Chapter 3:

Cats and dogs want to mate

School For The Mediums

Heart-stopping mind blanking. That’s the type of startling scream that made both me and Shizuko drop our school bags.

Thud! Thud!

With perked up ears, we whipped our heads around, only to see the laughing culprit approaching us on a speeding bicycle.

“Ahaha!” Hiroto chuckled with the biggest sly smirk. “Did I scare both of you?” He stopped pedaling just before he reached us.

We both turned our bodies to face him properly.

“Takahashi!” Shizuko angrily shouted.

He bounced off his bike and walked it to the side of Shizuko. “Sorry, sorry,” he said, between hearty laughs. “I had to scream. You look worse than yesterday. It scared me.”

And, just like that, here we go.

Scratching my itchy face, I picked up my bag and started walking, knowing they were going to follow…and bicker.

“Excuse me?!” Shizuko shrieked.

If I could see her face, I know exactly what I would see: fiery murderous eyes, a thick sharp scowl, and unhideable blushing cheeks.

“You’re excused,” he replied.

And if I could see his face, I know exactly what it would look like: a self-satisfied smile and a set of 4 eyes that never left Shizuko.

“I wasn’t asking! It was a rhetocial question!”

Rhetorical,” he corrected, arrogant as can ever be.

“Shut up!” I’m sure I heard her punch him hard on the arm.

“Are you still mad about last night, Shi-zu-ko?” he sang off pitch, but the annoying emphasis still made the effect he wanted.

“Last night? Why do you say it like that?!”

“Well, how else should I say it? If you hadn’t come to my house last night then---.”

“--Stop saying last night! Are you trying to let the whole world know what happened?!”

Considering how loud his voice was raised, I think that was a given.

“Nope. Not at all. I’m just saying we wouldn’t have issues if you just stopped coming to my house to use the bath and shower---.”

“--I said stop saying it like that! You know my parents are doing renovations in the bathroom! I have to use yours!”

“No, you don’t. You can use Hadiza’s.”

“Your mom said I can use it!”

“My mom also said we should marry. Clearly, she’s not a reliable source.”

“S-shut up, already!”

I glanced back at them. Hiroto was smiling like a kid getting away with stealing in the candy store. And Shizuko? She was like a cranky pregnant woman arguing with her husband.

They were the literal definition of cats and dogs…cats and dogs who wanted to mate. Every day they were glued to each other, fighting over the smallest things. Yesterday it was about their scores on a test. The day before, about a mechanical pencil. And now, something else I know they’ll forget about by tomorrow.

Sighing with uneven breaths, I kept my feet focused on getting me to school on time.

“You are totally still angry about last night,” Hiroto continued. “I don’t know why you make such a big deal out of it. It’s not like there was much for me look at it.”

“Takahashi, you little!” she yelled so loudly, it was a sound I only heard when he was around.

“What? I’m just stating a fact. You’re shaped like a block of wood. I’d rather look at Hadiza. She’s the one with the figure. Coca-cola type too.” He mentioned me, but I didn’t feel any eyes on my back. Somehow, I know his eyes were still on Shizuko just to view her probably fuming reaction.

“How dare you say that?” her voice was sizzling with intensity. “You can’t just say things about people’s bodies. That’s rude!”

“Hadi-chan?” he spoke softly and sweetly. “Are you offended?”

Achoo!” I sneezed; my nose feeling even itchier. “Not really.” His comments hold about as much weight as a feather. But to keep the balance, I added, “However, Shizuko is right. You can’t say things about a woman’s body.”

“See! Hadiza agrees with me! That’s because we both know you have to be a disgusting despicable pig to make comments about our bodies! Keep your mouth to yourself!”

He brushed her insults off. “You have absolutely no chill, Shi-zu-ko. Can’t you see how Hadiza doesn’t care about anything? She’s cool, and people like cool people. Why can’t you be cool? You won’t get a boyfriend this way.”

“I’m the one who won’t get a boyfriend? You’re the one who won’t get a girlfriend with that sick mouth of yours! And every girl at school stays away from you with a ten-foot pole because they know that you’re nothing but a walking nightmare!”

