Chapter 2:

Our Second Meeting (cont.)

Why I Write

That day.Bookmark here

A phrase novelists throw around to build suspense… but really, the more I thought about the situation I found myself in the past participle, the more I felt no phrase described it better than ‘that day’. Not that I think it’s a bad saying.Bookmark here

Tropes and clichés become tropes and clichés for a reason. They’re simple and effective—and for people who consume enough of a subgenre, they can be easily understood without requiring much exposition. Like a tsundere, or a kuudere, or a yandere—Bookmark here

Or a genki girl.Bookmark here

So to summarise the chain of events I found myself partaking in, we had ‘that day’ and a genki girl colliding at full speed. They were both unstoppable forces—there was no immovable object to be found.Bookmark here

“I see Mari,” I said to Yukimura.Bookmark here

“No.”Bookmark here

“But that wasn’t even a question?”Bookmark here

“No,” she said, flipping through the pages of her very, very suspicious book.Bookmark here

I alternated my gaze between the brown-haired schoolgirl and the raven-haired sociopath in front of me. Probably a misnomer, since sociopaths are said to be socially adept—but I couldn’t think of a better description for the way she intently read a book about classically conditioning people to maintain a social circle.Bookmark here

On the other hand, the schoolgirl went straight for the fiction bookshelves, pulled out a book with cover art that would make you question her sexuality, then quite literally pranced her way to a sofa chair to lounge as she read. Her hair bounced and bobbed as she did, and then two questions bounced and bobbed into my mind as well.Bookmark here

Firstly, why a light novel?Bookmark here

I asked the second question.Bookmark here

“You don’t like Mari very much, eh?”Bookmark here

You-kun, I find the fact that you’re on a first name basis with her quite disturbing. I worry for her safety.”Bookmark here

“...You don’t like Tsujimoto very much, eh?”Bookmark here

“I don’t not like Tsujimoto-san. I just don’t want to be seen with you.”Bookmark here

Her use of a double-negative threw me off.Bookmark here

And her statement had a glaring contradiction in it, since she was voluntarily sitting with me—so perhaps the lie was the part about Mari.Bookmark here

Which would have been very sad if it were the truth.Bookmark here

“You’re both in the Literature Club,” I said.Bookmark here

“Thank you. Next, you’re going to tell me that books are made of paper.”Bookmark here

“......Not words?”Bookmark here

“You aren’t funny, You-kun. Is this your pathetic attempt at reminding everyone about your subpar wit, Idiot-kun?”Bookmark here

“Let’s not have that nickname catch on.”Bookmark here

So maybe the part about her using ‘not like’ instead of ‘dislike’ had no greater meaning. Just a habit of speech.Bookmark here

Still.Bookmark here

Weird.Bookmark here

Thus I probed. “In the Literature Club, what do you guys actually do? I’ve never actually had a friend in one until Tsujimoto joined this year.”Bookmark here

The only thing her response acknowledged was the fact that I spoke.Bookmark here

“I feel disgusted by your lack of social etiquette. Do people like noisy environments when they’re reading? What do you think, Idiot-kun?”Bookmark here

“You really hate the subject of her that much?”Bookmark here

Yukimura closed her book, then let out a sigh.Bookmark here

“Well, if you don’t mind my saying of things that might be slightly derogatory to this particular member of the human species, then sure, I’ll talk about Tsujimoto-san.”Bookmark here

“So I’m not a human, huh. And nice use of gerund there.”Bookmark here

“How do I put this nicely… I’m not very good with children.”Bookmark here

Oh, so that was her angle.Bookmark here

“I totally get it.”Bookmark here

“At the risk of making a blanket statement, kids are annoying. If there existed a reality show where kids were forced into giant beach balls and made to cry whilst they rolled around helplessly, I would watch it with great pleasure. I rewatch the clip of the younglings in Episode III daily. I dislike you. Naturally, this means I’m not good with dogs either, and therefore, the thought of Tsujimoto Mari does not spark joy.”Bookmark here

Oh, so that wasn’t her angle.Bookmark here

“You were a kid once—wait. Did you just compare Tsujimoto to a dog?”Bookmark here

It was an unfair comparison, since the Mari I knew was the furthest thing from a bitch.Bookmark here

“Yes, a dog. The innocence, constant worrying about me, the loyalty—and all because I returned her dropped handkerchief. Doglike, if I had to say, since childlike is an insult. Or ducklike. Like a very cute duckling who imprints on a cat.”Bookmark here

“Oh.”Bookmark here

For a self-proclaimed hater of children, Yukimura was rather childlike in her thought process.Bookmark here

A wave of relief washed over me.Bookmark here

I said, “Well, if that’s the case, I’m going to call Tsujimoto over.”Bookmark here

“No.”Bookmark here

A wave of sadness washed over me.Bookmark here

“Oh.”Bookmark here

So she wasn’t lying about the other part of her statement.Bookmark here

“If you didn’t want to be seen with me, why didn’t you just leave?”Bookmark here

“I don’t appreciate your use of past tense, You-kun. I do not want to be seen with you. I simply want to finish my book in a single sitting. However, since you’re clearly obsessed with diverting my attention from said book, I will now be taking my leave. Adieu!Bookmark here

“Bolded and underlined and italicised?!”Bookmark here

Swiftly packing her bag, Yukimura slung it over her shoulder and left me alone.Bookmark here

That’s probably how a normal person would have gone about it.Bookmark here

But as you can tell from her insistence on using ‘Omae-kun’ and ‘Baka-kun’, Yukimura didn’t burden herself with societal constructs… and also schoolbags. She didn’t have a schoolbag.Bookmark here

Instead, her copy of How to Classically Condition your Friends and Other Social Tricks disappeared into the confines of her school cardigan, just like a bad magic trick, and with an obvious bulge in her stomach she sauntered away from our table.Bookmark here

She stopped just a few paces away.Bookmark here

You-kun, I have club tomorrow, but I’m free on Wednesday. Text me your address so we won’t be seen in public.”Bookmark here

“Huh?”Bookmark here

I was dumbfounded.Bookmark here

After all, she still didn’t explain what people do in a Literature Club.Bookmark here

Once Yukimura had left the premises of the library, Mari—who had masked her observation of the Ice Queen expertly up to this point—walked over to the table I now sat at alone. Bouncing and bobbing.Bookmark here

Her hair, of course.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.