Chapter 6:

Blowing Up

Hanging by a Thread

Today is such a terrible day. I stayed up for another hour before falling asleep, just like I thought I would. In the end, I only got four hours of sleep. Thankfully, not much has happened today, so I've been in the clear.

The math teacher finished her lecture earlier than she expected, so we have just about ten minutes before the bell rang for lunch. Like clockwork, everyone began gathering into their little social groups to gossip.

Some tried to approach Chloe, but she quickly and effectively ended every single attempt. She seems a little spaced out. I can't imagine what happened after I left yesterday. Maybe now isn't the right time to give her the research material.

"Chloe-san," I said anyway.

She turned around, and as soon as she saw me, a soft smile grew on her face. "Oh, good morning, Yoshino-san."

"Good morning."

"Are you... doing alright?"

"Huh? Why wouldn't I be?"

"Because of what happened yesterday."

She looks visibly worried, but I've no idea what she could possibly be worrying about. It's presumptuous to say that I'm the reason, so I'll just let it be a mystery for now.

"I'm fine," I said. "I still have all my limbs intact."

"That's good," she giggled. "But... you look a bit tired. The bags under your eyes are way darker than usual. W-wait... You're hand!"

She quickly yet carefully grabbed my left arm and examined my hand. It doesn't hurt as much anymore, but that's not to say that it isn't still a bit painful.

"What happened?" she asked.

"I had an accident yesterday after I got home," I said as I pulled my hand away. "It's nothing to worry about."

"Are you sure you're okay?"


That perturbed expression wouldn't leave her face. It's not the best answer I admit, but it's none of her business. There's no reason for me to tell her what really happened. Based on the way she is, it'll only make her sad.

"Anyways, how are your sisters?" I quickly changed the topic.

"Ah... they're okay. They just need some time to cool off," she answered, but it was subtly hesitant. "Don't worry about Alice. It's not like she hates you or anything. What she said isn't entirely false. Your fate could change if we continue talking to you regularly like this."

"I thought I didn't have a thread. Every time you guys give me one, it just vanishes, doesn't it?"

"That's what makes this so difficult. This is the first time we've seen it happen, and it's stressing Alice out. She doesn't want us to associate with you at all because she fears that something might happen to you. That's why she's so angry about us even talking to you. Please, try to understand."

"You don't need to explain it to me. I get it. Well... not really, but I can get behind the fact that you guys are goddesses while I'm just a human. At this point, it's whatever."

"Thank you, Yoshino-san."

I pulled up my school bag from under the desk. After skimming through all the unnecessary amount of paperwork I had, I finally found the research material and handed it to Chloe.

"This is...?" she muttered.

"What I said I would do yesterday," I answered before she finished that question. "Everything you need to know about volcanos and exothermic reactions—it's all in there."

"Is this why you look so tired today?"

I definitely wasn't expecting her to react that way. Perhaps what she was worried about before was me, but... there's absolutely no reason for that.

"I'm okay," I forced a smile and said. "Still alive, aren't I?"

Chloe suddenly grabbed my arm and pulled me across the desk. With our faces only a couple of inches from each other, I could see the subtle blue glow seeping out of her eyes. Is she using some kind of magic? We're not really in the most deserted spot right now.

She let go of my arm, retracted herself, and her expression dropped.

"This... you burned your hand for this?" she asked discontentedly.

"Wha... Did you look through my memories?" I sneered.

"I did. Yoshino-san... I'm sorry that you had to go through that."

How do I tell her that I wanted to get it over with so I would never have to see them ever again? The words just wouldn't come out, especially since she was making a face like that.

"It's not a big deal," I sighed.

"Yes, it is!" she exclaimed, clearly not satisfied with my answer. "Not only did you hurt yourself, you spent the entire day on this. How much sleep did you get last night?"

"Just about four?"

She bit the bottom of her lips as her brows furrowed. Someone like her is getting angry for someone like me. That's funny.

"Chloe-san, it's fine. I'm used to it," I smiled, but she still wouldn't accept it.

"Just because you're used to it doesn't make it okay," she grumbled. "You can't do that anymore."

"It's not like I can stop right away. I've been doing it for a very long time."

"Promise me you won't anymore."

That's unrealistic, perhaps even more so than the fact that I'm talking to a goddess right now. For years now, there hasn't been a day when I haven't slept past midnight. I can't sleep any earlier, even if I tried. My body somehow knows when it wants to go to sleep, so it holds me hostage until the late hours of the night.

"I... promise?" I mumbled.

