~Ruiko Himekawa’s Point of View~
A few weeks have passed since the end of summer vacation.
The students attending our school had become an eye sore to the public.
A weekly magazine and an online article contained outrageous information about us.
The article stated that we abused a boy throughout the school who pleaded his innocence, driving him to the point of mental illness.
“…… Mental Illness …… No way……?”
As I read through the article ……, I found the name of the illness, ‘schizophrenia’. When I looked into the disease in detail…… I shuddered at the horrifying symptoms.
I immediately went to ask Kaede what was going on.
I didn’t see her during the summer vacation, but I figured she would know, being his sister.
“……… Kaede, is Ryosuke-kun alright!”
“……Ah …… it’s my fault ……”
But Kaede was not in the mood to talk to me.
When I talk to her, she is empty and doesn’t answer my questions. I can just tell by the atmosphere that it’s not a good situation.
She doesn’t answer when others come to talk to her, and she misses a lot of school. I don’t feel any life from Kaede now …… but I support her as much as possible when she is at school because she is my friend.
And the most important of all, Ryosuke-kun —- he was no longer at home or at school.
“Yes, Nakazato is with him. I’ve already taken care of the formalities. It’s a matter of circumstance. The school over there and we didn’t spare any effort to cooperate. …… Give up on saying goodbye.”
The teacher who says this has a somewhat exhausted look on his face.
But of course,……, since the article was circulated like that, they must have been busy with the response.
But now I know why Ryosuke-kun is not here.
He had moved to a new school,……, not with his family, but with his mother.
Likewise, Mai-san’s house is also vacant. I can no longer worry about whether Mai is being bullied by Kirishima-san and the others.
“Hey, those uniforms, right?”
“Uwa. They’re a bunch of …… trash.”
“I don’t want to go to a school like that, even if it has a high standard.”
“How can they live such a life when they’re driving people to mental illness?”
We found ourselves in the same situation as Ryosuke.
Experiencing the same suffering that he has been going through.
Everywhere we go, we’re on the end of a needle.
We are always cursed when we join with other schools for school events, and we are the target of backbiting when we wear our uniforms to and from school.
I hear that the athletic teams have a really tough time.
The school has received repeated phone calls complaining about them, and many people have shown up to see the school for fun.
The school has been exposed on video sites, and the comments section is filled with slander against us students.
Since this is a story about a school attended by minors, it cannot be shown on terrestrial TV.
Yet, in this day and age, it is possible to learn more…… about it through videos and the Internet.
So many people were able to get an overview of the incident and the atrocities we had committed.
And because the news was about the victim of a false accusation that had caused a sensation throughout Japan, the speed with which the news spread was tremendous.
Our stigma will never be cleared.
I looked around the classroom.
Everyone in the class was drooping with heartbroken expressions on their faces. This is an upperclassman class, so there aren’t that many people who were involved in Ryosuke’s abuse.
But there are a lot of people who have been making a face when they run into him in the hallway, whispering and laughing at him.
The only other person who reached out to Ryosuke was Mai, and she was the only one, including the teacher,……, who reached out to him.
I lost the chance to even apologize already.
It’s hard to go to school …… where I can’t find any hope of living.
I was in so much pain that my mom was worried and took me to the hospital.
But the symptoms were not that serious and I just needed to get some medicine.
My mother was relieved that the symptoms were mild because of the incident with Ryosuke, but I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t stand it.
For me, it was an unbearable situation, but if I had been diagnosed, the symptoms would not have been that severe.
I thought I had experienced a little of Ryosuke-kun’s suffering, but it didn’t seem to help at all. I don’t think I’ve reached his toes, let alone his feet.
How much suffering has he gone through? How much do you have to be pushed into a corner to have your heart broken like that? I probably won’t ever be able to figure it out. …… This is the extent to which my heart is broken.
It must have been unimaginable suffering,…… really,……
“………Himekawa-san, please cheer up.”
“Yes,…… it’s scary outside, but safe at school.”
Saying so, the student council members encourage me.
I didn’t realize it until I heard those words.
There are places where I can be properly accepted.
The whole school is marginalized, so we can heal each other’s wounds while we’re at school …… and even encourage each other like we do now.
And when we go home, we have a kind family to provide generous support.
That’s why I feel safe at school and at home.
“…… Student Council President!?”
I ran out of the student council room and headed for the bathroom.
I sat on the toilet seat and shed tears.
“You didn’t have …… anywhere to run to, right?”
At school, all the students were his enemies,…… and he had to spend his time protecting Mai so that the malice of those around him would not be directed at her…….
And when he returns home, he has no allies other than his mother, and he does not feel safe even in the place where he would normally feel at ease.
It is horrible to even imagine such a hell……. But for Ryosuke, it is a reality. He has endured for a year in a daily routine that makes her nauseous just by imagining it.
“It’s no wonder you’re …… broken like that. ……”
Crying, I thought back to last year’s school festival.
The two of them were relegated to a corner of the gymnasium, where he spent time alone with Mai.
I knew that, but I didn’t call out to them. I didn’t even show any pretense of concern,……. I remember the scene at that time and regret it even after all this time.
─ ─ And no matter how many hard days I spent …… in the end, I could not be broken.
I remained normal to all intents and purposes.
I am no way near his despair.