The news of Lotus going to the city to study spread out in the whole village. Meddlesome people would stop by to gossip. Whenever Lotus went out to carry water, there would be people asking, “Lotus, you will go to city to study?” Lotus nodded her head. “Why go to the city? It is safer for a girl to stay where she has been brought up. And save money.” Lotus replayed nothing, but smiled back politely. Trouble makers would even go as far as pay a visit to Lotus’ home, intending to get more details.
Aunt Liu was a gossipmonger. No news could escape her, and she liked observing any lively scene. On the eve of Lotus’ going to the city, Aunt Liu dropped in to Lotus’ home, fishing for some news, with a basket of eggs in her arms.
“Lotus’ mother, I heard Lotus was going to the city tomorrow. I brought these eggs for Lotus so that she has more food with her.“
“Thanks.” Mother put the eggs into the cupboard, and took out a glass. She swilled the glass with clean water, and filled the glass with some hot water. In order to make the salty water more tasty, mother added some sugar to it. She offered the glass to Aunty Liu, who was too impatient to speak, so she just mosited her lips, and put the water aside.
“I heard that it was Gao Sheng who gave Lotus the information.” Aunty Liu whispered in Mum’s ears. Their conversation was within Lotus’ earshot. Lotus was
very nervous when hearing Aunty Liu say so.
“Yes, it is lucky for Lotus to have such a good friend. He helps us a lot.”
“Have you ever talked to his mother? I heard he has a rich family in the city.”
”About the relationship between these two children. You can arrange Lotus’ marriage when she is young and beautiful.” Aunty Liu suggested. Lotus was a little irritated with Aunty Liu’s backwardness. Why should a girl marry in a young age?
“We are unworthy to seek connection with Gao Sheng’s family. Anyway, Lotus is still a child. As to marriage, I believe in God’s arrangement.” Mum answered. Lotus couldn’t help admiring her mum’s good sense, and ready wit.
Aunty Liu found there was no fun in pursuing the topic any further, and turned the conversation into farming business.
Mum and Dad helped Lotus pack her clothes in the evening. Mum kept nagging at Lotus to take care of herself. Dad remained silent, and later, he helped Lotus wipe her shoes for the first time in the girl’s life. Lotus wanted to say “ thank you” to Dad, and her eyes welled, but she couldn’t utter those words in public.
The next morning, Lotus got on the bus to the city with Gao Sheng. She turned back a few times. Her home was gradually disappearing far away with Dad and Mums’ figures blurred. Tears shed down silently from Lotus’ eyes. Lotus had a strange feeling that she would say goodbye to the village in her later life. she whispered goodbye again.
“Lotus, what are you talking?” Gao Sheng asked.
“Nothing. I am looking at the village.”
“Lotus, after you become a scholar years later, you will come back.” Gao Sheng tried to make Lotus happy.
“Thanks. “ Lotus looked at the world outside. Gao Sheng always made intelligent remarks. The bus was moving on. They were on the road.
They finally arrived in the city. Lotus was deeply impressed by its wide and polished street, its modern and orderly atmosphere, and its luxury and money- built culture.
“Goodness！” Lotus was a little shamed of herself. She wanted to go to the lady’s
“What is wrong?” Gao Sheng’s mother sensed Lotus’ uneasiness, and asked. Gao
Sheng stared at Lotus, waiting for her answer anxiously.
“Well,” Lotus answered in a low voice, “Where is ladies’ room?”
“Oh, ladies’ room? Ha-ha. Sheng er, you can lead Lotus to that building. Go to the second floor. In the corner, there will be a washing room.”
“My pleasure” Gao Sheng dragged Lotus away immediately.
“I can’t follow you.” Lotus trotted behind and stopped to have a rest, a little annoyed.
“You should take more exercises; otherwise you’ll be easily getting ill.” He stopped to wait. “Come on, we will miss school. Oh, the ladies’ room is not far away. Walk
straight and turn right, and you will find a sign on the right. ” Gao Sheng wiped sweat on his forehead.
Lotus took a deep breath. She bent down a little, took a deep breath, and looked at Gao Sheng in silence. Gao Sheng studied her secretly too, when suddenly he changed his countenance into deadly serious.
“I want to tell you something.”
“What is the matter with you?” Seeing he was so serious, Lotus felt her heart would jump out of her chest.
“I will wait for you outside… well; I want to wait for you forever.”
Lotus was a little surprised, and moved. It made her really happy to hear that Gao Sheng would be her friend forever, and guard her as he said. However, she was not sure whether Gao Sheng was not toying with her, so she laughed, “Are you kidding? How can you wait for me forever? You have no obligations towards me, and you have been already kind enough to my family now. ” Lotus knew that despite all her politeness, Gao Sheng’s sweetness and assurance had already conquered her heart, though she didn’t realize it was love at that moment. But she knew if Gao Sheng should betray her in the future, she had would be able to forgive him, as one forgives a good friend who first brought light to her life.
“I am serious ” Gao Sheng was in earnest.
“Ok, time will show.” Lotus was half joking, half serious. Then, she said, “I have no time to argue with you. Wait outside”, and then, Lotus rushed into the ladies’ room.
Away from Gao Sheng, she took a deep breath. Lotus walked straight, opened the door of the toilet, and suddenly jumped out of her skin! To her surprise, the toilet was quite different from that in the village. In the village, the so called toilet was a square hole, which was dug by the family themselves. There was a slope toward the center, so that the dropping could easily slip inside. After dumping, people just dig the soil and covered the droppings with soil.
The toilets here were clean and modern. Lotus felt embarrassed. She didn’t know how to use them. She did not know where to put her legs, and how to flush the toilet.
“Will you use the toilet? “A woman waiting behind asked anxiously. Lotus felt even more worried. “No, not now. you go first.” This surprised the woman a lot. She gave Lotus a baffled look and went to the toilet first.
Later, Lotus heard the sound of flushing toilet. Lotus was more worried than ever.
Finally, the woman went out. Seeing Lotus still standing there motionlessly she asked out of curiosity,
“Can I help you?”
“Yes,...I am from a village. I don’t know how to use it.” Lotus was red all over her face, expecting to be laughed at, but the woman just smiled lightly, and said, “Put your feet here, and press this button to flush the toilet.”
“Yes, thanks.” Lotus was grateful.
“You are welcome.” The woman said graciously, and walked to the hand-basin to wash her hands with soap. The scent of soap flew into Lotus’ nostrils, and Lotus was charmed by the city woman’s grace.
Lotus walked out of the ladies’ room with a sense of ease and comfort. Gao Sheng was still waiting there. Lotus blushed a little.
“Hurry up, or we will be late.”
The sense of reality returned to her. This would be her first day at school.