That one summer in junior high school, the cicadas cried incessantly; there was no wind, nothing fresh and cool, and the scorching heat and flying dust eroded the world. The room was quiet, dirty plates were piled up in the sink, the clock on the wall stopped turning, and there was only one pillow in the room. Ke Bu sat on the stool looking at the piece of paper in front of him, with not a bit of expression on his face, and after a long time, he looked up at the two men in front of him: “Got it.” Having finished speaking, he stood up and the stool fell backwards, making a dull sound. He neither wanted to turn around nor open the door to leave.
The crowd on the street jostled Ke Bu, and there was obviously a lot of people who felt terribly lonely. He had no destination, nor was he in the mood to reach that destination. Repressing his emotions in his chest was undoubtedly very difficult, yet he still could not let go of his burden through his eyes’ frames. Who said that you could get over sadness by crying? What was this feeling of helplessness?
In this world, life was short and terrible — taken away by time, taken away by illness, taken away by disease, taken away by pain, personally taken away by one’s hands. Exactly what was eternal? Ke Bu heavily hammered his fist against the wall. Regardless of other’s surprised look, his knuckles rubbed against the damaged skin. His bloodshot eyes could be faintly seen. Ke Bu forced a smile, how did this sad plot come about? Reality, cruel people were not willing to look at reality.
Ke Bu slipped down to sit on the ground, curled up his legs, and simply put two of his hands on his knees. His line of sight shuttled between the crowd without a goal. He was simply numbed seeing people unceasingly appearing and disappearing. At last, his line of sight was attracted, falling onto a youngster, who was sitting on a bus stop seat. His fair and clear clothes were similar to his whole person. He had a touching face. It was clearly seen as fresh and clean; however, it was vaguely illusory. Furthermore, this beautiful youth did not ride on any public transportation vehicle. He merely indifferently sat there. He seemed to have no relation to this mortal world. Everything was all about him. His beauty was outrageous. Ke Bu remembered that he had seen this face — Zhi Li, from the same school, the name that girls had been talking about.
His mouth felt dull and tasteless. His urge in his chest to talk to someone boiled up his blood. It prompted him to stand up. He went inside the shop next to him and bought two popsicles and headed toward that beautiful youth. As expected, his line of sight was occupied. Standing in front of Zhi Li, he passed a popsicle over: “This is not a treat. AA system.” This unfathomable prologue was the first sentence Ke Bu said to Zhi Li. Zhi Li took precautions looking at the popsicle, then looked at Ke Bu’s flower-like smile with his head tilted.
“What’s that look in your eyes? I’m not evil enough to poison you.”
Zhi Li did not say anything, and took the popsicle. Ke Bu ate his popsicle and sat down beside Zhi Li: “This place is really cool. You should eat something icy in summer.”
“That’s not the flavor I like to eat.”
“Do you know anything about socializing?”
“What interests do you have that is worth using my socializing skills?” Zhi Li was not salty to say the truth.
Because of Zhi Li retorting back, Ke Bu was startled. Soon afterwards, he laughed up to his heart’s content: “You really are realistic. Zhi Li, what do you think I look like?”
Ke Bu took a bite on his popsicle as if he was coping with the confirmation he got regarding his own speculation, then continued to say: “You’re too straightforward! Sure enough, you clearly don’t seem to know what you can say, and what you can’t say. I’d like to remind you that with such a character, coupled with you growing up this way, it’s highly likely that you’ll be envied by other boys.”
“Mind your own business.” He was still indifferent.
“I don’t have this kind of trouble with ordinary people, but…” Ke Bu crushed the ice in his mouth, he tilted his head upwards and swallowed and then looked at Zhi Li, with the sun shining in his eyes: “But, I like your character. In this world, if you only have a clear view of the reality, you won’t live too painfully.” In Zhi Li’s hand, the popsicle had melted and dropped onto the ground. He looked at Ke Bu, looked at his dark pupils, and looked at his bright and beautiful eyes.
Ke Bu stood in front of a display window. Zhi Li was positioned a meter next to him. The two, at the same time, looked straight at the TV that had put on news inside the display window, speaking of the XX male star, who had come out of the closet revealing that he was gay. Ke Bu touched his little mouth that was flushed red by the popsicle. Loneliness — the fear of loneliness climbed up Ke Bu’s heart. He wanted to seize the youth next to him. He did not know why it was so, he wanted to hold him tightly, just him, only him.
