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Qiu Linsong thought that he would have to trouble his father again: to obtain the admission notice so that Shi Yan could personally deliver this surprise into He Nuo’s hands. But Shi Yan actually said that he could just follow the normal procedure. Which meant that the admission notice would be sent to the school first, then the teacher would call He Nuo, and He Nuo would go over to collect it after he got the news.

Shi Yan was unable to stand next to He Nuo to share his success and joy with him, but he was already satisfied. He Nuo’s admission into A college was a very unexpected and generous gift. When Shi Yan thought of how happy He Nuo would be after receiving his notice, he became immersed in an ocean of joy as well.

He Nuo was so delighted he felt like he was on cloud nine. For the past few days, he often reminded himself to turn his depression into motivation, and kept encouraging himself to not stay downcast any further; but there was always a stubborn and heavy rock tied to his heart that kept dragging him downwards. When he got his teacher’s call, he could hardly believe his ears. He still felt like he was in a dream even after he had obtained his admission notice; he looked at his notice countless times and flipped it back and forth to ensure that it was real..

His family was happy for him of course, and afterwards, He Nuo immediately engaged in social activities for the first time in his life. His classmates were all inviting him out to treat him to a meal. At first, because he didn’t get his admission notice, they didn’t invite him to avoid any embarrassment, but now almost all of them had invited him out — especially his classmates who were going to the same city as him. His family had also suggested for him to invite his classmates out for a meal, and even mentioned his good friend Shi Yan. He Nuo said it was too troublesome, and that it would be enough if some of his friends just dropped by as usual.

After he had dinner that day, he was walking back with a few of his classmates whose houses were in the same direction when he bumped into Wang Feng. He Nuo didn’t want to have any connection with Shi Yan and gang anymore, but he has always wanted to let Shi Yan know of his admission because he didn’t want Shi Yan to feel upset for him. Originally, he had intended to look for Qiu Linsong or Wang Feng to pass the message on for him, but he realised that he didn’t even know their phone numbers. They have always been the ones who took the initiative to call him. So He Nuo could only procrastinate on it, and now that he met Wang Feng, he quickly told him that he got the admission notice for a key college. He didn’t do it to brag or to show off, but because he didn’t want Shi Yan to feel regretful for him.

When Wang Feng saw He Nuo who was happily getting along with his classmates, he felt terrible for Shi Yan. So he deliberately put He Nuo on the spot by asking, “Why don’t you tell him yourself? Did you throw his phone number away?”

He Nuo didn’t respond to him in kind, and instead politely said his goodbyes.

Wang Feng was incredibly angry as he shouted behind him, “You don’t need to show off in front of him, he knew which college you were attending even earlier than you did!”

He Nuo turned around and walked back, “What do you mean?”

“What do I mean? Hng, did you think that the pie that fell from the sky would smash down on your head so coincidentally? You only got it because Ah Song and San Ge ran to the recruitment office to stand guard there every day.”

“!” He Nuo couldn’t tell what he was feeling — it was a variegated mixture of flavours. At the same time, he was pacing back and forth between believing his words and doubting him — did Shi Yan really help him in secret? Then why didn’t he look for him? Shi Yan was the type to get what he wanted through any means, so he should have appeared before him. Shi Yan did treat him well, but he wasn’t some samaritan to the outside world, he wouldn’t be a living Lei Feng1 for no reason. So after he had refused all his pleas and cruelly rejected him, he didn’t count on Shi Yan for help at all.

“Was it really them?”

“Fuck, this is really so fucking unfair. Go and ask Ah Song yourself.”

He Nuo took the number that Wang Feng gave him. After he talked to Qiu Linsong, he became aware of the truth, the inside story.

Shi Yan could guess what He Nuo was busy with these days, and he felt regretful for not being able to see him and congratulate him personally. But he felt much better than he did previously. A College had given him and He Nuo the chance to be in the same city, so Shi Yan was renewed with hope and longing for the future. When he decided to allow He Nuo to fly freely in the sky, he wasn’t willing to face the possibility that he would never be able to see him again. But that night’s whispers made Shi Yan abandon all of his concerns, and made him place He Nuo’s wishes at the forefront.

