The Flower of Youth Blooms when He Smiles

Chapter 2

One week after starting her second year of high school, the school began to carry out the the splitting of students into humanities and science classes.

At that time, the students were still immersed in the aftermath of the summer vacation, unable to snap out of it, so the classroom was crazy. The front, back, left and right tables were all talking freely to their heart’s content, almost as if there were endless interesting things to talk about, as if their youth was never-ending.

Meng Shengnan placed her elbow on the table, propped her head up with one hand, thinking about novel ideas while spinning her pencil in the other. At the same table, her desk-mate Li Wei stopped chatting midway and took the pencil from her hand while she wasn’t paying attention.

She finally reacted, and Li Wei smiled: “What are you thinking about?”

“That’s right, everyone is hyped-up while talking, Meng Shengnan, you have to join as well.” The girl at the table behind her said.

Meng Shengnan knew that she wouldn’t think of any novel ideas herself anyway, so she decided to join their conversation, watching these people talk from Pangu separating the Sky from the Earth1A Chinese legend about the creation of the world to the tickets to Beyond’s2famous Hong Kong band in the 2000s concert in September, and then talk about Confucius and Martin Luther King.

“My dream is to be a great mathematician like Hua Luogeng.”

A boy at the back table said with a heroic tone, and even stood up and waved his arm as if the world was his oyster.

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“Uyd’v usw fwpv cl y esod-vs-lyavb yde alyzkpvkn rlapsd!”

“Ekzz usw ekl kq usw esd’v czwqq–”

“Wsatlv kv!”

“R’zz hsxkv–”

Yldt Fbldtdyd pxkzle yp pbl oyvnble vblx cknjla sdl yqvla vbl svbla.

Mbkp twu oyp vbl qwddu vurl yde oyp wpwyzzu hlau kdvlalpvkdt. Gv vbl xsxldv, bkp lmralppksd clnyxl y zkvvzl plakswp, yde bkp hsknl oyp psdsaswp: “Ebld y rlapsd kp yzkhl, bl xwpv qktbv qsa vbl czwqqp bl pyke kd bkp uswvb qsa vbl alpv sq bkp zkql! Gb-vbyv kp yprkayvksdp! Gb-vbyv kp rlapkpvldnl!”

Yldt Fbldtdyd yde vbl tkaz clbkde bla csvb zywtble byae.

Mblu olal yzz vyzjkdt hktsaswpzu, vbld vbl essa oyp jdsnjle sd okvb y ewzz pswde. Fweeldzu, vbl nzyppassx clnyxl iwklv. Mblal olal y qlo rlsrzl pvydekdt sd vbl vyczl kd vbl cynj aso, yzz lmnkvle, cwv vblu yzps iwknjzu nyxl esod vs ts pkv rasrlazu. Nk Elk nwazle bla zkrp: “Mbl ‘Xze Elv’ kp tskdt vs ayvvzl sd ytykd.”

The class teacher’s surname was Shi. As for Li Wei’s nickname for her, “Old Wet”, it was easy to understand it3Old Wet is said like ‘Lao Shi’ which sounds the same as ‘Teacher,’ and also sounds the same as calling her Old Shi(her surname).. The key point was that this teacher was in her forties and talked a lot, even more than Tang Seng4the monk from the Chinese novel Journey to the West who says a lot of teachings to his disciples such as the Monkey King. According to rumours, she had just divorced before the start of the year. Everyone sighed, her husband was good enough already, given that he had already endured it for so many years. If it were an ordinary person, their ears would have been sacrificed long ago – three minutes of silence was needed in mourning.

So, one hundred and one minutes had passed since she entered the classroom and finished speaking—it added up to two classes plus one ten-minute break.

The point was–she had only one topic: dividing classes into humanities and science.

Finally, Old Wet left, the whole classroom breathed deeply in unison, and then regurgitated. The boy at the back table wailed: “My god, she really talks till we’re dead. I heard that she’s going to take the humanities class as the head teacher of one of the classes. Fortunately, I chose to stay away from this ticking time bomb and chose science.”

The girl next to him laughed her head off and lied on the desk as if she had fainted.

Li Wei turned her head and asked her: “What will you choose?”

Meng Shengnan: “Humanities.”

Li Wei made a “hey” noise, “Desk-mate, remember to miss me in the future.”

“….” She made it sound like she was leaving home to a faraway land.

The class division was done very quickly by the school. Three days later, everyone handed in their questionnaire with their subject selection. Then, after all kinds of reluctance to part, the humanities comrades collectively walked to the five-storey building opposite the science building on the afternoon of the seventeenth day of this school year, saying goodbye to this piece of land.

