When Nie Qingzhou woke up, he once again caught a strong whiff of disinfectant. The bright ceiling floated above his head, and the world seemed distant and blurry. Rubbing his eyes wearily, he couldn't give up and asked the nurse beside him undauntedly , "Excuse me, what day is it today?"

"The 2nd, October 2nd."



Nie Qingzhou closed his eyes for a moment, then struggled to sit up on the hospital bed while inhaling, feeling pain all over his body, as if he had no good part left. He consoled himself that it would be even worse if he went back after such a severe beating.

Relying on the ample fighting experience of "Nie Qingzhou," he knew that the injuries he sustained last night might look scary, but they were mostly superficial wounds that would heal soon with time. However, he started running a fever last night and couldn't hold on in the morning. When he tried to go downstairs to buy medicine, he lost his balance and rolled down the stairs, which also resulted in a deep cut on his shoulder.

Nie Qingzhou looked at the gauze and bandages on his shoulder and tentatively tried to lift his arm, but he winced in pain. The nurse immediately reminded him, "Your wound is stitched, don't move around."

This was just an unfortunate year; old wounds hadn't healed yet, and new ones had been added.

The doctor said his other injuries were fine, and he just needed to apply some ointment. The fever had subsided, and he could leave after getting the medicine.

"Young people  are in good health, they recover quickly. You seem to have a good temper, so why did you fight so fiercely? Don't fight in the future, look at the state you're in now."

The doctor's earnest advice made Nie Qingzhou smile amiably and nod, thinking that he got beaten precisely because he didn't want to fight.

At this moment, a phrase flashed in Nie Qingzhou's mind.

—He's prone to getting injured.

He carefully recalled that this was what Xia Yi had used to describe Nie Qingzhou ten years later. At that time, she was sitting on the sofa chatting with other guests. Nie Qingzhou was pouring coffee with his back turned. Upon hearing her words, he turned back, seemingly helpless and nostalgic as he smiled.

She said—Ever since I've known him, he was often injured throughout high school and kept running to the hospital. Later, the hospital staff recognized him without him needing to say his name.

Emotions flickered across Nie Qingzhou's face, and his mind was in turmoil. He stiffly bid farewell to the doctor and then pondered the phrase "throughout high school."

It had only been a month since high school started, and he had already been slapped, beaten up, and fallen down the stairs to get stitched up. So this wasn't the end, but the beginning of his ill-fated destiny?

Couldn't Xia Yi from ten years later tell him in detail why he got injured, so that he could be mentally prepared?

He sighed and turned to ask the nurse, "Excuse me, where is the girl who brought me here?"

"She just paid for you and should be waiting to get the medicine at the pharmacy on the first floor."

Nie Qingzhou limped out of the ward and walked slowly along the dim corridor. For a moment, he felt that his life had taken an unexpected turn, much like this long and dim corridor, full of noise and people coming and going, forcing him to move forward without time to think.

Suddenly, a glimmer of light and the sound of a piano reached him from the end of the corridor. Soft and slow, it felt as if butterflies had flown out of the light and gracefully fluttering into Nie Qingzhou's ears.

He hesitated for a moment, and the pace of the melody gradually accelerated. At first, it was just like one or two butterflies, but soon, it seemed like a swarm of butterflies covered the sky and passed through his body, holding his soul in midair.

He quickened his pace towards the end of the corridor, and then, despite the pain all over his body, he started running in an awkward posture. Turning around the corner at the end of the corridor, his vision suddenly opened up, and he saw a brown piano behind the off-white steel chairs in the wide lobby of the hospital.

Xia Yi sat in front of the piano, wearing the plain gray hoodie that he had seen her in yesterday, with her sleeves rolled up to her elbows. Her ten fingers were like ten elves, dancing briskly across the piano keys, while the piano pedal rose and fell under her feet. Sunlight poured through the large glass windows on the top of the hospital, spilling onto her hair, the side of her face, and her running fingertips.

She gazed down at the piano, fully concentrated, her skin glowing white in the sunlight. Her eyelashes shimmering with golden color, but her pitch-black eyes were like dark ink, totally opaque and enigmatic.

The notes, like butterflies, flowed from her fingertips, sometimes strong, sometimes gentle, intricately complex, easily controlling his breath.

Someone seemed to be saying beside him, "Wow, such a clean staccato..."

[T/N: The phrase "clean staccato" refers to the crisp, separated playing of the notes on the piano, suggesting Xia Yi's skill and elegance in her piano playing.]

Nie Qingzhou didn't understand the piano; in fact, he knew nothing about music. However, at a certain pause in her performance, it felt as if his heartbeat also suddenly stopped, only to follow her fingertips as they fell into an endless forest of flowers on the piano keys. The sunlight flowed like a translucent river from the blue sky, and the warm, strong breeze carried pink and white petals, riding the sunlight, fluttering and falling gracefully among the green leaves.

Each petal landing on the ground made an actual sound, like a tree full of jade beads falling sporadically, bouncing and falling again. Each sound seemed as distinct as a heartbeat.

She was within a sea of flowers, the heart of the whirlpool, and her hands seemed to move on the piano with a will of their own. The petals rose from the ground, gathering together again as if piecing together a mosaic, slowly vanishing into the transparent air.

Like water disappearing into water.

As if petals vanishing into a flower forest.

After an unknown amount of time, Xia Yi withdrew her hands. Dust danced in the sunlight, and she seemed so far away as if she had just visited the human world for a fleeting moment.

At that moment, Nie Qingzhou was jolted awake as if from a dream,only to realize that he was shocked by the pure beauty. His breathing was fast, and his eyes were already moist.

Only then did he hear the conversation of the people around him.

"Oh my goodness, the independence of her fingers is just unbelievable. Did you hear that passage she played earlier? Her control over dynamics and expression of colors is incredible!"

