Y1 Vol 1 Chapter 6 | The End of Everyday Life

“Ha ha ha ha! God, you’re so dumb. You’re hilarious, man!”

Ike chatted loudly with Yamauchi during second-period math. It’d been three weeks since the entrance ceremony. In that time, Ike and Yamauchi, along with Sudou, had collectively come to be known as “The Idiot Trio.”

“Hey, hey, do you want to go do karaoke?” “Yeah, let’s go!”

A group of girls nearby were making plans for after class.

“I was really worried for a while, but it looks like everyone’s opened up to each other quickly.”

“Ayanokouji-kun, haven’t you made quite a few friends?” asked Horikita, copying what was written on the blackboard into her notebook.

“Somewhat, I suppose.”

Although I was anxious at first, I’d gotten to know Sudou from our encounter at the convenience store, and I’d bonded with Ike and Yamauchi through the incident at the pool. Sometimes we ate lunch together. Even though I was far from having a best friend, before I knew it, I could say that I had some friends. Human relationships are rather mysterious, so I couldn’t pinpoint the precise moment we became friends.

“Sup?” Halfway through class, Sudou crashed through the door and barged into the classroom. He slumped in his seat with a yawn, clearly not caring how late he was.

“Oh, hey, Sudou. Wanna get lunch later?” Ike called out to Sudou from across the room.

The math teacher continued the lesson without even really paying attention. Normally, the teacher would have flicked a piece of chalk at him, but perhaps out of some feeling of laissez faire, all of the teachers tolerated that kind of behavior. Even when it came to poor language, being late to class, or dozing off, no one cared.

While at first our class had acted more reserved, now everyone was far too flippant. Of course, there were a few students like Horikita who studied diligently.

My cell phone vibrated in my pocket, indicating that I’d received a message. It was from the guys’ group chat that I was a part of. It looked like they’d decided to eat lunch in the dining hall.

“Hey, Horikita. Do you want to have lunch with me?” I asked.

“I will have to decline. Your group is rather unrefined, anyway.”

“I can’t deny that.”

When guys were alone, all they talked about were girls and dirty jokes. Who’s cute, who’s going out with who, how far they’ve gone, etc. Adding a girl into the group would probably have been a bad idea.

“Whoa. Seriously, he has a girlfriend? Awesome.”

Based on Ike’s conversation, it sounded like Hirata was dating Karuizawa. Watching Karuizawa from afar, I saw that she was gazing lovingly at him from across the room. As for my own impression of Karuizawa, well, she was certainly cute. But she had this atmosphere around her that it made difficult for uncertain people to approach her. In other words, she seemed like one of those intensely “girly”-type girls. In junior high, she’d probably pounced on pretty boys like Hirata. These were my own uncharitable assumptions, but I probably wasn’t far off.

Oops. I had pretty mean-spirited opinions about her, although, not really to the extent that it would be considered defamation. I apologized to Karuizawa in my head.

“I hate that look on your face.”

Horikita glared icily at me. She must have read my sleazy inner thoughts. How fast did you need to move to become a couple right after starting school? I was agonizing over just making friends. If I’d gone up to Horikita and asked, “Would you go out with me?” she definitely would’ve smacked me. At any rate, if I were to get a girlfriend, I’d prefer a kinder, more ladylike girl.

6.1

For third period, we had history class with Chiyabashira- sensei. When the bell rang, Chiyabashira-sensei walked into the noisy classroom. Her entrance didn’t alter the students’ behavior.

“Quiet down a little, please. Today’s lesson will be a bit serious.”

“What do you mean, Sae-chan-sensei?” They already had a pet name for the teacher.

“It’s the end of the month, so we’re going to have a short test. Please pass these to the back.”

She handed out the papers to the students in the front row.

Eventually, the single-sheet test reached my desk. It contained questions in the five main subjects. With only a few questions per subject, it really was short.

“Huh? I wasn’t listening, though. This is so unfair!” a student cried.

“Don’t say that. This test is just for future reference. It won’t be reflected in your report cards. There is no risk involved, so don’t worry. Of course, cheating is prohibited.”

Her phrasing struck me as odd. Normally, only general grades were reflected in your report card. But the way Chiyabashira-sensei said they wouldn’t be reflected in our report cards made me think that the grade could be reflected in some other way. Well…perhaps I was worrying too much. If this had no effect on our report card, then there was no need to be so cautious.

