Chapter 66:

Bailey Hollow: Painful Past Part 5

New Leaf!

 I do not know how long I was unconscious… Bookmark here

What was the last thing I remembered? It was Bailey… Just outside, she was repeatedly punching me in the face. And while doing so, she was angrily telling me a lot of things… Desperate… Scared… Annoyed… Those were all of the feelings I sensed, and I let her punch me after catching her first attempt because of it. She thinks that I do not see her as competition, and that leads to her thinking that I am insulting her… But it’s just not true. Bookmark here

I think the former is correct — I indeed do not see her as a threat… It sounds mean considering that she is distressed about it, but she cannot easily change the way I feel — she was not doing enough. But, I had no intention of insulting her. It is just…Bookmark here

I slowly opened my eyes. The first thing I saw was a white-tiled ceiling. So, it is highly likely that I am still in the school… I gently tilted my head to the side. I could see curtain rails that extended to my other side. So I am in the infirmary… Bookmark here

“H-Hey Ren… You’re finally awake…”Bookmark here

On the other side of me came a familiar girl’s voice. She sounded livid… But more so, she sounded really concerned and panicked.Bookmark here

“Yo… You probably don’t want to see me, right? That’s fine. But, um… Um… S-Sorry…”Bookmark here

When I turned to look at Bailey, she apologized and was bowing.Bookmark here

“L-Look Ren… I-I know what I did was bad… And I’m not looking for forgiveness — just for an opportunity to atone… So… Sorry.”Bookmark here

For beating me, huh? It did not really hurt. Yeah, every one of her punches was at full force, but none of them hurt.Bookmark here

“Oh… No, it is fine.”Bookmark here

“What!?”Bookmark here

Bailey sighed in disbelief.Bookmark here

“C’mon Ren, I just beat the crap out of you and you’re forgiving me so easily? You’re a weird one…”Bookmark here

Bailey looked down, distressed. She looked really remorseful — she’s really guilty about the thing she did…Bookmark here

She sighed.Bookmark here

“Look, I’m no longer angry, and you can retaliate… Besides, I can’t beat up an injured person… again…”Bookmark here

Bailey sadly smiled, trying to laugh at her own joke.Bookmark here

“But it was for a good reason, right? You feel better after releasing your frustration on me, right?”Bookmark here

“It was for my personal and selfish reason! I wronged and caused you pain for such a paltry reason, so it can’t slide! Ren, give me a punishment!”Bookmark here

I sat up straight and shook my head at her.Bookmark here

“Um… You say I am the weird one, but you are acting more abnormal…”Bookmark here

She sighed again. She was calm, but I still sensed some irritation.Bookmark here

“Huh? The hell do you mean by that?”Bookmark here

“No one likes punishments… And for someone like you who wants fair penalties won't be satisfied because the penalty would be unfair…”Bookmark here

She tilted her head in confusion.Bookmark here

“If I were to retaliate, you would not be content because there is no antagonism behind it — it is totally unrelated to your fault.”Bookmark here

Bailey was left speechless and in deep thought… So it is my chance to add something.Bookmark here

“And, you say that you did this because of something trivial like your feelings. No, I think that justifies what you did… Sometimes, people’s feelings are the most important thing that matters.”Bookmark here

That is false sometimes… The physical world is very different from the emotional world, and things can happen in the physical world that cannot afford to consider the happenings in the emotional world. People’s emotions are trivial, but in this case, I will say the opposite.Bookmark here

Bailey got up.Bookmark here

“Whatever… But, um… T-Thanks for forgiving me…”Bookmark here

She turned her head from me and looked down. She still looked a bit melancholy.Bookmark here

“Um… I’ll try forgetting because you forgave, but it still irks me out!”Bookmark here

She quickly turned back to me.Bookmark here

“I hurt you… Seriously, no matter how many times you forgive me, I can’t apologize enough…”Bookmark here

Bailey is not a mean person — she can be short-tempered at times, but that does not prove that she is a mean person. And her trying to atone is proof of her nature. Hm…Bookmark here

“B-Bailey, come here.”Bookmark here

“Hm? Sure…”Bookmark here

She slowly walked towards me…Bookmark here

And when she was close enough, I moved my hands towards her forehead and flicked.Bookmark here

“Ow! Ren, what was that!?”Bookmark here

She quickly covered her forehead to heal it.Bookmark here

“Um… S-Sorry. But I figured that this would be suitable. Really, I harbour no ill will towards you. But…”Bookmark here

I looked down and put my hand on the back of my neck.Bookmark here

“Seeing how you are really bothered since you are receiving no punishment, I thought you needed that flick… S-Sorry…”Bookmark here

My apology seems unwarranted because it sort of acts as retribution for Bailey’s beating. But I am not apologizing for that reason. I am apologizing because it did not seem like my flick would fully satisfy Bailey. She talked about how she needed proper retribution for her misdeeds, but the flick had no rancour behind it, probably making it unsuitable…Bookmark here

“H-Hey Ren…”Bookmark here

I looked up to look at her.Bookmark here

“U-Um… T-Thanks…”Bookmark here

Oh. I guess there was nothing to worry about…Bookmark here

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“Ren… I-I’ll stay here for a few more minutes… You know, make sure you’re really okay and stuff…”Bookmark here

Her back was turned to me and she was looking down… Bookmark here

I nodded. But I think I am okay right now. I can leave now… But, there is something I want to say. Something to Bailey… She did not request help, but…Bookmark here

