Chapter 2:

The Past

The Weight Of Ignorance


It was the first day of Junior high and everything felt overwhelming. I believed that if I tried hard enough, anything was possible. I took my first few steps into the school and start looking around. Everyone was staring at me. I couldn’t figure out why but everyone was looking at me, some looked at me with pity while others looked at me with disgust. I had just entered my class and I already wanted to leave.

“GOOD MORNING EVERYONE, I’M YUUTO HANAZAKI. I LIKE PLAYING GAMES. PLEASE HELP ME IF YOU SEE ME LACKING” I spoke loudly during the self-introduction period of the class. I did watch anime and read manga but those hobbies would definitely lead to bullying, so I decided to not mention them.

The bell had rung and it was time for lunch. I slowly left my seat and went to the hallway and made my way to the canteen but suddenly a group of boys and girls stopped me.

“ sup bastard, heh would you look at that, you’re the only person I know that actually fits the name bastard” one of the boys started speaking to me after pushing me against the wall.

It was then that I realized all the stares. It was because my mother had given birth to me with an unknown man. I couldn’t see what any of the people looked like. I was too scared to look up at them but looking at their feet, there had to be about 5 of them.

“Uh….Um….I don’t know what I did to anger you but if there was anything that I did wrong then I apologize” I spoke, It would be better to solve this by apologizing, although I don’t really think that’s what he wanted. Why was it that even once in my life I couldn’t be a shojo protagonist that was the popular kid that everyone protected?

Well, bullying was not anything new to me. I was bullied in elementary school. People left me out of projects, I was never invited for anything and also all the boys would pour water on my head. Even calling me an accident had become a daily joke, on some occasions they would even beat me up for fun, but this time I was hoping for things to be different but in the end, nothing changed.

“I’m here to tell you where you’re lacking, you’re lacking in the mother department” He said as everyone in the group started to laugh. Elementary school was not this direct even if they all had the same thought. Honestly, what was even funny about that joke? Seemed like everyone in every school I went to found it funny.

“ Uh….I’ll try to stay out of your sight from now on” I spoke the most logical thing that came to mind.

He suddenly punched me in the stomach really hard and I fell down with no resistance. The crowd had begun to laugh like it was some joke. I wanted to tell them “ stop laughing, it hurts me” but I knew more than anyone that acknowledging the things they do only made them do it more, so kept quiet and held my stomach to ease the pain.

They eventually went to the cafeteria and left me on the floor. After laying there for a while, I picked myself up and went to the cafeteria. My body had always been a bit frail but it had gotten used to being beaten up by people. I went to the cafeteria and bought myself some curry and bread. I looked side to side, I guess there wasn’t a blue hair curry loving senpai.

After school had ended, the same group came up to me and continued their harassment and I kept my head down the entire time because I did not know what else to do. I had finally gotten home.

“Hey Yuuto!! How was your first day of Junior high?” A woman who was sitting on the couch with a bag of potato chips asked me.

My aunt always wore a set of home pants and a T-shirt, she was a very warm and welcoming person. She welcomed me into her home after my mother ran away when I was 5 years old. She never made me feel like I was overstaying my welcome. I felt comfortable with her.

“It was fine, nothing special”

Telling her about what happened is only going to get her worried unnecessarily. I knew that there was nothing she could do about it except take it up to the higher ups in the school and that would only aggravate the situation.

“Wanna watch this show with me ?” she asked me

“ Not today, I have a bit of homework” I replied to her kind offer

“Okay” She replied with a smile on her face

I went to my room right after the exchange and hoped that she didn’t notice anything. Once I made it to my room I laid down for a bit and read some manga. Sometimes reading manga made me feel like I could maybe try harder. It made me feel like maybe I could somehow make it through despite all the bad things that would happen to me.

“Wake up Yuuto”

A loud voice woke me up. I opened my eyes and saw my aunt standing next to me and attempting to wake me up by shaking my body and calling out to me. I had slept off while reading my manga.

