No matter how you looked at it, he seemed lonely and poor.
After third grade, no one ruffled Ding Ji’s hair anymore, and his grandparents didn’t touch his head either.
Because he had solemnly warned his grandparents that he was a man now. This was a man’s head, and you couldn’t touch it casually!
He’d get mad at whoever touched it!
But Lin Wuyu suddenly touched it, and not only did he touch it, but he even ruffled it a couple times.
Although Lin Wuyu’s movements were very natural, and he could feel the meaning he wanted to express—I know you haven’t figured it out, you’re hoodwinking me, thank you for comforting me.
Ding Ji still had to protest out of habit.
“Don’t think that you’re an elder just because someone called you daddy a few times.” He leaned his head away, looking at Lin Wuyu’s hand. “How benevolent…”
“Can’t touch your head, right?” Lin Wuyu withdrew his hand and laughed.
“That’s for sure,” Ding Ji said.
“In that case, you threw a rock at my head that day, and I haven’t bothered you yet.” Lin Wuyu took a bite of stirred ice cream.
“That was a pebble! A granule!” Ding Ji corrected him. “If I threw a rock onto your head and you didn’t bother me you’d be a fool, alright!”
Lin Wuyu smiled, but seeing the ice cream in his hand, he paused: “You have to imitate me even when eating ice cream?”
“What the hell?” Ding Ji looked down. “Who’s imitating you? My grandmother always said that the way I ate it was disgusting, and it was obvious I just didn’t want to share it with others…”
When he turned his head to look at Lin Wuyu’s box, he was stunned: “Who would’ve thought that a great academic god is also a stingy spirit! No wonder you took my water that day.”
“This is being a stingy spirit?” Lin Wuyu asked.
“It’s not easy to share this with others. According to my grandmother’s logic, it’s stingy,” Ding Ji said. “But it’s the first time I’ve seen someone eat ice cream like me.”
“I think it’s better this way,” Lin Wuyu said.
“Yeah.” Ding Ji nodded, put the spoon down and stretched his hand out.
Lin Wuyu took a look at him and shook his hand.
“Nice to meet you,” Ding Ji said.
“…Nice to meet you,” Lin Wuyu said.
The moped would take a while to charge. Ding Ji slowly ate ice cream, wondering whether to send a message to his mother to tell her he’d be coming home late.
Lin Wuyu stood up and walked towards the trash can.
“You’re finished?” asked Ding Ji.
Lin Wuyu didn’t say anything, only shaking the empty box in his hand.
Ding Ji watched him throw out the box and sit back down beside him. With emotion and sincerity, he asked: “Are you hungry? Do you not have money to eat at school?”
“Right, I don’t have money to eat. It’s hard to save ten or twenty yuan to come out and buy ice cream,” Lin Wuyu said.
“It’s not good for your health to eat cold food too much and too fast,” Ding Ji sighed. “If you let my grandma see this, she’d tell you off for three days and three nights, and then she’d make you hot tea every day.”
Lin Wuyu laughed: “Jealous.”
“What are you jealous of?” said Ding Ji. “In summer, I’ll hold a scalding bottle for a couple hours and not take a sip of water, thirsty as hell.”
“Then do you want to come to my house?” Lin Wuyu said with a smile. “Nobody would care. You can even drink from the toilet.”
“Pay attention to your words.” Ding Ji stared at him.
Lin Wuyu laughed and didn’t speak again.
He hardly ever told anyone about his family, nor did he make any comments about his parents. Ever since elementary school, if his essays had to do with family and parents, he would make it up. He’d polished it to the point of perfection.
He didn’t mind that much when it came to Ding Ji. After all, he’d already asked Ding Ji to help him find someone.
Ding Ji was someone who could make people relax, and he was pretty smart to boot.
“Honestly, my relationship with my parents isn’t very good either.” Ding Ji slowly ate ice cream. “After they had me, they ran off to Germany, and other than occasionally coming back for a few days during the new year, I had no impression of them.”
“I see.” Lin Wuyu looked at him. “They’re back now?”
“Mhm, they’ve been back for two or three years.” Ding Ji frowned. “I wasn’t prepared at all, and they thought I should’ve been pleasantly surprised…suddenly saying that I would be living with my parents from now on. I was so angry that I couldn’t eat any food. For more than ten years, they’d thrown me to the old man and old lady, given me some money, said hello in video calls, and then wanted to turn around and come back to a ready-made son. In their dreams.”
