Chapter 12 — Youths (4)
Lin Zhao actually did not speak too long with Lu Rong. He was not adept in sign language, but he was still able to roughly express what he wanted to say. It seemed like he was asking if she would be attending the community session this weekend.
“Probably,” Lin Zhao signed in reply.
Lu Rong thought for a moment, then signed, “Is your brother coming too?”
Lin Zhao blinked, then moved her fingers deftly, “Maybe.”
Lu Rong lowered his gaze. No one was able to tell what he was thinking. As Meimei was standing in the way of the classroom door, blocking the way, Lu Rong finally signed, “Then I’ll go off first.”
Lin Zhao stopped him.
She asked, “You don’t like my brother?”
A wrinkle appeared between Lu Rong’s brows. He did not express his thoughts, only shaking his head lightly.
Chen Meihua was still smiling when Lu Rong held her hand. “Let’s go home, Meimei.”
She nodded. Waving enthusiastically at Lin Mu inside the classroom, she said, “Goodbye, Jiejie!”
For a moment, Lin Mu did not know how to react. When Lu Rong glanced at him, he shot him a friendly smile without thinking.
“Jiejie smiled at me!” Chen Meihua exclaimed happily. Strangely, she had always been very cold towards Lin Zhao instead. As the girl could not hear, it was not easy for them to interact.
Lu Rong’s lips tightened. From Lin Mu’s angle, he could only see the boy lowering his head and saying something to Meimei. Meimei then pursed her lips, looking rather unhappy. Before they left, she looked over to Lin Mu a few times reluctantly.
Lin Zhao’s expression was a little unfathomable when she came back in.
Unable to wait any more, Lin Mu signed, asking her, “What were you two talking about?”
Lin Zhao thought for a moment. She cocked a brow and suddenly signed, “I’m going to the Go institute this weekend.”
Lin Mu gave her a look of confusion, not catching her drift. “There’s a community session this weekend.”
Lin Zhao insincerely at her brother, her eyes narrowing.
Do or do not. With regards to cross-dressing, as long as one had done it before, there was only a difference of never having done it before or doing it a hundred times.
Shivers ran down Lin Mu’s spine the moment when he recalled Lin Zhao’s smile. His sister even had an excuse prepared, telling him sternly that she had already informed Lu Rong that she would be going.
“Last time, you even told me that I shouldn’t lie,” Lin Mu signed. Today, he wore a black velvet dress with a high collar, and the wig was forced onto his head.
Lin Zhao contoured his face with makeup, making his features stand out even more delicately. She was very surprised by how her brother’s facial hair grew so slowly.
“This is why you need to explain and apologize to him,” Lin Zhao signed earnestly. She applied blush onto his cheek. “Good luck, little liar.”
Lin Mu had no response.
The community session this time was a large-scale bazaar. The East Zone management committee had rented a flea market space so that the handicapped people in the community could set up booths to sell some of their crafts.
Lu Rong and Chen Meihua arrived early in the morning to set up their stall. They were selling some hair ornaments that girls especially liked, and many of them were made by Meimei personally.
Lin Mu paced outside the bazaar entrance for a long time, until he was caught by Teacher Ma.
Teacher Ma’s sign language had finally improved a little. “Why didn’t you set up a booth?”
Lin Mu signed perfunctorily back, “What kind of booth should I set up?”
Teacher Ma thought for a moment. “A booth for Go, you could teach them how to play.”
Lin Mu kept quiet. He thought that it was fortunate Lin Zhao did not come, otherwise she would have to play Go with random passersby off the street.
Many people who came to the bazaar had no disabilities. The East Zone had always publicized an aura of humanistic care to the community, cultivating it. Many came to the bazaar with the kind aim of making “donations”, but there were also quite a number of troublemakers taking advantage of the situation and demanding for exorbitant discounts.
It was the fifth time that Lu Rong saw the same drunk man.
“This?” The man gave a drunken belch. Squinting, he picked up a little yellow duckling hairclip Meimei made. “You’re selling this for 10 dollars?”
Although the management had assigned staff to patrol the bazaar, and Lu Rong only had to step away and call for someone, there was only Chen Meihua here, and it was not convenient for him to leave. Hence, he could only restrain his impatience. “If you don’t want to buy it, you can have a look somewhere else.”
The drunk man shouted, “Who says I’m not buying it?”
He held two fingers out, waving them. “2 dollars, how about that?”
Meimei was about to burst into tears from anxiety. She reached out and tried to snatch the hairclip back. “No! No! Meimei is not selling it to you!”
The drunk man raised his arm to keep her from snatching the hairclip back, and then laughed maliciously, “Well, well, well, look what we’ve got here? An unreasonably, silly old woman. Don’t you know that the customer is always king? …How dare you scratch me?!”
Before he could finish, his hand was suddenly empty — someone behind him had taken the hairclip away.
Lin Mu was expressionless as he held onto the little yellow duckling hairclip. Next to him, Teacher Ma was glaring fiercely, extremely angry.
“Why are you here again?!” Teacher Ma took out a walkie-talkie, calling for other management staff to come over as he stepped forward alone and tried to catch hold of the drunk man.
The man was still cursing and shouting. He reached out to grab Lin Mu’s wrist. Lin Mu dodged, but failed, and his arm was still caught.
