurriculars, assemblies, and other activities here. From talent shows to poem contests, from schoolwide alumni lectures to movie galleries.
Our school’s infrastructure funds were all donated by education departments and parents. It started building massive projects long before I was born, and always made me feel truly blessed every time I stepped into its historical towers.
But today’s assembly was the most useless event of all year.
Normally, I would hide in a corner, and try to cram some lessons and memorize some vocabulary. Unfortunately, this year our class was put in the front row, kept by the watchful eye of the department heads.
First, the assistant principal. Then, the education department head. After, the grade representative. They all droned on about the same things: Manage your time, study hard, prepare for your senior exams, take pride in the school.
Next, is something even worse. The student who scored #1 in midterms comes on stage, and gives a speech about their own study habits.
It seems like something worth listening to, isn’t it? Someone sharing their secrets for everyone to hear?
Nope, this is all a waste of time.
The draft she’s reading off of, was reviewed and heavily edited by the staff. If there was one thing out of place, it was definitely kicked off. It wasn’t any different from what the executives were saying before.
Then again, why would a model student share their own keys to success? It’s not like they don’t have any competitors. They must have nightmares of people succeeding them every day.
Listening to her dull speech, my eyelids started drooping quickly. I started to doze off on Guotong’s shoulder.
Guotong swallowed loudly.
“Are you hungry or something?”
Guotong swallowed again, and licked his lips.
Are they serving snacks this year? I turned my head, and looked back. There was no one standing except for some strict-faced education officials.
“You need to study well before class, and listen to the teacher constantly. Reviewing your notes is also very important….” The clear, crisp voice of a girl slammed into my eardrums.
A beautiful girl?
I sat up straight, and stared at the model student on the podium.
Weird, I’ve never seen her before. The student who scored #1 in midterms should be some guy, Wang-something.
Why do I feel like I’ve seen this girl before…?
I squinted, and looked at the slender girl.
I remember saying once: “This clear, innocent face, was truly beautiful.”
I looked at the swallowing Guotong.
This idiot. He stared at the girl with wide eyes, and a disgusting smile. The edges of his mouth tilted slightly, and a thin line of drool streamed down his jaw.
I pushed the completely infatuated Guotong in scorn.
This guy… What else is in his thick skull besides games and girls?!
As the girl kept on reading, she glanced downwards.
Yep, she’s definitely looking at Guotong.
“Stop doing that. Control yourself, man!”
I tried to wake him from his dumb daydream.
He realized his rudeness, and regained seriousness.
I smiled apologetically to her.
“It’s important to do your homework…. Every…. Day…”
The thin drafts slid out of her hands.
She stared blankly at Guotong, and Guotong stared back, baffled.
The teacher saw that something was wrong, and ran up to the stage.
What happened next, was completely unexpected. She pushed the teacher away, jumped off the podium, and charged towards Guotong.
Then, she grabbed my hand tightly. In front of everyone.
Oh God, why me?!