"That didn't sound sincere at all," she said.

"Because it's not. Sorry, Chloe-san, but I have no intention of making a promise when I know I'll just break it the very next day. It wouldn't be right."

"That's fine. I know how hard it is to stray from a habit that's been there for years. At least promise me that you'll try."

What is she trying to accomplish? My sleeping habits are my own. There's no reason for her to care. Maybe she's like this with every human she meets, which is strange on its own when a complete stranger begins caring way too much.

"I promise," I sighed.

With a breath of air, she wore a soft smile once more. "Thank you, Yoshino-san."


The bell rang to signal the lunch period for the first-year students. I packed my things and readied myself to leave. Now that I've given Chloe the research material, it's all over. I can finally be at peace again.

"Yoshino-san, let's go show the others what you did," Chloe suggested cheerfully.

"W-what?" I gulped.

"You didn't think you would do all of this for us and not get any recognition, did you?"

"That's... exactly what I thought."

"Eh?! Why?"

"Well, based on what happened yesterday, it doesn't seem like I'm welcomed. I don't want to be the reason why your sisters hate each other, so I won't bother you anymore."

"Nonsense. Let's go."

Despite my protest, she grabbed me by my arm and pulled me out of the classroom. Left and right, people were turning and wondering why someone as popular as her was dragging someone like me around.

Soon enough, we found ourselves standing in front of the library door. As always, the hallway around here was empty. This works out pretty well actually. I normally come to the library during lunchtime anyway, but... I'm not too confident about seeing Alice again.

"Ready?" she smiled brightly.

"Y-yeah," I answered, but I very much wasn't ready.

We entered the library, and I was surprised to see only Lana sitting down at the same table as last time. When she turned away from her phone, a shocked expression followed by a friendly grin welcomed me in.

"Hey, Yoshino-san," she greeted. "Glad you didn't get scared and run off."

"To be honest, I would've had Chloe-san not dragged me here," I admitted.

"Aw, come on. Don't say that. Did Alice really scare you that much yesterday?"

"W-well... yeah, she did."

That smile faded from her face. With a heavy breath, she said, "Have a seat, Yoshino-san."

Reluctantly, I did as she asked. So much for my plan. How did I even get here? Oh, right, I was forced to come against my own will.

"Please, don't take it too personally," Lana sighed. "Alice is a very capable and responsible person, especially when it comes to our job. She's worried about causing a twist of fate. If that happens, you could cease to exist altogether."

"Will that still happen even if I don't have a thread?" I asked.

"That's the thing. We don't know. You could disappear right here right now, and there's no way for us to tell when it's coming."

"That's... frightening."

"It is, isn't it? Don't worry. A twist of fate can only happen if you continue talking to us. But, as long as you're with us, we have the ability to stop it, so you'll be safe no matter what."

"I'm not sure if that makes it any better, but I get what you're saying."

Chloe took out the research material and laid it on the table. Lana picked up one of the pages and studied it meticulously.

"Did you do this?" she asked.

"Yeah," I said. "Everything you need to know is on there."

Just then, Chloe leaned over and whispered something into Lana's ear. All the while, they were both looking directly at me. My danger radar is going off for some reason.

"Asahi-kun..." Lana shut her eyes and called out devilishly.

"Y-yes...?" I gulped.

Did she just call me by my first name? No one has ever done that before.

Lana's eyes shot open, releasing a sharp yellow glow that amplified the natural color of her eyes. That look sent chills down my spine.

Just like that, I couldn't move a muscle. Even lifting a finger proved to be very difficult. The glow subsided, and, like Chloe, her expression fell. I think I have an idea of what she just did.

"Asahi-kun..." she muttered.

"Don't look at me like that," I sighed. "Chloe already lectured me about it. It was my choice to do what I did, so there's no need for you to worry."

"How can I not? Let me see your hand."

"I refuse."

And I definitely shouldn't have. Lana bolted from her seat and forcefully took my hand away. She scanned the bandages with a frown.

"So not only did you spend seven whole hours of your time, you went ahead and hurt yourself for a project that's not even yours," she badgered fiercely. "That's not fair."

I chuckled at those last few words. "It never is, is it?"

From the moment I gained consciousness, my life has always been unfair. Things that I desired, I could never have. Places that I wanted to be, I could never go. I've never been able to live the way I wanted, as survival was my sole purpose.

It is what it is. I've long since accepted my fate despite not even having one, according to these goddesses. Continuously telling myself that it's unfair won't do anything.

