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I thought the situation with Mochida-san would return to normal after a while, but it dragged out unexpectedly.
Sometimes she would be called out and have complaints said to her face, and other times she would have her things hidden. Not full-blown bullying, but things like whispering “You’re so damned gloomy.” or “You’re ruining the mood.” and then snickering to each other.
They sure seem to be having fun, I thought.
As for Mochida-san, it would have been fine if she just ignored them and lived normally, but she became more and more timid, and more and more gloomy, and just made herself needlessly vulnerable.
Once humans start feeling negative, there’s almost no end to how bad it gets, huh.
I only have whatever impression I formed of her during the remedials, but she already seemed like quite a plain girl at the time. I guess she was the easily bullied type to begin with.
Even Aoi-chan is good at studying despite her quietness, and apparently she’s actually good at sports too, and since she’s an energetic girl that likes the outdoors, girls like her don’t get targeted for bullying so much.
Mochida-san, on the other hand, is bad enough at academics to have to go to remedials, and from her results at the athletics carnival, I assume she’s bad at sports too, and on top of that she looks plain. Just full of openings.
I heard she has friends, so she probably isn’t completely isolated, but I wonder when this will cool down.
But well, even if I’m thinking about that, she’s a total stranger from another class. Not only that, it isn’t even full-blown bullying, so I had decided to just watch from the side, when one day, I went to the infirmary and met her by chance.
I hurt my finger with a papercut, so I went to get a bandaid, and met Mochida-san, since she was there to get medicine for stress-related gastritis. Uwahh…
I startled her when I entered the room, and she began trembling all over with a frightened expression.
Sorry for looking so scary.
Mochida-san looked worse for wear than when I saw her during the remedials, and she was skinnier too.
Apparently she’s even more sensitive than I expected.
“Gokigen’yoh, Mochida-san. Is the nurse in? I am here for a bandaid, but…”
“…Ah, she had something to attend to, so she left just now…”
“My, is that so. Then would it be fine if I simply enter?”
It’s just a cut on my fingertips, so it isn’t a big deal, but it hurts so I wanted a bandaid.
My friends all told me “Reika-sama, please quickly treat your hand!” too. They actually wanted to come with me to the infirmary, but I thought it was a bit much for such a small injury, so I turned them down and went by myself.
I’m glad I did. Imagine how much worse it would be if they were here.
I grabbed one of the cotton balls soaked in disinfectant with some tweezers, and then sterilised my fingertip.
I wasn’t using my good hand though, so it was quite hard and clumsy.
“Mochida-san, could I trouble you to help me with the bandaid? I do not think it would go well using my left hand.”
Mochida-san had been sitting there with her head hung, and her hands over her stomach. When I called out to her, she looked up at me in surprise.
I held out the bandaid to her.
Although she was timid, she took it from me, and taped up my finger.
“Are you all right, Mochida-san?”
“You do not look well.”
“Ah-, …yes. I’m fine…”
The world isn’t filled with heroes who’ll save people from their crises. In the end, you have to take care of your problems yourself.
But I think that you still need emotional support for that.
“Hey, Mochida-san. Won’t you become my friend?”
It probably wouldn’t be possible to have her join my group. She’s just too different. If I asked it as a favour, I think the other girls would agree, but it would be hard because they would still have nothing to talk about.
“Greeting each other in the mornings, and emailing each other on our phones. That kind of friend. Ah, which reminds me, do you in fact have a phone?”
“Then won’t you exchange your mail address with me? Message me when you have nothing to do, or when you feel like talking, for example. I mightn’t be able to answer straight away, though.”
When I was given the silent treatment in my old life, it was during break times and lunch times that I had it the hardest.
Because I couldn’t talk to anybody, I spoke to imaginary friends in my mind.
If Mochida-san has somebody to talk to, maybe things will be easier on her.
And if people know that I’m on good terms with her, the way people see her should change.
“Umm, I am actually somewhat aware of the situation you have found yourself in. But I do not think that it would be best for you if I confront them directly. It would probably only add oil to the fire, and you too would not appreciate being outed as a bullying victim in front of everyone, correct?”
“So please hold on for a while longer. Just do things with your head held high. There isn’t any reason to hang your head. And perhaps, trim your fringe a little? I think it might make your face look a little brighter. If you have complaints, then I will listen, so message me. All right? If after all of that, you still find it too much, then at that time I will definitely help you.”
Mochida-san began to cry. Large tears dropped from her face.
I just stayed quiet, and stroked her skinny back.
Starting the next day, I began intimately greeting her whenever we passed in the hallway.
My friends all looked shocked, so I explained to them that she helped me with my bandaid in the infirmary. One of the older sister-types in my group said “It looks like Reika-sama has been in your care. Thank you very much.” like she was my guardian or something, so we all had a good laugh.
Later on she sent me faint-hearted messages like “They talked about me behind my back earlier” and “Everybody laughed at me. It hurts.”
Hmmm~ When you mistake the school for the whole world, things like that really hurt, huhh.
She told me before that she liked to draw, so I decided to try advising her to find some hobby friends on the internet and outside of school.
As the days passed by like that, one day, I came across the gyaru-group in the hallway.
Tsuruhana-san looked at me, so I silently looked back.
I don’t know what the future holds, but right now I’m higher in the school hierarchy, and the leader of the biggest girls group in our grade.
Right now, I can’t lose.
I glared at her, and with my gaze I asked her, “Do you intend to pick a fight with me?”
I could feel the air around my friends becoming belligerent as well.
After a while, it was Tsuruhana-san who averted her gaze first, and her group simply continued down the hallway.
T-, That was scary. I’ve never been good at dealing with flashy girls like her. Thank goodness they backed down.
The girls around me got angry, saying things like “What’s with her attitude!” but she’ll hear you guys, so please stop.
I’m a coward, so fights are scaryy…
After a while, Mochida-san grew gradually more cheerful, and she started being able to talk to her old friends again.
From what I could tell, she was gaining her weight back too. It looks like my weight-gain advice has been working. The trick is to snack before sleeping.
I hear that the badmouthing from Tsuruhana-san’s group has been dying down as well.
About a month later, the messages from Mochida-san finally stopped altogether.