Chapter 6:

False Reality

TRUE false

The trip was over and I was back at my home. Whether it was good or bad, I couldn’t say. I did enjoy most of it, but how it ended changed everything. I had planned to ask Yukawa out on this trip, but before I could do that, a realization came to me. And the one who brought it was Yukawa herself.Bookmark here

All my life I had been compared to my father and sister, compared and looked down upon. I always believed that the ones who did it were wrong and that I have to prove it to them. I lived my life up to this point for that sole purpose. That was the only thing that drove me, but just as she said, everything I did, it was not for me, I did it to prove the others wrong, I did it for their sake, not mine.Bookmark here

I wanted to stand on the same level as my father and sister, but I didn’t even know what level they were on, where they stand is not stationary, my sis continues to move forward in chase of her dream, and my father continues to reach new heights. There was never any chance for me to catch up to them.Bookmark here

And still, even though I know that now, it doesn’t change anything. It’s still a fact that I’ve lived my life for that single purpose, I never had anything else, I never had, never will. So as delusional as it may be, my only option is to continue chasing after that goal. After all, what else can I do?Bookmark here

I can’t go after Yukawa anymore. She said it herself, my goal isn’t even worth pursuing in her eyes, will she even stay friends with someone like that? A relationship is out of the question. And besides, for someone with an impossible goal such as myself, no amount of solitude is enough. If I still wish to continue to pursue my goal, I’ll have to let go of all distractions, and focus solely on studies. Because I don’t have any other option. I have to get to the top rank, or my life is over. Because other than that I have no purpose.Bookmark here

Knowing the only option I have to me, I focused on that. I pretty much sealed myself in my room, only leaving it when it’s unavoidable, trying to study the whole vacation. Even though now I knew how things were, it didn’t help me concentrate. Even more than before, now all sorts of things were popping up in my head as I tried to concentrate. Still, I kept on trying, because that was the only thing I could do.Bookmark here

Little by little, the distractions were reduced. It’s been seven days since the trip and today is the 6th of August. Little by little I’m starting to get over Yukawa, this is for the best, at this rate I might be able to forget about her. I guess my love for her was just attraction. I mean when I try to think about it, why would I fall in love with her? All she did was ask me for help from time to time, there wasn’t anything else. I can’t recall any reason for me to fall in love with her. There was that one thing, that I couldn’t think in her presence, but that was nothing more than her overwhelming me, she is the polar opposite of me, it’s only natural she’ll overwhelm me. When she talks, she says the thing I can hardly even think of, and that’s what got me. Other than that, there wasn’t anything, nothing that could count as something that would make me fall for her, I was just attracted to her beauty. That night, during Sis’s birthday party, when I saw her in that red dress, I got attracted to her. It wasn’t love, it was just a diversion of my youth. But now that I’m aware of it, it makes things easier. Now I can move on, without having to regret anything. It’s weird, even though I was starting to get over her, thinking that to myself still hurts. I feel sad, sad, and lonely.Bookmark here

Bottling up everything else inside me and trying to forget about them, I struggle. Days pass, weeks pass and I struggle. Two more weeks have passed since then and today is the 20th of August. The last day of the vacation is 31st August and the school reopens on 1st September. For the last 21 days, I’ve done nothing but study. I haven’t left my room for anything other than the bathroom and food. That’s become my life now. All I had was my goal of becoming the top-ranking student of St. Stephen’s International school, and the only way to achieve that goal is to burn myself, so that’s what I’ve been doing. After all this time now finally, I can focus without thinking about anything else, without having that girl take over my mind. Nothing cloud’s my eyes anymore, no one can fool me. All of them, Kenzo, Nozomi, Sasaki, and Yukawa are my rivals, nothing more nothing less. All I care about is defeating them and rising to the top rank and achieve my goal so that I can… I can… I can, what?Bookmark here

Akio the dinner’s ready!Bookmark here

I heard the calling of my sister. Her voice sounded like coming from afar, maybe she just came upstairs and called me from the stairway. But hearing her voice reminded me.Bookmark here

