Chapter 5: Time Is Like a Sword
1. Wang Zheng’s Lover
A teenage girl’s heart is like a flower, it will flourish for the person they like and also wither for the person they like.
Some people’s flourishing and withering are like a red rose under the sunlight, no matter whether it’s opening or closing, it’s all done spectacularly, becoming a legend in the memories of other people.
Some people’s flourishing and withering are like a wild lily in a mountain valley, No matter if it’s opening or closing, it is silent, becoming a secret buried in time.
I was too concentrated on my own things so only a long time after the speech competition finished did I learn that Wang Zheng didn’t go to technical school.
In that era, in our city, no matter how bad your grades were, you still went to technical school because technical school was jointly run with several large scale state owned enterprises (nowadays it’s called monopolized industries). After graduating from technical school, you go straight into various large state owned enterprises depending on which specialized field you’re in. You’ll definitely have a secure job with a good income and just as good benefits.
So parents with lower expectation’s didn’t worry if their children’s grades were bad because even if their grades were bad, they would still have a secure job as a way out. However, Wang Zheng has a strong personality, in spite of his parents’ cries and threats, he still wouldn’t go to technical school. At that type, this type of action was completely a kind of suicide.
Wang Zheng took his drum set and came to ‘Across the Water’, he also found a few friends who were going the path as him, formed a band and started to perform live.
At the time, most of the dance halls in our city played tapes as accompaniment and there pretty much weren’t any halls that used live bands as accompaniment like Brother Li did. Plus, Wang Zheng was truly handsome and once the lights were on him, he started playing the drums with no restraint like there wasn’t anyone else present making all the girls who watched him become delirious.
Brother Li found a few pretty girls who dressed up like the female leads of Chuing Yao’s television series to sing on stage. Quickly, ‘Across the Water’ became extremely popular in our city. No matter if it was male or female, they all stove to be the first to go to ‘Across the Water.’
However, there’s also no need to think of the dance hall as being too complicated, society’s morals in that era were much better than it is now. Dance halls were only a place to listen to songs and dance. One of my classmate’s parents went to dance there regularly and they also brought my classmate and her sister along to play there in the weekends, the grades of both siblings were very good.
But it can’t be said that the dance hall didn’t have any random things, there were pornography among the young people but those were definitely hidden under the table.
Because Wang Zheng performed at the dance hall, Xiao Fel also started going regularly.
The girls dressed and acted completely different to a student at school. Even when saying a simple sentence to a guy, they would say it sweetly and tactfully.
Wang Zheng became more and more cold towards Xiao Fei to the extent that he really hated Xiao Fei following him to the dance hall. Xiao Fei became confused and her confidence broke down bit by bit. She no longer stopped other people calling her ‘Fei Er’ and subconsciously started dressing like Chen Fei Er from ‘The Flowering Season Of Age Sixteen’, as if she would only be able to surpass everyone else if she dressed like a celebrity.
I didn’t know about any of these. I was busy striving to succeed in the speech competition and busy chasing the shadow in my heart. It was until Xiao Bo told me, “Qi Qi, last night Ge Xiao Fei was drunk and fought with other people. For your sake, Brother Li didn’t say anything but it’s best if you go persuade her not to go to ‘Across the Water’ anymore. She’s too young and she doesn’t have parental supervision so she’s not suited to go to dance halls.
That night, I also went to ‘Across the Water’. Although the school strictly forbade middle school students to enter dance halls, but it was very clear that there were quite a lot of middle school students coming in and out. There were a number of people who I recognized, Li Shen from our class, the flower of Class (8), all were beautiful teenage girls. The younger girls would have lots of guys chasing them. Not everyone were as pure hearted and desire free like Guan He, between dull textbooks and interesting guys, most of the pretty girls would choose the latter.
On the stage, a girl with long hair, wearing a white silk dress, was singing ‘The Moon Represents My Heart’. Pairs of guys and girls were lighting dancing along on the dance floor. The lighting was soft and picturesque like starlight, shining on them as they danced.
