Chapter 11:

Is Aina Pare a Shipsexual?

The Mildpowered Virgins of Novylion High

‘Yeah. I really liked a garden I saw yesterday. Can we go there?’Bookmark here

‘OK.’Bookmark here

We went to the Archemperor Axgott garden. He was right. It looked so beautiful under the shining sun, with the plants still fresh and vibrant from the previous night’s rain. How ironic that something so gentle and serene would be named after a man so cruel and unforgiving.Bookmark here

‘I really love all the different kinds of chrysanthemums here. Especially the red-orange ones over there,’ I said. Bookmark here

‘I love them too. But I didn’t know their name until you told me,’ he said. Bookmark here

‘Why do you keep your hair so long, by the way?’Bookmark here

‘I jumped from the roof of my house one time and I got these really big scars on my neck. See.’ He held up the hair over his neck. They were big scars which must have stretched across his back. ‘My guṇa can only heal stuff it makes. Real ouchies are the same thing for me just like everyone. So I hide them so people don’t make fun of me. The kids at my last school made a lot of mean jokes about me because I’m short and thin. I don’t want people to make jokes about my scars. And if they find out how I got them they’ll laugh at that too and I won’t make any friends.’Bookmark here

‘I think they look cool. Like tiger stripes. I don’t think you need to hide them. You can keep your long hair if you want. But keep them if you want to have long hair, not because you’re afraid of showing your scars. And anyone who has a problem with that isn’t worthy of being your friend. And I’ll be your friend even if no one else is.’Bookmark here

‘That’s so sweet, Ai-chan.’Bookmark here

‘I know, Jajan-chan. I’m very sweet.’Bookmark here

‘You know, Papa says when people use nicknames for each other, they’re really great friends.’Bookmark here

‘You really respect your father, don’t you?’Bookmark here

‘Yes! My Papa is the best Papa in the whole world!’Bookmark here

‘And what about your mother?’Bookmark here

‘I don’t know my mother. She left when I was really small. But Papa says she is a really nice lady. Papa and I both don’t know where she is now.’Bookmark here

‘I’m sorry for asking.’Bookmark here

‘No no. Friends can ask each other anything. What are your parents like?’Bookmark here

‘My parents aren’t close either. They’re always fighting with each other about everything and they sleep separately. I don’t even know why they’re together anymore. Maybe societal pressure. Maybe because of me. I don’t know why I’m telling you this. I’ve never told anyone about it.’Bookmark here

‘Thank you for trusting me. It must be difficult.’ Bookmark here

‘Until I met you. Now, I feel like it won’t be so bad.’Bookmark here

‘Awww.’Bookmark here

‘I feel like I can tell you anything, Jajan-chan.’Bookmark here

‘Same here, Ai-chan.’ Bookmark here

‘It sounds so cute.’Bookmark here

‘Hehe.’Bookmark here

‘You look a lot like Yamukawa. But up close I can see you’re more beautiful.’Bookmark here

‘You mean Chi Man’s second girlfriend?’Bookmark here

‘Yeah! You know Chi Man?! Awesome!’Bookmark here

‘Of course. I loved watching Chi Man. Chi Man was so true to his feelings. He always asked out the girl without any hesitation and when things didn’t work out they would break up and he’d find love again. You don’t see that very often on TV.’Bookmark here

‘I like Chi Man because he defeated hundreds of monsters and he had millions of muscles. Chi Man is my favourite superhero of all time in the whole world.’Bookmark here

‘I told Hagesh and Umito you looked like Yamukawa and they didn’t know her I think.’Bookmark here

‘You saw me talking to Jitsu-senpai yesterday?’Bookmark here

‘Yeah. And the guys asked me about it so I told them. And they said Jitsu is hitting on you.’Bookmark here

‘He isn’t hitting on me. He was asking me about Pushpako-senpai.’Bookmark here

‘Who’s Pushpako?’Bookmark here

‘Pushpako-senpai is in your class. She’s my senior in the volleyball team. In the morning, Jitsu-senpai asked me about her and Puna-senpai.’Bookmark here

‘I know Puna.’ Bookmark here

‘The conversation was a little incomplete and there was a bit of a misunderstanding but I explained everything to him in recess.’Bookmark here

‘What did you explain?’Bookmark here

‘That I have no idea whether or not Pushpako-senpai and Puna-senpai like each other. I told him in the morning they didn’t and he told me during recess that he knew I had lied but that was OK and he wouldn’t trouble me further.’Bookmark here

‘Yeah. He can ask a question once a week and he can tell if you said the truth or a lie but he has to go number two after it.’Bookmark here

‘That’s… very helpful, actually, Jajan-chan. I was very confused yesterday. Anyways, I think Jitsu-senpai likes Pushpako-senpai but I think she and Puna-senpai might already be dating or something. I would have asked today but you dropped into my life. Not that I’m sad about it. Quite the opposite, in fact.’Bookmark here

‘Hagesh and Umito and Puna don’t want Jitsu to have a girlfriend because they think he won’t be able to become Head Boy later and Madam Principal will be angry if she finds out.’Bookmark here

‘I think Jitsu-senpai alone has the right to decide what he wants to do with his life.’Bookmark here

‘I think so too. You know what… I won’t help them. I said I will help them but I won’t now. Even if Madam Principal is very angry with me. I am sure Papa will understand.’Bookmark here

‘Good boy.’Bookmark here

‘Haha. Thanks.’Bookmark here

‘I’m really confused whether I should use my guṇa for Jitsu-senpai or not. He didn’t say it outright but there’s no other real reason for him to come to me.’Bookmark here

‘What’s your guṇa?’Bookmark here

‘I have the power to make anyone become mildly interested in anyone else for a day. Romantically, that is.’ Bookmark here

