Usually, when one thinks of Japan, Tokyo is the first city that comes to mind, maybe Osaka. Even though it’s one of the most important cities in the country, the Aichi prefecture isn’t really talked about amongst foreigners so when Rara’s father informed her they would be moving to Nagoya starting next fall, she had to google the city up.
Rara’s family is Japanese but she grew up in Hawaii. Growing up, her father forced her to take Japanese lessons but she wasn’t particularly good at it and now…
Well, let’s just say she definitely regretted not paying more attention in class.
‘The Nagoya Academy for Gifted Girls’
That was the school Rara’s parents had chosen for her. She had never gone to an all-girls school before since it wasn’t common in the States but apparently it was the school her mother went to back when she was her age. It was the private school all the well-off intelligent girls in Nagoya would go to. It had a tennis court, good international programs suited for foreign exchange students and very cute uniforms. Rara had always been an honors student and she was also a legacy but even then, it hadn’t been an easy school to get into.
Still, stepping into the school for the first time, she thought it might’ve been worth it.
“Class 3–B? this building, second floor, third to your right” a stumpy girl with thick bangs instructed absentmindedly and Rara nodded robotically, barely understanding what was said to her.
She took the nearest staircase to the second floor and just walked around looking for her classroom. She was quick to spot the large sign with her class’ number and walked right in. The classroom was basically empty apart from three girls sitting close to the teacher’s desk, chatting. The conversation stopped for a second when they noticed Rara coming in and continued after she bowed to them lightly and greeted them with a shy “good morning”.
Rara first observation was the fact that all the desks were marked with kanji meaning everyone had their own assigned desk. Her’s was in the column close to the center almost at the back, there were just two tables behind her’s. She wasn’t good at kanji but she could recognize her own name since she had to type it out often during her application period.
Goto Fun Fun
What where were parents thinking? It’s almost as if they were begging her classmates to bully her.
She stared around anxiously before sitting down and taking out her phone, looking at her screen blankly, Her day had just started, but her friends were already finishing up their homework or going to bed. She had no one to talk to, so she started to take out her books and organizing them in her cubby locker near the entrance and putting her notebooks in the compartment beneath her desk.
Slowly, the classroom started filling up. Girls in uniforms with colorful backpacks entered the classroom talking excitedly, probably sharing their summer experiences. She caught a few glances from some of the girls and she reminded herself that for them, the school year was already one third in. So naturally, transfer students would stand out. Though that didn’t stop her from feeling left out.
Finally the teacher came in and started taking attendance.
Everyone was here, everyone but one girl.
When the name Matsui Jurina was called, all that could be heard were some whispers from the girls next to her and some giggles, but the girl was nowhere to be seen. The teacher wrote her absence down and she signaled the chatty girls to be quiet.
Rara looked around, her eyes scanning the room, trying to move her head as little as possible but she couldn’t spot the empty desk.
“Class, today we have a new transfer student…” the teacher started, “Goto-san”
Rara nodded and walked up to the front. The teacher handed her a piece of chalk and instructed her to write her name on the chalkboard.
“Hello everyone, my name is Rara” she said in english. “I’m from America”
“Goto-san, you need to write your name in kanji” the teacher whispered into her ear.
“Oh” she blurted out a bit too loudly and the entire class laughed.
Red eared, she wrote down her name in kanji and as she expected, once she had put down the piece of chalk, laughter filled the classroom again.
“Raku raku” a girl in the back corner said to two of her friends and the three of them laughed.
“Class!” the teacher yelled and the girls stopped joking around.
“Hello, I’m Rara” she said in Japanese. “I grew up in America but my family is from Nagoya. My mom actually went to school here. Please treat me well”
She bowed and returned to her desk. As she walked back, she spotted the empty desk.
No wonder she didn’t see it, it was the one directly behind her’s.
Somehow she knew she’d remember that name from now on. The mysterious #19 of Class 3–B.
The first few classes were fine. Math was easy since numbers were the same no matter the language, Japanese was definitely gonna be her weak subject (as it had always been) and English was basically child’s play.
During the break, three girls approached her desk and introduced themselves. Their names were Sugawara Maya, Harada Aoi and Takeuchi Saki.
Sugawara seemed to be a very air headed sort of girl and she spoke rather slowly which made her easy to understand, even for Rara.
Harada Aoi was small and seemed very energetic, she radiated positive vibes but she moved around so much, at some point Rara got a bit dizzy from just looking at her.
