Chapter 1 - A new girl in school
I turn to the side on a high tatami bed with a headboard and a light brown heated mattress. (Tatami is a mat made from rice straws.)
I am huddled in a light blue cotton blanket, pillows covering me. Next to the bed is a nightstand. On it sits a lamp in the shape of a cat, a cord hanging from its tail. In front of the lamp is placed an alarm clock. The numbers on it change, flashing and beeping aggressively.
I pull the blanket over my head and try to push the reality out of my mind. My hair is tousled, and long bangs fall into my eyes.
I raise my right arm and hit the clock. It springs and falls on the tatami floor with a hollow thud—something in it cracks. The ringing stops, however something in the object already broke.
I suddenly felt pain in my arm after smashing it and groaned. I didn't want to get up, the warm bed was too comfortable. However, my phone beeped with a notification.
The pain and sound fully woke me up. Wait a second... Don’t I have classes today? No, it’s Sunday, and I set my alarm wrong... Or is it Monday?
I reached for my phone and stared at the time for a few seconds. “Holy chocolate soy milk with grilled sausages! I’m going to be late if I don't get up now!” I shouted, standing up quickly. The realization of time hit hard.
I blew bangs out of my face with a phone in one hand and ran to my closet, which was not too far from the bed, where my school uniform hung. It consisted of a navy blue sailor fuku (a blouse with a sailor collar), a navy blue pleated skirt, and higher black knee socks. I dressed as fast as possible, grabbing my hairbrush from the closet.
Brushing my hair in front of a mirror, placed on the right closet door, a pale girl is looking back at me with her cornflower blue eyes. They have a few purple dots here and there. Her forehead is hidden under bangs and she has longer bangs in front of her ears. Her hair reaches up to the waist. This hairstyle is called the hime cut.
A thick black plain choker hangs around her neck. The girl is me. I wear it everywhere. Fortunately, my school allows for some jewelry.
“My name is Kurumi, Sakura Kurumi, and today is my first day at this high school; I am a second-year like the rest of you, and I can’t believe I overslept and almost came late!” I thought of introducing myself to the students like this; however, I threw the idea away.
I brushed my teeth and stepped into a pretty big kitchen. I quickly put some bread into my mouth and threw all the stuff I needed into my randoseru - a type of firm backpack from stitch leather material.
I swallowed the bread quickly and slung the randoseru over my shoulder. With keys in one hand and a phone in another, I locked the door and ran down. The house has four levels, and I live on the third.
I dashed from my house, switching between a fast paced walking and running, depending on the state of my breath.
After a while the train station came into my sight. My train! It’s already here! I bumped into a few passengers, who weren’t too happy about that, and who could blame them on a Monday morning.
I didn't get a place to sit, so I had to stand and try to calm my breath. I thought my lungs might explode.
Standing close to the window, stares land on me, thanks to my appearance. At times, people want to take a photo of or with me; they think I’m cosplaying.
A lot of schools rejected me because of how I look. They refused to accept a girl with white hair. ‘Either dye it or don’t return.’ The principals said.
Why do we get rejected only because of our hair color? Aren’t we all the same, regardless of skin color, hair color, eyes, height, or weight?
I was furious. Finally, I found one school, though! I got accepted! I know people are going to check me out... But I hope life is going to be better than before.
I got off the train with some other people, making a fuss to get in and out. Once I got clear of the crowd, I returned to my former pace and continued running.
I tried to be as respectful as possible, switching between a quick walk and a full-blown sprint depending on the number of people around me, though, at times, I’d still bump into people. I apologized and continued my way.
“Good morning!” I greeted the janitor, standing in front of the gates. Finally! I am here!
“Good morning,” the janitor returned my greeting, looking me up and down. He probably wondered why is a strange albino looking girl doing here.
I strolled past him and through the lockers until I found mine and traded my shoes in for a different pair. In Japanese schools it's a rule to always switch into slippers when we go into a bathroom or come to school.
After some time walking, I finally found my class and entered. The room is almost full, with a few students missing. I crashed on an empty seat and placed my randoseru on the desk, out of breath.
Behind me, three girls talked, and as soon as they saw me, they stopped. One of the girls with light brown eyes and straight dark brown hair came up to me. “Hey!”
“Huh?” I gazed at the girl.
“I haven’t seen you yet. Who are you?”
“Kurumi.” I answered.
“And your name?”
“Two same names? Cool! What brings you here?”
“No, my surname is Sakura. The second is Kurumi. I recently moved to this city because something happened at my school; it kinda ruined my reputation.”
I can’t say the principal expelled me. What would this person think?
“Reputation ruined? I’m sorry to hear that! You can sit with us at lunch. My name is Naomi.” she invited me.
“That's kind of you, thanks.”
“No problem. Welcome to Nightland High School!” Naomi strolled away.
I arranged some books from my randoseru on the desk, placing them under. The bell rung and after a few seconds the teacher entered the classroom, greeting us to the second term. We all had to bow to show respect.
