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    Loves Error

    Now what?

    Sui Cannong spent his entire weekend debating about his course of action. He examined and replayed the memory of that day at the bridge, but despite how much thought he gave it; there was no sense to be made of the situation. Ji Ling’s behaviour that day remained a mystery to him.

    He went over the details of that movement in his head over and over again. –Thinking of that cigarette that Ji Ling held within his hand, the melancholic look on his face, his slight lean on the railing of the bridge, and even how he appeared whenever the wind would rustle through his hair. Everything was engraved so clearly into Sui Cannong’s mind. 

    After his recollection, he only felt a panicked sense of worry. The power of hindsight hadn’t helped him after all. Because, no matter which way he approached the evidence with pragmatic interpretation; the situation at the time really strongly suggested that Ji Ling was… going to jump off the bridge.

    This was a worst case scenario. Thus prompting Sui Cannong to try and think of other potential possibilities.

    However, he was all alone by the bridge that day. He had leaned himself far over the railings, his expression subtle yet unreadable. If it wasn’t an indication that he wanted to jump off, then what could it have been? What had he truly been considering that day?

    Why would he do this?

    Was it possibly work-related stress? Familial conflict? Or was it due to that unfortunate appointment with me that day? Could I be the trigger to his despair? The straw who broke the camel’s back? 

    But what if? Even if there is only a one in a thousand chance, what if things really turn out the way I think?

    Then Sui Cannong would become the sole witness of these happenings. Although this time, Ji Ling did not make any rash decisions, instead choosing to stop himself at the last moment. But what about the future? If he were to just stand by and watch, what sort of situation would it be if something really life-threatening happened in the future…

    Sui Cannong felt that he might never be able to reconcile with himself for the rest of his life. He realised that, in any case, he had to find an opportunity to talk to Ji Ling again.

    However, Sui Cannong’s Monday morning classes were packed.

    Their classrooms were not on the same floor, so if one of them did not actively create a “chance encounter,” the probability of encountering the other on campus was almost zero. After the last class in the morning, Thomas and two other teachers appeared at the door of the classroom, asking Sui Cannong if he wanted to have lunch together. There were no particularly fixed small circles among the teachers. Basically, those who were closer to each other in the classrooms would be more familiar with each other and would go to lunch together at noon.

    The cafeteria of the international school had a mediocre Chinese food area, a frequently disappointing Western food area, and a “guess if you’ll have diarrhoea today” salad area. Sui Cannong was a little absent-minded today and didn’t even look at the dishes, and just joined Thomas in the queue for Western food. Then he got a plate of corn paste with asparagus.

    A sticky yellow lump piled up in the plate, which even pigs would sigh at and dogs would shake their heads at. Sui Cannong couldn’t tell if it was freshly made by the cafeteria chef or freshly vomited. He put the tray on the table and, as he sat down, he glanced at the table behind him, but did not see Ji Ling in the crowd. Thomas had been learning to use chopsticks for over a year, and Sui Cannong had corrected his movements many times, but he still held the chopsticks in a somewhat ape-like manner while eating. Sui Cannong couldn’t help but ask Thomas, 

    “Have you seen Ji Ling today?”

    Thomas’s expression became puzzled, as if he didn’t understand why Sui Cannong suddenly mentioned this person, 

    “I don’t know, isn’t he usually eating with Lin and Louis? What’s wrong?” Sui Cannong poked at the corn paste on his plate and mumbled after a while, 

    “It’s nothing.”

    When going upstairs, Sui Cannong deliberately slowed down his pace and took the stairs that he didn’t often take, but were closer to Ji Ling’s classroom.

    However, he didn’t meet the person he wanted to meet. Sui Cannong went downstairs and just turned a corner in the hallway, only to see two familiar faces standing at the door of his classroom.

    The neon-haired sisters, one with double ponytails and the other with a single ponytail today, were holding the seeds Sui Cannong had given them on Friday, and they were panting and waving at him from a distance, clearly having just run over. The girl with double ponytails spoke somewhat apologetically, 

    “Sorry Mr. Sui, we know we’re late.”

    “It’s alright, once I saw that you two weren’t here earlier; I simply went downstairs for lunch instead.”

    Sui Cannong opened the classroom door, smiling, “I’ve already cleared the space for your pots and soil, come in.”

    “And the science fair is in half a month.” The girl with the single ponytail continued to explain, “We’re in Mr. Ji’s group, and our chosen topic is a bit challenging, so we have an extra half hour meeting at noon every day. We didn’t mean to be late on purpose.” Sui Cannong paused while opening the door.

    “It’s nothing.” he swung open the door, saying, “now, let’s do some gardening.”

    Sui Cannong took the basin and soil out for the two of them. The two little girls squatted on the ground, speaking quietly in Japanese, and then awkwardly began to pick up the soil with their hands. Sui Cannong hesitated and asked, “Is Mr. Ji still in the classroom now?” The two sisters looked at each other blankly, and then the girl with twin ponytails looked up at Sui Cannong and shook her head, 

    “When we left, we saw him going downstairs too.”

    “He went to the first floor,” the girl with a single ponytail added, “He should be heading to the cafeteria.” There was about twenty minutes left before the start of the first afternoon class, so when Sui Cannong returned to the cafeteria, there were hardly any people left inside. From a distance, he could see Ji Ling sitting all alone. Ji Ling was wearing a light-coloured shirt today, with his head down and a serene profile, mechanically eating the cornmeal in his plate. From Ji Ling’s expression, Sui Cannong couldn’t see anything wrong with his state at all, and it was even harder to connect the person by the bridge earlier with the person in front of him.

