I winced when a paper fell on my desk. I looked around and Marumi, who was sitting beside me, pointed the paper and herself. I nodded and opened the piece of paper. There, she asked me what happened. So I wrote down that I'd tell her at lunch break. I threw the paper back at her and bit the tip of my pen as I looked outside the window again. I let out a sigh.
Jin and Naoki's expressions wouldn't leave my mind. I wonder what that was all about.
"Alright, class dismissed."
The bell rang and the desks clattered as the students stood up and bowed. In a split second, Marumi was already infront of me.
"Alright, now tell me."
I blinked. "Okay, okay," I said, laughing. Naoki did tell me not to go anywhere until he comes to get me. "So, uhh...what do you want to know?" When she shot me a glare, sweat beaded down my forehead as I let out a nervous laugh, "U-Uhmm... where do I start." She grabbed a chair and sat across me.
I told her about what happened. I didn't include the part that I was being bullied. I just told her that I had to look for a new place to stay and when I was on my way to school, I met Aoi Jin who was escorting and old woman. His uniform was tainted with red so I approached them and stuff then Naoki—
"Naoki?! You call him by his name now? Oh, my," she interrupted, her cheeks flushing and her eyes throwing malicious accusations at me. I ignored that and continued.
Naoki then called my name, told me he was worried because he snuck into our classroom, found that I was absent, called my phone but I wasn't picking up so he searched for me in the whole school until he went out and saw me.
"Oh, wow. Minoru-senpai must really like you. It's like you have a GPS on you that enables him to find you. His heart must be a GPS. Maybe that's how love works! When you're in some kind of trouble or whatever, he'd come save you!" she giggled. "So, why do you look so troubled?"
I sighed, "I just couldn't get it off of my mind."
I looked at her and leaned towards her as I whispered, "They were throwing deadly glares at each other."
"Eh?!" she pushed herself away, her hands gripping the edge of the table. "I-Is that true?"
"Wh...Why would they be doing that?"
I shrugged, "That's what I would really like to know..."
Marumi leaned her elbow on the table and put her chin on the heel of her palm, "Why don't you ask Minoru-senpai then?"
I looked at her and blinked. "Y-yeah, I could do that."
Marumi smiled, satisfied. Not long after, Naoki came. Marumi said she'd be eating with her friends and then went out of the room. She tapped Minoru-senpai on the shoulder and told him to take care of me before doing so.
"Marumi's a really great friend to you, Akane," he said, smiling from ear to ear. He had in his hand his bento which was wrapped with a blue cloth. Mine was wrapped with a peach cloth with flower prints on them. "Shall we eat at the usual place?"
I looked up at him and beamed, "Of course!"
Clenching my chest, I looked up at him again, "Na-Naoki!"
"Hm?" our eyes met and he smiled. "What is it?"
My heart thumped I nearly froze. I looked away, my cheeks burning, "Nothing..."
Why can't I bring myself to ask him? I mean, is it even something I should be asking him, though?
Our lunch break was just like the usual. We sat under the cherry tree, talked about school and studies and when the bell rang, he'd dropped me off outside the classroom.
"By the way, Akane."
"I-I have a meeting later for the school fest with the other class representatives." He clamped his hands together, as if he was praying and bent slightly, "I'm really sorry but could you please wait for me here?"
I blinked, "Ye-Yeah. It's okay, Naoki." He raised his head and I smiled, "I'll wait for you. Don't worry."
His eyes grew wider and I caught a glance on his red ear. Then he suddenly pulled me into a hug, "Thank you! Please wait for me!"
Naoki had already disappeared from my sight but my heart still wouldn't go back to its normal beating. I heaved a deep breath as I entered the classroom. As usual, I could feel them glaring at me from behind. I sighed and just proceeded to my chair.
After a number of gruelling hours of discussions and exercises, the class had finally ended. Everyone started to go home and I told Marumi I was gonna wait for Naoki and she'd bid goodbye and told me to take care.
Now nothing envelopes me but the silence of the room. The empty tables and chairs, the clean board—somehow, it doesn't feel as if everyone has already gone home. Their voices would still echo in my head and so would the voices of the professors. I stood up and opened the window. The breeze greeted me. My bangs felt ticklish. I looked up at the orange-painted sky. Birds flew by and I couldn't help but smile.
I could still hear the faint voices of those who stayed behind in school because of club activities. The track and field club were especially noisy, cheering each other on. I had no idea the school could be this peaceful at a time like this.
Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever stayed behind.
"Eh, you're still here?"
I jumped and turned around. There were five girls. Two of them had curly, waist-length brunette hair and the other two had pixie cut red hair and the other one had shoulder-length chestnut hair. Looks like the chestnut's the core of the group, tho. Wait, these girls are my classmates. What were their names again?
"Mirai-san, why did you stay behind?" the pixie cut said. Something in her voice sent chills.
"E-Eh, I was...I was finishing a homework..." Why do I feel so nervous around these girls. Now that I think about it, Marumi told me they were a troublesome group. "Wh-What about you guys?"
The chestnut shrugged as she twirled her hair around her finger, "Mami here forgot her wallet under her desk. Wait," Then she looked at me. Her hazel eyes screamed hatred, "It's none of your business. Oh! Wait, I think we're lucky right now!" She looked at the blondes, "Aren't we forgetting something, girls?"
They giggled. Slowly, they approached me. I felt as if I was being backed into a corner. What's worse, they surrounded me and I'm thinking that sitting down was a bad choice.
The pixie, who was standing next to me suddenly pulled my hair, "Your black hair is so freaking dull! Why are you dating Minoru-senpai when you are such a plain bitch?!"
"Ow! Wh-What are you doing!"
"Oh-hoh," I turned to the chestnut who was standing across me. She zipped my bag open and rummaged through my things until she walked towards the window, turned my bag upside down and spilled my things outside. My notebooks, my books, my pencil case—I saw all of them drop. It was so fast I couldn't prevent it from happening. "Dull things, too."
"Why would you do that! No! My things!" I felt my tears gathering at the corner of my eyes and fought hard to stop them from falling.
The chestnut looked at me and she raised her hand. In a split second, I felt a stinging sensation on my cheek, as if it was swollen. She had slapped me.
I grit my teeth and when I stood up, they started throwing punches and slaps at me, tugging my hair in the process. I had shut my eyes, moving my arms and hands trying to reach what I could reach. My scalp felt as if it was burning and my head hurts from the punches that landed on me. My head started to spin until I lost my balance and fell on the floor. I coughed as I asked them to stop but they just kept kicking me and stepping on me.
"Break up with senpai or you're gonna experience something worse than this!"
Satisfied, they left, laughing.
I was left with nothing but bruises, a bleeding bottom lip and swollen arms. My tears started to fall one after another as I forced myself up. My knees trembled when I grabbed onto the desk for support. I leaned on the wall and breathed in and out, trying to stop my tears. I breathed deep again and walked towards the door. My eyesight was blurry and my head was feeling very light.
As soon as I reached the door, I leaned on the doorframe, trying to catch my breath. I saw how my tears dripped on the floor. I couldn't believe it.
How could people be so cruel?
What did I do to deserve such...such cruelty?
This is bad... my consciousness is leaving me... I couldn't...
As the ground rose to meet me, I felt someone catch me. I couldn't open my eyes. I couldn't speak but I knew...
I knew from the scent who it was.
"His heart must be a GPS. Maybe that's how love works! When you're in some kind of trouble or whatever, he'd come save you!"
"What the fuck happened to you, Mirai?!"
Ahh... that voice and that language...
Why is it always you?