Devil’s WarmthChapters List
Chapter 12: Is it good?
Teacher Zhu placed her fingers on the keys and sang the first line of the children's song in the textbook, "There is a grapevine in front of the door...”
(T/N: pinyin - “Ā mén ā qián yī kē pútáo shù……”)*
More than sixty pairs of black eyes in the classroom looked at Pei Chuan.
In June, the old fan in the classroom was creaking while spinning, making a dull and gloomy sound. The window was half-closed, and the dreary and blazing wind coming through it carried the scorching heat of summer.
He hadn't had the strength to resist this time, and his bloodless lips moved, “There is a grapevine in front of the door…”
His voice was a little hoarse, and because he rarely spoke. He didn’t sing in a lively and clear voice as a child and sounded like an old record player, raspy and unpleasant. His articulation was not clear because of the leaky front-teeth in the baby-teeth replacement.
With Chen Hu starting to laugh, a burst of laughter broke out in the classroom.
The children covered their lips to laugh, but the sound of playing organ still continued in the classroom.
Pei Chuan bit his lip to death.
Teacher Zhu, who was still playing, instructed Pei Chuan to continue singing along, "It germinated just now with tender green..."
(T/N: pinyin - ā nèn ā nèn lǜ tā gāng fāyá)
He fell silent. The fan overhead was still spinning without a hitch. However, Pei Chuan stopped singing amid the laughter.
The heat of the body's blood rushed straight to his cheeks in shame but ended up in a kind of pallor on the cheeks.
Teacher Zhu frowned, and first scolded the children who were laughing and joking in the classroom, "Don't laugh. What's so funny about learning to sing, huh?" Then she looked at Pei Chuan, "You keep singing along with the teacher."
However, no matter how much she taught, Pei Chuan didn’t open his mouth anymore.
Following the sound of the teacher, Pei Chuan’s dark pupils fell on the musical notes in his textbook. Bei Yao saw that his fingers were trembling.
Teacher Zhu was also in a bad mood. It was like an invisible confrontation between teacher and student. It was as if not being able to get Pei Chuan to open his mouth again today would make the teacher lose his credibility.
Then the teacher's voice sang on, "The snail is carrying the heavy shell, climbing up the vine step by step."
(T/N: wōniú bēi zhe nà zhòngzhòng de ké ya, yībù yībù dì wǎng shàng pá)
Bei Yao's heart was sullen, and she was also afraid of the teacher, but she summoned up the courage to stand up. Her tender and clear voice echoed in the classroom. Then the teacher's voice sang on, "The snail is carrying the heavy shell ah, climbing up the vine step by step. There are two orioles on the tree, laughing at the snail...."
(T/N: A shù a shàng liǎng zhī huánglí niǎo, a xī a xī hāhā zài xiào tā)
She also leaked a stream of air while singing, and she was even a little out of tune.
Yet she sang very loudly. The summer sun shifted and fell on her, leaving a warm silhouette at the door of the classroom. The girl, who was singing out of tune and leaking a stream of air with it, caused even more laughter than the previous incident.
Chen Hu pounded the table, "Hahaha! Bei Yao is too funny." ‘The teacher let that legless Pei Chuan sing, not her. And even if she began to sing instead of him, she was so funny. There was barely a line in tune.’
Pei Chuan's drooping eyes slowly lifted up.
She was six years old this year. She had soft cheeks and a tender voice. He saw her little fists clenched while singing, and her face turned blushed red due to the laughter of the people. He could even see her baby teeth that hadn't been completely replaced yet.
She seemed to want to cry a little. However, her eyes dropped to meet his eyes, and the next moment her almond eyes curled up into a bright smile.
Without front teeth, her smile looked ugly.
He thought so.
But he knew that when the teacher taught everyone to sing before, Bei Yao was not out of tune.
She shared away all the laughter.
