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I didn’t stay after school that day. I couldn’t.

I have a hard time putting to words what I felt after school that day. Witnessing someone attempt suicide. A student.

I later found out her name was Suzui. She was a star player on the girl’s volleyball team and a very gifted student. What drives someone with such a bright future to do something like that? To cast it all away so thoughtlessly?

Maybe things weren’t as they seemed on the surface with that girl. The blond girl that went with her when the ambulance arrived I found out was Ann Takamaki. A girl with questionable character, and another subject of Shujin’s rumor mill. The word is that she has been sleeping around with teachers in exchange for favor with them.

Wasn’t too hard for me to believe. Takamaki was a girl of exceptional beauty. Long beautiful blonde hair and a perfect figure. She was even a quarter American and spoke near perfect English. Hard for any boy, maybe even a teacher, to resist the advances of. Her latest target apparently being Mr. Kamoshida. Guess she didn’t feel like working hard in P.E.

I’m not afraid to say I detest girls like Takamaki. It’s girls like her that make life for women like my sister and myself so much harder. The type that encourages the idea that the only way for a woman to advance in the world is to sleep with their male bosses and not on merit alone. Maybe this Suzui girl got caught up in Takamaki’s scandalous affairs and couldn’t live with her actions? Saw no other way out but suicide…

The subway home was crowded and loud as usual, but my thoughts felt even louder. All I could see was Suzui’s motionless body lying in the courtyard. Blood pooling around her. Her determined gaze and unflinching stance, as she held onto the chain-linked fence on the roof, was fixed in my mind. She knew what she was doing. To her, she merely had a task that needed to be fulfilled.

What drives someone to do something like that?’ Was all I could ask myself ‘Why put in all that effort and time into honing your craft and ability, given all the chances in the world, to just throw it away? Seems… seems selfish…’

I grasped tightly around my bag. I knew it was wrong to think such a thing about someone who is lucky to be alive. I tried to bury that line of thinking, but I could feel it prodding that the back of my head.

I looked around the busy train car. Despite us all being in such close proximity, like me, everyone in that car was in their own little world. A couple of people were chatting away in the corner, but most were listening to something on their headphones. A group of girls sat on a bench laughing. I recognized their uniforms as Shujin.

‘These girls saw what happened today. Yet here they are. Just laughing. Like what happened meant nothing’ I felt anger boiling in my depths. I thought of all the students rushing to the courtyard to record and gawk at the aftermath. Like it was some sort of show.

What is wrong with these people?’ I thought loudly ‘A girl attempted suicide and all you can do is stand there?! Just move on with life as if nothing happened?’

I had half a mind to walk over to the girls and give them a piece of my mind when a sudden wave of guilt washed over me. ‘But, wasn’t I just thinking ill of her? Calling her selfish? I didn’t even know her…’

I leaned on the train wall ‘I’m the student president. I have a responsibility to help my fellow students, and one of them just tried to kill themselves on school property.’

I placed my head against the cold metal of the train wall. ‘I’m just so confused… I don’t know what to think. I… I just want… I want someone to tell me how to make all of this go away.’ I clutched my bag tightly to my chest and tried to push the dark thoughts away.

*

I watched the rain droplets race down the window pane. The way water moved on flat surfaces always interested me. How the droplet didn’t just go straight down. It sort of zigzags on its path in a jerky motion. Running down quickly then suddenly stopping. Running again then staying.

Watching the rain outside reminded me of when I was a little, and Dad was still around, he, Sae and I would go on occasional trips out of town in Dad’s little car. If we were driving in the rain, Sae, who was a third year in high school at the time, and I would sit in the back and watch the little water droplets race across the windows. They went a lot faster in the car of course because we were moving so quickly on the highway, so we made a game out of it to pass the time. We would both pick a droplet and would see which one was the fastest.

Sae was good at making little games like that to pass the time with me. I missed those days. Whenever I was sad, I liked to look back at those more innocent times we shared. They always brought a smile to my face. The days before Dad’s accident.

My daydreaming was broken by an insistent tapping sound. When I look towards the source, I saw that I had unconsciously been tapping my pencil on my homework. Something I habitually did whenever I zoned out. It was a little joke I had with myself that, that habit what helped me pay attention in class.

Whenever I would check out in class when I was younger, my tapping would become so loud that it not only distracted the students around me but even the teacher.

I heard the front door open and slam from down the hallway.

“Makoto? You home?” I heard a familiar voice call out.

I smiled and rushed to greet the visitor.

“Hey, Sae! Oh- oh, Sae you forgot your umbrella at home didn’t you?”

