Would You Mind If I Play? - Chapter 54 - The Worries of Youth[Updated at: 2021-01-11 03:57:30]
Chapter 54: The Worries of Youth
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The next day in school, Su Fei’s covergirl news had spread throughout the whole student body. It was in fact, faster than that time the soccer team got on the cover. This was because of three simple reasons: firstly, Su Fei was a girl; secondly, she was a really beautiful girl; and thirdly, she was well known among the students.
There was no student in the school who did not know her. The seniors knew her as the sophomore who did well in exams, had great looks, and was a cheerful, active junior. They had always thought of her as the flower of Shu Guang High. All the sophomores acknowledges her as the most beautiful girl in their year, and the one who ended the school’s “curse” of getting less and less good looking girls as the years went by. The juniors revered her as the physical embodiment of intelligence and beauty, envisioning her as either their dream girl or sister. As for the teachers, they simply liked her for excelling in her studies, and being an upright as well as outstanding student.
Su Fei was respectful towards the teachers and she got along well with other students. Not to mention, she was deeply involved in most of the school’s activities as well as events, and she was passionate about sports. She was an ideal role model, in which every student wanted to become.
After the news spread, a huge number of people from school came looking for her just to get her autograph. Being the kind and sweet girl she was, Su Fei could not find it in herself to reject them. Thus, she ended up giving her autograph to anyone who came asking for it, dilligently fulfilling each and every request. After a full day of repetitively signing her own name, she almost developed a natural reflex of signing as soon as she was presented with a pen and a piece of paper.
Once school was over, Liang Ke called her into his office. When she knocked on the door and stepped into the room, she could see that he had his strict and serious face on. Su Fei instantly knew that coach must have summoned her to talk about her sudden increase in popularity. She remembered her first year when the school team won their first match, and how the players were acting all high and mighty. The coach gave them a stern and long lecture for that. As she closed the door behind her, Su Fei was really nervous about what he might say to her. And, just as she had predicted, he went on ranting about humility as well as the importance of being humble.
“You young people shouldn’t be so proud of yourselves after gaining a little fame.”
“You still have a long way to go, so don’t forget to keep your feet on the ground, and focus on the road ahead.”
“Fame is just like smoke in the wind. When you wake up the next day, it’ll be another day.”
Su Fei could only listen and nod, replying him with “Yes sir!”, “Sir, you’re right!”, and “I’ll remember that!”, while secretly thinking, I didn’t expect things to turn out this way! I didn’t want to be signing autographs all day either! I’m sorry, but I can’t help it! I can’t just look at their smiling faces and tell them no! I’m sorry coach, but I don’t mind tiring myself so that others can be happy. Even if it means signing autographs until my wrist and fingers are all numb…
“Anyways, good job! And, keep up the good work! Getting your photo on the front page is a really big reward for all the hard work you’ve been putting in. You really did us all proud. But, don’t become full of yourself after this, you hear me? You’re still the same Su Fei we all know.” Liang Ke finally concluded his lecture. As soon as he finished, he placed a marker on a piece of paper on his desk and pushed it towards her.
“Uhh… Sir? What’s that…”
“Oh. That? Umm… Can I have your autograph? Haha…” Liang Ke replied with an awkward laugh.
Meanwhile, on the training field, Kaka was holding up a copy of High School Soccer when Zhang Jun passed him by. He was not reading the magazine, just staring at the front page. Zhang Jun stopped walking and turned around. “You’ve been staring at that for almost half an hour!”
Kaka looked up at him and said, “It’s beautiful! Su Fei’s so pretty—”
“Then, why don’t you go and ask her out!” Zhang Jun snapped before Kaka could finish.
Kaka just continued to stare at Su Fei’s picture and said, “Isn’t there a Chinese saying that goes, ‘Don’t be touching a friend’s wife’? Hoho! I do not want to become that kind of villain.”
“What do you mean?”
Kaka then turned to face him. “Stop pretending, you little bastard! You’re jealous, aren’t you? Seeing every guy getting handsy and checking out your girl on the cover of a magazine!”
“Me? Jealous? Where did you get that idea from?”