As soon as the pop quiz began, I scanned the questions.

There were four questions per subject, for a total of twenty. Each question was worth five points, for a total of one hundred points. Most of the questions were extraordinarily easy, to the point where it was almost a letdown. In fact, the questions seemed to be about two levels less difficult than the ones on the entrance examination. It appeared far too easy.

However, just as I thought that, I reached the end of the test.

The final three questions were an order of magnitude higher in terms of difficulty. The final math problem couldn’t be solved without complex formulae.

“No way. These questions are seriously way too hard…”

These questions couldn’t be geared toward a first-year high school student. The final three questions were clearly of a different quality than the others, so it was possible they’d been put on the test by mistake. Even though the results wouldn’t be reflected in our grades, what in the hell were they evaluating with this?

Well, I guess I’ll just solve these problems the same way I did on the entrance exam.

Chiyabashira-sensei monitored us. As she slowly patrolled the classroom, she kept a watchful eye to dissuade us from cheating. I quickly glanced at Horikita, who would never even think of cheating. Her pen danced across the paper as she filled in all of the answers. It looked like she was easily going to get a perfect score.

I continued staring intently at my test until the bell rang.

6.2

“If you just come right out and tell me straight, I’ll forgive you, okay?”

“Tell you what straight?”

After we’d finished lunch, I was chatting with Sudou and the other guys next to the vending machine in the hall. All of a sudden, Ike sidled up next to me.

“We’re friends, right? Comrades that stick together through thick and thin?”

“Uh, yeah. I guess so.”

“So then, naturally…you would tell us if you got yourself a girlfriend, right?” he asked.

“Huh? A girlfriend? Well, sure. If that happens, I will.” Ike put his arm over my shoulder.

“Come on. You’re going out with Horikita, aren’t you? I’m not gonna forgive you if you get ahead of us!”

“Huh?”

I noticed Yamauchi and Sudou both eyeing me suspiciously. “You idiot. We’re not dating. Absolutely not. Seriously.” “Okay, but what were you guys talking about all sneaky-like

during class today? I guess it’s not a story for us, huh? Were you talking about dates or making plans for dates, huh?! Ah, I could kill you, I’m so jealous!”

“It’s nothing. Besides, Horikita isn’t the dating type.”

“I don’t know about that. We never really talked to her before. If Kushida hadn’t brought it up, we probably wouldn’t even know her name. She disappears into the background, like a shadow.”

Was that true? I couldn’t recall Horikita really talking to anyone except for Kushida or me.

“You wouldn’t even know her name? That’s awful.”

“So, do you know all your classmate’s names, Ayanokouji?”

I could remember about half of their names. I got the point. “She does have a really cute face though, doesn’t she? That’s

why we noticed her.”

Yamauchi and the guys nodded in agreement.

“She has such an uptight personality, though. I don’t like girls like her,” remarked Sudou, drinking his coffee.

“Yeah, I know. It’s like she’s really snippy, yeah? I’d rather go out with a cheerful girl who I can have an easy conversation with. She has to be cute, of course. Just like Kushida-chan.” Of course. Kushida was still Ike’s favorite.

“Ahh. To go out with Kushida-chan…or rather, do naughty stuff with her!” cried Yamauchi.

“You moron! Like hell you can date Kushida-chan! And you’re forbidden from fantasizing about her, too!” Ike cried.

“Come on, you think you can date her, Ike? Besides, I’ve dreamt of sleeping next to Kushida-chan!”

“What?! Well, I’ve dreamt of her doing super sexy poses while in cosplay!”

The two of them went back and forth over their wild Kushida fantasies. Come on, guys. High school students are free to fantasize, but that’s just being plain rude to Kushida.

“Who do you have your eye on, Sudou? Seen any cute girls in basketball?” Ike asked.

“Huh? Oh, no one. Not yet, anyway. We don’t really have room for any girls on the team right now.”

“Really? If you do have a girlfriend, though, you better not be hiding it! You have to tell us! You have to!”

“Yeah, sure,” Sudou said. Despite how disgusted he seemed by the conversation, he nodded.

The subject of girlfriends made me remember Hirata.

