Another busy lunch
break had come for the students at the Arabashi School for Girls. It
was a time to not only fill their hungry stomachs, but a time for the
girls to put aside scholarly subjects and discuss topics that were of
far greater importance.
As was customary, Sayuri and her friends were eating lunch in room 3-B. From the third story one could see the entire schoolyard. And it was from that vantage point that Sayuri's closest friend, Hana, liked to stare down at the other students and see them as nothing more than insignificant little bugs.
Had Hana not hand-picked her to be her friend, Sayuri surely would never have chosen to be friends with such a girl. For Hana was as cruel and mean spirited as anyone Sayuri had ever had the misfortune of knowing. And it was only the fact that Sayuri's father was a prominent businessman that made her desirable to Hana.
Rounding out the clique were Aika and Nami. Nothing particularly stood out about the two other than the fact that they also came from money. And what Hana especially liked about them was their constant desire to please her.
Had Sayuri been blessed with more confidence, she surely would have broken free from the group. But she feared Hana would have her blacklisted and left without friends. And that would have made her just like Shizuko.
“Hey, look at Shizuko,” said Aika. “She's asleep again.”
Shizuko was well known as one of the least popular girls in school, and she had once again fallen asleep at her desk.
Shizuko kept mostly to herself, rarely ever saying more than a few words unless spoken to first. And for some reason that made Hana loathe her.
“What a lazy dog,” said Nami.
But Sayuri knew the reason behind Shizuko's constant school time naps. She had once overheard Shizuko while she was taking a call from her employer. It was then when it became known to Sayuri that Shizuko was always exhausted at school because she worked nights cleaning office buildings.
“I found out the other day that her father works at the same hospital as mine,” said Hana, who was staring coldly at the students in the schoolyard.
“Is he a doctor?” asked Nami.
Hana immediately began laughing. “Oh, you were serious?” she asked. “Of course not. He’s just the janitor. I saw him eating at a restaurant one day with Shizuko. I knew he looked familiar, then I remembered where I had seen him. I had seen him taking the garbage out of my father’s office. I bet one day his daughter will be doing the same for me. It would only make sense, seeing as she’s just a piece of trash herself.”
Sayuri would never admit it to the others, but when she was younger she and Shizuko were very close friends. But Shizuko’s father moved the family when he was offered a very high paying job. Years later, Shizuko returned and was transferred to Sayuri’s school. But she had made no attempt to rekindle the friendship. Sayuri knew it was because of the company she now kept. Anyone familiar with Hana would have to assume that anyone associated with her was just as cruel and just as vindictive.
“I hate that girl,” said Hana, now burning a hole through Shizuko with her stare. “Just knowing that she exists offends me. The world would be a better place if people like her just disappeared. Wouldn’t you agree, Sayuri-chan?”
It wasn’t immediate but Sayuri eventually answered the question. “Uh, yes,” she replied, her voice little more than a whisper. Like anyone who knew Hana like she did, Sayuri couldn't help but live in constant fear of her best friend.