Chapter 1:


Is my Youth Romantic Comedy A Figment of My Imagination?

Life sucks. You’ve just been born and already your life has been decided for you. The expectations of society already knawing at your ankles and dragging you down like lead weights. You must do what society demands or end up on the outside. And there’s no coming back from that.

Sure, we all pretend we have freedom and liberties but, deep down, we all know that we are lying to ourselves. That the freedom we all pretend to have is nothing but a facade; a fantasy drilled into us at birth alongside the explicit warning to follow all of the rules society demands.

“It doesn’t matter who you are. If you try hard enough, you can do anything!”

“One day, you’ll find somebody who loves you for you.”

“Appearance doesn’t matter. It’s what on the inside that counts.”

Any human who utters this claptrap in my presence is beneath me. Especially the last one. These honeyed words go down like bitter medicine and are just an elaborately crafted untruth designed to keep us common folk in line. The reality of things is that only the chosen few get the freedom to be who they want, do what they want and achieve a lasting legacy. The rest of us just live in their shadow and swim along behind them mindlessly; like sardines rushing into the cannery. The greats are remembered for eternity whereas the rest of us just fertilise the soil.

Don’t misunderstand me, though.

I don’t completely begrudge this system. I don’t want to die or throw away the positives this restrictive life can bring. Whether I like it or not, I’m stuck with it. Hell, knowing the limitations of this system puts me leagues in front of my ‘peers’ who spend all their time ‘treasuring their youth’ and dreaming that they are the ‘hope of tomorrow’. Wasting their time studying for A’s, dating classmates and sweating on the sports field.


Despite knowing the system this world follows there is still one thing I can’t help myself from wanting.

Amore! Affection! Love!

I want a girlfriend! I know everything I have just said about life being controlled by those above us. The sardine metaphor. Being above those who waste their youth falling in love. I get it! I’m a hypocrite!

But one thing that can make all this paradoxical nonsense make any degree of sense is the companionship of another. Affection. Sure, I’m lucky enough to come from a family that loves me but that is different. It’s the butterflies in your stomach and the sweat on your palms that makes you feel alive. I love love! I want to feel the embrace of the one who understands me better than all others. The sweet anxiety of waiting for their text or finally confessing your love. Romance manga are great but experiencing the real thing is incomparable.

That’s it, I’ve decided! I’m going to get a girlfriend! No ifs. No buts. Love is the cure for my boring life. Even if my freedom is limited and I’m already handcuffed to the corporate treadmill so if I have somebody to share this miserable life with then I-

“…to. Sato!”

My poetic inner monologue interrupted, I look up to see the class president standing in front of me, paper in hand. Not the sort of girl that stands out but the sort of bookish beauty that awakens something protective in men worldwide.

“Wh-What’s up, Misono?”

My voice cracks as I attempt to nonchalantly reply to the mousy brunette. She smiles politely as my face grows puce from embarrassment.

“The teacher asked me to collect the handouts from earlier and you’re the only one yet to return yours.”

“Oh. Of course. He-here you go.”

She smiles at me and before I know it, I’m on my own once more. And here lies the big problem with my plan: I’m me. As you most likely see from my brief interaction with the beautiful Misono, I’m about as smooth as a scouring brush. Interacting with anyone, let alone a beautiful girl is something I’m just downright bad at. I do okay in my studies and conform to all of the little obligations required of me. Despite my understanding of the limits of society and self-admitted cynicism, I think I’m a nice guy. I’m friendly when I need to be. Heck, I even have a couple of ‘friends’ I hang out with from time to time. But speaking to a girl is something that never goes the way it does in my brain. By the time I think of something to say, the girl is gone and my chance to bond with them has disappeared with the wind.

Ahhh, Misono. You are but a flower I don’t have the courage to pick!


