I thought back to P.E while listening.
I’ll be fine, they’re talking about today.
I remember everything so vividly: after the fourth period had ended, gym class, I headed to the warehouse to store away the ball and scoreboard we’d used.
As soon as I entered, sure enough, Toudou was there.
Like me, she also stored the girls’ used materials.

However, that wasn’t a coincidence, because at this school the equipment is supposed to be stored away by the students in that day’s cleaning shift.
If the amount was too large for me to handle, others around me would’ve helped, but since I was enough for the job, I told my friends to go back first and went in alone.

Toudou and I aren’t particularly close, nor are we on bad terms.
We just chatted occasionally.
Still, at that time, we were both focused on cleaning up and storing everything away.

But just as I was about to finish cleaning up and heading back to class, Toudou said this:

“Do you have a minute?”

I nodded my head, acknowledging her.

“I know it’s been quite a while since you and Momiji have been together, Takasaki.
Is everything going well?”

What a way to put it, I thought.

It wasn’t a formal question, and I didn’t understand its purpose.
Still, since she was good friends with my girlfriend, Momiji, she must’ve been looking out for her friend.
So I answered, “Great, we’re going little by little,” with a hint of embarrassment mixed in.

I still didn’t get why she asked me that, but I didn’t pay any attention, so we chatted for a bit and then walked back to class.

—These are the facts as I know them.

However, Toudou and Yamamoto had both arranged their own stories in advance.
They were so good at incorporating lies and truths together, there didn’t seem to be any discrepancies whatsoever.

Supposedly, as soon as she finished cleaning up the warehouse, I pushed her down on the mat and tried to slip her into her underwear, but she managed to escape with great difficulty.
Yamamoto then happened to pass by due to an errand there.

—This is a summary of their testimonies.

There was one self-proclaimed witness, but in the end, only we knew what really happened there.
Since there was no contradiction in their side of the story, I had nothing to offer in self-defense.

After listening to the story, the teacher said, “Takasaki, so that’s Toudou’s side.
There’s even a witness, and I know she isn’t the kind of person who lies.
That’s why I want to hear the truth from your mouth.”

Does this mean you think I’m the type of person who lies? Well, there is a supposed witness, so I can understand why a teacher would think so.
However, as she’s been a diligent student, I’ve been faithful to those around me up until now.
There must be times when even my teachers appreciated my attitude in the past.

I won’t give up.

“Teacher, I didn’t do any of the things they said.
Toudou spoke to me then and we talked for a while, but went straight back to class afterward.
I hate calling people names and antagonizing them, but they’re lying.
I just don’t know why.”

“Is that so?”

He looked at the two and asked with his eyes, but they both shook their heads.
Then, he looked into mine, and I could see the difference.
Whenever his gaze landed on me, I noticed his previous worry switch to full-on doubt.
He didn’t trust me one bit.

Why, why don’t you believe in me…?

Then suddenly, his previous words came to my mind.
He had said he wanted to “hear the truth from my mouth.” I see, he didn’t want me to disprove anyone, and asked me on the assumption I was lying in the first place.
Before I said anything, he had already decided I was the culprit in his mind.

“Since you three are saying different things to each other, it’s impossible to determine which one is telling the truth.
But what matters is, I’ll explain the situation to your parents, and you’ll tell your story again while they’re here.”

Thus, the story reached its conclusion.
The teacher himself made his judgment and had no faith in me.

…I can’t let this happen.

But why not call the police and conduct a formal investigation? Is this about the appearance of the school in the public eye?

No, this might be for the better.
On the one hand, I would like the police to be called to get to the bottom of this, but on the other hand, if the situation were to be attributed against me, it would be even worse than it is now.

These days, it’s possible to be falsely accused of mol*station.
I’ve even heard that it’s hard to collect fingerprints from clothing, so if it were possible to do so reliably, there would be no more false accusations.
I hoped.

“In any case, go home for now.
I’ll call your parents and let them know.”

“Understood,” we all answered him.

And so, I headed homeward drowning in helplessness.

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