“Stupid bitch,” the drunk man swore, but in the next second, he was sent careening into the air with a kick by Lu Rong from behind.
Lu Rong caught Lin Mu’s other arm, dragging him to himself.
Teacher Ma finally managed to hold the man down, thanking Lu Rong at the same time. A few other management staff too rushed over, and they dragged the drunk man out together.
Lin Mu was still in a daze. He looked up to see Lu Rong’s chin. Lu Rong released him, watching him calmly.
Lin Mu was silent for a moment, feeling a little guilty from his stare. “Thank you,” he signed.
Lu Rong watched him a little while more before he pulled his gaze away, his eyes falling onto the little yellow duckling hairclip in Lin Mu’s hand.
Lin Mu held it out, wanting to return it to him.
But Lu Rong shook his head.
He moved his fingers, “It’s for you.”
He smiled. “Meimei personally made this for you.”
Lin Mu did not know what he could do here, and hence, he accompanied Lu Rong and Chen Meihua at their booth. Meimei insisted on placing the little yellow duckling hairclip in his hair, and so Lin Mu could only brace himself and allow her to do so.
As such, with a little yellow duckling hairclip, Lin Mu sat stiffly at the back of the booth and watched as Lu Rong dealt with the customers. Almost everyone who came over would pay attention to his hair, whether intentionally or not, then they would hold back a smile and purchase a couple of items.
In the end, Lin Mu surrendered himself to despair — he sat there like a mascot, allowing Meimei to show off her “talent” on his hair.
It’s just a wig anyway. Lin Mu was fairly philosophical about it.
Chen Meihua tied his hair into two plaits, fixing them using hair ties with pink little crystals. Humming along to a song, she seemed as though she was doting on her child.
When the sky turned dark, paper lanterns were hung on both sides of the booth.
Lu Rong collected the money they earned today. Taking an account book, he wrote on it and pushed it over to Lin Mu. “Where’s your brother?”
Lin Mu thought about the age old saying of how people who confessed would receive lighter punishments, while those who refused would be dealt with severely. He mustered up his courage to tell Lu Rong the truth, but when he saw Lu Rong’s doe-like eyes, it was as though he lost all his judgement. Bowing his head, he signed hesitantly, “He wasn’t free…”
There was no ripple of emotion in Lu Rong’s gaze. It was like a snowflake on the body, melting away in a few seconds. He wrote, “I thought he would come with you.”
Lin Mu did not want to bring himself into the conversation, and so could only sign, flustered, “I thought you dislike him?”
Lu Rong’s forehead twitched. He wrote, “I never dislike him.”
Lin Mu could not help but hold his breath when he saw this.
“Then, do you like him?” After a pause, he continued signing, “My brother likes you very much.”
Lu Rong remained silent.
Lin Mu pretended that he was not affected by his response, and his fingers continued moving, “My brother is a very nice person.”
Lu Rong was speechless.
Unabashedly, Lin Mu Lin Mu continued to praise himself. “You’ll know when you’re friends with him. He’s extremely good to his friends!”
Lu Rong bit his lip, and his eyes twinkled with amusement. He wrote in the book, “I know.”
Lin Mu blinked. He saw Lu Rong added more words to what he wrote.
“But we’re different.” Lu Rong stopped writing; he did not seem to know how to go on. After a long time, he drew a line across the sentence.
Lin Mu opened his mouth, but Lu Rong suddenly raised his head. Looking at Lin Mu, he clumsily, slowly moved his fingers.
“No one will always be nice to Meimei and me for no reason.” As soon as he knew Lin Mu got it, he put down his hands, clenched his fist, and placed it on his knee. A while later, he raised it again and knocked on the crook of his arm.
Lu Rong signed, “Eventually, he would get tired.”
In a daze, Lin Mu sat aside and waited for Lu Rong to pack the booth up. Meimei added more things to his hair again, but he was not paying any attention. When Lu Rong returned after packing up, seeing Lin Mu, he revealed a tiny smile, amused.
“Meimei, don’t make trouble.” Lu Rong was very tall. His neck was half-bent as he studied Lin Mu’s face. “Jiejie doesn’t look nice anymore.”
Chen Meihua seemed to be appalled at the three words “doesn’t look nice”. She acknowledged him obediently and no longer added any more things to Lin Mu’s hair.
Lin Mu was embarrassed. He reached out, trying to remove the ornaments on his head. However, the moment he tried, the clip of the wig tugged at his real scalp, and he hissed in pain.
Lu Rong caught hold of his hand.
“Let me do it,” he signed.
As such, Lin Mu sat there obediently.
Lu Rong was extremely good at dealing with hair — his fingers were like the feathers of a bird’s wing; even though it was just a wig, Lin Mu could not help reddening slowly.
After Lu Rong removed the flowers that were randomly placed on Lin Mu’s head, he untied the two plaits. The boy’s hand drifted through Lin Mu’s hair to his neck, gently sweeping his hair to his shoulder.
Lin Mu touched his hair, discovering that the little yellow duckling hairclip was still there.
This time, Lu Rong did not use sign language. He looked at Lin Mu, smiling as he said, “It’s very cute, it suits you very much.”