"Before we begin lessons, I have a piece of news to share with all of you." During self study sessions, Teacher Chen stood on the stage in a good mood. "We selected five students from the school to represent the school in the essay competition. I am very proud to announce that among the five of them, two of the students were awarded prizes. One of them came in the third place while the other student came in the first place. The student who came in third is from another class. But the student who came in first place is in our class!"
Teacher Chen and Teacher Lee were exhilarated. They were very proud to have their student to come in first in the essay competition.
Of course, if it was a Mathematics competition, Teacher Chen would be even happier.
"The first place?! Who is it?"
"Zhao Yu is the only one from our class that participated in the essay competition. It must be her."
"Crap, Zhao Yu is so brilliant. Being awarded the first place in the essay competition, this is much more difficult than coming in the first place in Chinese in school. One really can't tell that she is so intelligent."
The students were full of murmuring. Most of them guessed that it must have been Zhao Yu, while Zhu Baoguo lifted his chin and kept his silence as if he knew something.
"The student who came in the first place in the essay competition is Qiao Nan!" Teacher Chen announced in excitement. "Qiao Nan did very well for her essays, why didn't anyone guess that it was her?"
The classroom was in total silence at Teacher Chen's words. Most of them were in shock.
Although there were many rumors that Qiao Nan participated in the essay competition, she did not take part in the preliminary rounds organized by the school nor did she go for the essay training session that was specially organized for this competition. Hence even if there were rumors that Qiao Nan was among the five students who participated, everyone treated it as a joke and wanted to see how Qiao Nan would make a fool of herself.
But now the only person to come in first place was Qiao Nan?
"That's right, Qiao Nan did very well in the two Chinese exams this semester. Teacher Lee even pasted them on the blackboard. I have taken a look. They were really well written, even better than the essay books that I bought."
"Yes, Qiao Nan deserved the first place. Zhao Yu was not good enough."
After hearing Teacher Chen's announcement, a lot of the students corrected themselves. Previously they looked at Zhao Yu enviously, but now they only had contempt for her.
Zhao Yu paled and bit her lip. She hung her head and sniffed.
"Everyone, let's give a round of applause for Qiao Nan. She has made us all proud this time." Teacher Chen started to clap, and the students followed thereafter.
"Qiao Nan, you have to get ready to receive the prize from the principal after the morning exercise."
"Teacher Chen, I understand."
After Teacher Chen has left, Zhao Yu glared at Qiao Nan with bloodshot eyes, "Qiao Nan, don't be too smug."
"Are you crazy?" Zhu Baoguo pulled at his sleeves and gave Zhao Yu a fierce stare.
"What's the hurry?" Qiao Nan stopped Zhu Baoguo. "Don't be too smug? I am going to laugh smugly, I am going to laugh smugly!"
When she was participating in the essay competition, someone must have broken her pens on purpose. She did not want to pinpoint Zhao Yu, but she was being too obvious.
Zhao Yu had told Qiao Nan not to be too smug, yet Qiao Nan sang "laugh smugly" at her. Zhao Yu longed to throw her books at Qiao Nan and to scratch at her face. She wanted to see if Qiao Nan would still be able to laugh smugly after that.
But before Zhao Yu could do anything, Zhu Baoguo had already pulled Qiao Nan aside. He lifted his chin and looked askance at Zhao Yu. Zhao Yu gritted her teeth and lowered her hand.
"Zhao Yu, I brought three pens to the essay competition, but they were all broken and could not be used. Do you know who did that?" Qiao Nan arched her eyebrows and looked at Zhao Yu.
Eyes flickering around, Zhao Yu could not hide her emotions. She dared not look at Qiao Nan in the eyes. "Your, your pens were broken, it's none of my business. What do you mean by do I know who did it. Your pens were broken. There's no one to blame."
"How could three pens be broken in one go?" Qiao Nan smirked. "Could all the pens have ganged up together?"
"This, this is a coincidence. Why would you ask me, I have no idea at all. You, you are really getting on my nerves. I am done talking to you!" Zhao Yu could feel her heart thumping, she was stuttering and her face was flushed red.
At this time the school bell rang. It was time for morning exercise.
While the class monitor lined up the students, Qiao Nan stared coldly at Zhao Yu.
If Zhao Yu really broke her pens, this was no longer a simple matter of throwing tantrums or playing pranks on other students.
If Zhao Yu a junior high school student could come up with the plan of breaking her pens to prevent her from writing her essay, nobody would know if she would do more terrible things next time.
"You just wait and see!" Qiao Nan had gone to line up, but Zhu Baoguo who purposely trailed behind said in a vicious tone when he passed by Zhao Yu. "Qiao Nan may not take it to heart, but that doesn't mean I will let this matter rest. Did you break Qiao Nan's pens?"
"No, no, I am innocent. Qiao Nan framed me!" Zhao Yu might not be scared of Qiao Nan, but she feared Zhu Baoguo. She was scared of his family status and his gangster attitude.
At his command, not to mention outside the school, a lot of the students in the school would be willing to be his hatchet men.
By that time Zhu Baoguo would escape unscathed while she was being bullied.
"Would I believe you?" Zhu Baoguo smiled coldly and walked off to line up.
Zhao Yu was angered and scared at the same time by Zhu Baoguo's attitude. She stomped her feet in frustration.
What should she do now? She thought that no-one would know about the pens and Qiao Nan would suffer in silence.
After all, no-one could tell for sure how the pens were broken. She had no idea that Qiao Nan would have guessed that the pens have been broken.
So what if the pens were broken, Qiao Nan still managed to borrow a pen and came in first place in the essay competition. What more did she want!
During morning exercise, Zhao Yu looked on in anger and frustration when Qiao Nan was called up to the stage by the principal. She received the certificate and prize from the principal and was the center of attention of the whole school.
The thunderous sounds of applause was painful to Zhao Yu's ears. It hurt even more inside her heart.
"Where's Qiao Nan?" After morning exercise Zhao Yu was anxious when she didn't see Qiao Nan.
"She seems to have gone to look for Teacher Chen. Zhao Yu, Qiao Nan was in the limelight today. She came in first. I wonder how many marks would be added on to her middle school exams." The students remarked bitterly.
"What, she went to look for Teacher Chen? Qiao Nan has gone way overboard!" How could Qiao Nan tell the teacher, it was just pure speculation on her part!