During my sophomore year in high school, I transferred to a laboratory high school . Laboratory schools normally do not accept transfer students, especially non-local ones. It was my maternal uncle who exhausted all his social resources to get my foot in the door. I put some effort into the process as well. On the day of the interview, the Director of Educational Instruction brought a stack of exams to test me. When I just finished the mathematical exam, he put away the remaining chemistry and physics exams and said, “It’s fine. We don’t need to test you anymore. Come to class this afternoon.”
 An experimental high school operated in association with a higher institution, usually at a teacher education institution, and used for training of future teachers, educational research, etc. An example of an American equivalent is University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Lab Elementary School.
I was a kid who loved to learn, because besides learning, I didn’t have any other specialty.父母去世之后我整整半年没有开口，舅舅回忆说，后来终于听到我说话，是我把自己关在阳台上，在背诵一篇英语课文。
After my parents passed away, I ceased to speak for half a year. My uncle recalled that he finally heard me utter a word when I locked myself on the balcony to recite an English lesson.
Before my transfer, I was the model representative student of my English class. I don’t even remember what topic lesson that I was reciting in English on the balcony that day. However, my first English lesson at the laboratory high school was extremely memorable. All the English teachers at the high school were foreigners. My English teacher was an old lady from England. After I answered a question, she criticized my pronunciation and said my Chinese accent was too heavy. In embarrassment, my face blushed red to my ears as I completely lost face in front of my peers for the first time.
I was weakly vulnerable at that time. I lost my parents. I lost my family. I lost all things happy in my life. Living under the charity of my uncle, I was warily careful in every step I took, and gradually hid away my sorrows. I learned to act according to my uncle wife's liking, please my younger cousin and tutor her in the Olympiad competition. Before the age of 16, I was also the precious pride and joy of my parents — their only princess —the proudest student of my teachers, and the perfect model child in the eyes of my relatives. But everything is gone now. Everything I once depended upon doesn’t exist anymore. What use is there to get perfect grades when my dad and mom can’t see them anymore?
After school, I would hide in the track and field stadium to weep. Someone running on the tartan tracks, in a stirring gait, passed behind me. I was sitting on the turf with my back to the running tracks and my head buried heavily between my knees, watching droplets of tears dripping down to the grassy ground. I was reminiscing about a lot of things. Most memories were about my childhood when my mom and dad took me to the park, to paddle a boat, to ride a bumper car, or to buy a balloon. There was a type of cotton candy made from white sugar, gigantically fluffy and voluminous like the clouds. Whenever I took a bite of it, traces of sugar would stick all over my face. My dad loved to capture on photos my most mortifying moments. All photos back then were taken on rolls of film. In a year, my dad had a huge collection of photographic film from all the pictures he took for me.
I cried in such deep grief that I didn’t even notice that a boy approached me until I saw the tip of his sneakers. A piece of green leaf stuck got stuck on his white sneakers. He bent down, used his right hand to brush the green leaf away and handed me a pack of tissue paper with his left hand.
I froze for a few seconds and didn’t respond to take the pack of tissue paper. He then placed the tissue paper on the grass and left.
The next day I discovered this boy sat on the row just behind me. His name was Xiao Shan.
Xiao Shan’s father was a foreign diplomat. Having spent the first 12 years of his life living abroad, he spoke a tongue of standard Oxford English and could openly debate with the old English lady during class session about grammar. His math skill was even better. So impressive that even a person like me could only watch him in awe. More worthy of note was the fact he wasn’t the hard working type, but a naturally gifted genius. Even during the 10-minute interval between classes, he could run to ball court to play basketball. One time during math class when the bell rang, he came back late short of breath and stood at the doorway to “report” his arrival. Our math teacher, Lao Ben, particularly hated students arriving late for class. He just turned his head around to take a peek at Xiao Shan and completely ignored him. Without his permission to enter, Xiao Shan could only stand in doorway like a statute of the deity guarding the door. A short while later, Lao Ben started to hand back our last provincial standard exam. He had an old habit of returning the exams to students in order with the highest grade points first and then lowest last, calling out loud one by one the student name and score. It was really a quite cruel process and hurtful to students with low scores. But he didn’t care. He just loved to rank people with grade points.
As a result, the first name Lao Ben called out ended up being Xiao Shan, with a perfect 150 points. Lao Ben turned his head to take a look at him in the doorway and in bitter reluctance said, “Why are you still standing there? Come in.”
The whole class was holding back their laughter. Xiao Shan took his exam from Lao Ben’s hand and in a gracious manner said, “Thank you, Lao Shi [Teacher]”
There were many talented students at this lab high school, but students as talented as him were few in numbers. Plenty of girls in our class had a major crush on Xiao Shan, their youthful hearts budding in amorous beats. Who wouldn’t fantasize about such a talented and outstanding boy like him? I didn’t. I was in no state to harbor such fantasies. The death of my parents made it difficult for me to even face this world. Even though he sat just right behind me, I rarely spoke to him except for the few times I asked him to borrow his English notes.