Chapter 4: Revolution
I knew nothing about Ishikawa.
Till the very end, I did not know why Ishikawa cried at the observatory.
I suppose there’s an emotion I can’t imagine, that if I interfered out of personal curiosity, I would probably be heavily involved.
Thus, I did not dig further into this, but left the scene. In other words, I ran away.
For I did not want to be hurt.
This term was so appropriate in describing my actions.
If I have a chance to defend my action, I’ll say that I wasn’t like this all the time.
A year ago.
I took the same bus ride with Masaya.
Masaya Kishitani’s a genius everyone loved, and was already the central figure of the class the moment he entered middle school, males and females always smiling him. Back then, there was a sports festival, and as the last relay runner, he easily overturned the deficit and won. Back then, everyone was talking, “that’s Masaya of Class One”, and he was in his most popular phase. Nobody would have the sense to disagree here, right? Other than idiots?
Even I’m really awed by him. Not just once, but twenty five times of awed. To me, who’s untalented in any way possible, he’s someone I should be hating, but that’s not the case for him. Looking down on Masaya made me feel extremely small; he’s that kind of special.
It just so happened that I was seated next to Masaya on the bus.
“Oh, Sugawara. Can I sit next to you?”
I sat beside me, giving off the smell of some refreshing hair conditioner. With a very natural attitude, he just talked to me; it’s almost a supernatural art.
In other words, he intended to talk to me.
“Speaking of which, I hardly talked to you. We never talked at all since the Opening Ceremony, did me?”
He was overly casual, and I instinctively answered. He had a power I couldn’t ignore.
“Of course, isn’t it? Ahh, it’s really shocking and rare. We never got assigned to the same group, and you always vanish after school or during noon break. Club activities are on hold today, so I got this chance to talk to you.”
“Eh, but I’m just a weak existence that will vanish at any given moment now, right?”
“Don’t just disappear man. There are still people on this world who want to know you.”
“From which planet?”
“Earth. What’s with that answer? What are you normally thinking of?”
“Hungry kids in Africa or something.”
“O-oh, that sounds amazing.”
Of course, I wouldn’t say that as a resident living in a first world country on this world, I’m always hating this world.
But Masaya seemed to have misunderstood in thinking that I’m expanding beyond borders to observer history, and nodded away,
“You’re amazing. I got a different view of you now. If you’re thinking about such things since Middle School, someone like you is going to get a Nobel Prize award down the road.”
“You’re thinking too much into this, Kishitani. I heard that you feel anxious whenever you see people hold chopsticks improperly. Is that correct?”
“It is, it is. Well, to explain it, it’s probably because my sister’s very clumsy, and that I ended up really picky about it. OCD? Anyway, it’s a weird personality.”
He just seemed like a difficult person to deal with. As I thought about this, I suddenly noticed something.
I was conversing normally with a classmate. To others, it might have been something really normal, but it’s abnormal to me.
Thus, I couldn’t help but stare at Masaya; he tilted his head in confusion, but I kept staring at him. In order, I looked at his nose, eyes, ears, mouth, hair and mole, and understood something. It’s been a while since I got interested in someone, I guess?
Masaya Kishinitai had a special ability.
The definite god-given ability to attract other people to him.
“Hey, what’s with you? You saw a ghost behind me or something?”
I kept staring blankly at him until he spoke up. His ability itself startled me. Or rather, experiencing the ability to notice others left me really startled.
It’s like I’m making contact with aliens.
I couldn’t even call myself trash, and Masaya’s a genius from the moment he was born.
During the two months I conversed with Masaya on the bus, I reverted back to being a normal person.
If anyone spoke to me, I would try my best to answer, and as I ate proper meals, I would try chatting with the girl before me. During class, I would focus on taking notes, never forgetting my homework, and always submitting on time.
I suppose my feelings towards Masaya were jealousy, envy and respect, and that encounter with him left such a big impression on me.
But as I said, it just lasted for another two months.
