“Lan-san I apologize I- didn’t mean to say it that way…”
“Now Haruko-chan is the one who is lying. I’m sure you meant what you just said.”
Yulan smiled strangely.
“I realise I may have been too careless in the way I raised you… I simply hoped that I would become a steady foundation for you and nothing more. Perhaps I was wrong.”
Haruko stood, empty. She had it all wrong, right from the beginning. The day Yulan dropped her off at the station, he held her hand tightly and smiled at her. He’d never done anything remotely close to that before. That day, her heart was beating fast and she could feel the heat in her face. Though at the time, she thought she had developed romantic feelings for him. Despite not knowing his age, it was clear that Yulan was a grown man, while she was but a high school student. It was too much of a taboo to have feelings for someone who must’ve been much older. If Yulan really was the one who’d adopted her, he should be at least 25 or older. When Itsuki had asked who Yulan was, Haruko could only say he was a mentor. It felt wrong to call him her father.
But now, Haruko knew what she was feeling. It wasn’t romantic love at all. She simply wanted him to pay more attention to her. She wanted him to make up for all the times he left her alone in the apartment, for never explaining anything about himself; keeping so many secrets. That’s all it was. Hearing Yulan say he hoped to be the first step in Haruko’s life and nothing more than that, the truth became awfully clear to her. Yulan never intended to take Haruko in, after her parent’s death. He never intended to be a parent. Haruko pulled the key to the empty apartment out of her skirt’s pocket. Yulan’s eyes widened.
“I found your apartment after all. It was Gotou-san who gave me the address.”
The wind carried the scent of the crisp end of spring air, as it brushed past the pair standing on the now silent bridge. The traffic had died down quite a bit. Yulan’s face went from shocked, to angry and finally to a look that just screamed “I give up.” He took the key from Haruko’s hand and placed it in his pocket.
“I see things have taken a slight turn. This was quite the unexpected turn of events. Well? Did you have a look inside?”
“Looks like you did. Hmmm.”
He rubbed his forehead out of frustration.
“I know you have some things you want to ask me but…I cannot answer those questions at the moment.”
Haruko looked up, stupefied.
“What? Even though… it’s come to this…”
“Don’t worry now, Haruko-chan. Things like these get revealed eventually, even if they weren’t supposed to be uncovered. I suppose poor decisions have their way of getting back at you.”
With this, Yulan adjusted his coat and walked past Haruko.
“Where are you going? Are you going to leave again and never come back?”
“I have a few things to clear up. Don’t worry, I’ll come by the apartment tonight.”
“How can I make sure you won’t disappear again?”
“... Haha, I guess you can’t make sure. Hmmm how about this? If I don’t show up, you could throw all of my magazines away.”
“... I was planning on doing that regardless.”
Yulan laughed and waved back, heading down the bridge. Haruko felt the breeze on her face. She played it off well enough but there was something terribly wrong. She could feel it. Not only regarding Yulan. There was something else… suddenly, she remembered. Quickly opening 52 Hertz, she found the entry for today’s date. June 1st… the Astronomy Club’s strike. What about June 2nd?
“Thursday, June 2nd
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.”
Yes, she remembered reading that. And June 3rd?
A classmate of mine was killed when he rode his bike into a car. They said the traffic was really bad when he was on his way home. It happened near the park with the green dinosaur. You know, where the rich people send their kids to play. That whole neighbourhood is crazy rich. Suki-chan was the one who told me about it. The park, I mean. I only heard of that boy’s death about a week later. His name was Shun.”
That’s what it was. June 3rd… the day after tomorrow. This entry bothered Haruko quite a bit, though she realised it was probably because today’s entry with the Astronomy Club made her paranoid.
“Kiyoshi. That is the same name as Kiyoshi-sensei. Should I ask him about this?”
Haruko thought aloud. She could try and get some sort of information out of Kiyoshi-sensei. Anything. If he could say something like “Oh yeah, I got a perfect score on EIKEN!” then that would confirm Haruko’s suspicion regarding this book. Yes, the fact that 52 Hertz may be depicting the future, as crazy as it sounds. She could also take this opportunity to ask Kiyoshi-sensei about the Yulan who jumped from the roof. If she could confirm that the two Yulans were different people, she could make up with Itsuki. With this, Haruko ran to the nearest subway station and headed back to Miyazaki High.
By the time she got back, classes were already over. Many students were still at school though, working on their club projects. Haruko quickly made her way to the staff room. There was a chance that Kiyoshi-sensei was at the library with the rest of the literature club members, but Haruko hoped he was slacking off again in the staff room so that she wouldn’t have to face Itsuki… She slid the door open.
“Pardon my intrusion- eh?”
Next to Kiyoshi’s desk, there were two students kneeling with their arms in the air. The victims of the classic “poor conduct” punishment were none other than president Kaito and Itsuki. What a strange sight to behold… and what poor timing. Kiyoshi-sensei was eating a caramel lollipop as he swiveled around in his chair.
“Ohh, Kitamura~! Fancy seeing you here. Did you come to turn yourself in?”
“Uh..s- sorry? Turn myself in?”
“Hu-hu~ Kitamura-san, it says here, “Haruko Kitamura violated Miyazaki High’s 5th rule: Show up to class on time. If the student has prior plans outside of school, they are to let their class representative know ahead of time.” Haruko-san, you’ve skipped all of the afternoon classes. A bold move, truly, I respect you for that.”
The other teachers in the staff room all glared at Kiyoshi. He coughed awkwardly.
