Tong Yan’s school sports meet generally lasted five days, from Saturday to Wednesday, then Thursday and Friday were the mid-term exams.
The first day was the opening ceremony, and the individual track and field competitions. The second day was for various ball games. The third day was archery, fencing and swimming. The fourth day’s highlight was the cheerleading competition, and weightlifting in the afternoon. All team events were scheduled for the last day, before the closing ceremony.
Except for the individual track and field competitions on the 1st day, which took place in an open-air field, the events of the remaining four days took place in the gymnasium. In there, the pheromone complexity and concentration were relatively best controlled, so Tong Yan would join the sports competition on Sunday.
On Saturday morning, before finishing breakfast, Zhuo Xiang Ming had to go out. Tong Yan saw him off, and Zhuo Xiang Ming said while tying his neck tie, “Stay by yourself for a while. I scheduled some soup to be made for you around 10 o’clock, remember to drink some. When I come back, let’s go to my mother’s for lunch.”
Tong Yan nodded: “I’ll just study a bit.”
Zhuo Xiang Ming asked: “Do you have homework this week?”
“No.” Tong Yan said, “It’s five days for the sports competition, and the next two days for exams. There’s no time to collect homework, and no time for the students to do it, so the teachers just told us to review.”
“Good.” Zhuo Xiang Ming also thought this way was best, “Then, review seriously.”
Tong Yan suddenly asked: “If I do well on my exams, can I get a reward?”
This was really unexpected, Zhuo Xiang Ming smiled at him: “Is there something you want?”
Tong Yan had no idea, and could only say: “It’s too insincere to ask me that directly.”
Zhuo Xiang Ming nodded good-naturedly: “That’s true.”
He rubbed Tong Yan’s head: “There’s a prize, I’ll give it to you after the exam.”
When he opened the door to leave, Tong Yan again chased after him: “How high is considered a good score?”
Zhuo Xiang Ming: “Higher than 603.”
This score wasn’t too high for Tong Yan, but it also wasn’t low, after a year of absence from school, he couldn’t take the exams lightly.
Tong Yan was filled with fighting spirit: “Deal.”
He agreed, but Zhuo Xiang Ming didn’t continue walking out. He had already taken one step down the stairs, but he moved back, turning around to hold Tong Yan’s hand: “I’ll be back at 12. I’ll keep you company the rest of the afternoon.”
He said this, as if he saw that Tong Yan was reluctant to part, and was trying to drag out his leaving.
Tong Yan hurriedly pulled his hand away, and hid it behind his back: “Go on, I’m going back in.”
After Zhuo Xiang Ming left, Tong Yan returned to the dining room and continued eating breakfast. Midway, he glanced at Zhuo Xiang Ming’s plate on the opposite side of the table, the fried eggs were sliced, the bread and milk were untouched, and so was the porridge.
He sent a message to Zhuo Xiang Ming: Brother, remember to have your secretary order breakfast for you (> ▽ <)
Zhuo Xiang Ming replied: Okay, thanks Tong Tong
Xuan Gui was checking the indoor temperature, seeing that Tong Yan had finished breakfast, it happily rushed forward to ask: “Did you enjoy breakfast?”
Tong Yan: “It was very good.”
Xuan Gui: “You’re also not leaving this weekend, great! Let’s continue watching Sailor Moon!”
Tong Yan rejected: “Can’t, I need to study.”
Xuan Gui sighed: “Is it because of Sir’s reward?”
Tong Yan: “Yeah.”
Xuan Gui: “I hope you don’t look forward to it too much.”
Tong Yan: “Why?”
Xuan Gui: “Mr. Zhuo Jia Shuo twice flew into a terrible rage because of Sir’s graduation gifts, once in middle school, and the other in college. I think, Sir must be sending gifts that have some infuriating defects.”
” …” Tong Yan asked, “What did he give Zhuo Jia Shuo?”
Xuan Gui: “It’s been too long.”
In any case, Tong Yan still resolutely went upstairs, throwing himself into the embrace of knowledge.
Xuan Gui gave up resistance and followed him up.
The first round of review was already halfway done. For this examination period, Tong Yan planned to mainly review his notes, then he would do two sets of science and math practice tests before the exam.
Xuan Gui had completed a lot of chores in the early morning, while Tong Yan read his notes, he squatted on the charging station.
It was after 9 o’clock, Tong Yan planned to take a short break. Xuan Gui quickly ran up to him: “Can we watch Sailor Moon?”