“Those guys that get high scores on the Human Power Test get cocky and annoying as a result, right?”
It happened during noon, and I was in a corner of the classroom, and so happened to overhear a chat amongst girls.
I was really reading, and even though I was nearby, they never minded about this.
“Class three in particular, I heard someone just handed over her test card to others.”
“The test card for the Human Power Test? Wah, that’s pretty high, isn’t it?”
“Right right. 12th. She’s boasting around with it. How shameless.”
“Eh? What’s her name?”
“That Kotomi Ishikawa has a screw loose in her head, don’t you think?”
And the boring gossip started to veer off course.
“Want to tease her?”
Finally someone suggested this.
With a nonchalant look, she said such a cruel line, and it left my back shivering.
So I instinctively stood up. They widened their eyes, rooted to the spot, and I stepped towards them. To be honest, I was terrified by their stares. Ever since young, I was always given such condescending looks.
Perhaps I wanted to get rid of my nickname as trash, and become a hero like Masaya.
“You girls are horrible.” I summoned my courage to say that, “Just rumors, and you think up of such a stupid plan. It’s an eyesore.”
They held down the hems of their blazers, and appeared to be trying to say something, but with more stares gathered upon them, they could only scamper away from the classroom.
I thought I was fighting against evil.
(I was nervous, but I did express myself…maybe I might get everyone’s approval.)
So I had such an optimistic thought.
I stood in place, and had a deep breath, returned to my seat, and continued reading.
However, reality was not that pretty.
Days later, we had a Human Power Test at the end of the second semester.
During the first semester, I was 297th for the Human Power Test.
For the second semester, I was 345th.
It was the complete opposite. I was stunned by this slide in results, holding the Test Card that was given to me, and dumbfounded for moments.
I sat in a corner of the classroom, staring at this number. Suddenly a boy went behind me.
He peered at my grades, and I instinctively turned away. Kouta Katou gave me a look of pity.
“So it slid…” he said, “A few people suggested not to vote for Sugawara.”
How kind of them.
My response probably wasn’t too drastic, and Katou, feeling grieved for me, consoled me,
“You scolded a group of girls, right? That infuriated them, and they went about spreading unfounded rumors, like ‘you peeped into the girls toilet’ or ‘you molested them’, or something.”
“Just for that reason…?”
“Right. But, I can understand their feelings, of wanting to bullying someone who gets high scores in the Human Power Test…” Katou added with sympathy. “I’m not talking with you again, Sugawara. I don’t want to get involved…bye then.”
Katou hurriedly left the scene, so as to avoid having others realize that he chatted with me.
His actions allowed me to realize something.
I see. No matter how much I worked hard or devoted myself, all I can appear to be is awkward, embarrassing, doing foolish things. I thought I was gracefully swimming freestyle in a lake under the moonlight, but I’m just an abandoned puppy struggling in the drain.
And after all I did, others found me repulsive.
Thus, I gave up on working hard. It’s pointless for someone like me to work hard. I should try my best not to attract attention, and become someone unimpressive.
In my eyes, the others have lost their luster.
And so, Masaya himself stopped the harassment of Ishikawa. I always felt that I was worshipping him. My courage would only stoke the flames of their malic, completely meaningless.
Through this incident, I learned two things.
One, I can’t be like Masaya.
Second, it’s better to be trash.
And so, I ended up not caring about others again.
I decided to continue living as trash.
Or at least, that was supposed to be the case.
“‘I’ seem to have some troubles.”
I spent two whole days thinking of the reason why she would cry, yet I had no idea at all, or rather, I couldn’t have, as my mind’s always thinking about random stuff. It’s no different from before.
I was a normal person for two months or so, but that was a year ago. After that, I became trash again. She’s someone of a different world from me, just like how Masaya’s an alien to me.
Thus, I asked my friend Sou, who might come in handy. Inside this lonely room, I awaited his reply,
“Hm, I’m not sure. I never knew her. If you want to discuss this with me, you can be more detailed.”
