Chapter 38: The Interview (1)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Despite warning herself to not take the teaching assistant Wen Shouyi’s words to heart, Gu Nianzhi’s mood was inevitably affected. She tossed and turned in bed, unable to fall asleep. She was also afraid of missing the interview again and checked the alarm on her phone several times, paranoid about forgetting to set it. If she were late again, there would truly be no more chances for her. Afterwards, Gu Nianzhi forced herself to count sheep and fell asleep after a few hundred were counted.
She was suddenly dreaming. It was the same azure sky and fluffy white clouds from previous one. The sun was shining and a gentle breeze moved in the air. Suddenly, an airplane emblazoned with the series ‘MH210’ in crimson fell from the sky.
The next moment, she was once again inside the burning car. She turned around to look behind her. The rear window had been shattered with something, leaving a gaping hole and shards of tinted glass everywhere.Through the large hole, she saw a great blaze burning and mixing with dense smoke; the background a blur. She faintly saw a man scream for her and attempt to get closer, but he was then held back by by several people. Her eyes widened as she tried to make sense of what was happening, but a sudden cloud of thick smoke engulfed her and made her eyes water. She blinked quickly to look again, but the fire at the rear window had grown. The flames licked closer, the thick smoke almost suffocating her and completely blocking the view of what was happening behind the car.
She turned her head again and soon saw Huo Shaoheng’s stony face as he ripped open the door and rushed in to save her. The painful heat of the flames on her skin suddenly awoke her and she sat right up. Turning on her phone, she saw that it was only three in the morning. It was pitch black in the dorm and calmed herself to the quiet breathing of her roommates. She was in the bottom bunk by the window. A sliver of yellow light peeked through the the curtains, illuminated by streetlamp next to the dormitory. The night felt cool.
She thought about the dream and rubbed her temples.
I saw a little more this time.
This time, there had been another man who seemed close to her. Unfortunately, it had been too blurry and she hadn’t managed to get a clear glimpse of his face. Could the figure have been her father? He’d seemed as though were about go insane when he screamed and tried to rush over to her.
Ah, when will I remember what happened before the car accident?
Father, mother, where are you? I really miss you. Gu Nianzhi couldn’t help from crying a few tears. The overwhelming emotion from the dream left her heart aching with a deep sadness and regret.
Thinking of her parents gradually calmed her anxiety. No matter where they were, they must love her a lot. Her lips were still smiling when she slowly lay down to sleep again. When she woke up the next time, it was due to the phone alarm beside her pillow. As soon as it rang, she reflexively switched it off and got up in a hurry. It was seven in the morning and the other three in the room were still fast asleep. No one heard her alarm.
Gu Nianzhi put on her dress suit and rinsed up in the bathroom. She brushed her hair and finished her skincare routine before grabbing her backpack and going downstairs.
Mei Xiawen was already waiting in his car and had parked across the street from the dorm. He hurriedly opened the door to get out when he saw Gu Nianzhi come out. “Nianzhi, did you have breakfast yet?”
Gu Nianzhi shook her head. “I’ll have time to eat after the interview.” The interview was at eight and would take no more than an hour, so she would eat then.
Mei Xiawen seemed to have predicted that she would do this, since he handed a paper container to her once she sat in the car. “Drink and eat this. It’s fresh soy milk and xiaolongbao.1 Fill up first.”
It was hard to reject such thoughtfulness. Gu Nianzhi blushed as she took the container from him and softly said, “thank you,” before eating in small bites. She had just finished the food by the time they got to the Faculty of Law building. Mei Xiawen passed her a bottle of spring water and a pack of gum. Gu Nianzhi opened the bottle and rinsed her mouth, then chewed on a few pieces of gum to freshen her breath. It was only 7:45 AM when she got out of the car and entered the building. At 7:50 AM, she punctually waited in front of the conference room. Five minutes later, a young man wearing a fine wool three-piece navy suit and a pale blue checkered tie walked over unhurriedly from the other end of the corridor. He was well built, with broad shoulders and a tapered waist, making him look overall very sophisticated. One hand was in his trouser pocket and the other held a file, as he walked elegantly to Gu Nianzhi. His voice was formal. “You are Gu Nianzhi?”
He Zhichu was fair skinned with sleek, black hair falling across his forehead, shading the lovely almond-shaped eyes that looked at her closely. When he blinked, his long and straight lashes fluttered. His tall nose and thin lips made him appear somewhat aloof, a stark contrast to his gentle eyes. He radiated a mysterious combination of allure and professionalism.
Gu Nianzhi promptly stood up. “Professor He Zhichu?” She had seen his photo on the Harvard Law School website and was able to recognize him in person immediately.
“Yes, come in.” He Zhichu nodded his head slightly, then opened the door of the conference room and entered first. His voice was now much more pleasant than it had been over the phone yesterday; maybe because they were meeting in person. Gu Nianzhi followed after him and closed the door.
“Sit and make yourself comfortable. This interview will be like just having a chat.” He Zhichu sat where the oval table was closest to the window. He extended his hands to the seat across from him and gestured for Gu Nianzhi to join him.
Gu Nianzhi had selected a wool dress suit in smoke grey and had even wore heels for this interview. It made her appear slim and graceful, and, most importantly, more mature. She was still young and didn’t want to be looked down on.
He Zhichu flipped open the file with Gu Nianzhi’s information. It included her application, transcripts, résumé and a cover letter. These had all been required for the application.
“First tell me, why did you apply as my post-grad student?” He Zhichu lifted his gaze and asked.
This questions was a simple way to start off: it was basically a standard interview question and Gu Nianzhi had prepared for it long before.
She began by expressing her admiration for He Zhichu and lauded his impressive successes, but then sharply changed the topic. “Professor He Zhichu, you are young and accomplished, but you had only mentored doctorate students and not those applying for their Masters. I had thought it was a shame until I took my graduate entrance exams and filled in the program request, and saw that you were actually recruiting for a graduate student position. I was ecstatic and immediately applied for your concentration.”
He Zhichu smiled faintly and lowered his head to scribble a few lines on her file. He then flipped through Gu Nianzhi’s résumé. “You had passed the Empire’s Special Talents Examination at the age of 15, and were already at the level of a third year undergraduate student. Looking at these grades, you could’ve easily applied to the B University School of Law. Why did you choose C University?”