48 Hours a Day
Chapter 338 - Center of the World
Late that night, while taking out the garbage, Peng Jiating couldn’t help but walk up to Tian Tian’s window again. She had passed the same window countless times, and each time, she would stop in front of it.
Before Tian Tian’s existence, she was the girl that everyone envied.
She hailed from a happy and wholesome family. Her father, a senior engineer, often went abroad for work, and whenever he came back, he would have the latest gadgets that enabled her to brag in front of her friends. Coupled with her sweet appearance and excellent grades, she had always been the little princess everyone aspired to be.
Until one day, the girl named Tian Tian appeared out of nowhere. She dazzled with a sparkle from the get-go, and like the brightest star in the room, she subconsciously stole the light away. Peng Jiating discovered that Tian Tian had everything that she had, where in some cases, her belongings were even better than what she owned. Tian Tian’s father had a better job than her dad as well. Being in a higher position, he got to travel abroad more frequently. Tian Tian was also prettier than her, and she performed better academically too, not to mention how her classmates decisively elected her as the class monitor as soon as she enrolled in the school.
Besides, the things she did not have, Tian Tian had all it all. Peng Jiating’s parents divorced when she was only a toddler. Her father took custody of her and subsequently married another woman. Soon after that, she was granted with a half-brother. Her grandparents, on the other hand, seemed to have their favor upon the little boy, preferring to devote their time to him instead. Of course, the treatment from her stepmother was in no way awful, but it was only because she didn’t want the infamous reputation of a ‘vicious stepmother.’ The sad truth was, she did not show her stepdaughter much love. Her father was the only one who truly cared about her, but unfortunately, he was rarely home.
No one knew that the little princess whom everyone adored at school had actually been sorely neglected at home. Nonetheless, Peng Jiating chose to bear the pain for the sole reason that school was her last piece of haven.
There, she could become a little princess again, and just like Cinderella and her crystal shoes, she could enjoy the envy and praises of others, becoming the focal point of everyone around her. This rare sensation of being wanted, this attention she longed for, meant everything to her.
However, Tian Tian’s arrival seemed to have blocked out whatever attention she so desperately needed. Whether deliberate or not, Tian Tian ruthlessly sucked away the light and warmth that used to be hers. She was now the model student in the eyes of the teachers and the personality her classmates vyed be. Every single thing she did, every move she made, never failed to attract interest, even imitation, in some cases.
“Tian Tian wore new shoes today. They look so good; I want them too!”
“Tian Tian having double ponytails is as cute as an angel!” “Tian Tian was almost late today. She ran into the classroom while panting. That flush on her face was so beautiful, so rosy!”
“Tian Tian, what’s today’s homework?”
“Tian Tian, mind if I borrow your eraser?”
“Tian Tian, can you speak with the Chinese teacher and get her to give us less homework? They always listen to what you say…”
“Tian Tian… Tian Tian… Tian Tian…”
Why was this god-forsaken name everywhere? Even students with the most miserable results were deliberately mischievous just to attract Tian Tian’s attention, those stupid and silly actions all for a reprimand by Tian Tian. She would ask them sternly to pay attention in class, and the boys would smile stupidly for the rest of the day. Apparently, a scolding could be a reward to some.
Peng Jiating went as far as distributing Belgian chocolates her father had bought her among her classmates. In the past, everyone would be grateful for what she did. They would praise her for having such a good and generous father. This time, however, she received a very different response.
“What… it tastes pretty normal, nowhere near as good as the ones Tian Tian brought us. Did your father buy fake Belgian chocolates?”
Peng Jiating grasped the pencil so hard her fingers turned a deathly white. She hated her younger brother, hated her grandfather and her grandmother for always loving him more. She hated her father, who was never home and hated her mother who left her. Despite all of that, she had never loathed another person so badly, not until now at least.
The hatred she harbored toward Tian Tian overflowed from her every vein, dying to burst out of her body at any given moment.
Why?! Why were some born to this world with everything given to them?
It was as if all the happiness in the entire universe had been collected and dumped on Tian Tian alone. How could the world be this unfair? Just thinking about it almost drove her to insanity.
“So, is this the outcome you wanted?”
Peng Jiating suddenly heard a voice could be heard a voice coming from behind. She turned around to find the young man that she had met in the afternoon. Peng Jiating did not like him, especially his eyes. It was as he could see right through her as if he knew what she was thinking. Once again, she rapidly shifted away and attempted to leave like the last time.
“You know what will happen next. Her parents, grandpa, grandma… they will die one by one, and she will live a miserable life as you wish. She will then be adopted by other relatives, and you’ll be left alone. She may transfer to another school, or worse, can no longer adapt to life at school. But I guess you don’t care about these things, eh? Unfortunately, after spending so much effort and energy into destroying her life, you still won’t get what you want,” said Zhang Heng.
Peng Jiating stopped. Obviously, Zhang Heng’s words had caught her attention.
“You don’t know what you look like in the eyes of others, right?” Zhang Heng went on, his voice extraordinarily icy in the quiet night’s breeze. “In fact, no one has ever liked you before. The reason why your classmates even complimented you was because of all the imported snacks they got from you. To them, you no more but a clown. Each day after school, you’ll be last in your entire class to be picked up. Nobody ever sits with you at lunch in the cafeteria. You thought you hid it well, but everyone actually knows your family’s real situation. They know your dad and mom are divorced, and that your grandparents shower your brother with all the love they could give.
“No one cares about your existence. Even if Tian Tian didn’t exist, there would be Lily and Nan Nan. There will always be more popular people than you…” Zhang Heng paused. “Don’t believe me? Think I’m just trying to scare you? Is it because I am not your classmate? Think I really don’t know you and the people around you? That’s okay. You know what? I found someone who actually knows you.”
The moment Zhang Heng was done talking, a small kid came out from behind him, a tangled expression on her face. She was Liu Ming’s younger sister, Liu Yuwei, and she was in the same class as Peng Jiating and Tian Tian. After Peng Jiating saw her, her breathing gradually sped up.
Liu Yuwei then opened her mouth, “I… I’m actually a little afraid of you.”
This sentence alone seemed to have sucked all the energy out of her, the girl quickly disappearing behind Zhang Heng once she was done talking.
Peng Jiating’s face became pale. Zhang Heng was right about her. Peng Jiating did not quite believe what he said earlier, and the inconvenient truths rattled her to the core. Rage began boiling in her blood, and it wasn’t until Liu Yuwei showed up that she started to awaken from her dream.
She had to now face reality, one that would graze the very depths of her soul. It was one she had been trying to avoid for the longest time. Now being forced to face her inner demons, the reality that no one in this world liked her finally sank in.