The Girls Who Traumatized Me Volume 2 Chapter 6

Chapter Six: “The Glass Boy”
 

 
“I am not angry. But stealing other people’s things is bad. You understand that, right? So let’s apologize properly. Okay?”
 
The soft words seemed to elicit a nod of agreement. The beguiling, sweet tone echoed in my ear canals, but Kokonoe Yukito rejected it without hesitation.
 
“It wasn’t me.”
 
“Then why was it in your desk, Kokonoe-kun?”
 
“I don’t know.”
 
Since I really don’t know, that’s all I can say.
 
Confusion crosses the teacher’s face.
 

 
This should have ended with the boy, Kokonoe Yukito, simply apologizing.
 
Actually, I wasn’t angry at all and was happy that he was interested in me.
 
So I thoughtlessly questioned him in the classroom. Now Misaki Himiyama, the student teacher, regretted that he had started this.
 
“Come on, Kokonoe-kun. Why don’t you want to be honest? What you did is the same as shoplifting, theft, you know? It’s a crime. As an adult, you could be arrested by the police!”
 
“That’s right. But it wasn’t me, so…”
 
“Kokonoe-kun!”
 
“P-please calm down, Ryouka-sensei. I’m not angry, if we just talk, I’m sure Kokonoe-kun will understand as well. Right?”
 
“No matter what you say, it wasn’t me, so I don’t understand.”
 
“Just admit it properly! or I’ll call your parents! please.”
 
“Go ahead.”
 
“Kokonoe-kun!”
 
Sanjoji Ryouka raises her voice, but the boy in front of her doesn’t falter at all.
 
He seems to have no remorse at all for doing wrong.
 
Children need to learn right from wrong. A teacher isn’t just someone who teaches academics.
 
It is also Sanjoji Ryouka’s duty as an educator to guide children to a better path and a brighter future.
 
And elementary school is the first step.
 
An elementary school teacher has to relate to the students almost like a family at times.
 
Unlike higher grades, where they become aware of group dynamics and hierarchy, the lower the grade, the stronger this tendency becomes.
 
The personal belongings of student teacher Himiyama Misaki were found in Kokonoe Yukito’s desk. They spilled out when students moved desks during cleaning time. It wasn’t anything valuable. She wouldn’t be bothered without it. A small mirror compact that could hardly be called makeup.
 
The motive was probably an interest in Misaki Himiyama, which led him to impulsively take her belongings. Some children even call the teacher “mom”, so it’s not unusual for an elementary school student to harbor a slight affection.
 
That’s why both Sanjoji Ryouka and Himiyama Misaki considered it a trivial matter at first.
 
After the lesson is over, ask him aon the way home. If he replies with a simple “Sorry,” laugh and say “No more okay” while patting his head. That should be the end of it.
 
It should have ended as a minor incident, that we could just laugh it off.
 
But contrary to their expectations, he flatly denied it. No admission of wrongdoing whatsoever. The situation changes. As an educator, you must lead the student in the right direction. Until Kokonoe Yukito understands that stealing other people’s things is bad, he may repeat the same behavior.
 
Then his future could be dark and bleak. As his teacher, as an educator, Sanjoji Ryouka felt a sense of duty to prevent this from happening. And Himiyama Misaki felt the same way.
 
That’s what she told herself, but no matter how much they repeated themselves, he wouldn’t apologize.
 
Not only that, he refused to even admit any guilt. Gradually, irritation crept into her voice, but still, Kokonoe Yukito took it with utter composure and remained expressionless.
 
“I really will inform them! That’s okay, yes?
 
“You’re so persistent”
 
“Ryouka-sensei, is this necessary…”
 
“If we can’t get through to him, his parents will have to scold him. What Kokonoe-kun has done is a crime. If this continues, he’ll surely have difficulties ahead of him.”
 
“But…”
 
“Misaki-sensei, kindness is a virtue, but it does not make a teacher. You want to become a wonderful teacher, right?”
 
“Yes…I love children so much…”
 
“Then you need to harden your heart here.”
 
“You’re right…I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, but…”
 
It was still departure time. All the classmates stayed behind. Suzurikawa Hinagi, who had finished earlier, waited anxiously outside the classroom.
 
“Are you done talking? I want to go home quickly because Hii-chan is waiting…”
 
“We’re not finished! Hurry up and admit it properly!”
 
“Admit what?”
 
“Yukito-kun, look. Stealing other people’s things is bad. What you did makes you a thief. It’s very, very wrong.”
 
“You’ve already said that, and since I didn’t do it, your words don’t make sense.”
 
“Misaki-sensei, let’s call his parents.”
 
“Ryouka-sensei…”
 
“Is this good now? I have to go home, Hii-chan is waiting.”
 
The departure time, which should have ended quickly, took an ominous turn instead.
 
Some, apparently bored, began to shout “Thief, thief!”
 
Now, Sanjoji Ryouka and Himiyama Misaki regretted having this discussion here. A complete mistake, irreparable.
 
Children can be sensitive. The trivial matter that should’ve been concluded here became deeply engraved in the memories of the classmates by dragging on.
 
If the perception “Kokonoe Yukiro is a thief” takes root in the class, it could lead to bullying.
 
They should’ve called him to the teacher’s office or an empty classroom by himself.
 
And there’s no way for him not to be hurt by such exposure. No matter how expressionless he may be, he must be deeply hurt. We were wrong to force him to confess in front of his classmates. If we had questioned him alone elsewhere, he might have readily admitted it. He’s just being stubborn. Or too embarrassed.
 
You realize that it was your own too-soft response that caused this.
 
Sanjoji Ryouka is still an inexperienced teacher. She couldn’t handle everything perfectly. Inwardly, she clicked her tongue at her own naivety.
 
The decision that a further interrogation would not be wise was the only one she could make.
 
“Kokonoe-kun, at home, listen carefully to your parents about what you did wrong.”
 
She doesn’t dislike Kokonoe Yukito at all. A valuable, valuable student. A boy with a future. If anything, her actions are out of concern for him.
 
Hoping that these feelings come through, Sanjoji Ryouka and Himiyama Misaki anxiously watch the departing back of Kokonoe Yukito.
 

 
“Sorry for being late, Hi-chan.”
 
“No, it’s okay. But how mean! There’s no way Yoo-chan would do something like that!”
 
She didn’t understand the whole situation, but watching from the corridor, Suzurikawa Hinagi vented her anger with puffed cheeks while she waved the hand she was holding opposite to her tied right hand up and down. She seems to be expressing her anger.
 
“Hi-chan believes me?”
 
“Of course! Yoo-chan and I are childhood friends! I know he would never do anything bad!”
 
“Thank you, Hii-chan.”
 
“See you.”
 
Seeing her shy smile, Kokonoe Yukito’s heart lightened.
 
“But how did it get into my desk…”
 
“I don’t know. Maybe whoever found it thought it was yours?”
 
“Hmm. But only girls have such things, right?”
 
“Mom has some too!”
 
“True.”
 
The way home was always just the two of them. Chatting about trivial things, they’d arrive at their destination before they realized it. Ordinary everyday life. But Kokonoe Yukito treasured this time. Held it dear.
 
Feeling something catching, his steps stopped.
 
“Huh?”
 
“What’s wrong, Yoo-chan?”
 
“Himiyama-sensei said it went missing after school yesterday.”
 
“Really?”
 
“Yeah. But that’s strange. I went straight home with you yesterday as usual, right?”
 
“We played in the park together!”
 
