Chapter 4: Time flies by when you’re young
Shu Yawang thought that she and Tang Xiao Tian will be together forever. Together for life, from birth to death, not one second more, not one second less.
The next morning at 6:30, Tang Xiao Tian bike over to Yawang’s home to pick her up. Shu Yawang fixes her uniform as she walks down the stairs. Secondary school’s uniforms are ugly, no, China’s school uniforms in general are ugly. They’re nowhere as beautiful as the uniforms from South Korea or Japan. Yawang will always think, the department of education always updates their teaching methods they acquired from overseas, why can’t they update the uniform fashion as well? There’s nothing wrong to dress your country’s students nicely. It’s been more than a decade and it’s still the same style; during the spring, fall, and winter, we will wear sports clothing, and during the summer we will wear a white T-shirt with a knee-length navy blue skirt. It’s so outdated! Shu Yawang tugs onto her skirt in frustration, if it wasn’t mandatory to wear our school uniforms on the first day, I will never wear this!
“What’s wrong? You don’t look so happy.” Xiao Tian asks with a smile.
“I hate wearing school uniforms.” She grumbles. Xiao Tian can’t help it but pinches her cheek.
“You look nice.”
“What clothes do I not look nice in?” She teases him with a smile. He smiles as he lowers his head, scratching his head in embarrassment.
“They all look nice, whatever you wear looks nice.” Yawang blushes from his answer. She raises her gaze to look at the boy in front of her, a handsome boy with a hint of blush on his cheeks. He’s also wearing the school uniform, a white T-shirt that looks big on him. He’s a tall, skinny kid, and Yawang also thinks that he look nice in whatever clothes he wear since he was little.
When they reach Xia Mu’s home, Xia Mu walks up to Yawang and she asks,
“Where’s your bicycle?”
“Don’t have one.”
“Then why did you say you want to bike to school together?” Xia Mu glance at her.
“I said I’m going to school with you.” Oh right, I think he said to go to school together, not to bike together. She turns her head to look at Xiao Tian.
“You take him.” He nods his head and pats the back seat of his bicycle.
“Get up.” He stands in place, as if he didn’t hear anything and continues to look at Yawang. Xiao Tian rubs his nose in embarrassment.
“I don’t think he wants me to take him.” Yawang sighs.
“Alright, I’ll take him.” Xia Mu gives a small smirk and sits at the back. She pushes her foot off from the ground and starts to pedal, Xia Mu’s hands clinging tightly onto her uniform. Tang Xiao Tian bikes behind them and he sees Yawang struggling from biking with two people’s weight.
“Xia Mu, it’s going to be a long road. Let me take you, Yawang won’t be able bike the whole way like this.” Xia Mu glares at him, then turns his head back to ignore him. Xiao Tian hadn’t seen a kid so stubborn before. Yawang sees how dejected Xiao Tian looks and calls out to him,
“Xiao Tian, you lead me!”
“Okay!” He pedals to Yawang’s side and she rests one hand on his shoulder and her other hand steering the handlebar as he bikes everyone.
“I’m really fast right now!”
“You are slower compared to before.”
“Hey, I’m carrying one extra person today.”
“Hahaha, you go Xiao Tian! You’re invincible!” At the end, it’s Tang Xiao Tian who’s the most tired.
The L City Secondary School has been around for more than a hundred years, maintaining an old architectural style. There are two clean paths that have pine trees within every couple of meters. The school garden consists of many varieties of flowers and plants. Each of them will have a small wooden sign that have their names and characteristics.
The school is separated into two buildings; one for middle school and one for high school. High school consists of three grades and each grade holds twelve classes. They all occupy four floors of the building, each floor consisting three classes. Class One of every grade was determined from the grades that the students have earned from last semester’s final examination. Class One consists of the top thirty students, deeming them as the honor class. The other students are distributed evenly among the other eleven classes according to their averages. Shu Yawang and Tang Xiao Tian are in Junior Year Class Seven, their classroom located at the end of the third floor. When you look out from the hallway of the third floor, you can see the school playground at your right, surrounded with sycamore trees, all with their leafy, green leaves.
“Xiao Tian, Yawang, over here!” Zhang Jing Yu yells out from the classroom. They walk into the classroom, seeing Jing Yu sitting in the last row. They walk towards him when a male student grabs Xiao Tian’s arm to greet him. Yawang didn’t wait for him and sits down on the seat in front of Jing Yu. She is drinking from her water bottle when Jing Yu shakes her shoulder.
“Hey Yawang, did you know? You’re the flower of our class!” Yawang is very close in spitting out the water.
