[Chapter 066] A wooden sculpture for Children’s Day
X city slowly entered summer as the temperature got warmer. As Lu YunFei switched to short sleeves, he continued to go full throttle on English. His English scores were already starting to improve, to the point where he scored 115 for the midterm exams. Mother Lu was so touched that she gave Bian JinYuan a red packet, except that Bian JinYuan refused to accept it.
On this day, Lu YunFei and Bian JinYuan had arranged to do homework together on the weekend. After they were finished with homework, the both of them walked on the sidewalk as they headed for a meal together. As Lu YunFei walked, he noticed someone selling wooden sculptures by the bus stop.
These were simple wooden sculptures. The old man had set up a stall with a plastic sheet and had placed wooden sculptures of the twelve zodiac animals. Lu YunFei took a look and chose a sculpture of a flowering tree. He asked about its price and paid for it.
The old man asked him, “Do you want a box?”
As he spoke, he took out a wooden box from beside his stool. There were two types of boxes – one was simple with no decorations, while the other was ornate and carved with floral motifs.
Lu YunFei had bought this wooden sculpture for Lu YunShang, who liked such crafted works. She would always buy a few pieces whenever she chanced upon them. Thus, he followed her preferences to choose the decorated box and paid for that.
Bian JinYuan watched him place the tree into the box and asked, “You like this?”
“It’s alright,” said Lu YunFei, “it’s quite pretty.”
Bian JinYuan responded with an “Mmm” and didn’t say more.
That night, Lu YunFei gave the sculpted tree to Lu YunShang who liked it very much and placed it on her desk. After gifting the wooden sculpture, Lu YunFei didn’t think much about it and put the matter aside, up until the first of June.
The first of June was a lively day, as it was Children’s Day. In the minds of students looking forward to the school holidays, they also considered themselves to be children who got to start their school holidays on the first of June. However, this was only in their fantasies.
Lu YunFei’s cousins were still young, and so they received a lot of presents on the first of June and showed them off in the family group chat. Lu YunFei saw how excited they were and gave them a few red packets to add to the festivities. As expected, the kids got even more excited and clamoured to call him gege.
“Little kids are so easy to please,” Lu YunFei said, “Sigh, it’s too bad that we’ve grown up.”
Bian JinYuan heard this and turned to look at him, “Why, do you also wish to celebrate the first of June?”
Lu YunFei shook his head, “I don’t want to celebrate the first of June, but I want to have a holiday, I want to go out to play.”
“Where to?” Bian JinYuan asked.
“Wherever is fine,” Lu YunFei said, “It’s just wishful thinking though. I’ve got to wait for the summer holidays if I want to go out to play.”
“It’s soon, just another month more.”
“It’s still another month more!” Lu YunFei said despairingly, “Moreover, I heard that there might be training classes this summer holiday? I don’t know the details, but Wen MingYi mentioned it. We’re goners if that’s true.”
Bian JinYuan saw his despondency and tried to comfort him, “Let’s think of something better. The training classes aren’t confirmed, so let’s not dwell on it.”
“What should we think about then?” Lu YunFei asked him.
“How about, what would you like to receive for the first of June children’s day?”
Lu YunFei heard this and laughed, “Me receiving presents for this festival? I’m fine with whatever. As long as it’s a gift, I’d like it.”
“Of course. Sigh, I’ve not received any presents for the first of June ever since middle school. Receiving gifts on the first of June? Dream on.”
Bian JinYuan smiled. He reached into the pocket in his desk and took out a bag, handing it over.
Lu YunFei received it in puzzlement, a look of disbelief, “For me?”
Bian JinYuan nodded.
“A first of June present?”
Bian JinYuan continued to nod.
Lu YunFei: … Somehow, his emotions were tickled.
Lu YunFei opened the bag to find a wooden box. He took it out and looked at Bian JinYuan in surprise. Bian JinYuan smiled and indicated for him to open it.
Lu YunFei gingerly opened the box to find a wooden deer lying on its side. He blinked, and took the little deer out of the box. It was a uniquely designed deer, its neck stretched out, clouds at its feet, as if it was flying on clouds. Lu YunFei scrutinised it for a long while before turning to look at Bian JinYuan uncertainly, “This… is me?”★
Bian JinYuan answered with an “Mmm”.
Lu YunFei was delighted, “Where did you buy it from?”
Bian JinYuan chuckled, “Like it?”
Lu YunFei nodded. He placed the deer flying on the clouds on his desk, a twinkle of adoration in his eyes.
Bian JinYuan’s heart soared as he saw his obvious liking.
It was only when Lu YunFei put away the little deer that he saw the word “Bian” carved at the bottom of a cloud. He peered closer to make sure that he didn’t mistake it, and then turned to look in disbelief at Bian JinYuan, “You carved this?”
Bian JinYuan nodded.
Lu YunFei was so shocked that he almost dropped the wooden sculpture on the floor, “You also know how to sculpt?”
“My aunt’s husband knew how to, so I learnt a bit from him when I was young.”
Lu YunFei: …
Lu YunFei could feel the gap between human beings. He sincerely asked Bian JinYuan, “Dear god, is there anything you can’t do?”
Bian JinYuan nodded.
Lu YunFei was curious, “What is it?”
Bian JinYuan smiled, “Not telling you.”
Lu YunFei: “??? Why aren’t you? Now we’re keeping secrets from each other.”
