Chapter 5:

Chapter 1 - Part 5: Ayanokouji-san

I’ll Wait For You At The Train Station

I walked to the school full of hesitations. I don’t have the courage to continue while thinking of the outcome that might happen first thing in the morning. Plenty of “what-ifs” ran across my mind. It simulated around my brain with no end, but one thing that stood out was the same of what I’ve witnessed yesterday. What if they waited for me at the school entrance and take me to the back of the school building, then initiate their punishment like what that girl experienced? That would surely hurt…Bookmark here

Just then I remembered:Bookmark here

“Embrace the pain”Bookmark here

Why did I forget about that too soon? The only way for me to continue was to wholly accept my fate. It doesn’t matter if I was always driven to the corner, as long as I was capable to withstand their everyday torture, I could call myself a victor of this nonsensical affair. Even a little, my bravado worked that I could lift my feet up to walk towards my warring destination. Upon my arrival, I heaved a sigh of relief saying in my inner thoughts: glad that they’re not here. I continued my strides until I opened my locker. I was startled by what I’ve seen inside. It was a letter enclosed in a small white envelope. Bookmark here

At first glance, I couldn’t tell whether this was a love letter or not. First, this was an all-girls school so assuming me triggering that kind of event was very unlikely. Ugh… why did I think of love letter? Who’d be the crazy person brave enough to send that? The next thing that I thought was in connection to those three bullies, maybe the contents inside would spill nothing but insults or heaps of hate. If the case was the latter, then I found no problem. Being used to scorn and everything, caustic remarks had been a part of my daily life that I don’t care anymore. To stop my train of thoughts, I opened the letter and read its content:Bookmark here

First and foremost, I want to apologize by sending this letter to you. I’m sorry that I can’t face you right now in person, I just don’t have the courage to do so. Hope you understand me. I want to say sorry for all the things that I’ve told you on the first day. Sorry for revealing to everyone about your dreadful past. Now, I am alone same as you, I obtained the same feeling of solitude. It made my days distressing that I’d cry myself out in bed. I want to ask for help. As of today, I might get bullied again by our new classmates, I don’t want this to continue so please help me. Please meet me at the entrance to the shopping district after school.Bookmark here

A new trick up their sleeve, I guessed? From the moment I read the beginning of the letter, I already have a doubt of its true sender. As far as I could tell, that girl wouldn’t resort to that option unless she swallows her pride and accepts that she was “different”. Even if I placed myself to her shoes, there was no way I’d ask for my enemies’ aid. Well, how could she expect help from someone she bullied countless times? That action was too egoistic on her part. Perhaps the three girls thought of me as kind-hearted, or easily drawn out whenever the opportunity of developing companionship comes in. Bookmark here

Yes, I once assumed of befriending that bully, but after I was stressed with hanging out to the three of them, my excitement about companionship was buried deep. What’s worse? Now I think of friendship as a pain in the neck. Having friends would consume plenty of time and effort, and exerting effort to doing things you were forced to do was too bothersome. Now, I’d rather choose to be a loner than a follower of a false leader. Bookmark here

In the English word friend, there was always the word “end”. When a person lost a friend, his days would change into something that he wasn’t used to. Like what was happening to that girl today, because of going to such nameless town, she lost all her friends and her life changed to the worse condition. Unlike me, I don’t have anyone to rely on from the start so I have nothing to lose wherever I go. That was no doubt the advantage of loners. I learned how to stand up by my own feet for I have no one to hold on to. In fact, thinking of it that way means that I was stronger than them. Maybe it was time to stop looking down to myself. Despite my miserable years on elementary up to now, I could still lift my head to face forward. My middle school days must be a stepping stone for a brighter future.Bookmark here