“My god! You people here are always in denial! Where I come from, we’re always honest with our feelings. If we love someone, we shout it out and tell the whole world about it. What’s wrong about loving someone? Why do you need to hide it?” Kaka stood up and put the magazine away. He then walked up to Zhang Jun and patted him on the shoulders.
“My friend, you really need to do something about your feelings. You do know that there are a lot of guys in school that like her too, right?” he said, before picking up a ball with his feet and making his way to the field.
Zhang Jun stood there in silence as he watched Kaka from behind. Kaka’s words had left him with something to think about.
Do I like Su Fei? Do I not like her? Is it really that obvious?
After hanging out with her so many times, Zhang Jun could no longer feel anything special towards her. Any other guy would have been extremely excited if they could spend some time alone with a beautiful girl like Su Fei. Even walking side by side would have been exciting. But, after the numerous times of being dragged out of bed early in the morning just to go hang out, Zhang Jun could feel nothing but irritation at the idea. From a certain perspective, it would seem that he had no idea just how lucky he was.
Having spent so much time together, their usual interactions became nothing more than an ordinary, everyday event to him. The both of them were so comfortable around each other. They understood one another so well that their feelings for each other had probably been covered by the mundane of their everyday life. Every intimate gesture and favor they did for each other had gone under the radar, disguised as something that was either natural or something expected of them.
But despite all of that, Zhang Jun noticed that there was probably more to what he felt for Su Fei than seeing her as a friend. He remembered his intense urge to kiss Su Fei that one evening when the sunset was so beautiful, it looked like a beautiful oil painting. He wondered why his heart and brain would feel and think funny every time she wrapped her arms around his? Also, he would not know what to do whenever that happened. Any other person would have returned it in kind and showed more intimacy instead, right?
“You do know that there are a lot of guys in school that like her too, right?” Kaka’s voice resounded in his head.
What was he trying to say? Does that mean, a lot of other guys like Su Fei, but they never asked her out, because they assumed that we were an item? Wait, does everybody think that we’re really that good as a couple? Is this something that everybody agreed to in secret?
If I don’t like her, why was I so worked up when I saw her on the cover? Why did I tell her that being interviewed was her prerogative, and it wasn’t my place to say anything about it even though I didn’t think that at all? ”
And let’s say, I do like her, which part of me compares to her? She’s so beautiful, not plain-looking like me. She’s so good in her studies, while my grades are just average. And she’s so kind to everyone, while I just want to pull pranks on anybody I can all day. She cares about everyone around her, unlike me. I won’t even look twice at my own female fans if they aren’t good looking…
Wait, doesn’t she care about everyone? That’s right! She’s probably just being nice to me, like she’s nice to everyone else! It’s just that I get more of it, because I just happen to live next door… ”
After that day, the whole team noticed a huge change in Zhang Jun and Su Fei. They only exchanged greetings when they passed by each other in school, instead of their usual banter. And if they happened to see each other from afar, they would choose a longer path to avoid each other. They even stopped walking home from school together!
So, word that Zhang Jun and Su Fei had “broken up” spread like wildfire from the soccer team to the rest of the school. The news caught everybody off guard, and caused huge waves among the student community. It was as if somebody had dropped a huge stone into the calm and peaceful waters of their schooling lives.
Shu Guang High was one of those schools that had a mailroom with individual mailboxes set up for each class. Each class had their own designated mailbox, where mail, both of official or personal can be dropped by anyone in school. It would then be delivered to the intended recipient in class. Su Fei held the important position of being the official class courier, so every day, she would retrieve the letters from the mailroom, and deliver them personally to the students herself. This was a responsibility that she herself really enjoyed. She loved seeing her classmates smile, and hearing them say, “Thank you” when receiving their mail, especially if it was a love letter. It was one of the few things she always liked doing. Lately, it was especially so since she had been smiling a lot less.
It was during the morning of a small break between the second and third class of the day. As usual, there were many other students in the mailroom, who were there to retrieve the class mail at this time. The mailroom was always lively at this hour of the day. Su Fei arrived to collect the mail for Year 2 Class 3 just like she always did. Her class mailbox was one of the higher ones, so it took her a little more effort to open and retrieve the mail. She opened it to retrieve the contents as always, but unlike before, a huge pile of mail burst out from the box as soon as she opened it. The letters then fell all over the place.
