The Taming of the Yandere
Chapter 22: Dragon Well Tea
In all honesty, I don’t enjoy individual talks with teachers.
His office’s furniture was still in the same places as before.
A massive, cluttered desk, a near-empty water fountain, and that scratched, ratty wooden sofa.
The hanging vine on his cabinet seemed to be longer than before. The poking slender, soft leaves still didn’t have enough weight to start drooping.
In a natural environment, a vine is fully matured when it has touched the ground.
Although still scattered, there was a significantly less amount of papers on the desk. Boxes were scattered around the room. It was time for the First Year Head to move to the Second Year Head’s office.
Just like that, a year has slipped before our eyes.
After every cycle, all teachers go from First Year to Second, Second to Third, and Third back to First. They might as well be factories, churning out the test-taking machines that are us students.
“Teacher Li is busy in a conference right now, please wait for a moment.”
A teacher in a nearby office informed me.
The Year Head must have a lot of things to do, now that our final exam scores have come out.
The students’ scores average for each subject must be discussed with each department head. The results of each test must be analyzed in order to improve the school’s curriculum.
Of course, lethargic and misbehaving students must be put at a high importance. They have to be reported to each homeroom teacher, and dealt with as fast as possible. For them to drag the school behind is unacceptable.
Although I’ve finished finals, I’m not that idle and bored. Besides the summer cram class required by the school, I’ve also signed up for a couple of private tutoring summer classes myself.
My entrance to a high-level class was anticipated. At the pace they’re going, they might already have started learning Year Two concepts. If I don’t use my summer break wisely, I’ll definitely fall behind.
I sat on the rickety sofa. Soon, the sound of hurrying footsteps echoed through the hallway.
“Lu Fan, you’re here?”
Teacher Li’s arms were filled with thick files and folders. He panted heavily, out of breath from his haste.
“Good afternoon, Teacher Li!”
I scrambled to my feet, and nodded my head.
“Don’t be modest, come sit down.”
He waved his hand, and I collapsed into the wood.
“Teacher, I can see that you’re very busy, is there anything you need me to help with? If there isn’t, I can take my leave.”
I made a rational, innocent face.
“Lu Fan, Lu Fan….”
He mumbled my name, and pulled a single paper from one of his towering folders.
If I wasn’t wrong, that was the report card that held all my progress from day one at Shiyi High.
“In the span of this year, you’ve been improving a lot. Even though your middle school wasn’t the best, your entrance score hit right on our mark, and your growth has been tremendous. You’re doing very well, don’t grow arrogant and don’t let go. Keep up your hard work!”
He complimented me loudly.
To be praised by Teacher Li made me quite happy with myself. Finally, I can see some physical results from my drudging year of labor.
“Thank you, Teacher. I’ll work harder than before!”
“I can tell each students’ backbone from one look. Excellent, you’ll be in my care from now on, too! Is there anything you want to say?”
He shook the report card in vigor.
“I’ll continue studying as hard as I can.”
“Come on, men have to have some hardness in their words. If you really mean what you said, shout it out for all the people to hear!”
He wasn’t satisfied with my calm answer, and swooped down on me like an eagle. The teacher swung his meaty fist to my chest, resonating with a boom.
I took a heavy blow, and the whole frame of my body bent backwards.
Gah, my heart almost stopped from your punch! Teacher, are you congratulating me or punishing me?
After half a minute, I managed to regain my breath.
“Blossoms bloom after a bitter cold*, I will definitely work harder, score well in gaokao*, and bring pride to our school!”
*This is an old Chinese proverb. The original entire sentence is “A sword’s edge comes from vigorous sharpening, blossoms bloom after a bitter cold.” It just means that hard work always grants a good reward.
*gaokao is a final exam that all Chinese high school seniors take. It is one of the two only things that colleges will look at on your admissions. It’s brutal; if you screw up on it, you’ll be fucked for life, and vice versa. They don’t even look at your past years’ scores, just gaokao. The only other thing that will make colleges overlook that score is if you’re a nationally accredited athlete or some other specialized activity (art, math, literature, etc.)
I gathered my courage, and shouted at the top of my lungs.
The entire building must’ve heard my promise. I heard my voice echoing in the hallway.
“Atta boy, that’s my student!”
He ruffled my hair pleasantly.
Ugh, stop patting my head. I won’t grow up if you keep doing that.
“Well, besides your incredible advance in your studies and my congratulations, there’s something even more important.”
As he spoke, Teacher Li started to arrange his tea set.
He elegantly poured the used tea dregs in his red clay teapot. The orange tea water swirled with buckwheat, filling a small enclosure on the tea set. Next, he washed the pot using the water in his nearby electric boiler.
