Winter break came early this year, so the final exams were just around the corner, not long after the New Year holiday.
The atmosphere in the class was tense, with the top few students working hard, hoping to smoothly enter the advanced class at the beginning of the next semester.
Cheng Chu didn't have much obsession with the advanced class, but recently, Gu Miao's grades have been getting better and better. In the last monthly exam, she was only a few places away from entering the advanced class.
If nothing unexpected happens, he will be able to enter the advanced class next semester.
For this reason, Cheng Chu has been studying more seriously these days.
Next Monday is the final exam, so on Friday, the teacher asked everyone to clear their desks.
The classroom was in chaos, and Cheng Chu lightly touched Gu Miao's sleeve and suddenly asked, "Do you want to go to the advanced class?"
Amidst the clamor, Gu Miao lowered his gaze. He didn't really care about all this noise, as he always kept his head buried in his books, whether in the advanced or regular classes, it made no difference to him.
All he ever wanted was to be in the same class as her, no matter where it was. But how could he dare to say it out loud?
Gu Miao's hand holding the pen tightened slightly as he raised his eyes. The setting sun's rays shone into the girl's eyes, making them clear and bright, as if they contained a shallow pool of clear water, with a hint of curiosity.
"Don't you want to?" She asked hesitantly when he didn't answer.
Gu Miao pursed his lips and nodded silently. She was such a dazzling girl, excelling in everything. She must really want to go back to the advanced class after dropping out.
If that was the case, he wanted to go too.
Like the blooming of flowers in spring, a faint smile spread across the girl's peach blossom eyes, completing their crescent shape.
Her tone was light and cheerful as she said, "Let's work hard together for the final exams and get into the advanced class."
Gu Miao's heart skipped a beat as a sweet feeling gradually spread from the depths of his heart. These two words seemed to possess a magical power, taking root and sprouting within him.
A cool breeze blew into the classroom, carrying the chill of a winter night. The vocabulary book on Gu Miao's desk rustled in the wind, but he lowered his gaze and found that the previously obscure and difficult English words had become captivating.
On Friday when she returned home, Cheng Chu discovered an unexpected guest in the house.
The young man was lying on the sofa, holding his phone horizontally, with a strand of hair sticking up, suppressing his originally lazy and unrestrained temperament.
He heard the sound of the door opening and continued with his work.
He lifted his eyelids lazily and saw that it was Cheng Chu.
He responded lazily, "Oh, you're back."
Cheng Chu asked coldly, "Is this your house or mine?" as she put down his backpack.
The sound of "defeat" came from his phone, and Fu Xun threw it onto the sofa with a "smack."
He stretched lazily and said, "I didn't really want to come either, but your mom made me."
Fu Xun was Cheng Chu's cousin, the child of her uncle.
His parents had a business marriage and didn't have much affection for each other. They often weren't home.
Cheng Chu's mother felt sorry for leaving the child alone at home, so she often invited him over for dinner.
Cheng Chu didn't have any particular opinion of him, but this kid had two faces. He acted like a good baby in front of his parents and older brother, but always sang a different tune when he was with her.
She didn't want to deal with him, so she grabbed her backpack and went upstairs to study.
But Fu Rong didn't want her to have it so easy.
At the dinner table, she served Fu Xun some fish-flavored shredded pork with her chopsticks, then turned to Cheng Chu and said, "After we finish eating, go do homework with your little brother."
"I have a final exam next Monday and need to study," Cheng Chu protested.
Fu Rong smiled nonchalantly and said, "Oh come on, just help your little brother with his homework. If he doesn't understand something, he can ask you for help. It won't take up too much of your time."
Fu Xun was in his third year of junior high school and his grades were a mess. Cheng Chu estimated that he was probably at the bottom of the whole school.
And sure enough...
"How do you do this?" He leaned over to ask, barely a minute after the homework was handed out.
Cheng Chu put down his pen and saw that he was asking about the first multiple-choice question.
The question was: "Which of the following functions is a quadratic function?"
"Are you serious?" Cheng Chu asked him incredulously.
The young man blinked his narrow phoenix eyes innocently and replied, "Yes, I'm serious."
"How did you get into Yude Middle School?" Cheng Chu gritted his teeth and asked.
Yude was the best middle school in the city, and half of the students who graduated from there each year would go on to attend No. 1 High School, the top high school in the city.
Fu Xun propped his head up with one hand and twirled his pen with the other.
"Of course it was using connections," he said.
He turned his head and looked at Cheng Chu strangely, with a tone that begged to be punched: "Otherwise, do you think I would have gotten in?"
The nonchalant attitude of the boy made Cheng Chu laugh.
She took a deep breath and suppressed her anger, saying, "Give me the book."
Surprisingly, the boy handed her the book obediently.
Cheng Chu found the content on quadratic functions and slammed the book in front of him, saying, "Read the book yourself, follow the examples and don't ask me again."
"Okay." He scratched his head with a pen and obediently started reading the book.
To be honest, Fu Xun really hated reading, but he didn't know if it was the soft lighting in the living room or the comfortable chair, he unconsciously got into the book and even followed the examples to solve several problems.