The staggering amount of mail that came bursting out of the class mailbox caused quite a scene and attracted everybody else’s attention. But as soon as the other students in the mailroom saw that it was Su Fei, most of them understood what was going on. They just smiled and went back to their business. Su Fei raised her eyebrows, a little shocked from the unusual sight. But, she quickly started picking up the mail one by one and she dusted them before placing them neatly in a stack. Another fellow student who was nearby also bent down and picked up the letters that fell close to him. When he handed them over to her, she said, “Thank you!” and smiled at him, captivating the good samaritan where he stood. The boy just continued to stand there as though he had been petrified with magic. His ability to think was replaced with the sole image of Su Fei’s beautiful smile and the melodious, “Thank you!” that she said to him. He would also later spend his next two classes in a daze.
Su Fei had a cute voice, and a cuter smile. It was so cute, that even an emotionally retarded idiot like Zhang Jun would also swoon when she smiled at him. While it was impossible to put a price on a priceless smile like hers, she was extremely generous in giving them away. She was a cheerful person after all. In this “smile economy”, where there was increasing demand and dwindling supply, Su Fei had not been smiling as much recently, so the smile she just gave the boy was a lot more valuable than it already was.
Su Fei cradled the big pile of letters in her small arms and headed back to class. From the mailroom, she had to go through the newspaper stand, cut across the small courtyard before the main lecture building, go up the stairs on the east to the second floor, and take a short walk west from there to get back to class. It was the same route she always took, yet today the journey back to class seemed longer than usual. Many other students were staring at her as she walked by, making her feel uncomfortable. Being the smart girl that she was, she knew exactly why they were all staring at her like that. The huge stack of letters she carried consisted of only four letters addressed to her classmates; the rest were hers. They were all love confessions and date invites from the boys in school; some with their names on it, while others were anonymous.
Su Fei was not a shy girl, unlike some girls who would turn bright red when they talked to a boy; or lower their heads as if they were guilty of a crime; or put on a soft voice like an ant, who had been starving for a month… No, she was not the kind to get embarrassed easily. If she was, then she would not have signed on to become manager of the school soccer team. The members were all boys! But, getting so many love letters at one go was a first for her, so she became a little flustered. Regardless of how confident, tough, cheerful, or impartial a young girl was, if romance suddenly came and hit them in the face, they would become nervous all the same.
After she finally reached her class, the other students expressed their amazement in unison when they saw the letters. Su Fei did her best to remain calm and she handed the four letters that were not hers to their recipients, before returning to her seat. She stared at the pile of letters before her and wondered what to do with them. The other students did not approach her and left her alone. It would have been rude to crowd around her while she was going through something like this.
While the rest of the class decided to give her some personal space to deal with the letters, there was one idiot however, who did not read the mood. He walked over to her desk. That idiot was none other than An Ke, who gathered himself before getting in front of Su Fei.
“Yo, Su Fei, I was thinking,” he said in a timid voice as he stared away blankly, trying to act all cool, “can we… this Sunday… maybe…” he continued as he turned to look at her. But, as soon as An Ke was about to complete his sentence, he stopped himself from continuing. This was not because the team manager had told him to stop, but rather it was what he saw unfolding in front of him that made him decide to abort his mission: there were tears welling up in Su Fei’s eyes!
An Ke was shocked! Making a girl cry in school, especially one that was well known and loved by the everyone was akin to signing off the agreement papers to euthanize his high school life. This would definitely throw the whole school up in arms. They would come at him with their torches and pitchforks! The whole of Shu Guang would brand him the biggest scumbag of the school and his remaining days there would bring him nothing but spit from the girls, fists from the boys, and contempt from his teammates…
“Su Fei, it’s my fault! I shouldn’t be talking about dating at a time like this! Please just stop crying! I’m begging you!” An Ke immediately started apologizing.
Su Fei suddenly looked up and asked, “Hmm? Oh, An Ke! Can I help you?”
