Tada, Sore Dake de Yokattan Desu:Chapter 9

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Chapter 9: Revolution Eve

After about five minutes, Sugawara returned with two cans of cocoa in hand. I was wondering if he would run away, but it seemed he had no such thought. He asked if I preferred the bitter one or the sweeter one, so I chose the sweet one, indicating that I would pay, but he shook his head slightly. It’s strange for a college student to have a middle schooler treat them.

He sat next to me, and pulled the ring tab. He did not speak; surely he was thinking about something.

Both of us sat in a corner of the spacious park, remaining silent; it seemed so weird, so I decided to take the initiative and talk.

“Did Masaya really bully you?”

“Yes,” Taku Sugawara immediately answered. “There’s no proof. Masaya wouldn’t be so stupid as to leave evidence behind.

“Why did he do that much… did you incur his wrath or something?”

“Well, who knows?”

Sugawara coldly answered. I realized then that I asked the wrong question; it might be that I was too eager to figure out the truth, or that I was somewhat biased such that I asked a terrible question.

There was no real reason for the bullies.

“…Is it fine to let me explain myself as I like?”

After a short silence, he said,

“I’ll explain my relationship with Masaya, and why he killed himself. It may take some time, but this will be fine.”

I nodded.

I had to know no matter what, no matter what the truth was.


Again, he repeated to me,

“I don’t know if I can explain this well.”

“I’m not good at explaining this to others.”

“I’m an idiot, completely stupid.”

“So I’m not going to bother with honorifics.”

“And then I hope you’ll find that I’m really stupid.”

“I’d be happy with that. It’ll be as I thought.”

“You can become one with me.”

“So, while describing this with partial truth and partial conjecture,”

“I’ll explain why Masaya killed himself.”

“It was in May, during our second year, when Masaya started bullying me. The bullying wasn’t exactly going overboard over time; he snatched my money, and punched me in the gut. He then ganged with with Ninomiya, Watabe, and Komuro, attacking me while I was on my way home, and beat me up. I took him as a friend, and I was betrayed.”

It seemed Masaya did say that he was a good friend?

“Yeah, we viewed each other as good friends. I had some heart to heart talk with Masaya before. It’s not the type to go out together during the holidays, and we wouldn’t be together during noon break, we wouldn’t send messages to each other, or play games together. But if we met while on the way home, we’ll chat. It probably lasted from Autumn in our first year to Spring in our second year.”

“I had few words, and it was Masaya who kept talking. He grumbled a lot to me, probably because I didn’t belong to any group. He couldn’t just grumble when the Human Power Test was being executed in class, and I thought he wanted to soothe himself by venting his frustrations at me. Personally, I was happy to be able to talk to the genius Masaya.”

“On the way back home, we would share all kinds of things, like our future dreams, the ones we hate and like in class, grumble about our unreasonable parents, unhappy at the overly lax teacher, and the uneasiness that’s taking shape.”

“Sometimes we would skip over to the park, and chat till late at night.”

“Those were really happy days.”

“Every single viewpoint of his was different from me. Whatever I said, he would say, “It’s so typical of you.””

“We were once good friends.”

“But then, during May in our second year, I suddenly got punched. He set me up without anyone else figuring it out.”

““Sorry Taku, you understand, right?” He brought three friends along and whispered this to me.”

“Until I got punched, I didn’t understand at all. No, even after I got punched, I didn’t know what was going on.”

“To the victims, bullying is something unreasonable. I didn’t know the reasons and motives, and I was robbed, blackmailed. I was shocked, not because I was hurt, not because of the money, but Masaya beat me. I thought there was a misunderstanding.”

“I once respected Masaya Kishitani.”

“I also had respect for Ninomiya, Watabe, and Komuro. I knew very well that they’re a lot better than I am.”

“But they continued to bully me, tormenting me in places nobody would have found out. They forced pencils down my stomach, punched me in the stomach, stole my living expenses, and forced me to masturbate; nobody else found out.”

“It was only later that I found other that someone of those three told everyone else to bully Masaya. They created a commotion over the fact that Masaya once spoke to this unimpressive me, and mocked me. Masaya was scared of being left out, and he punched me. I guess they said, “So uncool. Don’t make friends with such a disgusting guy,” and “Punch him. Who are your friends? Us or him?” or stuff like that. When the bullying started, that’s what they said.”