Oh, yeah. I’ve gotta get to the same height as them because I’m their equal, I’m not below them, like everyone around me has always told me. They were all wrong, I’m just as capable as both of them! All those who told me that I was below them, I’m gonna show them, just how wrong they were. My relatives, my classmates, Tomonaga and Her. She was the same, she also thought that I am below them, that I am below her, just because she had some silly dream or whatnot. I’m gonna prove her wrong, I’m gonna prove I’m better than her.Bookmark here

I went to the dining room to eat dinner.Bookmark here

Hmm… are you okay? Akio.Bookmark here

Huh?Bookmark here

Is everything alright with you?Bookmark here

Of course, it is! Why do you ask?Bookmark here

Oh, it’s just that, you’ve seemed different since you came back from your trip. Did something happen there?Bookmark here

Nothing in particular.Bookmark here

You didn’t even tell your stories. What did you do there? Did you have fun?Bookmark here

Sis, I don’t have time to talk about that stuff. I’m done eating, I’m going back to my room to study.Bookmark here

Akio, wait! You haven’t been doing anything but study in your room. You didn’t even meet with Kenzo when he came to visit. It’s important to take a break from time to time too.Bookmark here

I can’t take breaks. I don’t have that luxury, it’s something only people like you can enjoy.Bookmark here

Akio, I don’t understand what you’re saying. Please just listen to me! Go out, meet with your friends, you’re not a machine, take some time to relax.Bookmark here

I don’t have friends, they’re my rivals, who right now in this exact moment are doing everything they can to take my spot. I can’t relax. Now excuse me.Bookmark here

Before Sis could say anything else, I left the dining room and went back to my room to study. That’s all I’ve been doing for the last 20 days, ever since that day.Bookmark here

That day, when we returned to the hotel, we were told by our teacher to pack our stuff and meet in the lobby in twenty minutes. I parted ways with Yukawa and went to my room to get my stuff. When I arrived on the second floor, I found both Kenzo and Nozomi, waiting for me in the corridor.Bookmark here

KENZO- ‘How did it go?Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘Did you say it? Did you confess?Bookmark here

KENZO- ‘Did you even talk to her?Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘What happened after we left?Bookmark here

Nothing.Bookmark here

BOTH- ‘Huh?Bookmark here

Nothing happened. Nothing will happen.Bookmark here

KENZO- ‘What do you mean ‘Nothing happened’? Were you silent the whole time?Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘Did you not talk about anything?Bookmark here

No, it’s over.Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘What?Bookmark here

I didn’t, okay? It’s over now!Bookmark here

KENZO- ‘Oh, come on dude! I was just kidding. That wasn’t your last chance, you’ll get plenty more.Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘Yeah! Once the school starts, we’ll get back on it.Bookmark here

KENZO- ‘Yeah! So don’t get discouraged, you can do it next time. We’ll always help you.Bookmark here

No, I don’t want your help. I already said it’s over. I’m not gonna go after Yukawa anymore.Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘Hey, come on you can’t give up that easily, she hasn’t turned you down you know, you haven’t even asked her out.Bookmark here

KENZO- ‘Exactly! At least try before giving up.Bookmark here

How many times will I have to repeat myself, I’m not gonna go after Yukawa anymore, and I don’t want your help. Just leave me alone.Bookmark here

With that, I went inside the room, picked up my bag, and left for the lobby. In the lobby I tried to avoid all three of them, I mixed in the crowd so they wouldn’t notice me.Bookmark here

Two buses were arranged to take us to the station, I waited for all of them to board one, and I boarded the other one. I avoided them on the station as well and made it home without engaging in any other conversation.Bookmark here

I arrived at home at around, 6 PM. I was frustrated, tired, and depressed, and I didn’t want Sis to see me like this, because I didn’t want her to get worried, and fortunately, she was out with her friends when I arrived. But I had to face her later when she returned at around 8 PM.Bookmark here

Just like last time, she entered my room without knocking. It wasn’t anything new for me, she always does that, so it didn’t surprise me.Bookmark here

You’re back, Akio! How was your trip?Bookmark here

I didn’t want to talk about it. What could I say? Messed up? From the beginning to the end, that trip was a roller coaster for me, at times I had a lot of fun, at others it was miserable, but the end was, devastating. How could I say that to her?Bookmark here

