Chapter 8:

March 8: Family Issues

One Month to Figure out my Future

I woke up in a better mood. I had already forgotten the discussions I had with my parents and Hayato. I never want to hold grudges.Bookmark here

With the speed of a snail I headed for the kitchen to have breakfast.Bookmark here

“Good morning Miyo.”Bookmark here

“Good morning to you too, big brother. Feeling better?”Bookmark here

“Yes, thank you. I’m all right.”Bookmark here

“Today I have an exam so I’ll be leaving a bit earlier to make sure I get to school in time.”Bookmark here

This meant I would have been able to have a peaceful breakfast.Bookmark here

“Sure, no problem.”Bookmark here

“Take care of your club president. I’ll be off then, see you.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, later Miyo.”Bookmark here

Once I also got to school, I saw Megumi with other girls all around her. As soon as she noticed me, her face became all serious and the other girls started staring at me too. It was really unpleasant but I passed by them as if I didn’t even see them. How can someone be so fixated on being the center of the attention? Bookmark here

Satoshi was already in the classroom while Rihoko’s desk was still empty. At first I didn’t really think about it too much, but when class started and Rihoko was yet to arrive, I checked if there were any messages from her. I tried to be stealthy so that the teacher wouldn’t notice me using the smart phone during class. Indeed there was a message from Rihoko: “Sorry Satoshi, today I can’t go to school, a problem came up. You can go home this afternoon. I’m really sorry.”Bookmark here

I took a piece of paper and wrote: “Do you know what happened to Rihoko?”Bookmark here

I crumpled it up and threw it to Hayato. He immediately grabbed it with a lot of curiosity. He wrote something on the same piece of paper and tossed it back to me.Bookmark here

It just said: “No.”Bookmark here

I took another piece of paper: “I’m sorry for yesterday, I was a bit tired and I overreacted for no reason.”Bookmark here

Hayato replied with: “Don’t worry. You should go visit her today.”Bookmark here

Was I really willing to commit myself to such a difficult task? Furthermore, I didn’t even know where she lived. The weird thing is that, I was actually considering that idea. Normally I would have just thought: “Not a chance.”Bookmark here

“Perhaps Narukami and Kamizaki have something to share with us since they have been exchanging what I hope are important notes related to math problems.”Bookmark here

I can’t believe it, how did she see us? It’s always the same story with our math teacher, she is basically equipped with eagle eyes. Hayato and I usually don’t pay much attention to her class, I usually go really well in math so I don’t need to be always paying attention, while Hayato just hates math with all his heart.Bookmark here

Regardless, we didn’t reply and this got the teacher even angrier.Bookmark here

“To Miss. Kamuro’s office, now!”Bookmark here

Hayato tried to loosen up the situation. “Come on teach, we didn’t do anything that serious.”Bookmark here

“I’m not concerned by only what you did today, but what you have been doing for months! But, if you think you are right, please solve this problem for me.” And she offered Hayato her chalk.Bookmark here

Should I help him? It’s not going to work but whatever: “I guess it shouldn’t matter which one of us two solves it right? May I?”Bookmark here

Yes, I should have stayed quiet…Bookmark here

“That’s enough! Out!”Bookmark here

We walked outside with all the eyes of the other classmates on us, I didn’t really care much because I never talked to most of them.Bookmark here

Today I was the one who started it all, so I tried to apologies to Hayato: “I’m sorry, I should have waited after the class was over.”Bookmark here

“Don’t apologize, if only I was as smart as you are, I could have solved that problem.”Bookmark here

“Hayato don’t say that, you that’s not the point. We shouldn’t have been into that situation to begin with. Now let’s go to Miss. Kamuro so we can get this over with.”Bookmark here

Once again I was in front of that door knocking.Bookmark here

“Narukami and Kamizaki, aren’t you two supposed to have class right now?”Bookmark here

Hayato decided to speak first: “About that, we may have been kicked out of the classroom.”Bookmark here

Her face had a really disappointed face but strangely enough, she didn’t seem too angry.Bookmark here

“Come in…”Bookmark here

We came in and sat down; it was starting to feel really familiar hat office.Bookmark here

“So let me guess, you drove Miss. Katsuragi crazy?”Bookmark here

This time I was the one replying: “Sort of.”Bookmark here

“Come on guys, just tell me what happened.”Bookmark here

As you would expect we just told her the truth.Bookmark here

“Miss. Katsuragi already complained of you two doing this sort of stuff during her class. Look, I don’t need to tell you that you did everything wrong today, you are smart enough to figure it out by yourself. Can I trust you learned the lesson this time?”Bookmark here

