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Chapter 2.1 Those Little Stories (1)

“Teacher Gu, actually…” Those three lasses were still keeping an eye on Tong Yan from a distance, and she did not know how to handle this.

There was no change at all to Gu Pingsheng’s actions, as if he had not heard anything… Wait, no, he really hadn’t heard anything.

At the same time, Zhao Yin also tapped his arm, and when he raised his eyes to look at her, she laughed, “What teacher shows such favouritism towards a student?”

Gu Pingsheng did not seem to find that there was anything inappropriate. “I’ve always played favourites. Before, when I was doing my graduate studies and had to teach undergraduates students, I was the same.”

Tong Yan shifted her gaze away and watched the streams of people coming out from one of the teaching buildings. A class that ended at this hour of the day could only either be for a course on Intro to Maoism[1] or else Marxism[2]. Sure enough, in the hands of two male students who walked by were copies of Introduction to Maoism… She stared intensely at those two male students, successfully managing to distract herself from the situation.

That was, until she caught a glimpse of someone coming toward them from beneath the flagpole. Immediately, she broke out in a sweat. She had forgotten about that class representative.

At the same time, Zhao Yin also spotted this student of hers and was quite surprised.

When Class Rep Shen saw the “goddess” teacher of his faculty, he was also dumbstruck.

Glancing over at Gu Pingsheng, who was handing the newly re-rolled sketch back to her, Tong Yan very gratifyingly made a discovery: judging based on psychological poise and composure alone, Law Faculty, win!

Tong Yan took her assignment from him, then immediately handed it over to Shen Heng. “Here you go. My assignment.”

Only now did Zhao Yin realize what her student was here to do, and with a laugh, she noted, “Shen Heng, you’re still taking sketching this semester? I seem to recall that next semester, you’re going to London for a two-year exchange program. You shouldn’t need to take any elective courses now, right?” Teacher Zhao’s one remark hit the mark and exposed the secret.

Class Rep Shen was evidently more embarrassed than Tong Yan. Tong Yan, on the other hand, glanced very carefully over at Gu Pingsheng.

It was fortunate that Zhao Yin had been facing Class Rep Shen when she had spoken, and it seemed he had not seen.

“Teacher Gu, I have some questions I’d like to consult you on.” She decided she would make the first move to take the situation into her own hands.

Gu Pingsheng answered with an “alright,” and, turning to Zhao Yin, said with a nod, “I’ll go first, then. If you need anything, contact me by email.”

Tong Yan merely had not wanted him to see what that boy would say, but when the two of them left together, she actually did not know what to talk about. Gu Pingsheng was not hurried, though, and simply strolled with her along the tree-lined walkway beside the lake.

There were three teaching buildings beside the lake: the Upper Building, Middle Building, and Lower Building.

The Upper Building mainly consisted of lecture-style theatres that were large and spacious. However, although the classrooms were so open, it was unspoken knowledge throughout the entire school that the Upper Building was a place for couples to date and hangout, and nobody would go there to study at night. Hence, one really should not judge based on the building’s dark, unlit appearance from the exterior because in hidden and secret corners, there were actually quite a few “lively,” “vivid,” and “spicy” things taking place.

And now, Gu Pingsheng just had to choose to head into the main hall of the Upper Building.

She really wanted to hold him back, but it would be very awkward to have to explain the reason for doing so. While Tong Yan was wracking her brain, which was whirling rapidly trying to find an excuse, Gu Pingsheng walked up to a vending machine and felt around on himself for some coins. After several jingling sounds echoed out, two cans of ice-cold cola rolled out from the machine.

He turned around and handed her one of the cans before asking, “What did you want to ask about?”

“That… case study. That case study from today’s quiz.” Tong Yan tried hard to put on a smile.

“I already looked it over. You did very well.” Gu Pingsheng’s reply was concise.

Tong Yan caught sight of a faint, shadowy figure in the classroom to her right and became thoroughly disheartened.

“Teacher Gu, why don’t we go somewhere else to talk?”