Candlelight shone from every small table beside the dance floor, it really seemed like you were across the water and no longer in the human world.
It was the first time I entered the dance hall and I didn’t know where to put my feet and legs but I didn’t display this ignorance, instead I walked composedly from table to table, carefully looking for Xiao Fei. Only when I looked clearly did I realize that this wasn’t the ‘Across the Water’ from the ‘Book of Songs’, the twinkling lights weren’t romantic but full of lust.
I looked around but couldn’t find Xiao Fei. Just as I was walking past a room, I saw a glimpse on a girl with two small ponytails. The guys around her were pouring her drinks. She had her head lowered and her shoulders were trembling as if she was crying.
I immediately rushed in but a hand suddenly reached out from nowhere and grabbed hold of my wrist. The other hand pressed down on my shoulder and forced me to retreat. After I retreated, the girl on the sofa raised her head. She was around twenty or so and she was giggling, her whole body lightly shaking with laughter and the guy who was playing with her was Little Six.
I nearly just caused trouble.
The person who held my wrist and forced me out of the room was Zhang Jun and standing beside him was his kindergarten teacher girlfriend.
Although he saved me, I didn’t feel grateful and instead, glared at him and threw off his hand.
Zhang Jun coldly asked, “What do you want to do?”
I asked, “Where’s Ge Xiao Fei?”
Zhang Jun said, “Not here.”
However, his girlfriend said, “Ge Xiao Fei? Is it that person who thinks of herself as Chen Fei Er?
I glared at her. She laughed and pointed towards another room, “Over there.”
I qickly ran over and saw Xiao Fei and a group of guys and girls squeezed together. When I say ‘squeezed’, I truly wasn’t exaggerating. The sofa originally could only fit seven or eight people but was currently holding more than ten. The guys and girls were all you hold me and I cuddle you. There were people drinking alcohol and people smoking. Under the dim lighting, the girls who wore makeup all pretty much looked exactly the same.
I didn’t dare believe the scene I saw in front of me and my heart hurt to the utmost. I squeezed over to pull Xiao Fei. I don’t know whether Xiao Fei was drunk or had eaten something she shouldn’t have, she was laughing dazedly. I pulled her but she unhappily pulled away my hand.
The people around her all laughed. Many of them were impatiently and shouted straight out, “Get lost!” “Don’t seek to be beaten!” I didn’t say anything. I pulled Xiao Fei up with force and the guy next to her got angry. He stood up and wanted to hit me but behind me, Zhang Jun said, “Let her go.”
That guy sat back down again. I half carried and half dragged Xiao Fei out. She was in my arms yelling unwillingly, shocking the people who watched. Luckily the manager had seen me before or else the people watching might have clashed with me. The manager helped pull Xiao Fei to the side. Xiao Fei lay on the sofa laughing foolishly.
I looked at her but I didn’t know what to do. How did she change to this? This kind of hairstyle was truly like Chen Fei Er’s but where was Chen Fei Er’s pure and clean temperament? Where was Chen Fei Er’s positive attitude during awkward situations?
I asked the manager, “Is she only drunk or……”
The manager carefully inspected her then told me, “She’s only drunk, she didn’t eat anything bad.”
I was slightly more at ease, “Where’s Wang Zheng?”
The manager looked at his watch then said, “It’s not yet time for him to come on stage but it’s soon.”
“Does Wang Zheng have a girlfriend?”
“The female guests who come here all like Wang Zheng.”
The manager’s answer was very clever. However, I didn’t decide to give her the opportunity to shirk responsibility. I pointed at Xiao Fei and asked, “How does he treat this girl? Has he bullied her before?”
The manager hesitated, I continued, “If Xiao Bo was standing here asking you, would you also be so hesitant?”
She immediately said, “Average, but he’s also a bit impatient with her and treats her worse than anyone else.”