“As you can see, we have a new student.” The teacher mentioned viewing me.
“Would you like to introduce yourself?”
"Yes, teacher." I walked up to the blackboard, writing my name on it with chalk, before facing the class.
“My name is Sakura Kurumi. It’s nice to meet you! I hope we can be friends.” bowing to the class, I devoted a genuine smile with everyone peering at me.
I walked through the desks of students until i found the empty one next to a window. The teacher started the lesson. Some students occasionally looked at me with interest, however, soon started paying attention in class and ignored me.
During breaks in class i talked to Naomi, and discovered her other friend is named Yua. They seemed like kind girls to me, although there was something a bit strange about Yua.
A few people came to my desk and asked me questions, such as where am I from, when did I move here, if I'm a foreigner and so on. The questions were a bit tiresome, yet i answered them all.
I couldn't wait for the lunch break, and got up once the bell rang for it. While walking, I glanced at a guy, though, didn’t pay much attention to him. I sat on the opposite side of Naomi, checking my bag for lunch, seeing I have none. How could I forget to put the lunchbox into my bag?
My stomach rumbled in hunger and yet I didn't want to bother Yua and Naomi. Of course i had some snacks i ate during the break, but nothing proper and warm now.
Naomi and her friend just finished their meal and excused themselves to the bathroom. They mostly talked to each other and didn't include me much.
I strolled back to my desk, hoping someone at least left a bit of candy until I received it, but as if already prepared for disappointment, I just sighed after finding nothing.
Raising my head, I looked at a boy sitting next to me. I felt surprised, not noticing him before. He had dark brown messy hair, long bangs, and pluralized cheek length forelock on each side of his face. His eyes were emerald green.
The first time seeing him, I thought he resembles a character from a manga or the protagonist in an anime.
That sure is unusual. I’ve never seen anyone with this eye color in real life. They are beautiful. He seems irritated and bothered by something unknown to me.
Sitting on my seat, I watched him. He glanced back at me. His head tilted and placed on the desk, along with his arms. He lowered his head and seemed to be asleep, not paying attention to me anymore.
For an unknown reason, I thought of asking him for food. I didn’t notice him until now, and he did not sit with anyone. Is he a loner? Maybe no one wants to be friends with him; if so, why? There’s something mysterious about him, and I want to know what.
“Hi!” I greeted him. He appeared surprised by me talking to him. In front of him I saw a riceball.
“Hey...?,” he responded, a bit insecure.
“Do you have food?”
“Yeah. Why?” he frowned, confused.
“I left my bento at home. I have been starving. My friends, it appears, have their bentos already eaten...”
“Naomi and Yua?” The boy asked coldly. “They’re no good. Forget about those girls.”
“Don’t ask questions. Just forget.” he brushed me off.
“Can you at least tell me why? They seem nice.”
He sent a glare in my direction. “Just because a person appears nice at first, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re your friends or that they’ll be nice later on.”
I wondered about his words. What makes him say this? Does he know these girls more personally? Were they his friends once? He says not to ask questions, though...
The boy stood up at the same time he saw Yua and Naomi enter the class. He exited pretty fast; maybe he had to go to the bathroom? Doubting the former, I watched him, my stomach rumbling with hunger and reminding me to fill it. Wait! I wanted food... Maybe they have these food machines in here or something?
While exciting the classroom, I passed Yua and Naomi.
"Oh, I was just thinking if they have snack machines here."
Naomi looked at Yua. "Yes that we have here. Just walk two floors down and you'll see it."
Walking the path, I saw the guy go around the corner. What if I do follow him? Just to see what he's up to? And why is he avoiding these two girls?
I had to be careful and keep distance, I shouldn't let my steps reveal my identity. When I was almost in halfway of following the boy, a voice stopped me.
"Are you following Nakajima?"
I turned around and saw Yua, who looked at me with disgust. Naomi wasn't with her. "Don't follow him, just let him be, or you'll regret it."
"What do you mean?" I asked in confusion.
Yua’s face darkened. "Because he’s no good. Avoid him to stay out of trouble and his mess.”
“He’s involved with two guys nobody wants to mess with. Just leave him alone, and you’ll be fine,” she said coldly. "I also heard these people steal things and harass girls, maybe even sell drugs and whatnot."
"Oh dear lord. And you think he does that too?"
"Who knows? I wouldn't even try talking to him, he's like a big loser."
"Hey, I don't think you should judge people before even talking to them."
"Trust me on this one. There's a guy and his other friend and they are in a gang. Nakajima has had some history with them and who knows, it could repeat. It's better for you to stay away. Unless you want them to bother you too."
"Eh? Bother me? Who?"
"The gang of course. And who knows what's going through Nakajima's head? He doesn't want to talk to anyone and no one wants to talk to him. Just let it be. Ignore him like everyone."
"No problem. The vending machine is the opposite way."
"Thank you." I responded in confusion and watched Yua leave. What's this about? My brain is still processing what I just heard. So many questions and no answers!