“I’ll be in a relationship within a week.” Ding Ji raised his eyebrows.



It was bright and breezy today, without a cloud to be seen for miles.

It truly was good weather.

Lin Wuyu leaned against the rooftop railing, writing in a little notebook with his head lowered.

All around him were loud voices. There were quite a few students and teachers by the top of the stairs, video cameras pointed at a girl standing at the edge of the roof, shouting. It was even more crowded below, with everyone looking up together.

This was probably the most welcomed activity organized by the student union this year.



“Our dining hall’s food is so good! The meals are absolutely the best in the city!” the girl shouted.

There was a smattering of applause from below. Lin Wuyu bowed his head and smiled.

“Do you still have to take notes?” The deputy minister of the student union’s publicity department walked over, a bit taken aback when he saw him. “Didn’t the student union invite people to videotape it? How come you’re still…then should I take some notes too?”

“Hm?” Lin Wuyu raised his eyes and glanced at him. “Oh, take some notes. After all, it’s the first time our school has done this sort of activity. It’s quite interesting.”

The deputy minister had newly assumed his position and he took his work very seriously. When he heard him say this, he nodded at once and took out a small notebook that he had with him.

After staring at the blank page for a while, he moved closer to Lin Wuyu. “You’re…”

“Don’t look at mine.” Lin Wuyu took a pair of glasses out of his pocket and put them on. “Multiple-angle coverage will be more comprehensive.”

“Right!” The deputy minister suddenly understood. He looked down and started to hold his breath, chewing his lips.

Lin Wuyu lowered his head, continuing to write in the notebook.

I want to eat braised noodles for dinner. Add extra oil.

It’s best if it’s lard.

Lard



He hadn’t finished writing his multiple-angle coverage when Lin Wuyu heard a girl’s voice drift over from ahead: “I’d better…not go up, I’m a little scared all of a sudden. No, no, I’m super nervous all of a sudden. I don’t have the courage to go and speak anymore.”

When he looked up, he saw student union president Li Ying patting a girl’s shoulder, smiling: “It’s fine, it’s fine. If you don’t want to go up, it’s alright. Let the other students go first. Take it easy for now.”

For something like shouting on the rooftop, even though people still had to wait in line, it was a completely different feeling from waiting in line to buy a cup of milk tea.

If someone cut in line while buying milk tea, even if the people behind them didn’t speak up, they would still inwardly curse out the cutter into a rotten egg, the furry green kind. It was different in this situation. If someone was added in front, the people in the back could maybe even let out a sigh of relief.

But not only was there a minimal amount of people at the moment, one person had suddenly left. The handful of students waiting to go up and shout immediately all turned their heads and looked at Li Ying, completely frozen.



The girl currently at the edge of the roof shouting for the dining hall ladies not to shake their spoons had already finished stating her views and she was about to finish. With such an enthusiastic atmosphere, if the people behind continued to stand in awkward silence, it would be a little uncomfortable.

“I’ll go.” Lin Wuyu closed the notebook and rolled it up casually, sticking it in his back pocket.

“Sure.” Li Ying nodded without a second thought and didn’t ask him what he was going to say. He was an academic god, after all. He probably wouldn’t even have a problem with letting him go up and shout out an essay.



There were about sixteen steps between where Lin Wuyu was standing and the shouting spot beside the railing. By the time he walked over, he still didn’t know what he wanted to say.

What should he say?

When he was standing at the edge of the roof, he saw Xu Tianbo standing next to a tree, looking upwards.

Lin Wuyu adjusted his glasses, grabbed onto the rooftop railing to prop himself up, and smiled at the people below.

After the sound of girls screaming passed, he opened his mouth: “Good afternoon, everyone. I’m Lin Wuyu.”

For Lin Wuyu, within the scope of things under his control, oftentimes, impulsiveness was a sort of joyful feeling. Like right now.

The video camera to his side was almost directly in his face. He looked down and cleared his throat.

“Actually, I never thought that I would stand here one day, speaking in front of so many people.”

The sounds below gradually faded.

Even though standing here to speak wasn’t part of his plan, even though a second before he stood here, he still wasn’t sure what he was going to say…

“I have held these words in my heart for a long time. I want to say them for myself and others like me.”

…Once he opened his mouth, every word he spoke sounded like he had rehearsed them a few hundred times.

“There is someone I really like. Maybe he knows, maybe he doesn’t, although that’s not important.” He raised his head, voice becoming as clear and mild as before. “I won’t tell you I like you, but I will tell everyone that I like men.”

His surroundings went quiet at once. The video camera in his peripheral vision had frozen too, the videotaping guy revealing half his face from behind the machine.



