Would You Mind If I Play? - Chapter 1

[Updated at: 2021-01-11 03:57:14]
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Chapter 1: End of Summer

Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation

The summer holidays were quickly coming to an end. So many things happened over the holidays that before Zhang Jun could even begin to wrap his head around them, two months had already passed. The only thing he knew for sure was just how fast time went by…

In the middle of the day, the sun hung high in the sky as it gloriously radiated light and heat onto the ground below. It was high noon and there were not many people out on the streets under the crazy hot weather. However, Zhang Jun was an exception. He stood there quietly, basking in the rays of the sun as if he was unfazed by the blazing heat. His mind, still deep in thought about his ending summer holidays until…

“That’s a dollar twenty for the paper. Are you going to buy it or what?” a grumpy voice asked. The old lady at the newsstand had just about had it with him staring blankly at her goods for sale. Zhang Jun immediately snapped out of his daydream. Embarrassed, he quickly paid for the paper and left.

As soon as he got home, he found Yang Pan already there, waiting for him. The two boys had been best friends since they were still crawling about and talking gibberish. They could and would talk about anything, if not everything with each other. But the one thing that the two boys talked about more than anything else, the one subject that got their hearts pumping and their blood boiling with excitement was soccer.

It was their mutual love for the game that made these two boys the best of friends for many years; like two peas in a pod. They could talk about it all day, every day and never tire of it. That would usually be the case every time they met up, but not this particular day.

Yang Pan was doing most of the talking this time. Meanwhile, his usually chatty best friend was being unusually silent, only responding or nodding when necessary. Yang Pan, of course, picked up on his best buddy’s unusual behavior.

“What’s up?”

Zhang Jun took a moment to piece together his words to reply his friend. And after a brief moment of silence, he finally mustered enough courage and spoke as calm as he could, “I’m transferring out of Kai Ta High School.”

“Transferring? Why?!” Yang Pan exclaimed. He was clearly shocked! They had never been in separate classes, much less separate schools ever since they could ever remember! “Bro, but we just won the nationals! There’s a trophy with our names on display in school! And now, you’re just going to leave?!”

“Look, I don’t want this as much as you do, but this isn’t my decision to make. Mom says the new school is closer to home. It’ll be easier for the family that way.”

“Then, what about the team, bro? What about our promise?”

Zhang Jun had a flashback of that epic night, which was the highlight of his summer—that night on Qingdao Island, when they became national champions of the country’s National Middle School Soccer Championship.

Zhang Jun remembered that night and how he triumphantly proposed to his fellow comrades. “Today, national middle school champions; tomorrow, national high school champions!”

“Yeah! Let’s become national high school champions!” the whole team roared in response. He remembered vividly how the stadium lights reflected off the sweat on their faces; their victorious screams; the excited cheers from the crowd in the stands, and the voices of triumph as well as joy, which filled the entire stadium as they celebrated their win that night.

The whole scene replayed itself so clearly in his mind, as if it had just happened seconds ago. Barely a month had passed since then.

To think that things would turn out like this…

Zhang Jun could still hear his own words echoing in his ears as disappointment welled within him for not being able to hold on to his promise. Right then, he could only shake his head and sigh.

“I don’t know!”

The two boys sat there in silence for a while and let reality sink in. After a long pause, Yang Pan broke the silence. “So… which school?”

“Shu Guang High.”

“Well, since it’s already decided, I’ll be dropping by and visiting you a lot.” Yang Pan stood up and began to leave. Zhang Jun then walked him to the gate. “I’ll come get you for soccer tomorrow. Just make sure you’re good to go, okay!” Yang Pan said before he walked away.

The new school grounds had flower beds and trees all over the place like a park. If somebody had brought in animals, a few recreational facilities, or maybe even a fun ride or two, the school could have easily turned into an amusement park. It could even start selling tickets for entry! It was where Zhang Jun was about to spend the next three years of his school life.

The school’s sports center however, barely met the standard requirements of the public high school’s sporting facilities guideline. It only had three rows of seats for spectators on one side of the field and a small podium on the other. There was no roofing or canopy to keep the sun and rain out either.

Zhang Jun took one glance at the whole field and let out a sad sigh. “Time to seriously hit the books! I’ll need good grades to get into college!”

Zhang Jun’s classroom was the eastern-most room on the second floor of the school’s main teaching building. That day, being the first day of school, a large number of parents formed a crowd outside the classrooms. His parents however, were not among them. His mom had a business to run and could not find the time to drop by. His father was nowhere to be seen as well. The man had been out of proper work for a while, but thanks to his mom’s well-to-do business, the family did not have any problems feeding themselves. They were also not on the country’s list of struggling households.

By the time Zhang Jun made his way into the classroom, there were other classmates already seated and chatting away. Zhang Jun simply picked an empty seat and dropped his backpack into it. As soon as he sat down, a young man walked into the classroom. He seemed to be in his late twenties, about 28 or 29 years old. The man walked up to the front desk and tapped the table a few times, getting the attention of the whole class and making them pipe down.

“Hello, there. I am your homeroom teacher,” the man said. He stood in front of the class with a proper, upright posture like that of a confident athlete. “My name is Liang Ke, and you may address me as Mr. Liang. I will also be in charge of gym class.” He then continued, “Now, why don’t we start with introductions? Let’s start with you there, in the first row, and continue on from there.”

One by one, the students stood up and introduced themselves. When it was Zhang Jun’s turn, he got up and said, “My name is Zhang Jun, I just transferred from Kai Ta and I love soccer.”

After the first class was over, Mr. Liang went outside to greet the parents and answer their questions. But every now and then, in between the talking, he would glance at Zhang Jun, who was sitting inside the class.