“Do they try to manage you?” Lin Wuyu asked.
“More than managing.” Ding Ji looked upset. “Even thinking my grandparents didn’t take good care of me. You have to be this good, you should’ve been this good, why are you not this good now…”
“Then you should come to my house,” Lin Wuyu laughed. “They’d tell you that you’re not good at all, that you’re a piece of trash.”
“Comparing it like this, your parents are even crazier.” Ding Ji licked the spoon.
Lin Wuyu had never understood, in the eyes of some parents, what children were, whether they were enemies, or the “ideal” tools they had manifested.
“Why did your brother go missing?” Ding Ji finally finished eating the ice cream. Since Lin Wuyu ate too fast, it affected his slow pace and he ate faster than usual. Now he could feel the cold air just by rubbing his stomach.
“One night, he asked me, ‘Do you like traveling?'” Lin Wuyu thought for a moment. “I said I do, and he said, ‘I’m going to travel.'”
“And then?” asked Ding Ji.
“I got up the next morning and he was gone,” Lin Wuyu said.
“…Leaving after pissing you off?” Ding Ji said. “Your brother has a lot of character.”
Lin Wuyu was stunned. He had never thought of this sentence from Ding Ji’s point of view. Now that Ding Ji said it, he suddenly wanted to laugh.
“I’ve really never thought of it before,” Lin Wuyu sighed with a smile. “Now that you say it, I really want to ask if he was pissing me off.”
“You’ll be able to ask sooner or later,” Ding Ji said. “I calculated it. It’s accurate.”
“Mm.” Lin Wuyu took a look at him.
“You’re welcome. Don’t ruffle my head.” Ding Ji immediately looked at him too.
The moped that could allegedly make two round trips around the suburbs finally charged up to one bar.
When Ding Ji started the vehicle, the battery suddenly changed to two bars.
“Quick, quick, quick.” He waved towards Lin Wuyu. “While it’s at two bars.”
“This is fake electricity, right,” said Lin Wuyu. “It was one grid just now.”
“I know,” Ding Ji patted the handlebar, “come on, before it realizes that this is fake electricity. Let’s go a few hundred meters first.”
“Before who?” Lin asked.
“My moped!” Ding Ji said.
“…That’s a good idea.” Lin Wuyu got on the vehicle quickly.
Ding Ji’s vehicle was probably rather slow. After going several hundred meters, it found that it had an extra bar of electricity, but it wasn’t far at that point. Only when they drove back to the watermelon stand did the vehicle run out of battery.
The watermelons hadn’t been sold out yet. It was dark now, and that swindling assistant named Liu Jinpeng was still perched on the stool, with a pole stuck next to him and an emergency light hanging from it.
Ding Ji got off the moped and said a few words to him. Somewhat smugly, Liu Jinpeng kicked the broken leather bag holding money on the ground.
Looking at it, Lin Wuyu felt sad.
“Let Pengpeng choose a couple for you,” Ding Ji said. “He’s really good at picking melons.”
“Okay.” Lin Wuyu looked, and there weren’t any bags at the stand either. “How do I take it?”
“There are strings.” Liu Jinpeng said.
“Strings?” Lin Wuyu was stunned.
Ding Ji picked up a loop of red plastic string from the ground, pulled a few sections out, and then lowered his head and started to tie knots.
Lin Wuyu watched him skillfully tie knot after knot, and after a final horizontal pull, the strings turned into a mesh bag. The holes were very big, but it was suitable for carrying watermelons.
After Ding Ji put the watermelon in the bag and handed it to Lin Wuyu, he regretted it.
He should’ve let Liu Jinpeng tie the strings.
He was now just like a skilled watermelon stand owner.
What’s more, Lin Wuyu took out his phone and scanned the code without saying anything. He didn’t even have a chance to explain.
“The recipient is Liu Xpeng?” Lin Wuyu asked.
“Yes,” Liu Jinpeng nodded beside him. “I am Liu Xpeng.”
Ding Ji also nodded.
Yes, he’s my boss.
After Lin Wuyu paid, carrying the watermelons and about to call a ride back to school, Ding Ji stood beside him.
