Devil’s WarmthChapters List
Chapter 6: But I'm Short
The August sunset shone warmly on Bei Yao as she spread out her small hand to show the chocolates to Zhao Zhilan.
Five chocolates were lying on her palm, and Zhao Zhilan picked them up and took a look before saying, “These chocolates given by that kid are not cheap.”
The five red wrapped chocolates were from “Kaisiling” that were produced in T City.
There was nothing particularly good about it but children would be very happy by getting a candy, let alone this brand of chocolate. When Zhao Zhilan married Bei Licai, the Bei family was still in debt. Although Bei Yao was not lacking in comparison to other children since birth, however, she seldom bought these small snacks for Bei Yao.
A piece of Kaisiling costs two yuan, thus these five chocolates cost ten yuan in total.
Bei Yao recalled, when she was in the third grade in her past life, ten yuan was also a huge sum of money. Therefore, she was anxious to take Pei Chuan’s money. Zhao Zhilan looked at her daughter’s simple and lovely appearance, and her heart softened, “Since it has been received, just take it. In the future when mother would make something delicious, then you get some for Xiao Chuan.”
Bei Yao nodded vigorously and smiled, “Momma eat.”
“You take it, mommy doesn’t eat sweets.”
“Then give it to Daddy.”
“Daddy doesn’t like them either.”
The chocolate added blissful expressions on Bei Yao’s face. As she bit down with her two rows of small white teeth, the chocolate melted in her mouth and her eyes lit up with a fine glow.
Bei Yao only ate one piece but didn’t have the heart to eat the rest. She hid them in her drawer, intending to take it out when she had a craving.
In a blink of an eye, it was the middle of August. On August 17, it was Bei Yao’s fourth birthday. Her birthday was a humble one; a packet of candy with eggs in syrup, after which she still went to kindergarten.
As the children sang her a birthday song in their immature voice, Bei Yao looked at the vacant seat in the corner and felt somewhat depressed.
Suddenly Xiang Tongtong said, “I’m going to go to pre-school this year.”
Several of the younger ones looked at her with envy.
Chen Hu was older and came earlier to kindergarten. He was one of the kids who would be going to pre-school to learn this year. He asked Fang Minjun, “Minmin, are you going?”
Fang Minjun shook her head, “I’m not going, mom said I’m still young.”
Chen Hu said, “That little dumb boy is going too, I’ll make sure to beat him up!” He followed his father’s example and roughly swung his fist. To be bitten like that by a child without legs, was both a shadow and a shame in Chen Hu’s heart. He had to get his revenge!
Bei Yao looked at humpty-dumpty Chen Hu and frowned.
She knew that she had to go to kindergarten for another year as she had been in one year lower session than Pei Chuan. But if Pei Chuan had other existences like Chen Hu in his class, would Pei Chuan have no friends?
Back home, Bei Yao asked Zhao Zhilan, “Can I have a birthday wish mom?”
Zhao Zhilan looked at Bei Yao’s bright and clear eyes thinking that lately, she had been really well-behaved. As she reached the age of four, this child had suddenly become much more obedient and sensible. Zhao Zhilan asked Bei Yao to talk about it.
“I want to go to preschool.”
Zhao Zhilan rejected it without even thinking about it, “No, you just turned four, you have to be five before you can go. You can’t think of flying before you learn to walk. Those brothers and sisters are there to learn to write. You can play games with the other kids if you stay in kindergarten.”
“I don’t play.” Bei Yao seriously said, “I’ll go to learn to write.”
Hearing her, Zhao Zhilan didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Her daughter was a little dull, and her reaction was slower than her peers. The teacher said that if other children would learn a children’s rhymes by singing it three times, then her Yaoyao had to repeat it five times. And if singing five times didn’t work. she would sing it ten times slowly by herself.
Bei Yao said she wanted to go to preschool, but Zhao Zhilan only took it as a joke. This was an important matter concerning the child’s life so she couldn’t let Bei Yao mess around. Bei Yao would not be able to keep up after losing the starting line.
Bei Yao was not discouraged by the rejection. She went back to her room and came out again at dinner time to show her parents her little Tian Zi Ge notebook.
At the sight of it, Zhao Zhilan looked completely confused.
Bei Yao opened the notebook. The left and right sides of the page were full, and a row of Chinese characters like “big”, “small”, “more” and “less” were written on the paper.
Bei Yao’s handwriting was small. Her characters didn’t even take up one-half of the Tian Zi grid, yet each stroke was written very seriously.
On the right were the additions, “1+1, 1+2”. Although it only added up to five, Zhao Zhilan was already impressed. In those years, kindergarten was like a large nursery school where at most, a group of children would sing a nursery rhyme together. Usually, it was only when you entered preschool that you would formally start to learn something of knowledge. And you would formally start to learn the 9*9 multiplication table in the first grade.
