Chapter 8:

Side Story: An Unrequited Love

The Weight Of Ignorance


I woke up at the sound of my sister moving around in bed. It was like a mini alarm for me. Of course, I had a normal alarm but she made so much noise in the morning when the light hit her face through the windows that it almost always woke me up. She never closed the curtains at night since she liked looking at the stars and she was too lazy to close them in the morning. Today was an exciting day- it was my first day of high school. I was going to make new friends, meet new people, and maybe find love. The thought of love made me a little flustered.

“Kokone, stop moving around. Go close the curtains if it bothers you that much”

“But I have to get off the bed for that”

“So what?”

“Wait, sis, you’re up. Close the curtains for me please?” She pleaded with puppy eyes. I couldn’t resist those cute eyes

“Fine. Don’t expect this every time”

“Yes” Despite what she said, I didn’t really believe her

I took a bath and wore my new uniform. It was different compared to junior high but it looked nice. It was a blazer with a skirt. I went to the table and ate some bread and eggs for breakfast.

“Are you excited Akira?” My mother, who was cooking, asked me from the kitchen.

“Yeah, I can’t wait”

After eating, I got up and was about to leave.

“Wow!! sis, you look beautiful in that uniform”

“Thank Kokone”

After that delightful exchange, I left home and started walking to high school. I wasn’t sure exactly how to talk to new people. It had been a while since I’d had to make new friends, so this made me a little anxious. Well, if anything I could hang out with Yuuna. Yuuna was a friend I’d made in junior high. She and I used to hang out a lot. Although we didn’t really have any similar interests, we still spoke a bunch and hung out.

After a while, I reached my High school. It was much bigger than the junior high I had attended. I was a bit amazed and overwhelmed at the same time. I walked in and went to the first floor and entered class 1 A. I walked in and saw where I was made to sit. I looked to my left and saw a boy. He seemed awfully stiff. He was looking straight at the board where nothing was happening. It seemed like he didn’t really want to talk to anyone. It was a little sad that Yuuna was 1 B but this way I could try to make new friends. I knew that if Yuuna was in this class, I would just end up talking to her.

The teacher entered the class and the self-introduction started.

“Good morning everyone, I’m Akira Kanazawa. I like reading books and watching shows. Please take care of me” I said as I sat down. Well, by books and shows I meant anime and manga but I didn’t really want to reveal it. It’s not like I was scared I would get bullied or alienated. It’s just that I didn’t feel like sharing it.

The boy next to me was still looking straight at the board. It was his turn to stand up and introduce himself but it seemed like he wasn’t going to stand up. Maybe he didn’t want to be here?

“Um…Yuuto, please introduce yourself to the class” the teacher’s voice snapped the boy back to reality.

“Good morning everyone, I’m Yuuto Hanazaki, I have a lot of hobbies like playing games. Please take care of me”

The boy seemed a little reserved. It didn’t seem like he didn’t want friends but it seemed like he didn’t want to talk to anyone. What a confusing person.

Classes had started and everything taught was new and so much different than junior high. I didn’t love studying but It was a fun aspect of school for me. It was the reason that I didn’t make too many friends back in junior high. I had always been interested in subjects like science and math which was not something everyone enjoyed so, not a lot of people had anything to talk to me about apart from borrowing my homework and a little tutor work before exams.

After a few classes had gone by. It was time for lunch. I saw Hanazaki sprint outside. Maybe the guy was hungry all along? Well whatever. I went to the cafeteria at a normal person’s pace, which had been a mistake since the meat sandwiches had gotten over. I ended up buying myself some strawberry milk since chocolate milk had also gotten over. On my way back to the class, I saw Hanazaki giving his sandwich to some guy. Was he getting bullied? Maybe that was his relative and he was getting food for him. I tried following him after that but had run too fast for me to catch up. I looked for a bit longer and decided to give up.

Before I started making my way to the classroom, I heard a big noise coming from the roof. It was really loud so it got me curious. I walked up the stairs and slowly peeked inside. I saw some guy with his feet on Hanazaki, who was bleeding completely and almost unconscious. AHH, I have to do something. I had to do something, not because I was some selfless saint, it was because I knew that the guilt of not helping would eat me alive. I ran in with a lot of speed and slapped the guy on top. I was really scared but I had to do something. The boy that got hit saw me and got very angry.

“If you stop here, I won’t report what happened here to the authorities” I said to him

“Hmph”

The boy had left. It looked like he was afraid of the authorities but honestly, I didn’t the authorities would really take much action, and instead, it would probably aggravate the issue even more than it was.

“Hanazaki, Are you alright?” I ran to the boy bleeding on the floor.

The boy didn’t respond to my calls, he looked almost like a corpse. I carried him to the infirmary and laid him down on the bed.

“What in god’s name happened to this boy?”

“I think he fell on a really hard platform”

“Even so, this is terrible. The poor boy must be really fragile for him to bleed this much from tripping” Lying seemed like a better option. If I told her, the guy would just come back to bully both of us.

While the nurse was tending to his wounds, I decided to read a light novel. I was reading for a while but suddenly I felt the movement from the bed and glanced over at him. The guy was all bandaged up.

“Are you alright?” this was my first time dealing with someone this injured. I have to be careful, careful. Oh come on, why are my hands trembling?

“Uh yeah, I’m fine now” Was he dumb? He had a bandage over his neck and he said that he was fine?

“What even happened, Mr. Hanazaki? Why were you getting beaten up” I was a little scared. I’d figured that Hanzaki was the one getting bullied but what if the other guy was the one who was getting bullied and he had stood up for himself?

