I think everybody knows already, but Japanese schools go Primary: Years 1~6 Middle: First to Third Years High: First to Third Years Uni: First to Fourth Years (Generally)
Opening the box in front of me, I smirked.
It was the middle of the night, and I was alone in my room.
There’s a box I keep in the depths of my closet, and occasionally I take it out to examine the contents.
“I’ve saved up quite a bit, haven’t I.”
Inside the box were rolls of banknotes.
I’m currently saving up money at home.
In the Kisshouin family, the pocket money I get is an unthinkable amount going by my common sense. Each month (although it’s not like there’s some set amount), I usually get x0,000 Yen from my parents. It’s not money that you’d be giving to a primary schooler as pocket money, right? If you give somebody this much money from their childhood, I don’t think they’ll grow into a decent adult.
It seems like it’s in case I ever need money while hanging out with friends, but to begin with I go to lessons after school and basically never go out to play, so there’s nowhere for me to use it. My family buys me what I need for school after all, and when I need something from outside, our chauffeur-cum-helper goes out to buy it. Thanks to that, I’ve done nothing but save it. I’m keeping this money in case our house falls into ruin by some chance. I want it to help pay my tuition.
But well, even I have something I want to buy in secret (mostly cheap sweets), so I’ve decided on my own my monthly spending money. It’s 500 Yen. I think this is about right for a primary schooler’s pocket money. And the rest of the money, I place in this locked, and slightly largish jewellery box.
It would be too weird for a little girl to want a safe, so while I was looking for something else with a lock, I came across this in a jewellery shop. It’s small enough that a child can carry it in their two hands, and it’s perfect for putting notes into. Okaasama had come with me, and I immediately pestered her for it. I’m sure everybody around me thought I was a little girl drawn to it because of how sparkly and pretty it was, but I chose it entirely for practical purposes. It was a miscalculation that she bought me a pink sapphire necklace to go along with it though.
That night, I tore out the soft velvet dividers without hesitation, and turned it into a normal rectangular box. And then, I took out all the notes I’d been hiding in dictionaries until now, and moved them into the jewellery-box-turned-safebox. Just as expected, there was plenty of room left afterwards, and it looked like it would do just fine as a safe. I sure found something good. To make sure I absolutely don’t lose the key, I keep it taped far inside my drawers.
And now, sometimes at night I’ll take open it up and chuckle, like an evil governor looking at his urn of gold coins.
“One note, two notes…”
U hu hu hu hu… I can’t stop the laughter.
Although it’s still a bit vague, each time we go up a year, the caste divisions become clearer and clearer. The ones at the top are, naturally, the members of the Pivoine. There are only about 10 of them in each grade, so this never changes. As for the rest, the very fact that they entered Suiran during the primary section means that they’re all members of the upper class to a degree, so the division into middle and bottom castes is more about the person themselves rather than how powerful their families are. The upper-middle caste are the followers of the upper caste, and behave conspicuously. The lower caste kids are all meek children who pass the time quietly.
And as for me, I’m the top member of the top faction amongst the girls. Thanks to that I don’t get bullied or anything, but it’s saddening that the quiet kids are afraid of me. If I had to say it, I’d prefer to spend my time leisurely talking to the meeker kids. Despite being children, the girls in my group are quite haughty already. They’re all girls that would never ever buy cheap sweets from a convenience store. We have a few members of the Petite Pivoine too, so the group values tradition and social status. The followers are more proud of it than the actual Pivoine members are, so it’s pretty tiring. When I consider that one day they might catch me without my fake Ojousama mask, it sends chills down my spine. I can’t hurt the honour of the Kisshouin family, so I smile along with my surroundings. Even though I’m only a primary schooler, interpersonal relations are already pretty tough.
While I was walking with those girls in tow as usual, I found Akizawa-kun coming down from the opposite side of the hallway. Noticing me, he smiled and was about to wave, but perhaps he was overpowered by the girls around me, because he averted his eyes and walked past me looking a little frightened.
…Uu, I knew it. A group of girls is scary, isn’t it. But my group is particularly so. I’m really sorry, Akizawa-kun. Recently we’ve always been getting along next to each other at cram school, so I finally thought ‘Male Friend GET!’ but if he got scared of me and avoided me at cram school because of this, it would be really sad. Today when I go to cram school, I’ll apologise.
*imouto* “Nah, don’t worry about it. I ignored you too, so aren’t we even?”
When I got to cram school, I immediately said “Sorry about making it hard to talk to me. I’m sorry about ignoring you.” but Akizawa-kun forgave me with a smile. What a good boy.
“It requires courage to call out to somebody amongst a crowd of girls, doesn’t it.”
“Yeah. And especially for your group, Kisshouin-san.”
Thought so. Akizawa-kun belongs to a group in the middle caste in our grade. He doesn’t follow around somebody in the upper caste, but isn’t meek like a lower caste either. Truly smack bang in the middle. As for me, I think being in that kind of the position seems the most fun and free, so I’m envious of him.
“Do your friends know that I got to the same cram school as you?”
“No. To begin with, I have not spoken about the fact that I attend one.”
“Ah, I see. Would it be better not to say? I’ve already told a few of my friends though.”
“I am not particularly concealing anything, but… Well, I suppose it might be better not to speak of it.”
I lied. I’m totally hiding it.
I mean, if I told somebody, what if they wanted to come as well? In that case, my original goal of going to the convenience store would be out of reach.
“Hmm~ Then maybe it would be better not to talk to you at school, Kisshouin-san. I wouldn’t be able to explain why I knew you after all.”
“I don’t think it is necessary to go that far.”
It would be like shunning him, and I’d feel bad. And also, because he’s already here in cram school I’ve already given up on the convenience store, so it isn’t that much of a problem even if they find out I’m going now.
“Mn, but well, I think it’s better like this. You’re kind of different at school after all.”
“Oh? I am?”
“Yeah. To begin with I was the one who spoke to you first. I didn’t think you’d be this easy to talk to. Like, I thought your attitude would be a bit more like, ‘Hmph. I don’t want to be spoken to by the likes of you’.”
Is that the kind of image I had? No, I mean, I did have a faint idea, but… it really is a shock.
“Do I appear that unpleasant a person?”
“Eh-? Sorry, did I hurt you? I didn’t mean it in a bad way. It’s just like, the Pivoine members are sort of in a different world to me, I guess. Your friends call you Reika-sama after all.”
Using ‘-sama’ is just like ‘gokigen’yoh’, and is something left behind in Suiran as a remnant of the past. It’s particularly easy to be called ‘-sama’ if you’re a Pivoine member.
“Ah-, would it be better if I called you Reika-sama as well?
‘Well you never know without asking,’ he said with a laugh.