Being-Towards-Death - Chapter 2
He was so stupid that he would continue to suffer for another twenty-four hours with a few words.
On a new day, the sun was hanging high outside, Shen Tingmian’s eyes were not blinking, and he looked at the ceiling dumbly.
He was thinking hard, working with his old brain. Every morning he needed a period of this kind of blank space, so that he could withdraw his nerves from the absurd and vague void and assemble into a normal person.
It felt terrible to live another twenty-four hours.
No, it was not twenty-four hours, today, today definitely.
Only at dawn would he be eligible to fall asleep. This time it was not surprising. He had slept for almost an hour or two. After a long time, he was not happy to count.
Survival meant it was an extreme nerve torment.
Last night he cried in the quilt and cried until he retched. This suicidal cry gave him a headache to an explosion, but it was not enough to die. If excessive crying could make people die, he would have died thoroughly. He suffocated his head with the quilt in an attempt to relieve the pain, although it didn’t help much, but he still did it every time.
People who were doomed to drown would also twist and struggle in the water, and the subconscious desire to survive couldn’t blaspheme his attachment to death.
The temples felt painful.
The bed was not worth coveting, he was just desperate for the new day.
“Knock knock knock——”
“Knock knock knock——”
Shen Tingmian’s mother, Zheng Wenying, was knocking on the door. Every time she knocked, Shen Tingmian’s body would twitch.
“Get up! Get up!”
She had a big voice, like a singer who couldn’t hit a high pitch.
His mother yelled a few words in a hurry and left. The day was about to begin, and she still had a lot to take care of.
It took a long time for Shen Tingmian to put his soul back into his body. He opened his mouth and couldn’t make a sound.
The sound of the slippers outside was extremely sharp, accompanied by another violent knock on the door by Zheng Wenying.
She was screaming, questioning, and being angry at her son’s laziness.
She yelled: “Are you giving an attitude again!”
Shen Tingmian’s movements were stagnant. He sat dumbly for a while, slowly making a voice: “No, I’m up.”
The voices of the mother and son were high and low, and the movements were fast and quiet. If someone else heard them suddenly, it would feel very abrupt. In the past, Shen Tingmian was not like this. He was more energetic than his mother, and he always yelled in harmony with her, had a sharper voice, and said something harsher. But now, he had no strength.
His mother knocked the door twice again, with a loud noise.
Finally, her voice vibrated, with rusty anger: “Don’t lock the door!”
Her footsteps went away, and Shen Tingmian was still thinking about how to reply to her.
Finally, he weakly said to the cold wall: “Understood.”
When he came out, Zheng Wenying had finished eating. She was busy looking for something, and when she passed by, she said to him:
“Grandma’s birthday is on Saturday, you don’t have classes, go back to the hometown.”
Next Saturday, Shen Tingmian thought slowly, picked up the dishes, and stared at the steaming porridge.
He murmured slowly.
After going out, Shen Tingmian turned on his phone in the corridor. He originally wanted to delete the Weibo he posted last night, but after thinking about it, forget it, no one will see it.
There was a private message from a stranger.
The other party asked at 2:13 last night, “Are you still alive, brother?”
raw: xiongdi. Original meaning and usage of 兄弟 is indeed “brother”, but in spoken language it can also refer to “pal”, “mate”, or “homie” so i’ll just use brother
Shen Tingmian replied: “Yeah.”
Never thought that the other party would reply in seconds: “Will you die?”
Shen Tingmian’s fingers skillfully input: “Death, Sunday…”
Grandma still have several birthdays to celebrate, ba.
He paused for a while, deleted a few words, and replied: “Death, next Tuesday.”
“Together, I think you are located very close, I will find you.”
Shen Tingmian asked him: “Do you have an idea?”
“Yes, taking sleeping pills and burning charcoal is painless.”
“You find a hotel, ba.”
Shen Tingmian replied: “Can.”
After chatting with that person for a few more words, Shen Tingmian turned back to the phone interface and saw three replies under the Weibo posted yesterday.
He originally thought that he would die yesterday, so he posted a regular Weibo.
“Bye bye, go first.”
One reply was that the brother just asked: “Did you succeed?”
The other one didn’t know who it was, posted: “If you want to die, you would die long ago.”
Another one might be a girl. The other party made a long conversation. It probably meant that there was something delicious, a good movie, and invited him to eat what she had eaten today. He was welcomed to chat with her, and finally wrote the sentence: “The world is worth it.”
Shen Tingmian had seen a lot of similar content.
Shen Tingmian wanted to tell her that the role of food and beauty was nothing but a drop in the bucket for him. He would never feel happy because of this. Everything in the world could not please him. Now he was indeed in this situation, and he was already tired of this kind of goodwill. Just replying with the word “thank you” would make him physiologically nauseous, which meant endless futility.
This kind of tiredness made him deepen his hatred of himself. No one loved him, and it was also painful to have someone caring for him. Except for the same kind, no one would really understand him.
He wouldn’t repeat the same mistakes again. In the future, whether it was good-will or malicious, it had nothing to do with him.
The world is worth it, but I am not.
Thinking about this, he put the phone back in his pocket and walked out of the corridor.
