Chapter 13:

What's a Hertz?

52 Hertz

The library had that familiar sunlight pooling in. It was once again that time of the day, when the school slowly started to become deserted. You could hear the sports club students shouting in the field. Haruko hadn’t moved from her position on the floor since Itsuki had left. After Taichi had stopped talking, he moved awkwardly to get his bag and left to find Itsuki. Now Haruko was alone.Bookmark here

The windows were open, letting the breeze scatter a few of Haruko’s envelopes. The ones she’d taken from Yulan’s apartment. The white papers resembled a thousand small paper planes, the ones all the kids back in elementary school used to fold. They flew around the library as Haruko’s dead eyes suddenly became alive, letting small drops of water drop from her face. She stood quietly and slowly, picked up the envelope closest to her and continued on to find the other pieces of paper in the rows of books. Her legs were wobbly and her face was as pale as snow. Suddenly, she tripped over a pile of books, crashing face first onto the floor. She didn’t get up. The whole situation sounded fake. Clearly, it was a coincidence that the student who jumped had the same name as Yulan. So why did she have such a strange feeling in her chest?Bookmark here

As Haruko pushed herself up, a thick, black book with gold lettering fell from the shelf, knocking her on the head. Her patience now was really low but she didn’t have the energy to get mad. Instead, she kicked the book far away, where it hit the corner of a table. Instantly, the book opened as hundreds and hundreds of blank pages started flying straight out, like a volcanic explosion. They shot all the way up into the air, before gracefully fluttering to the ground. Haruko gasped loudly but stayed motionless on the ground.Bookmark here

“...What just happened.”Bookmark here

She said, spooked.Bookmark here

Grabbing one of the pages from the floor, Haruko read the handwritten text:Bookmark here

Thursday, June 2ndBookmark here

Today, I met Kiyoshi-kun at the park. Apparently, he stayed up all night studying for the EIKEN*. He was so confident, boasting about how his score must be a perfect 4.Bookmark here

Haruko kept reading down the page.Bookmark here

Sunday, June 5thBookmark here

Today, Suki-chan showed up at my door. She wasn’t even carrying an umbrella, even though it was raining so much. She said that boy broke up with her. Now, she won’t be able to spend her vacation with him. They’re done for good.Bookmark here

Monday, June 6thBookmark here

Today, I caught an eel behind the convenience store. The guys said there was no way I could catch it with my bare hands. When I caught it, the boys all cheered for me like we just won KOSHIEN*.”Bookmark here

Haruko stopped reading and looked for the other pages. They were all out of order after flying out of the book. She bent down and grabbed the black cover. The title of the book was plastered on the front. It was titled: “52 Hertz, the loneliest man in the world”, written by “Sekai”.Bookmark here

“Never heard of him.”Bookmark here

Haruko muttered.Bookmark here

“Never heard of who?”Bookmark here

Haruko jumped, dropping the book. She looked towards the door. It was Shun, wearing the baseball club’s jersey and pants.Bookmark here

“...How long have you been here?”Bookmark here

“Long enough to see what a mess you’ve made of the place.”Bookmark here

Haruko looked around. The library floor was littered with papers and books. The bag Itsuki threw was gone at least, Taichi had picked it up while leaving. Shun shouldn’t suspect a thing about the fight-Bookmark here

“Who’d you beat up now? Or did you get beat up?”Bookmark here

Haruko subconsciously rubbed her face, which she now remembered had a few scratches.Bookmark here

Shun strode past Haruko and picked up the book.Bookmark here

52 Hertz, the loneliest man in the world, by Sekai. Is it good?”Bookmark here

“I wouldn't know.”Bookmark here

“Sounds terrible to me,”Bookmark here

Shun announced,Bookmark here

“I think only the nerds in the science club would read this kind of junk. Or, you know, those theatre kids who keep putting on angsty shows-”Bookmark here