Right when she entered her new classroom on the fifth storey, Meng Shengnan was still not quite accustomed yet, there was not one person she knew in this class. It turned out that all the students who had left Class 9 of grade one of high school had been broken up and were divided evenly into the four humanities classes. Meng Shengnan found a seat next to the window near the corridor and sat down. She raised her eyes and scanned the whole class, almost all of them were girls. Meng Shengnan turned her head back again, flipping through the textbook and reading the story in it, Mr. Liu He Zhen5a short story that commemorates a student called Liu He Zhen with boredom. After a while, the class bell rang, and the head teacher came.

To be honest, Meng Shengnan was a little expectant, but when she saw Old Wet, she lost a bit of her will to live.

“Today, I’ll talk about a few important points—” Then thirty minutes passed—Old Wet cleared her throat: “I’ve had a cold these past two days, so I won’t talk anymore. Now I will set a few class committee members, is there any one who wants to self-recommend?”

It’s fortunate that you have a cold, Meng Shengnan thought.

Several girls stood up, Old Wet asked them to introduce themselves, and then gave them positions one by one. Meng Shengnan was looking out the window and suddenly heard someone calling her name. Was it a hallucination?

“Meng Shengnan?” It was Old Wet.

“Ah -” Meng Shengnan’s mind was slower than her actions, she stood up with a serious expression: “Teacher.”

After all, she was familiar with her, so Old Wet directly appointed her: “You will continue to be the English class representative.”

Meng Shengnan: “…”

The school bell finally rang.

She was lying weakly on the table and basking in the sun. Her desk mate, Nie Jing seemed like a relatively down-to-earth girl. After introducing herself to her, she started to flip through the textbook and do questions—the degree of seriousness was enough for her to get into Peking University.

“Ms. Meng, what are you thinking about?” Qi Qiao sneaked over and laid on the window sill from outside, leaning over and flicking her forehead.

Meng Shengnan got out of the seat and stood by the railing of the hallway with Qi Qiao, both of them looking downstiars.

Qi Qiao said: “I didn’t expect that it’s not too bad to look down from here.”

“Then you should choose humanities.”

Qi Qiao snorted, “How can I do that, letting Song Jiashu stay in Science (Class 2) by himself, I can’t bear it.”


Qi Qiao smiled and took a look at her class: “There’s barely any boys in your class?”


Qi Qiao turned back again and said with a sigh: “It looks like I have to be the one to worry about you getting a boyfriend.”

Meng Shengnan glanced at her: “If you keep saying this, I will tell your mum you are dating in high school.”

“Then go do it, she can’t even wait.”

Meng Shengnan: “Don’t bluff me.”

“I’m serious, she ordered me to get married straight after graduating from university. Even better if I can have two babies in three years.”

Meng Shengnan: “…Are you serious?”

Qi Qiao shrugged.

Meng Shengnan: “You weren’t adopted by Auntie Qiao, right?”

Qi Qiao: “Yes, she said I was picked up from the gutter.”

Meng Shengnan smiled: “This, I believe.”

Qi Qiao rolled her eyes: “Hey, Comrade Qiao Meili’s lifelong dream is to live together with four generations.”

One minute before the class bell rang, Qi Qiao ran back to the Science Building opposite them. As soon as Meng Shengnan stepped into the classroom, the male class head who was appointed by Old Wet, and had a crew cut and a height of 173 centimetres and a two inch four waist-line, took the lead to sing “a blue sky above my head, a faith in my heart…”

All the girls in the class: “…”

After a few days, almost everyone left and right had become close. The class was also quite lively, as if they were the new heroes of the world. There was a boy who was about 175 centimetres tall sitting in the back row behind her. He was quite small and skinny, he didn’t talk much to people around him, but he was very smart.

“You have to change your way of thinking for this question, you know what counter-proof is, right?”

He asked Meng Shengnan in an unhurried manner, the girl nodded, and then he continued to finish. After that, Meng Shengnan turned to her side, stared at the paper under his hand for a while, and then sighed slowly: “Fusong, I didn’t expect you to be so good at math.”

The boy seemed a little embarrassed and didn’t respond.

His desk mate was called Xue Lin, and she also leaned over at this time, saying with a grin: “Whenever you encounter any hard questions, you can find Fusong.”

Only after Xue Lin finished speaking did Fusong slowly say: “Learning is a process. We must learn to enjoy it while studying it. Once you reach the saturation point, although the speed of time slows down, when the conditions are right, success will follow naturally for many things.”

Meng Shengnan: “…”

Xue Lin: “…”

Qi Qiao came over and waited for her to leave together during her evening self-study session. At that time, there were not many people left in their No.4 class. In their group, only she and Fusong hadn’t left yet.

Qi Qiao came in and sat in Meng Shengnan’s seat, asking her with a smile: “How does your new life feel, Ms. Meng?”

Meng Shengnan was currently stuffing books into her schoolbag, and replied after hearing her, “It’s pretty good.”

Qi Qiao said ‘Yes, yes’ a few times, “Looking at your glowing cheeks, I believe it.”

