Author: Dong Mi
Translator: SyKim5, chiangyushien
Haiqing was sound asleep on the last row of tables. Pinjun looked at the professor lecturing on the stage and found that the professor’s condemning eyes were directly aimed at the two of them at their seats more and more frequently. Because of this, Pinjun had to pat Haiqing’s shoulder to wake him up.
Haiqing felt his pat. First, he frowned and flung Pinjun’s hand away. After that, he gently groaned then turned to the other side. Five seconds had not yet passed but he already fell asleep again as he let out a steady breath. From this point on, Pinjun was convinced that Haiqing was not able to sleep well last night and the few nights before today. This morning, he was shocked by the dark circles under Haiqing’s eyes.
He was already like this, yet he still insisted on wanting to ‘accompany Pinjun to class,’ causing Pinjun to brew and ferment a strand of regret in his chest. Pinjun reckoned that Haiqing must have been nervous because of the upcoming exams and could not sleep well. He also had experienced the pressure from the exams. It was really hard to take, so Pinjun no longer disturbed Haiqing and he just chose to focus on the professor’s lecture and took notes.
The bell rang but it could not even make Haiqing wake up.
“Haiqing, class is finished.”
After several consecutive calls, Haiqing finally woke up from his sleep and groaned a few times out of his drowsiness.
“Let’s go and sit outside.” Pinjun could not help but smile when he looked at Haiqing’s kitten-like appearance. It was very cute and pitiful, but there were other classes that were about to use this classroom. It would not feel reassuring if he would continue to sleep here. Pinjun had to take him to the public rest area outside to find a table and some chairs to let him sit down.
“Wait for me.” After Pinjun said this repeatedly, he went to the vending machine which was at the side and bought two bottles of coffee. The ice-cold sensation on his skin made an exceptionally good response. There was nothing more pleasantly cooling than holding an ice-cold object close to his body in this stifling hot and windless season.
After Haiqing whispered his gratitude and took the coffee, he silently opened the bottle cap and took a sip, bit by bit.
Pinjun pulled the chair and sat down, then placed his bag on the table. His bag was not packed with books for class, instead, it was used to carry his clothes and a coat for his work later. The real class supplies he had were only a thin notebook and photocopied lecture sheets.
The university’s campus was full of a youthful and lively atmosphere. Men and women were discussing academic programs, after-school activities or works, club activity schedules, and so on. Even if they were not participating, just by watching from the side, they were already engrossed and seemed to have been invigorated by these. When he was not required to work, Pinjun liked to hang out at the campus.
Pinjun smiled and looked away, while Haiqing looked down to take a sip on his coffee. From time to time, he would nibble on the mouth of the bottle as he let out ‘ka ka’ sounds.
“You didn’t sleep well again yesterday?” Pinjun reached out and pushed aside a lock of hair from Haiqing’s forehead to the back of his ear.
“Yes…” Haiqing, who was tired and sleepy, replied as he slightly squinted his eyes, then merely raised his feet and curled his body in the chair.
“The exams will start soon. It’s better for you to have a normal work and rest schedule.” Pinjun said with a gentle and soft tone. He knew Haiqing had a high ego. If he was not in a good mood on an important day like this and would become out of shape during the exams, he would feel very upset for sure.
“I want it to be like that as well! What can I do if I can’t sleep?” Haiqing felt helpless and wronged. He was used to having Pinjun rely on him, so his tone would inevitably appear to be powerful. Hearing Pinjun remind him like this, Haiqing subconsciously thought of Pinjun now to be in a higher position than he was in, and he even felt that his depression was uncovered for the same reason.
Pinjun looked at him in response and was thinking about something to say to console Haiqing, but he heard someone calling his name not far away. It was three of his classmates from the last class. He quickly went over. He was worried that he missed any assignments or reminder that was given by the professor. After a few words, they inevitably placed their arms around each other’s shoulders and their voices also gradually became friendlier.
From other people’s perspectives, Pinjun and the other three were no different with the other college students who generally loved to play boisterously.
However, all those things were not important to Haiqing. He was mentally exhausted so looking at this scene only made him feel that he was far away from Pinjun’s life. The more he watched them having a great time chatting, the more weary he became.
Haiqing had not finished drinking his coffee, yet he already grabbed his bag and walked toward the school gate. Many students did not have classes in the afternoon. On one side, there was someone who shouted, ‘I’m so hungry,’ while on the other, there were some who discussed what kind of food they wanted to eat. These topics were luxurious to Haiqing’s ears, who was going to take an exam.
