Chapter 2:

Sweeter than Sweet

Hanging by a Thread

It's been two weeks since my fateful encounter with the three sisters, who turned out to be goddesses from those legendary myths. Since then, my life has gone back to normal. I'd often see those girls walking through the hallway like celebrities going down a red carpet. The amount of rejected confessions I witnessed was baffling, and that's only when I saw them. There have probably been a lot more that I don't know about.

It's laughable, really. They're goddesses. They would never accept love from a human, but it's not like anyone else knows that except for me.

As much as I'm trying to forget what happened, I'm always being reminded every time I see them. It doesn't help when they always turn to look at me every single time I see them in passing, almost as if they're trying to keep watch of me.

How do I tell them to just leave me be in the kindest way possible? I'm not trying to die, nor do I want the attention that's bound to come if they keep looking at me.

When it was time for lunch, I quickly made my way to the library, avoiding every populated corridor along the way. I can't keep running into those girls. It's not good for my mentality right now.

I carefully slid open the doors, peeking my head through to check for any potential goddesses. The coast seems clear... for now. I should still be cautious since the library itself is huge. I continued to sneak over to my personal spot until a faint light caught the corner of my eye.

No way, right? It couldn't possibly be them.

My head slowly tilted, and there stood Chloe with a hand in the air. A glowing strand connected her fingertips to a large textbook near the top of the bookshelf, which was just about four times her height. The textbook slid out and gracefully fell into her arms. An ecstatic smile appeared on her face when she read the title. She then turned around, and that's when she saw me. That cute smile immediately faded.

"W-wha...?!" she exclaimed, almost tripping backward.

"What are you doing, using your magic so blatantly?" I sighed.

"I wouldn't have if I knew you were here, but I can barely sense your presence."

"Why is that? Didn't Lana-san put a thread in me last time?"

"She did, but... maybe it's because your fate has been void up until now. Even though you technically have a thread now, it doesn't make up for the years of nothingness before."

"Nothingness, huh? That's one way of putting it."

"Ah! I'm sorry!" she shouted in the most silent way possible while bowing. "I didn't mean for it to sound rude!"

"D-don't worry about it," I said, surprised that she would even have such a reaction. "It's not like what you said is entirely false."


It feels weird to have someone apologize to me for what she thinks might be hurting my feelings. I can't say I'm used to it.

"Oh, I almost forgot!" she suddenly said.

Chloe snapped her fingers, and from a bright orb that appeared right next to us came... my school bag. It's the same one I left here over two weeks ago.

"You left this here the last time," she mumbled nervously. "I've been trying to return it to you, but never found the time."

"But... you sit right in front of me in math class," I said.

"Y-yeah, that's true. I just... kept... forgetting... sorry."

Why does it feel like she's slowly melting into a puddle?

"There's no need to apologize," I chuckled. "I should be thanking you for returning it at all, so... thank you."

Her head slowly fell as a faint smile grew on her face. My heart suddenly skipped a beat, forcing a subtle sinking feeling that I felt at every corner of my body.

"A-anyways, I'll see you later," I said just as quickly as I walked off.

I dropped both of my bags on the table, sat down, and breathed an almost inaudible yet heavy sigh. Does it make me weird if I think she's cute? No, right? Everybody probably thinks the same thing. I guess it doesn't matter in the end.

I wonder if they've adjusted to school life yet. I see them a lot, but not enough to know how they're doing. At this point, they must have a lot of friends.

Friends... huh? I took a second to look around me. Here I am, all alone in a small corner, sitting at a table with three other empty chairs. For some reason, I feel a bit sad right now, though I couldn't help but laugh a little.

I've had friends before, but they were very short-lasted. A single day... was all that was allotted to me every single time I introduced myself to someone. If I didn't make a good enough impression within those twenty-four hours, I'd be forgotten the very next day.

Is it too presumptuous of me to say that I'm lonely by choice? Part of it is true, and part of it isn't. I don't try anymore because I know how it'll end. This time will be no different. I'll simply fade into the background until there is not a single person left in the world who knows my name. That... is my fate.

