Lotus looked up, startled. This was the girl who talked with Gao Sheng yesterday. She didn’t hate her but she felt did not like her. She did not like the others who were stealing the only friend away from her. Lotus picked up her book, intending to leave.
“Wait, stay a while.” The girl stopped her, and grinned, “What book are you reading?”
“The Great Gatsby.” Lotus answered briefly.
“The Great Gatsby? You are amazing. That’s a difficult book for a teenage girl. I cannot even follow the plot. When I read novels, I will forget the former part as soon as I read another paragraph. Moreover, I can’t make out what it is about.”
Lotus was surprised at this girl’s easy manner, which made her feel very comfortable. She stopped, and waited for the girl’s to make good her escape but she still didn’t smile.
“My name is Wang Xing. Nice to meet you.” The girl held out her hands.
Hesitating a little, Lotus held out her hands too.
“You must be Gao Sheng’s good friend.” The girl observed, “I heard him mention
your name now and then. We are good friends. I think you and me can be good
Lotus felt some string in her heart touched. She looked at attentively at the other one, and was struck by the girl’s warm and sincere look. Lotus smiled too. “You know, I’m Lotus.”
“I know. You mean we can be friends?” Wang Xing asked.
“Yes, I like you.” Lotus laughed.
“Lotus, you don’t know how much I admire you .” Wang Xing said mysteriously.
“Me?” Lotus opened her eyes wide.
“Yes. I admire your courage of holding on to your dreams in spite of such a pressure.” Wang Xing continued. “I was watching you for long. Many students spoke ill of you, I am sorry to say so, but I have never agreed with them. I saw how you put a brave face on it. Also, though you are from a village, I saw you like books. You always go to the school library. Once, I followed you and I picked up the Red chamber dream to kill the time. I so much wanted to talk to you when you finish reading. But I don’t know how I fell asleep with the books. When I woke up, you were already gone.”
Lotus felt embarrassed, and she smiled shyly, “Thank you.”
“That’s ok. I am only telling you the truth. I am a epicurean. I col=uld discuss food for ever. Have you been to KFC?”
Lotus blushed, and shook her head.
“Never mind.” Wang Xing observed. “Next time, I take you there. Don’t worry, you will be my guest. Though hamburgers are junk food, they have such a nice texture. I bet you will like it.”
“Well” Lotus felt her cheeks burning. “Don’t think too high of me. In fact, I am a selfish and lazy girl. All I want is just a life of peace. The only ambition is to go out of my village. Some of my villagers accused me of being above my situation.”
“What a rubbish.” Wang Xing cursed a little, “pay no attention to those ignorant people, excuse me, I am not biased against rural folks.”
Lotus nodded her head, and felt a little warm feeling germinate in her heart. Wang Xing was the first city girl to apologize to her.
“I think you are an apt student who will make a difference in the future.” Wang Xing winked her eyes apprehensively. “As for your dreams, they are reasonable. It is one of human’s instincts to survive. It is not your fault.” She nodded her head, “Just like making money. Talking about money, one hypocrite claimed that money did not matter much to him but in fact he would do bad thing for the sake of money. There is nothing shameful in wanting to have more money. But it depends on how you get it, whether by hard work, or by theft, stealing someone else’s money. To be or not to be ? It is really a good question.”
“But how lucky you are to be born in the city.” Lotus sighed.
“We also have our own troubles. Sometimes, I feel very lonely.” Wang Xing sat on the table, and talked with Lotus. “For example, my parents always work and return home late at night. All I have to do is to watch TV and play computer games.”
Lotus knew her own loneliness, and the same way she understood Wang Xing’s loneliness. She put her hands on Wang Xing’s and said, “Don’t worry any more. You can play with me if you like.”
Wang Xing’s eyes were dancing. “Wow, cool. Then, I will tell my mother that I am going to stay at school with you. I won’t be lonely at all. “
Lotus felt very honored to have such a good friend.
Wang Xing kept her promise and took Lotus out to have hamburgers. Lotus licked her mouth with her tongue, and said that was delicious, but she was not accustomed to such tastes. Lotus felt happier at school. Wang Xing was Lotus’ first girlfriend, and probably her best friend in her later life.
When one’s mind is happily occupied, there is no time to feel sorrow and fear contempt, one gets courage out of love. Wu Qing’s teasing manner would not hurt. Lotus tried her best to enjoy the school life. She was growing up very fast.
