Even before getting hit in the face by a window and getting its outline imprinted on her face, Lin Songmei’s mood was already rock bottom.
She spent the entire day filling out reflection forms about the school year, one for each class... and she had 8 classes. It was already post-graduation, the school year had already ended but here she was, spending the first day of break filling out these forms during a massive rainstorm.
Sitting at her desk, Songmei spent the entire day filling out these asinine forms, hand-writing them since her school apparently was living 50 years in the past. Didn't they know everyone just used terminals these days? Even she, who lived in what could only be called an orphanage, had the cheapest model.
Therefore, since the head lady, the woman in charge of managing everyone in this, “Government Funded Public Home For Those Without Homes”, or an orphanage as everyone called it, ordered everyone to finish these before they could start their summer, Songmei spent the day destroying her wrist while staring at her reflection in the window.
Throughout the day, when not giving herself carpal tunnel syndrome, Songmei got a great view of the rain, her reflection, and some more rain. Of course, because it was... her, she knew her reflection quite well, so staring at her reflection wasn’t ground-breaking entertainment.
She had silver eyes that seemed to, for some incomprehensible reason, hold less life than usual, white-silver hair that changed color under the light, and a reasonable enough looking face... probably? It wasn’t like she was going to get any action at 16 while living in an orphanage.
Well, needless to say, added to her features was also a bright red imprint of the window, why did the window have to open inward anyway?
Now, sitting there, after closing the window, Songmei had some time to weigh the positives and negatives of getting some temporary body art done by the brilliant artist, the window.
The negative was too big. Without a doubt it destroyed the positive like an adult going against a child in a competition of who could do their taxes the best.
With the negative being the fact that half of her hand-written forms were now utterly useless because they were soaked in rain. The ink that she had used to write the forms now formed some... amazingly beautiful streams that mimicked nature while being as useful as literally NOTHING.
At least she had a more interesting reflection to look at in the mirror now, something to distract herself while mourning the loss of half her day's work.
But sitting there mourning wouldn’t do her any good, so with a deep breath, a light slap to the cheek that ended up hurting a lot more than it should’ve, Songmei got back to work, rewriting how she thoroughly enjoyed math class this year, and how it was such an enriching subject that she felt truly changed her life in a way never before.
Her pen moving without break, probably to the point that if it had a will it’d be filing for worker’s compensation, Songmei kept one hand on the window to keep it from bursting open again, the elbow on that same arm on her paper, and her other hand on the pen, writing as if her break depended on it... which it did.
“... I’m done with this.”
Almost throwing down her pen, then realizing it was one of the two pens she had, Songmei put down her pen like a precious treasure, stretching a little while keeping her hand planted on the window.
The window, like the rest of the building, wasn't in the best condition, a little dilapidated but still livable, the paint chipped, old, and outdated, but still doing its job. However, this was the only home that Songmei knew, it was either this or living on the streets, and... obviously that’s not the goal.
Reminiscing on how life... wasn’t the worst in the orphanage, Songmei realized that she could just put a few books against the window, so, after doing that, she stood up and began doing some light stretches in the middle of the room.
Stretching without anything to look at, Songmei just sank into her thoughts, remembering the conversations that had transpired during dinner earlier. And for the record, Songmei had literally nothing to look at, she had her desk, a mega-small cabinet, a bed with a thin blanket and garbage mattress, and one worn... no, well-loved stuffed animal, things she’d etched into her mind long ago.
The large cafeteria-like room, with long tables, suspicious body odor, and loud talking, that night, was dominated by a couple conversation topics: how unfair the head lady was for requiring everyone finish their forms and the big event that’d be happening the next day.
Continuing her stretches, letting out quiet mutterings of pain under her breath as she began to mourn her hamstrings along with her ruined forms, Songmei couldn’t help but begin to smile a little when thinking about the event that’d be transpiring tomorrow, aptitude tests.
She, along with everyone else in this “Government Funded Public Home For Those Without Homes” building that was for 16 year olds—they’d move to a new building every year—was excited for these tests, they were a ticket to a different life that was fantastical beyond their wildest dreams.
Chuckling, Songmei remembered several of the loudest people in the dining hall, people who had been confident about their aptitude...
“I’m pretty good at punching things! Yeah... YEAH! I swear, I’m going to have the best aptitude out of everyone here! No... the best out of everyone in the whole city! The whole country! The whole continent!”
“What kind of bullshit are you spouting?! You barely survive gym class, how do you think you’re going to have the best aptitude? As for me, the most fit person in every aspect for the past 3 years, I’ll probably actually be the one with good aptitude.”
“You know... I’ve read a lot of those ‘cultivation’ novels and I share a lot in common with those main characters, so I think I’ll be able to have a good aptitude, they have really good ones after all.”
Remembering the sheer amount of laughter that had broken out after that comment, along with the chorus of “Do you even young master?!”’s, Songmei laid on the ground with a long sigh, bored of stretching while also not wanting to continue filling out her forms.
Yet, because everyone had to fill out these forms, even if someone had ‘supreme talent’, before the start of the next school year and hand them into the school, or in Songmei’s case, hand them to the head lady who’d then hand them to the school, Songmei pushed herself off the ground, sitting back in front of the desk and letting her pen continue its tireless journey across the pages.
“Turns out I’m NOT done with this... who would’ve thought... goddammit.”
With that, Songmei worked into the wee hours of the night, illuminated only by the small lamp on her desk, climbing into bed only after the last form had been filled out to completion.