The evening classroom. Still in the middle of the after school assembly, however I, Saginomiya Iori slumped on the desk that sat in the corner of the room next to the window with a bored look.
For some reason, the classroom was getting excited as if all my classmates had realised something fun. I guess it’s natural since tomorrow’s the day winter vacation starts. When you’re not yet in the 3rd year of high school you still get to look forward to long holidays so it’s normal. Well, both school and vacation are equally boring to me though.
The high school where I go to is a combined high school (junior high+high school.) In short, it’s so that you get to make good friends with the same people throughout this six year period. I didn’t attend junior high for more than half of the time for certain reasons; I would be what the world would refer to as a truant. I also transferred schools in the middle of junior high into this one. From anyone’s point of view, even mine, I would be considered extremely antisocial.
(TLC: Junior High = 7th,8th,9th years/secondary school, High school = 10th,11th,12th years/Junior College)
My parents, when I was being a shut-in, were yelling “Go to school!” and “You will get kicked out of school when you skip too often!” many times, and that was during my junior high years. Thanks to the wonders of compulsory education, I did not listen to my parents and after being called to some ten times of parent-teacher conferences, I wasn’t expelled. (Parent-conferences in Japan = student+teacher+parent)
As long as you get passing marks everything else is OK because it’s a very typical orthodox high school. That’s just my pet theory though.
Like this, the truant manages to graduate to high school safely by getting pointlessly high marks in his tests.
“The escalator system is great.” said I right after the school entrance ceremony ended. I still think of it as a wise saying even now that I’m in my 2nd year of high school.
When I became a high schooler I changed 180 degrees from the time I was in junior high, coming to school diligently. In response to my sudden change in conduct, a question inadvertently arose within my parents and they guessed – “so you can get expelled in high school” – and in the following days, my favourite dishes that used to line the dining table often slowly diminished.
However the true answer to that question is still a mystery.
Because I had skipped most of school during that time due to various overlapping circumstances, I ended up not making any friends. I think it’s possibly the atmosphere I bring about. However, the main reason is probably the fact that I avoid most if not all social interactions.
I, Saginomiya Iori, with mannerisms that don’t seem to care to get involved at all and previously a truant, got tagged with the worst label possible as a gloomy guy. Obviously no one would voluntarily call out to me.
“The combination of the traits gloomy and commushou (having communication problems) is a super hybrid existence!! In other words, they just have not come to appreciate your godly calling. Be patient, my time has not come!!” is what I once consoled myself with, however at the end of 2 years after I said that in my room I’m still in this situation where I’m alone.
Perhaps a tidy appearance will give me a refreshing atmosphere. A set of teeth that would glimmer would probably also be good.
For those many years I had skipped school, I obtained the title of lonely high school male student who gets ignored by everyone. It’s what I got after all that happened in those 2 years.
At the moment, I’m basically a bookworm to the class… and because I’m a bookworm I’m often alone in class doing my own thing. Although I can’t say I’m dissatisfied with this status quo, it doesn’t hurt me or anyone else and I’m already quite happy for the change in my image.
However, I’ve realised that this loner title can become a bad status when it comes to PE classes in high school.
The reason is simple. “Start warm-ups, make teams of two and do stretches!!”, were the worst words that the PE teacher would shout out every time. I’m quite sure that paired stretching did not exist in junior high, but ever since we moved up to high school it started. I’ve even started hearing that line in my dreams and considering whether to wear earplugs during PE.
Why does it have to be pair stretching at high school? Are you picking a fight with a loner? These questions would hold no importance to normal high schoolers apart from myself, who couldn’t talk because of this and that; thus I have made up many excuses to skip. The loner I am has made it so that even my shadow is faint. As expected of a loner!
It seems that the reason for the change to paired stretching was due to a suggestion my class’ current PE teacher made. Since that day, once a month a long nail is driven, full of fury, into the stomach of a straw doll (voodoo).
