Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Our Courage, Chapter Four (part b)

“No wonder Yuuri got mad,” Kiichi muttered without looking up, sitting in the corner of the gym where he’d made a nest. He was writing something on a piece of wood with a magic marker.
“I really don’t understand why,” said Yamato with a worried expression.
“But Yuuri’s the same, and doesn’t understand why you say the things you do.”
“I wonder...” Yamato shook his head.
“But now that we’ll be living together in the same place, there’s lots of things you’ll have to be careful about, right?”
“Living together... what is that you’re making?” Yamato looked under Kiichi’s hand.
“This is for after you move in.” On the board KIICHI, YAMATO, TAKERU was written. It was meant to be a nameplate. Kiichi hung it up at the door to the gym, while Yamato watched open-mouthed.
“What, you haven’t heard yet?”
“Not at all.”
“But Yuuri was already talking about it, like where to put you.”
Why hadn’t Yuuri mentioned it that morning? It was better just to say things right away.
Worrying about Yuuri’s facade, Yamato smiled self-consciously.
“Hey!” The two turned as Yuuri stormed in. “That brat! Where’d he go?”
“Brat?” asked Yamato, and she scowled impatiently.
“The one you saved from the marketplace this morning.”
“Oh, I saw him playing with Mori earlier.”
As soon as she heard this, Yuuri whacked him on the arm, hard.
In a corner of the classroom, Mori sat holding his knees. He was covered with injuries, and bleeding from his temple. He looked like he’d been hurt quite a bit.
“Is that the face of someone who was playing with a good friend?” Yuuri stuck out her chin at a bewildered Yamato.
“That kid did it? Mori said that?”
“He didn’t, but...”
“So we don’t know that - ”
Without letting him finish, Yuuri continued. “Well, then, where is he? If he went outside, he knows he’d just get bullied again. You think he just sauntered out?”
Mori stood suddenly. Without a word he ran from the classroom. Seeing his sad figure leave, Yamato muttered to himself, “That kid was bullied before, so why would he do it to Mori?”
“You’re so busy caring and trusting everyone, like an idiot. In a place like this, acting like that is dangerous. I’m fed up with it... And I was actually thinking it’d be all right for you to come live here.”
“Why are you acting like you’re so important?” Yamato said angrily.
“Why not?” Yuuri snapped back.
“I wasn’t interested in coming here, anyway. No way am I going to beg you.”
And with that parting shot he left the classroom.
Yuuri yelled after him, “You only think about yourself!”
With a hollow expression, Mori sat in a corner of the school, while Riki was absorbed in playing nearby. His injuries ached. But more than that, his heart hurt.
Kaoru had betrayed him. When he’d gone to get the water, he’d come back with four people including Ryuu. Their eyes narrowed as though possessed by something, under Ryuu’s looming shadow, Hiroki and the others had continued to hit Mori over and over...
Why? Why would Kaoru...
He himself had been the last one to hit Mori. Though the pain in his lip was barely there, to Mori it seemed the heaviest injury.
The next morning.
Seeing the helicopter in the sky above, Ryuu laughed strangely.
“Which do you want to bet on?”
“One can that he’ll run away,” answered Dai.
“Me too,” said Hiroki, and Takako laughed convulsively.
Today the game was on again. But this time, it was not Kaoru standing in the middle of the marketplace. It was Mori, trembling. With a new object for their bullying, the four grinned cruelly to see their terrified prey.
Makoto was among the kids surrounded him, and he nervously said to Ryuu, “Hey, haven’t you been doing this long enough?”
“What are you trying to say?” Ryuu said heatedly, glaring at Makoto.
“No, it’s just... well, if the food doesn’t get delivered again it’d be kind of stupid...”
“You going against me?”
“No! That’s not what I said...”
Gradually, more children gathered to get their supplies. But in front of the bullied Mori, no one said or did anything. They didn’t want to become the next victims...
The helicopter hovered directly above Mori. The voice came from the loudspeaker.
“Step aside! Move away!”
At that moment,
“Mori!” Kiichi yelled while running up. “What are you doing? That’s dangerous!”
Mori fled. Kiichi started after him, but Ryuu’s group blocked his way.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Ryuu said menacingly, and Kiichi glared back.
“What about you?”
“You ruined our bet.”
“A bet? Then you’re the ones who made Mori - “
“So what?” Ryuu smiled scornfully. For a moment they glared daggers at each other, then something glinted in Ryuu’s hand.
Kiichi’s face contorted. There was a sharp pain. Ryuu was laughing as he pulled the knife out of Kiichi’s thigh.
“That’s for getting in the way of our playtime.”
Blood gushed out of Kiichi’s leg. A dead silence fell over the marketplace for a moment, and then it was broken by the reverberating sound of Ryuu’s maniacal laughter.

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