With another day in the mandatory yet not mandatory high school slash salaryman production machine done with, I take my normal path home. I pass the train station, as normal, greet my neighbours, as normal, pick up the groceries mum had asked for, as mind-numbingly normal and eventually arrive home. I pet the dog and play some games with my younger sister. Another mundane ending to just one more day in the endless societal grind. Even as I slog through the tedium, my mind can’t help drifting back to this afternoon. The brief encounter with the beautiful brunette. The glasses goddess. The strait-laced queen that won’t leave me be. What if I could have mustered more than a high pitched squeal? What if I had started a conversation? It could have been about the handouts. I noticed she has a ‘One Piece’ strap on her bag. I could have talked about that!


I read books! I could have recommended one or asked for a recommendation back! I could even have just asked how she was or mentioned the weather! I couldn’t even do that! Why don’t I think of these things when I’m actually with a girl? Why does my brain sink into a pool of acidic stupidity when I have a brief chance to speak to somebody who makes my heart skip a beat.

Granted, I don’t know that she likes any of those things. It’s not like we’ve spoken at school or even seen each other outside of school. Today might have been the first time since we enrolled that we actually spoke more than a polite “Good Morning”. But it’s the what-ifs that keep me swimming in this river of regret.

As I lay on my bed and lament over what could have been, I slowly begin to drift once more into the land of nod; forced to rest and renew ahead a return to the societal rat race…

Except that this feels different… Where am I now? I was lying on my bed, I’m sure of it but this room is… a library? Sat at a small wooden table in a room with shelves of literature adorning the walls around me. A librarian sits at the desk reading a large tome and the quiet murmur of people trying to be quiet whistles through the air. For a dream, this is pretty realistic.


Okay. This is weird. I touch the table and it feels like… a table. I can smell the books. I have no doubt that this is a library. But, this is a dream… right? If not, how did I get here? What is…

“Thanks for waiting, Sato! Ah. I meant Yu-Yuusuke.”

I don’t believe it. That… That is Misono. She’s here… And she called me Yuusuke! Ahh, she smells of flowers… Wait! What the hell is going on here?

“Were you waiting long?”

She smiles sweetly and pushes her glasses slightly further up her nose. Her white dress and straw hat make her look more angel than human. Damn. She is so cute.

“N-no? I just got here…”

“Ah, thank goodness! I was rushing around picking out my clothes. And sorting out the bento boxes. A-and I forgot the book you lent me so I had to go home and-”

She pulls a book out of her cute, pink rucksack and juts it out in front of her. However, her beautiful, pale face quickly grows red; bringing the book back to her and clutching it to her chest.

“Ahhhhhhh! I brought the wrong book! I can’t believe I brought my kanji dictionary instead of your light novel! I just got so nervous that I…”

Ahh. How charming! Even though she has everything together at school and everyone relies on her, she is slightly clumsy. That little bit of forgetfulness is truly her charm point! Her panicking and worrying makes me wish that she was my girlfriend… Wait. We’re meeting each other in our street clothes at the weekend. Isn’t this… a date?

“I’m so sorry Yuusuke. I’m ruining our special library date with my stupid mistakes. I was just so happy you asked me to come here that I got really nervous… Can you forgive me?”

Waaaah! If she keeps saying things this cute, I think my heart might give out. So this is a date. I don’t care if I am dreaming, this is every wish I could ever have come true. I can’t waste this opportunity.

“Don’t worry Misono. Just take a breath and relax, okay? I’m just happy you’re here now.”

I flash her my best smile and I’m sure it felt like being hit by Cupid’s arrow. She looks bashfully down at the table as my kindness hits better than I could have ever imagined. I’m a secret ladykiller!

“We-well, that’s good then. I-I suppose we should get started on the homework, right?”

Crap. Homework. I don’t have any. This isn’t real… is it? I look down to my left and, to my surprise, is my school bag. Did I actually come to the library? Did I just forget about all of the buildup: the asking of Misono? Maybe I did ask her in the classroom and I just blacked out from nerves. Anyway, I can’t let her wait. I pull out my obnoxiously large notepad and we slowly work through the handouts we were provided. Even in the quiet, dimly lit library, a special feeling was building between us. We spoke sparingly to each other, helping each other out where we felt lost and exchanging brief, timid glances from time to time. The whispers we shared left me screaming for joy inside. The hours of studying passed by in such peaceful bliss that it felt no longer than a few minutes. Just spending time with this angelic creature makes this manufactured world a little better. Who knew that the local library was actually a hidden paradise. The mundane becoming more exciting than your imagination dares dream.

