The results for the finals were out. Naturally my name was nowhere to be seen.
Oh! And Fellow Stalking-Horse dropped to 7th! Are you being a little careless about your studies, my comrade?! I’m not that smart so it’s up to you to drag up the Stalking Horses, okay? You’re the hope of our village. As candidate for next village head, you need to make us proud.
Anyhow, I ended up at rank 86. Uguh, it’s so bad that I can’t even talk about it! At this rate I might actually end up in the triple digits. Better take the summer studies seriously. Studying, dieting, spiritual training… This summer is going to be busy.
“Hey,” Kikuno suddenly said. “How about we all go somewhere together this summer?”
Ehhhh! An outing with friends! That sounds wonderful!
“Do you think we’ll be able to book anything in time?”
“My, what if you simply came to my family’s villa?”
The girls began kicking up an excited fuss.
I mean, I’m assuming that I’m included of course. I am, right? Right? I mean, I’ve got a villa too, so let me into the conversation?
On the last Sunday before the summer break officially began, Sakura-chan and I went to do that Zazen meditation I mentioned.
I couldn’t manage the full lotus position so I sat down in the half-lotus instead, and half-closed my eyes. Focus. Control your breathing. Control your heart.
Or so I thought, but with the room so quiet my mind started to calm down. My heart quieted down, and my eyes began to close.
Ah-, Zen Master-san suddenly stood behind me. Could he tell I was falling asleep? I leant to the left so that he could tap my shoulder with his stick. It hurt less than I’d expected. Was he holding back because I was a frail girl? But thanks to that I was getting sleep again…
By the end of it I was so drowsy that my body was swaying all over the place. I can’t even remember if he hit me again.
After a thirty minute session of that, we had some tea and then the Zen Master gave us a sermon. Then it was onto rewriting sutras. Wow, I thought it was just going to be the meditation.
Turns out it wasn’t that easy. Zen Master-san told us that by tracing this our hearts would be revealed. I looked at Sakura-chan’s perfect kanji, and then looked at some of the weird squiggles on mine. I’ll bet this one over here happened while I was thinking about the Japanese-style café we’d be going to after. My mind really is filled to the brim with worldly desires, isn’t it.
After submitting our copies to the temple, our day at the temple was brought to a close.
“Reika. You didn’t learn a thing, did you,” said Sakura-chan, the very moment we reached the café. Oh. I had originally planned to reflect during the training, hadn’t I.
“Seriously, because of all the smacking sounds coming from the side I could barely concentrate myself. And I swear you started rocking back and forth near the end too…”
“That was a test of your heart and spirit, Sakura-chan. If something so little can sway you from the Path then I don’t know what to say to you.”
“…He should have smacked you with a real cane instead.”
I was just reciting what the Zen Master had said. And a real cane would have actually hurt.
“And today was so easy because I deliberately chose a mellow place for you, okay. Had we gone to one of the hardcore places you’d be tenderised steak right now.”
“Ehh~ But you got hit too.”
“I asked him to.”
Wow, you’re amazing.
“Well? Did you reflect at all…?”
She sighed as I stared at the sweets menu.
“Guess not, huh.”
You’re wrong. I was just looking, that’s all. I wasn’t planning on eating at all, I swear.
“Ahh~ Nirvana isn’t such an easy place to get into, you know~”
“I hope you fall onto the path of the chubster.”
Stop that. Don’t you remember what Mr. Zen Master said? Words have power so you shouldn’t say cruel things to others, remember? How are you going to take responsibility if I really turn into a fatty?
“Look, you really need to start exercising, Reika. How about that hot yoga stuff, or maybe aerial yoga?”
“You sure do love yoga, Sakura-chan.”
I’ve been doing my best with sit-ups and hula hoops, and I can just do yoga at home. If I’m going to go out of my way then maybe some other sport would be better.
When I don’t eat my tummy shrinks. But it swells again the moment I do. Geez, this is why it’s so easy to get careless~ It feels like I’ll lose weight as soon as I start eating less.
I sealed away the dress from that day too. It had to be part of the problem.
And when I sit down my flab comes out, so I was sitting with my stomach clenched at all times.
“Say, Sakura-chan? Do I look too old?”
“Huh? No? Your face has been getting rounder these days so if anything you look awfully young. Don’t worry about it.”
So my face has been getting rounder…
Today was the first day of my summer cram school.
We were allowed to sit wherever so I picked a middle seat, a bit further back than average.
I wonder if there are any Suiran kids. Hmmm. Everybody looks so smart.
While I was looking around, a group of boys and girls took the seats next to me. They all seemed to be friends. Whoaa… What is this feeling unbelievable sense of isolation.
Oh no. The trauma from my remedials…
Just as I was moping, the boy suddenly laughed like crazy and smacked me with his hand. Ow…
“…It is fine.”
More importantly, I’d appreciate it if you noticed your bag as well.
“Whoa! This chick is like a total rich girl ojousama!”
“And her hair is done up so neatly~”
“Hey, hey, what school you go to?” asked the boy behind me.
And he had a bunch of earrings too. So gaudy.
“…I attend Suiran.”
“Whooooooooa! Suiraaan! Total rich girlll!”
I don’t know what was so interesting about it but they all seemed really intrigued.
And although the girls had smiles on their faces, I could see them secretly appraising me. Scary…
“Hey, so what’s your name?”
“…My name is Kisshouin Reika.”
“Even your name sounds rich! Dooope!”
…What the hell.
No, I picked completely the wrong cram school.
This has got to be the worst treatment I’ve had short of that pregnancy incident. I have complete confidence that if I drew a fortune right now it would say “Huge Curse”.
“C’mon, cut that out. You’re troubling the poor girl. The ojousama of Suiran are just totally different from us, you know?” said one of the guys next to Gaudy Piercings.
The girls started staying stuff like “Yeah, guys~ Cut it out~” as well.
Hmph! As if anybody thinks you mean it!
I played up my indifference and began looking through my coursework. It was time to make use of the mindset I cultivated at the temple!
And who the heck pulls on a girl’s hair! Are you actually a high schooler? Are you actually?
The final straw was the fact that when class actually started all of the idiots around me turned out to be way smarter than I was.
That’s it. The moment I get home I’m performing a salt-exorcism on all four sides of my room.