Posted 2018.07.13

17.1

Practical Training

Right as I was in the middle of my deed, Zhong Yuan opened his pair of sinister eyes.

Startled, my hand trembled, and the stamp I was holding fell onto the back of Zhong Yuan’s hand. When my senses came back to me, he’d already picked up the stamp and started inspecting it. He touched the ink on his face with his fingers and looked up at me. I felt myself go cold… Oh no, crap. I’d been found out. Zhong Yuan, if you’re going to kill me or cut off a body part, please give a warning…

Zhong Yuan held the stamp between his fingers, and then he gave a strange laugh. He brought the stamp up to my face and said, “You’re really childish.”

I took back the stamp and waited for his punishment. A long time passed, and I was getting sleepy, but he still hadn’t said anything. He just kept reading that book of his. And those fiery red lips continued to sit on his face.

I found it very strange. Even if he was being generous and didn’t want to squabble over it, he must have known that there was something on his face, right? I kindly reminded him, “Your face…”

“I know.” Zhong Yuan’s head was lowered as he replied calmly, “But I think it probably doesn’t look bad.”

I didn’t understand. “And?”

Zhong Yuan answered, “And so I don’t plan on cleaning it off right now.”

I was speechless.

I started to suspect that Zhong Yuan and I weren’t people of the same planet. Why were there so many embarrassing and frustrating things that he did without a second thought? And he did them so calmly too. How strong was his mind and how thick was his skin for him to do that?!

But, whatever. I wasn’t the one getting embarrassed.

And so, Zhong Yuan spent the afternoon with fiery red lips on his face as he read ‘Psychology Of Love’…

When I went to the cafeteria for dinner, I happened to see Lu Zijian. Goodness, my Lu Zijian! I carried my tray over to his table and sat across from him. Zhong Yuan could only sit down beside me.

I greeted Lu Zijian sweetly, and he returned a friendly smile. Then his gaze shifted over to Zhong Yuan, who still had those bright red lips stamped on his face. Lu Zijian’s expression turned bashful and a bit embarrassed, which in turn made me feel a bit strange. I told him, “Senior Lu, ignore Zhong Yuan. That guy’s completely crazy.”

With his thick skin, Zhong Yuan calmly replied, “I wonder who the crazy one really is, attacking when I was asleep.”

Hey, hey, hey! Were you even asleep? You were obviously faking it to lure me into committing a crime!

Just then, two figures appeared behind Lu Zijian. They were the Passersby seniors. After they sat down, Zhong Yuan looked up, revealing the ostentatious lips on his face, and the boys’ eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. After Passerby A came back to his senses, he took another look at Zhong Yuan’s face and sniggered. Then he gave a long sigh as he turned to me.

I trembled, unable to even hold my chopsticks steady. Passerby A’s gaze… What did it mean?

And then Passerby B lowered his head and poked his chicken leg. With a shake of his head, he sighed, “Young people nowadays, ah…”

I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. I tried to explain, “It wasn’t me…”

But Zhong Yuan looked me up and down and asked, “Can you really say that it wasn’t you?”

I didn’t know what to say anymore.

Zhong Yuan, can you not blindly jump in? You don’t even know what these guys are thinking, OK?! I glared at him and tried to explain again. “I mean, it’s not what you’re imagining…”

Passerby A feigned innocence and smiled at Passerby B. “What did we imagine?”

I opened my mouth but didn’t know how to start. In the end, I lowered my head, feeling utterly wronged, and continued to eat my food without talking.

Those two guys had some propriety in speech at least, since they didn’t try to continue the topic any more. Instead, they started talking about something else, which I was very interested in, because it had to do with Lu Zijian.

So, every year, the school requires that first and second year students must complete ‘practical training’,1 which counts towards our grades. This so-called ‘practical training’ requires that students form their own group and pick out a topic that they’ll further investigate. A few days ago, my roommates and I were talking about wanting to form a group together, but there were no interesting topics. Anyway, this practical training was precisely what Passersby A and B were currently discussing.

The boys were discussing whether they wanted to join Lu Zijian, who had formed a group for a project to investigate the water pollution control process in a natural ecosystem. I looked to Lu Zijian excitedly and asked, “Senior Lu, can I join too?”

Before Lu Zijian cold answer, Zhong Yuan cut in, “Nope. You’re working with me.”

Angrily, I asked, “Says who?”

Zhong Yuan replied simply, “I’m the boss.”2

I couldn’t say anything to that.

Fine, I’ll admit that I’m a person who lacks integrity. Idols and whatever, they’re fleeting. Most important was being well-fed…

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