(Before this, I was trying this – to prove that English could get on the Romeo train.)
The fourth floor classroom. Gazing at the street, the dancing Sakura petals colored the view.
Spring. First year high school senior Naoyuki was seated at the windowside, stretching his gaze down below, immersed in a pose of elegant contemplation.
It was April.
Such showy impressions masked the hidden truth of the matter – the unease of any new entry.
With a new class, new acquaintances, and a whole new environment. Anybody would have suffered the ‘what-do-I-do?’ blues:
“Will I be bullied?”
“Will I cope with my club?”
“Will I make friends?”
“Will I keep up with lessons?”
With such a plague of worries, the first-years had stiff grins.
Still, only one person had freedom to catch the view with such a lax gaze.
This was a mode of being liberated from the worries of those green behind the ears.
Naoyuki had done it.
As usual, no – more than usual – he skilled the first step.
Friends, club, and class positioning.
At present, this advantageous post didn’t even take three days to create.
Through maintaining this early set-up, he leapt from unease to liberation.
From this skill came a slight arrogance in thought.
But, there was no worry of that leading to a displeasing reveal on his face.
Skillful and wise, with some precocity – that was the kind of youth he was.
The outside. Gaze drifting from his seat.
Everyone was freely mixing – fumbling, feeling – through the widening sphere of daily chatter.
A pleasant gentle air.
A class without much ill.
Naoyuki reflected on the state of class 1B.
The door burst open.
An impudent, rattling, ear piercing slam.
The class shushed into full silence.
The mood changed as if a gunshot rang through the town.
Naoyuki’s relaxed face wrinkled up at the small space between the eyebrows.
With both feet shoulder’s length apart, open wide, and standing firm, was the glasses-wearing girl.
For a while she stood in that class, sternly glaring
“A transfer student? Don’t tell me it’s a transfer student?”
“It’s early for that – isn’t it?”
“Does anyone know her?”
All over class, it was bubbling over with noise.
As if finalizing her stand, she took a step forward.
“Hey… what’s your business here?”
A lone girl spoke up in a trembling voice.
In disregard, she went up to the platform.
And placed her hand on the desk with a bang.
In the morning. The time of gathering before class. Every single one was staring at her.
There was silence. She said nothing.
About half a minute past – a skin splitting tension strained the air.
At that moment, Naoyuki was flabbergasted with his mouth flapping.
Within her hand was a drawn and naked blade.
When did she take it out, and how did she carry it in in the first place?
Wait, actually, the question should be – from whence came this snakishly coiling, unmistakably red fluctuating flame around the blade?
It was a fiendish flame that the girl brandished within both hands.
The seated Naoyuki – front row, next to the windows – could definitely feel bits of his fringe singed by the molten hot beating of the flame’s fiery hearth.
The Imano Prefecture High School was the crème de la crème elite of the elite high school in the prefecture.
It was university affiliated, but it was not a combination Junior-Senior high school. It practiced a non-escalation style of meritocratic selection, and was famous for its past unparalleled strictness in regards to regulations.
For the time being, while it still held that title, that was only in name and not reality. It had changed greatly.
After enrolling for one week, the actual teacher hadn’t even bothered to accept his leadership of the class.
“Monster-parents are scary…”
In the mornings the Tennis Club got together, heartily chewing on a post-training Pork Cutlet Sandwich, and talked about these kinds of things.
Short but well sculptured in his stature, with swinging tennis skills, and a strange swank in his information-gathering strategies – this Shimoyama Tomohiro was the kind of guy with a journeyman’s spirit.
He was full-in on the details, and dropped them over.
Some years ago, a Guardian brought forth a bundle of accusations regarding the overt severity of the school’s education praxis.
And when the school authorities resoundingly raised the one-line rebuttal of “tradition” against the projected concerns, some net-hero immediately made sure to introduce, to the whole world:
“The School of Tyranny! Who holds the right of students in disregard – I repeat – in disregard! Who disrespects the right to freely disrespect!”
And so and such attacks were levied against them.
In the end the school apologized, and thereafter it was heard that their targeted elite high-esteem faltered, and their rigor fell into a growing sloppiness.
And of course, this whole matter was not overlooked by the pre-examinee Naoyuki, who then thought: “Wow, this is truly the dark side of the net”.