Hhh… It was… It was Ok.Bookmark here

What’s the matter? Are you Okay? You seem a little down.Bookmark here

No, I’m fine. I’m just a little tired. I’m gonna go to sleep, Sis.Bookmark here

Oh… sure I’ll get out of your hair. Good night, Akio!Bookmark here

Good night, Sis.Bookmark here

She left my room and I turned off the lights and went to bed. I told her I was going to sleep. She believed me because it was obvious that I’d be tired after coming back from a trip, but I didn’t sleep at all that night. Yukawa’s words and my way of life up till now, contradicting each other. These thoughts didn’t let me sleep.Bookmark here

My life completely changed, after that night. But things haven’t exactly been better for me. Even after all this time I still can’t sleep at night, I try and try but just can’t fall asleep. I have a slight headache almost all the time. My eyes are dead red and I always feel a lack of energy. But it’s all not for nothing. After burning myself, and making a mess of myself physically, I’ve improved my intellectual performance significantly.Bookmark here

It’s crazy how much a person can change in just a short amount of time. Just a few weeks ago I couldn’t understand most of what is easy for me now. I can even solve a lot of complicated mathematical equations now. Nothing distracts me anymore, but that doesn’t mean my focus is razor-sharp, I just don’t think of anyone anymore, even if some of their faces pop up in my head, all I see are rivals. I don’t care about anyone anymore.Bookmark here

This is for the best. This way I can achieve my goal. It doesn’t matter if I have a larger goal or not, I can still become rank 1. If this is the only way I have, I’ll do all I can, I’ll put all my efforts and keep walking this very path and achieve my goal. And if I couldn’t, even after pushing as hard as I could, even after burning myself like this, then I truly don’t have any potential, then my entire life was a waste.Bookmark here

It’s 1st September, today is the first day of school after the vacation. Today I’ll see them all after all this time. Honestly, I wish the vacation had never ended. I know how they’ll react, Kenzo and Nozomi, they’ll try to convince me to not give up on Yukawa. Jeez, what a pain! Why do they care so much anyway? Oh, yeah! How did I not think of it before? It’s obvious, those two, they just want to reduce competition for themselves. And I don’t think they even see me as a threat. What they were planning to get rid of was Yukawa, one of the competitors for the top. In their eyes, I am just a failure who’ll soon be out of the toppers. Fine then, I’ll show those two, that just how wrong they are.Bookmark here

I took my time standing outside the classroom so that I can enter exactly before the class starts, to avoid getting into any conversations. As soon as I entered, I noticed four gazes at me, but before they could react, right after me, our homeroom teacher entered the classroom. I went to my seat and sat down. Nozomi tried whispering to me, but I ignored her.Bookmark here

The classes went by and I kept ignoring everyone. Lucky for me, today we had our P.E. class right before the lunch break, so I managed to avoid them during lunch as well. When the bell rang for the lunch break, I headed to the cafeteria and spent the break there, after that I went back to the class moments before the teacher could enter. But I couldn’t avoid them forever, as soon as the final bell of the day rang, and the teacher left our classroom, they got their chance.Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘Akio… are you okay?Bookmark here

I’m fine.Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘You don’t look fine to me.Bookmark here

Then something’s wrong with your eyes.Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘Huh.Bookmark here

TOMONAGA- ‘Hey! Mind your words. You’re being rude.Bookmark here

KENZO- ‘You stay out of this.Bookmark here

TOMONAGA- ‘I have no intention of being a part of it anyway.Bookmark here

KENZO- ‘What’s the matter with you, Akio? You didn’t even meet me when I came to your place.Bookmark here

I was busy.Bookmark here

KENZO- ‘Busy doing what? Just what have you been doing for the last month? Your face looks so pale.Bookmark here

What I’ve been doing you ask? What I should’ve done from the start. You don’t need to worry about my looks, how I look is not a matter of concern for me.Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘You’re suffering, aren’t you? I can tell by the look on your face. Anybody who cares about you could tell, and you’re not concerned about it?Bookmark here

You care for me, huh? Well, don’t! I don’t need your care.Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘It’s not something I can stop doing just because you ask me to. And Chizuru won’t like to see you like this either. Do you want to worry her as well?Bookmark here

