23rd –【Plunged into passiveness】
Zhu Zhifei was engrossed in eating fried rice and didn’t notice Lu Shi switching the plates.
Wei Guanglei caught a glimpse and glanced at Lu Shi who was now drinking tea from a disposable plastic cup, but didn’t say anything.
Since eating hot pot together last week, he’d always been a bit doubtful and unsure of a certain notion.
This notion now seemed to have a clear answer.
The Lu Shi he knew had no particularly strong emotions regarding anything and was consistently indifferent.
When playing multiplayer games to carry him and Zhu Zhifei, he wasn’t like them who’d be irritable and unwilling to lose.
For Lu Shi, no matter whether he won or lost, his expression never changed.
Racing and fishing were all for earning money.
As for studying, Wei Guanglei believed this person just possessed the IQ and was used to being excellent. Lu Shi had also stated before, ‘placing first in the exams means getting a full scholarship, living in a dormitory with the best conditions, and attaining a certain degree of freedom. I can get first place, so why wouldn’t I take it?’.
Therefore, Wei Guanglei originally assumed that the emotions of this brother of his were too bland, so much so that there was even some obscure pessimism. Probably no existence could easily arouse his care and feelings.
Until Chu Yu appeared.
This person was just like an accident and so Wei Guanglei couldn’t help but overthrow his own judgment.
Thinking about it, he didn’t really know what exactly was going on between Lu Shi and Chu Yu.
But he could see that the degree of Lu Shi’s concern for Chu Yu already exceeded everything else; it was even beyond the range of normal.
Regardless of whether his concern was that of a hunter’s excitement when facing its prey, unrelenting possessiveness, or other things, Wei Guanglei still felt a bit apprehensive.
All of his intense emotions were directed at one person. On the surface, he was unyielding and took the lead to seize the upper hand.
In reality, all his attention, thoughts, and emotions revolved around that one person. He’d already, entirely, plunged himself into passiveness.
The Qingchuan River flowed slowly as the wind blew quite deftly, carrying moist water vapor across their faces.
After finishing half a plate of fried rice, Zhu Zhifei finally placated the hunger in his stomach. He then raised his head and dragged out his tone with passion. “This is the life!”
He stroked his stomach again. “Unfortunately, just thinking of going home and writing two sets of homework makes the pit of my fucking stomach ache!”
Chu Yu, who was eating his fish, was surprised when he heard the other’s words. “It’s almost two o’clock now, yet you still have to do homework when you get home? How late will you have to stay up?”
“My mother enrolled me into two cram schools, so all day tomorrow I’ll be doing homework there. I can finish two tonight. Either way, I can’t sleep when I get back.”
Zhu Zhifei used his chopsticks to poke the remaining half of his fried rice. “My mother is absolute. Second year of high school just started, but she’s already searching up third year recipes1Apparently, there’s a “college entrance examination diet: recommended for third year high school students”. Fearing that I’ll overuse my brain, she asked the neighbors around about what best soups there are for replenishing the brain. So to say, this indicates that my mother is merely just beginning her meritorious deeds by enrolling me into two cram schools. I reckon I won’t even be free on Saturdays next semester.”
No one in Chu Yu’s family cared about his studies, whether or not he made up missed classes was all up to him. Just listening to this right now formed a great feeling of pressure for him.
The evening was peaceful, with wine, food, and brothers. Zhu Zhifei hogged the conversation and vented.
“Since elementary school, my mother often told me to learn properly and study hard so I can make a lot of money in the future and move out of Qingchuan Road. Me? I’m very self-aware. My talent is average; insufficient compared to the top, abundant compared to below2 fall short of the best but be better than the worst. I think it’s related to downward social comparison theory which is when a person looks to another individual or group that they consider to be worse off than themselves in order to feel better about their self or personal situation., and is a tad bit behind her requirements. But I still spared no effort and tried my best.”
He finished a skewered roasted tofu in two bites. “Because I entered Jianing Private in my first year of high school, my mother probably got ahead of herself and stated that she was going to send me abroad. How can I not know how much money my family has? Even if we smash the pot and sell scrap iron, we still wouldn’t have this kind of money. If it weren’t for the fact that half of the school’s tuition and miscellaneous fees are covered by my scholarship, I wouldn’t be attending Jianing Private.”
Wei Guanglei beckoned and asked the boss for two cans of pineapple beer.
He pulled the tab open and put one in Zhu Zhifei’s hand.
Zhu Zhifei laughed and scolded, “Scram, Laozi is a person who wants to return and do his homework, drinking beer my ass!”
He said as such, but his hands were very honest and received it anyway.
Wei Guanglei smiled. “Isn’t this fitting for the mood?”
“Confused adolescent boy pours out his heart by the riverside at night.”
Zhu Zhifei was amused. “You’re the fucking confused boy because Laozi understands thoroughly. Study hard, go to a good school, earn a lot of money, and provide for my mother when she’s old. My goals are settled and definite, confused my ass!”
“Don’t ass this ass that, how uncivilized.”