I went on until I embarked inside the classroom. I averted my gaze after the three girls went in. Taking a seat, I again thought that they’d approach me without hesitation. I thought that my rudeness yesterday was enough for them to do nasty acts in public. I was wrong, though. As if I was “non-existent” again from their eyes, they headed to their seat and chattered about topics that meant nonsense to me. I heaved a sigh of relief at that, however, I couldn’t rest at ease for I knew that they were planning something horrible afterschool. Too bad for them, I wasn’t lured by their fake SOS letter.Bookmark here

As soon as our homeroom teacher began checking the attendance, I realized that the girl -who was asking for my help by means of a letter- was absent. That situation arose doubts around my intuitive assumption. Was it really a fake SOS letter? Because she was absent, I couldn’t help but think that she was bullied the hard way. Perhaps yesterday, the three girls vented their anger towards her after my sudden escape. If that was the case, then I’d be held accountable for it. No. I must stop having that mindset. I don’t have to be responsible for other people’s faults. I always have the right to save myself, she too, has the will to do that. She was unfortunate for being caught. If there was anyone to blame here, it was either the group of girls or that bully.Bookmark here

Arriving in that conclusion, I decided to call it a day when the classes ended. I stayed in the classroom while holding a piece of an envelope that I obtained from the locker. Once I put it to display, I stared at one of the girls. We exchanged glances for a split second as she smiled to their leader. The smile was delighting to look at, but at the same time, it has a sinister feel. They smiled at one another, sending each a sign language. Bookmark here

That was the mark that filled my little doubts. Just because of that simple stare, I found out about their plan. I displayed the envelope on purpose so that they could be certain that I’ve seen it. Their eyes and expression tell that they knew something. They were the persons behind this. After they left, I waited for around twenty minutes before leaving. While walking on the way home, I couldn’t stop thinking of the possible things that the girls would do from now on. If they were pissed off today, the start of greater violence would commence tomorrow. I sighed in dejection upon thinking of the worst possible outcome.Bookmark here

Thursday morning, I blacked out for a moment.Bookmark here

“Why the hell did you ignore my request?!”Bookmark here

I fell in shock after returning to the real world, observing myself seated on the cold floor of the classroom… while sensing a liquid running down my nose. Wiping it off, I realized that my nose continued to bleed roughly. I heard soaring voices of complaints and hate. While lifting my head up, I saw that girl. Did she just punch me in the face? No doubt, it was powerful enough to knock me down for an instant. How great… Although that girl stayed blurry from my sight, I could tell that her face contorted in madness. She continued to open her mouth wide, exclaiming with the loudest of her voice. Little by little, I comprehended what she was saying.Bookmark here

“I am only asking for a little favor, aren’t I? Fuck you! You’re the reason why all this is happening to my damn life! From now on, if you don’t obey my orders this will happen over and over! Remember that!”Bookmark here

She breathes heavily after the non-stop yelling.Bookmark here

Are the threats over? I wanted to question that to her, but I decided to stop for I knew that it’d just make things worse. Neither displaying a body language of retaliation nor a sign of hate, I chose to keep my mouth shut to observe her give up. She turned around with teeth still gritted and fists clenched tight. She bit her lower lip while going back to her seat. That girl has awful problems in the head, I guessed at this point in time, there was no cure for her. No one could change that ill manner. Bookmark here

She was still living the delusion that she was dominant in the class, so her requests must be fulfilled without complaints. Since I neglected her letter, that also meant I ignored her entire presence. And this was the result. I was beaten up for good. It was unexpected to think that my conclusion yesterday was all wrong. Well, that wasn’t my fault. How would someone assume that she -of all the people in this old town- was asking for my assistance? Was she driven to the corner that far? While mulling about that question, I looked around to glance at the three girls. Each of them was smiling, enjoying the scenario. Meanwhile, my other classmates played the usual role of being an “observer”. Since I was aware that bullying worsens each year, I researched that topic beforehand. Indeed, the statistics made sense. Bookmark here

