I Only Took a Peek at Him
During the greatness of youth, there was so much going on that I only took a peek at him in the crowd.
“Today, it is with great honor that a recently popular author has been invited to our show: Chen Nan—Miss Chen. Hello, Miss Chen.”
“Hello,” Chen Nan nodded lightly and responded politely.
Chen Nan: a veteran writer whose popularity exploded overnight because of a novel on secret love.
The host held the microphone in his hand, and was a bit impatient to ask, “Miss Chen, we all know that you have been writing for many years, but we have found that in all your work, the male leads have a surname starting with L. And in your latest novel on secret love, many readers have found the inspiration for the school through clues in the description. Regarding this, is it true or not?”
Her book exploded in popularity. It was mostly because someone found the inspiration for the school, and… the inspiration for the male lead.
It was to the point where many netizens claimed to be an alumni of the school and posted revealing information. Suddenly, its popularity soared, and didn’t go down even now. Chen Nan was invited to the show mainly because of this secret love inspiration.
Chen Nan did not expect the secret love story she wrote would become popular in less than a year. Moreover, there were many readers inquiring about the person who was the inspiration for the male lead. They wondered if he was going to read this novel and realize that there was a girl who wrote down all of his experiences as a youth, from happiness, anger, sorrow, and joy, and his figure she saw from behind.
If asked what secret love was, Chen Nan would definitely say, “Compared to how you look from the front, I am more familiar with how you look from the back.”
She couldn’t remember when she began to like the inspiration for L.
During a girl’s youth, her heart would start beating for no apparent reason. On the first day of high school, she looked at the freshman representative giving a speech on stage. Perhaps it was how perfectly the golden sunshine landed on him that day, like it was spotlighting him and making her unable to look away.
The teenager was wearing a white button down and the top button was not properly buttoned. His head was down as he read his speech. When the light moved past her, its warmth engulfed her. Her ears listened to his voice, which was a little husky but very pleasant.
Since then, she had never seen a more dazzling light than him.
Chen Nan heard the host’s words and her mind wandered a bit. Suddenly, a blurry figure appeared. He was lean and pure, his strides were too fast. The girl behind him stumbled, and could not keep up with him at all.
She came back to her senses with a little bitterness. “During everyone’s youth, you will have a crush on a very great boy. So, if a guy like Lu Xu really exists, then it will be hard for people to not like him.”
Lu Xu was the male lead and the subject of the secret love in her novel.
Chen Nan thought about the details she described in the novel. Was the reason why she could never forget because she had already come across a Lu Xu in her real life that was in view but beyond her reach?
When she was in high school, she was bullied by male students for being an ugly girl from time to time.
“Chen Nan, what are you wearing today? It’s so ugly.”
“That’s right. Don’t come out or you’ll scare people.”
In high school, she was always bullied because she had a lot of pimples and wore a pair of thick, high prescription glasses.
“When I was in high school, I was invisible with no presence. Although I am still like that now, I was actually bullied quite harshly in the past.”
She smiled and recounted what was written in the novel, which was an indisputable admission that the inspiration existed.
The host probably didn’t expect her to open up like this, and naturally followed her response. “Where was Lu Xu then?”
“He—oh…” Chen Nan blinked and thought back to that time.
She was overwhelmed by that question. A basketball from an unknown direction faraway was flying. It was from the boy she was talking about and it hit her straight on the back. “Oh, I’m sorry, my hand slipped.”
When Chen Nan looked up, it was exactly the same as that day: the light outside the window was on him—a reckless teenager. He seemed to have a smile on his lips. He squatted down and took the basketball. He brushed off the dust, as if he was disgusted by something.
“What a pity for my ball. How can it hit a person like that?”
Looking back, she still wanted to laugh. Lu Xu’s peculiar behavior was probably something she would never understand.
On that note, Chen Nan could not stop herself from laughing. “It’s hard not to have feelings for that kind of guy, right?”
The host nodded in confusion. “So, is he the guy you had a crush on?”