But he still played to the admiration of his new friends.
“Monster parents – plus – net. Equals? Holy mother of combos…”
“Yet… the club’s still tight as fuck…”
The other club comrades sighed. It wasn’t serious – just talky stuff.
At once, cries of “Fuck, it’s tight!” and “The training just got shittier – double the shit!” determined the topic. With Naoyuki included, these were the tennis guys of 1B altogether.
Baseball had one. Soccer had two. Tennis was the population prima sports group in the class.
Two were experienced. The other two joined when they came in – shitty greenhorns. So Naoyuki didn’t need to forge a situation – this fact cemented his spot as a reliable pillar.
“Oh shit – there’s starter batting coming up. Hey man – can you help us get rackets?”
– so asked the two greenhorns.
“Sure. No worries.”
“5k in battle funds – Money O-K?”
“Double O-K. Honest – it’s three times of that. But for starters you usually rent, so 500 yen, or so, is still good.”
“Rental? You sure that’s good enough?”
Naoyuki knew tennis from middle school. He was a regular player when his alma mater took to the prefectural pros. Among the new entrees into Imano – he towered over them. So his friends kowtowed to his standard.
“Watch it. A first-year with a brand new racket draws looks from the seniors.”
The other with experience was Shimoyama – and he was a great yarn-spinner. When he advised, all four laughed. They laughed, but his comic tales were useful anyway.
And then, the door was slid open with force.
Inside the class, the tension drove up.
The crushing presence lashed out in surges, from a single fearsome entity – who walked in. The student you’d never want to get too close with. Faces were turned or concealed.
It was today too. Those glasses. A bespectacled being of transcendence.
Shinoyama muttered that. He had more or less framed her a monster.
It was a week since matriculation.
Yet, with this girl – Kobayakawa Chihiro – it was three days.
That day, standing on the podium –
She introduced herself, as if that three-day delay was a non-issue.
“Due to reasons of sickness, I’m finally here. Kobayakawa Chihiro, from XX Middle School. Pleased to meet you.”
She had that air – most people seemed to think.
With a snap to her action, a sharp look, smartly cutting words, intelligent spectacles, and her clean spontaneity on the podium – she was deemed a supremely cool human being.
Naoyuki, though, was quite skeptical.
They crowded around her with curious questions. It was that ‘transfer-student atmosphere’ after all. The approach she relied on was courteous reply, but she kept a dulled face and didn’t smile.
His skepticism deepened.
The blazing blade was an illusion. Nobody else had seen it or mentioned knowing so.
Whether an illusion or a hallucination, it was only his eyes which had caught on to that hot aura – that vision.
A blazing blade. Some unknown meaning.
Like an anime?
That could have been a warning or something – so he thought.
His hunch was right, as verified the next day. The first victim.
Chihiro wasn’t well-known yet, so she was invited by a certain girl for karaoke, and she accepted. In the karaoke box that someone had tried to get her on alcohol. She refused, and firmly demanded that they not do this kind of thing. Her partner stiffly rejected that, and, dancing to a dance beat, hit the floor in a display of heavy drinking. Like a soccer player in a victory show – or something like that – she started dual-wielding beer bottles and chugging them down to stir up the opposition. That same day, that alcoholic girl was called up by the school. What we normally call – ‘dirty snitching’.
“To perform a royal screwing of someone like that without hesitation – I can’t believe it!”
That was Shinoyama, with his outrageous nuances.
“Royally ruthless… that’s what it is”
Naoyuki wholly concurred.
It was righteous. Yes, it was righteous, but also ruthless. That kind of person was a breaker of social peace. Truly outrageous.
Anyway, that heavy-drinking girl, Ugajin Ayako, was immediately carted off for acute alcoholism – an episode that would become a true legend in the history books. This pitiable soul was dumped in an ICU and plugged in the genitalia with a urethral balloon as well as a Lactec IV – and after suffering that humiliation at 10p.m. she was suspended for 5 days in accordance with an emergency staff meeting. Once Ugajin-papa got ahold of that from the police, he wailed. Probably because this was a repeat offense, or something like that, or maybe not.
You could call it an example of the saying “it never rains, but pours”.
The lone Kobayakawa Chihiro had done all this – completely unthinkable. 1B was in complete shock, as expected.