An Ke was rooted the spot for three seconds, and in that time, his brain was running on overdrive. It was decoding the whole scenario in front of him like a highly advanced super calculator, which was solving an extremely complex mathematical problem. Even though it was more like one of those faulty ones with manufacturing defects that always showed “7” even when you pressed “1”, and it would tell you that 11=9. But, An Ke eventually figured out that Su Fei was in fact, bothered by something else and she did not hear a word he said.
Banzai! An Ke secretly celebrated the fact that his career as a high school student was safe, but he also felt a pang of disappointment as he realized that he had been completely ignored by Su Fei. He felt like he was nothing but a passing wind to her…
After all the three-second internal monologue in An Ke’s head, he laughed in a forced and awkward manner, saying, “It’s nothing, everything’s cool! Hahaha!”
“Are you sure?” Su Fei asked while looking him straight in the eye. An Ke, the scumbag was very confident in his abilities of holding his own in a staring contest with any girl. However, when it came to Su Fei, he simply could not resist the look of her innocent and pure eyes. They seemed to stare into his very soul, uncovering his every sinful desire. He could not react in any other way besides being flustered whenever she did that to him.
“No! Everything’s fine!” he said as he pointed to the mountain of letters on her desk. “Are you thinking about what to do with those?” He quickly changed the subject—a skill that he and Zhang Jun had in common.
Su Fei nodded as she furrowed her eyebrows in dejection. That damsel-in-distress look of hers was really heartbreaking for any guy to look at.
“That’s easy!” An Ke exclaimed as he suddenly produced a big rubbish bag from out of nowhere. He then started to sweep Mount Letterest into the bag.
“Wait! That’s not nice…” Su Fei was in shock.
“Come on, what’s so bad about it? An Ke snapped. “I can’t believe that all these horny rabbits seriously used a dumba** way to try to get to you. They ended up giving you so much trouble. Just let me take out the trash! That’ll be the end of it!” he continued as he continued sweeping all of the letters on Su Fei’s desk into the rubbish bag without mercy. Even the one anonymous letter he had wrote himself; that one especially.
Su Fei opened and closed her mouth a few times as she tried to say something, but she was just at a loss for words. She ended up not stopping him from collecting the last of the letters into his bag. After her desk was once again clean and tidy as it had always been, An Ke hoisted the bag over his shoulders and carried it out of the classroom like Santa Claus.
An Ke took the bag full of letters out to the school’s rubbish dump. Just as he got there, he saw the groundskeeper burning fallen leaves that he had swept off the school grounds. So, with a heave and a ho, he tossed the entire bag of letters into the fire. The plastic bag instantly melted, revealing the enormous pile of letters it was hiding inside. The flames quickly danced and licked the pieces of paper. The fire swallowed them whole and reduced them to ashes, sending all that was written into oblivion, never to be seen again.
An Ke squatted down nearby and stared at the dancing flames with a dumb expression on his face. He could still vividly recall Su Fei’s sad face and how the light reflected the sadness of the tears welling up in her eyes. This was his first time seeing the cheerful team manager looking so dejected. He thought that both her and Zhang Jun must have had a huge disagreement, and if he played his cards right, he might just finally get to date the most beautiful girl in school. What he did not expect was learning that he did not mean that much to her as he thought. What a tool! A delusional tool that really believed that he was THE player, the alpha that all the ladies wanted. But as it turned out, he was the biggest tool of all!
After making sure that the letters were all destroyed, An Ke got up and headed back to class. As he turned around, he saw Zhang Jun and Yang Pan just getting out from the pantry with two big bottles of water. They were on water duty today.
“Hmm? Hey Annie, why are you fooling around watching leaves burn? But, it’s really refreshing to see you going somewhere with no girls for a change! Hahaha!” Zhang Jun laughed.
An Ke looked at him straight in the eye and marched over to him. He then took the bottle of water away from his hand and handed it to Yang Pan, who was just next to him.
“Hey? What was that for?”
“Well,” An Ke said in an intimidating tone, “what do you think it’s for?” he continued as he grabbed Zhang Jun by the collar with both hands. His 188-cm frame towered over Zhang Jun’s 179-cm body. It looked like an eagle grabbing a chick.