Tong Yan: “Nope.”
Xuan Gui: “Why not?! You’re obviously resting now!”
Tong Yan: “…… Haven’t thought of a reason yet.”
“???” The robot was very shocked, “Don’t tell me, was our friendship fake?”
Tong Yan was ruthless: “Can a robot talk about friendship?”
Xuan Gui dropped to the ground, rolling from side to side, wanting to imitate a human being’s temper tantrum, but in fact, it just looked like an extra-large goose egg: “You’ve changed!!!”
Tong Yan: “Only if you tell me what brother gave to Zhuo Jia Shuo.”
“Okay.” Xuan Gui said, “When he graduated from middle school, Sir gifted him his own high school notes, handwritten on paper. Then, at Zhuo Jia Shuo’s college graduation party, Sir gifted him an island, located approximately at latitude north 4.2 °, longitude east 73.5 °.”
Xuan Gui’s sound volume lowered to a whisper pitch: “The notebook was torn in half, and the island ownership document suffered the same fate.”
Tong Yan suddenly didn’t know what to say.
He knew that Xuan Gui was a robot, so its memory could never be faulty, but he’d ignored another important point: a robot couldn’t exaggerate.
If Xuan Gui said that Zhuo Jia Shuo “flew into a terrible rage”, then Zhuo Jia Shuo had gotten really angry at Zhuo Xiang Ming.
He realized that there were no jokes behind this story.
But, why was his younger brother so unhappy with the gifts?
Thinking carefully, from the start, Tong Yan could not quite understand the way Zhuo Xiang Ming interacted with his family, but he never got a chance to bring up this topic.
Zhuo Xiang Ming and Zhuo Jia Shuo were only a year apart, but Zhuo Jia Shuo seemed to have always lived at home, but Zhuo Xiang Ming left home early, and also rarely ever goes back.
Lin Yue Hua’s attitude towards Zhuo Xiang Ming was also quite hard to pin down. It was more polite than intimate.
Tong Yan sometimes sensed that the reason Lin Yue Hua called him, invited him to her home, and was so kind to him, was in fact, to some extent, because she wanted to use him to get closer to Zhuo Xiang Ming.
But he never thought over it, why would a mother need to use an outsider to more naturally express her concern for her own son?
Neither she nor Zhuo Xiang Ming were the type to be shy about expressing their feelings. Why were they so awkward when they met each other?
Tong Yan promised Zhuo Xiang Ming that he would study properly, but he failed to do so. When Zhuo Xiang Ming returned home, Tong Yan was still thinking about Zhuo Jia Shuo and Zhuo Xiang Ming’s terrible contradiction.
Zhuo Xiang Ming was always on time, he walked in at eleven fifty.
Zhuo Xiang Ming didn’t shut off the car. When Tong Yan changed his clothes, the two immediately left.
When Lin Yue Hua called last night, she learned that Tong Yan wouldn’t be returning to the Tong family this weekend, and immediately invited him for lunch, highly enthusiastic. Zhuo Xiang Ming was free in the afternoon, and, thinking that Tong Yan shouldn’t study all day, he agreed.
Tong Yan wasn’t the type to conceal things, after getting into the car, he couldn’t help but ask about it.
“Why are you asking about this?” After hearing his questions, Zhuo Xiang Ming said, “It happened so long ago.”
Tong Yan: “I just happened to hear about it … why was he angry at you? Just because he wasn’t satisfied with his gift?”
Zhuo Xiang Ming: “Yes, and no.”
“What do you mean?” Tong Yan said again, “I’m just … just asking casually, if you don’t want to talk about it, I’m sorry.”
Zhuo Xiang Ming: “There’s nothing unspeakable.”
“When I was born, my parents were in the middle of a messy divorce, so my mother sent me to live with my grandparents. A few months later, she became pregnant. When she gave birth to Zhuo Jia Shuo, no one mentioned the divorce again.”
He smiled at Tong Yan, “There must’ve been too much celebration, so everyone just forgot about the other son at someone else’s house.”
Tong Yan didn’t find it funny, frowning: “… So, you were with your grandparents from the start?”
Zhuo Xiang Ming: “Yes.”
“You grew up in your grandparents’ house?”
Zhuo Xiang Ming: “Until the end of elementary school. After my grandmother passed away, my grandfather struggled to take care of me by himself, so I was enrolled in boarding school.”
