Kamisu Reina:Volume 2 Yukimi Mitsui
Chapter 1: Yukimi Mitsui
Voices are like invisible razor blades to me.
We are all alone from birth to death, and even though we can't really understand each other we are still forced to associate all along the way. There are only two ways out: biological death or social death.
The world is brimming with people observing me, no matter where I escape.
And again, another day starts where I am forced to blend into a group.
I am suffocating, crammed into a tiny, narrow box, our classroom, together with various people who keep attacking me.
We're on a small break right now. Girls are noisy beings, and as such, even the high level of this school doesn't stop them from nattering away with their shrill voices. Female voices are—perhaps because they're higher than male voices—very sharp. Sharp like razorblades.
Laughter. Certainly not directed at me. But it sounds to me like they're sneering at me.
"Your face is a mess today, isn't it?", "Stop spreading bad mood," "Aren't her legs quite fat?", "She completely messed up that question there, didn't she? And she sucks at English, anyway," "Isn't something smelling funny here?" "I bet she's a slut," "Disgusting," "Gross," "Sickening."
They're not saying these things against me. They're not saying them against me. I'm not as odd as to be called such things.
But my imagination won't stop taking their voices as attacks against me.
Stop it! Don't talk in front of me!
"Stop being so noisy!"
A shout reverberates, shrouding the classroom in silence... with my voice.
Astonishment and some discontent for being yelled at without a reason shows on their faces. But as expected from Junseiwa students, not a single one of them shows any anger. Instead, they resume their conversations with quieter voices than before.
But it's not like they don't care. Deep inside, they must hate me; they must feel the urge to attack me.
And like this, I continue to get myself into a jam. In order not to get hurt, I isolate myself from others and keep everyone away. But by doing so, I also lose the chance to find someone who understands me and supports me, and I stay in the dark about what they think of me. As a result, anxiety keeps growing.
"She pisses me off!" someone groans and others laugh in response.
My body tenses up.
No, that wasn't directed at me. Please, be concise! It sounds to me like you said "That Mitsui bitch pisses me off." That's what it gets converted to in my head.
I cover my ears in a manner that doesn't get noticed, even though no one is looking at me. Why am I so sensitive? Why isn't everyone just gentle to me? I wish someone would appear who understands how delicate I am, but such a person does not exist. Instead, I am thought to be a rude and strong girl and keep being injured—be it wittingly or unwittingly—because they don't bother looking closer at me.
That's why I gaze at Reina Kamisu.
Today, she is talking with the members of Hashigami-san's group. Reina Kamisu, an exceptional girl, has pulled off the feat of not belonging to a group and still getting along with everyone. ...No, she's much more than just exceptional.
I know—no, everyone knows—that she would never hurt anyone. In other words, she wouldn't hurt me either.
Reina Kamisu is a girl who seems to made purely of ideals.
She, our image of "perfection," does not belong to anyone's group. She isn't biased. Reina Kamisu is always neutral toward anyone. Therefore, she wouldn't hurt anyone.
Reina Kamisu would not pull me up if I held out my hand; but she wouldn't shake off my hand either.
That's why I can gaze at her at ease.
Noticing my glance, she suddenly returns my look. I would have quickly averted my eyes had it been someone else, but if it's her, I don't have to fear anything and can keep up eye contact for a while.
Kamisu-san beautifully smiles at me.
Ah, she's so beautiful.
That was enough to make me feel vindicated.
All of a sudden—something stone-like forcibly enters my head.
It's a stone. If I shake my head, it rolls around inside and damages my brains. Quick, I have to get rid of it. Of what? Of the cause that made this happen.
The cause is—
...Huh? Why? Isn't she the only one who will never stand against me...? Yes, that's exactly what distinguishes her from everyone else.
She may be different, but I don't care. The problem is that something about her is being detected by me as a stone, as "harm".
I look at her again.
She is still smiling beautifully at me.
"Who do you think you are?"
A few days after I started feeling something bizarre about Reina Kamisu, I was suddenly approached on the corridor during lunch break. The girl who approached me didn't show the least of restraint and just blocked my way, seething with irritation.
An attacker. There's no doubting it.
However, the attacker isn't one of my classmates, who must have accumulated frustration against me, but a freshman named Sakura Kawai.
"Hah? Careful what you say now!"
If it's a real attack and not just my delusions, I can counter to my heart's content and ensure that the attacker will stop in the future.
I can fight. Even though I might get hurt in the process.
Sakura Kawai, however, doesn't wince. "I know about the dirty look you're giving Reina-san!"
"Filthy look? What are you talking about?"
"I think I expressed myself clearly enough! I don't know if you're jealous, but would you please stop looking at Reina-san like that?"
She's right in that I often look at Kamisu-san. I have been watching her even more these days because I wanted to find out the cause for what's bothering me about her, in addition to my urge to be vindicated, but she couldn't be farther off by calling this jealousy.
"Know your place, okay? Even if you're the student council president, you're still younger than me. Don't you think you're a bit insolent?" I argue.
"I don't wish to be rude toward an upperclassman, either, but there are things that I just can't let pass."
"Things you can't let pass? And that would be me, or what?"
"Yes! Just think about it. Reina-san is a wonderful person. I have so much respect for her, she's my inspiration".
Ah, so Sakura Kawai is one of them. It's obvious looking how she follows Kamisu-san around everywhere: Sakura Kawai is a firm "believer" of Reina Kamisu.
The number of Reina Kamisu's "believers" at this school is everything but small. No, you could say they're the majority.
It might be a nasty comparison, but if one were to compare Reina Kamisu's charisma with poisonous gas, the gas would be so strong that breathing in 0.1mg would be enough to kill a person with a likelihood of 99.999%. If released in a town, the whole town would die out. In addition, the virulence would be extremely high as well; just touching an infected person would get you killed.
I'm exaggerating? Perhaps. But anyone close to her would unanimously nod at this comparison.
Anyway. Being locked into this closed environment, Reina Kamisu is fulfilling and corroding the school without leaving out a gap.