“Then there’s no way I could have stolen it, right?”
 
If the compact was stolen yesterday after school, it’s impossible for me to have done it.
 
“That’s right! Yoo-chan was with me!”
 
“We passed the usual stores on the way home. And I saw Granpa Yamamoto, too.”
 
Walking through the busy streets means meeting all kinds of people. Neighbors walking their dogs, shopkeepers, strangers and acquaintances. In this case, everyone I met yesterday can prove my innocence.
 
“Let’s make an action log when we get home!”
 
“Yoo-chan came up with something again?”
 
“Yes. Sorry Hii-chan, but can we not play today?”
 
“I’ll help too!”
 
“It’s okay Hii-chan. It won’t take long. We were running late today, so next time, ‘kay?”
 
“I see…”
 
Dejected, her twin tails seem to droop as if to express emotion. Suzurikawa Hinagi was an easy to understand girl.
 
Arriving home, the slight loneliness returns as the warm hand reluctantly separates from mine.
 
The warmth of this hand with a slightly higher temperature assures me that it’s okay for me to be here, that I don’t have to disappear, so Kokonoe Yukito appreciates this time.
 
“See you tomorrow Hii-chan.”
 
“Bye bye Yoo-chan!”
 
I wish we could hold hands forever, but thinking is all I can do.
 

 
The call came a little after 8 pm.
 
He knew what it was for. Mother Kokonoe Ouka was also at home.
 
As she answered the phone, Kokonoe Ouka’s face gradually filled with confusion.
 
From the overheard conversation, there was no doubt that the caller was his homeroom teacher, Sanjoji Ryouka. His sister Kokonoe Yuuri watched the scene with a puzzled expression.
 
When the call ended, Ouka opened her mouth tentatively, as if treading carefully.
 
Conversation was rare at home. If anything, it was their habit not to speak at all unless it was necessary.
 
And Ouka knew that she was the reason for that, consciously. Is that why even with her beloved son Kokonoe Yukito, she doesn’t know how to deal with him? How to call him? Such things elude Kokonoe Ouka.
 
She doesn’t know how to deal with her child. So she makes mistakes.
 
Things she doesn’t really mean and would never want to say.
 
“Yukito, that call just now… it was your homeroom teacher. Did you steal things from the student teacher who was there for training?”
 
“What’s that?”
 
Yuuri mumbles, not hiding her displeasure as she frowns.
 
“I didn’t steal anything.”
 
“But Sensei said you did. Tell me what happened today? If there’s something you want, just say so. I’ll buy you anything. So no stealing, okay?”
 
“Don’t, that’s-!”
 
Yuuri tries to stop her, but it’s no use.
 
“I see. So you don’t believe me.”
 
Yukito mutters almost matter-of-factly. As usual, there is no emotion in his tone.
 
The same Kokonoe Yukito was there without any inflection, without any emotion.
 
But when Ouka and Yuuri hear these words, they realize that it was a mistake. They screwed up again.
 
The first words they should have said were clearly wrong.
 
“Sorry for the trouble. But I didn’t steal anything and I don’t want anything. I’ll fix this quickly.”
 
He tries to get up and go back to his room.
 
“W-wait! It’s not that. I just want to talk, not that I doubt you-“
 
“Yukito, I believe you! You’d never do such a thing!”
 
“You don’t have to force yourself to believe me.”
 
“I’m not forcing myself! I’ve always, always-“
 
“I see. Thank you.”
 
Words that contradict his actions. His retreating back rejects any further speech. Only futility remains.
 
Unable to comprehend what has happened, they can only stand there in silence.
 
If they’d believed him in the first place, he might have told them something. Maybe called for help. He said he didn’t steal anything. If so, what did that mean? Conflicting claims.
 
Her role as parents should have been to question their son about this discrepancy, to fill in the blanks. Instead, She assumed that the son had stolen something.
 
No matter what, as his mother, she should’ve become his unconditional ally, yet here she was betraying her son again.
 
Regret was useless now. She muttered repeating his words, “So you don’t believe me after all.
 
Did he think his own mother wouldn’t believe him from the beginning?
 
And indeed, she didn’t believe him. Ironically, her son understands her well, that’s all she can think.
 
“Why, why, why, why!”
 
An angry Yuuri also goes to her room.
 
Yuuri’s frustration at not being able to go anywhere. Yuuri is also deeply hurt. A broken family relationships.
 
She brought this on herself, there’s no family warmth, never able to convey her true feelings, always drawing a blank no matter how much she cares.
 
“I’ll fix this quickly, he says…what’s he going to do?”
 
Her son is always true to his word. Without understanding anything, without knowing anything, he’ll surely shoulder everything all by himself and finish it all by himself.
 
Not relying on his mother who doesn’t believe in him anyway.
 
Then what is the point of her being here? What can she do for him?
 
“If I can’t even believe in him, what can I do?”
 
As a mother, am I this powerless?
 
“Yukiro…”
 
But the one she called that beloved name has already left the room.
 

 
“Alright!”
 
I unconsciously made a silly pointing gesture.
 
Using the leftover drawing paper, I wrote down my recollection to create yesterday’s action log.
 
Thinking, why not, I detailed everything I did all day, where I was, who I was with, not just after school.
 
Looking at it, it became clear that I wasn’t the culprit. If you ask the various people I met at those times, it’s obvious that I couldn’t have stolen anything after school.
 
I don’t know who hid it in my desk and for what purpose, but as long as I know it wasn’t me, that’s enough, Kokonoe Yukito thought.
 
“I have to thank Hii-chan.”
 
The reason I thought of doing something like this was because my childhood friend, Suzurikawa Hinagi, believed in me. She was the only one who believed in me. So I wanted to prove my innocence.
 
This world is always full of enemies.
 
But if there’s just one person who believes in me, I can go on living.
 
Like a jewel, this precious person, the only one in this desert.
 
The warmth of her hand clasping mine is the only reason Kokonoe Yukito hasn’t given up on life. My only reason for being.
 
Satisfied that the matter was settled, Kokonoe Yukito fell asleep without realizing it.
 

 
–Malice always advances unnoticed, and it will never let him go.
 

 
Going to school with Suzurikawa Hinagi.
 
Although we go to the same school, I don’t walk with my older sister who hates me.
 
In the morning, Mother, Ouka seemed to want to say something, but remained dejectedly silent, her words unspoken. Kokonoe Yukito didn’t really want to hear them anyway.
 
As he passes through the school gate and arrives at the lockers, he notices something is amiss.
 
“My indoor shoes are gone?”
 
“What’s wrong Yoo-chan?”
 
Suzurikawa Hinagi, who put on her shoes first and came over, looks where he’s looking.
 
“Looks like they were hidden.”
 
“Ehh! Wh-wh-what do we do Yoo-chan!”
 
Suzurikawa Hinagi worriedly called out to him, her whole body fidgeting and her twin tails swinging.
 
The indoor shoes with his name on them are missing from his locker. There is a hollow space where the shoes should be.
 
They weren’t lost. Definitely hidden.
 
A common occurrence at school. If they’re missing, I have to ask Mom to buy new ones, which is a hassle.
 
A classmate must have done it. Such an obvious prank.
 
Once it starts, there’s no end in sight. No matter how trivial it may seem to the perpetrator, the victim’s resentment swells without limit. And you have to go to school every day, afraid of what might happen next. It’s hell.
 
But Kokonoe Yukito felt comfortable.
 
Because I knew. That rejection and denial is normal.
 
