As December arrived, winter finally came to the seaside city.
Cheng Chu noticed that Gu Miao had changed.
The young boy's heart, which had been as impenetrable as iron, seemed to have been poked with a small hole.
He began to speak more willingly.
Although most of the time his words were still halting, at least they were no longer just single syllables like "yeah," "oh," or "okay."
Cheng Chu knew that the boy's life had been difficult, so he had built a high wall around himself, enveloping himself in coldness and sharpness, hiding his softness deep inside.
But only she knew about this softness.
In the chilly winter season, everyone had put on their thick winter school uniforms, and some even wore down jackets outside.
But Gu Miao had nothing.
After class, Cheng Chu went to the convenience store and bought two hot water bottles. She filled one with hot water and handed it to him.
The girl's school uniform was wrapped in a plush jacket, and her small, pure and white face was revealed under a thick scarf. Her clear and bright peach blossom eyes were so captivating that they made people's hearts sway.
Gu Miao moved his fingers nervously, feeling a bit lost.
"Take it." Cheng Chu saw that his hands were turning red from the cold and quickly handed him the hot water bottle.
The hot water bottle was covered in a light beige cloth cover, the same color as her jacket.
The warmth slowly spread from his fingertips to his heart, and Gu Miao looked down at the hot water bottle with a small bear pattern, feeling a bit emotional.
His uncle's family was not wealthy, and a few days ago, his cousin's hospitalization had emptied their savings. As a growing teenager, his clothes from a few years ago no longer fit, and his uncle and aunt would not buy him new ones.
He could only wear thin winter jackets every day, huddling up and hoping for winter to pass quickly.
For the first time, someone was willing to give him warmth.
Gu Miao tightly held the hot water bottle, and his frozen fingers suddenly felt a slight pain as they were warmed up.
It was the end of class, and Gu Miao looked up at the girl's back.
The winter sun dyed her waist-length hair a warm chestnut color, with a few playful strands falling on his desk.
The classroom was very quiet, with only occasional rustling of pages being turned.
Gu Miao gazed at the hair on his desk, his eyes filled with longing.
After a while, he trembled and reached out his hands, carefully touching the strands of hair that hung on the desk.
Suddenly, the girl flicked her hair, and the strands slipped through his fingers.
Gu Miao withdrew his hand in disappointment, but his fingertips were burning hot.
He rubbed his fingertips gently, feeling the heat like fire.
As he reminisced about the soft touch of her hair, warm and reminiscent of spring, Gu Miao was interrupted by the ringing of the class bell. The teacher walked in and Gu Miao, lost in thought, stood up a beat too late and joined the rest of the class in greeting the teacher.
As he sat down, he noticed a strand of hair in the corner of his desk, long and chestnut-colored, warmed by the sunlight. Gu Miao quietly picked it up and wrapped it in a clean piece of paper.
This class was physics, specifically electrical circuits, which happened to be the subject that Cheng Chu struggled with the most.
Halfway through the class, the teacher divided the class into groups of four to discuss a circuit design problem from the textbook. Cheng Chu and Luo Qianqian turned around with their books and saw Zhou Ran, who was also furrowing his brow.
"Do you know how to do this?" Luo Qianqian asked him. Zhou Ran shook his head. Luo Qianqian was a typical underachiever, except for chemistry, she was a mess in everything else.
Cheng Chu was not good at electricity either, and he shook his head.
The three of them looked at each other.
The classroom was noisy, but there was no sound in their corner.
Cheng Chu quietly raised his eyes and looked at Gu Miao.
The young man hung his head, with a cold and melancholy expression, as if he was isolated from the noisy class.
Zhou Ran and Luo Qianqian knew that he was always like this, never participating in any group discussions, so they didn't plan to ask him.
But Cheng Chu didn't know.
These days, she found that Gu Miao was willing to talk to her more, so she always found him to talk.
The young man listened to her endless questions, always with his eyes down, his ears turning red, but still stuttering to answer her. Cheng Chu thought that he was beginning to open up, at least not like before.
But she didn't know that the young man's cold heart was only soft for her.
And he only wanted to open up to her.
The classroom was a bit noisy, so Cheng Chu moved her chair back a bit and looked up at the young man's dark eyes.
She asked softly, "Gu Miao, do you know how to do it?"
Gu Miao lowered his head and nodded.
"Can you tell us about it? The teacher seems to be picking someone to answer the question," Cheng Chu said hesitantly.
The young man kept his head down and didn't say anything. His dark eyes were hidden behind the dull frames, making it hard to tell his emotions.
There was a moment of silence in the air.
Luo Qianqian awkwardly laughed and tried to diffuse the situation, "Never mind, it might not even be us who get picked."
"Right, let's think about it some more. Maybe we'll come up with something." Zhou Ran chimed in.
Both of them were afraid that Gu Miao's silence would make the girl feel awkward.