The yellow light behind him…obviously, there were those sorts of bright white emergency lights that made you want to kill someone, but the two of them didn’t know why they still got a very miserable yellow light. Now that it was shining on Ding Ji, no matter how you looked at it, he seemed lonely and poor.
“What are you going to do when this car of watermelons is sold out?” Lin Wuyu asked Ding Ji.
“I don’t know,” said Ding Ji. “I’ll just let it be and wait till summer.”
He had to wait until the college entrance exam was over, right?
“Are you still planning to do summer jobs?” Lin Wuyu didn’t really understand.
“…Ah.” Ding Ji sighed.
“Alright, take your time.” Lin Wuyu didn’t say much. “If you want to look for a serious job and you can’t find a suitable one, you can come to me.”
“Oh?” Ding Ji raised his eyebrows. “You’re pretty capable for a student who left home? You’re only living in a group student dorm, right.”
“I’ve been financially independent since middle school,” Lin Wuyu said.
If anyone else said such a thing, Ding Ji could bite back with eight hundred words, but with Lin Wuyu saying it, he mysteriously felt that he could believe it and had nothing to retort with.
“Then I’ll come to you when I can’t find a suitable job,” Ding Ji said.
“Good.” Lin Wuyu nodded.
After seeing Lin Wuyu get on the bus and leave, Liu Jinpeng came over: “When did this person get so familiar with you?”
“Are we that familiar?” Ding Ji said, “You can find anyone and talk them up to this point when you’re loitering in the mini-park every night.”
“That’s me, okay,” Liu Jinpeng said. “You don’t even bother paying attention to Da-Dong. You’ve known Chen-laosi for several years, right, and when he asked you to read his palms he almost kowtowed. We’ve known each other for ten years, and we can finally sell watermelons together…”
Liu Jinpeng didn’t finish what he was saying when two blobs of not quite black, not quite white, not quite green things appeared on his face.
It was still dripping down.
“What the hell?” Liu Jinpeng was startled, pointing to his face. “What is it? It’s still hot! “
“Bird shit.” Ding Ji looked closer.
Even if Liu Jinpeng’s face was bigger than others, it was a magical thing for one face to catch two blobs of shit.
And the trajectory of this shit…
When Liu Jinpeng took a napkin out to wipe his face, Ding Ji grabbed his hand and stared at the bird shit on his face: “Wait a minute.”
“Are you serious? What sort of situation is this, are you still calculating?” Liu Jinpeng was truly his childhood friend, and immediately understood. “Okay, okay, why don’t you calculate for me…”
“Shut up.” Ding Ji looked at the time on his phone, and then squatted on the side of the road to start calculating.
Generally, when he came across this sort of thing, Grandma would say, “So mystical ah, I have to calculate it.”
Ding Ji also liked playing like this, but he wasn’t very skilled, and generally he would calculate whether it was or wasn’t, could or couldn’t, and so on.
Now he was calculating whether it was east or west.
Grandma’s house was in the east, and his parents’ house was in the west.
“What are you calculating? Have you figured it out?” Liu Jinpeng asked.
“I figured it out.” Ding Ji gave Liu Jinpeng the key to the moped. “Charge it up and help me drive to my grandma’s house tomorrow.”
“Okay,” Liu Jinpeng nodded. “Are you going home?”
“Back to my grandma’s house,” Ding Ji said, conveniently swiping a bikeshare.
Liu Jinpeng hung a watermelon in front of the vehicle.
As he rode to his grandma’s house, he was in a very good mood. He even wondered whether he hadn’t calculated at all just now, directly giving himself an answer to go east.
Although he had decided that he wouldn’t argue with his parents before the college entrance exam, he suddenly missed his grandparents just now. It’d be fine even if he went back to sit there for half an hour and then leave.
What’s more, he just sent a message to his mother saying that he would meet her later, but he hadn’t received a reply.
He hadn’t had dinner yet, so he might as well ask Grandma to cook noodles or make dumplings for him…forget it, it’d be better to cook noodles.
Riding to Grandma’s street, as he turned the corner, a gust of wind blew over.
Ding Ji suddenly shivered for no reason.
Subconsciously, he squeezed the brakes and rubbed his arm, feeling like his hair had stood up.
He didn’t feel right.
Did something happen?
Maybe he was influenced by staying with his grandma since childhood. Grandma really believed in “premonitions,” but she hadn’t mentioned them much in the past two years, because his parents disliked it and thought she wasn’t a good example for Ding Ji.