I was playing with a candle from the table and the wax dripped onto my hand but I didn’t wipe it off, instead, I tilted the candle and concentrated on watching it drip into my palm.
The manager sat down by my side and overcautiously said, “Wang Zheng isn’t a bad person, there are lots of people who like him but he has never used these girls’ feelings to take advantage of them. I think……I think that it’s for her good that he’s treating her badly. I heard the band talk privately, Wang Zheng is currently saving up money. He wants to go to Guang Zhou in the future. There are lots of people there who also like music and there will be companies looking for him to record.”
I was stunned and dazedly watched the candle wax drip into my palm. The manager quietly said, “I’m going back to work. Wang Zheng will come on stage after another few minutes, do you want to drink anything?”
A girl with two braids was currently on stage singing, ‘Don’t Pick Roadside Wildflowers’, she had a lively stage atmosphere, attracting the people below the stage to laugh along with her.
After she finished singing, the atmosphere in the dance hall calmed down. The older people started to leave one afther the other. More and more young people came on the dance floor.
As I was suspiciously watching the young people gather on the dance floor, suddenly, the sound of a guitar started, and with the drumming, the rock and roll started. The entire dance floor changed from tepid middle aged people to roused youths.
The guys and girls on the dance floor were all very excited. They waved their fists while loudly singing with the bad as if they were venting out everything they’ve been suppressing up to now.
A handsome guy wearing tight black leather pants and a white shirt was currently concentrating all his attention on playing the drums. His eyes were downcast and he had an unconcerned expression. He didn’t look once at the crowd and was only immersed in his own world. His long hair moved with his strong body movements and paired with the calmness on his face, it created a contrasting charm. So assertive, distinct, hot, yet so indifferent to other people, no wonder the girls all went crazy for him.
In a second, I seemed to understand Wang Zheng from the music, apart from caring about himself, nothing else exists. No wonder Xiao Fei likes him, how similar he was to her!He acted as if there was no one else and only lived for himself, so although Xiao Fei cared about him, he only cared about his music.
I turned around only to find Xiao Fei no longer on the sofa. I hurriedly squeezed into the dance floor to look for her. Looking at Wang Zheng, I felt worried, just how much did Xiao Fei like him?
After their song ended, the music on stage changed to ‘Nothing to My Name’.
“I once endlessly asked, when will you come with me, but you always laughed at me for having nothing to my name.”
The crowd became more frenzied, the boys and girls around me all started to shout. It was the first time the me who had never come in contact with rock and roll before understood it’s charm.
I had difficult weaving through the crowd searching for Xiao Fei. When I finally saw her, she was staggering along, trying to climb up the stage as if wanting to grab Wang Zheng. The guy who had her in his arms appeared and went to hug her. Xiao Fei wanted to push him away and pushed for a few times before finally succeeding. Just as she was about to leave, she was pulled into the guy’s arms again. Xiao Fei turned around and gave him a slap in the face and without restraint, he also gave her a slap back.
Everyone was still reveling in the deafening sounds of the music, and no one saw the chaos happening in the corner of the dance floor. Although Wang Zheng saw the scene beneath his foot, he was unconcerned and continued drumming indifferently.
I finally squeezed to the front of the stage. That person still wanted to hug Xiao Fei. This time before Xiao Fei moved, I slapped his face. He was dazed for a bit then let out his fury, wanting to hit me. I picked up a steel pipe lamp and considered if I should swing it on his head. He saw that I had something in my hand and stopped. His brothers gathered around and smirked at me.
Because it was at a corner of the dance floor, it was very close to the tables. There were still unfinished alcohol and drinks on the table. In that instant, I had a really evil thought. If I spilled the drinks on their bodies then pulled out the electric wire from the steel pipe lamp and threw it on them, I don’t know what would happen, if it was as the books said, that liquid which were not pure can conduct electricity.
However, Zhang Jun and Xiao Bo didn’t give me this opportunity to verify my thoughts. The two of them blocked my front and back. Xiao Bo’s face was livid. He grabbed the lamp from my hands and pulled me away. The person beside him pulled Xiao Fei along.