“Haiqing, where are you going?” It just so happened that Pinjun was going back when he saw Haiqing’s back as he walked toward the gate. He chased after him without thinking too much, “I have two more classes in the afternoon. I’ll send you back when I’m finished.” What Pinjun did not say was that he was worried that with Haiqing’s mental state now, that he might fall when he walked or could get injured, which was even worse.
“I want to go home and sleep.”
“If you sleep now, won’t you have more difficulty falling asleep at night?”
“I can’t sleep nor have fun!” Haiqing suddenly screamed which immediately dumbfounded Pinjun.
For a moment, Haiqing felt that Pinjun was blaming him like his father. He did not sleep on time, could not manage his life, and could not confirm with the rules of society. Now, the pressure burst out in one go, and Haiqing, who was exhausted, had no energy left to control himself.
The constant pressure and self-denial swelled infinitely in those sleepless nights before the exams, and he stubbornly persisted on the road to art. What would he do if he could not pass the exams? Haiqing suddenly could not understand whether it was because of his nervousness that he suffered from insomnia, or because of the fears that bothered him once he closed his eyes that caused him to be unable to sleep at night. “I need to submit my work the day after tomorrow, and I haven’t finished painting yet.” Haiqing bit his lower lip and talked like a frightened kitten.
“Don’t worry, you’ll definitely finish painting. Your drawing is very good. There’ll be no problem for sure.” Pinjun was able to feel his nervousness. When he was in his early years of college, he also had a similar experience. Pinjun had confidence in Haiqing, regardless of the feelings between them. He just simply believed that Haiqing would not have any problems. However, his attempt to comfort him did not reach Haiqing’s heart. Haiqing raised his face and looked at him. His bright eyes sparkled under the sunlight. Pinjun was so dazzled that he could not help holding his breath. Countless emotions flowed in his eyes, like a colorful river, which made people who looked at it feel shaken.
At first, Haiqing’s lips opened slightly, but then they tightly closed right away. It was as if he had something to say but held it back in the end. Pinjun kept on watching him. No matter how unbearable it was, he never looked away. Haiqing suddenly felt that everything was so superficial and ridiculous—but he was not referring to Pinjun, instead, he was referring to himself.
“I wanted to draw something, but I couldn’t draw it. It’s just like when I wanted to sleep, but I couldn’t sleep.” He swallowed, and his voice was slowly followed with a sob. “I feel that I’m rotten to the core so that I won’t pass the exams at all…”
Haiqing suddenly regretted that he had to follow Pinjun to attend his class in his university.
The longer he stayed at the campus, bathed in the youthful atmosphere of unrestrained freedom, the bigger his fear was that he would not be able to overcome the pressure and scale his loneliness after he left. When he stared at the blank canvas in the little studio every night, the more that he wanted to draw something, the less that he dared to do it. Fear was especially strong when he was alone; and by the time that Haiqing would realize it, it was already far from him to ‘paint a picture.’
Once asleep, his father’s opposition to his choice and the words that wanted him to not dream were the most terrible nightmare. He wanted to prove his persistence was worthwhile, but the pressure accumulated over time, fermented, and finally became dark clouds hovering underneath his eyes. “You don’t understand. You don’t understand anything at all…” Haiqing was not willing to do this. It was unfair and mean to throw his own pressure on Pinjun like dumping garbage, but once his emotions were cracked open, they could not be shut off anymore. The mighty torrent of his pent-up emotions used brute force to widen the crack, and eventually, no one could escape the tragedy of being drowned by it.
Haiqing took a deep breath but the water droplets in the corner of his eyes did not flow down, which added sorrow to his already worn-out eyes.
“I’m really suffering, do you know that?”
Haiqing turned around and walked away. Pinjun lightly pursed his lips. He did not open his mouth to urge Haiqing to stay. Just like this, he helplessly watched Haiqing walked further and further away.
There were countless sounds of footsteps from students walking and running. There were cheerful voices shouting, ‘What do you want to eat?’ and ‘Where’s the next class?” The breeze that caressed the leaves made rustling sounds… All of these things seemed to be pulling the world of these two apart.
The tears in the corners of Haiqing’s eyes were finally unable to stay lingering at the rims of his eyes.
Haiqing wiped away the tears that were flowing down on his chin with his hands, yet he could not stop more tears from flowing down. The back of his hands and cheeks were gradually filled with tear stains. Furthermore, there were no sounds of Pinjun urging him to stay from behind nor there were any hurried footsteps that rushed toward him. Haiqing did not know what he was expecting and also did not want to find out about it. For him, this was as insignificant as investing his attention on someone.
Haiqing was miserable; however, he did not know how to ease this loneliness.