What's the obvious consequence?
Reina Kamisu attains an absolute status within this small community. As a matter of fact, she is the law and driving force at the Junseiwa School.
"I... no, we won't let you get through with this! Scowling on Reina-san... Aah, I'm disgusted just by thinking of it! Anyway, we won't let you look down at Reina-san! No one can deny her. What makes you think that someone as petty as you could?"
"...What did you just say?! Besides, you're completely wrong. I'm not looking down at her at all."
"I'm not deceived that easily!"
"But you're really wrong!"
"Cut out those lies!"
It's no use. This girl won't listen no matter what I say. She is already firmly convinced that I'm looking down on Kamisu-san.
But that's not true; I have great respect for her as well. After all, I'm just another member of this small, closed community.
Therefore, I'm not looking at Kamisu-san with scorn.
—Unless the odd thing I'm feeling about her is of a negative nature.
"...Look, it seems like you know what I'm talking about," Sakura Kawai reproaches me with conviction, apparently having noticed the slight doubts that showed on my face.
"...It's a misunderstanding!"
"Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Just apologize and swear to keep your eyes away from her!"
My patience is wearing thin. Who does she thin she is? She means nothing to Kamisu-san; it's not like she's her family or even just a friend of hers.
"Hmph! Even if I did scorn her, what of it? I wouldn't be bothering anyone with it, would I?"
"What did you just say...?"
"If someone is bothering Kamisu-san, then it's certainly not me, but you guys who stick to her like fish shit!"
Sakura Kawai's face turns red like a tomato.
She isn't the type of attacker who gets afraid and stops attacking. I knew that and should have retreated at the right time, but I accidentally continued to hold against her.
And right now, I rubbed her the exact wrong way.
It's too late. She's going to keep attacking me, keep hurting me.
And on top of that—
I got too worked up and forgot who she is.
"...I went too far," I say apologetically, but my words don't reach her. She isn't open to apologizes anymore.
"...you scoffed at us."
Right, this attacker is—the student council president.
"I will not forgive you for this..."
Her wailing before was a thousand times better than this. Now there is a deep, hateful tone in her voice that gives her hatred a firm shape.
Ah, it's over.
Up until now, I've simply been reacting over-sensitively to ambiguous remarks, interpreting them as attacks against me. Of course, some of those remarks must have been really directed at me, since I'm the type of person who makes herself a lot of enemies. However, in the majority of cases, it was just my overreacting that got me hurt.
But this is going to change now. I'm going to be under fire from all sides for real.
"She's making me angry," "What an insolent bitch," "Get out of here," "Piss off," "Go die in a fire," "Go west," "Die."
I'm going to really get such insults; after all, this attacker right before my eyes is the student council president. She's the second most powerful person here. If Sakura Kawai openly announces that she won't forgive me, then the number of attackers will grow. She does have the authority and the social network to do just that.
To make matters worse, Reina Kamisu's "believers" have uniform beliefs. If one of the central authorities like Sakura Kawai says that she won't forgive me, then the other "believers" are bound to share her will.
Inside this closed environment, it is an absolute taboo to get on the wrong side of Sakura Kawai.
Reina Kamisu treats everyone equally, but her followers can't emulate her deeds. Jesus Christ said that if someone slapped you on one cheek, you should turn to them the other also, and yet the believers kept waging war. That's how it works. Sakura Kawai has the power that it takes to unite everyone against me under the pretext of protecting Reina Kamisu.
She is aware of that, too, and that's why she was able to act so bold against an upperclassman like me.
However, as expected, my apology only adds fuel to the flames.
"...Prepare yourself! I will teach you that there is no place for you in this school anymore," Sakura Kawai proclaimed.
That's not a threat. It's a decided fact.
In a few days from now—I will have no place anymore.
Once I got home, I shut myself into my room, plunked into my semi-double bed, and buried my face in my pillow.
It's over... I can't take this anymore...
This place was a painful, exit-less box to begin with, but now I'm going to be lynched by everyone on top of it; even though all I want is not to be attacked, not to be hurt.
That's just horrible: If striking back in order to protect myself angered the other party so much that she now unites everyone against me, then what should I have done instead?
I don't know the answer, but I've always had a hunch that things would eventually come to this; that someday, someone would hate me for good and initiate an organized attack against me. At the very least, I had deemed it more probably than North Korea making an onslaught on Japan.
...I've always had a hunch that things would eventually come to this?
But that means that I didn't have a chance to begin with.
Fuck! Fuck! Are you kidding me?! Why does nobody treat me gently?! Why does nobody understand me?!
No, that's wrong... It's all my fault... I know, I know!
As I continue this pointless and endless train of thought, I clutch at my pillow so hard that it almost bursts.
Knock, knock, goes my door all of a sudden. It must be my sister judging from the sound pattern.
"What?" I ask bluntly toward the door.
The door opens and my little sister, Yoshino, enters the room. "Um..." she mutters reluctantly as I scowl at her, still lying on my bed.
"Get the fuck out of here if you've got no business!" I shout, turning my frustration at my weak sister who is 3 years younger than me. As always.
"I-I am sorry..." she apologizes despite not being at fault.
A thought suddenly crosses my mind as I gaze at my downhearted sister: she will certainly lose all her self-confidence because of me and become a dejected person.
I'm sorry for that. But I'm not in an easy situation either, so it can't be helped, can it?
"So, what is it?" I ask again.
"Um, someone has come over to see you..."
Sakura Kawai crosses my mind.
Was she not satisfied with attacking me just at school? That's absurd... but I haven't made myself any friends that would go out of their way to come over here. So... it's well possible that Sakura Kawai is already done preparing her attack on me and has come here.
No... Please not! Don't torment me any more than this!
"I know! Just shut up!" Yoshino winces again at my sharp voice.
Yes, that's right! It's Yoshino's fault. I've only gotten myself into this situation because her lack of resistance gradually made more offensive!
While casting the blame on others in my head, I push Yoshino aside with my right hand and walk to the entrance.