“It's time for dinner Yuuto, wake up”

“Uh yeah, you go on ahead down. I’ll be there”

“Okay but remember you snooze, you lose” she said with a smile while leaving the room.

I got up and stretched my body. I went down from the first floor to the dining and I saw her waiting for me.

“Uh, will uncle not be joining us?”

“Not today, he has to work late today”

“Oh okay”

Rice and curry were kept in bowls for me. I picked up my chopsticks and started eating. The silence on the table was finally broken.

“Yuuto, things will get better soon. Even if people are bullying you now, eventually it’ll all be alright”

“You *cough* knew all along?”

“Stop talking and eating at the same time”

“Yuuto, I’m the one that raised you. I’ve seen you go through multiple schools so I know when something bad happens to you. Please stop feeling the need to worry about my feelings. I want you to know that you are like a son to me and no matter what, I will always worry about you.”

Before I knew it tears started to roll down my eyes. I didn’t think that all the bullying affected me anymore but somehow my tears didn’t stop. No, it was not the bullying that had put me into tears but it was that I was longing to hear someone call me their son, someone to tell me it was going to be alright, someone who could tell me that no matter what, they would always care for me.

“Let it all out” My aunt came and hugged me.

*****************************************

A Few years passed by and the bullying did not stop but eventually reduced, I had also gotten used to being bullied. People using me as a punching bag had become a common occurrence with other forms of bullying like having my shoes hidden or having my books soaked in water. What classic bullying strategies. It wasn’t like I wanted to be bullied but at the very least get creative with it. I left school after I'd found my shoes near the girl’s restroom.

As I entered the apartment. I could hear people shouting at the top of their lungs like no one was listening. The closer I went to my house, the louder the noises got. My legs had started to tremble but I kept moving forward.

“Are you suggesting that I abandon my sister’s son? Are you fucking kidding?”

“ That's not what I’m saying, all I’m saying is that it’s time we started a family of our own and Yuuto is old enough to live by himself now”

“Are you fucking crazy? He’s hardly 16. He gets bullied all the time and he has no one else to turn to.”

The voices were screaming at each other and I knew that I was the cause of this. Seeing them fight had only left one thought in my mind- "This must be why my mother had left me, I probably brought misfortune wherever I went." I couldn’t stand hearing the conversation any further, No I couldn't bear thinking about any of this right now, So I ran to the park as fast as I could.

I reached the park and was gasping for air. I sat down on a bench that was alienated from the rest of the park and had started to slowly recover my breath.

What my uncle said was true, I was getting in the way of them having a family of their own. I didn’t think of things like this before, these thoughts had never occurred to me. I always thought that my life would continue the way it has with my aunt and uncle. But that was a bubble that had to pop sometime or the other. It’s not like my uncle hated me, in fact, he always bought me toys and games as a kid. He always had a gentle smile when talking to me. The two people who were so kind to me were suffering because of me.

I returned back home after a few hours. The fighting had stopped. I went straight to my aunt’s room to talk to her about my future. I went to her room to see her eyes that were completely swelled up and her t-shirt stained by her tears. It hurt me to see her suffer like this but that was the end of this.

“I’ve decided to go to Tokyo for High school” I said with all the courage I had. I tried to mask anything that would hint that I was doing this for her.

“Okay!” she said with a somewhat forced smile.

***********************************

It was finally time to start my first year of Highschool. I was not particularly excited to go to high school because somehow the fact that my mother abandoned me always got out and became a point of bullying. I was fully prepared to be bullied but I really hoped that It wouldn’t happen. As a wise man once said “maybe this was the start of my popular phase”

I left home and walked to the station nearby. It was a 10 minute walk to the station and a 5 minute walk from the station to the school. I walked into my class and I could already feel everyone’s eyes on me. Did my secret already get out? It made no sense, I had moved to a new city. There was no way they knew it.

I quickly took my seat on the 4th row on the left seat. I stared straight at the board and kept looking at the teacher. I had not paid any attention to anything that was going on.