After packing their schoolbags, the two of them walked through the back door, passing by Fusong. Meng Shengnan said a goodbye. The boy’s expression was quite calm, he barely even looked at Qi Qiao. On the way, Qi Qiao commented: “That boy looks pretty slow-witted.”

Meng Shengnan hit her with her arm: “He is not slow-witted, it’s called being an expert, don’t you know?”

“Oh, and you know?”

“I admire his IQ the most out of all the people I know in this school. Not only does he explain the questions beautifully, but the way he speaks is so–”

Qi Qiao glanced at Meng Shengnan several times: “Tsk tsk-how long have you known each other for you to compliment him like this?”

“What do you know, this is called cherishing talent.”

“Che6It is a phonetic sound used when someone is scoffing or being dismissive.”

After walking for a while, Meng Shengnan thought of something and suddenly asked: “Why didn’t you leave with Song Jiashu tonight?”

“Oh, he has a street dance rehearsal, he’s quite busy.”

Meng Shengnan glanced at Qi Qiao: “What street dance?”

Qi Qiao: “He has a performance in the joint school competition.”


The No.9 High school wasn’t close to Meng Shengnan’s home. She usually rode a bicycle back and forth. Right now Qi Qiao was sitting behind her, so Meng Shengnan rode slowly. After a while, Qi Qiao rode the bike instead. In the evening after the self-study sessions, small vendors on the street had their food stalls all set up, and groups of girls and boys could be seen everywhere waiting for the barbecue.

The taste of youth was pervasive and unassuming.

When she got home, Sheng Dian and Meng Jin were watching the evening news. While cracking and eating melon seeds, Sheng Dian said: “I met your Aunt Qiao this afternoon, she signed Qiao Qiao up for Erhu classes. I am thinking about enrolling you in an interest class too.”

Meng Shengnan sat down on the sofa and took a sip of the water on the table.

“I’m not interested.”

Sheng Dian glanced at her: “If you don’t have one, then cultivate one. Aren’t you bored of being at school every day?”

On the TV, the host of the news channel gave a report full of diction and clarity. Several voices converged in the room, and Meng Jin’s voice also came in at this time: “Well, I agree with your mother on this point. Just take it as something fun and relaxing, just for two hours, what will it delay?”

Meng Shengnan glanced at these two people.

“You both agreed on it already?”

Meng Jin immediately raised his hand to show his stance: “Now this is wronging your dad.”

Sheng Dian glared at her.

“Think about it, what do you have an interest in?”

Meng Shengnan thought for a long time, and then said: “–Is guitar okay?”

As a result, when she went to school the next day, a certain girl couldn’t help but howl when she heard about this. Her distorted expression simply magnified her pain. No matter who looked at it, it was an unforgettable sight etched into one’s heart.

“Your mother enrolled you into a guitar class?” Outside the No.4 class, Qi Qiao couldn’t help but exclaim.

Meng Shengnan nodded: “Well, what’s the matter?”

Qi Qiao gave her a hug fiercely, then put her face on her shoulder, fake-crying: “Aunt Sheng Dian is amazing. The Great Master in our family said that Erhu is an inheritance of folk art, forcing me to go without a say. You are so blessed Meng Shengnan—”

“Pay attention to your image, dear lady?”

Meng Shengnan glanced at the hallway, here and there a boy and girl would walk up and down, coming to stare at them, she was really embarrassed.

Qi Qiao lifted her head from her shoulder, pretended to wipe her face, and said angrily.

“I am going to negotiate with Qiao Meili tonight!”

Meng Shengnan was expressionless: “I wish you failure.”

Qi Qiao’s eyes widened: “Meng Shengnan—”

She laughed.

The two stayed on the railing for a while, and Qi Qiao was still rattling on. The breeze blew across their face, blowing Qi Qiao’s long hair. Meng Shengnan couldn’t help but stroke her short hair that she had kept for three years, and remembered a song that went: I like the age where your hair was long and fluttery.

Finally, she sent away Qi Qiao and Meng Shengnan returned to the classroom.

Xue Lin asked her: “Is that your high school first-year classmate?”

Meng Shengnan shook her head: “Elementary school classmate, we grew up together.”

“Oh—” She stretched her tone.

“What’s wrong?”

“She is Song Jiashu’s girlfriend.”

Meng Shengnan: “…”

Fu Song was working on the English questions, and he glanced at Meng Shengnan after hearing their noise, his voice was faint: “The teacher is here.”

Meng Shengnan didn’t say anything and immediately turned to sit down.

However, before her butt hit the seat, she heard a girl in the back row of the classroom calling—

“Li Yan, come over here.”

Translator’s Note: Posting two chapters today! Thank you for reading, I know this story starts off slow but I promise it is worth it as we get past it!

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dian [Translator]

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