Chapter 27:

Hate, Chuunibyou & Other Bemusements!

Tales of Virtual Shopkeeper

Isn’t it strange how there’s always one player in the hero’s group who has the role of a Shopkeeper? Haven’t you ever wondered who, in a world of endless possibilities, would ever choose to play the mundane role of a Shopkeeper? …That would be me, Yuu Watanabe. I get tons of customers with interesting tales to tell. The smiles on their faces as they tell me all about their latest quests and achievements is the greatest high in the world. And that is why I chose to be a Shopkeeper in Utopia Online... Of course, as I’m sure you’ve probably already guessed, I don’t spend all of my time playing this game. When I’m offline, I’m just your typical everyday third-year highschool girl.Bookmark here

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As I was walking through the crowded school hallway, I spotted a familiar figure standing tall in the sea of students.Bookmark here

“Hey! Nagi,” I called out.Bookmark here

He turned to face me and frowned. “What do you want, Yui?”Bookmark here

“I just wanted to say ‘hi’, since we’re besties and--”Bookmark here

“I’m gonna stop you right there,” he said, walking over to me and placing a finger against my lips, “Didn’t I tell you that we’re through? What part of that did you not understand?”Bookmark here

“I didn’t understand any of it,” I snapped, smacking his hand away from my mouth, “Why don’t you want to hang out with me anymore, huh?! We’ve been friends since childhood!”Bookmark here

Several students had turned to look at us, including a short girl who was strangely wearing a cape and eyepatch.Bookmark here

“You’re causing a scene,” my former best friend stated bluntly, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll be heading to class now.”Bookmark here

I don’t understand what the Hell is going on. We used to do everything together, and now he hates just me because I play a freaking videogame?! As if I was just going to stand here and take this crap! Before I knew it, my hand had turned into a fist, and said fist punched Nagisa right in his stupid face!Bookmark here

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I sat outside the principal’s office, waiting to be called inside. (Why was I the one sitting out here anyway? Nagi is the one who’s being a jerk-face!) Just then, another girl sat beside me. I recognized her as the oddly dressed girl who was staring at me in the hallway earlier. (After all, how could I possibly not remember someone dressed like that?!) The two of us shared a couple of classes, but I didn’t know her name.Bookmark here

“Hey,” she said, leaning in real close, “What are you in for?”Bookmark here

“Isn’t it obvious? It’s because I punched my best friend in the face,” I stated matter-of-factly, “Don’t you remember that? It happened five minutes ago, and you were staring directly at us.”Bookmark here

“My eyepatch inhibits my memories. It’s a curse placed onto me by a dark lord!”Bookmark here

Of course. Her outfit should have been a dead giveaway.Bookmark here

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Just great, I thought, I’m going to have to sit next to a chuuni. [TL note: Chuuni is an abbreviation of “chuunibyou” (lit. “second-year disease”, often referred to as “eighth-grader syndrome” in English), a term that was originally coined as a joke but has since become a subject of various psychology studies. Essentially, it refers to someone who acts as if they suffer from grandiose delusions, although they often tend to be fully aware that said “delusions” are not actually real.]Bookmark here

“So, what are you in for?” I asked.Bookmark here

She looked off to the side as she twiddled her thumbs.Bookmark here

“Fufu,” the chuuni girl laughed meekly, “I refused to take off my cape, even after I was told that it goes against the school’s dress code, so here I am.”Bookmark here

“Gosh, it sounds like you’re an idiot,” I sighed.Bookmark here

“H-hey! I need this cape,” she blurted out, “It increases my MP by 100 Points!”Bookmark here

“Sorry, my bad. You’re definitely an idiot,” I smirked, “This isn’t Utopia Online, you know? This is real life.”Bookmark here

“Whatever,” she pouted, slumping down into her seat.Bookmark here

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The two of us just sat there for a while in total silence. After a while, it was the chuuni who broke the monotonous silence.Bookmark here

“So, why’d you punch your best friend?”Bookmark here

“He isn’t my best friend,” I sulked.Bookmark here

“But didn’t you say that--”Bookmark here

“He was my best friend once,” I interjected, “But that’s in the past. For whatever reason, he really seems to hate my guts now.”Bookmark here

“Oh,” she said, “Why though?”Bookmark here

“If I knew why, do you think I would have said ‘for whatever reason’?!” I snapped.Bookmark here

“…Would you like to forget about it?”Bookmark here

“I wish,” I sighed.Bookmark here

“Well, I can help you with that,” the girl said, slowly lifting off her eyepatch, “Wear this cursed eyepatch and you’ll forget all your troubles.”Bookmark here

“Like Hell I will! You’re just some chuunibyou girl,” I yelled, “An eyepatch isn’t going to magically get rid of my worries! It’s time to start living in the real world, genius!”Bookmark here

“…Sorry,” she said, looking away, “I was just trying to help cheer you up, but I guess that’s another thing that I’m not good at…”Bookmark here

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I watched as a tear trickled down her cheek and landed on her one of her thigh-high socks. (I guess this girl was the type who got upset easily?) Now I felt like a total jerk. I wasn’t trying to make her cry or anything like that, I was just feeling rather angry at that moment and I let my emotions get the better of me.Bookmark here

“Hey,” I said, placing a hand on her shoulder, “I’m sorry, I’m just going through a lot of emotions right now.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, me too,” she muttered, “My friends don’t think that I’m good at anything.”Bookmark here

“Why not?” I inquired.Bookmark here

“My parents are both successful forensic scientists, but I’m just an airheaded chuunibyou girl!”Bookmark here

“I think you’re good at something,” I smiled.Bookmark here

“Really,” she beamed, “What do you think I’m good at?!”Bookmark here

Crap, I was just trying to be nice! I barely even knew this girl, how was I supposed to know what she was good at?!Bookmark here

“Uh, you’re… funny?”Bookmark here

“Really?!” she gasped, “Thanks so much!”Bookmark here

“No problem,” I replied, “My name’s Shiotani, by the way.”Bookmark here

“Glad to meet you, Shiotani! I’m--”Bookmark here

“Miss Shiotani,” a voice called out from the principal’s office.Bookmark here

“Sorry, I have to go now,” I told the shorter girl, “I’ll see you later, okay?”Bookmark here

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“Dad, I’m home,” I called out, leaving my shoes at the genkan.Bookmark here

No response, just as I expec--Bookmark here

“Welcome home, Yui,” my father called out. (Never mind, I guess.)Bookmark here

“I heard that you got sent to the principal’s office,” he said, walking over to me, “That isn’t like you, Yui. Did something happen?”Bookmark here

“It’s nothing,” I murmured. I wasn’t in the mood to tell my dad that I punched Nagisa Mul in the face.Bookmark here

“I’m not going to get angry with you, Yui. I just want to make sure that everything is going well for my daughter.”Bookmark here

“I said that it’s nothing. Can we just drop it, Dad?”Bookmark here

I walked away from my father, storming up the stairs and arriving into my bedroom. I picked up my VR headset that lay on my bed and stared at it. If I stopped playing Utopia Online, would Nagi be my friend once more?Bookmark here

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…No, that didn’t matter anymore. If Nagisa was willing to cut ties with me because of a stupid game, then he didn’t deserve my friendship anyway. At least that’s what I’m going to start telling myself, in order to cope with my feelings.Bookmark here

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