“Shocked right?! I’m shocked too.” Zhang Jing Yu says with a depressed look.
“We only have eight girls in the class and you’re the prettiest out of all of them. This is a tragedy!” It turns out that the school starts to separate the students into the liberal arts or science classes, and half the female students choose liberal arts. There are only four liberal arts classes, and the rest of the female students are distributed evenly among the rest of the eight science classes. Every science class has at least ten female students, with Class Seven having the least, only eight female students. Yawang scratches her head and smiles.
“What tragedy? I think it’s pretty nice.”
“Bullcrap, of course you would think it’s nice. If I’m in a classroom with eight boys and thirty girls, I will think it’s nice, really nice.” Jing Yu grumbles while hitting his desk. Tang Xiao Tian walks over to them and sits at the seat right next to Yawang.
“What’s with him?”
“Nothing.” Yawang turns her head and looks around the classroom. A classroom full of boys, hehe. Half of them look nice, a portion of them are pretty handsome, and very few are extremely good-looking. I hit the jackpot!
“Yawang!” Xiao Tian calls out as he wave his hand in front of her face.
“What’s with her?” He asks Jing Yu when she didn’t give a response.
“She’s enjoying it!” Jing Yu coldly replies.
“How lucky she is!” Pak. A book hits Jing Yu’s head.
“I’m not like you.” Yawang glares at him.
“Oh really? Then go wipe off the saliva on your face.” Jing Yu replies back indifferently.
“Yawang!” Xiao Tian looks at her. “Don’t look at anyone.” Her heart melts when he tells her to not look. Fine, I won’t look, the most handsome boy in our class is Tang Xiao Tian anyway. Zhang Jing Yu sighs out loud. There is a loyal dog protecting the prettiest girl in the class, I’m going to transfer.
When it’s about time to start class, their homeroom teacher walks in. He is a thirty-something year old man. The first thing he says is,
“All the girls sit at the front. Who’s the prettiest girl here?” Yawang points to herself. The prettiest girl? Is he referring to me? When she sees their teacher nodding his head, she stands up.
“My name is Shu Yawang.”
“Great, then you’ll be the class president.”
That statement receives many criticisms from the male students.
“Teacher, you’re too biased! Caring about the girls and not the boys!” Yawang blushes slightly, it’s her first time that she considers herself pretty. Their homeroom teacher’s last name is Cao and he teaches English. Teacher Cao will not allow the students to speak in Chinese during his class, and his lessons are taught in English only, not caring if the students understands or not. He loves to pick students to answer his questions during his lessons, and he picks Yawang the most. She is going crazy because of this, her English grade is not good, so she struggles when she is picked to answer his questions. Teacher Cao will patiently wait for her to finish answering his question before letting her sit back down. Ever since then, she will study and review the lessons in advance at home two to three times in order to answer his questions. Teacher Cao is very pleased with the results, feeling that this girl is improving steadily under his guidance. By the end of the semester, her English grade rises up and she even earns a 100 on a test!
Zhang Jing Yu personally didn’t like Teacher Cao, always calling him a pervert who only picks the girls to answer his questions and even giving a few extra points on their tests. Tang Xiao Tian glares at Zhang Jing Yu when he say it’s nonsense that Yawang got a 100.
“It’s nonsense that she got a 100 on the test, that’s a fact.”
“How’s that a fact? I earned it!” She retorts as she grabs a ruler and hits his head with it.
“Huh.” Jing Yu crumbles up his English test with a score of 59 into the trash bin.
“Stupid man, can’t he just give me a passing grade instead of a 59?”
“Just get a 60 next time.” Yawang stands on a chair and starts to draw a girl reading a book with a blue chalk.
“Ha! I’ll just get a 59 next time! I love the number 59.”
“Go, no one is stopping you.” She throws down the blue chalk and extends her hand out to Xiao Tian.
“The yellow one.”
Tang Xiao Tian hands her a yellow chalk from the case. Zhang Jing Yu throws his backpack over his shoulder.
“You’re not going to play ball, Xiao Tian?” He urges him.
“Wait for awhile, Yawang is not done yet.”
“She still have half a board to go.”
“Then you go first.” Xiao Tian replies back immediately. In his heart, if Yawang needs him, whether it’s something simple like fetching her colored chalks, he will stay with her. Yawang turns her head to face him and smiles.
“Go play, I handle it on my own.”
“No buts. Your lady is telling you to go, so go.” Jing Yu interrupts, pulling Xiao Tian away by the arm. Xiao Tian turns his head as he is pulled by him.
