CHAPTER 03 ♦ BESIDE YOU, ALWAYS THERE
last edited on ZLT: 14.02.21
“Ah, it hurts—”
Xia Xiao Kui lugged the two heavy cases with effort back to the equipment room in the sports hall. When she heard a crack at her waist, she almost cried from the pain. Though she was the school’s sports club committee member, the only tasks she’d received so far were manual labour — moving things around. Can’t help it, she’s been given “special attention” after all. All of this came about because of a particular thread on the school’s forum.
That afternoon, Lu Xi saw Xia Xiao Kui carrying a stack of books and documents. She tripped and everything fell all over the place. The people around her ignored her state. Only a pretty girl stopped, hesitating for a moment before walking over to help her.
“Xiao Qian!” When she saw who the person was, Xia Xiao Kui grabbed her hand, emotional. As she did so, the document that she’d picked up previously fell back to the ground. Her face red, she was so nervous she was stuttering: “When, when… when are you free, let’s meet for lunch, you, we haven’t spoken in ages…”
The girl stood coldly: “Maybe next time.”
“Xiao Qian! Listen, I…”
“I still have something else on.” The girl tugged her hand out of her grasp and turned to leave.
Xia Xiao Kui tried to catch up, but the throbbing pain at her waist stopped her. She fell back to the ground, burying her head into her arms.
Whispers sounded from the spectating students: “Aye, Luo Qian’s better… I’m still on her side.”
When she felt someone walking over and stopping before her, Xia Xiao Kui looked up. She was greeted with an unforgettable face.
When they sat at the benches beside the plotted plants afterwards, Xia Xiao Kui told Lu Xi about her past with Luo Qian. They lived near each other and grew up together. They were best friends, and attended the same school from primary school all the way to high school.
“But she seems…” Lu Xi paused, he’d wanted to say that she didn’t seem friendly at all, but he changed his mind, asking her instead: “Are you okay?”
“Of course, don’t worry, I can take a lot more than other girls, my injuries heal very fast too, haha…”
“It’s okay to admit if you’re sad, sharing your feelings can make you feel better.” Lu Xi cut her off gently.
Xia Xiao Kui paused. She looked at his soft side profile, her vision blurring. Cutting words, phrases, “you’re too much”, “fake much”, they were all around her, endless. She’d always told herself to ignore it, don’t listen to them. Until one day, a guy appeared before her, he was glorious, a clean slate; he stood by her, accompanying her — a safe, reliable harbour.
Xia Xiao Kui felt her emotions swelling up her throat: “Thank you.”
When they were heading off in their separate ways, Xia Xiao Kui asked him, nervous: “Have you seen the thread about me?”
“I don’t really use the forum.” When he saw her sniffing and nodding, he continued: “whatever the case is, I think you’re…”
Lu Xi looked away. A hand scrunching his hair, his ears reddened: “I think you’re a good person.”