Chapter 138: After School

Volume 10: Secret

The follow-up work of the fraud case was the equivalent to all the hairs of a cow[1]. Lin Dongxue was tired each day when she returned home. She often didn’t even want to eat dinner.

On this day, she finished her day's work and returned to her place of residence. When she went up the stairs, she saw the landlord aunty sitting on the steps and gasping. She had a shopping bag in her hand and her other hand was on her chest.

The landlord lived downstairs from Lin Dongxue and the rent was paid through WeChat every quarter. They rarely talk to each other, but they would greet each other if they saw each other by chance.

Lin Dongxue asked, "Aunty, are you not feeling well?"

"I’m okay, I’m okay. My chest just ached a bit when I was going upstairs. I should be fine if I sit down and take a breather.”

"I’ll help you carry your bags!"

"Thank you."

Lin Dongxue helped her take the bags to the landlord aunty's unit. The house was pretty plain. It seemed that she lived alone. On the wall, there was a photo in memory of her significant other.

The landlord aunt sat down at the table and asked Lin Dongxue to prepare a bowl of brown sugar water[2]. After drinking it, she looked a little better.

"Aunty, don't you have any children?" Lin Dongxue asked.

"I have a son."

"How come I’ve never seen him before? Is he working out of town?”

"I’m not afraid of you laughing at me if I told you. Actually, he’s in jail. When he was young, he was unemployed and only fooled around with a bunch of friends. One time, he helped a friend get justice. He took a knife and killed a little hooligan. After that accident, his friends kept quiet but I persuaded him to surrender himself to the police. Later, the court tried him for manslaughter and sentenced him to twenty years. This year is already the seventeenth year. He is about to celebrate the New Year, so I’ll send some dumplings to him."

When the aunty said this, she did not show much sadness. She probably accepted this matter in her heart already.

Lin Dongxue didn't know what to say. The aunt asked her, "You’ve lived upstairs from me for almost a year now, but I don’t even know what you do for a living.”

"I... I am doing sales." Lin Dongxue lied.

"Oh, why don’t you stay to eat? As a thank you for today."

"No. I still have to do something at home."

At Zhixin Middle School on the same evening, most of the students in the school had already returned home,. Only one classroom still had its lights on. Several students who participated in the “Duoyubui New Concept Composition Competition” just completed the examination paper and were checking for spelling mistakes.

The examiner looked at their watch and said, "Time is up. Put your pens down. Everyone has worked hard today. Go home and rest up early.”

Tao Yueyue took her school bag and left the classroom. There were footsteps behind her and a voice shouting from behind, "Tao Yueyue, wait for me!"

Tao Yueyue turned back and saw a girl with double pony-tails with a red face rushing over. She recognized this student as her classmate Wei Zengmali. Wei Zengmali was the class representative of her language class and had never held a conversation with Tao Yueyue before.

Taking the initiative, Wei Zengmali appeared a little nervous but pretended to smile comfortably. "You also came to participate in the essay composition competition?"

“The teacher told me to participate in some activities.” Tao Yueyue replied faintly.

"I didn’t know you were the type! I had always thought that you were a very cool person."

"Cool?"

"Yeah, yeah. We all thought that you were really cool and mature, unlike our peers of the same age… Sorry, am I offending you? Oh, can you accompany me to the toilet? There is no one in the building and I’m a little scared."

Tao Yueyue looked at the empty school gate. Chen Shi had not come to pick her up today. He gave her a bus card instead and reasoned that she should learn to be independent. In fact, it was just an excuse for adults to be lazy.

Tao Yueyue said, "Let’s go!"

Walking in the empty building, Wei Zengmali grabbed at Tao Yueyue's clothes. Tao Yueyue teased her, "What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of ghosts?"

"Hey!" Wei Zengmali was scared. "Don't talk nonsense!"

"I heard people say that in the past, there seemed to be a student who committed suicide here..."

"I’m not listening! I’m not listening!”

Seeing that Wei Zengmali was scared and trembling, Tao Yueyue showed an evil smile.

After nervously finishing up in the toilet, the two walked out. Wei Zengmali whispered, "I find that you’re actually easy to get along with. You can call me by my nickname... I don't really like this nickname, but if we’re friends it doesn’t matter."

"Miso[3]?"

"Hey!" Wei Zengmali suddenly asked, "Do you believe in ghosts in the world?"

"I don’t!"

"What is the most terrible thing you have ever encountered in your life then? I’ll go first. One time, my father took me to dinner. When I was eating braised pork, I had a-"

"Dead finger?"

"Don't say that!" Wei Zengmali waved her fist and hit her softly. "It was a pig hair. It was super long. Wow, it was super horrible... What about you? What’s the most horrible thing you have ever encountered in your life?”

"I saw my mother getting stabbed over and over again with my eyes!"

It may be that the girl was an idiot, but Tao Yueyue gradually relaxed her guard and talked about her own experience.

Her calm tone added a bit of surprise to what she said. Wei Zengmali was so scared and surprised. "Is that true?"

Tao Yueyue put on a relaxed expression and blinked, "Just joking with you!"

"Haha, how can you say that about your mother?"

"She is truly no longer with us."

"Really? That’s really pitiful. Is that your father who usually picks you up?"

"It’s an uncle."

"Are you an orphan?"

"Yeah... I don't want you to pity me though."

"No, no, actually having parents might not be too great. Actually, my parents are too annoying. I wouldn’t mind swapping with you." Wei Zengmali tried to console her unskillfully. Although it didn’t sound very good, Tao Yueyue appreciated the thought.

A cat noise was suddenly heard, so Wei Zengmali stopped to search around. She found a small kitten coming out of the classroom and calling to them.

"It's so cute!" Wei Zengmali squatted down to touch the baby fur that hadn’t been shed yet.

Tao Yueyue also knelt down and looked at the kitten. "Is it hungry?"

"I have a salted duck egg left from my lunch at noon." Wei Zengmali took off her bag and rummaged through it to find a sealed packed salted duck egg. She bit off the packaging and peeled it for the kitten.

The kitten seemed to be starving and greedily ate the yolk of the duck egg. Wei Zengmali joked, "You’re so picky. Just like my Voldemort at home not eating the egg whites.”

After the kitten finished eating, it mewled louder. Wei Zengmali wondered, "Is it not full? Kitten, kitten, you have finished eating the yolk!" She said as she picked up the egg white to feed it. The kitten desperately evaded it.

"Maybe it doesn’t like eating that. I have a ham sausage here." Tao Yueyue said.

She took the ham from the bag and fed it to the kitten. It ate very happily, but only had one-third of it before refusing to eat any more.

The kitten fell here and there, then walked towards a tiny pool of dirty water on the ground left by a student and drank from it.

“Wow, how can you drink such dirty water?! That’s not good!" Wei Zengmali picked the kitten up and set it aside. The kitten climbed towards the dirty water and she started licking it up again. "I don't know what you’re thinking.”

"Is it thirsty?" Tao Yueyue guessed.

1. Endless/plentiful. 

2. This is believed to help your hemoglobin levels in some regions. Though the author might just be referring to glucose - energy. 

3. The way Miso soup is pronounced in Chinese sounds very similar to her name. 

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