This was the first of her legends. A chain.
Ugajin’s pushy personality didn’t mesh well with the other girl-cliques, and they tried open diplomacy with Chihiro. So goes the reason: “An enemy of an enemy is a friend”.
“Wow that girl… I knew her in middle school to be one of those types who’d like chug beers with college students – and totally screwed herself silly. Like she completely deserved that now. Anyway – hang with us instead? Totally a palate cleanser. We’ve got a mixer with the guys at the basketball club. Of course – no beers.”
Chihiro, in the process of packing her bag, looked up emotionlessly, and curtly replied “illicit sexual relations are banned” – then went back to her own thing.
“Eeeeh? Just a bit won’t hurt right? It’s not unhealthy, anyway. And it’s not like anything new… we’ve totally done this before. I mean, there’s a lot of cool guys there, and its total eye candy… that kind of thing you know. And you’ve also got this kind of attractive air that’s totally a hit over there. It’ll be a total man-feast… if you’re like coming, aren’t you?”
“Sorry, I don’t break rules.”
This time, she didn’t even look.
“Eeeeeeeeh? It’s okay right, I mean rules are meant to be broken anyway. Then, how about just 30 minutes? Like get-together with the class?”
“Fine”, the girl grumbled. “That was like total rejection. So you have something on?”
Chihiro was pushing the last book in her bag.
“People who enroll and don’t follow the rules – are idiots.”
Directed at all the girls, those words left her lips.
After a while, with twitching smiles, a few tried to voice out and patch things up.
“Why so angry Kobayakawa?” and stuff or “well, it’s okay to stick to the rules, and I mean there’s those kind of people out there…” and stuff or “once in a while a breather is okay right?” and also “what’s do you mean by ‘idiots’?” and all that.
It was her last chance for rehabilitation.
To these sort of questions, she had to display the model answer.
“I’m sorry, did we have like a complete misunderstanding or something? It’s like you’re a bit irritated over here. I mean if I hit on anything, then I’m completely sorry? If there’s anything… I totally didn’t intend that, and it was like a bit confusing you know? Could we L-like make up or something?! I-I’m sure you’re okay… right?”
Maintenance of world peace was needed.
So, a practical answer was required here.
Chihiro stood up resolutely. The girls held their tongue.
And with this answer, she grabbed her bag and stuffed one hand in her pocket and walked out.
The one left behind, the clique leader, had her expression peeled off in an instant.
In a short while, tears were rising up from the corners of her eyes. She broke down and cried. Her friends came over for her. Naoyuki, on seeing all this, let out a huge sigh.
What a tragedy.
But Chihiro was the firestarter.
In a mere three days, she was alienated. No one addressed her. She didn’t have a particle of care.
While Naoyuki had obtained success in three days, she had obtained isolation.
Well, in that regard, they were equal.
She had called them idiots, but, to Naoyuki – Kobayakawa was the true idiot.
“So is Iijima off his club?”
This was Nakameguro. She was slightly more slow-tempo in speech than the rest.
This rather peculiar girl had no upper limit to the inertia of her diction – so she carried on without awareness of the collecting stress in the conversation. While she spoke, Naoyuki had already activated his internal fast-forward button who knows how many times.
Of course, to display irritation was to slay it, so he had to turn-on business mode.
“It’s Monday you know… for us…”
“Well, then next Monday, your ‘us’ and our ‘us’ should meet up and stuff right?”
That, was not what he meant – he thought.
Lately, Naoyuki had opened relations with one of the girl groups. Nakameguro was their ‘salesman’.
“This side’s OK. Where to?”
“It’s with Shiihara’s – she’s not from here, so she wants someone to guide around the station.”
The Shiihara group was a conspicuous quartet.
Not to mean they were glitzy or anything – but they were the cutting edge of pushing the style-limit within school regulations. Creatives, in other words. They were the types who came to school to study the secret of living a good life. It was clear as day.
To be honest, Anacondas.
Carnivorous, aggressive reptiles.
No, they were cute. They were really cute. But – Anacondas.
He didn’t say that, of course. For the adroit Iijima Naoyuki – that would be a miss.
Within those four, Nakameguro was the only proper one.
