Fei Du looked up in surprise, “What’s wrong?”

In that instant, Luo Wenzhou’s body moved faster than his thoughts. Ever since Tao Ran started talking about Xia Xiaonan’s family, he had an inexplicable thought about Fei Du, about that late summer seven years ago. He pushed the door open and saw the withered flowers filling the room, a faint song echoing from the upper floors, and the once tranquil and spacious mansion now filled with dust. When everything settled, there was a “grand gift” waiting for him.

Countless times in his midnight dreams, does Fei Du also recall her? What is he thinking at the end of those recollections?

However, as Luo Wenzhou impulsively grabbed Fei Du’s hand, he didn’t have a clear idea of what he wanted to say. What should he say? After all, this is a heartbreaking matter, where even a slight scratch on the surface of the heart cannot be explained in a few words.

“Don’t worry,” Fei Du patted his hand. “If nothing unexpected happens, I don’t think she will jump even if she stands on the rooftop.”

“I just thought you were dressed too lightly. There’s a heavy coat in the trunk,” Luo Wenzhou said, searching his mind for a response. “Go put it on.”

For several days of driving in Fei Du’s car, he had never noticed that the lump in the trunk was actually a piece of clothing. He always thought it was a tattered rag for cleaning the car. Upon hearing this, Fei Du felt a dual sense of torment on his spirit and eyes, akin to experiencing a form of unconventional domestic violence.

Without saying a word, he shook off Luo Wenzhou and briskly walked away, looking dignified.

Luo Wenzhou said, “Wait, you haven’t finished yet. How do you know she won’t jump in the end?”

At that moment, a voice came through his earpiece, “Captain Luo, the girl is really on the rooftop of the administrative building!”

The wind at such heights became even more bitter, freezing to the bone and emitting a faint frictional sound.

Xia Xiaonan’s hospital gown was instantly penetrated by the chilling wind, her skin devoid of sensation. Looking down from above, she gazed at the dimly lit teaching building not far away.

She remembered that she was working on a physics paper at that time, struggling to decipher those obscure concepts. She chewed on the pen cap, trying to make sense of it. Suddenly, there was a commotion in the classroom. Her desk mate forcefully bumped her elbow and shouted in her ear, “Quick, look, someone is about to jump off the building!”

The pen left a sharp mark on the paper as Xia Xiaonan’s heart trembled. She turned her head and saw a figure leaping from the administrative building across from them, like a piece of ash floating from an unknown place.

Half of the class stood up, rushing to the windows to watch, squeezing Xia Xiaonan, who had been by the window, to the side. Everyone was looking, except her.

Until the police arrived belatedly to handle the scene, Xia Xiaonan didn’t know who had jumped, nor did she have a chance to see her one last time.

For fifteen years, this delicate and pretty girl had lived as a capital “Coward.” She didn’t dare to step forward, to ask for help in sharing the burden of her family. She always wanted to pretend to be an ordinary girl like everyone else, reading her books with both ears closed to the outside world.

She didn’t dare to speak up for others, nor dare to speak up for herself. She didn’t dare to resist any unjust bullying. Her past life only taught her silent endurance, hoping that the winds of fate would blow away all the bad things. However, fate never sends help in times of need; it only adds insult to injury.

She didn’t dare to escape with that foolish boy, didn’t dare to throw away her phone, and didn’t dare to come out from that trash can at that time—

Even at the end, she didn’t dare to look at Feng Bin.

As long as she didn’t face it, she could pretend that everything was just a nightmare, that nothing had happened. Xia Xiaonan held onto the icy railing with both hands, her palms “sensing” the tangy-sweet smell of rust. A long stream of tears rolled down from the eighth-floor rooftop.

Luo Wenzhou activated the walkie-talkie, “Don’t use the siren, the fire department and the ambulance should also stay quiet. Be careful not to stimulate her! Those who are good at talking and have agile legs, get ready to come up with me. Where are the air cushions?”

Police officers, firefighters, and ambulances converged from all directions, turning the once peaceful school campus into chaos after school hours. The administrator of the administrative building was scared to the point of crying.

Fei Du silently circumvented the crowd and headed towards the teaching building directly across from the administrative building. He and the administrator had obtained the keys, and after confirming the information, he walked into the classroom of Class 6 in the second year of junior high.

The classroom was empty, and the negligent class monitor hadn’t erased the blackboard completely, leaving a corner with some algebraic expressions. Fei Du glanced outside the window and raised his hand to turn on the lights in the classroom.