The older year you get, the more observer classmates you’d have. They wouldn’t do anything, even our class rep herself, couldn’t oppose the bully. All that she did was to stare at me in defeat. The observers would always be in safe condition unless they interfere, that was always the rule inside the classroom. It was all the same, during grade school, scenarios like these were common too.Bookmark here

This is the start, huh.Bookmark here

As expected, my weeks on the first year of middle school worsened. The three girls though, -even if I knew their true nature already- strangely played an observer in the class. Truth to be told, the girl from grade school was the only student who kept on harassing me. Maybe… just maybe, the three girls lost interest in bullying me for knowing that I have suffered enough. All that they do was to laugh whenever I was beaten to the edge. I haven’t seen them together with that girl either. Bookmark here

The level of bullying varied from time to time, calling me as “Germ” or “Plague Girl” aside, she also messed up my locker, threw a wet towel on my face, sprayed the chalk from the blackboard eraser to my head, hiding -or sometimes throwing- my indoor shoes or any of my personal belongings away, punches me whenever she wanted to, purchasing an orange fruit just to spray the few citric acids from its skin to my eyes, writing vandals around my desk saying that I must die or go to hell, and other sorts of things that may either cause physical or psychological disturbance.Bookmark here

April, May, June, three months came along since then until a week followed that the girl ceased from bullying. Of course, I’d find it strange, but before I start to look for answers our homeroom teacher responded to my pondering via an announcement.Bookmark here

“Ayanokouji-san’s paperwork was settled by her parents. After the summer break, she’s going to transfer schools.”Bookmark here

Change of schools, it was no doubt the announcement that I’ve heard. Although the news brought relief to me, I still find it unusual and sudden. I assume it has some connections to her parent’s work? So she was Ayanokouji-san, now that the teacher mentioned her name, I’d keep that in mind. Who knows, maybe one day when we meet again, I’d plot out how to exact my revenge. Today she was absent, didn’t want to hear that announcement herself perhaps. The next day, and the day after that, Ayanokouji-san didn’t come to school. She wasn’t missed by anyone, though. Bookmark here

Nonetheless, all her classmates -myself included- were eased for they knew that without her, there wouldn't be violence towards me. One by one, my classmates started talking to me, saying that the change in schools was favorable on my part. Some of them even apologized for doing nothing when the continuous bullying happened. That day, I told myself, “Glad that I embraced the pain”. This was the moment when I could call myself victorious. In case that girl still tried to bully me next week, I wouldn’t be bothered any longer. After all, I’ve resisted against her long enough that I was used to it, so a week of abuse doesn’t count.Bookmark here

Or so, that was what I thought. Ayanokouji-san was absent on her remaining days in school. Meanwhile, on the day of the send-off party, I didn’t have the courage to face her, to give flowers and a letter out of compulsory. I stayed inside my room surfing around the internet with my laptop, letting the time pass until it ends, then start a new life tomorrow while promising to myself that from now on, I’d seek friendship from my concerned classmates. It was around 4:00 PM when I was called by my mother. On that day, she was on day-off, which made it more convenient. Bookmark here

She knocked and opened the door of my room saying, “Someone’s looking for you. It’s your classmate from school.”Bookmark here

Classmate? I was clueless why someone visited a certified loner. I went out only to feel agitated. Before the entrance, was that girl. While still wearing her school uniform, she stared at me. She was holding a bouquet of flowers which came from our classmates. Bookmark here

She bowed her head and told me, “I want to speak to you.”Bookmark here

I was bewildered that my following answer should be a refusal. But since she came all the way here just for me, as well as bowing her head as if swallowing her pride, I nodded by instinct.Bookmark here

“O-okay.”Bookmark here

Before we went out, I looked up to see the skies getting cloudy. The rainy season of June, it seemed. Because of that, I grabbed an umbrella nearby our door. I was supposed to get two, but Ayanokouji-san refused to have one. We walked and entered a small kids park composed of a few swings, a single slide, and a broken monkey bar. Right there, Ayanokouji-san took a seat at the swing while still holding the bouquet of flowers. On the other hand, I remained standing while thinking that if there was an uproar, I could run away in haste.Bookmark here