“It seemed Masaya had the thought to refuse at first. That’s the feeling I had at first, but he had to succumb to them before his three friends. Soon after, I quickly gave up on that thought. I could tell.”

“For a genius boy, there’s no way he can resist after the first bad thing.”

“He crumbled.”

“He experienced the joy of bullying and dominating others.”

“His talents were such that none of the other three could compare.”

“The leader of the bullying became Masaya. He was always overly calm. My matters were never exposed. He was always able to avoid the situations easily, never leaving any records. Have you wondered if anyone can do such things? Masaya can. He’s a genius, with three outstanding lackeys.”

“The only one figuring out something was amiss was Masaya’s girlfriend, Kotomi Ishikawa. Even so, she only figured it out in October, and she didn’t know the details. Their methods were really perfect.”

“He perfectly controlled everything, not allowing a single mistake.”

“When I intended to talk about this with my teacher in July, Masaya figured it out three times, and beat me up so badly I was puking. The fourth time, II succeeded, but Toguchi-sensei never thought much about it. “You thought too much.” So he chuckled, and wouldn’t pay attention. He’s also scared of Masaya’s mother, and ignored my pleas. Also, I didn’t have any proof; the two recorders I had were broken.”

So when you remained so defiant, did Masaya not feel any danger when he bullied you?

"He’s different from the ordinary ones. It seemed he thought ‘this will cause some larger psychological pressure, and that’s more effective than finding out new targets’ whenever he found a new recorder."

“You know about my family background? I can’t even rely on my parents. I did request my parents to let me ‘transfer schools’, but I was ignored. Masaya knew that my parents showed no care for their son.”

“And then, Masaya knew that I had no friends.”

“It’s a bullying method so terrifying.”

“There’s no proof of bullying, I can tell my teacher has no enthusiasm, and my opponent’s the popular guy with a genius mind, the parent’s the monster parent of a PTA vice president. I could only submit to Masaya.”

“Everyone was my enemy.”

In fact, Katou and Kotomi once said, “There’s no way Masaya could be the bullied.”

“I guessed so. I could only feel despair, that no matter what plan I came up with, Masaya had his friends supporting him, the trust of the guardians, and no proof of bullying; from then, I had no chances of winning. My parents and teacher would help, I didn’t have any friends, and I was dismissed for spouting nonsense.”

“No matter what I did, I was always bullied.”

“You know what? They can’t trust those of low ranking in the Human Power Test. Unlike academic tests, this is a proof of popularity.”

“So I was forced to swallow slugs, lick their shoes, steal my parents’ watches, doused in hot and cold water.”

“Nobody reached out to me.”

“I didn’t know who else I could ask for help.”


Speaking until this point, Sugawara stopped and drank his cocoa, sighing, and went silent. For some reason, his body seemed smaller and weaker than before; his tone inflicting sadness for some strange reason.

What he said was likely to be the truth. I should say that it’s utterly ridiculous for Taku Sugawara alone to dominate four people. My little brother was bullying another classmate heartlessly, planning everything to a terrifyingly perfect setup. I recalled the image of Masaya I saw this summer, and couldn’t help but bite my lips.

The winter winds blew in December, and Masaya’s position just so happened to shield me, but my legs were icy cold. I immediately began to regret coming over in a long skirt instead of pants. Why did Sugawara choose this location?

“Eh, I don’t have any proof at all. I have a receipt of the second recorder, but this might look suspicious instead,” Sugawara noted in a self-depreciating manner.

“At the very least, it’s more convincing than you alone bullying four people.”

“Thanks.”

“But I still don’t understand the real reason as to why Masaya suddenly bullied you. Of course, I know it’s cruel of me to ask this of you.”

“The reason to pick me as a target was simple. I act alone, and it’s easy not to be found out even if I was bullied. In fact, nobody else found out.”

Sugawara patted the chest of his coat, twitched his body slightly, and muttered.

I couldn’t help but ask,

“But you can imagine this? In a certain way, you’re closer to Masaya than anyone else, Sugawara.”

I thought it might be a hyperbole to say that, but I had no intention to correct myself. As Masaya’s good friend, surely he viewed Masaya in a different way from everyone else.

With a hesitant look, Sugawara rubbed his fingers on the edge of the can, and said,

“Peer pressure…”

With a hoarse voice, he said,

“Did Ishikawa mention this? The class has been overly conscious about the Human Power Test, and those with low rankings are basically those who are told ‘I don’t want to get involved with you.’”

