“If I accompanied her for long enough, I would understand even if she didn’t want me to.”
… That was what Yuuki was thinking.
Although he didn’t have enough of an understanding of her yet, it should be about time for him to see the true personality of the transfer student, Kanaruzawa Sekai. For example, the long amount of time that she spent as a shut in. All alone inside the mansion, what exactly was she doing? Has she been playing on the internet without end? Or was she hooked on some anime or manga? Or maybe she was living the life of a drunkard, hung up on cigars and alcohol?
“No, that’s not right, you know?” Sekai shook her head. Then she spoke with a boring expression. “If you’re asking what I did, then I’ll answer you. I slept.”
“That’s right. I did nothing but sleep. I slept around in bed all day, and passed time, just waiting like that.” Then she added on to her explanation. “As such, my body isn’t that strong.”
Despite what she said, it wasn’t exactly that she actually slept the whole entire day. During her free time, if she had to explain what she was doing, then she would say that she read books.
“I read various types of books.” So Sekai said. “I’m not too picky about what I read. From within what Chiyo prepares for me, I end up picking up something that catches my eye.”
Asking her about the types of books she read, her reply included photography books, scientific journals, history books, and so on. Just by listening to that, somehow she seemed like a really smart person.
“I know, right? I’m actually really smart.” Saying that, she pushed out her chest. Unfortunately, because she acts like that, it always seems like she isn’t that smart. However, he didn’t put those thoughts into words as that wouldn’t be considerate.
She had a mature atmosphere, but contrastingly childish. The fact that both of those sides are a part of her personality is one of the charms of Kanaruzawa Sekai.
It can be said that people who read a lot tend to have a wide breadth of knowledge. However, in the case of Kanaruzawa Sekai, that was not the case.
Rather, her knowledge was very skewed. For example, she knew of the small mining industry within some minor country inside the Caribbean Sea, but she doesn’t even know the name of an idol group that every citizen of this country would know.
“You know a lot of weird stuff, Kanaruzawa.”
“Yeah. It’s because I’m smart.”
“But you don’t really know very much about anything important.”
“It can’t be helped, right? I was a shut-in after all.”
“If you’re like this, then you can’t become a proper high school girl, you know?”
“In order to become a proper high school girl,”
Sekai leaned forward, “What should I do? Please tell me.”
“It’s impossible to put it simply, though… for example, a high school girl might go to the restroom during break times in order to fix their makeup.”
“Is that so? I didn’t know that.”
“Knowing how to do your eyebrows, apply foundations, and such. A girl that knows how to do that would probably be able to easily make friends, and would be able to have lots of conversations.”
“I see. That’s nice to know.”
Then, the next day.
The unsightly appearance of Sekai, who had done her makeup without the help of Chiyo-san made quite the impact. This was also something that could be counted as another one of her charms, Yuuki thought.
Kanaruzawa Sekai wasn’t clumsy only with her hands. Rather, she was clumsy with almost everything.
She often burns her tongue like a cat.
Tripping on nothing.
Often spilling when drinking something.
Unable to put on her shoes by herself.
Can’t do two things at once.
Also, she sometimes bites her tongue while speaking.
“It’s because my mistress is in some ways, quite talented.” Chiyo-san made a face, as if to ask, so what. “Just because she’s clumsy, it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong. If the master is lacking in some area, it is alright as long as the maid follows through with it.”
“Well, I guess so…”
“Does Yuuki-sama have something that he is unsatisfied with?”
“It’s not exactly dissatisfaction. If Kanaruzawa ends up going to school, who will be there to follow up for her where she’s lacking?”
“Ara? Is such an answer needed at such a late point in time?” Saying that, Chiyo-san smiled.
Yuuki laughed in response.
This exchange of smiles continued multiple times, during which her line of sight was always directly facing Yuuki. Following along with the flow of what seemed natural, Yuuki couldn’t stop himself from forming a bitter smile. Although Kanaruzawa Sekai had already shown herself to be clumsy, that part of her would at some point in the future appear even more prominently—there was only a little more time until he would make that discovery.
