Escalator schools are Japanese (usually private) schools that have associated sections. For example, it might have everything from primary school to high school, meaning that unlike other high schools, there aren’t any tests to get in, and it’s easy to not get kicked out. In Japan, getting into good middle schools or high schools involves testing, and schools where you just go straight up are thus compared to an escalator.
I entered Year 3. In the primary section of Suiran, we change classes in Years 3 and 5. The praying I did every night during spring break seemed to work because I ended up in a different class to Emperor. I won against the 1:4 odds.
Oniisama graduated from the middle school section and entered the high school section. Now that he’s a high schooler he seems more busy than ever, and he spends even less time at home now. That’s no fun.
Both Yurie-sama and Aira-sama graduated from the primary section and became middle schoolers. For some reason they suddenly looked a lot more mature once I saw them in their middle section uniforms, and I ended up feeling the difference between primary schoolers and middle schoolers. I wonder why. It’s only been a month since summer break. Is it the magic of uniforms? Mm~mm, the middle section uniform sure is cute.
Because Emperor visits a different salon to Yurie-sama now, his mood has been pretty bad. They say to leave sleeping dogs lie, so I decided just to watch. With such a dark aura around him, basically only Enjou can talk to him without a problem. As expected of Enjou. It would be absolutely impossible for me.
When I look at how beautiful Yurie-sama is becoming, I can understand Emperor’s anxiety about their age difference though. When you’re an adult, 4 years difference isn’t a big deal, but to children it’s much too wide a gap. There’s no way a 1st year middle schooler could look at a Year 3 kid romantically, right? Maybe it’s because Emperor understands that quite well. Whenever there’s a guy who tries to approach Yurie-sama, Emperor just silently threatens him with eyes filled with bloodlust. From Yurie-sama’s point of view, she probably doesn’t feel anything except a cute little brother’s jealousy, which is yet another tragedy for him. Sometimes he goes to the middle school section to wait for her, apparently. What a loyal one you are, Emperor.
Also, the cram school that I’ve been attending since Year 1 had a few Suiran students enter. Suiran is an escalator school, so as long as you aren’t exceptionally bad, you’ll go straight up into the next section. Thanks to that, there isn’t really any sense of crisis pushing the students to study. What’s more, almost everybody hires a private tutor instead of cram school. And despite all this, a number of Suiran boys started going to mine. It felt like the thing I’d been dreading all along had finally came around.
“So you were going to this cram school too, Kisshouin-san.”
A boy from my Year 3 class called out to me.
“Um, would it be okay if I sat next to you?”
“…Please help yourself.”
I get it. That feeling when you’re heading somewhere new for the first time, and while you’re anxious about not knowing anybody, you suddenly spot an acquaintance. You unconsciously want to stay near them. It’s reassuring, right? It’s relieving, right? But to me, it’s a terrible development.
“Some other guys are going to start going as well, but they’re going on different days to me. I thought I was going to be alone, but to think that I’d find you here, Kisshouin-san. Ah, are you starting this year too?”
“No, I have been attending since Year 1.”
“Ehhh!? Really!? That’s surprising. I didn’t know you were such a studious typ-… ah, no, umm,”
Mn. I don’t mind, so don’t worry. As the de facto leader of the ojousamas at Suiran, I probably don’t look anything like the studious type who’d join a cram school in Year 1, right?
“I wished to attend because of Oniisama’s influence.”
Well, I suppose I’ll just give him a safe answer here. At some point I already had the label of brocon stuck to me after all.
“Wow, I see. By the way, how is this place? Is the work harder than the stuff at school?”
“Hmm. This cram school is focused on preparations for entrance exams, so I suppose it is quite difficult after all.”
After that he asked me various other things as well, but naturally he was somebody who already knew me, so it got harder and harder to ask.
‘What’s your name?’ that is.
This sure is troubling. Even though he’s being so friendly, if I told him that I didn’t know his name, he’d feel hurt, right? Isn’t there some kind of hint…? Ah-, I know.
“Class is about to begin, so it would be best if you took out your exercise book. Have you taken a look at the contents of the textbook?”
“Ah, you’re right.”
After rummaging through his back, he took out his Japanese study books and placed them on the table. Let’s see, let’s see. The name written on the exercise book is──
“秋澤匠(Aki-Sawa Takumi)”-kun. Alright, got it. I’m not sure if his surname is read Akizawa or Akisawa though.
“What class did you end up in during the class changes, Akisawa-kun?”
I casually emphasised that I already knew his name.
“Ah-, Kisshouin-san, you knew my name? I was sure that your group had no idea who I was. Um, I’m in Class 4. Also, my surname is read as Akizawa, not Akisawa.”
…If you were thinking that I didn’t know your name, then introduce yourself first, dammit.
Here I was, worrying over whether a classmate would have his feelings hurt because I didn’t know his name. Is this boy actually a bit of an airhead?
Class began before long, and brought an end to our conversation. The contents were a little difficult for a Year 3 class, but for now I’m still fine. Sitting next to me, Akisawa-kun, now known as Akizawa-kun, looked nervous, but he was trying his best to listen to the classwork and answer the questions in the exercise book.
After that came break time.
“Aah, I was so nervous! It’s a lot further ahead than our classes at school, isn’t it.”
Akizawa-kun stretched as he spoke to me like it was natural.
…Of course, right~?
This was what I was afraid of. If a Suiran student entered my cram school, then naturally they would notice me. And then after that, they would pay attention to me. Either that, or like Akizawa-kun, they could come over to talk to me. I didn’t expect that there would be someone so friendly from our first conversation though. But like this, it gets in the way of my original purpose of going to the convenience store! Aahhh~ I knew this would happen…
“I think so too. In exchange, the classes at school become easy though.”
“I seee. Your grades have been good, haven’t they, Kisshouin-san. You didn’t seem the type at all, you know.”
This boy really is an air-head. His tongue slipped.
“Do I appear that lax a person?”
I decided to give him a jab.
“That’s not what I meant! Umm, how do I say this, it felt like you lived in a different world to hardcore students, I guess? The girls around you are like that too. And also, you’re a member of that Pivoine, after all.”
Well, that’s true. Even amongst my peers, my family is quite powerful, so in a school that emphasises tradition, being descended from a noble family really gives you influence. Because of that, those kind of girls gather around me, and I naturally end up with the most intimidating group amongst all the girls. Everyone feels more like followers rather than friends, so it’s a little sad though. Rather than “Reika-sama”, it would be great if they called me “Reika-chan”, huh~ I wonder if I actually have any friends in that school…
“I’m pretty surprised! Kisshouin-san, you’re hard to approach and I thought you wouldn’t give me the time of day, but to think that you’d be this easy to talk to.”
Akizawa-kun laughed happily.
Mn, so I really am hard to approach after all.
“Do you think it would be okay if I sat next to you next week as well?”
I suppose I won’t be able to go to the convenience store either way now, right? What’s more, there aren’t that many people I can talk to so closely.
“Yes, of course.”
I wonder if Akizawa-kun will become my friend.