Chapter 2:

A New Normal (Ayato)

Escaping Void


It’s hard when you start living alone. Not only that you have to do cooking, cleaning and laundry by yourself – but there’s also money-related problems. The money that my father gave me could barely cover my food and other expenses, so there are days I have to go by feeling hungry. Since asking more money is out of question, I had to find another way. I finally decided to get a part-time job. Luckily, there's one position available at a convenience store nearby my neighborhood and I got it.

“Ayato-kun, can you carry those box on the floor over there?” Mr.Tokura, my manager shouted at me. I replied to him and pick up the box. This isn't the first time Mr. Tokura had asked me to do a heavy lifting job alone. It's definitely tiring and a mundane job, but what choices do I have?

“After you finish with that, can you clean those empty boxes inside the storage room too? It’s too messy in there I barely could walk. Also, make sure you sweep and mopped the floor afterwards. I want everything to be spotless clean the next time I went in there.” he added in a stoic manner. If you look at the charts, that supposed to be someone else job. This is unfair. He’s ordering me around just because I’m the new and youngest part-timer.

What an ass...

I continue to do my job in silence and patiently waited for my shift to be over. Sadly, that won’t happen for another hour.

After I finished cleaning the storage room, I return to the shelf and begin to unload new stocks. I noticed a couple of women sitting at nearby table smiling and giggling at me. I continues to organize the snacks on the rack despite of their intense staring. All of them seems to be a young professionals and from the look of it, a little drunk.

“Hey, you...” one of them call out. Since they’re customers, I can’t just ignore them. A drunk customer is rarely a good news. But, I work here so it’s probably best if I go.

With a little hesitation, I begin to walk towards them.

“Yes, maam. How can I help you?” I ask politely. The woman who's calling for me is smiling.

“I never seen you here before. Are you new?”

“Yes, maam. I just start working here about two weeks ago.” I said. She suddenly burst out with laughter.

“Oh, please. Don’t call me, ‘maam’. I’m not really that old.” She protested. She’s laughing again. I look at her without any emotions. Seriously, how long this is going to take?

“That’s right. She just turned 24 last month. Not really that old, right?” another one chimes in. I didn’t reply.

“You’re very tall. How old are you? Are you a university student?” she continue to probe. I look at her and think what a waste of time this is... Not to act like jerk or anything, but I'm already busy and not in the mood. Also, so what if I am a university student? Does she actually think that she have a shot with me? Should we be exchanging numbers now? 

“Err, no... miss. I’m not.” I said instead. She's laughing again.

“Liar. You seem... (hiccup) older to me. Oh, what’s the matter? Hehe, are you shy? Well, don’t be. We won’t bite.” Another one said. She look at her friend and laughs too. I touches my neck. Drunken people really are the worst. And I would know. My first-hand experience had been with my parents. They always ended up fighting and bickering after a long-night drinking. Even if its your parents, people can say some awful stuff when they’re drunk.

“No. I’m still a high school student.” I told them. They pause for a moment. I thought that would put an end to it, but one of the woman suddenly open her mouth and says;

“Well, high schooler or university student - why does it matter? I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.” She said, shamelessly. Her friend immediately slapped her back loudly before laughing.

“Megu-chan, that’s bad. You must be drunk. That boy is a minor.”

“Yeah, we don’t want any trouble with that now, do we?” another one chimes in. I sigh. When is this torture going to end?

“Please don’t worry about it. She’s only joking. Although, to be fair - you’re so tall and handsome for a high school boy, you know?” she said. I frown. 

Jeez, honestly... Just. Fucking. Stop.

“Nana-chan, not you too. Stop flirting with him. Sorry kid, please pay them no mind. They just  drunk and don’t mean anything by they said. You can go back to your work now.” Said another one. Finally, a sensible person at last. I am grateful that she had saved my back, although I didn't appreciate it when she just called me a ‘kid’. Anyway, after all of that harassment; I immediately return to my work. I notice that my manager is giving me a dirty look.

“What’s with the little chit-chat? How you finish putting those snacks on the rack, yet?” he asks sternly. I shakes my head.