Then he pushed open the window and faced the girl who was already standing outside the railing.

Xia Xiaonan had been staring at that classroom and was momentarily taken aback when the lights suddenly came on inside.

At the same time, the highly efficient firefighters swiftly inflated the safety airbags and began predicting the potential landing spot if she were to fall. Luo Wenzhou, accompanied by a group of firefighters and detectives, approached the rooftop. The wind brushed against Fei Du’s slender and well-tailored clothes, causing his robes to flutter.

Squinting his eyes, he made eye contact with the bewildered girl on the rooftop.

“Miss,” Luo Wenzhou stepped onto the rooftop, opening the conversation with Xia Xiaonan from a distance, “The wind is strong, be careful.”

Xia Xiaonan’s body suddenly swayed. She gripped the railing tightly and abruptly turned her head, remaining silent. However, she let out a sharp scream.

Luo Wenzhou placed his hands in front of his chest, spreading them out gently, making a calming downward motion.

“If a person has reached the point of wanting to jump off a building but can’t even utter a word to someone, don’t you find it regrettable? Young lady, you can actually speak, can’t you?”

Xia Xiaonan remained silent. Her pale face showed no expression as she glanced at him for a moment, then turned her head to look at the illuminated classroom.

Fei Du smiled at her and pointed to a seat in the classroom, the fifth one in the row by the window. He sat down, folding his long legs uncomfortably under the small student desk, resting his elbows on the tabletop.

Xia Xiaonan’s gaze involuntarily followed his movements. Suddenly, she trembled—it was the seat she had once occupied.

Luo Wenzhou quickly gestured, taking advantage of Xia Xiaonan’s attention being drawn to one side. Several detectives and firefighters moved toward Xia Xiaonan from different directions. In this way, her actions would be confined to a very small area. She either wouldn’t jump or could only jump in place. Even if she did leap, the probability of the airbag catching her would greatly increase.

Lowering his voice, Luo Wenzhou spoke into the communication device, “The person is on the west side of the rooftop, about 1.5 meters from the corner. Rescue team on the seventh floor, get ready—”

“Understood.”

As the voice in the communication device faded, several firefighters crawled out from the windows of the west corridor on the seventh floor, anxiously standing by in case she fell.

The firefighters below were adjusting the position of the airbags continuously, while Luo Wenzhou said, “My mother jumped from here.” After a brief silence, Xia Xiaonan finally spoke, her voice soft and sweet with a slight nasal tone, sounding delicate. “Don’t come closer.”

The detectives who were quietly approaching simultaneously looked back at Luo Wenzhou. He signaled them to pause—although they couldn’t get closer, at least this position would prevent her from moving.

“We all know that it’s indeed a tragedy. Are you planning to repeat her mistakes?” Luo Wenzhou said. “Miss, are you facing any difficulties?”

Xia Xiaonan didn’t respond to him, but murmured, “Jumping off would be an end to it all.”

“In that case, you’re mistaken,” Luo Wenzhou sighed. “This is something that our forensic colleagues should come and enlighten you about. Jumping off doesn’t mean an end to it all. Do you know what happens afterward?”

“If you fall from here, you become an uncontrollable free-falling object, not necessarily landing on your head. You won’t die immediately. For tens of seconds, even minutes, you will painfully feel your bones and organs shattering. You will struggle on the ground in a state of complete devastation, much more painful than now, with your flesh mangled. Then the forensic pathologist will hastily stitch you up, and your grandfather will be informed to come and identify the body,” Luo Wenzhou said. “But it doesn’t matter. After all, he’s familiar with it. He has seen too many bodies in his life.”

Xia Xiaonan stared at the illuminated classroom, trembling and sobbing quietly.

The firefighter on the seventh-floor window climbed up a few meters like a gecko, getting closer to Xia Xiaonan. The detectives on the rooftop further narrowed the encirclement. Luo Wenzhou and his colleagues exchanged glances and cautiously took a step forward. “If you have any difficulties, it’s now or never to speak up. If you’re not afraid of death, what secrets are you protecting?”

Finally, Xia Xiaonan turned to look at him and said, “She hated me, that’s why she jumped from here.”

The people thought she would mention something related to Feng Bin, but they were taken aback by her sudden words. At that moment, Luo Wenzhou’s phone vibrated, and he saw that Fei Du had sent a voice message.

