Chapter 10:

Chapter 1 - Part 10: New Life

I’ll Wait For You At The Train Station

A few weeks had passed since high school began. There were good news and bad news. The bad news was that I couldn’t find a single person to befriend with. I didn’t know anyone and I still couldn’t initiate a conversation. In spite of that, there was a blessing in disguise. No friends mean that I could focus more on the studies, and I really did. After a while, some of my classmates thought that it didn’t matter to me even if I was alone. They thought I was a grown up… and kinda cool. For such an assumption to exist, I have no choice but to get a hold of it. Whenever someone talks to me, I try my best to stay calm and composed.Bookmark here

As far as I could tell, there wasn’t an incident of bullying yet. Each day I had the habit of observing the activities inside the class, and I could tell that no one was getting bullied. Our class rep was also active with her duty, and that made me at ease. Though there was no dispute, I still find Kanae Yamada an issue. She wasn’t bullied in the class, yet she has no friends. A sad loner, that was how I describe her. I had never seen her with someone, and every lunch break she stayed at the center of the classroom where her seat was located and eats alone. She doesn’t talk to anyone. Often times, I see our class rep getting concerned that she tries to get along with Yamada-san. Her efforts were rendered useless, though. As if Yamada-san chooses to be alone, she wanted to stay away from everyone. After the feeble attempts of our class rep, I told myself that the only help I could provide was to leave her alone. She has her own world and I was never a part of it, neither do I wanted to.Bookmark here

A month came until I could be used to the title that my classmates had given me. I focused on my studies, but occasionally, some of my classmates invited me to their afterschool get together. When I have no other business to deal with, I stayed at the library to read a random literature book. I was a member of the Going Home Club [1] so I always have the time to spare after class. I decided to not join a club for I was afraid that I may not have smooth relations with the members. If that happens, then the persona that I worked so hard to develop would be dropped in vain.Bookmark here

On a Saturday afternoon, the class was done at 1:00 PM. I was headed to the library and I arrived there to find out that it was close. The Librarian which I just met told me that they had maintenance to the room because the air conditioner was broken. I comprehended the inconvenience and told her that it was fine. Nowhere else to go, I decided to roam around the school campus. A random stroll would fit the description of my unusual action. Along the way, I observed the students that were busy with their club activities. The light music club was practicing their band’s coordination. The wind ensemble club had a separate practice for each of their section. I observed the oboe and euphonium members playing at the bridge upstairs, while the trumpet plays at the garden. The flute and piccolo were at the back of the first year’s school building, while the trombone stayed inside their clubroom. I don’t know about the other members, but I was certain that they were also doing their best. I heard that they were joining a competition. For sure that’d be a tough one. Each of their melodies sounded good to my ears at least. I was never a judge of good music so I couldn’t tell if they were playing it bad or excellent. Anyhow, I wished them luck. Hope their hard work would pay off by gaining something noteworthy. I continued my stroll while peeking at the windows of each clubroom that I passed on. Some of the students were having fun, some were taking things seriously, while the remaining were fighting each other. It was a variety of feelings that each member must resolve. There were always pros and cons in a club, that was the other reason why I didn’t join one. I was not capable of handling its “cons”.Bookmark here

I arrived at the rooftop. This was the first time I came here and the cool breeze felt good. I climbed up to the small platform located just underneath the stairs and lay down. The blue sky became my primary view. I picked my phone from my skirt pocket and plugged my earphones in. Playing the song covers of Harutya [2]  while closing my eyes, I found myself in peace. Her soft sweet voice filled my ears the music that was enough to relieve my tiredness from walking. Shortly after, I didn’t realize that I fell asleep. I checked the time on my phone. It was 3:00 PM. I passed out for around an hour.Bookmark here

When I was about to get up to leave, I heard voices from below.Bookmark here

“Where’s the money that you owe us…”Bookmark here

Based on the tone of their voices I could guess the situation. I peeked at the scene to confirm my suspicion. The sight shocked me. My eyes widened. The loner -Kanae Yamada-san- were surrounded by a group of girls.Bookmark here

Who are they?Bookmark here

One of the girls lifts Yamada-san’s hair up. I could see her struggle, but she was doing her best to control herself to retaliate. I know that feeling, in which if you displayed any form of struggle or sign of hatred, they’d make your suffering worse. Damn it. How unfortunate I was to observe this.Bookmark here

Why is it that there’s always bullying? Bookmark here

I was tired of watching such a dismaying sight. Regardless of, here I was doing nothing but to observe. I don’t want to get involved for it would bring trouble to my peaceful life. I couldn’t imagine myself returning to my old world where living was an everyday excruciation. Now, I understood what my teacher once said about me. Yamada-san must endure it. If she couldn’t, then she has no choice but to change. Looking back at middle school, I obtained freedom when I fought against the bullies and exposed their misdeeds. I called to arms and changed myself. Yamada-san must arrive at that conclusion too. If she had the courage to stand up to defend herself, I was certain that things would return into their proper places.Bookmark here

After a series of ranting, the girl let go of her hair. The other dumb high school girls around her smiled and laughed for a moment.Bookmark here

That’s no laughing matter, idiots.Bookmark here

I wish I could say that before them.Bookmark here

The reason why Yamada-san wanted to stay out of everyone’s presence was this. She was carrying a heavy burden that would affect those who wanted to befriend her. Perhaps, she desired to have a few friends, but she couldn’t. She had no choice but to give up that desire. The group of girls was about to leave when another student came up.Bookmark here

Was it class rep?Bookmark here

“Please stop what you’re doing to her.”Bookmark here

The moment the new student spoke, I heaved a sigh. It wasn’t our class rep, it was a random girl.Bookmark here

