That’s life for You
T/L: Bright Eyes, TLC: Sol, E/D: Larkspur
That was the girl’s name. Huo Cheng had added her on WeChat and subsequently received the photographs she sent.
Fang Yichang, having finally found the important piece of evidence he needed, made sure to toss a sarcastic remark Huo Cheng’s way: “I’ll tell Lady that you added another girl on WeChat.” Huo Cheng ignored him, looking intently at the newfound contact on his phone. He thought it over carefully, and no matter how hard he churned the cogs of his mind, he really couldn’t find a Xu Huiling in his memory. And yet, when he first saw her, he was struck by a sense of familiarity. He ought to have seen her somewhere before…
Fang Yichang was only teasing, but when he saw him fixating on the girl’s WeChat, his heart pounded a little. “No way. Huo Cheng, you don’t have a crush on her, do you?”
The girl wasn’t bad-looking, but she was nothing compared to Lady Shen. Huo Cheng couldn’t have had a change of heart just like this, right?
“I’ll send a message to Lady right now.” Fang Yichang excitedly pinged Shen Wanying in the group chat.
Looking at the message he sent in the group chat, Huo Cheng promptly kicked him out.
Fang Yichang was, once again, struck speechless.
Oh, so being group admin makes him all-powerful, huh? Gets to kick people whenever he wants, huh?
It certainly seemed to be the case. 🙂
After Huo Cheng helped Fang Yichang get the evidence, he left the rest to him to deal with on his own. He went home, finished his dinner, and went upstairs to his room.
Lately, he had been studying on the phone with Shen Wanying every night. The truth was, she really hated school, although she hid it well. Her boredom and depression grew with every book she read and the questions she answered. And the only way she had to deal with it was to sing it out at karaoke every month. Now that she and Huo Cheng had a secret base, she had an avenue to release her stress every week instead. And studying didn’t seem as hard as it used to be when she was doing her homework with him.
Although they were far apart, over the phone she could hear the sound of his breathing, the sound of him flipping through the pages, the scratch of his pen on the question paper as if he were sitting right next to her. Today, he joined her a little later than usual, having been out with Fang Yichang.
The two had a special room, an audio call room, dedicated to doing homework together.
“I’m here,” Huo Cheng said, putting on his headset.
When Shen Wanying saw him log in and switch on his microphone, she asked him, “Did things work out?”
“Mm.” Huo Cheng casually opened a set of previous year’s papers and filled her in on how Tong Wenjing’s neighbour had seen her with a student from High School 2. “Let Fang Yichang take care of the rest himself.”
“Hmm.” Shen Wanying paused and seemed to want to say something.
Huo Cheng, sensing this, spoke up. “Don’t listen to Fang Yichang’s nonsense, I only added that girl on WeChat so she could send me the photo.”
There was a moment of silence before a peal of soft laughter reached his ears.
“That’s not what I wanted to talk about.”
“It’s just that … when I was singing at the KTV some time ago, I once saw Qiu Ziqing with a student from High School 2.”
At that time, she hadn’t thought much of it. Qiu Ziqing lived near High School 2, so it wasn’t strange that she knew someone who studied there. But she(QZ) was involved in this situation with Fang Yichang, so she must have had something to do with the students at High School 2.
“Yes, the person in the photo is also a student of High School 2. They’re probably in cahoots,” Huo Cheng said.
“Does Qiu Ziqing hate Fang Yichang that much?”
“Well, Fang Yichang is quite annoying.”
She had nothing to say to that.
Fang Yichang handed the evidence to the school. When Tong Wenjing saw the photos, her defences fell, and she came clean with the whole story.
She had leaked the exam questions to Sun Xinyi. Hard to believe as it may have been, she had actually been under threat from him. It started when she once unwittingly bumped into Sun Xinyi and some boys smoking cigarettes. She went up to them and reprimanded them, but she never imagined that she would have a cigarette butt thrown at her in retaliation.
Tong Wenjing was only a young teacher who had just graduated, and Sun Xinyi was a young man of almost 20 years old. They were teacher and student in name, but it was she(TW) who was at a disadvantage here.
From then, he made a habit of bullying her. During class, he and his friends would deliberately throw ink at her white shirt, make vulgar jokes about her, and block her on her way home.
Finally, they demanded the exam questions from her.
She gave in to them and told no one. She was afraid of Sun Xinyi and didn’t know what else he might do to her.
