Ordinary Days Of Taking Shelter From the Rain With A Gatekeeper Girl - Chapter 1 A Gatekeeper Girl And Her Delinquent Lunchmate
- Ordinary Days Of Taking Shelter From the Rain With A Gatekeeper Girl
- Chapter 1 A Gatekeeper Girl And Her Delinquent Lunchmate
The first thing I perceived after waking up from a shallow sleep was the sound of rain hitting the window.
No more nagging…
My body was still craving for sleep, but it was Monday.
As social animals, we Homo-sapiens must suppress our desire to kill. “Oh, sh*t, I’m really going to die on Monday, would you rather I went and killed you?” We have to suppress our desire to kill and fulfill our societal duties.
I sluggishly woke up from my slumber and turned on my phone with sleepy eyes.
It was 9:30 am. The alarm I had set before going to bed had been turned off by my sleepy hands. This is the 27th time I’ve been late for work…ah, I’m losing it…
I trudged down the stairs to the living room, but there was no sign of my family chastising me for oversleeping. My parents must have left for work long ago. My brother, by the way, disappeared a few years ago.
I looked at the table and saw a 10,000 yen bill on the table. This was my allowance and meal money for the first day of school in early June. This was my lifeline for the months of June and July.
Even though our relationship had grown cold, I still said thank you. I tucked the ten thousand yen bill into the pocket of my nightgown.
Then I slowly cleaned myself up. I was already going to be late anyway. There’s no point in rushing now, right?
I finished getting ready for school and put on my school shoes at the entrance. With a plastic umbrella, I was all set. I was about to leave my six-year-old blue-green house, but…
I stopped right in front of it. My legs felt heavy. My body is resisting to go.
In order to repel the depressive feelings, I tackled the front door with great force and opened it. I ran straight outside of my house in one fell swoop!
The raindrops riding the wind hit my face so hard. I was soaked.
I’m dying of dullness. Why don’t you make the weather more cooperative while I go to school? It’s Monday.
The chime rang for the end of the fourth period, and the old lady teacher nodded for order.
“Stand up”, “bow”, and “thank you.” We mechanically obeyed the words of the class president.
Then lunch break came and went, and the class, as a cohesive group, began to break up into individual units. Some went to the store, some to the cafeteria, some to other classrooms.
Still, in our class, the faction that ate in their own classrooms was by far the most common.
They formed small territories by sticking their desks together. So, the power structure in the classroom can be seen almost instantly from a bird’s eye view of the area.
Who is connected to whom? What kind of people are isolated?
I’m usually staring at my desk, but sometimes it’s not a bad idea to try to figure out what’s going on. I secretly moved my head and eyeballs to observe the situation in the classroom.
As a result of my secret investigation, I found that I was the only one who was currently isolated in the class.
“Haa? You’re kidding, right?”
I couldn’t stop talking to myself. When I realized the situation I was in, I even felt a mysterious chill. Everyone except me is forming a territory in the classroom.
Wait…calm down, I… Aoki Teru is not the only loner in the class. That’s right, I’ve got a buddy who’s a loner!
Until recently, Yoshizawa would have been isolated as well. What about him? What the hell happened to him?
I looked around the classroom once more to check Yoshizawa’s long bangs…
Ah, there he is. In the back of the classroom, Yoshizawa was huddled around a desk with the rest of the otaku group.
“First of all, this season’s anime, there are so many imouto characters that I can’t get enough of, aren’t they great?”
“Yes, it is. First of all, this season’s anime has a lot of sister characters that I can’t get enough of. For example, in the episode ‘I want to eat the rotten rice ball that was held in my sister’s armpit,’ the careful work of the animation director, Kanzaki, is outstanding. I can’t talk about the scene in the fourth episode where the zombified sister tries to make an onigiri with her armpit. The mixture of reality and fiction in the daily life of the characters is wonderful. I’d like to call attention to the rookie original artist, Inoue, who was in charge of that scene.
“Hey! You’re too detailed, Yoshizawa-kun!”
My mouth dropped open.
Seriously, Yoshizawa…is blending in with that group too fast. If anything, you’re getting a little respect. I don’t even know what you’re talking about.
It’s just that he’s been a little off-button up until now, but I’m sure he can fit in with the otaku crowd as long as he gets the chance. Well, yeah, I’m glad. Take care of yourself. I inwardly said goodbye to the isolated friend I felt so close to.
“Hey, look at this. The little dance in this video looks like something we could do.”