“Um, bold, but very..very wrong! Come on now, kneel beside the rest of the troublemakers. Seems like a fair punishment for the three of you.”
Haruko looked at Itsuki and Shun who both looked internally drained. Oh boy, kneeling next to those two? Now? But there was no room to argue… Haruko reluctantly placed her bag down. She completely forgot she technically skipped classes. This being said, she would have never expected Itsuki or Kaito to be here…
As Haruko knelt down and placed her arms up, she looked over at Itsuki. Unlike before, Itsuki was looking down at the floor, looking very bothered. She didn’t seem mad anymore. Next to her, Kaito was visibly shaking. He looked over at Haruko and whispered.
“G-good day Ki-ki- Kita- ugh-”
Itsuki nudged him with her knee.
“Mister president, keep it together! God if you mess this up we’ll all have to do this for another 15 minutes!”
“Y-yes.. I just hav- have p-poor core strength..”
“You don’t need to explain! Just save your breath- god…”
Haruko looked up awkwardly. Kiyoshi-sensei was busy discussing something with the math teacher. There was a coffee cup right above them, on Kiyoshi-sensei’s desk. It was dangerously close to the edge…she looked back down and made eye contact with Itsuki. Both of them looked away quickly, before making eye contact again.
“Ugh this is so awkward… this is just adding to the punishment… why did we have to go and fight over something like that...”
The two were thinking of the exact same thing, unknown to them.
There was an awkward silence, as the two spoke at the same time. Itsuki coughed and started again.
“I- I wanted to say I’m sorry… I really started yelling at you over something you didn’t have any control over…”
“Eh? Ah no, no, why should you apologize? It was my fault for misinterpreting things… I didn’t know you felt that way about Kiyosh-”
Itsuki said loudly. Kiyoshi-sensei swivelled his chair around.
“What? Are you all seriously chatting right now? Another 15 minutes!”
“E-EXCUSE M-ME? TH- THAT WAS JUST ME- CO-COUGHING..”
Kaito said suddenly.
Kiyoshi looked down at Kaito and shook his head before turning back around. You could practically hear Kaito’s internal screaming. Itsuki looked at Haruko with her eyes wide open.
“You didn’t know what???”
“I- I mean I should have made the connection that you liked Kiyoshi-sen-”
Itsuki yelled, covering up Haruko’s words. Kiyoshi-sensei turned around again.
“You guys, does it seriously hurt that bad? Even elementary schoolers can do this. Keep it down, before I add more minutes.”
“Please have mercy...please have m-mercy…”
Kaito mumbled while tears fell down his face. Itsuki looked over at Haruko and grit her teeth. She shook her head around as if to say “not here! Don’t talk about it here!” but Haruko moved her head around, trying to say “he can’t hear us! He’s talking with the others!” but Itsuki frowned. She didn’t understand. Suddenly, Kaito looked at the two girls. He looked like he’d just come back to life, after seeing hell.
His face said it all. He was done for. In an instant, he fell over, his entire body lunging forward into Kiyoshi-sensei’s desk. The cup of coffee that was sitting in such a dangerous position on the desk fell over, splashing cold coffee all over the three students. Haruko and Itsuki screeched as Kaito lay motionless amidst the broken glass shards from the cup. Kiyoshi-sensei jumped up and grabbed Kaito, who had fainted.
Kiyoshi-sensei said awkwardly.
“Forgot he had low blood pressure.”
Haruko’s mouth was wide open as she looked at Kaito being dragged out the staff room’s door, out to the infirmary. Itsuki was laughing like crazy. As she caught a glimpse of Haruko’s face, she softened up and reassured her Kaito was fine.
“He’s always had low blood pressure. I just can’t believe he would fall face forward…”
The two girls' uniforms were soaked in coffee, as the other teachers gathered around and helped them up.
“Thank goodness the coffee was cold…”
One of them muttered.
The two were quickly sent to the infirmary after Kaito, just to make sure they hadn’t gotten scratched by the glass shards. Once they got there, they found poor Kaito laying in bed with a towel on his head. After getting checked by the nurse, Itsuki and Haruko were deemed good to go, but Itsuki said they should “watch over their beloved president.”
As they sat on the metal stools around Kaito’s bed, Itsuki apologized once more to Haruko.
“I’m telling you it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s quite alright, really.”
“But… What did you mean by me liking Kiyoshi-sensei??? Did this bastard here say something to you?”
Itsuki asked, pointing at the passed out Kaito.
“AH.. no he didn’t. I’m sorry I just kind of assumed… You always look at him in a certain way- blushing and all.”
Itsuki gasped loudly.
“OH NO NO NO! THAT’S NOT IT! IT'S REALLY NOT LIKE THAT!”
Suddenly, a girl appeared from behind the curtain. She looked exactly like someone Haruko knew… but who?
“Itsuki-sama gets easily embarrassed in front of Kiyoshi-sensei. She did something pretty amazing to him on accident during her first year-”
“Alright ALRIGHT WE GET IT. It- It wasn’t even that bad! I just… fell on top of him… in the hallway…. And then ripped his jacket… and-”
Haruko said, trying not to laugh. She glanced at the unknown girl.
“Wait but who? Are you? Have we met before? You look awfully like someone I know…”
The girl, whose two short braids stuck out from behind her neck, placed both hands on her hips. She was wearing Miyazaki High’s uniform and had thick glasses on.
“Sakura Omori is my name. I’m this guy’s little sister.”
She said, kicking his bed.
Haruko’s eyes went wide.
“You! The one who writes B- B- like-”
Sakura smiled wickedly.
“BL novels. That’s me!”