The Not So Anonymous Wallflower
I don’t mind
Letting it down easy but just give it time
If it don’t hurt now just wait, just wait a while
You’re not the big fish in the pond no more
You are what they're feeding on
Ain’t It Fun - Paramore
The art of being completely anonymous was not totally lost on me. In fact, I believed that over the years I had perfected to the stage where it was practically flawless.
I was not the kind of girl that clamoured for constant attention, however at the same time I was also not the type that stayed in hidden in the shadows. I was that run of the mill average girl that everyone seemed to know but at the same time didn’t really.
However, the school I went to had millions of non-average girls, you know the kind that fangirl over practically everything and blushed red like a tomato faster than you can say flirt. That kind.
Scoffing, I watched as students flooded out of the Pink Building, otherwise known as Ouran Academy, desperate to catch the last of the sun after a long school day.
Ouran Academy, where those with excellent social standing and filthy rich money attended High school. It was, to say the least, incredibly prestigious and you were considered incredibly lucky if you were able to attend through a scholarship.
Which I did.
The branch I was sitting on creaked as I shifted my weight, stretching. The tree I was currently perched on held a great view over the vast grounds of the school I attended. Girls in puffball yellow dresses whispered with their friends and flirted shamelessly with other guys, who only had to flash their pearly whites to send said girls reeling or swooning.
I sighed glancing up at the rich blue sky, my thoughts wondering away from my classmates.
He would’ve loved days like this…
It had been a year, a year since things changed. They say that with time, things become easier, when in fact the opposite is true. Time heals the wound that is honest enough, but the wound becomes a scar and that scar stays with you forever. Easy to ignore but impossible to forget.
I shook my head, tapping my restless fingers against the worn satchel that served as my school bag.
Positive thoughts, positive thoughts, positive, positive…
I squealed, falling back off the branch. I grabbed the rough bark in order to stop my fall, instead hanging upside down, my short auburn hair swinging in my face. Crossing my arms I scowled at my friend who was giggling at my predicament.
“Are you trying to kill me?” I groaned, swinging my arms about helplessly.
“Sorry,” She giggled as I swung myself up right.
Grabbing my satchel, I dropped from the tree, landing on my feet with a stumble. Mei smirked at me as I began to brush pieces of twig and leaves out of my hair.
“Are you ready to go?” She asked with a smirk.
“I was, until some nutter tried to kill me,” I replied darkly, throwing my satchel over one shoulder.
“Drama queen!” She sang, while I scowled.
Mei rolled her eyes, she was used to my scowling, before pulling me away from the tree and away from the school. As she dragged me away I studied my only friend. We had gone to elementary school together until my father’s job had taken me halfway across the country. And although we had only spent a brief time as friends, we forged a bond that had survived across whole continents and endless oceans.
“So what did Mrs Hanabusa say?” I asked as we wandered through the golden gates of Ouran.
Whatever colour Mei had vanished at the mention of our formidable teacher, she stopped dragging me and began to mumble.
“Sorry, what was that?” I asked cupping a hand to my ear.
She scowled, setting a cold glare on me.
“She told me I had the artistic talent of a blind dog with no limbs,”
I snickered, covering my mouth with my hand. Mei just scowled, probably planning many ways of torturing Hanabusa, before turning and flouncing away. I ran after her still trying to supress the laughter that was escaping me.
“It really wasn’t that bad,” I said between laughter.
“Yeah, yeah, I know I can’t draw, but the class is mandatory. Anyway its fine for you since Hanabusa worships the ground you walk on,”
I wiped away my tears with a shrug.
“What can I say? I’m a genius,” I placed my clutched hands close to my cheek and fluttered my eyelashes as if I was princess.
Mei rolled her eyes with a small smile as we settled into a companionable silence. Our shoes hit the gravel in sync, my sneakers squeaking. Mei tugged at the collar of her hideous yellow dress with a sigh and I turned to face her.
“I don’t understand why you wear that puffball of a dress, you don't look very comfortable,"
Mei fiddled with the hem of her yellow puff ball with a small smile.
"I kind of like it. Maybe it needs a few adjustments, and maybe I'm not as comfortable as you but I think it's pretty,"
I cast a look at her cream puff and then at my baggy jumper, loose Ouran tie and navy skirt, with a raised eyebrow. Never had I been so glad to hear that I couldn’t afford something than when the chairman had told me the prices of the uniforms. At least I had a legitimate reason to get out of wearing the yellow monstrosity.