“Yu-Yuusuke? Do you want to break for lunch? I- I made a bento we could share if you like…?”

YESSSS!!! Misono’s homemade bento! It takes all of my wits to not stand up and cheer right then and there. Desperately trying to keep my emotions in check, I manage to muster a suppressed smile and a nod. A smile and a nod, may I add, that lights Misono’s face up like a Christmas tree. Damn am I good at this dating thing or what. I don’t know why I was ever nervous. Misono signals towards the door and, like a well-trained dog, I eagerly follow. Say the word and I will do anything you wish, my lady.

I don’t know why I ever doubted if this was real or not. There’s no way I could imagine such a detailed place anyway. The textured wallpaper on the walls and the overpowering fragrance of books. The library isn’t crowded, sure, but there are people here that I’m certain I’ve never seen before. It must be real. This is it. I’m truly living the dream. No more regrets. My happy romantic life begins now!

“Come on Yuusuke!”

Misono’s nervous grin beckons me over to a small bench opposite a large, imposing oak tree. I just want to dash at her but I instead choose a cool, confident strut. At least I think it was cool. Weird I didn’t notice that tree from inside the library but I’ll admit to being a little distracted. Botany really isn’t my concern right now. I’m going to flirt with Misono and I’m going to say everything I have ever wanted to. Eat your heart out, Don Juan. I’m the real king of romance.

“Thanks, Misono. You’re always so kind and charming. I’m so lucky to be spending this time with you.”

I can’t believe this! I’m saying everything right and I might just be the biggest player in the world. Why couldn’t I do this before? I could have had a harem by middle school with these lines! I wouldn’t have, of course, one woman is more than enough for me but, I have to admit, I’m impressing myself.

“Oh Yuusuke, you’re are such a charmer…Ever since the year began, I was interested in you, Yuusuke. Every time I had to collect something from you for our teacher or do the class duty, I was happy because it gave me an excuse to speak with you. And, when you… when you… confessed to me after class, I was so happy that I walked into about 4 lampposts on the way home.”

Misono is the very definition of moe. Just being with her heals my heart and washes away the filth that society's rules stain my very soul with. Wait!? Did she say I confessed? I knew it! I blacked out from the nerves and this is real! We exchange another loving smile before she again becomes timid and digs around in her bag. And she once again sets my heart on fire by bringing out the ignition to every man’s heart. A homemade bento.

Take me now God, I’ve reached my peak!

She uses her chopsticks and picks up another bite but doesn’t eat it herself. She shyly intimates to me. She wants to feed me!? This day cannot get any better. I move my head closer to her shaking hand and prepare to consume the immaculately prepared morsel of love and… I can’t move. What is going on? Why can’t I move!? I want to eat more of Misono’s bento. Has time simply ceased? Have we passed through an interdimensional space rift that has deliberately robbed me of this one simple joy?

“-suke. Yuusuke!”

I can hear somebody calling my name. Is it Misono? No, no. That isn’t her voice. It is slightly…deeper? It’s weirdly familiar. Who could it be?

“Yuusuke. Yuusuke!”

The voice grows louder and now, instead of being suspended in torturous stillness the world itself seems to be tearing itself apart. The tree we were sat in front of begins to fade from vision and Misono begins to slowly fade away into the background.

“No! Misono! Please don’t go! I want to spend more time with you! Misonoooo!”


“Yuusuke! Wake up, for God’s sake. Even though it’s Saturday you can’t sleep all day!”

“No! Don’t leaveeee!”

My eyes spring open and I jerk forward. My back is drenched with sweat and I’m… clearly in my pyjamas.


Damn, damn, damn!

So it was a dream. It was a dream… right? It felt so… real. And meaningful. As if I got to know about the real Misono. As if I got to experience real… love. This wasn’t normal, right? I have experienced many degrees of delusion before but those were simple daydreams. Regrets that I fix in post. This felt… different. As if it was a glimpse into a possible future… A future that I need to make happen. I need to confess to her. It should be easy, right? Now I have experienced that date with her, I should have all of the material I need to-

“Yuusuke! For the final time, wake up!”

