Chapter 2 - The First Step of a Transformation

Suddenly, a creak was heard as a door opened.

Sheng Jiaoyang was right in the middle of wiping her hair dry in the bathroom and was startled. Leaning out of the bathroom, she saw Xu Qing entering through the front door.

“How come you’re back?” Wasn’t she going to work? It wasn’t even 4 p.m yet, and when Xu Qing had left, it was almost 1 p.m. It takes about two hours to make a round trip.

When Xu Qing heard her daughter’s voice, the stern expression quickly vanished from her face, and she forced a smile as she answered, “The boss let us off early today.”

“Oh,” Sheng Jiaoyang absentmindedly said as she continued to dry her hair.

Having a bath wasn’t easy for her as after searching around in the narrow kitchen for a while, she finally managed to find an electric kettle to boil water with.

The most terrible part though, was that after she’d finished bathing, she discovered that Xu Jiaojiao didn’t own any skincare products!

“Jiaojiao, didn’t you eat this afternoon?” It was at this moment that Xu Qing noticed that the food arranged on the table hadn’t been touched.

Sheng Jiaoyang hung the towel on the wall, and as she left the bathroom with her bangs still damp, she casually said, “No appetite.”

Xu Qing stared blankly at Sheng Jiaoyang, feeling that the daughter currently standing in front of her was somewhat different to the daughter she’d left behind when she went to work. Scrutinizing her daughter, she suddenly noticed the clothes on her daughter's body. “Your clothes…”

“I just modified some old clothes.” Sheng Jiaoyang pointed at the discarded pieces of material on the floor beside the bedside.

“Oh, right!” Sheng Jiaoyang looked towards Xu Qing. “One of my old teachers called to tell me to come pick up my university admission notice. Since you came back early, you can accompany me to school.”

“The admission notices are already out? That’s great; we’ll go now then!” Once she’d heard about the admission notice, Xu Qing was pleasantly surprised.

The corner of Sheng Jiaoyang’s mouth slightly curled upwards.

After following Xu Qing and walking through several twisting alleyways, they finally arrived at the back gate of the school. Sheng Jiaoyang was surprised when she found out that Xu Jiaojiao’s school wasn’t all that far away from where she lived.

When Xu Qing stopped, Sheng Jiaoyang promptly said, “Teacher said that he was waiting for us in the office.”

Sure enough, Xu Qing once again took the lead and they walked towards a building not far from the gate.

When the teacher who’d called Sheng Jiaoyang saw her, he was sitting behind an office desk waving her over with one hand, while he hung up the phone with his other hand.

“Teacher Jiao,” Xu Qing took the initiative and greeted him first.

Teacher Jiao raised his head, and seeing the two of them together, he smiled. “Jiaojiao’s mother also came.”

“We’re sorry for troubling Teacher Jiao with waiting here.”

“It’s no problem at all. The first batch of admission letters have just arrived, and as their teacher, the last thing I can do for the children is hand the notice letters to them personally.”

Xu Qing nodded, gazing at the admission notice under Teacher Jiao’s hands with expectation.

Teacher Jiao noticed Xu Qing’s gaze. Chuckling, he handed over Xu Jiaojiao’s admission notice while stating, “Jiaojiao’s exam results were pretty good; she’s been admitted to our province’s most prominent F University.”

“However, Jiaojiao,” Teacher Jiao looked at Sheng Jiaoyang. “I remember that when I was asking you about your aspirations before the university entrance exams, you said that you wanted to choose either finance or economics as your major. I was unaware that you were more interested in majoring in foreign language…”

“Foreign language? English department?” It was at this moment that Xu Qing saw the contents of the admission notice, and she looked at Sheng Jiaoyang in surprise.

The teacher’s words and Xu Qing’s expression both made Sheng Jiaoyang’s eyes slightly widen. Could it be that when the original owner of this body filled in her course form, she kept it a secret from everyone?

On the way back home, Xu Qing couldn’t take it anymore and asked, “Jiaojiao, that day when you filled in your forms you told me that your first choice was majoring in Finance. Why were you admitted into the English department? Are you really going to F University to major in Foreign language?”

“Maybe.” Sheng Jiaoyang’s face was covered in indifference. “Majoring in English is also a good choice.”

“But, English is your weakest subject!”

Uh…

Sheng Jiaoyang blinked. Right…she’d almost forgotten that she was now in Xu Jiaojiao’s shoes.

“Jiaojiao, you see…how about next year, instead of going to university, you repeat a year? Otherwise, studying at university will be very hard for you,” Xu Qing tried to casually say.

“No!” After saying that, Sheng Jiaoyang immediately realised that her tone was too sharp. Clearing her throat, she lowered her voice and said, “Nevermind any of that, I’ve discovered that English is really good. Whether it’s going abroad or joining a foreign company, we must first learn English, right? Since I was successfully admitted into F University, with my decent learning abilities, I’ll be able to spend more time studying English in the future.”

