Suppose there's a guy who was dumped in the company the other day.
Ashamed and embarrassed, the guy would obviously find it difficult to match her line of sight. Even if the girl would find it hard to look at him in the eyes, it would be because of guilty feelings. The guy should be the uncomfortable one. Normally, at least.
"Hina, Hasegawa is looking at you again. Did you really not do anything to offend him?"
"I didn't. Probably…”
"But he's been like this for a week now, you know! I'm sure you did something! You just probably don't remember! If not, he wouldn't be looking at you with those eyes!"
Hina sighed, while checking the document full of red marks in her hand. Her junior co-worker, Mei Katsuragi, curled a lock of her hair with one hand and in a voice only Hina could hear, whispered, "Recently, there are rumors going around. That the empress finally angered the iron mask."
"The empress, huh."
The "empress" actually refers to Hina herself. It was a nickname given by a male employee who was jealous that she works better than most men. Hina was not pleased with this nickname but she couldn't really express her thoughts freely within the company, and before she knew it, the term "empress" has been tenaciously attached to her.
Hina continued to check the document. After going over it for a few more minutes, she passed the paper back to Mei. "There are numerous spelling errors. Since there are a lot of senior co-workers as well, stop submitting this kind of erroneous document."
"Oops. Yeah, sure."
"Hey! Be serious!"
"S-Sorry! But even if you say that, it's because I've got a very reliable senior co-worker here that spoils me like this."
As Hina looked at her junior co-worker's cheerfully smiling face, Mei brought out another clear file with a brand new document.
"Well then, I'll count on you for this one too!"
"Okay, roger that." Mei playfully gave her a salute, and then the chime rang indicating the end of lunch break. All employees stood up at once, and Hina followed suit. She picked up the sandwich and tea she bought from the convenience store.
At that moment, she felt someone's presence behind her back so she furrowed her brows and slowly looked back. "Ms. Hina Uzuki, you're free this afternoon, right?"
"No, I'm not free. By the way, Mr. Hasegawa, aren't you a bit persistent?"
"Persistent? Isn't that just your perception? Please refrain from asking me with your subjective thoughts."
At those words, Hina narrowed her eyes and scowled at Hasegawa.
It’s been a week since she turned him down but Hasegawa continues to pursue her like this everyday. Even though she refuses him every single time, it seemed like the word "give up" didn't exist in his vocabulary. Hina inwardly groaned as she held her head with one hand in exasperation.
Giving her a contemptuous glance, he questioned one after another. "Firstly, why aren't you free this afternoon? Yesterday, you said you'd be free today, didn't you? Have you forgotten? It's not like you to forget promises…"
"We didn't exactly make a promise yesterday, Mr. Hasegawa. Besides, there's no way I'd forget…”
"Then, you mean to say that even though you made a promise with me, you still made plans to do other things?"
Seeing that the situation was turning for the worse, Hina hung her head down and raised her hands in surrender. If she resisted more, she would only waste more time of her precious lunch break. Besides, it didn't look like he'll back away today.
"Just now, my plans got cancelled. But please don't invite me tomorrow anymore, okay?
"Alright. Then, let's go. Shall we head to the meeting room so we won't be overheard by others?"
Hina then followed behind Hasegawa, feeling as if she was like an animal to be sold.
In the meeting room, there was a lot of tension in the air. The two sat across each other on the large table, which normally could accommodate 20 people. Even though Hasegawa was the one who invited her, he just quietly stared at Hina while eating and drinking the CalorieMate (1) and packed vegetable juice he brought.
"Mr. Hasegawa, please don't stare too much. It's hard to eat."
"Oh, I'm sorry. It seems like I've been entranced by you without realizing it."
Hina's voice came out a like a shriek. In front of her, Hasegawa simply nodded with a nonchalant expression.
"I know, it's extremely incomprehensible. Why is it you…”
"It's really baffling…You're just…”
Using the same mouth that claimed to be "entranced" by her, he's now speaking in a tone that seemed to belittle her. Hina sat on the chair while rubbing the wrinkles that have formed between her eyebrows.
"Um, I've thought about this for a long time before but the truth is you hate me, don't you Mr. Hasegawa?"
"No, I like you. It is a conclusion I have arrived at after repeatedly pondering over that question. There is no mistake."
"Well then, why…?"
"It's just…You are far from the ideal woman in my future plan, so I'm confused."
The moment Hina's quizzical voice came out, Hasegawa took out a thick college notebook from his bag. It was labelled "54", which seemed to be part of a numbered series. Hina instantly had a bad feeling and swallowed her saliva.
Hasegawa flipped through the pages and after stopping in the middle, he passed the notebook to Hina.
"This is the 'Ideal Woman I Plan to Go Out With'."
Looking at the page of the notebook handed to her, Hina took a deep breath. The page is littered with lots of words. Listed are the height, weight, and of course, the vital statistics and even the details of the day-to-day habits of his ideal woman.
"It would be good if the woman achieved at least 80% of the requirements here…but, you're only about 30%, no, 20%? That's about as much similarities you have here."
"Bust 92, Waist 57, Hips 85…”
"Even with your clothes on, it is easy to infer that you're lacking in the bust department, as well as the waist…"
The impact of Hasegawa's words was too strong that Hina could only stare at him dumbfounded. As if adding insult to injury, he crossed his arms and arrogantly leaned his back on the chair.
"First and foremost, my ideal type is a domestic woman (2), with a modest and placid personality, who always prepares a bento for me."
Hina looked down at her hands. The sandwich she's been eating was wrapped in plastic.
"In addition, she always has to keep a feminine disposition, both in appearance and behavior. Someone like you who always comes to work looking rather masculine is originally not my type at all!"
"But that's fine. As long as you go out with me, we can gradually transform you into a charming woman. Well? Isn't it a fantastic offer? That's why, with me…”
“No, really, it is absolutely impossible for me to go out with Mr. Hasegawa.”
Hasegawa abruptly stopped his movements.
"W-why? If I say so myself, I have pretty good qualifications…"
"You came from a good university and you're excellent at your job. I suppose those are good qualifications."
Seeing that Hasegawa was still entirely clueless, Hina finally snapped.
"There's no way I'd go out with a guy absorbed in such an ideal fantasy! Your standards are off the charts! Unrealistic!"
"That's what I've been saying. Those standards, I can make you…”
"Stop messing around! In the first place, I also have an ideal type! I definitely don't want to go out with a four eyes like you!"
At that moment, the chime signifying the end of lunch break reverberated throughout the room.
Notes:カロリーメイト (CalorieMate) – a brand of nutritional energy bar and energy gel foods 家庭的な女性 (kateitekina josei) – Think of the image of a perfect housewife.