“You’re already…engaged? How? As part of the arranged marriage agreement, neither party can have any open engagements.”
“Well just like our deal, our whole arranged marriage was fake. Before meeting you I already had an arrangement with someone else and it was decided that I would marry him. The reason our official marriage has been put on hold is because my actual fiance has some work obligations that he needs to finish this month.”
“After I learned we were to be wed at the end of this month. I decided to take a peak at the suitors my parents rejected. There I saw your profile. It was the first time I saw a suitor who was both my age and attended the same school. Most of my suitors are slightly older or they live far away.”
“So a week before we met, I decided to follow you…well stalk you a bit.” I was curious to see what kind of guy you were. Why were you in the reject pile? I never planned to interact with you, all I wanted to do was just observe.”
“Why did you?”
“Why? I guess it’s because what you said was true.”
On that rainy day, I realized my life was over. My arrangement with Will Johnson was decided. I was furious, enraged. Even though Johnson isn’t a horrible guy, I hate how I have no control over my life. That I was just a simple puppet who had to obey her parents' commands. Choices, free will, none of that exists. Our lives are forever dictated by who we are or where we are born. I couldn’t take it anymore. I headed up to the roof, dark thoughts were in my head. Then came bits of rain, let’s have one last dance. After all, I really do enjoy dancing in the rain.”
“I was surprised to find another student outside, let alone you. So I got closer, I heard you monologuing a bit. It’s funny I never really met someone who shared the same views. I wanted to talk to you. I never have been great at starting conversions so I said the first thing that was in my head. I assumed after you would leave, but yet you stayed. You even helped me, in more ways than one. I wanted to repay you but I didn’t know how. Since I had one month free, I figured the best way I could help, was to have you gain romantic skills. So you don’t fall into the same trap as I. Though, I guess selfishly, I wanted to see what it's like being with someone close to me. And I just wanted to rebel.”
“So that's how Operation Lovey-Dovey came to be.”
“Yes. That same afternoon I fabricated the marriage request. I ask my maid to act as my guardian. My parents were abroad, but they didn’t care what I did, as long as I understood that I would be with Will Johnson by the end. When I proposed our deal, I was expecting you to say no. Yet, you agreed. I appreciate everything you have done. And I hope in the end my selfish request helped you become a better lover. But this charade has to stop. We wasted enough of each other's time. You deserve to be with someone honest, and true, not a liar like me. That’s why we should say goodbye, Kazuma.
“Wow, that's a lot to take in. But I still don’t care after all I-”
I see tears in her eyes.
“You don’t get it Kazuma, we’re done, it’s over. I don’t want to see you anymore. In fact…
I hate you.”
I hate you. I hate you. My head keeps repeating these words endlessly. With each sound growing louder. After the date, I was told that Rika officially resigned from the club and withdrew from the school. As for myself, for the past couple of days, I stopped attending school and barricaded myself in my room. It’s all pointless anyway.
Another text. Looks like it’s from Dachi this time. I wished they would all just give it a rest. Responding to messages is pointless. Having friendships is pointless. Getting out of bed is pointless. Talking is pointless. Pretending, it’s pointless. Life itself is pointless.
Knock, Knock, Knock
It’s probably just the maid or my father.
Sounds like they're pounding now. Answering is pointless.
An ear-piercing alarm sound plays. Then I start to hear the sound of someone's voice being projected on a megaphone.
“KAZUMA ITO! You have three seconds to open this door. Before I contact an elite police force to break down this door by force.”
That voice, it’s Prez.
A different voice can be heard. It’s Dachi’s.
“Dude I would listen to her.”
I hear Saori’s voice now.
“She has done this in the past before. Plus Midori is going to break in anyways might as well be on your terms.”
How pointless. Fine. I got up from my bed and made my way to open the door.
“Well…” I said.
“Well? Kazu, we're worried about you. You haven’t been going to school, or talking to us.
“You look awful, have you been eating? I made some sweets. Please take it.”
“Hey, sorry things didn’t work out with Rika,” said Saori.
“Sorry Kazu, they made me spill everything about the Operation Lovey-Dovey thing.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Well, at least you tried right? Sure things didn’t work out. But at least you have the memories.”
“Dachi right. And as that old saying goes, there’s plenty of fish in the sea.”
“Yeah so cheer up, Kazu.”
Prez sighs, “You two are doing more harm than good. Here, take a seat. Ito and I are going to have a little chat.”
She pulled me aside.
“Listen, Ito, I’m not going to coddle you. You were rejected and it sucks. The only cure is time. Which feels like an eternity. But Kazuma let me ask, did you actually confess to Tanaka?”
“Are you happy with that?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Are you happy with that?”
“Are you happy with that?”
“Of course not!” I shouted.
“Anger, good. Proves that you don’t think it’s pointless.”
“So why didn’t you confess?”
“She said, I hate you.”
“And you believe her.”
“Why wouldn’t I? It makes sense. Why would she like me?”
“Do you really believe that? Deep in your heart, do you really believe that Tanaka hated you all this time?”
“I’m…,” I turned away.
Allow me to knock some sense into you. If someone really hated you, they wouldn’t be near you, talk to you, spend time with you, or even laugh with you. Although I haven’t known you two for long, and your situation is unique, I can tell you without reasonable doubt that she doesn’t hate you.”
“Whether she likes you or not that’s a different story.”
Prez is right. It’s hard to believe that if someone really hated me they wouldn’t help me become a better person, encourage me out of my comfort zone, or even kiss me. As I think about it now, given her current situation, her lying about hating me makes a bit of sense.
“I like the look in your eye Ito. Seems like you’re finally getting it. So, what are you going to do now?”
“Now? Maybe eat one of Saori-senpai’s sweets, I’m pretty hungry.”
“No! Regarding Tanaka. You said it yourself, you're not happy that you didn’t confess.”
“The way I see it Ito you have two options. One, just move on. In this route, you never confess. At first, you feel you made the right, easy choice. Though, eventually, you will find yourself constantly wondering what if. Even when you try to move forward you're still stuck in the past. At one point you settle, but even so, the regret keeps eating you alive. Forever, causing you to question why.”
“Then there’s option B. You tell her how you feel. It is a difficult route but at least you get your answer. You might think she will say, no you know she will. But at least you’re no longer imprisoned by your mind. After all, you have your answer. Again it’s not easy, but I think you should go this route.”
Prez lowered her glasses, she lowered her voice to a whisper.
“Living a life of regrets is painful. Believe me, I know. I’m living through it after all. Kazuma, I understand it will be difficult, I understand how painful and frightening the thought of rejection can be. But while you still have the chance, confess to her now, before she’s lost forever.“
“Kazuma Ito, what’s your answer?”
“A simple eight-letter, three-word phrase.”