“Ah, it’s that. It’s a song that’s popular recently. I know it. Eh, wow, 200,000 views for such a mess? To be honest, their coordination is pretty bad.”
I couldn’t belong to any group, so I mindlessly took a bite out of my sandwich.
“Yeah. If they can get 200,000 views with this, we should be able to get 1,000,000 views.”
“Hahaha! That’s so true~”
I could hear the chattering of the girls sitting nearby, their makeup thick for their age. Shut up, what are they talking about all the time?
Uncomfortable. Outrageously uncomfortable. I rummaged through my bag and took out a pair of cheap, airtight headphones. I put them on my ears and immediately played a song from my phone.
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Chapter 4, “Ode to Joy” — if you live a normal life, you’ve probably heard this famous song in a commercial or something.
I liked the way the various instruments and sopranos got together in the chorus of this song. I don’t know much about it, though. That’s what classical music is all about. What’s important is the mood, the mood.
But when I hear a familiar sound, my heart starts to calm down. I was so relieved to finally be able to eat lunch in peace.
Just when I was feeling relieved…my upper arm was slapped with a weak force.
I slowly turn around in alarm. There stood the class president, Kusano Marika.
Her neck with a slightly tilted angle and a nice smile on her face. Her brown hair, trimmed around her shoulders, swayed as she waved her right hand. And above all, the well-placed mole by the eye socket stands out like a sore thumb today.
Kusano Marika opened her mouth. But I can’t hear anything because of the 9th chorus playing in my ear (It was like a silent film).
What in the world does she want? As expected, you can’t ignore the words of the girl who is the most popular in the class. I hurriedly took off my headphones…
“Und wer’s nie gekonnt, der stehle Weinend sich aus diesem Bund!”
A chorus of joyful laughter flowed from the room. Don’t be silly. I know it’s a nuisance to the neighbors, but you guys need to sing a little quieter!
“Wawa, wow. You scared me. Hahaha…well, sorry, did I interrupt your music appreciation?”
Kusano was smiling apologetically. The people around us were drawn to the sound of the explosion and were looking at us. This is, you know, that thing. I’m sorry. I muted the song immediately, hanging my head inwardly at the accusing stares that stung me.
“What is it?”
I asked as if nothing had happened (it’s important to act like you don’t care).
“Oh, yes. Well, Aoki, you were late today, right? I thought I’d get the printout this morning.”
“Wha? What the hell is that—”
Why do I have to give it to Kusano? It’s just a class president who’s overreacting.
I swallowed before I could utter a reply. There’s too much blood running in my head. It’s a bad habit that’s been ingrained in me for a long time.
But I guess the quizzical feeling was already mixed up in the sound of my voice. Kusano waved her hand and laughed as if she was troubled.
“Ah, I’m sorry? It’s not like that. It’s not that I’m meddling, it’s just that the teacher asked me to do it. Aoki-kun, you don’t mind not turning in important prints, do you? You can’t do that.”
This time, Kusano gave me a friendly smile. On the other hand, I had no choice but to keep a straight face due to the stiffness in my facial muscles.
“Eh. What was it? Aoki-kun doesn’t show any signs of remorse even when I scold him, so I’ve been appointed as his classmate to take care of him from now on. Haha, it’s not easy being a class president.”
“Is that so?”
As I replied, I took out the printout and handed it to Kusano. I hadn’t had a chance to get a stamp from my parents, so I hadn’t been able to turn it in when it was due.
“Thank you! Well, from now on, you’ll have to turn it in on time, right?”
“It’s okay if you’re late sometimes. …I’m off then.”
When I didn’t reply properly, Kusano went back to the territory where her friends were waiting. “Aren’t you scared? “Are you all right?” These words of comfort reached my ears.
Kusano said in a cheerful voice, “No, I’m fine,” but I didn’t know what she actually thought. I didn’t really want to know.
I put on my headphones again and tried to cover up the annoying noise. This time, however, I couldn’t help but notice someone’s watchful gaze. Don’t look at me. You’re not a spectacle, Aoki.
I hesitated for a while and then got up from my seat. I walked out of the classroom at a leisurely pace.
No more eating in the classroom. Or rather, I should stop dreaming about the classroom.
The fact that Yoshizawa, who I secretly felt a sense of camaraderie with, has stopped being a loner is much harder than I imagined. Yes, yes, I’m just a delinquent who doesn’t fit in with any group anyway.
Huh. I wonder if there’s any place where I can relax and eat some food.
As I walked down the deserted corridor, I thought of the various places in the school. As I thought of various places—
A good idea popped into my head. That’s right. How about the rooftop?