What am I going to do? How am I going to handle this situation? I can no longer defend myself by attacking, that's for sure, but I don't know any other way. I'm not deft enough to ward off an attack. I'm the type of person who deliberately gets hit by a bullet in fear of the gunshot that would follow; that's why I have to take care of the attacker before she can fire a bullet no matter what!
Full with despair, I open the door and look the the visitor.
I unwittingly react with the clichéd act of rubbing my eyes in disbelief and look once more at her.
"Hello," she says. With an absurdly beautiful smile.
"Please excuse my sudden visit, Mitsui-san. I take it that I must have surprised you?"
"I don't mind... but what brings you here?"
I try guessing her reason to visit me... but I fail to come up with anything plausible.
Kamisu-san treats everybody equally.
Of course, in her eyes I'm just another equal person. Therefore, there is no reason why should would come visit me.
However, as a matter of fact, she stands right before me, smiling.
"Would you be so kind as to let me in? While I do not mind talking right here, I am sure that you had rather take a seat and not have your family hear our conversation."
"Y-Yes..." I say, left with no other choice but to approve. While her way of speaking is incredibly polite, she doesn't seem to tolerate any dissent.
What is there to get so flustered about? Cool down: a classmate has come over to my place, that's all.
Everyone who knows Reina Kamisu—or has just caught a glimpse of her at some point—will inevitably think the following: there must be a reason of utmost importance for her visiting me. A reason deeper than the reason of life itself.
I lead Kamisu-san to my room. Her every movement seems so harmonized that looking at her from this short distance disrupts the rhythm of my own heartbeat, making it pound randomly. As I wonder how many millions of yen one would make by selling her beautiful black hair to a jeweler, I let her into my room.
"What a lovely room," she praises me with a sincere smile, gently satisfying the pride I have in my room layout. She managed to stir me just by praising me.
I ask her to take a seat on my precious red sofa. She accepts my offer politely and sits down in a manner just as beautiful. For a while, we talk about my room, until Yoshino comes in and brings us some black tea in stead of my absent parents. Confronted with Kamisu-san's beautiful face, however, Yoshino gets startled and blushes as Kamisu-san gives her a smile.
After waiting for Yoshino to leave and taking a sip of the black tea, Kamisu-san says with a smile:
"It has come to my attention that you have been watching me in a peculiar manner lately."
While attempting to calm down my racing heart, I look closely at Kamisu-san but fail to read anything off her mild expression.
"I know about the filthy look you're giving Reina-san!"
I start to ponder. If Sakura Kawai's complaint is the general consensus and not just a result of her deluded mind, then it would be highly probable that Kamisu-san feels offended by my gaze as well.
What if the will to harm me lies hidden beneath her perfectly adorned smile? No, that's not a "what if".
Kamisu-san came over to my place. Why? Simple.
To attack me.
"Ah, please excuse me. I do not mean to blame you," she says, probably to a certain degree guessing my internal train of thought.
She might be lying, I apprehend but the fact that it's "Reina Kamisu" who is saying it makes me calm down anyway.
"I am just curious to know what causes you to watch me like that."
"Did you come all the way here just to ask this...?"
"Among other things, yes," she nods.
"Why didn't you approach me at school...?"
In response to my question, she puts on a wry smile and replies, "You know Sakura-san, do you not? Certainly she would not be eager to see a conversation conducted between the two of us."
I see, she's right. Sakura Kawai is always hovering over her; it makes sense that she would have gotten wind of our conflict today.
"I do see where you are coming from, Kamisu-san... but I'm fairly sure that I'm not the only one watching you. What makes my case so special to you?"
"Yes, there are a lot of people who are watching me, but while those gazes might strike others as 'strange,' they are actually fairly common for me. For instance, I am very used to being approached like I was by your sister before."
I think I see her point. The looks Sakura Kawai gives her might be abnormal seen from others, but as someone exposed to them on a daily basis, they become ordinary and lose their abnormity.
"So... in other words, you are saying that the way I'm looking at you is odd even on top of that?"
"Yes, I suppose you can put it that way."
"OK, let me be blunt: are you troubled if I watch you?"
With an unchangingly mild expression, Kamisu-san shakes her head. "As I said, that is not my intent. In fact, the reason why I am here is probably the exact opposite of what you think it is."
"...The reason I think?"
"I do not intend to 'attack' you."
—Did she just say 'attack'?
Sure, I always and everywhere feel attacked, but most of that is just me picking up random sentences and interpreting them as attacks. No one other than me can possibly know about it
And yet—Kamisu-san clearly and readily said 'attack'.
"I know that Sakura-san is about to proceed against you. Therefore, I feared that you might fall into the mistaken belief that everyone is now set against you."
Ah, I see... Silly me, I just got ahead of myself. It's not at all surprising that she would use the term 'attack'; the 'attacks' I used to imagine to myself are becoming real starting today, after all.
In other words, my gut feeling that Kamisu-san has known all along that I'm hurt is nothing but an misconception.
...just a misconception.
"I am sure that it would be very sad and tough to consider yourself threatened by everyone. If, by any chance, there are other people joining Sakura-san in attacking you, then it will merely be a temporary trend. Neither will those attacks continue forever, nor should you care about them. I have come here to tell you this."
"...But knowing that doesn't make it any less painful when everyone denies me."
"All right, I promise."
"What do you mean...?"
"I promise to stay on your side."
I find myself awfully confused; after all, it's Reina Kamisu. The person who treats everyone as equals. What would prompt her to become my ally of all people...?
"Although I am sure that is no comfort to you..."
"But yes! Of course I couldn't be happier—"
—but why me? I think but I am unable to add this question.
"That is a relief. Ah... that reminds me, you have not answered my question yet."
"I was wondering why you are watching me."
"T-There's not—" I stutter as I give it some thought myself.
That feeling I've been having toward Kamisu-san is not admiration for her beauty or wits, or anything else positive. If the looks I've been giving her bore a positive connotation, then Kamisu-san wouldn't take special heed of them and call them "odd", since she's used to positive glances.
