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.
“Really comfy and cold. I feel that I can forget a lot of things. I’ll be happy if you keep it at for a longer time.”
Sensei clamps my hands down from both sides, saying this,
He appeared to be really comfy.
Like a child being coaxed.
I couldn’t remember the face he showed the last time I strangled him.
Thus, I was going to remember his expression.
To remember this comfortable expression.
I didn’t know the reason at all.
“Hm, you’re asking me ‘why do I forgive you’…but I don’t know how to get you to understand…”
Once I saw that sensei was finally going to answer the question, I heaved a sigh of relief. I was calm. It felt like my hysteria a while ago was all a fake.
This posture of putting my legs on the bedside, leaning forward massively, and reaching my arms downwards on the person lying on the bed–
Certainly was naturally. Soon after, my waist will ache.
But since sensei hoped for me to do so, I decided to endure this posture until he let go go of his warm hands.
I was going to end everything on this day.
The days of suffering, which lasted more than a month, was going to end.
I never had a proper meal. I had only a bento for lunch, and nothing else.
Miss Akane just said,
“If the room attack succeeds, let’s go for a barbecue to celebrate tonight, shall we?”
It seemed she knew where the 24 hour shops were.
In this peculiar situation, I was imagining two people wearing paper aprons, enjoying themselves. I couldn’t believe what I was thinking.
“I will hear whatever you have to say.”
While continuing to choke sensei, I told him,
“Tha-thanks. I don’t know if I can express this well…”
Sensei tried to think, and before I knew it, he eased the strength in his hands. I guess he couldn’t focus on his neck anymore.
I should be able to remove my hands from his neck if I wanted to, but I didn’t. Since he said these icy hands were very comfy, I would continue putting them on his neck until he told me to stop.
My waist will hurt, but so what?
I heard sensei speak,
“I think I’m the type of person ‘who won’t care even if I die’. So I think.”
I couldn’t understand.
But if I did not try to understand, I would never know the answer.
To understand his words, I tried my best, and asked,
“Erm…sensei…you’re the type who thinks ‘my moment of death is just a matter of destiny’, right?”
“Well, you can say so, or maybe not…”
It’s not much of an answer, but I wouldn’t give up.
“I’m going to ask what may be an unpleasant question, but please tell me, sensei–did you try to kill yourself before?”
I made up my mind.
I prepared this question in mind, for I thought perhaps there was a need to.
As I had vented to sensei in that fanmail, I had tried to kill myself a few times, and searched for ways to kill myself on the internet.
But I never tried them before (and I never failed).
I never had the urge to do so.
So, even if sensei was to answer ‘yes’–
I couldn’t agree with the idea that ‘even if I nearly got killed, I can still forgive’. No, I didn’t want to agree with it.
I never had the thought that ‘it doesn’t matter because I once tried to kill myself’, and never once did I intend to have such a notion.
Sensei was momentarily taken aback, and simply answered.
“Failed a suicide? I never did, you know?”
And then, he continued,
“No matter what happens, I do think living is a wonderful thing. I have no intention of killing myself at all.”
It didn’t seem like he was lying or acting.
I didn’t think sensei was the type to lie.
While sensei lied in the infirmary and the AV room, leaving aside what was said, it sounded too fake to me.
Why are you willing to forgive me easily even when you were nearly killed by me?
I swallow these words I was about to say.
For I had asked those words before.
I recalled the events that transpired in the audio visual room,
“Sensei…do you remember the words Endou-sensei said when helping with the pamphlets?”
“Hm? –Erm…how I ripped off from the Siege of Iwaya Castle?
Why would I be thinking about that? No,
“No! What I mean is that ‘Endou-sensei found the ‘Vice Versa’ author’s view of life and death is a little weird’.”
“Ah, you’re referring to that. Yes, I do remember.”
“What do…you think…?”
“I find that it’s correct.”
Throughout this ordeal, this was the first time I found everything to be suspicious.
Sensei seemed rather calm.
It seemed he had decided how to answer my question.
And I got the feeling that ‘though he won’t lie, he would try to avoid answering the question directly’.
I didn’t know what he was thinking. Since I didn’t, I could only ask.
But the questions I had prepared beforehand appeared to be useless.
What should I do?
What should I ask?
Such were the developments, and I went this far, but I couldn’t think of anything.
My mind was completely blank.
While I was in this ‘pinch’–
“Think of something!”
I was suddenly reminded of the face of the person who proposed to me.
It was just for a moment, but I remembered the words he said,
I decided to ask this terrifying question,
“Sensei, were you once nearly killed, before I tried to?”
He squeaked in surprise,
Once I saw the wavering look in sensei’s eyes, I was certain he had such an experience before.
He was once nearly killed.
Not once, not twice.
After such painful experiences, he was already numb to being nearly killed.
When was that?
