Chapter 8:

Chapter 1 - Part 8: Goodbye

I’ll Wait For You At The Train Station

On daybreak after I insulted them in the chat group, I reached the classroom aware of the possible consequences. Two of the girls held my hands and dragged me into the room. Their leader waited for me nearby the locker where the cleaning tools were supposed to be laid. They removed the cleaning tools beforehand for me to fit inside. After forcing me in, they turned the locker to the wall so that I couldn’t escape. Since the locker’s door faced the wall, I couldn’t open it. I tried to move around, but they pushed the locker back. Bookmark here

Now that they have done it, surrendered quick. I’d wait until they get tired. If they planned this well, then they should’ve done this after school instead. For sure, I’d be free once the classes began so I have nothing to worry about. If they do something to prevent me to get out even if the homeroom began, then I’d shout loud so that the teacher could hear me.Bookmark here

“How does that feel? That’s what you get for mocking us!” The witch began.Bookmark here

I grinned for realizing how inferior they were.Bookmark here

Embrace the pain.Bookmark here

I recalled it once again. The three witches around here would continue this stupid activity. They may get tired of doing it for a day, but a night of sleep would be enough for them to rest and do the same tomorrow. In order for them to get tired and have enough, I must give them more than the satisfaction that they look forward to. Since I’ve been learning to embrace the pain, all that it takes was for them to declare to themselves that bullying me was either boring, idiotic, or a waste of time. Once they’ve arrived at that point, they’d be forced to stop and proceed to violence when they like it, such as having a hard time with their parents. The only reason for them to resort to abuse was in terms of venting their anger onto me. Although the violence wouldn’t stop, at least it would lessen. Bookmark here

It was more than any achievement that I’d look forward. And so, to satisfy themselves, I shut up. Even if the homeroom began, I didn’t get out of the locker. I was declared absent as I waited for someone to release me from my dark prison. When lunch break started, I just realized that my bag wasn’t with me. I worried about not having to eat, but then I thought that it doesn’t matter. In fact, if I collapsed right here, I would sure be out. I have plenty of witnesses, so if something like that did happen, then it was time for the bullies to get into counseling. They’d soon go to the conference room and…Bookmark here

My eyes widened as I pictured my parents to my vision. If something like that happened, then my parents would find out the truth. Their quiet life would be devastated, and it would all be my fault. I don’t want that to happen. With all the strength that a person with an empty stomach has, I did my best to move.Bookmark here

“Let me out of here!!!”Bookmark here

I yelled from the top of my lungs. A moment after my struggle, someone turned the locker around. I opened the door to appreciate the light and fresh air. Before me were the four girls, and it surprised me that our Class Rep was crying. This time for sure… I got them involved. I turned my neck to look at the three witches. Their leader glared straight at our Class Rep. I felt responsible for everything. I gritted my teeth and clenched my fists. I too glared at the three witches. At first, they were mesmerized, but soon they laughed at each other to make a fool out of me. I couldn’t understand why at that moment, I felt the same feeling that I had when Ayanokouji-san was leaving. Bookmark here

I get it. Bookmark here

I looked around to see the cleaning tools. The mop attracted my hand as I get a hold of it. Suddenly, I went toward them.Bookmark here

Anger. Yeah, that was what I felt. I wanted to destroy them. In the blink of an eye, all my worries about my parents knowing the truth disappeared. Since the four girls were involved now, it would result in the further expansion of the series of bullying. The “observers” retired from being “observers” so they became vulnerable to becoming the next victims. Once the expected situation befell upon us, plenty of people would be involved and it wouldn’t be long before my parents would notice the uproar in the school. I figured that it was better if the attention would only be onto me. I’d just apologize to my parents and hope that they’d forgive the trouble that I caused. Bookmark here

At some point in life, you must fight. No one should be called a coward forever, because any of us could go wild when we couldn’t suppress our anger. With the mop on my hands, I thrust the tools to each of their faces as they began to freak out. Over and over, I pressed the dirty "thing" to them. One of them ran away in disgust. On the other hand, the leader got pissed off and fought back.Bookmark here