‘That’s a cool power!’Bookmark here

‘You don’t think it’s creepy?’Bookmark here

‘Yeah. It’s only for one day, right?’Bookmark here

‘Yes.’Bookmark here

‘And you don’t use it on anyone who already has a boyfriend or a girlfriend, right?’Bookmark here

‘Right. It’s a very weak attraction. Easily broken. And it doesn’t work if hatred is involved. It surely wouldn’t work on anyone who’s already in love. Not like I’ve tried it.’Bookmark here

‘Then what’s the problem? I think everyone needs to see everyone in a good light at least once. Papa says the world will be a much better place if we all learn to love each other. Hey, why are you crying?’Bookmark here

‘Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. No one’s ever been so kind to me. I don’t deserve you, Jajan-chan.’Bookmark here

‘Whaaa?! I just said the obvious. Stop crying or I’ll start crying too.’Bookmark here

But I couldn’t stop crying and he started crying too and we cried together for a whole minute. And then we just sat in the garden quietly for another five minutes.Bookmark here

‘You know what you could do about the Jitsu situation?’ he said suddenly.Bookmark here

‘What?’ I asked.Bookmark here

‘Use it for Puna. If she likes Puna already, it won’t make a difference and you won’t be disturbing their love by bringing thoughts of somebody else in her mind. If she doesn’t like Puna, she’ll like him for a day and then they’ll date for a little while maybe and then they’ll break up and Jitsu can go after her without any problems. And Hagesh and Umito will be happy too, for a while.’Bookmark here

‘That’s… genius.’Bookmark here

‘I know, Ai-chan. I’m a big genius.’Bookmark here

‘Yes, you are, Jajan-chan.’Bookmark here

‘Alright. I’ll do it in half an hour when class starts.’Bookmark here

‘OK.’Bookmark here

‘We should get moving too. It’s too late for me to play volleyball now but I’ll go get my bag and I’ll change into my class uniform. You should change too.’Bookmark here

‘Change?’ Bookmark here

‘Yeah.’Bookmark here

‘I didn’t know you had to change into the normal uniform if you were playing sports that day.’Bookmark here

‘You aren’t that big a genius, Jajan-chan.’Bookmark here

‘Haha. Guess I’m not.’Bookmark here

‘Just don’t show up in front of Bamunda-sensei today or tomorrow. Steer clear of him. Saturday is a holiday so we can pretend you got better over the weekend. I’ll tell him you went home for now.’Bookmark here

‘Bamunda-sensei is the sensei who was chasing me, right?’Bookmark here

‘Yes.’Bookmark here

‘See. I’m a genius.’ His smile was so pleasant. I wanted to cherish it forever.Bookmark here

‘Jajan-chan.’Bookmark here

‘Yes?’Bookmark here

‘I want you to know one more thing about me.’Bookmark here

‘What is it?’Bookmark here

‘Up until now, I thought I was a shipsexual.’Bookmark here

‘I know what that is! Hagesh was calling Umito a shipsexual yesterday. Umito really likes boats and rafts and things related to the sea.’Bookmark here

‘That’s not what I mean by shipsexual. By “ship” I mean the “ship” in “relationship”. I like thinking about other people getting into relationships and loving each other. That’s all I ever thought about when I thought about love. I thought that if everyone else loved each other, they’d be happy with each other and they’d all be happy with me too.’Bookmark here

‘So you don’t like other people’s relationships anymore?’Bookmark here

‘No. I still do. That’s a part of me that’ll never go away. But I’ve realised just now that there’s space within me for my own love too. That I need to think about myself too. That I can love somebody for myself too.’Bookmark here

‘What changed?’Bookmark here

‘You came into my life.’ He had put himself in the friendzone and now I was going to get him out of it. What a reversal of roles.Bookmark here

‘I’m in love with you, Jajan-chan,’ I said. And I meant it too. From the bottom of my heart.Bookmark here

‘Ohhh… Like, you want to be my girlfriend?’Bookmark here

‘If you’ll have me.’Bookmark here

‘That’s tricky, you know.’Bookmark here

‘Why?’Bookmark here

‘Papa says I shouldn’t get a girlfriend until I’m eighteen.’ Bookmark here

‘Why is that?’Bookmark here

‘Papa said he had a lot of girlfriends when he was a teenager and he ended up making my mother pregnant when he was seventeen and there were a lot of problems and that’s maybe why my mother left. So I should wait till I’m mature.’Bookmark here

‘And what do you want?’Bookmark here

‘I really like you, Ai-chan! I don’t know if I love you lots yet but I can’t go against what my Papa says.’ Bookmark here

‘What if we don’t do anything physical until we’re eighteen? Will he allow it then?’Bookmark here

‘Hmm… I don’t know. I never asked him about that. You know what? I’ll go ask him before I go to class and if he says OK I will be your boyfriend.’Bookmark here

‘How will you ask him before class? I can wait till tomorrow so don’t do anything that gets you into trouble.’Bookmark here

‘Papa works here in the office. Madam Principal gave him the job. I think he’ll be able to come out for two minutes.’Bookmark here

‘OK. I’ll wait for your reply. Come to me in recess.’Bookmark here

‘But you’ll be my friend either ways, right?’Bookmark here

‘Always.’Bookmark here

‘Yay! I’ll go ask right now.’Bookmark here

‘Please do.’Bookmark here

And he started hopping towards the administrative office. I finally empathised a little with all those boys I’d rejected. But my love won’t be so shallow that it disappears in a month. I’ll stay by his side no matter what he says. And I’ll still have my first love, in any case. I can keep shipping forever and ever. Bookmark here

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