Summer vacation means radio gymnastics. Speaking of radio gymnastics, it’s always early in the morning, but that’s only because it’s broadcasted at 6:25 in the morning. In my case, it doesn’t matter what time it is because I have bought the soundtrack of the exercises on CD. (After the exercises, my sister gives me a stamp.) I don’t know if I should be doing radio gymnastics as a high school student, but it’s a summer vacation tradition. I am a man who loves templates, and I am Yukito Kokonoe.
After waking up in the morning, I did the phantom Radio Gymnastics No. 3 to relax my body, but now I’m so nervous that my body is tense. If this were a meeting for a date, my heart would be fluttering, but it’s not. Rather, it’s a chance encounter with someone who might be looking down on me in school. A familiar figure arrives just in time.
“Well, it’s a beautiful day today—” (Yuki)
“Why are you so formal in your greeting?” (Sanjoji Sensei)
“We’re rivals, aren’t we?” (Yuki)
“No, we’re not! You’re just the same as always, aren’t you?” (Sanjoji Sensei)
“So, what can I do for you, Sanjoji-sensei?” (Yuki)
“It’s outside the school. You don’t have to be so mindful. For students, teachers are not something that can be separated into categories of inside and outside, but at least I didn’t come here to complain to you.” (Sanjoji Sensei)
Ryoka Sanjoji-sensei was dressed in a blouse, tight skirt and heels, which was somewhat rougher than the way she looked in the school since she was not wearing a jacket. To the casual observer, she looked like an office worker with a good job. When Sanjoji-sensei called me in front of the station in the morning, I was nervous about what she was going to say, but her expression was soft and her eyes through her glasses didn’t look as stern as usual. I was surprised when Sanjoji-sensei contacted me on my phone, but inwardly I was a little happy.
“It’s hard to talk about here, so come to my house.” (Sanjoji Sensei)
“U-, um?” (Yuki)
I’m going to Sensei’s house? On summer vacation? A summer experience!?
[Sanjoji Sensei PoV]
It was a month ago.
“Damn, what’s with that student……” (Sanjoji Sensei)
This year’s freshmen are a big bunch. And there’s one class where they’re all gathered together: 1-B. There are a lot of other students I’m interested in, though they don’t stand out as much behind him. And above all, there is the school’s most troubled boy, Yukito Kokonoe.
The name is already known throughout the school. Other schools are also talking about him. It’s not his fault. Even though he’s a troublemaker, he’s not causing any trouble himself. At first glance, he seems harmless enough, and judging from the nature of the commotion, he may be more of a victim. So I can’t get angry. He is also the kind of student that we can’t help but be curious about and call out to him. Then, I found some words in the document that caught my attention.
“Eh…?” (Sanjoji Sensei)
The elementary school he attended was the one I used to be assigned to. He was a freshman in high school and 16 years old. If so, he was just then ……. I hurriedly checked his name. But that didn’t mean his name would change. It was a meaningless action. But I couldn’t suppress it. I don’t want to recognize that possibility as if I were rejecting it. Inside the staff room, I sipped my coffee as if to shake off my impatience. I can’t taste it.
It was terrible in middle school. I don’t know how he managed to stay on the right path. Then I realized a possibility. Maybe I’m the one who …… caused him to become that way.
How could I have forgotten? How had I not noticed? I failed to remember. I thought I’d been warning myself about it all along. Have I really turned my back on it? It was both my starting point as a teacher and a trauma. But to call it a trauma might be the biggest insult to him. Because I gave it to him.
I decided not to make the mistake again. And if I could see him again, I would apologize sincerely this time. I can’t believe I didn’t realize it until just now.……
I thought of his face and realized. That’s right. It didn’t match. His face then didn’t match up with his face now. Maybe I’m the one who…… made him that way.
I thought of his face and realized it. I’m right. It didn’t match. His face then did not match his face now. That’s why I didn’t notice the biggest clue of all: his name. The expressionless face, the emotionless eyes that were staring at me that day. And more importantly, he never opened his mouth again until the end of the school year. Not only to me, his homeroom teacher, but also to his classmates.
