Kimono II

Back in my room, I used the blankets from my bed to cover myself from head to toes. I breathed in and out with my mouth and my gaze was unfocused. I just felt too lost. ‘What do I do from now on? Tomorrow, should I wear my eyepatch again?’ I couldn’t decide. Would vainly hiding my eye change anything? My secret was already discovered anyway, would hiding it make matters worse? But, wouldn’t the truth spread even faster if I didn’t hide it? Wouldn’t they all call me a monster, too? After all, Mida didn’t even seem to realize it was me in the beginning but she called me a freak as soon as she saw my heterochromatic eyes…

I passed the entire night with those questions flooding my mind, rendering me unable to sleep properly. The morning of the next day I started slowly preparing my stuff for school without any motivation until I heard the voice of one of the Sisters calling for me from downstairs,

“Ame-chan! Breakfast is ready!”

“Coming…”

As I replied the idea of telling the sister I had a stomachache crossed my mind, skipping school was an option I hadn’t considered before and it would just delay the inevitable, but I still wasn’t ready to face reality. I felt I was never ready to face reality. Yes, I certainly find it difficult to face reality even now at this moment, after all, how could I face this reality where she‘s looking at me with those kind of emotionless eyes?

Anyway, going back to that time, as I considered ditching school, another voice reached my ears:

“That’s right Ame, come down quickly, we’re all waiting for you now!”

“Ei-kun!?”

Hearing Ei-kun’s voice gave me a huge shock. I surely didn’t think I’d see him again so soon. I surely didn’t think I’d be able to see him again at all. Did he, too, think that I was a monster? A freak of Nature? I quickly finished dressing and ran downstairs to find myself staring wide-eyed at him. Well, there was no one else to stare at, even the Sister went away.

“Good morning, Ame.”

“Wha… why are you here?!”

Ei-kun put down the toast he was eating and looked down on me with a sneer on his face, his arrogant voice reverberated in my mind as he answered my question:

“Well, you know, I just felt like today you’d ‘forget’ that there is school, so I came here to remind you, nothing special about it.”

“Kuh…”

I was tempted to curse out loud but I didn’t. What stopped me was the last shred of respect I felt toward this orphanage that had raised me from when I was born. I meekly sat down and then we both started eating in silence. I felt it was kind of awkward but Ei-kun behaved like it was none of his business; moreover, since he started eating breakfast long before I did, once he had finished he just silently looked at me, making all this even more unbearable.

“Come on, let’s go. It’s time to show off those beautiful eyes of yours to the world.”

“E-eh? But…”

I really didn’t want to leave. I didn’t need the addition of an entire school’s worth of bullies. All the people of the orphanage were already more than enough. Kazumo was already more than enough by himself. Before I could protest more, Ei-kun had already taken my hand and had started dragging me toward the exit doors.

“Humph, I said let’s go!”

“O-okay, okay… B-but, don’t think I won’t go hard on your studies!”

A trace of a true smile crossed my face but it quickly faded. Because, in the end, Ei-kun was just one person and that was just his opinion. Even though it made me happy, it wouldn’t change others’ view of me. For them, I will always remain the monster with two differently coloured eyes.

~~~

In the following days, “Class 6-D” became the new synonym of hell in my vocabulary. My classmates, with their never-changing disgusted face, are the inhabitants of this place. The teachers, too, are part of it; most just turn their head away so as to not have to deal troublesome matters, namely the open bullying I was receiving, but some took it a step further and helped my classmates, as if what they did wasn’t enough.

And then there’s my only friend, Ei-kun, who makes me suffer the most.

At first I didn’t notice, because it was very subtle, but the way he looked at me had changed. We talked normally like always, as if my amber-coloured left eye didn’t exist. He avoided talking about it as much as possible, even more so in front of others. And it also didn’t take me long to notice how his body tensed up every time we accidentally touched. At first I had wondered if he was behaving that way because he had been bullied too, but it didn’t seem like it would’ve been an easy task; Ei-kun was quite the athletic guy. I really couldn’t wrap my head around this mystery.

Lastly, there was the “director” of this place: my abnormality, my left eye. Or more precisely, the rumors about my left eye. The others even came up with quite the colourful nicknames: “the eye of death,” “the cursed eye,” “the shinigami’s eye,” and also “the soul-stealing eye.” Quite the cool-sounding names, if I may say so myself. I simply regret the fact that this shitty nicknames don’t reflect the reality of the situation, if they did then I could at least consider myself “special” in some way, but they’re all falsities. I was just an outcast.

Staying in that class became suffocating, each of my breaths slowly got smaller and smaller with the passing of time. I couldn’t escape, I was bound by their stares, by those wicked eyes of theirs. Their laughs, like a broken record, rang through my ears even during my nightmares. To them, I was just a monster, a rare animal in a circus’ cage. I was at their mercy and I wasn’t allowed to do as I pleased. I could only obey and suffer in silence.

At that point in time, I really couldn’t stand that life anymore. I almost considered killing myself, but… but I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it. I wanted to live. I wanted to hope for a brighter future.

