I will always remember that day.
It was the worst day of my life, and at the same time, the beginning of a glimpse of hope that was planted in my heart.
I was, if I do say so myself, a ridiculously stupid kid.
It took me more than twice as long to solve math problems that everyone else could do right away, and I was always a doofus at sports.
Because of my stupidity, my classmates sometimes made fun of me and looked at me strangely. When I started talking, everyone would shut up and even the other girls would avoid me.
Occasionally I was able to create an opportunity to talk, but I couldn’t keep my words together.
It didn’t turn into bullying, but my homeroom teacher had long since abandoned me, and no one would talk to me when I tried to make friends.
Over time, those things have lessened, but my complex never changed. I found myself avoiding getting involved with others.
Then one day, I wandered over to a park and sat on the swings while shedding tears. As I recall, the teacher had asked me to answer a question in front of everyone, and I had made a mistake.
It would’ve been fine if they laughed at me for making a mistake. But the teacher laughed at me, and my classmates didn’t even react.
(Why is this happening, I wonder?)
I even thought of dying while soaking up the setting sun on the swings at the park.
(I’m not even worth….living.)
No matter how much effort I put in, no matter how much I study, the results never come, I have no friends to talk to, and I’m alone at home and at school. I don’t know what the meaning of my existence is anymore.
I don’t know how long I cried. Before I knew it, the sun had set and it was completely dark.
(Ah, I must go home, as I thought…….)
I noticed the darkness around me and was about to get off the swing when someone suddenly grabbed me from behind and covered my mouth
The stranger grabbed me by the arm. Let alone raise my voice, I couldn’t even move, because of the tremendous force and fear I felt. I was forced to enter an unknown car, while I was blindfolded, and my arms restrained.
The man’s restraints were so severe that I could hardly move, and I fell off the car chair. In the violently shaking car, I lost consciousness.
Yes, I was kidnapped when I was in elementary school. When I woke up, I was lying down while being tied up on a sofa in a house I had never seen before, in the same cabin as a disgusting man.
I don’t know how much time had passed, but I may have been transported to a place far from where I was kidnapped. I was very anxious.
I continued to listen to the man’s sparse voice while I pretended to be asleep. He was probably making a ransom demand to my family. But the man’s annoyed look made me realize that the negotiations were not going well.
(Those people would never help me.
My family was cold. My father rarely came home, and I smelled the presence of another woman from him. My mother, oblivious to this, would cook a simple meal for me and then spend her precious life savings on a night out on the town.
No matter how unpleasant the environment was, I kept quiet and stayed obedient. I would get an allowance for doing so, and they would take care of me at the very least. However, they were basically neglectful parents.
They have never come to my class visits, and I have never received a Christmas present from them. When everyone else was spending time with their families, I was always alone.
” Damn it ! What the hell is wrong with this girl’s family !”
With that, the man hung up the phone and came back. By the frustrated look on his face, he must’ve been turned down for a money transfer. That meant that I had been abandoned.
(Yeah……I’m alone after all)
I didn’t even have the heart to be hurt by this. Those two aren’t the only ones who don’t care about their families. I myself have lost all my feelings for my family since long time.
I’m sure that they will play the tragic parents to the world in response to my disappearance. That way they can get away with their crimes and, depending on how they do it, they might even get some money.
Besides, I don’t have a single friend who cares about me…..
As I was thinking about my future, a man suddenly kicked me in the face. I guess he must’ve realized I was awake. Or is he stressed out because he knows he won’t get paid?
“So you finally awake. My bad, but I’m not going to let you go home. You’re going to be of great service to us.”
With that, the man gave me a prickly smile. I was sure they were going to take everything they could from me and use me until my last breath.
“Don’t worry, I’m not interested in the little kid’s pale body. Well, you can look forward to a fun trip soon.”
It would surely be the worst and the last trip for me. The man leaves me tied to the rope and retreated into the back room.
There’s nothing I can do now that this has happened. I know that even if I struggled, I wouldn’t be able to change anything. And I gently closed my eyes as if giving up on my own life.
A pleasant breeze caressed my face as I fell asleep in resignation. I gently opened my eyes, realizing that there was no way the wind could blow in this closed space.