For many things, Lin Wuyu had one hundred percent, sometimes even buy-one-get-one-free two hundred percent confidence, but the instant it went quiet around him, he was still a little nervous.

He only had his head down, not even daring to look down at Xu Tianbo’s face.

Then there was a whistle.

Lin Wuyu’s strained nerves suddenly relaxed, imperceptibly letting out a light breath.

Afterward, he said a bit more, one or two lines. But he didn’t try to remember it. After all, he could think of it when he needed it.

For the things he wished to remember, he could recall every moment, no matter how long it had been.



After leaving the rooftop railing, he heard Li Ying’s lowered voice: “No Fish! [1] You’re too impressive.”

At the top of the stairs, he ran into his homeroom teacher Lao Lin. [2] Lao Lin wasn’t yet forty this year, and he was the same gender, so Lin Wuyu had always called him ge. [3]

“Was that planned?” Lao Lin was blocking his way.

“No,” Lin Wuyu replied. “Do I need to plan it if I’m just going up there and saying a few words?”

“The contents are the important part.” Lao Lin smiled.

“No.” Lin Wuyu thought for a second. “Does it affect you?”

“It doesn’t affect me,” Lao Lin said.

“Then that’s good.” In a low voice, Lin Wuyu said, “Can I go early? I’m hungry.”

“Go go go go go.” Lao Lin waved at him.

Lin Wuyu disappeared like a wisp of smoke as he ran down the stairs, going back to his dorm first.



Among the four people in the dorm, he was the only one who was part of the student union and had to go to the roof. The other three were all sitting before their desks, not even looking up when they heard someone come in.

“The activity’s over?” Liu Ziyi asked, raising his head.

“That quickly?” Chen Mang was buried in his book. “I thought it’d last until school was over?”

“It’s not over yet.” Lin Wuyu took off his jacket and reached a hand out to remove the glasses on Liu Ziyi’s face. “Did your prescription get stronger?”

“Yeah. You can tell?” Liu Ziyi rubbed his eyes. “By counting circles?”

“Why would I need to count circles?” Lin Wuyu picked up the microfiber cloth that Liu Ziyi had placed on the corner of the table and probably used once in a thousand years, starting to clean his glasses for him. “I just saw that your eyes got smaller.”

“Fuck.” Liu Ziyi sighed.

The people in the room cracked up.

“Fish, are you eating dinner in the dining hall or are you going out?” Chen Mang stretched and turned his head to look at him.

“Tell me what you want to eat.” Lin Wuyu handed the cleaned glasses to Liu Ziyi, watching his fairly large eyes shrink to half their size at once.

“Do as you please.” Chen Mang rubbed his stomach. “I’ll be satisfied as long as I can eat free food.”



Lin Wuyu changed into a different jacket. When he was about to leave the dorm, Chen Mang added: “Are you coming back before you start studying tonight?”

“Me?” Lin Wuyu pointed at himself.

“…Pretend I never asked.” Chen Mang saluted to him. “You’re someone who doesn’t need to study at night.”

Lin Wuyu closed the dorm door. He hadn’t even walked to the top of the stairs when his phone chimed with a new notification.

He wasn’t in a hurry to read it. Although he received many notifications over the course of a day, with this chime, he could basically guess who it was at once.

His sixth sense tended to steal the show like that.

Fifteen minutes had passed since he finished speaking on the roof. According to his understanding of Xu Tianbo, from reacting to hesitating to steeling his heart and sending the message, that was about as long as he would take.

Based on his speed when it came to handling these matters, he could be considered someone who didn’t fool around.

Lin Wuyu acknowledged that he didn’t dare to read this message right now.

He went to a shop and bought a popsicle to gnaw on, to help him suppress his alarm.



There weren’t any good braised noodle spots around the school. The best braised noodles were at home, made by his father.

His house wasn’t far from the school. To be precise, it was very close, so close that his parents didn’t even need to guess to know that the reason why he lived at school was just so that he could leave his house.

But today, he was truly longing for braised noodles. He, someone who wouldn’t normally go home unless he needed to grab new clothes, stood at the school gates for a few minutes, then turned and started walking towards the road home.

After taking a few steps, he took out his phone and, with his head lowered, opened WeChat.

Then he rapidly clicked on the red “1” at the very top.



— You’re amazing, academic god! No matter if you like men or women, I’ll always be your best friend

Lin Wuyu’s footsteps didn’t stop, looking at his phone as he walked forward.

His finger hovered over the screen for quite a while, and it didn’t land in the end as he turned his phone off at lightning speed, shoving it back into his pocket.

It was upon entering his neighborhood that he suddenly stopped.