"She comes to play quite often, like three or four times a week. Sometimes you can request a piece from her. I requested this one; is it difficult?"

"It's a pop song, not that difficult. I can definitely play it after practicing. But even with simpler pieces, you can still tell the difference. Can Lang Lang and I play Alice the same? I feel like an emotionless piano key-pressing machine compared to her. I'd love to hear her play some of Chopin's works like Revolutionary Etude or Winter Wind."

[T/N: Lang Lang is a Chinese pianist who has performed with major orchestras around the world and appeared at many of the leading concert halls. Active since the 1990s, he was the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and many of the top American orchestras. Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist from the 19th century. Revolutionary Etude or the "Étude on the Bombardment of Warsaw", is a solo piano work by Frédéric Chopin written c. 1831. Étude Op. 25, No. 11 in A minor, often referred to as Winter Wind in English, is a solo piano technical study composed by Frédéric Chopin in 1836. ]

Nie Qingzhou turned his head to see a male and a female volunteer, both wearing red volunteer vests. Since he had no knowledge of music terms, he silently took a couple of steps closer, eavesdropping on their conversation.

The boy wearing the red volunteer vest seemed to be new here, and he looked at Xia Yi with admiration. Pointing in her direction, he said, "Don't tell me you didn't feel that she's a piano prodigy."

The girl with a ponytail turned her head and pondered, "I don't play the piano… but listening to her makes me feel like being drawn away somewhere. Oh, by the way, the piano hadn't been touched in ages. When I first met her, she borrowed some tools from me to tune the piano, and she did it all by ear."

The boy opposite him widened his eyes into an O shape in amazement, exclaiming, "Wow, she tunes the piano without a piano tuner? She must have perfect pitch!"

And indeed she did.

Nie Qingzhou recalled a certain interview where a reporter asked Xia Yi to rank the skills she was most confident in. Xia Yi thought for a moment before answering—the first composition, piano second, and third singing.

She was undoubtedly an undisputed genius, but it was just that no one knew it at this moment.

He was intently listening to their explanations when a cold female voice from the other side called out, "Nie Qingzhou."

Nie Qingzhou jumped, turned his head, and saw Xia Yi who, at some point, was already standing at his side.

Her right sleeve had been rolled down, extending past her wrist, hiding her slender and fair fingers. It was as if, in that instant, the resplendent Xia Yi standing before the piano had also been concealed together.

She threw a plastic bag at Nie Qingzhou. In that split second, her fair, slender fingers brushed through the sunlight, her round and neatly manicured nails making her hands look perfectly suited for playing the piano.

Nie Qingzhou was taken aback for a moment, but he quickly caught the bag Xia Yi tossed to him. When he looked inside, he found it contained the medicine he needed for both external and internal use. Just as he was about to express his gratitude, he heard the excited voice of the male volunteer behind him.

"Pretty girl, which music school are you from?"

Xia Yi looked at the boy and fell silent for a moment before saying, "I'm in high school."

The girl nudged the boy and whispered, "See, I told you she's quite young, but you didn't believe me."

The boy's eyes widened even more, and he exclaimed, "You're in high school, and you're already a genius! Which teacher did you learn music from?"

A flicker passed through Xia Yi's eyes, something swift and fleeting, like a dragonfly skimming the water's surface.

"I don't learn anymore," she replied without waiting for the boy to react, turning away. Her departing figure was very similar to the one he saw in the bamboo forest outside the school's back gate that day, but only without the vigilance. The vigilance at that time was now replaced by aloofness, like a cat distancing itself from the crowd.

Nie Qingzhou caught up with her. Her steps were swift, and he noticed her tightly pursed lips. After they exited the hospital gate, he finally halted and called out to her.

"Xia Yi."

She turned to look at him, her brows furrowing from facing the sun.

Holding the medicine, Nie Qingzhou said, "I haven't said thank you yet. Thank you for taking me here, and also for not telling my aunt. In the rules of the gang, if you want to leave, you have to endure a beating. I can't explain this to her right now. Besides, I just made a promise with her to study hard and not cause any trouble."

He explained in great detail, perhaps too much, so Xia Yi lowered her gaze and replied, "No need to thank me, and no need to tell me all this."

But Nie Qingzhou continued to ask, "So, didn't you already delete my aunt's number? Then how did you just call her?"

There was a momentary stiffness in Xia Yi's expression, but then she walked on as if she hadn't heard the question.

Nie Qingzhou could already guess. If Xia Yi didn't have a photographic memory, she might have deleted the number initially, but then later reconsidered and recovered it.

Not long after refusing him, she hesitated. Although they weren't acquainted, one could even say they were strangers.

He couldn't help but smile, walking a few steps to catch up with Xia Yi and changing the topic, "What was the name of that piano piece you played just now?"

As they drew closer, his shadow fell over her, covering her body and the sunlight on her face vanished. Her furrowed brows relaxed, and she finally answered, "It's called 'Flower Dance.'"

"Really? It was your first time playing it today?"


Unbelievable! Nie Qingzhou couldn't help but marvel in his heart.

The elf-like melody and the image of Xia Yi playing the piano in the sunlight lingered in his mind.

——At that time, the beautiful destiny presented him with a flower called "Rose".

He was moved by a piece of music, as if he had stumbled upon a stunning blossom and belatedly realized that it was the very rose people often spoke of.

Nie Qingzhou noticed that he always used to watch Xia Yi through the tinted glass. But this time, he took down the glass named "Genius Superstar Xia Yi" and placed this sixteen-year-old Xia Yi in front of his eyes.

From now on, he thought, he would become a fan of this sixteen-year-old girl.


You must be logged in to give rating and add a comment.

No comments so far!

Post a comment to start discussion.