Ayane smiled as she made her way to her desk. Today was the start of her 10th grade year, which she was looking forward to. Huh, I guess someone’s already sitting there, she thought, noticing the seat to her left. A bag was already placed on the seat.
Her thoughts were interrupted by some nearby murmurs. “Oh, is that Mamiya?” She heard a boy whisper to his friends.
“Yeah! Wow, I wonder who gets to sit next to her this year!”
So it’s going to be like this again…She thought, remembering her middle school years. Well, I guess I can’t do anything about it…
She put her elbow on the desk and cupped her cheek in her palm. She looked out the window,
which had been fully opened, and observed the blue spring sky. The breeze was flowing into the classroom gently, tugging on her long auburn brown hair.
“Ayane!” She heard. She glanced in the other direction to find a short girl waving her hand at her from the doorway. She had dark hair and neatly cut bangs—instantly recognizable to Ayane.
“Mei!” The two had met each other over the summer during cram school. Although they never hung out outside of those classes, they had become friends very quickly.
“We’re in the same class!” Mei said, excitedly, as she walked towards her friend.
“And what’s better,” She pointed to the desk where the bag was. “We sit next to each other!”
“Wow, how lucky!” Ayane said, as Mei took her seat.
“I got here early today.” Mei told her. “I’m so glad Nishiyama-Sensei let me open the window. It’s so nice! I think I’ll really like this seat.”
Mei looked up curiously and noticed the group of boys staring at Ayane in complete admiration. They whispered to each other with grins on their faces.
“Wow! I didn’t know you were so popular.” Mei commented with acknowledgement. She rested her chin in her hands and smiled at her. She then turned towards the boys again, and laughed at their behavior.
“Well…” Ayane began, but she didn’t really know what to tell her.
“It must be nice, huh?” Mei said.
A woman entered the classroom, almost unnoticed by the students hanging about, chatting with each other. Her neat haircut and her nice clothes gave her a youthful look about her. “Good morning everybody!” She said loudly, seeming to try and get the students’ attention rather than greeting them. Students began to find their seats and sit down, ending their last words of conversation. When all was relatively silent, the teacher gave a small smile.
“Welcome to your first day of school.”
The hours passed by quickly, and lunch had begun.
“Are you going to buy something, Ayane?” Mei asked, as she stood up and stretched.
“Hm? Oh, I always pack my lunch. Where are you going?”
“I was just going to buy myself some bread.”
“Oh, alright. I’ll wait for you here.” She scanned the classroom, empty, as no one
seemed to want to eat there.
Before Mei even took two steps, a tall boy approached Ayane. “Hey, Mamiya …” He began, an affectionate grin on his face. “Are these seats taken?” Another one of his friends seemed to notice the small talk going on, and quickly rushed next to him.
“Are you going to eat together?” The boy asked with urgency.
Then another boy seemed to overhear the conversation, and made his way over as well. “Mamiya!”
Mei watched, fascinated that Ayane had so many admirers.
“No.” She heard her friend say plainly, much to her surprise. What..?!
“But Mamiya …”
“I already said no. What makes you think I’ll change my mind?”
Mei watched, awkwardly in the middle of the conversation. How can she…
“You guys really should think before you act.” Ayane added. “Otherwise you’ll continually end up in rejection.” She sounded as if she was genuinely giving advice, rather than trying to push them away.
The boys sulked and walked away. Mei could hear them murmur amongst themselves. “So cruel, as always…” One of them said.
“Cruel?” Mei asked aloud.
“Did they say that?” Ayane questioned. “It’s not cruel to give people a sense of reality.”
She laughed, unswayed by her immediate response to their pursuits.
Mei couldn’t help but give a small smile. “Do you tell them this all the time, Ayane?”
“Yeah, but it seems like they never listen.” It’s a little bit ridiculous… Ayane sighed, shrugging it off. “Anyway, I changed my mind, I’ll come with you to buy some bread.”
The two walked past the emptying halls as students made their way outside or to the cafeteria. Mei looked back at their classroom’s windows to find that their classroom was empty—save for themselves and another boy who sat at the back of the class. Even Nishiyama-Sensei had left.
“Ayane!!” They heard a voice say. Ayane squinted and waved at a blonde girl down the hallway.
“Hi, Tomoko!” She called back.
As they continued to walk out of the building, other girls were greeting Ayane, and Ayane spoke to each one of them.
“Wow, you know so many people!” Mei said, amazed. “Is it even okay that I’m hanging out with you?”
Ayane laughed. “What are you saying? Of course it is! They’re not my best friends or anything, anyway.” She laughed again. “They all ended up in different classes this year…so I’m glad that we’re friends.” She smiled. “How about you?”
“Did all your friends end up in different classes?”
“Oh! Well, actually, I went to a different middle school than everybody else, so I don’t really know anyone.”
“Ah, I see.”
Mei stepped in the back of the line, holding on to her wallet.
“Hm, maybe I’ll go by some juice.” Ayane said. “I’ll be back in a second, kay?”
Ayane stepped out of the line and disappeared, while Mei waited patiently.
The line went by faster than she thought, and she was able to buy her bread before Ayane came back. She idled by the stand and bit into the soft piece.
“Hey, did you hear?” As Mei chewed on the bread, she overheard some loud boys’ conversation. “Kenichi is in Mr. Rich Kid’s class this year!”
“Really? Which class is that?”
“I think it’s 1-A. I saw him sitting there all alone when I met up with Kenichi.
