Salad Days [Chapter 1 - 5.1] - 5.1
A hundred thanks to foulplay for editing this part and making it flow so much better╰(*´︶`*)╯♡
Question: Which is more preferable: quicker chapters with edited mtl or slower chapters with actual translation?
Bai Jinyi reluctantly turned his head after the coach called his name. He had upturned eyes with long, dark eyebrows, and exuded a brooding air. At his age, he hadn’t grown much yet, but it didn’t appear to sway his inborn contempt for others.
“What’re you looking at?!” the coach shouted.
Bai Jinyi stayed silent as the boy next to him laughed mischievously, “He’s looking at those little swans.”
As soon as he’d spoken, the surrounding boys all burst into laughter with clear hostility.
”Laugh all you want,” The coach said sternly, “those who do will go around the field and do squats!”
Bai Jinyi didn’t stir as the other boys grudgingly scattered. Some went as far as bumping into Bai Jinyi’s shoulders as they passed him, grumbling under their breaths, “What are you so proud of, rich boy?”
Bai Jinyi still looked unwilling to say anything. He sat off to the side and wound bandages around his hands. When he looked outside again, the flock of little swans had already flown away.
Jiang Shen was surrounded by the girls who chattered all the way back to the studio. Coach Lin stood at the doorway with her arms crossed and brows furrowed, “Out making trouble again? Have you done your warm-ups?”
The oldest girl, Song Xin, said rather maturely, “We finished them. Jiang Shen’s figure is so flexible. What will you have him dance, Coach Lin?”
Jiang Shen was awfully nervous at the mention of his name and stood up straight, not daring to let his limbs flail carelessly. Coach Lin laughed and pondered aloud, “If we had more boys in our class, we could do ‘Sleeping Beauty’ or ‘The Moon’s Reflection on the Second Spring’.”
Jiang Shen said nothing. He was completely ignorant of both titles, but no one seemed to care whether he asked about them or not. The girls stood freely in a row by the bar in front of the dance mirrors. Song Xin called out to him, “Come over here, Jiang Shen.”
Jiang Shen had to stand behind her while Coach Lin played music, clapping to the beat and shouting the tempo, “One, two, raise your hands! Deep breaths, tuck your bellies! Strengthen those pointes, stretch, and bend!”
Jiang Shen couldn’t bear to make even a tiny mistake, mechanically following along with Song Xin’s movements. Coach Lin went to his side and pressed a palm against his lower back, “Keep your neck straight, don’t lower it.”
Jiang Shen did as he was told, stopping halfway with the tips of his toes taut and rigid, not daring to drop them.
Coach Lin raised her head and watched him, “Can you keep going?”
Jiang Shen nodded vigorously, “I can.”
Coach Lin grinned, “Attaboy.”
The class was, in fact, just over two hours long. After his dance lessons ended, Jiang Shen couldn’t occupy the studio and continue practicing; firstly because he didn’t have the courage, and secondly because he’d miss the bus.
It took a long while for the girls to change out of their clothes, so he took advantage of those precious minutes and seconds to practice what he’d learned that day once more. When Coach Lin entered after changing, she spied Jiang Shen lying prone on the floor, his legs vertical and swaying as if he were remembering something.
She came closer to him and asked, “What are you writing?”
It was already too late for Jiang Shen to hide the notebook. He stood up with his face blushing slightly, “‘The Moon’s Reflection on the Second Spring’ and ‘Sleeping Beauty’……”
Coach Lin understood completely, “How about I bring my computer tomorrow and show them to you?”
Jiang Shen’s eyes shone brightly: “Really?”
Coach Lin was caught between laughter and tears, “Of course, really.”
Song Xin, who’d finished changing as well, happened to come in just in time to see that Jiang Shen was still there. She cheerfully asked him, “Keep me company while cleaning up, won’t you?”
Jiang Shen, of course, was eager to do so. He checked the time, hastily changed clothes, and went to the storage room to grab a mop and broom. Just as he was carrying a pail across the corridor, the door to the boxing gym opposite him suddenly opened, and someone walked out.
Bai Jinyi’s whole body was drenched in sweat, probably because he’d just taken off his headgear. His hair was sticky and full of grease, folded over in ragged layers. His boxing gloves hadn’t been removed yet when he looked up and instantly saw Jiang Shen.
Bai Jinyi, “……”
Jiang Shen shrank back, then plucked up the courage to greet him, “H-hello.”
Bai Jinyi frowned, “Who’re you?”
“I’m taking dance classes next door.” Jiang Shen answered sincerely.
Bai Jinyi raised his coarse, black eyebrows, “A little swan?”
Jiang Shen blinked.
Bai Jinyi, “There are male swans, too?”
Jiang Shen didn’t know how he ought to answer this question. Both his hands gripped the pail as he gave him a weak look.
A voice sounded from inside the boxing gym, “Oh! Who’s Bai Jr. talking to?”
Bai Jinyi’s expression chilled. He turned around and blocked Jiang Shen with his entire body, voice sneering, “Still wanna fight?” After saying that, he turned his head to the side, and impatiently said to Jiang Shen, “What’re you blanking out for?”
Jiang Shen certainly didn’t want to cause any trouble, so he bowed and ran off with the pail in his hand and tail between his legs. Only after he’d completely lost sight of Bai Jinyi did he become conflicted that he’d forgotten to say “thank you”.
“What are you doing?” Song Xin looked at him with a rag, “Did you meet someone?”
Jiang Shen thought about it and said, “I ran into one of the boxers.”
Full of curiosity, Song Xin asked, “Which one?”
Jiang Shen gesticulated to his own height, “He’s about as tall as me. His name was Bai… Bai Jr.?”
Song Xin dragged out a long “ohh”, “That’s Bai Jinyi, he’s from a foreign language school. He’s the one who we say is especially fierce and glares at people. Aren’t his eyebrows awfully thick?”
Jiang Shen felt his eyebrows unconsciously.
“Don’t bother with him from now on,” Song Xin proudly lifted her chin, “We are little fairies, you see?”
Jiang Shen caught the last bus for the night just in time, his pointe shoes hanging off his neck. He was so tired he didn’t want to move, and nearly fell asleep as he sat at the back throughout the entire journey to the countryside. After the driver woke him up, Jiang Shen rubbed his eyes and sluggishly exited the vehicle.
The small-town bookshop was still open when Jiang Shen popped in, following the shadows of the street lamp all the way there. The old man was smoking a pipe and took a gander at him, “Back again?”
Jiang Shen took off the pointe shoes dangling around his neck, “I’m back. Grandpa, do you know about ‘The Moon’s Reflection on the Second Spring’ or ‘Sleeping Beauty’?”
“What?” The old man stared with wide eyes, “One‘s about a blind person called A’Bing and the other is a fairytale, why do you ask?”
Jiang Shen, “Not those, I mean the dances.”
The old man sighed a complaint, “What a hassle,” then paused and spoke again, “You wait there.”
Jiang Shen obediently waited outside.
The old man went in and rummaged through cupboards and boxes. After searching for a while, he then came out with a copy of “The Complete Works of Chinese Ballet and Opera” in hand.
“Do you want to read it at my place?” The old man asked.
Jiang Shen felt a little embarrassed, “I still haven’t eaten yet……”
The old man urged him, “Come back only after you’ve had dinner then. I’ll keep the book here for you.”
Jiang Shen gasped and tenderly said, “Grandpa, you are so kind! I’ll give you a leg massage later!”
The old man beat his pipe and said irately, “Scram, ‘ya little bastard. I’ve nearly been crippled by you before!”