“I’m so cute. I’m the cutest.”

Ding Ji was ushered into the room by his aunt. When the 120 people came, she let him out. The family saw Grandma into the ambulance.

His aunt took care of Grandpa at home, and the others drove to the hospital.

“You can go home.” Dad stopped Ding Ji, who was about to get into the ambulance.

“Come on, ge. How can you not let him go now?” His aunt frowned.

“Just now, I was in front of my grandparents, so I didn’t say too much about some things.” Ding Ji felt like blood was roiling in his head. If he didn’t say anything, his whole head would blow up. “My grandma fell like that and couldn’t move from the ground. The first thing you said was to blame them for telling me. You really surprised [1] me. It wasn’t even eating a whale, I fucking ate a big bite of shit!”

“I already knew about their situation on the road.” Dad frowned. “I knew what your grandmother’s situation was like! Don’t you think it’s excessive to talk to me like this now?”

“Excessive my ass!” Ding Ji lowered his voice. “You’re so calm, you’re so analytical. You heard on the phone that your own mother fell to the ground and couldn’t move. So when you saw the scene, you could be calm and unsurprised, busy accusing them of notifying your child prodigy son and disrupting his studies!”

“Ding Ji!” His mother had come over at some point. “You should pay attention to your words! Who taught you like that! Talking to your parents like this!”

“Do you know why your house is closer, but my grandfather still notified my aunt?” Ding Ji ignored his mother, still looked at his father. “Why didn’t he ask for you? Because he knows you’re cool-headed, you’re both so cool-headed!”

Ding Ji turned to get on the ambulance, then thinking about it, walked back in front of his mother: “Who taught me like this? I’ll tell you, my grandparents! For me to play around and rank in the top five of my grade, they taught me! If I wanted to, I could move my pinky and rank in the top five of the city!”

“Get in the car!” His aunt gave him a push. “You’re high-spirited, huh!”

His mother wanted to say something, but his aunt raised her voice: “Hurry and go, don’t delay!”

Ding Ji got in the car and sat next to Grandma.

“Done squabbling with your parents?” Grandma’s voice was still very weak.

“No, I’m giving my aunt face.” Ding Ji curled his lips. “If I really wanted to fight, I can fight [2] them to the point of calling another 120.”

“Aren’t you troublesome,” Grandma said.

“No.” Ding Ji held his grandma’s hand. “I’m so cute. I’m the cutest.”

Grandma had a bad fall this time. Her hip bone was cracked and her thigh was broken.

It was good that it wasn’t serious and there was no dislocation. There was no need for surgery, but she would have to rest for a long time.

Grandma also had a bit of a fever, so she did some other tests, and the results hadn’t come out yet.

Ding Ji was a little scared. He knew that many old people died from broken bones. Grandpa Zhao, upstairs, fell down and broke his bones, and he never got up again. He died half a year later.

“Grandpa Zhao had a serious fracture, with bones all broken, and he was old,” Liu Jinpeng said on the phone. “How old is your grandmother? She’s in good health, too. When she helped your grandfather beat me last year, she almost ran faster than me.”

“Why didn’t you say you couldn’t run fast enough?” Ding Ji leaned against the walls of the hallway and laughed. “Come stay with my grandmother tomorrow. I’ll come after school.”

“Okay,” said Liu Jinpeng. “Is there no one in your family to take care of her?”

“There is,” said Ding Ji, “but I have to go to school, and without being in the hospital I won’t be at ease. If something happens, someone has to report it to me.”

“No problem. Leave it to me,” Liu Jinpeng said.

“What about your watermelons?” asked Ding Ji.

“I’ll ask Chen-laosi to handle it for me,” Liu Jinpeng said. “He’s always hanging around that place anyway.”

After making the phone call, Ding Ji came back to the ward. Grandma had gone through a bunch of examinations. Now lying in bed looking weaker than ever, Ding Ji’s heart hurt.

“The doctor said that Grandma is in stable condition now, and there’s no problem.” His father looked at him, his face was a little gloomy, like he would start to thunder and storm with a poke. “You go home first. You have class tomorrow.”

“No,” Ding Ji sat down on the little stool beside the bed. “I’ll stay in the hospital.”

“You go back,” Grandma whispered.

“Don’t talk,” Ding Ji whispered back. “It’s useless for anyone to persuade me about this. You know my temper. Besides, you still have a fever, and I can’t relax. I’ll watch here, and I’ll go directly to school tomorrow morning.”

“Ding Ji,” Dad called him.

“You can go back and rest.” Ding Ji sat there unmoving.