Gu Pingsheng looked at her amusedly. “What’s wrong? Is there a problem here?”

Of course there was a problem. Especially since Gu Pingsheng was wearing simply a pair of black athletic shorts, a short-sleeved shirt, and a pair of beach sandals. He looked like a student. And furthermore, a student whom people would remember after a single glance and would even have a desire to turn back for a second look… Tong Yan also eyed herself over. Why did she have to wear a white dress today, and one that was super short, too? They looked like they were here to do naughty things.

She fell silent for three seconds, and then suddenly, an idea struck her and she had an excuse. “Haven’t you heard the ghost stories about the Upper Building? They’ve been floating around for a long time.” Seeing that Gu Pingsheng seemed to be interested, she carried on, “Teacher Gu, you’ve been here for three weeks now. Have you noticed that none of the floors of the Upper Building are ever lit up with lights? Actually… someone died here before.”

That time when they had passed by this place at night, right before Tong Yan was about to go into the restroom, in their pitch-black surroundings, Shen Yao had deliberately, in a slow voice, told her about this. She had been scared half to death, and when she came back out and discovered that Shen Yao was nowhere to be found, she had nearly started bawling.

The vending machine shed a pale, ghastly light. She surmised that Gu Pingsheng was standing in this particular spot so that he could see her speak, but it was also because of this light that she felt a chill down her back. Fortunately, not far away, the lakeside scene outside was still very bright, warm, and clear.

Inwardly reassuring herself, she continued, “In some unknown year, there was a male student who saw that there were too many people in the Middle and Lower Buildings, so he brought a candlestick with him here to the Upper Building and worked alone on math problems in one of the classrooms. Because the lights aren’t ever turned on in this place except for those few days during final exams, that candle of his was especially noticeable… It gave off a faint glow… At first, two security guards came over and asked the guy why he was here. The guy said that it was quiet here. The security guards saw that he really was doing math problems so they didn’t try to stop him. A little while later, a girl came by wearing a white dress…” She was stuck for words for half a second and was terrified herself. “The girl said in a gentle voice, ‘Schoolmate, could you help me solve a math problem?’”

Gu Pingsheng gave a light laugh. “And then?”

Tong Yan gazed gloomily at him. “There was no ‘and then.’ The next day, someone came for class and discovered the boy dead in his seat, but the candle, surprisingly, was still not completely burnt out yet. And on his body, there was a paper with a math problem and its solution written on it. The problem was one of the school’s final exam problems from ten years earlier. During that year’s finals, there was a girl student who had committed suicide by jumping into the lake because she had failed her advanced math course, and the problem on that paper was the main question that had been on that year’s exam…”

In the fastest speed possible, she finished recounting the tale, and then, unable to hold herself back, she asked, “When I heard this, I was scared to death. How come you aren’t even showing any reaction?”

Gu Pingsheng took a drink of his cola. “Medical schools are the birthplace of ghost stories. The classrooms, laundry rooms, shower rooms, washrooms, cafeterias, and even each dormitory room, each bed — all have a ghost story that can be told about them. But did someone really jump into the lake and commit suicide for not passing advanced math? If that’s the case, then your mental stability and strength are actually relatively good.”

…… I only failed university physics four times, okay?

Finally remembering her original intention for telling the story, she said, “But I’m really scared. Could we go somewhere else to talk?”

Gu Pingsheng did not have any objections and walked with her along the corridor towards the exit. She had just breathed out in relief when all of a sudden, he halted his steps and asked in a low voice, “Did you see a shadow?”

All of Tong Yan’s little hairs instantly stood on end, but quickly, she recovered herself. Must be one of those unruly couples.

She told him softly, “Let’s hurry up and go. Maybe… maybe someone’s having an argument here.”

The problem was, there was no light where they were and he was also standing in front of her, so he had not seen her suggestion.

