Chapter 2:

The Girl In Red...Plus Boyfriend

Dating My Sister's Crush's Sisters!

I clutched the book in my hand as the train came to a stop. A sea of students leisurely entered the cabin, chatting between each other while some giggling at one another’s jokes.Bookmark here

They wore the black uniform of the school I attended, which meant that in terms of age we were in the same ballpark. Like most people my age, they pulled out their phones as soon as they took a seat, smiling creepily as they scrolled. I realized that made me sound like some old man who couldn’t get with the times, and in a way, I guess that’s exactly what I was.Bookmark here

“…just read…” I told myself under my breath, forcing my eyes to the paperback in my hand.Bookmark here

At the speed I flipped the pages, one would imagine I was a literary genius, but I was far from that. I wasn't really pay much attention to the book. I read mostly to pass the time so there was not much reason to pay attention.Bookmark here

“…They had taken her again, gulled her again, made the butt again…” I read out loud, “...She could smell herself and it was the stink of blood, the awful wet, coppery smell…Bookmark here

The book was written by a popular author, and from what I understood, was his first work. It had an odd premise, but it wasn’t anything too surprising. Granted, it was written decades ago, so maybe it was more unique then.Bookmark here

At the very least it was one of the few books which the premise made me want to read it.Bookmark here

“Is that Stephen King?” A voice asked from my right.Bookmark here

The soft voice came from a girl I didn’t recognize. Her chocolate hair was short and wavy, contrasting her pale skin that had just the slightest touch of makeup. She wore my school’s uniform and looked neatly ironed, unlike my wrinkled shirt and pants.Bookmark here

Her eyes glowed as she awaited my response.Bookmark here

“Yeah,” I said with a nod.Bookmark here

“Are you a fan of Stephen King?” She asked enthusiastically.Bookmark here

“Don’t know yet.”Bookmark here

“I see.” I could see her enthusiasm fading away. It seemed that my short responses were slowly making her back away. “So, Carrie is the first novel of his you’ve read?” She tried to power through.Bookmark here

“Yeah.”Bookmark here

“Well, it was the first novel he had published so I guess it makes sense.” She awkwardly laughed.Bookmark here

I noddedBookmark here

“Well,” She started with what sounded like a sigh. She was probably getting the message that I didn’t want to talk. “You should definitely read more of his stuff. It’s really good.”Bookmark here

“I will.” I plainly answered before focusing back on the book.Bookmark here

After that short exchange, the girl stopped talking to me. Even though she was alone on the train, she much preferred being on her phone than basically talk to a brick wall.Bookmark here

As the train made it to the destination, I stayed seated until some of the other students up front left the cabin. The girl next to me did the same until there was enough room to leave. She quickly stood, made sure her skirt wasn’t messed up, then began walking.Bookmark here

“…Sorry…” I whispered without looking at her.Bookmark here

In the bustling train, I doubted she could’ve made out anything I said, or even the fact I said anything at all. I didn’t know why I was apologizing in the first place, but it just came out naturally as I saw her leave.Bookmark here

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After putting my shoes in my locker, I beelined for my classroom.Bookmark here

A few people turned to look at me as I opened the classroom door but turned away just as quickly. I skipped past the few students sitting in the front row and stopped at the last seat near the window. Being the first person in the column wasn’t favorable, but it wasn’t like I had much of a choice.Bookmark here

“Good morning, Noro!” waved the girl sitting in the seat behind mine.Bookmark here

Her bubbly eyes and wide smile gave off a childish aura whenever she spoke. Dark red strands flowed down her shoulders and back. Thin rimmed glasses rested on her small nose bridge with a decorative flower on the side. A small teddy plush pin was attached to the left side of her chest.Bookmark here

Her forehead was glistening with sweat like she had sprinted her way to school.Bookmark here

