“Takigawa-san, is Takigawa-san here!”
A young female teacher rushes into the office. Takigawa is taken aback by the determined look on her face. He wondered if something untoward had happened to her, and called out to her.
“W-What’s the matter?”
“Takigawa-san. Did you see a student near the lowered box after school the day before yesterday?”
“Students? That’s right, I’ve met a number of them. ……”
Takigawa gives a vague answer to Suzuka Sanjoji’s vague question.
“Ah, uhm. It is not that, it is this child.”
Suzuka Sanjoji shows the class roster with his picture on it.
“Oh, it’s him, huh? He was walking home with the girl, hand in hand, chain-smiling.”
“W-what time was that?”
“I remember it was right after the doorbell rang. It was just before 3pm. He said hello and left.”
The sentence is like the scythe of the god of death. The sharp blade is thrust at the throat.
In the face of the cruel reality, Misaki Himiyama collapsed and sobbed. Suzuka Sanjoji felt the same way. Even so, she was supported by her experience and pride enough to realize that she was not allowed to do so.
Takigawa, who did not know what was going on, hurriedly helped Misaki up.
Everything, everything was wrong.
From the very beginning, he had been right and we had been wrong.
Why? Why didn’t we listen to his side of the story, even if only a little?
Why didn’t we try to consider other possibilities besides him?
He flatly denied it. He adamantly refused to admit it.
He even went to the trouble of preparing a paper with a detailed record of his actions.
But I still didn’t believe him.
So he abandoned us and parted ways.
It was too late for me to realize it now and regret it.
The time arrived when no one had spoken to Yukito Kokonoe since morning.
Naturally, he was still in his guess slippers and no one brought back his slippers.
The fact that Yukito Kokonoe had specified that lunchtime would be the deadline, conversely, created an atmosphere of trying to ignore them until then. With a grin and a sticky smile on his face, he was receiving mocking glances from all over the place.
Kazahaya and Akari, sitting next to each other, had shifted their desks to create a larger distance between him. If anything, he was the enemy.
“The time limit is up. Then let’s go.”
Yukito Kokonoe muttered a few words and headed for the shoe box.
Taking out a garbage bag from the janitorial closet.
At this hour, no students are likely to come to the front door. Yukito Kokonoe haphazardly stuffs all the classmates’ outdoor shoes into the garbage bag. One bag is not enough, so he ends up with two, but it can’t be helped. Walking with a garbage bag on his shoulder, he looked like an out-of-season Santa Claus.
He arrived at the courtyard. It was not that big, and there was not enough space to enjoy playing with all your might. The purpose of Yukito Kokonoe visit was the pond.
“Hmmm… I don’t think it’s going to work as it is. Yes, let’s fill it with stones.”
He picked up stones from the curb and put them in a garbage bag. The amount of rocks was so large that they weighed a lot.
He lightly tied the lid of the garbage bag and threw it into the pond. The bag easily sank with a large number of shoes. The garbage bag was not airtight, and the contents were soon soaked with water.
“Uwa. How miserable!”
No one wants to wear shoes soaked in water. The slimy feeling is unpleasant.
Thinking about this, he never worries about how his classmates are going to get home today. Not interested, nor concerned.
Because they are not his classmates, but his enemies.
The glass boy reflects.
Malice against malice. Nothing else matters.
“It’s always good to have only enemies.”
That was the only correct answer he knew.
“Yu-chan, can we play today?”
On the way to school in the morning. A boy and a girl were walking side by side.
The young girl, Hinagi Suzurikawa, asked the boy next to her with her rounded eyes. The boy noticed that his hand was slightly tightened in hers.
“I’m sorry, Hi-chan. I was busy yesterday.”
“Hio-chan wants to play with Yu-chan, too!”
“Maybe I can play today?”
Her twin tails bounced. Hio-chan is the younger sister of Hinagi. If Hinagi is a childhood friend of mine, then I guess you could say that Hiori is also a childhood friend of mine.
Hinagi walks with a big smile on her face. She looks very happy. Her words are sincere and honest. Her warmth of heart, without any hidden meaning. The girl who expresses her feelings so honestly is genuinely on the boy’s side.
Yukito Kokonoe thought to himself. Why am I bothering with all this crap? And. Enemy and ally. The priority should always be on your side. And yet, I’m constantly dealing with the enemy and losing time to play with Hi-chan, who is on my side.
It’s not worth it to play with the enemy. What a waste of time.
“I have to finish this as soon as possible.”
The words reached the ears of Hinagi Suzurikawa. She did not understand the meaning. Even so, Hinagi did not ask him back. The boy next to her always sees things differently from herself.
Even though they were childhood friends, there was no need for the girl to understand every aspect of the boy who was essentially a stranger. What mattered was that their hearts were connected. As long as she believed that they both thought of each other, there was no need to be anxious.
The expression on Hinagi’s face clouded when she saw Yukito Kokonoe going to get slippers for the guest.
“Yu-chan, didn’t you find your slippers?”