Those self-assured queens looked down on any soft personalities, and, being a bit mean, found her character handy as a contact point. The gist of this is – a rabbit had slipped among those Anacondas.
Still, this rabbit had surpassed expectations, especially in her proficiency with the Evasive Maneuvers. On the repeat occasions when Naoyuki saw her use this, he felt her as a similar kin. It was complicated.
Furthermore, what they did was identical.
Envy-prevention maneuver: Group-with-group setting.
“Oh! …and, Konuma wanted to know what your hobbies were.”
What was this – a request? Anyhow, Nakameguro wasn’t the one requesting, probably. After all, her talk was rather careless.
“Other than tennis? In middle school… futsal, I guess.”
“Futsal heeeh? Memorandum… memorandum…”
She fake-scribbled it out with her finger. It was that kind of gag. Light laughter.
“And at home? What do you do at home?”
Completely stumped. For five seconds.
Nakameguro did a puzzled head tilt.
“It’s boring. Just music.”
“Oh? What music?”
In truth, she was merely Shiihara’s sleuth, but he still it held his in his chest, and rattled off a few popular artists. To add a little bit of reality into the picture, he split off from the mainstream slightly, threw in a few indie titles.
With an ‘uh-huh’, Nakameguro listened, and then provided critique.
“Wow, you’re quite cool!”
As expected, his predicted valuation came in.
It was expected, but it felt like he’d been branded as dull. That nuance was weighed in the feeling, and he felt slightly indignant.
“Well, see you later then.”
“Ah, wait a moment, wait a moment. Does Iijima have a girlfriend?”
With a frivolous laugh she inquired that – so she was being a proxy, probably. His heart didn’t waver.
“Anyone you fancy?”
She inclined her head with a bit of a surprise.
Every-time he arrived home, Naoyuki sighed loudly.
Or, more exactly, it wasn’t a sigh, but ventilation.
He suppressed his varied feelings in school. In here, on the other hand, was relaxation.
It was over – the acting and diplomatic touches were done for the day.
He dumped his load under the stairs. Flung off his coat. Pulled off his tie.
It was splendidly messy, and extremely ruinous to his reputation. But there were no guests – and he could carry all the mess up to the second floor quickly, if there were.
He took out his wear and track clothes from his Boston Bag, for laundry.
He plodded around with sticky socks, and threw those in when he passed the bathroom.
His father was struggling with the hot-pot in the living room.
Someone’s rear at the sofa. Hidden behind was his mother – sitting on the floor and cutting her toenails. Suit worn on. A mop of loose messy hair. She was in a tired state.
Without looking, blurting out a “welcome back”.
Bent forward, the tip of her panties peeked out from her skirt.
“I can see your panties.”
This was the corporation’s Cool Beauty, slovenly in the comfort of her own domain.
Staring vacantly at the big-screen television.
It was 7 o’clock. At this time, the club folks would be indulging in piping hot bread rolls on their way back. He felt strangely hungry.
“It’s here… come and get it!”
On hearing dad’s voice, mom & son lumbered over like zombies in search for prey.
Naoyuki’s father measured out the soup of the day in ample proportion, and began to break into commentary on this or that about the rack of lamb at his side – all on deaf ears. With the wear and hunger turning their brains into chaotic slosh, the other two had no structural recollection of events.
From the department store bakery, he had also bought a number of white round buns studded with walnut fragments. They could dive into that as much as they wanted, and so started with three. He also served out salad. With three kinds of tomatoes, it was colorfully arranged. There was even cheese sprinkled on.
The three sat down together, said “Itadakimasu” in chorus, and wholeheartedly began consumption.
“A….” “U…” “Muuuhh…..”
After all that club and work fatigue, dinnertime was when they reverted to their primitive state.
Once the stomach was full, his mother could finally form words.
“Nao? How was school?”
His father had asked that one, while yawning and chewing.
“It’s peaceful. There’s nothing bad. It seems unlikely.”
“You never know. It’s a group – so you better not drop your guard son.”
In his late thirties, his father was still youthful, and so was like a brother. There was no parental atmosphere. It was the same for his mother.
It was always a wonder.
Despite raising him, these two so-called parents had not much in common with Naoyuki. “Adoption?” – he sometimes questioned with distrust. But he was definitely their real son.
