Although the roof of the teaching building was generally not open, it was still cleaned regularly.
The scenery from the rooftop was quite good, particularly at dusk. At a glance, it seemed that the whole world was full of bright, burning clouds. Wang Que and Tan Qiuyu came here often enough to look at the scenery that they’d nearly figured out the cleaning schedule.
She pushed open the door, and the warm, setting sun washed over her face. Wang Que squinted her eyes and spread her five fingers over her vision. The wind blew her long hair, tossing about the flaxen curls with a playful streak of dark blue.
She walked to the middle of the rooftop and looked around, but she didn’t see Tan Qiuyu.
Are you afraid to come to see me?
This thought flashed through Wang Que’s mind, and she curled her lips mockingly, feeling that the friendship of the past three years had become a joke.
The moment Tan Qiuyu brushed white paint on the back of her test paper, they were no longer friends.
The scenery on the rooftop was still very beautiful. The low-hanging clouds softly floated toward the horizon, pressing on the top of the tallest building in the city. The brilliant light of the huge, sinking sun in the west dyed the clouds a dazzling red orange.
In the east, the deep blue of the night had already filled the sky. At the juncture between dusk and night, the sky had merged into a graceful purple. It was as if the entire sky had become a palette of nature.
Wang Que’s mood, which had been downcast for many days, brightened slightly. But, at this moment, she heard a familiar voice behind her.
She turned around and found Tan Qiuyu standing there.
She had clearly not been doing well these past few days. There were now dark blue bags under her once bright eyes, and her complexion looked so terrible that even foundation could not cover it up.
Wang Que originally thought that when the two of them talked face-to-face again, she wouldn’t be able to control her emotions and would directly break down, but in fact, she was much calmer than she thought.
Or, much stronger.
“What do you want to say?” Wang Que heard the coldness in her own voice.
Tan Qiuyu chewed her lower lip savagely. Her eyes seemed wet with tears. She clenched her hands into fists and said in a choked voice, “I’m sorry Wang Que. I, I really don’t know how it happened at that time—“
“If you called me here to apologize, then there’s no need,” Wang Que interrupted her. With her back to the sunset, she stared at Tan Qiuyu, and said word by word, “If I repeat another year of school, I can still be admitted to the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2016, but I will never forgive you in this lifetime.”
Hearing Wang Que’s words, tears finally welled up in Tan Qiuyu’s eyes, but her face didn’t have the slightest hint of remorse or shame. Instead, her mouth curved into a twisted and happy smile.
She let out a low chuckle.
“You know, Wang Que, sometimes I wonder why God let me know people like you. Why? Why allow outstanding people like you to appear next to me?”
The envy, the dissatisfaction and the resentment that were suppressed for three years in her heart finally broke out at this moment and turned into an overflowing jealousy.
Yes, she didn’t remember when she started feeling jealous of Wang Que.
The one and only.
There was only one most beautiful girl, and her name was Wang Que. There was only one most gifted student, and her name was Wang Que. There was only one classmate with the most popularity, and her name was Wang Que.
No matter how hard she tried, Tan Qiuyu couldn’t look as beautiful as Wang Que, couldn’t paint as well as Wang Que, and couldn’t get all the students’ love from the depths of their heart like Wang Que.
She was Wang Que’s best friend, an inseparable friend, but she was also like a silent backdrop, a mere supporting role that no one took note of.
Why was she not good enough?
Since childhood, she had been the envy of the whole class. Boys had confessed to her, and parents and teachers alike showered her with praises. It had always been her!
Jealousy was the deadliest poison.
“Why? Why did Teacher Yang like you so much, and said that he wanted to be your teacher even before the entrance exam? Why would Yu Yuchen confess to you? I obviously like him so much! Why can you paint so casually while I had to strive all day to improve? Why can your family take out money in the hundreds of thousands and send you to Beijing again and again, but I was only able to go once?!”
Wang Que couldn’t believe her ears for a moment. She never thought that Tan Qiuyu had so much dissatisfaction with her. But, it all sounded like nonsense.
“Why? Just because I started to learn painting at the age of six and stayed in the studio late every day before returning home. Just because my parents sold their house in order to support my dream. Just because I hadn’t told anyone about this doesn’t mean that you can just take it away from me.”
Tan Qiuyu shouted hysterically, “I haven’t!”
Wang Que roared in a voice louder than her’s, “Don’t lie! You did it on purpose!”
The entire rooftop grew quiet for a moment.
The wind blew at their tear-stained faces. Tears and wind-blown hair obscured Wang Que’s sight. Even now, she still found it hard to believe. Because of these things that she’d never noticed before, Tan Qiuyu, the person she thought of as her best friend, wanted to destroy everything?
Wang Que took a deep breath, and a sobbing sound escaped from her, unbidden. Then, striving to keep her voice calm, she spoke an understatement, “So unfortunately, even if you ruin my entrance exam this year, the things you want will never belong to you. Teachers and classmates will still like me, and in their eyes, you will always be the person who ruined my future.”
