The Class 3 classroom was pitch black. If you didn't know any better, you would think that evening self-study had already ended.
"What are they up to again?" He Chao walked behind, with a vague sense of unease.
Xie Yu leaned against the door, squinting to barely make out the scene in the classroom.
Wan Da heard footsteps and turned around, shouting with delight, "What a coincidence, we're just about to start. Want to join us?"
He Chao took two steps back, but was pulled back by Xie Yu.
"We're not telling stories today," Wan Da said, "we're playing the Ouija board. Mad Dog just left, so it's safe."
"Brother Chao, sit here. We saved a spot for you on purpose." He Chao was usually more active, and Wan Da never forgot to invite him to any activities, "...it's very stimulating."
He Chao complained in his mind, what stimulating, they're wasting time not studying and fooling around all day long.
After Wan Da finished speaking, he felt it was not appropriate to leave Xie Yu standing alone and asked, "Brother Yu, do you want to join?"
"Joining." Since he couldn't escape, he'd pull him into the water together. He Chao answered for Xie Yu, "He's joining."
There were a total of four people playing, while others stood on the side watching.
Xu Qingqing, this tough girl, was particularly fierce. She slapped her thigh and said she wanted to be the "main questioner": "I'll ask!"
After she finished speaking, she grabbed a pencil.
Wan Da covered Xu Qingqing's hand and had no objections, "Okay, you ask."
He Chao originally didn't want to move, but Wan Da stared at him tightly, obviously afraid to touch Xie Yu's hand, so He Chao quickly put his hand on top.
This person, Xie Yu, really kept everyone at a distance.
Even if he didn't do anything, just lying there quietly sleeping, people would still keep their distance from him. Only He Chao dared to talk and laugh with him, and he had even managed to survive until now.
Xie Yu was the last one.
He reached out and covered He Chao's hand with his own. Even though it was the height of summer, He Chao felt a chill emanating from Xie Yu's fingertips.
This chill, however, ignited a fire on the back of his hand.
He couldn't quite describe the feeling, his thoughts suddenly scattered. He had been worried about this stupid game, but now his mind was blank.
"Close your eyes, close your eyes," Wan Da said. "Don't open them, or your soul will be taken away when it comes."
"But how can I see what it's circling if I close my eyes?"
"...That's what the guide says. Better to believe it than not."
"Okay, close close close, and wait for it to come."
Xie Yu didn't really believe in this. He held onto He Chao's hand with one hand and propped his head up with the other, looking at him from the side.
This person said he wasn't afraid, but his eyes were tightly shut.
After a while, He Chao couldn't help but ask, "Is it done yet?"
Xu Qingqing was still reciting the incantation: "In our past lives, I was your present life. Let us continue our fate...Don't interrupt me, how could it come so quickly."
This person had very long eyelashes.
Xie Yu stared at him for a while.
Although the classroom was dark, Wan Da had turned on a flashlight, illuminating the paper on the table and the surrounding area.
Half of He Chao's face was hidden in the darkness, while the other half was lightly outlined by the white light.
With a high and straight nose, sharp features, and a strong youthful aura in his eyes and eyebrows, He Chao exuded an inexplicable sense of oppression when he was silent or not smiling. Xie Yu suddenly remembered the first time they met during summer break, when He Chao had two rings on his ear and looked so cool it was almost unbelievable.
He Chao closed his eyes and waited for a while, but he couldn't keep them shut any longer. Wan Da even played eerie and ethereal background music, and Xu Qingqing also couldn't recite the incantation properly, making it sound deliberately like she was possessed by a ghost.
He felt like if he kept his eyes closed, all sorts of monsters and demons could throw a wild party around him.
So he slowly opened his eyes, only to unexpectedly meet Xie Yu's gaze.
The two of them stared at each other in silence: "..."
After reciting the incantation, Xu Qingqing finally asked her question. Before doing so, she reminded everyone, "Don't open your eyes, it will haunt you."
Seeing He Chao staring at him blankly, Xie Yu thought he was trying to act calm while trembling inside. He casually smiled and mouthed to He Chao, "It's fake."
Although Xu Qingqing is usually carefree, when it comes to asking the question, she revealed her girlish nature. She hesitated for a long time and even tried to get everyone to cover their ears before finally asking, "Does he...like me?"
"Who is it?" Wan Da was the first to jump out and ask, "Tell me the name. I don't know who it is. Which pile of cow dung seduced our class's flower?"
Xu Qingqing replied, "Aren't you annoying? It's none of your business."
Wan Da exclaimed, "It's impossible! I have my eyes on everything going on in our entire year, no one can escape my sight."
Xu Qingqing replied, "...Save it."
Finally, the pen landed on the word "no."
He Chao's heart began to race, "This thing really works?"
"Shh, don't say that. It's disrespectful to the pen spirit," Wan Da said.
