“Just a superfluous person.”
The way home wasn’t far, but Lin Wuyu still rented a bike share.
“Your dad came to school to find me today, and asked about…the rooftop shouting incident.”
Wind blew past Lin Wuyu’s ears, carrying the dry smell of dust.
“Why didn’t he just find me?”
“Maybe…he was afraid it would disrupt your studies. I had this concern too, but with your personality, I still felt that I should tell you…”
When the bike arrived downstairs, Lin Wuyu raised his head and took a look. The lights in his home were on.
“If he was afraid of disrupting my studies, he should have waited until the college entrance exam was over. If you hadn’t told me, he would’ve gone to find Chen Mang, to find my other classmates…I understand those two too well. I know that they absolutely wanted me to know, but they couldn’t say it personally.”
“I’ll talk with them first, and let them bring it up again after the college entrance exam?”
Lin Wuyu walked into the corridor, pressing the elevator button.
“No need. I’m not in the habit of avoiding things. If I can resolve it, I’ll resolve it immediately.”
Moreover, this wasn’t something he needed to consider as something to be dealt with.
“How come you came home today?” Mom saw him come in and stood up from the sofa. “You’re not studying anymore? And you didn’t bring materials back…”
“Let’s chat.” Lin Wuyu entered the room and sat down on the sofa.
“It looks like your Lin-laoshi still ended up telling you?” Dad didn’t pretend to act dumb anymore.
“It’s a good thing he told me.” Lin Wuyu’s elbows were propped on his knees as he looked at him. “Otherwise, if you had gone to find the people in the dorm, everyone would have felt awkward.”
“Then this thing is true?” Mom gazed at him.
“What thing?” Lin Wuyu gazed back at her.
“You know it clearly yourself!” Mom furrowed her brows.
To be truthful, Lin Wuyu had never thought about what sort of scene it would be if his parents knew one day, but Mom’s attitude of not even willing to explicitly mention it still took him somewhat by surprise.
He had always thought that other than persisting with an attitude of “you’re no good, you’re not as good as your brother,” they would be more open than other parents. After all, in his memories, “your brother” had a brash personality.
“The thing about me being gay?” Lin Wuyu asked, watching their faces take on a somewhat stiff expression in an instant. He quirked up the corner of his mouth. “It’s true. Are there any problems?”
“Why are you so…” Dad didn’t finish his words, probably swallowing the word “perverted.”
There were peers who had used this term with him, so it wasn’t strange that his parents’ generation could use it.
Not letting her husband down, Mom said it: “This is abnormal, do you know that? This is perverted!”
Lin Wuyu turned his head to the side, lightly letting out a sigh.
“We don’t want to speak too heavily. You still have to take your college entrance exam and we don’t want to disrupt your studies,” Dad said. “Your revisions were originally not…”
“It can’t disrupt them,” Lin Wuyu said. “There’s no such thing as heavy or not heavy, say what you want to say.”
“Just, why?” Mom asked. “Why? Because of your brother? Do you think we’re biased so you have to use this kind of method to retaliate against us?”
“If I recall correctly,” Lin Wuyu gazed at her, “for ten years of my life, I’ve never said a single thing about you being biased. Why would you have a notion like this?”
Mom didn’t say anything.
“Why?” Imitating her, Lin Wuyu questioned her closely.
“What do you mean, why!” Mom suddenly threw the cup in her hand to the ground. “I want to ask you! Why do you have to retaliate against us like this! Using such a disgusting, perverted method to retaliate against us!”
The room froze for a few seconds.
This was the first time Lin Wuyu had seen his mother forget herself with no prior indication like this. For a split second, he couldn’t even come back to his senses.
She had lost her beloved son for ten years now. Her son hadn’t left a single phrase, a single word, or sent back a single shred of news.
Unable to hear from him or see him, her memories became blurrier every day. She started being unable to remember some things: whether his crying, his laughter, his anger had happened or not.
And as for the remaining, superfluous child, she had to face a child that she didn’t need and didn’t think highly of…no, a child that she wasn’t even willing to spare more than a glance at, forcefully pretending to be calm, maintaining an appearance of cool-headedness in her confusion and anxiety.
Finally, one day.
Lin Wuyu didn’t speak. He didn’t know what to say.
Mom pointed at him: “What do you mean, why! If you don’t say it, do you not feel it!”
“Calm down.” Dad stood up and pulled at her arm.
