I can’t help but strike a weird pointing pose.
I made a record of yesterday’s activities by writing them down as I remembered them on a spare sheet of construction paper.
I wrote down in detail what I was doing, where I was, and who I was with, not only after school but also throughout the day yesterday.
This would show that I was not the culprit, and if I asked the people I met at that time, it would be obvious that I could not have stolen after school.
I don’t know who put it in my desk and for what purpose, but as long as I know it wasn’t me, that’s all that matters to me, thought the nine-place heavy snow hare.
“I have to thank Hi-chan.”
The only reason I decided to make something like this was because my childhood friend, Hinagi Suzurikawa believed in me. She was the only one who believed in me. That is why I wanted to prove my innocence.
This world is always full of enemies.
But if there is just one person who believes in me, I can survive.
A precious partner like a jewel that exists only one grain in the desert.
The warmth of the hand that holds hers is the only reason why Yukito Kokonoe has not given up living like this. Only one reason for existence.
Yukito Kokonoe, who tries to go to sleep feeling good that he has solved the problem, does not know.
–He is always unaware of the malice that is going on, and it never lets him off the hook.
He heads off to school with Hinagi Suzurikawa.
Even though they go to the same school, he does not go to school with his sister, whom she hates him.
In the morning, his mother, Sekka, wanted to say something, but she nodded her head and did not say a word. Yukito Kokonoe didn’t want to hear it either.
After passing through the school gate and arriving at the lowered box box, he noticed something unusual.
“What’s wrong, Yu-chan?”
The first to arrive at the shoe box was Hinagi, who had put on her school shoes and was peeking out of the corner of her eye.
“It looks like someone hid it.”
“Eh!? W-W-W-W-What should we do, Yu-chan!”
Hinagi Suzurikawa, her twin-tailed hair shaking in a flurry of panic, calls out to him worriedly.
A pair of slippers was missing from the shoe box with a sticker of his name on it. The shoes that should have been in the empty space were not there.
It could not be that they were missing. They must have been hidden.
This is a common occurrence at school. If he lost it, he would have to ask his mother to buy it again. He did not want to cause that kind of trouble to his mother.
It was one of his classmates who did it. It was too obvious harassment.
Once this kind of thing starts, there is no end in sight. The person who does it may be doing it for the fun of it, but the hatred swells without limit for the person who is harassed. And every day, the students have to go to school, fearing what they might do to them. That is hell.
However, Yukito Kokonoe felt comfortable.
Because he knew. Rejection and denial are always the same.
That is the way it should be, that is the way it is everyday.
Always, always, everyone will malign you in such a way.
That’s why what he does is always the same.
If no end is in sight, just end it yourself.
Just cut everything off.
In this troublesome world, everything…
He wondered when he had closed his eyes, but when he came to, he saw the face of Hinagi Suzurikawa right in front of him. The eyes gazing at him were shaking with sadness and tears in them.
He did not know why, so he just whispered her name.
“Yu-chan, you’re not going away, are you?”
“I’m here, but ……”
“I don’t understand, but I don’t want Yu-chan to go away!”
It is not that Hinagi Suzurikawa understands what that feeling is.
Still, she clutched his hand tighter and tighter, as if following her instincts.
“Let’s look for it together, shall we?”
She held his hand as if to make sure he was there, to make sure he didn’t go anywhere, to make sure he didn’t disappear, to make sure he didn’t disappear from her life as a young familiar face.
Why is this?
Why is she so–?
Why won’t she let me disappear?
Something was screaming in my heart.
Something was trying to appeal to me.
However, Yukito Kokonoe could not understand what it was. Compulsive thoughts overshadow emotions like a haze. The link between thought and emotion is still disconnected and unchained on the chain.
Why am I so drawn to her words?
“It’s okay, Hi-chan. My mental health is as good as Red’s on Sunday morning superhero time.”
“Yu-chan, that’s amazing!”
With big, round eyes, Hinagi Suzurikawa was amazed.
Abandoning the feelings trapped in the prison of his thoughts, Yukito Kokonoe let out a sigh.
“I’m not going to look for it. I’ll have him bring it back to me.”
“How can you do that?”
Not wanting to leave his socks on, he goes to get slippers for the guests.