“Oh, yeah, isn’t Hirata dating Karuizawa now?” I asked. “Yeah, you’re right. Hondou saw them holding hands just

the other day!”

“Yeah, they’re dating. No mistake about it. They were walking together, shoulder to shoulder.”

“They were, huh? I wonder if they’ve already done naughty stuff together.”

“Of course they have! Ah, I’m so jealous! I’m too jealous!”

It felt kind of unbelievable that a first-year high school student would already have had sex. But I supposed it was true.

Unintentionally, I’d started thinking like these guys.

“Listen to me. I’ve got the most experience with sex and stuff,” said Yamauchi, sprawled out on the hallway floor.

“I think it’d be better to ask Hirata,” Ike said.

“Do you honestly think that Hirata would give us the details?

Like, if we asked about her breasts, or if she were a virgin, or things like that? Do you really think he’d tell us? Come on,” I said.

What kind of experiences were they planning to ask about?

I walked over to the nearby vending machine to buy something to drink.

“Get me some cocoa!” Yamauchi called.

“If you want something, buy it yourself.”

“Can’t. I’ve already almost used up all of my points. I have about 2,000 left.”

“How could you possibly have used more than 90,000 points in just three weeks?” I asked.

“I bought stuff I wanted. Here, check it out. It’s awesome!” said Yamauchi, taking out a handheld gaming device.

“I bought this with Ike. It’s a PS Viva! A PS VIVA! It’s amazing that a school sells this kind of stuff.”

“How much did it cost?”

“About 20,000. With the optional stuff included, it came to about 25,000.”

Dude, don’t spend all of your points right away.

“I don’t usually play games all that much, but now that I’m living in a dorm, I figured I could play with friends. Oh, you know that Miyamoto guy in our class? He’s really good at video games.”

Miyamoto was the rather plump boy. I’d never spoken to him directly, but I got the impression he was the type who’d talk about things like games and anime all the time.

“You should buy one too and join in. Sudou said that he’d get one with next month’s allowance.”

They were already ganging up on me. Yamauchi handed over his game system so I could give it a try. It was a lot lighter than I expected. The screen displayed a warrior, huge sword strapped to his back, petting a pig. What kind of world was this?

“Honestly, I’m not really that interested. What…is this, anyway? Some kind of fighting game?”

“You’ve heard about Hunter Watch, right? It’s sold more than

4.8 million copies worldwide, man! I’ve had an incredible knack for games ever since I was a little kid. Overseas professionals constantly scouted me. I always turned them down, though.”

You can proclaim something a worldwide phenomenon, but whether or not it’s actually good is another matter. There were about seven billion people in the world. The people who’d purchased this game accounted for less than 0.1 percent of the global population.

“Anyway, how in the world can such a delicate girl wear such heavy equipment? Is her armor plastic or something? If it were iron, even someone with Sudou’s physique would struggle with it.”

“Ayanokouji, you really want an element of realism in your games? What, are you a foreigner? People who say that kind of stuff are usually okay with games where you can automatically regenerate your life. Are you one of those? Do you want some Western-developed game where you shoot guys then hide somewhere and get all of your health back? Because, if you ask me, those games are unrealistic!”

I couldn’t understand Yamauchi at all.

“Well, you know what they say: ‘seeing is believing,’ right?

Just try it. When you start playing, we’ll help you farm for materials. Collecting honey is hard work, you know? So you can buy me some cocoa, then.”

“For crying out loud…”

I didn’t exactly need the honey, but I bought the cocoa to avoid any further hassle.

“Ah, friendship is such a blessing! Thank you!” Yamauchi said.

I didn’t want that kind of friendship. I tossed the cocoa to Yamauchi, who caught it against his stomach. Now, what did I want to drink? Hesitating, I noticed a button on the machine.

“Oh, so they have this, too.”

There was a button for mineral water, which was free of charge.

“What’s wrong?”

“Oh, nothing. Just was wondering if the cafeteria offers anything for free.”

“Oh, you mean like the vegetable meal set? Ugh, there’s no way I’d want to go through school with only vegetables and water.”

Yamauchi cackled as he drank his cocoa. If you used up all of your points, then you’d have no choice but to take the free stuff, like vegetables and water. However, it was easy to avoid that situation. As long as you didn’t spend all of your points like Yamauchi, that is.