Right as Tong Yan established that the situation was not good, Gu Pingsheng was already striding into that classroom. Instinctively, she followed after him… And the end result, naturally, was that she witnessed a hot, lightning-striking, earthquake-inducing kiss taking place. There, in the pale moonlight, that scene could be called a prime example of being “completely immersed” and “completely uncaring of others around.”

Seeing this, Tong Yan’s face burned up, and she stretched out her hand and tugged on Gu Pinsheng’s arm.

He turned his head to look at her, but Tong Yan only stared fixedly into his eyes. You can’t see me speak, but you can see my eyes, right?… Teacher Gu, retreat, okay?

He seemed to give a light chuckle before turning his hand over and taking her by her wrist. Just as they were about to retreat from the classroom, a shrill, dire scream reverberated out, and it was apparent that it was because the two of them had frightened someone.

Naturally, he gave no reaction, and she apologetically turned back to explain, “Don’t be scared, don’t be scared. I’m human. A living, breathing human!”

Before she had finished speaking, however, he had already pulled her out of the classroom.

That night, when she dejectedly returned to her dormitory, she discovered three women staring at her, all with very peculiar looks in their eyes.

“What?” She had not done anything wrong, so why was she feeling like she was afraid of being found out?

With a “hehe,” Shen Yao laughed, “What did you and Great Beauty Gu go to do in the Upper Building?”

She put on a fake smile. “How’s that even possible? Why would I go to the Upper Building?…”

Shen Yao let her have the spot in front of the computer screen to allow her to read the post from the school forum that was currently open.

Tonight, I was with my boyfriend in the Upper Building and then unexpectedly… unexpectedly, a girl student wearing a white dress just charged right in. Freaked me out! I nearly screamed until my throat burst. Most ridiculous part was, that girl even said, “Don’t be scared. I’m human. A living, breathing human”…… Hey, that girl from tonight, do you know about the Upper Building’s ghost story? Uh, please, if you don’t then go study up on some school history. Next time you see some shadows inside a classroom, don’t come in, you know? And if you do come in, don’t be wearing a white dress, k?

Lastly, let me add, her boyfriend is honestly so hot. Didn’t get a clear look of his face but just the outline of his body is enough to make people…… totally go crazy…… And he was super chill. No matter how hard I screamed, he just held onto his girlfriend and pulled her out with him and did not look back at all……

With a pen, Shen Yao circled the two words, “held onto” and gave her a suggestive grin.

Tong Yan was put to silence, unable to respond with anything. As she sat there on her chair, no matter how they laughed and grinned at her, she simply put on an I-am-so-innocent expression on her face. Eventually, she pulled a physics textbook off the lowest bookshelf and started her depressing preparatory studying and practice homework.

The depressing part was, after she had left the Upper Building, she still had not come up with a reasonable excuse. And so, she could only say to him, “It’s just, I thought about it for a long time and decided that I do need someone to tutor me in physics…” No matter what, though, this was something she could not let these lasses know about. Even though, she really, truly was innocent in all this… aaah.

Gu Pingsheng was very pleased with the fact that she, on her own accord, had accepted the extra help in physics and even left her his mobile phone number. He had nonchalantly informed her that for him, his mobile phone was used only to send and receive text messages and emails and was not for phone calls. He then told her to come find him twice a week for tutoring and that she could decide the time and place.

When he said this, it had been during the break time after the second session of classes, and at the time, there had been a letter lying on top of the lesson plan beside his hand. On a pale pink envelope, his name was handwritten in bubble-style characters. It was apparent it was an anonymous love letter.

With a serious expression, Tong Yan had nodded at him as her eyes flicked a glance at the letter. She, too, had written this type of letter before, and in fact, one each day, continuing unbrokenly for three years. Unfortunately, the recipient of those letters was now married.

[1] 毛概 “Mao Gai.” Short for 《毛泽东思想概论》[“Introduction to Maoism”], which is also the name of the textbook Tong Yan saw the male students carrying.

[2] 马思 “Ma Si.” Short for 马克思 “Ma Ke Si,” which is the Chinese transliteration of [Karl] Marx.

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