My epiphany is interrupted by my mother bursting into the room; her apron covered in flour and wielding a particularly lethal-looking rolling pin.

“I-I’m sorry mum. What time is it anyway?”

“Too late for breakfast, that’s for sure. I don’t know what I did wrong with you to have you sleep in like this. Sakura came by this morning but I had to turn her away due to your… well. Anyway. Get yourself changed, then I need you to do something for me, okay?”

“Ye-yeah. Of course”

Still in a daze, I manage to drag myself to the bathroom and somewhat prepare myself. The routine I loathe so much is still very much in place. The dreamworld I was galivanting in is already becoming a distant memory. The vivid depiction of the library is already fading into a hodge-podge of shadows and broken dreams. Ahgh, No! I will follow this through. I see this dream as a gift from the Gods. I will do what they want me to do and I will ask Misono out on a date. As soon as I see her again. Yes. It will be done!

I wi-

“Yuusuke. Hurry up! I’ve left the money on the side. Don’t buy too many snacks either, okay!”

Well. The Misono problem can wait for now, right. For now, at least, I have to indulge society's wishes and be a ‘good boy'. I quickly throw on some clothes, grab the money and head out of the door. Just a quick walk to the supermarket and then I can start planning my attack. I wonder what the bes-.

Wait… Wait, wait, wait. Be still my beating heart, is that who I think it is? It is! Stood with her back against the station wall is Misono! It’s Misono! It’s a miracle! Something has gone my way. This could be the chance I have been waiting for. Misono is here! Thank you, mother! You have given me what I-

“Thanks for waiting!”

Just as the big band in my mind begins to play and the celebratory parade begins, a man approaches Misono and greets her. A man. An… older man. A much older man. It must be her dad, right?

“Ahh. Gen. I’ve been wanting to see you.”

What the hell is this! She kisses this middle-aged geezer on the cheek and uses the flirtiest voice I have ever heard! She sounds like an AV star, for crying out loud!

Wait, wait, wait. That can’t be Misono. Can it? No! He must be making her act like this! It must be some sort of blackmail scheme, right? I… I have to follow them.

And I do.

They walk slowly through town, arm in arm; breaking my heart piece by piece and step by step. They go to a cafe and are flirty the entire time. She’s feeding him the way she should be feeding me! This can’t be true, can it? My class president, my book-loving princess, she can’t really be involved with such a man, can she?

As I continue to struggle with my sanity, something happens that crushes it for good. The final nail in my coffin. After what felt like days of torture, the final blow is thrust deep into my gut.

A love hotel.

They walk into a love hotel.

The beautiful, smart, angelic apple of my eye has just dragged an ogre of a salaryman into a love hotel…

What sort of depraved torture is this! I fall to my knees on the street in front of the hotel and can do nothing but accept defeat. The cold hard ground feels like home. How can I even dream of standing when my life has been pulled out from under me like a cheap tablecloth. My epiphany was nothing more than an egotistical hope. A figment of my imagination. A-

“Yuusuke? What are you doing?”

I look up and see the face of my childhood friend. Sakura.

“No-nothing. What do you want, Sakura?”

“Just doing some errands in town. You doing the same?”

The conversation continues on as mundanely and workaday as you could expect but I can’t bear to remember any more of it, with the torturous scene still fresh in my mind. Even the familiar face of Sakura can do nothing to quell my discomfort. To be honest, her upbeat personality is doing nothing more than fill me with yet more anger. How could she begin to understand what I’m going through here!? She is a naive dreamer who believes in the power of people. One naive to the clutches of the powerful and the constraints that keep is below the powerful. God I want to puke…Sure, Sakura is a little cute but a little cute won’t heal my heart.

Society is just a cruel game the rich force on the rest.

Today proves it again. The rules of society and the karma of life once again acting in tandem to keep us modest worker bees in line; crushing our spirits and leaving us morale free. But, despite everything I got wrong today there is one thing I got right.

“Life sucks.”

Misono Bad End.

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