"Y-Yoshino-san," a sheepish voice called to me.

I tilted my head, surprised to see Chloe peeking her head past the tail end of a bookshelf next to me. Did... did she just call me by my name? Of all people, she remembers my name?

"Um... Yeah? What's up?" I replied.

"Can I... sit there?" she nervously asked. "I don't want to be alone."

What? She wants to sit next to me? No one has ever asked that of me before. No... Calm down, Asahi. This is probably just the way she is. Someone like her is used to being around people. I'll entertain it for now.

"Take your pick," I said as I gestured toward the empty seats.

Her face lit up as she ran over and sat down. What is this...? There are two perfectly good seats on the other side of the table, but she chooses the one right next to mine.

Chloe began skimming through the pages of that giant textbook she magically grabbed off the shelf earlier. From her bag, she took out several wrapped dangos and rested them on the table. One by one, I saw her devour each stick like she was at some kind of eating competition.

Aren't those things extremely unhealthy? How can she eat all of that without a second thought? Perhaps being a goddess has something to do with that.

I didn't even notice that I was staring at her this whole time until she tilted her head and immediately froze.

"Ah! I'm sorry," I quickly said. "I didn't mean to stare."

"No... I-it's okay," she said, but her voice was shaking a bit.

Shoot, I messed up, didn't I? It's not like I had a chance anyway, but it still sucks that I gave off such a weird first impression. This is why I choose to be alone. I don't have any social skills, not one bit, so making a fool out of myself is second nature to me.

Suddenly, Chloe's arm shifted, and I found a stick of dango hovering right next to my face.

"You... you wanted one... right?" she mumbled timidly.

For real? That's what she got out of that? And here I was thinking I was the weird one, but she's just as oblivious as I am.

"It's alright," I said. "You seem like you enjoy those a lot."

"I have some more," she said, which didn't surprise me at all. "So... you can have this one."

Reluctantly, I took the dango from her hand. I should've told her that I don't really like sweets, but that would probably make her sad. It's been years since I've had anything with so much sugar in it. Will I even survive just one bite?

My head turned subconsciously, and I instantly regretted it. Right as I was about to take a bite, I saw Chloe staring at me with those huge eyes.

"W-wha?!" I exclaimed, turning my head away to cough.

"Oh! S-sorry," she said. "I just wanted to see how you'd like it."

"Staring isn't really the best way to do that."

Not like I'm one to talk when she caught me staring at her just a minute ago. After regaining myself, I lifted the dango once again. This... is gonna be hard. Even if I don't like it, I still have to manage a swallow so that Chloe doesn't get disappointed.

With a heavy breath, I bit off one of the rice balls. Immediately, I wanted to spit it out, but I kept chewing and chewing until it was small enough for me to swallow it without choking.

That might've been one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. Crap... I can feel my stomach churning a bit. It's a bit embarrassing that I can't even handle this much.

"Do you like it?" Chloe asked.

"A bit too sweet for me, but it's still good," I said, which was a lie but not really.

After letting out a soft giggle, she said, "I'm glad you like it. I have some more once you finish that one."

"N-no, thanks. I have my own lunch, so I can't possibly keep stealing from you."

"Oh, that's good."

Yeah, that's totally it. I rested the unfinished dango on a napkin and left it there. Eventually, I'll have to go back and finish it for Chloe's sake. I don't want her to be sad.

I found myself looking at her yet again. With a dango in one hand, she continued through that textbook like she was trying to set a world record for the fastest reader. Is she even retaining any of that?

So far, Chloe seems nothing like her sisters. The other two are pretty blunt about the way they conduct themselves. She also seems to care a lot about what other people think. It's a shame that I have to pretend not to know her.

"What...?" Chloe muttered to herself.

"Having trouble understanding something?" I asked.

"A little... I don't know how you humans can make something like this when it's so hard to understand even though it's on paper."

I took a peek at the page she was currently on. That molecular structure told me everything I needed to know.