Yukawa? Why would she care? And why would I care about what she thinks.Bookmark here

KENZO- ‘You may not have confessed your feelings but she still considers you her friend, she does care about you.Bookmark here

Oh yeah, then where is she now?Bookmark here

YUKAWA- ‘Where is who?Bookmark here

She said as she walked to us, joining our conversation.Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘Chizuru? When did you get here?Bookmark here

YUKAWA- ‘I was planning to talk with Takase since morning, I came as soon I finished my duties.Bookmark here

KENZO- ‘See?Bookmark here

YUKAWA- ‘Are you okay, Takase? You seem awfully pale.Bookmark here

I’m totally fine.Bookmark here

YUKAWA- ‘You don’t look fine to me, your eyes are red, you have dark circles and you look so out of it.Bookmark here

It’s your imagination.Bookmark here

YUKAWA- ‘It’s plainly apparent!Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘All of us are worried about you. I understand that you’re depressed but just know we’re all here for you.Bookmark here

Here for me? how exactly?Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘We’ll always help you. There will be more chances so don’t give up hope. Get back to how you used to be.Bookmark here

Of course, that’d be so much better for you, won’t it?Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘Huh, what do you mean?Bookmark here

You’re just so full of it, Nozomi! Pretending as if you care about my wellbeing.Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘Pretending? I do care about you! We’re friends, after all.Bookmark here

Friends? Give me a break. This isn’t your ordinary high school, it’s St. Stephen’s, the most prestigious high school in the country. The only thing the students attending this school are to each other is rivals.Bookmark here

YUKAWA- ‘You’re still talking like that? Don’t tell me that’s the reason you’ve been like that lately.Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘What is she talking about? What’s gotten into you Akio?Bookmark here

Will you drop the act already? I’m not falling for your schemes again.Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘What?Bookmark here

What? You thought I won’t realize it? I know the only reason you were trying to help me was so that you could reduce competition for yourself. You tried getting me hooked to some girl so that I would be too distracted to focus on my studies. That’s what your real goal was, right?Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘What? No! is that what you think of me. Do you really believe I could do something like that?Bookmark here

Believe? I know you would do it. You have some grand goal, right? Why won’t you do anything you can to achieve that.Bookmark here

I realize she was crying, tears were coming down her eyes. She was definitely hurt, hurt by my words. But I couldn’t see it then, I was blinded by my emotions, rage, frustration, sorrow, all of these clouded my eyes, I couldn’t see I was hurting someone who genuinely cared for me, and I kept on hurting her.Bookmark here

You wanna know what I think of you? I think you’re a selfish, annoying busybody who can’t even get to rank 5 without cheap tactics.Bookmark here

She cried out loud, just for a moment, before she covered her face with her hands. I guess it was too much for her to handle. For the kind of person, she was, it was probably the first time someone said something like that to her.Bookmark here

The pain I caused her verbally was returned to me physically by Tomonaga. Right after I blurted out that last word, he punched me.Bookmark here


His punch caused me to lose balance and I fell to the ground. Kenzo tried to hold him off as he tried to hit me further. This action of his only added to my fury. I’ve always hated him. And now I had an excuse to blow off some steam.Bookmark here

You wanna take this outside?Bookmark here

TOMONAGA- ‘Let’s go you piece of shit.Bookmark here

I headed toward the playing area. He followed after me and the others followed after him trying to stop him. Their efforts were in vain because there was no persuading him, he was furious. They didn’t even try to persuade me, which was a good choice, since I was just as furious if not more.Bookmark here

We’re here fatass. Bring it on.Bookmark here

He came charging at me, trying to land another punch but failed. I dogged him easily. And then I landed a punch on him instead. He fell on his back from the impact, but stood back up pretty soon, and tried to hit me again and again and I dogged all of his attacks, I paid him back with an elbow to his guts, followed by a fist to his nose. This made him lose his balance and then I launched a series of attacks. In terms of physical strength and fighting skills, he was never any match for me.Bookmark here

What’s wrong, Fatass? You’re not so full of yourself anymore? That kind of attitude won’t help you in a fight you know.Bookmark here

