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. Bookmark here

Thud! Thud!Bookmark here

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

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

We both turned our bodies to face him properly. Bookmark here

“Takahashi!” Shizuko angrily shouted.Bookmark here

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.” Bookmark here

And, just like that, here we go. Bookmark here

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

“Excuse me?!” Shizuko shrieked. Bookmark here

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

“You’re excused,” he replied. Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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---.” Bookmark here

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

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

“Your mom said I can use it!” Bookmark here

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

“S-shut up, already!” Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

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

“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.” Bookmark here

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

“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. Bookmark here

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

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

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.” Bookmark here

“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!” Bookmark here

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.”Bookmark here

“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!” Bookmark here

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

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

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

“That messy bed hairstyle really works on you.”Bookmark here

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

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

“Oh, thanks.” She sounded bashful. Bookmark here

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

“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---.”Bookmark here

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

“You’re an awful person!”Bookmark here

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

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. Bookmark here

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

“And there you have it, Shi-zu-ko.” Bookmark here

“But you’re also dense,” I furthered. Bookmark here

“Huh?” Bookmark here

“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. Bookmark here

“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. Bookmark here

“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.” Bookmark here

“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.” Bookmark here

Or maybe they saw nothing in those eyes. Bookmark here

I picked up my walking speed. Bookmark here

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

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

“No. You suck!” Bookmark here

“No, I don’t suck! You suck!” Bookmark here

“You suck, or swallow!”Bookmark here

“What?” she aggressively huffed. Bookmark here

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

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

“No, you! You suck!”Bookmark here

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

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

“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!” Bookmark here

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

“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!”Bookmark here

We all stopped.Bookmark here

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

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

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

“Hadiza?” Hiroto tried next. Bookmark here

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

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

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. Bookmark here

I turned to face my friends.Bookmark here

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

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

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

“Hadi-chan---!”Bookmark here

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

You can resume reading from this paragraph.