Cool Slowly
Cool Slowly: Chapter 8

8: Like mint

Hearing Xu Yuanzhe’s words, Yu Yue finally decided not to grab that bottle of beer.

Yu Yue knew that Xu Yuanzhe, despite being a high school senior, still had to work part-time outside, which meant he likely came from a challenging family background. That’s why he didn’t dare to joke about using someone else’s salary.

Xu Yuanzhe placed the bottle of beer back in the cooler.

Yu Yue noticed that there was no one left in the barbecue restaurant, and the boss had probably already finished work, leaving Xu Yuanzhe behind to clean up.

He walked inside, hesitating as he asked, “Have you finished everything here? Is there anything left to eat?”

Xu Yuanzhe had just moved the cooler inside.

He paused for a moment, supporting the fridge with his hands, and asked Yu Yue, “You want something to eat?”

Yu Yue turned around and nodded.

Xu Yuanzhe said, “Wait here.”

After speaking, he turned and walked away.

Yu Yue was momentarily stunned.

He didn’t know where Xu Yuanzhe was going.

Yu Yue couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night, and he had come out for a walk mainly because he was in a bad mood and was hoping to find a place to drown his sorrows. The only place he recognized in the vicinity was this barbecue restaurant near the school.

Since Xu Yuanzhe had asked him to wait, Yu Yue fetched a chair and sat there patiently.

The tables and chairs were cleaned to perfection.

Yu Yue gently touched one to confirm they were clean, and then he placed his hands on the table.

After waiting for about fifteen minutes, Xu Yuanzhe returned.

He was carrying two large bags in his hands.

Xu Yuanzhe placed the two large bags on the table, and Yu Yue immediately caught a whiff of a tantalizing aroma.

Yu Yue reached out and opened one of the bags, revealing a treasure trove of barbecue items: chicken skewers, beef skewers, various potato chips, and other skewers.

Yu Yue was a bit dumbfounded. “Is this…”

Xu Yuanzhe replied, “This place stays open until dawn. I bought some for us. Feel free to eat.”

He placed two bottles of soda on the table and effortlessly popped the cap of one with his fingers, offering it to Yu Yue.

Yu Yue reached into his pocket and realized that he had forgotten to bring any money. He felt embarrassed and said, “I… forgot my money. I’ll pay you back next time.”

Xu Yuanzhe turned his head and gave Yu Yue a glance.

His gaze made Yu Yue feel like he was looking into icy mint.

Yu Yue wasn’t sure if the description was accurate, but he often felt that Xu Yuanzhe’s eyes were cold, even though Xu Yuanzhe himself didn’t come across as overly frosty. However, under the light, Xu Yuanzhe’s eyes, which were a light black color, seemed to pierce into the depths of one’s soul, slowly releasing a refreshing sensation like mint candy.

Xu Yuanzhe said, “What money? I’m treating you to this meal.”

Yu Yue blinked.

He whispered, “Thank you.”

Deep down, though, Yu Yue still thought about repaying the money. After all, Xu Yuanzhe’s financial situation wasn’t great, and if this meal was the equivalent of a day’s work for him, it could be troublesome.

In reality, it was exactly like that.

Xu Yuanzhe bought two portions, which indicated that he was hungry too.

The two of them sat outside the closed barbecue restaurant, slowly savoring their barbecue in silence.
Yu Yue ate slowly, lowering his head to take small bites of the grilled chicken skewer. While he was eating, he heard Xu Yuanzhe ask, “Why did you come out so late? Aren’t your family worried about you?”

Yu Yue’s figure paused.

He continued to keep his head down, and after a while, he replied, “My parents aren’t at home. They had a fight.”

Xu Yuanzhe remained silent.

Yu Yue raised his head and asked Xu Yuanzhe, “When your parents fight, do you feel annoyed?”

Xu Yuanzhe stared at Yu Yue.

A few seconds later, he said, “I don’t have parents.”

Yu Yue was taken aback.