My body swayed slightly, and I could hear the rough breathing coming from right there. I found myself being carried. I looked closer and saw that it was a boy not much older than me.
I was in the park in the evening. I had been kidnapped in the middle of the night, so about a whole day had passed.
Those men’s base must have been in the forest. I think they were using other people’s huts without permission.
“Phew…hm, are you awake?”
“….W-who are you?”
The boy noticed that I had woken up and stopped to talk to me. The boy smiled and laughed at me when I asked him.
“What do you mean by that…..Yuu chan and I have been in the same class ever since elementary school started.”
For a moment I couldn’t believe my ears. The boy who was in the same school as me and not even a year older than me had saved me?
No, more than that……
(Yuu, it’s the first time someone called me by my first name.)
No one had called me by my name since I started elementary school. Only my parents call me that, but that’s normal. But this boy easily crossed that barrier. Strangely enough, I felt no discomfort about it.
“What about those guys earlier?”
“They’re drunk and asleep. I brought some sleeping pills and a baton, but I’m glad I didn’t need them.”
How in the world did he get those things? And even finding this place……
I was a little scared by this boy.
“D-did you save me?
“Yeah, they looked dangerous, so I saw an opening.”
I choked on my words. I didn’t know what to say in this situation.
I tried to keep the conversation going, but I couldn’t get my words out.
“How did you know where I was?”
“I walked past the staff room and saw that there was a commotion because Yuu chan’s family hadn’t been notified of her absence. The teachers knew that you were having problems at home. So I got a little worried and did my own research on your whereabouts. I found out from a sighting that you went to the park, so all I had to do was to check the nearby surveillance cameras and see if there was any sign of you, then……ah, it’s nothing !”
I thought I heard a word at the end that I couldn’t ignore, but my vocabulary wasn’t high enough to pursue that. On the contrary, I didn’t know what to say any more. I was angry at myself for being unable to communicate at times like this.
However, the boy was not bothered by this and continued onward, carrying me on his back. Before I knew it, we had passed through the pitch-dark forest and were in front of the nearest police box.
“Go there and ask for protection. Oh, and please don’t tell anyone about me. Well then, I…..”
“Hm? What’s wrong?”
The boy smiled at me from the very beginning. I almost fell in love with that smile, so I summoned up the courage to say the words I had been trying to say.
“T-thank you…..for your help.”
I could say it…..
Perhaps it was the first thank you I’ve ever said in my life. And the boy who received those words,
“Of course, this much is nothing !”
And with that, he left my presence. He looked like a hero, and his image will be engraved in my heart forever.
After that, I rushed to the police station, and my testimony led to the arrest of the kidnapper. My parents, who had neglected me while they were fooling around, were also charged with child abuse and taken to the police station. Finally, I was sent to live with my grandmother.
Despite all this, I didn’t change schools and ended up in the same classroom with that boy again. And there I finally learned his name.
I remembered my classmate’s name for the first time. I didn’t remember the names of my classmates at all because I wasn’t taken them seriously anyway. At the same time, I began to take an interest in my classmate who had been indifferent to me until then, and little by little, I started to look forward to the future.
By the time I entered the sixth grade, I was able to talk to others as well as anyone else. As for my studies, I struggled a lot, just as I had in the past. Still, with the single-minded desire to get closer to that boy, I studied harder than ever before and managed to catch up with the others.
“U-um, Kanata kun !”
I haven’t been able to talk much with him. We didn’t have much in common, and he was always surrounded by his friends.
But I still tried to talk to him a few times when I saw an opportunity.
“Hm? What’s wrong?”
He would smile warmly at me every time, and no matter how trivial the conversation was, he would always smile kindly at me. I became more and more attracted to him.
However, there’s a big difference between him and me. He’s always full of smiles, while I still have very few close friends. Rather than being friends, it’s more accurate to say that we talk occasionally. But I was sure that things were better than before.
(I have to work harder !)
With this determination in my heart, I pushed on and on.
Sometimes I ran amok and got angry with the teacher. And when I got him involved, I felt so guilty that I wanted to die. That’s how important he had become to me.
Little by little, I also came to be able to smile brightly. When he praised my smiling face, I was so happy and embarrassed that I almost died.