"Chemistry, huh?" I chuckled. "Is this for the upcoming science project?"

"Yeah, but it's so difficult to take all of this in," she answered.

"I've always found chemistry interesting. If you'd like, I can show you the science behind how it works once I finish eating."

"Really?!" she gasped, her eyes seemingly glowing.

"Y-yeah. I don't see why not."

"Thank you!"

I quickly turned my head away as my face grew warmer. This reminds me of a similar situation about two years ago. That particular girl proclaimed how weird I was, then proceeded to avoid me like I was the plague. If this is how I react whenever a girl talks to me, I don't think I'll make it in the real world.

I reached into the other bag that I'd been bringing ever since I lost my old one. Out came two onigiris. I can never go a day without eating at least one. My eyes tilted over at Chloe, who was going through the pages rapidly with a huge smile on her face. As if I suddenly lost control over my own mind, I extended an arm over to her and offered one of my onigiris.

"What's this?" she asked.

"A-an onigiri," I answered with a stutter. "Since you gave me one of your dangos, I thought I'd share something of mine. Want one?"

"Oh... sure. T-thank you."

Chloe took the onigiri and assessed it as if it were an alien specimen, tilting it all over to get a good look at every angle. Finally, she sank her teeth into the top, and her eyes immediately shot wide open. Her lips were moving left and right before she finally took a bite. If I didn't already know that she was a goddess, I would've thought those sparkling eyes were just my imagination.

"It's so good!" she exclaimed, followed by a euphoric sigh. For some reason, that reaction made me happy as well.

"There's a little shop that specializes in making these on my way to school," I said. "I stop by almost every single day. Never gets old."

"One day, you have to show me where! Promise?"

One day, huh? That's insinuating that we'll be meeting again after today. I highly doubt that would happen, but there's no harm in simply agreeing for now.

"Yeah, promise," I said. "Want another one?"

"Shouldn't you be eating it all?" she asked as if scolding me. "I know your human stomachs empty out pretty quickly."

"I bought a lot today for no particular reason. It's fine."

She was reluctant to take another one, but after leaving my hand in front of her face for a while, she gave in. Her hesitation immediately shattered as soon as she took the first bite, and her smile lit up once more.

"Hey, what's this?" Chloe asked with her mouth half full.

I leaned over to see her pointing at a picture of a bunch of letters and numbers slammed together that seemingly had no meaning. Thankfully, this is one of the few subjects in chemistry that I'm sort of adept at.

"This is why you don't skip the first lesson and go straight into the interesting stuff," I chuckled. "It's a chemical formula. Every chemical reaction has some kind of formula behind it. For example, let's say you add sodium to a cup of water, it'll cause an explosion. So..."

I spent five minutes explaining how the chemical formula works, and I don't think she retained anything I said.

"Huuuh...?" she mumbled.

"Um... Okay... Let's try taking it slow," I said.

Something tells me this is gonna be quite the process.

"So, to put it simply, a chemical formula is used to show the amount of elements in a chemical compound."

"What's a chemical compound?"

"It's a substance that is made up of more than one element."

"What's an element?"

"An... an element is a basic particle on the periodic table."

"What's a particle and a periodic table?"

"... It's... a..."

There's no way, right? Well, sure there is. She's a goddess who has lived way before the concept of science became common knowledge. I know she's trying her hardest to understand, but dang... this hurts my soul. Maybe it's because... I might be the dumb one.

"Sorry..." I muttered shamefully. "I don't think I make a very good teacher."

"N-no! You're doing great!" Chloe shouted in protest. "It's just... I'm still trying to learn, so any help is good help."

"I-I see..."

Slowly but surely, Chloe began to understand. I had to start from the very beginning so we could get to the 'fun stuff.'

"How come other elements don't explode when you add them to water?" Chloe asked.

"Some elements don't mix," I informed. "If you add them together, sometimes it won't do anything, and sometimes it will. I wouldn't recommend just throwing anything together, though. You might create toxic fumes or something."

"What? That sounds like fun, though."

