The thin fist couldn’t bear much strength, so instead he suffered even more.
“Fighting back, ah. I ask you to steal a cigarette, and you fight back?” The leading boy grabbed Liao Nanqing’s collar, curled his mouth, and kicked his leg like a ruffian, “You dare to stare at me?”
Su Beimo finally knew why this kid insisted on buying cigarettes.
Su Beimo had been studying well since he was a child. When he was in high school, he didn’t attend the No.1 High School, but was admitted to the city’s high school. Everyone there was eager to study and go to college, no one played the vulgar game of school bullying at all. If there was any, then Su Beimo didn’t notice it.
He was the key student in the top class, with excellent grades, outstanding sports skills, and a cheerful personality.
Negativity on school and him were two different worlds, and besides, this kind of mistake shouldn’t have occurred.
Liao Nanqing gritted his teeth and said nothing. Su Beimo didn’t know if this stupid boy was not afraid of pain or was used to being beaten, but he suddenly felt that he was quite stubborn.
Looking carefully, you could see that Liao Nanqing had been trembling all the time. Like a bullied puppy, he wanted to be fierce but couldn’t. The limbs that were so thin and malnourished were no match for the others’ thick arms and legs.
Su Beimo sighed, disgusted by the occurrence of bullying. He took out his phone and got closer to them. Focusing on them, he took a few pictures carefully. The sounds caught their attention, including the fierce one who was pulling Liao Nanqing’s collar.
“What are you doing?!” The boy loosened Liao Nanqing’s collar in a panic.
“Nothing, ah.” Su Beimo’s expression was calm as he put his phone in his bag. He was tall and belonged to the basketball team. Standing in front of them was a dark shadow, making them stupefied, not daring to act rashly.
They were at most a few high school students who were used to family spoiling them, the pampered ones who never had a fight. So they didn’t really quarrel with Su Beimo. The leader spit at Liao Nanqing: “Count it your luck today.”
After walking a few steps, he turned around and glared at Su Beimo fiercely.
Liao Nanqing touched his slightly swollen face, and bent over in silence for a while to pat the dust off his legs. He hesitated to look towards Su Beimo, unable to guess what the other party meant. But Su Beimo had no idea at all. He turned around to wait for the bus. Liao Nanqing limped and followed him to the bus stop to wait for the bus, and then leaned a little to the side.
He wanted to talk but stopped.
At 4:20, the bus stopped with a leisure pace, and Su Beimo got on. Liao Nanqing still didn’t speak and didn’t get into the bus. The bus was very empty, so Su Beimo found a seat by the window. He looked at the silly boy carelessly.
The next second after the bus started, he saw Liao Nanqing lips moved; thank you.
Very light, so light that it was really just a mouth shape, without any sound.
It was so hot in summer, and the hot road stones were dull and stifling. The lonely Liao Nanqing was like a withered grass, and quickly disappeared from his sight as soon as the bus moving.
Su Beimo yawned.
He absent-mindedly thought: This baozi1包子: steamed stuffed bun, the temper is really scary.
When he got home, a pair of clean leather shoes was already resting at the door, Su Jing had already arrived. The smell of braised pork in the kitchen was Su Jing’s specialty. Su Beimo took the okra he bought to wash, and the two of them cooked a few dishes and had a simple dinner.
During the meal, Su Jing remembered something. He gave Su Beimo a card, and said: “I put a sum of money in the card. You are a senior, and you are going out for an internship soon. You should use this money.”
“Mom gave me money too, I don’t need that much.” Su Beimo didn’t need it.
Su Jing paused for a while and took the card back. After eating a few mouthfuls, he continued: “You still have to visit your grandmother often. She loves you the most”
“En, I know.”
“You make some time this Sunday.” Su Jing thought for a while and said, “I’ll show you a house in the city. If you think it’s okay, you can book it.”
Su Jing was not a person who could talk about feelings, and couldn’t talk a lot with his son. For many years, he had been working hard in the company’s R&D department and made a lot of money. However, he didn’t spend much money, and instead saved it all for Su Beimo.
Su Jing was not good at words, and seemed to have a weak relationship with Su Beimo, but in fact he was very concerned. Whenever Su Beimo said that he would come back home, Su Jing would try his best to make time to come back and cook a meal for Su Beimo no matter how busy he was.
The line of sight outside the dining room window was a bit blurred. As the night approached, the sunset glow came to an end, and cicada sang after another. Across the transparent glass windows, the setting sun was orange and red, like an afterimage left after a fire burned out.
Soon, that touch of color disappeared, and it was covered with a thick night.
The night was deep and lights were on in every household in the community. The street lights downstairs were also lit one after another, and the mosquitoes circled under the lights. Many residents who took a walk after meals gathered to chat, the laid-back atmosphere made people relax physically and mentally.
Su Beimo made a cup of coffee and yawned lazily.
This was his last summer vacation to spend comfortably. When university started, he would be in senior year, and he would have to go to the company for internships and learn how to survive in society.
It was during the noon the next day when he met Liao Nanqing again, and his face was bruised. He didn’t know if it was a bump or something. Wearing long sleeves on a hot summer day, he looked even thinner. During the lunch break, students usually dined in the school cafeteria. Few people come to the stationery store under the scorching sun on such a hot day. Not to mention, it took about 10 minutes to walk from No.1 High School. Liao Nanqing’s forehead was slightly wet and covered with sweat, sliding down his cheeks, and his eyes dark.
