Chapter 26: Sachi Yuki’s penitence, part 2.

Yuki’s POV.

As soon as I got into my new school at the time, I dyed my hair and distanced myself from anyone else.
Ever since I was transferred, I only held the occasional conversation with my parents, and they didn’t say anything about me dying my hair.
For them, as long as I was able to study, nothing else mattered.

If there were more bad people around even in this new school, I might’ve been bullied due to my flashy new appearance and the fact I didn’t talk to anyone.
Luckily, they were all normal middle schoolers and that didn’t happen.

I had bright hair, stern eyes, and a muted demeanor.
Thankfully, people around me didn’t want to get themselves involved with me.
Only the teacher ever did.

Needless to say, my new middle school life was liberating.
No more living each day in fear of being bullied, no more having to live in fear of the powermongers.
Every day in my life until now, I wore a mask.
Now I see what the correct answer was all along.
I felt I finally had a clear path ahead of me…

But I didn’t even know what kind of person I was anymore.

However, when I got into high school I was utterly dismayed.

Why are club activities obligatory?! I screamed inside my head.
With my parents’ approval, I took an entrance exam for a distant high school, left home, and started living alone.
I was oh-so excited to start a new page in my life, better than the last, but to no avail, it seemed.

I quickly realized my near future would be decided by which club I chose, so I struggled and thought really hard about it.
I wanted one with the fewest amount of people and as little activity as possible.

As the visitation period was about to end, I visited a “newborn” club called the Excursion club, and I didn’t know anything about what it entailed.
Upon walking inside its room, I found a girl sitting there, all alone.
If I didn’t talk to her, she wouldn’t talk to me, and apparently, the activities were very few compared to other clubs.

Even though she was a girl just like “that one,” it seemed I had nothing to be concerned about.
Furthermore, if I wanted to take a day off from club activities, I could try to put on a stronger front to her and get my way.

Although it was a bit different from what I wanted, it was miles better than the other alternative, the Literature club.

But I had two miscalculations.

Number one, the “boss,” who I thought to be easy to deal with, was actually a very stubborn person.
She had a unique atmosphere and her core was stronger than I expected.

Number two, there was another member of the club.
The first time I saw him was at the “Resting place,” or so it’s called.
I looked to my left and saw him staring at me.
As soon as our eyes met, he lightly bowed and immediately looked away.
However, the moment my eyes met his, I felt an ineffable sense of disgust.

It wasn’t until I met the guy again at the club that I realized what kind of disgust it was.

That man’s face, his words, and his actions were all tinged with an air of rejection and disbelief as if he was never there in the room with us.
It was as if I looked into a mirror, only to find myself.

Of course, it wasn’t literally.
I put my rejection on the outside as-is, and never pretended I was someone else.
But he still put on a fake smile on his face and treated me normally.
The essence of our feelings of rejection was still the same, though.

That’s probably why I found myself projecting this extreme self-hatred onto him.

Soon, however, I realized it wasn’t just projecting.
What aggravated me the most was the fact that this guy, a superimposition of me, had a feeble sparkle in the apple of his eye as if he hadn’t given up yet.

Was it disgust, or was it jealousy?

While I was stuck inside my own head, battling these thoughts of him, we decided to have our first activity in the club: a barbecue.
I arrived early and bought some Uji tea latte at a café to kill some time.

Then, he came in.
He sneaked a quick glance at me and went to another empty seat.
I knew why he was doing it, but I found myself feeling angry all the same.
The next thing I know, the club advisor walked in, talked to the guy, and made him call me over.

Although regrettable, I had no choice but to join them due to it being a teacher’s request.
I had no intention of speaking, though, so it would be fine to sit there in pure silence.

That was my plan until the guy attacked me.
The same guy with whom I had mixed feelings, happily stirred me up.
So I spoke my mind and told him how readable he was.
Then, he who was always relaxed and casual acted as if time had stopped.
He was caught off-guard and didn’t even understand what happened.

Oh, how good that felt.
He had probably no idea what kind of person I was, but I knew him.
Without the guy knowing, I knew him better than himself.

Feeling like I won, I headed to the barbecue in good spirits, but he spoke to me again when he found an opening.
Loser, huh? Who’ll teach him but me?

I felt as if I understood that man, all while not understanding myself.
A pitiful projection.

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