Around the corner, Li Muze was sitting on a mountain bike, wearing a blue and white school uniform, with a headset hanging from one ear. His body was spreading outward like a spiral, and his eyes were slightly widened under the tousled hair. Occasionally, he would step back suddenly, pretending to cough a few times in the strange gaze of passers-by, and then cautiously look in that direction again with his waist down.
Shen Tingmian locked the door bolt with a bag of milk in his mouth. He walked unsteadily, and staggered into Li Muze’s gaze.
Li Muze’s head against the handlebars, eyes unblinking, like a big squirrel looking at the pine cones on the tree.
Pine cone in the pocket, the back swayed.
Go go go, out of the squirrel’s eyes.
The squirrel smiled and tilted his mouth, holding his belly, grunting and laughing around the corner.
A woman sending her child to kindergarten looked at him in horror and couldn’t help speeding up her pace. Her baby took her hand and asked, “Does that gege have a stomachache?”
Li Muze’s day was lit up like this.
He clenched the handlebars with both hands, and flew across the green and prosperous city lanes. The warm morning breeze blew his school uniform into wings, and he rode faster and faster, swaying side by side with his hills, passing the scent of pancakes floating through the stalls, and passing through the dappled sunlight on the street.
His eyes looked around happily. The back of a boy in front of him was a bit like Shen Tingmian. It couldn’t be, but it was, so his smiling eyes fell into a few frames of the beauty.
: 虚实的美景 — lit. means truth and falsehood of the beauty but 虚实(truth and falsehood) is an idiom(?), means actual situation
Without even thinking about it, he let go of his hand, held it high, and put it down in a crooked manner amidst the shrill roar of cars behind him.
At that moment, he wanted to shout loudly in the middle of the street: “Shen Tingmian, I like you——”
Second Year, Class 3, Baiju High School.
The bus came slowly today, and when Shen Tingmian arrived at the classroom, Zhao Chen was already sitting there.
He was fighting with Meng Yuanyuan, the girl at the desk in front of him.
Shen Tingmian listened to them, he looked at the unfinished homework on the table and thought blankly, oh, today is June 1st.
Fortunately, he didn’t die yesterday, otherwise there would be no festive atmosphere in the class today.
It might be God’s will.
Thinking about this, he relaxed a little.
The cicada in his left ear still didn’t give up its musical dream, he pulled his earlobe.
Is this cicada willing to go to heaven with him?
Between classes, Shen Tingmian slumped over his desk to sleep.
It looked that way to an outsider, although he was not asleep; he had a splitting headache and his temples were pounding. Compared to the complete silence of his room at home, he was sleepier in a noisy classroom. He couldn’t say why, just lying on his back in the crook of his arm embracing a thin sense of security.
The excitement around him had nothing to do with him. He vaguely felt the people coming and going in the familiar ringing in his ears, and suddenly there was a roar, and the classroom exploded.
The temperature of the human body was suddenly concentrated next to him, and he was suddenly annoyed and had to look up.
Li Muze was holding a pile of snacks and put them on several tables with a ‘pa’.
“Big shot, big shot!”
raw: da lao, can be translated as boss or big shot so i’m just using big shot)
“The Sports Committee is awesome——!”
Shen Tingmian’s hair was disheveled and the ends of his eyes were a little red. He was pressing his crumpled school uniform, the zipper was only pulled up to the middle, and the collar of the uniform was crooked to one shoulder.
Li Muze did not dare to look at him, pretending to be calm, holding the snacks he bought for half a month’s money and stuffing them carelessly to the people around. He secretly peeked at Shen Tingmian with his afterglow and subconsciously licked his dry lips.
After giving out to Meng Yuanyuan’s table, he frantically grabbed a bunch of lollipops from his snack bag and threw them on Shen Tingmian’s table.
Shen Tingmian never accepted other people’s snack sharing; he would smile before saying thank you every time, and then refuse.
Only this time, Shen Tingmian was dumbfounded; he sluggishly sorted through the colorful candies on the table, not knowing if it was because he was not awake, but he did not reject Li Muze.
Li Muze was so happy.
However, Li Muze, who was as steady as an old dog, couldn’t even say the flirtatious words sheepishly. Zhao Chen called out from the side, “I want it too, I want it too!”
Shen Tingmian lifted his eyes and looked straight at him.
Li Muze lost his mind. He stuffed all the snacks in his arms into Zhao Chen and left in a hurry.
Zhao Chen yelled, Meng Yuanyuan turned her head and looked at him in surprise: “All for you?”
“Fuck,” Zhao Chen said without a word, “fuck.”
Both the students at the front and back tables came to grab the snacks in his arms.
Shen Tingmian completely lost his sleepiness. Frowning, he put the lollipop in the gap of the book drawer, pushed his knees off the chair, and pulled his hair up and down before going out through the back door.
Li Muze was in the hallway peeking at the window pretending to look at the scenery. When Shen Tingmian came downstairs with his back turned to him, his eyes followed him.
He was nervously self-doubting.
Even if he wanted to break his head, he couldn’t figure out how to naturally give a male classmate a lollipop on June first, so he bought a bunch of snacks, and finally ended up giving them to everyone in the class.