Hey! Are you not even gonna try to defend yourself? Come on, try to calculate the speed of my fists and come up with a solution! Aren’t you a math nerd? Aren’t you better than me?Bookmark here

I concluded both my verbal assault and physical assault with a final punch to his face, which made him fall to his back. After seeing him fall, I started walking in the other direction, but then I heard him speak.Bookmark here

TOMONAGA- ‘I… I’m… I’m better…Bookmark here

What was that?Bookmark here

TOMONAGA- ‘I’m better than you… you bastard.Bookmark here

How delusional can you be? You’re the one who’s on the ground.Bookmark here

TOMONAGA- ‘I don’t care about pesky little fights like this. I’m better than you in the long run. I’m a better student than you. I’m more worthy of being a topper.Bookmark here

He stood back up as he said that.Bookmark here

You’re just rank six, you’re not in the toppers. If only just hatting me would grant you any points, then you’d be leagues ahead of the whole student body, but as soon as we compete, the difference between you and me becomes obvious. You’re no match for me with fists or paper.Bookmark here

TOMONAGA- ‘You’re wrong!Bookmark here

Huh?Bookmark here

TOMONAGA- ‘The only subject in which you surpass me is Physics, in everything else I’m the same if not better than you.Bookmark here

You’re only better than me in Math.Bookmark here

TOMONAGA- ‘Your English is better than mine, but my Japanese is better than yours, that makes us equal in language but I score better than you in both Math and chemistry.Bookmark here

I don’t want to be part of this children’s tantrum. I’m leaving.Bookmark here

The only reason you have a better rank than me is art. You score much better in art than me, which gives you a boost in your overall score. But we’re science students! If only the scores in our main subjects are evaluated, I’ll rank higher than you.Bookmark here

Is that so? And you think I’m stealing your place? Is that why you hated me?Bookmark here

Of course, you had everything I ever wanted, even though you didn’t deserve it. The toppers get to study in the best universities, but what good would that do to someone like you? You’re not even that bright in science, then why would you get to go to a top-class science college?Bookmark here

Is that all?Bookmark here

When you told us that you like Yukawa, both Ishiguro and Nozomi cheered you on and supported you.Bookmark here

YUKAWA- ‘WHAT?Bookmark here

This idiot. Does he not understand what he’s saying? She standing right behind him. Well, not that it matters anymore.Bookmark here

When I told my friends about the one, I like, they all told me I was no match for her. That she would never go out with someone like me. But your friends supported you. Why? Why did you always get everything? Why was I always rejected by everyone?Bookmark here

And that’s why you took that role in my life. You’re pathetic.Bookmark here

Whatever I may be, I’m still better than you, I never had anyone to support me, but you did, how did you pay them back? By hurting those very people who tried so hard to help your incompetent ass. You’re rotten to the core, Bastard!Bookmark here

Looks like you haven’t learned your lesson yet.Bookmark here

Before I could do anything to Tomonaga, Kenzo interfered. This time stopping me by blocking my way.Bookmark here

KENZO- ‘Nozomi, Yukawa, take Tomonaga to the infirmary!Bookmark here

NOZOMI- ‘Okay!Bookmark here

Yukawa- ‘Huh? Oh, Alright.Bookmark here

Get out of my way. I’m not done talking to him.Bookmark here

KENZO- ‘What’s gotten into you! Snap out of it already.Bookmark here

No, what’s gotten into you, Kenzo? Have you lost your sight?Bookmark here

What?Bookmark here

Can’t you see? I’m not happy. This isn’t exactly a happy time in my life.Bookmark here

What are you talking about?Bookmark here

Now, don’t play dumb, you dual-faced bastard! You only join me in the happy times of my life. When it starts to get dark and gloomy, you tuck your tail between your legs and leave.Bookmark here

Akio… it’s not like that.Bookmark here

It’s not like what, huh? You just disappear one day all of sudden, you don’t call, you don’t visit, you do nothing. And then one day suddenly reappear out of nowhere and just behave like nothing’s happened. Like the last five years didn’t happen.Bookmark here