That it’s the natural state of things, the norm.
 
Everyone always strikes out with such malice.
 
So it’s always the same.
 
If there’s no end, then I should end it myself.
 
Sever everything completely,
 
That’s all it takes in this annoying world, everything…
 
“Yoo-chan! “
 
When did I close my eyes? When I come to, Suzurikawa Hinagi’s face is in front of me. Her eyes are shaking sadly, filled with tears as she looks at me.
 
“Hi-chan? “
 
Without understanding why, Kokonoe Yukito murmurs her name.
 
“Yoo-chan, you won’t disappear, will you?”
 
“But I’m right here…”
 
“I don’t know why, but don’t disappear, Yoo-chan!”
 
Suzurikawa Hinagi doesn’t understand what she feels.
 
But as if by instinct, she clasps his hand tightly.
 
“Let’s look for it together, shall we? “
 
So that he doesn’t go anywhere, so that her childhood friend doesn’t disappear, she holds his hand as if to make sure that he is there.
 
Why?
 
Why is she so…
 
Not letting me disappear?
 
Something inside me is screaming.
 
I try to appeal to something.
 
But Kokonoe Yukito doesn’t know what it is. His thoughts wrap his feelings in a hazy veil of compulsion. When did this happen, the connection between thoughts and feelings remains severed, never to be reconnected.
 
Still, why does her voice draw me in so much?
 
“It’s okay, Hii-chan. My mental strength is top notch, on par with Red from the Sunday morning superhero show.”
 
“Yoo-chan, so cool!”
 
Suzurikawa Hinagi’s eyes go round in amazement.
 
Kokonoe Yukito leaves the emotions trapped in his mind and sighs.
 
“We don’t have to search. I’ll get whoever hid them to bring them out.”
 
“You can do that?”
 
I can’t stay in my sock feet, so I go to get the visitor’s slippers.
 
“I’ll fix it quickly.”
 
Kokonoe Yukito tells his childhood friend the same words as last night and goes to the classroom.
 

 
Arriving at the classroom, another irregularity soon becomes apparent.
 
Insults like [Dumbo] and [Criminal] are scrawled on the desk. When he opens the drawer, he finds that the textbooks are also graffitied and tattered. It’s mid-May. Even though the new textbooks were distributed only two months ago, they’re far from pristine.
 
“Do you know who did this?”
 
I ask Kazahaya Akari, who is sitting next to me.
 
We sit next to each other, and Akari, a girl who often talks actively to me, asks questions when she doesn’t understand parts of the lesson, and I’ve explained things to her before when she did.
 
“How terrible to steal other people’s things! Just die, why don’t you? Don’t steal mine, okay?”
 
She spits vitriol, hate and contempt right into my face.
 
Amidst mocking giggles, insults like “Idiot”, “Eww, a thief”, “What are we going to do, he’s going to steal our stuff” bombard from all around.
 
Kokonoe Yukito silently takes his seat. Seemingly encouraged by this, the mocking voices increase in volume and density.
 
After a while, homeroom teacher Sanjoji Ryouka and student teacher Himiyama Misaki arrive, and the taunting immediately stops, becoming silent as if nothing had happened.
 
Before the morning greeting, Kokonoe Yukito spoke up without waiting for Sanjoji Ryouka.
 
“Sensei.”
 
“What is it Kokonoe-kun?”
 
Her eyes seem annoyed, as if he’s a nuisance, Kokonoe Yukito felt. Himiyama Misaki looks at him the same way.
 
“My indoor shoes were missing this morning.”
 
“What!”
 
Only now do they lower their eyes. Kokonoe Yukito is wearing slippers.
 
Seeing this, Sanjoji Ryouka and Himiyama Misaki’s faces contort. They intuit that the bullying has started because of their reckless actions and regret that it was too late. They should have been more considerate. But now it was all for naught.
 
Sanjoji Ryouka composes her expression sharply and scans the classroom.
 
“Who hid Kokonoe-kun’s shoes?”
 
Mocking laughter echoes through the classroom.
 
“I don’t know. He’s a thief, so isn’t it just a thief being thieved?”
 
“Thieves are liars, right? So isn’t it a lie?”
 
“Stop that!”
 
Sanjoji Ryouka tried to suppress it, but like a broken dam, a burst river, the malice poured out turbulently, engulfing the room.
 
Whether it’s everyone or someone who says it is unclear.
 
Amplifying, spreading malice.
 
It’s okay to bully this guy.
 
Fine to hurt him, to belittle him.
 
This common perception spreads.
 
Himiyama Misaki turned pale.
 
Sanjoji Ryouka also wears an angry expression.
 
If you want to be a teacher, bullying is inevitable. It’s a problem that everyone faces. If you try to avoid it, you are not qualified to be a teacher in the first place.
 
Can ignoring it and spending your time safely be called an admirable teacher? Is that an educator to be proud of?
 
As individual educators, as aspiring teachers, Sanjoji Ryouka and Himiyama Misaki couldn’t ignore the scene unfolding before their eyes. They couldn’t let the class fall apart. They shared this view.
 
When Sanjoji Ryouka starts to speak to quell the clamor, the one who stops her is none other than Kokonoe Yukito himself.
 
“I’ll wait until the lunch break. Whoever hid the shoes, bring them to me by then. Whoever graffitied my desk and textbooks, come and apologize. If you know who did it, tell me. Let me repeat. The time limit is lunch.”
 
He informs the whole class, but when they hear this, the taunts increase.
 
“What happens if they’re not found before lunch?”
 
“Gahahahaha,” says Kosuke Takatakayama and Kosuke Kouyama, they mock and agitate. Led by Takayama, his group of delinquents shout taunts. Both boys and girls laugh as if they had discovered a funny toy.
 
Of course, not everyone is tainted with malice.
 
But before the atmosphere that now pervades the class, such individual resistance was powerless. Violence in the name of peer pressure. And those who act independently in this situation are still ultimately accomplices.
 
In the midst of this, Kokonoe Yukiro simply declared with eyes devoid of emotion.
 

 
“Shared responsibility, you’re all enemies.”
 

 
For some reason, even louder laughter echoed through the classroom.
 

 
The first period became a self study period.
 
Kokonoe Yukito was called to an empty classroom by Sanjoji Ryouka. Himiyama Misaki joined them.
 
“Are you alright Kokonoe-kun?”
 
“What do you mean?”
 
“What do I…”
 
Not knowing how to talk to him, he can only answer as he was asked. No matter how calm he looks, there’s no way he’s unhurt. Our careless scolding of him in front of his classmates triggered the bullying. Sanjoji Ryouka and Himiyama Misaki felt this responsibility.
 
“It’ll be okay, Kokonoe-kun. We’ll protect you properly. Let’s all search together as soon as we’re done talking, okay?”
 
“I’ll help too. Okay?”
 
“No need to search.”
 
“We can’t just leave it like that. Don’t be stubborn. Trust your teachers.”
 
“If you teachers don’t trust me, how can you tell me to trust you?”
 
Kokonoe!
 
Like a figurative slap, their faces contorted.
 
But ignoring that, Kokonoe Yukito faces Himiyama Misaki.
 
“By the way, Himiyama-sensei, when exactly did your belongings go missing? “
 
Not expecting to be asked this question, Himiyama Misaki answers confused.
 
“I think it was the day before yesterday, after school.”
 
“Are you sure about that?”
 
“Yes, I shouldn’t be wrong, but…”
 
Unable to comprehend his goal, she can only answer in a questioning manner.
 