Lotus reached an age of puberty. She was to discover not only some physical changes, but also some psychological changes in herself. She had a desire to get in touch with boys, but she was too shy to talk with them. Wang Xing was different. She was an extrovert. Lotus found that Wang Xing was more talkative than ever. Wang Xing was very charming. She could practice her blushing when she felt it was time to blush, which made her more attractive among the strangers.
How time lapses. In the twinkling of an eye, Lotus was in her last year of junior middle school.
Students were busy preparing for high school exams. Lotus worked very hard hoping to be admitted into the best high school in the city without a scholarship. She hoped that she could change her fate for she knew that once admitted to that school, she was sure to enter a university later. Her school of choice boasted a high the rate of admissions into university. Lotus was burning the midnight oil, believing God would reward her effort one day.
Time flies as gust of wind moving the sand. Lotus and Wang Xing were avowed friends. They were both very helpful to each other in their studies. Lotus helped Wang Xing to make a review schedule, and Wang Xing led Lotus to play outside. Gao Sheng was their friend, of both of them. The three of them were just like shadows. They had a wonderful time in the middle school.
Autumn was coming. After rain, some leaves of a Chinese umbrage fell down on the loan. As Lotus was walking in the campus with Wang Xing and Gao Sheng, she found a lot of leaves falling on the ground. She picked them up.
“The trees in the city are so beautiful. In the village, I can seldom see anything green, not to mention the falling of leaves.”
“Don’t be sentimental. Aren’t they just dead leaves?” Wang Xing made a face at Lotus. “Why collect them? What are you going to do with them?”
“I will keep it as a sample. Look, the back of the leaf is not as green as its surface.”
“It is because the amount of chloroplast at the back is not as high as that on the surface. It doesn’t need too much sunlight on the back.” Gao Sheng explained.
“You are a scholar!” Wang Xing said admiringly.
“I know about it, too. We learned about it in biology. Were you not following?” Lotus raised her eyebrows.
“It is a pity that we won’t have any biology tests at the high school exams. “ Gao Sheng said, “Otherwise, I would be sure of getting a high score.”
“What a pity: leaves will fall down, people will grow old. Times are changing. People’s minds are changing. But I hope our friendship won’t change in the future.” Lotus said overcome by emotion, kissing the leaves.
“I won’t.” Wang Xing exclaimed. ”Lotus, you think too much.”
“I will be your better angel. Remember? I said so long long ago.” Gao Sheng sounded childishly earnest.
“What? What did he say to you? Lotus?” Wang Xing became keenly interested.
“Nothing. He is talking nonsense” Lotus put the leaf into her books and ran away.
In the evening, Wang Xing always went out somewhere, and returned to the dorm very late at night. To Lotus’ surprise, she even went to the hairdressers’ to have her hair straightened, something that was forbidden in Chinese middle schools according to their by-laws.
“Where are you going?” Lotus tried to find out when Wang Xing was busy putting on her make up.
“Out!” Wang Xing turned around, and eyed herself in front of mirror, “ Mirror,
Mirror on the wall, what do I see? Am I beautiful tonight?”
Lotus looked at Wang Xing carefully. The girl in the front of her was wearing a mini skirt, and high heels, and looked much older than her real age. She was also wearing a body shapewear, which made her waist unusually slim, and attractive. Lotus was stunned by Wang Xing’s beauty.
“Yes, yes, you are amazing.” Lotus stammered out.
Wang Xing laughed, “That is it! I am going out. You don’t have to wait me for supper.”
“Where are you going?” Before giving any response, Wang Xing slammed the door.
The room was suddenly very quiet. The clock on the wall began to tick noisily every single second, in unison with Lotus’ beating heart. Lotus was afraid that something would happen. The more she thought about it, the more uneasy she would feel. She took out her homework, trying to do the exercises, but she found she was unable to think.
The room was quite. All kinds of visions were invading Lotus’ mind and made her restless. She looked outside the window, and established that Wang Xing was not far away yet.
Her mind ran fast suddenly. She made a quick decision to follow Wang Xing to see what would happen.
