Doing It Over Again
It was enrollment season again, and the best junior high school in Peng County, the experimental junior high, had no shortage of students.
Parents whose children hadn’t already been assigned to the school were searching high and low for ways to get their child admitted, hoping they’d get a better education and move on to a good high school in the future.
This year was different from previous years, because Peng County Experimental Junior High had a new policy: the school was going to conduct a recruitment exam to fill the two experimental classes.
The test was open to all primary school students in the county who’d graduated in the previous year.
Every student who scored in the top eighty on the test could enter the experimental class, and it didn’t matter if they had an urban or rural household registration.
Of course, most people didn’t actually know what an experimental class was, but they’d heard that all the top students would be assigned there, and the teachers would choose only the best.
As soon as the news was released, a crowd of parents rushed over to sign up.
On the day of the exam, about an hour before the scheduled starting time, a few children carrying textbooks were already standing outside the exam room waiting for the door to open.
Most of these children were rural students who were afraid of being late, so they’d arrived extra early.
Forty-five minutes before the test, chief examiner Li Lu opened the door of the second exam room and watched the room gradually fill.
After exchanging a glance with the deputy examiner, Mr.
Luo, he turned to the blackboard and wrote down the rules of the exam room, the number of test pages, and the end time of the exam.
Eventually the bell rang and it was time to hand out the exam papers.
The teacher glanced at the second seat in the first row.
The exam was about to begin, but one of the students hadn’t arrived yet.
It must be some pampered child who’d given up on the exam.
Li Lu wasn’t very surprised.
He’d taught at the experimental junior high for years and had seen a lot of spoiled children.
Li Lu looked at the door.
A somewhat skinny boy had just arrived.
The child’s shirt and trousers were old and worn, but they were very clean.
At first glance he looked like a good kid.
“Come in quickly.
The exam’s about to begin.”
The boy bowed to the teacher, walked quickly to the second seat in the first row, and sat down.
Li Lu watched as the boy took out his supplies in an orderly way.
He didn’t seem upset or troubled, so the teacher looked away.
After all, if the teacher kept staring at one of the examinees, it might make the child nervous and affect his score.
It wasn’t easy for a child from a poor family to get a chance to enter a school like this.
If the boy did well on the exam, he’d have a better chance of doing well in life.
In fact, this student really did leave early for the exam.
He didn’t want to be late like he was in his previous life, when he almost missed the test completely.
But as it turned out, on the way to school, he encountered a child with a broken arm.
At first he didn’t want to get involved, but when he saw the pitiful-looking ten-year-old kid squatting in the hot sun with his head bowed and his face flushed, he decided to take him to the clinic for bandaging.
He also helped the injured child call the police before he rushed over to the experimental junior high.
And that was why, in this life, he was nearly late for the exam again.
Shen Shao sat down in his seat and picked up the test paper.
The first set of questions wasn’t especially difficult.
When the bell rang to signal the start of the exam, he picked up his pen and began to fill in the answers.
The admission test for the experimental class consisted of two subjects, Chinese and mathematics.
After he finished the Chinese test in the morning, Shen Shao left the school on his own, found a café, and bought a bowl of rice noodles and a couple of vegetable buns.
When he looked at the crowded but dilapidated street outside, he sighed.
He’d opened his eyes two days ago and found himself in the house he’d lived in as a child.
At the time he thought he was dreaming, but now he was certain he’d returned to age eleven.
That was the year his father was working out of town and got mixed up with another woman, and his mother was so upset she drank half a bottle of dichlorvos pesticide.
Before she made it to the hospital, she was dead.
The entire village scolded his father, but he just packed up his bags and went off to find his mistress.
After that they never saw him again.
It was a pity Shen Shao had returned too late.
There was already grass growing on his mother’s grave, and he had no idea what hidey-hole his father ran off to with that woman.
Shen Shao was left alone to keep watch over a small, one story house and a little more than ten thousand yuan in savings left by his mother.
The rice noodles didn’t taste that good, and the vegetable stuffing in the steamed bun was a little greasy, but Shen Shao ate every bit of his meal, including the broth.
The math exam wasn’t until three o’clock.
He didn’t have a good place to spend the rest of his lunch break, so he simply went to the nearby Xinhua bookstore to waste time.
It was too hot to wait around outside, but the Xinhua store had air conditioning and free books to read.
There weren’t many people in the bookstore at noon.
Shen Shao found a book in the classics section and squatted in the corner to read.
A clerk came by a few times to sort books, and when he saw the half-grown child reading an adult translation of a famous work, he did a double take.
