Chapter 3:


Are You Happy?

*Disclaimer and TW: this story contains content relating to eating disorders. If you have a tendency of feeling triggered by such content, please do not proceed. Otherwise, please enjoy the story.Bookmark here

“Then I guess we’ll see each other around on campus!” Yuuto says, excitedly, “Wow, I think you’ve got to be the most hardworking first-year student in uni. I mean, you’ll be ahead of everyone.”Bookmark here

“Well, I’m sure anyone would hate to fall behind in university.” Makaira says.Bookmark here

The two had sat down and talked a little bit before realizing that they are both going to Tokyo U. Makaira explained that she has been self-studying to stay ahead in classes before uni started.Bookmark here

As night falls, Makaira decides to head home and the 18-year-olds say their goodbyes.Bookmark here

The next week.Bookmark here

Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep!Bookmark here

Makaira wakes up to her alarm at 5:30 AM sharp, yet again. She goes for her morning run and takes a shower, then checks to make sure she’s got everything packed in her bag. University starts today.Bookmark here

Makaira fixes her hair one last time in the mirror before heading out. “Today will be a fresh start to another year of A grades.” Makaira says to herself.Bookmark here

Or so she thought.Bookmark here

C?! Bookmark here

Makaira freaks out internally as she flips through the baseline assessment which was handed out to her whole class by the professor just 15 minutes ago.Bookmark here

“As expected, most of you have achieved grades as low as E and some of you, D’s. But, to my surprise, we have one student who’s reached a grade C and who was actually not far from a B grade. Miss Koyanagi, you did exceptionally well among your peers, and the rest of the students in this university during their first year, for that matter. Only one person has ever gotten a C in this baseline test but he only barely reached it. Well done.”Bookmark here

The students and professor clap for Makaira as she sits there, dumbfounded and unsatisfied. Some may think that she’s utterly ungrateful and too much of an overachiever, but she was genuinely devastated she couldn’t do better.Bookmark here

“Now, for the rest of you. Don’t worry. This baseline assessment counts nothing towards your final grade and is a mere test to see where you’re at in the subject. It is completely normal to be getting a D and E, so don’t beat yourself up for it.”Bookmark here

He says that… But I’ve never gotten a grade this low.Bookmark here

One more class goes by and it’s time for lunch, but Makaira doesn’t feel too hungry, so she decides to go to the café to grab coffee.Bookmark here

Ding!Bookmark here

“Koyanagi-chan! I was wondering where you were this morning.” Hasegawa-san smiles. “Would you like the usual?”Bookmark here

“Yes, please,” Makaira answers, smiling, “And university started today.”Bookmark here

“Oh, yes! My son’s, too. Which university are you attending?”Bookmark here

“I actually met Hasegawa-kun here several days ago. We go to the same-“Bookmark here

Ding!Bookmark here

“Ugh! I forgot my umbrella. Mom? Can you pl- Ow! What did you do that for?”Bookmark here

In a blink of an eye, Hasegawa-san had walked out from the counter and towards Hasegawa-kun to hit him in the head with an umbrella. Makaira giggles softly.Bookmark here

“I specifically told you to check your bag before leaving this morning!”Bookmark here

“Mom, sorry!” the boy pleads, grabbing the umbrella to stop it from hitting him again. He peers over her shoulder and spots Makaira. “Hey! I was wondering where you were when I was eating. Did you come here to eat?”Bookmark here

“Oh, gosh. I’ll make your drink as soon as possible, dear.” The mother hurries back to the counter.Bookmark here

“It’s no rush, I have a free period before my next class.” Makaira says.Bookmark here

“You do? Me, too! What’s your next class?”Bookmark here

“Economics.”Bookmark here

“Me, too! I have Professor Yamaguchi, what about you?”Bookmark here

“We’re in the same class.” Makaira smiles softly.Bookmark here

“Great. Please watch my son and make sure he listens in class!”Bookmark here

“Mom, I’m not a kid anymore!” Yuuto whines.Bookmark here

Makaira laughs and Yuuto smiles.Bookmark here

“Her smile is beautiful.” He thinks.Bookmark here

After a while, Makaira and Yuuto had sat down in the corner table at which she always sits.Bookmark here

“How were your morning classes?” Yuuto asks.Bookmark here

“They were okay. What about yours?”Bookmark here

“The new content’s kind of difficult, but nothing too bad yet. The professors are nice,” Yuuto says, smiling. “By the way, I forgot to ask. What’s your major?”Bookmark here

“Law with a minor in business.”Bookmark here

“I’m an economics major,” he pauses before continuing, “My dad was a lawyer.”Bookmark here

“Was?”Bookmark here

“Yea, he died 8 years ago,” Makaira tries to read Yuuto’s expression, “In a car crash. He was a great man.” He finishes, smiling.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry,” Makaira answers, not knowing what to say, “Are you comfortable talking about him?Bookmark here

