School Trouble! Could I be Special?
Teto Kasane was late.
This was always happening to her! It was a wonder that one person could manage to wake up late for school so many times.
She had a piece of toast in her mouth as she tried to simultaneously put on her shoes and tie her red hair up into her trademark drills. They weren’t really drills of course, that would be silly, but it’s what her friends called them.
Speaking of friends, her best friend, Uta, was standing at the door waiting for her as usual.
“Come on Teto!” she said impatiently, “Hurry up or we’re going to be late again!”
“Sorry!” said Teto, “Give me a second I just have to- WHAAAA”
There was a loud crash as Teto presumably ran into and subsequently knocked over a piece of furniture. Well, that was nothing new. If it didn’t happen at least once a week there was something wrong. To Uta’s well-trained ear, it sounded like this time it was the ottoman from the living room.
With an exasperated sigh, Uta walked into the other room to inspect the damage. As she had thought, the ottoman was on its side and Teto was sprawled out on the floor, one shoe on her foot, one in her hand, and her toast lying on the ground in front of her, miraculously butter side up.
“Honestly, how do you always manage to do this?” asked Uta, helping her friend up.
“Owie…” said Teto, rubbing her head.
“Awww… poor baby” said Uta, feigning concern, “Do you think we should skip school?”
Teto’s eyes lit up for a moment “Really? Can we?”
The look of concern left Uta’s face. “In your dreams. We have a biology test today and you’re not getting out of it that easily.”
Looking crestfallen, Teto was half led, half dragged to the front door.
“You two have a good day!” came a voice from the kitchen.
“Yeah, I know Mom” said Teto, still apprehensive about the aforementioned biology test.
“Oh, Uta, don’t forget that you’re invited to dinner this weekend!” came Teto’s mother’s voice again.
“I won’t! Thank you Mrs. Kasane!” Uta replied at she dragged the woman’s daughter out the door.
The ringing of the morning bell always hurt Teto’s ears. But the ringing didn’t hurt her ears as much as the dread of the coming test scared her senseless. Her biology grade was shaky at best and she hadn’t studied at all.
“Uta” she whined, clinging to her friend’s sleeve, “What am I going to do?”
“Don’t come crying to me now” she replied, “I told you time and again that you needed to study for this exam but did you listen to me? No.”
Teto hung her head in defeat. She knew very well that what Uta was saying was the truth, but that didn’t make her want to accept it any more. She would have to get creative on this one. Now, Teto was no stranger to passing tests in a less than honorable manner. Uta had allowed her to copy off of her on many occasions, but something told her that this time she wouldn’t be so accommodating. It might have been the death glare from Uta that very clearly said “copy off of me and I’ll kill you right here” but she couldn’t put her finger on it.
As class began her teacher, Miss Omote, fixed the class with her usual hawk-like gaze and silence fell immediately. She was always like this on test days. Pick any other day out of the year and she was cheery, upbeat, and friendly.
Not so today, Teto lamented from her place in the back of the classroom.
“Ok class, as you know, today is your mid-term biology exam. Per usual, I will be watching very closely for any signs of academic dishonesty (she flashed a pointed look at Teto, who sank lower in her seat). Don’t be nervous, do your best, and remember that this test determines a large portion of your grade.”
Teto was sweating bullets now. What the hell had she gotten herself into? Alright, if that’s how she had to play it, then she could play it like that. She would simply have to be more cunning and devious than Miss Omote could possibly hope to keep track of.
As the test began, she glanced around her for possible marks. Her seat was located in the very back of the class near the window, which, while it made for a great location to cheat without being found out, unfortunately did not provide many targets for said cheating.
Uta sat directly in front of her, but that wasn’t really an option at this point, as Uta was guarding her paper like a watchdog. She moved her gaze to the seat to the right of Uta’s. The boy who sat here was named Isao, but everyone called him “Papaya” on account of him always having one in his lunch. He wasn’t known for being anything more than an average student, but Teto supposed that she could settle for an average grade if it meant passing overall.