After taking a deep breath, she began:Bookmark here

“The send-off party, glad that you didn’t come.” She looked at the flowers and added, “This bouquet of flowers that is in the brink of abscission, altogether with the fake letters of praise brings guilt to me. No one felt sad upon my transfer, in fact, they felt all relieved and happy. It’s not like I’m expecting a good parting remark since I do not deserve it from the start. I don’t belong here.” She snickered at herself and gazed at me.Bookmark here

“I’m afraid.”Bookmark here

I faltered and stepped back at what she said.Bookmark here

“Today, before I leave… I’d like to confess everything to you. I also want this to serve as a warning.”Bookmark here

I couldn’t comprehend what she was saying, but the serious look on her face tells me that I should get a grip of myself at the so-called confession.Bookmark here

“Those group of bitches, I’m aware that you know them.”Bookmark here

She was talking about the three girls who bullied her on the second day.Bookmark here

“They are the mastermind of all these.”Bookmark here

My eyes widened at that.Bookmark here

“Mastermind, you mean…”Bookmark here

She nodded and looked down to the ground.Bookmark here

“Yes. They forced me to do everything. Starting with that letter until now, they were behind all that’s happening to you. On the second day of school, they already made their move on me, forcing me to do all that they wanted to. As a matter of fact, they made me live to the delusion that I can join their group once I comply with all their orders, but months came that it never happened. How foolish I am to keep on following their command never knowing that they are just toying me around. They’re having fun by watching us look like idiots. Perhaps you don’t have any idea why I forced myself to leave this fucking place.”Bookmark here

She gazed to my eyes and continued, “Every week, their bullying gets tougher. And do you know the order that made me decide to run away?”Bookmark here

I gulped at her question as she went on.Bookmark here

“Ever since the week I stopped from bullying you, they ordered me to kill you.”Bookmark here

My eyes widened at its worst miserable state. They order her to kill me? It was too unbelievable to think that they could command “killing” as a form of bullying. For god’s sake, we were just first-year middle schoolers.Bookmark here

“K-killing me? D-do you think middle schoolers like us could do something like that? I-I’m sure they aren’t serious about it.” I reasoned out of nowhere.Bookmark here

She glared at me. Bookmark here

“That’s what I thought too. I’m sure they are saying those to corner me. I realized just then that I was their target from the beginning. They knew that I can’t do such awful acts, and since I couldn’t comply with their order, that also means I don’t deserve to join their group. Because of that, they bullied me… be it either on our group chat or outside, they abused me to the utmost of their enjoyment. I have no choice but to run away from trouble, and changing schools is the sole option.”Bookmark here

She stood up and faced me.Bookmark here

“That’s all that I wanted to say. I hope this will serve as a reminder to you. Well, now that you heard the truth, what are you planning to do?”Bookmark here

“I-I…”Bookmark here

I couldn’t compose an answer. All these revelations were spilled onto me one after another that my brain couldn’t cope up with it. The instant she turned around, I just thought of something to say. It was not related to the so-called original bullies, but I wanted to express it for I knew that after this day, it’d be too late. I gritted my teeth and clenched my fists. Bookmark here

Dropping my gaze once she advanced her steps away, I cried, “It’s all your fault!”Bookmark here

For the first time, I have the guts to tell her what I wanted. The inner desire of my heart was crying for an apology. The apology which came from the sincerest of her conscience.Bookmark here

“Whether you’re forced to bully me or not, you can’t change the fact that you did all of it! If not for you, this wouldn’t have happened to me! Now after all that you’ve done, you’ll just turn around and casually leave like that!?”Bookmark here