Mei thought to herself. 1-A? That’s my class…could he be talking about…
“Haha, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with him this year!”
“Yeah, I know, he’s such a pain. So arrogant! How does he think he’s gonna make friends?”
“He probably thinks he’s too cool to make friends!”
Ayane appeared in front of Mei. “I bought the juice! Did you want some? I didn’t know if you wanted this flavor or not…”
“Oh! Thanks!” Mei threw away the bread wrapper as they walked back to their building.
“Hey, do you know someone…” Mei began, but she realized that she didn’t even know the name of the person the boys were talking about.
“Know who?” Ayane asked.
When they approached the classroom, Mei realized the boy in the back was still there, the same indifferent expression on his face as he stared at the ground. She gazed thoughtfully for a bit, until students began filing in, ready to resume classes.
“Alright, make sure to bring your textbooks tomorrow!” Nishiyama-Sensei told everybody as they walked out of the classroom. The first day of school was over.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Mei!” Ayane said, as she held onto the strap of her bag and began to walk away.
“You too! Bye!”
Mei finished up the last of her notes, and began to put everything back in her bag. Holding her bag in both of her hands she began to walk towards the door, when she noticed…
Hey, that boy’s still sitting there!
He was reading his notes, furrowing his eyebrows—maybe trying to understand the notes? He then sighed to himself, gathering his papers. Just as he was about to stand up from his desk, he looked up, surprised.
“H-hey.” Mei said. She pulled a chair out, sitting down to face him.
The boy glanced through his long dark bangs, shocked.
“What’s your name?” Mei asked him, gazing at him intently.
The boy’s expression didn’t change for a bit…then he seemed to return to his previous state of emotion. His eyebrows came together and he quickly turned his head down at the ground, not saying a word.
Mei stared, then relaxed in her seat. “You’re…not alone, are you?” She awaited a response.
“Kou…Natsuki.” He slowly said.
“Oh!” She gave a friendly smile. “Nice to meet you.”
His silvery blue eyes darted towards her, hastily, as if he had dared himself to,
but shot back down.
“A-are you okay?!” Mei asked him. He seemed so uncertain, it worried her.
He turned away indignantly.
This must be the person they were talking about…I see how they could have seen
this as ‘arrogant’…
The two sat in silence for a long while. Finally, Natsuki opened his mouth to say something.
“Are you…my friend?”
“Because you asked for my name…and you said it was nice to meet me...”
Mei couldn’t help but stare again. Was he for real? What a strange guy. He was waiting for her to say something--he really meant it!
She smiled, which grew into a chuckle. Natsuki looked up, confused at her behavior. “Yeah, we can be friends!” She told him.
He didn’t say a word.
“We can be friends…” She repeated. “...Kou.”
His eyes widened. She remained smiling.
All of a sudden, he took his things and walked out of the classroom without a word.
Ayane entered the doorway, breathing heavily from running. She made her way towards her desk, then noticed Mei sitting there.
“Mei? What are you doing here?”
“I was talking to somebody…” She thought of telling her what happened, but Ayane already interjected.
“Oh, well I just came to get something I left here! I need to return it to somebody today…”
“Hm? What is that?”
She saw Ayane pull out a bag from underneath her desk. “Good, it’s still here! Do you want to come with me?
“Who were you talking to earlier, by the way?” Ayane asked, as the two walked together.
“Oh…it was this boy in our class, he sits at the back.”
When Ayane heard this, she gave a look of realization. “Wait, was he tall?”
“And he had…dark hair?”
“Oh! I saw him as I was running to the classroom! He looked like he was in a rush.”
“I heard rumors about him today, and they said he had no friends. So I decided to try and become his friend.” Mei explained.
“What? Wow, that’s nice of you! Why doesn’t he have friends?”
“They said he was arrogant and rich or something…Did you go to school with him before?”
“Maybe he was in a different class…I’ve never seen him or heard of him.”
They arrived at a field near the school. It seemed as if a sports practice was being held. Ayane looked at the group of boys talking nearby. Then somebody called her name.
The two saw a boy waving at them, and then jogging over.
“Here’s your lacrosse stick,” She said, holding it up to him. “Sorry I couldn’t find you at school today.”
“That’s alright,” The boy said with a smile, taking the bag. “I didn’t actually show up at school today.”
“What?! Where were you?”
“I was sick for a really long time this summer, actually…” He said, rubbing his hand through the back of his short, dark brown hair.
“Then why are you at your lacrosse practice?!”
“I felt better in the middle of the day, so I decided to show up! I wouldn’t want to miss out on sports, since I already missed out on school…”
“Wow…What class are you in anyway?”
“Huh?” Mei said. “That’s our class!”
“Oh, he’s in our class?” Ayane said.
The boy made a face at her. “You didn’t hear my name or anything?!”
Ayane just laughed. “Mei, this is Takasu Chiaki. We’ve known each other since middle school. Chiaki, this is Kanou Mei.”
Chiaki waved. “Hello, Kanou!”
Ayane began to turn away. “Well, good luck on your sports practice! I’ll call you tonight to give you the notes.”
Ayane and Mei walked away from the field. “Well, it seems like I was wrong when I said none of my friends ended up in our class. I didn’t know he was there!” Ayane said.
“He seemed like a nice person.”
“Oh, he really is.” She told her.
They arrived at a crossroad. “Well, I’m going this way now!” Ayane said.
“Alright! Bye!” Mei replied.
The day had come to an end.