Akio, listen to me.Bookmark here

No, you listen to me. What happened to you? We were best friends! Then why did you not say anything to me? Was it like Tomonaga for you too? Did you hate me as well? Because I had everything you ever wished for? I bet you must’ve been really happy when you heard the news of my mom’s death.Bookmark here

Every sound around me disappeared for a moment, I could see the sky, but my vision was slightly blurred, and moments later I found myself on the ground, and my face was hurting. I was punched, Kenzo punched me.Bookmark here

KENZO- ‘Don’t say another word!Bookmark here

I stood back up.Bookmark here

Why huh? Does it hurt because it’s the truth? After your mom died, you must’ve been jealous of me too. You must’ve hated me and so my mother’s death must’ve pleased you.Bookmark here

Enough! You’re not Yourself right now. Go home!Bookmark here

Still playing the good guy, huh? You really piss me off.Bookmark here

This time I charged towards him with the intent to hit him, and I was met with the same fate as Tomonaga. I’ve never beaten Kenzo in a fight before. Even though I knew that I still couldn’t stop myself anymore. All the resentment, all the rage I kept bottled up inside me all this time, busted out at this moment. Even after getting hit, I attacked Kenzo again and again.Bookmark here

I tried to punch him, but he dogged and landed one on me instead, then I tried to hit him with my elbow the same way I did to Tomonaga, but he blocked it, and grabbed my arm, he twisted it and then kicked me behind a knee. I fell on my knees and He turned me around and shoved me down. He got me down and started hitting me.Bookmark here

KENZO- ‘You think you’re the only one suffering? You think you’re the only one who has it rough?Bookmark here

You were compared to your father and sister your whole life, but I… I was compared to you.Bookmark here

We were always equal, in every exam, in every subject, you never bested me, not once.Bookmark here

After hitting me so many times, that my nose bleed and my face was swollen, he finally stopped.Bookmark here

KENZO- ‘You’re right! I did hate you! There was no reasonable explanation about what makes you so special. And yet everyone around me, even my own father kept telling me to be like you. No one noticed how good I was, they just keep singing songs of your praise. ‘Like father like son.’, ‘He’s a Takase after all.’, ‘Son of Nobel laurate would be on the same level’. There was no end to it all.Bookmark here

Everything he was saying was a surprise to me. I could never believe the same people who always talked me down would praise me behind my back. But even if I wanted, I couldn’t say anything. My face was swollen and didn’t have enough energy.Bookmark here

KENZO- ‘You’re right, I was jealous of you, why did people praise you so much? What made you so special? Just because of your father? I couldn’t find answers to any of these questions. How could I? I had no one to ask?Bookmark here

Unlike you, I didn’t even have a mother. My mom died right after my birth. So, who could I talk to?’Bookmark here

‘But I found someone who understood me, I found someone to talk to. It was Aunty Saeko, it was your mother.Bookmark here

She was the closest thing to a mother to me. So don’t you dare say anything about her death!Bookmark here

At that point, I was at a loss for words. I couldn’t speak before, but now, even if I could I didn’t know what to say.Bookmark here

I had no intentions of being a part of your happy or miserable life. I never wanted to be a part of your life at all. The only reason I visited your house. The only reason I became a part of your life was because of your mom.Bookmark here

After saying everything he wanted, he left. I was still on the ground and there was no one else around. Yukawa and Nozomi took Tomonaga to the infirmary, I was all alone. I stood up and started heading home.Bookmark here

I arrived at home and found that sis was out with her friends. It was fortunate, I didn’t want her to see my injuries, it would’ve been difficult to explain them to her.Bookmark here

I don’t regret anything. It was good that things got cleared today. At least now I don’t have to see their facade. Now I know exactly how they feel. They all hate me. And after what I did, I’m sure Yukawa and Nozomi hate me as well. No problem. It’s better than being fake friends.Bookmark here

Even if Nozomi didn’t hate me before, she still tried to manipulate me and get me to lower my guard, so she could take my spot. And Tomonaga was never a friend to begin with. Kenzo is the one who surprised me the most.Bookmark here