Occasionally, I hear that the gym teacher had to take leave due to abdominal pain, but that’s probably because he has a sensitive stomach, probably.
It’s nothing like how it’s written in manga and light novels; I lived through a school life that can’t really be called glorious.
… Put bluntly, I want to get my graduation certificate as soon as possible… I hate PE…
Giiiin, Goooon, Gaaaan, Goooon. (School bell)
The sound of the chime that had changed just a little resounded throughout the school. The condition of the chime is rather strange. A month ago, the higher-ups of this school had sent a notice stating that it will be fixed soon, but it never was.
Don’t be so stingy and just repair it…
“Hey! You all!! Just because winter vacation’s beginning don’t remove all the panels!! And if any of you dares to make light of the deadline for the homework… we’ll have a parent-teacher conference. … Since there’s nothing else that you need to know, you may go!!” (Panels: wooden panels on the wall)
The assembly was dismissed with a few informal words from the form teacher, Minase Seigi. Whether it was because of her informal way of speaking or her friendliness, everyone calls her the embarrassing nickname,”Miss Justice!” (Seigi = Justice)
At first she would tell us “Please stop that, it’s embarrassing!! Call me properly!!” and argue with her students but lately, possibly because she gave up or it became troublesome, she now allows us to call her that.
The moment she mentioned the parent-teacher meetings, the whole class resounded in rejection that ranged between “no way…” and “I don’t want that!!” except for one who snorted at that, me.
Parent-teacher meetings? Give me a break, I’m a veteran of parent-teacher meetings. Those words are nothing to me. In those you just hang your head down in “remorse,” and wait for it to end. Heed my words, I’m a veteran. I can’t be wrong… probably.
While I was thinking about these kind of trivial matters, I somehow managed to listen to the last assembly before winter break officially starts and finished packing my things, ready to go home. That moment when we stood up to bow, the classroom door was violently opened and all our gazes turned towards the source of the disturbance.
“Gararararaa!!” (Sound of grating sliding door being opened)
An oddball ran straight for me as she shouted. This person who’s coming at me is the only person who can communicate with me in the whole school, Mochizuki Kaede.
That energy of hers is seriously dangerous. It’s like I’m the red mantle wielding matador while she’s the bull. One must prepare for every scenario or something will for sure happen. She head-butted me right in my solar plexus, forcing all the air out of my lungs, as she had been doing just recently.
Her black hair hung down till her waist; she was so beautiful the word attractive seemed to exist just to describe her face, her figure and her limbs were slender. She was also part of the student council, thus becoming quite the popular person in school. It might be because she was worried that I was lonely, but she often comes over to see me. By the way she’s also a childhood friend who’s a year older than me.
It’s not a very nice thing to say about someone, but it was these very actions of hers that hastened my becoming a loner.
“Kaede…… didn’t I tell you that you don’t have to force yourself to come and see me…… My status is different from the normal loners, rather than that, I’m more of a super loner… Ah, wait, I was wrong….!? Wait a sec!! Don´t hug me! This is the classroom! A classroom! It hurts, stop it! Everyone is looking at us!!”
It’s actually rather frightening how used to my class is to seeing this scene: me trying to break free of Kaede, while dripping sweat.
“But… isn’t it fine? You used to call me ‘Kaede-nee-chan!! Kaede-nee-chan!! and come hug me…… Nee-chan is so sad! Sigh……time is so cruel……”
Pouting her lips as she said those words, she pretended to cry “Boo… hoo… hoo…” I can see a bottle of eyedrops in her right hand and she really looks like she’s really crying. Hmm? A bottle of eyedrops? As I thought about it, something very similar to tears flowed down her cheeks.
As Kaede pretended to cry, I let out a sigh and hoisted her up with my hands against her will. As if that action became a fire-lighting spark, the whole class seemed to suddenly surge with hostile anger and intent.
Those piercing gazes all landed upon my body. I who was completely, utterly fed up with this placed my hands on my head, while the culprit of these gazes, Kaede, seemed to not notice those gazes. There wasn’t a trace of shame on her.