Bei Yao looked at her mother nervously.
Zhao Zhilan asked her, “How did you learn all this?”
Bei Yao’s heart thumped before she said, “It was on the kindergarten wall.”
Zhao Zhilan hadn’t spoken yet, but Bei Licai laughed and said, “My family’s Yaoyao is still a little genius!”
Bei Yao knew that her father’s mind was not as keen as her mother’s. She had the memory of third grade, so writing Chinese characters and the addition was not a problem. However, she only dared to pick something simple, in case Zhao Zhilan suspected.
Zhao Zhilan thought for a while before asking, “How much is two plus two?”
Bei Yao was a little guilty. She bowed her head and made a few counting movements with her little hands. After a while, she raised four fingers.
Zhao Zhilan looked at the fingers raised by her daughter and gave a hard kiss on Bei Yao’s soft cheek!
Zhao Zhilan finally had the day when she could defeat Zhao Xiu. Thinking this, she proudly raised her eyebrows and exhaled!
“Let’s sign up for preschool. Mommy will go see the teacher tomorrow!”
Bei Yao curled her almond eyes and smiled brightly.
At the time, when the wild chrysanthemums on the side of the road began to sprout their little buds, September came quietly.
In the past, it used to rain every year when school started in C city during this time.
September 1st, 1996, this day was also no exception. Pei Chuan watched the road surface get wet instantly, and put his pale fingers on the wheelchair, thinking about something unknown.
Jiang Wenjuan was afraid of her child getting wet, so she put on his raincoat.
For the first time after the accident, Jiang Wenjuan spoke to her husband calmly the night before. She was particularly worried about Pei Chuan attending preschool.
Since Pei Chuan’s legs were cut off, Jiang Wenjuan was often awakened by the blurred images of blood and flesh in her dreams, and these repeated sights became a nightmare to torment a mother. How could her reticent husband be pleasing to Jiang Wenjuan’s eyes after the incident!
However, the child had to rely on Pei Haobin to look for connections in the school.
There was no special education school near their home as the country had not yet established such a school. Jiang Wenjuan was even afraid that if her child would go to such a school, it would give Pei Chuan a lifelong special status of being a handicap.
The Chaoyang Primary School in City C had two preschool classes, Preschool I and II. The Chinese teacher of the preschool class I happened to be Pei Haobin’s junior high school classmate, surnamed Yu. Teacher Yu got to know about Pei Chuan’s special situation from early this morning, and she immediately agreed when Pei Haobin asked her to take care of Pei Chuan.
Chaoyang Elementary School was on a 15 minutes walk from the community. Pei Haobin started the motorcycle and motioned Jiang Wenjuan to pick up the child.
The wheelchair was tied to the back of the motorcycle with a leather strap, and Pei Chuan was seated in front of Pei Haobin on the motorcycle.
Pei Haobin carefully guarded his son, and deliberately adopted a brisk tone as he said, “Let’s go.”
Pei Chuan gripped the metal bar on the front of the motorcycle, and a slight smile appeared on his lips.
When he lost sight of her mother in the light rain, Pei Chuan finally lost his expression. Behind him was his father’s broad chest. Pei Haobin rode very slowly. The raindrops rarely hit Pei Chuan’s face. Pei Chuan watched the rain curtain; he knew he was about to go to a new environment.
He didn’t want to go, but he knew he had to go.
Mom was finally willing to talk to Dad because of this preschool thing. He wanted a complete and normal home, even if his body was no longer whole.
Pei Chuan gripped the metal bar hard.
On the way to school on the opening day, many elementary school children carried their school bags, and curiously looked at Pei Haobin's Motorcycle.
The engine was very loud.
Pei Haobin bought this motorcycle when Pei Chuan was three years old. At that time, Pei Chuan was so excited that sitting on it, he felt like a cool little superman. Thereupon, everyone around him looked at him enviously. However, now that he was riding on this bike again, once envious gazes became odd. Noticing this, Pei Chuan sagged gloomily and sadly lowered his eyes.
On the way, Pei Chuan looked at countless childish faces. All were as vibrant as the name of the school, Chaoyang Elementary School. The children were full of vigor and hope for their future.
Pei Haobin sent him to the door of Teacher Yu’s office, and Pei Chuan sat in his wheelchair.
A water bottle was hanging next to the wheelchair, which was a cold water bottle that Jiang Wenjuan gave to Pei Chuan to drink when he was thirsty.
The summer in September has not passed, and the sycamore trees at the Chaoyang Elementary School were lush and green.
The gentle female Chinese teacher, Yu Qian, reached out her hand to him and said “Hello Xiao Pei Chuan. I am teacher Yu, a friend of your father. I will teach you and take good care of you in the future.”
Pei Chuan held Teacher Yu’s hand with his cold and pale fingers before showing a polite smile.