“Yeah,” I answered, barely glancing at her.Bookmark here

“What kind of answer is that?” She crossed her arms.Bookmark here

On her desk was a white sheet of paper with a sketch of a flower on it. A pencil with the tip worn out rested on top of the drawing.Bookmark here

I ignored her question and sat in my seat.Bookmark here

“You know, it’s rude to ignore your friends, Noro.” She pouted.Bookmark here

“Since when were you my friend?”Bookmark here

“Hey!” She began slamming her fists into my back.Bookmark here

Ignoring her pillow fists, I pulled out a small red notepad from my pocket and opened it to today’s date. Under it was a list of tasks that I had to finish throughout the day. Small squares were drawn next to each task.Bookmark here

I pulled out a pencil and crossed out the box next to the task that read, “Arrive at school on time”.Bookmark here

“You’re pretty old-fashioned, huh?” The same high-pitched voice said next to my ear. Both of Ishibashi’s hands were on my shoulders, and she was peeking at the notes in my hands.Bookmark here

“I would appreciate if you didn’t snoop around in my business.”Bookmark here

“I’m not snooping, I’m just curiously overlooking.”Bookmark here

“Snooping.”Bookmark here

Her gremlin smile was one I was quite used to by now. I’d been a victim to her mischievous actions nearly every day.Bookmark here

“You can consider it me doing research.”Bookmark here

“Uh, huh.”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“You’re not going to ask me for what?”Bookmark here

“Nope.”Bookmark here

I could hear her pout behind me.Bookmark here

She let go of my shoulders and sat back in her seat. I glanced behind me and saw her scouring through her school bag and pull out another pencil. Turning the page, she began to draw something, covering it with her other arm. In about a minute she was done with her drawing, and she shoved it to my back.Bookmark here

“Look.”Bookmark here

I turned and came face to face with her newest drawing. It was a manga-styled character with light messy hair combed to the side. Their uniform was the same as our school’s and their facial features looked really familiar. Even though it was black and white, and drawn in a short time, it was pretty detailed.Bookmark here

“What about it?”Bookmark here

“That’s it, I’m going to base a character off you then kill him off!”Bookmark here

“Knock yourself out.”Bookmark here

From the little information I got, I could guess more or less where she was going with the drawing. My guess was that she was trying to write a story or manga—Bookmark here

“I swear, when I become a world-class manga artist, I will have you begging for me to acknowledge you!”Bookmark here

—and she confirmed my suspicions immediately after.Bookmark here

“You will be like, ‘Otoka, Otoka, remember me? We went to school together!’, and I will just ignore you!”Bookmark here

“Why would I start using your given name?”Bookmark here

“I don’t know, attention, maybe?”Bookmark here

For what it’s worth, she wasn’t bad at drawing. If she really tried, that goal wasn’t too far from her reach. I would never tell her that though. The last thing I needed was more smugness coming from her.Bookmark here

“Anyway, I’m going to make you into one of those bland secondary characters no one cares about. But if you beg right now, I might change my mind.”Bookmark here

Even though I had just arrived at school, her eccentricity was already tiring me out. Why she was telling me all this was odd as well. It felt like she really tried to force the conversation to go that way for some reason. Bookmark here

Thankfully, a beaming ray of hope came in the shape of a person sliding the classroom door open.Bookmark here

Standing at the door was a tall guy with black hair combed to the left. His uniform was slick and he walked in a confident stride. His sharp eyes looked straight in our direction. Bookmark here

“Good morning, Noro!” he said as he approached us.Bookmark here

“Morning.”Bookmark here

“How come you properly answer him?”Bookmark here

Because he’s not as annoying as you, I wanted to say but decided it was much more effort than it was worth. Bookmark here

Oddly enough, Ishibashi had put away her drawings and pencils at some point. She must’ve done it when I turned to look at Terada, but I couldn’t think of why.Bookmark here