“Don’t pull on me!” Mom shook him off, continuing to point at Lin Wuyu, practically shouting, “That’s right, I simply am biased! I simply am biased! You simply can’t compare to your brother! Nothing about you can compare to him! You can never be as outstanding as him! But you still think you are! Who gave you that self-confidence? Why do you think you deserve a title like academic god! Why!”
Lin Wuyu looked at her.
He didn’t know how, but she suddenly went off-topic.
This kind of college entrance exam essay would be unable to earn points…
He suddenly had a sort of carefree feeling.
Every cell seemed to have spread its arms, floating in the cool and refreshing, fresh and clean air.
He stood up, taking a step towards Mom.
“Wuyu.” Dad reached out an arm to block him.
“You reap what you sow,” Lin Wuyu said.
The tone of his self-evaluation was calm, breath steady as a python.
Mom and Dad both froze.
“You two,” Lin Wuyu suddenly raised his voice, roaring, “reap what you sow!”
“What did you say?” Mom gazed at him in shock.
“Not a single person was born with their permission.” Lin Wuyu gazed at her too. “Why you had me, you know it clearly yourself! Why did you make my birth carry another person’s life on its back! Why was I born because of Lin Zhan? Why did you decide that other than Lin Zhan, my entire life would have no meaning! Why!”
“Lin Wuyu!” Dad shouted.
“Right! I am Lin Wuyu! I’m not Lin Zhan’s younger brother!” Lin Wuyu said. “I don’t live in order to prepare to take care of anyone. The day Lin Zhan disappeared, you should have understood! You don’t have the right to decide anyone’s life! You don’t have the right to blot me out! You don’t have the right to reject me!”
“You shut up!” Mom pointed at him, hand trembling severely.
“Whether I am smart, whether I am outstanding, whether I am an academic god, whether I should be self-confident, who I date, who I am, how I live,” Lin Wuyu said word-by-word, line-by-line, “it’s all me. I have the final say.”
“Get lost!” Dad glared at him. “You, get lost—”
The sports field was very quiet. It was already two. Even the students studying on the field had all returned to their dorms. The flashlight shining during the school police’s patrol swept over just for show.
Lin Wuyu somewhat looked forward to the flashlight’s beams flashing past his body.
But it didn’t happen a single time.
When he started to see the outline of the tiny blades of grass next to the stairs, the light from the flashlight disappeared.
In the distance, early-rising third year students started to appear, coming to the field to study some books before the dining hall opened.
“You didn’t go back to the dorm?” Xu Tianbo stood in front of him, somewhat startled as he asked him.
This wasn’t hard to guess. He had never gotten out of bed before the dining hall opened in the morning. The only possibility for him to be sitting on the field at this time was that he had been here since last night.
“Mm.” Lin Wuyu laughed.
“Did anything happen?” Xu Tianbo bent over to look at him. “Your complexion’s not bad, but your mood doesn’t seem very good.”
“When I sort out my emotions, I’ll tell you.” Lin Wuyu stood up, kicking out his slightly sore legs. “Go study. I’ll run a few laps.”
“Don’t run,” Xu Tianbo said. “If you’ve been sitting here for a whole night, if you suddenly start running right now, you won’t be comfortable. Walk a few laps.”
“Alright.” Lin Wuyu leapt down the stairs and slowly walked along the track, raising his head to look at the sky.
The sky was fresh and cool. The weather should be good today.
“It’s going to rain,” Shi Xiangyang said. “I’ll bet you that it’ll rain within two hours.”
“What are you betting?” Ding Ji lifted his head from a pile of books.
“I’ll bet that you won’t be able to finish this set of problems before it starts raining,” Shi Xiangyang said very staunchly.
Ding Ji opened his mouth and looked at him. Only after a while did he ask: “What exactly are you betting?”
“That it’s going to rain within two hours,” Shi Xiangyang said.
“And then, what are you betting?” After saying it, Ding Ji reacted, rushing to open his mouth before Shi Xiangyang could speak. “What are the stakes?”
“Stakes?” Shi Xiangyang looked at the test paper in front of him.
“Betting on my problem set?” Ding Ji asked. “Do I do it if I lose or if I win?”
Shi Xiangyang didn’t say anything. He leaned against the back of his chair, looking out the window, his gaze drifting away somewhat.
Taking advantage of the fact that his gaze hadn’t drifted back, Ding Ji quickly pushed the knife in his desk drawer to the innermost part. This person probably had a lot of studying pressure on him lately. His entire person was a little distracted.
“Sometimes I suddenly have a feeling,” Shi Xiangyang said, “that I might as well give up and forget about it.”
