Chapter 7:

The Self-Doubt of a Shut-In

My Childhood Best Friend is a VTuber! (OsananaV)

It has been a day since I reunited with Koi, and it’s been two since I started this story. To me it feels as if it’s been an eternity; a low-energy shut-in (like yours truly) gets drained easily from even the simplest interactions, let alone multiple taxing conversations over the span of just a few hours.

You deserve better than this, I’m so sorry brain!

I lay on my cozy queen-sized bed, completely immobile with my face launched into the pillows. There is nothing in this void, just peace and relaxation – for just a moment. Despite my lethargy, memories of the previous day’s encounters crowd my mind like a swarm of bees returning to the hive.

The girl whom I hadn’t seen in years and her strange disposition. The semi-romantic comment she left to me before we parted ways. My suspicious mother and her meddling in my life, and finally, the hot-headed sister of the aforementioned girl who is now apparently my rival.

Two numbers flash before my eyes; the first two numbers I’ve received for individuals I’ve met in a long time – aside from my mother giving me the Aizawa’s numbers, these are two I got on my own merits. Albeit one of the numbers was not given to me by the number holder, but I’m sure she wouldn’t mind.

I’m sure. I think I’m sure. Surely.

The more I think about it the more exhausted I get; I’ve had the number since yesterday, but I haven’t been able to call. My masochistic alarm clock woke me up nice and early for Mayu’s stream, but I lay here – a deceased human.

My heartbeat rises as I flip over on the bed, sloppily grab my phone out of my pocket and clutch it in my hand.

“Yes! I’ve got this.”

I stare at the newly entered contact and breathe. Breathe Akira.

Koiyomi Aizawa (Koi)

Clicking the call button sends a rush through my spine, a strange sensation of excitement and torment merged to become one.

The generic dial tone sings like a hypnotic symphony into my ear as time seemingly comes to a halt.

Closer and closer to my ear, the phone is pushed, as if the less proximity there is between it and my head, the faster she picks up. The muscles in my legs start to get restless as I lie on the bed, stretching and shaking.

This polarizing discourse only comes to an end when I hear the final and distinct beep of the dial tone, signalling that she is unable to come to the phone right now. The call ends instantly, meaning she hasn’t set up a voice recording for when she isn’t available.

Despite how she was yesterday, Koi has always been the kind of responsible and mature person to set up things like that in order for situations like these. Back when we were kids, this would’ve been the kind of blunder she’d scold me about.

On the other hand, the lack of any sort of voice recording could also just mean that Sakura gave me the wrong number; at this point, I wouldn’t put it past her. That would also mean that the number of hers she gave me is probably fake too, not that I wanted her number either way in the slightest.

At this moment I can’t help but just laugh; it’s hilarious really. After all my smart-ass quips and bullshit, this is the outcome – I am the fool. A tear falls from my eye as the laughter gets louder and divulges into something indiscernible from hilarity or misery.

A strange sensation of excitement and torment merged into one all right.

That’s enough.

In one sweeping motion, I slap my cheeks with my hands and shake them out.

Human interaction sucks anyway, I knew this before, and I still know it now; wallowing around in whatever the hell I’m feeling isn’t going to get me anywhere.

My legs feel shaky and uneven as I jump off the bed onto the hardwood floor, slowly limping over to my gaming chair.

As I make my way over to Mayu’s stream and turn up the volume, I twist my neck ever so slightly until I hear an audible crack. The simple motion brings me back into the moment as the Demon Queen of Moe emerges on my screen.

There’s something oddly different about her demeanour now; I’m not sure if I’m just projecting my emotions onto the situation though. She seems off as if something is worrying her.

The similarities in our disposition, whether real or completely made up by my mind in this state, remove any sort of comfort I get from watching the stream.

I should call Sakura’s number just to make sure, maybe that was the prank, maybe she intends for me to call her afterwards so she can claim her victory.

That would definitely make her rather abrupt motion to give me her number something that I can understand.

Calling her would be better than sitting with this unless that number turns out to be a dud too.

My finger lingers over Sakura’s contact info, once again I am in a position of hovering over a reality that may not come to pass. Lying really is the worst, it completely distorts what is real for the other person.

Mayu’s voice emanates from my speakers, but I don’t make out any words – I’m more focused on her tone, stressed and preoccupied.

Our feelings sync - I step further and further into dread as my finger gets closer and closer to calling Sakura. This is halted by one small vibration on my phone, dispelling the trance and bringing me to life again.

1 Notification from Koi

My eyes widen as I click on the notification bar that has just shown above Sakura’s contact info. I don’t know what fills me with more relief – the fact that the number I have for Koi messaged me back or the fact that there will probably be no more reason now to have to call Sakura.

Anything to not have to talk to her again.

“Hi, who is this?”

For a moment I just stare blankly at the screen, at these four little words which my brain had stopped me from anticipating this whole time.

I’m actually an idiot.

Reflecting on the last few moments of my life makes me question everything I am as a human being. Somehow, I jumped to every single possible conclusion other than the one being that maybe she didn’t want to answer the phone from a random stranger that has called her.

No more smart-ass quips for you, Akira, you don’t deserve to hold your head high like that. Dumbass.

“It’s Akira, I got this number from Sakura.”

I type my reply promptly and send it, making sure it’s as clear as possible while not being overly specific – just in case this really is the number of some random person still.

Instead of waiting for the text to come through, I focus my attention on Mayu and her stream. Unfortunately, the second I avert my gaze over to the Demon Queen, she announces that she needs to go to the bathroom and puts on a compilation of cat videos for us to watch in the meantime.

“Look after my stream for me.”

Her fans, my brothers, flood the stream chat in droves as if this was a mission bestowed by their goddess which could only be completed by them.

For me though, this situation is less exciting; now my mind is back on the phone. Within moments after I return to staring at the new conversation that’s been started between the account that is hopefully Koi and I, my phone starts vibrating violently.

Call Incoming [Koi]