“Is my girlfriend here annoying you again.”Bookmark here

“Like usual.”Bookmark here

“Hey!” Ishibashi pouted.Bookmark here

Terada laughed.Bookmark here

Like he’d mentioned, he and Ishibashi were dating. They’d started not too long ago, about a month I think, but due to Terada’s popularity, the information had gotten around almost instantly. I for one didn’t care, but them talking to me did cause more unwanted interactions with random people than I’d wish there were.Bookmark here

“Anyway, I just came in to give you this.” He said to her as he pulled an object out of his pocket.Bookmark here

I only saw a slight pink color before Ishibashi launched her hand and took the object from Terada.Bookmark here

“W-Where did you find this?”Bookmark here

“I was passing by the classroom and found it laying on the floor.”Bookmark here

“R-Right now!?”Bookmark here

“Yep.”Bookmark here

If what he said was true, then I probably passed by it without noticing. What “it” was, I didn’t know, but I couldn’t say I cared too much to pry into it.Bookmark here

Ishibashi’s face was crimson red. I don’t think I had ever seen her look so embarrassed. But there was no way it was that bad if he was willing to return it in the middle of the classroom.Bookmark here

“You don’t have to be embarrassed about that.” He comforted Ishibashi by patting her head. “It’s just—”Bookmark here

“SSHHH!!” She stood up and covered Terada’s mouth with her hands.Bookmark here

She glanced around the classroom. A few curious classmates had turned to look at her sudden outburst, ironically doing the opposite of what she was going for.Bookmark here

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“I’m tired…” Ishibashi let out a defeated sigh.Bookmark here

It was the beginning of our lunch break and many students were leaving the classroom to go to the cafeteria. I stayed in my seat and took out my bento. “Now you feel my pain,” I said under my breath.Bookmark here

“What was that?” Her glare pierced my backBookmark here

I shrugged my shoulders as I stuffed egg in my mouth. The taste wasn’t the best I’d ever tried, but it was still pretty good. I could’ve probably woken up earlier and prepare my bento myself, but I doubted my guardian would let that slide.Bookmark here

“That’s enough food to feed like two people.” Ishibashi looked at my large bento with her head over my shoulder. “It’s really a miracle you haven’t gotten fat.” I felt a finger stab my stomach.Bookmark here

“Could you not.”Bookmark here

“At least you have some healthy stuff in there, so you get a slight pass!” She gave me a thumbs up.Bookmark here

Seeing as she was right next to my ear, I clearly heard her swallow hard before a rumble came from behind me. Immediately, I felt Ishibashi push herself away from me and properly sit back in her chair.Bookmark here

“A-Anyway,” she quickly changed the subject. “Takehiro told me to ask you if you wanted to practice basketball with the team.”Bookmark here

I decided not to mention her rumbling stomach, even though it probably would’ve been fun to see her embarrassed again. Instead, I focused on the second part of what she said. Bookmark here

Takehiro was Terada’s given name. He was captain of the basketball team, so he spent much of his time practicing after school. This wasn’t the first time he’d asked me to join, but I’d rejected him every time. Bookmark here

“Sorry, can’t.”Bookmark here

“Aww, come on!” She complained. “You and I both know you don’t do anything after school. Takehiro told me how good you were at basketball too, so why not join?”Bookmark here

“Like I said, busy.”Bookmark here

She frowned with a pout.Bookmark here

“Shouldn’t you get going,” I mentioned as I pointed at the clock with my free hand.Bookmark here

“Oh, right!” She said wide-eyed. “But don’t think this conversation is over! I will make you join that team one way or another!” She yelled as she quickly left the classroom.Bookmark here

Ishibashi and Terada always met up at the school cafeteria, so it was always just me sitting by myself in the classroom. Of course, there were other people there, but I might as well not exist to them.Bookmark here

I calmly ate my bento.Bookmark here

This is fine, I randomly thought.Bookmark here

...Bookmark here

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but is it? A voice in the back of my mind asked.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.