She was completely soaked. Her tailor-made black suit dripped water all over the doorway, and her beautiful long gray hair was plaster to her head.

She placed her work bag on the kitchen counter “Yeah” she said with a sigh “I probably would have made it before the rain if that stupid kid Akechi didn’t talk my ear off outside the office. Causing me to miss my train. Then I had to take a cab that could only take me so far in all the traffic.”

I grabbed a couple of towels from the linen closet and handed one to Sae “Then as soon as I got out of the cab the rain just started coming down in buckets.” She opened up her briefcase “Well, at least everything in here is still dry.”

Noticing my proposed towel, she took it with a small “Thanks” and began drying her hair.

“That sounds like a rough day. I’m sorry sis. Would you like a cup of tea or anything? Something warm might help.” I suggested

“That would be great. Thank you, Makoto.” She walked down the hallway to her room.

I filled the tea kettle with water. While waiting for the water to come to a boil, I went ahead on mopped the rest of the water remaining in the foyer.

“How was school?” Sae asked from the other room

“It was… well…”

“What?” She asked again

“Oh, sorry it was um.” I paused “It wasn’t such a good day for me either sis.” I said a little louder so she could hear.

With a fresh change of clothes, Sae returned to the kitchen. Towel wrapped around her hair. “Sorry to hear that. Not a bad report card or something was it?”

“N-no -” I was cut off

“Because you know that college recruiters will be looking at your grades very closely this year. You may have gotten away with some leniency in second year but not anymore.” Sae explained. Only half paying attention while she rifled through the mail.

“No. No issues with grades I mean.”

“Good” She stated looking at one envelope in particular

“Sae, I need your advice.” Just then the kettle started whistling “Oh, let me go get that.”

I rushed over and poured two mugs full of hot water over some tea leaves to steep. One in each hand I placed Sae’s on the counter next to her. She didn’t seem to notice.

“Anyway, um.”

She looked up at me from the letter “Hmm? What is it Makoto? You need to speak if you want to be heard.”

“Right. Sorry. There was an accident at school.”

“Accident?” She gave me her attention for the first time that evening “Are you alright? What happened?”

“I’m fine. There was this girl, her name was Suzui, she was a second year, she jumped off the roof of the school and,” I looked for the words “She tried to kill herself, sis.”

Sae furrowed her brow “That awful. I’m sorry you had to see that Makoto” she placed the papers back on the counter “Stress does things to people. Especially with midterms not long off. She probably got overwhelmed and overreacted a bit.”

Just overreacted a bit?’ I thought ‘She jumped off a roof.

Sae placed a hand on my shoulder and looked me in the eyes “Makoto if you are ever feeling overwhelmed. You know I’m always here to talk to right?”

I nodded

“Good” She got up from the counter “It’s been a long day, I think I’m going to take a bath and head to bed.”

“Good night Makoto. Be sure to get in some studying tonight ok?” I heard the bathroom door close, and the tub faucet begin to run.

I stood motionless staring where she had been just a moment ago “But… I’m feeling overwhelmed right now sis…” I felt the tears trying to force their way out again. I forced them back and looking back at the counter realized that Sae hadn’t even touched her tea.

*

A couple of weeks had passed since the incident, and I tried my best to keep things ‘business as usual.’ Several students had asked me about my opinion on Suzui’s “accident” the teachers told us to call it. All I could say to them was that it was unfortunate and to be sure to tell a teacher if they felt overwhelmed.

I knew it was a lame statement, and I could tell the students thought the same from the look on their face after I said it. Afterward, I was sure to make a hasty exit before they had the chance to give followup questions. I did my best to merely bury it and move on. Which became easier once a fellow council member came barging into the student council office one morning.

A couple of other students and I were getting our belongings together to get to class when Yuuto, our treasurer, came bursting through the door. Waving a paper in the air and raving about something incoherently.

After a few attempts of calming him down had failed I eventually just yelled “HEY! Yuuto, you’re talking way to fast and not making any sense.”

He finally snapped out of it and focused on me “He-here! Just read this!” and shoved the index card shaped piece of paper in my face. I snatched it from him and read:

“Sir Suguru Kamoshida, the utter bastard of lust, we know how shitty you are, and that you put your twisted desires on students that can’t fight back. That’s why we have decided to steal away those desires and make you confess your sins. This will be done tomorrow, so we hope you will be ready.

From, the Phantom Thieves of Hearts”

“The Phantom Thieves of Hearts?” I asked, “What the hell is that?”

** Photo Credit: Khytal (tumblr: https://khytal.tumblr.com/)**

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