A few strands of cold wind seeped through the window cracks, causing the pages of the book to gently flutter.
The young man hesitated for a moment, his fingers pausing, before he spoke in a deep voice, "I can."
He paused for a few seconds before continuing, "I, I can tell you."
Luo Qianqian and Zhou Ran widened their eyes, looking at the usually silent and lifeless young man who was now pulling out a notebook from his desk and drawing a circuit diagram with a pen.
The two of them quickly leaned in, their four heads huddled together, listening intently.
The young man's voice was low and deep, with a hint of magnetism. Although he stuttered a bit, it didn't make people feel annoyed.
He spoke a bit slowly, but his ideas were clear and organized, so everyone listened attentively. This time, no one interrupted him.
Gu Miao put down his pen and breathed a sigh of relief.
"You're so amazing!" Luo Qianqian looked at him with admiration.
She was not good at studying and usually gave up when encountering this type of question on exams, but she understood it in the first minute.
Zhou Ran nodded in agreement, "Indeed, very impressive."
These types of questions were difficult and usually appeared as the final question on the exam.
Gu Miao just pursed his lips and didn't say anything.
This kind of straightforward and enthusiastic praise was rare, and he felt a bit unfamiliar, more of a sense of confusion.
What was she thinking?
In the end, unable to resist his inner desire, Gu Miao quietly lifted his gaze.
Under the bright sunshine, the girl propped up her head, her sparkling peach blossom eyes filled with joy and a hint of admiration. Gu Miaoshun's ears turned red in an instant, and a secret joy rose in his heart.
For the first time, he felt that group discussions were no longer a burden, but rather lively and interesting.
The discussion in the classroom gradually quieted down, and the teacher tapped the podium, signaling everyone to quiet down.
"Who wants to come up and talk about this question?" the teacher asked.
No one spoke, most of them lowered their heads, avoiding eye contact with the teacher, afraid that if they weren't careful, they would be the next one to suffer.
"Well, since no one wants to volunteer, I'll just pick someone," he paused and casually said, "let's go with number three."
Cheng Chu trembled as she stood up.
Across the aisle, she heard Yu Yin softly chuckling.
"Oh, it's the new student, do you know how to do this question?" the teacher asked with a kind face.
"Teacher, she definitely knows how to do it. She's from the honors class," Yu Yin shouted loudly.
The teacher could sense her hesitation, and didn't want to make things difficult. She simply rubbed her eyes and asked, "Do you know how to do it? If not, just sit down."
The teacher knew that this question was a bit difficult. Many girls from the honors class struggled with the science classes, so it was understandable if she didn't know the answer.
Cheng Chu looked down at the problem in her book and tried to recall the stuttering explanation that Gu Miao had just given. She desperately tried to organize her thoughts.
She could have chosen to say she didn't know and sit down, but what if the teacher just went down the line by student number? Number Four was right behind her.
Speaking in front of so many people, Gu Miao was bound to stutter. Cheng Chu knew that Yu Yin and her friends would definitely mock him.
Cheng Chu hesitated in her heart, but after a moment, she still pursed her lips and said, "Okay."
"Good, then you go to the podium and draw while you speak," the teacher smiled, looking at her with anticipation and encouragement.
Cheng Chu moved her chair and picked up her textbook, preparing to walk to the podium, when a wad of paper was stuffed into her hand.
She quietly clenched the paper and walked up to the podium.
Dozens of eyes below stared straight at her, some with ill intentions, others with anticipation.
Cheng Chu slowly searched for a piece of chalk and looked at the crumpled paper in her hand.
The paper had been crumpled and was now not very smooth.
On that wrinkled paper was a clear and neat circuit diagram, with his train of thought written beside it. A cold wind blew into the classroom, but Cheng Chu felt as though the tattered piece of paper in her hand was radiating warmth.
It soothed her anxious heart, slipping through her icy fingertips.
She breathed a sigh of relief and turned around to copy the diagram onto the blackboard. Then, she began to explain the steps written on the paper in her clear and melodious voice. Her voice was like the purest mountain spring water in the summertime, refreshing and delightful to listen to.
Combining her own understanding with Gu Miao's clear guidance, what was once a difficult problem became easy to understand. The teacher nodded approvingly.
"You explained it very well. Let's give her a round of applause, everyone."
A warm round of applause filled the room, and the eyes of the audience were filled with admiration.
On a sunny winter day, she stood tall on the podium and saw Gu Miao in the crowd.
The young boy wore heavy black-framed glasses, but they couldn't hide the sparkle in his eyes.
Cheng Chu suddenly felt a pang of bitterness in her heart.
She remembered on that farewell night, his eyes were just as bright.
Translations during sleepless nights. I can sleep when I'm dead! ...Please let me sleep. Happy readers keep me awake, and lots of love and a huge thank you for supporting my hobby!
Give me feedback at moc.ebircssutol@ypeels.