Chapter 12:

Honoka's Gluttony

Paradise on Earth


Sachio didn’t contact me after that night. Probably a good idea since I wouldn’t have responded even if she begged. I can’t really talk to my friends right now, so the less the better. In the last two days, two of my friends have reached out, both interactions were draining.

Currently, I’m lying in my bed. I’ve spent a lot of time here recently and it’s the only place of comfort I can find. Some might rest on the floor for a change of scenery, especially if you want to leave your bedroom as little as possible.

But I haven’t been too interested in touching the floor recently.

Reminds me of betrayed trust.

I could theoretically move to my desk chair.

But I haven’t been too interested in messing with my computer recently.

Reminds me of honey.

If I’m being honest, I’m not sure why I’m like this. If I could stop thinking or feeling anything then I would be making progress, I think. Maybe my ‘know-it-all’ nature is what got me in this mess.

Either way, whenever I’m not sleeping—I’m in pain, and I don’t have enough energy to go to a doctor. And it’s not like there’s a specific part of me that hurts or anything, everything hurts. It’s like someone keeps stirring a cauldron of witch’s brew in my stomach that regularly spills over and burns me like the hottest curry you could imagine. I said before that I didn’t care how destroyed Sachio looked and I still largely don’t, but I think seeing that was the first necessary ingredient the witch needed because this nausea has been with me since.

Today marks the first time since climbing into bed that I’ve even remotely felt like eating. I haven’t really drank anything outside of the glass of water I brought to bed the night I came home, so maybe that’s there too. The only person home is my sister and she’s not going to do something so basic for me. So, if anything is going to happen, then I’ll have to do it myself.

Sigh

Even with my life on the line I can’t be bothered to get water. My arms feel like they have 15kg dumbbells tied to them. But I’m not too concerned about the logistics of trying to raise my hand to reach the faucet right now—I need to find a way to get out of bed. To leave the safety of my newfound island, the swirling mass of blankets acting as hills and mountains, the floor is the ocean.

I throw the covers off me toward the direction of the wall, giving my bed the appearance of an open wound, and roll over until I fall off with a loud thud. It sounds funny when described but really, it’s more lonely than anything. I’m essentially on my own—my parents haven’t been home in days, and I’m too tired to pull myself out of bed like a normal person.

Keeping with the theme I mentioned earlier, after recovering from the impact and the pain that came along with it, I was washed over with the feelings of betrayal. In which I am both the victim and its guilty perpetrator. This scares me so much that in the most active state I’ve been in since Sunday, I crawl across my floor slowly until I reach my desk pushing my weight against it. I am able to finally stand on my two feet, with a concerning amount of struggle in the process.

I clean my smudged glasses for the first time in three days. I didn’t really need glasses when I was sleeping most of the day but now, I have to turn on a faucet, open a fridge, things that require effort but more relevantly, sight. I could use contacts like I did Saturday but that’s too much work, everything’s work.

I turn my head to the left to look at myself in the mirror. Either I’m a masochist or I hate myself because it was a really bad idea. I don’t want to describe in too much detail, but my hair looks like a bunch of ramen noodles that were placed on my head after splattering on the floor. When I initially arrived home, I slept in the clothes I wore to Sachio’s place but when I briefly woke up the next morning, I slipped my shorts off and threw them out from under my sheets onto the floor. Now dressed in my blue boxers and a t-shirt, if you couple that with my hair, you get a very interesting look.

Interesting maybe.

Definitely not pretty.

Or even worth looking at honestly.

I look back to see the indent I left on my bed as I begin to drag my feet towards the stairs leading down when I almost forget to pick up my cell phone. I slump over to the opened cut of my bed and pull my phone out from under its “skin.” I check it and am relieved to see zero new notifications from the group chat or anyone else. Nori asked me when I hadn’t come to school Monday if I was alright, and what happened Sunday because Sachio hadn’t mentioned anything outside of hurting me/messing up and didn’t show up for school either. I told her that I realized how all my relationships were with people who probably weren’t worth saving from the wall, and that she should handle the rest of her nonsense on her own, additionally not to talk to me anymore.

Saying that was the best thing I could do.

This wall stuff was messing up my normalcy.

Losing my normalcy marked the beginning of my problems.

***

I trudge down the stairs while leaning on the rail the whole time because my body still felt very heavy. To the point where I could have fallen forward if I didn’t use the rail to my full advantage. No matter how fast or slow I go, I can never catch up to a world which seems to be continuously moving quicker than I can keep up. Whenever I check my phone, some absurd amount of time has passed. To the degree that I feel like some Italian gangster is erasing time somewhere and I’m the only one experiencing it.

As I traverse the distance to the kitchen—of which every step feels like ten, I’m reminded of the conversation with Daitan yesterday. It was the only thing keeping me awake at the time since all I wanted to do was sleep, but it was a loli after all so I thought I might humor her.