In the end, even he couldn’t help me out. I didn’t intend to spill the details. I didn’t want to talk to others about Ishikawa that easily.
Sou replied with a question mark, one that had a sigh in it.
“A troublesome personality you have. I can only say that you are becoming ever so conscious of her.
“So I guess that’s it, huh?”
“Right, to a point where you have a crush on her. It is heartbreaking though, to say the least.”
I showed no intention to refute. Crush, maybe he got it.
“But for your sake, I do advice you to know how to exercise restraint.” Sou’s words showed up on the screen. “You are living as trash, not caring about what others say, but that’s because you won’t get hurt, right? By becoming trash that goes nowhere, you try to guess her thoughts, and in the end, you’re the one hurting yourself. Looking at things objectively, the chances of her liking you is miniscule. Is there anyone who liked you when you don’t know how to dress yourself, held hands, and bad at sports?”
I couldn’t type back in refute. I recalled the foolish futility I did a year ago.
Over this period, Sou continue to say without holding back,
“It is time for you to make a decision. Sugawara, you should tidy yourself, dress yourself well, and while maintaining your personality, learn how to woo girls for her sake…if you want to be someone normal, you have to go all the way. However, if you never worked hard and selfishly hoped that she will like you, this is disrespectful to her.”
“You have to choose between being trash, and being a real human.”
Sou pleaded for me to make a decision. I knew he was right, but, it just felt so surreal. I couldn’t make a decision.
I felt breathless, and closed the chat window. I shouldn’t have discussed this with him.
So I told myself, and I left the computer.
After that, I started thinking to myself.
Kotomi Ishikawa had her own troubles.
Was there anything I could do for her? No, or rather, what was I trying to do for her? “You have to choose.” So Sou cornered me, but what was I trying to do?
Suddenly, I tilted my head,
“Did I tell Sou my real name?”
Even without Sou telling me so, I knew very well.
As long as I never bothered with the stares of the people around me, I can maintain calm without. This is the fate of the one ranked 369th in the Human Power Test.
As long as I ignored others, I won’t get hurt.
It’s easier to be trash.
I understood this better than anyone else.
So when she cried and went to the school’s garbage dump, I should have pretended not to notice. Back then, I was on the third floor, and even after seeing her, I could have pretended not to notice. It was stupid of me to run over to her.
But I couldn’t ignore her.
Right, surely I had fallen for Kotomi Ishikawa.
A trash like me who goes nowhere, and she said she ‘envy’ me. Those words alone left me falling for her.
She was cutting a dolphin doll in the dumps, and it’s a pink mammal the size of a palm. I remembered that dolphin hanging on Ishikawa’s bag, and she would shake it from time to time. However, it’s cut up heartlessly. The cotton inside was exposed like organs, looking really pitiful. Ishikawa continued to cut the body of the dolphin.
At first, I went towards Ishikawa, who jumped like a little animal, shivering. However, once she noticed it was me, she looked relieved.
“So it’s you, Sugawara.”
She said with tears in her eyes. It seemed she didn’t care about me noticing her.
“Don’t scare me. I was really shocked.”
“What are you doing here?”
I went straight to the point, and saw her show a grimace. However, she gave a nonchalant look, and said, “I’m dealing with something annoying.”
I looked at the cut up dolphin; that should have been her precious thing.
But before me, she again cut stabbed the dolphin with the scissors.
“Life really isn’t smooth sailing. It’s scary, but with mind-reading, it’ll definitely be easy.” Ishikawa continued to trample upon the doll, and said, “I won’t need to do such a thing.”
“Yeah. With telepathy, you might become someone rich, smooth sailing in like.”
“Eh? No, I’m not referring to money.”
“I’m just joking.”
“Ahahaha, so you can joke too, Sugawara.”
The conversation ended; I didn’t know what to say. I seemed to have lost my ability to speak. I wanted to say some nice things, so that I would be worshipped, liked by her; such selfish desires twirled around in my mind, and I didn’t know how to console her.
