The wind was blowing fiercely, but the rain was still slow to fall.
The leafy trunks of the trees were swayed by the strong wind, and the shadows of the trees under the streetlights looked open and clawed. The cicadas in the trees were silent, cowering as they waited for the wind to stop.
The heat of the day was gone, and the summer night wind scraped across the bare skin, leaving a slight coolness.
The two walked against the wind toward home in silence, and Tang Junhe had his long-sleeved school uniform cradled in his arm the whole time instead of wearing it.
As soon as he stepped into the building, the rainstorm poured down like a sensor. The sound of crackling rain spread into the building, carrying the dampness along with it before it was shut out of the elevator.
The minute he pushed the door, Tang Xiaonian greeted him and took Tang Junhe’s school bag, “What took you so long to come back?”
Tang Junhe gave an “um”, his eyes glanced towards Yang Xuan’s back, and saw him enter his room.
“You don’t know how to call back either,” Tang Xiaonian complained in a low voice, “didn’t you get a cell phone?”
“I didn’t bring it,” Tang Junhe hitched his school uniform to the sofa aside, “the school doesn’t allow it.”
“Then, how can everyone else bring it…?” Tang Xiaonian turned her head in the direction of Yang Xuan room for a glance and turned her head back. When her eyes swept over the arm of Tang Junhe, she pulled his wrist and was startled: “What’s this?!”
“I twisted my wrist during gym class, it’s nothing.” Tang Junhe tried to draw back his wrist, but was unsuccessful. Tang Xiaonian refused to let go of his hand and pulled him to the light for a closer look.
“Is it really twisted?” Tang Xiaonian looked at the bruise and muttered suspiciously, “It’s not swollen, it’s just bruised. Why does it look like it was pinched? Are you sure no one is bullying you?”
“No,” Tang Junhe used some strength to pull his wrist back, his mind flashed back to the expression on Yang Xuan’s face when Tang Xiaonian applied the cream to him, and he said with some annoyance, “Mom, I’m so old, it’s okay to get a little bruised.” He used his other hand to cover the bruise, not wanting Tang Xiaonian to continue to talk about it, he changed the subject and said, “I’m a little hungry, is there any food?”
“Look at yourself! How old are you?!” Tang Xiaonian glared at him discontentedly, “Haven’t you eaten yet? Didn’t you go out with your classmates?”
“Didn’t eat enough.”
“Oh, there’s still some leftover rice, it’s not even good anymore if you heat it up. I’ll get you some noodles.” Tang Xiaonian said, and hurriedly walked towards the kitchen.
“Mom–” Tang Junhe wanted to say something but stopped, and when he saw Tang Xiaonian looking back at him, he stammered, “Can you make some more… I… we are both hungry. “
“You…” Tang Xiaonian just wanted to say something when Yang Chengchuan walked out of the study at this time, holding the pair of silver-rimmed glasses that had just been removed from the bridge of his nose and greeted Tang Junhe, “Junhe is back, are you hungry?”
“I’m going to cook some noodles,” Tang Xiaonian replied for him, “Xiao Xuan is probably also hungry, I’ll cook more, do you want to eat with them?”
“I’m not eating, it’s almost bedtime,” Yang Chengchuan lifted his wrist and looked at his watch, “You make some for the two kids.”
Yang Chengchuan finished his sentence and went toward the closed door of Yang Xuan’s room, knocked twice and did not receive a response. He held the door handle and twisted it open — it was not locked, so he pushed it open and went in.
“You come here.” Tang Xiaonian’s gaze retracted from the re-closed door and turned his head to Tang Junhe.
Tang Junhe followed her to the kitchen, stood to the side and asked, “Which one do I wash?”
“I didn’t ask you to wash the vegetables, just stand over a bit, I have something to ask you.” Tang Xiaonian picked up the pan, caught half a pot of water and sat the pan back on the gas stove and lit the fire before reaching out and turning on the range hood. Only then, with the humming sound of the machine starting up, did she wash the vegetables while asking Tang Junhe, “Did you guys come back together today?”
Tang Xiaonian asked again, “Did he say anything to you?”
“Say what?” Tang Junhe was puzzled.
“Not a word?” Tang Xiaonian looked at him as if in some disbelief, “I thought he came back to show off with you on purpose.”
“What?” Tang Junhe still didn’t understand.
“Ah, it’s nothing serious. It’ s just that Yang Chengchuan said to me today that Yang Xuan got the attention of the provincial basketball team and wanted to recruit him to play in the game, saying that if he went, he would be guaranteed a place in college.” Tang Xiaonian’s tone was full of disdain, “That’s just ‘physical labor’, there is nothing to envy. I really don’t know what Yang Chengchuan is happy about…”
Before she could finish, she was interrupted by Tang Junhe: “Playing basketball is not physical labor.”
“You even spoke up for him,” Tang Xiaonian gave him an unexpected look, then grabbed another handful of noodles and dropped them into the pot of boiling water, ” Do you envy him? When the time comes, we will be guaranteed to go up by your grades, it’ll be much more honorable than him.”
“There’s nothing honorable in that.” Tang Junhe muttered in a small voice.
“How could you say that it’s not honorable? You go out and ask, is it honorable to go to college by playing basketball, or is it honorable to go to college by getting good grades?” Tang Xiaonian was very dissatisfied with Tang Junhe’s contradiction.
“There are a lot of people who rely on their grades to guarantee their admission, but not a lot of people rely on basketball for that.” After Tang Junhe finished, he did not want to continue arguing with Tang Xiaonian about this boring topic, so he turned around and wanted to walk out of the kitchen.
Walking to the refrigerator by the door, he remembered something, and pulled open the refrigerator door to take out two eggs, put them next to the chopping board, “I prefer to eat it scrambled. I don’t like the poached ones.”
“Don’t be picky,” said Tang Xiaonian, glaring at him, “and eat everything!”
“Naturally.” Tang Junhe curled his lips.