When I first saw Okumori's mom, I was overly astounded. She was the complete opposite of Okumori; being rather cheerful and very ecstatic. It made me question something very vital:
Who did he get that reclusive and isolated personality from?
I didn't see any sign of his father or anyone else in the house that could potentially have the same personality as him. It made me presume that it was just the both of them in the house, taking care of each other.
We were both standing in the living room, about to say our goodbyes.
"Before you go, what should I call you?" I looked up at her.
"Huh? Hm..." She pondered, looking up at the ceiling. After a few seconds, she gave me a thumbs up and smirked. "You can call me Oba-san if you'd like."
Surprised by her assuring confidence, I nodded.
She then lowered her hand and sighed.
“Also, I’m sorry for that sight, Miyake-chan... Toshiro is sometimes careless, and well, you’ve seen it at best.”
I blushed, looking downwards as the image flashed back in my head. I nodded nervously.
“Miyake-chan, he hasn’t told you why he acts like that, has he?”
My mood drastically changed. Wanting to leave the house suddenly became a small matter.
I met her purple eyes, which were just like Okumori’s, but also the complete opposite. Her eyes had a beautiful gleam on them, whilst Okumori’s had a dark purple shade with wide pupils and didn't seem lively at all. They always looked tired or stressed from my view.
“No. I don’t.” I said heedfully.
She groaned, closing her eyes for a split second before opening them again. “I knew it.”
Perplexed, I stood in silence.
“I won’t tell you just yet, since you both aren’t acquainted well enough. He’d also despise me if he figured out that I told you. It’s something he doesn’t want anyone knowing.”
“Oh… That’s fine.” I forced a smile.
This mystery about Okumori intrigued me more and more each second, and I was eager to find out.
“Maybe if you two become good friends, then I’ll tell you. It’s either that or he tells you himself.”
“Is it something terrible?” I finally managed to ask.
My curiosity couldn’t keep itself in, and before I knew it, I had uttered something that I shouldn’t have. “Y-You don’t have to answer! Sorry! I shouldn’t have asked!” I immediately apologized.
She chuckled. “No, no, it’s fine. But, as I said, I won’t tell you now.”
“Yes, Oba-san!” I nodded firmly.
“By the way, Miyake-chan, what do you think of him as of right now?”
"What?” I was caught off guard by her arbitrary question.
“Don’t worry, I just want to hear how my son is like from other people’s perspective.” She smiled.
I nodded, taking a moment to consider. I then raised my finger. “He’s very quiet, antisocial, and his dead eyes always scare me. He doesn’t seem to like me much either.”
"Well, that's expected." She muttered under her breath drowsily.
“I didn’t mean anything bad by it, though!”
“I know, I know.” She giggled, standing upright.
“H-He also seems smart!” I pointed out.
“You don’t have to justify it, Miyake-chan, I understand already. I’ll assume his first impression wasn’t so good?”
“Well, yes. He ignored me, but I mainly think it was because of what I told him.” I nervously replied.
Just remembering it embarrassed me.
"Oh? What did you do?” Okumori’s mom curiously asked.
“I-I uh… I said that he looked nice if he had a makeover." I hesitantly spoke.
"Pfft!" She burst out laughing. She held her stomach, continuing to hold the door frame for support. "Really? You said that?!"
"It wasn't my fault! I'm not used to talking to guys!" I panicked, shaking my hands around.
"What, did you say you wanted to hug him too?" She joked, pointing and laughing.
"N-No, of course not!" I denied her claim.
She started to wipe her cheerful tears. "To think you were so forward…"
"I didn't mean it in that way at all! I just wanted to compliment him and it came out wrong!"
"Don't worry, I'll believe you." She let out a final chuckle.
She placed her hand on her hip now, her face that was previously all happy and tear-stained from laughing turning into a deliberate look.
"Miyake-chan, do you think you can become friends with someone like him?"