Tan Qiuyu’s pupils dilated abruptly. Wang Que’s every word was like a bloody fact that pierced her heart.
The plan that she’d originally thought to be foolproof was discovered by Wang Que on the spot, and her evil deeds were exposed to everyone. Even her parents, who had always loved her, were shocked that she would do such a thing.
From the beginning to the end, no one cared about her feelings. No one wanted to understand what she thought, she who had been suppressed by the Wang Que for three years!
“Go to hell!”
Before Wang Que could react, Tan Qiuyu rushed towards her. Her former best friend grabbed her neck with one hand and her shoulder with the other hand, pushing her whole body backward!
With a bang, Wang Que’s back slammed into the railing, which prevented her from falling.
Under the force of Tan Qiuyu’s push, Wang Que’s upper body fell backward beyond the railing and hung in the air. Tan Qiuyu lowered her head fiercely and stared at Wang Que with bloodshot eyes. In that moment, Wang Que felt as if she’d turned into a rabbit, with her eyes dripping red blood.
Wang Que finally became scared.
With her upper body hanging in the air and Tan Qiuyu’s hand strangling her neck, Wang Que clearly felt the threat of death. She began to struggle instinctively out of Tan Qiuyu’s grasp, but her position put her at a disadvantage. The more she struggled, the tighter the grip on her neck became.
“Let go, Qiuyu! You are killing me!” Wang Que spit out these words from her throat with difficulty. The thin railing was extremely painful against her back. The strength in front of her made her feel weak by comparison, particularly when her body hung so precariously, giving her the illusion of falling down the railing.
Tan Qiuyu seemed to have become crazy. She couldn’t hear Wang Que’s words at all, or she heard it but took it as mere breeze.
At this moment, Wang Que was sure that Tan Qiuyu really intended to kill her.
The fear in her heart swept through her entire body. Wang Que let out a wild scream and used all the strength she had in her. An unimaginable energy erupted at this moment of life and death, allowing her to push Tan Qiuyu away.
Tan Qiuyu fell down to the ground.
At this moment, Tan Qiuyu was already in a crazed state.
Everyone, everyone already knew what she had done. No matter how hard she worked, no matter how good she became, she would never be able to erase this stain.
It was all her fault! It was all Wang Que’s fault! If Wang Que hadn’t been better than herself in everything, if Wang Que hadn’t attracted everyone’s attention, why would she have to do such a thing?!
If it wasn’t for Wang Que, how could everyone know about her wonderful scheme?!
Obviously, this current situation wouldn’t have happened!
Thinking like this, Tan Qiuyu screamed. Not caring about how she looked, she scrambled to her feet again and rushed at Wang Que, who was holding her throat and coughing.
Wang Que couldn’t dodge in time. Her body slammed into the railing again, and this time, she heard the iron railing emit a heavy creak.
The fear in Wang Que’s heart surged to its peak.
“Hurry, stop! Let go!”
Tan Qiuyu didn’t hear her. The orange-red light of the setting sun was on her face, reflecting the desperate paranoia and madness in her eyes.
The railing let out another loud groan, and Wang Que screamed as the entire thing gave way!
As her body fell backward into the air, Wang Que stretched out her hand in despair, looking at the girl on the roof pleadingly. Tan Qiuyu seemed to want to save her. She suddenly stretched out her hand.
But as their fingertips touched, she seemed to have realized something, and her hand withdrew.
Wang Que saw Tan Qiuyu stretched out her hand and then retracted it, giving her one final hope before pushing her into a deeper despair.
Even then, she hadn’t understood what she had done wrong.
She saw the setting sun in the horizon, burning the clouds with a splendid fire. Overhead, stars dotted the deepening night sky. The familiar figure on the rooftop receded farther and farther away. She swiftly passed by the window where the classmate she’d always joked and laughed with was sitting and eating a late snack.
Then, she slammed hard into the ground.
She felt as if she’d become a sack that had been pulverized. Blood poured out of her head, her back, and her awkwardly splayed limbs, staining the pavement into a bright, red patch.
But she didn’t feel the slightest pain. And, she couldn’t move at all.
Wang Que stared straight at the sky, watching the splendid, burning clouds and the stars, unable to even close her eyes.
She was probably dead, right?
Some of the red blood on the pavement bubbled into bloodied blisters and slowly swelled. Until, at last, they popped and translucent bugs emerged. They were the length of a little finger, and had the fusiform body of a locust. In the middle of their back was a breathing hole with a cluster of slender tentacles sticking out from it, probing the surrounding environment.
They wriggled and gradually approached Wang Que as she laid in the center of the pool of blood, like a silent, sacrificial offering.
Wang Que only felt terrified.
When the first insect crawled onto her fingertips, the soft and sticky touch made her want to scream.
At this moment, a shadow covered her head.
It was a girl, standing next to Wang Que and looking down at her.
She was wearing a sea-blue suspender dress, and her black hair was woven into a long, thick braid that hung over her shoulder. With her hands behind her back, she leaned over to look down at Wang Que, her eyes probing and inquisitive.
“My name is Luo Yan, what about you?”