Only then did he start to feel like it was difficult to breathe.

In fact, he shouldn’t have felt strange. If Xu Tianbo could guess who he was talking about, then this reply would inevitably make an appearance.

When he received the message, he could even more or less think of the contents of a reply, gentle but firm, not hurting anyone, yet not leaving any leeway.

It was just that when he stood at the edge of the roof and opened his mouth, he had purposely not thought about this “what if.”

But right now, this purposeful negligence made him feel all at once that he had overestimated his tolerance levels.

It was a little painful.



“How come you came home today?” The voice behind him interrupted Lin Wuyu from getting ready to take another step in the process of feeling sorry for himself.

“I wanted to eat braised noodles.” He turned his head and saw his mother behind him, carrying a bag of groceries.

“Why does your complexion look so bad?” As soon as his mother saw his face, she immediately took a step forward and stared at him. “Are you sick? Where do you feel uncomfortable?”

“No,” Lin Wuyu said, “I might have slept too late last night.”

“Are you uncomfortable anywhere? Does your head hurt? Stomach hurt?” his mother continued to question him.

“No.” Lin Wuyu reached a hand out and took the groceries in her hand, walking forward.

“That’s good.” His mother followed him. “If you wanted to eat braised noodles, you didn’t have to come home this early. You didn’t bring any study materials, either. Are you planning not to study at all tonight?”

“Mm,” Lin Wuyu agreed.



“You’re ‘mm’ing with that much confidence?” His mother wrinkled her brows. “Do you think that if someone calls you an academic god, you really are an academic god? People have to face reality, and they also have to face their true selves. If you really are an academic god, how come you’ve never dared to skip a single grade? How come you don’t dare to guarantee that you’ll get full marks? How come you don’t dare to…”

“Mom.” Lin Wuyu turned his head and pressed his index finger to his lips, lowering his voice. “Shh…listen.”

“Listen to what?” his mother asked.

“Listen to me speak,” Lin Wuyu said.

His mother didn’t react, watching him.

“I won’t think I’m a genius just because someone called me smart, and I won’t feel like I’m inadequate if someone calls me stupid. I can judge myself just fine.” Lin Wuyu spoke very calmly. Compared to his mother’s machine gun-like talking speed, it was as if he was taking a stroll. “There’s another thing that I need to reiterate. In life, other than the things I don’t dare to do, there are many things that I don’t hope for.”

“You…” His mother came back to her senses, knitting her brows.

“Shh.” Lin Wuyu raised his finger again. “Listen.”

“Listen to what, again!” His mother raised her voice angrily.

“If neither of us speak,” Lin Wuyu said, “our moods will improve greatly.”



When he entered, his father was already starting to make braised noodles in the kitchen. His mother, who had gotten home before him, was frowning as she sat on the sofa. Lin Wuyu walked into the kitchen and greeted his father: “Dad.”

“Stop constantly arguing with your mom,” his father said.

“Mm,” Lin Wuyu agreed.

“You’re not a kid anymore. You’re someone about to go to college,” his father said. “You have to learn to empathize with your parents, understand your parents…”

“Mm,” Lin Wuyu agreed again.

His mother and father had, as a matter of fact, achieved that point. Between the two of them, they could empathize and understand each other.

Because they were parents with the same kinds of conflicting views.

Lin Wuyu turned and started walking towards his room.

“Open the window in your brother’s room, let some fresh air in,” his mother said.

“Mm.” Lin Wuyu’s footsteps paused for a second and he walked into the room next to his.

He opened all the windows and departed quickly, returning to his own room and locking the door, then lying on the bed.

Braised noodles harmed people.

Being gluttonous harmed people.

If he couldn’t eat braised noodles…what should he eat now?



“Fried sauce noodles?” [4] His grandmother’s face suddenly appeared before Ding Ji’s eyes.

“Oh my god!” [5] Ding Ji was so startled that he stepped onto the edge of the table in front of him, shaking his phone to the ground from its upright position on the table.

“What was that for?” He patted his chest. “You almost scared an accident out of your grandson. Are you worthy of the Ding family’s ancestors!”

“If even this can scare an accident out of you, are you, my grandson, worthy of the Ding family’s ancestors?” his grandmother said. “What are you watching? A horror movie?”

“When have I ever watched those.” Ding Ji sighed and leaned over to pick up his phone. He wasn’t that brave to begin with, and the old lady kept using the principle of curing ills with poison to frighten him whenever she had nothing better to do. He felt like in a few more years, his bravery would be completely frightened off.

He had been watching this documentary for days. There were all kinds of crimes and homicides in it. Old documentaries wouldn’t pixelate murder scenes, so horrifying shots would appear all of a sudden. Forget about watching it at night, even watching it at dusk made him feel like there was hair sweeping across his spine.