“That’s strange. That day after school, I went straight home and played with Hii-chan… Suzurikawa Hinagi-chan from the third grade. So when could I have stolen it?”
 
“Huh…that’s right? Then maybe around the end of fifth period–“
 
“Didn’t you say after school earlier? Were you lying, Sensei? Please stop talking nonsense.”
 
“I-I’m not lying!”
 
Seeing the situation, Sanjoji Ryouka interjects.
 
“Kokonoe-kun, you’re still saying that! Stop being stubborn and just admit it honestly and apologize already. You were scolded by your parents, right?”
 
“I have no reason to be scolded.”
 
“Sure, it was wrong to accuse you like that in front of everyone, but look, it’s just us teachers here now. Come on, Kokonoe-kun, be honest. Okay, if you apologize properly here, that’ll be the end of it. Then we teachers can be your allies. We’ll scold those who hid your shoes and wrote graffiti. We won’t discriminate against you or let you down.
 
So you understand, right?
 
Sanjoji Ryouka continued, as if admonishing an ignorant child.
 
“Kokonoe-kun, I’m not angry, and the teacher is on your side, too. If it’s because you like me, I would be very happy. But stealing in silence is no good, right?”
 
For Kokonoe Yukito, these soft words were unbearably disgusting.
 
“Ahahahahaha. I do not need allies.”
 
“It’s because of your attitude that your shoes are hidden! Why don’t you understand that!”
 
Ignoring the angry Sanjoji Ryouka, Kokonoe Yukito takes out the drawing paper he brought with him.
 
“Himiyama-sensei, I’ll ask again. When exactly was it stolen? This paper has all my actions from the day before yesterday written on it. Looking at it proves that I’m not the culprit, so…”
 
“Enough of this nonsense!”
 
Sanjoji Ryouka’s slap landed on his cheek.
 
At that moment, the drawing paper in his hand tore into pieces.
 
“Kokonoe-kun!”
 
Himiyama Misaki hastily supports the staggering Kokonoe Yukito.
 
Sanjoji Ryouka comes to her senses in an instant. She reacted by hitting him reflexively.
 
Although it was normal in the past, corporal punishment is forbidden in modern education. There are no excuses. If reported, it could even jeopardize her career as a teacher, a fatal mistake.
 
I’m getting too emotional. For some reason, standing in front of this student Kokonoe Yukito, my heart becomes restless, swallowed by his ephemeral atmosphere.
 
“Ahh, right after I worked so hard on it yesterday.”
 
Picking up the miserably torn paper, Kokonoe Yukito crumples it up and throws it away.
 
“I see. I finally understand. I was wrong.”
 
The apology finally fell from his lips.
 
Upon hearing these words, Ryouka Sanjoji felt the need to apologize herself.
 
It was obvious. No matter what the reasons were, physically punishing a student was never acceptable. But before thinking about social responsibility or self-preservation, one had to apologize for what one had done. That was what it meant to be an adult.
 
“I, too, let my emotions get the best of me. I’m sorry…”
 
“You teachers didn’t really care about the truth, did you? Just say it from the beginning. It’s inconvenient for you if I’m not the culprit.”
 
A chilling, creepy voice echoed through the empty classroom.
 
Kokonoe Yukito, the student in question, had always been somewhat elusive. His thoughts and emotions were not easily discernible, making it difficult to understand what he was thinking. On the other hand, he excelled in both academics and sports. A mysterious student. Ryouka Sanjoji had this impression, and Himiyama Misaki, who had interacted with students for a short time, had a similar view.
 
“What are you talking…”
 
“It’s stupid for someone like me to have created something like that, isn’t it? Ah, I see. I was foolish from the moment I thought that talking would convey anything.”
 
“Wha-!”
 
She involuntarily held her breath as she looked into those eyes.
 
Deep, dark, endlessly falling. Pure, yet deeply clouded eyes fixed on Ryouka Sanjoji and Himiyama Misaki.
 
“It was simple. I was the one who was wrong. It was a mistake for me to think of you as teachers. I’m sorry.”
 
Kokonoe Yukito said it easily, as if it was nothing, the apology he had refused for so long.
 
However, those words were…
 

 
“You were enemies too.”
 

 
It was unmistakably a farewell.
 

 
Sanjoji Ryouka tried to call out and stop Kokonoe Yukito as he calmly left the empty classroom, but she had no idea what to say and just watched wordlessly as he walked away while she hesitated.
 
“How did it come to this…”
 
Himiyama Misaki lamented. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
 
Just a few days ago, we were enjoying teaching. I felt a sense of fulfillment in this profession. I felt it was my calling. The desire I had to lead the children was shattered in those two days.
 
She noticed the paper that Kokonoe Yukito had thrown away. I didn’t even look at it before.
 
Wondering what it was, she walks over on unsteady feet and picks up the crumpled, torn drawing paper and spreads it out.
 
She immediately understood its meaning.
 
“R-Ryouka-sensei! Please take a look at this!”
 
“What is it?”
 
Sanjoji Ryouka was also mentally exhausted. Even though it was still morning, her tiredness was at its peak. The stress was sapping her strength. The beating of a student and his parting words echoed in her mind.
 
Distracted, she lowered her gaze to the paper that Himiyama Misaki had spread out.
 
“This is from the day before yesterday…? Wait, that can’t be!”
 
It accurately describes the events of two days ago.
 
Everything about Kokonoe Yukito’s day. Who he went to school with in the morning. Who he met with, where he was during class, during recess, after school. Clearly written at a glance.
 
But could someone really remember his actions so vividly?
 
The completeness seems too unbelievable, like a lie.
 
Incomparable to some hastily scribbled summer plans.
 
And yet the majority of them match both of their memories.
 
Which also means that the written content is credible.
 
A trembling hand runs over the paper.
 
After school. On that day ended with fifth period.
 
It says he went home with a girl named Suzurikawa Hinagi at 14:45. Meticulously, even including details of their walk home.
 
“It’s not Kokonoe-kun? Wait, then who, who stole…? What I did, what I said to him-!”
 
“Misaki-sensei, please calm down!”
 
I didn’t want to see. Praying that it was a lie was the most despicable thought. If this paper was true, then no matter how you looked at it, it wouldn’t have been possible for him to steal.
 
“L-look! Look, Misaki-sensei!”
 
Sanjoji Ryouka points to a place on the paper.
 
It mentions that he met and greeted the office worker Takigawa before leaving the school.
 
“We have to confirm this! Hurry!”
 
“Yes!”
 
I couldn’t bear to sit still. As if strangled by cotton wool, Sanjoji Ryouka and Himiyama Misaki finally realized that they may have been fundamentally mistaken.
 
Class is self-study. We must return soon or it might get noisy again. But for now, finding out the truth was the priority. It came first, we can’t face him again without confirmation.
 
I, who usually scold students for running in the hall, am running in the hall.
 
While inwardly mocking myself, Sanjoji Ryouka sensed that the end was near.
 

 
“Takigawa-san, are you there, Takigawa-san?”
 
The young teacher rushes into the faculty office in a desperate state. Takigawa can’t help but be startled by her intensity. Thinking that there must be something unpleasant going on, she calls out.
 
“W-what’s wrong?”
 
“Takigawa-san. The day before yesterday after school, did you meet a student near the lockers?”
 
“A student? Well, I met quite a few, but…”
 
Takigawa gives an ambiguous answer to Sanjoji Ryouka’s vague question.
 