Brother Li was in his office waiting for us. When he saw me, he smiled, “Female bandi, how did you plan on tackling a few guys alone?”
I didn’t say anything. He stared at me then looked at Xiao Fei who was now sober, “For Wang Zheng again! So fucking annoying! Call Wang Zheng over!”
Wang Zheng entered and saw the room full of people but he had no reaction and wore a very calm expression.
Brother Li said, “This girl is our little sister’s friend. Today because of you, our little sister nearly clashed with Little Six’s people. Speaking clearly with her here today, I no longer want to see her in the dance hall in the future.”
I wanted to prevent it but I thought better of it. Although Brother Li’s method was cruel, it was swift and resolute.
Xiao Fei saw Wang Zheng and immediately smoothed her hair and wiped her tears, she looked both anxious and joyful.
Wang Zheng sat in front of her, stared into her eyes and said very clearly, “I know you like me but I don’t like you. I didn’t say it out in the past because I thought you were small and I saw you as a little sister so I hoped you would understand yourself. But now you’re making such a ruckus I can’t work at ease which makes me extremely despise you. Can you disappear from my sight and let me work at ease?” After he finished, he looked over to Brother Li, “Is this okay?”
Brother Li nodded, Wang Zheng turned and left.
Xiao Fei’s face was ghastly pale. She refused to believe it and stared at Wang Zheng’s back, loudly shouting, “Wang Zheng, Brother Wang Zheng……”
Wang Zheng ignored her and quickly disappeared down the corridor.
If Xiao Fei started crying loudly, I would actually feel a bit more at ease but she stupidly stared outside as if she had lost her soul. I’ve never seen Xiao Fei like this and I worriedly called out, “Xiao Fei!”
Xiao Fei suddenly shouted, “It’s all you, why do you care! Who told you to meddle!” She shouted as she ran outside. I was about to chase her but Xiao Bo pulled me back and gave orders to the person standing by the door, “Go watch out for her, take her home.”
From small to now, Xiao Fei only feared not having any setbacks yet today, she was rejected by the boy she liked in front of many people. What she was feeling right now, I could completely understand. I heard Xiao Bo order someone to watch after her so I decided not to go annoy her anymore and let her calm down alone.
Brother Li saw there was only us three left in the room. He rose and closed the door then full of stress, he asked Xiao Bo, “How does she have such an impulsive temper? Back in the year when I saw you fight, I thought that you were fierce enough, how is she even more fierce than you ah!”
Xiao Bo glared at me, “Did you have assurance you would be able to defeat them?”
“I saw that you weren’t the least bit afraid. You should always have something to count on, you didn’t think that the guards would help you attack guests right?”
“I had a light in my hand, the table beside me had impure liquid.”
Brother Li didn’t understand what I was saying but Xiao Bo completely understood. He suddenly held up his hand wanting to hit me but when his hand was nearly about to slap my face, he forced it down, wanting to take it back but it was already too late. Luckily I subconsciously moved sideways and his palm landed on my shoulder. I staggered back a few steps from his hit and nearly fell onto the floor.
Brother Li was shocked, the color on his face changed around. He quickly defended Xiao Bo, “Qi Qi, Xiao Bo hasn’t this angry for years. He was impulsive, don’t be angry at him……”
However, Xiao Bo coldly said, “I wasn’t impulsive, I really wanted to hit her.”
How weird, Xiao Bo wanted to hit me, I was on one side angry but on the other side, I felt very warm inside. I started to feel that the structuring of my brain was different to a normal person.
Someone knocked on the door, “Brother Li, someone has been seen taking drugs.”
Brother Li’s face immediately turned blue. He rushed outside as he ordered Xiao Bo, “I’m giving this girl to you to teach.”
Only Xiao Bo and I were left in the office. The two of us both didn’t say anything.
After a very long time, Xiao Bo asked, “Qi Qi, are you still speaking to me?”