Like a scarecrow, I stood still, and saw her throw the scissors to the floor. And then, she collapsed weakly to the floor, cupping her knees, crying.
“I was kept in the dark.”
She said this,
“I was kept in the dark. Everyone hid this from me! Everyone’s laughing at how I don’t know anything behind my back, looking down on me, gossiping behind my back. What have I done!? I thought everyone’s on better terms.”
“I’m suffering. My Human Power Test grades will definitely slide. If they’re hiding this from me, it means that they don’t want to share secrets with me, right? I’ve been abandoned.”
“Rather than dropping by 100 ranks.”
I expressed my doubt,
“You can’t stand having your Human Power Test rank drop by 10, right?”
“Of course…the peer pressure is heavy…so heavy that it can crush me.”
She picked up the scissors, and kept cutting at her doll.
“Everyone’s saying the same thing. Mom, dad, the teachers, manga, anime, everyone’s saying ‘treasure your friends’. Even if I’m smart, I have to treasure my friends; even if I’m strong, the most important things are my friends. In that case, everyone around me is telling me ‘I’m not willing to become friends with you’—does this mean that I’m hopeless? The Human Power Test—is just an indicator.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Why must I be treated this way? Penalized, envied, discriminated, I had enough of this! I don’t want attention.” She vented her frustrations, “I’m scared of being harassed like last year…”
“I don’t want to be treated badly, like being glared at, people clicking their tongues at me…they think I deserve having my Human Power Test slide, and they’ll look down on me…this pains me.”
Like a kid, Ishikawa gave a weak voice.
Seeing this, I was feeling peeved,
“I know this…”
I blurted this accidentally, but Ishikawa did not seem to have heard this. With a perplexed look, she looked up at me.
Why are you giving me such a look, Ishikawa? I know your suffering. I did summon my courage to fight that evil, but you didn’t know.
I had an urge to express my dissatisfaction, and thinking about the past, I felt pain insider my heart. However, I saw a few cuts on Ishikawa’s hands, and was left speechless. I thought it was because of inappropriate handling of the scissors that got her hurt. Ishikawa kept exerting force, and the wounds couldn’t help, her palms becoming red.
Looking down at this, I pointed my fingers at my chest, felt my heartbeat, and continued,
“In that case, just give up.”
I said the words that were stuck in my heart.
“What’s wrong with being trash? What’s wrong with being hated? If you’re going to keep being scared of others, living in pain, you won’t be able to come to school. You might as well ignore your friends; it’s easier for you to live on this world this way.”
“How can I do this?” She ignored my words, and shook her head in pain, “Over the past 14 years, I have been forcing a smile like a clown, making others laugh with silly antics, living for my friends.”
“But if this keeps up, you’ll crumble, Ishikawa. Didn’t you say that you envy me? I’m worried about you. I…” At that instantly, I was hesitant, but I forced myself to spoke, “But I like you. I don’t want you to continue suffering.”
I tried my best to convey my thoughts to her. My cheeks got hot, and I really wanted to dip head first into icy water. However, this wasn’t the time to think about strange things, so I turned my eyes to her.
For a moment, Ishikawa stopped cutting the doll, and soon intended to pick up the scissors. However, I picked it up, and threw it into the dump. She could only cup her knees and remained still. If not for her wide eyes, I would have assumed that she fell asleep.
I could hear the cries of the baseball girl, and soon, I could hear dribbling sounds from the basketball club in the gym. That’s the kind of space we were in, as we remained silent for quite a while. I sat next to Ishikawa, looking up at the sky; the sky was gloomy, like a photo of my youth. Argh, damn it.
After about three minutes or so.
She finally spoke up, “I did envy you, Sugawara…” she said with a vengeance, and then, she corrected herself, “But, I found that I don’t envy you at all.”