“Sun Xinyi is scum!” Fang Yichang cursed from the bottom of his heart, at lunchtime. The truth had come out, and his name cleared, but no one was in particularly high spirits.
“I heard from my dad that Miss Tong has left her job and seems to be planning to go back home,” said Ji Yao.
Zhao Yimeng sighed. “She’s so unlucky to meet a student like Sun Xinyi. She was threatened about this whole thing, surely she shouldn’t have to resign over it.”
“She’s just going back home to hide from Sun Xinyi,” said Fang Yichang.
The school finally expelled Sun Xinyi. This was an astronomical failure on his part; surely he wouldn’t seek out Tong Wenjing for revenge.
Zhao Yimeng sighed again and returned gloomily, “That’s life, I guess.”
Fang Yichang was silent for a moment, then said, “Don’t forget we have the re-test tomorrow.”
Ah, life. 🙂
On the day of the re-test, Tong Wenjing packed her things, checked out of the house, and prepared to leave City A. Xu Huiling saw her when she came back from school. Her house was empty, and all she had were two suitcases.
“Miss Tong, are you moving out?”
“Mmhm.” Tong Wenjing responded as she arranged her suitcases. “I’m going back home.”
Xu Huiling said nothing more, simply stood aside to watch her pack. Tong Wenjing zipped up her suitcase and walked out of the house.
“I’m going to catch the train.”
“Mm.” Xu Huiling stepped out of her way. Tong Wenjing dragged her suitcase to the lift and glanced back at her. “Xu Huiling.”
“Mm.” She acknowledged the older woman.
Tong Wenjing smiled. “I, ah, I’m such a coward. I hope you won’t be like me and can be brave when it matters.”
Xu Huiling watched her walk into the lift, in a light daze. A moment later the corners of her mouth curled up in an ironic smile.
Those are just pretty words that could be said by anyone.
She withdrew her gaze and walked towards her house. She had just reached the door when she heard the sound of things breaking inside. She calmly withdrew the hand that reached for the doorknob, walked to the neighbouring Apartment 706, and sat by the door.
The sound of things smashing had never stopped, not as far as she could remember. Her parents would fight every three days, yes, not one side getting beaten up, but two parties fighting each other. She never understood it, why wouldn’t they just get a divorce? It was as if they lost their memory after each fight. Their relationship would get better for a while, but it wasn’t long before they would start to find fault with each other again. As a child, she was often hurt (accidentally) in their crossfire. Thereon, she learned to read them and anticipate their fights and would leave preemptively to avoid being caught between them.
They had lived here for many years, and noises like this were fairly commonplace. None of the neighbours asked questions or came out to check on them.
Xu Huiling knew that the people who lived here were all from the bottom rung of the social ladder. They couldn’t even take care of themselves, let alone find time to care about others.
The lift dinged, and she heard the sound of lazy footsteps from afar. Xu Huiling raised her head in delight and looked at the approaching person.
“Xiang Chong-gege1A form of address one would use towards one’s older brother. Can be familial, but can also be used to address a male person who is older than yourself (but not old enough to address as uncle). Suggests a certain level of familiarity., you’re back.”
Xiang Chong glanced at the door of Apartment 707, then down at the young girl crouching by his door. “Are they fighting again?”
“Mm.” Xu Huiling stood up and looked up at him. “Xiang Chong-gege, can I come to your house to play?”
Xiang Chong had taken her in in a moment of kindness one rainy night, and his home had become her refuge ever since.
He was carrying a plastic bag in his hand, filled with some noodles and other food. He sighed and took out the key to open the door. “How many times have I told you not to call me Xiang Chong-gege, I’m already in my thirties, surely uncle is more appropriate.”
“Well, you look like an older brother to me,” she returned.
“Is there a brother as unfortunate as I?”2I think what he means here is that he’s too old and miserable to be considered young enough for her, a teenager, to be addressing as gege
“Well, you’re more handsome than the rest of them!”
Xiang Chong had nothing to say in response.
T/N: Phew, this was a ride, wasn’t it. So many new characters! Another mysterious person Huo Cheng might know! I’m not saying the plot thickens but, well, the plot thickens, I guess. Like the stew, I’m dreaming of making now that it’s October. The temperature is winding down, and maybe so are you? If you want more stuff to read ‘cause this year really has been a burden, you can always let us know if you want advance chapters 😉 see you on the other side!
P.S: A special shout out to our resident Bolt… dearest Bright Eyes for helping expedite the translation, if not…real-life… Ah!