"Huh?" I was at a loss for words.
Truthfully, I didn't know the answer to her question. He didn't like me in the slightest nor did he give me any attention, so why was I so stubborn? Did I truly want to be his friend? Would it be worth it?
It's because he needs someone.
That sentence hit my head intensely.
"You don't have to respond. Just think about it."
I nodded shyly, pausing for a few seconds, then speaking. “I don’t know if we can become friends in the future, but if it happens, then I’ll be someone he can depend on.”
She unexpectedly leaned forwards to embrace me in her arms. Shocked, I started to stutter. “O-Oba-san? What’s wrong?”
“Thank you.” She tristfully spoke.
“Y-you’re welcome?” I awkwardly hugged her back.
“Sorry, it's just... I'm really happy to have someone like you support him.”
I kept silent, understanding what she said with a meager smile on my face while I hugged her.
"I don't want him to go into the real world without being happy. Can you do that? Can you show everyone who he truly is?"
Who he truly is? That sentence somewhat confused me.
That was an immense expectation of her too, but I wasn't willing to back down either.
"Yes, of course," I replied optimistically.
"That's wonderful." Her grip around my arms got slightly tighter.
Eventually, after a few seconds of silence, we pulled away from each other. I caught sight of her delicate face, seeing the lids under her eyes had a light shade of red.
"O-Oba-san, you aren't crying, are you..?" I asked worryingly.
"They are tears of happiness!" She raised her fist in accomplishment.
Feeling slight discomfort by her odd confidence, I nodded.
"Sorry. I got carried away." She gazed upon the sky. "It's just I wasn't expecting you to say that. I'm really happy, you know? Knowing that my son will have someone like you as a friend. It's a gift."
"You're over exaggerating, Oba-san! I'm not that good of a person… I'm just a simple person!" I cried out.
"You say that, yet you also say those promising words. Don't doubt yourself." She grinned.
I was speechless at what she said. In a way, she was correct.
“Miyake-chan, you’re also welcome to come into our house anytime you want to!” She rubbed my head.
“But what about Okumori-kun? I might be a disturbance for him.”
“Well, you might be right…” She pulled her hand away, placing her index finger and thumb on her chin. “I doubt he’d like to converse with you as it is right now… Hmm, maybe you could find something important in that room of his when he’s using the bathroom and we can both see what he has?”
“Eh..?” I let out a tricky breath. I wasn’t necessarily fond of that idea, and it didn't correlate to what we were saying in the slightest.
“Well, now that I think about it, maybe you should find out if he has those "mags" they sell?” She said amusedly.
Surprised, I took a step back, then anxiously looking down. However, imagining him being caught and seeing his embarrassed face would be a sight to see.
“I-I don’t think that’d be good if I was trying to be friends with him…”
“Right, sorry.” She sighed. “I don’t think he’d like that.”
I nodded nimbly. “Those types of things are for you to find out, you know…”
“Eh, is it?” She questionably faced me.
“Y-you are his mom, right?” I stared at her blankly.
“I am, yes, but I think it’d be very awkward for someone's mom to find their son's stash of “goods.”
I was very surprised that she was talking about something so immature in such an assuring manner. Did this happen occasionally?
“I think it’d be awkward either way,” I said stiffly.
“You have a point.” She nodded with hmphs.
“Um, Oba-san, I should get going now. My mom might get worried.”
“Oh, right, I forgot you were leaving! I don’t want to hold you here for idle chat, so go on.” She smiled, rubbing my head with her hand.
I didn’t know how to feel about the head pat. Did she do this with Okumori frequently? I’d pay to see it happen. I guess I couldn't complain either, since I did this to Okumori as well when we first met.
“I’ll be going now, Oba-san… Have a good day!” I waved.
Her smile got wider, waving as she watched me leave the house.