I lowered my head and didn’t say anything. He suddenly had a very hurt expression on his face, he wanted to say something but he became quiet again. I bit my lip and surrendered, “Your question is very idiotic. If I answer you, doesn’t that mean I’m speaking with you? But I’m still angry ah, you have to comfort me. Xiao Bo, you’re so stupid, how will you comfort your girlfriend in the future?”
I glared at him, “Of course! You try getting hit by someone, of course I’m angry! However, if I have a brother and my brother hits me, I’d be angry but I wouldn’t be angry for a lifetime.”
He smiled and rubbed my shoulder, “Still hurt?”
“Mhm.” I sat on Brother Li’s leather chair and let him help me massage it.
He helped massage my shoulder while saying, “When I was little, my temper was very similar to yours, I fought with people. When my temper rose, there was no being light or hard, I’d pick up the brick and throw it at the opponent’s head. I nearly took a life but luckily I met Brother Li. He spent a lot of money paying for it.”
“What was it for?”
“A young man’s impulse. It was for some things that felt very important at the time but was actually not worth it. Hypothetically speaking, if I had taken a life in the past, what do you think would’ve happened?”
“I wouldn’t have met you.”
He laughed, knowing that I was avoiding the important point but he didn’t press on it, only saying, “Qi Qi, when someone is young, they can make lots of mistakes. There is always a chance to correct it but some mistakes can’t be made. If they are made, there there will no longer be a road to turn back to.” I didn’t say anything. Xiao Bo sat on Brother Li’s work desk, he put his arms on the chair handle and leaned his body forward to stare at me, “From little, we weren’t the same as other kids. Other kids have laughter and doting love in their lives, they have fear and they have nostalgia but we don’t. To the world, to ourselves, we carry pessimism and despair. In our subconscious, we think that living is a very hard thing. However, this isn’t right. It’s because fate gave us too little that we learn to love and treasure ourselves. Did you really think I was angry because you wanted to kill those three people? If there wasn’t any law, if you wanted to kill them, I’d help you find a knife.”
“Then…Then why were you angry for?”
“I was angry because you wanted to destroy yourself for those three trash. Are you really that worthless in your heart?”
My tears started running in my eyes but I didn’t want him to see so I turned my head. He also got up and looked elsewhere, “As children, we were too small and weak. For the sake of resisting outside humiliation, we had to be ready to go all out. But now we are already big, we have to learn to use other methods to deal with conflicts in life.”
I secretly wiped my tears and laughed, “Next time I’ll learn to control my impulses.”
Xiao Bo smiled, “The outside world is very large, you have to fly out and take a look in order not to live life in vain so you can’t let your wings get hurt too early.”
I seemed to understand but I didn’t really understand, fly to where? Look at what?
Xiao Bo asked, “Qi Qi, what do you want to do later on?”
Other than the ‘My Ideals’ in writing class, pretty much no one had every asked me this question. I frowned and pondered for a while and said, “I don’t know ah, when I was small, I wanted to go and live together with grandpa when I grew up but grandpa has already passed away”
“What about university?”
“It doesn’t matter if I go or not. I’m not infatuated with university. Going to technical school is also pretty good, the sister who lives next to us works at the water and electricity plant. Everyday she watched the instruments in a daze and she gets paid for it. She’s able to support herself at seventeen, it’ll be really good if I can be like this too.
Xiao Bo never expected that my grand aspiration would actually be to go and work at a water and electricity plant to earn money at age seventeen. He resisted laughing and asked, “Staring at the meter everyday, aren’t you afraid of being bored? Do you have anything you really like doing?”
“Um……Um……I like to read books. Perhaps I can open a small bookstore and pretty much read everyday while earning money.” I became excited as I talked, “You do business, Xiao Fei goes to work and every weekend, we can meet up and play poker together while eating lamb skewers and drinking beer.” I pointed at him, “You’ll definitely be rich later on, you can’t disdain the poor!”