“As it turns out, two men can also date huh,” Ke Bu clearly understood that he had overdone it: “Zhi Li, do you want to try it with me?” This joke was somehow blurted out. The other did not respond.
When Ke Bu was embarrassed to take it back, Zhi Li’s voice came out like a beautiful music note: “Yes.” That was an answer that Ke Bu did not think of.
“Don’t get me wrong. I just want to try embracing this mentality. If the other person have someone they like, we could immediately break up. Even if it was a date, I wouldn’t ask for such a strange thing. It’s only nominal and nothing more. I’m just curious about the fact that two guys are really dating, that’s all.” Ke Bu explained. Actually, the truth was that he simply wanted to hang out and by using this nominal relationship, he could hold on to Zhi Li to stay by his side, even if it was just for a day, or a moment — he did not want to be alone again.
Zhi Li outstretched his hand: “Deal.” Ke Bu also followed and outstretched his hand. With just two young and tender hands held together, they reached a special agreement with a lie.
Ke Bu laid on the park’s fitness equipment with his two legs through the iron rod to support himself. He strained starting a sit up and once again laid down. He squinted as he saw the sun hanging in the sky, then covered his eyes with his hand: “My parents divorced today.” His tone without the slightest bit of sadness.
“Then didn’t I win? My parents divorced yesterday, one day earlier than you.”
“Nobody’s comparing with you.” Ke Bu looked at Zhi Li through his fingers, and finally understood why he wanted to talk to him. He wanted to keep him around. This was a strong feeling. As it turned out, he saw in him his own countenance.
“Hey, Zhi Li, I’m called Ke Bu, remember that name.”
“Hey, Zhi Li, you’re going to stay with me.”
Ke Bu contemplated for a moment. He hid the innate asking price: “Accompany me ‘til I get old, old enough to forget you.” Zhi Li did not speak. He took two steps back. Ke Bu thought that Zhi Li wanted to leave, that he wanted to abandon him. The only pillar that was just caught in his emptiness was like a broken family, leaving himself alone. He panicked and got up and grabbed Zhi Li’s clothes. His voice was trembling and fragile: “Zhi Li, don’t go. Zhi Li, don’t go. Zhi Li, don’t go.” Only those words were murmured and repeated. Zhi Li nevertheless left. Ke Bu crouched on the ground not knowing what to do. He was really stupid. He entrusted his fragileness to a stranger. Now, he was gone.
“Hey.” Zhi Li kicked the tip of Ke Bu’s shoe.
Ke Bu was surprised and raised his head. Zhi Li also followed and crouched down. He pulled Ke Bu’s hand up to stick a plaster on his wound that he had gotten a moment ago. Ke Bu frowned.
“It’s painful to speak.” Just a word. It was too baffling. It was really too baffling. Ke Bu’s tears came out. He bumped his head into Zhi Li’s bosom. Zhi Li was knocked onto the ground.
His warm temperature, the fragrance of washing powder — Ke Bu clutched Zhi Li’s clothes while his tears came falling down. Just like coaxing a child, Zhi Li patted Ke Bu’s head: “You really make people have a headache. I just made you hurt to talk, not to make you cry.”
Ke Bu’s shoulders shook. His tears desperately fell down. He could not help but be amused.
“Are you trying to cry or laugh?”
“If you don’t say something strange, I’d want to cry.” Ke Bu lifted his head from his bosom: “Zhi Li, why?” Why do you want to come back, why do you want to do this, now that I’m so unsightly begging for other’s sympathy?
The corners of Zhi Li’s mouth drew out an enchanting shape. It was like white flowers blooming in the air. There were no flaws. This smile was carved into the depths of Ke Bu’s memory. Zhi Li outstretched his hand and bent his thumb and middle finger on Ke Bu’s forehead: “Because from now on, I’m your man.”
After that, the days actually did not change that much. He just knew that there was this name. He just knew that there was this person named Zhi Li that existed. From time to time, they would meet. From time to time, they would chat. He was faintly discernible. He seemed neither close nor distant. These were good enough for Ke Bu. He was quite relieved. It was quite inevitable and right. He chose Zhi Li’s high school. He chose Zhi Li’s university.
The words were in name only. There was no love affair.
Just two youths insensibly joking, who both called to mind, but were locked in a deep bond with each other.