Xu Yuanzhe didn’t seem to shy away from the topic, leaning back in his chair with his long legs stretched out. “My mom had an unexpected pregnancy and left after giving birth to me. I live with my grandmother now, and my mom has never come back once.” He paused and continued, “As for my dad, I have no idea where he is.”

Yu Yue stared blankly at Xu Yuanzhe.

He suddenly regretted asking Xu Yuanzhe about his parents and their fights.

However, Xu Yuanzhe, leaning against the back of the chair, crossed his arms, and his dark eyes seemed to curve gently. He said to Yu Yue, “It’s okay; I don’t think it’s a big deal.”

But Yu Yue still felt guilty.

He wanted to change the subject but wasn’t sure what to talk about. He felt that their life situations were quite different, and maybe they couldn’t relate on many topics.

After a long silence, Yu Yue reached out and gently pointed at Xu Yuanzhe’s hair, carefully asking, “Your hair, like this, doesn’t your teacher say anything?”

Xu Yuanzhe said, “My hair?”

He casually reached up and ran his fingers through his semi-long hair, letting it cascade down.

Yu Yue nodded and said, “Our teachers always require the boys to have very short hair.”

Xu Yuanzhe used the black hair tie on his wrist to rebind the ends of his hair and then said, “I’m an art major.”

Yu Yue widened his eyes in amazement once again.

Xu Yuanzhe turned his head to look at him, seeming to smile a bit, and asked, “What? Doesn’t it suit me?”

Yu Yue quickly shook his head, “No, it suits you just fine. I just thought…,” he hesitated for a moment and then lowered his voice, “When I first saw you, I thought you could become an actor. I didn’t expect you’re really an art major.”

To enhance his credibility, Yu Yue continued, “You’re even more handsome than the actors in my dad’s movies. I’m serious; you should believe in my judgment. If you go into acting, you’ll definitely make it big.”

Xu Yuanzhe looked at Yu Yue.

After a long pause, he sat up straight, picked up his bottle of soda, gently tapped it against the one in Yu Yue’s hand, and gave a faint smile, “Well, when you become a director in the future, remember to cast me in your movies.”

Yu Yue was taken aback.

At that moment, he didn’t know if Xu Yuanzhe was joking with a child or speaking seriously because he couldn’t read the emotions in Xu Yuanzhe’s eyes, the deep, dark emotions tinged with a hint of self-deprecation and loneliness.

Later, Yu Yue learned that Xu Yuanzhe saved money diligently, taking several months to save up the money for a single acting class. However, the acting teacher in A City asked him to go to B City for classes, claiming the teachers there were better, as it was the birthplace and sanctuary of film art. Xu Yuanzhe had to spend additional months saving for the plane ticket to B City. When he arrived, he discovered that the money he had saved for a single class in A City was merely a small amount in the eyes of B City teachers.

The several thousand yuan for one acting class in B City was an exorbitant amount, and Xu Yuanzhe couldn’t afford it, especially since he needed to attend over ten classes. Later, he found out that the hefty fee was more like an entrance ticket.

The acting teachers in B City were all professors from the film academy, and with this money, they could always find a way to get you admitted to the film academy.

So Xu Yuanzhe knew he had no money, which meant he had essentially bid farewell to the so-called acting industry.

That night, Xu Yuanzhe insisted on escorting Yu Yue back home.

Because it was already past 3 in the morning.

Yu Yue had no choice and allowed Xu Yuanzhe to drop him off outside the villa area before bidding him farewell.

Watching Yu Yue enter the garden, Xu Yuanzhe didn’t leave immediately either.

He stood in the shadow of the plane trees outside the villa area, gazing at the houses, which resembled lurking monsters in the darkness of the night. He didn’t feel envious or jealous, for he was well aware that life in this world was inherently unequal.

However, precisely because Yu Yue had never looked down on Xu Yuanzhe, he mistakenly believed over the next few years that this kind of inequality was nothing to fear and could be easily overcome.


Certified member of the IIO(International Introverts Organization), PhD holder in Overthinking and Ghosting, Spokesperson for BOBAH(Benefits of Being a Homebody), Founder of SFA(Salted Fish Association), Brand Ambassador for Couch Potato fall line Pajama set.

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