“Yeah, she was suffering due to this, right?”

“…It’s not Ishikawa alone who was suffering because of this.”

“Eh?”

“I did say this before right? Masaya was bullied by his three friends, couldn’t refuse, and could only obey them. Even he, that kind of genius, couldn’t fight back against peer pressure.”

“Or I should say,” Sugawara continued on,

“Everyone in class felt pressured due to the human relationships. Of course, I’m still a middle schooler, and even without the Human Power Test, I would feel pressured. The Human Power Test though increased the burden greatly, and crushed the other personalities. With poor grades in that, one’s own existence is basically denied. It forced us to learn how to observe, getting along with others is a must, and the theme was not to break the harmony. Everyone was living in a hell they were being watched in, and there was a tense atmosphere of a survival game of friendships, swords drawn and clashing.”

Taku Sugawara continued on.

“So Shunsuke Ninomiya, Kouji Watabe, Takayoshi Komuro, and Masaya Kishitani had to find a form of entertainment that they wouldn’t be found out. Kotomi Ishikawa was bitter that her boyfriend was hiding something from her, and she started bullying me along with the rest of the class. Kouta Katou himself started to harass Masaya Kishitani—”

“So Masaya Kishitani killed himself,” I said.

“And Taku Sugawara launched his revolution,” Sugawara said.

At this point, our conversation paused for a while.

The middle schooler seated next to me gulped down all of the cocoa.

“Sorry, there’s a little mess in the timeframe, and I described Kouta as a bad guy. That’s not true. He’s just one of the reasons, Masaya definitely had various reasons to commit suicide. Several people harmed him for various reasons. Of course, this included me.”

He calmly smiled.

“I’ll continue on then.”


“After summer vacation, I was robbed of my valuables several times, and tormented over and over again. In October, there wasn’t any improvement, nothing changed. Entering the second semester, dismissal time was earlier, and my bullying time got longer.”

“I went through days of despair.”

“It was a hell I couldn’t escape.”

“And then, at that moment, I, yes, that.”

“I fell in love with Kotomi Ishikawa.”

“Because she smiled at me.”

“I didn’t have any friends, my grades remained far inferior to everyone, and my Human Power Test scores were low. I was labelled trash, betrayed by my good friend, tormented over and over again, and then, she kindly spoke to me.”

“I was really happy. She even said “I’m envious of you.” It defied reality, but I really felt happier than ever. Such a tragic person like me was actually envied. Someone actually acknowledged me.”

“That night, I cried alone.”

“After that, I had several times to meet her. She told me things I didn’t know of, the peer pressure of being isolated.”

“So I finally realized that Masaya and the others had the same predicament. They bullied me to keep living in the suffocating classroom. Ishikawa and Masaya were suffering, and kept struggling.”

“Before that rubbish dump, I saw Ishikawa crying due to the peer pressure she suffered. My heart was breaking.”

“I felt an emotion, close to rage.”

“So I decided to start the revolution.”

“Being at the bottom of the Human Power Test left me happy. No matter how much others looked down on me, I decided to become trash that could protect what I believed in, not knowing how to observe others.”

“I decided to fight back against Masaya, and end the bullying. I wanted my own happiness, for everyone else to be happy. I decided to end the endless hell of bullying Masaya single-handedly came up with.”

“Of course, it’s an utterly foolish thought.”

“But this was all I could only do.”

“Naturally, I had no chance of winning with common sense in the face of Masaya’s thoroughly planned bullying.”

“As I had said, his bullying methods were so perfect. First, I didn’t have the help of my teacher and my parents, and even if I did ask the other teachers for help, trust-wise, I lose out to Masaya and the others. Also, Masaya was very wary of me talking to the teachers alone, or eavesdropping on the bullying scenes.”

“And even if I did succeed in reporting, I had to face that yapping mother. Nobody in class noticed that I got bullied, and those guys were all adored by my classmates. My words would only be nonsense. Even if I did complain through the internet or MEXT and cook up the fuss, nobody in school would admit to the bullying, and it’d be all for nothing.”

“But even so, I had to keep on fighting.”

“I had to start the revolution.”

“‘There was only one plan I thought of.”

“It would be to use his plan thoroughly against him.”