When he heard He Nuo’s exhortations to himself, and how he was trying his best to accept his fate that was being unfair to him, Shi Yan couldn’t bear it. Purely because he understood He Nuo, and he knew that not being accepted would turn the phrase ‘life is thinner than paper’ into a dead knot that would be difficult to undo in the bottom of He Nuo’s heart. He Nuo has a solid wall around his heart comparable to the Great Wall that he uses to resist all attacks and hurt he receives from the outside world, so it wouldn’t be easy to destroy his will that was as strong as steel. But once you break through this natural barrier, He Nuo would become very sensitive and delicate. If he got hurt at this time, then that injury would become permanent. Shi Yan couldn’t bear to see He Nuo’s wings get broken off, even if he hadn’t done it himself.

Right now, he had already obtained the news from his two buddies of course; He Nuo knew about the assistance provided by his buddies. Shi Yan was waiting. He was waiting for He Nuo’s response to this matter. He finally received a call from He Nuo — a call to ask him for a meet up. Shi Yan arranged for their meet up to be outside the east wall of their high school alma mater.

When Shi Yan saw He Nuo standing next to the field, he was showing him a sincere and warm smile, “We haven’t been here in awhile.”

For that smile, for that greeting that no longer sounded distant, it was worth it. Shi Yan didn’t regret his decision, “You’re the one who wasn’t willing to see me, I’m not the one who didn’t want to come here in such a long while.

He Nuo glared at him with a gaze filled with rebuke, then shook his head, “Since you knew that I wasn’t willing to see you, then why did you still help me with Qiu Linsong?”

“Ah Song was the one who helped you. I didn’t do anything, only his father was capable of doing it.”

“Qiu Linsong told me.” He sighed again, “He said, if it wasn’t for your request, he wouldn’t have gone to look for his dad. And you even forced him to stand guard with you everyday……….” When He Nuo said this, he smiled unconsciously.

“He asked for my opinion, so I just replied him casually. Why? Do you intend to repay me? I only want your hand in marriage, if it’s something else then don’t bother.” Shi Yan’s words did contain some truth in them, he wanted to sound out He Nuo first.

“Lousy mouth.” He Nuo scolded softly. When he looked up at Shi Yan again, he looked solemn, “I actually wanted to tell you something. There was one night when I couldn’t fall asleep that I saw a figure outside my window, so I knew that my opportunity had come. I deliberately said some things, things that could move other people’s hearts.” He Nuo stopped here, then looked straight at the person in front of him.

Shi Yan looked at He Nuo. The smile on his face gradually froze and his voice turned cold, “So?”

“I managed to make use of him, as I had wished.”

During their silence and confrontation that lasted for several minutes, and under a gaze that hadn’t killed He Nuo, Shi Yan shouted angrily in rebuke, “Are you fucking asking to be beaten? Laozi is a first-class hoodlum, you can scold me for being dirty and obscene all you want, but why the fuck did you need to make yourself sound that despicable and sinister too?”

He Nuo knew that Shi Yan would get angry, that he would lose his temper, but the fuse he caught ahold of seemed to be wrong?

“Did you think that I wouldn’t know what a fucking reserved person you are? If you aren’t forced to the brink of death or desperation, you won’t even bother using those types of fucked up methods to get your way. You just fucking missed out on a key college, an outstanding “talent” like you would definitely be able to fish out another undergraduate course. It’s not like you had met a dead end. You haven’t reached the point where you would need to use your “pig brain” to trick me. I know you don’t want to fucking owe me any favours, but it’s not like I’m forcing you to take off your pants with a knife. You don’t need to fucking come up with such a script to disgust me.”