“Xiao Ji,” his uncle came to rescue him, “I have nothing to do tomorrow. I’ll be here. You go back first…”

“No.” Ding Ji was stubborn.

He hadn’t been like this for a long time. When he was a child and didn’t understand many things, he was always stubborn with his grandparents. He didn’t say why and didn’t know why. In any case, he was stubborn.

This time, his nerves were pulled, and he entered a state of utter obstinacy. No one could do anything about it.

“Come out for a second.” Dad turned and walked out of the ward.

Mom took a look at him and went out as well.

“Talk properly with your parents.” His uncle patted him on the shoulder. “If you start arguing your grandma will worry again.”

“Mm,” Ding Ji answered, sitting on the stool for a long time, then standing up and walking out of the ward slowly.

Dad was standing in the corridor, but Mom wasn’t. She’d probably gone back to the car.

Ding Ji went over and stood in front of his father, waiting for him to speak.

“What you said today hurt us a lot.” Dad frowned.

“Same. Let’s not scold each other,” Ding Ji said.

“You’re going to take the college entrance exam soon, and you haven’t been studying well,” said Dad. “Of course your mother and I are afraid of you getting distracted. Our first reaction was that you shouldn’t be told about this. Is there a problem with that?”

“No problems,” Ding Ji said, “but I also want to tell you that, first, no one informed me. I missed my grandparents and went to see them, running into this. It was a feeling between relatives. Second, if no one had really told me about this, I promise I would’ve never gone home again.”

“You’re a little too emotional today!” Dad’s tone became more serious, and it was obvious it was controlled, as well as that he was almost unable to control it anymore. “I can’t talk about this with you anymore, if you don’t want to go home tonight no one can force you, but tomorrow you have to come home! Your grandmother is being taken care of here, and you aren’t needed! Your first task now is the college entrance exam! You’re not at all where you should be now!”

Ding Ji felt as if he was suspended in midair. He couldn’t kick or fight, choking him to the point of extreme discomfort.

Logically, he should shut up and let Dad go. Everyone would be peaceful. They could talk about it tomorrow.

But right now he could really understand what impulse was. Young people are impulsive, unsteady, losing their cool…

He looked at his father: “In reality, you have no idea how my studies are. In your head, you only have my imagined state of studies. You think I’m not taking it seriously. You think I’m not doing my best. You think I should be at a higher level. And you think I should be a genius.”

“Is it just that I don’t think you’re serious?” Dad was so angry that his voice was shaking slightly. “Why didn’t you dare tell us your first and second mock exam scores? Is it really just that I don’t think so?”

“Why should I tell you?” Ding Ji said. “Even if I get first place in the city, you’ll say that I should be first in the province. Why don’t you admit that I can never meet the standards you think I should achieve? Why don’t you admit that you’re forcing me to prove that I’m a genius?”

Today, his mother had gone back to the car and left dad to argue with him. Ding Ji felt that this was a mistake of theirs. In terms of the eloquence in arguments, his mother was stronger. Usually, his father could be beaten by him in a few words.

He couldn’t say anything right now.

“Before Grandma left the hospital, I would come to the hospital every day,” Ding Ji said. “I’ve been making my own decisions since I was six years old. I’ve grown up this way for more than ten years. I’m still like this now…”

“You can’t be like that now!” Dad suddenly roared. “You have to have someone manage you! We have to manage you! You are my son! You were spoiled growing up wild without rules in the past ten years!”

“I’m your son?” Ding Ji laughed. “Do you know how old I was when I lost my first tooth? Do you know why I fought with the other kids in kindergarten for the first time? Do you know what the first song I could sing was? I… “

Speaking halfway, Ding Ji stopped, suddenly feeling like there was no point.

“I don’t need to know these things!” Dad interrupted him, his voice somewhat out of control. “Right now you need to know your way! Your path! You need to know that you’re wasting your…”

Someone from the next ward walked out, watching them.

“Ge, go home first. I’ll talk to Xiao Ji here.” Uncle also ran out, taking Ding Ji to Grandma’s ward.

“I know! You don’t know!” Ding Ji struggled, staring at his father. “You weren’t a father for more than ten years. And now you suddenly want to have fun? It wouldn’t be this easy for you to adopt a son! You… “

Ding Ji didn’t finish his words.

Dad rushed over and slapped him in the face.

Sharp tinnitus drowned out the rest of the sounds.

Uncle pushed his father away. He pushed him over to the elevator while saying something. His father pointed at him and his mouth was moving, but he couldn’t hear what he was saying.

Ding Ji looked at the silent scene in front of her among the shrill whistling.

