–I’m perfectly calm. I feel nothing in my heart. …… No, wait, forget it. Yes, think about the rest of the novel. A new character, a dog beastman, is just starting to appear. ……, a dog ……, does that mean Pomeranian? Don’t be stupid, don’t think that way. Calm down, it’s not decided yet that it’s Pomeko.
When I glanced at Shinozuka-san, I saw that the wrinkles between her eyebrows had become even worse.
She was muttering something in a small voice.
My hand went crazy and I dropped the textbook on the desk to the floor.
–Nyanta is my pen name.
My heart beat faster. When was the last time I was in such a panic? It’s different from when I was betrayed. A strange sweat started to break out.
I picked up my textbook and took a deep breath.
–It’s okay. Shinozuka-san and I are not even friends. We don’t have anything to do with each other. Forget about this incident and let it go…….
The door of the entrance rattled open and the teacher came into the classroom.
“Good morning, I’m going to start Homeroom”
Yes, it’s no big deal. Even if she was a reader, Shinozuka-san would never get involved with me.
I don’t make friends. There is no one in the world I can trust.
……The relief of seeing the message made me feel vulnerable.
Yes, erasing the message would give me peace of mind and make me stronger.
…… Not now. I can’t take out my phone because the teacher is here. I’ll delete the messages later.
I felt like I was telling myself a boring lie.
I knew that I didn’t really want to delete the message.
The day went by fast today. It was over in the blink of an eye.
Now it’s time for HR. The teacher was explaining about the upcoming events.
I want to go home early today. ……
I’m tired from all the trouble I had to go through in the morning. But now Miyazaki won’t talk to me anymore. –Are you okay? I’m getting a little anxious ……. Miyazaki is not quite as good as my stepsister, but she is a natural. …… Okay, let’s change our minds.
In the end, I couldn’t delete Pomeko’s message.
When I held the phone in my hand to erase it, I felt bad.
–So I decided not to erase it, just because it made me feel bad. Once I made that decision, I felt relief. The bad feeling went away.
…… Well, I guess this is as good as it gets.
Shinozuka-san, sitting next to me, glared at the blackboard.
She looks like a delinquent. It is very intimidating. The tone of voice in the morning also sounded scary.
She must be distancing herself from people by making them afraid of her.
Intimidation and strong enmity.
Just like my fake smiles, random responses, and cautious behavior.
I shook my head lightly. I shouldn’t think about Shinozuka-san any more.
It’s better if I don’t get involved.
The teacher told us in HR that there will be a field trip after the midterm exam.
………Making a team, huh. It’s always a pain in the a*s.
–It reminded me of the field trip I took in junior high school.
In junior high school, no group wanted to have me in their group. If I joined a group, the atmosphere would be bad. I would be treated like dirt. I was, to put it mildly, a nuisance. On the day of the field trip, I was never in a group. The people in my group left me on my own.
I was on my own in the midst of so many students.
I felt incredibly alone.
Amusement parks, zoos, camps, aquariums.
Not only the students, but also the couples and families seemed to look at me with pity.
I didn’t think anyone cared, but there was one homeroom teacher who did care about me.
This teacher was new and full of motivation.
She talked to me every now and then, and was concerned about me being all alone.
Even though I told her I was fine, she kept on talking to me.
At the time, I couldn’t believe any of my classmates. I thought in a corner of my mind that …… maybe an adult would be able to help me.
I tried to go to the staff room to ask for help a few times. …… but I hesitated.
That’s when the teacher might have seen me. Therefore–
One day in Homeroom, it happened–
“Well, that’s it for communications! …… Well, I have a request to make from you guys.”
The teacher glanced at me as she said this.
I had a terrible feeling about this. The teacher, who has a habit of rushing into things, is blind to the relationships between students. Or did the teacher, who had lived a fulfilling youth, think it was the right thing to do?
“‘There’s a lonely student in this class, isn’t there? It’s sad for the teacher. Now that we’re in the same class, we should all get along! It’s sad to be all alone. You should be brave enough to talk to them! If you have any problems, talk to me! …… I won’t tolerate bullying! Haha, just kidding!”
I was in despair. I don’t want anyone to like me, I don’t want any friends, I don’t want anyone to trust me.
–I just want to live in peace.
The atmosphere in the school turned heavy.
The teacher looked over at us with a smile.
She must have had a really great youth. I could only say that it was the worst one I’ve ever had.
My life, which had been peaceful in a way, even though I was all alone, was changed by the teacher’s words.
Students who were not supposed to be involved…
“Did you tell on me?”
“I mean, we didn’t bully you, did we? You’re a real liar.”
“It’s like it’s our fault. What’s the worst that can happen?
“You’re a criminal and a bully. We’re done”
What had been done behind their backs came to the surface.
