There Is No One Like YouChapters List
Chapter 4: She Is My Desk Mate
September 1st was the official start of school for Eighth Middle School. The first-year students, who had just finished their military training, replaced their cheap military uniforms with rigid school uniforms. They stood together with the senior students on the playground, listening to the school leaders' speech.
The entire grade wore uniforms in the same color—blinding white and elegantly light blue—mingling like a tranquil sea.
The flag-raising platform divided the playground, with the second-year liberal arts and the first-year students on the right and the second-year science and the third-year graduates on the left.
Ruan Mian stood amid the female students of Class 1, Science stream.
The September heat had not dissipated, and the 9 o'clock sun was making everyone drowsy. Ruan Mian kept her eyes closed, feeling the warmth of the sun through her eyelids. Suddenly, a slight weight fell on her shoulder, pushing her forward unprepared.
Meng Xinglan, leaning against her shoulder, also moved forward. Her voice sounded sleepy and impatient, "How much longer are they going to talk? I really want to go back to sleep..."
"It should be ending soon," Ruan Mian replied.
Meng Xinglan yawned and straightened up, looking somewhat impatient. Ruan Mian reached into her pocket and found a White Rabbit milk candy.
"Want some candy?" She turned her head and offered it to her, glancing quickly at the end of the boys' line.
Chen Yi and Jiang Rang were talking, laughing with dazzling charm.
Meng Xinglan didn't notice Ruan Mian's small gesture, so she took the candy, opened it, and put it in her mouth. Before she could finish chewing, she heard the dean, Wu Yan, announce the end of the opening ceremony. She couldn't help but stretch her arms lazily, dragging out her voice, "Finally over."
Though they were supposed to leave in class order, it ended up in chaos. The crowd dispersed in four directions, heading out.
Meng Xinglan linked arms with Ruan Mian, heading toward the nearest east gate. "What's the next class?"
"Seems like it's chemistry, but I didn't pay much attention," Ruan Mian replied. As they got closer to the exit, the flow of people slowed down. The hot weather made Ruan Mian wipe the sweat from her nose.
Moving slowly, they finally left the playground and went to the school's mini supermarket. "What do you want to eat? My treat," Meng Xinglan said.
Ruan Mian politely only took a bottle of water.
Meng Xinglan: "..."
The supermarket was crowded, and when it was time to pay, Ruan Mian went outside to wait for Meng Xinglan. The campus was filled with the gentle sound of old songs.
As the song was about to end, Meng Xinglan finally came out of the supermarket, carrying a black plastic bag in her right hand and two ice creams in her left.
She approached Ruan Mian and handed her one, saying, "Here, Chen Yi treated me."
"Huh?" Ruan Mian's fingertips felt the chilling touch of the ice cream packaging, and her heart pounded loudly. "What happened?"
"I ran into him in there just now," Meng Xinglan said, but before she could finish, Chen Yi and the others walked out of the supermarket.
Ruan Mian instinctively tightened her grip on the ice cream, almost crushing it in her hand.
Chen Yi didn't look their way. He had his arm around Jiang Rang's shoulder as they descended a few steps.
Instead, the boy at the back, wearing thin-framed glasses, stopped and glanced over. His voice was as warm as jade, "Meng Xinglan, aren't you leaving?"
"Wait, you go ahead," Meng Xinglan said, her mouth full of ice cream, her teeth trembling from the cold, making her words slurred.
Liang Yiran didn't say much and instructed, "Have lunch with us later."
The four of them descended the steps one by one until they were far enough away not to be seen. Only then did Ruan Mian break free from the unsettling feeling of her heart pounding. "Let's go."
On their way back to the classroom, Meng Xinglan explained to Ruan Mian, "The bespectacled guy just now is Liang Yiran from Class 1 of the liberal arts. We've been neighbors and known each other for many years."
"Childhood friends?" Ruan Mian asked.
"Something like that," Meng Xinglan explained in more detail. "He and Chen Yi were classmates in their freshman year, along with another guy named Shen Yu. Shen Yu was the one standing at the bottom just now, and he's in the class next to ours now. Liang Yiran, Jiang Rang, Chen Yi, and Shen Yu were the four best friends back in their freshman year, and I guess they still are now."
