Misunderstood: the Top of Everything
Clever. Intelligent. Bright. Cheerful. Mischievous. Daring. Courageous. Loyal.
Totally correct yet somehow incorrect.
These horoscope books are a pile of trash stapled together and sold for profit. The traits listed under Aries, my Western Sun Sign, are the qualities that should be mine, and yet I feel like an ayakashi speaking through an itako's lips.
Let's tackle the first two: clever and intelligent.
I am at the top of every thing, but nobody notices. Most days, I'm fine with that. I'm not an attention seeker.
But let's face it: a little recognition never harmed anyone.
I'm not perfect like Daidouji, the number two student of our junior class. I'm not dating Seijyu Prep's resident soccer star, Li, the number three student. I'm not lucky like Hiiragizawa, student number one, who suddenly became popular this year because someone saved him.
We are at the top of every thing.
But in the eyes of the students, I'm at the bottom of every thing.
Teenagers are vicious, you know? We lie, steal, cheat like taking a breath of air. We struggle desperately to rise to the top, to become an adult before anyone else, before realizing this childhood is a precious time we've bargained away for a few quick shots, for a few quick hits, for a few brief fucks.
A teenager's best weapon is a rumor and a rumor is the tiny seed to destruction.
I know all about rumors. No, I'm not running the school's gossip blog. I don't have time to waste on inane things like that.
Stupid rumors. They ruined almost every thing.
You want to hear a few about me?
I'm doing drugs. I'm an orphan and homeless. My parents hate me. My okaa-san committed suicide because she hated me. My otou-san is almost always away from home because I'm the reason Okaa-san died. My onii-chan calls me kaijuu because I'm insufferable and rude.
Apparently, I also suffer from extreme depression, mental instability, and anger management issues.
That's the one rumor that holds more truth than lie.
But it's still blown way out of proportion.
The student body is stupid too. Did you notice how some of these rumors contradict each other? How thick can someone get? Look, if you're going to bother spreading crap about someone, at least be consistent. That way, no one can find a reason to doubt your words.
I long to take revenge, but I stop myself.
Revenge gains nothing, ends nothing, and destroys every thing.
So, I wait. Wait for the time when someone decides to change his snotty attitude and see the truth.
I seriously doubt that's going to happen.
One day, I'll be internationally famous—maybe a singer like Utada Hikaru or a technology genius billionaire like that American, Bill Gates. I'll have power and influence. Then, they'll remember me and claim I was their best friend in high school.
I'll denounce every single idiot who says that and what will happen to them then?
Rumors will spread. Reputations will crumble. Justice will be served.
You think I'm destined to live my life underfoot.
You make the mistake of doubting me.
Expect the unexpected.
second day of school since winter break-
The crowded hallways of Seijuu Preparatory School always disgusted me. People closing in on you, treating you like a poster on the wall.
In this world, I've learned people just don't care.
A boy in my own class ran into me, shoving me into the lockers.
“Some people. We gotta tell the janitors to pick up the trash,” his friend joked as they shoved past me into Class 2-B.
Shooting a smoldering glare at their backs, I continued onward to the chemistry lab. Another body shoved me into the lockers but before I could tell him off, the boy righted me quickly before running off, yelling “Sorry 'bout that!” over his shoulder. I recognized him; after all, who wouldn't? But it was the realization of who ran into me that kept my feet glued to the ground.
“Tomoyo-chan, where did you get that? It's divine!” Watanabe Mika gushed.
I smiled and held out my wrist, showing off the delicate glass charm bracelet. “My mom got it for me in Venice.”
The girls in my class congregated around my desk in the break period before Algebra II, eagerly examining me so they could reproduce my so-called “look.”
“Breathing room, guys,” Yanagisawa Naoko reminded, shooting me a covert smile.
Another girl eyed the bracelet warily. “Aren't charm bracelets like so last year, Tomoyo-chan?”
I shrugged and picked up my pencil. “So? It was gift. I have the right to wear a gift, don't I, Ruka-chan?”
Immediately, a thousand different voices clamored to reassure my assumption.
“Of course, Tomoyo-chan!”
“How thoughtful of you to actually use what's been given to you!”
“God, I can't even remember the last time I did that.”
“You think my boyfriend would get mad if I wore something my ex gave me?”
“He shouldn't. After all, it's just a gift.”
Nomura-sensei barged through the door, slamming it shut behind him.
“Take your seats!”
I exited the classroom quietly, gently pushing my way through the throngs of students blocking the hallways. Someone shoved me into the lockers, flipping me off and swearing at me as he passed, but I paid him no heed. A few of my classmates approached me and voiced their concerns but I brushed them off, smiled, and proceeded to my locker.
They only protect me because I'm Hiiragizawa Eriol, best friend to Li Syaoran.
Best friend to Li Syaoran.
Believe me, everyone wants to be his friend.
Syaoran has every thing going for him. He's rich, intelligent, athletic, musically-inclined, and has a job waiting for him in his family's publishing company after college. Not only that, but he has a great personality and looks to match his winning background.
But I'm grateful for all Syaoran's done for me. Without him, I'd be the guy who was shoved into lockers, glasses askew, and a crowd of students laughing at his misfortune.
He saved me from drowning.
I could only hope that in the future, I could do the same for someone else.
Eriol kicked the ball my way and I passed it over to Yamato Riku before jogging my way over to my best friend.
“I heard you helped the kaijuu out today,” Eriol said, taking a drink from my water bottle.
Snatching my drink back, I asked, “Who?”
Sapphire blue glinted and took on a gleam I didn't like. “Kinomoto Sakura-san, the outcast of outcasts, the junior misfit, the-”
“-Ice bitch!” Riku yelled as he ran by.