“You’re already here,” Ding Ji said. “Isn’t it a little late to say you’re giving up?”
“Hm?” Shi Xiangyang turned his head to gaze at him.
“You have to give up early,” Ding Ji said. “Giving up at the start is more worthwhile. Now you’re about to take the exam. With just this amount of time remaining, you can’t even complete a level in a game. It’s not worthwhile.”
Shi Xiangyang thoughtfully continued to gaze at him.
“Look at me.” Ding Ji pointed at himself. “Ignorant and incompetent, wasting time every day, needing to copy during exams. I fall far short of you, and I haven’t given up. If you give up, isn’t that just unfortunate panic?”
“You copy everything?” Shi Xiangyang asked.
“Mm.” Ding Ji nodded very sincerely. “But I don’t dare to copy for the college entrance exam, so I have to study. I’m studying, and you’re giving up?”
“I can’t give up,” Shi Xiangyang said.
“Hey! That’s right.” Ding Ji patted him. “Come on, top student, explain a problem to me.”
When Shi Xiangyang started explaining the problem, Ding Ji let out a breath.
To be honest, Shi Xiangyang was pretty stupid, but he tried hard. Those with the greatest amount of pressure tended to affect others. Academic gods like Lin Wuyu in the class and those squatting in the back row using alcohol burners to cook instant noodles with spicy strips  didn’t have this much pressure. Or, they had a lot of pressure on them too, but the pressure mostly came from the survival challenge of how their parents would sort them out after the exam was over.
As for people like him…
He had a lot of pressure, too. If he was lazy in his prime, he would be sorry in his old age.
Ding Ji earnestly listened to Shi Xiangyang use a process that was several times more complicated than his to explain a problem that he could do with his eyes closed.
He felt like the pressure had alleviated quite a bit.
Today was the day he had arranged for Lin Wuyu to return his book to him. It happened to be the weekend. Ding Ji left school early so that there would be just enough time for him to get the book, then return home at his usual time, which would be beneficial for family unity.
When he ran down the stairs, he bumped into a problem set-holding Shi Xiangyang who had just come back from the bathroom.
“Where are you going?” Shi Xiangyang had a face full of righteousness.
“…Home,” Ding Ji said.
“You’re not taking any review materials to study?” Shi Xiangyang was very pained.
“I have them at home.” Ding Ji continued wanting to run down the stairs.
“Here.” Shi Xiangyang pressed the problem set in his hands to him. “I won’t be looking at this set for the next couple of days. You can hold onto it. I’ve done all the problems in it, you can…”
“Thanks.” Ding Ji took the problem set and ran down the stairs.
When Lin Wuyu hurriedly walked out of the school gates, Ding Ji was holding his phone wanting to call him. Seeing him come out, he quickly got in his way: “Hey, academic god.”
“How come you’re here?” When Lin Wuyu saw him, he was slightly startled.
“How fresh,” Ding Ji said. “Three days. I’m here to get my precious book.”
Lin Wuyu was still staring at him. After a while, with a face full of embarrassment, he said: “I forgot about this, how about…”
“Hm?” Ding Ji looked at him.
Lin Wuyu glanced back at the school gates and turned around to head back, like he had steeled his resolve: “Wait here for a while, I’ll go back to the dorms and get it for you.”
“No thanks, wait.” Ding Ji tugged at his clothes. “Is there something urgent?”
“…Mm,” Lin Wuyu responded.
“Then you can go first, you can give the book back to me when you have time,” Ding Ji said. “It’s okay.”
Lin Wuyu should have been someone whose words had weight and kept his promises. Right now, he was clearly very much at a loss.
“I don’t need my book urgently, either. I said three days to tease you,” Ding Ji said.
“Alright.” Lin Wuyu went over to the sidewalk. “I’ll get it to you tonight…fuck.”
Ding Ji glanced over. The last bike share on the curb had been wheeled away by someone.
Lin Wuyu really was a little anxious. He didn’t know the time limit of his mother’s ultimatum, and he also didn’t know what kind of handling results the things in his room would face if he passed this time limit.
He couldn’t attend to the fact that Ding Ji was next to him, either. He broke into a run towards his home.
“Hey!” Ding Ji followed behind him. “Hey!”
“Didn’t I say I would get it to you tonight?” Lin Wuyu looked back at him, slightly astonished. “Do you think I’ll eat your book?”
“I have a vehicle!” Ding Ji shouted.
Lin Wuyu stopped: “What kind of vehicle?”