The only places near the stairs on the third floor of the east school building that leads to the rooftop are the science lab and its preparation room. In other words, there’s not much traffic. It’s not often that students go there during lunch break.
No one would see me and I would be able to have a long and peaceful lunch without feeling uncomfortable.
Aim for the rooftop. I walked up the long staircase (the first year classrooms are on the west side of the first floor), feeling relaxed.
“Beep, beep…you can’t go on the roof!”
My shoulders jumped.
A flat voice from outside my consciousness. I was so frightened by the sudden warning that I almost fell down from the top of the stairs.
No…that’s not possible, right? I hadn’t even considered the possibility that there might be someone else on the roof at lunchtime.
On a scaffold a little narrower than the landing, which was in a blind spot from downstairs.
The owner of the warning sound was sitting next to the doorway leading to the roof.
“If you were trying to get to the roof, I’m sorry to hear that. Yes, let me explain. Our school’s rooftop has been closed ever since a student mosh-dived into the ground a few years ago. It’s the ‘spirit of covering the smell and the danger.’ Preventing people from jumping off. Safe and secure. It’s very well managed, isn’t it?”
“… Eh. Ah, isn’t that so?”
The girl was sitting next to the door as if she was a gatekeeper.
She had a very young, overly-toned face. She was wearing our school’s uniform, but she looked like she could easily pass as a cosplay junior high schooler.
The big ponytail growing out of the back of her head was hanging down to the floor like a real horse’s tail. And even through the hoodie she was wearing, you could see the ridges on her chest that didn’t match her height.
…So? Why is there a good-looking girl in this dimly lit place?
I look at the bag in the girl’s hand. It contained a simple snack covered in sugar and bread ears. Not a common choice for lunch.
The girl quickly swallowed the newly chewed bread ear, moistened her throat with a water bottle, took a breath, and said to me, who showed no sign of moving.
“You. Do you have the popular lunchmate syndrome?”
What did she just say? It was an unfamiliar name for a disease that sounded like a joke.
“What’s…that all of a sudden?”
“Well, if you’ve ever dreaded having lunch alone in a classroom or office, you have lunchmate syndrome. No congratulations. For more information, please refer to Wikipedia.”
“No, I appreciate the explanation, but…uh, don’t suddenly certify someone as sick. When did you become my doctor?”
By the way, don’t smile like a grinch. Having failed to develop a tolerance for the opposite sex in middle school, I looked away in a flash.
“I don’t know how far I’ve come since we first met, but why do I have that… what was it again? The luncheon mate syndrome.”
“Who wouldn’t be terrified of not having something to put on their plate?”
The girl pointed out my mistake and popped a piece of bread ear from the bag into her mouth, similar to the way a detective smokes a pipe (although it’s actually a cheaper product by about 2,000 times).
“It’s strange for a delinquent-looking person to come to the rooftop alone at lunchtime. And with a half-eaten sandwich in his hand. I can guess that he doesn’t have any official friends to have lunch with. And above all, the expression on your face that is unique to a person who is trapped — it is clear that you have fled the classroom because you can’t stand being alone.”
“Wha-hah? No, that’s not true. I’m not running away. I’m just moving to here. …… Oh, shit, don’t look me like that straight in the eye, you’re so annoying!”
I reacted like a criminal on the run. Well, if you’re smart, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Though, don’t show off your theories in front of me…
I was so flustered that I grabbed my right arm for no reason. The girl who was still looking at me disinterestedly said as she reached for the last bread ear.
“Well, you don’t have to be so shy. People like you are not so rare these days.”
“Seriously? Is that so?”
“Yes, it’s normal for our generation to be overly sensitive to the public eye, thanks to the rapid development of social networking. It’s not like we’re afraid of people seeing us alone, right?”
Sensitive to the gaze. It’s true that I’ve always been like that in the past few years. I can think of a number of reasons. In fact, even now, I’m paying attention to where the girl’s eyes are going.
“So… Do you have the same disease that’s making you eat in this place?”
“I have lunchmate syndrome. I’m not, because a person with my extraordinary good looks is used to being gawked at by others.”
I really shouldn’t have asked her. I clucked my tongue at the narcissistic girl with a scowl on my face, but she didn’t seem to be afraid of me.
Caw, caw. A crow was cawing nearby. They might be perched on the fence to prevent people from jumping off. It was a little chilly, as the cold air from the rain was leaking through the door separating the school from the roof. The girl looking up at me put her palm to the floor and said.