When he looked up again, half an hour had passed.
Fu Xun stared at the completed test paper and felt a sense of satisfaction rising in his heart. Cheng Chu leaned over and scanned the paper, feeling a little better.
"You did pretty well, just got the formula wrong on the third question. Do it again."
Fu Xun put down his pen and leaned back in his chair, wailing, "I need a break, I'm tired."
"No, it's only been half an hour. You need to keep going and finish this test before taking a break. Think about it, once you're done, you can relax and play games instead of waiting until Sunday night to copy homework," Cheng Chu said sternly.
The girl kept talking non-stop, making Fu Xun's temples throb. He wanted to resist, but after carefully considering her words, he realized they made sense.
"Okay, okay, stop talking," he rubbed his forehead wearily and pretended to be deep, "I really can't stand you."
The living room was illuminated by a soft and gentle light, not too bright nor too dim.
Fu Xun lowered his head and wrote a few strokes before suddenly tapping her arm. "Do you have a ballpoint pen?"
Cheng Chu rummaged through her pencil case and replied, "No, but I have a answer sheet marker. If you're just drawing, you can make do with it."
"Fine." Fu Xun sneered but still took it.
Cheng Chu thought it was just a friendly interaction between siblings, but it wasn't until Monday's exam that she realized her answer sheet marker was still with Fu Xun.
Most of the people had already sat down in the exam room, while a few were still outside, nervously flipping through their textbooks, trying to cram knowledge into their brains in the last few minutes.
Cheng Chu was in a panic, frantically searching through her bag, hoping to find another pencil or ballpoint pen to replace the answer sheet marker. But there was nothing, absolutely nothing.
The hallway was eerily quiet, and Cheng Chu's hands were shaking.
She was about to ask the teacher if she could borrow a pen during the exam when Gu Miao patted her shoulder and whispered, "What's wrong?"
According to their grades, they were assigned to the same exam room.
Gu Miao had been waiting there for a while, as he was always calm and didn't like to rely on last-minute efforts.
However, when he saw the girl standing in the hallway with a furrowed brow, on the verge of tears, his heart tightened and he almost immediately walked over to her.
In the morning light, the girl lowered her eyes, her eyelashes trembling slightly as she spoke softly, "I forgot to bring my answer sheet marker. I don't know if the teacher will let me borrow one."
"I'll, lend you mine," Gu Miao blurted out without hesitation.
The invigilator for their exam was the head teacher, who was always the strictest. Last time, someone forgot to bring their answer sheet marker and he refused to lend them one, saying it was a lesson for the careless.
The morning sun shone brightly, and the hallway was quiet. Cheng Chu looked up, her peach blossom eyes sparkling with moisture. "What are you going to do? Oh well, I'll wait and ask the teacher later."
"I, have extras," Gu Miao instinctively lied.
He had spare answer sheet marker refillers, and he could use the pen tip to write if necessary. It wouldn't be too difficult, he thought.
The cold wind blew through the empty exam room. "There are three minutes left until the end of the exam," the invigilator's stern voice rang out. "Those who haven't filled in their answer sheets, please do so now."
Gu Miao lowered his head, his hand holding the pen trembling, his thoughts a jumbled mess. With only three minutes left, he still hadn't finished his essay.
The reason was that the lead of his pencil was too difficult to use, causing him to waste a lot of time.
Chinese and English were never his strong subjects, and it was common for him to still be writing when the bell rang.
The invigilator had already stood up and was pacing around the exam room with his hands behind his back, saying slowly, "There are only two minutes left."
The cold wind of winter blew into the classroom, and the piercing cold froze Gu Miao's hands stiff.
In the silent exam room, he was so nervous that he could almost hear his own heartbeat.
There were still two minutes left, but he had only just started writing on the second page of his essay paper, still a long way from the required 800 words.
Trembling, he desperately tried to steady his thoughts and hastily wrote a conclusion.
"Okay, time's up. Please put down your pens and pass your exam papers and essay papers from back to front," the invigilator announced.
With a loud "snap," Gu Miao put down his pen. His heart was pounding like a drum, making his throat tight and his body stiff.
When she left the exam room, Cheng Chu had already packed her backpack.
The noon sun was shining brightly, and the holly tree next to the teaching building cast golden fragments of light.
The girl saw him and hurried over, asking softly, "How did you do on the exam?"
Gu Miao took the pen the girl handed him and lowered his gaze. His appearance was reflected in the girl's bright peach blossom eyes.
His Adam's apple rolled up and down as he forced a smile and said, "Very well. How about you?"
"I did pretty well too," the girl smiled, her eyes filled with the fine afternoon sunlight. "I feel like we both have a chance to get into the top class."
At noon, the cold wind blowing through the corridor seemed to brush against Gu Miao's heart, causing a painful ache. He pursed his lips, his dark eyes filled with bitterness that he couldn't express.
He knew it was impossible for him to get into the top class.
The author has something to say:
Gu Miao: feeling bitter inside, but still putting on a brave face.
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.