After that singing incident, Teacher Zhu also realized that it was not good. Although Pei Chuan still didn't open his mouth during the music class, she didn't let him sing alone anymore.
Pei Chuan's elementary school days were as calm as water, and people were used to seeing Pei Chuan without legs, so they didn't find it strange or weird anymore.
His tense nerves got the calmest period of the time.
The only change was that the soft and cute little girl beside him, now changed to a new hairstyle.
On a monday in the third grade, her two flower buns were gone, replaced by a small ponytail tied up at the back. It was a little more youthful and a little less childish, revealing her fair cheeks with baby fat.
Bei Yao and the little girl at the back table sat back after playing the cat’s cradle. Bei Yao heard the low, husky voice of the boy at her side, "Where's your hair tie?"
(T/N: Cat's cradle is one of the oldest games in recorded human history, and involves creating various string figures, either individually or by passing a loop of string back and forth between two or more players.)
Now that Pei Chuan occasionally spoke to her, she was filled with joy every time she heard him speak, while his heart was beating so hard that it felt like a stone.
Bei Yao touched her ponytail. Her sweet milky voice had also slowly changed a little, but her speech was still soft, "Threw it away, mommy said I can’t wear two buns in the third grade."
She happily stroked the ponytail on her head, "Does it look good now?"
The boy's thin lips were indifferent, "It's not pretty."
Bei Yao rested her chin on the table and sighed quietly. She knew that she was not as good looking as Minmin. The third-grade girl gradually began to recognize what it meant to be good-looking, and mellow.
Now her memory had stopped expanding to the first year of junior high school. In the first year, Fang Minjun was the class flower, while Bei Yao remembered herself of the first year of junior high, she still had baby fat on her cheeks by then.
As Bei Yao remembered, the road from Chaoyang Elementary School to the community began to rebuild. It was originally a narrow path, but it became even narrower as it was now piled with concrete and stones.
Children liked to stay and play on the side after school, but now they couldn't take the big road and had to take the small one.
Xiao Bei Yao was sad to discover that everything was as she remembered it. Her uncle drove and hit someone with his car, and her mother helped pay for it out of her family's pocket. Therefore, her family had been particularly poor lately.
Pei Chuan was picked up by Pei Haobin on a motorcycle, and on the way home, he saw Bei Yao carrying a school bag while walking with two little girls. All three little girls had smiles on their faces.
At this time, he was still sitting in front of Pei Haobin on the motorcycle, well-protected by him.
Pei Chuan suddenly spoke, "Dad, next time, I'll sit in the back."
"Why do you want to sit in the back? The front is safer, daddy can keep an eye on you."
The boy didn't explain much, "I'll sit in the back and hold on your clothes."
Pei Chuan knew his legs were not good, so he would exercise his arm strength under the guidance of his mother.
They arrived home just in time to see Zhao Zhilan coming out to dump the garbage.
Now that Bei Yao was walking to and from school by herself, Zhao Zhilan won't go to pick her up again.
Pei Chuan let Pei Haobin put the wheelchair down, and Pei Chuan sat in it and said, "I'll sit down here for a while."
Although Pei Haobin was surprised, he was pleased with his son's cheerful thoughts. So, he didn't think much about it, "Call for daddy when you want to go home."
Pei Chuan waited for Zhao Zhilan to finish taking out the trash and go home. After waiting in silence for a while, he drove his wheelchair towards the garbage bin.
His arms were now stronger than any other child of his age, and the wheelchair was no longer rushing around in his hands.
He clung to the bin and got a foul smell from the trash.
Pei Chuan was unaffected and expressionless. His pale fingers pulled open the black plastic bag and found a slippery green ribbon inside. He picked it out.
Why don't you wear it anymore? Will it all change when you grow up?
Pei Chuan had returned home before the children from the neighborhood returned from the school.