The fact that Yukito Kokonoe was wearing slippers meant that they had not yet returned his hidden slippers.
“Hmm? Don’t worry about it. It will be back by today.”
“….I see. Yeah, it’ll be back, right!”
The large eyes stare at the boy. The expression on the boy’s face is always the same. Still, there are some things she can tell. If he said it will come back today, then it will.
Hinagi does not doubt Yukito Kokonoe’s words because she believes in him. Because he has never lied. So it will be all right.
She wanted to search for it right now, but if he said it will be back, she would trust him.
That is—– trust.
“Let’s go, Yu-chan!”
She will not let go of this hand. Hinagi understood that not letting go was the only thing she could do. At this time, she certainly sensed it. Whether this was not by logic, but by the purity of being a child, or by instinct, she did not know.
But for sure, she knew that her heart was connected to the boy, and she had found the right answer.
It would be a little later that she would lose sight of that.
When Yukito Kokonoe stepped into his classroom, he was immediately confronted with an enormous amount of hostility. When he looked at his desk, it looked even worse than yesterday.
The writing on his desk and in his textbooks were no longer graffiti, but slander and hatred. The cloth bag his mother had made for him had been torn to shreds with a blade, probably a pair of scissors.
“Hey, you! How dare you drown our shoes in the pond?”
You’re bothering my mother again. As he was thinking this, someone was yelling something. A group of three boys were approaching.
Takayama, was it? I had never had any deep contact with him before, so I was only aware of him to that extent, but he seemed to be very angry about something.
“You did it!”
“I couldn’t go home soaking wet!””
“What are you talking about?”
Yukito Kokonoe had forgotten all about it. The reason is that he was very busy yesterday.
He got home late, but there was a lot going on after that. In such a hectic schedule, he could not remember what he had done.
“You’re the one who put our shoes in the pond!”
“…..Aah! Did that happen? I didn’t know. Maybe it was the work of thieves?”
I remember doing that, but I shrug it off. It was the thief who did it. If it was the thief who hid his own slippers, it must be the same this time. It had to be so.
There was nothing strange about it.
“Stop joking around!”
“The thief hid it, no? I don’t know.”
It seemed that it was not only the group of boys who were not pleased with this reply.
Boys and girls alike looked at him with disgust and contempt.
The hostility became even sharper, and like a glass of water just before it spills, the equilibrium maintained by surface tension was about to collapse.
“Beat the hell out of him!”
Someone said these words. It was a woman’s voice. But even if the woman had not said it, someone would have said the same thing sooner or later. Or perhaps the boys in front of him reached their limits sooner. That was the only difference.
“You little! Die!”
Takayama, Hashimoto, and Kitagawa all hit him at once. No one tried to help.
Yukito Kokonoe was beaten up without any way to help. His classmates are watching the situation with amusement. There is an expectation. The basic principle of getting rid of the offenders and foreign substances. It was absolutely right for the boys and girls.
Because it was he who soaked their shoes, it was all his fault.
It was Yukito Kokonoe who was to blame, Yukito Kokonoe was evil, and Yukito Kokonoe was the enemy.
“Stop it! It wasn’t me! You’re hurting me!”
Yukito Kokonoe pleads. But the violence did not stop.
“Shut up! You are not needed!”
The violence of several people attacked him.
The group of boys, including Kousuke Takayama , are elated by the sight of the small, irresistible Yukito Kokonoe, shielding his head. The adrenaline secreted from the body destroys the brakes and chops away at one’s rationality. Once in motion, it cannot be stopped. There is no control.
What they are doing is righteous. Even their classmates are cheering them on.
Kousuke Takayama was amused. He was up against a criminal, a bad guy who had dumped their shoes in the pond. Even the five-man squadron that plays Super Hero Time on Sunday mornings lynch their enemies in groups. Justice is done on him, and the bad guy, the criminal, is Yukito Kokonoe. There is no obstacle to reason.
“It’s not me! You’re hurting me! Stop it!”
The classmates laughed and shouted mercilessly at him.
“Keep it up! Beat the s**t out of him!” Perhaps they were so angry at getting their shoes wet that no one stopped the assault. Takayama and the others could no longer stop themselves.
Some of them were just too angry to get involved. But in the thick air, that was also meaningless.
Kousuke Takayama felt his heart fill up with a sense of cruelty. He was the absolute strong man. He is the one who oppresses others. A king who reigns over those who are weak. I am strong. I am powerful. He was intoxicated with this sense of omnipotence as he beats the crap out of the guy crouching in front of him.
He is the dominant one. In the early grades of elementary school, the concept of school caste had not yet been fully established. Nevertheless, it was definitely on the verge of being born.
People are not equal, and the weak are not allowed to challenge the strong. That is the strict rule of this world.
“You’re hurting me! Stop it! It wasn’t me!”
Suddenly, he felt something strange. Something like a broken record. ……
However, such a trivial feeling of discomfort was drowned out by an overwhelming sense of euphoria.
The only thing he can think of right now is to make the miserable trash in front of him crawl in a state of helplessness, make him weep, and mock him.