Daitan started it with:

“Sato.”

“What?”

“Where the hell have you been?”

“Home.”

“Why?”

“Because screw being outside.”

“Home is where the heart is.”

“Stop quoting practice sentences from English class you pretentious asshole.”

“Get back here.”

“Why?”

“I need someone to eat lunch with.”

“Is that so?”

As I turn the faucet and pour myself a glass of water, I realize I didn’t take Daitan very seriously, it’s Daitan after all. But honestly, the opportunity to talk to her was probably the best thing that had happened to me since the water park. Even though I was having my soul continuously submerged in witches brew, Daitan could help.

She continued:

“I’m serious.”

“Lunch isn’t the same.”

“Just eat with Nori or Sachio.”

“Nori leaves class during lunch.”

“Not sure where she goes.”

“Sachio hasn’t been to school either, none of us know why.”

“I don’t know why either.”

“And while that sucks you should be fine.”

“Just make new friends.”

Daitan takes longer to message this time, and finally responds with:

“I can’t.”

“I need you here.”

There was that word again, “need”

A word I honestly didn’t want to hear anymore.

“You know, the last time someone said they needed me my life started getting worse.”

“So no, I’ll stay home.”

“Junichiro Sato being useless, as I expected.”

I wasn’t in the mood for insults anymore, so I responded in a way I hadn’t expected.

“Here’s a suggestion. How about you try not being you?”

“If your personality wasn’t so shit, maybe people would actually talk to you?”

“Instead they avoid you and you whine and moan about it.”

“In my opinion you deserve it.”

“If this is how you’re going to be then I don’t want anything to do with it, or with you.”

Daitan took so long to respond this time that I almost passed out, but eventually she finished with:

“You don’t want to talk anymore.”

“Understood.”

And that was that.

By the time I finished my glass of water, I realized how much I regretted what I said. I wish I could take it all back, but I knew it wouldn’t be possible. Daitan was the only one left I really trusted and still, I did what I did.

What a moron I am.

Just the worst.

Scum of the Earth.

Instead of the witch’s brew, I instead feel a constricted pain in my chest. Understanding that I’m not going to be in the hospital for cardiac arrest in the next ten minutes, it dawns on me just how much hurting Daitan also hurts me. Even if Daitan took it a bit farther than I intended, it’s too late to apologize now, not that I have the energy or courage to do so.

I wasn’t really interested in eating anymore.

Reminds me of lolis

And I’m not a lolicon.

But gosh did I love Daitan.

***

I didn’t end up eating after all. I placed my glass in the sink and went upstairs. I flop onto my bed, pull my blanket and sheets over me, and lay there for a while. Not sure how long I rested without sleeping, I dropped my phone on the floor next to me, so I wasn’t looking at it. Like a vegetable, I was in my bed almost lifeless, guilt being the only thing acknowledging that I was awake or even still alive.

But somewhere along the way, I pass out.

Hm?

This is weird.

I’m flying through black emptiness, without any direction or reason.

I remember closing my eyes and laying on my side.

And it wasn’t like I remember falling. It’s like I opened my eyes again and instead of it being morning, it’s still black.

What’s this?

Almost like I’m gazing at a hazy video screen, I see Daitan, standing on the side road near a 7/13, similar to the one Kaiyo and I used to go to. But unlike then, there wasn’t a heavily breathing loli staring at her text messages. The video zooms in on her phone and reveals the message to be from her mom who I didn’t know was still talking to her.

Her mom’s message was hard to read but it went something like:

“Honoka, if you don’t go back to school tomorrow then I don’t know what to tell you. It’s your responsibility to keep yourself in check and not run away when it gets too overwhelming. If you can’t handle basic conversation you will be bullied and you will become a waste to society. I haven’t been bullied myself but I understand this very well. If you could be calm like other people then your life would be easier. I’m very busy so this is as much advice as I can give, I only said to message me in case of emergencies and I don’t think this is one of them. Everything I’m saying is basic. I shouldn’t have to explain it to you, you are not a child anymore.”

“So long.”

Now focusing my attention back to Daitan’s breathing, she looks pretty shaken up, probably the most expressive I’ve ever seen from her.

And then it stops.

Turns off.

Like a faucet.

Back to cool-mint Daitan.

She places her phone in her leather bag and calmly walks into the convenience store.

The image I am floating in front of cuts to Daitan in the convenience store, grabbing premade bentos and sandwiches and anpan and rice balls, and other common foods you’d buy in a 7/13 like they’re shutting down the store in the next five minutes. She then walks up to the counter with her arms full of food, drops it in front of the poor cashier, and gives them what appears to be her month’s allowance, 4000 yen.

After taking her change and the four plastic bags from the man, she walks out of the 7/13 and takes a left from where she entered but instead goes to the alleyway where the employees go for their break.

