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ISTIL Chapter 1

Small Town

His eyes were a bit sore.

 

Shi An put the pencil in its silver-white case on the page as he leaned back and rested on the back of the chair.

 

The snow-white collar of the shirt was a little strangled, and he reached up to the top two buttons and slowly unbuttoned them.

 

When the desk lamp was turned off, the room was soon soaked in the night, showing a slightly bluish hue. The street lamp shone faintly on the window pane, penetrating a warm yellow glow.

 

He opened the window to ventilate the room.

 

The cool evening breeze of the winter night gently lifted his hair.

 

 

The nights in Qingjiu Alley were mostly quiet.

 

The night in early winter was already very thick; the bluestone pavement was covered with light moonlight, the lamps hanging in front of the small stores haloed with a soft glow, and the whispers of pedestrians in the cold and warm alleys sounded unreal.

 

The small town was sleepy and lazy at night.

 

Shi An leaned against the window, his eyelashes blinking tiredly.

 

He simply bent one leg up and rested his head sideways on his knee, maintaining this position and gradually losing consciousness.

 

“Yan Liang——where did you kid go? What did I tell you? I told you to watch the fire! Look at what has become of it?!”

 

The middle-aged man spoke with a soft southern accent, without deterrence and the volume was indeed enough.

 

Shi An opened his eyes.

 

Just waking up, his body was still a little soft. He slightly tilted his head, pressing his forehead against the glass.

 

Yan Zhao stood in the middle of the street carrying a mop stick.

 

The southern man was not tall, with fine features, dressed in a white chef clothes, holding a mop stick in his hand with the tip of the stick slanted on the road.

 

The air in the alley came alive instantly. The customers of Yan’s restaurant poked their heads out, the neighbors were lying on their windowsills shivering with laughter, and the children passing by biting into their candies and blinking their bright eyes at the hilarity.

 

“What are you looking at, save Xiao Liang,” someone shouted with a thick laugh: “I’ll do it first. Zhaozi!1Yan Zhao. Zi means nothing here. It is to make the word ‘symmetrical’ because nouns need to be two syllables There is a grapefruit at home, can you come to eat it?”

 

“Don’t look for him, Old Zhao. My house has cooked chicken soup, come take a bowl and go back. ”

 

“Uncle Zhao, my mom has pancakes, come and have a piece?”

 

“Come to my place, we have a lot of snacks tonight.”

 

“I have a guest here. Zhaozi come and have a drink?”

 

Yan Zhao seemed to be angry with them, pretending to be fierce with a stick flung to the ground and threatened with a sullen face: “Don’t help that stinky boy, ah. Tell me, where is he?”

 

Hearing the movement, Zhou Yuan hurriedly loosened the socket of the TV and shouted: “Uncle Zhao, my TV is broken! My mother is in a hurry to catch up with the drama. You quickly come and see if you can repair ah?!”

 

Father Zhou and Mother Zhou held back a few laughs and agreed in a serious manner. Yan Zhao stood still as he scratched his hair, hesitatingly turning to check Zhou’s TV.

 

The alley fell silent.

 

Shi An returned to his desk and pulled out his stool to sit down.

 

The wind had been blowing for too long just now, so the fingers were slightly stiff from squeezing the pencil, hesitating to put it down.

 

The tip of the pen hung on the page, leaving a thin shadow.

 

Before the fingers warmed up, someone knocked at the door.

 

There were three knocks on the door, not too soft, and three more after a while.

 

Probably knocking on the door with knuckles, it sounded light and gentle.

 

He squeezed his pencil and went to open the door.

 

Yan Liang was standing outside the door.

 

The person raised his eyebrows very slightly, the corners of his mouth hooked, and his upper lip faintly revealed his small fangs.

 

Shi An looked back.

 

Yan Zhao didn’t chase him.

 

“Can I come in?” He stared into the room, “Someone’s after me.”

 

Shi An gave him his place before turning to the side without leaving a trace and rebuttoning the two buttons at the top of his shirt.

 

Yang Liang entered the door, folded his long legs, and sat down cross-legged on the wooden floor.

 

“Don’t sit on the floor.” Shi An buttoned up and straightened his collar, which was already without a single crease, once again.

 

He bent down and dragged a light-colored soft cushion to Yan Liang.

 

Yan Liang was still sitting on the floor, raising his hand to hug the cushion in his arms.

 

“Did you sleep there just now?” He pointed towards the bay window, his eyebrows frowned slightly, “You will catch a cold, go back to bed if you are sleepy.”

 

Shi An answered him quietly: “Not sleepy.”

 

The room was very quiet, with only the tip of the pen and paper making a slight rustle.

 

Staying in a small space with Yan Liang, Shi An’s attention was slightly distracted than usual; as soon as Yan Liang moved, he would notice it.

 

Yan Liang stood behind him.

 

The youth’s clean silhouette was casted on the pages of the book.