“Hmmm, I see. So Kanaruzawa-san will finally come.” They were inside Murakumo Private High School, third year class A’s classroom. While browsing through her homework, Koiwai Kurumi expressed her thoughts. “Yuuki-kun’s effort has finally paid off. Congrats, congrats.”
It was after school with just the two class representatives in the classroom. The classroom was dyed a red color by the lengthening day, and the cries from the cheering club could be heard from the courtyard.
“Tomorrow, probably.” Yuuki reported, while turning over the book that he borrowed from the library. “I believe that I should be able to bring her to school. She’s currently making various preparations.”
“What type of preparations?”
“Preparing a wig, hat, or something of that sort.”
“Hahaa. I see.” Kurumi was working through her math problems while giving her reply. After staring at a reference book she ended up biting into her lip. “I guess that will be fine. Yup yup.”
“If she ends up coming to school I’ll be depending on you, Koiwai-san.”
“Of course. As much as I can. I would like to at least…”
The blank space on her notebook was slowly filled with numbers and symbols. Having the cheering club’s shouting as BGM, Yuuki flipped through the pages in his book, “It’ll take time, there’s no doubt about that.”
“For Kanaruzawa-san to fit into the school?”
“Yeah. But that just has to be taken slowly and steadily. She stands out a lot after all. There’s no easy way to go about it.”
“But you know, Yuuki-kun.” Kurumi said as she scratched her hair. “You might not have the leisure on working on it so gradually.”
“Mmm…” After a little bit of silence. Kari kari, the sound of something carefully being written into the notebook continued, “Let’s leave it as a no comment from me.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“How should I put this…? There are various problems…”
“I don’t understand very much of it, but I can tell that it’s something that’s hard to say.”
“Well, I’m in a little bit of a weird spot…” Kurumi said, seemingly a little bit shaken. Then, she spoke with a self important attitude. “But you know, I’m your ally. Please be relieved about that at least.”
“Yeah. That’s something nice to hear.”
“I mean, we’ve known each other for a while, and you’ve helped me quite a bit over the years.”
“I feel like that’s already broken even for a while now though. I should be the one to say that you have helped me out a lot.”
“That’s not true. That time, you ended up fighting because of me, Yuuki-kun. It ended with you being misunderstood. To the point where even now, I’m really your only friend. To be honest, that’s all my fault.”
“Nono. It’s definitely not your fault at all, Koiwai-san.”
“You’re also really strong, you know? Adding on to that, you’re terrible at holding back.”
“About that, yeah, I’m sorry about that. It’s completely my fault.”
“Regardless, Yuuki-kun, you were always the type of person who couldn’t leave something alone.” She raised her head from her notebook. Then, she looked out the window and spoke nostalgically. “That part of you, is something that I think is great. It’s also quite cool. That’s why it’s easily misunderstood, but the people that follow still understand, right? I’m like that, and so is your little sister.”
“That’s something nice of you to say.”
“However, the part where both of you guys stand out, Yuuki-kun and Kanaruzawa-san, both of you are in the same boat. You also don’t really talk to anyone beside me, nor do you get along with anyone else. Remember that, okay?”
“…” Yuuki scratched his cheek. He looked at the ceiling, before finally directing his gaze outside the window with Kurumi, “You know, Koiwai-san.”
“What is it?”
“I was originally lost on whether or not I should say this. But as expected, it seems better if I were to say this.”
“Haven’t we known each other for a long time now, Yuuki-kun?” Yuuki changed his focus, and fixed his posture. Kurumi nodded quietly. “Say it. No matter what it is, I’ll properly and seriously answer it. Wholeheartedly.”
“… Got it. Then, I’ll say it.” He then made a short sigh. Yuuki once again once again corrected his posture, and then made weird expression. He then pointed at Kurumi’s notebook and made a suggestion. “Over there, shouldn’t it be Y and not X?”
“…” Kurumi furrowed her eyebrows. Then, she scanned her notes, and after reconsidering it multiple times, she spoke. “Yuuki-kun.”
“What is it?”
“That part of you, I somewhat dislike it.”
“That’s what I thought you would say.” Yuuki made a slight snicker, “I’m easily misunderstood, right?”
The next day.