Then, like a beast, Daitan eats.

She rips open one of each type of food she’s bought and chows down unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Daitan normally eats really fast when she isn’t active in a conversation at lunch, but I’ve never seen anything like this. She’s eating so desperately, it’s like she’s trapped in a maze running away from ghosts but in real life it’s way less cute. She took her shirt off and is in her bra, probably because it’s hot but also to not ruin our school uniform, I should be excited but I’m not.

Frankly, it’s kind of gross.

I can’t really feel any physical sensation but if I did, my stomach would feel unsettled.

There is another jump in the video to when Daitan takes the last bite of a rice ball and takes a deep breath. She then carefully places all of her containers in the plastic bags, some with food, ties the bags up, and throws them in the dumpster—wobbling all the way. Because I can already tell, she ate too much food. She holds her bloated stomach as if there is an alien growing inside while she puts her shirt back on. Surprisingly no one passed by while she was eating.

After Daitan buttons her shirt, she grabs her leather bag which had been sitting by her eating spot, now with rice and other food remains. Daitan leaves the alley, takes a right, and walks in the direction of what I assume to be her home.

The way Daitan carried out this scheme felt very natural, like this was another in a long series of binging.

“How long has Daitan been doing this?”

Just as the thought escapes my face (I don’t even know if I have a mouth), the image frazzles again like before, this time cutting to the classroom. In the middle of English class if my ears are correct. The instructor is hardly any better at speaking than most of the students, so hearing their voice at all gave it away pretty easily.

As the minutes ticked by, nothing of note was happening. Honestly, I don’t really know what I’m even looking at. As disturbing as the vision of Daitan was, at least was of something. Now I am listening to a subpar English lesson while unconscious. Actually, am I even unconscious?

What the hell is going on?

Suddenly, as if prompted, Yasashiku quite stands up and walks out of the room, telling the teacher that she’s going to the bathroom before she disappears into the hall. The perks of being the prez I guess. Man, if only people listened to me like they do Yasashiku.

“Honoka, would you please read from page 164?” The teacher speaks, and I blink. Oh yeah, English class, normally it would be weird to hear a teacher address someone so informally, but Ms. Takeuchi insisted we act as if this was an American school. Apparently she went to a university in California back in the day.

I notice Nori in her usual seat, seeming a bit...within herself? Perhaps that’s the best way to describe it. I don’t really care, so my eyes shift back to Daitan.

Daitan gets up from her chair, holding the English textbook in her hand—her eyes dart about the room like she is looking for someone as she begins to read.

“To bite the bullet is a famous English phrase. It...refers to when you do something to get it over with, because it is...ine-inev-...” and she slowly begins to go silent, not like she wasn’t already slow.

She struggles with the word ‘inevitable’ and I really can’t blame her. To be honest, these famous English phrases seemed useless. Sure, we have plenty of famous idioms in Japan too, but this couldn’t really help us learn English, could it? Clearly this is flawed, but what is making this worse is Ms. Takeuchi making Daitan of all people read it at all. Daitan has never been great at English in the first place, and while she has asked the teacher to avoid calling on her, the woman largely laughed her off as a “Courageous person, but an unsuccessful one nonetheless,” Since Daitan needed to practice speaking.

Thud.

Daitan drops the book onto her desk with a loud thud, and all the heads in the room jump to her. She doesn’t say anything, and simply puts her head down as she looks at her feet, her hair concealing her face in an ominous sight that looked straight out of some American horror movie like The Ringer. Well, if that girl had a bob cut and was shorter than most middle-schoolers.

“Hahahahahaha.” A soft laughter permeates the silent room, before Daitan picks up her desk and flips it over. Knocking her notebook onto the floor along with her textbook, causing the girl in front of her jump out of her seat.

Why would she do this? Could such a little thing as struggling to pronounce a few English words really set her off like this? Why was she pigging herself out? Why is my entire life one big joke?

Daitan’s breathing picked up quickly as she began to hyperventilate. A girl that sits next to Daitan put her hand on her shoulder and tried to calm her down. What is her name? Ryu? Ryu(?) is quickly pushed back against her own desk as Daitan gets right up into her face. Ryu was about eight centimeters taller than Daitan, but the slightly shorter girl cared little as she ranted and raved.

“Don’t you dare touch me! You’re all a bunch of stupid jerks who should just go and die! I hate all of you! Hate! Hate! Hate! Hate you!” Daitan’s eyes fill with tears as she continues to tense up. “Even a simple ‘are you okay’ would do. But nobody in this room has the courage to ask, I am nervous don’t you see that!? What happened instead of asking if I was concerned, everyone started saying things and talking crap about me behind my back. Even though class president tried to rein you guy’s in, the worst of you still continued outside of class! But the ones I despise the most, are those who are silent. Not because you are afraid of them but because you still want to be friends with demons, you care about no one but yourself.”

