Chapter I-2: A Group of Four

 When the teacher gave the class 15 minutes to freely mingle and know each other better, Shou slumped at the idea: What needs to be said about me, no, what can be said about me! How am I supposed to begin describing myself! Or should I say, how many people would be interested in having a completely obscure and dull nobody such as myself as a friend! Just forget about it!
 “Hey! What’s the matter, did you pass out?” The girl in ponytail, now Shou’s neighbouring seat, greeted in a bright tone.
 “Oh…me?” Shou groggily replied, as if he just awoke. She took the initiative and took his hand, and pumped it with enthusiasm. Shou quietly judged her appearance: The blue suspender pants over her chick yellow turtleneck, and her vibrant expression both suggested the notion: Hey, let’s jump and bounce around!
 “My name is Ei Ogasawara. What about you?” She asked. “Oh right, very nice entry just then! That was very cool.” She added.
 “Oh…I’m Shou Tachibana. Uhh, thanks, I think.” Shou shyly mumbled as he veered off in the echo of embarrassment. The girl in the pink cardigan and beige shirt was still fiddling with something under the table, completely absorbed in her own business.
 “Oh come on now, don’t act all so nice-boy with that whole meteor-landing thing just then! That was last line was so fake and boring it’d force my breakfast out of my stomach! ” The boy coldly remarked. Shou immediately raised hostile intentions with him, thinking: Who are you to comment on how I walk and talk?
 “Oh? Then, what would interesting yet real enough for you, mister?” Shou sarcastically asked but in an innocent tone.  “Glad you asked!” At the end of his sentence, a piece of paper filled with text flew out from the boy’s hands and landed steadily and perfectly on Shou’s desk. The title is immediately recognized the piece as the overview script for a popular television animated series. Below the title and to the right, a few pencil scribbles wrote a large by-line: “Edited by Jyun Watanabe”.
 Shou asked, “So this is your name? Jyun, right?”
 Jyun proudly replied, “Stop asking and read the last part of the script. If you can change even one word of what I wrote, I’ll treat you to lunch!” Shou’s eyesight followed the paper’s bottom edge and traced out a few lines to read. Thoroughly reading it, his forehead began to sweat. Muscles on his face began to move as if the text was controlling his subconscious and forced out a face of pure bewilderment and amazement. 
 “Watanabe-kun, are you really only ten years old?” How could this person, no older than I, could reinterpret a famous animated series’ finale, just by adding a few simple lines, could solve all the unexplained missing characters on the show by proving that they actually make up this multifaceted, violent conspiracy!? Shou shuddered at the thought.
 Jyun only closed his eyes and coldly chuckled a few times. Ei whispered as her bright face twisted in fear, “Guys…you two look like as if you’re the Mafia from TV shows…”
 With his expression still cast-iron cold, he called to the girl beside him. “Hello…? Don’t float to another world by yourself here now…come say a few words, would you?” He waved his hand several times in front of her.
His false niceties make him look even scarier, thought Shou.
The girl raised her head and opened her eyes, showing a “what to do” face in distress. At last she mumbled a sentence, “Ah…Yuki. Yuki Utsuki.”

 A perfectly normal and common name…
 Why did it become such a beautiful and nostalgic name, as if seen from somewhere before…

 “Utsuki? As in April in the old Japanese calendar?” Jyun’s air of hostility immediately dissipated as he asked in earnest. Shou’s mind immediately cursed him for asking such a useless question, while his eyes self-consciously searched for something on Yuki’s expression.
 Yuki replied, “Yes. To add that I was born in April, it’s really a coincidence and convenient to remember…from what I’ve heard, on the day I was born, the sky suddenly started to snow hard. That’s why I’m called Yuki (snow in Japanese).”
This time the person amazed was Shou, who followed Jyun’s inquiry, “April? That’s already spring, and there is still snow? Which day were you born, Utsuki-san?”
 “The twenty-ninth of April.” She answered as-a-matter-of-factly.

 April 29th… In Shou’s mind, a voice echoed the date repeatedly as if he knew nothing else.
At the same time he replied in monotone with the words, “Oh, I was born on the sixth of May.” What the heck happened to my words…? Shou’s thoughts scattered like marbles dropped onto a large silver platter. Exactly why would this girl in a red hairband, born in a blizzard during late-spring, early-summer interest me so much? He shook his head to clear his thoughts.
 Ei laughed and said, “I’m already ten years old, born on March 25th.”
 Jyun waved his fist in frustration, “I can’t believe I’m younger than you all! Darn it.”
 Ei asked, “Then, when is Watanabe-kun born?”
 Jyun snorted through his nostrils, “August. Not like you can celebrate it during the school year, so no need for me to say.”
 “Now just a minute, what kind of bull–”

 “All right! Time’s up! Who’s willing to come up and introduce their friends to the class now?” The teacher asked as she clapped her hands.
Shou’s mind snapped clear. Names. “Oh no, if I had known earlier that this was going to happen I should’ve written that all down!” Except Yuki, he quietly asked his classmates to write down their names on paper.
Jyun commented when he was asked, “What’s with that? Didn’t we just tell you our names and stuff?”
Shou replied as he forced the names into his brain, “Sorry, I just can’t remember people’s names…well.”
 And he barely survived through his first fourth-grade challenge.


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