I still couldn't get over the fact that she and Okumori were complete opposites. I mean, I had entered their house under the impression that his mom would have given me the stares and said stuff along the lines of "What? Who are you? Stay away." But, to my surprise, she welcomed me with open arms and even embarrassed Okumori in front of me.
Nevertheless, I had absolute fun in their house. To think that I could come there whenever I wanted to had made me feel accepted and reassured. Who knows, maybe she could teach me how to cook? I had the feeling that we had a lot in common.
I entered my house, which was across the street. I opened the door, seeing my mom who was watching some TV. She seemed to notice me, grabbing the remote and pausing whatever she was watching.
“I’m home!” I called out, taking off my shoes and placing them by the entrance.
“Hi, Youko! How was it?”
“They were nice!” I exclaimed. "Or, rather, she was..." I mumbled jokingly.
"How was Okumori-san?"
Assuming she was talking about Okumori's mom, excitement flowed through my veins. "She was very nice to me! She said I could come over any time."
"Really!" I assured her.
“What about her kid, Toshiro? Or Okumori-kun, perhaps.”
“Y-Yeah..” I looked away, blushing.
I'm pretty sure I couldn't face him or talk about him without the image of him naked in my head anymore. I needed to erase that.
“Huh." I heard her murmur.
She was thinking of something childish, wasn't she? I could tell since she was trying to hide a grin under her hands.
“Anyways, there are some snacks in the fridge if you want them.” She gave me a big smile before she continued watching her show.
“Okay. I’ll be in my room!” I replied.
I didn’t bother to get any snacks since I wasn’t exactly hungry, so I went upstairs to my room. I opened the door and entered, looking inside.
It was straightforward and an uncomplicated room. The walls were white and clear, having some boxes laid right in front of them, composed of my previous house’s belongings. In the middle, a queen-sized bed sat with a study table in front.
I walked over to my new bed and fell on it, feeling the comfort of it. I stayed in a single position, then started to squirm around the bed.
“Jeez, what am I gonna do now..?” I sighed, staring at the ceiling.
I then grabbed the diary behind one of the pillows and opened it up, taking a mechanical pencil out of my pocket.
I opened the diary to a page with the title saying ‘List of things to do.’ There was a multitude of things written down in it. I then lead my pencil over to one of them. ‘Make a few friends on the first day.’ I crossed it out with my pencil, drawing a single line across it. I then directed the pencil below the words, starting to write a new one.
I closed the diary and tossed the mechanical pencil over to my table. I then pulled out my phone, looking at my new texts.
I already had a new message from a friend I made today. Her name was Himari Iwasaki if I remember correctly, and a very pretty girl, from what I've seen. She had long pink hair and teal eyes that were very satisfying to look at. She was also very nice! We clicked almost instantly when we first met.
The message read: "Do you want to go to the cafe tomorrow?"
Thrilled that she was inviting me somewhere, I replied right away. "Yes, of course!"
"Okay, it'll be after school. is that fine?"
Exhilarated, I decided to see if Okumori would agree. I clicked on Okumori’s contact info, clicking the message button. I started to type: “How are you doing?”
Taking a few minutes, I stared at my message and started daydreaming again before he finally responded. It read: “Why are you asking?”
I looked at the message with a surprised expression, noticing that he was talking to me appropriately.
I typed again. “Just answer it, jeez."
“Good. Now go away.”
I let out a sigh, typing again. “I’m gonna get you back tomorrow.”
“Secret,” I replied. Okumori seemed to leave it on read, acknowledging my message.
I set the phone on my bed. Well, I didn't get the chance to ask him, since the mood wasn't right. Maybe tomorrow I'll have a better chance? I really hope he'd say yes.
I got off the bed and grabbed my school bag, taking out my essentials and setting them down on the study table. I then opened my notebook and worked on some homework as well as some notes. Since I joined in the middle of the year, I was bound to run into some troubles with the school. All-nighters might be necessary from now on.