Daitan’s hands clasp into tight fists near her chest as she continues to yell at Class 2-B, “I’m… a human being! and yet I’m forced to stand here and embarrass myself, even when I asked to kindly to not have to and everyone here laughs at me. you don’t think I can see it and call me crazy, but I can feel it! I can always feel everyone here laughing at me! You’re… the worst…”

Daitan begins to intensely cry. The girl clearly drained emotionally and mentally as she wept, crouched on the floor, no longer caring about the circumstances or the situation. She was just going to let it all out, even if it made her look that much more like the freak she felt everyone else saw her as. That witch’s brew in my stomach just mixed in a gallon of wasabi as I could feel myself wanting to puke, even though I don’t have a stomach in this...vision?

“I just want to die,” Daitan muttered softly. And, as if she had one of her pressure points hit in a spy movie, she crumbles to the floor and passes out. Ms. Takeuchi coughs as she regains her composure before telling the two girls who sit on opposite ends of Daitan to take her to the nurse. I couldn’t help but feel awful as I watch the girl I think is named Ryu and another girl who I definitely don’t know the name of, pick up Daitan by her head and feet and carry her away. Shoko is a nice name. Ryu and Shoko feels right, but for some reason, I have no idea what the names of these other girls are.

As the two girls carry the unconscious Daitan out of the room, the rest of the class starts to murmur to themselves about everything that just transpired. Honestly, I didn’t want to hear a bunch of irrelevant shitheads call my Daitan awful names while Yasashiku’s out of the room.

I want to see her. I need to see her.

The image frazzles once more, only this time a blinding light follows. A few moments later my eyes finally begin to readjust only to notice that I am no longer asleep...or whatever that was. Only now I’m looking at the ceiling in the nurse’s office.

As I look down, my eyes widen as I see Daitan laying on her side unconscious in a bed—facing me. I was right, I’m here. I don’t know how I got here, but I’m here. As I stare at the girl I just saw break down in front of her entire English class, I can’t help but smile. I feel horrible for her, but who cares? Everything sucks. My life is a mess, her life is a mess, so maybe it’s just meant to be.

I reach my hand out to hold hers, and my much bigger hand clasps her little hand as I think about the last year since I’ve come to know Daitan. All fifteen months she’s been my friend.

All fifteen months she’s been mine.

It’s a weird thought, but I think Daitan needs me. She needs me to function properly. I can’t imagine any other reason why she would break down like this. It must be me. All these girls are so obsessed with me, and yet Daitan was the only one who respected me enough not to try and take advantage of my kindness, of my friendship.

My hand leaves Daitan’s and moves up to her hair, taking those silver locks in my hand before bringing them to my nose and taking a long, deep sniff.

Oh yeah.

Daitan was the one girl who didn’t try something stupid. The one girl who didn’t try to force herself on me. I mean, I guess Nori didn’t either, but she’s too busy with her stupid wall to really be here for me. If anything, she’s the worst of it. Nothing sucks more than knowing. I just want to live a normal life. All I want is to find happiness, to find my paradise on Earth, to find my Daitan.

I need her.

She’s the only way I can escape!

“Hayami and Kaiyo scare me. Help me. Help me Daitan.” I begin to try and wake Daitan up by pushing her a little bit. “Hey, quit fooling around. Come on. Daitan, wake up! This isn’t funny anymore! Daitan, wake up! Daitan! Daitan!” It was no use, and I put my head on her chest, sighing wearily so I could regain my conviction. She wasn’t going to leave me that easy.

“Daitan, please help me. I need you. Please Daitan, help me. Call me an idiot like you always do. Just say something damn it! Please, wake up!” I push her onto her back and gulp as the light from the sun reveals she’s not wearing a bra. Normally that would be fine for someone of Daitan’s stature, but...I can see them poking through her shirt.

I stood back up and looked at her, fixing her hair as I continue to think about everything that’s happened as of late. All of it sucks, and even if it isn’t right, I need this.

I just stare at Daitan. She looks so peaceful, so...normal. You would never know that the girl sleeping right in front of me is going through Hell inside of that pretty little head of hers. Perhaps that is why I love her so much. She’s like me, someone who suffers, but doesn’t bring her friends into their own personal issues. Someone who doesn’t make their problems into everyone else’s problems. Someone who doesn’t take advantage of their friends to make themselves feel better about their shitty lives.

As I begin to pant, I think about just how much I wish I had noticed it sooner. How thoughtful Daitan is, how pretty Daitan is, and most of all, how much like me Daitan is.

She’s amazing.

She’s the best.

She’s who I deserve.

I look down and stare at my trousers for a few moments as I finish breathing heavily.

At this moment, I don’t know if Kazuma would punch me or simply look at me with disgust.

I would do both.

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