First period was a self-study.
Yukito Kokonoe was in an empty classroom when Suzuka Sanjoji called him out. Misaki Himiyama was also with them.
“Kokonoe, are you alright?”
It was hard to know what to say to him. He may look fine, but there was no way he wasn’t hurt. The fact that they had thoughtlessly blamed him in front of the students had triggered the bullying. Suzuka Sanjoji and Misaki Himiyama felt the responsibility of this.
“Don’t worry, Kokonoe-kun. I will protect you properly. When I’m done talking to you, let’s search for it with the whole class.”
“I’ll cooperate with you. Okay?”
“You don’t have to look for it.”
“I can’t do that. You don’t have to be stubborn. Trust your teacher.”
“Sensei, you don’t trust me. You can’t ask me to trust you.”
The two twisted their faces as if they had been hit by the bull’s-eye.
Ignoring them, Yukito Kokonoe turned to Misaki Himiyama.
“By the way, Himiama-sensei, when did you lose your personal belongings?”
Misaki Himiyama was upset, perhaps not expecting to be asked again on this occasion, but she answered.
“I think it was after school the day before yesterday. What about it?”
“Are you sure about that?”
“I’m sure I’m not wrong…….”
Misaki had no idea what he was going to say, so she had no choice but to answer as she was asked.
“It’s strange, isn’t it? The day that I was there, I was playing with Hi-chan,…… Hinagi Suzurikawa , right after school. So how could I have stolen it?”
“Eh? …..I-Is that so? Then it must have been around the end of fifth period–“
“Didn’t you just say it was after school? Were you lying, Sensei? Please don’t say anything irrelevant.”
“I-I’m not lying!”
Ryoka Sanjoji, who couldn’t help but notice the situation, interrupts.
“Kokonoe-kun, you, you are still saying such a thing! Don’t be stubborn, just admit it and apologize. Your parents must be angry with you.”
“There is no reason for them to be angry.”
“It is true that it was wrong of me to say such things in front of everyone and blame you for it. But you know what? The teachers are the only ones who are here now. YBe honest, Kokonoe-kun. Listen, if you apologize properly here, that’s the end of it. Then the teachers will be on your side. We will properly scold the child who hid the shoes and the child who painted doodles. We will never discriminate or abandon you.”
So you get it, don’t you?
Suzuka Sanjoji continues, as if admonishing a child who has no sense of hearing.
“Kokonoe-kun, I’m not angry with you, and the teacher is on your side. If you like me, that would make me very happy. But you can’t steal without telling me, right?”
The kindly words were irresistibly horrifying to Yukito Kokonoe.
“Ahahaha. I don’t need any allies.”
“You’re always acting like that, that’s why they hide your shoes! Why can’t you understand that!”
Ignoring the agitated Suzuka Sanjoji, Yukito Kokonoe takes out a drawing paper he had brought and unfolds it.
“Himiisan-sensei, I’m going to ask you again. When on earth was it stolen? Look at this. This paper describes everything I did the day before yesterday. By looking at this, you will know that the culprit is not me—“
The slap of Suzuka Sanjoji slapped his cheeks.
The drawing paper in his hand was easily torn by the spur of the moment.
Misaki Himiyama quickly supported the staggering Yukito Kokonoe.
Suzuka Sanjoji instantly came to her senses. Reflexively, she wielded corporal punishment.
They say it was the norm in the past, but in today’s educational world it is unacceptable. There is no excuse. It is a fatal blunder that could affect a teacher’s life if he or she is sued.
She is overly emotional. For some reason, her mind wanders when she is confronted with the boy in front of her, Yukito Kokonoe. The ephemeral atmosphere of his work is captivating.
“Aah. I worked so hard to make it yesterday.”
Picking up the cruelly torn piece, Yukito Kokonoe crushed it into a crumpled mass and threw it away.
I see. I finally understood. It was my fault, wasn’t it?
Finally, he said the words of apology.
At these words, Suzuka Sanjoji felt that she, too, had to apologize on the spur of the moment.
It’s only natural. No matter what the reason, there is no forgiveness for physical punishment to a student. But now, before thinking about social responsibility and self-preservation, she could not call herself an adult if she did not apologize for what she had done.
