Chapter 20: Tears
When Lin Xin saw him working diligently, she was too embarrassed to idle about. Since she didn’t eat anything for breakfast and her body was already malnutritioned, Lin Xin started to feel dizzy when she got to work. When Zhao Qiang noticed her sitting on the mud while gasping, he laughed at her and teased, “I can do much more than you.” He didn’t forget to toss another shovel full of dirt to boast his strength.
Lin Xin asked, “Are you often punished like this?”
Zhao Qiang retorted, “It’s none of your business.”
Lin Xin no longer asked. The Dean must have punished him in the past by sending him to these fields. It was no wonder the boy feared the Dean. Lin Xin rested for a while before continuing to till the soil. For the entire morning, the two children managed to loosen half of the field’s soil.
The sun hung high in the sky, giving off a scorching heat wave. Lin Xin could hardly move; she sat down underneath a tree’s shade and gasped for breath. If only she had some water and a steamed bun to enjoy right now.
Lin Xin painted an image of a pastry in her mind to satisfy her hunger. Underneath the scorching sun, her cheeks began to scorch scarlet, until a shadow cast over her. She saw that Lin Xinyu stood in front of her while holding two boiled eggs.
“These are for you.”
Lin Xin looked at the two eggs in his hand with caution, as if they were made of dangerous fire. She dared not to touch them.
Lin Xinyu hurriedly asked, “Is two not enough for you? This is all I have for now.”
Lin Xinyu was still vigilant as she stared at the food he offered. She reached out with her hand, and then shrank back, not daring to take it. Eggs and apples were luxury goods in this orphanage, and she knew this more than anyone. How did he get it? If she didn’t know the source of such precious food, she knew that she didn’t have the right to consume it.
While Lin Xin hesitated, Zhao Qiang strode over and quickly snatched eggs from Lin Xinyu’s hands. He kneaded an eggshell off and swallowed one of the boiled eggs in a bite. By the time Lin Xinyu reacted, he had already eaten one.
Lin Xinyu shouted, “This is not for you. Give it back!”
Zhao Qiang gave a brutish smile and said, “I won’t give to you, definitely won’t give it; it’s mine now…” As he spoke, he began to de-shell the last piece.
When Lin Xinyu saw that he refused to give it back, he anxiously reached out to try to snatch the boiled egg himself. Zhao Qiang did not expect him to have the courage to retaliate this time. Since his guard was down, Lin Xinyu was able to knock the bully down, and soon, the two boys were brawling on the ground.
Earlier, when Zhao Qiang suddenly took the eggs, Lin Xin felt relieved since she didn’t have to make a choice. But she also didn’t expect that Lin Xinyu would quarrel with him for two eggs. Both she and Zhao Qiang were currently subject to their penalty; if a fight like this were to be discovered by the Dean once again, they would have to spend another day tilling the soil.
Lin Xin loudly exclaimed, “Don’t fight! Zhao Qiang, if you still want to till the fields tomorrow, then you go ahead and hit him.”
Zhao Qiang didn’t really want to find trouble with Lin Xinyu for now. After hearing Lin Xin’s reasoning, he simply loosened his grip on the boiled egg and returned it to Lin Xinyu.
Since Lin Xinyu got back what he wanted, he no longer entangled with Zhao Qiang. He handed the boiled egg over to Lin Xin as if he was offering a treasure. “Quickly eat it.”
The egg was squashed and unsightly, like a piece of dirt. Although she could not bear to waste it, she still did not accept it.
Lin Xinyu carefully asked, “You don’t like it? I’ll go look for apples instead.”
Lin Xin finally nodded and said, “I like it.” She took the egg and slowly stripped off the shells, then consumed it bite by bite.
Why does it taste salty? Somehow, her tears fell onto the egg as she ate each piece.
How long has it been since she last cried? The last time she shed tears was when her parents died. It had been so long ago that she had forgotten what it was like to cry.
In fact, this feeling wasn’t so bad. It was natural for a person to cry when worries burden his or her mind.