“What do you mean by that?”Bookmark here

Shun snickered and placed his baseball bat and bag on the floor.Bookmark here

“Just look at the title. Hertz. You pay attention in science class right? A hertz is a frequency right? To measure sound.”Bookmark here

It was Haruko’s turn to snicker now.Bookmark here

“I didn’t expect you to be smart.”Bookmark here

“Well, I am.”Bookmark here

“Why would the theatre kids read it?”Bookmark here

The loneliest man in the world. Isn’t that, like, kind of cringe?”Bookmark here

Haruko looked at the cover. 52 Hertz was written in golden ink, yet the second part of the title, the lonely part, looked hastily scribbled off to the side. Almost like someone vandalized it.Bookmark here

“Obviously someone added that to the title. It’s so obvious.”Bookmark here

She snatched the book from Shun.Bookmark here

“Ohh. I guess.”Bookmark here

Shun shrugged and picked his bag back up. As he started out the door, Haruko grabbed his shirt, holding him back. Shun turned around.Bookmark here

“What? Let go.”Bookmark here

“... What was your impression of Yulan? Back then, in the principal’s office two years ago.”Bookmark here

“Hah? What kind of question is that? I don’t have any obligation to answer that, do I?”Bookmark here

Shun slapped Haruko’s hand out of the way. He made a “cheh!” sound and walked away. Haruko looked down at her shoes and her dirty gym uniform. She didn’t have time to wash her clothes after leaving Yulan’s apartment last night. So much for an uneventful last year of school.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

Haruko was reading the strange book alone in the apartment that night. It was now 1am, yet the more she read, the more she became interested. Truly, 52 Hertz was nothing more than a personal diary. It didn’t feel fake either, it was really a diary recording the life of a high school student. Haruko couldn’t figure out if the author was a woman or a man. Not that it mattered, it wouldn’t make a difference to the content. Firstly, from what she’d read so far, the author seemed to have frequented Miyazaki High as well. The pages described the halls of the school, the courtyard, the cafeteria and the field perfectly. Secondly, the author seemed to have had two close friends, Suki, a girl, and Kiyoshi, a boy.Bookmark here

“Kiyoshi… just like Kiyoshi-sensei.”Bookmark here

Haruko said to herself.Bookmark here

“What was Kiyoshi-sensei’s first name again? I don’t remember…”Bookmark here

She shuffled through the pages. There were no records of these two’s family names, though Haruko was sure she was missing a page. When the pages flew in the library, she must’ve missed one… though she was sure she’d picked them all up. The 70th page was missing. Suddenly, she stumbled across a page written in blue ink instead of black.Bookmark here

Wednesday, June 1stBookmark here

The Astronomy club went on a strike today. The teachers wouldn’t let them go to Hokkaido to study the meteor shower. What’s the name of those meteors again? Persei? Persa? I don’t remember… I saw them with their signs in the hallway this morning, they looked so determined. But then, the history teacher came and told them off. I hope they’ll get to go in the end…”Bookmark here

Haruko laughed. It seemed Miyazaki High had an astronomy club since long ago. Though Haruko couldn’t find the year… each entry only had the day of the week, number and month. She looked at the calendar on the wall. Today was actually June 1st. 1am.Bookmark here

“Wow look at the time…”Bookmark here

SHe put the book next to her pillow and tried to sleep. Despite her efforts, she couldn't… Itsuki’s angry face was haunting her. Haruko tossed and turned for the entire night. The next morning, she stumbled into the school right before the second bell. She was exhausted for the first time, for not sleeping. She was usually tired, but it was never this bad… as she made her way to homeroom, a group of students were causing a commotion near her classroom. As she looked over the shoulders of the others, she saw Taichi along with five other boys from the astronomy club, all carrying big signs which read “Help us sign the petition, let us go to Hokkaido! Go Go!”Bookmark here

Haruko was confused. She looked at her flip phone. June 1st. She looked at the boys, carrying the signs. Astronomy club members.Bookmark here

“Huh… why does this scene look familiar?”Bookmark here

Real Aire
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