“Oh, um. No, wait, this boy.”
 
Sanjoji Ryouka shows the student register with photos.
 
“Ah, him, huh. He was walking home hand in hand with a young lady.”
 
“Wh-what time was that?”
 
“I remember right after the bell rang, probably before 3 pm? He said goodbye properly before he left.”
 
“That can’t be…”
 
The pronouncement was like the grim reaper’s scythe. A sharp blade at my throat.
 
Faced with the cruel reality, Himiyama Misaki broke down in sobs. Sanjoji Ryouka felt the same way. But her experience and pride supported her and made her realize that this wasn’t allowed for her.
 
“W-what seems to be wrong?”
 
Takigawa hurriedly helped Himiyama Misaki up.
 
Everything, everything was wrong.
 
He was right about everything from the beginning and we were completely wrong.
 
Why? Why didn’t we even try to listen to him?
 
Why didn’t we consider other possibilities ?
 
He denied it thoroughly. He steadfastly refused to admit anything.
 
He even prepared a paper detailing his actions.
 
But I still didn’t believe him.
 
So I was abandoned by him, rejected.
 

 
It’s too late for regret and realization now.
 

 
Lunch break.
 
Without anyone talking to Kokonoe Yukito all morning, the time came.
 
Of course, his indoor shoes still haven’t been returned.
 
Because Kokonoe Yukito was specified until the lunch break, it created an atmosphere of ignoring him until then. Mocking glances that stuck to him like chewing gum, belittled him from all sides.
 
Sitting next to him, Akari Kazahaya shifts her desk to increase the distance between them. She wasn’t sure if it was harassment or if she just didn’t want to be near him, but either way, Kokonoe Yukito didn’t really care. Because they were enemies.
 
“Time is up. Then let’s go.”
 
Muttering quietly, Kokonoe Yukito went to the lockers.
 

 
He takes a garbage bag from the cleaning supplies.
 
No students come to the entrance during this time. Kokonoe Yukito haphazardly stuffs the entire class’s outdoor shoes into the garbage bag. One wasn’t enough, so it became two, but there’s nothing to be done. Carrying the bags of shoes on his shoulders, he looks like a seasonal Santa Claus.
 
His destination is the courtyard. It’s not very spacious, but it’s not nearly enough room for energetic play either. Kokonoe Yukito’s destination was the pond.
 
“Hmm, not so good, huh? I know, I’ll fill it with stones.”
 
He picks up rocks from the curb and puts them in the bags. The amount makes it quite heavy.
 
He closes the bags lightly and immediately throws them into the pond. They sink with the mass of shoes in no time. The bags aren’t sealed, so the contents quickly soak through.
 
“Oh damn. What a tragedy.”
 
I don’t want to wear wet shoes. The slimy feeling is disgusting.
 
While thinking this, Kokonoe Yukito had absolutely no concern about how his classmates would get home today. No interest or care at all.
 
Because they’re not classmates, they’re enemies.
 
The glass boy thinks.
 
Malice for malice. That is enough.
 
“Enemies alone are enough.”
 
That was the only answer he knew.
 

 
“Yoo-chan, can we play today?”
 
On the way to school in the morning. A boy and a girl walk side by side.
 
His childhood friend Suzurikawa Hinagi asks the boy next to her. He notices that her grip on his hand tightens slightly.
 
“Sorry Hii-chan. I was busy with something yesterday.”
 
“Hio-chan wants to play with Yoo-chan too!”
 
“Maybe we can today?”
 
“Yay!”
 
Her twin tails bounce excitedly. Hio-chan is Suzurikawa Hinagi’s sister, Suzurikawa Hiori. If Suzurikawa Hinagi is his childhood friend, then Suzurikawa Hiori could be called one as well.
 
With a broad grin on her face, Suzurikawa Hinagi walks happily. Looks really funny. Honest words. A kind heart without pretense. The unsuspecting girl who openly expressed her feelings was the ally of the boy.
 
Kokonoe Yukito wondered, why am I bothering with this crap? Allies and enemies. Allies should always have priority. But here I am dealing with enemies, losing time to play with the ally Hii-chan.
 
If they’re not worth dealing with… How wasteful.
 
“Gotta finish this quickly.”
 
“?”
 
Suzurikawa Hinagi also heard these words. She doesn’t understand the meaning. But still, she doesn’t ask for an explanation. Because the boy next to her is always looking somewhere else.
 
Even if they are called childhood friends, he’s still a other person, no need to fully understand the unknown boy. What’s important is that their hearts are connected. She cares for him and believes that he cares for her. If I can believe that, there’s no fear.
 
But Suzurikawa Hinagi’s expression clouds when Kokonoe Yukito goes to get the visitor’s slippers.
 
“Yoo-chan, your shoes still haven’t arrived?”
 
Kokonoe Yukito wearing slippers means that the hidden indoor shoes still haven’t been returned.
 
“Huh? Don’t worry about it. They’ll be back today.”
 
“I see… Yes. They’ll be back!”
 
Big eyes stare at the boy. His expression does not change. But she understands some things. If he says they’ll come back today, then they will.
 
Suzurikawa Hinagi doesn’t doubt the words of Kokonoe Yukito. Because she believes him. Because he never broke a promise. So it’ll be okay.
 
Ideally, I would like to search together now. But since he says so, I’ll believe him.
 
That’s trust.
 
“Let’s go! Yoo-chan.”
 
I won’t let go of this hand. That’s the only thing I can do, Suzurikawa Hinagi understood. She felt it strongly at this moment.
 
She wasn’t sure if it was the innocence of a child or instinct, but in that moment, the girl understood that her heart was connected to the boy’s heart better than anyone else and deduced the right answer.
 

 
It is only a little later that she loses sight of that.
 

Entering his classroom, a tremendous animosity stabs Kokonoe Yukito. When he checks his desk, it is in even worse shape than yesterday.
 
The scribblings on the desk and textbooks are no longer just graffiti, but slander and libel. The handkerchief his mother had kindly made for him is torn to pieces by what looks like a pair of scissors or a bladed tool.
 
“You bastard! How dare you sink our shoes in the pond!”
 
He has to bother Mom again… While Kokonoe Yukito is thinking this, someone shouts something. A group of three boys is approaching.
 
Takayama, I think? Lacking any deeper interactions, that is all I know, but he seems quite angry for some reason.
 
“You did it right!”
 
“We had to walk home soaked!”
 
“Did what?”
 
Kokonoe Yukito has completely forgotten. Because I was busy yesterday.
 
I was so busy that I couldn’t even play with Suzurikawa Hinagi. I also came home late, and after that, various other things happened. In that busyness, I forgot what I did.
 
“You hid shoes in the pond!”
 
“Oh! Did that happen? I didn’t know. Maybe it was the work of thieves?”
 
Come to think of it, I vaguely remember doing something like that, but I play dumb. It was thieves who did it. If thieves also hid my indoor shoes, then the same is true this time. It has to be. Nothing strange about it.
 
“Stop fooling around!”
 
“Wasn’t it thieves who hid it? I don’t know.”
 
Not only the boys, but also the girls seem to dislike this answer.
 
Male and female alike bombard me with looks of disgust and contempt.
 
The animosity intensified, and like water in a glass about to spill from the surface tension, the balance we had maintained collapsed.
 
“Do it!”
 
Someone, a girl, said. But even if she hadn’t started it, eventually someone would have said the same thing. Or the boys before me would have reached their limit sooner. The only difference.
 