As Yuuki had proclaimed, he brought Sekai to school. The time had just past 10 am. They were totally late.
“Well, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it.” They were lined up in front of the school gates with no one else there. Yuuki comforted his fellow classmate that had succeeded in going to school for the first time. “Now that you’ve gone this far, you’ve already made a large improvement. You can do this. That’s why there’s no reason for you to cry.”
“Uuu…” The crybaby of a classmate was already at the point of almost crying. “Sorry, Yuuki. Sorry for being always like this… gusu.”
“Nono, don’t worry about it. You were able to get to this point by walking on your own two feet. You rested a lot though.”
“We should have came on a car from the start, then we wouldn’t have been so late. However, I ended up being so selfish…”
“Nono. If you come by car, you’ll end up sticking out weirdly. Besides, you said that you wanted to walk here on your own two feet, right, Kanaruzawa-san. That’s why it’s fine if we’re late.”
“But because of that, you were also late…”
“It’s fine, we were just late. Don’t worry about it.”
“Uuuu…” His comforting had no effect, as Sekai’s tears came flowing out.
(Will she be like this, even from now on…?) Yuuki had to worry.
On top of a long black haired wig, she wore a beret. Whether or not there was any effect or not, she greeted him today with double the countermeasures. If it’s continues on like this, Yuuki himself was bound to run out of energy for this.
(Well, I guess it’s okay.) Yuuki turned around his feelings. (She’s cute like this after all!)
That’s right. Kanaruzawa was cute. The black hair, the beret, and the uniform, all of it suited her.
For humans, what matters the most in the end is appearance. Because she already cleared that point, whether it was fitting into school, or having the class accept her, her chances were definitely not low. As long as she grabs onto a chance, it’ll work out. Probably.
“Let’s go then, Kanaruzawa.” Ton, he prompted her after hitting her on the back. “Just act normal, and it’ll be alright. Just act normal. Don’t do anything weird. If you just stay quiet, you’re pretty cute, so everything will be okay.”
“I-is that so? I’m cute? I see.”
“Don’t try to think of making your transfer student debut perfect. As long as you don’t come out with anything negative, then it’s fine.”
“Yeah, I got it. I won’t think about anything needless.”
“Also, don’t expect too much follow up from me.”
“Got it. I won’t.”
The chime rang at the same time as her nod. It signaled that the first period of class was now over.
It was during the break between class periods.
The combination of Yuuki and Sekai walking down the hall already stood out. She had hidden her silver hair, and was wearing her uniform like normal. It wasn’t that they were doing anything weird either. It was just the fact that the existence of Kanaruzawa Sekai was one that stood out. Whether that was a good thing or not. It couldn’t be helped for gazes to gather on her. That was the type of aura she held.
“Uuu…” And, she was already half crying.
On the way here (especially inside the train) she was exposed to the same sort of situation. With how hard her tear glands were working, the stream of tears coming out were starting to dry out. While trying to hide herself from as many curious gazes as possible, Sekai headed towards the classroom.
Sliding open the door to the third year class A classroom, their eyes met straight away with Koiwai Kurumi.
“Hey. Good morning.”
“It shouldn’t be a hey, good morning. You’re completely late. Get it together, class representative.”
The other classmates only watched over them as the pair of class representatives made their exchange. Even the group that had been talking to Kurumi just a little while ago had moved further away. They had ended up giving a slight smile, with no greeting, trying to stay out of the conversation as much as possible. That was what Kirishima Yuuki’s position in class was like, or at least that was how it was until now. There was another reason for the half hearted adjustment from his classmates.
“Hey, good morning.” Kurumi called out to Sekai. She lightly stuck out her hand as if seeing how things would go.
“G-g” Sekai, in response to that, “G-g-g-g-g-ood m-m-morn” She turned bright red as she stammered out her words. Looking down, she fidgeted with her two hands, “…aau”
In the end, she didn’t say anything at all. Kurumi laughed lightly as she let it go, then returned to her conversation with her friends. At the same time, the weird atmosphere in the room softened, and the classroom returned to the same environment it was before.
(Thank you, Koiwai-san.) Yuuki expressed his gratitude within himself.