Then one day, as I was getting close to graduation from elementary school, someone shouted in the classroom.
“Ehhh ! He’s going to Ichinomiya Middle School !?”
Ichinomiya Middle School was a prestigious private middle school famous for its rigorous interviews and entrance examinations that were not considered at the elementary school level. Most of the students at this school would be planning to go to a different public junior high school than his.
Hearing that voice, many of his classmates rushed to him. Of course, I was among them.
“Why? Why aren’t you with us !?”
“That’s right ! Why are you going over there?”
While many students shouted sadly, he answered with a smile,
“Sorry guys ! But I thought I should be smart enough to help those in need. Besides, you guys will be fine without me ! You’re all very strong !”
And so he entered the prestigious private Ichinomiya Middle School. I, who could barely keep up with my elementary school studies, naturally didn’t have the brains to go there. How much did I hate myself for being so stupid at that time?
(I wish I had gotten to know him better.)
Then I moved on to middle school, a new stage in my life. A new environment, new classmates. Everything was new, and I was determined to change.
(I wonder if I can be like him.)
He’s an amazing person who can do anything, and I’m a fool who can’t keep up with others unless I work harder than them. I’m sure that I will never be able to reach him with ordinary efforts.
That’s why I devoted myself to studying hard in junior high school.
I didn’t even belong to any clubs, and I just kept on studying and reviewing to improve in my weak areas. I read many reference books and spent my lunch breaks in the library.
After school and on weekends, I begged my grandmother and father to let me go to cram school. I couldn’t catch up with my classmates and the other children around me if I only studied in school and by myself. I was studying harder than others, but for some reason my grades were not improving. Perhaps I didn’t know how to study.
Three years passed, and after putting in a lot of effort, I was able to get into the top ranks of my class. Moreover, I was able to get into the prestigious high school in the area.
I will never forget the excitement I felt at that moment. For the first time, my hard work had paid off.
(Come to think of it……)
Looking back on my middle school life, I suddenly realized that my friendships were so lousy.
(I was so focused on my studies that I never made any good friends.)
Some of the students I kept at least a minimal social relationship with, but I never made enough friends since elementary school to hang out with them or chat with them. Even school trips resulted in being paired up with those who were left over.
“I wish I could have……friends.”
In my memory, Kanata kun always had good friends around him. When he acted, everyone moved, and he was a great person who was trusted more than anyone else. He was like the hero of a story.
I guess a hero is someone like him.
“I have to try my best when I get to high school, too, right?”
But as expected, I was embarrassed to change my appearance to a cheerful one. I don’t have the confidence to look people in the eye and talk to them, and I have never made any friends in the first place.
I thought about it so hard that smoke was coming out of my head, and then I came up with a genius idea.
“Yes, I should act like him !”
And so I entered high school, imitating everything I remembered of him. It was difficult at first, but it wasn’t hard for me to imitate him, whom I loved, and I was even proud of myself.
Then, as if all the hardships I had gone through up to that point were a lie, everything started to go well. I began to feel like I understood my studies and made friends easily.
Unlike middle school, I belonged to a club now. Although I knew it was out of my character, I chose track and field. I thought that if I could be athletic, I could change even more.
I was on the verge of failing in my studies and was the first one to go down in club activities. I struggled tremendously during my first year, but it helped me grow gradually. It wasn’t hard for me to think that I could get as close as possible to the guy I longed for, Kanata kun.
Above all, I made my first best friend in high school. This was probably the happiest moment of my life.
However, even though I was living such a luxurious life, I felt that it wasn’t enough.
“I wanted to see him again.”
From that time on, I had been thinking of him. I might call it idol worship, but Tachibana Kanata had become an object of faith for me.
I checked all the classes, but there was no student by the name of Tachibana Kanata enrolled. There was a student with a similar name, but his voice, personality, and appearance were different from the one I remembered. But there was no point in being disappointed by that, and he would be disappointed in me.
I want to live my life so that I can be someone’s hero in my own way. If he were to disappear from my memory, my heart would be empty. That’s why I will live each day to the fullest and enjoy it to the fullest !
I believe that when I see him again, he will praise me……
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