Wei Guanglei held his can and drank some pineapple beer. “However, if your mother hears this from you, you don’t know how happy she’ll be. She’d definitely cook you an extra egg for breakfast the next day.”
“No need to concern yourself with whether I can have multiple eggs for breakfast or not.”
Zhu Zhifei disliked that his glasses were in the way, so he took them off and placed them aside. “How about you, Shitou, have you thought about it? Are you still going to school?”
Lu Shi, who’d never spoken a word, also raised his head and looked at Wei Guanglei.
Chu Yu ate quietly, conscientiously not interrupting.
Wei Guanglei put his half-empty beer can on the small, square table and smiled a ‘it doesn’t matter’ smile. “Probably not. I’m not like you and Lu-Ge who can forge a path out of studying. Besides, if I went to school, what’s going to happen to my family, to the shop?”
Zhu Zhifei lowered his head, placed the barbecue sticks next to each other in an organized manner, and asked in a lowered volume, “Your dad… no news yet?”
“He’s been dead to me since a long time ago.” Wei Guanglei’s expression turned insipid and the corner of his mouth rose up into a sneer. “He was excessively gambling during that time and lost, so he borrowed from a loan-shark without telling my mother, and since he couldn’t afford to pay it back, he ran away. He abandoned my mother and I, and from the day he ran away and disappeared without a trace, I already considered him dead. My mother and I are both doing well now, at least we don’t have to worry about food and clothing. So whether or not I go to school isn’t really that important to me.”
Chu Yu ate the fish one bite at a time.
He suddenly felt that he was fortunate enough.
Although his father passed away unexpectedly before he was born, and his mother was too busy to care about him, he still had an elder brother and sister, sufficient financial resources, a car, a house, and no worries regarding food and clothing.
He didn’t have to work hard because he’d already obtained what many people yearned for even in their dreams.
So much so that compared to most people, he was one born in Rome.3This stemmed from the proverb, “All road leads to Rome”, meaning different people adopt various methods and all achieve success. Then the second part (can be used together or not) is, “But some people are born in Rome”, meaning life is unfair and there are fortunate people who already possess that success from the moment they are born, not needing to work hard for it. Ngl, I really thought he was born in Rome, I mean that isn’t impossible for the Chu family.
Zhu Zhifei patted Wei Guanglei on the shoulder. “Damn right, your dad really isn’t human. Things being like this right now are also good. After all, letting you do functions and burdening you with chemical formulas is worse than letting you demonstrate an ascension on the spot.”
Wei Guanglei smiled and kicked Zhu Zhifei’s stool. “Screw you, you looking down on me?”
Zhu Zhifei laughed and lifted his plastic stool to hide behind it.
Lu Shi took a sip of tea and spoke to Wei Guanglei, “Remember to say if you don’t have enough money.”
“Mm, I can still pay back on time in the following two months. If I really don’t have enough, I’ll ask you to lend me some.” Wei Guanglei took his can and touched it with Lu Shi’s tea. “Good brother, I won’t say thank you.”
Wei Guanglei drank his beer and Lu Shi drank his tea. “En, I often eat at your house.”
Wei Guanglei’s lips lifted into a smile.
Seeing that the boss was going to the riverbank to collect his net, Zhu Zhifei put down his plastic stool and called Chu Yu from a few steps away, “School Flower, do you want to go take a look together?”
Chu Yu was very interested in such things. “Yes! Wait for me!”
The boss wore a head-mounted searchlight, and Chu Yu and Zhu Zhifei followed him from behind.
The slope of the river bank was steeply soaked, slippery, and dark. They didn’t go down and merely watched from the bank.
Zhu Zhifei stretched his body amidst the night breeze and said inconsistently, “In fact, Shitou wasn’t called his current name at first.”
Chu Yu retracted his gaze from the riverbank and looked towards Zhu Zhifei. “What was he called?”
“Wei Jiaqiang,4魏家强 : 家(jia) meaning family, home, 强(qiang) meaning strong, powerful. hahaha, isn’t it very crude? He changed his name to what it is now just after his father ran away.”
Zhu Zhifei’s tone was very relaxed as he explained to Chu Yu. “Guanglei, it means to be open and upright5He’s saying that 光磊 (guanglei) is from 光明磊落 (guang ming lei lou).. At that time, his family’s debt was being collected by loan sharks. Any kind of threat or splashing paint6yow, i didn’t know loan sharks do this! This is so rude and mafia like. I only know they sticker those red papers on your furniture., everything was there. Shitou stated that in his lifetime, he’ll never be like his dad; a mouse crossing the street7someone detested by everyone/ a target of scorn., a good for nothing.”
“He was going to live honestly and honourably.”
Chu Yu couldn’t tell how he felt. He listened to the sound of water splashing as the fishing net was pulled up. He commented, “A very good name.”
“Yeah, with Shitou’s educational level, it must’ve been hard. Who knows how long he rummaged through the dictionary just to form this name.”
Zhu Zhifei mercilessly dissed Wei Guanglei. Pushing up his glasses, he said, “Lu-Ge and I have always been concerned about whether Shitou should continue studying. Households like ours are bound to rise up only if we tread upon the road of studying. Therefore, Lu-Ge still drags around Shitou to give him make-up lessons.