The clerk noticed him sitting in an uncomfortable position, and he found Shen Shao some old newspapers to sit on.
At two o’clock, Shen Shao put the book back, returned the newspapers, and thanked the clerk before leaving the bookstore.
The moment he left the store, a wave of heat swept over his face.
He touched his forehead, blinked at the dazzling sunlight outside, and walked back to the experimental junior high school without delay.
In his previous life, he wasn’t able to go to college, and he refused to go through this life with the same regrets.
If he didn’t treasure his new life, what was the point of a second chance? Was it just to increase the country’s GDP, or to exhale carbon dioxide for plants to photosynthesize?
For Shen Shao the math exam was a little easier than the Chinese exam.
When he answered exam questions in the morning, there was a question about a poem he had to leave blank.
It was only worth one point, but when he considered that as a thirty-year-old he couldn’t even answer a question meant for primary school students, he felt inept.
After finishing the exam questions, he still had a lot of time left before he needed to hand in the test paper.
He checked his answer sheet again and again to confirm he hadn’t filled in anything wrong or omitted his ID number.
Then he handed in the test early.
After all, it took more than an hour to travel from the county back to his home.
If he stayed too late he might end up walking in the dark.
When he left the school it was almost five o’clock in the afternoon.
The sun was still dazzling, but what was even more dazzling was the black Mercedes-Benz idling near the school gate.
The black vehicle was so clean and dust-free it reflected a glare of sunshine into people’s eyes.
Anyone who could drive such a big Benz these days would be regarded as wealthy by ordinary people.
With that kind of car stopped at the gate, pedestrians looked at it and wondered which student’s parents were rich enough to drive around in such a car.
After Shen Shao took a few steps, a middle-aged man in a suit got out of the Mercedes-Benz and walked straight to him.
“Excuse me, are you Student Shen Shao?” The middle-aged man was very polite.
When talking to Shen Shao, he deliberately bent down to speak to him at eye level.
Shen Shao backed up a step, towards the school gate.
“Do you need something?”
The middle-aged man gave him a polite smile, took out an envelope from his coat pocket, and handed it to Shen Shao.
“Thank you for your help this morning.
This is a small token of appreciation from our master.”
After thinking about it for a moment, Shen Shao guessed this man might be associated with the injured child he met this morning.
How did they find him? He looked at the envelope but didn’t reach for it.
“Uncle, there’s no need to thank me.
It isn’t a big deal.
Our teachers always say we should learn from the example of Uncle Lei Feng, so I can’t accept your thank you gift.”
The middle-aged man looked at this skinny boy, who talked so solemnly about learning from Uncle Lei Feng, and thought he was an honest and well-behaved child.
The man glanced at the black Mercedes-Benz behind him, then tucked the envelope into Shen Shao’s pocket without any further ado.
“Teachers also tell us that good children should be rewarded.
Goodbye, child.” The man turned and got into the car.
It quickly drove away, as if afraid Shen Shao would try to return the envelope.
Shen Shao glanced at the people who were coming and going around him.
Without looking inside the envelope, he put it into the school bag he was carrying with him, then walked away quickly with the bag under his arm.
After he returned to the village, some villagers who were working in the fields saw him and went over to ask with concern how he did in the exam.
Some of them thought it wasn’t easy for a child to live alone.
They made him accept some homegrown fruits and vegetables.
These things weren’t worth much money, but Shen Shao very much appreciated the friendly gesture.
Back in his small, ramshackle bungalow, Shen Shao cleaned up the house first, then picked through the cabbage the villagers gave him.
Before he finished washing it, he heard his aunt calling at the door.
“Xiao Shao, are you back?” Liu ShuLian was holding an enamel bowl of stewed chicken soup.
When she saw Shen Shao wearing an oversized shirt and washing a head of cabbage by himself, she felt sorry for him.
She put the enamel bowl on the cutting board, pushed Shen Shao away from the counter, and helped him finish cleaning.
“I cooked a chicken this afternoon.
Have some soup to restore your health.”
The child had been studying hard the past few days, and there weren’t any adults at home to take care of him.
She wanted him to move in with her family, but her house was full of children and old people.
It wasn’t a good environment for someone who was trying to study.
It was better this way—she and her husband frequently came by to take care of Xiao Shao, and they didn’t have to worry about her children quarreling with him.
“Thanks, Eldest Aunt.
Did you have some soup already?” Shen Shao looked at the bowl of chicken soup on the cutting board.
It emitted a rich fragrance, and there was a chicken leg inside.