He Chao asked, "What happens if we're disrespectful?"
Wan Da hadn't found the right words yet when Xie Yu spoke up, "It will come find you tonight."
He Chao didn't have any questions, but Wan Da instead said that not asking anything was disrespectful to the pen spirit. After thinking for a while, He Chao finally asked, "Is there anyone in the world more handsome than me?"
Xu Qingqing said, "You have no shame."
Wan Da added, "Freaking shameless."
Xie Yu just chuckled.
"It's your turn, boss," Wan Da winked at Xie Yu.
Xie Yu said, "I don't have anything to ask."
He Chao replied, "No, that's disrespectful."
Xie Yu: "..."
When Zhou Dalei called Xie Yu, he could tell from just a few words that Boss Xie was in a good mood. "What happened? Why are you so happy?"
Xie Yu didn't say anything, instead asking, "What about you? You've been laughing like an idiot since you called."
"That little brat Da Mei called me today!" Zhou Dalei said. "Don't worry, I cursed him out for both of us. That little punk, he's really asking for it."
Unexpectedly, Da Mei received a long-distance call. Despite the expensive fees, everyone, including Mother Lei and Aunt Mei, lined up to chat with him. Zhou Dalei refused to let go of the phone and even had to stick his upper body out of the window to prevent the neighbors from snatching it away. He even got kicked by Mother Lei and almost fell from the fourth floor.
Xie Yu imagined the scene and commented, "That's really a mother's love."
Zhou Dalei replied sarcastically, "Mother's love, what a mocking phrase."
"Da Mei said that he was doing well over there and told us not to worry. He even boasted about how handsome everyone overseas said he was, despite not being very popular in China. There's also that dumb flowerpot, it really is always in his heart, he's been worried about it.
"I told him that the old basketball court we used to play on was torn down - it was just a few pieces of cloth put together and called a court. It was a joke to call it that. But now there's a new activity center in the neighborhood with a new basketball court! After all these years, we finally have a new court! The smell of the rubber under the sun is so refreshing. We can play together again when he comes back."
Zhou Dalei rambled on and on.
Xie Yu listened, occasionally responding.
"Boss Xie, are you going to sleep?"
"No, you continue speaking."
Zhou Dalei was standing on the balcony making the call. It was late at night and he didn't want to wake up his family. He held a cigarette between his fingers, the tip glowing in the darkness. He flicked off the ash and said, "To be honest, I'm pretty upset."
Xie Yu didn't say anything.
"Don't let my words fool you into thinking I'm happy," Zhou Dalei's voice lowered, sounding a bit hoarse from smoking. "...Forget it, never mind. What was I saying?"
Zhou Dalei stood on the balcony, looking down at the scenery he had seen for over a decade. The messy electrical wires, and a quilt that someone forgot to bring in and was now blown down to the ground.
Looking further into the distance, he saw the 'basketball court' that used to be made by surrounding a space with a few pieces of tattered cloth, now turned into a public restroom. The restroom was even better looking than their houses, with its European style and several pointed roofs standing out awkwardly.
Just as he was about to hang up the phone, he heard Xie Yu say, "I'm also upset. All they do is spout nonsense every day. That dog-like Zhong family's second young master has shit for brains."
Zhou Dalei's tangled worries were chased away by Xie Yu's cursing.
He put out his cigarette, laughed, and joined in the scolding. "Brother, I like playing basketball with my buddies in that tattered court. With the court changed, do you know that this world will lose an NBA star? And this toilet, it's really damn ugly. One day I'm going to blow it up."
Neither of them really shared what was at the bottom of their hearts, but they both felt a lot better.
"I got into a fight with a dumbass today," Xie Yu chuckled. "My desk mate, you know him."
Zhou Dalei asked, "How would I know your desk mate? We don't even live in the same city. Is he handsome?"
Xie Yu replied, "He's a big handsome jerk."
Zhou Dalei thought to himself that he hadn't met many people in his life who could be called "big handsome jerk", except for himself. The only other person was Xie Yu.
He had completely forgotten about that summer, when he was maintaining the posture of squatting and holding his head while praising someone as a big boss at the police station.
"That's impossible, are you kidding me?"
The two of them chatted for a while, but suddenly Zhou Dalei stopped talking. He held his breath and listened intently before asking, "What's that sound?"
"Boss Xie, what's that sound on your end? It sounds weird."
Xie Yu also heard it. It was a strange knocking sound that seemed to come from nowhere. This time, it was very close to his dormitory room, so he casually said, "...Congratulations, this is the ghost story of our dormitory building."
"Your dormitory building is haunted too???" Zhou Dalei exclaimed in disbelief.
"Surprised?" Xie Yu asked. "I'll tell you later. The big handsome jerk is probably shivering under his covers right now. I'm going to go take a look."