    In fact, before meeting at the cafe that day, the two of them had almost no interaction on a regular basis, and had never shared a meal at the same table. To make his next conversation seem less obvious, Sui Cannong carefully considered and then went to the western food area to get another meal, deciding to stage a chance encounter. He lowered his head to look at the plate in his hand, took a deep breath, and walked over to Ji Ling.

    Ji Ling decided to stop eating the cornmeal in front of him. He didn’t want to call his current behaviour “eating,” because “eating” was a very beautiful verb in Ji Ling’s mind. The thing in front of him could only be called a carbohydrate, and Ji Ling didn’t think it could be categorised as food. Usually, Ji Ling had some tolerance for unpalatable food, but now his chest felt tight, and he just didn’t want to eat anymore. Looking at the small empty area in the plate, Ji Ling realised that the amount he had consumed was still insufficient, probably not enough to provide the energy needed for the afternoon teaching.

    So he hesitated and decided to eat three more asparagus spears. The asparagus had been stir-fried with black pepper, and there was a bit too much oil. As Ji Ling put the third asparagus into his mouth, he heard a voice beside him.

    “Did you just finish class, Mr. Ji?” The person’s tone was cheerful, “Can I sit here?”

    Ji Ling’s pupils contracted.

    He didn’t know how his expression looked right now, he only knew that the base of this third asparagus was really bitter, so bitter that his tongue felt a little numb. He also knew that at this moment, in Sui Cannong’s eyes, his expression must be very stiff. Ji Ling’s Adam’s apple moved, and he raised his head, trying to make eye contact with Sui Cannong as naturally as possible.

    “Sure,” he heard himself say calmly, “Mr. Sui, please take a seat.” So Sui Cannong sat down with his tray in the opposite seat. Ji Ling lowered his gaze, knowing that Sui Cannong was looking at him, so he tried to appear relaxed and nonchalant. But it was really difficult to achieve such a thing, because Ji Ling’s heart was beating very fast at the moment. He had never expected Sui Cannong to choose to sit with him. But the cafeteria only had himself, a teacher, still eating, and Ji Ling quickly realised that Sui Cannong didn’t want to sit with him, but only because he was the only choice at the moment.

    This time, he mustn’t let the situation turn awkward again. Ji Ling told himself this in his heart. If Sui Cannong asked him something, he should not just nod or say “yes,” he must say more. But when answering, he should not explain too much, it would seem too strange and eager. But when answering, don’t explain too much, it will seem too strange and enthusiastic, in short, absolutely, absolutely, the atmosphere must not be allowed to become as awkward as it was that day.

    Ji Ling saw Sui Cannong take a few bites of corn porridge first, then put down the spoon and said to himself, 

    “Ah, this corn porridge is really…” Sui Cannong did not finish this sentence. Ji Ling raised his head somewhat alertly, realising that the other party might want to hear his evaluation.

    So Ji Ling paused and said, “I think this corn porridge is delicious, smooth to the taste, with a strong aroma of corn.” Ji Ling described it cautiously, and in order to avoid the conversation becoming awkward, he paused and awkwardly threw back a question: “Right?”

    Sui Cannong seemed to be stunned. After a while, he nodded and said, 

    “Yes, it is indeed very delicious.”

    Ji Ling thought that his answer this time was of good quality, and he relaxed a little. The two of them lowered their heads and quietly ate for a while. A minute later, Ji Ling heard Sui Cannong call out to him again. He asked, 

    “Teacher Ji, do you… have anything on your mind lately?”

    It was a very abrupt question, with no preamble or context. Ji Ling didn’t understand why he was asking this, and didn’t know how he should answer. So Ji Ling hesitated for a moment and chose to tell the truth, 

    “No.” Immediately, Ji Ling felt somewhat guilty, because he realised that he seemed to have led the conversation into a dead end again. However, Sui Cannong’s expression was somewhat hesitant, as if he had anticipated this answer long ago.

    He said, “But I do.”

    Ji Ling hadn’t reacted yet, when he saw Sui Cannong lower his head to scoop up a spoonful of corn porridge and continued on, “Do you know, the new dungeon is going live tonight?” Ji Ling’s expression became somewhat blank, he looked at Sui Cannong’s face and blinked slowly. Because he thought Sui Cannong wouldn’t bring up the game again. Ji Ling knew he was not good with words, and he also knew that he had indeed messed things up that day.

    At the time, Ji Ling had actually understood the meaning behind Sui Cannong’s words. He knew that he had made Sui Cannong feel awkward and uncomfortable that day, and he didn’t want to make things difficult for him again. So Ji Ling hadn’t been online all weekend, even though he knew that the mushrooms in his garden should have all died. When Sui Cannong sat down in front of him, Ji Ling thought he would treat their meeting at the coffee shop on Friday as if it had never happened.

    However, when Sui Cannong put down the spoon and casually continued, 

    “I checked the official account’s spoilers, it’s a very difficult dungeon. Anyway, it might be a bit painful to do it alone.”

    Sui Cannong’s words seemed to imply something, but Ji Ling didn’t dare to be sure of his own thoughts, so he just stared blankly at his face.

    “So, are you free tonight, Mr. Ji?”

    Ji Ling heard Sui Cannong ask him,

    “Firstly, how about we add each other on WeChat?”

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