Suddenly, a circular mass of light appeared next to us. Alice stepped out, and the first thing she saw was me. As expected, her reaction wasn't great, to say the least.

"Tsk, what are you doing here?" she grunted.

"I..." was all I could say. She only just showed up, and I'm already shaking with fear.

"Leave him alone, Alice," Lana warned. "He's only here to talk about our chemistry project."

"Again?" she sighed with annoyance. "Didn't he already do that yesterday?"

"This time, he wrote us some studying materials!" Chloe attempted to sway her.

"Is that so? Well then, Yoshino-san, thank you for your help thus far. You may leave now."

"H-he's also willing to go through it with us so we can better understand the content."

"It's okay, Chloe-san," I smiled. "I've accomplished what I came for. Good luck with your project."

I stood up with my bag and quickly tried to leave, but Lana somehow caught me before I took another step away.

"You can't be serious, Alice," Lana snarled. "He did all of that, and you're telling him to leave?"

"What more is there to say?" she asked. "Lana. You seem to be forgetting that he's just a human."

"So what? He did something very important for us, so the least we could do is show a little gratitude."

"And we have, so he can go now."

Lana threw her hand on her face and laughed, not out of amusement, but unfiltered frustration.

"Lana-san," I mustered the courage to say. "Let's not escalate this any further and leave it at that."

"Yes, Lana," Alice smirked. "Listen to the boy.

"You don't deserve this kind of treatment, Asahi-kun," Lana insisted adamantly. "Especially not from the likes of her."

"It's okay," I said. "I'm fine. Truly."

"A human comforting a goddess?" Alice scoffed. "How did you even come to be here, Yoshino-san?"

"I spoke to Chloe-san in math class to give her the research material."

"And let me guess. She dragged you over here."

Alice shifted her resentful gaze over to Chloe, who was sitting stiffly as if she didn't want to get involved at all.

"It wasn't her fault," I quickly said without thinking. "I insisted on coming here. That's when she agreed and allowed me to tag alone."

Her anger was getting visibly worse. I messed up, didn't I? Even though I'm extremely terrified right now, I'm prepared to stand my ground. At the very least, I can't let Chloe take the blame for this.

"Who do you think you are?" Alice looked as though she was ready to explode.

"Is it really that big of a deal?" I asked. "Look, it's over, alright? I gave you the research material. I'm leaving now."

"What, this?"

She snatched up the stack of paper that I spent seven hours working on nonstop and threw it in the air. I watched as the many sheets of paper fell to the ground in front of me. Perhaps it's because I worked so hard on these, but watching her toss it away like it was nothing... was painful.

"Listen to me, and listen very well," Alice growled. "You're just a human. There's nothing special about you. If anything, not having a thread makes that all the more clear. You've nothing to do with us, so stop going around and acting like you do. Unless you truly wish to die, I suggest you leave right this instant."

My heart sank, and my head dropped. It was as if her words petrified me. There was a sliver of hope in the back of my head that told me just maybe... I could befriend them. Only now do I see that it was never in reach. Friends, huh...? What a foolish thought for someone like me.

The worst part is that she's completely right. There's nothing special about me. I've never had anyone I could call my friend, much less a person who even uttered my name. From birth to now, I was alone, and once this is all over, I will remain just that: alone.

What was I thinking? What could I have possibly been hoping for? Even now, as I stand before them, I'm just another human in their eyes. No... I'm far worse than that. I can't even carry a thread. I truly am... nobody.

"I... I'm... sorry..." I mumbled.

"As you should be," Alice scoffed. "Now, go away, and never... ever... bother us again."

I turned around to get away as fast as possible. I can't stay here. It's suffocating.

Right as I was about to go, Lana threw a hand on my shoulder. Her anger was now more evident than before, as her eyes seemingly glowed red, a sharp contrast to her usual yellow eyes.

"Lana-san... please, don't," I said dismissively.

"Shut up, and stay right there," she said.

The two of them glared at each other so intensely that I could actually feel the pressure from their exuding bloodlust.

"Alice... take a look," Lana said as calmly as possible.

Alice sighed with frustration. "Lana-"

"Look!" she bellowed at the top of her lungs.

Her thunderous voice echoed along the walls of the empty chamber. Her eyes were shaking as she gritted her teeth in unrelenting anger, catching Alice off guard.

What are you doing? Just let me go. I wanted so badly to say those words, but my mouth wouldn't move.

Reluctantly, Alice approached me with her eyes glowing. It feels weird now that I know she's looking through my memories.

