Chapter 7 — Memories
Edited by Tin
Three years ago.
September in University A was the start of a new school year. Groups of students returned to school, and freshmen too arrived with their huge assortment of bags, running to report their attendance. In the intense heat, any small movement resulted in sweat dripping down one’s body. When Zhou Hao came back from the basketball court, his face, neck and where his jersey clung to his body, were all covered with a thick film of sweat.
On the ground floor of their dormitory building, Yan Ming was still sitting on a stool, colourful daily necessities displayed around him. There were electric kettles, a plastic basin, little tables…
“How much did we earn today?”
Yan Ming raised three fingers. “Three hundred.”
Mopping away his sweat, Zhou Hao spun his basketball with one hand. “I’ll go take a shower back in the dorm first, and I’ll come back immediately to replace you.”
About half an hour later, Zhou Hao came back down, clean and refreshed. He wore a white t-shirt and a loose pair of shorts, and was even carrying an old guitar which his dorm mate had asked him to help sell out. The two people stood there, exchanging a few sentences, then Yan Ming left.
It was nearly six. The sun had headed west, and the scorching rays of the day now gentled. Far on the horizon was a warm, red sunset. As it was almost night time, a slight wind blew around the area as well, bringing to the body a pleasant, soothing feeling.
Zhou Hao sat on the little stool, observing the students walking by.
He was actually rather handsome, but his handsomeness was not the Korean pretty boy look that was currently very popular. Belonging to the type with straight, thick brows and big eyes, he looked very proper.
Zhou Hao casually posed with the guitar, looking very cool. His face appeared very unapproachable, and entranced all the girls around him. To speak with him, there were a few girls who even crouched down and asked about the prices of some items. In less than half an hour, most of the items were sold off.
Giving it a rough count, Zhou Hao had earned a hundred RMB with pretty much no effort. Once Yan Ming returned, they would be able to pack up and go back. Their work today could be considered completed.
They still had some basins and clothes rack that had yet to be sold. Zhou Hao tidied up the scattered items, packing them together. That guitar was casually placed on a stool next to him.
A crash was suddenly heard. The guitar had fallen, and the neck of the guitar had snapped. The strings lay loose and lax.
Zhou Hao turned his body around slightly. Picking up the “headless” guitar, his temper welled up within him.
“Sorry.” A clear voice came from above.
Zhou Hao looked up—
Covering his forehead was a soft, neat fringe. His eyes were very pretty, with a trace of distance in them. His nose bridge was high and straight, and the corners of his mouth quirked up slightly. He had the appearance of someone who would be rather fickle in love. Dressed in a white t-shirt, he wore a red-checkered shirt over it, and paired them with a pair of blue denim jeans. On his feet were sneakers.
Standing in the light, this person was indescribably clean and fresh-looking. Compared to Zhou Hao’s memories of the damp, dirty south, he was completely different.
“How much is it? I’ll pay it back.”
The boy was very uncomfortable with Zhou Hao’s rude gaze. He only wanted to quickly settle this problem with money.
“What’s your name?” Zhou Hao asked.
“How much is it?”
“Tell me your name, and you won’t have to pay for the guitar.”
The boy ignored Zhou Hao, directly pulling out two thousand RMB from the wallet in his pocket and handed it to Zhou Hao.
Zhou Hao reached out and accepted the money. He wanted to continue enquiring after him, but that boy had turned and left. Counting the money in his hand, Zhou Hao kept a thousand and five, leaving the five hundred for his dorm mate and taking it as though he had bought the guitar.
If they shared a fate, they were bound to meet again. Not too long later, Zhou Hao learnt that boy’s name — Jiang Yuqian, a freshman from the economics department. Actually, he had not deliberately sought out the information. It was just that information about this person spread rapidly across their school’s forum, and there were even quite a number of candid shots captured.
After that, until Jiang Yuqian graduated, he remained the school’s most popular figure. No matter where one went, as long as they mentioned the name “Jiang Yuqian”, someone would hurry over and continue, “I know I know, he’s that genius from the economics department, and the school hunk as well.”
Other than that little fortuitous incident, in the next month, Zhou Hao only found out his name, but no matter where he went, he never bumped into him again. As the two of them were in separate departments, medical and business, and were in different grades as well, it was nearly impossible for them to come across one another.
Later on, a basketball tournament was held at the school’s gym. Each department sent out their own team to compete, and only then did Zhou Hao bump into Jiang Yuqian for the second time. He was dressed in a white jersey and shorts, and the number on his shirt was “7”. Zhou Hao could no longer recall what went on during the basketball tournament exactly, only that in the end, the business school was the champion.