I couldn’t understand what those words meant, and could only remain rooted there. Ishikawa stood up, and then gave me a look of pity, saying,
“There’s no way I could have envied you. You’re Sugawara, and looking around the whole world, there’s no one who envies you. Who envies you when you aren’t popular, good at studies or sports, Sugawara?”
“But Ishikawa, you just…”
“That was what I thought, but I was mistaken. You didn’t see happy at all; you always appear to be in pain, living in hell.”
Then, she cried again, and left me,
I couldn’t answer her, and remained rooted at where I was.
There’s a disgusting lone strider trash with autistic social handicaps who was dumped in a matter of moments, and that’s me, Sugawara; I never went home directly. I wanted to go sing alone, and I went to the food corner in the supermarket, begging the attendant, “I’ll pay up, so just throw the food away.” Ishikawa’s words were so shocking that they left me reeling.
“I never expected to be rejected so cruelly!”
Even I would need some time to recover. That’s why I didn’t want to become a normal person. I find that living as trash without hopes for anything as something more suitable to me. A year ago, half a year ago, even now, I realized it painfully.
“Ever since the Earth was created, countless creatures as many as the stars have sex already! Why am I the only one excluded?”
As the hopeless trash, I always grumbled about such uselessness, and tucked at the fried chicken chunks at the food corner of the supermarket with toothpicks. I had a plate of fried chicken sticks, dipped with mayonnaise, so much that it’s brimming from the container. I took a sofa for six, and stuffed the oily bits into my stomach like an interrogation. How am I able to taste anything? I grumbled as I kept cursing the world.
From the bottom of my heart, I was glad that I had no superpowers. If I did, a third of humanity would have died because of my wrath.
As I thought about such unrealistic things, I ripped the chicken chunks with toothpicks.
A voice called out before me.
I lifted my head, and found a tall and slender woman standing before me. I couldn’t tell if she’s a college student or already a member of society, but she did seem young. The first thing I saw were the long legs most Japanese didn’t have, and then, I looked up, cowed by the sharp eyes,
“E-erm…” her eyes looked harsh, and I finally realized something. I didn’t want any trouble, so I hurriedly apologized, “So-sorry, but I have this seat. Pl-please leave.”
“No no no, that’s not what I mean. Do I look like I’m angry?”
Her eyes looked more heinous than before, and she sat down before me. She just look angry anyway, right?
“I’m just worried about what happened to you.”
“There’s no way I can ignore a middle school boy crying, right?”
I put my left hand on my cheek, and the water on my face was more than I thought, even somewhat sticky. It seemed I cried lots, and I didn’t dare to look into the mirror.
“Here, have some.” The woman handed me crepes. The pink packaging rolled up the skin, and there’s a lot of strawberries inside, “You’ll feel like eating something sweet after eating just salty stuff, right?”
The cream of the crepes nearly touched my chest, and I hurriedly accepted it, thanking her.
“I just got rejected. It’s common.”
I simply explained to her. I could ignore her, but I would just think of it as thanks for the crepes.
“Like I said, I was just na?ve. Just failed at that.”
“Oh, so you’re so innocent.”
“No, the motives are thoroughly impure. We’ve only spoke once or twice, but I hardly spoke to the opposite sex, and had my own thoughts, got careless, and confessed, and then I got dumped. I’m just trash, feeling awkward talking about this.”
“Oh.” She seemed disinterested, and then said, “Right, the chicken you ate couldn’t sell at all. It seemed ramen alone would have been boring, so the owner came up with a new dish, but it’s not popular at all.”
“I dropped by here every day in high school, and the owner always complained about this to me. It just feels like I’m the only one who likes coming here to have fried chicken every day.”
“So today, I get to know a comrade who loves eating fried chicken too. I’m touched.”
Saying that, she looked back and forth between me and the fried chicken, “As proof of our friendship, can I have one?” She pleaded me. Did she just want one? I handed her a toothpick, and she picked a mayonnaise-dipped chicken into her mouth.