Takeuchi Saki had been the girl in the hallway that had told her how to get to the classroom, she was surprisingly friendlier than she had initially seemed the first time they interacted.
They spoke throughout the entire break and they invited Rara to hang out with them after school, to which she had to decline because she had to get back home and finish helping her family unpack.
Still, seemed like things were off to a good start.
Weeks passed, and the missing girl never appeared. Rara started wondering if she was even a student at the school. She tried asking Sugawara about it once, but she replied that she thought she was busy.
Rara had no idea what that meant but it was definitely strange how no one batted an eye to a girl being missing for so long. No one in the classroom seemed to care but judging by the eye-rolls Aoi and Saki would often exchange when the teacher called out her name during roll-calls, people knew who she was was.
She got closer to the girls she had met the first day and in turn, they introduced her to their friends from other classrooms. Yonetani Nanami and Nakano Ikumi from Class 3–A, Fukuoka Seina from Class 3–C and Watanabe Miho and Asai Nanami from Class 3–D. The 8 of them would hang out often after school and invite Rara along.
Her new high school life was finally settling down, it was starting to become her new reality.
That all changed one fine day in late September…
She was running late as one always does when a life changing moment is about to happen. After stumbling around the hallway, she entered classroom 3–B in a hurry, such was the rush that she tripped on someone’s backpack right before was able to reach her desk. As she came crashing down, so did one of her classmates’ computer that she unconsciously held onto while falling.
A loud crash could be heard and Rara prayed it was one of her bones. Of course, it wasn’t and next to her was a very broken Macbook making very concerning clicking noises. She looked up to an unrecognizable face staring down at their broken computer in shock and jolted up filled with embarassment.
”I’m so sorry" she said awkwardly, bending down again to pick up the device that was starting to release foul-smelling smoke, but its owner was quicker and picked it up before she even had the chance to stretch her arm out for it.
”it’s okay” the stranger replied warmly. Rara looked up and met eyes with the girl who’s computer she had just broken.
”I’ll pay for it" Rara immediately blurted out in broken japanese.
”There’s no need, I was already planning on getting a new one” The girl chuckled “I’m Matsui Jurina by the way, I’m sure this wasn’t the introduction you wanted so lets just forget it ever happened”
“Seriously?” Rara asked, letting out a sigh of relief before her entire body froze the second she recognized the name.
Matsui Jurina, the mystery girl had made an appearance and the first thing she had done was break her computer. She was snapped out of thought by a cold hand on her shoulder.
“Seriously” Jurina nodded, “Don’t sweat it”
The girls behind Jurina whispered something amongst themselves which made Jurina frown. Rara’s Japanese wasn’t good enough to catch what they had said.
“Matsui...san, I really AM sorry”
“Like. I. Said. don’t worry about it” she replied with a wink that made Rara’s heart skip a beat.
Rara nodded awkwardly and hurried to sit on her desk. She heard Jurina slowly move her chair behind her and sit down. Everyone was staring at their direction. Rara wasn’t sure if they were staring at her for breaking the computer or at Jurina who had finally decided to pay her school a visit. Either way, she had a hard time breathing properly for the next 10 minutes or so, she felt guilty for the girl’s computer and was shocked at how cool she had been with it.
“That Matsui girl, sure is… nice” Rara mentioned to her friends during lunch time, staring at the girl a few tables away, eating calmly with 5 other girls that seemed to be asking her a lot of questions and eyeing Rara every once in a while.
Saki took an egg roll from her bento and stuck it in her mouth.
“What did she say to you after breaking her computer?”
“She said she was planning on getting a new one anyway. I know everyone here is well off but is she rich or something?”
There was a moment of silence before Saki started laughing.
“Can I tell her?” She whispered to Aoi who shook her head and put her hand over her mouth before proceeding to talk.
“Honestly, Goto-san, don’t worry too much about Jurina” Aoi said. “Being around her only brings you trouble so it’s best to keep your distance. Especially if she has already allowed you to do so... considering the circumstances.”
Rara cringed at the lack of honorifics when referring to Jurina.
“Besides, it’s not like she’ll get lonely. I mean, look at her” she pointed at Jurina that was happily replying to all the girls in her table talking to her at once.
“Aoitan’s right, Rara-san. It’s best to just stay away from her” Sugawara said, immersed in her meal.
Rara nodded. She gave the girl one final look before turning her chair against her, facing her friends. If even Sugawara was against it, there must definitely be something wrong with the girl.
But that didn't stop her from wondering what.