“But now, I feel that people are really different from each other.
“Although my family doesn’t have much money, we have enough basic necessities; there’s nothing for me to worry about. Concentrating on my studies will lead me to virtuous achievements and a successful conclusion. Whereas Shitou is different, he’s already carrying the heavy burden of his family’s livelihood on his shoulders. So, as a brother, do I… just need to respect his choice? School Flower, do you think my way of thinking is correct?”
Chu Yu didn’t nod or shake his head. “My brother taught me that everyone has their own way of living life, so it isn’t good to forcibly intervene in the lives of others. Perhaps life is like drinking water, one has to experience for himself whether it’s warm or cold?”8 one has to experience and know the joy and sorrows, up and downs of life.
Zhu Zhifei gazed at Chu Yu with some amazement. “School Flower, I didn’t expect you to be this kind of School Flower.”
“Then what did you think I was like?”
Zhu Zhifei touched his nose. “Uh, probably a… ‘why don’t they eat meat’9When Emperor Hui of Jin was told that his people don’t have enough rice to eat, he asked, “Why don’t they eat meat?” It means someone of the higher class who is very oblivious to the plight of people below them. type of person? Hahaha, after all, you and I, Shitou etc, the gap between our environment of growth is really far apart.”
Chu Yu glared. “I’m not stupid!”
Zhu Zhifei chuckled and apologized, “Mm, my fault, I took it for granted.”
The owner of the barbecue stall was dragging the fishing net up. Zhu Zhifei raised his voice and questioned, “How is it, how much?”
The boss was so gleeful that the creases on his face seemed to be smiling. “These fish have no brains, they all jump straight into the net!”
Zhu Zhifei laughed.
Chu Yu also laughed.
He felt very happy at this moment.
As they walked back—as he watched the shabby barbecue stall as well as Lu Shi and Wei Guanglei sitting at the small, square table—a thought suddenly circulated in Chu Yu’s mind.
Zhu Zhifei’s goal was to study hard, get into a good school, find a good job, earn money, and take care of his family.
Wei Guanglei’s goal was to pay off their debts, take care of their auto repair shop, and share the burden with his mother.
Even the owner of the barbecue stall might have the goal of attracting more diners, bait more fish, make money, support his family, and raise his children.
Then… what about himself? What was his goal?
Chu Yu halted in his steps.
He suddenly discovered that in spite of living for 17 years, he was unable to say what his goal was.
Within a few minutes of driving away from the river, they returned to Qingchuan Road.
Chu Yu looked around, surprised. “So close to the river?”
“Yeah,” Wei Guanglei pointed in a direction, “over there, after passing through that alley, there’s a path straight down to the river. It’s exactly why living on Qingchuan Road isn’t that bad, there’s a river breeze and summer is nice and cool.”
When the car drove back to the warehouse, Wei Guanglei pulled down the shutters and locked it.
Clapping the dust on his hands, Wei Guanglei looked at Chu Yu. “How are you gonna get back? Or are you just going to stay?”
Chu Yu waved his hand. “It isn’t troublesome, it’s very convenient for me to take a taxi home.”
Wei Guanglei didn’t force him and instead asked Lu Shi, “Zhu Zhifei will rush home to finish his homework in a while. Lu-Ge, how about continuing with another round? There’s a pot-stewed dish at home.”
Lu Shi put his hands in his jean pockets, revealing only a black wrist brace.
“No, I’ll send him off.”
“Ah?” Chu Yu didn’t like inconveniencing people. “I’m not a girl, so it isn’t necessary for someone to send me off.”
Lu Shi didn’t speak. He simply turned around and walked outside.
It was a given, he’d still see him off.
It was unknown if it was due to excessive adrenaline secretion and excitement while in the race, or because of the extra blood he drank when sucking Lu Shi in the car, but as soon as Chu Yu entered the vehicle, his whole body went weak and his eyes couldn’t be opened.
They hadn’t driven that far yet when Chu Yu laid his head against the glass window and fell asleep in a trance.
As the taxi drove on an empty road, the street lights along the way unceasingly came and went; the warm-colored lights passed through the car’s windows, casting a layer of light and shadow.
They entered a tunnel.
An unchanging scene remained in Lu Shi’s field of vision. Lu Shi shifted his sight and saw Chu Yu’s eyelashes cast a faint shadow under the light.
He slept wobbly, with slightly furrowed brows, bent fingers loosely clutching at his cuffs, and a quiet and harmless breathing.
After staring for a while, Lu Shi lowered his eyes, then stretched out his hand and pulled the other over, resting him on his shoulder.
The movements were very gentle.
Chu Yu instinctively rubbed against the cloth on Lu Shi’s shoulder and unconsciously murmured, “Lu Shi…”
The taxi then drove out of the tunnel.
Sparse silhouettes appeared on either side of the street, and cold neon signs fleeted outside the car window. After a few seconds, Lu Shi responded in a low voice, “En.”
These two chapters have so many footnotes *sweat* hope you guys didn’t mind.