Chapter 5:

An old friend, part 1

52 Hertz

The month of April flew by quickly and so did the excitement among students regarding the new school year. It was now well into May, with the warm weather gradually increasing. Club activities had become just another aspect of a student's daily routine, with no unexpected twists. That is, for those who were not part of the literature club…

The literature club consisted of three people: Haruko, Itsuki and the ever-so reliable class president, Kaito. He had been re-elected quickly, with no objections from the senior class three’s students. On the first last day of the student council elections, Kaito’s name was called in the gym assembly, followed by sharp screams and squeals from his many admirers… this came as another surprise to Haruko: despite being quite the bookworm, with his bandaged glasses and boring way of speaking, Kaito was surprisingly good looking. That is, without his glasses… though the other girls did not seem to think that. They would follow him around, offering various gifts of chocolate, expensive pencils and even love letters. Today, the literature’s club trio was going to celebrate their dear president’s re-election with a small party in the library. Hidden from the teachers, of course. Itsuki had somehow snuck a whole cake into the building.

“How and where d-did you find this cake…?”

Haruko asked, looking around nervously as Itsuki walked in through the back gate with a huge box in her hands.

“Don’t worry about that detail and help me open the door. Quickly, break time is almost over.”

Haruko opened the storage shed door with Itsuki’s key and flipped the lightswitch on. WHere did Itsuki even get the key? She looked around the small room. There were various strange things in there, notably rejected art club projects. Sculptures, woodworkings, paintings and…amateur fan-fiction novels?!?

“Are these… boy’s love novels?!?”

Haruko asked, picking a dusty book from the stack. The title read: “A young dove’s dream.”

Itsuki placed the cake down and walked over quickly.

“Ah yeah, that’s Sakura’s things…”

Itsuki opened “A young dove’s dream” and tried to keep her face void of any expression. She closed the book silently and placed it back down. She coughed loudly.

“Who’s Sakura?”

Haruko asked.

“Sakura, Sakura Omori. She’s Kaito’s younger sister, in the grade below us. She’s got a real… talent for writing these um. These types of stories you know. She even won Tokyo’s youth literary award with her writing. I gotta admit her stories are kinda addicting...”

Itsuki smirked and looked at Haruko’s frozen face before falling into her tenth fit of laughter since the morning. Suddenly, she slammed her hand against her mouth as if she just remembered they were supposed to be silent and discreet.

“A-anyways, let’s get out of here before the teachers find us.”

She moved towards the entrance, the keys in hand. Haruko grabbed the book and walked over.

“Can I keep this?”

Itsuki made a funny face and looked into Haruko’s eyes, as if to say “are you sure about that?”

“Ho ho, Haruko you’re into this stuff?”

It was Haruko’s turn now to keep a straight face.

“...Because of you I am.”

Itsuki looked like she just got punched. She shook her head and quickly locked the door. The pair barely made it back on time and got a heavy scolding for running in the halls. Well, anything was better than being scolded for smuggling a cake through the back entrance.

“That reminds me, let’s invite Sakura over for the party. Ah, Kaito might snap into two though. But, you haven’t met Sakura right? How would you feel, meeting the author of the best boy’s love novel around?”

Itsuki asked, crushing her can of orange juice and throwing it into the recycling bin. Haruko and Itsuki were on their way out of the main building, after sitting through the most boring and lengthy history class of all time.

“...I wouldn’t mind it. Although… I am not the one you should be asking, hah.”

Itsuki smiled at Haruko’s simple answer.

“OK~ I’ll go get her and Kaito-kun. Also, you remember the plan right? You go take the keys and set up the library while I distract mister president. We should be there around… 3:40pm.”

It was currently 3:15 and students were heading home or going to their club rooms. Although today, the sport teams activities were cancelled because of a broken electrical wire issue in the field. The baseball club, as well as the swimming club’s practices had to be put on hold, meaning there were even less students around than usual. It shouldn’t be too difficult to get the cake out of the storage shed safely. Haruko smiled and told Itsuki she would finish setting up before 3:40 for sure.

Haruko waved over at Itsuki and ran down the stairs, towards the back of the school. She quickly inserted the keys and turned the doorknob. Locked.

Huh? How could it be locked? That means it must’ve been left unlocked… Did anyone besides us come by here?

Haruko opened the door carefully and peered inside. She walked in hesitantly and knelt down beside the cake box. Suddenly, the door slammed shut. Haruko felt her heart beat faster.

What is going on in this school… is it a coincidence that I keep getting caught in these annoying situations?

Haruko stood quickly and slammed the lightswitch on. Unlike in the library, she was ready for anything now. She turned quickly and her eyes went wide. Leaning against the wall was Shun Nishida, the boy who stood next to her. He had his eyes closed with a smug look on his face. He looked like he was enjoying himself quite a bit. He held a dart in his left hand and spun it around and around…

“... Nishida-kun? Did you close this door…?”

Shun looked over at Haruko with the same smug expression.

“Guess. Is there anybody else here?”

Haruko stared at Shun’s hand.

“... This isn’t some villain novel we’re living in. What are you even thinking of achieving by closing a door on me? Did you think I would yell? Be scared?”

“A villain novel? Geez, get your head out of the trash. You probably read cringy novels to say stuff like that out loud.”

He put his right hand into his pocket and walked closer.

“I just wanted to talk for a while. You’re not busy are you? Oooh, this is your cake? Looks good.”

Shun bent down and took a good look at the box. White frosting covered a beautiful lemon and raspberry jam cake.

“I don’t even know who you are. What is there to talk about?”

“...You know my name, for starters. Second, I sit right beside you. Or did you not notice me?”

Shun was getting a little too close for comfort. Haruko pressed herself against the wall.

“...back off and say what you want. I don’t have time to play this dumb game.”

Shun leaned in and bent down to Haruko’s level which was...very low. The height difference between the two was like a bear and a mouse. Shun quickly slammed his hand onto Haruko’s shoulder, pushing her to the wall.

“You think I play games? Nah, everything I do is genuine. If anything, you seem to be the one who’s playing a game. Isn’t that right? Ko-chan?”

Haruko felt her body freeze. “Ko-chan?” as in the name Yulan used with her? No one else knew that name except Yulan. This boy had the audacity to use that name without having ever spoken to her before?

“What the hell...are you doing…”

Haruko’s face darkened as she grabbed Shun’s arm to free herself. The tiny girl looked straight into his eyes.

“Back off now unless you want this to get messy.”

Shun’s eyes widened as he started laughing hysterically.


Haruko grit her teeth and took a swing at Shun’s face. He dodged quickly and grabbed her neck.

“Ko-chan~ Ko-chan~ you shouldn’t swing aimlessly at your old friend. Is this how you greet me after so many years?”

Haruko had both of her hands on Shun’s hand, trying to free herself once again. Suddenly, she got it. Shun Nishida, the reason she became a hikikomori. A shut-in. The reason Yulan didn’t send her back to school immediately, the reason Yulan transferred her to another school during the most crucial year.

Real Aire