The autumn rain was drizzling in October. However, it stopped by the time school was over.
Hua Ting carried her snow-white pink backpack on her back and stood in front of Bei Yao's desk, waiting for her to go together. Bei Yao was uncomfortable, and she waved her hand, "You go home first, my stomach aches, so I have to go to the washroom."
Hua Ting responded and headed towards home with another little girl.
Bei Yao went to the washroom at a slow pace.
The fourth-grade girl was in her pegreen dress with a ponytail tied high on her head. She didn't keep her bangs on her forehead, and her big eyes were as bright as crystal.
Pei Chuan stood up with the support of his desk, and when everyone was gone, he slowly staggered out of the school on his own.
He was carrying a black school bag, which didn't have those cartoon heroes on it as his peers and was simple black. Pei Chuan's walking posture was a bit strange. He walked slowly like a snail climbing up a green branch, struggling with every bit of effort.
Bei Yao quietly poked her little head out and carried her school bag on her back and trotted to catch up.
When she reached his side, the almost ten-year-old boy turned back keenly.
She stopped dead in her tracks and looked at him through the cold October rain curtain.
Pei Chuan's eyes were cold, and Bei Yao quickly lowered her head and walked away from him.
Only when she had walked out a little further of the section of the road, did Pei Chuan continue walking.
This part of the road way home hadn't been repaired yet, so they could only take the trail path. The trail path was farther away and could take a full thirty minutes to walk. Pei Chuan would need even longer as he had only been fitted with the prosthetics for a short time, and the place where the prosthetics touched would be painful after a long walk. Pei Chuan could rest only at specific intervals while walking.
He didn't like people he knew to see him walking home with so much effort like this. So, he would often wait until all his classmates had walked out of the school before he would get up and slowly go home.
Pei Chuan watched the back of the girl in front of him disappear. His heart was imperceptibly more than a little annoyed.
‘What does she mean? Did she leave late on purpose to stay and watch his joke? Is she that curious about how a cripple walks?’
As if a sparrow leaps onto the branch, her lovely green back was getting farther and farther away.
Ding Wenxiang, a sixth-grader was playing with the sand.
The road hadn't been repaired yet and was littered with concrete, cement, and river sand. Ding Wenxiang was playing in the sand with three other sixth-grade boys.
He was the eldest of this group of people with poor grades. His mother said he wouldn't go to junior high school if he didn't work hard.
Ding Wenxiang knew that his mother was scaring him. But, his life was already ruined, so he didn't care whether he would be able to go to school or not. He had heard from brother Qiang that working part-time could also make a lot of money.
Sand slipped through his fingers, and on his right hand, he had no ring finger and little finger.
It was because his grandmother in the countryside didn't look after him when he was young, and his two fingers were sliced off by a hogweed knife.
Twelve years old Ding Wenxiang was much taller than the other three boys. Someone knocked down the sand wall and said something new, "Ding Wenxiang, do you know that there is a boy without legs in the fourth grade of our school?"
Of course, Ding Wenxiang knew. He clapped his hands, "Seen it. He is in a wheelchair, right!"
"Yes, but I heard the other day that he has got his legs again and can walk now."
Ding Wenxiang’s eyes widened.
"Really, I'm not lying. He can really walk, and has been walking home during this time. Do you think he has installed artificial legs? How can he walk with fake legs like a real one?"
"Fake legs?" Ding Wenxiang looked at his mutilated right hand, "I must go to have a look."
He stopped piling sand right then. Another boy from the group said, "I know, he walks that trail path after school. And that too as slow as a turtle crawling. I'll take you there."
The group of Ding Wenxiang bypassed the main road. Carrying their school bags on their shoulders, they breezed down the trail path.
Pei Chuan slowly but steadily walked step by step. His pupils turned dark as he paused to look at the few older bad boys who had come in front of him.
He didn't know them, so he paused slightly but then kept walking.
Ding Wenxiang stared at his legs without blinking and reached out to pull Pei Chuan's collar, "Kid, don't go, show me your prosthetic legs."
Pei Chuan's pupils were dark. Without saying a word, he directly reached out to break that hand.
Ding Wenxiang thought that this two years younger weak-looking cripple was no threat to him. But he didn't expect him to twist his left hand so painfully. Ding Wenxiang was forced to let go, but he was even angrier.
Twelve-years-olds had infinite destructive power, and they would also start to save their face at this age, so Ding said, "Hold him down!"
The children in his group all swarmed up and pushed Pei Chuan to the ground.
"Go away!" Pei Chuan was also angry. But, no matter how strong his arms were, he couldn't match the group of young teenagers two or three years older than him.
The path was full of mud, and his prosthetic legs were unskilled. So, after his center of gravity shifted, he was pushed to the ground, and there was dirty mud beside his cheeks. It had just rained on the road, and the foul smell of mud entered his nose.
Pei Chuan knew what they were going to do as they pressed his cheeks and arms down. The calm on his face disappeared, and he struggled like a crazy little beast, "Let go of me! You guys let go of me!"
Ding Wenxiang’s hand was still hurting. He kicked Pei Chuan and learning how to curse from his mother he yelled, "Little beast."
Ding Wenxiang squatted down and went to untie Pei Chuan's shoelaces. Pei Chuan's shoelaces were long, and after wrapping around a few times, they were tied around the outside of his pant legs because he didn't want to reveal the prosthetic legs with an unusual color.