And she, Misaki, who felt responsible, gave up her career as a teacher.
“Isn’t it big?” (Yuki)
“The Sanjoji family has been teachers for generations. My father, mother, aunts and uncles have all been teachers. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s impressive. Sometimes it’s pressure, though. Anyway, don’t worry about it, come in” (Sanjoji Sensei)
A house in Tokyo. It was also quite large. Sanjoji-sensei was a young lady. An unexpected secret is revealed. As I walked through the front door, a large golden retriever came trotting towards me. He didn’t bark, but rubbed against my body.
“Oh, it’s unusual for Inukichi to miss me.” (Sanjoji Sensei)
“What’s that naming sense?” (Yuki)
[TL: Inu = dog, I have no idea what kichi but I think it’s just name so the dog name is dog kichi]
When I pet Inukichi, he purred pleasantly. There was a discussion about getting a pet in the Kokonoe household, but it was put to rest because mom was busy at the time and my sister, who can’t even take care of herself, doesn’t have the personality to take care of a pet. I wanted to get a pet, but…….
“It’s actually a female.” (Sanjoji Sensei)
“Poor Inukichi.……” (Yuki)
Inukichi’s sad eyes were pleading with me to do something.
“Come on, let’s go to my room. I’ll get you a drink, just wait a minute.” (Sanjoji Sensei)
“Sorry for interrupting?” (Yuki)
There was no one in particular, and no answer came back. Usually, when it comes to home visits, the teacher goes to the student’s house. Why was I, the student, at the teacher’s house? It was not my homeroom teacher, but Sanjoji-sensei’s house. In a way, it could be said to be enemy territory. You never know when you might step on a mine.
Sanjoji-sensei’s room was probably about ten tatami mats. It was spacious and roomy. Perhaps reflecting her personality, the room was neat and tidy. There was no way I could accidentally touch her personal belongings, so I could only sit quietly on the cushions provided and look around. The teacher, noticing my nervousness, brought me a cake and a drink.
“Do you like sweets?” (Sanjoji Sensei)
“Yes, I do. My only hobby is visiting sweets.” (Yuki)
“Hmmm. You’re like a girl.” (Sanjoji Sensei)
The smile on her face was a breath of fresh air, as she was usually so angry with me. She took out an album and placed it in front of me. Then she looked straight at me.
“Kokonoe-kun. Do you remember me?” (Sanjoji Sensei)
“What? I’ve been called out a lot lately, so I’m sure we’ve met often.” (Yuki)
“No, we didn’t. We knew each other in elementary school.” (Sanjoji Sensei)
“Elementary school? Oh, I see. You promised to marry me!” (Yuki)
“You’re lying! Can you please not make this up? No, I’m not. What are you talking about? I’m not making fun of you!” (Sanjoji Sensei)
The temp has gone off the rails. But I don’t remember anything from elementary school. Maybe it’s because I’ve been in so many bad situations in my life, but I’m very good at forgetting things. It’s just too painful to remember.
“I’m sorry. I don’t remember anything.” (Yuki)
“Yes.…… No, I’m sure it’s my fault for making it a memory you don’t want to remember. Look at this, Kokonoe.” (Sanjoji Sensei)
The teacher opened the album. There are a lot of elementary school students in school uniforms in the picture. One of them was a boy with a very blank expression and a straight face. There is no one else around that boy. He is alone in the photo. …… Is this me? And the homeroom teacher’s name was written as Ryoka Sanjoji.
“I was your homeroom teacher when you were in the second grade. I’m really sorry about that time.” (Sanjoji Sensei)
Eyes glazed over, Sanjoji-sensei stands up and bows deeply. A second grader. And her homeroom teacher. When I heard that much, even I remembered.
—Speaking of second grade, that was when I was first involved in a false accusation.
One of the personal belongings of a female intern had gone missing. And somehow it was found inside of my desk. From my point of view, I had never heard of this and I was innocent. The teacher, an intern, was not angry. She smiled softly and told me gently. “If you do something wrong, you should apologize honestly, right?” She said.
