SH Chapter 4

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Chapter 4 — Zhaomu: From Dawn Til Dusk (4)


School started again in September. Lin Mu belonged to the rare category of students who did not need to rush through their homework before the school began. A week ago, Sun Hai had requested to borrow his workbooks for copying. The two of them arranged to meet at Starbucks, and Lin Mu brought along his laptop, surfing the web as he waited in boredom.


The first thing Sun Hai noticed was his new shoes. With great emotion, he expressed his plain jealousy, and it got onto Lin Mu’s nerves. “Are you going to copy the homework?!”


Clutching on to the workbook, Sun Hai did not let him snatch it back. “What have you been doing during the entire summer break? I asked your sister, but she didn’t say anything about it. I tried to ask you out, but you didn’t come. Look at the world outside, isn’t it nice to be out there?!”


“It is nice,” Lin Mu responded lazily, then hustled him, “hurry up and get your work done.”


Sun Hai was unhappy now. “How could you not have any love for your classmate? And why are you in such a hurry? Are you meeting someone else?”


Resting his chin in his hand, Lin Mu smiled. “I’m meeting a little heron too.”


“Xu Yilu?” Sun Hai shrieked, “Why are you meeting him? Is he going to fight over your homework with me?!”




Of course, Xu Yilu would not fight with Sun Hai over Lin Mu’s homework. His vision impairment was classified as being between Class 2 and 3, and he could only see very minimal light in his left eye. Whereas, his right eye was slightly better, and he could see vague shadows with it. Apart from wearing his special corrective glasses, he had to carry a white cane when he was outside.


Initially, Lin Mu wanted pick Xu Yilu up, but Xu Yilu turned him down. As such, they decided to meet at a café located between where they stayed, and Sun Hai was only here out of convenience.


There were not many customers in the morning. When Xu Yilu arrived, Lin Mu went to the entrance specially to await him.


Folding up his cane, Xu Yilu grasped on to Lin Mu’s hand. “Is Sun Hai here already?”


“He’s here.” Lin Mu smiled, looking at him. “You cut your hair?”


Xu Yilu was slightly shorter, fairer, and thinner than Lin Mu. Smiling elegantly, he asked, “Just a little, how does it look?”


Lin Mu was unbothered whether Xu Yilu could see the earnest thumbs-up he gave him. “Looking good, little birdy.”




Xu Yilu had always completed his holiday homework by himself, and this fact left Sun Hai in admiration. To encourage interaction between special needs and ordinary students, as well as to develop the independence of special needs students, Kunqian High had implemented a collaborative learning system — special needs and ordinary students, including the elite classes, were required to share some classes together.


However, only students with excellent academic grades were eligible to enroll in an elite class. Xu Yilu was the only special need student whose grades could compete with the elite class’s curve wreckers.


Although Sun Hai was now furiously copying Lin Mu’s homework, he had a good head for examinations. His grade was considerably fine despite making no attempts to study.


“Have your vision deteriorated recently?” Lin Mu could not help but ask when he saw Xu Yilu’s glasses.


Xu Yilu shook his head. “It’s fine. My mom has sought some opinions from an overseas optometrist, and he just prescribed me a pair of new glasses. Now, I can vaguely make out things with my left eye.”


Lin Mu leaned closer to him. “Can you see me?”


Xu Yilu laughed. “Yes I can, you handsome fellow.”




Kunqian High was a highly reputable school, and so it was not surprising that the former alumni had the highest university promotion rates in the East Zone. Apart from the government’s support, the act of accepting special needs students as well as a strong education system that provided to the ordinary students had pushed their profile and prestige to the top. Furthermore, as soon as the school became famous, more patrons stepped up to provide aid, and more rich families began to send their children here. There were various motives for the enrollment in this school – it could be due to parents who were too busy to look after them, or they worried that their children would follow the examples of the bad students in other schools, etc. However, no matter what the reasons were, as long as the students were enrolled in Kunqian High, a strict, regulated, and disciplined education system would be imposed upon them. In turn, the standard of teachers and the adequacy of school facilities had in effect risen to a high level.



Xu Yilu’s parents were quite well-to-do. Just the amount of money they spent annually on his eye care was an astronomical sum to many ordinary families.


While speaking to Xu Yilu, Lin Mu was a little distracted. His mind was drifted off to Lu Rong. After a couple of days hanging out with him, he had an idea of his family circumstances. He was not living in poverty, but neither did he live much better.


“Have you guys heard anything about the new students this year?” Unable to bear his loneliness, Sun Hai asked them both while copying his homework, “I heard there are a few of them in the special needs class.”


Lin Mu said, “The special needs class is just a name, and they will still be studying with the other ordinary students. Can you please stop making them sound like a different species?”


Sun Hai pompously disagreed, “No way, your sister is one of a kind in my eyes. She’s the beauty of Kunqian, a silent and exquisite lotus of snow.”


Lin Mu felt so disgusted that he felt a pull in the pit of his stomach. His voice turned colder and responded, “Just give up now. You’re not going to woo her, not with your face.”


Sun Hai was left dumbstruck.


Xu Yilu seemed a little curious about the new students too. “We might be able to see them during the new student military training, right?”