“I was overly emotional too. Sor—“
“So Sensei don’t care about the truth, I see. If that’s the case, please say so from the beginning. In other words, it’s not convenient for you if I’m not the culprit.”
A chilling, bottom-chilling voice echoes through the empty classroom.
Originally, the student named Yukitoi Kokonoe was somewhat elusive. It was difficult to see his thoughts and feelings, and it was hard to tell what he was thinking. On the contrary, he was good at studying and athletics. Suzuka Sanjoji had such a perception of a mysterious student, and Misaki Himiyama, who had been in contact with the students for a short time, also had a similar perception.
“What are you talking–“
“I feel like an idiot for preparing this. Ah, I see. I was an idiot when I thought I could get my message across by talking about it.”
Seeing his eyes, she gulped.
Deep, deep, dark, dark, and just falling away forever. The eyes, pure and yet so murky, caught Suzuka Sanjoji and Misaki Himiyama.
“It was simple. It was my fault. It was my mistake to think of you as teachers. I’m sorry.”
The apology that he had been refusing to give for so long was spoken in a matter-of-fact manner by Yukito Kokonoe.
But those words, after—
“You were my enemies, too.”
It was unmistakably a farewell.
Suzuka Sanjoji tries to stop Yukito Kokonoe, who is heading back from an empty classroom without a care in the world, but she doesn’t know how to call out to him, and while she is in such a state of hesitation, he walks off at a staccato pace.
“How could I have let this happen ……”
Misaki Himiyama was heartbroken. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Just a few days ago, she had been having a good time. She had felt fulfilled in her profession as a teacher. She felt that it was her true calling. The longing she had felt for such a profession, guiding children, had been shattered in the past two days.
Suddenly, she saw a piece of paper that Yukito Kokonoe had thrown away. She had not even looked at it earlier.
She walked toward it with unsteady steps, wondering what the hell it was all about, and picked up a piece of discarded, crumpled up drawing paper and unfolded it.
Misaki Himiyama immediately realized what it meant.
“S-Suzaka-sensei! Look at this.”
Suzaka Sanjoji was also mentally exhausted. Even though it was only mid-morning, her fatigue had reached its peak. The heartache had greatly reduced her physical strength. The fact that she had administered corporal punishment and what he had said to her at the end were stuck in her brain.
She looked down at the paper that Misaki Himiyama had spread out.
“Is this …… what he did the day before yesterday? W-wait! It can’t be!”
The day before yesterday was clearly written on the paper.
It was everything that could be called a day in the life of Yukito Kokonoe. Who was with him when he came to school in the morning? During classes, recess, and after school, who he was with, who he met, and where he was. It is so neatly written that it is easy to tell at a glance.
However, is it possible to remember one’s own actions that clearly?
It was written in so much detail that it was so complete that it could only be a lie.
It could not be compared to a poorly written summer vacation schedule.
However, the majority of what was written on it overlapped with the memories of both of them.
This meant that there was no doubt about the authenticity of what was written.
A trembling hand traces the paper.
After school. On this day, classes lasted until the fifth period.
It says that at 14:45 he left school with a girl named Hinagi Suzurikawa. It was frightening that it even gave details of her leaving the school, just in case.
“Isn’t that Kokonoe-kun? Wait a minute. If that’s the case, then who stole it? What I did, what I said to him–“
“Misaki-sensei, please calm down!”
They didn’t want to see it. The only thing left to do was to hope the worst, that it was a lie. If what was written on this paper was true, he could not steal it no matter what.
“T-this! Look, Misaki-sensei.”
Suzuka Sanjoji pointed at a spot on the paper.
It said that he had met and greeted Takigawa, an office staff member, before leaving school.
“We have to make sure! Let’s hurry!”
Unable to stand still. Suzuka Sanjoji and Misaki Himiyama had finally come to the conclusion that they had made a fundamental mistake, as if they were being strangled by a cotton ball.
The class is now a self-study. If they did not return to the classroom soon, there might be another commotion. Still, it was important to confirm the truth now. That was the first priority, and unless they were sure, they would never be able to stand in front of him again.
Normally, one who is supposed to warn students running in the corridor is running in the corridor.
Even as she mocked herself for doing so, Suzuka Sanjoji sensed that a definite doom was approaching.