Tong Yan found it unimaginable, but he held back his expression of surprise, afraid of hurting Zhuo Xiang Ming: “Boarding middle school … only high school is somewhat permissible for us now, middle school is definitely out of the question.”
Zhuo Xiang Ming smiled again: “This is a story from the past. We probably only met during the New Year celebrations. My grandfather was getting older, he couldn’t handle too much excitement, and I also didn’t want him to greet the New Year by himself. So, even during the New Year celebrations, I might see one or two faces, but we were basically strangers.”
“When Zhuo Jia Shuo graduated from middle school, they held a party to celebrate, and invited me.” Zhuo Xiang Ming said, “I thought about buying something for him, but, one, the pocket money grandfather gave me was limited at that time. Zhuo Jia Shuo didn’t need cheap things, but if it was too expensive, I wouldn’t be able to afford it by myself.”
“And two, I truly felt that raising your rank during your first year of high-school was more important. You know, compared to middle-school, there’s a very big difference in the way you’re taught and the number of things you have to learn … Anyway, in the end, I decided to gift him my notes.”
Tong Yan: “Xuan Gui said, it was all handwritten.”
Zhuo Xiang Ming nodded: “Yes.”
“Why did he tear it?” Tong Yan suddenly asked, his voice rising, his hands bunching into fists on his thighs, “Even if you dislike it, why tear it up?”
Zhuo Xiang Ming had left right after his conference, he was still dressed formally. He loosened his tie slightly, and gave Tong Yan an appeasing look: “He was still a kid back then, they’re not always sensible. He thought that his big brother wasn’t willing to spend money on him, and probably hated him.”
Tong Yan shook his head: “I understand that, but if Tong Yang gave me his notes, I would never tear them.”
Zhuo Xiang Ming: “You guys grew up together, you’re different from us. We could only start contradictions, but there was no time to resolve them.”
Tong Yan asked in a low voice: “What about the small island? Was that not expensive enough, why didn’t he like it?”
Zhuo Xiang Ming switched to steering one handed, the other hand holding Tong Yan’s small fist: “Like I said, our relationship has never been close, and we only met a few times before that. He was now an adult, he was starting to gain the patience needed for “handwritten notes” gifts, but he had no opportunities to understand the older brother who wrote them.”
“He probably thought that I’d remembered what happened between us, and was mocking him on purpose.”
Tong Yan wanted to ask, then why didn’t you explain it?
When Zhuo Xiang Ming spoke of these matters, there were many “perhaps”, “maybes” and “probablys”. If it was like this, if there was a misunderstanding between them, why not resolve it?
Then he realized, at that time, how old was Zhuo Xiang Ming? Zhuo Xiang Ming, a high-school freshman, at most he was fourteen years old, four years younger than Tong Yan was now.
After school, he returned to a home that should’ve been familiar, but in fact, it was very strange, in order to attend his younger brother’s graduation party. Around him were his parents, relatives and his younger brother’s classmates. And in front of everyone, his gifted notes were personally torn apart by his brother. Fourteen-year-old Zhuo Xiang Ming, what did he feel at that moment?
He was probably not as tall as the current Tong Yan. Not wanting to participate in the party anymore, he left, leaving behind a broken notebook. He had to go back to school, or, if it was the weekend, he could return to the home of his grandfather. What was he thinking at that time?
These kinds of circumstances sounded ridiculous, but in fact, they were the reason for his permanent distance from his family. How did Zhuo Xiang Ming, who spent most of his time away at boarding school, comfort himself?
How many times in his youth had he tossed and turned in bed, doubting and blaming himself? “From deciding that the other person was excessive, to suspecting that you’re the one who was excessive”, how many times did he go through this “complicated and painful” process alone? Longing for the other person to raise the topic, giving it a special meaning, how many times had those hopes been dashed, before Zhuo Xiang Ming obtained his current adult philosophy?
Tong Yan realized, he wasn’t the only one, everyone grew up for the first time, including Zhuo Xiang Ming.
Zhuo Xiang Ming hoped that he would suffer as little as possible, perhaps because he himself had experienced too much suffering in his youth. How much did an indifferent mood affect people? Over the past two decades, how did he reconcile with himself to later become the current gentle, meticulous, and calm, celibate Zhuo Xiang Ming?
as if he saw that Tong Yan was…-就是看出了童宴对他强行没话找话后面的不舍, unsure of translation
invited- Just wanted to point out how absurd it is that the older brother gets ‘invited’ to his younger brother’s party.
Ever wanted to just reach in and strangle a fictional character?