“So I went with the opposite action. First, I posted something shocking on the internet about the bullying, like “In Kuzegawa Second Middle School, there was a student who bullied four others,” and I wrote it in detail.”

“Many on the internet enjoy themselves through bullying, and there wouldn’t be as much fun if nobody killed themselves. But then, some immediately called the school to protest, “There’s a bullying incident in school, and your school isn’t going to do anything about it?” or “Who allows their kids to study in that school?”

“Of course, it did seem that some suspected “Four people bullied one instead,” or “He’s using the internet to continue with the bullying.” That’s not important though. Once news spread in the school, I used the water bottle to beat Masaya up.”

“Masaya probably predicted that I would lose control emotionally. After long periods of vicious abuse, I would explode one day. In such a situation, his fiery mother would come to school, interrogate the lethargic teacher who insisted that there were no witnesses to the bullying, that it’s a student with some psychosis issue playing his own act, to calm things down.”

“My plan proceeded successfully, so successfully that even I felt it was weird. I pretended to act arrogant, and had everyone have the worst impression of me. The school started receiving lots of protest calls in regards to the bullying, and the aftereffects kept burning. I was etched with the moniker of the devil.”

“And as Masaya’s mother hoped, I was heavily punished. They exceeded my initial expectations greatly, and had me persecuted by everyone else.”

So the punishment was suggested by mom?

“I was the one who laughed, “You want to punish me by making me kneel in school?” and I added, “Bullying is an invention that crosses through civilizations,” but this was just imitating what Masaya did. Anyway, all I did was a little taunt, and she fell for it. Masaya and the others wanted to continue tormenting me, so I kept on leading them. Takayoshi even pretended to cry. All I did was to diminish Masaya’s mother, and they easily got baited. Then, I was finally forced to parade around and kneel.”

“It was chaotic, but Masaya and the others weren’t unhappy with what happened till this point. Some parts were a little different, but it progressed as I planned. After that incident, Taku Sugawara was viewed as a bully not worthy to be pitied, and the true identities of the bullies were never revealed. After that, Taku Sugawara was severely punished.”

“But things were proceeding too well.”

“I chose to become the bad guy. This action was way beyond their expectations, and it got out of hand.”

“Before knowing what was actually written in the post, “I wrote it,” I just admitted that.”

“The original conclusion of ‘Taku Sugawara is suffering from mental disorder’ ended up being ‘Taku Sugawara is the bully’ because of that post and my testimony.”

“That was in my plan too.”

“Masaya was probably the only one who figured this out, but at this point, there was no turning back. He could not discuss this with the other three, and they were forced to admit that they were bullied before their parents and the teachers.”

“And so, it was finally my moment to counter.”

“Slowly, I drove Masaya and the others to despair.”

“To a middle schooler, ‘being bullied’ has a negative vibe to it. Aren’t some people unwilling to admit that they were bullied? It’s not just that they’re scared of further retribution from the bullies; most importantly, “I got bullied, and asked the teachers and my parents for help,” by admitting that, they made themselves look more pathetic. It’s not a proud thing.”

“But as I kneeled down before everyone, I got the entire school to know.”

“They were saying stuff like ‘It’s one vs four, and they got dominated by the unimpressive guy in class, trembling before him,’ or ‘they’re so active and amazing in the clubs, yet they’re just embarrassing dudes who got bullied.’”

“Stupid pride? Maybe. But middle schoolers are all like this trying to act cool. No matter what others say, for guys, being bullied is undoubtedly a humiliation, and furthermore, it’s the guy who they bullied in the first place.”

“Through my kneeling, I declared to everyone the predicament of Masaya and the others. They could only ask the teachers and parents for help.”

“Surely everyone else would be shocked to learn that their respected seniors and friends were actually being secretly bullied.”

“But Masaya and the others could no longer say “We’re the ones who got bullied”. If they did, the commotion triggered in school would end up being their fault, and their sins would be revealed to all. They subjected me to extremely cruel punishment, and they never imagined the punishment being inflicted on them.”

“While they were feeling frustrated, I visited their houses a few times, pretending to apologize for my actions, and kept taunting them. I got their parents fuming, raising the matter way beyond, and drove them to despair.”

“I thought I would collapse.”

“But I continued to kneel before everyone. I nearly crumbled, but I endured. Even though I got beaten by their parents and kicked by my classmates, I would never give up.”

