There Is No One Like YouChapters List
Chapter 6: A Pearl of Surprise
During the two days of monthly exams, it rained in Pingcheng, and the temperature dropped dramatically. The night before, Ruan Mian had forgotten to close the window while sleeping, and the next morning, she woke up with a slightly dry and sore throat.
Fang Ruqing and Zhao Yingwei went out early in the morning. Unable to find cold medicine at home, Ruan Mian popped two throat lozenges and went straight to school.
Class 1's classroom had been transformed into an exam room, with only 30 desks occupying the vast space, while the rest were stacked at the back of the classroom.
Ruan Mian found her desk and sat down. Not long after, Zhou Hai entered and announced that the morning reading session was normal, instructing students without seats to squeeze with those who had them.
Meng Xinglan immediately grabbed a stool and sat next to Ruan Mian.
By then, the classroom was already quite crowded. Ruan Mian looked around but couldn't spot Chen Yi, which made her sigh.
Since the Friday evening when Ruan Mian had encountered Chen Yi at Li's supermarket, she had spent the entire weekend self-criticizing, feeling that she had lost her composure when facing him, let alone the contemptuous and indifferent look he gave her, which left her feeling uneasy for a long time.
Thinking about this, she couldn't help but sigh again.
Meng Xinglan, who was reading quietly at the side, paid some attention to her amidst the rapid reading and asked, "What's wrong? Why so down in the dumps early in the morning?"
"Nothing." Ruan Mian scratched her cheek. "It's just that my Chinese isn't good, and the first exam is in this subject, so I'm a bit nervous."
Meng Xinglan chuckled and comforted her, "Don't worry, our Chinese teacher is easygoing. Even if you don't pass, he'll probably just make you attend an extra Chinese class for a week. He won't be harsh, so relax."
Ruan Mian pursed her lips, wanting to say something but hesitating. "..."
Meng Xinglan found her reaction amusing and burst into laughter, leaning on the table. "Oh, I can't take it anymore. Ruan Mian, why are you so adorable?"
But even in such a situation, Ruan Mian couldn't bring herself to smile when being complimented for her cuteness for the first time.
At that moment, she caught a glimpse of someone at the door and quickly straightened up, reminding, "Teacher Zhou is here."
Meng Xinglan immediately stopped laughing and picked up her book, reading aloud loudly.
Pretending quite convincingly.
Zhou Hai roamed around the classroom, engaging in conversations with other teachers in the corridor, until it was nearly time to conclude the morning reading session. He then entered the room to briefly discuss the upcoming exam.
During this time, Ruan Mian took another look around the classroom and spotted Chen Yi sitting amidst the crowd near the door.
He wasn't wearing the school uniform today but a pure white hoodie with a small string of black letters that she couldn't make out on the chest. His naturally fair skin already had a cold texture, and with that outfit, he seemed even more aloof.
Ruan Mian had never seen a guy paler than him.
She averted her gaze, and as Zhou Hai finished speaking, the classroom erupted into a noisy commotion.
Those from the same exam hall walked out of the classroom together, while those from different halls, like Ruan Mian and Meng Xinglan, separated at the bottom of the teaching building.
Classroom 46 was in the multimedia room of the political education building, and most of the students in the same exam hall were from regular classes, with Ruan Mian being the only one from an elite class.
The invigilator scrutinized her name on the list, taking an extra glance, seemingly puzzled about how she, a top student in a key class, ended up in this exam hall.
Ruan Mian pretended not to notice and took the test paper passed to her by the previous student. Hastily scanning it, she began writing as the bell rang.
The morning Chinese exam ended, and the school didn't enforce any strict rules for lunch break. Ruan Mian had her meal outside the school and went home for a nap.
Upon waking up, her sore throat had developed into a headache and fever. On her way to school, she visited a pharmacy and, on her way out, saw Chen Yi and Jiang Rang and a few others coming out of a nearby milk tea shop.
The boys were chatting and laughing, and the girls among them each held a cup of milk tea, their eyes filled with joy.
Ruan Mian stood by the roadside, and a gust of wind from the alley made her cough a few times. The cold air rushed into her throat, leaving her flushed.
The two days of exams passed in the blink of an eye. Originally, the next day was the National Day holiday, but unfortunately, during that time, a viral cold was rampant in Pingcheng. Ruan Mian was unfortunate enough to catch it and spent the entire holiday in the hospital.
On the last day of the break, Meng Xinglan learned about Ruan Mian's illness and insisted on coming to visit her.
Ruan Mian remembered her agreement with Zhao Shutang when school started and didn't invite her home. Instead, she met Meng Xinglan near her house at a hotpot restaurant.
As soon as the holiday started, Meng Xinglan had traveled with her parents to a coastal city down south. When she came back, she brought some local specialties for Ruan Mian.
After exchanging pleasantries and giving her regards, Meng Xinglan extended her hand in a show-off manner, "I got a new manicure, do you like it?"
Her fingers were fair and slender, with full and round nails painted with a pale pink nail polish, adorned with pearls and small polka dots, looking playful and cute.
Ruan Mian nodded and genuinely praised, "It looks great."
Meng Xinglan withdrew her hand, smiling, "This shop is just downstairs from my house. If you like it, I'll take you there next time."
Ruan Mian agreed.
After finishing the hotpot, Meng Xinglan didn't rush home and instead took Ruan Mian to a milk tea shop by the roadside. They each ordered a cup of pearl milk tea and sat chatting.