One of the girls gritted her teeth while saying, “You again.”Bookmark here

I wonder what’s up with that girl. She was alone yet she has the courage to stand up before the group of enemies. She was finding trouble. There was no way I could do that! What was her deal? Was she pretending to be a hero or something? Unfortunately, this wasn’t a comic book or even a novel. Here, there was no way she could win a fight against a number of enemies. She’d just end up getting beaten to the edge.Bookmark here

And so, that was what happened. The strange girl was punched to the stomach as she landed to the flooring. One punch was enough, how surreal. I thought she could endure a few hits. I couldn’t tell why I was disappointed, though. The group of girls left her laying down while she stared up at the blue sky. Yamada-san, on the other hand, stopped for a moment and gazed at her, and then she left without saying a word. As though she found the girl as a nuisance for helping her out of nowhere, she thought that it wasn’t her fault why the girl obtained minor bruises. Too bad, she didn’t receive a simple ‘thank you’.Bookmark here

After a while, I went down to help her get up. She was surprised to see me witnessing all that happened.Bookmark here

“Thanks." She expressed her gratitude.Bookmark here

“No problem. Why did you do that in the first place? You should’ve just stayed out of trouble.”Bookmark here

“I just… moved on my own without thinking anything. I’m weird, right?”Bookmark here

Yeah, totally.Bookmark here

“Don’t do that again. You won’t know, maybe one day you won’t just end up with minor bruises.” Bookmark here

I told it for her sake. She doesn’t have to involve herself in their problems. She must’ve stayed as an outsider. That’d be for her own good.Bookmark here

“I’ll keep that in mind. But you know what?” She stared at the horizon and added, “If I won’t stop them, Yamada-san’s problems would get worse.”Bookmark here

I didn’t expect that rebuttal. It sounded like she was more of a grown up to me. In the end, I only sighed.Bookmark here

“Okay then. If that’s what you believe is the right thing to do, I won’t stop you. Just don’t get too worked up.”Bookmark here

It was all that I could say. I was still in disbelief that such people exist. I could convince myself that she was a good person. Really… she just helped a stranger in trouble. I rarely see people do that. In fact, this was the first time. I have only seen them in movies and fictional stories so it looked unusual.Bookmark here

“You’re there the whole time?”Bookmark here

I averted my gaze at her question. This looked like I was bad for not interfering in the trouble.Bookmark here

“Yes. But I was asleep.”Bookmark here

I tried my best to find an excuse.Bookmark here

“I see.”Bookmark here

“You know Yamada-san?”Bookmark here

I queried as she asked back, “You know her too?”Bookmark here

“She’s my classmate. How about you, who is she to you. You know her I suppose.”Bookmark here

“Hmm…” She shook her head in denial. “Not really. It’s just that, I always pity her for getting bullied by my classmates.”Bookmark here

So the bullies are her classmates. That’s a revelation to me.Bookmark here

“I only know her last name. I’m just sad that she has to endure that everyday abuse. She doesn’t deserve it.”Bookmark here

I knew that feeling, for I undergo the same process.Bookmark here

“From the start of classes, I have seen her getting bullied. Again and again, almost every day. That’s why I decided to stand up and conquer my fears and hesitations. People like them deserved help even if they didn’t want to. You see, in middle school, a close friend of mine committed suicide because of the same issue. I don’t want to repeat the same mistake. I don’t want to feel the same guilt that I had back then.”Bookmark here

I see where her courage came from. No doubt, her act was kinda desperate. She wasn’t thinking of any move or plan. She just stood there and tried to help her as much as she could. What she has done was either compassion or compliance. I was not sure. Perhaps it was compassion, for she felt sympathetic towards Yamada-san. Or else, it was compliance towards the developing guilt that she felt to her late friend. It was hard to determine the true source of her help. Either way, I wished that her dedication wouldn’t be shattered once the bullies’ attention pointed to her.Bookmark here

“Hey, since Yamada-san is your classmate, can you help me?”Bookmark here

Ah. Somehow, I was expecting that so I was prepared enough to answer.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry but I’ll refuse.”Bookmark here

Yeah. I refuse from trouble and harm.Bookmark here

“I see.” She dropped her gaze and continued, “There’s nothing I can do about that now.”Bookmark here

I find it strange to myself that I wasn’t remorseful about my refusal. I first assumed that I’d hesitate, but it looked like I was far from doing that. I’d leave them alone for my sake. It was better to be a coward and live in peace than to be a hero carrying the burdens of the others. I chose to stay in my comfort zone and play it safe.Bookmark here

I glanced at my phone to look at the time. It was nearly 5:00 PM.Bookmark here

“Okay. It’s time to go home. Bye.” I raised my hand and added, “Good luck to you.”Bookmark here

She nodded. I continued to walk downstairs until I arrived at the school’s entrance. Now that I was aware of Yamada-san’s issues, that was more of a reason why I must stay away from her. I must retain my role as an “observer”, and that would never change.Bookmark here

I continued to walk until I realized that I forgot to ask the girl’s name. Well, would it even matter now? I don’t wish to see her again so it was best to stay as strangers.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

[1] Going Home Club the Japanese term for those who aren’t in any clubs and simply go home after school.Bookmark here

[2] 春茶 (Harutya), pronounced as Harucha, is an utaite with a soft sweet voice, complimentary to her screen name (which translates to "spring tea").Bookmark here

Her first cover, "僕は空気が嫁ない" (I Can't Read the Situation), was uploaded to niconico in September of 2013. Since then, her covers individually receive over two thousand views. Her most viewed upload is her recording of "Lap Tap Love"; said recording has over 210,000 views on Niconico.Bookmark here

Her collaborations with the songwriting producer Kobasolo have easily breached this number, though. These videos, with million views, are not considered Harutya's own uploads as they are posted under Kobasolo's YouTube channel.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.