It wasn’t until his uncle pulled his father into the elevator that he turned and walked slowly back to the ward.

When he saw Grandma, he squeezed out a smile.

“It’s fine,” he said.

But he couldn’t hear his own voice.

Grandma looked quite calm. She waved to him with a smile, and he went over and sat down.

Grandma raised her hand and touched his face.

Other than the burning, dull pain on his face, he didn’t feel anything. He didn’t know where Grandma was touching him.

Grandma didn’t say anything either. After several minutes, the whistling in his ears disappeared. He cleared his throat and heard the sound of the bell ringing in the next ward for the nurse.

“Who did you get that temper from?” Grandma said.

“You,” Ding Ji said. “Doesn’t Grandpa always say that I’m like you, stubborn and blunt.”

“Did you hit your dad?” asked Grandma.

“No, Uncle pushed him away.” Ding Ji sighed.

“What, you’re pretty regretful, eh?” Grandma slapped him. “If he hadn’t been pushed away you still wanted to hit your dad?”

“Old lady, you’re not bad.” Ding Ji began to smile, a burst of pain on his face. He grinned. “You have a fever but you can still make digs at me?”

“Well, you two were outside arguing and fighting,” said Grandma. “And you weren’t afraid of me worrying and getting hot air.”

“I couldn’t hold back.” Ding Ji frowned. “I don’t know why the topic changed to that again. Ever since I started having parents, I seem to have become some kind of self-abandoning genius, wasting his life…do they really think I’m a child prodigy, or do they just want a child prodigy?”

Ding Ji bowed his head and stared blankly for a while before flopping onto the bed.

“Cry a little.” Grandma gently patted his head, and after patting it twice she switched to rubbing his shoulder. “I’ll tell you when your uncle comes in.”

Ding Ji didn’t say anything, burying his face in the blanket.

“Ah…I really want to cry but I don’t have any tears.” Lin Wuyu laid on the bed, holding his stomach. “I didn’t expect that I would have a day like this.”

“Xu Tianbo said that he would bring you a hot water bottle later.” Chen Mang pushed the door open and entered the dorm. “I asked a few dorms and only he had one.”

“That’s pretty good. In a season when cicadas are already chirping, you can find a hot water bottle in the boys’ dorms.” Liu Ziyi was slumped on his desk doing problems.

“What were you thinking?” Luo Chuan said. “Even if it’s hot, you didn’t have to eat that much ice cream, right?”

“The key point is that he could still eat half a watermelon when he came back,” Chen Mang said. “And he hasn’t eaten yet.”

“Right,” Lin Wuyu turned over, “I haven’t eaten yet…”

He didn’t understand either. When he was waiting for the vehicle to charge, there was clearly so much food in the supermarket, but he just had to invite Ding Ji to have another box of ice cream.

Xu Tianbo took a hot water bottle into their dorm and handed it to Lin Wuyu: “Hold it for a while.”

“Thanks.” Lin Wuyu opened his shirt and put the hot water bottle in. Just a second later, he took it out again. “How is it so hot…”

“Hold it over your clothes,” Xu Tianbo said. “If it’s not hot it’ll be useless in a few minutes.”

Lin Wuyu put the hot water bottle on his stomach over his clothes and a towel blanket: “If only the cafeteria could deliver takeout.”

“Even if they could, they wouldn’t deliver now,” Xu Tianbo said. “What time is it?”

“I’m so hungry that I’m sweating, I think.” Lin Wuyu brought the hand holding his stomach up to his face and looked at it, a little surprised. “Is it all sweat?”

“Is it?” The people in the dorm were stunned, all coming over.

“You don’t have sweat on your face, though?” Chen Mang touched his forehead.

Lin Wuyu was stunned for a couple seconds and lifted the hot water bottle from his stomach: “Xu Tianbo?”

Xu Tianbo recovered in an instant and quickly stepped back with a smile: “No way! Is it leaky? I don’t know! Really! Maybe it’s been too long since it’s been used?”

“How miserable.” Carrying the hot water bottle, Lin Wuyu got out of bed. “Forget it, I’ll suffer for a while, I haven’t been sick for a long time anyway.”

He hadn’t been sick for several years, not even a cold. This was probably the only part of him that could satisfy his parents.

He was very healthy.

The people in the dorm returned to a state of studying, and he walked out to the corridor.

A row of dormitories, with the lights all on. Diagonally, the lights of the third year girls’ dorms were also on.

Looking at it, there seemed to be a sense of urgency. So many people were fighting. Did you dare not to fight? But on the other hand, you could have peace of mind. You weren’t fighting alone, there were so many people fighting with you.