I had a rough idea of sensei’s past.
For he himself told me this on the train.
Back then, I did not think he was lying.
But in his words, there was a place he did not want me to enter.
And it nearly got him killed.
When was that?
Even if I did know, so what could I do?
What could I do if I was to pursue the painful past he was unwilling to talk about?
I understood something.
I knew that sensei had a past he was unwilling to tell others.
And thus, his abnormal action after I did that.
Isn’t this enough? Thus, I got it–
All I needed to next was to apologize, I suppose.
While I was feeling a breeze of relief in my heart while having this thought–
“Really comfy and cold. I feel that I can forget a lot of things. I’ll be happy if you keep it at for a longer time.”
I clearly recalled the words sensei just said.
Why would I remember that?
Why was it echoing in my mind?
I heard my name being called,
Just say no.
Just say no.
Just say no.
“That’s weird…did I mention this in my fanmail reply?”
“Maybe I did, I forgot…”
“No…probably not…no way I would have…erm, Nitadori, how did you know? Are you–an esper or something?”
Sensei gave the sheepish look of someone whose prank was discovered. Looking back at him, I recalled the conversation I had with Miss Akane,
“Do you think someone who was once a devil can become an angel?”
“Certainly, and the reverse holds true too.”
“The first memory I had in life–”
I was seated on the chair, slumped like a corpse,
“Was when I was strangled by mom.”
I watched sensei describe his past vividly. He let my hands go, and prompted me to return to my seat, sitting upright himself.
“I cannot recall…whether it was when I was two, three…or four–the only thing I remember well is the feeling. The area around my neck felt really warm with her touch.”
Sensei was being his usual self.
No different from when he was on that train, answering my questions, he was describing his past.
Of course, since he was doing the same thing.
“As for this part, I don’t really remember, so it’s hard for me to explain, but mom often told me “You cannot go out today”. I didn’t know the reason, but whenever that happened, there would be a snake-like bruise around my neck. Back then, I was really surprised, wondering what happened.”
Sensei chirped on, as though narrating the movie he had seen the previous day.
“And soon after, the bruises didn’t appear as often. I guess the skills improved.”
Sensei’s not a mirror, so I didn’t know the expression I showed.
“I remembered one day, the last time I was strangled. I didn’t know when it was, probably around five, but this time, I remembered it really well. I would sleep at night, since I was a child, so I slept at around eight or so–”
I don’t want to hear this.
That was what I earnestly thought from the bottom of my heart.
“What’s with those eyes? Acting cool?”
“Are those natural? So disgusting.”
“Are you local or Asian? Choose one!”
“Your eyes aren’t small. Did you correct them with operation? Being rich sure is nice.”
And then, I recalled the rude words others had said before, and felt that they were all child’s play.
No matter what I remember in the future, surely there is no way I will be as terrified as I am now. It felt as though the aching graze was stabbed at.
“Once I went to sleep, I felt that the sides of my neck was warm. I initially thought I was dreaming, but soon after, I could somehow open my eyes, and see that. In the dark house, my mom, who said she was going to work, appeared before me. Then the world quickly turned dark, and I really went to sleep–NItadori, please get me the tea over there. I’m really thirsty.”
Sensei maintained the same tone the entire time, whether it was when he was narrating his near-murder experience, or when he asked me for tea.
In a robotic manner, I took out the unopened tea PET bottle from the convenience store bag, and handed it to sensei.
“Thanks. You can have some if you want. The water bottles aren’t opened.”
And then, sensei heartily took about three gulps, before capping it.
“When I woke up, it was already morning. I had a vague feeling of someone slapping at my face, and when I opened my eyes, a police officer was before me, and that took me by surprise. Mom was around too, crying really hard. I wasn’t sure what happened. “Did you know of anyone who came by? Did someone touch your neck?” but the police officer said to me.”
Everything sensei said was real–
At the very least, I had a feeling sensei was being truthful with what he remembered.
“So I answered, ‘no, I don’t remember’. Of course, I was lying. Then the police officer told me, ‘your mother assumed you were killed by someone. She was anxious’. Ah, so I was nearly killed by mom. She strangled me a few times when I was asleep. That day, she really tried to, thought that she succeeded, and then went to work to fabricate an alibi, even calling the police. But I never died. Ever since then, since that day, I never felt the warm of the fingers on my neck. I was raised normally, started school, reading…and you know the rest, so I’ll cut the rest–Nitadori?”
I was listening.
“Ah good. I thought you’ve fallen asleep with your eyes opened.”
I could never do anything that convenient.
If only this was a dream, so I thought.
“Ahh, that’s how it is. Your deductions are really amazing, Nitadori. Really amazing. I don’t know how much you know…but it does seem like I manage to answer your questions successfully, so I guess that’s it. To be honest, I never intended to discuss this, and I was thinking of something rude, like ‘if I don’t say it, how do I try to bluff my way through’? Good thing I did say it. It feels good.”