There was nice silence as Hiroto considered what to say, but it was only for a moment.

“Shizuko,” his baritone voice was heavy and firm.

“W-What?” I could hear she was a little caught off guard by the passion in his voice.

“That messy bed hairstyle really works on you.”

“What, seriously?” Her voice softened, and I could just feel her smile.

“Yeah, it gives you this different look. I like it. It’s great on you.”

“Oh, thanks.” She sounded bashful.

I glanced at Hiroto from the cut of my eye. Smooth. Even I could admit it.

“To be honest,” Shizuko mumbled, “I thought it looked crazy, and that I looked like a mess but---wait! Takahashi! Stop making comments about our bodies! It’s creepy and---.”

“---Sexiest, racist, patriarchist, and what else? I have a whole dictionary of -ists I remember. Shall I go through them all?”

“You’re an awful person!”

“But I always get the job done. Don’t I, Hadi-chan?”

No one could deny as much as he played around, Hiroto was one of the smartest students in school. A little too smart for his own good if you asked me.

“Yeah.” I nodded, a pounding headache starting. “You are.”

“And there you have it, Shi-zu-ko.”

“But you’re also dense,” I furthered.


“Both of you are.” I looked back at them. “You two keep playing this game. Just call it and date already. Besides, all this arguing does nothing but give everyone a headache.” Just as I said the words, the blood thumping head pain was getting stronger.

“Date?” Both of them dropped their jaws in unison. Then they looked at each other. Really looked at each other. Eyes peering into the abyss of each other souls, and maybe they were lost there is a possibility of bittersweet high school romances. Maybe they even saw more than that. For as long as they stared longingly, I thought maybe they saw the future.

“Woah.” Hiroto’s jaw was still wide open as he slowly blinked. “Wow,” he scoffed, shaking his head. “I would commit swallow a thousand needless or commit seppuku before I even thought of convincing that idea.”

“Y-Yeah!” Shizuko quickly jumped in, fluttering her eyes. “I agree! I would never date him! You see what he’s like! I mean, he’s just---.” She peered at him in gaping wonder. “---not even human. No girl in her right mind would ever want him.”

Or maybe they saw nothing in those eyes.

I picked up my walking speed.

“S-Same to you!” he spat back as if he weren’t expecting her to respond harshly as he did.

“No, it’s just you! You’re the one who sucks!”

“No. You suck!”

“No, I don’t suck! You suck!”

“You suck, or swallow!”

“What?” she aggressively huffed.

“Oh.” He did a little wince. “Sorry, that went the wrong way, I was saying you suck!”

“Shut up!” She barked back. “You suck!”

“No, you! You suck!”

“No, it’s clearly you who sucks! You’re the lamest guy I’ve ever met!”

Maybe not cats and dogs, maybe they were just kids.

“Well, if I was so sucky and lame then how I was voted in to become student council president? You’re precious Kaichou! You bow down to me!”

“No, I only voted for you because Aoko wasn’t here to run again!”

“Yeah, and maybe if Aoko were still here, I wouldn’t have to deal with you! And everything would have been a lot better if she were still here!”

We all stopped.

‘Everything would have been a lot better if she were still here.’

“…Hadi-chan?” I heard Shizuko quietly whisper.

There was unsettling silence, as we all awkwardly stood there.

“Hadiza?” Hiroto tried next.

‘Everything would have been a lot better if she were still here.’

I gripped my schoolbag handles, eyes steady on my feet. I could feel my nails digging into my palm.

In a situation like this, I know they wanted me to turn around and face them with a smile. Maybe say something like funny---something like Aoko would. And yeah, if she were here, she would have the perfect thing to say to make everyone crack a laugh and smile.

I turned to face my friends.

They both peered at me with big hopeful eyes bulging in anticipation and remorse.

I parted my lips. “I’m getting a headache. I’m going ahead. See you in class.”

Before they could protest or follow, I turn and quickly walked away, hearing only distant voices behind me.


“---Let her go. She has to do what she needs to do.”

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