She rushed downstairs, and pursued Wang Xing. Lotus followed her friend, took several corners, and then stopped. She saw three boys who has bad reputation grinning at Wang Xing, and one fat boy putting his arm around Wang Xing’s shoulder in a gesture of informality. They were flirting. These boys were well known for their bad behavior. Usually, at school, they would hang around with a gang, drinking, smoking, and using dirty words. At class, with the teacher, and after school, they were always making trouble. They were bullies. Their victims were underdogs, and the weak. With each humiliation, they would grow more unscrupulous, showing their arrogance everywhere. One fat boy of the pack claimed all the girls to be his wives. In his leisure time he would produce a beauty ranking list or yawn. One of those girls got really scared and sad. She went to the teacher’s office crying, fearing that she was pregnant.
The teacher comforted the girl, and gave her a lesson on sexuality. The girl looked at the teacher confused, uncertain what to believe in. The classmates treated the girl scandalously. Later, they saw the girl’s belly wasn’t bulging. There was no baby to be born.
Lotus saw Wang Xing was very intimate with those troublemakers. They were more than acquaintances. A thin boy with a monkey face made a gesture, and they were about to leave for some other places.
“Wang Xing, where are you going?” words slipped from Lotus’ lips before she realized what was happening.
Lotus’ unexpected appearance surprised all the people there. Wang Xing was a startled, as if frozen there, and could not utter a word. Collecting themselves, the three boys showed how much Lotus’ appearance annoyed them. One boy stepped forward, two hands in his pocket. He gave Lotus a side look. “Who are you? What is your business here?”
“I am Lotus, a classmate of Wang Xing.” Lotus answered a little hesitantly.
“You are her classmate, but you make me think you are her mother. Your old goose.”
the fatty boy laughed popping his eyes.
“Yes, Lotus, I told you not to wait for me.” Wang Xing asked in surprise. “Why have you come?”
The three boys waited eagerly for her answer, ready to bully her, as if they were ferocious tigers, wanting to devour Lotus totally.
Lotus felt words were failing her.
“Ha-ha. She must be dumb,” the boys burst out laughing.
“By the way, what is your name?” The monkey- like boy smiled a sinister smile.
“Lotus.” Lotus found her courage pluck up. She answered coolly:
“ Lotus.” The boy pondered deliberately, “And your birthday is...”
“That is not your business.” Wang Xing frowned angrily.
“Never mind, there is nothing to be ashamed of”. “I was born on November 11th.”
“Oh, so you are an old bitch.” The boy yawned.
“Hold your tongue.” Lotus stared at him furiously. All her body sensed a piercing coldness.
“Yes, you are afraid that we reveal your secret. Your name is Lotus, which grows in summer, but you are born in autumn. Isn’t it weird? Why have not your parents name you chrysanthemum, or some other flower which grows in autumn?”
“Yes, that is weird.” Another boy kicked up a fuss, “that will be the news of the week in the campus.”
“Yahoo, I will help to spread it.” The boy claimed.
Lotus felt her world was spinning. All of her values were crushed all of a sudden. She could never imagine people could be so mean when their dirty doings were interrupted by someone else.
Suddenly, all the faces became twisted, and their laugh, their cry, their remarks flew before Lotus’ eyes like a moving picture. Lotus covered her ears with her hands, and ran madly away.
Next morning, she went into the classroom, frustrated. Lotus felt ill. She was suffering from a kind of a terrible hallucination. A strange sensation that she was watched being obsessed her mind. She found two or three girls gathered together and whispered something in a low voice. When Lotus passed them by, they stopped talking immediately, and dispersed. Lotus was very depressed. Without reporting it to anyone, she went back to her dormitory. On the way back, she seemed to hear some footsteps behind. She turned back, but could see nobody.
When she was alone in her room, she felt again that somebody was watching her. Lotus felt she was going insane! She felt as if some monitors hidden somewhere were recording every step she took. It was awesome. Gradually, there were also whispers from someone invisible somewhere telling her that she was not a good girl.
At first, these voices were just like a humming of bees, but later they became the voices of persecution. Lotus could not help defending herself in return. Always, her mind wandered off in the class. She was never at ease sitting in a crowd, nor was she happy when she was alone. At that time, even other’s coughing would annoy her. Lotus’ behavior became a little abnormal. Everyone could perceive that.
The teacher was very worried, because she liked this brave, and assiduous student. In order to help the girl out of trouble, the teacher tried to talk to Lotus, however, the latter didn’t understand the teacher’s good intentions.