Therefore, I suppose there is ill will in my glance, and that's also why Sakura Kawai took action against me.
"—There's not much to it... at least I can't put my finger on it."
As a consequence, I couldn't give her an honest answer even if I were able to put that feeling into words.
"You do not not know, either... I understand," she says, and then she smiles. As though that question never happened. "All right, I think it is time for me to take my leave."
We stand up and go to the entrance. Even something as mundane as putting on one's shoes turns into a captivating ceremony if done by Kamisu-san.
And even after talking so much, that strange feeling I've been having toward her hasn't disappeared.
No, if anything—
"Well then, goodbye Mitsui-san."
"Yeah, see your tomorrow at school."
After waving at me once, Kamisu-san disappears on the other side of the door.
On the other side. Yes, she and I, we stand on opposite shores and live in different worlds.
There's one thing that keeps me thinking: if there really is ill will in my glances, and if even Sakura Kawai noticed that ill will, then is it at all possible that someone as intelligent as Reina Kamisu would not notice, despite being directly concerned?
But then, why would she so clearly suggest to remain on my side whatever happens? How can she promise to support me, not to do any harm to me, when she noticed that I'm an attacker to her?
At the very least, I couldn't do that in her position. No... we couldn't do that.
"Hey, Yoshino?" I ask my sister who has been sneaking peeks at Kamisu-san.
"W-What is it, Onee-chan?" she says, wincing in fear of being reproached for her watching us.
"I'm not angry. I just wanted to hear your opinion on the girl that just was here."
"Yoshino. What impression did she make on you?"
Unsure what kind of answer I'm expecting of her, she only groans, "Um..."
"Don't worry; just tell me your first impression."
"O-Okay... I thought that she is pretty."
"...Well, fair enough."
It's a perfectly valid opinion—and probably the only thing she can say because she's afraid of offending anyone.
However, against my expectations, Yoshino wasn't done yet.
"So pretty that I can't believe she's human."
And thanks to that remark—I finally recognized why I felt like chewing on aluminum when seeing Reina Kamisu.
Sakura Kawai acted faster than expected—two days after our confrontation, there were only enemies around me.
Thrown into the slicing and piercing machinery that is our classroom during lunch break, only wearing standard clothes instead of an armor or a shield, I keep showering blows from all sides.
People are strong in groups. Naturally.
In reality, there are very few people who can defend themselves like heroes who swipe away hostile troops on the TV. If the attacks are not of physical but of mental nature, however, then there is nothing you can do about it. You have to swallow the collective attacks.
Exclusion, blatant slander, mockery, dirty looks... much more than it is sly bullying, you might say that there is a law here that works toward excluding me; as a consequence of everyone denying me, the place is filled with a mood that stimulates further denial and that keeps tormenting me. Children and girls tend to be very sensitive to such peer pressure, and what I fear most is that I end up being led into denying myself by that air.
That is the law that Sakura Kawai has set in the Junseiwa School.
I keep being cut into pieces on the chopping board.
Chop, chop, chop.
Until yesterday, I would have probably already given up fighting back and instead decided to live with it.
I look at Kamisu-san. Noticing my glance, she smiles at me.
She's my ally. An ally who does absolutely not reach out to me.
I do have a goal now. A strong aim is barely holding me together like glue, keeping me from breaking into pieces.
It's time to carry out—my experiment.
People are strong in groups.
However, that is a result of the group being strong as a whole. It doesn't imply that the individual members are strong. Therefore, not all members are as strong as Sakura Kawai when they are not with the rest of their group.
I'm a sheep. I'm the prey, not the wolf. But as long as we're among sheep, it should be possible even for me to attack other weak sheep who strayed from the pack.
I may be only armed with a rusty paper knife that can't even cut paper anymore, but it still acts as a good weapon against a sheep that is completely unarmed.
I enter the corridor. "Isn't she creepy?" an underclassman says with her finger pointed at me. Her friends agree. Ah, I think I've seen her before. She's a member of the student council, which has degenerated to Reina Kamisu's personal protection force. I think her name was "Fuyuki"?
All right. I found my sheep.
"Hey you, you are making fun of me, aren't you?"
I press the sheep against the wall of the restroom. The lunch break is already over and classes have started. However, there are only special purpose rooms in the vicinity of this restroom, and these are all empty right now.
"W-What do you want from me?! Stop it please!"
As expected: she's not a predator but prey.
She's trying to appear firm because it's me, but alas, her eyes are giving away that she's scared and only add fuel to my urge to trouble her.
I'm good at finding this kind of person. After all, I'm talking with Yoshino every day.
"Is it fun mocking me before my eyes?"
"Stop it...! Let go of me!" she shouts, struggling with a pale face to break free instead of replying. Her resistance is weak, however, because she fears to anger me. "I-If you do me any harm, y-you will be treated even wor—"
Ah, look, this is a characteristic for prey: they immediately rely on others. They don't even try to find a solution by themselves.
"I don't care. Attacking me some more or some less won't make a difference."
But I crush her hope right away.
"D-Don't put on airs—EEK!"
I slap her face. It didn't put in much strength; there's no way she could get hurt by my rusty paper knife.
However, the fact that I used actual violence finished her off.
"How about an apology first?"
The ashen sheep nods pathetically and repeats, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Now she can't defy me anymore. That was easier than I thought.
"Look, I don't mean to hurt you or to vent of my anger on you."
Fuyuki-san nods repeatedly, although I don't know if she's really listening.
"In fact, I'm actually trying to make your dream come true."
"...my...dream?" she asks confusedly.
"Yes. You're in the student council, right?"
"...Y-Yes... I'm the secretary."
"But in truth, the student council is just the fan club of Reina Kamisu, isn't it? Sakura Kawai being the prime example."
Fuyuki-san moves her head in an awkward way that could be taken both as nodding and as shaking.
"Don't dare deny it!"
"Y-Yes... it is true that we all have great respect for Reina-san..."