After the shoelaces were untied, if they were to lift Pei Chuan's trouser legs, they would find no warmth on those legs.
It was the rush hour after school.
Third grade students with first and second grade students were playing and jostling along the path. Therefore, many people saw the scene, then someone whispered, "That's Ding Wenxiang from the sixth grade."
Ding Wenxiang, who was very jerky at school.
The groups of the kids wide-eyed watched this all, but none of them dared to come forward.
Pei Chuan dug his fingers into the muddy water. For the first time, he had the thought of wanting everyone to die, how nice it would be if they die...if they all die!
The shoelace on Pei Chuan's right leg was also untied by then, and Ding Wenxiang whistled out a tune. Then he went to lift the boy's pant leg.
Suddenly, there was a severe pain in his back. Ding Wenxiang screamed and turned back viciously. A little girl in a green jacket, holding a three-fingers thick branch hit him on the back again.
Bei Yao was terrified. She had never been in a fight in two lifetimes in her limited memory.
Ding Wenxiang glared at her. Her hands were shaking, yet she still held onto the branch and stood in front of Pei Chuan.
"You guys let go of him." She went one by one to hit the hands that were holding Pei Chuan down.
The sixth graders all cried out in pain, and during this time, someone kicked Bei Yao.
She also cried out. She was in so much pain now, but she bit her lip and still refused to drop the branch.
Pei Chuan's face was still in the muddy water. With half of his clean face, he coldly looked up at this all.
It was the first time when Pei Chuan saw Bei Yao cry. She was waving the thick and sturdy branch as she hit the group of people. She said, "I'll complain to our Teacher Cai, and also to my uncle. My uncle is a policeman. I’ll let him arrest you all!"
Ding Wenxiang cursed, then said, "If it wasn't for the fact that you're a girl, I would have killed you today!" He turned his head and looked at his companions who were frightened by the 'police' and said to them, "Let’s go, what are you standing there for!"
Then they were all gone.
Those younger kids who were afraid to come over also went back home step by step.
When there was no one left on the path, Bei Yao began to sob and cried out.
She remembered this scene.
It was the exact same in her memory. The only difference in her last life was that she was also one of those lower grade kids. At that time, Pei Chuan's pant legs were lifted up in the end, and she saw the cold prosthetic legs that were not quite the same as a normal leg.
All the children showed their fear and surprise, and she was pulled back a step by her best friend. Her best friend said, "That fake leg is so scary."
He was looking at her from the mud with his dark eyes, and then slowly fell silent.
After that, Bei Yao never saw Pei Chuan wearing the prosthetic legs again. He got back into his wheelchair.
She came back to this life.
Bei Yao took the very heavy branch and stepped over the shade of several years. She crouched down beside him, and tears rolled down on her soft white cheeks.
Pei Chuan's still eyes moved and turned to look at her.
She lost the branch and was trembling, seemingly more afraid than he was. Pei Chuan frowned and supported his body with his arms to sit up.
His clothes were wet with the muddy water, and all of his original decency and cleanliness was gone.
Pei Chuan's face was expressionless, and he stood up from the ground while gritting his teeth.
The weeds on the roadside had cut the skin of his palm.
He bowed his head and looked at Bei Yao's apricot eyes that were filled with tears. Looking at her sobbing so hard, he was at a loss for words. Such a little girl might get in such a fight only once in her life.
Pei Chuan slowly walked forward.
After walking many steps, finally he couldn't help but look back. She was still squatting there.
"Bei Yao." He called out her name for the first time, and calmly said, "Home."
Bei Yao turned back. Her big eyes were red like a bunny. She said while still sobbing, "Oh."
Then she shakily stood up and staggered behind him.
The late sunset shone on half of his face. He didn't comfort her, nor did he wipe her tears. He listened to her cry all the way.
"Pei Chuan, I'm a little scared."
"Will I be notified of criticism?"
"I'm a little sore."
She wiped her eyes with the soft back of her hand, "How about we walk home together tomorrow?"
He was silent for a long time before agreeing, "Good."
This year Bei Yao didn't yet know that this cold and indifferent boy beside her would return the tolerance and warmth of her early childhood for a lifetime of love and exponential infatuation in the future.
The autumn leaves fell in a whirl.
Bei Yao's long, soft hair gradually grew longer. From the shoulder-length at first to slowly reach her shoulder blades. The ends of her hair were yellowish, with light curls that hung down her chest. Because her hair was thinner than the other little girls, it was extra soft.
Childish voices don't discriminate between boys and girls. But, Bei Yao's milky voice hadn't really faded yet.
From the fourth to the sixth grade, Pei Chuan went to school using a prosthetic leg. At first, he moved slowly, but eventually, he was able to walk as fast as a normal teenager. He didn’t stay home during summer and winter vacations anymore. He put on his boxing gloves and started taking boxing lessons.
In the first month of sixth grade, it was heard that Ding Wenxiang, who had made it to the second grade of the Junior High, had been beaten into the hospital by a group of gangsters.
It didn't cause a big ripple. After two days of gossiping about it on the dinner table, it faded away from the memories of the teenagers.
In the second semester of the sixth grade in april, Miss Cai suddenly announced, "The pear and peach blossoms are blooming. Our class is going out on a spring outing tomorrow."
A series of activities such as spring outings had not yet been banned this year.
The classroom was dumbfounded for a moment and then suddenly erupted into an endless stream of cheers.