“I’m sorry, Tokura-san. I will do it right away.” I said. He left out a heavy sigh. As I walk towards the aisle, I can hear another laughs coming from those drunk customers. I think I heard one of them shouting for another drink from Mr. Tokura. Oh, well... As long as they didn’t bother me anymore, I don’t care how much they drink. It’s none of my business anyway. 


I walk back to my apartment complex right after my shift ended. It’s a long road home, but I really like the peaceful surroundings. There’s a couple of kids playing at the nearby park and the sunset it beautiful. Come to think of it – I never seen this kind of scenery before back at home. It’s usually Ezen, karate lessons, prep school and then home. There’s no time to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.

“Please… That’s the only money I have. I don’t have any more to give you.” I heard a faint cry coming from my right. I stopped walking and turned toward the alley. I recognize three figures circling something. A person. The person is now crying while covering his head. Wait a minute… Isn’t that guy…

Asahi-san? The one who’s about to cry his eyeballs out in class earlier because he didn’t finish his homework on time?

“Stupid, wimp... How dare you talk back to me? Don’t you know who I am? Or do you need more beating to remind you?” said one of the guys while grabbing his collar. Asahi shakes his head vigorously.

“No, please… Stop. I can’t give you no more. My mother would be angry.”

“Again, with your mother… Well, what that whore can do for you now, huh?”

“Yeah, that woman only know how to suck a…”

“Shut up! Don’t you dare speak about my mother like that! She is a great person unlike any of you jerks!!” Asahi retaliate and pushes the guy away. Well, well… for a guy who seems weak and a cry baby - he does have a fighting spirit in him. The three bullies look at one another. One of them suddenly kicks Asahi on the stomach. He fell flat to the ground.

“Oh, talking back, huh? Let see how long that will last. Guys, hold him down and stripped down his pants…”

“Wait…. Hey, what are you guys doing? Please, stop it…” Asahi continues to cry. His cry was ignored. Two of them pinned Asahi to the ground and begin to undress his lower body. The one giving order only stand by and watch. I think he is their boss.

“Shut up. I’m gonna make you a whore just like your mother. Let see if you can still talk big after that.”

“Please… no.”

“Aichi-kun, are you sure you wanna do this? It doesn’t feel right to me.” One of the bullies ask. He seems a little worried. The guy who gives the order smack his own forehead and sighs.

“Idiots. You really think I’m gonna fuck this wimp? Do I look that desperate to you? I just wanna scare him, that’s all. Take his naked picture for blackmail later. Think money, guys… Money!”

“Phew...Thank God. I thought you’re really going to do it.”

“How can you guys be so stupid?” Aichi bark at them. The three of them turned their attention back to Asahi.

“So, what are you waiting for? Are you going to strip on your own or do you want us to do it for you?” Aichi shouts. His little minions are laughing. Picking on the weakling, huh? What a bunch of losers.  

“No, please… I… I will do it on my own.” Asahi finally said in tears. The two bullies released his arms. I take it back. There’s no fighting spirit in this guy at all. None. He’s just weak, a pushover, and… a cry baby.

Just as Asahi starting to unbutton his shirt, my hand suddenly moves on its own. I don’t know what come over me, but I just lifted up my bag and throw it towards Asahi. My quick reflex sent him flat on his back. The three bullies immediately turned their heads at me. They all stagger once they sees my face.

"What the..."

“Hey… Isn’t that guy… It is him, isn’t?”

“Shut up. Let’s get out of here quick.”

The three of them rushed themselves to the leave the alley, but I won’t let them. It’s not like I really care of what happen here, but I hate to see these losers fled without receiving their proper punishment. So, I give the three of them some beating to remember me by. Two bloody noses and a couple of bruises on their faces later, I squat down and grabbed their leader, Aichi by the hair. Ah... it's been a while since I felt this good.

“You can bully anyone you want, but my classmates are off-limits. You wanna know why?”

“Why?” he asked in tears. I smirked.

“Because they’re all mine.” I said with a cold stare. The three of them nodded their head before they ran away. I sigh and turned at Asahi. He’s still lying flat on his back. It’s already this late and I feel uncomfortable leaving him there on his own. So, with a heavy heart – I carried the guy to the nearby bench at the playground.

- End of Chapter 2-

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