“Um… Mr.Hanazaki, Please introduce yourself to the class” the teacher said. Oh that was right. Self-introduction was happening. don’t make the same mistakes as before, Yuuto.

“Good morning Everyone, I’m Yuuto Hanazaki. I have a lot of hobbies like playing games. Please take care of me.” that's right, I was not going to ask people to tell me when I’m lacking again.

Classes had gone through and nothing had happened, no more unwanted stares and no more unwanted chattering that made me feel insecure. Everything was going well until the lunch bell rang. I started walking to the cafeteria to buy lunch and was hoping to get it before anyone else could see me. I ran to the cafeteria and bought myself a meat sandwich and a chocolate milkshake. I left as soon as possible and started looking for an isolated place to eat. I was about to check the roof when-

“Hey Kid” A large muscular man wearing the same uniform as me suddenly came up to me and started a conversation. I already knew where this was going.

“Um Hello, I’m Hanazaki Yuuto. I’m from 1A” I replied and started slowly moving away. If I moved slowly, maybe he wouldn’t notice me move away.

“Wait right there, I want your chocolate milkshake” he said.

That's it? He just wanted my milkshake? he wasn’t going to bully me or anything?

“Um, sure” I said as I handed the chocolate milkshake to him. This was nothing. As long as I wasn’t getting beaten up, this was a win. Maybe this was my popular phase.

“HAHAHA, you know the right things to do kid” He said as he left.

I wasn’t really sure who he was or which class he was but as long as I didn’t have to deal with him, I was fine.

I had reached the roof and there was no one. It was the perfect place to eat my lunch. Suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder-

“Hey kid, I want your meat sandwich”

OH COME ON

It was odd that he even knew I had a meat sandwich before I could turn but it didn’t matter. I turned around to see a very lean man but with a very eerie smile.

“Um sure” I gave my sandwich up. Nothing mattered more than not getting bullied right now. If it started now then I would never see the end of it.

“HAHAHA, Haruka was right, you are a submissive little bitch. Now get down and tie my shoelaces for me. HAHA”

The bullying had started, maybe not because of my home situation but because of something else. He called me a submissive little bitch. Maybe the reason I was bullied until now was that I was not standing up for myself. Maybe things would be different if I was more assertive. Now thinking about it there was a manga I once read, it was about shogi but there was a part where a girl got bullied but always stayed assertive and things eventually went her way. That was it. So I quickly snatched my sandwich back.

“You know what? I was trying to be a nice person but you’re acting like such a fucking jerk, Now if you don’t fuck off before I lose my shit, things are gonna look bad for you” It was a lie but one that I tried my luck with.

It ended badly for me. The boy had kicked my ass and had kept his foot on my head. I was bleeding a lot. It was probably my fault for saying something that would so obviously get someone pissed.

“Now listen up kid, remember the hierarchy- you are below me. Never forget that” He said as he slowly started to release his foot from my head.

It hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts.

Suddenly I heard a loud sound that sounded like a slap. I didn’t have enough energy to look too hard but I could vaguely see a girl with long red hair.

                                                                    *****

I woke up and looked around. I was at the infirmary. Next to my bed, there was a girl with red hair reading a book. She was beautiful, words were not enough to describe the beauty in front of me. If right now I was in a game then she would hand me a pair of glasses to help control my power, she would be my savior.

“Are you alright?” she asked. Her voice was trembling, her hands were also shaking. Was I really in that bad of a condition? I didn’t really feel all that bad, to be honest.

“Uh yeah, I’m fine now”

“What even happened, Mr.Hanazaki? Why were you getting beaten up?”

Wait, who even was she? The last I remember, I was getting beaten up by some punk on the roof. What happened after that? Everything was a blur to me. I couldn’t quite understand what was going on.

“Um, this may be a bit rude, but who are you?” I asked her.

“I’m Akira Kanazawa, I sit beside you in class” She said with a rather forced smile.

Fuck, I had made things awkward really fast. I was trying to not stand out so much that I never really paid attention to the self-introductions that happened.

