“Is it just me, or does it look like Alicia is ignoring Jacob?”
“It certainly seems that way, doesn’t it? She must have finally realized what a freak that kid is.”
“About time, I say.”
The words penetrated the haze I was in, each one piercing me like a stake through the chest, creating an ache that was more metaphysical than physical, though I tried my best to ignore them.
It wasn’t like I could dispute what they were saying. Everything they said was correct, in a way. These people probably didn’t realize how close to the truth they were.
Alicia and I walked several meters apart on our way to school. After Alicia changed from her tennis shoes to indoor slippers, she didn’t even look my way as she turned and headed for the stairs. I barely even noticed the graffiti inside of my locker as I changed into my slippers.
It was the same when I arrived in the classroom; Alicia was already sitting down, and she didn’t so much as glance in my direction as I slowly ambled to my desk.
Everyone was gawking at us and whispering speculations about our relationship. They weren’t even trying to be quiet about it. I heard everything from we had broken up to Alicia had wised up and ditched me.
I took out my spiral bound notebook, a pen, and tried to ignore them. There was no point in trying to dispute what they said. They were right. I had been dumped, in a way, and it was my fault. I had pushed away my friend by keeping a secret. I hadn’t even considered her feelings.
Could I be anymore of an idiot?
Several people walked up to Alicia, two guys and three girls. I recognized them. Of course I did. We had been in the same class for about a year now, though I only knew their names.
“Hey, hey, what’s up with you and the Yankee? Are you having a fight?” asked Kaoru.
Alicia scowled at her. “No, we are not having a fight. We’re both just preoccupied with something. However, since you have brought up the subject, I shall be kind enough to inform that, should any rumors crop up about Jacob and I, I’ll hold you personally responsible. Do you understand?”
Kaoru gave an easy going grin as she and the others who had surrounded Alicia backed away. “Yeah, I got it. Don’t worry. I don’t have any interest in getting on your bad side.”
“Good. Now please leave me alone. Class is about to start.”
The five kids walked away, whispering in a not-so-quiet voice about Alicia.
“Man, what a bitch. I can’t believe I had the hots for her at one point.”
“She’s a total cunt—ouch!”
“Don’t use such foul language, Mitoshi!”
“Don’t hit me, bitch! Ouch!”
I closed my eyes and tried not to pay attention, fearing that I might actually do something stupid if I did. Their words caused my vision to turn red.
The very idea that someone would insult Alicia at not, nevermind not even bothering to apologize for it, angered me. It actually made me want to hit Mitoshi with a full-powered punch.
As if Alicia had dialectic powers, the bell rang and, a bare second later, the homeroom teacher walked in. A short girl that I knew as Kamiya Minami, stood up and said, “stand. Bow. Sit.” Directing all of the students to follow her orders.
“All right, class,” Ms. Kizaki said. “I’ve got a few announcements to make so pay attention. First, with the festival so close, we have decided to…”
And that was about as far as I got before I zoned out. It was a bad habit, I knew, but since I had never once been to a school festival, it was my natural propensity to not listen whenever they were brought up. The fact was I got depressed when the class started talking about something that I had never gone to.
Of course, that might change. I might have to start paying attention soon—
I looked at Alicia out of the corner of my eye, a niggling worry squirming around in my gut.
What would happen if Alicia and I really did end up separating? I wouldn’t be able to attend the festival, would I? It was a depressing thought, though nowhere close to as depressing a thought as Alicia leaving me.
What should I do? I wanted to make up with her, but I didn’t think a simple apology would be enough to express my sincerity. Maybe I should ask Matilda for help…
This was so frustrating. I can’t ever remember being this aggravated in my life. All I wanted to do was apologize so Alicia wouldn’t be upset with me, but I knew her, and I knew that a simple apology would never do. What she would want was a guarantee that I wouldn’t contact Gabriel anymore. It would essentially be her asking for the one thing I didn’t want to give up.
No matter how hard I thought about the issue, no solution seemed to present itself, or maybe I was just not thinking about this from the right angle. I wanted Alicia to start talking to me again, but I didn’t want to give up on my new friend. How could I have both? Or was I being too greedy. Perhaps a monster such as myself couldn’t have two blessings of this nature. Maybe my luck, or possibly even karma, had run dry.
Was I asking for the impossible?
I’m unsure of how long I sat there, thinking. However, it must have been for a really long time. Class soon came to an end and PE began. All of us were ushered out of the classroom and into the locker room, where we got changed. I was surprised to find that my gym clothes were still there. From the bemused expressions a pair of students wore, I wasn’t the only one.
Saitama Private Academy didn’t just have a track field. There was also a soccer field, a baseball field, and a tennis court located not far from the track field. All of it was spaced fairly close together, so one could easily walk to whichever field they wished.
The first order of business our PE coach and assistant coach, Shizaki Kanai and Nozomi Maiyanashi, made us do was stretches, followed by laps. Once that was done, we were allowed to split up. While the girls gathered in groups and went to the soccer field, most of the boys went to the baseball pitch.
Because I was the only one who no one wanted to play with, I found a spot under the shade and sat down. I was still trying to think up a way of apologizing to Alicia without having to say goodbye to Gabriel.
“Hey, Yank,” a voice said from above me.
I looked up. A kid with a buzzed head and freckles loomed over me, an ugly smirk making his face split in half. Beside him were two other kids. I recognized them. They were the ones who had dunked my head in the toilet and were subsequently beaten up by Alicia.
“We’ve got something to talk to you about.” The mouthpiece hitched a thumb over his shoulder. “Get up and follow me.”
They were probably going to take me behind the equipment shed and beat me up, which was what most people did when they wanted to teach me a lesson during PE.
I could have said no. I could have told them I didn’t want to speak with them. I stood up anyway. Even if I decided to ignore them, I would eventually end up paying for it later on. It was best to get these things out of the way quickly.
As I was walked off the field, being led toward the equipment shed, I cast a glance at Alicia.
She didn’t even look my way.