Is she doing this on purpose?
By the way, because she speaks to me friendlily despite my reputation as a truant, some call her a holy saint who would even talk to a truant.
Both the teachers and students of this school, you think too highly of her…
“And also, Io-kun, I’ve said it many times but you don’t suit glasses at all you know? I can’t see your face behind your glasses and mask!! It’s kind of a waste since you’re pretty good looking…..”
Pursing her lips and knitting her brows in displeasure at my mask and glasses, she stretched her hands out to take them off.
“… Why does it matter? I can wear whatever I want.”
I brushed off the hand of Kaede which was coming towards my face with my right hand as I said so.
It’s been 1 year since we argued like this constantly. I guess people get used to things.
Like Kaede had said, I wear nerdy glasses and a mask everyday. It isn´t because I have poor eyesight, but on the way back after the entrance ceremony, I just happened to find these plain glasses which people would not give a second glance to and swore to live quietly using them. It doesn’t feel right if I don’t wear them now.
What’s with the swearing you ask? Isn’t it obvious? When the boy who used to skip school isn’t plain…. “Uwaa! The truant Saginomiya changed his image!! Disgusting, though he’s seriously good-looking!” Wouldn’t that happen? I didn’t have any other choice than to lay low.
Hmm?? Chicken? I don’t find anything wrong with that.
I somehow feel that I used to be called “cool!” and “handsome!” but that’s probably an error on my part since humans tend to remember things how they are convenient to them. Wait a sec, why did I ever skip school in the first place… not that it matters now.
For some reason Kaede’s always trying to take off my essential-for-junior-high-plainness items, the glasses and mask. It would’ve been okay if she was just going to take them off, but she would do so while saying, “I’ll crush them to bits!!”. Well, I’ve managed to save them every time.
“Well, I guess it can’t be helped…… but you must take them off at least once before I graduate and skip school together with me, okay? Promise me, cross your heart and hope to die? It’s a promise! Don’t you dare forget!”
The moment Kaede pointed that finger, it was so full of vigour you could ask, “Is that a whoosh sound effect there?” In response to her endless prattling, the overwhelmed me simply tried to look the part, ignoring most of it, careful not to let her notice I wasn’t paying attention.
“………Hey, just so you know, don’t consider my silence as affirmation; I didn’t even nod or say yes. This is ridiculous……eh? Kaede, your friends from the student council came.”
At the doorway, two girls and two boys with student council badges were standing. As usual, they were both amazed at Kaede coming to my class. They didn’t use to pick Kaede up, however once, “Let’s go home.” she said as she dragged me home. I guess she did not go to the meeting. After that, they always came to pick her up.
The girls would say, “You’re disturbing Saginomiya, so let’s go back to the student council now! Back to work!” Very well put! She would sometimes speak to me and is a gentle person, but with anyone other than Kaede I basically only reply ‘yes, ok, no’ and ‘sorry’…… or rather that’s all I manage to say. I’m a commushou. Making small talk is a very high hurdle for a loner.
Well, although they are basically good people, I think they don’t like a certain boy much.
I digress, but the members of the student council are elected through student votes. Because of that the male members of the student council have pretty faces; they get a lot of support from the female students.
Ah, that shrill voice at the time was truly annoying.
And because of this, he seems to have some confidence in his appearance. “What is Mochizuki-san doing with such a gloomy guy……. she’s better off with me…” he spat.
This is why the good-looking men……
That very person stayed in the doorway, clicking his tongue, looking full of himself, and was very irritating.
That man, is he not salty enough? Next time that person drinks coffee in the student council room I’ll replace the sugar with salt. I’m still pretty nice….
The girl who had come to call Kaede back was about to step out of the classroom and at that moment, every one was enveloped in a mysterious light.
Being confronted with these unfathomable events, I let out a surprised sound. At the same time I couldn’t hear my voice any longer, all of us, the teachers and students, without leaving anyone out, disappeared.