"Well, I don't know about you goddesses, but humans can't survive in toxic environments. If you're gonna do it, make sure no one's around."

Thirty minutes later, it seems like Chloe learned everything she needed to learn about chemical formulas. She picked up nearly everything I said, and a sense of fulfillment washed over me when she accurately completed some of the problems I gave her. While I'm happy for her, I dread to think what she would do with this information. Someone who thinks mixing chemicals to cause an explosion is fun is someone who shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

"It's almost time to head back to class," I said. "We should start packing up."

"Oh, right," Chloe agreed as she stood up.

After cleaning our area, we stepped out of the library and into the empty corridor.

"What's your next class?" I asked.

"Um... physical education," she said after contemplating.

"Oh, then you're heading in the opposite direction. I'll see you later."

I turned to walk the other way, but I desperately wanted to stop to ask her if I really had to keep pretending like I didn't know her. In the end, I decided not to. I'd rather keep it unknown than hear her say no. That way, it would hurt a little less.

"Yoshino-san!" Chloe shouted from down the hallway, prompting me to turn around.

She stretched her arms far above her and waved with the most beautiful smile. "Thank you for teaching me!"

As surprised as I was, I managed to reply, "Any time!"

"Then... see you later."

She took the corner, and it felt as though the bright lights of the corridor followed her, leaving me in subtle darkness. I couldn't help but feel a little bit sad. For the first time in my life, I actually had someone who wanted to talk to me.

I made my way to my next class and sat at my seat by the window. From here, I have a full view of the running track and field that the physical education classes normally use. Maybe I'll see Chloe from here.

What am I on about? She's a freaking goddess—a literal one at that. To her, I'm just one of the billions of humans she spun a thread for. It's pointless to hope for anything past us being just simple acquaintances.

"Okay, kids, let's pick up from yesterday's lesson on English adjectives," the teacher with her hands clasping together.

The teacher gave a lecture for about twenty minutes, then gave us a quiz. After that, we were pretty much done for the rest of the class. Of course, people began gathering in their social groups to start gossiping.

"Dude, look at her," a guy said from behind me. "She's freaking gorgeous."

"And just my type too," chuckled another. "Those boobs are perfect."

"Hey, back off, man. Give me a week, and she'll be mine."

"Yeah, right."

If I could just leave the classroom, I would. I can't stand it when guys start talking about girls like a bunch of perverts. Appearance is all they care about. Not their personalities or their feelings. It's absolutely disgusting.

"Wait, is she looking at me?!" the first guy shouted.

"No, it's definitely me!" the other one proclaimed, followed by the other boys behind them running up to the window and waving like madmen.

Noisy... all of them. They start jumping around and rolling on the floor just because a girl waves at them. I tilted my head to see what all the fuss was about, and I almost choked on my own saliva.

Standing at the edge of the track in her PE uniform was Chloe. With sweat dripping down her face, a smile grew as she waved. Even though the guys behind me were waving back, she still kept going.

There's no way she's waving at me, right? I hesitantly lifted my hand and subtly swung it left and right. Her smile turned into a grin. My heart skipped yet another beat while Chloe ran back to the track to continue her laps.

"That seals the deal," the boy behind me declared. "I'm gonna ask her out today."

"What are you talking about?!" another one shouted. "She was clearly waving at me!"

"Who the hell would wave at you?"

They kept going back and forth, claiming that the other was not good enough for Chloe. I wonder if they knew the girls' real identities, would they still like them? Since all they seem to care about is appearances, probably so.

For the rest of class, my eyes kept trailing back to the track. Occasionally, Chloe would turn her head to look at me again, and I'd be sitting here trying to ignore the guys who were still going at each other's throats.

Finally, the bell rang for the next class. I quickly gathered my things and stormed out. My mind kept going back to the way Chloe looked at me before, both in the library and out there in the field.

Why am I suddenly thinking about these things? I've seen countless girls, but not one of them has ever had this kind of effect on me. School needs to hurry up and end so I can go home. This is bad for my heart.