“Anyways, I was wondering -”
“No,” I cut her off quickly.
“But…you didn’t even know what I was going to ask?” She wailed, crossing her arms over her chest.
“I refuse to get involved in any kind of hare-brained scheme of yours, and quite frankly I have better things to do like the mountain of homework that’s awaiting me,” I gestured to my over flowing satchel.
Mei sighed, blowing her brown fringe out of her eyes with an exasperated look.
“Can you just hear me out,” She pouted.
I set my lips in a thin line, averting my gaze from hers. Mei knew how to push my buttons in order to get what she wanted and by getting what she wanted I really mean convincing me to help in one of her idiotic schemes and then inevitably, spending time in detention with her. And I was usually a master of not giving in. As long as I didn’t look into her eyes.
Stay strong, don’t give in to that look, don’t give in, don’t give in, don’t...
“What is it?” I asked with a sigh.
She lit up, her grey eyes sparkling.
“You know that club run by Tamaki Suoh?”
My brow furrowed in thought. What club did Tamaki Suoh run? Hold up, who the hell was Tamaki Suoh?
“You know the Host Club? That club with all the guys that the girls swoon over that the blonde boy in our class is head of,” Mei tried to jog my memory and I tapped my chin.
Host club? What kind of club is a Host Club?
"There's a lot of blonde boys in our class, you're going to have to elaborate some more,"
She sighed, as if questioning my intelligence. I just rolled my eyes, sorry for not having the same IQ level as Einstein.
"It's really not that hard -” I shot her a glare cutting through whatever she was going to say.
"He's the idiot, with the violet eyes, who flirts with anything with a skirt," Mei threw her hands up exasperatedly at my blank look, "He hangs out with the really creepy guy with the glasses who knows everything,"
An image of our homeroom teacher calling on the creepy dude flashed through my head, and I'm sure I distinctly remembered some other blonde dude glomping him and some other girls fainting before I was distracted by the chocolate bar I found at the bottom of my bag.
So I'm guessing the Host Club was that thing that the girls in my class couldn't stop squealing over.
“I think I know what you're on about, what does it have to do with anything?”
“Well, my dad is taking me to a really important business meeting tomorrow after school, but the Ootori guy asked me to deliver some of our new plants from the gardening club, and I’m not going to make it so I was wondering…if you would go instead?”
Mei watched me closely while I thought over what to do. I could easily drop off the package on my way to the art classrooms after school tomorrow, it wasn't like I had anything better to do.
“Fine, but you owe me,”
She grinned, her eyes sparkling.
“Two scoops of White Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream?”
“Make it three, and we have a deal,” I bartered with a grin. Mei laughed, nudging me in the side as we continued on our path.
There used to be a time when things were different. When I was different. But things changed and certain things came to light which could not be ignored. I had to mature faster than any of my classmates, and there were still certain things about me that no one else, not even Mei, knew. Everyone has secrets, even that run of the mill average girl you don’t really know.
Suddenly, a pair of hands clamped down on my shoulders, pulling me out of my thoughts and causing me to shriek like a banshee and Mei to stumble in fright.
“Ah so this is where you have been hiding, young maiden,”
My eye twitched in annoyance and I scowled.
What a mood killer, I couldn’t help but think sourly.
“Benio-san, shouldn’t you be with your Club?” I asked through gritted teeth.
She laughed, turning to face me with a sensual smile that made me want to shudder.
“My dear maiden, I came to bask myself in your presence. Every moment away from you is like a tear in my heart.” She grabbed my hand kneeling down in front of me.
“Every breath and I feel as if I am dying, another sigh and my life would be gone from me.”
I tried tugging my hand away, but she kept an ironclad grasp on it still ranting about love and death and the mistreatment of maidens. I shot Mei a panicked look but she averted her gaze with a mischievous smirk. I swore as soon as this crazy let go of my hand I would kill Mei before Mrs Hanabusa even got her hands on her. Scowling deeply, I began to think of all the torturous ways I could kill my best friend.
“See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand! O, that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek!” Benio spun me into her arms, dipping me low towards the ground.
Shakespeare, how original…
“You are wasting your talents here, hiding away your beauty. Please, dear maiden, join me?” She released me but kept a firm grip on my hand which she kissed.
I snatched my hand away with an annoyed sigh and a barely repressed shudder.
“My answer is still the same, Benio-san. I have no interest in transferring back to Lobelia.” I crossed my arms over my chest with a frown.