“Well, you’re not going to feel comfortable standing like that. You look like you’re about to die, so please sit down.”
“Oh, yes. My legs are getting tired. If you’ll excuse me for a moment…”
“I’d like to say something, but yes, I think it’s time for you to leave.”
The girl’s palm was flipped and pointed down the stairs.
It was as if, despite the friendly tone of voice, she had turned around and shunned me.
“What…? Well, since you’ve already guessed my situation, why don’t you just accept it?”
“I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this is my private domain…beep, beep, beep. Oh, look, there’s a full buzzer in front of the roof somewhere.”
“You’re the one that’s ringing it.”
“You’re making too much noise. Why don’t you just go home.”
That’s no way to treat a customer. I hope such stores go out of business.
“No, well, it’s okay to get out from the rooftop. So, where am I supposed to eat now that I have the lunch what syndrome? Where should I go?”
I asked, grasping at straws. The truth is, I’m already stuck in a lot of situations. The girl, unaware of the situation, put her index finger to her lips and pretended to think for two seconds.
“Hmmm. I guess so. Then how about the restroom?”
“Oh, I see, the restroom. Thank you for the information. …Huh? That just sounds good, but it’s really disgusting, isn’t it?”
The girl scratched her cheek in an indignant manner.
“I guess so?”
“I guess so? What are you recommending to me? I was about to run to the bathroom!”
“Oh, stop, it’s time. No anger. No scaring. Spoilage recommended☆”
I paid for the messy antics with four letters. The ponytailed girl, who had intentionally made a flirtatious expression, quickly returned to her deferential expressionless face, as if she had decided it was ineffective.
“You know what? I’m not making fun of you either. Please don’t misunderstand me, okay?”
“Ah? There’s only room for misunderstanding at the moment.”
“No, no, the bathroom is a good choice for those who don’t have lunch mates. The only place on campus where you can get a meal in a quiet private room is on the toilet bowl, right? You can enjoy a very relaxing meal!”
In contrast to my sagging mood, the girl began to talk eloquently.
She is trying to give the impression of the cleanliness of the toilet by speaking crisply. Where do you get the engine for your speech, you middle school-looking girl?
“However, there is always a price to pay for such power—and of course, there is a downside to lavatory rice. Yes! It’s the noise and stench coming from the next stall over. But this is a small problem in front of the comfort of a private room.”
“That’s the biggest problem, isn’t it? The pleasure and discomfort are not balanced.”
When the girl saw that her uninvited guest was not going straight to the bathroom, she gave her a blatant sigh. Eh, stop it, don’t sass me like this. The atmosphere that people who don’t eat in the toilet are evil creates some kind of friction. Maybe.
“Anyway, can I tell you something? This deadlock is mine and mine alone. I don’t have any land for a stranger to rent. Please leave now!”
The gatekeeper in front of the rooftop crossed her arms and made a large ban sign. An easy-to-understand icon for stopping. Apparently, from this staircase onward, it’s a dead-end in many ways.
“Ya. Well…that’s fine if you want me to leave that badly.”
I took the advice and began to move immediately.
I sat down on the midsection of the stairs as a bench. I could feel the cool, hard texture through my uniform pants.
“I’m going to have to eat on these stairs.”
“Mwah…you are not willing to leave this area, are you?”
“I mean, the only other place I can go is to the toilet, right? I can’t do that. If my presence bothers you, then why don’t we just stay without interfering with each other?”
Non-interference. I thought that was the right choice. It’s when you go out of your way to have a ‘relationship’ that it becomes a disaster. You should have treated me as if I was not there from the beginning.
There was no response from the girl to my proposal. The meaning of her silence could be taken as either affirmation or denial. I thought it didn’t matter either way.
Gulp. I was in the mood for it, so I bit into the sandwich like a hungry dog. The taste of the dried lettuce seemed far away. The only sound in the dimly lit space was the healthy crunching sound of chewing.
It might be a little lonely around my ears.
I reached for the headphones I had tucked around my neck and tried to shut myself away in my own world—
“Gu rururururururururu ruru gu 〜 gyurururururururururururu ruru gugyururururu~u~uuuuurururururu~”
A hungry sound, like the cry of a monster, came from above me.
“Um, that…it’s different. It’s not like that. It’s really different.”
After a moment of silence, the unseen girl began to make excuses.
“No, that was just a lie! Yes, it’s a synthesized voice! No, let’s see, this is the colon emergency bell that rings when you have a stomachache, okay?”
“No, no, that’s too much of an excuse…”
This was a quandary that I couldn’t seem to ignore. Before I knew it, I was in the process of resuming the conversation.