After a few hours of writing, it had already been nighttime. I had finished my studying already and had been resting my head and arms on the table, dozing off rather quickly due to how overworked and exhausted I felt.
Before I knew it, it was already morning. I turned my face over to the window, the sunlight blinding me. I raised my head from my table and grabbed my phone, scratching my eyes and yawning simultaneously. I turned it on and looked at the time.
I stopped yawning midway, my heart dropping.
Seriously? It's only the second day!
I stood up swiftly and ran full speed into the bathroom.
My mom was already at work for her interview, and she had trusted me to wake up early to get to school. I knew she’d be distraught if she realized that I was late on my second day at school.
I slammed open the bathroom door and washed my face with water swiftly, then brushing my teeth and blow-drying my hair concurrently. Once I finished, I ran back to my bedroom, took off my clothes, grabbed my school outfit and gadgets, and ran out to the kitchen.
I was half-naked, putting on clothes every few steps while I reached the kitchen. I’d snatch some food off the plate that my mom had prepared before she had left for work, munching on them. It only took a minute or so, but I amazingly managed to put my uniform on properly. I sprinted out the front door, a rice ball in my hand as I took a bite of it every few seconds.
I ran with full force in our school’s direction, only stopping when I saw a stoplight that was red. Panting heavily, I soon spotted Okumori and some other kids who had been heading in the same direction as me.
I smirked, increasing my speed as I went straight for Okumori.
I opened my hands and closed my eyes, not stopping. Once I was in the perfect range, I raised my hands and lightly shoved Okumori.
“Boo!” I yelled out.
Okumori stumbled forwards, stopping himself from falling over. He looked over at me with a daunting glare that scared my soul. For some odd reason, he had more of a terrifying aura today.
“Sorry.” I apologized tensely.
An agitated. "Tch." Came out of him, before he shoved his hands in his pockets and made his way to the school.
I shook my head and sighed, following behind him.
“Your erm, reaction was pretty funny!” I joked awkwardly.
He seemed to ignore me. I assumed he was doing it willingly, or the earbuds inserted in his ears had the music playing too loud.
“Okumori-kun? Okumori-kun. Okumori-kun!"
I reached and grabbed his right earbud, pulling it out lightly.
Expecting him to face me with that scowl of his, he instead simply grabbed his earbud out of my hand and inserted it back into his ear. I stood in bewilderment.
“Okumori-kun, you should at least hear what I say." I sulked, approaching him again.
I watched him pull out his phone, then typing.
I felt my phone vibrate. I took it out and looked at what the message was. It came from Okumori: “I’m being glared in horrifying ways just by being with you, by the way. Stay away. You're making me the center of attention."
I blinked at the message. Were people that jealous? I smiled, walking up to him.
“You know what, those stares will be my secret for getting you back for being so rude...” I walked beside him, heading inside the class.
I saw him let out a dreary sigh. My smile only widened in response. So he could hear me.
We eventually entered the hallways, and I could see what Okumori was saying. We were being stared at. A lot. It was starting to make me uncomfortable, and I could only imagine what was going through Okumori's head. We entered class, but before I could even reach my seat, Iwasaki was in front of me.
"Hey! Are you ready for later on?"
I immediately remembered what we were talking about yesterday.
"Yes! I'm actually so excited!" I gave her a thumbs up.
Though, she didn't return anything in response. Instead, she had been looking at Okumori in slight disbelief. I glanced over confusingly and saw Okumori doing the same.
"W-what are you doing with her..?" Iwasaki questioned.
Did these two know each other? Even if they did, something must have happened. The atmosphere between them was awkward as well as bitter.
Okumori kept silent, as usual, then walked away promptly over to his seat.
"Um, what's wrong, Iwasaki-san..?" I said, bothered by what had just happened.
"N-nothing, don't worry about it."
She tilted her head slightly to the right and smiled joyously now.
“By the way, can I invite a friend of mine? He's a good guy."