“Bbbut?” Benio stuttered her eyes wide as if I had just told her that her cat had died, “Why?”
“I’m happy here, I have friends and I have a life. You just can’t expect me to give that all up for a club,” I replied honestly, shrugging.
“But dear maiden, I still do not understand why you have chosen this school over Lobelia. The boys here have overbearing egos and are as dull as they can possibly come, and the maidens are as equally as bad, with their whispering gossiping ways. I can protect you from their harsh words more than any idiotic boy can promise to,”
“You still don’t get it, do you?” Benio pulled a confused face and I sighed, “It's not about the boys, heck it's not even about how well you can or cannot protect me. The simple fact is that there are going to be whispering, gossiping girls everywhere I go. There’s no point in hiding or being protected.”
“Now, I think it’s time for you scat. We have homework to be doing and you’re being a pain,” Mei butted in with a sweet grin.
Benio scowled before striking a heroic pose.
“This is not over. I shall not give up!” and with those final words, she spun away in a flurry of complicated twists and turns.
Once she was gone, Mei released her laughter. Her face turned bright red and tears were streaming down her face.
“Oh jeez, that was...gosh,”
I groaned, hiding my red face in my hands.
“Please don’t laugh,”
“No wonder you hated Lobelia so badly. See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand! O, that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek!”
“Mei you’re not helping.” I hissed, kicking at the gravel with my sneakers.
She snorted, wiping away her tears, before standing next to me her arm draped over my shoulder. I glared at her, but she just grinned in response.
“I hate you,”
“I love you too, mon ami,” Mei grinned ruffling my hair playfully.
I sometimes wondered what life would be like without Mei to lean on. She had been my friend for longer than I could care to admit, she knew that I hid things from her, she knew there was a bigger picture that she couldn’t see, but still she stayed by my side. Without her…well I didn’t like to dwell on what ifs.
“I better go, Kaori’s probably wondering where I am,”
“Are you kidding? She’s probably called in the private police by now. Any second now there’ll be a helicopter overhead or maybe another lost child announcement.”
Mei sweat dropped, while I just grinned maniacally, thinking back to the last time Mei got “lost”. Kaori freaked out so much by the time Mei had returned from staying over at my flat, half the country was searching for the little lost girl Mei. The head of her father’s security was a great agent but more than a bit scatter-brained.
“I’ll see you later.” She waved at me over her shoulder before disappearing into the crowds.
“I’ll keep an eye on the skies and an ear out for any mysterious announcements.”
“Hilarious.” She shouted over her shoulder.
“Catch you on the flipside.” I grinned.
I paused, watching as the bustling crowds devoured her slim figure. Closing my eyes, I breathed in deeply, savouring the smell of spices on the wind.
The sakura blossoms lit up the square which I walked through every day. The branches swayed in the breeze, which playfully greeted the spring air, while the sun cast a warm glow on my face. The fountain in the middle of the square splashed quietly, the sun’s rays lighting the water like sparkling diamonds. The winter was behind us, and I was looking forward to the summer.
Opening my eyes, I slipped in my earphones, muffling the sound of the crowds around me. My mind wandered back to what Benio had said about Ouran’s students.
It was true what I had said, girls who whispered and gossiped behind others backs were everywhere, and there was no escaping them. But the ones at Ouran where the worst kind.
They tended to come from traditionally wealthy families that upheld traditional values. They had certain views on how wealthy families should act and behave, with certain rules on how to be the perfect family.
I wasn’t deemed worthy to their families, I was something my family should be ashamed of. Another relative hidden in the shadows, out of view, so as not to ruin their perfect image.
And it was all my fault.
Someone like me shouldn’t belong in their world. A girl who couldn’t walk outside her own front door without being whispered about.
I crossed my arms over my torso as if to protect myself from the whispers.
The eldest son was considered the heir to any and all family companies. He was the foundation on which the family was built on. If on the rare occasion that no male heir was conceived, it is their belief that the eldest daughter should be married to a suitable blue blood of the parent’s choice.
There should be no exceptions.
But there was no longer a Tanaka male heir. And I’d be damned if I let anyone marry me off some stuck up rich prick.
I paused beside the fountain, pulling out an old crumpled photo from my pocket. Five smiling faces looked up at me as I smoothed out the ancient paper.
I miss you more than I could possibly say.
Folding the picture back into my pocket, I glanced up at the darkening clouds.
Don’t spend life fearing the storm, Nali. Have the courage to dance in the rain.