 

He was so close that Shi An could smell the light and clean scent of lemon soap on his collar.

 

Shi An’s ears were very sensitive, and the soft breath quickly tingled in his ears.

 

His expression remained unchanged as his pencil moved steadily across the page.

 

After a while, he saw Yan Liang’s slender finger pointing at a proving question.

 

“How do you prove this question?” Yan Liang asked him, “I couldn’t find all the conditions after calculating for a long time.”

 

His voice was on the low side; the grainy texture was so obvious that it tickled people’s eardrums.

 

He propped one hand on the corner of the table, his other hand unconsciously rested on Shi An’s shoulder.

 

Looking at this posture from behind, it was as if he had encircled Shi An in his arms.

 

The temperature of the boy’s palm was a little too high. Through the thin cloth, his shoulder was burning limp and numb.

 

Shi An’s pen tip finally paused, and the knuckles that held the pen that were originally loose were unconsciously tightened a bit.

 

His eyelashes moved slightly, but his voice was still so light that there was almost no fluctuation. He said, “Tell you?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Yan Liang dragged a chair over and sat down.

 

The chair was not high. He held his cheeks and bent his long legs in an uncomfortable position.

 

Shi An’s explanation on the topic was clear, clever, and simple, so it was easy to understand and comfortable to listen to.

 

“Ah, got it,” Yan Liang straightened up: “Thank you Teacher Shi.”

 

He was born with a pair of beautiful peach blossom eyes; the eye shape was smooth and beautiful, with a subtle radian at the end of the eyes, and the pupils color were deep.

 

When he smiled, the tips of his slightly narrow eyes narrowed slightly and two small fangs were revealed by his thin lips.

 

Shi An lowered his eyelashes, the pencil twirling swiftly between his fingers as he said, “That’s good.”

 

When the voice fell, someone hurriedly opened the door.

 

Shi An and Yan Liang, one standing one sitting down, turned their heads back together to meet Yan Zhao’s gaze.

 

Yan Zhao, who was carrying the mop stick, pretended to be fierce and pointed at Yan Liang with the tip of the stick.

 

“Where’s the fire you said you’d watch for me? Ah!?” He tried his best to keep his voice low, but unfortunately the warm, soft southern accent remained unthreatening.

 

He randomly scratched the tip of the stick in the air, obviously not very proficient. When he could not hold it firmly, the stick almost fell to the ground.

 

“Come here! Pay me for the claypot rice!!”

 

He spread his legs and took a step.

 

Yan Liang gave a low poof.

 

Shi An turned his head and saw the beautifully shaped Adam’s apple moving up and down on his long, slender neck.

 

“My dad has been watching those youth dramas lately and always wants to beat people with a stick like the parents on TV,” Yan Liang bent his body even lower. His lips almost pressed against Shi An’s ears, and his voice had an undisguised smile, “He took out all the mop sticks at home.”

 

The broken hair around his ears rose and fell slightly with the warm airflow, and he felt his ears were going to burn.

 

Shi An leaned back in his chair and gave a faint muffled hum.

 

“Xiao An, don’t help him, I asked him to keep an eye on the fire, but he was playing with his phone. If I hadn’t smelled it, the kitchen would have burned down!” Yan Zhao took a few steps forward and raised his stick as if to knock Yan Liang’s leg.

 

Yan Liang swung around and quickly avoided.

 

The scorching temperature in Shi An’s ear dropped quickly.

 

“You don’t run! Make claypot rice with me!” Yan Zhao shoved a bag of pancakes that no one knew where it came from into Shi An’s hand before he backhandedly knocked Yan Liang’s leg, “Don’t you move!”

 

Yan Liang pursed his thin lips, as if he wanted to hold back the untimely smile, but a shallow crease was already drawn at the end of his eyes.

 

He took a long stride and spun around to avoid the stick, turning and running downstairs, not forgetting to probe back and giving Shi An a goodbye gesture.

 

Yan Zhao ran out after him

 

Shi An held the steaming paper bag with pancakes in his hand, and the end of his eyes curved slightly.

 

He went to the window to look out through the glass, and saw Yan Zhao, who was jumping, in a glance.

 

Yan Liang had run far away, his shirt was garishly white in the night.

 

The boy was already taller than his father, and from a distance, his figure was tall and sharply defined.

 

Yan Liang faced Yan Zhao with his hands behind his back, and walked backwards, seeming to be smiling, his eyelashes gleaming slightly under the street light.

 

He took a few steps, and occasionally jumped a few steps childishly, looking reckless and happy.

 

The joking voices of the neighbours grew louder again, and Shi An looked in that direction for a while before he lowered his eyes and closed the curtains.

 

 


 

T/N: I pick up another short story. I think, if you love TMCTM, you’d definitely love this! It’s one of my favourites together with TMCTM!

 

 


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  • 1
    Yan Zhao. Zi means nothing here. It is to make the word ‘symmetrical’ because nouns need to be two syllables
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