Looking pleased, she wiped her mouth with the napkin on the table, “In other words.” and added,
“Even if the motives are impure, the outcome tragic, it doesn’t mean that it’s all meaningless. I love fried chicken, and I know someone else who does. Even though the owner does think of it as a failure, this fact won’t change; so you don’t need to lower yourself.”
It seemed this was what she wanted to tell me. I didn’t know what she meant at all, but thinking hard about it, the logic was weird.
“Thanks for the encouragement…but unfortunately, I don’t have any lucky encounters like snatching other people’s fried chicken or something.”
“Isn’t snatching too much of a word? It’s a show of friendship.”
“Anyway, there’s nothing meaningful that happened to me.”
“Oh, but you’re crying because you got rejected. Don’t you find it meaningful too?”
She didn’t seem to mind as she continued,
But to me, it was an unexpected outcome,
“Over the past 14 years, I never had any hopes for others.” I said, “I’m bad at studies and grades, I can’t really talk much with people, never praised for anything I did. I don’t want to be hurt, so I continue living on this world without hopes for anything. How’s someone like me supposed to hope anything for others?”
“I don’t care about the motive or process. I just admit your courage.”
The moment I heard those words, I got up immediately. I wanted to get away at that instance.
“…You can finish the rest.”
“Hm? Really? There’s a lot.”
“it’s fine…you gave me crepes after all.”
After that, I asked a question I was always wondering about,
“Are you Sou?”
“Ah? Eh? Ah? I’m Sayo.”
So I was mistaken. Of course, that guy never treated me so kindly like this lady.
I bowed to her, and turned to leave.
I knew nothing about Ishikawa.
However, there was one thing I knew.
Ishikawa was harassed before. She was scared of gaining attention from standing out too much. Despite this, she summoned her courage to talk to this lonely me.
I did have impure thoughts. My mind’s full of sex, and who knew how many times I masturbated while imagining her. I’m just a hopeless trash of a middle school boy, who had feelings completely distant from innocence.
But despite this, the indisputable fact was that I hoped to see Ishikawa smile, to protect her as she cried and shivered. And even till this point, I harbored such thoughts, that nobody, including me, could deny this thought.
So I decided to launch the revolution.
“I want happiness.”
The world’s already dyed a scarlet red as I left the shopping mall. The skies remained cloudy, but the clouds seemed to be dyed with various colors. Under the scorching scenery, I continued walking in the middle of the road. The cooling wind blew at my hair.
And then, I said my thoughts out loud,
“I want happiness as trash. Even if I’m last in the Human Power Test, I want to keep smiling. I want to donate to developing countries from a position high up. I don’t want to be scolded, and I won’t bother others even if I’m humiliated. While I’m peer-pressured into strong-arming others, I’m just going to sit back and watch. If I’m cursed with misfortunate, I’m going to live a happier life. When I’m cursed by the entire world to be jailed, I won’t commit a crime. I’m going to live happily.”
This was the last time I cried.
I continued moving towards happiness. I gobbled down the crepes in large bites, and held the remaining packaging,
“And then, I’m going to create a classroom Ishikawa and others can smile it. I’m going to show that trash can be hurry. If Ishikawa said that school is hell, I’m going to destroy this. I’m going to destroy this Human Power Test.”
I recalled the cramped classroom. Masaya, Ninomiya, Setoguchi, Komuro, Tsuda, Watabe, Ishikawa, Katou, those friends.
And I made up my mind.
“I’m going to be real, authentic trash.”
This was the one decision Taku Sugawara made in life.
Right, let’s revise this again.
If you had forgotten, please allow me to repeat, my story’s to be read in a ‘mocking’ manner. It’s just that simple.
So please look down on the shallow hopes and dreams of this middle school boy. Just make fun of me.
If anyone tried to stop me at this point, the ending to this story would have been greatly different.
But I decided to start this revolutionary war.
No matter the price I have to pay.
Even if I have to be abandoned by everyone, even if I have to be an enemy to the entire world.
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