Just touching the surface but not going to deep. That way of going around things was as expected from her. Thanks to that, a situation where Sekai was isolated and was forced to make her way on her own was avoided. It could be said that the first stage was cleared.
“Your seat is over there. It’s next to me.”
“Y-yeah. Got it.” Koku koku, she nodded.
With unsmooth movements, Sekai moved to stand by her appointed seat. As the time passed, she began to pay attention to the other classmates around her. Yuuki also arrived at his own seat, and watched to see how Sekai was doing.
It was clearly shown in her expression that she was troubled. At a complete loss, she ended up standing straight back up from her seat, “Uuu… what should I be doing from now?”
She looked at Yuuki with tearful eyes.
That’s what was wrong!?
Yuuki looked up at the sky as he approached her, “Ummm. For now, you brought your textbooks, right? Put them into your desk.”
“Also, the next class is classical literature. Put the textbook for that on top of your desk.”
“I-is it okay like this?”
“Then, just sit there and wait. Class will start soon.”
“Y-yeah. I got it.” Sekai nodded repeatedly. She straightened out her back and continued to wait. Her expression clearly showed her nervousness, so much that even Yuuki was getting anxious just looking.
Kiin koon kaan koon.
The chime rang at a good timing, as the classical literature teacher entered the classroom.
The first class went smoothly. The teacher that was in charge of the class was an elderly man who could read the mood. He didn’t end up calling on the student that had shown her face for the first time, nor did he try to make a big deal about it. It was something to be thankful for. If she was called on to answer something on the blackboard, there’s no doubt that some sort of trouble would come up.
Kiin koon kaan koon.
The chime rang and the classical literature teacher left the classroom. Slowly, the students stood up from their seats. The next class was physical education.
“Kanaruzawa.” Yuuki spoke to Sekai, who was busy staring at the people around her, “I won’t be able to go with you to change. So I hope that somehow, things go well.”
“Y-yeah. I got it.”
“More importantly, can you actually take the physical education class? Isn’t your body a little bit weak?”
“I want to do as much as I can.” Sekai’s voice was full of determination, “Exercise is most likely not possible, but since I have the chance, I would like to change clothes.”
“Got it. Then… Koiwai-san.”
“Can I ask you to help out? With Kanaruzawa that is.”
“Yessir… Well then, Kanaruzawa-san, come over here. I’ll take you to the changing room.”
Yuuki just watched as Sekai chased after the back of the class representative.
(Well, I guess it’ll be fine.) Yuuki thought while he made his own preparations for physical education. (We were able to clear the previous class after all. Putting too much worry into it wouldn’t be good for her either.)
Then, just 10 minutes later.
What came flying into Yuuki’s ears was a report that Kanaruzawa Sekai had fallen and was carried to the school infirmary.
“… Sorry about this, Yuuki.” She was lying down on a pipe bed in the school infirmary. Sekai’s eyebrows were brought together as she made an apology. “I ended up talking big earlier, but in the end, it became like this. I am quite ashamed.”
“Nono, don’t worry about it.” Rather, Yuuki was the one who wanted to apologize.
It was his own mistake for being unable to judge the limits of the sickly transfer student—was that thinking wrong in any way? After all, he had heard from Kurumi, that Sekai, at the changing room, had fallen by herself without any warning whatsoever. It would have been difficult to foresee in advance.
“It’s hard, right?” Yuuki voiced out while scratching his head. “I guess, going to school like this and having a normal school life is a little bit impossible. As expected, bringing you to school wasn’t a great idea—”
“That’s not true, Yuuki.” Sekai shook her head, “I myself should understand what state my body is in. Despite that I had been the one to voice my own selfishness in going to school, and you were only dragged into that.”
“No. Even if you say that…”
“Besides, it was really fun, you know?” She spoke out shyly, “Coming to school, taking classes together with everyone. It is quite a fulfilling feeling. All of this, is thanks to you, Yuuki. Because you helped me, I am able to be here.”
“Is that so. It’s nice of you to say that.”
“There were also a lot of new things I discovered.”
“You aren’t very close with the people from your class.”
“There is only one person that you have conversations with. The rest of your classmates don’t seem to be on great terms with you.”
