Before going to bed, Xie Yu was in a good mood and posted a message on his WeChat Moments: "It's over" with a smiley face.
This made Zhou Dalei's imagination run wild.
Based on all the content Xie Yu had posted on his Moments over the past week, Zhou Dalei had already imagined a heartbreaking love story that was difficult to separate from, with lines like 'I love you, but you love him. You were never meant to be mine. If I can't have you, I'll destroy you.'
The plot twists and turns, with climaxes and mysteries.
Zhou Dalei carefully commented with concern: ...let the past be the past.
Xie Yu didn't quite understand where his friend's inexplicable and knowing attitude came from: What do you know?
Zhou Dalei replied: I understand...I understand, don't be sad.
Xie Yu had asked himself more than once if he would have clicked on the game if he had known about all the problems it had and that he would encounter a crazy competitor who wouldn't give up.
-He probably wouldn't have.
No, he wouldn't have.
Over his dead body.
The night Xie Yu dethroned the "Trivia King," the entire server celebrated.
It was like the poor people who fought against the evil forces finally got their liberation, and they wanted to sing and dance. Their minds even became clearer when solving problems.
"Learning, Learning, Learning, It's All I Live For": July 25th, I will always remember this day. The sky after liberation is so blue.
"I Love Memorizing Vocabulary": A Trivia King had fallen, and millions of people saw hope.
"Top Ten In The Grade": I'm off to bed, feeling great. Tomorrow, I'll wake up and do ten more sets of practice papers to express my inner joy.
But this group of people didn't get to enjoy their happiness for long. Before they could finish all ten sets of practice papers, the missing ex-Trivia King, "Shameless" suddenly came back online in the middle of the night. This brother kept solving problems until dawn, tirelessly and relentlessly, and managed to reclaim the first place position.
The sky was no longer blue.
When Xie Yu went back online, he saw the communication area filled with wailing, cursing, and calls for God X to come and fight. The atmosphere was tense and hostile.
"English Class Representative": Did you guys go to watch the competition yesterday?
"For a Better Tomorrow": ...Yes, but Shameless realised we were watching and wrote 'Don't bother watching, you won't understand anything' in the answer area while solving the problems.
"For a Better Tomorrow": He even created a fake account just to mock us in the discussion forum.
Xie Yu: "..."
Although everyone was calling for God X, Xie Yu played several rounds with the Trivia King already. The two of them took turns to take first place, and had stayed up for several nights just to maintain his ranking. He was so exhausted that he could barely keep his eyes open.
Xie Yu was considering giving up and going to bed, as continuing to play seemed pointless. However, he couldn't control his hands and answered one question after another until a system prompt popped up.
Xie Yu refused three or four times, but the prompt was persistent. If he didn't agree, he wouldn't be able to continue with the current question.
Trivia King: Are you tired?
Trivia King: Let's call a truce and rest. I need to sleep.
The two of them reached an agreement and Xie Yu planned to log off. But after he finished showering and got into bed, he accidentally discovered that his friend "Trivia King" was still online, followed by a line of small characters.
Xie Yu felt like he had been tricked.
As the holidays passed, and the start of school approached, Madam Gu Xuelan was even more anxious than Xie Yu himself, as if she was the one going to school: "Have you finished all your homework?"
"Will you be divided into classes in the second year of high school?"
Gu Xuelan picked up a piece of scrambled egg and put it in Xie Yu's bowl, intending to adopt a gentle approach: "I don't know which class you'll be in, but this semester, try to be more restrained and don't act impulsively when you encounter something. I didn't hold you accountable for those things in the past, but starting from this semester, behave well."
No matter what she said, Xie Yu just responded with a "Mm". Gu Xuelan knew that he would just continue doing whatever he was doing. She put down her chopsticks and sat quietly across from Xie Yu, watching him eat.
Xie Yu carefully removed the fish bones from the meat with his chopsticks before placing it in Gu Xuelan's bowl. He looked up and asked, "Why aren't you eating? Just watching me eat will fill you up?"
Gu Xuelan looked at the piece of fish for several minutes, unsure of what to say. Finally, she spoke cautiously, "Will you still be staying in the dorms in your second year of high school?"
Xie Yu's hand paused.
He knew what Madam Gu meant.
Zhong Jie was about to start his first year of college and they would hardly see each other at home. Xie Yu and Zhong Jie always fought whenever they were together, and without anyone to stop them, they could easily start a physical fight. Neither could stand each other.
Gu Xuelan asked again, "Don't you plan on staying at home?"
Xie Yu quickly finished the remaining food in his bowl and said, "No, living on campus is pretty good. The conditions are not bad, and it's convenient for classes since the classrooms are just a few steps away. Besides, I come back on weekends."
Gu Xuelan wanted to say something else, but Xie Yu interrupted, "Mom, it's none of your business. Don't think too much. I'm living on campus not because of Zhong Jie or you, but because of my own issues."
"What issues?" Gu Xuelan asked.
Xie Yu didn't want to say much and didn't know how to explain, "It's nothing. Just living on campus. I'm already grown up, you don't need to worry."
Liyang No. 2 High School strongly encourages students to live on campus, believing that it can help develop their independence and autonomy.
