”Oi! She doesn’t like it! Stop doing this to her!!!”
Saying this, I stood in front of a few students to protect a kid who was being bullied behind the school building.
The girl was surrounded by several boys who were bad-mouthing her. Although it could not be confirmed at the time, perhaps violence was also committed.
Why did they do that?
There was no special reason for me to jump in front of the girl or anything like that. I just couldn’t pass up the sight in front of me. That’s all.
Really, just for that reason.
Really, that was the only reason.
The bullying of the girl stopped after that day.
Instead, I began to be bullied after that day.
Shoes were hidden, of course. Prints were torn up and thrown away, and I was blatantly separated from my seat, making me feel alone.
In no time at all, there was no place for me in the class.
Even those who were not bullying me blatantly avoided getting involved with me.
I know why. I guess they didn’t want everyone to end up like me.
I had no regrets. I would have helped her without considering the risk of doing so.
I did not discuss it with others. At that time, I believed that doing so was the best resistance I could offer to my bullies.
That was just stubbornness. It’s a meaningless, stupid pride. Still, at the time, I thought it was the right thing to do.
I could endure the bullying. Because I knew I was right.
In fact, it was the bullies who were at fault, regardless of how I resisted. I knew that, so I could endure.
But it didn’t last long.
One day after school, I returned to the classroom to pick up something I had forgotten.
I saw the rescued girl put a piece of paper with a bad word written on it in my desk.
The moment she put the paper in my desk, which she had done several times before.
The fact that she was standing on the side of the bullies, whom I had once saved, was enough to break my heart.
The bullying was discovered shortly after. The school conducted an investigation because I had been shutting myself in my room instead of going to school.
But the misfortune that befell me did not end here.
It turned out that the bullying started with me.
According to the school, I had bullied a student, so they decided to get back at me for it. The people who bullied me testified to that.
And she didn’t deny it.
Of course I denied it. Naturally. I had no memory of such a thing.
”You should be sorry! You idiot!”
“—- Onii-chan… No, Shuya, you’re the worst.”
My mother and my 2 year younger sister did not believe me. My father died a few years ago. If he had lived, would he have been on my side? Would he have believed me?
All I could do was cry myself to sleep. No matter what I said, they wouldn’t believe me. If it was the same for my family, it must be the same for other people.
That was three years ago, in the summer of my eighth grade year. After that incident, I became afraid to trust people.
So I decided to protect myself. I stopped trusting people from the beginning.
I would rather not get close to someone than be betrayed.
I grew my hair down to my eyes and always wore a mask.
I became a sophomore in high school, and this is how I lived my school life.
I had been absent from school for most of junior high school, but I still tried my best to study hard. Thanks to my hard work, I managed to get into this high school, which is said to be one of the most advanced schools in the prefecture.
When I entered the school, my mother was against it. She recommended that I go to a correspondence high school instead. But perhaps she had her own reasons after seeing my scores on the mock examinations, and allowed me to enter the school.
My grandparents on my father’s side supported me with money. Although my mother had been working since my father’s death, she did not earn enough money to send us both to higher education.
I can only be grateful to my grandparents, as a loving family to their son, for their support.
Since then, however, the relationship between mother and child has been nothing short of abysmal. Non-interference with each other. When I told her that I wanted to live alone, she forgave me rather easily, as if she didn’t want to be involved with such a son. My sister didn’t say anything either. I am sure she was smothered.
As a result, I am now working part-time and doing schoolwork. I hardly have time to play.
I don’t even have anyone to play with.
School ends without me talking to anyone. I work part-time at a café away from school and study when I return home. I was living such a boring and irreplaceable daily life.
Still, it was nothing compared to those days of truancy.
I don’t want more. I can’t wish for more.
Why? That’s easy.
Because I’m scared. That’s all there is to it.
So I’m glad we’re not in the same class. That was my first thought.
As long as we are in different classes, we will be fine. As long as I don’t get involved, I’ll be fine.
And the next thought was, why?
Too much of a coincidence. Because my Kitami family has moved once. We are far away from our original home, and yet….
Well, that’s fine. Anyway, I just have to defend myself.
No more mistakes. I won’t make the same mistake again.
I made up my mind to do so, and did not leave the classroom until after school.
”Hey, did you hear that? I heard that Shinomiya confessed his feelings to Sonoda-san!”
”In a week? But, well, she’s that cute.”
I heard she turned it down in the end, but I’m pretty sure Shinomiya hasn’t given up on her either.
It has been a week since she moved in.
This is a conversation between the students in my backseat.
By the way, I am reading. I’m not listening in. It’s just that the volume of the conversation is too loud.
