Chapter 2 — Coming of age, a ceremony needed for emancipation. Part 16
When everything was finally over, nine days had already passed.
Those nine days had been really hectic, which meant that I hadn’t made any progress at all in reading the last third of L’Etranger. I was still stalled after the first witness’ testimony in the main character’s trial.
My step-father was in the living room, painfully sleeping amidst a thicket of beer cans. I wasn’t at all bothered by his appearance though. That was just the way he was and probably how his sorrows were manifesting.
I left him there and headed to school without saying a word.
In only the span of nine days, fall had greatly intensified, and I felt as if the first signs of winter could already be seen in the distance.
The sky was clear, but the sunlight was weak and the wind was cold. I wished I had one more layer on top of my winter uniform.
The black sailor uniform had the appearance of a mourning dress.
But I didn’t have any intention of mourning.
Even though it had been a while since I last went to school, it was still the same boring and overly formal place.
Budworm wasn’t present however, but everyone else was.
I ignored the apprehensive stares as well as the noisy Tsukasa, and instead spoke to the perfect student with the arm in a cast.
“Who was it that broke your arm?” I asked straight away without even greeting him.
His face contorted into a mix of shock and fear as he replied:
“I-I just…fell down.”
“I see, then that’s fine.” I grinned in an insinuating manner and continued.
His whole face convulsed at once.
“Would you like to have it back?”
“W-w-what do you m-mean?” His teeth started chattering loudly and his eyes evaded mine when I looked to his.
“You left it on the ground near my house. On the night you made the fire.”
“I don’t know anything about that! I didn’t have anything to do with it, I swear!” he screamed in horror, his body going weak as the guard around his soul fell to pieces.
And that was all the proof I needed.
If he had been the accomplice, I knew for sure who the leader was.
Since that was all the information I required, I didn’t have anything else to say.
“It wasn’t my fault! It was all her!” he shouted, standing up, then all strength left his body and he fell limply upon his desk.
A little while later, he started sobbing.
I shrugged it off and went to my desk.
There, Tsukasa looked at me with a vague, worried—which was really uncommon for her—smile, and said:
“Sacchan, I think you went too far.”
“That was just”—I glanced at him for an instant—”reaping what he sowed.”
“Not everyone, including him, can behave and stay strong in any situation like you. You’re at least aware of that, right?”
It almost sounded like she was lecturing me.
I looked away to the window and what was outside. The weather looked cold, the wind sporadically blowing over the sports ground. I brushed my hair back and replied:
“If you have nothing important to say, please leave me alone.”
“Do you hold your hair like that out of habit?” Instead, she started talking about something completely unrelated.
“I believe I just told you to leave me alone if you don’t have anything important to say.”
“And I want to talk with you—I think that’s something very important.”
“…It’s probably a habit.”
“I think it fits you a lot. It gives off this cold aura…” Her smile was bright now, she seemed to be enjoying this for some reason.
“I really wanted to have long hair too but it gets too curly so I gave up on growing it.”
She put her hands on both sides of her head and started grasping at her hair.
“It’s hereditary though, so there’s nothing I can do about it. My mom also has really curly hair, and when the rainy season comes, both our hair curls up even more and we look like scientists having gone through a failed experiment. If you come visit, I could show you the pictures of that.”
Then she splayed out her hands away from her head, gesturing as if it were exploding, and burst out laughing.
“My hair”— I started stroking my own hair, that black hair I had grown for so long—”–is also hereditary, it looks the same as my mother’s.”
My mother who went into the flames, yelling the name of my dead sister and–––
“So you liked your mom.”
“No,” I said. “I hated her.”
“That can’t be true,” she countered immediately.
“Even if I didn’t hate her, there’s no point talking about it now. She’s already dead.”
I stroked my hair one more time. It felt silky, just like my mother’s felt when I touched it so long ago.