So I went back up to the scaffolding in front of the roof. The seated girl moved from the side of the doorway to the corner of the landing, looking embarrassed.
“Hmm. You know, if that loud sound I heard earlier was from a stomach ache, then you’re the one who should be running to the bathroom for that roar.”
I retaliated by saying.
“I-i-i-i-it’s not a roar! Beep, please learn some tact!”
“Huh? How dare a girl who talked about toilets during lunch talk about tact?”
“Please don’t hurt me. That’s right, it’s the sound of hunger, idiot.”
She quickly covers her face and guards it, but it’s obvious she’s embarrassed.
The sound of hunger earlier. The girl was not eating a homemade lunch box or a convenience store product, but only the ear that was discarded at a bakery. I wondered if her family was not well-off.
I wondered if she was so distressed by the economic disparity that she only left the classroom for lunch. I took the liberty of imagining a common scenario that could be observed at any age.
The girl with the ponytail (probably) made an effort to keep a straight face, pointed at me and said.
“Oh, my goodness! What are you doing all the time? What grade are you in? In the vertical society called high school, the seniority system is adopted. It’s about time we had a clear hierarchy!”
“Eh. No, what year am I in, that’s…”
“Well, I’m…a first year.”
I replied in a muffled voice. The only possible outcome was a draw or a loss, so it would be hard for me to speak clearly.
“Yes, I won! I won! Yes, yes! Yes!”
It was a strong gut pose. I thought it was nothing to be that happy about.
“Aahhh, thank God I was born about a year early. Thank you for the early seeding, father. I’m happy to have an age mount for my junior. I love you, father!”
“Hey, don’t say seeding so casually. What part of that are you thanking your parents for? I’m getting a little tired of this.”
“Be more respectful.”
“I want you to treat me more like a senpai. First of all, it’s forbidden to use tame language and insult me. Please observe the seniority system. I’m on top, you’re on the bottom.”
“From now on, call me Amamori-senpai. It’s Amamori for rain and forest. Do you mind, my ornery customer? You can also call me sama by the way.”
When I saw the smug look on her face with the edges of her lips hanging up, I honestly thought, I don’t want to treat her like a senior.
I’ve been tired of the senpai-kohai relationship for the past three years.
It’s fine to call her by her name. This confident, strange girl who I can’t tell whether she’s expressionless or expressive—
—No. But you know what?
Now that I’ve given up on the classroom, which was my last hope, maybe this rooftop is my last chance to make a place for myself. Somewhere in my head, there was a part of me that was thinking that.
I can’t help it. It’s the way of the world.
“Yes, yes…much okay, I got it, Amamori-senpai. I’ll do my best to respect you from now on. Ultra super respect. I’m serious. I’m going to adore you very much.”
“Hm? Is it my imagination that I can’t feel your respect for me in every word you say?”
“Of course it’s your imagination. It is. Amemori-paisen.”
[TLN: Paisen = Senior at school or work.]
“Is that so? That’s fine then. For the time being, I’ll allow you to come to the front of the rooftop only during lunch break. Don’t forget the fact that you are in a lower position. Please polish your juniority skills, okay?”
The gatekeeper standing in front of the door pointed her slender fingertips at me like the muzzle of a gun.
The expression on her face was unnecessarily villainous. It wasn’t perfect because of her beautiful face, but I’ll keep my mouth shut(laugh) for the sake of my Paisen’s honor.
Let’s get it up, you know, the senpai face. I’m good at this kind of thing. Until just two years ago, I was working to make my seniors look good. I was paid zero yen an hour, 24/7.
“So go to the convenience store and buy me some yakisoba bread, kohai. Dash!”
There were two 100 yen coins in the palm of her tiny hand.
“Oh, and be sure to return the change, okay?”
“…I’ll admit that I’m a kohai of yours, but I’m not going to run an errand or anything.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t need you anymore. Please don’t talk to me again today.”
Amamori seemed to have lost interest in me after the money was stuck with her. She started to play with her old generation phone, which was not decorated at all. This is the kind of attitude that is allowed only because she is a senpai.
My mood was somewhat cheerful, despite the fact that I was supposed to hate it.
I didn’t feel like I would ever be able to crawl back up again if I continued to be unrecognized, truly isolated, and dropped out of school once again.
[TLN: Hello everyone, thanks for reading
too bad my school doesn’t have a rooftop! Thank you to Mel for editing. Join discord up above for updates, mess around, and give feedback on chapter.]