On the first day of school, the principal had given a motivational speech about "staying in school": "School is a place for students to learn, but parents, as your children grow and develop, you also need to constantly learn. The most important lesson is to learn to let go appropriately... He can already run, even ahead of you. Can you still treat him like a baby who couldn't walk or eat? Of course, this requires courage - you love him, but you have to be tough, you have to let him fall, let him learn to pick himself up."
For some reason, Gu Xuelan remembered this speech particularly well.
She had to admit that there was some truth in these words, but sometimes knowing the truth doesn't change anything.
"I'll help you pack," Gu Xuelan said. "Let's organize everything first and see if we're missing anything."
As the suitcases grew fuller, the end of the vacation drew near.
Also nearing its end was the battle for the title of "Trivia King" in the summer tournament.
Previously, Xie Yu and the Trivia King had competed so fiercely that they couldn't even keep their eyes open. But after agreeing to a deadline for their showdown, they silently stopped logging on.
At first, Xie Yu thought it was another one of the Trivia King's tricks, but after secretly monitoring him for a few days, he was surprised to find that the Trivia King really didn't log on to practice.
It had been almost a month since the last time he logged on, so Xie Yu opened the "Wisdom Fruit" app. The icon spun twice before displaying a message: "Due to the withdrawal of investors, the game is temporarily offline."
Was it really over?
This game was really so unpopular?
Xie Yu could almost imagine what those users obsessed with studying would say: Withdraw investment? How could there be no one playing when studying is so interesting? Why are there so few people who love studying?
When Xie Yu received a call from Zhou Dalei, he was still in a daze. "Boss Xie, are you coming tonight? Aunt Mei said she wants to celebrate your new semester and give you some encouragement to explore your potential in learning... Boss Xie? Respond a little if you hear me, what have you been doing all summer? Looks like you've been living in a dream world every day."
"It's been a real trip," Xie Yu said. "Fucking trippy."
Zhou Dalei woke up late, yawning as he walked outside in his underwear with a white and red flower-patterned, chipped iron basin in hand. He placed the basin under the faucet and turned on the water, listening to the sound of the flowing water as he spoke, "What time are you coming? I'll pick you up at the station."
Xie Yu replied, "It's just a few steps, I don't need you to pick me up."
Zhou Dalei said, "We're brothers, I don't care, I'm coming anyway. If I stay at home, I'll be nagged by these women... Oh, is Aunt Lan coming?"
"She's not coming," Xie Yu said, "She said she has something to do."
"Well, that's too bad," Zhou Dalei said, "I didn't even realize it until I said it. It feels like it's been ages since we've seen each other. Anyway, I'll hang up now and wash my face."
When Xie Yu got off the car, Zhou Dalei was squatting by the roadside smoking a cigarette, wearing flip-flops. People passing by avoided him, thinking he was some gangster.
Xie Yu kicked him and said, "Stop pretending and let's go."
Zhou Dalei crushed the cigarette butt on the ground and stood up, patting his pants. "I wasn't pretending. Someone removed the bench that was supposed to be here, where could I have sat elegantly and waited for you."
Xie Yu followed his gaze and saw that the waiting area with seats had been dismantled, leaving only four lonely iron poles.
"Impressive, huh?" Zhou Dalei said. "They can do anything. I truly admire them."
Recently, there hasn't been much business in the Guangmao area, so Xu Yanmei had some free time and thought about how Xie Yu and the others will be starting school soon. She suggested that they all get together for a meal.
Xie Yu hadn't been to this residential building in a long time.
The walls were mottled and there was a narrow passage between the two buildings. If someone shouted from one side, it could be heard on the other. In the past, Zhou Dalei was always getting beaten by his mother, leaving his buttocks red and swollen. Whenever his mother started, Aunt Mei from across the way would open her window and lean out on the balcony, eagerly shouting, "Lei-zi, what did you do this time? Tell Auntie Mei and I'll help you reason with her."
In contrast, Madam Gu was more concerned about saving face. She would lower her voice when scolding someone and wouldn't physically hit them. She preferred to use passive aggression.
As they walked, the sky was filled with electrical wires and the entire living environment looked dirty and messy.
Xie Yu and Zhou Dalei hadn't even reached the door when Aunt Mei pushed open the window. The smell of sizzling oil mixed with the aroma of home-cooked food wafted out, "Don't come up, help me go to the convenience store to buy a bag of salt. We're out of salt at home!"
Zhou Dalei looked up, "Got it, got it."
"Is the jasmine blooming?"
Zhou Dalei was about to say 'let's go to the convenience store' when he heard Xie Yu say this. His mind took a few turns and followed his gaze to the pot of delicate jasmine flowers on their balcony, "Ah - yes, the one that Da Mei gave us when he left. I thought it would just be a decorative plant with a few leaves for the rest of its life, but it's actually doing pretty well."
"Da Mei has no loyalty. He's been abroad for almost half a year and hasn't contacted us. All he did was give me a broken pot of flowers and said it was his precious treasure, asking me to take good care of it before he left. What a joke," Zhou Dalei complained. "When he comes back, I'm going to give him a good beating."