“Screw you! Just die!”
 
Takayama, Hashimoto and Kitagawa attack at the same time. No one tries to stop them.
 
Kokonoe Yukito takes the beating helplessly. His classmates watch the scene with amusement. What’s there is anticipation. The basic principle of eliminating annoying foreign objects. For the boys and girls, this is absolutely right.
 
After all, it’s his fault that their shoes got soaked.
 
The bad one is Kokonoe Yukito, Kokonoe Yukito is the evil one, Kokonoe Yukito is the enemy.
 
“Stop it! It wasn’t me! It hurts!”
 
Kokonoe Yukito pleads. But the violence doesn’t stop.
 
“Shut up! We don’t need your kind here!”
 
“Die, thief!”
 
The group’s attack rains down on Kokonoe Yukito.
 
Seeing him curled up small and unresisting, the exhilaration of Takayama’s group, the boys, increases. The adrenaline destroys restraint and strips away reason. Once started, it can’t be stopped. Uncontrollable.
 
We’re doing the right thing. Our classmates also cheered.
 
Takayama felt elated. The other one is a criminal who dumped our shoes in the pond. The five-member Super Sentai team on the Sunday morning superhero program gang up and lynch their enemies too. I’m justice, he’s evil, the criminal is Kokonoe Yukito. Nothing stands in the way of using reason.
 
“It wasn’t me! It hurts! Please stop!”
 
The classmates laugh derisively, shouting merciless taunts.
 
“Hit him harder!” “Beat him up!” It seems that the soaking of their shoes made them really angry, because no one tried to stop the attack. The boys couldn’t stop themselves.
 
Some of them wanted nothing to do with it, but amidst the penetrating air, even that was meaningless.
 
Takayama felt his sadism fulfilled. I’m the absolutely powerful one. One who tortures others. The king who tramples on the weak and rules over them. I’m strong. I have power. I hit that annoying bastard who is cowering before me, intoxicated by this omnipotence.
 
I’m the ruler. Although the concept of school caste hadn’t been fully established in the lower elementary school years, it was certainly in the making.
 
People are not equal, and the weak can’t oppose the strong. That’s the strict rule of this world.
 
“It hurts! Please stop! It wasn’t me!”
Suddenly, I feel something strange. Something like a skipping record…
 
But this slight discomfort is overwhelmed by the overwhelming exhilaration.
 
Now all I can think about is to make this pathetic garbage crawl in front of me, to make him cry, to mock him.
 

“What are you all doing?”
 
“Everyone stop!”
 
Sanjoji Ryouka and Himiyama Misaki storm into the classroom.
 
“It’s his fault!”
 
The bad premonition hits Sanjoji Ryouka and her chest hurts. In the past few days, Himiyama Misaki’s haggishness has also been getting worse by the day.
 
Yesterday, there was a small riot after school. The students’ shoes were sinking into the pond. First, one of the students reported that his shoes were hidden.
 
But it wasn’t just him. The shoes of the entire class were gone. The scope is too wide for bullying a single target. The scope is too broad.
 
If it’s not bullying, what is it?
 
The students and Sanjoji Ryouka, Himiyama Misaki searched the school. But they were not found on the school grounds. They were spotted by the pond in the courtyard.
 
Kokonoe Yukito is not among the searching students. The culprit was undoubtedly Kokonoe Yukito. I remember what Kokonoe Yukito said. You’re all enemies, that’s what he said.
 
He should’ve been called out right away. You can’t not inform your parents after all that.
 
But even though it was definitely Kokonoe Yukito, Sanjoji Ryouka still hesitated.
 
We accused him of a crime he didn’t commit and made him the culprit.
 
We told his mother about a crime he didn’t commit and advised her to scold him.
 
No matter how certain, no matter how clear it was that Kokonoe Yukito was the guilty one, we who had made the false accusation couldn’t accuse Kokonoe Yukito again without evidence. So she hesitated.
 
The next day, she decided to hear from Kokonoe Yukito first.
 
I tried to convince the students, but they weren’t convinced. I mishandled things again. This time, the soft judgment led to violence.
 
Not a fight. A one-sided attack. He was crouching weakly.
 
Somehow, it looked unbelievable to Sanjoji Ryouka and Himiyama Misaki, but the scene before their eyes was reality.
 
“It wasn’t me! Stop it! It hurts!”
 
Even when they see the teachers, Takayama’s group doesn’t stop the attack. No, they couldn’t stop. They’d gone far beyond the point of self-control.
 
Ahh, how funny. Why is torturing weak people so entertaining? To hit them, to kick them, to make them submit, is the greatest fun.
 
Here and now, this is the greatest entertainment.
 
Maybe you can call it human instinct. Their unleashed primitive nature.
 
No matter how mature human society becomes, it will never disappear.
 
Everyone, given the slightest opening, wants to frame and trample, to force the other into submission!
 
That’s why.
 
To resist such violence,
 
To stop such violence,
 
is always
 
Overwhelming violence.
 

 
For a moment, Sanjoji Ryouka felt her eyes meet those of Kokonoe Yukito.
 
At that moment, as if nothing had happened, Kokonoe Yukito stood up and kicked Takayama into the air. The shock sent desks and chairs flying.
 
“Huh?”
 
Himiyama Misaki doesn’t understand. No, “?” hovered over everyone present.
 
The previously noisy classroom was instantly silent.
 
Kokonoe Yukito folds back his fingers and is grabbed by Hashimoto behind him.
 
“Gyaaaaah!”
 
Hashimoto immediately lets go of his hand and lets the punch fly.
 
“Wh-what the hell!”
 
Uneasy about the sudden violence, Kitagawa comes swinging at him, but his punches don’t connect as his lower half doesn’t follow through.
 
Besides, Kokonoe Yukito was experienced in fights. The unlucky boy had been involved in such things quite often. Nothing special, just everyday life for him. In order to stand up to them, he didn’t neglect his daily jogging and strength training.
 
I didn’t consider someone who would just attack recklessly in the heat of the moment to be a match for me at all.
 
Kitagawa’s unstable stance easily collapsed.
 
Pulling him down, Yukito kick him like a soccer ball.
 
“…Guh!”
 
Loudly, sending desks and chairs flying again.
 
Takayama stands up with an expression of not understanding what happened.
 
But still controlled by the intoxication from earlier, he comes swinging at me again.
 
“You bastaaaard!”
 
A vertical kick into Takayama’s attacking knee makes his hips give out. Then I drive my knee into his face.
 
“Pgyah.”
 
He lets out an unbearable voice and collapses. His nose is bleeding. Grabbing Takayama’s hair, yukito pull him up and slam his face into the wall.
 
“…Gaa!”
 
No one could move. They didn’t know what had happened.
 
The same was true for Takayama’s group.
 
I was supposed to be the powerful one. I was supposed to be the hero. Trampling on the weak, forcing them to kneel, an overwhelming existence ruling and trampling on the weak!
 
So why, why,
 
Why is it that I am the one being beaten now?
 
No matter how much I refuse to realize it, nothing changes, the heat I’ve been building up is quickly cooling down. Calming down, the adrenaline secretion stops, leaving only the reality of the pain.
 
“Come to think of it, Takayama. My shoes are gone, do you know where they are?”
 
“Wh-what are you…”
 
Cold words reach my ears.
 
That’s strange. Didn’t you just beg pitifully?
 
But somehow, as if none of that happened, he calmly slams my face into the wall again.
 
“S-stop, stop!”
 