Disturbed by how briskly she changed the subject and mood, I hesitatingly nodded.
"S-sure. What's his name?"
"His name is Ichiro Kojima, or Kojima-kun. We've been friends since Junior high!" She sounded certain and composed.
"Okay... More people means more fun, right?" I awkwardly laughed.
"Right!" She leaned forwards, inches away from my face.
I then realized something vital.
“Wait, can I invite Okumori-kun too?” I spat out in a hurry.
“Well, sure we c- Wait, who?” She paused, her face of amusement turning into a stumped one.
“Okumori-kun,” I repeated.
“Well, why not..?” I asked questionably.
I turned around and saw Okumori, who was simply watching us with his cheek placed on his palm while he listened to his music. He shook his head at me.
I nodded my head.
He shook his head. I nodded my head harder now.
He shook his head harder in response.
We both ended up glaring at each other intensely.
“Miyake-san..?” Iwasaki had a puzzled look.
“Yeah, he’s coming with us.” I glanced at her.
“Wel-” She scratched her cheek anxiously.
“Iwasaki-san. It's going to be fine, trust me.” I interrupted her.
“Fine...” She replied, seeming to give up on arguing against it.
I looked back at Okumori and nodded happily. He sighed, placing down his arms and resting his head on them. I then looked back to Iwasaki, who had an abashed look on her face.
“Kojima-kun won’t hate it either, would he?” I asked in a curious tone.
“N-no, I don’t think.” She mumbled.
“Great!” I chuckled, patting her shoulder.
“We’re heading there after school, so we’ll meet you two by the entrance.”
“Okay!” I nodded.
“I'm going to erm, go to my class now.” Iwasaki waved at me, then exited the class hastily.
I waved in response and turned around, approaching my seat. I would look over to Okumori, who still had his face planted in his arms.
“Okumori-kun, it’s not a bad thing to be with people every now and then.” I sighed, sitting down. “It’ll be fun for us, don’t worry. I won’t make Iwasaki-san do anything bad to you.”
"I'm not going." He interjected.
"Why not?" I groaned.
I watched as Okumori raised his head and glared at me.
"Okumori-kun, do you hate Iwasaki-san?" I finally had the courage to ask.
"Your intuitions good, but that's about it." He grumbled.
"Ouch." I whimpered.
I honestly didn’t know what happened between them, and judging from Okumori’s reaction, I assumed it wasn’t necessarily good.
Okumori looked back down to his arms, burying his head inside again.
“Okumori-kun, did you even get enough sleep?” I asked worryingly.
He didn’t respond.
“You know, if it makes you feel any better, the reason I was running this morning was that I woke up late.” I attempted to comfort him.
He’d nod under his arms.
“Are you answering to you not getting enough sleep or acknowledging me running late?”
He nodded again.
“I’m assuming it was both,” I said in a monotonous voice.
He nodded the third time.
Trying to have a conversation with him would be hard. He didn't talk much at all, and it sometimes made me a little infuriated. Though, hearing from his mom that he had a perfectly good reason for it, I didn't know whether to let him off the hook or take it as a mere excuse.
“Hmm. Well, if you’re going to sleep, at least take off your earbuds.” I sighed, reaching over and trying to grab one of his earbuds.
He moved his head away from me in response, trying to avoid my hand.
“I’ll tell everyone what happened yesterday,” I said jokingly. Of course, I only said it to see Okumori’s reaction.
Okumori froze, then rapidly grabbed his earbuds and pulled them out of his ears, shoving them inside his pocket.
Astounded at how fast he had done it, I felt remorseful.
“I-I was joking..."
Upon hearing me, he slowly pulled back out his earbuds, trying to put them back on.
“Wait, wait, just leave them off. Or else.” I wanted Okumori to at least listen to the class.
I heard him grumble under his arms, putting the earbuds back inside his pocket.