“I’m sorry I didn’t really pay attention to the self-introduction” I said as I bowed to her. OUCH, as I bowed my neck hurt.

“Mr.Hanazaki, don’t stress your neck. It’s still healing.” she said in a worried tone.

And just like that, it all came back to me. I got my ass handed and was bleeding all over, my neck had also taken some damage but nothing too serious. Was she the girl that saved me from the bully? I remember seeing her red hair.

“I ask of you, are you my master?” I asked her in a serious tone.

“With my command seal, I order you to rest” she said back in a serious tone.

After a second of silence, we both burst into laughter. The ice had finally broken. We both had something in common, anime. For a few hours after that, we continued talking about our favorite animes, games, mangas, and many other things. We had a lot more common than I thought we would.

“Well, Mr. Hanazaki, I’ll take my leave now. Please take care of yourself” she said as she began to bow. Somehow it felt like she had something to ask me but she was trying not to. It seemed forced the way she was leaving.

“Um Mrs.Kanzawa, is there something that you wanted to ask me?” I asked her.

“Well, I was wondering why you were getting beat up but if you don’t want to talk about it, its fine”

Ah, so that was it. She was wondering why a first year got beat up black and blue. Maybe she was worried that I might have tried to be a delinquent and she slapped the wrong guy? Well, whatever.

I recounted the incident to her, she listened intently. She even interjected at certain points to tell me that the others were in the wrong and that I shouldn’t have given them my food. It eventually went all the way to me talking about how bullying wasn’t anything new to me and that I didn’t care too much for it. Although this time was the most brutal of the lot. After the entire talk with her, I felt a bit better myself, as if a weight was being lifted off my chest.

“Thank you for sharing this with me, Mr. Hanazaki”

“You can call me Yuuto”

“Y-Y-You should also call me Akira then” She said with her face turning red.

“Sure”

A few days had passed and we had gotten much closer. We shared our manga, showed each other our game achievements, and just last week we had gone to an anime movie about how Tokyo always had rain and there was a girl that could control it and make it stop for good. It was fun to watch anime, read manga, and even play games on my own but it was even more fun to have someone to discuss all this stuff with.

With that, the first semester of the 1st year of High school had come to an end. I hardly got bullied after the incident where Akira had stepped in. I didn’t know how she could stop them but I decided not to pry into it.

Since our holidays had started, we couldn’t meet all that often but she would text me from time to time.

*****

As usual on any holiday, I woke up at around 10 am and started playing some games. I only played single player games, so I didn’t really have many friends online.

I opened up my laptop and started playing, today I was going to take out the final boss of the game. It was a pretty hard boss, He could use the powers of all the starter classes. Akira had told me to listen to the boss’ music. As I was playing the game, a sense of nostalgia hit me, they were playing the music of the final boss of the first game of the series. But this music also brought back bad memories, I played the first game of the series when I was all alone and always got bullied. I never wanted to go back to that. At that point, I vowed to always help Akira, no matter what. She knew of my circumstances and always stood by me and never made fun of me.

After beating the fight, I took a photo and sent it to her. She immediately read it and responded with a “ congrats!!”.

A few minutes later I could hear a bit of noise outside my house. It wasn’t very loud, in fact, it was very soft but you could still hear it. I slowly approached my door and opened it to see the back of a girl with long red hair talking to herself in a very soft voice.

“Uh…Akira?”

“AHHH” she turned around and her entire face had gone red. She had 2 boxes in her hand.

“ What’s up? What brings you by?” I asked her.

“Uh, I- Um, I made some tsukemen, so I thought I should bring some by” she said while gesturing to the boxes in her hands.

“Oh, thanks. Come on in”

We ate the tsukemen while watching some anime together. We both enjoyed each other’s company and it really made me feel less lonely. I never thought that I would feel lonely. I thought that maybe being alone might be better than being with my aunt and uncle while they suffer, but really for the first month or so I wished I could go back to them. Now, all I do is send them an email every month about my expenses and an extra paragraph if anything was wrong, although I’m yet to send her about anything being wrong, I was really trying my best to keep my distance from them.

