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Right before the year was coming to an end, the third master came to Beijing to spend New Year’s with me.

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On Christmas Day, one of my roommates received a large bouquet of roses from an anonymous admirer. Having not known who sent it, she asked around. 

She even gave a handful of flowers to everyone in the dorm, which included this very pretty girl living in the room next door.

When I thought about Third Master’s eventual arrival, I decided to cut off a piece of the craft paper from my book and use it to wrap the roses I had received. Given how beautiful and professional-looking the homemade flower bouquet had turned out, I could probably sell it on the street for a couple of bucks if I wanted.

I spent the whole time imagining how moved he would be once he saw me with the bouquet in my hands.

Would he rush into my arms, tears and all streaming down his face?

The more I mulled over it, the more pleased with how romantic I was as I hid the flowers in my backpack.

On that particular day, I also had to deal with the arrival of an art student to Beijing. So, instead of meeting Third Master at the station, I went to the art student first, assisting her in arranging her school accommodations. 

I told him to meet me at an intersection, and the two of us went to the agreed location at almost the same time as the other.

But I was a step ahead of him and reached the intersection first. After taking out the bouquet from my backpack, I thoughtfully stood under a large tree illuminated by the nearby street lights.

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In the dim night, a beam of light hit my outstretched hand. I stood there with flowers in my hand, waiting under the tree for a lover whom I had not seen for a long time. 

It’s beautiful, isn’t it? That’s how it works on TV, right? The hero and heroine, who had not seen each other for such a long time, should hug passionately and kiss fiercely, correct?

However, the reality was that the third master walked up to me, and after quietly looking me up and down for three seconds, he said, “You look like you’re going on a blind date…”

Just as I was about to get angry, he quickly took the flowers in my hand and asked, “This is the small gift you told me about on WeChat, huh? Thanks…”

I walked with him to the residence. Noticing his embarrassed expression throughout, I took the bouquet of roses back.

With a relieved look, he flattered me. 

“It’s better if you hold it instead. See, it looks great on you!”

I snorted coldly and took out a SpongeBob SquarePants eye mask in my bag, giving it to him. The third master was an avid fan of the cartoon character in question.

Even though I bought the eye mask for only ten dollars, I lied to him about it costing seventy-nine dollars, claiming it was part of “high-end goods.” 

As expected, after taking out the sleep mask, he was as happy as a fool. He even had a spring in his step the whole walk home.

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I sadly thought to myself, “Sure enough, romance plots will never happen to me in this lifetime, and fairy tales are all nothing but lies!”

Later, when he tried the SpongeBob sleep mask on, he discovered that the elastic band was too small (its size was probably designed with females in mind) for his head to fit. 

He wilted sadly in his chair, looking like a sponge soaked in cold water as he did not utter a word for the remainder of that day.

We were planning to go to my grandma’s house, and right before that, we brought two large bags of fruit with us. The third master carried a suitcase in one hand and the bags of fruit in the other.

“The male protagonist in dramas would have one hand free to hold the heroine by now!” I told him.

Hearing this, the Third Master cheered up. He shoved all the bags in my hand happily, leaving one hand free.

“Come on! Let’s hold hands!” he said.

And just like that, I was dragged away by him, gloomy black lines all over my face.

No, it’s not like that… I was telling you to hold everything in one hand instead…

   

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I bought night tickets to Happy Valley on New Year’s and planned to go to the lantern show with the third master, who said we shouldn’t go to crowded places because of the recent news: “Sanlitun is Suspected Target of Terrorist Attacks.”

That night, the haze began to rise all over said location.

“Can you even see anything in the fog?” the third master asked.

Although I wasn’t too happy with this, I could not deny the fact that he did have a point. I had no choice but to get the tickets refunded on their official website. 

If one wanted to refund a ticket, they had to fill in the reason for the application in Administrator Review. I wrote, “There are upcoming terrorist attacks,” in the “Reason” section, but I never got refunded.

Then the third master called customer service to ask for a refund. 

The person on the other line asked the reason for the cancellation of the trip.

“We were going to take the baby out to play, but the baby just can’t stand the smog today,” he replied.

Soon, customer service passed the refund application and refunded the money to my bank card.

He looked at me with an expression that screamed, “Aren’t I amazing?” 

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After holding it in for a long time, I couldn’t help but ask him, “Who is this ‘baby’?”

“It’s me, of course,” Third Master answered, full of confidence.

Right then and there, I really wanted to go out ‌and buy a “Sky-changing Monkey”1T/N: “Sky-changing Monkey” is a rocket firecracker  to send this “baby” to heaven.

     

On New Year’s day, the third master and I were watching TV at my grandmother’s house. 

At the time, he received a call from his college classmates who came to Beijing to play, so we both risked the fifth level of smog to go to Wangfujing to eat sheep hot pot. 

While walking along Dongdan Road, I saw one bus after another move past us, most of them boarding a bunch of soldiers in camouflage sitting inside. There were also police forces coming and going on the pedestrian street.

“Those poor police uncles!” I said to the third master.

Third Master looked at the handsome police officers passing by before telling me, “Keep it down. At you’re age, you should already be called eldest sister’.”

You know, if I hadn’t been out there trying to save his face, I would have long leaped — and roundhouse kicked him.

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