“Wanna eat?” Xu Tianbo came over with a box of something in his hand.

“Sure.” Lin Wuyu answered first and then took the box to see what it was.

“Mung bean cake,” Xu Tianbo said. “Our dorm is full of snacks, and just this can fill your stomach.”

“Mm.” Lin Wuyu lowered his head and started eating. “You don’t have to stay here with me, go study.”

“Did you move out after leaving your house?” Xu Tianbo leaned against the railing. “You didn’t tell me about such a big thing, are you not treating me as a friend anymore?”

“…Who told you?” Lin Wuyu laughed.

“I guessed. I went to your dormitory in the afternoon to borrow a power strip. The cabinet where you put miscellaneous stuff was emptied out for your luggage,” Xu Tianbo said. “You’ve lived at school for three years, and you’ve never brought so many clothes to school at once.”

Lin Wuyu ate another piece of mung bean cake, not speaking.

“Is it because of the rooftop?” Xu Tianbo asked. “After thinking about it, it’s really just that.”

“Mm.” Lin Wuyu nodded.

“Okay,” Xu Tianbo sighed, “if you came out you came out. It’s no big deal. Just think of it as going to college in advance…if you need any help, just say so.”

“I don’t have any money to use.” Lin Wuyu frowned.

“I have some,” Xu Tianbo immediately grabbed his phone, “I’ll transfer you a few hundred, tomorrow I’ll…”

Speaking halfway, he stopped again, turning to look at Lin Wuyu and laughing: “I almost let you cheat me! I’m someone who’s seen your balance before!”

“Thank you, really.” Lin Wuyu patted his arm with a smile.

After standing in the corridor and chatting for more than ten minutes, Xu Tianbo went back to his dorm and continued studying.

Lin Wuyu put the last piece of mung bean cake in his mouth.

It was delicious, but it was just too sweet, and making his throat dry could be considered a light effect. Now he wanted to find a lump of salt to chew on…

Ah, now he wanted barbecue.

If his stomach hadn’t felt uncomfortable when he came back with the watermelons today, he would have taken a detour to buy barbecue before going back to the dorms.

Because he hadn’t eaten barbecue, he was so hungry that he ate the watermelons, causing more serious consequences.

If he had known, he would’ve asked Ding Ji to take him to dinner as a compensation for bafflingly being yelled at for a hundred meters on the way back.

Thinking of Ding Ji…he took out his phone.

Ever since he had Ding Ji in his Moments, it had become very lively. Sometimes when he got tired of studying, he could open it and relax for a pretty long time.

— I’m going to do something big.

— Here we go!

— XX building’s lights look like a horror movie, all bloody, what kind of design is this

— The little kelp from this takeout is so delicious

Lin Wuyu sighed. He didn’t know what this person was doing. After half an hour, he could send seven or eight Moments. Was business not good from selling watermelons at the night market, being this idle?

When he put his phone back in his pocket, ready to go back to the dorms and sleep, the phone shook in his pocket.

Lin Wuyu took it out to have a look.

He didn’t know whether Ding Ji had reached a limit to his idleness, sending him a message.

— Lin Wuyu, why do you think you’re an academic god?

If this were anyone else, Lin Wuyu would directly classify this notification as a boring and provocative spam message, and wouldn’t give it another glance.

But Ding Ji was certainly not provoking him.

He seemed to be perplexed.

He didn’t guess much, either. I’ll answer as you ask.

— Because I am.

Ding Ji looked at the message from Lin Wuyu on his phone. This reason was simple, rude and confident.

— Then academic god, do you think I’m smart?

Ding Ji wanted to unsend it immediately after he sent it. Asking this, he seemed like an idiot.

He didn’t know why he was inexplicably talking to Lin Wuyu about this, even worried that Lin Wuyu would think he was drunk.

But Lin Wuyu didn’t seem to feel that way, and replied pretty quickly.

— You’re much smarter than the average smart person

Ding Ji was still thinking which level average smart people were at when Lin Wuyu sent another message.

— Otherwise I wouldn’t advise you to find something proper to do — But you went off to sell watermelons…I’m just ??

Ding Ji bit the pen in his mouth, swaying it up and down. He was still thinking about Lin Wuyu’s words, but when he saw this sentence, he couldn’t help it, laughing so hard the pen fell and didn’t pick it up after quite a while.


[1] Translated literally, a term for being surprised is 大吃一惊, or to “take a big bite of surprise.” Whale (鲸) is a homonym for surprise.

[2]  Translated literally, the word for fight/argue (呛) means choke.