“You really did it!”Bookmark here

She held the mop with both hands and gave her all to pull it. The unexpected strength forced me to let it go. Then to exact her revenge, she moved it back and forth as it hit me to the stomach. I gnashed my teeth in pain, but it wasn’t enough for someone who was used to getting hurt. At the moment I vision Ayanokouji-san leaving while the heavy rains poured that day, I comprehend that no matter how evil you were, there would be a point in time that they would lose. Since Ayanokouji-san came here, she experienced an unacceptable defeat. Bookmark here

I wanted the three witches here to realize that life doesn’t always result in winning. I wanted to show to them that the person that they’d bully has the courage to fight back. I grabbed the mop once again and threw it away. I leaped at her as we fell to the floor, and then I had the chance to punch her face. I wanted to make a second land, but the other girl joined in to push me back.Bookmark here

Looking at the Class Rep, I yelled, “Call for the teachers!”Bookmark here

She returned to the real world and ran out. Since the fight was two against one, I don’t have a chance of winning. I hope that the teachers would see me beaten to the edge so that the bullies would find the trouble that they were searching for. I stopped from doing any actions as the two girls kicked me over and over. It seemed like this was the true moment of adapting the words “Embrace the pain”. I complied to that principle and closed my eyes. I felt every hit that I received. If I didn’t have that thought in mind, I would’ve been crying so hard now. My body was aching all over, but I was able to endure it by welcoming the sensation.Bookmark here

A few minutes later, the Class Rep returned with our homeroom teacher. Our homeroom teacher came startled as she observed the outrage amidst the classroom.Bookmark here

“What’s happening! You two stop this!!!”Bookmark here

Sooner they were pointed out, they stopped kicking me. Job well done, Class Rep. Now my anguishing body could rest.Bookmark here

The day after, my parents were informed by the unpleasant news. Their worries grew so sudden that it almost freaked me out. All that I have expected to happen came true. First and foremost, they apologized before me. Inside the dining area where we supposed to eat together, for the first time the entire family was present. Both of them decided to leave their work early, only for us to settle everything.Bookmark here

My mother called my name and added: “Through all this time, you’re having a hard time… you’ve been enduring it until now.” She almost cried and continued, “And here we are, focused on working every day thinking that providing your needs is enough. I’m sorry… we couldn’t notice anything…”Bookmark here

My Father interposed. “It’s our fault… for not paying attention.”Bookmark here

“T-that’s…” I stuttered and averted my gaze. “-that’s not true. I too should be blamed for this.” Tears shed even on both of my eyes. This was the first instance that I opened up to my parents, and I couldn’t understand if I was feeling happy or sad. “I tried to conceal everything. I couldn’t speak because… I was afraid. Father, mother… both of you have done more than enough for me. You don’t need to feel bad, you don’t even have to apologize. I was the one who couldn’t fulfill my promise. Remembered that day before we transferred here? I said that I’ll change.”Bookmark here

My mother walked closer and hugged me tightly. “From now on, let’s fix everything okay? Let’s start over. Don’t be afraid to tell us if you have a problem. We’re a family… right?”Bookmark here

I nodded and observed my Dad stood up. “Can I join in the group hug?”Bookmark here

He smiled as though joking. I smiled upon looking at him while answering: Bookmark here

“Yes.”Bookmark here

He came nearby as we hugged each other. It was a very heartwarming experience. After all this time, I could still call myself fortunate. I may have a nightmarish school life, but I have very caring parents. Instead of feeling depressed through all these years, I should’ve been grateful to the present blessings that I have. They were irreplaceable -my greatest treasure. From now on, I would live for them. I’d find my purpose for them. I would do my best to become a good asset in society, so that one day when they grew old, I could take good care of them. Their happiness would fill the emptiness in my heart because they were my reason of existence. At last, I had found my identity and goal.Bookmark here

It was time to say goodbye. After all the trials that I faced, I found peace. My fight against the bullies was over. After they were caught red-handed, the four good girls stood to testify that the three were the ones who started. Because of that, they were reprimanded and warned that if the same thing happens to any other students, there could be a possibility of them being suspended or worse -expelled. Bookmark here