Sekai made a worried face. Having her worry about him, Yuuki made a bitter smile, before explaining. “Well, how should I say this? A lot of things happened.”
“What do you mean by a lot of things happened?”
“Well, first would be that my family is head of a very large company. Just from this, I end up standing out a lot.”
“I just somehow ended up hitting some people, things like that happened quite a few times.”
“Do you like hitting other people?”
“There’s no way that’s true. Sometimes, things just happen where I’m forced to. And well, because of that, there ended up being misunderstandings.”
“Is it alright for you not to break up those misunderstandings?”
“If you were to ask me that, then yes, I would. However, once I’ve been stuck with a something it’s hard to remove it. My gaze isn’t exactly that nice either.”
“… I see.” Making a sight, Sekai frowned. “The world is quite stubborn. More than I imagined it to be.”
Her face was like that of a child who was seeing the hypocrisy of the world for the first time. Somehow it was weird.
“Well, for me, it doesn’t really matter that much.” Yuuki returned the conversation to its original topic, “What are you going to do now? Are you going to go home for now?”
“… If possible, I would like to be at school for longer.”
“Isn’t it fine if it’s not today? If you plan on going to school properly, then tomorrow, or even the day after you can still going to school.”
“Fumu.” After thinking for a bit, Sekai nodded, “I understand. I’ll listen to you. I’ll quietly go home and rest.”
Just like that. For Kanaruzawa’s second time going to school, she ended up retiring partway through the second period of class.
Yuuki felt that this wasn’t something to think negatively upon. Rather, it could be called a remarkable advancement. Although it took a lot of handholding to get to this point, it was only a matter of time. If she was to return to becoming a shut in, she has already learned the processes behind going to school. Even if she were to not want to come anymore, she has already earned quite a bit.
Of course, just coming to school was no good. To properly take class, to participate in school events, and to collaborate with her classmates. Only then, can Sekai advance further. In the true sense of the word.
(… Am I really in the position to be talking about other people.) Thinking that, Yuuki made a self deprecating laugh. With his own position in the class, how could he be saying all of this. (I also need to change a little bit…)
There was Koiwai Kurumi, and his sister Haruko. Yuuki’s own relationship were already quite lively and fulfilling. However, as the “master” he couldn’t show his “disciple” such an unsightly appearance.
The next morning.
When they got to school, indoor shoes were gone. 
Not Yuuki’s, but Kanaruzawa Sekai’s shoes.
He doubted it repeatedly. He didn’t just doubt it, but even rubbed his eyes multiple times. However, reality didn’t change. It was completely new pair of white indoor shoes, and it had now disappeared without a trace.
(Did someone make a mistake and take it on accident?)
It didn’t look like that though. All the spots adjacent to Sekai were all completely empty. If it was just some mistake and some random person was wearing it, then there should be at least another one still left.
(Did Kanaruzawa make a mistake? Maybe she put her shoes in the wrong spot…)
It’s hard to think that either. She was currently standing next to Yuuki, staring in the same direction as him, and making a blank expression. Trying to understand the situation, it could be seen that she was completely dumbfounded by the printed words in front of her.
If that’s the case, there’s only one answer.
Someone took them. Sekai’s indoor shoes. Purposefully.
(Why?) Yuuki bit his lips.
There should be no reason that she would have to go through this. She hasn’t done anything at all. She came to class for the first time in a long time and had to retire early from class because she was feeling bad. It was just that. There should be no reason for someone to hold a grudge against her.
Despite that, why?
She had just got to the point where she could come to school. If it’s like this, maybe she’ll return to being—
This isn’t the time for him to be spacing out. Kanaruzawa was a delicate person. On the long road to the station, she cried. After being, stuffed into the train during rush hour, she cried. She even cried when she took a drink of canned coffee from the convenience store.
He needed to at least follow up at this point. Just by hiding her indoor shoes, even with such a trivial amount of harassment, Sekai was sure to feel bad about it.
“For now, just calm down. Don’t worry. It’s probably just some mistake.”
“Yuuki.” The troubled Sekai unexpectedly raised her voice.