Her second option was a girl named Marisa, who sat next to her. She didn’t know anything about her other than her name, but judging off of appearances, she looked like the nerdy type. With her round glasses and bookish attitude, Teto concluded that she was the safer route.
After managing to copy a few answers without being noticed, Teto, being rather experienced at the art of plagiarism, decided that it was a good idea for her to copy answers from more than one source, to throw the teacher off. She switched her focus to Isao, who was about a third of the way done with his test. Luckily for Teto, he had skipped around a lot, so he only had a few of the answers she had already written down.
This is too easy she thought to herself as she pretended to accidentally drop her pencil to get a better look at his paper. Miss Omote gave her a suspicious look but didn’t say anything.
About half an hour into the test, the smart ones in the class were almost finished with their exams. Now was where it got down to the wire. Between her two marks, she had managed to finish about two thirds of her exam, but the last part was the hardest. Essay questions were always tricky when it came to copying, because you couldn’t use the exact wording that someone else did or it would give you away.
She wasn’t too worried though, she was confident in her abilities, and there was too much at stake for her to back down now.
In front of her, Uta was finished with her test and was absentmindedly looking out the window. Still can’t see anything on hers she noted with disappointment. But that was ok. At the very least, she had enough to not fail her test now. Time to go for extra she relished the feeling.
She decided to copy her last essay answer off of Isao because he was the closest to being finished. Despite the fact that she was going to pass, she still felt a certain obligation to finish the whole thing, a sort of “cheater’s pride” if you will.
Things got intense. Isao was having a hard time deciding what to put down for his answer and Teto was becoming impatient. She began to fear that he might not even finish in time and, while that wasn’t exactly a terrible thing, it made it easier to discern that she had cheated.
Her emotions were high. She hung on every carefully chosen word that flowed from Isao’s pencil to his paper. With expert precision she read, altered, and wrote down his response on her own paper. Her heart was beating fast, fueled by the nervous feeling that she might be caught at any moment. The beats pounded in her ears like thunder. She was craning her neck to see when she experienced the strangest lightheaded sensation and suddenly…
Without warning, Isao’s pencil broke in two. But not the way one would expect. It splintered down the whole length of the shaft from eraser to tip. Even the graphite inside was separated. How the hell does that happen? Teto thought to herself. It wasn’t exactly normal for a pencil to break vertically like that. She was musing over possible solutions when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Without looking she already knew who the hand belonged to.
“Well well well Miss Kasane, what do we have here?” came the bone-chilling voice of Miss Omote.
Teto sputtered in response. “B-b-but… the pencil…”
The grip tightened.
Riko watched her daughter leave for school from the kitchen window. She smiled to herself. It was a good life they had here. Her daughter could go to school and have friends and grow up in a healthy environment.
At the same time, though, it wasn’t always easy. Being a single mother made it difficult for her to provide for Teto and herself, but they got by somehow.
Riko had a job at the local women’s college as head secretary for the Dean of Admissions. She was lucky to have such a job. The Dean was an old friend of her late husband and he had offered her the position when he heard about the tragedy. It was the reason they had decided to move there in the first place. The pay was good, not great, but it was enough.
The college was having an in-service day right now, which was why she wasn’t at work. She glanced around the kitchen and a heavy sigh escaped her lips. She supposed that it was a good idea to use this day off to get some housework done, but she didn’t feel like doing much. Grudgingly, she walked to the sink and turned on the water and began to wash the dishes that had stacked up from the previous week.
She hummed as she worked. Being a Vocaloid, this was a more substantial action than a normal person humming. With the melody, she used her powers to scour the plates, bowls, and cutlery.
Her mind began to wander. Her thoughts meandered onto a subject that had crossed her mind many times since she had become a mother. Her husband had not been a Vocaloid, but since she was, she had often wondered whether or not her child would be one as well. While she was pregnant, she had thought about what it would be like to raise a Vocaloid child. Visions of herself teaching her offspring to control their powers made her smile.