He still didn’t like to speak to people he wasn’t close to.
Teacher Yu had already understood Pei Chuan’s situation, so she said to Pei Haobin, “You go to work, I will take good care of the child.”
Pei Haobin left, and Teacher Yu said to Pei Chuan, “If you want to go to the bathroom, raise your hand and tell the teacher, okay?”
Pei Chuan’s pupils were dark, and he silently looked at Yu Qian for a while before nodding his head.
“Preschool is full of new kids, maybe you’ll meet the kids from the same class in the previous kindergarten ah.”
Pei Chuan twitched the corner of his mouth cooperatively, but his eyes were still cold.
He didn’t want to see anyone from the past.
As the sun slowly rose, and the rain gradually stopped, Teacher Yu pushed Pei Chuan towards the classroom.
As soon as they entered the classroom, the children looked over with curiosity.
The little sprout beans dressed in colorful clothes sat in the classroom. Some of the children were neat while some had snot hanging from their noses. Teacher Yu smiled kindly and placed Pei Chuan in front of the first row of windows beside the lectern.
Chen Hu was sitting at the back and was playing with Li Da. When he saw the teacher pushing Pei Chuan in, his eyes widened.
‘Hooray! It’s really the same class!’
Yu Qian interacted with the students, “You’ve already met me yesterday when you came to register. I’m Teacher Yu. Teacher Yu will first adjust the seats for you according to your height. Okay?”
The kids said in unison, “Yes!”
“Then, everyone stands up now and we’ll compare heights. The short children will sit in the front, and the tall children will sit in the back for now.”
The children were very obedient, however, it was very difficult to get them to compare their own height with the taller ones. Therefore, Teacher Yu and another male teacher, Mr. Zheng, who taught Math, helped to compare their height and adjust their seats.
Teacher Yu frowned as she noticed that a few kids were absent from her class.
It’s raining today, so some of the kids from distant places were estimated to be late. However, they could only adjust the seats for the time being.
Teacher Zheng asked the children in a low voice, “There are exactly 58 kids in the class. Two people will sit on a table. Who would like to sit with Pei Chuan?”
Teacher Yu also froze.
However, she soon recovered and asked the children with a smile, “Pei Chuan has an injured leg and needs everyone’s love and care. Which brave and kind child would sit at the first table with him?”
Pei Chuan’s pupils shrank imperceptibly.
The children in the classroom looked at each other, and then at Pei Chuan, who was sitting in a wheelchair and empty below the knees.
A few children looked at the teacher, and hesitantly raised their hands.
Teacher Yu was satisfied and asked Pei Chuan, “Which child does Xiao Chuan want to sit with?”
Pei Chuan’s eyes swept over them one by one.
He didn’t like to smile, and there was no glow in his eyes. His eyes were like a dark, damp place where the sun didn’t want to shine. Wherever his gaze swept over, some kids that were not firm, slowly let go and dropped down their hands.
The two teachers looked at each other awkwardly. After a while, Mr. Zheng said, “You all sit down first. We will decide later as there are still a few kids who haven’t come.”
After the children sat down one after another, Chen Hu looked to his left and right and began to whisper about Pei Chuan peeing his pants and biting people in the kindergarten. The children had surprised expressions on their faces, and all eyes crept over to the lone first table.
Pei Chuan clenched his fists, and his eyes fell on the tall sycamore tree outside the window.
The rain had stopped, and the rain drops left on the leaves slipped downwards. Pei Chuan sat in the backlit area. His lips were a little dry and cracked, but he did not move the water mug he brought with him.
Drinking water will make you want to pee.
A girl came late whose hair was tied in two flower buns with pink ribbons. Her little hair buns were wet from the rain. She stood at the door and shouted a report in a clear voice.
Teacher Yu looked over and found that this was the youngest child in the class.
It was a fifteen minutes walk for a half-grown child, but with Bei Yao’s short legs, she had to walk for twenty-five minutes. It was raining, so Zhao Zhilan had to carry Bei Yao for some distance, but when she could no longer carry her, she had to walk by herself again.
She hurried over but was still ten minutes late.
Pei Chuan stiffened his body and didn’t look back.
Teacher Yu said, “Xiao Bei Yao, there are still three seats left in the classroom. You can choose one to sit down.”
Bei Yao walked towards Pei Chuan.
She sat down beside him with the warmth of the sun after the rain outside.
Pei Chuan said, “Go away.”
He spoke to her for the first time, and that too to tell her to go away in his icy voice.
Pei Chuan thought to himself, who wants her pity, huh. It’s better to stay away from him.
Bei Yao’s almond eyes were extremely aggrieved as she said, “But I’m short.”
If the small one sat in the back, then she wouldn’t be able to see.
“....... “ Pei Chuan looked away silently.
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