That frown upon her face abruptly dissipated. Her brows rose, and she stumbled back. Her eyes trailed down, and as soon as she saw bandages on my left hand, she held a hand over her mouth.

"You..." she muttered. "Why did..."

Lana knelt down to pick up all the sheets of paper that were scattered across the floor.

"This is what Asahi-kun spent all of yesterday doing," she growled. "You saw it too, right? Every so often, he pinched his eyes because he was so tired. His wrist hurt from writing so much without ever taking a break. He didn't eat a single thing all day. By the end, he couldn't sleep right away because he was in so much pain."

"S-so what?" Alice grumbled, but her confidence was fading. "Why should I care?"

"Are you even listening to yourself right now? How could you not care?!"

Alice's mouth twisted as if she wanted to say something, but she didn't. Lana grabbed my left wrist and raised it in front of us.

"Look, Alice," she demanded. "Are you seeing this?! This... this is what happened because he wanted to help us. He stayed up until two in the morning doing this. He even thought of a script for all of us based on the way we talk. All of that research he did, every single word he wrote, just for you to undermine his efforts. As if that wasn't bad enough, he burned his own hand, and you're throwing all of his hard work away? How dare you?!"

"I... I didn't..." Alice said.

She didn't bother finishing the sentence, but the shame on her face was as clear as day. Her body turned away, and she disappeared in a flash of light. All was silent. Chloe gazed worriedly at Lana, but she wouldn't lift her head.

"Thanks for the work you've done for us, Asahi-kun," she said, her voice subtly faltering. "We'll definitely look at it when we're together again. I think... that's it for now."

"I'm sorry... about all of this," I said.

"There is nothing for you to apologize for," she replied as she handed me her phone. "Give me your Line ID. I'll let you know when and where we'll hold a study session. I hope you'll be able to help us out again."

"I don't mind, but... are you sure it's going to be fine?"

"Don't worry. I'm sure."

I typed my Line ID and handed her phone back. With that, we said our farewells, and once again, I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth.

The rest of the day slowly went by. I couldn't concentrate at all. Every word that came out of my teachers' mouths was incomprehensible like they were speaking gibberish.

After the bell rang to signal the end of school hours, I wasn't even able to head home right away. My chemistry teacher wanted my help with setting up a practical lab assignment for tomorrow. Ever since I gave her that solo presentation, she's been talking to me a lot more. I don't necessarily dislike it, but I'm not as fond of chemistry as she might think I am.

Once that was done, I left through the back door of the building. Chemistry is my last class of the day, and it's all the way on the opposite side of the frontal courtyard. This path leads around the side of the building where it's nice and quiet. I prefer this over the crowded hallways when everyone is trying to leave the school.

Right as I was thinking that, I completely regretted it the next second. Farther down the sidewalk, a girl with silvery hair was sitting on the ground with her face buried in her knees. She tilted her head slightly, and that was all I needed to see those beautiful emerald eyes. As soon as she noticed it was me, she went right back to covering her face.

My mind was debating whether or not I should approach her. What I think I should do is turn around and head back into the building, but... that could also come off as rude when she has already noticed me.

With a deep breath, I walked up to her.

"Are you... alright?" I asked.

"Go away," she whimpered. "I don't want to see you right now."

"If not now, then when?"

She didn't give me an answer. Part of me feels bad, but why should I feel sorry for her? She was the one who instigated everything. The way she belittled not only me but also her sisters who had nothing to do with me... It was deplorable. However, I'm not the type of person to leave someone to drown in their own sorrow.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I didn't mean for all of this to happen. Please, don't blame your sisters. It was my fault. Rest assured, you will never see me again."

Again, she said nothing. I expected as much. Words of comfort from a human probably do not mean much to a goddess. I tried my best, so I'll just leave it at that. I hope Lana won't be too mad if I ghost her on Line.

"Ah! Crap!" a voice cried from above.

I quickly tilted my head up to see a bucket flailing down from the third floor. What's more... it's heading directly for Alice!

Without a second thought, I tackled her down to the ground before a sharp impact slammed against the back of my head.

"What are you do...?!" she screamed before her eyes widened and her jaws fell.

I blinked rapidly, but the sudden blurriness of my vision wouldn't go away. A small drop of red fell onto Alice's face. Then another. Then another.

I slowly lifted my hand to touch the side of my forehead. When I lowered it, I wasn't at all surprised to find a splatter of blood painting my fingers red.

"Ah... that hurt," I managed to say before I shut my eyes to complete darkness.