Hmph, I sneer and grab her chin. A short shriek escapes her lips because of the sudden touch, proving that she's even more scared.
"And so do you, right?"
My mouth distorts to a grin.
"If that's the case, then you surely wish for her to be all yours, right?"
Her eyes open widely.
"What? Why do you react like this?!"
"U-Um... I'm not seeing Reina-san in that light... like, I don't want her to be my lover or anything, you know..."
I think I know what Fuyuki-san is getting at. Reina Kamisu is far, far beyond anyone's reach and seems to be impossible to capture. She's just too grand to be deal with as a common person. Even if, purely hypothetically, someone were to win her heart, the law of exclusion would work even harder against that person than it does work against me. That person would be constantly attacked by everyone; and maybe even driven into death.
That's how hard it is to "capture" Reina Kamisu.
Besides, Reina Kamisu is not someone to make a relationship with, but someone to admire; one might be inclined to keep her near oneself for that purpose, but considering the effort required to maintain that state, it is much better to watch her from afar. Likewise, it's much better to watch elephants in a zoo rather than trying to keep it as a pet in a small house.
So, I'm sure Fuyuki-san is being honest with me. However—
"You. Surely. Wish. For. Her. To. Be. All. Yours. Right?"
—I don't care.
I press her chin a bit harder as I repeat my question word by word, all the while scowling right in her eyes.
She clearly thinks otherwise, but I've threatened her enough to keep her from disagreeing with me.
"You can't tell me that you have no such desire whatsoever?"
Right. Somewhere, Fuyuki-san, too, feels the desire to keep Reina Kamisu near her.
People like Fuyuki-san, who were pampered all through their lives, tend to be very bad at telling lies. As a result, she has trouble denying my claim that has a grain of truth in it, all the more because she's scared on top of that.
"Hehe... I'll help you," I say with a distorted smile as I let go of her chin.
"...Help me with what...?" she asks anxiously.
"Hm? Isn't it obvious?"
I clearly state my intent.
"—With your love confession."
I'm very sorry, but you can emit as much despair as you want, I'm not going to change my plans.
But I know for certain that you won't escape. Not because you're so scared of me. You've been craving for this, haven't you? For an excuse to confess your love to Reina Kamisu; for a permit that frees you of all blame in the improbable case that you win her over.
—For that bewitching masterpiece that is going to ruin you.
After school, I asked Kamisu-san to follow me to the back of the gym, which is the—admittedly cliched—place I'd chosen for the confession to take place. While I was talking with her, the other girls around her kept frowning at me with blatant hostility.
Needless to say, their hostile attitude hurt me, but fortunately, my goal is of much higher importance to me right now, so I don't have time to think about the pain... but I'm sure that this scratch is going to open once I'm back home, turning into a gaping wound.
Kamisu-san's surroundings urged her not to listen to the request of someone they had deemed a dangerous person, but she adhered to her promise of being my ally (for now), and followed me.
Perfect, looks like I can conduct my experiment.
"Mitsui-san?" Kamisu-san asks as we walk. "Is it that you want to come back to our conversation the day before yesterday?"
"...No, that's not it."
"I see... I thought that you wanted to consult me about a way to improve the situation."
"Would we find a solution? After all, there's no bullying or violence. I'm just being hated by everyone. Even if the situation improved superficially, the actual hostility wouldn't disappear."
"Do you think so? I am convinced that this artificial hate would disappear with time once we took care of the problem on a superficial level. After all, it is just the peer pressure that is influencing them."
She has a point. Most likely, those superficial feelings wouldn't persist long when the general mood changed.
...But then again, is their hatred against me superficial? Isn't it possible that I have made myself those enemies before this incident and was only left alone because their hostility hasn't been united? Judging from the speed at which they assembled, they must have taken issue with me outside the incident with Sakura Kawai.
"Besides—" Kamisu-san continues, seeing that I'm at a loss for words.
"—I can take care of their hostility deep down, too."
That she says with stunning ease; and it's nothing but a truth.
She does have the power to do just that.
Actually, I wanted to discuss this matter some more, but we reached the back of the gym where Fuyuki-san is already waiting. On noticing her, Kamisu-san gives me a brief look. She remains silent, but I'm sure she has grasped the situation.
I scowl at Fuyuki-san so that she won't give in to her nervousness and escape. Kamisu-san seems to have noticed, but she doesn't say anything—as I expected.
"Sorry for... calling you out to such a place," Fuyuki-san says reluctantly.
"No, I do not mind at all," Kamisu-san replies in a casual manner. Apparently, they know each other pretty well, since she's a member of the student council.
"Yes?" Kamisu-san asks with a friendly voice and expression.
After much wavering and hesitating Fuyuki-san then eventually said:
".........I love you."
She must have drafted a much longer confession than that—with adornments and pretty clauses, with reasons and excuses; her head must have been full of them—but in the end, those were the only words she could muster in the face of Kamisu-san.
"...I love you," she repeats.
Those are words of courage, of sincerity. No matter if it was a forced confession or not, the underlying feelings are real.
In response to that—
"Thank you, but I am sorry..."
—Kamisu-san smiled sadly.
"Gh..." Fuyuki-san groans as she drops her gaze. "...Thank you...for your time..." she mutters in a hardly audible voice and ran off without raising her face once.
Out of the corner of my eye, I observe Kamisu-san looking after her.
—It's just as I thought.
"Mitsui-san?" she says after directing her eyes at me.
"Why did you force her to confess to me?"
"Ah, you noticed?"
"That I did," she says. "Fuyuki-san is... not someone who would confess of her own."
"I only gave her a little push because she didn't seem to have the courage!"
"What is it that you wanted to observe about me, taking advantage of her?"
That's Reina Kamisu for you; she can easily see through all my intentions. Hahaha.
"—Why are you looking at me like this?"
Right, you also noticed that, didn't you?
"Well, you said that you stayed on my side, didn't you?"
"I did, yes."
"Even if I look at you in this manner?"
