It is currently my third year of attending Laurent High School, and I am studying in my room. It’s the end of the first semester, just before final exams are supposed to occur, so of course, I’m studying. I usually do a lot, but this time, I was doing way more than usual — I do not want to be bested by Ren Morales again… I increased everything in order to retain more information — my handwriting is messier so that I can write more, I take quicker breaks less frequently, I demand that my parents do not bother me, and I forbid myself from contacting others…
Speaking of other people, I noticed something peculiar with Valerie… I’ve noticed that she’s been hanging out with Ren and Connie more often — I’d call her a traitor, but I honestly don’t care. She’s also such a hard-working student that mostly obtains high marks, but I noticed that they’ve been dwindling since midterms. And strangely enough, that’s when she started hanging out with Ren and Connie more. I never confirmed it, but I suspect that they did something. But I can only speculate the reason… Did Connie do something? That’s my best bet… But could Ren have done something? Someone like him discouraging learning is highly unlikely…
Tomorrow is the last day of exams… But what should I do? Should I try to repress my antagonism for Ren for now? If I do, it’ll clear my mind and I’ll be able to focus and do better… Or should I let myself be consumed by my hatred towards Ren? I feel like that’ll motivate me into doing better…
We don’t officially have school today, however, the school was open. Today is the day where some people can choose to come to the school to know their marks on the exam. And I desperately wanted to know what my marks were. And honestly, I wanted to know what Ren got…
I was running a bit late because my parents needed help with something unimportant… I was rushing to see my marks for my last class. So, while wearing my school uniform with my bag hanging over my shoulder, I barged into the classroom.
“Gah! Mrs Torrez, sorry I’m late! But I’ve come to check my marks…”
The lady with short brown hair in a clean style turned to me from behind a central desk. She showed me a friendly smile.
“Ah, good morning Ms Hollow. Of course, you would never miss a chance to view your progress…”
Mrs Torrez is more amicable with me than with other students. Others think that I’m a suck-up trying to score higher, but that’s not true. I firmly told Mrs Torrez to not give me an advantage. I think she likes me more because I frequently ask questions, participate in discussions, and try my hardest.
“Yeah, good morning…”
I was rushing… Not only because I was a bit late, but also because I really wanted to know what I scored… I was being frantic.
I ran to a table of booklets and desperately searched through them. It wasn’t long before I found the one with my name on it.
I didn’t bother to open it. Instead, I looked to the top-right corner of the first page…
One-hundred per cent… It’s good — I mean it, a perfect score on a major exam is extremely exceptional for everyone! But for me…
“Oh good morning Bailey!”
I quickly turned my head and noticed Valerie walking towards me. And behind her was Connie, still with an obnoxious smile on his face.
“V-Valerie… Good morning…”
Connie tried waving, but I interrupted him.
“Hey guys, do you know if Ren was here?”
Connie smiled suspiciously.
“Oh, looking for Ren? Interested?..”
I quickly smacked him on the back of his head.
“Not in that way… It’s serious, so shut up!”
Or at least it’s serious to me…
Connie’s smile faded when he heard the severeness in my voice. I guess he can act according to other people’s moods if someone explicitly tells him…
“Sure, Ren was here. But he left just a couple of minutes before you arrived.”
I clicked my tongue angrily.
“What? Where’s he now?”
Connie raised an eyebrow.
“Oh? Well, I assume he’s on his way home. He usually exits through the exterior door because- Okay, see ya!”
“B-Bailey? Why are you in a rush?..”
I ran off with my results before they could finish their sentences. I just needed to meet up with Ren. I needed to find out his mark. I needed to see if I finally surpassed him. I needed to find out if my hard work and preparation paid off… I needed to confirm if my theories were correct…
He’s making fun of me…
After a while of running down hallways, I finally caught up to him… I entered a stairwell and saw him nearly at the bottom. I stared at him.
Ren Morales… He was wearing the school’s uniform of a black and yellow button-up shirt with a collar and the school’s logo, and black pants. On his shoulder was his bag with the same colour scheme and logo, matching the uniform. His dark brown eyes were staring forward as he descended… I always knew that Ren was taller than me, maybe by about a head.
But I snapped back to reality when he reached the bottom. He walked down the corridor on the left of the stairs, leading behind to a door leading outside. When he left, I ran towards him.
I pushed the door open… I then took a deep breath.
“R-Ren… Hold up!”
We were on a concrete path next to a brick wall. Despite it being February, there were only occasional patches of snow on the grass. It was also pretty warm despite it being still winter.
He turned around to face me… His expressionless face… So proper… So professional… So polite… So… So irritating.
I slowly walked up to him.
“Hm? You’re Bailey, right? What do you need?”
His unfamiliarity is understandable. I’ve talked to him to ask about his progress once or twice in the past, but I mainly get the information through teachers and overhearing….
But this time, it was different — I was directly confronting him. But why? I didn’t want to ask Connie… I doubted that Mrs Torrez would have told me and instead suggested I find Ren… I’m pretty sure Valerie would have known… I’m pretty sure other people asked Ren… So why didn’t I ask my other sources? Well, my theories made me curious, so I had to confront him personally.
“Ren… Tell me… How did you do on the exams?”
“Oh? I got one-hundred on all of them…”
Tch… But why did I think he would get a lower mark?
“Is that so? Well, congratulations to you, I guess…”
My voice was gradually sounding more annoyed… My voice was gradually getting louder… My face was gradually getting warmer…
“Dammit… And how about your classes this semester? What did you get in them!?.”
Ren looked up and put his shoulder on the back of his neck.
“Oh… I got one-hundred in all of them…”
Tch… But why did I think he would get a lower mark?.. He got the same scores last year and the year before, so it’s not very surprising…
Ren turned around and began to leave. But…
“Hey, Ren… It must be nice, right!?”
I felt the bones in my body tense up… I felt my teeth grit together… I could feel myself getting a lot more irritated.
He turned back.
“Hm? What do you-”
“Oh, shut up! It must be so nice to be you!”
He tilted his head.
“It pisses me off… Seriously, it pisses me off!”
I clenched my hands into fists and bent my knee, leaning towards him.
“To be you… Gah! You’re so smart!.. You always get the highest marks!.. You are constantly at the top of the grade… But…”
I quickly shook my head and took another step towards him.
“Tell me, Ren… What am I lacking in!?”
“Tell me! Ren, I’m second in Laurent’s Top — I’m always second! Second to you! So what are you doing that I’m not!? What do you have that I don’t!? Why… Damn it, tell me, Ren, why are you so superior to me!?”
He averted his eyes. The same monotone voice… The same deadpan face… Why? Does he just not care? What is he thinking!?
“Well… I guess you have to work harder…”