Under Izu-Sama's Watch
The First Chapter
At the bottom of a hill, on the edge of campus. Where there was a grove of willow trees and a small pond, its waters calm, but slightly swaying back and forth in the spring breeze. There stood the girl known as Izu-sama. She seemed to have a connection to nature as I watched her. Like a modern-day Snow White, it was as if the animals in the area were drawn to her. Izu dragged a couple of fingers across the water, letting it ripple, distorting the sunlight’s reflection on the pond. A playful smile spread across her face as she took a rock from the ground in her hand and skipped it. This beautiful sight belonged to me and me alone.
Izu Sakamata was the unanimously recognized most attractive girl in school. Boys and girls alike had their heads turned when she came down the hallways. She wasn't just a silent beauty either. Personable, yet reasonable, her charm made its way to all of us. I, of course, was not the only one who fell in love with those qualities.
I was only an observer, a person who gets involved with no one and stays quiet. One with the crowd, that isn't noticed. There have been others I had my eye on in the past. It had always been the same process for me. Watching them, keeping still so my presence would not be known. Coming home to my room and thinking of them ceremoniously, imagining the possibilities of their daily lives. A dirty ritual that only I could take part in. However, I believed that Izu would never be tainted by such a thing.
In the beginning, I wasn't able to adapt my sleeping patterns to hers. As it had been a while since my last survey, I let myself slip into a schedule of sleeping until the last minute before school. That was the consequence of many nights laying awake in the depths of my mind. My survey was the aforementioned watching process of which I had decided she who draws the eyes of all around her would be the next target.
Izu was quite the early riser, as I had to adjust my timing little by little to finally find her coming to school around seven in the morning. She would awake as the sun was rising and dew was still shining on the grass. Izu left her family home on mornings like those, taking the most optimal way to school.
Izu and I lived fairly close by each other. It was about a 20-minute walk for me and 15 for her, without a long commute. This made it easy for me to find her house, which was a normal-looking family home. I judged it to be on the pricier side, suggesting a family more well-to-do than my own. My suspicions there were found to be correct, as school documents I was able to find in the teacher's office showed her father to be a salaryman in high-paying banking, her mother a lawyer in a similar field. From this, I had reason to believe that neither of her parents would make a showing at parent-teacher conferences. As they wouldn’t typically have availability in their monumentally busy schedules. This was something I had found to be true. I had waited for the right time to come around, and set myself up to scour conference participants to see whose guardians would be a no-show.
I wanted to soon confirm when Izu would usually return home and if her parents came back shortly after or not. As it was clear to me that they were the type to be fairly absent, leaving Izu to herself. She wasn't the type to be lonely being on her own, and could get by without them. What she did all home alone was a mystery. Late nights of studying, making herself dinner, taking a bath before bed. Or something more private, like putting a hand in a forbidden place for the first time in the dead of night. These were the mundane but special scenarios I found myself imagining to myself over and over. Fantasies that I could see to be real, but I would never know unless I was a ghost in the room with her.
During class, Izu was studious and would pay good attention to whichever teacher was lecturing. It's remarkable how easy it has been for me to see into my upperclassmen's classroom. With a bit of patience, one who wants to watch others can do it right. The small insights I craved were possible to come across. Izu would occasionally stare off into space, and others would notice. Her ears would stay on the teachers' words, but it was clear her mind could also be elsewhere. She could be thinking of the usual, daily life things like how it looked like outside today, or her plans for after school. I liked to think there was something more than her cool exterior in front of her. Her classmates and "friends" being obstacles in the way of peace and aloneness. They were noise and chatter which she could have had a brief break from in those moments of nothingness. She could have if, she wasn't under their watchful eyes. Eyes like mine, or not.
On a certain day, I decided to pay strict attention to her after-school activities. It was time for my invisibility to be of use. Right when class ended, I hurried over to see Izu's after-school routine for myself. She was still at her desk, socializing with some other girls.
"As expected of Izu-sama, she had no trouble with our last exams. How do you even do it? Our teacher seemed to have a vendetta against us on the last one, didn't you guys think that?", said a bright voice belonging to a shorter classmate of Izus’.
"Now, I told you all to drop the -sama... I only study as much as the rest of us. There's really no issues with our courses if you pay attention and keep at it." Izu said with a smile. Her classmates looked up to her not only for her looks and elegant mannerisms, but also because had top-of-the-line marks in class. It would be expected from a "perfect beauty" like herself.
"Izu's right you know Shino. The exams are only hard for you because you give up on studying halfway through." Said a slightly taller girl with glasses.
"I don't give up that easily I think.... well maaaaybe... haha. My brain just kinda stops working with some of this harder stuff we're learning I guess. I'd rather spend my time doing something fun! By the way, did either of you see that new TV drama?..."