To tell the truth, in the beginning, Sheng Jiaoyang had been quite worried that Xu Jiaojiao had chosen to apply to the Chinese department! It must be known, that when Sheng Jiaoyang was ten years old, she’d gone to live with her grandfather in Europe. Later on, she’d studied Financial Management as a major in order to be a worthy heir to her grandfather. So, if she’d been admitted as a Chinese major, she definitely would’ve considered changing her major.

“Jiaojiao, in the future, you’ll have to work hard,” Xu Qing said with reluctance.

“Mhh.” Sheng Jiaoyang was busy flicking her long bangs to the side as they were somewhat jabbing her eyes when she abruptly stopped walking.

“Did you bring any money? I want to go get a haircut.”

Noticing that the bangs on Sheng Jiaoyang’s forehead were getting slightly long, Xu Qing said, “When we return I’ll help you fix your bangs.”

“I want to change my hairstyle too though. This hairstyle is so unsophisticated that even when I see it, I lack the strength to ridicule it.”

Xu Qing’s expression stiffened. Ever since her daughter was a child, Xu Jiaojiao’s hair had always been cut by her…

“Alright, then let’s go to a salon.” Xu Qing touched her pocket, but when she thought of money, worry swept across her face.

Because of her myopia, Sheng Jiaoyang had to pay more attention to where she was placing her feet and didn’t notice Xu Qing’s current expression. All she could think of was what sort of hairstyle would suit her best.

After passing the post office that Sheng Jiaoyang had visited earlier, they stopped at a salon that was less than twenty square feet in size and was directly across from the bus station.

“Welcome!” Upon entering, they were immediately welcomed by a male salon assistant who was tall, thin, and flamboyant in appearance.

“My daughter wants to change her hairstyle,” Xu Qing stated.

“Sure, this way please…”

Sheng Jiaoyang’s picky eyes quickly sized up the salon. It was her first time going to this kind of small salon, and just by going off the store’s decorations and the salon assistant’s strange hairstyle, she already held no hope in the hairdressers of this store.

Seeing that the flamboyant assistant was going to lead her to the sinks, Sheng Jiaoyang hurriedly said, “I’ve already washed my hair; just helping me to cut it will do.”

“Okay, then sit here first.” The flamboyant assistant pulled out a salon chair for her to sit on.

After which, a seemingly relaxed young man with a crew cut walked over. Standing behind Sheng Jiaoyang’s chair, he sized her up in the mirror in front of her while saying, “What kind of hairstyle do you want to change to?”

“Do you have a pen and a piece of paper?” Sheng Jiaoyang asked instead.

The man with the crew cut was puzzled, but the customer was king, after all. Hence, he turned and asked someone to bring over a pen and paper, then handed them to Sheng Jiaoyang.

The salon was only small, so if there was even just a little movement, everyone would know. Whether it was a client or the flamboyant assistant, they all watched what was happening as they were filled with curiosity.

Sheng Jiaoyang ignored everyone’s staring and set the piece of white paper down on the table in front of her before starting to draw. Under the swirling pattern of the pen which smoothly glided across the paper, a portrait of a girl with attractively short layered hair vividly appeared.

The hairdresser standing behind Sheng Jiaoyang was shocked.

Curious, the flamboyant assistant walked over and was also stunned.

Even Xu Qing, who was waiting next to her could hardly conceal the astonishment on her face.

“Okay, cut this hairstyle.” Sheng Jiaoyang put down the pen, her slender fingertip pointing to the picture on the white paper as she glanced at the hairdresser. “There’s no problem, right?”

The hairdresser pulled himself together, then exclaimed in admiration as he looked at Sheng Jiaoyang, “There’s no problem! I just didn’t expect a beautiful woman like yourself would also be an art student.”

Too much nonsense! Sheng Jiaoyang leaned against the back of the chair, and seeing that the hairdresser was passing around her drawing for others to see, she impatiently urged, “I’ll trouble you to hurry up.”

“Yes! Right away!”

Xu Qing was filled with mixed feelings as she watched on from the sides. Around this time two days ago, she’d gotten a phone call to tell her that Jiaojiao was in the hospital receiving emergency treatment. She was so scared that it felt like half her soul left her body. Although raising her daughter all alone these past few years had been tough, she thought that it was worthwhile. Besides, Jiaojiao was a hard-working child, and her academic grades had always been outstanding. She never would’ve thought that her sensible daughter would be hit by a car and sent to the emergency room!

The traffic police had let her watch the surveillance video of the car accident. The one at fault wasn’t the driver, but Jiaojiao! At the time of the crash, Jiaojiao had been crying and wasn’t looking where she was going while crossing the road. The driver had braked suddenly, but they still hit Jiaojiao, causing her to fall to the ground and knock the back of her head against the road. This resulted in her receiving a slight concussion, but luckily, no other injuries. Unfortunately, the driver of the car hadn’t been so lucky. Due to such an immense shock, the driver had suffered a severe heart attack.