She stopped from her pace to look at me.Bookmark here

“You want me to apologize?”Bookmark here

I didn’t reply because everything was obvious. Bookmark here

She averted her gaze and rebutted, “I won’t do that. All the bad things that I’ve done since the moment I met you was so dreadful that endless apologies aren’t enough. Rather, it’s all better if I keep the guilt to myself.” She placed a hand to her chest and glanced at me, “This remorse in my heart and conscience is my way to atone for it until I grow up and die.”Bookmark here

Her words rendered me speechless with eyes snapped open. She turned her back away from me and stepped ahead, and again she stopped while saying, “I have an idea. Since doing my part on this isn’t enough, I suppose there’s something that you can do.” Bookmark here

She faced my direction and went nearby, and pointed her index finger at me. Bookmark here

“You…” She put her hands down and continued, “Let it all out. I’m sure, that all the hate that you’ve stored in your small box only takes a matter of seconds before it explodes. Say all your expression of hate to me, so that I feel at ease too before leaving. Say it! Let out your rage!”Bookmark here

Intimidated by her yelling, I couldn’t speak up.Bookmark here

She sneered and added. “As I thought, you’re so cowardly to do it. I have enough of this…”Bookmark here

She walked out. Step. Step. Step. On each stride of her feet, she was getting smaller from my vision. She was far away and I was sure that once she was out of my sight, I’d regret this day of having the freedom to shout. Just then, I discarded all my cowardice and told myself to be courageous. There was no room for being scared for she was the one who requested me to speak up. Altogether with the dark clouds shrouding the skies, I cleared my mind while taking a deep breath. I clenched my fists and hollered in rage.Bookmark here

“Huhhh!!!!”Bookmark here

I snapped.Bookmark here

“My life was desolated because of you! Because of all your friends in grade school! I absolutely hate you that I’d wish for you do die in a very painful way! You and your friends ruined my entire life. If I wasn’t exiled, if I wasn’t determined as different, if I wasn’t bullied! Then I could’ve lived a normal life! It’s painful! It’s painful! It’s painful! I’m living this worst life every day!”Bookmark here

The heavy rain started to pour as we stood still. I couldn’t count how many tears I’d shed each time I let everything out. My beads of sweat scattered around whenever I moved, and the gnashing of my teeth kept on reminding me of my ongoing suffering.Bookmark here

“I could’ve seen myself smile from time to time, I could’ve enjoyed hanging out with friends! I could’ve been interested in joining clubs! You took away all the important parts of me! Because of what you’ve done, I lost interest! Because I was hurt every day, I resorted to losing my sense of humanity! So that I won’t feel pain… I locked my emotions away! I couldn’t even tell if I could still continue my meaningless life… Thanks to you, I always feel anxious. I’ve thought of suicide! Not knowing that I’m already dead on the inside…”Bookmark here

While I was yelling from the top of my lungs, all the bad memories that I stored flashed across my sight. The moment when I see them having a scornful laugh, kicking me around, punching me over and over, and calling me with vulgar and irreverent speeches, it was a miracle that I could still hold on. At an early age, I already thought of throwing away my life. I always asked myself if I deserved this. It was all their fault why my misfortune kept on going on. Because I was broken, I lost the will to adapt to society. I couldn’t even bear to see myself in the epitome of success. Nothing good would happen, and one day when all my forms of escapism were done, I have no choice but to arrive at my final destination. The solution of every Japanese individual would be around the corner soon.Bookmark here

Far away, she clenched her fists. Maybe she felt slight guilt towards the message that I had madly delivered. Several seconds of staying still after I stopped, she exited, fully satisfied. I wanted to punch her in the face until she bleeds. I wanted to kick her in the stomach until she falls. I wanted to exact my revenge today by enacting all the abuse that she did to me since grade school. But I’d let it be. For now, I was satisfied by expressing my deep hate towards her entirety. It was enough for her to know that I hate every little part of her, be it either her looks or her personality.Bookmark here

I looked up at the terrible weather and soon told myself that rainy days weren’t so bad. Especially during this period when I was crying. At least, my tears would be washed away by the rain.Bookmark here

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