“Xiao Fei! Xiao Fei! You can’t sleep anymore! Go to school now!” The quilt was yanked off, and his butts were spanked several times. Lin Yifei opened his eyes in a blurry haze and saw the familiar curtain cloth. His ear was filled with the roar of his mother.
“Huh?” Lin Yifei jumped to his feet. Where was this place?
“Immediately report to school for me! I don’t care whether you like that school or not, but that school isn’t easy to enter. Please be considerate of your parents!”
Lin Yifei looked out the window again, only to find an old cafe outside, the homeless drunk…There was also this room, which was covered in muddy curtain fabric that made the room look like a pigeon coop…Wasn’t this when the Lins just immigrated to the United States and rented an old house in Queens?
He looked at his hands again. Why were they so small?
Lin Yifei moved away from the bed and rushed to the bathroom. Looking at himself in the mirror, he couldn’t help standing there stunned. In the mirror was an eleven-or-twelve-year-old boy with big eyes, immature expression and a bird nest hair.
“Hurry up, brush your teeth and wash your face! Hurry up!” His mother even squeezed out toothpaste for him.
What was going on here?
Lin Yifei looked at his mother. There were not as many wrinkles on her face. Her hair was not white, and her chest were not sagging. “Mom-what year and month is it today?”
“You boy is confused? Today is July 2, 1998! Mom knows that you don’t want to go to that school. The atmosphere is poor. There are many black children, but there are also a lot of Chinese children studying there. So, even if your English is bad, it doesn’t matter. Someone will speak Chinese with you!”
This same passage was also said by his mother 12 years ago. He still remembered that he would rather die than go for fear of being bullied by those black children. It was all played on TV. Because he dragged his feet all the time, his mother couldn’t help but send him to another slightly better school. However, because of this, his father who worked in a Chinese factory was under more pressure. His father’s back was hunched by the time Lin Yifei graduated from elementary school. Now, if he was allowed to choose, he would rather go to that rotten school than put more pressure on his tired father.
“I will go to school! Don’t worry!” Lin Yifei brushed his teeth. What was going on here? He was obviously a 23 years old man, how could he return to the age of 11?
Or was it just a dream that he went to college in Washington and met Chris then pursued their professional athletic career together? Chris’s car accident was also a dream? Was it a dream as well that he was shot in the Osbornes’ house?
Lin Yifei took a deep breath. He put on his coat and let his mother take him to school.
The principal was a somewhat stern middle-aged woman. His mother wanted to ask her to take care of Lin Yifei a little more, but she could only come up with a few English words. An elementary school wasn’t equipped with a translator. The principal’s face had become a bit ugly. In addition, the children in this school belonged to the bottom rung of society. This middle-aged woman saw a lot of these same people and had less patience.
Moreover, his mother’s accent made the principal look a little contemptuous at them.
This made Lin Yifei uncomfortable. As a Chinese athlete, when he just started out, he also encountered some racial discrimination. However, strength decided everything. When he was listed as a seed player in international competitions, no one looked at him like that again.
Wait, he didn’t know whether those things were reality or dream. Why was he thinking that far?
Lin Yifei looked up and introduced himself to the principal in fluent English. Of course, he also expressed his mother’s wishes in passing. “Hello principal, I am a good student and will strive to make progress. Although my family is poor, I still hope that you can treat me like other students and give me a good learning environment.”
This string of English shocked not only the principal, after all, which child could say such a thing, but also Lin Yifei’s mother who opened her eyes wide. She couldn’t believe that her son had spoken such good English just now.
“Since you have such a good foundation in English, you don’t have to worry about it. I will arrange you into a good class.” The principal laughed. Fluent communication these days could also reduce the chance of being discriminated against by others.
In this way, Lin Yifei was assigned to a better class. The teachers in this class were very serious. Although the facilities of the school were not good, Lin Yifei was already very satisfied.
Especially when he opened all of his English textbooks and knew every word. The most important thing was that he recognized everything. He wouldn’t be so foolish to think that he was a genius. So, that meant…
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He really started all over again? This conclusion made Lin Yifei excited. If he could do it again, he would make up for those regrets!
Wait, Lin Yifei remembered that he once asked Chris which elementary school he went to. Chris smiled and said that he also went to the same elementary school.
So…Chris was also in this school?
At the thought of this, Lin Yifei’s heart began beating wildly. He subconsciously looked around the classroom. When he saw the seat by the window and the figure sleeping on the table, his entire person froze.
That’s Chris…that’s definitely Chris…
Lin Yifei realized that he was so familiar with the figure and posture of that person.