Eriol shrugged, suddenly uncomfortable. “You get the picture.”
I tried to think of who Eriol was talking about. Still coming up with an empty face. In fact, I don't even remember seeing anyone who matched what little description I knew of the kaijuu today.
“Uteda Hikari said you helped her up after you shoved her in the hall and I quote: what a scandal,” My best friend rolled his eyes as he recalled our classmate's words.
It clicked. “That was her? I didn't even know who I ran into.”
The whistle summoned us back to practice. Groaning simultaneously, we shared a weary glance before rejoining the team out on the field.
-The Next Day-
The doors of Seijuu were wide open and I walked into the building, rubbing my hands together in a feeble attempt to warm them up in the crisp mid-January winter air. The janitor climbed down from the ladder and the door swung shut behind me. There was just enough time to take off my coat and hang it in my locker before the swarm settled around me.
“Li-kun, could you help me with my algebra?”
“Hey Li! Soccer game soon, right?”
“Heads up, Li!”
“Li-san, the student council needs your input as the junior representative on…”
“Will you go out with me, Li-kun?”
“Li-kun, I need…”
“Li, your socce-“
“Li-san, the o-“
I grinned despite the headache the crowd was giving me. So many demands, not enough ears to listen to it all attentively. One caught my ear.
“Li-san, Oyamada-sensei would like to talk to you about your chemistry grade.”
I recognized the bell-like voice even though I didn’t talk to her much.
“Daidouji-san, how are you?”
Amethyst-blue looked at me and smiled. “Fine. Yourself, Li-san?”
The crowds dispersed, leaving to branch out into the hallways. We wove in and out of the gathered groups, keeping light conversation as Daidouji accompanied me to Oyamada’s lab.
“Hey! I’ve been looking for you. I’ve been trying to return your CD for ages, Syaoran.”
I grinned at the speaker and stopped walking. My best friend Hiiragizawa Eriol jogged over to us and handed me the CD.
Daidouji, polite as rumored, also greeted Eriol by name and asked him a few polite questions as we resumed our trip to the Chemistry lab. He answered her queries easily and asked the same of her.
“Oof! I’m really sorry about that, Miss!” Daidouji said as she bumped into someone when we tried to edge past a particularly large group in the middle of the hallway.
The girl looked at us (her eyes were green… my favorite color…) but just as quickly as she noticed her intruders, she averted her eyes and turned her attention back to her locker. I recognized her but I could not place her name or where I had first seen her.
“It’s nothing,” she muttered in a low voice.
Still yelling apologies even after we passed her, Daidouji turned to us with worried eyes.
“I hope I didn’t offend her,” she whispered, trailing off.
Leaving us at the chem lab door, the girl ran off, presumably to talk to the student council officers yelling her name down the hallway. Eriol turned to me with a knowing grin.
“You do realize who that was right?”
“Who what was?” I asked blankly, hesitating at the door.
His grin became wider. “The girl Daidouji-san bumped into. It was the same girl you ran over yesterday.”
“Oh,” I said half-heartedly. “That’s nice.”
Eriol didn’t budge. Then, the meaning of his words came to me.
“You mean that’s the kaijuu?” I half-yelled, half-whispered in disbelief.
“You’re blocking my way. Move please.”
My blood turned cold. I didn’t know the speaker but gut intuition told me exactly who it was.
Oh no… oh no… oh no… please don’t be…
Vivid green glared at me when I finally turned around. “Move. You’re blocking the door and I need to get in my classroom.”
Something inside me snapped. “No need to be a bitch about it,” I said coolly as I stepped aside to let her pass.
The kaijuu gave me another withering glance before she shut the chem room door behind her.
I looked back at Eriol in disbelief, prepared to say something about what a prick she was, but Eriol beat me.
“That’s Kinomoto Sakura, number four student in Seijyu Preparatory High School and the so-called kaijuu.” He wrinkled his nose at the nickname. “Congratulations—it seems like even Li Syaoran is invincible against a monster.”
I stared at the shut door and eyed her silhouette through the frosted glass window.
She’s not everything I thought she would be.
That little prick.
Huh. I heard plenty of rumors about him but I never quite believed in what they said.
As a victim of rumors myself, I learned not to believe much of anything anymore.
“Do as I say, little kaijuu. You're nothing but a filthy whore, right, Sakura-chan? A filthy whore for my pathetic brother.”
“Damn it, Kaorin. Stay outta my head,” I mumbled to myself.
Ignoring Oyamada-sensei's lecture about the upcoming experiment, I started doodling on a piece of notebook paper in an effort to distract me from the strong memories.
The sharp voice of my chemistry teacher startled me. I looked up, expecting to be lectured again on class attentiveness, when he motioned me forward to his desk at the front of the room.
I heard my classmates' sniggers but I ignored them, holding my head high as I made my way to the front from my back row seat.
“Mizuki-sensei called for you. She says she needs to see you in her office immediately,” Oyamada-sensei said in a low whisper, handing me a written pass.
Grateful for his discretion, I nodded and went back to my seat to pick up my belongings. A girl tried to trip me as I walked by but I nimbly avoided her foot and swung my own around to connect with her shin. She let out a whimper of pain, a satisfying reward for the trouble she tried to cause.
Oyamada-sensei twitched but said nothing as I sauntered out the classroom and up the stairs from the basement to the main floor.
“Sakura-chan, how could you be so selfish?”
Am I still selfish, Kaorin?
Is it selfish to strive for the best in every thing?
Is it selfish to want to love?
Is it selfish to seek help when I know I need it?
I will prove you wrong, Kaorin.
I will rise above the restrictions you set for me.
Because I am every thing you could never be.
And never will.