Although quiet, the voice contained something that seemed to draw people to it. A few of the people around even turned around to look at her. Even Yuuki turned around, his heart rate rising a bit.
This is what he ended up seeing.
Kanaruzawa Sekai, a completely distorted expression, tears pouring from her eyes—
She was smiling.
Kanaruzawa Sekai was smiling. It wasn’t something that was forced either. More than that, her eyes were sparkling.
“I am currently, very moved.” She said.
Yuuki could only give her a questioning look.
“I am really really moved, Yuuki. My heart has been moved a lot.” Sekai repeated the same thing twice. As expected though, Yuuki could only shake his head in wonder. Sekai was like a teacher trying to teach a student who just couldn’t grasp the concept, as she waved her hands and body, “Look. My shoes are gone.”
“Y-yeah. So it seems.”
“Someone hid them without telling me.”
“Well. That’s possible.”
“In other words, this is what is called bullying.”
“No, well it isn’t completely confirmed just yet. That’s why you don’t need to feel down just—”
“I’m currently very happy.”
… As expected, he couldn’t understand at all. It was as if someone had just answered that 1 + 1 = 3 with a straight face. It was as if she was explaining to someone that the earth revolved around the sun, when they believed that the sun revolving around the earth.
“Ummm, Kanaruzawa.” Yuuki asked hesitantly. “If you are actually being bullied, why is it that you’re happy? If you’re being bullied, it means that you’ve gained the hatred of some person, you know? And it would be quite a bit of it too. Wouldn’t you normally be sad about that?”
“Of course, that’s obvious.” She made an even weirder expresion. Then, Sekai explained it to him. “It somehow feels like I’m actually living.”
“I came to school, and there was someone that didn’t really like me. As a result of that, my shoes disappeared. The fact that I had interacted with someone, the proof of that is in a tangible form right in front of my eyes. If that isn’t something to be happy about, then what is?”
“Hahaa.” It was a curveball thrown from a completely different direction than he expected. For Yuuki, it was just a plain old remark. But seeing Sekai showing that she was truly happy, he could only believe that it was a valid way to think of it. “I see. I guess you were a shut in. In the truest sense of that phrase.”
“Yeah. That’s right.”
“If you think about it from that direction… I guess I could see it.”
“Yeah. That’s the truth of it.”
“But you know?” Yuuki stared straight at her and pointed. “What are you going to do without your shoes for the day. The soles of your feet will get dirty, and it will probably hurt too.”
“If it’s just getting dirty, I don’t mind. And if it’s the pain, then I can bear with it.”
“If you alone are walking barefoot you’ll stand out, you know? It’ll also be found out that you’re being bullied. If it gets found out, you won’t be able to get along with the class, you know?”
“I completely don’t care about that. Being unable to get along, is also a form of interaction between people. It’s something to be happy about for a shut in like me.”
Sekai laughed happily. Rather than laughing, it could be said she was grinning.
(She’s completely serious about it. For sure.)
It was quite surprising. That there would be someone who would react to this situation in this way.
“Ummm. Then, what are you going do?”
“What do you mean?”
“Isn’t it fine to just go home for today? Since something like this happened, shouldn’t you report it to teacher? It would be a good idea to do various things.”
“There’s no need for that.” Sekai shook her head strongly. “I don’t wish for something like that. I’m fine with it the way it is now.”
“No, but still—”
“Come on, let’s go, Yuuki. If you keep dragging on, we’ll be late.” Saying that, she proceeded down the hall without her shoes. Energetically.
In the end, Sekai left partway through the third class period.
The reason being that her condition worsened. It didn’t have any relation with her shoes being gone. Laying in a bed in the infirmary while hearing the sound of the referee, she made a dissatisfied expression. It didn’t seem like she was going to try and tough it out or needlessly push herself though.
(Such a weird person.) Yuuki once again thought that.
Involving himself with Sekai, it seemed like he would be able to see a lot of things in a new light. Once again, her charm was showing through, even in a way like this.
- In Japanese schools, cleanliness is a huge part of the school culture. Schools organize and have students clean up after school, while also making sure that students do not go into school buildings while wearing their normal shoes. They have indoor shoes that they switch into at the entrance of the building.