Our teacher told us that they don’t want to repeat the same abuse that Ayanokouji-san performed throughout the previous months. She said that the faculty was about to act regarding the matter, but it happens that Ayanokouji-san planned to transfer schools beforehand. At first, I thought: they should’ve acted with it earlier; if so I would’ve been having a much better life. However, another thought just came to me saying that it doesn’t matter. What mattered most was what happened today, wherein I was in the place in which peace was never exclusive to a strong person. Even a gloomy and alone individual like me deserved it. I was more than glad for that that I’d take it for granted without hesitation. Bookmark here

The bullying stopped. COMPLETELY. Short after, the four girls became my friends. I started to know them, especially their names. Our class reps name was Kaguya Kiriyama-san. Twin tail-san’s name was Hinata Nishimura-san. Shoulder length hair-san’s name was Ai Yanagi-san. Lastly, the short girl was Kanna Sekine-san. I first tried to call her by her last name, but she refused and told me that she preferred to be called by her nickname which was Kan-chan. In that case, the other three did the same. I was calling all of them by their nicknames, and so I thought of a nickname too.Bookmark here

We became closer than what we expected. We hanged out almost every weekend, helped each other on our homework, and even created a culture club with the five of us as members. Sometimes, we visit each other’s rooms, tell one another’s secrets, and the like. I could ascertain that we were good, faithful, and trustworthy friends. We stayed in touch for the entire three years of middle school. It was so strange that the good times always passes by so fast, while the bad times on the other hand, feels like too long to end. Bookmark here

Perhaps the reason was that, in difficult times, we were more engaged in thinking. We were always anxious about the day by day tribulations and we often assume that the time ceased, that our suffering felt endless. Meanwhile, on good times, our minds were always at peace. There wasn't but happiness lurking around each of our daily life. If you were happy, you have no more room for a dreadful pondering.Bookmark here

A sad news stumbled. My Dad told me that he would soon come back to Tokyo because of his work. That means the entire family would come with him, and that includes me nevertheless. It has been decided that after my middle school graduation, I would be back to welcome my city life. To be honest, I don’t favor it. Leaving this old town also means leaving my precious friends. That was what I was afraid most. I don’t want to feel like betraying our companionship. Despite that, I still wholeheartedly accepted my situation after Dad apologized. He knew all along that leaving the countryside brought forth conflict to my friends, but he explained to me that he had no choice. He was honest to confess that he wanted both of us to be on the same roof as him. With that said, how could I still decline? I prioritized my parents above all, so if I was put to a dilemma, I’d gladly select them. Bookmark here

After we’ve all come to terms, I also told the news to my friends the next day. Their reaction? As expected they were melancholic. I even shed tears by blaming myself for the faults, but later they hugged me tight. It was a warm embrace that I have never felt before. They too shed their tears for me. That moment I realized how precious I was to them. They were willing to weep for my sake, after all. In order to give up an excuse to settle the conflict, we promised each other that we’d exchange messages on our group chat every day. We could rest assured with it. At least, I would never feel alone. When trouble occurs, I could count on them, I could be open to express my problems on them, and they would be eager to comfort me at their best. I knew that we were gonna be far away, but our friendship would still be the same. I was sure of it.Bookmark here

Tears from each other’s eyes fell when we reached the school gate during our middle school graduation. No one holds on their sadness and expressed a bid of farewell. Before we parted ways, each of them gave me a souvenir, most of it was their personal belongings. Kaguya-chan gave me her favorite hair tie. I see it worn by her almost every day, so I hesitated to receive it until she forced me -reasoning that she’d be mad if I don’t wear it. Hina-chan gave me her keychain, it was also a part of her collection that I find hard to accept. Ai-chan gave me her earphones. Lastly, Kan-chan offered me her phone strap. It was newly purchased and she presented another one that matched it. Their personal things were my remembrance to our friendship that would soon be long distant. I promised them that I’d take good care of their memento, and if I was given with the opportunity to return, I’d present it to them on the same good condition.Bookmark here

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