A stalking-horse character is, in romance stories, the rival used to urge the main characters into a relationship. Or into a deeper relationship. Basically they had no chance to begin with, and were only introduced into the story to push the main couple along. Like um, what was his name? The werewolf dude from Twilight. He had a team, and… Was it Team… Jacob?
Also, sliding dogeza at 5s
An ojousama has her own ojousama’s circle of acquaintances.
Myself included, an ojousama has lots of different lessons to go to. And those lessons often have showcases or recitals. Honestly speaking, I can’t imagine that anybody outside of family would want to watch a bunch of kids dance or perform. But with just family alone, the seats wouldn’t fill up and it wouldn’t look very good, so those in high society often go to each other’s events, which also serve as chances to socialise. And so, today I went to a violin recital because of that.
Okaasama came with me to the recital, and apparently she hadn’t given up on her dreams of me learning the violin yet, because she asked me stuff like ‘How about you use this opportunity to start learning yourself?’. No thank you. At my mother’s strong insistence, I went to a trial classroom once, but the finger that held down the string hurt. There was so much friction that it felt like my fingerprint would burn off. That day I decided that I was a bit too squishy for violin. Likewise, at my mother’s recommendation, I tried the flute as well, but I still have nightmares about my last life when during the recorder recital I could only blow this pathetic and ridiculous ‘puupiiii~‘ sound from beginning to end and ruined it for everyone, so I’ve got a bit of a trauma about wind instruments now. When everybody returned to class afterwards and yelled “Who the hell made that sound!?” and began searching for the culprit, I was seriously terrified. I joined in and made this ‘Ehh~ I don’t know either~’ face, but inside, my heart was pounding. The fact that the kids who sat next to me were tightlipped was the only reason I barely escaped my death. So when it comes to music, please just give me a break, and let me stay with just piano.
When the recital was over, we headed out to the lobby to hand out bouquets. While I was waiting, I looked about randomly and spotted somebody surprising.
Just like us, Akizawa-kun was standing there a little distance away with a bouquet in hand. I told Okaasama that I had a friend here, so I left her and headed over to him.
“Akizawa-kun? Whatever are you doing in a place like this?”
When he turned around, Akizawa-kun was shocked to see me too.
“Why are you here, Kisshouin-san? Umm, today my childhood friend was in the recital, so I came to watch, but what about you?”
“Something similar as well. A friend was performing.”
While we were talking, Okaasama, and a person who seemed to be Akizawa-kun’s okaasama came over.
“Reika-san, who might this gentleman be?”
“Ah-, Okaasama. This is Akizawa-kun. He is in my grade in Suiran, and we attend the same cram school, you know.”
“It’s nice to meet you. I’m Akizawa Takumi.”
When Okaasama found out that he was a student at Suiran, she smiled happily. I greeted Akizawa-kun’s okaasama as well. While our mothers were exchanging greetings, we went back to our own conversation from before.
“By ‘childhood friend’, do you perhaps mean the one that gave you chocolates on Valentines?’
“Ah, that’s the one. To think you’d remember that.
She lives in my neighbourhood, so our families have been close since we were little. She’s in the same grade as us, but she’s like a little sister to me.”
“A little sister?”
“Yeah, since we were small she’s always been following me around, and we went to the same kindergarten. When we had to go to different schools, she started bawling. It was terrible, you know. For today too, she told me that I absolutely had to come.”
At that moment, the performers and their families started to enter the lobby.
A Japanese-styled beauty with long black hair called out his name, as she trotted over to him.
“Ahh, Sakurako, good job! Your performance was great.”
Akizawa-kun met her with a smile. When the girl heard his praise, she smiled happily with a flushed face, but the moment she saw me standing next to him, her expression turned bewildered.
“Takumi, who’s this person?”
“Ahh, this is Kisshouin-san. She’s in my cohort at Suiran, and we’re in the same class for cram school. Our classes at school are different though.”
‘Right?’ he asked me with an innocent smile. Seeing that, Childhood Friend-chan started to look sullen.
“And this is the childhood friend I mentioned, Fukioka Sakurako.”
“I am Kisshouin Reika. It is a pleasure.”
Her face clearly says that she isn’t happy to see me. Aahh, this settles it.
“Takumi, it can’t be that you came with her, right?”
“Nuh uh. Apparently Kisshouin-san’s friend was in the recital as well. We met by chance a little while ago. Right, Kisshouin-san?”
Once again, he smiled at me, at which point Fukioka-san’s expression grew more and more severe. Ah-, she’s glaring.
“I never heard about any of your friends being female, Takumi. Even though when you talk about them, only male names come up…”
“Really? Well, we basically only ever talk at cram school, so,”
“Are you… close?”
“Ehh~ I wonder about that. We don’t hate each other, right?”
“Eh-? Y-, Yes. That is true.”
Fukioka-san looked sadly at Akizawa-kun.
Oh my god. I made light of this guy. Even though I thought he was just a loveless, normal primary schooler like me… To think that he was holding the hidden trump card of all romantic cliches, ‘a sizzling love with a childhood friend’!! Akizawa-kun who I thought was my comrade in no-romances was actually in a completely different realm to me to begin with. I should have realised the moment he mentioned the yearly chocolates from her. It wasn’t courtesy chocolates, nor was it friendship chocolates, it was the real damn thing chocolates. To think that I grouped myself together with a guy who had such a powerful romance card. I want to apologise to Akizawa-kun with a sliding dogeza now.
Apparently Akizawa-kun had no idea why Fukioka-san was upset, and carelessly asked “What’s wrong?”. Cliche. It’s so cliche. The “romantically slow childhood friend” cliche. Akizawa-kun, it feels like you’re so far away now…
To Fukioka-san, Akizawa-kun is the childhood friend that she loves, and who has always been by her side, so I guess that makes me the suddenly-appearing villainess rival character. Even though Kimidol’s protagonist hasn’t even appeared yet, why the heck do I have to be the stalking horse in some random other place? A sordid love triangle even in primary school? No thank you.
My ojousama companions who invited me appeared in the lobby, so I gratefully used them to retreat.
“Okaasama, Emiri-sama is here. We must hand her the flowers.”
“My, so she has. Well then, Akizawa-sama, I look forward to our next meeting. Well then, please excuse us. We shall be leaving first.”
“Please excuse us, and gokigen’yoh, Akizawa-kun, Fukioka-san.”
“See you at cram school, Kisshouin-san.”
I could feel Fukioka-san’s gaze stabbing painfully into my back.
When I left the venue later, it was snowing. No wonder I felt so cold.