But he knew that he just wanted to give Shen Tingmian snacks.
But he didn’t seem to like it?
Old Dog Liu strutted over at this time and gave him a slap on the buttocks and said sparingly, “What’s going on, little brother, you told me the day before yesterday that you were short of money.”
: Liu Lao Gou. His nickname. He mostly called by this name throughout the whole novel though there are quite a few times Li Muze mentions his real name.
Li Muze was not in the mood to be poor with him and was worried about himself.
Old Dog Liu and he grew up together since they were in diapers. He knew the situation at a glance. “Oh”, he put his hand in the pocket and gave him an elbow: “Is it done, ah?”
Li Muze then responded, expressionlessly twisting his head to look at the students running outside because he didn’t want to be late.
“This time is still quite gentle, not like the last one who violently beat you up,” Old Dog Liu raised his eyebrows, “What, this one also doesn’t agree?”
“Gee, you talk to Laozi with your head!”
Li Muze became energetic and gave him a kick: “Fuck off.”
Old Dog Liu continued to probe the enemy: “I said she agreed to have a relationship with you or not.”
 她(Tā): she. It sounds the same as 他(Tā) he. So I guess ODL still doesn’t know about LMZ.
Li Muze said in annoyance: “I did not ask.”
Old Dog Liu let out an ‘ah’ sound: “You did not ask? Didn’t you confess your love?”
Here were just the two of them. Li Muze propped up the pocket down, looking down at his long stretched school uniform and muttered: “I didn’t dare to ask, it would be nice to be able to say it.”
“Puff,” said Old Dog Liu, touching his stubble, laughing to death: “No way, Li Muze, are you so innocent? After laying the groundwork for more than a month, you said, ‘I like you’?”
“You care about me?”
“You’re not afraid of puppy love,” Old Dog Liu looked at him contemptuously. “Really? You’re not the only one in our class. I see that Meng Yuanyuan and Shen Tingmian are going to become a couple.”
Li Muze’s face was instantly ugly: “Do you have evidence? Just bullshitting here.”
“What? When I told you last time you did not question the authenticity ah.” Old Dog Liu said amusedly, “Which time did they both answer questions together without being cheered?”
“That means shit! I’ll fucking die if I believe what you say again,” Li Muze slapped Old Dog Liu on the head, “Remember that for your father!”
The prep bell rang, and Old Dog Liu scolded him as he bumped into him and headed to class. He was thinking about Shen Tingmian on his own, ignoring the old dog. Before entering the door, he turned his head to look at the direction Shen Tingmian had left.
Shen Tingmian was never late in any way, he always rushed in two seconds before the bell.
Li Muze’s dark eyes followed Shen Tingmian’s movements as he watched him walk to his seat, the back of his school uniform crumpled and there was still a place wet. His throat tightened, his face flushed after thinking blindly about it.
Shen Tingmian sat and stared, no one knew what he was thinking. He was not a good student and always deserted in class. Li Muze always looked at him, and after a long time, he could see some clues that although he stared at the blackboard and the teacher as if he was paying attention, he was not listening to anything.
He was wandering off.
The English teacher left a paper for the second half of the period and left for ten minutes.
The classroom gradually became chaotic, buzzing, as several people were talking.
Li Muze grabbed the paper and wrote casually, and saw Old Dog Liu molesting his deskmate in front.
And Shen Tingmian.
His Shen Tingmian, leaning back on his chair, tilted his head slightly.
His Adam’s apple rolled, and Li Muze choked his breath.
Then he rummaged through the drawer.
: he here referring to STM.
Pulling out a lollipop, he looked at it, watched it and tore off the paper before putting it in his mouth.
The English teacher came in through the back door abruptly, and she patted Li Muze, who was shivering with his shoulders shrunk:
“Li Muze, what are you sneaking around for?”
Zhao Chen in the front row turned his head and glanced when he heard the movement, and touched Shen Tingmian’s arm: “Teacher.”
Shen Tingmian made an ‘en’ sound, carefully put the lollipop on the candy paper, and then tucked it into the drawer on the books.
Zhao Chen said: “This is not delicious, it’s too sweet.”
Shen Tingmian asked him, “Is it sweet?”
His eyes were in a trance, as if he really didn’t know.
Zhao Chen inexplicably said, “Yes ah, sweet and greasy.”
Shen Tingmian recalled the residual sweetness in his mouth. He lowered his head and looked at the young lines on his palm. All the organs were losing their function, and his body was going to decay next week.
Li Muze was…
Li Muze was an overly sweet candy, and he was a person who lost his sense of taste.
Li Muze didn’t know what Shen Tingmian was thinking.
As always, he secretly glanced at Shen Tingmian from behind, holding his chin with a silly smile.
In such a young summer, Li Muze, who was still a teenager, was full of happy and simple thoughts. This was the beginning of the story of two teenagers; one was ignorant of death and the other was longing for the future.
The author has something to say:
Recommend everyone to listen to Paul by Big Thief. I like to listen to this song when I write this.
T/N: if there’s any grammatical error or typo, please lmk! this isn’t proofread.