“I continued to spread this falsified truth, while being an enemy to the entire school, and enduring the humiliation.”

So everyone believed you? It’s not weird for others to doubt you, right?

“Probably, but that’s not important. To those suspicious, “Masaya and others are cruel beings who subjected me to bullying, and shifted the blame onto the victim.” The kneeling before everyone had such a great effect, but only a few suspected.”

Why? Only the adults saw your arrogance and the four of them whimpering. Logically, the other students should be feeling suspicious.

“Because there’s valid proof.”

Proof?

“The bruise. There’s a severe bruise on Masaya’s face. That’s why many believed. I beat him up with the water bottle. Surely he looked like the victim there.”

“So I ended up becoming the cold-hearted trash who dominated my four classmates, and they ended up being shameful brats who got dominated by one boy.”

“Peer pressure.”

“Thanks to the Human Power Test, the approval of others became all the more important, and classmates would start to grade one another.”

“They definitely couldn’t accept it. Pitied by their parents, classmates, and girlfriend, “it hurts, doesn’t it? Sorry for not noticing it.” And they’d be consoled. They’re the popular ones at school, but their prides would surely be damaged. Once they saw how cruel a punishment I was subjected, they couldn’t say “We’re the bullies.”

“To their seniors and juniors, they were bullied by an ugly, uncharismatic guy even though it’s four vs one, forced to eat slugs, apologized to by their parents, and carefully treated by their friends.”

“Their rankings in the Human Power Test would definitely drop, probably with some sympathy votes here and there. However, the bullying victims had no leadership skills and charisma. It might sound pitiful, but that’s the cruel rule set amongst us. The adoration from before had vanished, their rankings dropped, and their self-worth would drop.”

“They were the real bullies, but for some reason, the school viewed Taku Sugawara as the victim.”

“Just like that, I drove them to despair.”

“Two days after that incident, Masaya once came to be to reconcile, but I had no intention to forgive him. I still had hatred against them, and if I easily forgave them, they might regain the same attitude again.”

“During that time, I hardly got any bullying from Masaya and the others. Luckily, due to the mistaken justice everyone else had, I was able to stay away from them. Masaya and the others were deemed to be the victims, and naturally, there was no way they could be looking for me, since that itself would have been suspicious.”

It seemed Masaya did go look for the teacher to talk it out.

“I knew. I didn’t know what it was about, but Toguchi-sensei is a spineless bastard, and just casually threatened me, “If this doesn’t end well, Kishitani’s mother is going to be really scary.” Toguchi-sensei definitely ignored Masaya’s words, and for him, the best way to end this is to think of me as the villain.”

“I had been taunting their parents every day, angering them, and gave them no room to relax at home. There was no way they could say to their parents, “actually, we’re the bullies,” when their parents were already on their side.”

“The situation was completely reversed.”

“The spineless teacher ignored me, and the popular guys in class were suddenly pitied, doted by their overbearing parents like kids, and no proof of bullying, so they couldn’t regain their prides.”

“However.”

“I thought I overdid it.”

“Because I’m trash, having ignored the atmosphere in the classroom.”

“And I ignored Masaya’s feelings.”

“I didn’t know how to hold back, and couldn’t determine their actions.”

“That’s why Masaya killed himself.”


“I don’t know if you’re willing to believe me, but back then, I was wondering if I should forgive them. I was thinking if I should pretend that the kneeling never happened, that I could continue to go out with Masaya and the others like normal friends again, gather at some place to play video games, drop by at a fast food restaurant on the way home, chit chat about the girls we like.”

“You probably think that I’m stupid.”

“But I was serious.”

“Or rather, that was the compromise Masaya could only do. If he kept it up, even if the kneeling ended, the impression of him being the bullied wouldn’t vanish, and the fact that he's terrified to tears of the unimpressive guy called Taku Sugawara wouldn’t vanish. However, he couldn’t bully me openly, for surely someone would figure out that my testimony was a lie. It was already suspicious to begin with.”

“The only thing he could do was to act all chummy with me in public and change his image; to put everything in the past and be good friends with me again.”

“At the very least, that was what I thought.”

“To avoid having them bully me again, once Masaya and the rest learned their lesson, I intended to propose this.”

“For example, “if you make fun of me in class, I’m going to make fun of you in class, and everyone gets to laugh, forget about that, and think that we made up.”