“It’s that. It’s what I always say – rather than be bullied, you should be on the bullying side, and then you’ll be happy.”
“…well, I know that…”
He had taken it in now. Although he took it in now, it came as a shock the first time. He couldn’t forget it.
They were unconditionally right – virtuous beings – was his impression.
In childhood, this was a truth to him.
Once he had come of age, they had released him from domestic education by breaking the ethical lock. From idealism to reality. Although evil was unforgivable, if it was dangerous – you should pretend not to look.
Their point – he was a high school student, and not a kid.
So they taught him that. It was better that one was taught that.
A different style of parenting.
As active personnel in the workforce – capable high earners – with an appearance and results that were characteristic of those born destined to be winners – was that an influence? Yes, it was. With these two, they had no conception of living life with the gait of poverty, or being the losing dog.
To trample on others for self-protection, was what they felt right.
Very weird parents indeed.
But, the idea that anybody would probably feel that they resembled their parents – Naoyuki had changed his mind about that.
“You can go easy. I’ve made it after all.”
“I see. Then that’s okay.”
Although there wasn’t any discord with them, the Iijima household had a kind of emptiness in the air.
And this was the air Naoyuki was brought up in.
He washed the tableware, watched television to his content, showered, and completed whatever he had to do on the ground floor. Then he carried his baggage up.
The household was affluent due to the dual-income high earners.
So it was quite a stately mansion.
Their huge garden even had hired help.
He was their only son, and so he was given a sunny room with wooden flooring the space of ten tatami mats. When his friends came in, there wasn’t a single one of them that wasn’t envious. It was a Godly Room.
When Naoyuki returned to his room, a strange phenomenon took over.
He developed a stoop like a cat.
Normally having to steel himself all the time, this room allowed him to let go. If he couldn’t, he’d never be able to live. His internal ventilation fan went at full throttle to develop the courage to face the next day.
His room was awesome. He loved his room a lot.
He swept it on the third day of every month and loved to tamper around with the interior décor. There was none of the acting and the forced smiles.
He hung up his blazer, then sat at his computer desk. Power on.
It was 10 o’clock at night.
Naoyuki opened the browser. It’s super hot today – he thought, as he jumped over to the site.
The site he aimed for had updated its journal.
This new screen flashed into his eyes, and his face changed.
In a twinkle, those eyes deepened into bloodshot, while his mouth widened into a snarl. An expression of joy or pleasure.
That vulgar look was hidden away from school. The look of a person with an obviously bad personality. A look that aimed to entrap others.
He couldn’t relax there, and always had needless worry.
Title: The Two For Today
Today too, I found myself in that shitty school with that shitty class.
Comparison: A hikkomori and myself. Essentially both of us are beings of equal existence – in that we’re wasting our time, are we not? That was what I was thinking. Tension Release.
As a high-level school, it’s a joke. Once I graduate, I’ll be happy if I drown.
Aren’t high school students supposed to be adults already? I was mistaken.
Intellectual conversation and grown-up relationships? Nil.
At the very least, it’s within human nature to have a sublime striving towards transcendence, but the longer I find myself in this class, the more I feel we’re returning to the path of the mountain monkeys.
The idea that humans have evolved to some level of intelligence – if you were to ask my opinion – is a complete lie.
Without further ado. Let’s get on with the two for today.
Solely living for instinct – a human bitch. Not a woman. A bitch. Not even a girl. A bitch. Intelligence deficiency, and lacking in any kind of chastity or sweetness whatsoever. On first impression: the conduct of a Neanderthal – and afterwards I carried within me a strong despair for humanity. When you get close, you’re hit with a strange smell. Confirmation: bathes, at the very least – once every two days. It rouses fear within a person. In that case, with such a repugnant being, she rouses my hate and has inflicted countless heavy crimes upon me. Guilty.
Unable to complete any process within a time limit – a complete idiot. Despite not even adding up to a human, he still harbors a pride larger than most. If he could even take a look at himself in public, he would already be drowning in tears of disgrace. A weak and brittle ego. Within his club – god… can I just stop halfway already? Despite having no one against him – completely intolerant of failure, and furthermore he’ll scoff at any miss in a loud and conspicuous manner. Any human charm or sincerity? Zero. His existence must not be permitted. Guilty.