There was no physical attack on me, as I was thought to have caused the violence. Everyone is afraid of violence.
But people don’t know that. Physical pain is not painful at all.
But verbal aggression kills.
Later, I saw the teacher watching me from a distance. –I wonder if she thought that my classmates were talking to me in a …… friendly manner? She looked satisfied and left.
Never trust them just because they are adults.
The current homeroom teacher is a relatively cold person. I asked her to be there twice when I lied about my confession, but it’s not something I can ask her to do more than that.
If she suddenly changes her mind, I’ll be in trouble.
–Okay, let’s go home.
I took my bag and was about to leave when I saw Shinozuka-san glaring at me with wrinkles between her eyes. I could feel the intimidation, but it wasn’t scary.
I couldn’t fake a smile again.
“……, excuse me.”
I almost forgot to use honorifics. It is very effective to use honorific language when keeping distance from others.
Shinozuka-san started kicking the desk.
I want to say something, but I can’t say it. That’s how I feel.
“–What are you looking at? Don’t get used to this, hmph.”
She sniffed and walked out of the classroom.
As I was watching the back of Shinozuka-san, Saito-san came up to me.
“Hey, are you friends with Shinozuka-san? Miyu doesn’t like that girl~”
I gave her an appropriate reply and tried to get past her. It’s too much trouble and too exhausting to deal with today.
Saito-san, who was not wearing glasses, kept talking to me.
“Well, I was shocked when I chatted with Shin-kun before, but …… I thought, Miyu has to move on! I thought. Yeah, the past can’t be erased. ……, Miyu can’t forget the library she was in with Shin-kun. It was super fun, you know? Heh, Miyu was too plain to talk to boys ……, but Shin-kun was special ……. Maybe it was my first love? Kyaa—-! That’s super weird. –Are you sure you’re not lonely and all by yourself? I know you’ve been through a lot since then, right? There’ s some of those at this school, right? Your sister, Miyazaki-san, and Nanako-chan and Kisaragi-san ……. Huh? That reaction …… You did not recognize them?”
I see, the troublesome girl is still around ……. I didn’t recognize them because their whole face is gone from my memory.
“So, Miyu and the others are sorry, but let’s get along together from now on, okay?”
“Hahaha, no problem! Miyu learned a lot from the love game! Miyu learned in a love game that even if you do something wrong, it’s okay if you do your best next time!”
I see, my stepsister and childhood friend weren’t the only ones with tricks up their sleeves.
Besides, Saito-san has a strong core. She feels guilty, but she doesn’t care, she’s still trying to get involved with me. Does Saito-san have a heart? She’ s a tricky person.
Saito-san took out a pair of stylish glasses from his pocket and put them on.
Fufu, don’t they look super on me? I thought you’d be happy with my special glasses!
I looked at Saito-san in her glasses and felt something welling up deep in my chest.
It’s been so long since I’ve seen anything like this, I can’t remember when.
I felt like I was going to be tainted with frustration and hatred.
The memories of junior high school came flooding back.
It was my fault. I shouldn’t have tried to fight the malice.
Why was it my fault? I was just trying to protect–
No one will listen to my explanation. There’s nothing to believe in.
Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. I don’t feel anything in my heart. There’s an emptiness.
I don’t know if I can control myself at this point——.
I was unconscious. I guess I decided to look at past messages to calm myself down.
I took out my phone – and jumped to my page.
There was a message in red letters.
“…… Uhm, I’m Pomeko! I’m really looking forward to your …… updates, despite everything! Can I continue to send messages of support……? I’ll send you a message even if you don’t reply. ♡, Pomeko”
The message was short.
But I could feel the thoughts in the context – it must have been rewritten many times. I thought I’d never get another message. Because we both realized it.
But she still sent me a message. As just a Pomeko.
I felt like I was remembering a different emotion from earlier, from the bottom of my memory.
I almost forgot that Saito-san was right in front of me.
So – I was ‘happy’ when I saw Pomeko-san’s message.
Is that why my mind became flat or calm ……
When was the last time I felt this way? I can’t believe I’m happy……
Pomeko-san looks forward to my novels.
There is no element of betrayal in that. In fact, there’s a chance that I’ll betray her by leaving it unfinished.
All right, let’s go home, and I’ll write with the same feeling I have now.
I peeled off my fake smile and tried to walk past Saito-san.
Yes, it would be rude not to evaluate the glasses.
I whispered to myself.
“‘–You used to be prettier in the past, Saito-san……”
“Waau!? Wait, what do you mean—-“
I felt like my empty mind had been filled with a little something by the message.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to make that mistake again.
I left the classroom door open and walked out.
TL: Next chapter will be Saito’s PoV