Reads: 221

Has anyone ever told you that you're as beautiful as a butterfly?” Came another cheesy compliment from Akira, who was more interested in staring at Reina as opposed to wiping down the desks. Reina finished wiping off her desk, before tossing the used wipe into the trash bag she was carrying around with her. It was just her and Akira in the classroom at the moment, so the guy was able to direct his attention solely onto Reina.

Reina said, “I can't say that I've heard that one.”

“Awesome! So it's a first!” Akira fist pumped the air. He was a bit odd at times, but at least he wasn't Kosuke. Reina looked over at the remaining desks in the room, which were either cleaned by their respective students, or by Reina herself. Akira moved on with, “So have you ever kissed anyone?”

“Other than my parents, no.” Reina replied.

“Great! I haven't either! Want to do it now?” Akira asked.

“We haven't even had our first date yet.” Reina replied.

Akira hit himself in the forehead for comedic effect and said, “Ah, how could I forget?”

Reina headed for the classroom doors, and Akira was hot on her heels. “Let's say we ditch this place already and head on home, eh? The sooner we get home, the sooner we can eat, and so the sooner we can get started on that date!”

Reina was starting to tire of this guy. But she needed to keep him handy in the event that things didn't work out between her and the other two boys she had set up dates with. She asked, “Akira, could you please find me a book in the library? It's a children's story entitled, Itachi's Big Bowl of Soup.” Such a book did not exist, Reina was sure of it, but Akira was clearly overzealous about their “relationship,” and quite frankly Reina needed a break.

“Of course, my love!” Akira then ran off to the library. Reina sighed in relief, then went to seek out Daichi.

***

A girl was by Daichi's side when Reina arrived. The girl had shoulder-length dark brown hair and brown eyes. Her eyes seemed to be slightly wider than Reina's own, and her face rounder. Her complexion was warm, she was slightly on the tanner side, and she emitted a friendly sense. Her dark brown hair was parted on the left side of her face. The girl and Daichi were near some lockers, seeming to be readying themselves for heading home. Reina moved closer to eavesdrop on the conversation, hiding behind some lockers. “Daichi, what are your plans for after school?” The girl asked.

“Doing my homework of course.” Daichi answered.

“So you don't have any hobbies or anything?” The girl inquired.

“I read books.” Daichi said.

“Me too! What genres do you like?” The girl said.

“I prefer classics. Anything by Okamoto Koji is nice. I particularly like his work Life In The Eyes of a Non-Wolf.” Daichi replied. The author in question was known as a wisecracking comedian type, and his typical style revolved around humorous anecdotes from the perspective of some animal. The story Daichi mentioned was a satirical view of a particular historical period from the eyes of a domesticated wolf. Reina filed that information away for later. Perhaps Daichi would like a present.

Daichi's companion seemed a bit disappointed by the answer. “Ah... I can't relate.”

“What do you read?” Daichi asked.

“Romance!” The perky girl said, her eyes bright. “I have always been a sucker for cheesy romance novels!”

“I can't relate.” Daichi simply stated, seeming tired for some reason. Just how long had this girl been hounding him? Reina failed to see the reasoning behind following someone around all day, but she figured it was something most other people did that she would never understand. Humans were supposedly social beings after all.

In an attempt to hopefully break up the conversation, Reina started past them only to feign a stumble and subsequent fall. She grunted upon impact with the floor, and she got back on her feet, dusting herself off. The girl came over and asked, “Are you okay?”

“Yes, thank you for your concern.” Reina said, bowing.

Daichi asked, “Does that tend to happen often?”

“Every now and then. I am quite clumsy.” Reina said, turning to face the boy.

The girl received a call and she checked her phone. Concern crossed her features, and she said, “I'm sorry, I need to take this call.” She ran off elsewhere. That left Daichi and Reina to socialize.

Reina moved closer to Daichi and asked, “Who is she? Has she been following you around all day?”

“That was Watanabe Moriko, and she has also recently moved here. She has been following me around ever since lunch, so it was getting tiring. Thank you for the distraction.” Daichi said.

Sounded like Reina had some competition, but she would worry about that later. Reina couldn't explain it, but there was something about the way that Daichi spoke that made her... happy? She could describe his way of speaking as relaxing, and Reina knew that she preferred feeling relaxed as opposed to tense. Then again, Daichi seemed like a relaxed sort of individual, and there was something about his voice that assured her that everything was going to be alright. She said, unsure what more to say, “You're welcome.”

Reina could already tell that Daichi seemed to prefer talking to her as opposed to Moriko. There was something interesting about people's faces when they were truly happy, but Reina couldn't place what exactly it was. Was it how their eyes squinted slightly? Their livelier tone of voice? Reina tried to think of some topics that she thought Daichi would find interest in. She didn't want Daichi to be the one carrying this conversation, as he might think of her as boring and as problematic as Moriko was if she did that. Thinking of the earlier conversation between Moriko and Daichi, she asked, “Do you like books?” Realizing how strange that “guess” was, as such a question would reveal that she had been eavesdropping the entire time, she quickly added, “You just seem to be the type.”

Daichi managed a slight smile, and he said, “Yes, I do. Do you like books?”

“Yes, they are a nice way to escape the world sometimes.” Reina said, smiling a bit.

“I agree. Do you have any favorite authors? Perhaps genres?” Daichi asked.

“No, not particularly. I read a variety of books and authors.” Reina said, hoping that would be an acceptable answer. It was true, as she had tried to get into reading as a hobby since her mother had a variety of books to choose from. Of course she had dropped out of the hobby so many times due to general disinterest. Or perhaps reading the same fifty books over and over again grew to be tiresome.

“It is good to vary the books you read. New adventures, new approaches.” Daichi said.

Reina glanced in the direction that Moriko went. She already saw her as a threat, as so far Daichi was the most favorable to her. Of course, she still needed to give Masaru a chance. Perhaps he would be more appealing than either Daichi or Akira. Wanting to give Daichi a chance to escape, she said, “I think Moriko will be a while. It was nice speaking with you.” The two parted ways, and Reina adjusted her blue-and-white schoolbag on her shoulder before going to exchange shoes at her shoe locker. Her next stop would be the incinerator to dump off the trash bag in her other hand, then she would be heading home. Surely Akira could put the pieces together when it came to her whereabouts.


Submitted: March 19, 2021

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