They talked about the cultural and geographical aspects of the coastal city and the recent monthly exams. Suddenly, Meng Xinglan remembered something and quickly swallowed the pearl in her mouth, "Oh yeah, I heard from Jiang Rang that after this month's exam, Mr. Zhou is planning to rearrange the seating in our class."
Ruan Mian was caught off guard, and a pearl got stuck in her throat. She coughed heavily a few times before regaining her composure, "Rearrange the seating?"
"Yes, that's right. Mr. Zhou intends to reassign seats based on the exam results. According to his practice from last year, it's like a helping-the-weak system, pairing the first and the last, the second and the second-to-last, and so on."
For Ruan Mian, this was undoubtedly a bolt from the blue. She was stunned for a good half a minute before finding her voice, "I wonder who my new desk mate will be."
"Don't worry about it. Whoever it is, they'll definitely be better than that guy Chen Yi." Meng Xinglan used to sit in front of Ruan Mian, and in this past month, she rarely witnessed any interactions between Ruan Mian and Chen Yi.
She had preconceived notions that Chen Yi didn't like her, so naturally, she hoped for a new desk mate who would genuinely treat her well.
But what Meng Xinglan didn't know was that, for Ruan Mian, even being disliked was still much better than not having him.
Ruan Mian and Meng Xinglan stayed outside until it was dark. When they had to part ways, Meng Xinglan took a bus home, sitting by the window and waving at her, "See you tomorrow!"
She waved back twice, "Yeah, see you tomorrow."
As the bus's door closed, its lights gradually faded away into the colorful neon lights, becoming blurry and eventually disappearing from sight.
Ruan Mian still had the various specialties that Meng Xinglan had given her - coconut powder, coconut cakes, coconut biscuits, and a series of coconut-derived foods.
She turned around and walked toward the alley, passing by Li's supermarket. Li Zhi was standing inside, and when he looked up and saw her looking lost, he called out, "Ruan Mian."
Ruan Mian snapped out of it and walked into the store, "Li Zhi."
"Yeah," Li Zhi looked at her, "What are you doing?"
"Just came back from having dinner with a friend," Ruan Mian took out two boxes of pastries from her bag and handed them to him, "My friend gave me these specialties. You should try them."
Li Zhi declined and gestured to the side, "It's funny, my friend just gave me some specialties too. Keep these and enjoy them yourself."
Ruan Mian looked over to the counter beside her and saw another paper bag exactly the same as the one in her hand. She withdrew her hand.
Li Zhi pointed to the edge of the glass counter, "By the way, there's this friend of mine, Chen Yi. You know him too, right? Have you met him before?"
Ruan Mian said she did and added, "We're classmates."
"Not just classmates, right?" Li Zhi smiled, "He told me you were desk mates."
Ruan Mian didn't know how Chen Yi had described her to Li Zhi, but it probably wasn't a good impression. After all, she was sensitive and reserved, hardly speaking much in general.
She glanced away, her voice faint, "We used to be desk mates, but not anymore."
Li Zhi chuckled, "Why? Did he bully you?"
Ruan Mian didn't know where Li Zhi got that idea from and quickly denied it, "No, it's just that the teacher is rearranging seats based on our grades."
After a brief conversation, Ruan Mian received a call from Fang Ruqing. While talking, she gestured to Li Zhi that she had to head home.
Li Zhi nodded, silently mouthing, "Goodbye."
Ruan Mian took the call and walked out. Li Zhi watched her figure, lost in thought.
When Ruan Mian got home, Fang Ruqing was in the kitchen helping Duan Ying. Hearing the sound of the door opening, she walked out, "Why are you back so late? Didn't you say you'd come back earlier?"
"Lost track of time." Ruan Mian changed her shoes and handed the bag in her hand to Fang Ruqing, "Specialties from a friend."
Fang Ruqing took the bag and asked her a few questions before heading to the living room, "Shuyang, look at what your sister brought for you."
Kids at this age love fun and snacks, and the specialties were already packaged in peculiar shapes, making them even more enticing. Zhao Shuyang opened several packages in a row but ended up taking just one bite from each and abandoning the rest.
Ruan Mian walked over and saw the pastries he carelessly left on the table. Her lips moved, meeting Fang Ruqing's gaze, but ultimately, she said nothing.
After dinner, Ruan Mian returned to her room to read. As usual, she waited until there were no more sounds outside before changing her clothes to go downstairs to freshen up.
The wind picked up again outside, accompanied by autumn rain splashing against the windows, creating a steady patter. Ruan Mian was awakened by the noise and checked her phone; it was just past four.
She rolled over, wrapped in her blanket, closed her eyes, and listened to the sound of the rain outside. However, there was no trace of sleepiness, and she remained awake until dawn.
Ruan Mian woke up earlier than usual and ran into Fang Ruqing in the kitchen preparing breakfast. She didn't approach and went straight into the bathroom.
After finishing her morning routine, she came out to find Fang Ruqing waiting outside with a paper bag she had brought back last night. "I left some for you. Take it to your room."
Ruan Mian declined, but Fang Ruqing handed her the bag and walked towards the kitchen. "Eat breakfast before going to school. I made the century egg and pork congee that you like."
Due to the sudden financial crisis that year, Fang Ruqing and Zhao Yingwei's foreign trade company suffered significant impacts and had been laying off a large number of employees. In order to retain her job, Fang Ruqing worked late into the night every day.
Seeing her mother visibly losing weight, Ruan Mian couldn't bear to refuse.
After breakfast, Ruan Mian, as usual, headed to school alone. When she arrived at the classroom, everything was back to normal, with the seats arranged in the same order as before the exams.
But Ruan Mian was well aware that it wouldn't be the same for long.
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