Ruan Mian hadn't expected such a connection among them, and for a moment, she was surprised and had nothing else to say.
Meng Xinglan waggled the bag in her hand. "Will you have lunch with me? Since you're sitting with Chen Yi now, you'll get to know him sooner or later."
"No, I have something to discuss about a competition with Teacher Zhou at noon."
"Oh, okay," Meng Xinglan's hand accidentally brushed against the ice cream in Ruan Mian's hand, reminding her, "If you don't eat it now, it'll melt soon."
Ruan Mian came to her senses, opened the packaging, and looked inside. Although it hadn't completely melted, she wouldn't be able to finish it in a few bites. She carefully took out the remaining part and took a bite.
It was both cold and sweet.
Like a refreshing evening breeze in the peak of summer, leaving one wanting more.
During the time when Ruan Mian and Chen Yi were desk mates, they didn't communicate much. Ruan Mian held back, while Chen Yi didn't seem to care.
Before the National Day, the school organized a monthly exam, and the test rooms were assigned based on the final scores from their first year.
Ruan Mian was a transfer student, and she was not ranked at Eighth Middle School. Zhou Hai had reported her initial test scores when she first enrolled.
On Friday afternoon during biology class, Zhou Hai entered the classroom with a class roster in hand. "Class leader, please post this at the back of the classroom."
A girl sitting in the front row stood up, took the class roster, and walked straight to the back of the classroom with a roll of tape.
Meanwhile, Zhou Hai opened the folder next to him and spoke gently, "This upcoming monthly exam will be your first formal test since starting school. I hope everyone will do their best and not let our science class down."
"Also, after the National Day, we will have the school sports meet. Even though we are in a key class, we still value an all-around development of virtue, intelligence, physical fitness, aesthetics, and labor skills. So, I hope everyone will actively sign up." Zhou Hai picked up a stack of sign-up forms. "Here, Sports Committee member, take this and distribute it to your classmates."
Class monitor Fu Guangsi had just finished posting the class roster but was immediately approached by Sports Committee member Lin Chuan to help distribute the sign-up forms.
Ruan Mian received a sign-up form and quickly scanned through it. Finally, she wrote her name after the 50-meter sprint and 3,000-meter long-distance run events.
Meng Xinglan turned around and asked, "Mianmian, what did you sign up for?"
Ruan Mian: "The 50-meter sprint and the 3,000-meter run."
Meng Xinglan: "..."
At the same time, a sudden and urgent cough sounded next to Ruan Mian. Both she and Meng Xinglan looked up to see Chen Yi calmly wiping off the water droplets from his lips, screwing the bottle cap back on, pretending as if nothing happened.
Although Meng Xinglan had some interaction with him, their relationship wasn't deep. When Liang Yiran wasn't around, she didn't dare to joke around with Chen Yi.
Now, she also acted as if nothing happened, quietly shifting her gaze away. After checking Ruan Mian's sign-up form, Meng Xinglan found it a bit difficult to put into words, "3,000-meter run, you're really fierce."
Ruan Mian smiled, "It's not that bad. I've run even longer distances before."
Meng Xinglan couldn't say anything and simply gave her a thumbs-up.
Ruan Mian didn't say much more and caught a glimpse of the water droplets left on the corner of Chen Yi's desk, which made her smile even more.
After class, Meng Xinglan pulled Ruan Mian to the back of the classroom to check the exam rooms.
Ruan Mian's combined scores from the four subjects placed her near the bottom in Class 1 and far behind in the whole school, ranking at number 46 for the exam room allocation. Compared to the students in key classes, she was towards the back.
However, she didn't pay much attention to it. After looking at Meng Xinglan's exam seat number, her gaze continued upwards, finally settling on the top row.
In that row, apart from the name "Chen Yi," everything else—exam number, exam room, and seat number—was all the number 1.
The difference between Exam Room 1 and Exam Room 46 was not negligible. Ruan Mian let out a silent sigh in her heart.