He Nuo had carefully inquired about the whole story from Qiu Linsong. He knew of Shi Yan’s inconsistent attitude, and when he heard Qiu Linsong talk about how Shi Yan suddenly appeared in the morning, He Nuo began to doubt that he had gone to look for him. He had actually felt quite conflicted too, what’s the point of proving that Shi Yan did do all that after he had heard his whispers at night? In the end, the truth was that Shi Yan did help him a lot behind his back.

“Since you knew that we wouldn’t be friends or meet up anymore, why did you still do that?”

He Nuo’s words had tainted Shi Yan’s mood with sorrow. He stared into his eyes as clear as jade and answered helplessly, “We won’t be friends anymore? Those are all words you said, and the decisions you made. I’m the one in the wrong, so I have no right to decide, and the only thing I can do is accept. But,” He withdrew his gaze and faced He Nuo seriously, “I didn’t want the expectations that you held onto for so many years come to naught, and I won’t allow you to helplessly admit that “the heart may be loftier than the sky, but one’s life can be thinner than paper”. Sigh, the moment you accept something, it will imprison you for life. I just wanted you to know that, since you’ve been putting in so much hard work unremittingly all this while, you would be rewarded sooner or later.”

Shi Yan’s words have already proven that he had heard those private whispers that night, yet He Nuo felt moved because of how well Shi Yan knew him. Shi Yan truly was the one who understood him best: no matter if it was the him who had deliberately fabricated his lie, or his grievous mentality to obediently accept his fate — Shi Yan managed to see through both these sides of him completely. While Shi Yan was pouring his heart out, He Nuo actually realised that he was being touched and inspired by him.

Shi Yan plucked up an indefinite amount of courage, “Let’s make up? I lied because I wanted to alleviate my guilt, I was afraid that if you knew the truth you wouldn’t forgive me. But now I know how serious lies can be, I won’t try to deceive you again.”

He waited for He Nuo, the one he was deeply attached to.

“I’m sorry, Shi Yan.”

During He Nuo’s silence, Shi Yan had already guessed that this would be his answer, but he refused to give up and wanted to hear it with his own ears. Now that he did hear it, he couldn’t suppress the disappointment that washed over him. He looked at the grass under his feet feebly, “Then go ba. You go first, please, and don’t say goodbye to me with those four words2.”

He Nuo mounted his bike, “I’ve said to myself before that once I got my admission notice from the college, I would say goodbye to all the years that have passed, and nail a seal onto the door of all those bygone days — then let it gather dust as I’ll never open it again. From today onwards, I want a new life, and a new starting point. But now…….” He didn’t continue, and rode far away on his bike.

Shi Yan raised his head and closed his eyes to reminisce. The warm gusts of spring in this midsummer couldn’t dissipate the intense pain he felt. This time, Shi Yan refused to watch him leave.

“We’ll still be friends when we meet.” He Nuo’s voice that sounded like it came down from the heavens diffused over the verdant fields, the billowing wave of wheat served as the messengers that delivered his words.

Shi Yan’s eyes abruptly burst open. Without anyone’s notice, the setting sun had quietly weaved rosy clouds in the sky. Crimson red clouds that painted a resplendent sunset rose in the horizon — it was so red it wept enchanting tears of blood, and it was so red that it shone with a magnificent beauty. A flame had also begun to boil in Shi Yan’s heart: we’ll still be friends when we meet!

End of PSWOL Volume One

1. Lei Feng was a soldier in the People’s Liberation Army and is a communist legend in China. After his death, Lei was characterized as a selfless and modest person devoted to the Communist Party, Mao Zedong, and the people of China.\"↩\"

2. He meant the words He Nuo had said to him before “never see you again”, the Chinese version is 后会无期, which is a word play on 后会有期, and the original is something you usually say while parting with someone to express how the two of you could meet again someday. It’s….. kinda heartbreaking. I.e. 后会有期 = I’ll see you again someday; 后会无期 = I never want to see you again\"↩\"

T/N: Holy shit… I’m done with volume 1. The past few weeks have been such a ride omg and I have so many thoughts about the novel that I’ll pen down later cause um…I’m too lazy now after editing through all those chapters. I’d just like to say a few things first:

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