Chapter 2:

II. friendship is about luck

to be red and yellow like a cloud

During one of Kenji’s lapses of lucidity, he told me that friendship is mostly about luck. I told him to elaborate, mostly because I disagreed, but it was for naught; the topic shifted from this to the existential nightmare of being an asexual incubus. Later, I texted Izumi about the more important topic (neither of them spoke to each other at the time) and he replied with: luck doesn’t exist.

I thought about asking a third friend about this, but for one, I could never pronounce his name. I just called him John. For two, once the school year ended, his family left the country and he never talked to me again. He had more girlfriends within a ten-month timeframe than most people have fingers, and me? I could've had a couple (girlfriends. Not fingers. Thanks). Why? Because I hung out with him. Was that luck?

When Hanamura Wakumi, the girl who told me to die (I was no longer optimistic) forged new friendships only to lose them, was that misfortune? 

I couldn't walk past her yesterday. Be it due to the rain, or someone she saw, or something she remembered, her mask fell off. It turned to rain. I'd long since forgotten how to take mine off, but before I could feel jealous, she sniffed. She pinched her cheek. She stomped. 

Uh. Okay. 

...or so I would've said, but for some reason, the first thing to come to mind was: I get it. 

The second was: I want to get it.

So which was it?

Anyway, before I changed my mind, I walked next to her so I could help.


“Why is that chick stalking us?” Inquired Kenji on our way to the dressing rooms after gym. He could’ve chosen a better timing for this, but I digressed.

“Just ignore her,” I told both of us.



As we stripped, he asked: “Has anyone ever confessed to you?”

“Could you please ask this once we’re not naked?”

“I just don’t know what to do if she confesses to me. I-I mean, I know it’s not likely to happen or anything, but. You know. It's not impossible. Also, I just saw her like two minutes ago."

“What. Right now? Outside the dressing rooms?”

“Go look if you don’t believe me.”

I did (believe him) and I didn't (go look). Just a few minutes ago, as I used gym for sitting practice due to having the physical prowess of an eighty-year old, I thought I'd caught a flash of strawberry blond from the corners of my eyes, but... seriously, how likely was that to happen? It'd been funny at first, but now it'd begun to worry me. Had 'misfortune' driven her mad?

I texted the following to Izumi during class: Your betrothed used to hang out with Hanamura, right? What does she know about her?

Unsurprisingly, his response was: ask her urself lol

Me: Thanks, baby. You’re as helpful as ever. <3

Izumi: Anytime. <3

Izumi’s girlfriend gave me her number so we’d arrange the meeting that’d eventually lead to their demise/confession. Thankfully, I’d forgotten to delete it. Hello, I texted. I just wanted to tell you that your betrothed is sending phallic imagery to me.

I half-expected her to reply with something like ‘WHO’S THIS? HELP?’ but it seemed like she hadn’t deleted my number, either. Hello, Watanabe. Why are you asking about her? Did she do something to you?

So Izumi had helped after all. Should’ve known. Now, I barely spoke to this girl even when the four of us sat together to eat, but she’d been the one to arrange a meeting in which I ought to be conveniently late. She’d been the one to ‘forget’ her umbrella several times. She’d gone from politely nodding when we saw each other at club practice to attempting painful small talk whenever Izumi was around. 

I was used to this due to… a certain friend, just not from someone like her. 

She added: All you need to know is that you should be as far away from her as possible.

From what I’d heard, Hanamura Wakumi gave the entrance ceremony speech. She'd allegedly come from some super prestigious school full of prodigies that’d become burned out and depressed by the time they were thirty. When I contested this by asking why someone like that would come to this dump, to say responses were hostile (and useless) would be an understatement, so I decided to just roll along with it. 

She was a John and anti-John at once; while she could’ve dated more people than there were countries in 1950, she declined all of them. That was how the legend went, anyway. I guessed that going from that to nobody talking to her was a valid reason to descend into madness. 

Izumi’s girlfriend: I saw you give her your umbrella yesterday.

Oh, dear.

Me: Should’ve said hi.

Me: Wait, shouldn’t you have been in club practice at the time?

Izumi’s girlfriend: Shouldn’t YOU?

Me: :D

Izumi’s girlfriend: >:( At least we got there eventually. Anyway, I’m not saying this as Yamazaki’s bEtrOtHeD or as a fellow club member, but as a person. Talking to her is asking to get used. You might be tempted to because she’s pretty, but it’s not worth it.

I didn’t know how close their relationship ran, when they met, if they said ‘good morning’ and ‘see you’ until one day a ‘how are you’ followed, if it tripped, if it stopped before the finish line, if it never saw it in the first place. None of that. It had nothing to do with me.

Still, I couldn’t help but think how stupid I felt when I sent Are you ever going to reply? and how I couldn’t bring myself to delete it to this day.

Me: If you saw us yesterday, why didn't you

I deleted this.

Me: I was going to wait until drama club to tell you, but it's just too funny. She's been sta


Me: Is it really that bad?

Izumi’s girlfriend (I kept asking for her name and forgetting it): Worse than you’ll ever imagine.

Sometimes I thought about how if I’d never sit with the kids I used to during primary school—what were their names again?—then I wouldn’t have come to like a lot of things I still enjoy to this day. I would’ve hated my droopy eyes and the moles under my right eye and edge of the mouth if one of them hadn’t told me that they made me look like a villain. I wouldn’t have learned what it was like to sit on a swing waiting for lunch to end, so I wouldn’t have talked to Izumi, to Kenji, to the senior that made me join drama club when no one else would, or to the girl that looked about to cry as rain surrounded her yesterday.

Most people knew how it felt, I believed; it's just that forgetting about it was easy until it was your turn to sit alone on a swing. 

Me: I think I'll talk to her first before I make any j


Me: Got it.

Izumi's girlfriend: Good. :)

At the end of the school day, I walked past the door, past the school building, but not past the gate. Still, it was far enough that the only thing separating us from the woods beyond was a wire fence.

Without giving Hanamura a warning, I turned around.

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