“Oy! Let go of me! What do you think you’re doing!” Zhang Jun struggled. “Yang Pan! Help me!”
Yang Pan merely carried the two big bottles of water under his arms and continued walking. As he passed An Ke, he turned and said to him in a low voice, “Teach him a good lesson for me too, okay?” Yang Pan then continued to walk back to class, turning a deaf ear to Zhang Jun’s screams.
Once Yang Pan left, An Ke started bellowing at Zhang Jun in his deepest voice, “I can’t believe you have the nerve to ask me what this is about! I should be the one asking you that! Su Fei’s such a wonderful girl, yet you still don’t want her? Tell me a**hole, what more do you f*cking want?”
Zhang Jun was taken aback by the words spouted by the person who was half a head taller than him. He did not say anything to reply An Ke’s question.
“You can’t tell me? That’s because there’s absolutely nothing beyond that! Su Fei is so nice to you. It’s so obvious that everybody else can see how much she likes you! Can’t you figure it out already? You a**hole, what the f*ck are you thinking? Is she not good enough for you? Oh! So you win a few matches, scored a few goals, pulled off a hat-trick, and now you’re getting cocky, eh? Is that so? F*ck you! Who the f*ck do you think you are? Let me tell you, Zhang Jun! The next time I see you making Su Fei cry, I’ll put you in the hospital even if it means getting myself expelled!”
After he finished saying what he wanted to say, An Ke angrily released Zhang Jun’s collar, leaving behind a dumbfounded Zhang Jun behind. Zhang Jun stood there motionless for a while, still trying to wrap his head around what An Ke had said to him.
Su Fei cried? Why did she cry? What’s going on? What did I do wrong? Confused thoughts ran through Zhang Jun’s head. You think that I find Su Fei not good enough for me? No, An Ke! That’s not it at all! I’m the one not good enough for Su Fei! ”
Back in Year 2 Class 3, Su Fei was definitely not being herself; her mind was not in class. She was so out of it that she did not even hear the Math teacher calling her name three times. Only when the teacher came over and knocked on her table, did she return to her senses. Looking at her favorite student, the Math teacher did not know what to say. She just put on a dry smile and told her to pay attention in class, before asking her to sit down. Unfortunately for her, Su Fei once again zoned out not too long after sitting back down. The Math teacher decided to give up on asking her to solve Math problems that day.
“Now, let’s look at this problem. Hmm… Zhang Jun, why don’t you try to solve it .”
The Math teacher sighed. “Fine. Can we have another student solve this for the class? Anyone?”
Su Fei continued to stare outside the window. All of the green leaves on the sycamore tree had turned into a depressing shade of yellow and brown. And with every billow of the autumn wind, they would detach and dance around with the help of the breeze, before finally falling down to the ground. People used to say that all fallen leaves, returned to the plant’s roots. But, just how many of them actually did? That day, a lot of them had already been burned, along with a nice, big heap of letters…
She knew that An Ke liked her; Kaka too, as well as many other guys in school. Nonetheless, they never asked her out, simply because of Zhang Jun. And she too, never considered dating any other guy, because of Zhang Jun. But now, she was wondering if it was worth it? Just because she was so deeply in love with someone who did not even know how she felt, she had to let go of so many other guys. Was it worth it? It had already been one year since they first met each other, but he had not even made his move. There were no romantic gestures, no sweeping her off her feet. Every day, it was only training, matches, and a seemingly endless pile of dirty laundry. They rarely even had a proper date! When they did go out—just the two of them—they would run into opponents, enemies and other friends… One year, and not one movie date, no strolling through the park, no enjoying a cup of coffee at a cafe, and not even one sweet, corny, or romantic line. Was it worth it? It had been more than a year already! How much longer did she have to be on this one way street?
As she continued to watch the leaves fall right outside the classroom window, she realized that autumn had arrived once again. Su Fei sighed, wondering if her first love was about to wither away, just like the leaves that flew away with the wind. While she did that, another person at the back of the class also looked out the window and sighed.