But then Teto was born and she showed no signs of having the slightest bit of vocal power. No, it seemed that Teto was a completely normal child. Still, Riko couldn’t help but wonder.
Throughout Teto’s childhood, there had been… incidents. Little things that no one could explain. A piece of furniture would get turned upside down when baby Teto was the only one in the room, a lightbulb would shatter when no one was near it, they had had to replace the smoke alarms in their house five separate times because they kept going off when nothing was wrong. Every time these little things happened, they explained it away as one of life’s little mysteries, but Riko had her suspicions.
Of course she hadn’t ever said anything. Who would believe her? But that hadn’t stopped her from wondering.
And then when Teto was six her suspicions were confirmed. It all happened in the terrible accident that destroyed their house.
The official report listed it as a gas explosion, but it was much more than that. If one looked closely enough at the reports the police had written up, one would notice discrepancies. For instance, when the gas pipes had been inspected only a month before, there had been no problems. Also, though Teto, Riko, and her husband were the only ones home, there was another body found across the street that was determined to have been killed by the same explosion.
No one could explain these things away. No more of life’s “little” mysteries.
Teto didn’t know, didn’t remember, but Riko did, and for Teto’s sake she had sworn that she would never reveal to anyone the true events of that night.
Heaving another sigh, Riko turned her mind to other things. It didn’t do anyone any good to dwell on the past, especially now that they had such a wonderful life. In any case, if Teto knew, it would only cause her unnecessary pain, and that was the last thing Riko wanted for her.
Shifting her focus back to the stacks of dishes occupying the countertops, she decided that there were more healthy things to think about. After all, murder wasn’t something that normal people had to remember.
Teto’s ears ached after the severe tongue-lashing she had received from Ms. Omote after she had been caught cheating. She was now scheduled to take the make-up test in a week. As she and Uta sat down to eat lunch, she pouted.
Uta just looked at her with an “I told you so” look on her face; and she told Teto as much.
“I hate to say I told you so… wait, no I don’t. I totally told you so” she teased.
“Yeah yeah, laugh it up” said Teto sulkily. She knew that she deserved it, but that didn’t mean she had to like it.
“Seriously though, you should look at this as a blessing” said Uta, “At least this time you can actually study for it.”
Bah, Teto hated studying. It was the bane of her existence. Every moment spent studying was a moment that wasn’t spent doing something, anything, else. She wasn’t the most academically inclined person. Couple that with her love of laziness and daydreaming, and it was no wonder that she didn’t get along with studying.
Still, she knew that it was a necessary evil, and it would be made easier by the fact that Uta would help her if she used her best puppy dog eyes and asked really nicely. Even she could tolerate studying if she had her best friend to help her.
But something besides the impending cram session was still nagging at her. The way that Isao’s pencil had broken straight down the middle just wasn’t natural. It didn’t seem possible for a pencil to do that on its own. And what was up with that crazy lightheaded feeling she had there for a second? She knew that she had been on edge about the possibility of being caught but her heart had felt like it was going to jump right out of her chest.
“Hey, I’ll be right back, I gotta use the bathroom” said Uta, standing up.
Teto watched her go as she picked at her food, feeling unsettled by the events of the day.
“What do we have here?” came a voice from behind her.
But I suppose things can always get worse she thought to herself. Spinning around in her seat she was greeted by the smirking face of Yumi Motone, her mortal enemy. She was flanked by her two cronies Suki and Sumi: identical twin sisters with mischievous personalities that followed Yumi around like pet dogs. They had a weird habit of speaking at the same time. It was actually kind of creepy.
Few girls could boast of being as much of an absolute terror as Yumi. She was known all around as the scariest and meanest person in school. Teto thought she was absolutely evil. Being a non-confrontational person, Teto was easily intimidated by people with stronger personalities than her. It was why she dreaded meeting new people: she was so easy going that you could pretty much get her to do anything.