“Masaya’s popular, and I was the guy everyone in class feared.”

“As long as we worked together, surely we would succeed.”

“That we would create a class where the popular ones and the unpopular ones could laugh together.”

“It might be a shallow wish, but that was my ideal revolution.”

“Even if it didn’t succeed, as long as I didn’t get bullied, I would be happy.”

“I wanted my own happiness.”

“I didn’t want to be bullied again.”

“I wanted to go home together with Masaya, just like before.”

“Even if I couldn’t be Ishikawa’s boyfriend, it was fine as long as I could ease her burden.”

“I suppose something amiss happened after the incident. Only two to three weeks later did I realize it, probably the moment when I stopped kneeling before everyone and went about visiting Masaya and everyone else’s house.”

“Back then, I was bullied in class. The guys were terrified of me, and they didn’t bully me, but a group of girls led by Tsuda intended to take revenge on me. To be honest, I thought it was the toughest part to deal with. It’s really stupid.”

Kotomi said that it was punishment. Of course, part of the reason she did that was to gain Masaya’s approval.

“And so Ishikawa couldn’t ignore the looks from others, but at the very least, she was self-aware. The other girls prided themselves as hero, or went along with the class, and threw my stuff into the dustbin.”

“But this was another reason that drove Masaya to despair. It’s immature, but guys hate having girls protect them. This action led to another situation. Some of the boys ended up looking down on Masaya, that he was bullied and beaten up by someone like Taku Sugawara, protected by the monster parent and the girls in class.”

Was Masaya the center target again?

“Eh, he’s the most popular of the four, so some did feel envy, since the girls only cared about Masaya. The one most involved should be Kouta Katou, I guess. He already had lots of envy directed at Masaya.”

“Of course, he didn’t do anything too obvious. After the incident, the most he did was to spill ink onto Masaya’s notebook. Right, he did that. I’ll tell you his address later, so you may visit him later. He thought that I had proof on hand, so he’ll definitely admit it. Other than that, there’s nothing obvious he did. The school was sensitive to bullying at that point.”

“But I sensed this atmosphere. The petty tricks were heinous, hard to detect, but they were there. They were laughing at Masaya behind the back, for being bullied by someone like me.”

“And that’s why Katou spilled the beans to the media outlets, “I don’t know anything,” “Taku Sugawara is weird.” He’s scared of retribution, and that’s why he went about spreading the news.”

“Of course, it wasn’t just Katou alone who caused this. Others were involved too. Jun Niwa and Konoha Harada both despised Masaya, while Nanoe Hada, Yuki Kunimoto, and Kana Mori pitied Masaya.

“I was too shallow.”

“I lacked imagination.”

“So anyway, many people hurt Masaya’s pride, way more than I expected. Masaya was crushed by the peer pressure. Later on, I noticed that he was acting weirdly, but it was already too late.”

“I was isolated from him, unable to do anything.”

“He was already mentally scarred beyond repair.”

“The popular guy in class with outstanding grades sank into the sense of superiority when he bullied me without anyone else noticing. He then got pitied by the people around him, became the one to protect for the girls, looked down upon by the boys, saw me grinning away while I was the one bullied, and ignored by the teachers. It was no wonder his ranking in the Human Power Test fell.”

“Also, he had excessive concern from his mother, always questioned about his situation in school like a kid entering kindergarten, and this damaged the pride a middle schooler should have. With the parent showing up every day at school to ‘Watch if there’s any bullying at school’, it was basically humiliating him, and even his girlfriend, who would be consoling him, was pitying and worrying about him.”

“But at this point, he couldn’t say that he was the bully, and that meant having to endure the pity and discrimination in school and at home. “I saw that guy who kneeled down. Doesn’t look impressive,” The seniors were mocking him with that, “Leave Sugawara’s punishment to us,” while the juniors were being all arrogant.”

“His intense pride couldn’t allow for all that, but there was no one he could discuss this with.”

“By my deduction, it was out of impulse.”

“Masaya had nowhere to go, and was frustrated by his overly worried and protective girlfriend, so he impulsively pushed her. He had no intention of hurting her, but she just so happened to be by the stairs. He felt an unbearable sense of self-loathing, and feared retribution when his girlfriend recovered.”

“And that’s why he finally made that decision.”

“To take revenge on me.”

“To do the one final move.”

“To kill himself.”