“A moped, what other kind of vehicle?” Ding Ji said as he ran toward the nearby parking spot. “At a time like this, are you still expecting a Lamborghini…”
Lin Wuyu cracked up. Ding Ji’s offhand remark let him momentarily relax quite a bit.
Ding Ji’s moped was pretty big. At a glance, he could tell that it was the kind that violated regulations, and furthermore, took those violations rather far. It looked like a deformed King Kong.
“This vehicle hasn’t been caught by police?” Lin Wuyu mounted the backseat. “The traffic police have been checking lately.”
“Did you worry out an ailment?” Ding Ji turned his head to glance at him. “Where are we going?”
“Turn right ahead,” Lin Wuyu said.
Ding Ji twisted the handlebar. The moped rushed off the sidewalk and converged into traffic: “Then what?”
“Drive to the end,” Lin Wuyu said.
“Then what?” Ding Ji asked again.
“Then we’ve arrived.” Lin Wuyu cleared his throat.
“…Do I still have time to make you get off and run?” Ding Ji was a little speechless.
“Thanks,” Lin Wuyu said.
“No problem, it doesn’t even meet the base price,” Ding Ji said.
The car arrived quickly. It was a pretty good neighborhood, with beautiful and secluded surroundings.
“Did something happen at home?” Ding Ji got off the moped. “Do you need help?”
No need, thank you.
Logically, he should have answered like that.
“If you have time,” Lin Wuyu didn’t know why he would speak like this, “can you help me move my luggage?”
It was like the thrill of ripping open a wound that could never heal.
The thrill of insisting on airing out a “family scandal.”
Mom said, are you retaliating.
I don’t know.
I must have had this sort of notion before.
After all, I was a little kid once.
“Is there a lot of stuff?” Ding Ji stood in the elevator, looking at him. “You look like someone who tends to have plans. How come you didn’t have the slightest bit of preparation to get luggage?”
“You can guess.” Lin Wuyu laughed.
“Do I need to guess,” Ding Ji said. “You had an argument with your family, right, and now you plan to move your luggage and leave home, or…it’s possible that you were driven out of your house, too.”
Lin Wuyu gazed at him.
“Even though it’s a little childish, I can understand it,” Ding Ji said.
“Your relationship with your parents isn’t that good, right?” Lin Wuyu asked.
“Let’s not battle our wits and bravery right now.” Ding Ji turned his head away.
Ding Ji felt like he was a fairly polite person. When Lin Wuyu opened the door, he arranged a smile on his face. Lin Wuyu had argued with his parents, but he still had to say hello.
Hello uncle, hello auntie, stuff like that.
But after the door was opened, there was no one home.
At that moment, he discovered that Lin Wuyu was a very polite person too. At a time when there was not a soul in sight at home and moreover, he was anxious to move his things, he didn’t forget to say in a series: “You don’t need to change your shoes, come in, this is my family’s living room, the kitchen is over there, bedroom, this is the other bedroom, this is my bedroom…I won’t give you a tour, hurry over…”
Ding Ji followed him, taking quick steps into the bedroom.
“Put books in this suitcase.” Lin Wuyu pulled out a giant suitcase from under his bed and gave it to him. “Thanks.”
“…You don’t need to be so comprehensive when you’re leaving home, right?” Ding Ji looked at his full bookshelf and the books piled on his nightstand. He already didn’t know if he should be shocked that he wanted to bring his books or be shocked that Lin Wuyu was starting from packing his suitcases. “This suitcase can’t fit it all, either.”
Lin Wuyu looked at him, like he was contemplating.
“And you say you have a good memory?” Ding Ji added, trying to persuade him.
“Then pack those. Just put whatever you can put in it.” Lin Wuyu pointed at another cabinet. “I have a booklist for my books. I can buy them again.”
“Drones?” Ding Ji opened the cabinet and was taken aback.
“Mm.” Lin Wuyu started gathering clothes from his wardrobe.
“You can’t casually play with drones of this size, right?” Ding Ji said.
“I have a license,” Lin Wuyu said.
“…Oh.” Ding Ji nodded as he carefully took out a remote control. “I think you should just bring some clothes. These things…bring it once you’ve run away from trouble.”
“I’m worried that if I don’t take them away, my mother will burn them,” Lin Wuyu said.
Ding Ji froze: “Is it that serious? What kind of animosity.”
“No animosity.” Lin Wuyu carelessly shoved his clothes into the suitcase. “Just a superfluous person.”
 A snack like beef jerky but made with flour instead of meat. ↩