Xiao Bo laughed heartily, “Okay, I’ll treat you guys.”
I also started laughing, there was a kind of happiness and a kind of relief.
Xiao Bo looked at his watch and said, “I’ll take you home.”
The two of us walked out side by side. Although it was close to midnight, business was good in the dance hall. I asked him, “Is the decor in here your idea?”
Zhang Jun and his girlfriend were sitting together. It was like something was weighing on his mind, every five words she said, he replied with one. The girl swayed his arm while talking, her eyes watching the dance floor seemingly pleading him to go and dance.
There were bursts of pain in my heart yet my eyes didn’t leave him, it truly was being masochistic!
Zhang Jun suddenly stood up. My heart leaped violently only to immediately realize he was looking at Xiao Bo. Xiao Bo greeted him, “Much thanks for just then.”
He politely said, “It’s us who are embarrassed for causing trouble at Brother Li and Brother Xiao Bo’s place.”
Xiao Bo waved the manager over and gave orders while smiling, “Put the cost of the alcohol on this table into my tab.”
Zhang Jun didn’t decline, only saying, “Thanks Brother Xiao Bo.”
Zhang Jun’s girlfriend said, “Brother Xiao Bo, are you busy? If you’re free then let’s all play together!”
I couldn’t resist being sarcastic, “Xiao Bo is younger than you, he should call you sister, why are you calling him brother?”
The girl’s face turned bright red and her tears were about to fall. It looked like she still cared a lot inside about being older than Zhang Jun.
Xiao Bo stared at me then he was just about to say a few words to ease up the atmosphere when Zhang Jun was was indifferent the whole time suddenly laughed, “She’s my girlfriend, since I call Xiao Bo brother, of course she would also call Xiao Bo brother.”
The girl immediately broke into a smile and it was my turn to choke. However, I wasn’t taught by Treasure Bowl and Ceng Hong for nothing, although my heart was as sour as matured vinegar, the smile on my face was as brilliant as the spring breeze. I intimately clutched Xiao Bo’s arm, “Let’s go!”
Xiao Bo said goodbye to Zhang Jun, “We won’t interrupt your fun, we’ll go first.”
Outside the dance hall, I asked Xiao Bo, “Did you think that girl just then is pretty?”
Xiao Bo asked, “Which one? There are girls everywhere in the dance hall.”
“Zhang Jun’s girlfriend.”
“I didn’t look closely, do you hate her a lot? Why did you speak like that just then? Although that Zhang Jun hands out with Little Six and them, his temper isn’t like Little Six’s. You should thank him for what happened tonight.”
I was disheartened, never mind! What’s the point of asking if she’s pretty or not, anyhow she is prettier than me. I half truthfully said, “She said bad things about Xiao Fei first so I didn’t take a liking to her. She isn’t some paragon of morals so what right does she have to judge Xiao Fei?”
Xiao Bo sighed and laughed.
We were close to my house, I waved at him, “No need to take me any further, there are lots of people who gossip in our building.”
He stopped and I ran home.
That night, I lay on bed I thought of Xiao Fei then thought to myself. It seems as if our fates are different but we were alike, the people who we love don’t love us. The person she loves only loves the loneliness of music, the person I love only loves the temptations in the world of mortals, who is a little more fortunate?
-I can understand how Xiao Bo felt, he almost killed someone so hearing Qi Qi calmly say she wanted to electrocute the guys and ruin her life just like how he nearly had done made him lose temper, especially since he’s now realized how stupid his mistake was.
-Did anyone catch how Brother Li called Qi Qi their little sister? Sometimes they feel more like her family than her real family ❤
-And finally wow. All this time, I had this great image of Wang Zheng when actually, he’s a jerk. I guess it is in a way Xiao Fei’s fault for continuing to like him even though she probably knew inside he had no feelings for her but the way he handled it was horrible!! Poor girl. Plus that moment when he saw her get hit yet chose to pretend to not see. Wow, someone needs to get punched off their high pedestal.