Yuuto looks at Makaira intently with a stern expression before softening to a smile and says, “To be honest, no. Not usually. But I’m comfortable around you and you make me want to open up.”Bookmark here

Makaira smiles at the boy and the two sit quietly, watching raindrops hit the windows. Bookmark here

“I lied.”Bookmark here

Makaira turns to Yuuto, wondering what he meant.Bookmark here

“I don’t believe my father was that great of a man.” He elaborated, showing that familiar smile of his once again. “Sure, he was a fantastic lawyer, but… He wasn’t all that good of a person.”Bookmark here

“How so?”Bookmark here

“Well, he did his job well, without a doubt. But I understand that attorneys are hired to defend their clients without questioning them, and my father… He never did. He was excellent at his job, even if it meant going against morals.”Bookmark here

Makaira contemplates for a while after hearing what Yuuto said.Bookmark here

His morals? Or yours?”Bookmark here

Yuuto turns to look straight at Makaira in the eye.Bookmark here

“You’re studying law. Do you want to become a lawyer?”Bookmark here

Makaira nods.Bookmark here

“Why?”Bookmark here

“Because I have the personality of a lawyer.”Bookmark here

“And what is that exactly?”Bookmark here

Makaira bites her lip, she’s unsure of where this conversation is going.Bookmark here

“You know exactly what that is.” She says.Bookmark here

Yuuto chuckles sarcastically, looking down and burying his face into his palms, “Yea, no, you’re right. I do.” He looks up grinning. “Is that the only reason why you want to become a lawyer?”Bookmark here

Makaira looks at Yuuto in silence for a few seconds, then looks down at her hands sitting on her lap. Bookmark here

“I have the personality of a lawyer and I think it’d be a total waste if I didn’t try.”Bookmark here

She glances up to see Yuuto staring at her, only now is she beginning to be slightly afraid that they have dove too deep into a sensitive topic. But instead, Yuuto flashes the same warm smile he did when they first met at the counter. Bookmark here

“Koyanagi-chan, I’ve only just met you, but from the first few days of observing you, I could already tell that you’re smart, hardworking, and definitely, definitely, an overachiever. How is it that you think doing anything other than law would be a waste? Tell me what you’re good at.”Bookmark here

Makaira smiles softly, “Do you really want to get me out of being a lawyer so badly?” she half-jokes, but replies Yuuto, ”I’m not really exceptionally good at anything. People think I’m smart, but the truth is, I’m just book-smart. Anyone can gain the knowledge I have by reading all the books I’ve read.”Bookmark here

“Are you sure?”Bookmark here

“Well… I used to draw a lot, but that was just a hobby. Nothing serious. Every kid’s drawn.”Bookmark here

Yuuto smiles. “Do you have any artworks which you’ve kept?”Bookmark here

Makaira shakes her head, “I always threw my artwork away after a month of so because they all end up looking too… Imperfect, eventually.”Bookmark here

“Imperfect? But art isn’t supposed to be perfect. In fact art can never be perfect. And nothing in this world can ever be perfect.”Bookmark here

“Well,” Makaira pouts, ”Things can be perfect according to my definition of perfection.”Bookmark here

Yuuto looks at the girl, confused.Bookmark here

Makaira doesn’t know why, but she feels like Yuuto is easy to talk to, “When I say things have to be perfect, I mean I expect them to meet a certain standard which I’ve set for myself.”Bookmark here

“I see. That’s an interesting way of looking at perfection.”Bookmark here

Makaira shrugs.Bookmark here

“Is that why you stopped drawing? Because the art could never be perfect?”Bookmark here

“No, not really. I just didn’t see a purpose in drawing anymore. Art is like a childhood dream, an unrealistic one. My parents are both successful businesspeople and they expect me to follow their paths similarly. I eventually did, hence why I’m here now.”Bookmark here

Yuuto sighs and scratches his neck. “Is that also why you’re always studying, too? To be as perfect as you expect yourself to be?”Bookmark here

Makaira nods.Bookmark here

“Do you have standards in terms of… Physical ‘perfection’?”Bookmark here

Makaira looks at Yuuto, wondering what he was implying by that.Bookmark here

“Physical perfection?”Bookmark here

Yuuto looks anxious and stays quiet for a moment.Bookmark here

“Do you have a standard for physical appearance as well?”Bookmark here

A distorted filter fades and reveals Makaira to be an awfully skinny girl and who has apparent dark circles under her eyes. Yuuto glances at the clock and gasps.Bookmark here

“Our class! We’re going to be late for our class!”Bookmark here

Makaira’s eyes widen and she immediately springs up, grabbing her bag, ready to go. But to Yuuto’s horror, right as Makaira turns, she collapses without warning, almost hitting her head on the table before the boy shielded her head with his arm and using his other to keep her from falling to the ground completely.Bookmark here

“Koyanagi-chan!”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.