“Um, this may be a bit rude but who are you” huh? I sit next to you. I gave my self-introduction right before you. Calm yourself Akira.

“I’m Akira Kanazawa. I sit beside you in class”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t really pay attention to the self-introduction” He said as he tried to bow. His neck’s pain had finally gotten to him.

“Mr. Hanazaki, don’t stress your neck. It’s still healing”

He looked me straight in the eyes

“I ask of you, are you my master?”

“With my command seal, I order you to rest” I said back to him while returning his glare.

A moment later, both of us burst into laughter. We had anime as a common factor. I’d never really bothered telling anyone about watching anime or reading manga because I didn’t see the point of it but small exchanges like this were fun.

We had an exchange and Hanazaki told me about his past with bullying. I felt it was wrong what was happening to him but there wasn’t anything that could change the past.

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

“You can call me Yuuto” WHAAAAAAAAA. Think Akira. He’s only saying you can call him by his first name. Come on you’re an adult this is nothing.

“Y-Y-You should call me Akira then” Way to go.

A year had passed by and Yuuto and I had gotten much closer, in fact, I had actually fallen in love with him. He really looked good and he was a genuinely kind person. Kokone had also taken a liking to him. I couldn’t point to one reason as to why I fell in love with him, maybe I loved him because he was always himself with me. We also had similar interests which made it easier to talk to him not that anime or manga were the only things we spoke about.

During the last few holidays, I’d met Yuuto’s mother. She was a wonderful woman. She had her flaws but was still a kind person. She and I had been texting a lot since the time we met. She sent me photos of Yuuto when he was a kid and I would tell her about current him. We also enjoyed a little girl talk from time to time.

My second year of high school was beginning today. I walked to Yuuto’s house so that we could walk together. I’d planned on telling Yuuto about my feelings when I became 21 so I planned on slowly building up the courage.

I met up with Yuuto and we both walked together to school. It was good coincidence that we were sitting right next to each other. We spoke for the first few periods after which I received a message from a random number: Come outside during recess. I was a little scared after seeing this. I decided to go outside and I saw 2 boys and girls who had cornered me before I knew it.

“I heard you beat up Akihiko last year.” Who was Akihiko? I was unsure what he was talking about. I hadn’t really beat up any- or maybe not. Akihiko was probably the guy who had bullied Yuuto.

“I think I know what you are talking about but my friend was getting bullied by him”

“Oh, Okay. Now, how about we bully you. We don’t really care about Akihiko but we need to show others that we’re the superiors here”

“Now, take off your shoes” The girl on the side said. I slowly removed a shoe and gave it to her.

“Wow, what a good girl. Maybe you can be my pet. Your face is good enough for a pet but the least I can do is adjust to that”

They eventually left and I went back to class and I reached my seat

“Where were you?” Yuuto turned around and asked me. I didn’t want to tell Yuuto about what was happening. I didn’t want him to get involved with bullies. He had just gotten out of getting bullied.

“Oh…Uh….Just to meet some friend who had called me” I responded.

A few months had passed and the bullying had only gotten worse. People were writing things on my desk about how ugly I am. They poured water on me every chance they got. They had also taken my notes completely drenched in toilet water. At first, I thought I would be able to manage it but now I was completely afraid of what was next. Was this what Yuuto had been living with for 11 years? The thought of being tormented like this was terrifying. I didn’t want to tell the teachers since it would only aggravate the issue. Every time I wanted to talk about it with my parents, I could see them in a happy mood and I couldn’t bring myself to tell them what was happening. Why was I able to help Yuuto but not myself? I knew all too well why that was the case. When the bullying started, I thought I would be able to ignore it but the more it happened, the more I lost my self-esteem.

I took a walk and ended up at Yuuto’s house. I wanted to ask him how he dealt with it. I was a little scared but I went anyways. I rang the bell and the boy's face that would always put me at ease opened the door. He welcomed me in and we sat on the couch. After a few minutes of silence, I finally asked him-

“Yuuto, how did you deal with your bullies?”

“I tried not to let them get to me, if they wanted something from me I gave it to them”

“Is anything troubling you Akira?”

“Well, I have a friend that gets bullied but Mr. Kinoshita and his friends”

“Why are they bullying her”

“Well, it just seems like they’re having fun bullying her. They make fun of her hair, her shoes, and every aspect of her. Maybe they want to make themselves look better but she’s hurting every day”

Yuuto continued to tell me to not give up and to not let them get to me. Whenever I was Yuuto, I felt at ease. I wished to continue being here beside him. I wanted to tell him about my pain but I couldn't bring myself to get him involved in something that could lead him back to the pain he felt for his entire childhood.

The third year of high school was going to start tomorrow. The last few days had been a little calm. The thought of going back and being tormented had made me really scared. I still couldn’t find the right time to talk to my parents. I knew that wasn’t the case. I didn’t want to tell them. I didn’t know why but I would always get embarrassed when I went up to tell them and then decide not to.

I decided that the easier way out was to kill myself. I couldn’t handle any more tormenting. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision but it somehow made a lot of sense to me. I didn’t want to die but I preferred it over the continued tormenting that was going to happen to me.

I went over to my desk and wrote multiple letters. One to Kokone, one to Yuuto, and one to my parents. I cried multiple times while writing those letters but I couldn’t go back anymore. I knew that if I turned back now, nothing but pain awaited me. I wanted to at least fulfill my promise to Yuuto. I wanted to at least tell him about my feelings. While I was having these thoughts, my hands had already tied a noose with a rope I had. I finally had ended it all with nothing but regrets.