Jiang Wenjuan cooked the meal. Her and Pei Haobin's relationship was not salty for the past two years, and both of them were still busy with their work. However, Jiang Wenjuan was obviously in a very good mood today. She brought a bottle of beverage and sat at the dinner table before saying, "A friend I know from the hospital said that Xiao Chuan's current situation can be settled with a prosthetic leg and he has a friend who does this."
Pei Haobin frowned, "Is it reliable?"
"Of course." Jiang Wenjuan turned towards Pei Chuan with a soft expression in her eyes, "Xiao Chuan will be able to stand up soon. Is Xiao Chuan happy?"
Pei Chuan didn't say anything, but his lips curved upwards.
When Pei Haobin saw this, he didn't say anything anymore. Pei Chuan would soon be nine years old, and it was important for him to be able to take care of himself. Although currently, his son didn't seem to have any psychological issues due to his legs, it was always good to be able to stand up.
Pei Chuan took a leave of absence from the school and went to the installation unit to check.
The technician was a kind uncle. He smiled and asked, "Can Uncle check it out?"
Pei Chuan nodded while Jiang Wenjuan watched anxiously. As the warm hands touched his stumps, Pei Chuan's hands that were hidden out of their sight, tightly clenched into a fist, and it took all his willpower to not resist in letting anyone touch his stumps.
"Do you have a regular massage? It’s well protected and it’s much easier to shape your body. When you go back today, use the temporary plastic prosthetics for exercise.”
“I'll take a mold now and you can come to get your well-made prosthetic units after a while."
Jiang Wenjuan nodded her head in succession.
Pei Chuan looked at the grey color of the sky, thinking he had almost forgotten what it felt like to walk?
Prosthetic exercises were tiring, and Pei Chuan had been performing this simple and boring training all winter long.
They weren't his legs. They were cold and without any warmth.
Their color was also different from his skin. He quietly touched them. It turned out that after growing up, his legs wouldn’t grow back. They were only substitutes.
Prosthetic technology was developed in 2000 in China, and it was in line with international standards. Pei Chuan's family was considered a well-off family to afford this expense.
At first, Pei Chuan couldn't find the center of gravity and fell hard twice on the ground.
However, Pei Chuan did not cry. He held onto the bar and practiced seriously and attentively until he broke out in a sweat in winter. Jiang Wenjuan covered her mouth and wept while watching her son stumble and walk again and again.
By the time spring came, Pei Chuan could walk with his prosthetic legs.
With his pant legs down, he was no different from a normal child. Even a man like Pei Haobin shed tears on that night.
Pei Chuan looked at himself in the mirror, the prosthetic legs were made according to his proportions.
Pei Chuan suddenly realized that if he could grow up normally, he would be taller than many boys.
He curled up his lips and smiled.
When the fourth grade started, all the children in the class were shocked!
Pei Chuan could stand up. This bright and elegant boy was the same cold and unpopular boy. Bei Yao was only one year younger than him, but she was about half a head shorter than him, who was wearing prosthetic legs.
The kids didn't quite understand what a prosthetic leg was, and for Pei Chuan to stand and walk, they thought it was like a miracle in a cartoon.
The proud little lady Fang Minjun couldn't help but look at him several times with amazed eyes.
Bei Yao stared at him blankly. She was in the fourth grade now and her memory extended to the second year of junior high.
As she watched the silent and indifferent "Flower of the high mountain ridge" deskmate quietly doing his homework, she remembered a very distant memory.
(T/N: “高岭之花” - The flower of the high mountain ridge. It is used as a metaphor for things that can only be seen from a distance and cannot be touched, similar to "Unattainable”, “Lofty" and "Unreachable")
Pei Chuan had also been fitted with prosthetic legs in his last life, but later, he refused it and returned to a wheelchair.
That incident, of course, had something to do with herself.
*[Poem name is 蜗牛与黄鹂鸟 - Snail and Orioles] It tells that a snail is trying to climb up slowly on a grape vine, and two orioles laugh at it. This ballad indicates that PERSISTENCE leads to success.
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