Chapter 62:

Bailey Hollow: Painful Past Part 1

New Leaf!

 Ren Morales… Ren… Morales… I hate him… I hate him so much… I wish he never existed… Things would be better if he never existed!Bookmark here

At Laurent High School, there is something — a group… It is a group of students called Laurent’s Top. It is a group of twenty students — five in each grade level — who manage to maintain the highest marks out of everyone. Now, Laurent High School is not too strict on academic skills, but the masses think that they are — probably because of the top-class teachers, the high-quality facilities, and the generous funding they receive. Their public image coupled with the fact that they’re a school makes them want to encourage their students to strive for their best, so they formulated Laurent’s Top to do that. Since the school isn’t too keen on these things and all courses are not equal, members of Laurent’s Top do not get any benefits other than a medal at the end of the school year… and a feeling of accomplishment. No, Laurent’s Top doesn’t grant any physical rewards, but it’s highly known and praised throughout the school.Bookmark here

I am currently in my second year out of the four years in high school. Last year, I managed to have the third-highest mark in my grade. This year…Bookmark here

“Da, ha, ha, amn! Bailey, that’s awesome!”Bookmark here

Early into the second semester, I was sitting in the cafeteria next to Valerie — she’s my friend… That’s good… She’s very reliable, hard-working, and energetic. She’s also easygoing and is a good candidate for getting into Laurent’s Top.Bookmark here

While eyeing the paper I gave her, she was laughing.Bookmark here

“Oh man, these marks are so high. You’re so awesome!”Bookmark here

I shook my head.Bookmark here

“Oh, thanks… But it isn’t really that special, so don’t-”Bookmark here

“Are you crazy!? Really, you don’t have to act so modestly all of the time. I mean, ninety-nines in all of your courses. That’s ridiculously high! And these are relatively tough courses — that’s impressive!”Bookmark here

“I-Is that so?.. T-Than, thank you…”Bookmark here

But still, I’m kind of disappointed — these marks are something to celebrate about, but… I don’t know, I’m just not satisfied.Bookmark here

It sounds unrelated, but since Valerie started attending this school at the start of the year, she’s been my only friend. That is because I hear my peers — they resent me… Why? Well, they don’t like how prideful I act. They find my apparent modesty annoying… Bookmark here

Valerie smiled widely.Bookmark here

“So, you mentioned that you were third in Laurent's Top last year, right? So, this year, you must be first, right? Like, at the tippy top of Laurent’s Top, right?”Bookmark here

I sighed in annoyance and cast my eyes downwards.Bookmark here

“No…”Bookmark here

“Oh? Who could possibly score higher than you? I mean, you’re the most hard-working, self-disciplined, and diligent person I know!”Bookmark here

Ren Morales… Ren… Morales… I hate him… I hate him so much… I wish he never existed… Things would be better if he never existed! He’s currently at the top… And he was at the top last year… And I can’t help but antagonize him. I think he’s the reason why I seem so mad at my significant achievements. Just knowing that I’m always behind him… Just knowing I’m just one step behind him… Just knowing that he’s better than me… It pisses me off! And he is the reason I’m so disliked. I get heated when I know that I’m behind him… I try to stop feeling these emotions because they lead to negative opinions of me, but I just can’t help it! No one can stand it!Bookmark here

I responded to Valerie through gritted teeth.Bookmark here

“Ren Morales… He can score higher than me… And in fact, he’s been scoring higher than me all this time!”Bookmark here

While looking down, I slammed my fist into the table.Bookmark here

“Dammit! Damn… It… Why must he attend this school!? Why must he exist!? Why!? Why must…”Bookmark here

I slammed my fist into the table again. I saw my peers turn their heads to me in my peripheral vision, but I did not care… I saw them whisper to each other, but I did not care… Bookmark here

“G-Gah! Argh, why must he be here!? What am I doing wrong!? I’m working just as hard as him, maybe even harder, so why!?”Bookmark here

I put my hand to my forehead.Bookmark here

I rationalized that Ren is the cause of my exclusion from everyone… Ren is that hurdle that I just can’t get over… And… he’s making fun of me… Bookmark here

Hands were suddenly put on my shoulders.Bookmark here

“Ah, s-sorry Bailey! Knowing how competitive you are, I probably made you distraught, right? S-Sorry…”Bookmark here

Bailey was leaning with her arms wrapped around me — she was hugging me… It felt nice. Having a friend hug me alleviated my irritation…Bookmark here

“O-Oh… No, it’s okay Valerie. And, um, I-I’m sorry for flipping out like that.”Bookmark here

“Oh, Bailey…”Bookmark here

She pulled away and pointed her finger at me. Her face looked serious and determined.Bookmark here

“Okay, Bailey… No more being angry, okay?”Bookmark here

She’s usually like this… She does not like seeing other people distressed, so she will try to cheer them up — I bet Valerie would make for an excellent mother in the future.Bookmark here

“R-Right… Sorry.”Bookmark here

But it’s not that easy…Bookmark here

“And hey, if it makes you feel any better, think about my marks instead. They’re lower than yours, but I think they can still be considered a formidable opponent!”Bookmark here

“R-Right… T-Thanks, Valerie...”Bookmark here

But I don’t think I can stop being frustrated… Bookmark here

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