“There are quite a few people who eat the vegetables, actually,” I said.

Since I went to the cafeteria often, I recalled seeing many students eating the free meal sets.

“It’s not because they like it. It’s probably because it’s the end of the month.”

“Well, that might be so.” While I felt a little uneasy about it, I pressed the button for milk and took the bottle after it came tumbling down.

“Ah, why can’t next month come any faster? I want my dream life back again!” Yamauchi and the other guys laughed as they lamented.

6.3

HEY, we’re going to go hang out with Kushida-chan and some other people after class. You want to come?

I received that text message in the middle of my afternoon class while absentmindedly jotting down notes. Ah, weren’t these supposed to be the halcyon days of our youth? This was the first time that friends had invited me to hang out after class. I had no reason to refuse their invitation, but I thought I’d ask who was going.

I mean, I didn’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of people I didn’t know. That would be awkward.

I quickly received a reply. I saw Ike and Yamauchi’s names, as well as Kushida’s. Including me, that made five people. Didn’t seem like anyone whom I didn’t already know was included.

Well, that sounded fine. I confirmed that I’d go, and a response quickly followed.

Kushida-chan is my target, so don’t you dare get in my way! –Ike-sama

No, no, Kushida-chan is mine. You stay out of the way! –Yamauchi Huh? You say you’re after Kushida-chan, too?! What, are you trying to pick a fight?

It’d be nice if we all got along, but the two of them started fighting over Kushida via text. I’d been looking forward to hanging out with everyone, but now I thought it might be a hassle. When class ended, I left with Ike and Yamauchi. Even though I’d been here a while, the school grounds were so expansive that I still didn’t know the area very well.

“We couldn’t leave with Kushida even though we’re in the same class, huh?” I said.

“She said she had to talk to a friend from another class.

Kushida-chan is quite popular.”

“Do you think maybe she’s talking to a boy?” Ike mumbled. “Relax, Ike. I’ve already confirmed it. She’s talking to a girl,”

Yamauchi said.

“All right, all right.”

“Are you guys seriously going after Kushida?” I asked. “Of course. She’s my dream girl.”

Yamauchi must have shared this opinion, considering the fact he kept nodding in agreement.

“You’re interested in Horikita, aren’t you? She’s definitely beautiful, I gotta say.”

“No, I’m not. Really.”

“Really? Didn’t you guys sneakily exchange looks and nonchalantly touch fingertips? You know, something bittersweet and yet kind of irritating?”

While Ike relentlessly pressed me, one of the very girls we were talking about ran over.

“Sorry for being late, but thanks for waiting!” Kushida cried.

“Oh, no worries, Kushida-chan! Hey, wait a second, why are they here?!” Ike had been jumping up and down excitedly, but now he tumbled over and sprawled across the ground. What an energetic guy.

“Oh, I just happened to run into them on the way, so I thought I’d invite them along. Was that not okay?”

Kushida had brought Hirata and his girlfriend (at least, I was pretty sure she was his girlfriend), Karuizawa. There were also two other girls, Matsushita and Mori, who always hung around Karuizawa.

“Hey, don’t we have some way of making Hirata go away?!” Ike whispered, putting his arm around my shoulder.

“I don’t think there’s really any reason to make him leave,” I replied.

“That pretty boy will completely overshadow us! What are you going to do if Kushida-chan ends up liking Hirata, huh?! We can’t let that pretty boy end up with a cutie like Kushida!”

“Well, I don’t know about… Hey, wait, isn’t Hirata dating Karuizawa? I wouldn’t worry.”

“Hey, just because you say he has a girlfriend is no guarantee. I can’t relax. Besides, anyone in his right mind would choose a pretty angel like Kushida-chan over a sloppy, easy gal like Karuizawa!”

Ike furiously prattled on, his spit spraying my ear, which grossed me out. Not just the spit, either; his vile words were pretty disgusting, too. It was true that Karuizawa certainly was one of those gyaru types with tanned skin and everything, but she was plenty cute.

“Hey, Ike, you do know that there’s no guarantee that Kushida-chan is a virgin, right?” Yamauchi joined our conversation, his anxious voice a strained whisper.