She seems to have established a good relationship with the others.
Speaking of Shinomiya, he is said to be the next ace of the soccer team. Incidentally, our soccer club is quite strong. It seems they went to the national tournament last year. I don’t know the details because I am not familiar with the club.
He confessed his love to her. I feel like I’m a small person.
Well, it doesn’t matter what happens to me. No, I shouldn’t get involved.
I’m the one who gets hurt. I will of course be concerned about her, but I have to draw a firm line.
I had a very inconvenient school life.
I had to manage my morning commute to school and even to the classroom.
Maybe I am overly self-conscious. No, I’m sure I am.
I don’t think the other side would notice me. She must have forgotten about me by now.
Still, I can’t help it because I’m scared. At the most, I have two more years to wait.
No, that is really a long time.
I felt a little nervous, imagining the hardships ahead.
A month passed.
I still avoid contact with her.
I’m not sure if I’m doing a good job of avoiding her, but I’m pretty sure she hasn’t even seen my face yet. Haa I’m getting tired of it.
I think I’ve had enough. I pep up my mind that is about to think so. There is nothing better than being careful.
She apparently reigns over the top caste or something like that.
The reason I say “apparently” is because the basic source of information is the two people in the back seat. Sorry for being so loud, okay? But please keep up the good work.
My heart was filled with mixed feelings when I heard such a story.
But I decided not to put a name to those feelings. Surely, if I did that, that would really be all I could think about.
I desperately tried to look away from that fact. I had no choice. I am not strong enough to face that.
”! Oh… I-I’m sorry.”
And finally, the time had come.
I don’t know if it was because I thought that I had had enough.
It was the time to move to the classroom. Unfortunately, I bumped into Sonoda at the entrance of the classroom.
There were two girls with her, who I guessed were her friends.
My thoughts almost jumped for a moment, but I managed to twist out a few words of apology.
I tried to leave immediately, but.—-
As if to intercept me, my hand was grabbed.
The girls who were with Sonoda are also surprised by her action, rolling their eyes.
And my reaction was—-
”D-Don’t touch me!”
I shook her hand off as I spat those words.
I was alone and quiet, realizing that my peaceful school life was over.
For her, it may not have been a big deal.
But for me, it was. So, I reflexively removed my hand from hers.
When I did, she made a frightened gesture and stepped back from the scene. Then, she sat down on the spot.
What kind of face am I making now? An angry face? Or am I on the verge of tears? Under the heightened emotions, such self-analysis was not possible.
Somewhat objectively, I thought, somewhat as if I were a stranger.
Fortunately, the only person who was watching was a single girl who appeared to be a friend.
But it doesn’t take long for rumors to spread.
I knew that I would probably go back to those days again.
I had no choice. I regretted it. I felt inferior to her.
I saw how much she had changed since then, and I thought, “Why does it have to be you?”
I pretended not to care, but the negative feelings were always swirling around inside me.
I fled the scene. I couldn’t stand it. If I stayed there any longer, I would never be able to stop.
In the end, I left early that day.
Then one week. I missed school. I was back to truancy.
But high school is different from junior high school. If I don’t do anything, the only thing waiting for me is expulsion.
And this time, unlike before, there was no bullying. There is no reason for the school to take me into consideration. So I have to go to school at some point.
(Stop it, I’m scared.)
I was scared. I didn’t have the courage to take a step forward at the thought of those days beginning again.
In the end, I did not go to school that day.
”—Shuya? I mean, what’s wrong with you?”
The next day, it was my younger sister Sachi who visited my house. Apparently, she heard from school that I was absent for the week and came to check on me. Apparently, my mother was at work and couldn’t come.
“—Nothing, I’m just not feeling well.”
”Don’t lie to me. —Did something happen at school?”
She can tell when I’m lying. Even though she didn’t believe the truth.
“Shut up. it’s none of your business.”
What do you mean it none of my business? Don’t talk to me like I’m stranger”
What do you mean it doesn’t matter… don’t talk to me like I’m a stranger…”
Right. Let’s be clear this time.
”Please leave. Don’t get overly involved, it’s annoying.”
”Wha! Don’t say that! Why, Onii-chan!”
I haven’t heard that in a long time. I haven’t heard “Onii-chan” in a long time. You stopped saying it after that day.
Sachi was crying. When I saw her crying, I thought to myself, “Don’t be fooled”. I was the one who wanted to cry.
Soon after, Sachi left. As she was leaving, she said she would come back again.
In the room, where the air was still damp, I poured hot water into a cup of noodles and ate it without saying a word.