It was the last Friday of September. As customary in Eighth Middle School, there were no self-study classes on the last Friday of the month. After school, Ruan Mian participated in the cleaning, and then Meng Xinglan took her to find the location of the exam rooms.
Meng Xinglan and Chen Yi were in Exam Room 1, quite far from Ruan Mian's Exam Room 46, even in different teaching buildings.
After checking the exam rooms, the two went outside the school to have dinner.
Meng Xinglan didn't live in this area, but it wasn't too far away. From the nearby Pingjiang West Lane station, it was only two stops by bus.
After dinner, Ruan Mian waited until Meng Xinglan got on the bus before turning to walk down the lane. Passing by Li's supermarket, she went inside and bought two pens.
Today, Li Zhi was at the store. Ruan Mian hadn't seen him for a while. Before school started, she could see him in the store almost five days a week for about a week.
After settling the payment, Li Zhi noticed her school uniform and struck up a conversation, "Are you also from Eighth Middle School?"
"Yes, I just transferred here this semester," Ruan Mian stood by the counter, playing with the coins she just got back.
"Second year?" Li Zhi asked.
Ruan Mian nodded.
Li Zhi said, "Oh," then asked, "Studying liberal arts?"
"No, I'm studying science."
Li Zhi smiled and said, "What a coincidence, I have a friend in Eighth Middle School's second-year science class."
Ruan Mian guessed he must be talking about Chen Yi, blinked, and didn't tell the truth. "Is that so? It's quite a coincidence."
Someone else came in to make a purchase, and Li Zhi stopped the conversation, "I'll introduce you two sometime."
"Okay," Ruan Mian picked up her things. "You're busy, I'll head back first."
As Ruan Mian hadn't gone far, Chen Yi entered the store shortly after. Li Zhi suddenly remembered that Ruan Mian and Chen Yi should have met before, more than a month ago, on that night.
She had mistakenly wandered to the entrance of the internet café and accidentally ordered twenty lamb skewers, thinking he was a barbecue vendor.
At this thought, Li Zhi chuckled to himself, collected the money on the counter, and looked up at Chen Yi. "How come you're here?"
Chen Yi raised an eyebrow and smiled. "Shouldn't I be asking you that? Why did you come back at this time? Skipping class or skipping school?"
"Neither," Li Zhi corrected, "it's vacation."
Chen Yi observed him, clearly skeptical.
Li Zhi was a senior in high school, and though Seventh Middle School was not as strict as Eighth Middle School, it shouldn't have started the vacation this many days early.
"Really, it's vacation. Part of the Seventh Middle School's senior building collapsed again yesterday. For safety reasons, the school decided to use this break to fix it," Li Zhi scratched his face. "Enough about that, have you eaten?"
"Not yet." Chen Yi picked up a lollipop from the counter. "Let's go, close the store, and come to my place for a meal."
"I won't go."
"There's no one at home." Chen Yi said.
Li Zhi quickly locked the door with the key. "The braised pork ribs your aunt cooked last time were pretty good."
When they arrived at Chen's house, Li Zhi changed his shoes, and they slumped sideways on the sofa. Chen Yi's lazy orange cat nestled between the two.
Auntie brought them fruit and juice.
Chen Yi instructed her to add braised pork ribs to the dinner menu. Then he saw Li Zhi making a heart shape above his head with his hands.
His heart skipped a beat, and he reached for a pillow, throwing it at Li Zhi with disdain. "Stop grossing me out."
Li Zhi laughed and dodged, then bent down to pick up the pillow that had fallen by his feet, patted it back into place. "Just say what you want, why get physical?"
Chen Yi sat back in his spot, remembering the girl he saw at the store entrance not long ago. He casually asked, "Do you know the girl who bought something at your store earlier?"
"I know her." Talking about Ruan Mian, Li Zhi also recalled something. "By the way, she's also in Eighth Middle School, just like you. She's in the second-year science class."
"I know," Chen Yi glanced at him and said nonchalantly, "She's my desk mate."
Help Us Grow
Read. Donate. Experience.Buy us a Coffee