Next day, Lotus went to the classroom in a state of half-consciousness. She felt insecure as if haunted by an evil spirit. She took her seat, and opened her book. But she couldn’t understand a single word.
“Attention everybody, do the exercises on page ten” the teacher said.
Lotus tried hard to turn to page ten. But she tried several times, either over, or less.
An echo whispered in Lotus’ ears, “Your very existence is a fault. Your birth was a fault. You are not good enough to be attending schools in the city. What is worse, you are cheating in the exams.”
Lotus was trembling. She felt that she was sitting on a volcano, any minute ready to erupt.. Just then, Wang Xing sensed the tension in Lotus’ body, and looked back.
Lotus was sitting there with her eyes fixed on a hollow spot. Wang Xing felt quite worried and ashamed. Since that night, she has never talked with Lotus so far, because she was still angry at her friend. Last night, Lotus went to her dormitory, and bought her a big red apple. But she didn’t accept it, afraid of losing face.
“Lotus? Lotus?” Wang Xing called Lotus eagerly.
“I really exist. I am true and I am good!” Lotus cried bitterly at Wang Xing. The whole class suddenly fixed all their eyes on Lotus. Everyone was surprised to hear those unexpected words from Lotus. The teacher stood there with her mouth wide open.
“Lotus!” Gao Sheng uttered in a surprise. Wu Qing eyed Lotus with malicious curiosity, as if the girl was an animal from another planet.
Lotus did not realize she was just suffering from a hallucination, and .thought earnestly that what she heard was as real as black and white. She thought the whole class was hostile to her, so she raised her eyes at the others who were watching her with alarm and curiosity, giving them a hostile, anguished and angry look.
But Wang Xing was sad and confused, and Gao Sheng was very worried.
The teacher said gently, “Lotus, would you come to my office after class?”
Lotus opened her eyes wildly, and nodded her head.
This was a warm and nice office, decorated with yellow wallpaper, and comfortable
yellow curtains. The moment Lotus entered the room, the scent of jasmine came
into her nostrils, making Lotus feel mentally refreshed.
“Sit down.” The teacher said amiably. Her smile was very sweet. Lotus thought of her
as if of her mother. She felt relaxed and yet a little ashamed.
“Lotus, how is everything going these days?”
Lotus bit her lips, which turned into purple color.
“Lotus, we are going to have a high school exam. You are not well.” The teacher observed Lotus carefully.
These words made sense to Lotus, and touched on her own worries too. Lotus felt
A sudden flutter in her heart and burst out crying, something that caught the teacher completely off the guard. She never expected Lotus would cry so bitterly.
“ Lotus, today I called you to tell you a secret.” Teacher waited until the girl’s crying would fade, and then gently stroking Lotus’ hair, she said mysteriously, “Don’t cry. Crying makes girls ugly. “ And then she continued, “Yesterday, I was passing by a fairground mirror, and I looked at it. Do you know what did I see? I was worse than zhubajie, the piggy monster in the journey to the west, haha.” The teacher burst out with laughter. Then she became more serious, “It is hard for us to know what our true image is like.”
Lotus was bewildered. She remembered she also went by the mirror several times, and she was also curious about the person in the mirror, and doubted whether that was her true self.
“No matter what happens to you, you should always keep these in mind. Life will never smile to the weak, but to be strong does not mean to bully others. The strong ones: life may bend their neck, but never bent their back. They continue true to themselves and at the same time, they adapt to the environment. Maybe it will take years before you understand it, but Lotus, be a strong little woman.”
These words did not make sense to Lotus, and she just stared at the teacher in silence.
“The wisest people in the world are people with the ones with great adaptability. They change in order to master the changes. They can adapt to the environment, with their heart unchanged.” The teacher was a slightly forgetting herself. She found Lotus was staring at her confusedly, and said, “I know it is hard for you to understand. But never mind. I believe you will. Even if it takes years for you to understand, they will serve you well.” She paused a little, “Lotus, do you want to go home and have a rest for a few weeks? I know there will be exams, but there is a saying ‘we should rest a little before quizzes, and enjoy ourselves before big exams’. Maybe the change of environment could make you feel better, but you should also think about your attitude to life for the future.” On seeing Lotus was ready to argue, the teacher smiled, and stopped her, “Lotus, if you want to get scholarships, if you think of going to the high school, you need to take a grip first.”
Lotus nodded her head.