I’m a high school girl and a rookie voice actress, currently strangling my classmate who is my upperclassman and a Bestselling Light Novel author.
This is my predicament at the moment.
Right now, I’m right on him, and he’s lying face up on the bed.
My hands are on the sides of his neck, pressing down on the carotid artery.
Is he usually this hot?
Or am I usually this cold?
Or is it because I’m so tense, the color of blood is drained off from my hands?
Or maybe it’s a combination of them?
Or was it all of it?
I could feel the heat coming from the skin on his skin, so hot that my hands were almost scalded.
How did it end up like this…?
I didn’t want to do this.
I didn’t want to do this again…
I had no intention of doing this again!
How did things end up like this…?
I start to recollect everything that happened till this point.
It was a few minutes before the Limited Express reached the terminal, when I finally woke up.
Miss Akane is pinching hard at my right cheek, and pulls me away from my dream. She’s always waking me up this way. No matter the occasion, she knows this is the best way to wake me up.
Whenever I wake up, I’ll forget the dreams I saw, but I’m sure that there aren’t any good dreams.
After I woke up, I find myself in the racing train, my body tilted heavily towards the left. My left shoulder and head are resting on someone’s back.
I straighten my body, and turn my head left, realizing what it is.
Sitting over there with his head slumped there is the boy who is my senior and classmate.
I was touched by the novel this person wrote.
I felt that I was saved.
And so, I wrote in a fan letter.
Without any shame, I revealed my weaknesses and tragedies, conveying my thoughts.
And so, I received a reply from him, words of encouragement.
Words cannot describe how delighted I was back then.
I always imagined how this person was like.
When I heard that an anime of the work was in the works, without any shame, I did whatever I could do to obtain the acting role of the character I admired.
And I defeated many people to obtain that role.
When I heard that I was able to meet him live during the first After Record, I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep.
And then, I got additionally nervous during my first After Record, so much that this would be the one day in my life that I had most difficulty in maintaining my composure. I was really shocked to learn that he’s only a year older than me. Till this point, the sensei I had always imagined was that he was probably male, around 27-28, graduated from college, with work experience, and became a professional author.
And that day finally came to an end—
During the next twelve After Records, I guessed that there might be a chance or two to talk alone. Until then, I wanted to introduce myself. Of course, I couldn’t talk about everything. I just wanted him to know of the existence of this voice actress called ‘Eri Nitadori’.
Having such thoughts, when I was done with my self-introductions during the new school term of my Sophomore year in high school, sensei, who was seated right before me, had turned his head around to look at me—I guess I got lucky that I didn’t pass out at that moment.
And when I saw him at the platform that Thursday, I was really taken aback.
Before this, I had hopes that ‘since we’re headed to the same place, I might be able to meet him’, but I never expected both of us to meet.
And thus, Time to Play.
I decided to act.
That’s because I felt that I wouldn’t be able to talk to him normally no matter what.
I would probably be so tense that my face would freeze, I would use overtly formal language that would have stunned anyone, and shocked sensei as a result.
But I couldn’t let myself miss out on this opportunity.
Thus, Time to Play.
I decided to play as a female classmate who was being affectionate (to put it bluntly, being bold and acting too mature).
At the same time, I had a promise with him that we wouldn’t talk to each other in school. That’s because, if I wasn’t careful, I might end up divulging my secret.
I felt that my identity would ultimately be made known, so I was fine with it. However, if I were to reveal sensei’s secret, there would be no point of return.
So I obtained the opportunity to play the ‘role’ of ‘the one to sit side by side, the classmate who had a similar secret, and a colleague at work’.
I know it might be rude of me to say this, but I got the feeling that sensei isn’t good at talking. If I want to keep talking with him, what shall I do?
I tried my best to think, and I got the answer.
“I just need to ask questions easy for sensei to answer.”
But what kind of questions are they?
“What sensei knows really well. In other words, the profession of being an author.”
So I decided to play the role of ‘someone who wants to know what an author does’, and talk with him every week.
I wasn’t so curious that I wanted to ask about everything, but it wasn’t that I was completely disinterested in the profession of authorship.
To create a scenario ‘easy’ for sensei to answer, every week, I would prepare presents.
The one thing that isn’t ‘expensive’ and yet can make people happy is food.
Speaking of the ‘snacks’, it might sound nice at first, but it can be called ‘bait’. To be honest, I didn’t know how else to call it.
There are hundreds of options for food alone, and I was bothered about what to choose, before I finally decided on the safest bet that was potato chips.
Thinking back, in the afterword sensei wrote at the end of the ‘Dengeki Bunko Magazine’, sensei once mentioned that ‘For potato chips, I find that sea salt flavor tastes best, and I only eat that’.
I never bought potato chips of that flavor. Speaking of which, I never bought that particular flavor, even when overseas.