Sensei said. He looked really lively,
“So ever since then, i was never nearly killed by mom, and I guess it’ll never happen again. After getting this apartment, I was finally able to lock my room, and it’s a little relieving. I can sleep peacefully like this. Maybe there’s a part in my heart that thinks ‘mom is scary’.”
Sensei said with nonchalance.
And so I understood why he locked the door the previous day.
I also understood the reason why he spent quite the heft price to rent that apartment.
And then, it was a day late, but I understood.
That when aunty showed the excitement that shocked sensei, that too was an act. I did not realize it.
How long has sensei’s mother been acting?
Sensei himself did not realize the sinking feeling in me, and continued on,
“But! Don’t tell anyone else what I told you! Ah, I know you’ll keep my secret, so this worry is unnecessary. Yep.”
As for why sensei’s mother tried to kill him–
I had no idea.
As a single mother, perhaps the child was a huge burden to her? Or did she hate to raise her child? I could think of a few possibilities immediately, but it didn’t matter.
I didn’t want to know.
No matter the reason, trying to kill someone was an unforgivable act.
I stumbled to my feet.
“I’lluse the toilet.”
“Eh? Ah, yes.”
I passed the bed, and went to the toilet.
Over then, I knelt at the latrine–
I did not eat anything, so all I spat all was a shockingly yellow, sour stomach juice.
I was feeling unbearable, uncomfortable, and wanted to ease myself as I puked, but I could not excrete anything other than some stomach juices. It had been a while since I had this feeling.
My body was creaking, groaning, yet I continued to vomit
The door wasn’t locked, so I could hear sensei’s voice from behind, a warm palm on my back,
“Nitadori! Don’t vomit when there’s nothing in your stomach! They say that stomach fluids can corrode the throat and teeth! Calm down! Okay?”
He rubbed my back gently as he said this,
I weakly collapsed upon the icy tiled floor.
I slowly lifted my head, a trail of tears flowing from each eye, and the nausea vanished as though washed away by these tears.
“Rinse your mouth properly! This cup isn’t used!”
Sensei opened the tap, let the water flow, and handed the cup to me,
I slowly got up, and received the cup,
I answered an obviously worried, flustered sensei, and brought the water to my mouth.
After some rinsing, I slowly spit the water back into the basin, and refilled–I repeated this motion many times.
Finally, I drank some water. It appeared my throat was cleaned.
“Thank goodness–the towel hanging there can be used. Take your time to calm down.”
Sensei said, probably having seen my face in the mirror. He exited the toilet.
“Sorry for saying some things that made you uncomfortable.”
And finally, he apologized.
But there was no need.
Sensei did not close the door as he left the toilet, probably out of deliberation.
After wiping my mouth and face with a towel, I lifted my face–
And found a terrible looking person on the vast mirror.
This girl’s scowling, and the irises of her eyes were different.
Once I saw that foolish sight, I laughed.
And the person laughing in the mirror laughed back at me.
The reason why I felt so nauseous–
Was that at that moment, I really hated sensei’s mother.
She wanted to kill, no matter her reason.
And then, at the next moment, I recalled what I did.
Was I not the same?
Did I not try to kill sensei before too?
And for such a trivial reason.
I had no right to hate sensei’s mother.
And of course, she and I should be reproached, hated.
But sensei forgave me with a smile.
Did she realize that sensei already knew about?
If she did, would she be tormented, just like me?
It not, will she continue to be tormented for the next ten years and so?
I did not know the answer–
But I felt I understood what she was thinking when they decided to move houses.
Surely she would never try to kill again.
Just like me now.
I was really opinionated.
How foolish was I as a person?
How selfish was I as a person?
Since then, somewhere in my heart, I thought,
“Surely sensei forgave me because he likes me.”
I thought that to sensei, I was a ‘very special’ person.
I was really too pompous.
That wasn’t it.
And I knew it.
To sensei, I’m not the ‘special one’.
In this world, sensei’s the ‘special one’.
His first memories in life were actually about how he nearly got strangled to death by his mother?
Sensei’s life was way beyond what I could imagine.
“Why, you ask? Because I like you, so that means I have to forgive you, right?”
I was a hopeless idiot for hoping he would say those words.
I seemed to have made one too many wishful thinking, unable to accept the cruel reality as a result.
Maybe it’s because I enjoy daydreaming a little too much.
That daydream’s ‘Vice Versa’.
This fantasy story saved me when I was in peril.
“What do I do…?”
I muttered to myself in the mirror, with this pitiful voice.
I no longer needed to act.
I would no longer mutter the spell ‘time to play’.
I asked the mirror,
“Is there…a next spell?”
I felt the one quietly smiling back at me on the mirror was saying this,
“Think of one for yourself.”