Unfortunately, this also meant that it was very easy for Yumi to get inside her head.
“Looks like poor little Teto got caught cheating, how unfortunate!” she said, her voice positively dripping with sarcasm. Suki and Sumi laughed behind her.
Great. It looked like word of that morning’s events had traveled quickly. Of course it would, though. People were always quick to jump on any bit of juicy gossip they could get their hands on. Teto just happened to be the unfortunate victim this time.
Taking a step closer, Yumi continued. “Don’t worry, I understand. You can’t expect someone so stupid to pass a test on her own merits. It’s only natural that you would have to cheat.”
That hurt. Teto wasn’t exactly the type to brush off an insult and instantly come back with a witty comment. She might not have been the sharpest tool in the shed, but she wasn’t stupid. What she was, however, was timid, and so Yumi’s verbal onslaught was allowed to continue.
“Don’t feel bad, though. There’re plenty of other people who cheat. I mean, none of them are quite as bad at it as you are, but just know that you aren’t alone.
Teto sank lower in her seat. People around them were beginning to realize what was going on and the idle chatter slowly died down as everyone turned their attention towards her humiliation. Sensing this, Yumi moved in for the kill.
Leaning across the table, she continued her assault. “What you really have to consider is what this means for you later in life. If you’re this much of a failure now, it can only get worse from here on out.”
Teto couldn’t remember ever being more embarrassed then she was right now. She wanted to just crawl inside of a hole and disappear. Her heart was beating fast as her face turned ever more red. Very fast, actually. Was it really normal for someone’s heart to beat this fast?
Teto noticed something strange beginning to happen. As her pulse thundered in her ears, she glanced up into Yumi’s smirking face and saw her hair start to move. It was barely anything. It could have been a stray gust of air. Then, without warning the movement intensified. Yumi’s hair was suddenly jerked back violently by some unseen force.
Yumi let out a scream and turned on her two cronies.
“Suki! Why did you do that!?!?” she yelled, clearly angry.
Perplexed, Suki had a puzzled look on her face. “What do you mean?” she asked, “I didn’t do anything!”
“Don’t play dumb!” yelled Yumi, “You just pulled my hair!” She turned to Sumi. “You saw it, right? She pulled my hair just now!”
Sumi sputtered, clearly thinking that Yumi had gone crazy. “I… she…”
Before Sumi could continue however, Teto heard a welcome voice from behind her.
“Hey! What do you creeps think you’re doing?”
“Uta!” said Teto, relieved that her savior had come.
Uta advanced on Yumi like an animal on the attack. Walking straight up to her she jammed a finger into her chest and looked her straight in the eye. With venom in her words she spoke.
“Anyone who has a problem with Teto has a problem with me” she said, “I don’t want to see you bothering her ever again, you got it?” Yumi was about to argue but the look in Uta’s eyes shut her up.
“W-whatever. It’s not like we’d ever waste time on losers like you anyways.” She said, “Come on, let’s get out of here guys.”
Sumi and Suki followed her as she left, still giving each other confused looks as to what had just happened.
Looking around, Uta noticed that everyone was still watching.
“Well? What are you all looking at?” she said, addressing the mob around them, “Show’s over, nothing to see here!”
The crowd dispersed as Uta made it clear that she wanted them gone. Turning around, she rushed over to Teto, who was still trying to decipher exactly what had just happened.
“Teto, I swear you have got to learn to stand up for yourself” said Uta.
“Yeah, I know, but did you see…” began Teto.
“If you don’t grow a pair, so to speak, people are just going to keep walking all over you” Uta continued.
“But the hair…” Teto tried to interject once more.
“Come on” Uta said, oblivious to Teto’s concerns, “It’s almost time to go back to class.”
And so as Teto followed Uta out of the cafeteria, her confusion had not lessened at all. What on earth was going on today? Could there be something wrong with her?