Bian JinYuan nodded and winked at him.
Lu YunFei: … Not cute when you have a little secret.
Bian JinYuan saw his face full of unasked questions and chuckled softly, as he bent his head down to continue doing his homework.
Lu YunFei couldn’t do anything about it and could only put the little deer away as he wondered about just what Bian JinYuan couldn’t do.
The bell signaling the end of class rang. Li Li put down the chalk to indicate that the lesson ended and, before she left the classroom, called for Bian JinYuan and Lu YunFei to follow her to the staff office.
Lu YunFei had gained immunity towards going to the staff office by now, and pulled Bian JinYuan along.
“You must have heard,” Li Li said, “that each school can select four representatives to participate in the province’s Mathematics and Physics competition this September and October. Aside from helping the school to gain glory, this competition will be helpful to you too. As such, the school is planning to nominate the top students in these subjects from the year twos and threes to undergo training sessions, and then select the top four students to represent the school. The nominees from our class are you two.”
Lu YunFei nodded, “Sure.”
“When are the training classes?” Bian JinYuan asked.
“It starts 15 July,” Li Li said, “the school holidays will commence on 10 July, so you will be able to rest for five days. Training will continue until 15 August.”
“A month?” Lu YunFei was shocked, “Why doesn’t training start from August then?”
Li Li sipped from her cup of tea and asked calmly, “Do you wish to go from a month-long training straight into regular classes when school starts without a break? Even if you wish to, the teachers don’t.”
Lu YunFei: … He doesn’t wish to, thank you.
“I’ll need to apply for a leave of absence,” Bian JinYuan said seriously.
Li Li put down her cup and looked at him questioningly, “Why? Do you have something on?”
“I have to visit my hometown for something.”
“There’ll be five days in between the end of exams and the training classes. Aren’t they sufficient?”
Bian JinYuan shook his head, “It’s not enough.”
“Then when will you be able to come back?”
Bian JinYuan calculated the timing and said, “Around the 20th.”
Li Li thought that it was fine as it wasn’t too long, “Alright then, you can attend classes after you come back.”
“Okay, thank you teacher Li.”
“You’re welcome. I hope that the both of you will be able to represent the school and score well in this competition.”
“We will,” Lu YunFei assured. He smiled as he left the staff office with Bian JinYuan.
After exiting the staff office, Lu YunFei asked Bian JinYuan about the previous matter, “You’ve got to visit your hometown during the holidays?”
He had thought that Bian JinYuan needed to work, but he didn’t think that the reason for his time off was to go back to his hometown.
“Going back to visit your grandparents?”
“Mmm, and my mum.”
“Your mum?” Lu YunFei exclaimed, “Isn’t your mum buried here?”
Bian JinYuan shook his head, “My grandparents were older when they had my mum, and so they had passed away even before my small aunt could get married. My mum had them buried in a mountain at their hometown. After my mum passed away, my small aunt had her buried next to them according to her wishes. Her death anniversary is on 17 July. My small aunt and I will be going back to clean her grave before coming back.”
Lu YunFei understood, “I see, then don’t worry about things and go. I’ll take notes for you and can go over the content covered with you when you come back.”
Lu YunFei thought that he had it rough having to clean the graves of his mother and grandparents at his age. He reached out to hold Bian JinYuan’s shoulder. Bian JinYuan turned to look at him, as Lu YunFei smiled and said softly, “Help me to say hello to aunty and to thank her for giving birth to such an extraordinary son. Without her, I wouldn’t have my current English grades.”
Bian JinYuan smiled, “My mum’s English was very good.”
“Is that so?”
Bian JinYuan nodded, “Her grades were very good.”
“Then you definitely take after your mum.”
Bian JinYuan’s look softened. He looked at Lu YunFei and said softly, “My small aunt said the same thing.”
Bian Jie had always thought that he took after his mother in personality, looks, as well as in other areas, only, “Your grades are better than your mum’s. When she was in school, she had wanted to go to Tsinghua University#, only that her grades weren’t good enough, so she went to J University instead. Xiao Yuan, which university do you want to go to? Do you want to leave or stay here?”
Bian JinYuan looked at Lu YunFei and asked, “Lu YunFei, which university do you want to go to? Do you want to leave or stay here?”
Lu YunFei answered without hesitation, “Tsinghua University of course. It wasn’t an option back when my English was so terrible, but now that it’s gradually improving, I’ve definitely got to go to Tsinghua. If I have the capability to do so, I have to go there to see for myself what it’s about.”
Bian JinYuan nodded, “That’s true.”
“What about you?”
“I want to go to Tsinghua,” Bian JinYuan recalled what he had answered Bian Jie then, “I want to go to Tsinghua to fulfil my mother’s dream. I want to see the scenery that she wasn’t able to see, to continue her dreams. This way, it’ll be like she’s still by my side.”
“You will,” Lu YunFei said gently, “As long as you’re willing, you’ll have whatever you want,” he poked Bian JinYuan’s chest, ” it will always be here.”
“Including you?” Bian JinYuan asked.
“Including me,” Lu YunFei said as he smiled.
★ Lu YunFei’s name is written as 陆云飞 (Lù Yún Fēi). A deer is called 鹿 (lù), so the animal is a homonym for his surname. 云 (yún) is the word for ‘cloud’, and飞 (fēi) is the word for ‘fly’. So Bian JinYuan carved a deer flying on clouds to symbolize Lu YunFei.