But no matter how many times I was told, I couldn’t admit to something I didn’t do. I continued to deny it. The intern teacher didn’t get angry, but my homeroom teacher was furious with me for never admitting my fault. “What you’ve done is theft. Listen to me, this is a crime!” said my homeroom teacher.
Naturally, I was isolated in the classroom. My classmates distanced themselves from me, and I was left alone. There was no way out of this. I had no choice but to solve the problem on my own. On the day my personal belongings went missing, I made a list of all my activities during the expected time period, where I was with whom, and what I was doing at that time. In the process, I narrowed down the suspects and found the culprit.
I didn’t have any particular friends, but there was a boy in my class. He was fond of the teacher who was an intern, and when he stole some of her personal belongings on the spur of the moment, he heard a noise and immediately put them in my desk, which was nearby. All I can say is that it was annoying as hell. I got all the evidence together and turned him into the teachers along with the culprit.
I looked at him coldly as he cried and apologized. The homeroom teacher and the intern were saying something, but I didn’t care. Trivial incident, trivial result. I had a mentality as hard as an acacia tree, and by this time, I didn’t care anymore.
I didn’t feel like getting along with my classmates who treated me like a criminal, and I didn’t speak to my homeroom teacher or any of my classmates until I was promoted to the third grade and my classes were changed. That was almost half a year ago. There was always an awkward atmosphere in the class. Normally, this would have led to bullying, but in addition to feeling guilty that it was their fault, I was a good student and athlete, so I guess they simply didn’t want to mess with me. In the first place, I’m the kind of person who does things back when I’m beaten.
How nostalgic. It was the darkest period of my elementary school days.
“The homeroom teacher at that time was Sanjoji-sensei, wasn’t it? I forgot all about it.” (Yuki)
“I’m sorry……. I was supposed to make a lot of memories with you. But I caused you to erase them. I know it’s not something that can be forgiven even if I apologize. Still, please let me apologize.” (Sanjoji Sensei)
“I don’t mind. Thanks to you, I learned how to deal with it.” (Yuki)
“Kokonoe, you are still……” (Sanjoji Sensei)
I wondered what I should do about the sad-looking Sanjoji-sensei. I really didn’t care, or rather, I couldn’t be bothered with something like that. However, I was afraid to tell Sanjoji-sensei about it. It might make her even more worried. What should I do? What does the teacher want from me? What was the purpose of the apology, and why did she tell me now?
Forgive…… Am I supposed to forgive? But I’m not angry. Then how can I forgive? How can I get Sanjoji-sensei back to her usual self?
Thinking about it. I don’t throw thoughts out anymore. I won’t abandon it. There must be an answer. So tell her. Don’t run away, just tell it straight. Just tell her what you’re thinking.
“Sensei, sit down and eat cake with me.” (Yuki)
“But….” (Sanjoji Sensei)
“I’d like that.” (Yuki)
“….. I understand” (Sanjoji Sensei)
I don’t remember anything from that time. There were no memories. All I could remember was the fact that it happened. I forgot my homeroom teacher and even who my classmates were. I couldn’t even remember the name of one of them. I didn’t like the sight of Sanjoji-sensei sitting in front of me with her eyes downcast in pain.
All right, then–
“So tell me, teacher. What was it like back then, what kind of class was it? What kind of classmates did I have? There is an album like this. Tell me please, Sensei.” (Yuki)
It was simple. If there is someone who knows or remembers, all you have to do is ask that person. If I had remained alone, I would not have noticed. You can’t rely on someone, if you don’t know them
“Are you sure that’s what you want?” (Sanjoji Sensei)
“I don’t remember anything, so you’ll have to tell me.” (Yuki)
“I-I get it! I have another album. Please wait a moment!” (Sanjoji Sensei)
On all fours, Sanjoji-sensei made her way towards the bookshelf behind me.
But then I realized something.
Not good! You shouldn’t be dressed like that, Ryoka-chan!
Sanjoji-sensei is wearing a skirt. She is wearing a short, tight skirt. Even though she is wearing stockings, it is inevitable that she will be on all fours with her buttocks facing you.
“…… Sensei’s underwear.” (Yuki)
It was purple. I’m glad I saw it!
I’m going to save it in my mental memory.