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It’s first love so it can’t be helped
Kachi Shirokusa was widely known as a talented woman.
A high school student, yet an author. That alone would have been amazing enough, but she had good grades to really put the icing on the cake.
People attributed those things to her intelligence.
But it was not so. Shirokusa wasn’t slow by any means, but neither was she particularly outstanding next to others nor very street-savvy either.
I was probably the only one in class who knew.
“Wow, amazing! They’re so pretty! I’ve never seen a more complete set of notes in my entire life!”
I recalled the day when the second year of school started, and I found out for the first time that Shirokusa and I were in the same class. In our new class Shirokusa naturally became the centre of attention.
Throughout the year before we had all heard about her frostiness and sternness, and how she preferred to be alone, but they were still only rumours. Now that she had become a somewhat closer existence by becoming our classmate, most of us thought it was worth it trying to engage her anew.
However, not all the attention was of a benign nature. Some of it was jealousy-driven interaction, exemplified by one of the more assertive girls in the class peering into her notes.
“Hey, let me copy these before the test. You’re ok with that, right?”
She reeked of familiarity despite barely having interacted with Shirokusa. She was so presumptuous it pissed me off as well when I heard her.
Instead Shirokusa stood up wordlessly.
And then without hesitation… casually ripped her perfectly compiled notes into shreds.
The sound of paper being torn froze our surroundings and sent chills down my spine.
As we all stood in mute amazement, Shirokusa blew her notes, since turned into scrap paper, towards the female classmate.
“I’m sorry, I can’t let you copy them because I’ve lost them. They’re mine, so I can do whatever I want with them without issue, right? Or what? Are you a parasite who lives by sucking sweet nectar off other people?”
It was a terrifyingly menacing taunt.
“Are you dumb or what?” snapped back the female classmate incomprehensibly as she left in a fit of rage. Shirokusa, perhaps discomfited herself, indifferently swept her torn notes into a disposable bag taken from a convenience store, then picked up her bag and left for home even though it was only lunch break.
By that time I had already fallen for Shirokusa, having occasionally interacted with her on the way home after school. Unable to ignore her, I came up with a random excuse to leave early and stealthily pursue her.
Shirokusa never went home, and instead headed towards the library. Finding a seat out of the general view at the very back, she opened a brand-new notebook she had bought along the way, alongside the tattered notes she had since taken out of her bag.
Those scraps contained various memos taken during lessons or otherwise written down in compact lines. She apparently intended to transfer that content over to the newly purchased notebook.
Tears fell from Shirokusa’s eyes, but her mechanical pencil and coloured pens never stopped moving as she single-mindedly scribbled away in the notebook.
I was blown away by her extraordinary effort, strength of will, and her sublime perseverance against injustice.
She was thought of as a talented woman who could do anything, but the truth was that she had only arrived there through hard work, in spite of her crude and clumsy disposition. There were plenty of other ways to do things, and trying one’s best with tears streaming from your eyes was about as awkward as it got.
To me, however, her inept form was extremely beautiful.
That’s why I–
I jumped up from my bed.
From beyond the window came a sparrow’s cries and a few splendid rays of sunshine. A refreshing morning.
I opened my eyes to look at the clock and saw that the time was 7:15, fifteen minutes before my alarm was due to ring.
“Hmm, I haven’t woken up before my alarm since elementary school…”
… I knew the reason why.
In my frustration, pain and anxiety, I had found it difficult to get any sleep last night. I had finally managed to drift off around the time the morning sun rose, but I had nothing resembling a deep slumber. No matter how much Kuroha’s revenge enticed me, or how much more optimistic I had become, I was not the type who could immediately forget everything like it was nothing.
“… Damn it!”
My dreams were painful. Why did I have to think about the time I discovered something nice about Shirokusa only now?
It was a wonderful memory, but in a single day it had turned to shit. “Shit” referring to the embarrassment I felt realising how creepy I was for thinking to myself “Hehe, only I know how good Shirokusa is while nobody else does!” and also the jealousy I experienced on the back of saying “If only I know good she is, why did she choose someone else then?” immediately after that summarised into a single word.
“Why did it have to be that bastard Abe…” I fumed as now it was Abe’s face that popped into my head.