She didn’t know what had happened to her daughter that day, but while she wanted to ask, she didn’t dare. Since it was able to upset her daughter so much, it was clearly a topic that would be too distressing to remember.

Fortunately, it seemed like Jiaojiao had become more cheerful…unfortunately, she felt like couldn’t understand her daughter at all.

She didn’t know that Jiaojiao could actually draw! Previously, Jiaojiao had never once drawn anything at home. As soon as she had graduated from school, Jiaojiao had thrown away all her notebooks and exercise books, and sold the rest of her study materials to second-hand stores. There was now no trace of Jiaojiao ever having studied before.

Seeing Jiaojiao’s appearance slowly transforming under the hairdresser’s scissors, Xu Qing felt somewhat guilty. All this time, she’d been unable to provide a good living for her daughter due to her limited capabilities. In order to save money, she’d even had to cut her daughter’s hair.

“Done!” The hairdresser’s voice interrupted Xu Qing’s thoughts.

Sheng Jiaoyang opened her eyes, and what greeted her from the mirror was an entirely new her. A thin layer of bangs rested against her forehead and outlined her beautiful eyes, making them more prominent. Meanwhile, short strands of hair gracefully framed her cheeks, causing her small and exquisite chin to appear quite delicate. The overall look resulted in a charmingly short hairstyle, perfect for a young girl.

“How is it?” the hairdresser asked expectantly.

“Passable,” Sheng Jiaoyang answered indifferently.

“Such a beautiful woman like yourself is definitely suited to be in movies, right?”

“Out of the question,” Sheng Jiaoyang replied as she glanced at the hairdresser. “I’m not a star, and I don’t like to pose for strangers.”

With just one glance, Sheng Jiaoyang could tell that the hairdresser wanted to take a picture of her to use as advertising.

“Then, could you give this drawing to us as a commemoration of your visit?” the hairdresser asked, unwilling to give up.

“What will you give me in exchange?”

The hairdresser stared at her blankly. He apparently hadn’t expected that she would ask for something in exchange for the drawing, but he quickly responded, “We won’t charge you for our services this visit.”

“Deal. I can also draw you one more if you fix her hair too.” Sheng Jiaoyang pointed at Xu Qing.

“No problem!” The hairdresser immediately agreed.

“No, no need…” Xu Qing quickly waved her hand.

“It’s free, so why not take advantage of this chance?” Sheng Jiaoyang looked at Xu Qing strangely, and without waiting for her to respond, she started to draw another portrait.

If she had enough money, she would’ve dragged Xu Qing to all sorts of shops to have her entire look remodelled. Her original beauty had been squandered away and had now faded into the appearance of an old woman.

Xu Qing’s hairstyle was more complicated compared to Sheng Jiaoyang’s as her hair didn’t just need a new style, it also had to be permed. The hairdresser, however, didn’t complain at all. His hands efficiently transformed Xu Qing’s hair according to the design on the paper, but because it had to be permed, the hairstyle ultimately took almost four hours to complete. Halfway through, the salon had even offered to buy them each a fast food meal.

A hairstyle could really affect the appearance and temperament of a person. After Xu Qing’s hairstyle had been changed, it was like she was a completely different person compared to her previous hairstyle of a simple ponytail.

The hairdresser admired his masterpiece while praising, “Beautiful woman, with your talent, you could be a designer!”

Standing to the side, the flamboyant assistant couldn’t help butting in, “With her height, she could totally be a fashion model! Look at the current ones. Compared to the average celebrity, they’re more famous.”

“Those are world renowned supermodels. With so many models in the world, how many of them are actually able to achieve that level of fame?” the hairdresser’s mouth twitched as he spoke.

“But, models can make money quickly. Wasn’t there an event that was recently announced? One that’s looking to recruit the contestants as supermodels? The winner can get two hundred thousand dollars as a prize, while second and third place also receive prize money. Currently, many people have registered; even my younger sister was in a rush to sign up. Beauty, you should also try! Who knows, maybe you could win!” the flamboyant assistant grew more excited as he spoke, his cadence picking up speed as he carried on.

“My daughter was just admitted to F University.”

Xu Qing couldn’t stop herself from interrupting as she’d always been of the opinion that studying was the proper way to advance in the future. Moreover, her daughter had just taken one of the more prominent university’s exams.

The flamboyant assistant still wanted to say something, but once he noticed the hairdresser’s glare, he resentfully shut his mouth.

“Hahaha, with just a look I know that your daughter will have great prospects in the future,” the hairdresser said while laughing.

“Many thanks!” Xu Qing’s expression was much better after hearing that.

“Let’s go,” Sheng Jiaoyang said as she stood up.

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