Don’t be obsessive about the past.
After the final exams, the long summer vacation begins in the first year of high school.
Zhang Man finished grading the last exam paper, packed up her things, and carried her bag out of the office. As she was locking the door, the phone in her pocket suddenly vibrated without stopping. She took the phone out and looked at the screen. It was her mother, Zhang Huifang.
“Hey, Mom …… Well, I’m off today. I’ll be back this weekend…… I know.”
Not sure since when it started, but most conversations between mother and daughter pair ends with urging her to marry. Zhang Huifang said that women in their thirties like her, if they don’t fall in love or get married sooner, they will completely lose their own hormones and no longer have a chance at a relationship.
Zhang Man felt that her mom was right, but also wrong.
It was true that she had lost all feeling for the variety of men around her, but in recent years she had been dreaming of one man with increasing frequency. Each time she woke up from the dream, her disordered heartbeat seemed to repeat the throbbing from her youth.
As soon as she reached the ground floor of the school building, she met the Head Teacher, Zhou Wenqing who said, “Teacher Zhang, do you have time for dinner tonight?”
Zhang Man instinctively wanted to refuse, but remembered Zhang Huifang’s increasingly anxious urging, and the words turned into, “I’m free.”
The man was a little surprised when he heard her then showed a bright smile, “Wait for me then.”
Zhang Man nodded and stood at the top of the stairs with her bag squeezed, sighing as she watched him walk up the stairs at a hurried pace.
Zhou Wenqing’s meaning was not unknown to her. In all fairness, he was a composed and honest man with a strong work ethic and was very responsible in life. Although he was a few years older than her and divorced, he was considered a preferable choice for her.
There were very few people around her age who weren’t married.
He came down quickly and changed into a rather neat shirt, however the slightly sagging decrepit lines on his face made him look a little tired.
They went to a Sichuan restaurant next to the school.
Zhou Wenqing chose a corner seat and wiped the table and chairs with a paper towel before inviting her to sit down.
A fine gentleman.
“Ms. Zhang come and order your food, ladies first.”
Zhang Man ticked off a dry pot of thousand-leaf tofu and a spicy Szechuan chicken as per usual.
However, as soon as she finished ordering and handed him the menu, he crossed it off and chose two other new dishes.
Zhang Man was a little surprised and raised her eyes to look at him.
Zhou Wenqing smiled and said, “I knew you would order these two, I still remember when you first came to our school, you ordered these two dishes for the first faculty dinner and they haven’t changed all these years. Zhang Man, life isn’t static. Sometimes people may stay in their comfort zone and don’t have the courage to jump out. But change isn’t always a bad thing, so why not give it a try? Whether it’s the food, or the people.”
Zhang Man bowed her head, a little shaken inside, knowing that he meant to say something, but not knowing how to answer. It was good that Zhou Wenqing did not embarrass her and changed the topic.
Halfway through the meal was quite harmonious, Zhou Wenqing was very good at creating an atmosphere, and even if she didn’t talk much, it wasn’t awkward between them.
At this time, the phone placed on the table rang, it was the WeChat alert beep, continuously ringing multiple times.
“Excuse me, I want to check some messages.”
She opened her phone and found that it was her best friend, Chen Feier.
【Where are you, Man Man? Look at the #1 Trending! Hurry!】
Chen Feier typed several rows of exclamation marks in a row.
Zhang Man thought to herself that it was likely that fresh meat she was microblogging had found himself a partner. She absentmindedly opened Weibo and took a look at the hot search list.
It was a glance that made her whole body freeze for a moment.
The #1 Trending on the Hot Search list turned out to be ……his name, hanging on top, as he did three months ago when he became the first Chinese Theoretical physicist to win a Nobel Prize.
But the next two words were stamped plainly into her view, overly violent and menacing, causing her for a moment to be incapable of deciphering and lose her ability to comprehend completely.
【Li Wei committed suicide】
Suicide? What do you mean?
A simple, direct message that could be understood literally without thinking, but she suddenly failed to understand it.
It was as if the brain had stopped functioning, or turned on its self-protection mechanism, giving every cell in the body a buffer of time.
Zhang Man clicked into that hot search, flipping back and forth for a few minutes, the numbness and sluggishness gradually disappeared, her brain hadn’t been able to accurately receive this information yet, but her heart had suddenly started to beat at a disrupted rate.