"That's what I wanted to hear. You know, I noticed something when you promised to stay on my side. And just now I confirmed my assumption through a little experiment."
"Reina Kamisu, you do not have a soul."
Even after I said so, her expression hardly changed. Probably—because she did not know how to.
"...No soul? What do you mean?" she asks.
"Oh come on... Kamisu-san, you're just a pretty shell without any content inside. You can't react in a differentiated manner to our behavior."
Reina Kamisu puts on a wry smile.
"It's true that I forced Fuyuki-san to confess to you, but her feelings for you are without a doubt real," I explain.
"Yes, I know."
"But you shooed her away."
"Shooed her away? Indeed, I was sadly unable to give her my consent, but I think I have replied to her sincerely. Or do you think that I should have beaten around the bush and told her a sweet lie instead, Mitsui-san?"
"No, that's not what I mean."
"What do you mean, then?"
"Looks like you really don't understand. Alright, listen, Fuyuki-san was serious. Do you have the slightest qualms for turning down her honest feelings for you?" I ask.
"On the surface, that is, right? After all, your sad expression vanished into thin air the moment she left."
Kamisu-san remains silent, probably feeling forced to acknowledge my point.
"You only managed to bear feelings for a heartfelt confession at the moment when it occurred. The very instant you looked at me, your interest in Fuyuki-san died out!"
"You are over-interpreting things... no?"
"Over-interpreting, you say? No, not at all. You couldn't care less about others. Whether I hate you or not, whether Fuyuki-san and Sakura Kawai idolize you or not, you simply do not care. Right? Otherwise, you wouldn't be able to treat everyone as equals."
"...I never intended to treat everyone equally to begin with."
"That's a flat out lie. You're perfect. Everyone will react the same when they see you: admiring your beauty and deeming you perfect. That's how everyone views you."
"You are exaggerating!"
"Oh, don't give me that. You're prefect, absolutely perfect, and in order to maintain that state, you abandoned your content; your soul. You realized that it's the soul that makes us all decompose physically and mentally! You do not deeply socialize with anyone, and if someone gives in to the temptation and comes too close to you, you bite them and corrode them with the perfectness that is you, propagating it in the process. That's how you maintain your state of perfectness."
"...You seem to have lost touch with reality, Mitsui-san... I admit that I might have a certain tendency to lack interest in other people, but that is all there is to it."
"I mean, just look at all the power you have gained already. Who else apart from me at this school is not your subordinate?" I ask.
"That is exactly what I meant by 'over-interpreting.' Or do you perhaps think that every single student at this school would obey if I told them to commit suicide?"
Even Kamisu-san is left speechless in front of my straight answer; but surely not because she thinks I'm crazy, but because she doesn't know how to counter my argument.
After all, someone like Sakura Kawai would readily follow an order as simple as 'commit suicide,' and Kamisu-san is aware of that.
"I don't know what you plan to do at this school—maybe nothing at all—but I just want you to know that I realized that you're not normal. You're irregular. And you're aware of that more than anyone else. Yes—"
"—You can't be human."
I may have acted too carelessly.
Not only was I seen together with Fuyuki-san and when taking Kamisu-san to the back of the gym, I also disregarded the fact that Fuyuki-san is a member of the student council.
Therefore, this situation is not at all surprising. It's just that I was too occupied with Reina Kamisu and the disconcerting feeling I had.
"You think you're funny, huh?"
With these words, Sakura Kawai presses the club she is holding up against my nose. Ironically, they have taken me to the same place as I forced Fuyuki-san to confess: the back of the gym.
I am unable to oppose her; the pain from the stun gun they used on me when carrying me off has broken my will to resist.
The several students surrounding me are looking down at me with blatant hostility. Fuyuki-san is not among them. So she can't stay on the side of the predators after all... looks like Yoshino isn't going to resist me anytime soon, I think to myself, knowing well how awful that thought is.
"Do you really want to beat me with that thing? You do realize that you'll get yourself thrown out of school?" I counter with my remaining spirit. My rusty paper knife has long since broken, however, and can't even scratch them anymore.
"Only if I'm found out," she says with a distorted smile. "I don't think that will happen, though."
"Yeah, I see that you've made sure to have some of your subordinates keep watch. But... what if I tell someone?"
"I'll just have to prevent that, no?" she replies.
With a dirty smile, the girl standing next to Sakura Kawai produces a digital camera.
"...What are you going to do with this camera?"
"I heard your grandfather is quite the big wig in the Mitsui Group, Mitsui-senpai. Oh, but I also heard that your father was so busy gaining your grandfather's favor that he blew it with his wife and daughter of the big wig so much that he ended up moving out."
"Why do you know this...?"
"Your family is of such influence that a divorce is out of question. Don't you think that there is a market for naughty pictures of a young girl that belongs to such a remarkably influential family?"
"...Are you serious?"
"Don't you think it's a bit late for that question?" she answers coldly.
This can't be... real. I never thought something unhuman like this could occur outside of fiction. Even if there is some war with countless people dying, that doesn't directly affect me and the world I live in. The attacks that I am supposed to face are slander and pranks, and that alone was enough to inflict deadly damage on me...
But as a matter of fact, the bunch around me have already used a stun gun on me, and they are armed with a knife, a club and a digital camera.
Sakura Kawai scowls at me and asks, "Where is it going to be?"
"I asked you where you want your first blow!" she suddenly roars and kicks me in the stomach.
It hurts horribly.
It hurts incredibly.
This is... violence.
I always felt like I were in a small box, and I felt agonized by the people that were crammed into that box along with me. I hated that box. But in truth, I was protected by that box. Outside of it, I would have been beaten up and died in an instant.
But then where can I live in peace?
Nowhere, I'm sure. A weak person like me will be attacked and killed wherever she is.
I don't care anymore. I just don't care anymore.
"My head," I say bluntly.
"That's where I want the first blow! Why don't you beat my head?"
Apparently, she took this as a provocation; Sakura Kawai became red with anger. Oh my god, she's going to club my head for real, even though she won't get away with it if I die...