Su Beimo was taken aback by his appearance, and suddenly couldn’t turn his mind.
“Three packs of cigarettes, the cheap ones.”
Liao Nanqing’s voice was very low. He was deep in the smog, and he almost couldn’t see the expression on his face. A jacket was covering his thin body, giving off a sour sweat smelled in response to the weather. Muffled, bitter, as if someone strangled his neck and pinched inside it.
This feeling of helplessness was invisible. Su Beimo didn’t know what was wrong, he became a little impatient: “You won’t tell your parents or teachers?”
Liao Nanqing drooped his head and said nothing, he quietly took out money from his pocket.
Su Beimo satirized him: “Coward.”
Liao Nanqing’s hand paused for a moment, without refuting, he lowered his head even more.
Su Beimo thought this guy might be used to being bullied. So he took out his cell phone and asked him: “What’s your phone number? I will send you yesterday’s picture, and you will show it to your teacher. No. 1 High School’s rule has always been strict, this evidence is enough to make them confess.”
“It’s useless.” Liao Nanqing said softly.
“Teacher won’t believe me.” Liao Nanqing hesitated for a while and said, concealing a very important fact, “My grades are not good……”
“Where are your parents?” Su Beimo warned himself countless times not to be nosy, but Liao Nanqing’s back was pressed against the dark clouds, it made people feel uncomfortable.
“They’re divorced… don’t care about me.” Liao Nanqing’s eyes dodged him. At the end, he looked at the ground timidly, and was relieved when he was sure that he really didn’t know the truth.
Su Beimo suddenly didn’t know what to say and changed his words: “How much cigarette?”
“Are there ten yuan?”
“Yes.” Su Beimo threw him three boxes, and looked at his injured face, feeling very uncomfortable. The air from the old air conditioner was not very cool, so Su Beimo still used a small fan, and the sound was annoying. The action of collecting money had become long, the timeline was winding and the suffocating feeling of summer noon was infinitely magnified.
Liao Nanqing hid the cigarette in his jacket and turned around to leave, but Su Beimo stopped him. Liao Nanqing turned his head nervously, for fear that Su Beimo would change his mind and stop selling his cigarettes.
He was hesitating whether to run, but then he saw Su Beimo put two band-aids on the counter: “Here you are.”
Liao Nanqing’s eyes lit up suddenly, just for a moment; the smog dispersed for a second.
“Thank, thank you…”
Or maybe there was not even a second, but for Liao Nanqing, it was enough to recall for all day. Su Beimo didn’t know that he was the only person who hadn’t looked at Liao Nanqing with colored glasses in these years. Two pieces of band-aids as a gift made Liao Nanqing sure that he was a good person. This sense of identity was undoubtedly another kind of pressure.
Perhaps, it was because Su Beimo didn’t know Liao Nanqing’s life story. Perhaps, it was Su Beimo pitying Liao Nanqing.
But either way, Liao Nanqing took the band-aids.
The first day, the second day, the third day…
Liao Nanqing came to buy cigarettes, and the cigarettes he bought were more expensive each time. But his face was always bruised, and Su Beimo couldn’t stand it, so he gave another two band-aids. Liao Nanqing was embarrassed at first, but gradually, he accepted it calmly. And then he would thank him. He was very careful in his actions, as if the two pieces of band-aids were precious things and kept them in his pocket.
Su Beimo took a box of band-aids and gave it to Liao Nanqing in the form of two pieces a day.
Other than that, they didn’t talk too much.
Every time he saw the two band-aids placed on the counter, there was always a light in Liao Nanqing’s eyes, very small and faint. Like a sacred ceremony, he actually began to look forward to buying cigarettes every day.
He wanted to talk to Su Beimo, but he didn’t know what to say, so he could only solemnly accept the subtle kindness from Su Beimo.
He had always been reluctant to use the band-aids, so it was piled up in the drawers at home day by day.
Every time Liao Nanqing had instant noodles for dinner, he would look at them. This kind of kindness from outside was novel for him, and he also yearned for it.
The summer make-up classes were so boring, but Liao Nanqing didn’t think so. He was full of Su Beimo, wanting to say a word to him. Just one sentence. Aside from buying cigarettes, a word other than parents, or classmates. Ordinary, plain, just like a friend.
On Wednesday afternoon, Liao Nanqing skipped class for the first time.
The boys asked him to smoke together at noon but he didn’t want to. For the first time, he tremblingly broke out of the school wall. He walked around the stationery store and saw Su Beimo, who was saying goodbye to his aunt.
With a blue backpack on his back, he walked all the way, with Liao Nanqing cautiously following behind, following him all the way to the food market and watching him buy a lot of vegetables. Liao Nanqing thought of the instant noodles at his home, thinking that he would be eating outside tonight, and he would also eat vegetables and stir-fries.
Thinking carefully, he hadn’t eaten home-cooked food for a long time.
He saw Su Beimo buy eggplant, tofu, fish, and some cooked food.
Liao Nanqing thought, he would also order some sauce-stuffed eggplant, tofu soup, and braised fish later. He just didn’t know how much it would cost, and whether he had enough for this month’s expenses.
When he was thinking about it, Su Beimo had already stood in front of him: “Why are you following me?”
- 1包子: steamed stuffed bun