The Let's Play Archive

WILL: A Wonderful World

by Mix

Part 40: Promise

[BGM: Broken Dream 1]


This was the last simulation exam that I would be in charge of this year.
And Gaokao, the real one, would be coming up next for my students.
I unintentionally let out a sigh upon realizing this.

The most stressful time of being a head teacher was the senior year.
Time was always tight and the job was difficult.
To make things worse, I still had to watch over these pubescent and rebellious teenagers.
Some of them might be over 18, but mentally they are all still just kids.

Back in my school days I had only heard about so-called “young love”, and I had barely seen any student couples.
Nowadays, student couples weren't even something worth mentioning. Love triangles, gay relationships, teacher-student relationships, all kinds of stuff can happen nowadays.

Well, I suppose I was already too old to understand kids these days.
All I could wish for right now was for them to graduate as planned, and to leave me a decent graduation rate.
I need to go and take a good vacation after the exam.

The exams had been handed out and everyone was ready to begin.
The bell rang. I walked around the classroom and sat back in the chair next to the lecturn.
I had been having trouble standing for too long these days. Maybe I had been too tired, or it was just a natural part of getting older.

The room felt stuffy. The cicadas outside the window were very noisy.
I looked outside the window, lost in my thoughts.
Somebody coughed loudly.
My mind was pulled back.

Li Wen looked a little nervous and her eyes were drifting all over the place.
Very few students ever realized how good the view was from up here.
I didn't go towards her directly. Instead, I walked out of the classroom and circled behind her through the door in the back of the room.
I realized that she was copying Jimmy's answers.

I left a note.

I told Li Wen to come and meet me in the tutoring room after school.
I intended to talk to her about her cheating.

I had no intention of reporting it to the school.
I had been teaching her since freshman year in middle school. She had been through a lot, so I had always looked out for her.
While her grades were never the best, her character was beyond reproach.
She was not that kind of student.

She hadn't arrived yet.
I stood in front of the window, watching the clouds gathering over the track field.
It might rain tonight.

I remembered the last time I had seen W.
It had also been raining that evening. He had asked me to meet him in a coffee shop.
He told me that he had gotten cancer and might not have much longer to live.
He decided to resign from the school and leave Beijing, maybe even leave the country. At least for a while.
He asked me to keep it a secret, and if possible to take care of all the relevant matters when he was “gone”.

I didn't know what else to say, so I just asked him what he was going to do.
I also contacted a doctor I knew and asked him if there were any other feasible treatment plans.

Later, he told me he had other things to take care of, and said goodbye.
I watched quietly as he walked away.

As soon as he walked out of the coffee shop, I buried my head on the table and cried.
I had always been so self-righteous and self-centered. I wanted to think of and do everything for him, yet I had never thought about or asked him what he would have wanted me to do.
That must be why I had to watch him leave, over and over again.

When we had been kids, our families lived next to each other.
We had known each other for as long as I could remember.
He was always playing alone in kindergarten.
He was never bullied or isolated, or anything like that.
He was just too smart, and too different compared to the other kids of his age.

We had gone to the same elementary school, same high school, and the same college.
No matter where we were he was always the best at what he did.
And I had always been so proud to be his best friend. We would call each other by just one letter as our nickname: he was W, I was Y.

After we had graduated from college he went on to study abroad, and I started working.
I really wanted to go with him.
But I didn't feel that we were close enough to broach this idea.
So we parted ways.
And we began to lose touch once he met his girlfriend abroad.

It was many years later when we finally met again.
He had lost his fiancée, and his spirit had gone with her.
His life had become a mess.
I nervously suggested he come teach at my school.
When he finally agreed to come, I was so happy. Something blossomed again in my heart.

However, nothing more happened between us.
We could be childhood friends who could talk about almost anything with each other.
But we could never become more than friends.

I never had the courage to tell him how I really felt, or how I had always felt.
I was afraid that if I ever did it would have cost us our current relationship.
I just wanted to stay beside him, talk with him, and laugh with him.

Years had gone by. That three-word spell that I had hidden inside my heart kept getting buried deeper and deeper.
But it had never lost its power.
It was just getting harder and harder for me to speak those words out loud.
I felt myself slowly turning into an utter fool.
But I couldn't help myself.

Li Wen had finally come.
I didn't ask her the reason for cheating. I just told her to come to the group study session.
No matter why she had cheated, the study session could only help.

But I suddenly realized.
I was being my usual self again. I was making decisions for her without asking her about it. I could have simply asked her to tell me why she had cheated.

I supposed I just couldn't change myself.

Yang Ying

[BGM: Air]

Formula, Note, and Answers

After being hospitalized for gastritis, I learned from Mr. Wen that he had never blamed me for the photo incident.
He and I were able to go back to how things were, like nothing had happened.
Occasionally some fools in the school would still gossip about us, but I had learned to stop caring and pretend to not hear them at all.

As Gaokao kept getting closer and closer, everyone, including those gossiping idiots, had to focus on the exam.
Even my life had turned into a constant migration between classroom and home. I barely went to the tennis court anymore.
Before we knew it, the final simulation exam was upon us.
A sense of anxiety filled the entire school.
Rumor had it that if anybody screwed up on the simulation exam, he or she would be required to stay in school for an intensive study session until two days before Gaokao.

It was lunch break.
Everyone was sitting in their own seats, trying to study for one last time.
My phone suddenly buzzed.

A text from Jing.
[Breaking news! Mr. Wen resigned last week! (sob)]

I couldn't believe my eyes and I turned around to look at her.
She made a sad face.
How could it be?

The art class had been cancelled for the last two weeks.
I had also been hitting the books, so I didn't realize that I indeed hadn't seen him for a while until just now.
When I went to my balcony the lights had always been off in his apartment. I thought he had simply been going to bed early...

The exam began in the afternoon.
I looked at the paper in my hands, but all I could see was random gibberish that was jumping all over the place.
All I could think about was Mr. Wen's resignation.

Jimmy was really going at it. Half of his papers were hanging off of the side of his desk.

A thought that had never occurred to me appeared in my head.
Should I just... copy it? But I had never cheated in my entire life...
But if I didn't, I would have to stay in detention for extra study sessions after school...
I didn't want to stay... I just wanted to go back home as soon as I could.

I took a peek at Ms. Yang. She seemed to be lost in her own thoughts.
I made up my mind... and decided to copy Jimmy's answers.
I never knew that Jimmy was such a genius. No one ever paid much attention to him.

I was writing down all of his answers when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
Oh no! I had been caught...

A note had been left on my desk, asking me to go to the tutoring room after school.

After school, Ms. Yang met me in the tutoring room.
She said nothing about the cheating. She only asked me to stay for the study sessions.

During the session I kept staring at my phone, hoping that he would respond to my messages.


It was 11:00 PM when I got home.
I knocked on his door softly. No response.
I went to check his balcony. The lights were still off.

I sat on the floor with my back against the door, thinking that I would be able to hear him if he came back in the middle of the night.

1:00 AM.
2:00 AM.

It began to rain outside the window.

3:00 AM.
4:00 AM.

It was almost morning.
What should I do if I still couldn't find him tomorrow?
I suddenly had a bad feeling... Would I never be able to see him again?

Li Wen