And so she raised the club and—
"What are you doing there?"
—stopped on the spot.
I look at the beautiful savior of my life.
"Kamisu...san..." I mutter.
Sakura Kawai takes the club down for the time being and gives Kamisu-san a troubled look: "Reina-san?"
"I am very discomforted by this sight. There will be consequences if you beat someone with that thing."
"No, it's OK! It doesn't matter what happens to her! She's making fun of us! More importantly, she's making fun of you, Reina-san! That's unforgivable!" Sakura Kawai shouts with a fire-red face, only to be looked at by Kamisu-san in a calm manner.
"If you are doing all this for my sake, then I wish you to stop. I am not angry at Mitsui-san."
"That's...because you're kind, Reina-san..."
"Please stop," Kamisu-san repeats with a slightly stronger tone.
Sakura Kawai looks at Kamisu-san, after which she catches a glimpse of me just to return her gaze to Kamisu-san.
"......OK..." she eventually says, sulking like a scolded child.
Having heard that, her colleagues exchange glances and traipse after her as she leaves with a downhearted face.
Aah, what a non-independent bunch. They should all just die.
And like that, the two of us ended up in the same setup as the day before.
"Why... why did you save me? I mean, I was so impudent as to say that you're 'not human' yesterday."
That was a superfluous question.
As a proof, Kamisu-san is smiling as she answers it:
"Did I not promise to be on your side? Besides, to be honest, I would like to avoid that cruel stuff even if I am not human."
Incredibly. She's perfect.
She really does not have any interest in anyone. She doesn't give a damn about my view of her.
"...By the way, does that mean that you acknowledge what I said yesterday?"
Kamisu-san smiles wordlessly in response to my question.
Ah... her smile is so beautiful.
"Not human and soulless, huh...," I unwittingly mutter.
"I'm so jealous."
Kamisu-san gives me a slightly surprised glance upon hearing that mutter, "Jealous?"
"Yeah, I'm jealous. I could—do without a soul."
Suddenly, something Sakura Kawai had told me crosses my mind.
"I don't know if you're jealous, but would you please stop looking at Reina-san like that?"
Heh, so in the end, she was right all along.
I was jealous.
I envied Reina Kamisu for not being hurt by anyone's words.
"I can't recover from this blow."
I'm done for. Sakura Kawai may have been stopped, but that only means that all that negative energy has not been vented; I will continue to bathe in her and her group's resentment, hurting myself, taking damage, driven into a corner.
It's June right now; that means that there's more than half a year until graduation. All the while until then, I will continue to be attacked, and once I've graduated, I may be released from them but new attackers will appear in their places. The attacks themselves won't stop—the person executing them will simply change.
Now and forever—as long as I am who I am—I will keep throwing myself into the spears others have thrown at someone else, getting hurt in the process, and attacking them myself until they really aim their spears at no one else but me.
This is how I'm done for.
If that is what makes me human, if that means that I have a soul—
—then I can well do without this... rotten soul.
"I want... I want to become like you, Kamisu-san."
That's an honest wish of mine, and in response to that heartfelt mutter, Reina Kamisu—
"Do you want me to give you a hand?"
"Oh, erasing your soul is not all that hard, really!"
That's not it. I wasn't surprised by her offer.
Did Reina Kamisu just... laugh?
She was always smiling; not because she seemed delighted or amused or anything like that, however, but because smiling is her neutral expression.
I think this is the first time I've seen her expressing real emotion.
The way she laughed was of course beautiful too. Beautiful indeed... but something about it struck me as incongruous, unbalanced, and filled me with disgust. Although I can't put my finger on what that is.
However, I decide to forget my misgivings for now and ask her about her offer instead.
"It's easy to erase one's soul...?"
"Yes, it is easy to do what you would define as 'erasing one's soul.' You just have to drop all your interest in others, and that can be done easily."
However, Kamisu-san does absolutely not look like she's joking. And—she looks like she could do that any moment.
"But do you not agree that if, for the sake of argument, you lost all your five senses, you would not even be able to take an interest in others, since you could not feel anything?"
"Well, yeah, but I think that's a really grotesque example..."
"Yes, but I am still right, no?" she laughs and continues:
"I will help you get there!"
After that, Kamisu-san took me to an empty music room. Apparently, she was entrusted with the keys because she practiced the piano every day there—a feat that only someone as esteemed as she can accomplish.
In the end, she disappeared somewhere, saying, "Concentrate on your surroundings."
While getting sinister looks from Beethoven and his composer colleagues, I ponder about the meaning of her words. Concentrate? What on earth is she scheming? There's no way a "human" could do something like erasing someone's soul...
Or do you want to tell me that Reina Kamisu is unhuman for real and not just metaphorically?
Yesterday she evaded the argument, but I got the impression that today she was kind of admitting that she does not care about others. And she "laughed."
What is the meaning of this... what is the meaning of her revealing her true face only to me? Isn't there perhaps—a really grave meaning behind all this?
Why... why am I here, all alone?
Because Kamisu-san took me here, of course.
Hey... What if the thing I discovered was something that Reina Kamisu wanted to keep secret no matter what? What if she was perfectly aware of the reason for my looks when she came over to my place? What if she only pretended to be my ally in order to observe me? What if she was deliberately controlling Sakura Kawai and the others with a certain goal in mind? What is she's really not human?
If all that is true, then—
—she's going to erase my soul.
I feel like Beethoven and Mozart and Händel and Kosaku Yamada are laughing at me. Do their pictures perhaps have a soul, considering that their eyeballs are said to move in every list of school wonders? Maybe they are hurt whenever we call them "scary" or insult their haircuts, and avenge themselves by moving their eyes?
Please, don't look at me. I'm much, much easier hurt than you guys, since I still have a body.
Perhaps Reina Kamisu is controlling them in order to take my soul somewhere? Maybe. I feel it wouldn't be impossible to her.
All of a sudden—I heard several screams outside.