Silent Reading

Fei Du calmly said, “Xia Xiaonan should have noticed her position by now. Her mother was watching her the whole time before jumping. She specifically jumped for her when Xia Xiaonan looked up.”

Luo Wenzhou glanced nervously at the teaching building across from them.

Fei Du asked, “Otherwise, why would she choose this place among thousands of high-rise buildings? Why jump in this direction?”

Luo Wenzhou asked Xia Xiaonan, “Who hates you, your mother?”

“She hates me,” Xia Xiaonan pointed to the teaching building opposite, “She looked at me like this, I don’t know for how long. Until someone from our class noticed her and until I looked up at her… She wanted to jump to show me, to demonstrate to me that she finally got rid of us.”

“My dad and grandpa got sick and spent all the money in the house. They couldn’t afford chemotherapy and could only buy Chinese medicine from some quack doctors for ‘conservative treatment.’ At night, I was separated from them by a curtain, and I often heard my dad moaning and tossing, unable to sleep because of pain. It would wake up my mom, and she had to get up to take care of him, and then she would cry endlessly… Besides going to school during the day, she also had another job. She worked tirelessly day and night to earn money. When she came home, she couldn’t even get a good night’s sleep. Sometimes my dad would say, ‘If you can’t bear it anymore, let’s get a divorce, so we won’t hold you back.’”

“But I’m scared. Without her, what would I do?”

Xia Xiaonan lowered her gaze and looked at the only light not far away. She felt like she was standing on a cloud, unreal. So she involuntarily revealed the buried words within her, “I know she has insomnia, neurasthenia, depression, but every time my dad talks about divorce, I cry and run out, begging her not to leave us. Every time she couldn’t bear it anymore and wanted to confide in me, I didn’t want to listen. I was afraid that if I heard too much, I would have to take responsibility.”

“I would only deceive her, saying, ‘Mom, I don’t understand these things, but I will study hard and in the future… When I get into a good university and find a good job, then you can live a good life.’”

As Xia Xiaonan spoke the last few words, her voice nearly choked up. The iron railing on the rooftop creaked and rattled as she shook it.

Luo Wenzhou immediately picked up the conversation, “So, do you want to imitate her now and get rid of the burden of your grandfather? Do you think he’s been a burden to you because he’s not dying and is dragging you down, so you want to retaliate against him?”

Xia Xiaonan vigorously shook her head.

Luo Wenzhou’s voice turned deliberately cold, “But in our eyes, that’s what it seems like. Otherwise, if you jump and turn into a pile of flesh, would there be any other meaning?”

“What’s the point of death?” Xia Xiaonan said loudly, “She could escape, why can’t I escape?”

“Because Feng Bin is still waiting for you over there,” Luo Wenzhou said, “Have you figured out how to explain it to him? Xia Xiaonan, you can escape from the living, but can you escape from the dead?”

“Feng Bin” seemed to be a taboo word. Xia Xiaonan screamed again, but even though she was outside the railing, her hands tightly grasped the iron railing. Luo Wenzhou noticed her body language and realized that Fei Du was right. When it came to a critical moment, this girl lacked the courage to leap.

He decisively waved his hand. By now, the firefighter closest to Xia Xiaonan had silently approached within five meters of her during their conversation. That firefighter suddenly rushed forward and grabbed her arm before she could react.

Xia Xiaonan screamed in shock, almost losing her balance. The other two firefighters who were hanging from the seventh floor below caught her, one on each side. The young girl, like a helpless little insect, was pulled down by the group without any hesitation, her cries shattered in the howling night wind.

Luo Wenzhou walked over and glanced at the teaching building opposite. He saw Fei Du with one hand in his pocket, calmly closing the window. From a distance, he waved at Luo Wenzhou.

“Among thousands of high-rise buildings, why did she choose this one?”

“… What kind of mother would deliberately leave her child a corpse, watching the time?”

“She hates me.”

“She…”

Luo Wenzhou replied to Fei Du’s message on WeChat using the one he had just received: “Xia Xiaonan said her mother hates her. Is it true, or did you do something to make her misunderstand?”

“It’s true,” Fei Du, who had just exuded a strong and calm aura, was now frozen and his fingers were no longer nimble. He struggled to maintain his composure and not shiver like a quail. He closed the window tightly and leaned against the classroom’s heater. “Of course, long-term depression is the main factor, but when a person is extremely mentally unstable, they will seek various forms of help from their loved ones. If they don’t receive a response, it will worsen their situation—under extreme circumstances, they may even start hating their own family.”