I could expect him to hate me, but everything else he said was something I never even imagined. He admired my mom. She was a mother figure to him. Give me a break. What bullshit is this? I don’t even know what to think about it, and why should I? Mom is no longer alive, and Kenzo has nothing to do with me anymore. Why should I concern myself with them? The only thing I should be concerned about is my studies.Bookmark here

I didn’t go to school for the next week. When Sis saw my injured face, I told her I got caught in an accident. She had her doubts but ultimately believed me.Bookmark here

Before I went back to school, I submitted an application to get my class changed. Previously I was in class 1 A, and I shifted to class 1 B. This was so I could avoid the four of them. I came to school just before the classes start and left right after dismissal. I even changed clubs. I did all I could to avoid them. And luckily it worked, I never ran into any of them throughout the whole school. Maybe they didn’t want to run into me either.Bookmark here

I went to school and returned home, not doing anything in between. At home, I studied and only studied. Pretty much the same way I did during the summer vacation.Bookmark here

Time passed and exams came. All my efforts paid back, I ascended from rank 4 to rank 3 surpassing Yukawa. I’ve already beaten the girl, who challenged my ways. The only ones remaining to take down were Kenzo and Sasaki.Bookmark here

With me entering my second year, the school life of Sis came to an end. She graduated from St. Stephen’s international school at the top rank, as expected of her. She aced the entrance exam of the University she was aiming for and went to the U.S. to study and live with our father.Bookmark here

I was now all alone in our mansion, but I didn’t feel any difference. I’ve started living like this a long time ago. So, none of it felt like anything new to me.Bookmark here

My health condition wasn’t any better, I could sleep even less now. And with Sis gone, most of the food I ate was from the convenience store. For all three meals, I survived on cup noodles and packed food. My eyes looked dead, I got thinner, my head hurt all the time. But it was all worth it. Now I was rank 3 and I could improve further. I stuck to the same routine.Bookmark here

Time kept passing, we had another exam, and I ascended to rank 2. I was back to the spot I started. Now I could aim to improve further and aim for the top rank.Bookmark here

By the time I made it to rank 2 again, I had lost 5 kilos, my head feels dizzy from time to time, and whenever I look at books my head hurts like hell. I still continue, bearing all the pain, I keep burning myself. I didn’t go on the school trip this year and stayed home the entire vacation only leaving for cram school. I couldn’t walk for more than 30 minutes anymore without feeling dizzy, but it was all worth it, if I could become rank 1, it was worth it. But it didn’t go that well.Bookmark here

As I entered my third year, I fell back to 4th. All the effort I had put up until now, wasted. It left me devastated, I couldn’t do anything about it, except raging over my own incompetence. Even still, no matter how much tormented I was mentally and physically, I couldn’t do anything else, I had no other options, this was still the only path I could take.Bookmark here

I continued to do the same thing I’ve been doing for the last year. But now it has become much harder. I couldn’t focus, my head hurts, it hurts so bad. I couldn’t see clearly what’s written in the textbooks. I couldn’t sleep, and I didn’t even have the energy to stay awake. It was hell, but I had planned to burn myself in that hell from the beginning, and it’s not like I had any other way. So continued, all the same.Bookmark here

Later, my rank fell to 5th. I couldn’t improve, I couldn’t improve at all. Even though I burned myself, even though I did everything I could, I didn’t improve. The final exams were just months away and I was on rank 5. I did all I could, if I didn’t make it to the top rank, that only means that I was not capable of it, I’m not on the same level as them, that’s the reality, the reality she spoke of. But I’ve come too far to give up now. I have to keep going no matter what happens.Bookmark here

I applied for the entrance exam of the university Sis has joined. And went back to preparations. I felt like I was back to square one, nothing written on the books made sense to me. It was the very same stuff I had learned a few months ago. The same stuff that was on the exams that I aced, still I couldn’t understand them anymore. I forgot. That must be it. I kept learning new things but forgot what I had previously learned, that’s what caused my rank to fall. But I don’t have time to revise everything. I’ll just have to try my best. What else can I do anyway?Bookmark here

I gave the final exams for the high school and the entrance exam for the university. And today was the announcement of the results for the entrance exam. I checked for them as soon as they were posted.Bookmark here

I failed. I didn’t make the cut.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.