“Okay, Lin, although this is your first day attending class, I still don’t want you to be distracted.” This class was about American history. The substitute teacher, Miss Anne, approached Lin Yifei and asked him a common question about history. Luckily, Lin Yifei remembered the answer and blurted it out. This made Miss Anne nodded and let him off.
After class, all of the children gathered around him. They asked his name and where he lived. Lin Yifei patiently answered them one by one. Compared to college students in their twenties, these children were much simpler and easier to get along with. Still, Lin Yifei glanced at the window from time to time. Chris remained in that prone position.
“What’s the name of that guy? How can the teacher let him sleep in class?”
“Him? He’s Chris…” A little black girl named KK, who had fluffy hair and numerous pigtails, leaned over to Lin Yifei’s ear and whispered, “Don’t get too close to him. He’s the son of a prostitute. Be careful of infectious diseases!”
Lin Yifei slightly paused. He remembered that Chris once mentioned in an indifferent tone that he had few friends before he was brought back to the Osbornes’ house. He didn’t speak much and had a slight autistic tendency, which became more obvious after his mother died. Therefore, Mr. Osborne had to hire a psychologist for him. Once, when Lin Yifei was visiting the Osbornes’ house, he met Mr. Osborne in the corridor. The other smiled and said, “Lin, you are more useful than any psychologist. Chris looks very happy during his four years in college.”
“Why does he have infectious diseases?” Lin Yifei also whispered in KK’s ear.
“Fool, don’t you know that syphilis and AIDS are contagious?”
“No, these are not spread through contact.” Lin Yifei wanted to tell them that the route of transmission was s*x, but at the thought that these were all children, he was too embarrassed to say more.
Chris, who sat not far away, turned around. He looked at the children around Lin Yifei and curled up the corners of his mouth. That was his show of disdain. Lin Yifei was very familiar with it.
One could see that the 11-year-old Chris, who hadn’t fully developed his facial features, was still exquisite and flawless. He also possessed a sense of indifference and alienation, appearing as if he was ready to pierce through others.
Even so, Lin Yifei’s heart stopped beating for half a beat.
He probably thought that I was no different from the others…
The class soon ended. Based on Lin Yifei’s understanding of Chris, he knew that he couldn’t just get together like this. Chris would not put down his guard. He would only hit a wall.
At noon, Lin Yifei put on a depressed face. His mother didn’t even prepare lunch for him.
Looking at his depressed appearance, KK and they were very enthusiastic and opened their small lunch boxes. They set aside a bit of everything from macaroni to bake eggs for him. This just barely settled his lunch.
When he watched Chris again, he saw the other just pulled out a sandwich and finished it in two or three bites. Then he opened his textbook and looked at it. Lin Yifei knew that Chris had strong understanding ability. Even if he didn’t have a teacher to teach him, he could learn very well by reading. This was probably why even if he slept on the table, the teacher didn’t bother to say anything about him.
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The day passed quickly. Lin Yifei returned home with his schoolbag. His mother was cooking in the kitchen. He ran to lift the lid of the pot. His mother came in and slapped him on the back of his hand.
“Burn you to death, you little brat!”
“Ha ha!” Lin Yifei hurriedly touched his ear with his hand, pretending to look really embarrassed.
“But to be honest, when did your English become so good? Remember when you first come, you can’t even say hello!”
“Alas, Mom, that’s why I especially look for a person to teach me. I only know these two sentences by heart and carry them around to fool people! If the principal asks me more, it would have exposed my rouse! But didn’t I get assigned to a better class!” Lin Yifei looked proud.
“It’s really worthy of being Mom’s son, so smart!”
“Mom, you forgot to prepare lunch for me today.”
“Oh, yes! Xiao Fei, were you hungry at noon?”
“Well, the other students gave me some food to tide over. Mom, you should cook something delicious tomorrow, so that I can let them have a taste!”
“Good! Good! No problem!”
Sure enough, when Lin Yifei opened his lunch box the next morning, he saw two braised lion’s head meatballs and tofu stuffed meat. They were full of Chinese flavor. Lin Yifei smirked. He tiptoed and removed a chili bottle from the kitchen cabinet. He sprinkled a few drops on the lion’s head meatballs.
It wasn’t easy for the boring morning to be over. When it’s lunchtime, Lin Yifei excitedly took out his lunch box to share with everyone.
KK was the most curious. Her fork went down and she popped a piece of the lion’s head meatball into her mouth. The effect was as Lin Yifei expected. KK’s mouth immediately burned. She couldn’t even call out. She had to directly empty a carton of milk before she could speak again.
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