Lin Mu was amused. “So what would you like to see? A pretty female junior?”


Xu Yilu blushed with Lin Mu’s teasing. He spoke quietly, “I can’t see them anyway…”


“So what if you can’t?” Lin Mu grinned. “What you see in your heart is nothing less than us.”


For a second Xu Yilu was blank out and went into silence. He seemed to be a little embarrassed, a flush of red rising to his cheek, and spreading to his ears. Unable to stop himself from pinching his earlobes, he changed the topic. “How about your sister? Is she doing well at Go?”


Most people who were not involved in Go did not know how the rankings worked. Even if they asked Lin Mu about it, they would only ask using the most basic terms.


Besides, even if the conversation went deeper, Lin Mu himself too did not understand it. All he knew was that Lin Zhao blew out of the water to the top ten rankings of the Association of State and Provincial Go Boards during the first half-year, and she would be competing at the national finals on the other half year.


With such an impressive elder sister, the younger brother appeared rather average in comparison. On top of that, due to Lin Zhao’s unique situation, she was the one standing in the center each time the media reported on any matter of Go. As such, whenever the neighbors thought of Lin Yanlai’s family during neighborhood talk, they would be holding her as the role model of children in the community, while Lin Mu was not mentioned very much.


The three of them were chatting and updating each other about their recent life while waiting for Sun Hai to finish copying his homework. Since Xu Yilu’s corrective glasses were pretty odd, when there were more people in Starbucks, many unknowing eyes fell upon him from time to time.


It seemed as though Xu Yilu was unaware of them, but Lin Mu was not feeling comfortable about it. Nudging at the diligent Sun Hai, he quietly said, “Let’s move to somewhere quieter.”


Sun Hai was utterly engrossed in copying. Confused, he raised his head. “Huh? Why are we moving?”


The moment he finished asking, he saw a man sitting across him staring at Xu Yilu. Not only was he staring, he even pointed at the cane in Xu Yilu’s hand and gestured a “blind” movement to his female companion, with actions that seemed to imply a rude term. Then, he gave a disdainful and malicious laugh.


Sun Hai’s overbearing temper rushed up. Just as he was about to burst out in anger, Lin Mu held him back and lightly shook his head.


Xu Yilu had no idea what had just happened. He had his head bowed and was earnestly sniffing at the beverage Lin Mu bought him. Lin Mu refused to tell him what flavor he had bought, only saying that he would definitely like it. As such, Xu Yile could only guess the flavor by smelling it.


Perhaps he was too close. The tip of Xu Yilu’s nose was smeared with some cream, and he exclaimed in shock.


“Ooh, there’s cream.” Xu Yilu had an extreme sweet tooth. Like a child, he asked delightedly, “Did you buy the matcha frappuccino?”


“This is sweeter.” Lin Mu packed his laptop away. Holding onto Xu Yilu’s arm, he supported him as he stood up. “Let’s go to another café; we’ll have something even sweeter.”


Without any doubt, Xu Yilu extended his white cane happily. The raging fire in Sun Hai was still smoldering, yet he understood that Lin Mu did not want Xu Yilu to find out the incident just now and become upset. Shooting a fierce glare at the man opposite, he threw an arm over Xu Yilu’s shoulders.


“There’s a new dessert shop next door, and their cream puffs are loaded with cream.” Sun Hai’s voice was deliberately loud as if to show support for Xu Yilu. He generously said, “Gege’s treat, I’ll buy you ten!”


Xu Yilu frowned, looking somewhat scornful. “Ten cream puffs to be my big brother? Are you trying to take advantage of me?”



In the end, not only did Xu Yilu get ten cream puffs from Sun Hai, but he also ate the egg tart Lin Mu bought for him. The little heron’s mouth was filled with sugar and he was happily calling the two boys his elder brothers. The three of them only separated after dinner; Sun Hai took Lin Mu’s workbook and as they sent Xu Yilu home together.


When Lin Mu returned home, Lin Zhao was still playing Go in her Go room. Although Jiang Wan was not good at being a housewife, she shone brightly in the business arena. The family of four had moved to a townhouse the year before, and Lin Zhao had an extra room for her Go practice.


In the stillness of the night, their parents had already fallen asleep. When Lin Mu came out from the bathroom after his shower, the light in the Go room was still on. With bare feet, he went up the stairs; it was so quiet that he could only hear the clacking of the Go pieces.


He counted in his mind; his every step was like stepping on the square board. Lin Zhao was facing her back to the door, and until the end, she did not know her brother had been here and left again.


That night, Lin Zhao stayed up until midnight and spent her whole day on the next day in the Go room for her Go practice. Until the night before the school started, Lin Mu finally saw Lin Zhao at the dining table.


“Did you lose the game?” Lin Mu signed at her.


Lin Zhao’s expression was placid, and her fingers moved, “I lost a game. It was a practice.”


She raised her chin and smiled. “But I’ll definitely win the next time.”


Lin Mu smiled back. He gave her an encouraging gesture and slightly gathered his fingers together as he bent his elbow. Then, as if he were attempting to catch the last remnants of summer, he clenched his fist tightly.

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