Curious as to what is going on, I look out of the window. I should have acted with more care; because then I would have easily noticed that Kamisu-san's order to concentrate on my surroundings was referring to nothing else but those screams. I was acting exactly as she wanted me to, digging my own grave.
I opened the window.
And then—my soul was erased.
I see now.
So that was your plan.
Reina Kamisu tore my soul out of my body and took it with her.
That must have been her goal at this school; and she is going to continue collecting others' souls to return to her real form.
Right? I ask the person before my eyes.
—She responds with an upside down smile.
Others, others, others, others, others, others, others, others, others.
Hey all of you, is there a reason why you exist? Do your words bear any meaning when you are all destined to be harvested by Reina Kamisu? Of course not. Your lives have no meaning at all. You, too, are crammed in little boxes where you hurt others and get hurt by others. Your Reina Kamisu's subordinates, her servants, her slaves. We're all of no import whatsoever. Meaningless humans.
There's no reason why I should listen to what other worthless people say.
Reina Kamisu is right in every possible way. Only her own words are of substance, and that's why everyone around her was meaningless to her.
Yeah, that's right.
That's the truth.
And there she goes—there she falls.
Plomp. And as the screams grew even louder—
—I lost all my feelings for good.
As I stand protected under an umbrella, I ponder where the rain, which shows no sign of stopping, is headed—while gazing at the white outlines of a person that have been drawn on the concrete ground near the sakura trees.
The sakura trees have long since lost their bloom and instead put on green leaves. But no one is looking at them. They exist solely for spring and are only planted here for that purpose. As such, they are forgotten during the period when they're not magnificent and become a meaningless piece of scenery.
The trees cried as the rain beat down on them.
There's no doubt that the Junseiwa School is about to fall apart.
It's an undeniable fact that Reina Kamisu jumped down. There have been several witnesses, and above all, there was a corpse in the middle of the carpet of blood spreading below. And that dead body belonged to Reina Kamisu.
Reina Kamisu died.
The absolute ruler, the absolute law, disappeared. As a result, the Junseiwa School has gotten caught up in confusion and is about to collapse.
And I am sure that she did all of that deliberately. In the face of her goal, everything is petty and of no import.
This isn't the end; it's the start. From here on, Reina Kamisu's real goal will become apparent. I don't know what will happen to me in the process, but I'm sure that I could struggle against her as much as I wanted and still be dancing to her tune. It's all her plan. It's all fate.
The die is cast.
Therefore, I won't do anything.
I don't care about all that stuff anymore.
Bereft of my soul, I don't care anymore.
Come to think of it—not that it matters—people with grudges against me keep appearing because I was the last person who spoke to Reina Kamisu.
The hatred and the hostility against me has become so blatant by now that even the teachers are slowly noticing. What a waste of time. I couldn't care less. As if your brittle spears could ever hurt me when I'm soulless and transparent. Oh boy, you should all just die.
I take notes of the lesson that is taking place. Now that I think about it, I've neglected studying a bit recently. I have to get more serious. I don't feel like thinking anymore; I'll just follow the rails laid out for me.
After our classes—which I followed carefully—the prime example of a trivial person came to me.
"It's your fault that Reina-san died!" Sakura Kawai roars as she enters my classroom.
Oh boy, what a noisy girl. I was ignoring her, but I guess I ought to respond to her.
"Even if that's true, what of it?"
"...What did you say?" she asks with a red face as she draws near. It's getting old.
"W-What's so funny?!"
"What can you do? What can a fox who borrowed the authority of a tiger do, now that Reina Kamisu is no more?"
"Don't mess with me! I still have colleagues who follow me!"
"Even though Reina Kamisu abandoned you?"
"...What do you mean by that?"
"You don't get it, or what? And you call yourself the representative of Kamisu-san's fan club? Looks like you were blinded by her superficial beauty, eh?"
I continue with absolute certainty:
"Reina Kamisu isn't dead!"
Oh wow, looks like she really didn't understand. Pathetic.
"That's absurd, now! Don't make up things!"
"Absurd? Haha... you're quite the funny one, aren't you?"
"But I'm right! How do you explain her corpse then?!" she asks in response.
"Beats me. But listen, she would never end her life for someone else's sake, nor would she despair and kill herself when she doesn't even care about others. Well? That leaves only the option that I brought up."
The red in her face slowly drains and changes into white instead.
"You're—out of your mind," she mutters.
"I'm not the one who's insane," I answer bluntly.
"Are you saying that I'm the one who lost her mind?!"
"You could say that, but in truth—we have all lost our minds."
She grows even paler.
"We have been too long at this school that was pervaded by Reina Kamisu. We're beyond rescue! ...You, too, will realize soon enough that she isn't dead. She's only watching us from afar for the time being. She might approach us again someday, with a smile."
"C-Cut out this crap... I'm going to kill you!"
"Good luck with that. But I'm going to defend myself because I don't like pain. I guess I'll make sure to carry a knife around since you just threatened me."
"Gh! What is wrong with you?! Who do you think you are?!"
"Me? I'm the same as you! Just another student going to the Junseiwa School. A human. And—a subordinate of Reina Kamisu's."
In the end, Sakura Kawai spit out a final insult before she left and stopped to bother me.
The rain still hasn't stopped.
Sakura leaves have fallen on the outlined figure on the ground, but unlike the blossoms, which are said to be beautiful even after scattering, they don't stir any emotion inside me.
The rain still shows no sign of stopping.
—Reina Kamisu scattered here.
But while it is true that she threw herself down here, was it really then that she threw her body away? Couldn't it be that she did so in the past or will do so in the future?
I don't know. I also don't know whether it was she herself that scattered or just her magnificent blossoms.
But there is one thing I do know.
"We will meet again, won't we?" I mutter in a voice that is drowned by the rain.
A voice that must be an illusion reaches me, causing me to raise my head.
Of course, there is no trace of anyone. All I can see is a tree.
"Hahaha..." I laugh toward the sakura tree.
The blossom-less sakura tree somehow resembled Reina Kamisu's smile.
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