“He silenced the other three, and chose to commit suicide. At the same time, I became the one enemy to all of Japan.”

“"Taku Sugawara is the devil. Nobody should believe his words."”

“Even the will was well planned, and after leaving those words behind, he killed himself. Of course, I couldn’t defend myself.”

“The greatest bomb left behind by that genius was to let those who read the will be terrified of me.”

“He created this world, I distorted it, and he overturned it on me again.”

“He gave up his life.”

“Of course, I don’t need to explain what happened later. I became the lowlife who drove my classmate to despair through bullying.”

“Part of this is my imagination, but this is all I know.”

“Masaya and the others bullied me hard through thorough planning. To end the bullying and destroy the Human Power Test, I launched the revolution. It went well, but it damaged Masaya’s pride, and drove him to despair.”

“To summarize everything, there’s only one conclusion.”

“I can’t laugh with him again.”

“I can’t get happiness.”

“Masaya’s dead.”

After that, both of us went silent, sitting on the bench without moving.

I stared at the park I played at with Masaya, and pondered over the relationship between Taku Sugawara and Masaya.

What sin did he commit? He was the reason why Masaya killed himself. In the name of revolution, he kept torturing Masaya. However, considering what Masaya and the others did, it might seem like nothing much. From his perspective, he was just defending himself from the bullies. Was there any other way? In the world Masaya created, there was a way to fight back against Masaya. It was a plan to destroy the devil’s plot.

A certain critic once said, “The exclusive news showing up on the internet is very surreal.”

The reason was simple. Sugawara basically wrote down what Masaya and the others did to him.

He might have been forced to eat pencils, been beaten up, had his pocket money stolen, and doused in hot and cold water.

The other three, Ninomiya, Komuro, and Watabe insisted not to reveal the details, for they feared slipping up, that their acts would be discovered. Though they had beautified this as ‘friendship’

One of them should be the one who attacked me.

He attacked me because of Sayo’s call.

(So Masaya deserved his demise?)

Was this the conclusion? How’s that possible?

However, there was no flaw to be found in Sugawara’s words. It’s a lot more convincing than the illogical saying that a person dominated four.

“It matches… with most of the intel I collected.”

I tried my best to eek these words.

Sugawara shook his head.

“You can believe whatever you want, Sanae. I don’t have proof saying that I was the bullied, but there’s no proof to say that Masaya and the others were bullied.”

“Ishikawa told me her deduction. She said Ninomiya, Watabe, and Komuro bullied Masaya and Sugawara.”

“That’s stupid. In that case, Masaya’s will wouldn’t have my name on it. That guy’s world is always full of blind spots.”

“So is what you say the truth, Sugawara?”

With a vacant look, Sugawara ignored these words, and diverted the topic to a completely different direction.

“…How’s Masaya like to you, Sanae?”

He suddenly started with an unrelated question.

I didn’t know the intent behind that question, but he gave me a sharp, harsh look, and I felt an invisible pressure weighing on me.

“An outstanding little brother,” I answered. “That’s what everyone said about him during this incident, but he’s really smart, definitely doesn’t look like he’s seven years younger than me. Mom wouldn’t leave Masaya alone at all.”

“…”

“She even ended up becoming a monster parent. Of course, this isn’t right, but it’s really because Masaya’s really outstanding. He didn’t stand out during elementary school, but once he got to middle school, his talents started to show. He’s top for academics, chosen as a starter for his sports club, and only then did I realize that he’s a real genius. Even when I was beginning to prepare for my college exams, Mom just kept cheering him on.”

“And that’s when you cut up Masaya’s gym clothes?”

Sugawara interrupted me.

I turned around to glare at me, his eyes widened, the grim expression emitting a terrifying presence.

At that moment, I couldn’t breathe as normal; I tried drinking the cocoa to calm myself down, but I realized the can had already fallen to the ground.

“Hey, I did say it before, right? Before Masaya bullied me, I heard him voice lots of frustrations. You know what he said? Most of it was about his family, that his sister returning home would be rough on him, that his mother has exceeding expectations on him, all about that.”

The middle schooler next to me stood up before me. I wanted to back away, but the hard back of the bench was behind me, and I had nowhere to go.

The forceful glare was right on me.