Came a muffled sound.
 
“When I said stop, you didn’t stop, did you? And my shoes were stolen by thieves?”
 
He slapped me again.
 
“Hey, Takayama. You know where they are, right?”
 
He slapped me again.
 
The sadism in Takayama’s eyes is gone. Now there is terror in his eyes.
 
The excitement fades, my mood painted over by the reality of inexplicable fear and pain, shriveling.
 
“Bring them.”
 
That’s all he say.
 
“Uwaaaaah!”
 
Takayama sobs and flees the classroom.
 
He scan his classmates, whom he’d just taunted and yelled at.
 
Then he walk in their direction with a swagger. They all wanted to run. But their legs were trembling, unable to move. Their perception couldn’t keep up with the world that had suddenly changed in an instant.
 
“Didn’t you say you were going to beat me to a pulp? Does that mean I can beat you too now?”
 
“Uh… no, that’s…”
 
He grab Akari Kazahaya’s collar.
 
Frozen with fear, words don’t come out. I felt my chest lighten as I watched the guy who soaked our shoes get beaten. I thought I would hit him harder.
 
So I cheered too. I didn’t do anything wrong.
 
But why, why is this happening?
 

Sanjoji Ryouka came to her senses and shouted.
 
“You can’t hit girls!”
 
“We live in an age of gender equality.”
 
“Th-that’s not what it meant!”
 
Kokonoe hurries over to stop Yukito. He grabs the collar with frightening force. She tried to pull him off, but he ignored her.
 
“We are equally guilty. I was attacked one-sidedly. And they instigated it. Didn’t you see? That’s violence too.”
 
“Yes, it’s …… “
 
It was only at this point that Ryouka Sanjoji finally realized. She had come to this conclusion far too late. The violence of Takayama and his friends had started long before she arrived in the classroom. And it had continued even after their arrival. That boy had deliberately shown her.
 
Even though she could have pushed him away from the beginning, she had justified her actions.
 
And what he said was not wrong at all.
 
Incitement or aiding and abetting, in any case, no one had tried to help him. In other words, in his eyes, everyone was equally guilty.
 
“What you did to me was also a form of verbal abuse.”
 
“That’s…!”
 
There’s no room to argue. Because he’s right. I have caused this whole situation. By never listening to what he said, it came to this.
 
“I’m going to beat them all to a pulp.”
 
“Hicc! I didn’t do anything!”
 
“I don’t know either! They just left and–“
 
Shirking responsibility, self-preservation. Emotional. Anyone would probably react like that if they heard those words. He did it in front of their eyes. Which means what he’s doing now is condemning.
 
“Stop it! Don’t do any more violence!”
 
“What are you going to do? My textbooks and the handkerchief my mother kindly made are torn. Isn’t that violence?”
 
“Why would you do such terrible things?”
 
Himiyama Misaki held the torn handkerchief in her trembling hands. As if she was told that this is my crime, she can’t avert her eyes.
 
“Please inform all her parents. You can at least do that, right? You informed my mother when I did nothing. But everything they’ve done is a fact.”
 
There’s no way to sweep this under the rug. I have no choice but to contact Takayama’s parents. But the boy in front of me doesn’t seem to want to leave it at that.
 
What Kokonoe Yukito is saying is that he wants all the guardians to come and apologize for their foolish actions after telling them what their children have done.
 
“W-wait! Please, just give me some time! I’m not going to pretend that it didn’t happen. I’ll do it right this time!”
 
Flustered, confused, chaotic. Can’t think of anything, don’t even know where to start thinking.
 
For now, the only thing I can do is talk desperately to somehow resolve this situation.
 

“–What’s all this commotion?”
 

 
The one who interrupted Sanjoji Ryouka’s thoughts was Vice Principal Toyama.
 

 
“Sanjoji-sensei, what is this commotion?”
 
“No, this is…”
 
Not knowing how to answer Vice Principal Toyama, Sanjoji Ryouka’s words trailed off.
 
Why is the vice principal here? I wonder, but with this much noise, other classes probably heard it too, or maybe he just happened to pass by and noticed. Anyway, bad luck. Until things calm down, I can’t really explain.
 
“Ah, I’ve been waiting, Vice Principal.”
 
“You are… did you cause this disturbance?”
 
However, for some reason, Kokonoe Yukito speaks to Vice Principal Toyama in a familiar way. Sanjoji Ryouka and Himiyama Misaki instinctively realize that this is a bad omen. If this boy does something, it will surely go in the worst direction.
 
“No way. I was hit one-sidedly.”
 
“What is that? Explain it properly from the beginning.”
 
While he says he’s calm, Kokonoe Yukito is tattered from the beating. Everyone can see that it’s not a lie. Toyama’s expression hardens, but as if it didn’t matter, Kokonoe Yukito continues.
 
“More importantly, Vice Principal, can we talk about yesterday again? Please.”
 
“What do you mean? Explain what happened first.”
 
“If the vice principal would talk, everything would be clear. Please tell us. Let me hear it again.”
 
“What is it…”
 
Kokonoe Yukito, who bowed his head obediently, took the edge off Tōyama’s hostility.
 
“Sigh… Fine. What do you want to know, then?”
 
“Thank you.”
 
Ryouka Sanjoji had a vague understanding of what was about to begin.
 
In front of the podium, Kokonoe Yukito continued to question Vice Principal Toyama.
 
“The vice-principal passed by this classroom after school the day before yesterday, right?”
 
“That’s right. I had to check the equipment in the storage room at the end of the hall.”
 
“What time was that?”
 
“After four, I think, but…”
 
“Was anyone in the class then?”
 
“Ah, one student was still there. I called him and told him to go home carefully.”
 
“Huh?”
 
The voice belongs to Misaki Himiyama.
 
The class ended before 3 p.m. that day. It was rare for students to stay in the classroom until after four.
 
“Who was that student?”
 
“Hmm? Oh right…it was him.”
 
Scanning the classroom, Toyama casually points.
 
The student the vice principal pointed to, Okamoto Kazuhiro, looks down trembling.
 
“Thank you Vice Principal. Last question. Where was he then?”
 
“Hm? He was sitting at that desk getting ready to leave, but…”
 
“That solves everything. As expected from the vice-principal. So manly, kind and admirable. A model of teaching! I respect you deeply.”
 
“Woah, so sudden. I appreciate you saying that, but what exactly did this line of questioning make clear…”
 
Kokonoe Yukito approaches Okamoto Kazuhiro and promptly hits him.
 
With a loud crash, Okamoto goes flying.
 
“Wha-! What are you doing! Stop it!”
 
Toyama hurriedly tries to stop him, but Kokonoe Yukito pulls Okamoto up and throws him onto the podium.
 
“Vice Principal, the desk he was preparing to leave was mine.”
 
“What?”
 
“Okamoto, you. What were you doing in my seat?”
 
At this moment, Ryouka Sanjoji and Misaki Himiyama are just bystanders. That’s why they can’t move.
 
As if they were forced to watch like the audience of a play. Which means that what he’s doing now is condemnation.
 
“I didn’t do anything! I was just sitting there–!”
 
“Getting ready to leave? What did you take from my desk? No, what were you going to put in? You stole that woman’s compact mirror, right?”
 
“N-no! I–!”
 
“You stole it, right!”
 
“No! I was going to give it back later–!”
 
Whether the intimidation is an act or not, his face doesn’t flinch in the least, like an expressionless Noh mask.
 
The classroom falls silent. This confession spoke louder than words.
 