“Clang!” The sound of the glass hitting the floor and shattering was sharp and explosive, as she came back to her senses and realized that the glass in her hand had fallen to the floor.
Zhou Wenqing quickly ushered the waiter to clean up the mess, looking at her with some concern.
“Ms. Zhang, what’s wrong?”
Zhang Man opened her mouth, unable to speak. Her entire body began to unconsciously shake, and the temperature in her body dropped gradually, as if she had been sucked out of a black hole and plunged into an endless stream of panic. Before all the emotions overwhelmed her, she squeezed her bag and stood up fiercely, “Teacher Zhou …… Zhou, I’m not feeling too well, so I’ll leave first.”
She walked quickly out of the restaurant, the street lights blasting her eyes, making her dizzy for a moment.
Her phone was still vibrating unceasingly, and she subconsciously opened it to see that Chen Feier had sent her several more messages.
【Man Man, are you okay?】
【Man Man, where are you now?】
She walked unconsciously, with just enough energy to sustain her to an empty corner of the street, where a convenience store had a back door.
She slowly crouched down against the wall, covering her mouth and panting deeply in an attempt to inhale some cool air to ease the excruciating pain in her heart. Her temples throbbed uncontrollably, and her entire windpipe was sore from the intense sobbing.
But the most painful thing was that despite the loss of control of the body, the mind was so clear, so terribly clear.
With shaking hands, she opened Twitter, taking her last chances.
It must be a mistake, it must be a rumor, he just won an award, how could he commit suicide?
However, the circumstances of the incident are clearly analyzed on Twitter, and there is no room for a little doubt.
Li Wei died and was found to have committed suicide in his home, just a day before the awards ceremony.
In a letter to his PhD student Jackie on his deathbed, he wrote: “…… You are a very talented student and I have recommended you to Professor William and I am sorry for the impending inconvenience…”
“…I’ve been doing something crazy all these years, and Physics is all I’ve got. In fact, a long time ago, I had a feeling that on the day it ends, the darkness will completely engulf me.”
Later, Jackie was interviewed: “I felt something was wrong when I received this email and immediately called the police, but unfortunately by the time the police arrived at the professor’s house, it was too late. The brightest genius of this century is gone from us forever.”
Researchers who worked with him at Princeton also claimed, “Mankind has lost a great genius.”
His psychiatrist revealed that Li Wei had suffered from severe schizophrenia since childhood and had been suppressing it through medication over the years. But the end of his research work caused his mental illness to flare up so violently that he eventually chose to commit suicide.
“Li’s inner world is actually a thousand times richer than the other people. He often imagines things that don’t really exist in the world and is prone to emotional outbursts due to external stimuli. This is what we call paranoia. At the same time, Li is a keen and intelligent person, and these mental illnesses gave him a strong sense of powerlessness that he couldn’t control, eventually choosing to give up on his own life.”
Zhang Man tears blurred at this point, and then her trembling hands went over the disclosures of other confidants, and some things that had happened years ago suddenly became clear.
Schizophrenia, paranoia, and so on.
It turned out that those things back then really weren’t intentional, he hadn’t lied to her.
He was just sick.
A series of images linked together in her mind.
She felt it was inconceivable at that time for him to deceive her, so she grievously questioned him, and even more so when she got a negative reply.
She really didn’t know, didn’t know that he was actually just sick.
She still remembered that in the last period of their relationship, he seemed to be depressed to the extreme, hollow and gloomy like a lonely soul.
Zhang Man opened her mouth, the suppressed choke in her throat was no longer restrained and became a heartbreaking cry out loud.
Certain things she had been unable to let go of for so many years, but now all of them had explanations, but so what, he wasn’t here anymore.
Two years ago, when she was packing up her things in her hometown, Zhang Man found a love letter in a physics book, signed by Li Wei.
He wrote in it: “The human perception of the universe is like the light of a firefly in endless darkness. There are so many unknowns that we cannot see or touch. I want to get closer to the unknown, to feel the darkness. Zhang Man, will you accompany me?”
That was when she realized that back then, he really liked her just as much as she liked him.
That eccentric and lonely genius boy, actually had a tender side, he was so careful to reach out to her, wanting to hand her all his tenderness and heart.
It was she who failed to properly retain the warmth in his eyes, and made him choose to run forever into the darkness as a result.
If one could go back to that year……
What a heartbreaking first chapter, right? ZM’s heart must be breaking into bits right now…
Anyway, the release for this one would be on every Saturday.