Hayato and I answered in chorus: “Yes.”Bookmark here

Next she looked at me and said: “Good. By the way what did you have to tell Narukami? Was it just some stupid nonsense or there was something more?”Bookmark here

“I was wondering why Rihoko wasn’t at school today, you know, with all the stuff we have to do, I was surprised not to see her.”Bookmark here

“I see, that’s actually unexpected. You don’t have any news about her?”Bookmark here

“She just wrote a text to me saying she had things to take care of.”Bookmark here

Miss. Kamuro started acting as if she was deeply thinking about something. Then she locked her eyesight with mine.Bookmark here

“Kamizaki, would you mind paying Sonoda a visit this afternoon?”Bookmark here

Her too?Bookmark here

“But if she had things to do, I doubt she will be home.”Bookmark here

“I’m almost certain that, it won’t be the case.”Bookmark here

“Can I ask you why?”Bookmark here

“Women’s intuition I guess.”Bookmark here

“I don’t even know her address and I don’t think it’s a good idea.”Bookmark here

“No problem I have her address, consider this as an official assignment and punishment from your teacher. I will need a full report tomorrow.”Bookmark here

Punishment? All right Hayato, now it’s payback time for when you plotted against me with the helpo of my sister.Bookmark here

“I think Hayato should be punished too.”Bookmark here

Hayato slowly turned his head towards me as if he wanted to say “I hate you”. I mean we both deserved a punishment, it was the right thing to do.Bookmark here

“Yes, don’t worry about him, I have something planned for Narukami too. For now, I think we are done. You should go back to you beloved math class.”Bookmark here

Before leaving Miss. Kamuro handed me a piece of paper with Rihoko’s home address and then we left.Bookmark here

Once finished the last class of the day, I quickly set Rihoko’s house as my destination on my smart phone navigator and started walking. I needed to also take the underground but I usually really enjoyed it. While on the train, I was trying to come up with a proper way to justify my sudden appearance at her place. “Hi it’s me I was wondering what happened?” No, too nosy. “Hi, Miss. Kamuro told me to check on you.” No, almost I could believe it. Bookmark here

I was still thinking about what to say when I finally got in front of the building where she lived. It was a fairly new complex since it looked in pretty good conditions.Bookmark here

I looked for Rihiko’s surname and dialed the corresponding apartment number.Bookmark here

I heard from the speaker: “Yes?”Bookmark here

“It’s me Satoshi.”Bookmark here

There was silence for quite a few seconds.Bookmark here

“Sa… Satoshi, why you are here?”Bookmark here

“I just wanted to check on you, is everything all right?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, nothing really concerning.”Bookmark here

“Actually, Miss. Kamuro also wanted me to come. But if everything is all right I guess I’m off. Sorry for bothering you.”Bookmark here

“No wait Satoshi… you can come up.”Bookmark here

“You sure?”Bookmark here

“I mean you came all the way here, it’s the minimum I can do.”Bookmark here

I heard the building’s door getting opened electrically. Then Rihoko added a few instructions: “Fifth floor, apartment 6.”Bookmark here

Of course I took the elevator, which was really cool compared to the one in my building. I still wasn’t sure why I agreed to come up.Bookmark here

I found apartment number 6 on the fifth floor and knocked. I wasn’t even done knocking when Rihoko opened up the door and dragged me in.Bookmark here

“Are you sure it’s ok for me to come in?”Bookmark here

“Yes, make yourself at home. I already saw your place, it’s just fair that now you see mine.”Bookmark here

“I see.”Bookmark here

Rihoko didn’t really feel as spontaneous as usual.Bookmark here

“I can even offer you tea, not only water.”Bookmark here

Yeah that time it wasn’t really ideal to offer her water, but what could have I done? I hate even the idea of getting close to the stove. The cooking talent wasn’t evenly distributed in my family, it all went to Miyo.Bookmark here

“I can have some tea thanks.”Bookmark here

I couldn’t have said no, I was there and I had to play along even if tea wasn’t really my favorite thing.Bookmark here

After a couple of minutes, that I spent looking around like if I was at an exposition, Rihoko came back with two tea cups.Bookmark here