My shoulder hurts… Bookmark here

“Um… Bailey, about what happened earlier…”Bookmark here

She sighed and walked towards a nearby window to look through it. It was very sunny, and the light reflected off the occasional patches of snow on the ground.Bookmark here

“Ren? Aren’t you forgiving me for that? Though I guess I really shouldn’t complain if you change your mind…”Bookmark here

She looked down again.Bookmark here

“No, it is not that… I just want to talk about it.”Bookmark here

“What about it?”Bookmark here

She’s obviously still guilty about the beating… But it is what she was feeling I want to talk about.Bookmark here

“Well, it is about the things you said… Do you really feel that way about me?”Bookmark here

“Oh…”Bookmark here

She shook her head. Bookmark here

“Yeah… Sorry Ren, but… I-I… I h-hate you… You already know the reasons, right? I’m feeling sorry right now because of what I did to you, but to be honest, I don’t think my opinion will change… S-Sorry.”Bookmark here

I shook my head, although Bailey did not see it.Bookmark here

“You are mad because you can never surpass me. Sorry, but I do not intend on regressing.”Bookmark here

Besides, I do not think I can...Bookmark here

“And you probably would not like it if I did so for you, correct?”Bookmark here

Bailey turned and walked towards me.Bookmark here

“Hell yeah, of course! Ren, I want to beat you fair and square, so don’t ever stop being how you are!”Bookmark here

Bailey sounded determined.Bookmark here

“I see…”Bookmark here

I think that is her problem…Bookmark here

“Bailey, what do you think of me?”Bookmark here

“What? You just heard that I dislike you, right?”Bookmark here

“Oh, I know… It is just… Your anger is stressing you out. I think you should get rid of that anger.”Bookmark here

“I told you, I don’t think I can!”Bookmark here

“Bailey, you can… Just stop thinking about me…”Bookmark here

Bailey leaned towards me, putting her hands on the bed.Bookmark here

“I do not see you as a rival… And honestly, I do not think I can — and you probably will not like me pretending to see you as one. Not seeing you as a rival makes you angry…”Bookmark here

I turned to her.Bookmark here

“And to remedy that, just stop viewing me as a rival to you…”Bookmark here

She pulled back.Bookmark here

“What? Stop thinking about you? W-What?”Bookmark here

“You are obsessed with me…”Bookmark here

“H-Hey!”Bookmark here

“Oh sorry, I do not mean it in that way. What I mean is, you are so focused on surpassing me. Instead, you should think about yourself, and just yourself.”Bookmark here

She started stroking her chin.Bookmark here

“You should not let my achievements be benchmarks for yours. I mean, we are all different, so if you base your successes on mine, it will not be good for you…”Bookmark here

She nodded.Bookmark here

“Um… Based on the numbers, I am superior to you — sorry, but it is the truth…”Bookmark here

“Nah, it’s fine.”Bookmark here

“And instead of thinking that you are last in a competition between two people, think that you are first in a competition between hundreds. Or alternatively, instead of thinking you are second in a competition between five, think that you are first in a competition between four…”Bookmark here

I think I am convincing her…Bookmark here

“Overall, I am saying that you should be happy with your own achievements, and you can disregard how others perform. Actually, you can choose what you do depending on how it will make you feel. Just remember that you should not stress…”Bookmark here

“I see…”Bookmark here

Am I explaining it correctly? Is she learning? Everyone should be content with their feats. And no one should be able to make that feat seem worse…Bookmark here

Bailey leaned forward and gently slapped me on the face.Bookmark here

“Bailey?”Bookmark here

“Ren, that didn’t hurt, did it?”Bookmark here

“N-No…”Bookmark here

“Good…”Bookmark here

She smiled warmly at me despite slapping me just now.Bookmark here

“Dammit Ren… I didn’t know you were this motivational and philosophical… Hah, I’m feeling better! Thanks for the advice, Ren… However…”Bookmark here

I nodded as she walked away from the bed. She pointed at me.Bookmark here

“I won’t stop seeing you as my rival!”Bookmark here

Did my lesson not work? No, I think it affected her… Then why?..Bookmark here

“I’ll never try surpassing you — I’ll always try my best! But I don’t think I’ll let it affect me too much when I can’t…”Bookmark here

Bailey stuck her fist out towards me, asking for a fistbump.Bookmark here

“So Ren… You said you don’t view me as a rival, and you said you can’t pretend, right? Well, I see you as my rival! So Ren… How about it?”Bookmark here

She tilted her head and her smile grew larger. I could sense friendly sportsmanship in it.Bookmark here

I softly and hesitantly returned her fistbump.Bookmark here

“R-Right…”Bookmark here

“Yeah!”Bookmark here

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One afternoon during the new semester, I was sitting in the cafeteria eating lunch next to Connie with Valerie in front of us. Bookmark here

I watched as Bailey came to our table and hesitantly sat down beside Valerie.Bookmark here

“Oh?”Bookmark here

Connie started stroking his chin.Bookmark here

“Bailey? Fancy seeing you here… Hey, any particular reason?”Bookmark here

Bailey promptly shook her head and frowned.Bookmark here

“N-No, I’m just here because Valerie is here… Nothing else, idiot.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, okay, okay, right, right…”Bookmark here

“Hmph!”Bookmark here

I watched as Valerie and Connie laughed. And Bailey quickly turned her head looking annoyed, but at the same time looking at ease… Bookmark here

I have a feeling that Bailey is another person that will be joining us frequently…  Bookmark here

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