“It will all be over soon.”
The same words as last night, this time to his childhood friend, and then Yukito Kokonoe headed to the classroom.
When I arrived at the classroom, I quickly found an anomaly there as well.
There was graffiti on the desks. The words ” thief,” “criminal,” and so on were written as they pleased. When I took out my textbook from a drawer, I found that it too had been scribbled on and torn to shreds. It was mid-May. It had only been two months since the new textbooks were delivered, but they could hardly be called new.
“Do you know who did it?”
I ask Akari Kazahaya , who is sitting next to me.
Akari Kazahaya is a girl who usually speaks to me aggressively, perhaps because we sit next to each other, and I have often taught Kazahaya when she asked me questions in class when I didn’t understand something.
“Stealing from people is disgusting! I hope you die. Please don’t steal mine.”
She spit at me with disgust and contempt in her eyes.
Amidst the giggles and sneers, words like “idiot,” “Uwaa he’s a thief,” and “what am I going to do, he’s going to steal my stuff,” were thrown at him from everywhere.
Yukito Kokonoe sits down without saying a word. Perhaps amused by this, the voices of the agitators grew in volume and density.
After a while, when the homeroom teacher, Suzuka Sanjoji and an intern teacher, Miaski Himiyama, arrive, the voices stop and it becomes quiet as if nothing had happened.
Before the morning assembly, without waiting for Suzuka Sanjoji to speak, Yukito called out to her.
“What’s the matter, Kokonoe-kun?”
The eyes seemed to be annoyed, as if they were looking at someone who was in the way. Misaki Himiyama also gave him a similar look.
“Today, my slippers were missing.”
Then, she looks down at him for the first time. Yukito Kokonoe is wearing slippers.
Suzuka Sanjoji and Misaki Himiyama frowned when they saw this. They intuitively felt that the bullying had started because of their own thoughtless behavior. It was too late to regret it. They should have been more considerate. But it was all in hindsight.
Suzuka Sanjoji sharpened her expression and looked around the classroom.
“Who hid Kokonoe-kun’s shoes?”
A giggle and a mocking laugh echoed in the classroom.
“I don’t know. I think he was robbed because he is a thief.”
“A thief is a liar, so isn’t he lying?”
Suzuka Sanjoji tried to stop it, but like a dam that has collapsed, like a river that has burst, the malice that began to flow became a muddy stream like a flood, engulfing the place.
Who is saying this, or is it all of them?
The malice is amplified and diffused.
This is a being that can be bullied.
He is an existence that can be hurt or mocked.
Such a common understanding is spreading.
Misaki Himiyama’s face was pale and white.
Suzuka Sanjoji also had a bitter look on her face.
She believes that bullying is an unavoidable part of being a teacher. She think it is a problem that everyone has to face. If one avoids such things, he or she is not qualified to be a teacher.
Would it be an admirable teacher to pretend not to see it and play it safe? Is that an educator to be proud of?
As an educator, Suzuka Sanjoji, and as a future teacher, Misaki Himiyama cannot overlook the problems that are happening right now. They cannot let the classroom collapse. That was the common understanding of both of them.
Suzuka Sanjoji was about to speak out to calm down the clamor, but it was none other than Yukito Kokonoe who stopped her.
“I’ll wait until lunchtime. If you have hidden my slippers by then, please bring them back to me. Those who have scribbled on the desks and textbooks must come and apologize. If you know who did it, please tell me. I will say it again. Lunchtime is the time limit.”
He tells all his classmates, but the taunts become even stronger when they hear him.
“yOu hAVe it UNtil lUnchTime”
Gahahahaha,” Takayama make fun of him. The group of yankee around Takayama took advantage of the momentum and let loose with their wild jokes. The boys and girls laughed as if they had found a funny joke.
Of course, not all of them would be tainted with malice.
However, such individual resistance was powerless in the face of the atmosphere prevailing in the class at this very moment. Violence in the name of peer pressure. And those who pretend that they have nothing to do with such a situation are, in the end, the perpetrators.
In such a situation, Yukito Kokonoe looked with eyes that showed no emotion.
“We are all enemies, jointly and severally.”
An even louder laugh echoed throughout the classroom, wondering what was so funny.