“Reason for the bullying? Do I still have to say it? Peer pressure at school, and the twisted expectations and jealousy at home. There was nowhere for Masaya to escape, so he bullied me; only by bullying was he able to feel solace. You say this is just me guessing? Think about it then! Did Masaya discuss this with you before? Did he ask you for help? Did he leave a will for you?”

“No…”

“Nobody in our class is able to cut up his gym clothes without him knowing! I can tell that it’s you the family that doomed Masaya, old hag! You tooted Masaya’s horn and gave him so many expectations; are you making him a pet!? Talking about college everyday!? That’ll only increase the pressure on Masaya!”

Saying that, Masaya took out the smartphone from his chest. It’s shining, in the middle of a call. The one on the other end must be mom.

Sugawara had Mom listen to everything!

He probably did it when he went off to buy the cocoa.

I intended to defend myself, but I couldn’t say anything.

“Mom’s trash, sister’s trash. Are your actions just for self-satisfaction!? Do you feel guilt over Masaya’s death? Are you trying to redeem yourself? Or are you trying to gain your mom’s love!? That’s what Masaya hated most about you! “You’re annoying!” That’s what he always said!”

“I said that’s not it…”

“Stop lying already! This is the ‘truth’ you’re scared of, right!? Stop playing dumb! You only care about yourself! I’ll tell you this, the ones who made Masaya suffer most are you two! The Human Power Test did cause him much pressure, but he was basically just complaining about you family! That’s why he chose to bully me! And killed himself! The root of the cause is you the rotten family!”

No, that’s not it.

I had an impulse to refute immediately, “How did he know?” but at the same time, I had this contradicting thought, and finally understood why Kotomi had interest in Sugawara. The words he said would bring about fear, the urge to resist, and yet the urge to admit to everything.

My motives to investigate this matter were down to these two points. One was to make up for my useless self, and the other was the desire to gain Mom’s recognition.

This definitely was the truth I was scared to face, for I had a vague feeling that the ones who drove Masaya to despair were us—

I couldn’t defend myself. At this moment, he brought the cellphone to his lips; it was probably in speaker mode before this, and with a gruff tone, he said to Mom,

“Hey, Masaya’s mother, what do you intend to do? You simpleton, you got baited by my taunt, and started some weird group, right? Are you going to ignore my testimony, and continue to pretend that you aren’t involved? I intend to fight until the very end. Thank your daughter for collecting testimonies everywhere. Or are you going to retract your words? “I thought Taku Sugawara is the bad one, but Masaya’s the real bully. I’m sorry,” Try saying that!”

With a deep voice, he hissed,

“If you aren’t willing to do anything, kill yourself. Relax. You received the rope in the morning, right? I tied it up for you. You can hang yourself off the ceiling at home, just like your son.”

Sugawara took off the earphones from his phone.

Mom’s shrieking could be heard immediately. I had never heard such a mad shriek before. She appeared to be trying to say something, but they were no longer words, just mad ramblings.

Mom probably had been wondering how Sugawara could drive Masaya to despair.

She probably never expected that it was herself who caused Masaya to turn out this way, one of the reasons why Masaya killed himself.

And with a kind tone, Taku Sugawara said to the phone,

“If not—you can look at that rope and think of what to do.”

He showed the smirk of evil from before, the expression so unlike a middle schooler.

Masaya might have been the devil, but Taku Sugawara himself—

“You planned everything, didn’t you?” I yelled. With much determination, I strove not to give up on the investigations. “Mom set up the organization to wipe you out, until there’s no turning back. You hid the truth from us, right? You even sent us the cat carcass to taunt us, didn’t you?”

I shoved him aside and stood up, growling from the bottom of my heart. However, Sugawara didn’t seem to care, merely looking at the scenery afar as he gave me a gloomy look. Then, he merely said,

“You’re not going home yet? Then, are you going to let your mother die?”

The next moment, I was running away.

Mom!

Tears blurred my eyes before I knew it as I dashed back home at full speed.

What did I do wrong, exactly?

I did my best to act the part! Even though it’s lacking in love, I still gritted my teeth to endure my heart breaking inside; I wanted to be a kind older sister!

I did cut up Masaya’s gym clothes. I did beat up the brother seven years younger than me. I was so jealous and spiteful towards him. I never had any expectations placed on me, and vented my frustrations on my brother, who had the expectations on him. I could no longer hide the fact that I was a ‘flawed older sister.’

Mom! Mom! Mom!

I called out for the one person most important to me on this world.


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