“W-well… Yeah, you might be… N-no, Kushida has to be a virgin!” Ike said.

They continued to discuss their wild, delusional fantasies, though I thought it was more misogyny than anything. If at all possible, I would’ve rather not been involved.

“Um, if we’re a bother, perhaps we can just go separately?” said Hirata in a reserved tone. He seemed to have noticed our secret conversation.

“W-we don’t really mind at all, do we? Right, Yamauchi?”

“Y-yeah. Let’s all go together. The more the merrier, you know. Right, Ike?”

Moments ago, those two had shouted that others would “be in the way” and that they needed to get rid of Hirata. But if they did such a thing, then Kushida might like them less. Whether or not there was any chance she’d like them in the first place was another matter.

“Well, obviously, that was the idea. Why are you three whispering about us?” Karuizawa’s words were certainly understandable, but I was shocked to be lumped together with Ike and Yamauchi.

“Well, here’s my thought. If we include Hirata and Karuizawa, then we’ll have the same number of boys and girls. So that means it’d be a triple date. Ayanokouji, this could be your chance, you know?”

“So, you’re good with Matsushita, Yamauchi? I’m gonna talk to Kushida-chan,” Ike said.

“Hey, don’t screw with me! I’m the one after Kushida-chan!

We’re going to get married under an old cherry blossom tree, exchanging vows like a sweet promise between childhood friends! It’s fate!”

“You’re full of crap! I’ve thought about doing that for a while now. You’re a total liar!”

“Huh? It’s all true, all of it!”

If you were to believe everything Yamauchi Haruki said, then he had been a skilled gamer since childhood, scouted by professionals from overseas, and a national ping pong competitor. Then, in junior high, he’d been his baseball team’s ace player and a promising future star. What an incredibly gifted man.

Though there was no confirmation that any of that was the truth.

I didn’t know where we were headed, so I quietly hung to the back of the group. While Ike and Yamauchi daydreamed about Kushida, they flanked Hirata on both sides.

“I’m just going to ask you, Hirata. Are you going out with Karuizawa?” Ike asked point-blank to determine whether or not Hirata was his enemy.

“Uh…where did you hear that?” Hirata asked. As expected, he looked a little surprised, or even panicked, by that question. “Oh, guess you figured it out, huh? Yeah, we’re dating.”

Karuizawa latched onto Hirata’s arm before he could say anything. Hirata just lightly scratched his cheek, as if signaling resignation.

“Seriously?! I’m so jealous that you’re dating such a cute girl like Karuizawa!” said Yamauchi, feigning envy. You’d think that lying while being unaware that you’re lying would be easy, but it was surprisingly difficult.

“Kushida-chan, do you have a boyfriend?” Ike managed to shift attention over to Kushida without missing a beat. Pretty clever, huh?

“Me? Oh, no, unfortunately,” she said.

Both Ike and Yamauchi clearly rejoiced, breaking out in massive grins. Their joy leaked out for everyone to see. Although it was possible that Kushida was hiding the fact that she had a boyfriend, she’d basically confirmed that she was available. I was a little glad to hear that, too.

“Oh, no, I’m crying…”

“Don’t cry, Yamauchi! We’re finally almost at the summit!”

Their destination no longer waited at the peak of an insurmountable mountain, but instead at the end of a precipitous path…

Hirata, Karuizawa, Ike, and Yamauchi all surrounded Kushida as they walked. The rather uninteresting pair of Matsushita and Mori followed behind the main group, while I walked farther behind them, alone.

“Hey, Ike. Where are we going?” someone asked.

“It hasn’t been that long since the entrance ceremony, remember? Just wanted to check out the campus facilities,” Ike answered, seemingly irritated.

So, there was no clear destination, which meant that this somewhat awkward experience would go on for a while…

My unpleasant expectations unexpectedly changed.

“Hey, Matsushita-san, Mori-san. What do you two want to go see?”

While Ike and Yamauchi happily chatted with each other, Kushida fell back to talk to the other two girls.

“Huh? Oh, um, well…I’ve wanted to see the movie theater at least once.”

“Yeah. Since school’s done for the day, I wanted to go, too.”

“Oh, yeah! I’ve wanted to go as well, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Karuizawa-san, have you gone to any special places on dates?”