The class would start. Okumori was supposedly dozing off in his seat while I was writing down the notes and listening to the teacher. I was surprised that the teacher didn’t even bother to wake up Okumori. Either the teacher didn’t care, or he didn’t notice.
That was also another thing about Okumori. No one seems to notice him at all. Everyone walked past him without a second thought. From my perspective, it looked like no one in the classroom talked to him or even acknowledged him except me. I started to wonder. Did Okumori like that lifestyle? Being such a confined person and extremely introverted seemed, well, as much as I hate to say it, rather mundane.
But, who was I to judge? I clearly don't know his motives or anything about him at all. His skittish and unpredictable nature was extremely hard to read. I had no idea what he was thinking at all. I just hoped he wasn't a good liar because it'd only complicate the circumstances we were in even further.
Soon, school ended. I rose from my seat and looked at Okumori, who was I assume completely knocked out on his seat.
“Okumori-kun. School ended, get up...” I nudged his arm lightly.
He’d groan, looking up at me with his semi-closed eyes.
“We have to go meet Iwasaki-san and Kojima-kun at the gate, remember?"
I watched his eyes widen as he immediately looked away upon hearing what I said.
“Hey! Don’t ignore me!” I nudged his arm even harder.
He groaned, not budging to move in the slightest.
“Okumori-kun, I’m seriously going to tell everyone what happened if you don’t come with me.” I sighed.
"You can try to blackmail me all you want, but I'm not going." He said groggily.
Without hesitation, I stepped back and cupped my hands around my mouth. Okumori looked over at me with a confused look.
"Everyone! Okumori-kun has a smal-!"
Instantly, he lunged at me and tightly gripped my shoulders. He looked at me with his flustered face as he grit his teeth.
"Does this mean you're coming?" I teased.
Okumori nodded rapidly. He let go of my shoulders and grabbed his bag, pointing over at the doorway to indicate that I should go ahead. I recoiled back at his swift movements.
“T-That was fast. You really don’t want anyone knowing, do you?” I stood there, startled.
He gave me an Obviously look. I let out a giggle, then grabbing my bag and walking out.
"Come on, follow me!" I joyously spoke.
Okumori grumbled in return, then continued to walk.
We both walked out of the classroom and headed straight to the school gate to where Iwasaki and her friend were. We’d approach the school gates, soon catching sight of Iwasaki and some guy beside her. I presume that's Kojima? I took a closer look and examined him.
He was around the same height as Okumori. He had a skinny body type, dark brown wavy hair, and emerald green eyes. Kojima also had a bike beside him, which made me moderately envious that he had a means of transportation, while I had to run for my life to reach school earlier today just so I wouldn't be late.
“Iwasaki-san!” I waved, approaching the two. While I came, I glanced over to Okumori, who continued to space out with a weary expression.
Iwasaki waved contentedly. Kojima, who was beside her, gave out a wave with a smile as well.
“Erm, hey. I’m Ichiro Kojima. A pleasure to meet you.” Kojima bowed.
“My name is Youko Miyake, a pleasure to meet you too!” I bowed back.
Kojima would then look over to Okumori, reintroducing himself. Okumori didn’t respond and simply stared at him. Kojima realized this, a sly smile on his face.
“Er, his name is Toshiro Okumori. He doesn’t talk much.” I informed, placing a gentle hand on Okumori's shoulder.
Okumori grabbed my wrist and pulled it away from his shoulder, then letting go of it as he looked away from us and stared at the sky.
Kojima blinked, his eyes not leaving Okumori.
“Oh, um, I assume that’s fine? We’re all nervous here, right?” He let out an awkward chuckle, scratching the back of his head.
Okumori stared at him with his expressionless face. It only made Kojima more awkward. I could see his ears starting to turn red from being uncomfortable.
I looked over at Iwasaki, who had a forced smile this whole time. It was clear as day that she didn't like the presence of Okumori. It made me debate whether it was worth it bringing him along.
Something terrible happened between those two, hasn't it?