So I went around the convenience stores, looking for it for a long time. The first store didn’t sell that, so I went to a few more.
I finally managed to buy one, but I didn’t know if sensei really liked it, and I was really worried.
After seeing sensei happily accept it and enjoy himself, I was really happy.
And sensei actually answered my questions.
Just like this, I manage to sit beside him for five straight weeks—
But last week, I tried to kill sensei.
I had a peek at the draft of ‘Vice Versa’.
After sensei went to the toilet, a thought suddenly struck me.
When sensei placed his bag containing the draft at the front of his seat, wasn’t he basically saying that I could have a look?
Since I’m playing as Meek, shouldn’t I know everything about her? If I can know the plot beforehand, I should be able to add depth to my acting, right?
In hindsight, I should have known that it was the wrong idea.
But back then, that was what I actually assumed.
And so I read the draft.
And so I strangled sensei.
My memories were vague.
But there was one thing I was really clear about. Back then, I had a thought that ‘I have to save Meek no matter what’.
I heard a scream, was knocked down, and after that, I couldn’t remember anything.
When I woke up, I found myself in the infirmary of the station.
As for what happened next, I remembered really well.
This week, during the time I excused myself from school, Miss Akane told me,
“It’s fine now. That peon came up with one huge lie to save you, Milady Stella. He definitely doesn’t hate you.”
It was unbelievable.
He nearly got killed by me, and yet he doesn’t hate me. How is it possible that such a person exists?
If it had been me, I would never forgive anyone who did that.
I won’t forgive those who bullied me violently or verbally. If it’s legal, even at this point, I still want to kill them all.
The act sensei did in the infirmary is probably because he just didn’t want to involve himself in a troublesome case, and not because he has forgiven me.
No, it’s the opposite.
Later on, in the classroom or the studio—
He’ll continue to torment me mentally, and that’s why he didn’t lodge a police report.
But even so, I can’t do anything about it.
That’s the right way to hit back, and I can’t do anything about it.
Just thinking of that causes my gut to sink like lead, but I can’t do anything about it.
“If that’s how you want to think about it, Milady, all I can say is that you can ‘do whatever you please’—However, I do feel that you don’t have to feel that way.”
In the middle of the night, Miss Akane told me this as I remained pale, unable to sleep.
“You can’t keep taking breaks from school forever. No, school doesn’t matter here. You do need to head to Tokyo for work on Friday however. I do strongly suggest that you go to school on Thursday.”
But what will the people at school say about me?
If my identity is revealed, and I become the laughing stock of the class, what should I do?
If I, as I experienced before, were to be called out as a fake Japanese with a wig, colored contact lenses and a fake name, what do I do?
“As they say, ‘just adapt accordingly’, if anyone in class is so petty that he can’t accept you, you can simply skip high school. Given your academic ability, Milady, you should be able to study in a university. However—”
“As I had said so many times already, I don’t think sensei is the type of person to do such a thing. If he had intended to do so—he would have told everyone else about this, right? Has any friend of yours called to inform you or written in letters to scold you? Furthermore, I don’t think sensei is waiting for you in school just to reveal your secret in front of you.”
I didn’t know if that was the case.
But on Miss Akane’s insistence, I finally went to school—
And unexpectedly, I learned that Meek would be revived.
I couldn’t understand.
Why didn’t sensei hate me?
He was nearly killed, so why didn’t he hate me?
Why wasn’t he angry with me?
He was nearly killed, so why wasn’t he angry with me?
And he even edited the draft so that Meek got revived, like he’s saying that ‘you’re right’.
I don’t understand at all.
What exactly is sensei thinking?
I want to know about this.
And thus, I can only apologize about what I’ve done properly, and then ask him about what it is.
He nearly got killed for some strange reason, so why’s he willing to forgive me?
To obtain this answer, I could only ride on the train again.
This is because I can only talk with sensei on that train.
“In that case, I won’t be driving. Honestly, I really don’t like to drive for too long, and not in Tokyo too. I’m pretty bad at driving.”
Miss Akane said with a smile.
She likes to drive, and is reliable in that. As my chauffeur and bodyguard, she won’t be able to get this job if she’s not competent.
“I might suggest that you don’t force yourself to know everything, and hope that you’ll aim to talk normally with him. Please continue to talk with him without using any formal language or courtesy like before. It’s pointless to keep apologizing, Milady, and speaking of which, I do feel that sensei doesn’t hope for you to continue doing that. Please continue with that usual attitude of yours.”
Can I really do such a thing? I asked, and Miss Akane winked with a smile, giving me an unexpected answer.
“Oh? Haven’t you been doing that all this while?”
“Acting. Time to Play.”
I glance aside at sensei’s sleeping face, and for a moment, I recalled the past like the lights passing me by.
“Then, shall we get off first this week?”
Miss Akane whispers to me, continuing,
“Let’s take this train again next week.”