“When you’re done, go to the playground to find me.”
“I know.” She waves goodbye a them. Zhang Jing Yu shakes his head as he walks.
“I can’t stand you two. You guys are always together from day to night, aren’t you tired of it?” Xiao Tian gives a shy smile, revealing two dimples onto his cheeks.
“No, not tired of it.” Jing Yu sees his smile and feels a little envious.
“I can’t stand you.” He says, punching him on the arm. As the two boys quarrel while walking down the stairs, a little boy stands right before them. The little boy raises his head to look at them, locking eyes with Jing Yu. Jing Yu starts tapping against Xiao Tian’s arm.
“Yawang’s little brother.”
“Ah, Xia Mu. You’re looking for Yawang? She’s in the classroom.”
“I know.” Xia Mu says, walking up the stairs. The staircase is very narrow, and Xiao Tian is standing side by side with Jing Yu. When Xia Mu walks up, Xiao Tian shifts to the side to let him go.
“Hey, that kid is always so gloomy.” Jing Yu comments to Xiao Tian.
“He’s like that. He ignores everyone else except for Yawang.”
“Psh, hope I won’t become your love rival.” Jiang Yu tells Xiao Tian as he spins the basketball. Xiao Tian smiles as he look at his friend in bewilderment.
“What do you use your brain for? Having such unusual thoughts.”
“It’s just a precaution!”
In the classroom, Yawang continues to draw with the chalks. Throughout the semester, Teacher Cao have given her assignments to do as her position of being the class president. Even though some of the assignments are annoying to deal with, she feels useful. The feeling of being needed improves her grades and mentality. When she hears footsteps from behind, she turns her head, and reveals a smile when she sees who it is.
“You came? Didn’t I tell you not to wait for me?” Xia Mu walks closer to her, the corners of his lips lifting slightly.
“Mmm? What does that mean? Xia Mu, if you don’t talk, you’ll lose your ability to speak.”
“I want to wait.” He murmurs softly. Shu Yawang smiles back. This kid is turning more and more adorable.
“Okay, but you might need to wait for awhile. Go do your homework in the meantime.”
“Mmm.” He nods his head and looks around the classroom. The classroom is tidy and clean, with the exception of one desk that has books sprawled on the surface. He walks to the desk and flips to the first page of a book, the first page just consists of Yawang’s name. He sits down and gets his pencil out from his pencil case and starts to draw something under her name. Yawang draws a line over a ruler when she talks to Xia Mu.
“Let’s go eat some shaved ice later.” There’s no response from him, but she knows he won’t reject her.
“I heard the strawberry flavor tastes the best, but the pineapple flavor is not bad either. Later, I’ll get the strawberry, you get the pineapple, and we both share.”
“Mmm.” This kid, he still responds from time to time. In the classroom, all you can hear is chalk sliding across the blackboard. All you can see is young boy sitting in the front row and a teenage girl standing on a chair, both drawing something.
The winter of their junior year arrive early, all of the students are wearing thick coats to keep themselves warm. In the first few days, Yawang bikes to school, shivering under her coat from the cold. She don’t like being cold and ends up taking the shuttle bus to school. Tang Xiao Tian keeps biking to school since his father don’t want him to be spoiled by taking the shuttle bus. At least he didn’t make him walk to school. Tang Xiao Tian wakes up in 6:30 in the morning and starts biking around 6:50. By 7:20 he will see the shuttle bus arriving to the school entrance and Yawang will always pulls down the window and waves her arm out to him. He will bike faster to meet with her, wanting to see more of her smile. Around 7:30 he will go to his classroom with some breakfast that he had bought along the way. He takes off his hat and gloves as he walks towards Yawang. He places the breakfast on Yawang’s desk and push it towards her.
“Eat up or it’ll turn cold.” She smiles as she takes out the leek pie and soy milk out from the plastic bag. A pale stream of white steam rises up as she tears the pie into strips. She pokes a straw through the soy milk and sips from it.
“What about you?”
“I ate already while biking.” Xiao Tian is content looking at Yawang eating, it’s as if he’s the one drinking the soy milk.
“Want to drink some?” She extends her arm out to Xiao Tian, the straw facing his lips. He lowers his head and takes a small sip, warming his heart. His eyes twinkle as he smiles. Yawang pulls her arm back and takes another sip from the straw.
“Did you finish the math homework?”
“Mmm.” Xiao Tian looks at Yawang whose sipping from the same straw that he sipped. His eyes lower to her lips and his heart starts thumping in a fast pace. Her lips are really beautiful. He holds onto his hand, trying to control the urge to touch her lips.