Red clay teapots need to be “raised”. *
*In tea ware, there are some kinds that need to be “raised” using tea water. The term “raised” in this context means caring, similar to raising a child. The special porcelain in this type of ware makes beautiful cracks and fissures that stay underneath the surface of the porcelain, so that the surface is still smooth. To do this, you need years of pouring used tea water onto the wares. These crafts include cups, pots, and small “pets”, little trinkets in the shape of small dragons, pigs, and other creatures.
A newly-bought red clay teapot’s tea will taste slightly off from the clay. Its surface wouldn’t be smooth, either. But if you drink and make tea from the same pot for several years, not only will the surface become polished and glossy, the tea in it will be more delicious.
Judging from Teacher Li’s dark, rough teapot, I guessed that he still needed more work on his tea wares.
Under my curious eyes, Teacher Li seemed to forget I was there.
He rummaged among his cabinets, looking earnestly for something. Then, he pulled open a drawer and stuck his hand inside, pulling out an oval-shaped box.
He then opened the box, and shook out a tiny, vacuum-sealed package.
“Custom-Selected West Lake Dragon Well Tea”.
I read the label from the box.
Teacher Li cut open the package without hesitation, and dumped all of the leaves inside the teapot.
I was completely bemused.
It wasn’t until he started pouring boiling water into the pot when I realized what was going on.
“Teacher, you’re being too generous! I can’t just accept that!”
I immediately leaped to my feet in horror.
“You understand tea, too?”
Teacher Li smiled, and gestured me to sit down.
I collapsed again on the sofa, flustered.
He shook the pot in a fluid, circular motion, and poured the water into the enclosure.
This is called “washing” tea, it’s to flush off the dust on new tea leaves and rinse off the previous tea cooked in the pot. It bolds the flavor of the Dragon Well tea, and removes any interfering tastes.
“I only know a little bit. This tea seems to be quite expensive, Teacher, you don’t have to do this for me.”
I awkwardly laughed.
“I invited you to drink tea myself, who cares if it’s expensive or not? Of course, there’s also some other matters we need to talk about.”
The teacher let out his good-natured, familiar smile.
His smile was deep and piercing. He poured me a cup of tea.
That smile seemed to know all the terrible things I’ve done since I was young. I felt like my name will crumble the moment he spoke, and I’ll be dragged off to prison by the most respected policemen.
The high-class Dragon Well tea was still extremely hot. The leaves haven’t even separated, but I drank a sip under the Teacher’s pressure.
Such a waste of good tea.
“To be honest, the school just wants to know, how much money does Jiang Muqing’s family owe yours exactly?”
Teacher Li’s face immediately darkened.
Why are you asking this?!
I almost spat my tea in his face from surprise.
“If the amount isn’t too large, the school can consider covering the cost.”
Teacher Li’s gravity really isn’t something I can hold up against.
“Cover the cost? Why?”
“The school went through quite a lot of trouble to transfer Jiang Muqing from Shier High, but her results are quite unsatisfying. Sigh… She’s probably emotionally affected by her family’s economic circumstances. If it’s possible, the school can solve that problem for her.”
He exhaled heavily.
“I noticed that she doesn’t seem to have a score.”
“She does, she got zero percent. But we didn’t want to give her too much pressure, so we didn’t display it in the bulletin.”
Teacher Li shook his head.
“0%? How could she score a zero?!”
I almost screamed out loud. With Jiang Muqing’s abilities, she won’t even score that low if she closed her eyes!
“You can take a look at her test papers.”
Teacher Li handed me a file.
Girls’ writing is truly exquisite. Each letter is beautiful, and the small character strokes were cute and elegant.
The top sheet was the literature test.
Name was Jiang Muqing.
Class was First Year Class A.
The student ID was also filled neatly.
Why did she put the first problem’s answer as “Lu Fan”?
The entire page’s problems were the same.
The reading prompts’ underline blanks were filled in “Lu Fan”, all the way to the end.
The essay portion was filled completely with “Lu Fan”. She even wrote it in different fonts?!
I flipped through the pages.
English, physics, history, government, geography, and chemistry’s answer papers were all filled with “Lu Fan.”
“What the hell did she do?!”
I don’t know if anyone else has encountered something terrifying as this before. A person copying someone else’s name on a full sheet of paper, like a curse or spell.
I shuddered when I saw these papers, full of “Lu Fan”.
She must be crazy.
Besides insanity, is there any other explanation for this behavior?!
What do I do?
Who can tell me what to do?!