~~~

Time passed again and I found myself free from those vicious people’s grasp. I also stopped wearing my eyepatch, I didn’t pay attention anymore to the others’ gazes. They could look at me all they wanted, I wouldn’t care less. Ei-kun and I had already taken the entrance exam for the middle school I had chosen, and now we were on our way to see our results. During the exam, everyone was assigned a number and if we had passed the exam our number would then be displayed on a bulletin board right outside the school, near its gates.

“Ame, wait for me!”

“C’mon, you’re so slow Ei-kun! I want to see the results!”

I was running ahead of Ei-kun, too excited to notice his expression. I was also too immersed into my fantasies to listen to him properly.

“It’s not like they’ll run away…”

“Did you say something?”

“No, it’s nothing.”

Once we arrived there, I saw a lot of people crowding the bulletin board, most of them were adults, but there was also a fair amount of teens that were checking out their own results. The various expressions of the people present made me wonder about their future; would that girl over there go to the all female school now or would she go to a normal one more far away? Would the child of that couple be my classmate or just someone in my same school?

” ‘Kay… Anyway, let’s see… 97341 and 97475…”

Dismissing my thoughts, I decided it was time to see if we had passed the exam. My body tensed up and slightly jolted when I heard Ei-kun loudly calling for me:

“Ame! I found yours, it’s right here.”

“Waaah! I passed! I really wanted to enter this private school!”

I immediately went over to where he was, I felt incredibly good when I saw my number with my own eyes; moreover I kind of unconsciously raised my chest to show my pride at Ei-kun’s words:

“Ame you’re great, you were able to enter the best middle school in our city!”

“Th… thank you. Well, let’s search for yours now…”

I was about to start searching again, but Ei-kun stopped me in my track with a single sentence,

“I didn’t pass.”

“What are you saying! You can’t be sure until we’ve checked!”

I immediately felt panicked and distraught, how could Ei-kun be so pessimistic? We hadn’t even checked and furthermore, we had spent a lot of time studying together and preparing for the exam, how could he say that he hadn’t passed?!

“No. Look here, after 97473 there’s only 97477. I… I didn’t make it. I’m sorry Ame… I’m really sorry to have wasted your time… and I’m sorry that we won’t be able to go to the same school together…”

At first I was at a loss for words, but the more he spoke the angrier I became:

“That’s not true! Our time together wasn’t wasted! I… I liked studying together wit Ei-kun! And… and it’s not like we won’t see each other anymore!”

“That’s true too, I guess…”

I could see that he was still feeling down, so I tried to quickly come up with some idea to get his mind out of the gutter. Then I remembered that, while I had already retrieved my school uniform, I still had to buy a gym uniform. ‘We could go do some shopping together!’ I excitedly thought to myself as I asked him:

“How about going around town after the entrance ceremony? I need to go to the mall to buy some things too, so why don’t you come with me?”

“…And why not? Count me in, then.”

“Okay, then let’s meet here at the school gate since here it’s nearer to the mall and the city center!”

I smiled as I thought about it. It had been a long while since I had last been at the mall and it had been even longer since I had the money to buy something. Then, thinking back on how we’ll both be wearing our first school uniforms, I blushed a little and thought,

‘I wonder if he will like my uniform!’


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