“Sugar, lemon or milk?”Bookmark here

Wow she was really well prepared.Bookmark here

“Milk thanks.”Bookmark here

Some good old milk can mask the tea flavor that I usually really dislike.Bookmark here

We started drinking; neither of us was talking and it really felt like the first time we met.Bookmark here

Finally Rihoko decided to start a conversation. Wait am I happy to talk? Well, it’s better than the usual awkward silence.Bookmark here

“So, how did it go today at school?”Bookmark here

“Not great, Hayato and I made Miss. Katsuragi a bit angry.”Bookmark here

“What did you do?”Bookmark here

“Well, we were sort of communicating during class.”Bookmark here

She didn’t reply so I had to keep the conversation alive: “If I may ask, what happened today? I mean I don’t want to sound nosy, but I was surprised since we have a lot to do for the club.”Bookmark here

“You are right I’m sorry, it’s just…”Bookmark here

She clearly didn’t want to talk, it was probably something not really fun.Bookmark here

“You don’ have to tell me if you don’t feel like it.”Bookmark here

“If Miss. Kamuro sent you, she might be concerned about this situation, so I should let you now.”Bookmark here

So there was actually a serious reason why Miss. Kamuro wanted me to check on her…Bookmark here

“It was all my fault.”Bookmark here

She was looking down to her knees and almost started crying. I have seen this girl crying, way too many times.Bookmark here

“Why, what did you do?”Bookmark here

“Yesterday, I was out for shopping and I came back later than expected. My father was at home and he was expecting me to cock. I have been cocking for him since my mother died, but this time I was late and he got really mad. He said that he expects to be treated well since he works hard all the week. He was really angry and I felt so bad I couldn’t put myself together, so I skipped school.”Bookmark here

What an asshole! How can you get so mad just for that?Bookmark here

“Did he do something to you? Did he hurt you?”Bookmark here

“No, I’m fine. He just smashed a couple of plates.”Bookmark here

“Does this happen frequently? That’s why Miss. Kamuro was concerned about you?”Bookmark here

“Yes, ever since my mum died.”Bookmark here

“Was he drunk or what?”Bookmark here

“I think so… Satoshi you shouldn’t get involved in this. I’m telling you because Miss. Kamuro would want to know but this is my problem.”Bookmark here

It would have been great if I had the power to solve her problem just like that, but unfortunately it wasn’t the case. Regardless, she was in a bad familiar condition and that was the subject of my concern.Bookmark here

“There is nothing wrong in asking for help, sure there is not much that I can do, but it’s always possible to figure something out.”Bookmark here

“I can’t let you, it’s really complicated you can’t understand.”Bookmark here

There wasn’t really much to understand: her father a drinking addict with anger problems who was still loved by her daughter because he was the only thing she had left in this world.Bookmark here

“You think tomorrow you will come to school?”Bookmark here

“Yes, I promise.”Bookmark here

“Ok, I‘d better be leaving now. Take care.”Bookmark here

We both went to the door.Bookmark here

“Thanks for coming and listening to my problems, I guess you are used to it by now.”Bookmark here

“I think you could say that, don’t worry. See you tomorrow.”Bookmark here

I went back home still using my navigator because I already forgot how I got to Rihoko’s house.Bookmark here

My house was still empty and when Miyo came back… : “WHAAAAT, you are already back? Again?Bookmark here

What happened this time?”Bookmark here

“Hi Miyo, welcome back, hope you had a great day. How did the exam go?”Bookmark here

“Yeah good I guess, now you have to tell me why you are not with Rihoko.”Bookmark here

“No need to worry, she simply didn’t come to school.”Bookmark here

“Seems like she is trying to avoid you. Are you sure you didn’t do anything to upset her?”Bookmark here

“I didn’t do anything wrong, as a matter of fact, I even went to her place to check if she was doing all right. I also have to specify that this was Miss. Kamuro’s idea.”Bookmark here

“You first bring a girl home and then you go to a girl’s house? Almost too good o be true.”Bookmark here

Miyo is so funny, as usual. To be clear, I was sarcastic.Bookmark here

“And how she was doing?”Bookmark here

“Well not that great, but I’m not sure I should tell you, it’s some pretty personal stuff.”Bookmark here

“No problem. When dinner is ready you can tell me everything.”Bookmark here

“Hey did you even listen to what I said??”Bookmark here

And, just like that, she disappeared in her room.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.