“Stop this nonsense! Tell me what happened!”
 
Toyama shouts in irritation, shaking off the paralysis.
 
Kokonoe Yukito scans the area and says.
 
“It’s simple. That is, they conspired together to frame me as the culprit. That’s what happened.”
 
You. Sanjoji Ryouka and Himiyama Misaki sensed that they were among those whom Kokonoe Yukito refers to as they.
 
Beyond expectations. That’s all Okamoto Kazuhiro can say. Afraid of the escalating riots, Okamoto couldn’t admit to being the culprit, he could only watch.
 
But that was a crime in itself.
 

“What is the meaning of this…”
 

 
Vice Principal Toyama said with a bitter expression. Kokonoe Yukito had told the whole story from the beginning.
 
And in this situation, neither Sanjoji Ryouka nor Himiyama Misaki told any lies.
 
Meanwhile, the sobbing Takayama who’d brought back Kokonoe Yukito’s shoes returned, only to be punched again by Kokonoe Yukito, causing another disturbance, and the three beaten people were taken to the nurse’s office for the time being.
 
“Luckily, you witnessed it Vice Principal, you saved me, but I was planning to consult a lawyer.”
 
“A lawyer…”
 
“I never touched the compact. So the culprit’s fingerprints should be on the compact.”
 
“If it came to that…”
 
Hearing words like “lawyer” from a child’s mouth, he couldn’t hide his fear
 
If that were to happen, the unrest would have spread beyond the school and grown exponentially.
 
However, Kokonoe Yukito didn’t come up with this idea on his own. Kokonoe Yukito had asked his mother’s sister, Kokonoe Sekka, about the possibility of identifying the culprit.
 
Kokonoe Sekka had casually mentioned it as one of the methods without telling him to say it. He just took it seriously took it to heart and said it.
 
“I understand the circumstances. Sanjoji-sensei, why were you so stubborn? Surely, you could have handled it better?”
 
“I know. I know, but…”
 
That’s exactly what Sanjoji Ryouka had asked herself over and over again. There should have been countless opportunities to turn back before things escalated to this point.
 
And annoyingly, the one who gave us those opportunities was Kokonoe Yukito.
 
Countless times on the way here today, he reached out his hand to us and his classmates. It was a pardon. He said until the lunch break. But no one tried to help him. He presented proofs of his innocence. But no one believed him.
 
And that led to the worst possible outcome. The ones who cut off his hand are to blame, us.
 
It was all a self-inflicted, inexcusable mistake. I can’t imagine how much it hurt him, how angry he was.
 
“But you understand that hitting others is bad, right?”
 
“Of course.”
 
But one thing bothered Sanjoji Ryouka.
 
“Did you have to go so far with Takayama-kun and the others?”
 
“What do you mean? Oh, I apologize. That was thoughtless of me.”
 
“You…!”
 
“Is it okay? I was hit one-sidedly. I desperately fought back because I had no choice. I had no room to hold back.”
 
Lies!
 
Everyone thought that. But they couldn’t call him a liar.
 
After all, Takayama’s group attacked first, and we saw how Kokonoe Yukito was beaten one-sidedly. If he doesn’t admit that it’s a lie, there’s absolutely no way to reverse it.
 
The condemnations continue steadily.
 
Kokonoe Yukito turns his gaze this way. What dark eyes. Those completely blurred pupils don’t reflect any emotion.
 
It occurs to me. Come to think of it, he didn’t even call us teachers today. He hasn’t called us that. I remember what he said yesterday.
 
I see, for him we’re not teachers anymore, but…
 
“You all scolded me so much, right? You told me to apologize when I supposedly did something wrong. But no one apologized, right? Not you, not Takayama’s group, not the trash in this classroom, not that thieving bastard over there.”
 
Himiyama Misaki’s head jerked up.
 
In other words, we’re confronted with the fact that we haven’t done any of the things we’ve been telling to Kokonoe Yukito.
 

 
“The liars are all of you.”
 

 
After that, the hellish days continued for Sanjoji Ryouka and Himiyama Misaki. It took days just to contain the situation. Days of parents coming to apologize. Even parents who were angry that their child had returned home beaten lowered their raised fists when told what their own child had done. They only got what they deserved.
 
Above all, the atmosphere in the class was terrible.
 
Takayama and his friends were trembling with fear and acting like different people. They could only gauge Yukito Koko’s mood. All the textbooks that had been vandalized had to be reimbursed. Although it was Takayama and his friends who had torn the cloth bag with a knife, Yukito Koko didn’t show any mercy and beat them again.
 
“Man, it’s so cruel to treat Kokonoe-kun as the culprit!”
 
“Annoying. Don’t talk to me.”
 
Akari tries to curry favor, but it’s already too late. Okamoto became more and more isolated and lost his place, but not even his teacher Sanjoji Ryouka could do anything about it. Such a disturbance was known in all classes, even a changing class would be difficult. Unable to cope with the environment, Okamoto later changed schools.
 
It was too much for a mere student teacher like Himiyama Misaki.
 
But her pride told her that it couldn’t end like this. That it couldn’t end like this, she desperately endured the remaining time.
 
She wondered how she could be forgiven, how she could survive. I can run away, but Sanjoji Ryouka can’t. She has to continue as the teacher of this broken class. That’s another worry.
 
Now her relationship with Sanjoji Ryouka isn’t just senior and junior. A strange friendship has developed. Or maybe a shared guilt of accomplices. They began to have close contact and talked about all sorts of things.
 
Why did I decide to become a teacher?
 
What did I want to do as a teacher?
 
I loved children.
 
That’s why I felt it was my calling.
 
I never wanted to step on anyone.
 
I didn’t want to hurt them.
 
But the reality was far too cruel,
 
And I was far too stupid.
 
If improving our relationship even a little was the last thing I could do, believing that was the only way she could support herself.
 
“Well then, today is the last day for Misaki-sensei. A round of applause.”
 
Half-hearted clapping echoes. No sense of fulfillment or achievement, nothing to regret. Of course not. All I did was sow discord and destroy this class. You shouldn’t have come. It might be better than being told that to my face.
 
I address the students. A glance in his direction, total indifference.
 
He’s probably not even listening. But I can’t leave it at that. I could never end it like this.
 
So Himiyama Misaki goes to him.
 
And bows deeply.
 
“I am truly sorry. I should have believed in you. I should have listened to you. I know it is unforgivable to apologize now. But please let me apologize. I caused trouble for your parents, too.
 
I can’t tell if it reaches him or not, his expression betrays nothing.
 
“These are my feelings. Please read them when you get home.”
 
I hand him a letter. Himiyama Misaki stayed up all night last night writing it.
 
I rewrote it countless times. A verbal apology is important, but I also wanted to leave something tangible. Despite everything that has happened, I wanted to believe that what I have done so far has meant something.
 
A letter that contained all my feelings.
 
It might have been Himiyama Misaki’s atonement and at the same time a corrupted wish for forgiveness.
 
Ignoring it, Kokonoe Yukito shouldered his backpack and headed for the exit of the classroom.
 

 
“ah…”
 
“Goodbye then.”
 

 
And so Himiyama Misaki’s heart broke and she gave up the path of teaching.
 


 
Translator Note: Still getting goosebumps every time reading this chapter


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If you want to read another story with similar feel please check out recent novel that I just picked up: My Childhood Friend Called Me a Man of Convenience Behind My Back, I want To Reset My Favor and Live a Normal Youth


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