After being scared by the old lady, he didn’t want to watch it anymore. He tossed his phone aside and stood up, stretching: “What did you say I could eat just now? Fried sauce noodles?”

“If you want to eat something else, Grandma will make it for you.” His grandmother walked over to the window and gazed out.

“I want dumplings,” Ding Ji said.

“Sure, I’ll go make dumplings for you right now.” His grandmother nodded, but she was still standing at the window, motionless.

“What are you looking at?” Ding Ji walked over and stood at his grandmother’s side, gazing out together.

“Someone died.” His grandmother wore a grave expression as she pinched her fingers, head lowered as she predicted. “Is it…”

Ding Ji looked down. Everything seemed auspicious and peaceful, and he didn’t hear any movements. He was about to ask how it was possible that someone died and he hadn’t even opened his mouth when a few yellow slips of paper money drifted over the curb.

The wind gave a small whirl and they floated away along the road.



“Fuck.” Ding Ji’s back went numb. He promptly turned and left the window, putting his hand behind his back and scratching at it. “Can you not be like that!”

“Your grandma’s psychic, eh?” His grandmother asked with a smile, looking back at him.

“Psychic, my ass.” Ding Ji grabbed his jacket and put it on. “We abide by science now, and you’re still pulling that psychic witch act.”

“Don’t speak nonsense!” His grandmother slapped his back. “I’m still very spiritual!”

Ding Ji turned his head and moved closer to his grandmother. Lowering his voice and wearing a mysterious expression, he asked: “Old lady, be honest. Did you already see paper money drift by just now?”

His grandmother looked at him with a mysterious expression as well. After a while, she said: “Quite a few slips.”

Ding Ji cracked up. Putting his shoes on as he laughed, he got ready to go out: “I’m going to walk around.”

“You want to eat dumplings but you’re not going to knead the dough? Not going to pinch dough pieces? Not going to roll the wrappers?” his grandmother asked in quick succession.

“I don’t know how to pinch dough pieces, and you won’t let me use a knife for it either,” Ding Ji said.

“Not going to make the filling? Not going to boil water?” his grandmother said.

“Fried sauce noodles.” Ding Ji leaned against the door frame. “I want fried sauce noodles now.”

“Little rascal. I can’t expect anything from you. Your aunt is coming over in a bit, I’ll just get her to help me.” His grandmother looked down and pinched her fingers, starting to calculate.

“Isn’t my aunt coming tomorrow?” Ding Ji said.

“Coming today.” His grandmother finished pinching her fingers and looked up, raising her eyebrows. “She’ll arrive any moment now.”



Ding Ji went down the stairs, running into Auntie Hu, who was walking up. He greeted her: “Auntie Hu, did you catch a cold?”

“Ah, I got caught in a draft this morning,” Auntie Hu confirmed. Only after he went down that flight of stairs did she grab onto the railing and ask in surprise, “How did you know?”

Ding Ji smiled and didn’t say anything.

“You’ve learned quite a lot from your grandma…” Auntie Hu sighed. “How did you know?”

Ding Ji sighed as well. It was too easy to fool her. He had simply heard the sound of Auntie Hu sneezing as he stood in the doorway talking to his grandmother, as well as a rather nasally sigh, nothing more.

But his grandmother really was psychic sometimes. When he walked out of the corridor, he ran into his aunt.

“Auntie, did you tell Grandma you were coming?” Ding Ji asked immediately.

“I didn’t, I was passing by for work. I originally agreed to come tomorrow,” his aunt said. “But I’m already here, so it’s today, I guess.”

“Then how did she know you were coming?” Ding Ji asked.

“Pinching her fingers and predicting, obviously,” his aunt said. “You’re the one in the family who’s learned the most from her, and you’re asking me?”

Ding Ji laughed, and lowered his head, starting to predict with his left hand.

“What did you predict?” his aunt asked, smiling. She began walking up the stairs.

“I’ll be in a relationship within a week.” Ding Ji raised his eyebrows.


Footnotes:

[1] Wuyu (无隅) is a homophone with “no fish” (无鱼), giving rise to this nickname.

[2] Putting lao (老) before someone’s name is an informal way to refer to teachers you’re familiar with. It can also be slightly disrespectful. 

[3] Ge (哥) means older brother but it’s also a way to refer to those older than you. 

[4] Fried sauce noodles (炸酱面) are a dish consisting of ground pork simmered with salty fermented soybean paste over thick wheat noodles.  

[5] The phrase that Ding Ji says here literally translates to “Oh my ancestors.”