“So, I’ll get going now. Call me if you need anything” she said with a very cute smile.

“Sure, you too”

“Um….Uh….” she was fidgeting and hesitating to say something but, after a few moments she finally let out a question-

“Would you like to visit my house tomorrow?”

“Sure” I replied.

I was really enjoying her company, so there was no reason to deny her request.

*****

I arrived at Akira’s house at 11 am. It was only a 10-minute walk from my apartment. I was a little nervous because this was the first time I had been invited to a friend’s house and I didn’t want to blow it. I wore a casual t-shirt and a pair of jeans. I rang the bell and a middle age woman opened the door.

“Good day, Mrs Kanazawa” I said while bowing.

I really hope I’m not at the wrong door

When I looked up from bowing, I could see the women have a grin on her face saying that she was enjoying this. She looked like a mother from an anime that had seen her son do magic at a very young age.

“You must be Hanazaki?”

“Uh..yes”

“Come in, Hanazaki”

I bowed and went in. Her mother had taken me to Akira’s room and told me to wait there.

Was it really okay for me to be waiting in her room? Isn’t it a breach of privacy? Well, I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I was merely waiting in the room that the owners of this house had made me wait. There was nothing wrong with that.

Suddenly Akira walked in wearing shorts and a T-shirt. She suddenly noticed me and freaked. It was cute.

“Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-Yuuto……what are you doing here?”

“Oh….I thought you invited me. I’ll make my way home. Sorry for the misunderstanding”

It was a little weird that she’d asked me to visit her home all of a sudden. Well, the time to go to a friend’s house would come later I thought.

“Wait you dumbass, I meant why are you waiting in my room”

“ Oh, your mother asked me to wait here”

She suddenly went dashing out the door and then came back after a few minutes.

“Sorry I didn’t mean to act like you were not invited. I was just a little surprised that you were waiting in my room.”

“No, problem. I was hoping that things wouldn’t get awkward between us in case you didn’t invite me heh”

We both laughed and everything was back to normal.

We were watching anime together but somehow I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that someone was looking at me from somewhere. Was it her mother again? No, her mother had to leave for work. I suddenly turn my head to the door to see a young girl poking her head into the room trying to spy on us. So that was Akira’s younger sister that she told me about a while back.

“Kokone, you wanna watch with us?” Akira had also noticed her little sister’s head popping out.

“Can I?” Kokone had replied while glaring at me

“Sure” I said while shrugging my shoulders

She walked up and sat on her sister’s lap

“Kokone, you’re old enough to sit on your own now” She was apparently 12 years old. Although seeing her sit on Akira’s lap was cute, it was like a mini Akira on Akira’s lap.

A few mins after the movie ended, Kokone had gotten off Akira’s lap and said

“This movie was not as good as the one where the boy and girl switch bodies”

“This is totally better, the scene where the protagonist finally started to look at the world and remove the crosses from everyone was beautiful.”

The argument went on for a while. There wasn’t any hostility in their fight obviously, but just seeing the sibling quarrel put me at ease for some reason.

“What do you think Yuuto?” Kokone had turned and asked me.

“Yeah, tell her Yuuto” Akira had joined in on this.

This was a very tricky situation. If I took Akira’s side then I had a feeling that I would never be able to bond with her sister, but if I took Kokone’s side, Akira would feel bad.

So I did the best thing to do.

“It’s neither, the best movie was the one where a girl is suffering from a pancreatic terminal illness, it was truly a beautiful movie” I said as I nodded in satisfaction. Weirdly enough both of them had agreed with me.

A month had passed. The second semester of Highschool had begun. I continued visiting Akira and Kokone quite a few times and we had started playing games together and reading manga together. Everything had been going smoothly until I received a text from an unknown number in the middle of the day that said-

“ Hi Yuuto, it’s your mother”