“Yes, back then, I would secretly watch his basketball games. While I was watching the boys on the basketball court, he threw in the last shot and everyone cheered when they won the game. The only thing is, I never had the courage to go up to him and give him a bottle of water.”
Chen Nan thought back to that scene. Her eyes followed the teenager on the basketball court. He had already become the only figure in her field of vision.
She would be secretly delighted one day because she came across Lu Xu in the same physical education class. It was during a time when everyone in school wore the same uniform, but she was able to recognize him in the crowd with one look. She was the one who could not stop herself from looking at someone who had a similar figure as him.
She walked past him, pretending to be expressionless when she was tense from her nerves. In fact, before she saw him, she fixed up her messy hair for a while. It was the occasional eye contact between them that would also make her feel like this person knew about her delusions.
When she watched him and the girl he liked fight, she would think about how if only she had been more brave.
But in this world, there were brave people who acquiesced the existence of cowards.
“So I liked him for many years. As for why all the male leads start with L, it can be considered an obsession. It seems like it’s the only secret love in my relationship history.”
Chen Nan never hoped to be the perfect girl who would be next to him. She knew that she was too far away from him, and that the gap between them could no longer be crossed through hard work.
There were many times when hard work was useless, such as when it came to liking someone.
There were too many problems that would eventually have its own solutions and love would bow down to its own solution. It was unfortunate that she could not make her secret love come true.
“The bravest thing I did during my youth was writing a letter to him. But I never knew if he read it.”
On the day she graduated from the third year of high school, she wrote a lot of beautiful wishes to Lu Xu. The only exception was that there weren’t any lines with “I like you”. She thought she was not qualified to say that she liked a wonderful person like him, who was a star among the skies.
“What did the letter say?”
“Lu Xu, I wish you peace and a smooth sailing future…. And there are many things that I haven’t thought about and really don’t remember. Anyway, it was selfish. What I mean is, I did not wish him success in love in the future. Since he’s so amazing, he probably already has a girlfriend. And in the end, I didn’t leave my name.”
Chen Nan smiled and did not continue to talk about what was in the letter. “It’s sad, isn’t it? A person likes someone, and their first reaction is to feel inferior. During the greatness of youth’s secret love, the secret admirer probably never had a name.”
She paused for a moment and took in a deep breath. She was suddenly choked with emotion. “But I don’t regret it. Like many secret admirers, it’s not like in the novels where they meet again and have their wishes fulfilled. I used to fantasize about whether there will be a day when I will become good enough to meet him again. When I was seventeen years old, I had already experienced the delusions of wishing that I would be better in the future and how nice it would be to meet him again.”
“But life is not like a novel, and I was almost lucky.” As she said that, her eyes were a little red. “Truthfully, you don’t have to search for the inspiration behind Lu Xu because the person I have been describing for all these years—from the guy making a three point goal—might not be him any more. It’s just that I’m still stuck in the abyss of secret love and have not gotten out. I am still in love with him and like millions of ordinary girls, there is no bright side to a one-sided secret love.”
She simply looked back and counted carefully. As it turned out, she had loved that teenage him for many years.
After Chen Nan spoke, the host and director were silent. They looked at the woman in front of them, holding back tears and the smile behind her tearful eyes. “I don’t want anyone to bother him, because this secret love is my own personal matter.”
From beginning to end, Chen Nan did not say Mr. L’s surname or any information about him. She said, “Oh, secret love. I probably do not have the courage to say his name even after the story has been told.”
As far as she was concerned, there was so much going on that she took a peek at him in the crowd. That was enough, she was content with it.
People who fall in love secretly should not hope too much.
And Lu Xu had never been Lu Xu.
“Hey, Brother Lu, what’s the name of that girl from our high school—Chen Nan, do you know her?”
“Chen Nan? I’ve never heard of her. I don’t remember her.”
The author has something to say:
Oh, secret love. I probably do not have the courage to say his name even after the story has been told.
I am dedicating this story to my youth. It is a story that is very close to me about my secret love, experienced during the late nights.
To me, in the midst of all the commotion that is going on, it is enough to just take a peek at him.
I hope next time, I won’t be a coward with my secret love.