Abe Mitsuru was our senior in the third year, a popular guy who had made his acting debut. I could find little fault with him being a bright-eyed, good-looking, princely character who appeared in dramas.
But his acting was a different matter.
“Hey hey, have you watched it yet? The drama Senpai was in.”
“I have⁓! Senpai was so cool!”
“Yeah, Senpai was so outstanding in front of everybody else! He’s so handsome and his acting skills are so good! Senpai really is a genius!”
Or so the girls in my class would rave, but to put it bluntly I thought his stagecraft was garbage. I had seen him being harshly called the beneficiary of nepotism or an unworthy successor among other things online, so I couldn’t have been the only one with that opinion.
Because of this, my impression of Abe-senpai had been pretty bad from the start. However–
“Sueharu, when you say that you only sound like you’re jealous over the fact that you aren’t as popular as he is. Speaking of which, aren’t Abe-senpai and Kachi family friends? Is that why–” was what Tetsuhiko would say, and I would find it hard to deny that my judgement had been free of envy or bias.
Yeah yeah, I know. How could I not be biased?
Abe-senpai had a pretty face, an actor for a parent, money, a good pedigree, and also good grades apparently, outstanding athletic ability and a humble personality to top it all off.
Tetsuhiko was good-looking, but he belonged to a more frivolous breed of men who only went after similarly casual women. This, combined with the fact that his relationships never lasted due to his general scuminess, made it hard for me to hate him completely.
On the other hand, Abe-senpai was a less flippant, more princely type with an honest-looking face. Though equally as handsome as Tetsuhiko, they could not have been further apart in popularity, so much so that Abe-senpai had his own unofficial fan club in the school.
A flawless Adonis. That was Abe Mitsuru.
“Damn it, even I could…”
The pretentiousness of those words I had spoken without thinking shocked even myself.
Even I could what?
The answer was obvious. I did not have to think much to know.
I was ordinary. I had mediocre grades and athletic ability. I looked neither good nor bad.
Though talent by no means determined success or failure in love, an edge in ability or looks over other people could be used as a “weapon”. By that analogy, Abe-senpai was a god-tier player hoarding multiple weapons, all of which he was adept at using. If the average me were to stand a chance against him in a fight, I would need a different weapon, such as… charisma maybe, or sensitivity. I had barely any of those, yet had seen fit to oversell my position.
I did have a weapon, though it was something I had thrown away quite some time ago. Due to a long period of disuse, I was unsure if I knew how to wield it any more.
In other words, it was just as good as not having one.
But something still pulled at my heartstrings. I was still bitter.
Could I still do it? Would I still be able to make it in time?
While I wavered, chickened out and grieved, others were leaving me behind.
“… don’t wanna lose.”
That would be how I would have described my true feelings right now if I had to put them into words.
I didn’t know what defined “winning” or “losing”.
Only that the sensation that “I got rejected, so I lost” overwhelmed me. I felt like I had been dealt a crushing defeat.
But at the same time, I still believed in the truth that I could not lose until I chose to accept it. What probably recommended me to Kuroha’s suggestion of revenge was my failure to admit defeat, and my desire to somehow find a way to win.
Could I be the only person who thought this way? No, probably not.
I mean, I had my first love shattered! You would be upset too, right?
I’m supposed to just roll over because my rival is a good-looking guy with cash, a good head and some sports skills?
Of course not! Being plain has nothing to do with being talentless! Blaming everything on talent would just be a sorry excuse! That’s why I never said that! And I’m still going to find a way to win!
But how was I going to win? How could I turn things around? How would I get my revenge?
I was an idiot, I but still knew what I needed in order to win.
To face an opponent one had no hope of winning against head on was not bravery, but recklessness. In such situations, it was more advisable to attack via a back door.
To fight in the same arena against such an opponent was to ensure defeat. If Abe-senpai and I competed over how we looked, for example, I would definitely not win. Therefore, I had to challenge him in something that he could not do.
The weak have their own way of fighting. There was surprisingly a lot one could do if you calmed down and thought about it.
In other words, simply put, the solution was to–
Not choose any method at all – that’s how it was.