It was a big, fat chicken.
Five or six kilograms.
Our family can’t finish it on our own, and we can’t store the leftovers in the summer heat.
You should help us eat a little to avoid wasting it.” Liu ShuLian felt a pang to see that Shen Shao was so sensible at such a young age.
When she thought about how her second brother-in-law ran away with another woman without a care in the world, she thought he was really the worst.
But she’d married into the Shen family, and it wasn’t her place to say it.
“Was the exam hard? It’s been so hot lately.
You should have a good rest at home.
Don’t go out and get heat stroke.”
“Ok.” Shen Shao nodded with a smile.
“Don’t worry, Eldest Aunt.
I’ll definitely pass the exam.” In his previous life, he was in bad shape and struggled to get fiftieth place on the test.
But now he had an additional twenty years of experience.
He had to make them count.
Liu ShuLian gave a few more words of advice, then saw that it was getting late.
She had to rush home to feed the pigs, so she left in a hurry.
After seeing off his eldest aunt, Shen Shao finished his meal.
Then he went to his school bag and took out the envelope the middle-aged man had forced on him.
Inside, he found a stack of blue-green hundred yuan bills.
There must be at least twenty or thirty of them.
Right now you could buy a house for as little as three or four hundred yuan per square meter, yet this person’s version of a small thank you was two or three thousand yuan.
Definitely a local tyrant.
When Shen Shao pulled the bills from the envelope, a slip of paper fell out.
On it were written two words: ‘Thank you’.
The handwriting was careful and neat, like it belonged to a child.
Shen Shao counted the money.
A full 2,600 yuan.
When he was done counting, he turned and looked at the calendar on the wall.
August 22, 1996
He’d transmigrated nearly twenty years into the past and returned once again to this empty house.
At first he couldn’t help but wonder why he hadn’t returned six months earlier—and stopped his mother’s suicide—but there was no way he was going to waste this kind of opportunity.
He was going to make his dream a reality, instead of letting it remain a dream.
Welcome! ٩(◕‿◕)۶ This is a great rebirth BL story with a driven MC who’s very focused on making money, and a genius ML who’s sweet and somewhat autistic and very interested in MC ♥
For additional notes about this project, contact info, and the update schedule, please see the Project Page (っ◔◡◔)っ ♥
junior high school – 中学 – A school that includes grades 7, 8, and 9.
In my country, “middle school” means grades 6-8, so I went with “junior high”
experimental junior high school – 实验中学 – I interpret “experimental” to mean a school that attracts higher-quality students by using newer or more rigorous teaching methods
dichlorvos – 敌敌畏 – Also known as DDVP.
An insecticide used on crops, animals, and to control household pests (Wikipedia)
yuan – 元 – The unit of currency in China.
1 yuan is divided into 100 fen
Xinhua Bookstore – 新华书店 – China’s largest bookstore chain
uncle – 叔叔 – shūshu – Father’s younger brother.
A common form of address for a male who is one generation senior to you
Lei Feng – 雷锋 – A soldier in the People’s Liberation Army who was the object of several major propaganda campaigns in China.
The most well known of these campaigns in 1963 promoted the slogan, “Follow the example of Comrade Lei Feng.” Lei was portrayed as a model citizen, and the masses were encouraged to emulate his selflessness, modesty, and devotion to Mao (Wikipedia)
xiao – 小 – Little, small, young.
Commonly used in nicknames
Eldest Aunt – 大伯母 – dà bómǔ – Wife of father’s oldest brother.
The wife of the second brother would be called “Second Aunt”, etc.
local tyrant – 土豪 – A common term for a rich and powerful landlord or local bullying gentry in old society villages (Baidu)
Transliterated names, places, and titles—new in this chapter:
Shen Shao – 沈邵 – Shěn shào – Our MC
Peng County – 蓬县
Li Lu – 李禄
Luo – 罗老师 – Luō lǎoshī.
Alternatively: Teacher Luo
Benz – 奔驰
Student Shen Shao – 沈邵同学 – Shěn Shào tóngxué.
Alternatively: Classmate Shen Shao
Uncle Lei Feng – 雷锋叔叔 – Léi Fēng shūshu
Xiao Shao – 小邵 – A nickname for MC
Liu ShuLian – 刘淑莲 – MC’s aunt, married to MC’s eldest paternal uncle.
Note: The name given for this character in Chapter 1 is “Zhang ShuLian” (张淑莲), but every chapter after that her name is “Liu ShuLian”.
I changed it here to be consistent
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