“Let me copy it.”
“Oh, okay.” He takes out his math homework from his backpack and hands it over to her.
“You should do it yourself.”
“Can’t do it.” She answers with her eyebrows narrowed. She hates math, she can’t understand it.
“I will teach you, it’s actually pretty easy.”
“No, no, I’m an art student. The math section won’t count for me in the college entrance exam so I’m not going to do it. I’m just doing it for the teacher.” She lowers her head as she starts getting her books out from her backpack. She takes out her English book and keeps searching for her math book. Tang Xiao Tian picks up her English book and flips to the first page. He sees her name written on top of the page. He likes her handwriting; every semester he will have her write his names on his books. She will have both her books and his books side by side as she writes their names. Xiao Tian will look at her while she writes them.
Shu Yawang, Shu Yawang, Shu Yawang.
Tang Xiao Tian, Tang Xiao Tian, Tang Xiao Tian.
During that moment, it feels like it’s just them two in the world. This feeling of being so close makes him happy. His eyes peer down onto the page and he sees a drawing of a military tank.
“Why did you draw a military tank on your book?”
“I didn’t draw it, Xia Mu did.”
“Why did he draw a military tank?”
“Haha, I taught him that. It’s not bad right? I only taught him once and he’s able to draw it so nicely.” Xiao Tian’s finger points down to the bottom of the military tank. Xia Mu’s name is written underneath and for some reason, he feels uncomfortable about it.
“Why is his name there?” His name looks like it was typed onto a computer.
“Probably as a signature.” Xiao Tian rubs his fingers against the page. For some reason, when he sees Yawang and Xia Mu’s name together, he feels uncomfortable and have the urge to erase his name.
“Okay, found it.” Yawang’s voice startles him and he looks back at her. She takes out a small, circular plastic medicine kit and opens the case.
“Give me your hand.”
Tang Xiao Tian extends his hand out with his palm facing up. Yawang pulls his hand and turns it to the other side. His fingers are red from the cold and she places some cream onto her finger before rubbing it against his.
“If I don’t take care of you, you’re going to get frostbite this year.” She mutters as she rubs the cream onto his fingers. Tang Xiao Tian bites his lips and he can feel the palm of his hand getting warmer and he can’t stand it.
“Yawang, Yawang….” He speaks softly. Yawang stops with what’s she doing and looks up to him.
“I….I-” The school bell rings, signalling the class to start. Tang Xiao Tian blushes and pulls his hand away before grabbing his backpack and running to his seat. Yawang looks at him with a smile. Even if he didn’t finish saying it, she knows what he’s trying to tell her. During morning class, the sky starts to sprinkle some snow onto the ground. To children, snow is like a winter’s surprise, the best gift winter can give to them. They can forgive the freezing temperature of winter because of the snow. The students run to the windows and place their faces against them as they look at the snow.
“It’s snowing, it’s snowing!” Shu Yawang raises her head and looks at the windows. It’s snowing, it’s so beautiful.
Their winter break is a couple of days long, but is soon overtaken by tutorial classes. In the morning they will take language classes, afternoon they will take chemistry and physics, and in the evening they will take specialized courses. Shu Yawang is paralyzed from the amount of classes they’re taking. The teachers start to lecture in a more grave tone and raises their expectations from their students. The amount of assignments increases and the class’ atmosphere turns more gloomy. The students slowly realize they’re reaching the turning points of their lives. Yawang looks over to the right where the high school seniors take their classes. Next year is going to be us. Yawang’s grade improve in her junior year; other than math, she passes every subject, especially in English where she earn above a 90. Tang Xiao Tian is placed third in the final exam and gets to sit in the honors class for senior year.
However, after the first two days of their senior year, Xiao Tian moves back to the regular Class Seven.
“Xiao Tian, why did you come back? Class One is not good for you? Or are you being bullied?” Teacher Cao asks him out of curiosity. Xiao Tian scratches his head as he sits on his seat.
“No, Teacher. It’s just that I like Class Seven. I like the class, I like the people, and I like the teacher. I can’t bear to leave, hehe.”
“No, Teacher, he’s lying. He just misses the class flower!” Zhang Jing Yu cries out. All the students smack their hands on their desks as they laugh from Jiang Yu’s outcry. Xiao Tian’s face starts to blush and Yawang covers her mouth to shield her laughter. From that moment, Shu Yawang thought that she and Tang Xiao Tian will be together forever. Together for life, from birth to death, not one second more, not one second less.
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