After the match, using the incident of the guitar, Zhou Hao stopped Jiang Yuqian.
“That matter of the guitar the last time, we have yet to settle it fully.”
Jiang Yuqian wiped the sweat on his forehead with the towel around his neck. The two people were standing very close to each other, but Zhou Hao could smell no stink of sweat at all. This boy was really extraordinarily clean.
“How much more money do I owe?”
Even a fool could tell that the guitar was not worth much. Jiang Yuqian was well aware that this person was scamming him, but he did not expose him, as he could not be bothered to spend the energy doing so.
Zhou Hao’s question came out of the blue. “Why are you always dressed in white?”
The first time he saw him, he was wearing a white t-shirt, and this time, he was wearing a white jersey.
Jiang Yuqian’s impatience was now obvious. “This doesn’t have anything to do with you, right?”
“Fine. How about you treat me to a meal, and we’ll settle the thing about the guitar like that?”
How old was Jiang Yuqian then? He had just entered university, and so was only eighteen. He definitely would not have expected that in the next three years, Zhou Hao would seize every opportunity to insert himself into his life. If he did, he definitely would not have agreed to that meal.
They did not have anything very fancy, and simply settled their meal at a pizza shop nearby. However, after that time, Zhou Hao’s interactions with this person increased.
Most of them were deliberate. For example, he would suddenly appear in Jiang Yuqian’s class, or with no rhyme or reason, he would appear outside his home. Jiang Yuqian did not live in school, and would leave the campus everyday at 8pm. Zhou Hao was extremely punctual, and his timing of appearance was always impeccable.
The first few times, Jiang Yuqian turned a blind eye to his actions. After that, he could no longer restrain himself, and asked this person furiously what exactly he was trying to do.
Zhou Hao’s lips twisted into a smile. “What can I do? I just want to court you.”
Things later progressed even more wildly. Zhou Hao managed to get this person’s phone number from somewhere, and often sent him some lewd messages, or cringy, flirtatious texts. Jiang Yuqian changed his number many times, but still was unable to avoid such harassment.
Things took a favourable turn three months later. That day, Jiang Yuqian was drinking, and exited the cab. It was already 11 at night, which meant that Zhou Hao had been foolishly standing in the chilly wind, waiting a few hours for him.
Everyone had a dark side to them, even more so for Zhou Hao who had always been living in the dark since he was a child. Taking advantage of Jiang Yuqian’s drunkness, he brought him to a nearby express hotel. Entering the room, Zhou Hao caressed Jiang Yuqian everywhere, lighting up a fire within him. Jiang Yuqian was so drunk that his vision was blurred, and he could not tell who was in front of him.
The two people fell onto the white sheets. It was both their first times, and their movements were all a little unfamiliar. Zhou Hao was very nervous, and his hands even trembled while removing his clothes. Jiang Yuqian caught hold of his face, and started a bout of forceful kisses. Until today, Zhou Hao could still remember the taste of their tongues tangling together. That was his first, his earliest taste of happiness, and he would never be able to forget it in this lifetime.
Highly stimulated from the kissing, that person called out. “Xuxu…”
Zhou Hao pushed him away violently, and the two of them slept together in the nude throughout the night, with nothing else happening between the both of them.
For a very long period of time after that, Zhou Hao was unable to get what he wanted. Until one day, he unexpectedly discovered that porn video. Taking a copy of an edited cut, he went to look for Jiang Yuqian.
“Zhou Hao, you’re shameless!”
Zhou Hao shrugged, looking unbothered. “Is shame worth anything? It’s fine if you don’t agree to it, I’ll just post it on the school’s forum tomorrow.”
From then on, the two of them became a couple. Jiang Yuqian always said that it was his karma from his last life that caused Zhou Hao to cling onto him. However, Zhou Hao always felt that the one with the bad karma was himself. Why else would his mother not love him? And also, why else would he be scorned by his lover to this extent?
Zhou Hao had a secret that he had never told anyone before, not even Yan Ming. His original intention of studying medicine was not to save the patients, but only because he simply desired the colour of that white coat. It was clean, so very clean, and not a single piece of dirt stained it.
As a child, he always thought, if he could become a doctor, he would be able to escape this dirty and stained life.
He had enough of classmates mocking him as a “dirty child”. At that time, he was always dressed in that blue and white school uniform that could not be dirtier. A child’s pride was always the biggest—
During his vainest years, he had nothing.
Jiang Yuqian was clean too. Just like that white coat, he became the goal Zhou Hao wanted to chase after.
Was he sick?
He truly was sick, and it was rather severe.