I continued to listen to a bunch of the usual JK speak from the three of them for a time. Izu was a bit withdrawn from all of it, as she didn't have particularly girlish hobbies such as the other two. I kept waiting silently, until the moment when something else piqued my interest.
"By the way Izu-sama, who was that younger girl you've been talking with anyway?" This came from the glasses girl, as she raised her pointer finger in the air.
"Ah, I wouldn't say the two of us are talking. I only helped her find something she lost the other day. You're referring to the blonde first year I'm guessing?" Izu responded curtly. The way she handled this seemed swift and purposeful, as if to shut down a coming rumor before it could be created.
"Oooh is that what happened?", said the shorter girl, "With how popular Izu-sama is in general, it's only a matter of time before some of our first years try to become your friend. So we were thinking she was one of those."
"Well, I do know some of them for that exact reason. You both know how it is, the fact that quite a few people around here like to become acquainted with me. I don't mind it at all really. Every connection can be important in one way or another." Izu said, it seemed that she was trying to come off as sensible with statements in such a way.
"I guess that makes sense," continued the glasses girl, "although… I would know why that specific blonde girl would be missing something, knowing that's why you were around her. Now that I think about it, nobody who's mentioned you talking to her mentioned her name for some reason."
"Yes, that is true. I know of the same thing. There's something going on in her class. Something about a few girls there having a quieter one to take their so-called stress out on. I assumed that was why as well. I didn't catch her name when I was around her, unfortunately. Maybe next time I’ll be so fortunate." Izu said, hinting that she was understanding where this was going.
This was a situation I myself was unfamiliar with. It was not the first time there had been a bullying incident at my school, but it was the first time I was hearing about this one in particular.
"In any case, that sort of thing will get taken care of. We're not a school to let serious bullying matters to go on without consequence." Said Izu with a slight smile. The other two girls nodded at that. At that moment, I noticed a small change in Izu’s expression. There was something I could see behind it, an anger she was manifesting. Taking a step back, I let her words sit with me for a time before I decided to leave.
Today would not be the day to return home with Izu, instead, I took myself to an empty area behind the school. It wasn't too far from the sports fields and club building. A place that I could have to myself alone. The words were repeated over and over. What did they mean? I wasn’t thinking about on the surface, but I wanted to believe that Izu hid their true meaning. I stayed in this space and stared at the sky, the cascades of blue with scarce clouds. My eyes went fuzzy as I lay down beneath those clouds until the whole school was silent.
With everyone including Izu having gone home, I returned to her classroom. I carefully slid the door open and walked in, closing it behind me. Her desk, at the back of the class by the window, sat right in front of me. It was exactly like all the others in the room, but to me, it meant something much more.
Looking out the window, I gave myself the sight Izu frequented at those times in the middle of class. Again, I wondered about the thoughts that could race through her mind at such a time. Of those at our school, the gatherings that occur. The times when a few girls would encircle another, talking down to her. I was thinking of the quiet blonde first year and the bullies who were tormenting her. Those other girls hurt her, both physically and with words as they threw her to the floor. Questioning her.
"Do you think you're better than us? Sitting there all quiet and not giving anyone around you the time of day. You might think that us girls are just punks you're forced to be near. Do you? Well, we think you're the one with their head up their ass." Said a girl with dyed blonde hair that had black tips. She was dressed as one of those delinquent types. An outfit telling of the scenery at home behind the curtain. It told of parents that didn't care about her and left her to herself. The only times they spoke to her in disgust at their own child. A scenario I imagined for myself that could be the case for a girl like her, who would pick out a weaker classmate to bully. Sat behind that girl were two others, who I assumed were her followers.
The blonde girl quaked in fear and continued to say nothing. After a time of glaring at her in silence, the three bullies stormed out of the classroom and left her alone. Another girl was left in the hallway, having heard what went on. She walked past, but would never forget what she saw at that moment. I had been there, too, behind a corner. That was when I first saw Izu Sakamata, who had seen the event take place. What I was captured by, at that time, was the look on her face after what she had witnessed. It was a frown like nothing else I had ever seen, her face dark red with fury. A red like blood. Then, that face contorted into a smile much the same. I was taken by Izu’s everlasting expressions. They were expressions that led me to need to put everything at stake to see them once more.
Sitting at Izu's desk, I brought myself back to the present. Away from my imagination of her thoughts of that event. I let myself lay my head on her desk for a time, thinking of the hands that wrote notes here. The hands that I knew would gently caress the blonde girl in the future. My head enveloped in a swirl of imaginations containing Izu, I returned home to lay myself to sleep and dream for the rest of the night.
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