Ding Ji also disliked this about them, not necessarily because he believed it, but because he felt that they had no right to dislike his grandparents who had loved him for more than ten years.
He slammed his feet on the pedals and the car rushed forward.
The sudden cold wind from before had disappeared. Now wrapping him and pushing him forward was a dry warm wind, breathing in nosefuls as he rode quickly, making him somewhat uncomfortable.
There were still a few dozen meters away from Grandma’s house. Ding Ji saw his uncle’s car parked downstairs.
He got anxious right away.
His aunt came to see his grandparents almost every weekend, but she didn’t come on other days because she had to go to work and lived far away.
Even his uncle had come now. Something must have happened.
Ding Ji rushed to the building on his bike, tossing the vehicle and the watermelon to the side and not stopping to lock it. He pounced on his uncle’s car first and looked in the window.
He turned and ran up the stairs.
As soon as he ran to the second floor, he heard his neighbor Grandma Yang’s voice.
“120 should be here soon, they usually come in five minutes.”
It was like Ding Ji was suddenly thrown into a freezer. His whole body was frozen.
“Grandma!” he shouted, and as he rushed up, he called, “Grandpa!”
“Ding Ji?” His aunt’s voice came from above. “How did you get here?”
“What happened!” Ding Ji yelled.
His aunt didn’t answer.
Ding Ji didn’t need her to answer. Turning at the stairs, he saw the open door and his grandma lying on the ground.
“Grandma!” Ding Ji was so scared his legs went soft, almost crawling forward. “What’s wrong with my grandma?”
“She fell.” His uncle grabbed him. “Don’t move her. You can’t move her!”
“I know, I know, I know,” Ding Ji replied in a series. “I won’t move her, I won’t move her…Grandma?”
“So troublesome.” She laid on the ground frowning. “Why did you run back again?”
Grandma’s voice was low and trembling, somewhat weak. Hearing it, Ding Ji felt a pang in his heart: “Where did you fall?”
Then he raised his head and looked at his aunt: “Where did my grandma fall?”
“Her hip, she said her hip and leg hurt,” his aunt said. “We called 120, they’ll arrive in a moment.”
Ding Ji turned to see his grandpa sitting to the side, and quickly added: “My grandpa’s fine, right!”
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” Grandpa waved. “Don’t panic.”
“From the start, your grandpa called me and said that Grandma was dizzy,” said his aunt. “We came here quickly and called your father on the way. They’ll also arrive soon. But then, your grandmother wanted to pour some water and fell when she got up…”
“You should’ve let Grandpa pour it for you,” Ding Ji whispered with a frown, kneeling beside Grandma and holding her hand.
“He was agitated too. I was afraid he was going to pour the water and fall,” said Grandma. “He can’t even stand right now.”
“Then you should’ve let me fall.” His grandfather looked at her, laughing. “I’m in better health.”
Grandma’s hands were cold and shaking the whole time. Ding Ji was trying to see whether Grandma had bumped into any other places when the sound of footsteps came from the stairs. He quickly turned his head: “Is it 120…”
His mother and father came up. His mother was very surprised to see him, and her first sentence was: “Why are you here?”
Without waiting for him to answer, his father frowned at his grandpa: “Didn’t I say not to tell Xiao Ji? He has to study! “
“I didn’t tell him.” Grandpa waved his hands quickly.
Ding Ji looked at his father and felt that he was too shocked to say anything.
Only when his father came to his grandma and squatted down did he yell in his father’s face: “Are you still fucking human!”
The people in the room were stunned.
His father took several seconds to react and roared, “What did you say!”
“I asked if you were still human!” Ding Ji jumped up, his voice a little broken, feeling his nose burn. “My grandmother’s fallen into this state, what sort of nonsense are you saying!”
“Xiao Ji!” Grandfather came to his senses and quickly pointed to him. “Don’t talk nonsense!”
“Ancestor,” his aunt hugged him and pushed him into the room, “let’s not talk about this right now…”
“Why am I talking nonsense?” Dad was furious. “Aren’t you going to take the college entrance exam? You haven’t been studying well from the start, you shouldn’t have known about this at all!”
“How dare you! How dare you not let me know! ” Ding Ji roared. “Do you believe me…”
His aunt covered his mouth: “Are you crazy!”
None this time!