Kushida started to organize us into three groups, just as I’d expect of her. No matter how hard I tried, I could never have done something like that. Also, as a nice bonus, she occasionally turned and smiled sweetly at me. I didn’t expect that.

I tried not to talk unnecessarily, as I felt that would just be a hassle. I tried to look at Kushida in a way that showed I wasn’t ignoring her. If Kushida couldn’t read the room, and merely liked being the constant center of attention, then the message probably wouldn’t reach her.

However, there are people who will lash out and say something like, “Why can’t you read the situation?” to a friend after he refuses to do karaoke, even though they know that friend said he didn’t want to sing. There are, after all, self-absorbed, simple-minded people who assume that because karaoke is fun for them, that means everyone will love it. They simply cannot comprehend that some people dislike singing.

While I’d been mulling over this venomous topic, my surroundings had changed. Apparently, we’d stopped at a clothing store on campus. More precisely, it was a boutique. Everyone seemed to have come to this store a few times already, so we entered without hesitation. Generally, I wore my uniform on weekdays, and since I usually stayed in my dorm on my days off, I hadn’t bought any clothes for going out.

There were many students inside, though few upperclassmen. The majority appeared to be first-year students. Perhaps it was because of my newness, but I felt really inexperienced and anxious in this atmosphere. We checked out many different items on the racks and, afterward, went to a nearby café. Hirata carried the clothes that Karuizawa had purchased, which cost about 30,000 points.

“Have you all gotten used to this school yet?”

“At first, I was really perplexed, but now I’ve settled in perfectly. It’s like living in a dream. I don’t ever want to graduate!”

“Ha ha! I get the feeling Ike-kun is enjoying his time here to the fullest!”

“I just wish we had more points, you know? Maybe 200,000 or 300,000 a month? After buying cosmetics and clothes and stuff, I’ve already used up almost all of my points,” Karuizawa said.

“Don’t you think it’s abnormal for a high school student to get 300,000 points as a monthly allowance?” Hirata asked.

“Well, if you put it like that, yeah. Even 100,000 is pretty outlandish. I’m a little scared, to be honest. I’m worried about what life after graduation will be like if I keep on spending my school days like this.”

“Do you mean you’ll lose your sense of money management? Yeah, that does sound pretty scary, actually.”

Everyone felt differently about our monthly allowance.

Karuizawa and Ike both wanted more points, while Hirata and Kushida were terrified of what would happen when our life of luxury ended.

“What about you, Ayanokouji-kun? Do you think that 100,000 points is a lot or not enough?”

At that point, I’d only intended to listen, but Kushida asked me my thoughts.

“Hmm, well, I don’t really fully understand it yet. I’m not sure,” I replied.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I think I understand what you’re getting at, Ayanokouji- kun. This is honestly completely different from any normal school. It’s hard to understand it without really knowing all the details.”

“Well, there’s no point worrying about it. I’m super glad that I got into this school. I can just go out and buy whatever I want.

In fact, yesterday I went out and bought some new clothes.” Ike lived a positive life, always forging directly ahead.

“Kushida-chan and Hirata aside, Ike, you and Karuizawa also managed to get into this place. Aren’t you guys pretty dumb, though?”

“You don’t strike me as being very smart either, Yamauchi.”

“Huh? I’ll have you know that I scored 900 points on the APEC.”

“What’s the APEC?”

“You don’t even know? It’s a super tough test for English.” “Um, don’t you mean the TOEIC, not APEC?”

Kushida gently brought Yamauchi back down to earth. APEC actually stood for Asia-Pacific Economic Partnership.

“Th-they’re related though, aren’t they?” he asked. They were as far apart as it’s possible to get.

“Well, this school’s mission is to nurture young people who will pave the way to the future, right? So, they probably don’t choose people solely on their test scores. Honestly, if this school only took in people based on standardized tests, I wouldn’t have taken the entrance exam.”

“Yeah, yeah. Young people who will pave the way to the future. That’s exactly how I’d describe myself.” Ike crossed his arms and nodded.

Despite being the premier institution in Japan, with stellar rates of advancement into higher education and employment, this school didn’t appear to determine the criteria for passing or failing through test scores. If that was the case, then how in the world did it select potential students? I found myself suddenly curious.

Written on August 15, 2022