For the rest of the day, Teto found it impossible to concentrate on her schoolwork. Her mind was simply too crowded with unanswered questions and curiosity. As she stared out the window at the back of the class, she let her thoughts wander. They did not return until later that day.
After Teto got home from school, she said a hello in passing to her mother and rushed straight to her room. Around the end of the school day, an idea had struck her. It wasn’t like she hadn’t considered it before. Being the daughter of a Vocaloid, how could she not?
She was considering, of course, that she might be a Vocaloid herself. She was skeptical, obviously. She hadn’t shown any signs of being one before, why should today be any different? Still, she couldn’t help but wonder. She had to see for sure.
But it wasn’t like she had any idea what she was doing. She didn’t even know where to start. She sat down on her bed and looked around her room.
“If I was a Vocaloid, what would I do?” she said to herself. Of course it was a useless question to ask, considering that she didn’t know anything about being a Vocaloid in the first place.
She spotted one of her stuffed animals sitting on a pile of clothes on the other side of the room. An idea occurred to her: A real Vocaloid could move that Teddy Bear no problem… That’s right… a Vocaloid would easily be able to use their powers to move an object, it was a basic skill. She’d seen her mother do it plenty of times.
Concentrating hard, Teto looked directly at the bear and imagined it toppling off of the pile. She could see it in her mind. It was so easy to just visualize it. However, no matter how hard she tried, no matter how much effort she put into her vision, the only thing she managed was a headache.
Teto sighed, maybe she wasn’t a Vocaloid after all. Then she recalled a conversation that she had once had with her mother when she was very young. She had asked her what it was like being able to use her powers.
“Well Teto” said her mother, thinking for a moment, “It’s like hearing a song in your head. Imagine that you can hear the most beautiful music you’ve ever heard and that the music can… make things happen around you...”
Teto just looked at her confusedly. Riko let out a sigh. How could she explain to someone who wasn’t a Vocaloid what it was like to be one?
“Maybe it would be better if I showed you” said Riko.
With that, she started humming a simple tune. She raised her hand towards an apple sitting in a bowl on the kitchen table. Slowly the piece of fruit rose into the air. Riko started to sing.
Her voice had a graceful lilt to it.
Flying to you love…
The apple began floating through the air towards them.
I hope that… You see dear…
The apple hovered above Teto.
That my love is true.
The apple dropped into Teto’s hand. Her eyes were as big as dinner plates as she sat amazed by her mother’s abilities.
“It’s something you feel. Not something you do” said Riko softly, ending her song.
Back in the present, Teto realized what she was missing. It had to be the music! Vocaloids were all about the music! Teto was excited. She just knew that she had it this time. She could imagine the look on her mother’s face when she came down and started moving things around. Her heart started beating faster in anticipation.
She once more focused all her intention on the stuffed bear. In her head, she imagined the most powerful rock-ballad she could think of and thought as hard as she could about moving that bear. She willed it to be so with every fiber of her being. She screwed her eyes shut, her face turned red, and her pulse pounded in her ears. The excitement in the air was palpable.
Teto heard a sound and looked up. For a fleeting second, she believed that she had done it, but when she looked, the bear remained unmoved.
A second knock came on Teto’s door and her mother’s voice sounded directly after.
“Teto, honey, are you OK? You’ve been in there since you got home from school.”
“Yeah mom, I was just… taking a nap” Teto replied, disappointed that her efforts had failed.
“Ok, just checking sweetie” came Riko’s voice again (Teto rolled her eyes) “It’s almost time for dinner so come downstairs.”
Depressed over her failure to manifest some sort of powers, Teto got up and walked to her door. She shot one last glance at the Teddy Bear, which was still perched atop the pile of clothing, mocking her. She stuck her tongue out at it and walked downstairs.
But as she left her room, she failed to notice a long spidery crack in the wall behind the bear, hidden from view by the pile of clothes; a crack which had not been present until just a few moments before…