Silent Spirit

To Pluck a Beautiful Summer Vegetable

It started off with a normal school day. We got up, left early (Mama was still asleep from one of her drunk escapades from the night before) and grabbed one of those cheap convenient store lunches. By the time we finished off the not so convenient meal (it was cheap and unhealthy) the school bell would ring. My brother would grab me and we would soon be running like our lives depended on it before the second bell rung.

Most of the time we'd make it just before the second bell, but sometimes we make it after it rang. It's at the school gates that we'd part, him heading for his favorite hiding spot on the school roof and me heading for the first class of the day.

Sarayashiki Junior High wasn't a very big school. It wasn't a small school either, but it certainly felt crowded at times, especially when all eyes were on you, watching you, judging you. Thankfully I've learned to ignore the stares of most of my classmates and focus on my school work. It didn't help that my brother's knack for getting into trouble and street fighting carried over to me, making me stand out almost as much as him. And that often made me the target of some of the cowardly teachers.

Classes seem to go by slowly, even more so when I almost let the pressure of my classmates' stares bother me (it also didn't help when some of the bullying teachers made snide remarks about me or my twin brother). All the pressure seem to dissipate when the bell rang around lunchtime. Many of my classmates would either eat in the courtyard or they would go eat in other classrooms with their friends. Very few stayed in the classroom, which didn't bother me. I was used to it. The less they bother me, the better I guess.

As I finished off the remainder of the lunch that I bought earlier this morning (It was a miracle that my silly brother remembered to buy us both something for lunch every morning), the door opened, but I didn't look up because it could've been one of my classmates returning for their belongings before the bell for the afternoon classes rings.


I jumped at hearing my name being called, and I looked up in time to see a girl with dark brown hair and equally dark brown eyes standing in the doorway. Her shoulder-length hair was pulled back into two pigtails, making her angry expression the more evident. I almost wanted to slouch down on my desk so she wouldn't see me, but she would've found me anyways. Keiko was that good at sniffing me and my brother out (figuratively speaking of course).

Something told me she wasn't angry at me, that she was angry at him. Maybe it was how her cheeks were puffed out and her hands were on her hips. Only one person could ever make my childhood friend this mad.

"Where is your brother?" Keiko asked almost too angrily, forgetting to sign it at me (it didn't matter though because I could hear perfectly--Sign language was just my only way of communicating with others, besides writing on paper or just pointing at random and waving my hands like crazy). It was understandable that Keiko didn't sign when angry, she was angry, even I forget how to sign when anger takes a hold of me.

Feeling a bit relieved that Keiko wasn't angry at me, I pointed up at the ceiling before speaking.

"On the roof. Where else?" I signed at her, with a strained smile.

Keiko sighed with a frown. "Of course, I should've known. He always goes up to the roof to skip classes." She muttered, "I swear he's so selfish, thinking that just coming to school makes everything alright."

I watched as she breathed in deeply, noticing the yellow ribbon on her blue uniform rising as she did so before she opened her eyes. The look in Keiko's eyes softened as she looked at me. It wasn't one of sympathy, just one of the sisterly variety. It was as though for the first time she noticed I was eating alone in an empty classroom.

Keiko looked around before speaking. "Why're you eating alone?" She asked but then that irritated look returned to her eyes as they hardened from the next thought passing through her mind. "You haven't' been bullied again, have you?"

I just shook my head in response and she seemed to let out a sigh of relief, the usual gentle friendly warmth returning to her face.

"I'm glad." She said softly before making her way to the door. She stopped once she reached it and her brown gaze met mine. "By the way, Principal Takanaka's been looking for you and Yusuke."

"You might want to go see him before he gets worried." She added before walking out, her footsteps pounding against the floor as she did so.

I just breathed a sigh of relief, not knowing that I had been so tense. Keiko seemed to get mad so easily, even though she had every right to be angry thanks to my brother, Yusuke.

He was the kind of guy that makes one both mad and like him at the same time. That is if anyone saw the more compassionate, kinder, gentler side that I and Keiko get to see, that I get to witness at home 24/7.

A small, but silent groan left my lips as I rested my head on my desk, making the little plastic container that had once held my food fall to the floor, scattering the little bits of rice and vegetables that I didn't eat.

If it was one thing I disliked about the convenient store meals. it was the vegetables. I disliked the vegetables thanks to the second meaning of my name, Pick vegetables.

Just why did my mother have to give me this silly name? It's because of the second meaning that a lot of other kids picked on me as a kid, telling me to go pick vegetables or something immature like that. As a result, I became picky about eating vegetables. Yusuke would often scold me for not eating my vegetables, telling I may never get a voice (He said that because of my inability to speak---we used to think that if I ate a lot of vegetables, the nutrients would heal my throat but we were wrong).

"You gotta eat the stupid vegetables or else you won't get strong. Either that you'll be a shorty forever!"

Yusuke's voice was teasing, the laughter behind his words warm and kind at the same time. The memory of my brother saying that made me groan more.

"Oniichan." I groaned in an automatic response, even though I only mouthed the words. How I want to communicate normally with other people. Maybe then I could stand up to all the idiotic students who speak badly of my brother and mom and maybe, just maybe I could tell my loved ones how much I appreciate them.
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So, I didn't mean for this chapter to be a bit on the boring side, but, I'm trying to find some common ground for me to stick to the show's plotline while coming up with my own scenes to throw in. I'm not going to write out every single scene from the show because that would be tedious as hell. And this whole story is from Natsumi's viewpoint so it may take a bit before I can get into either my own original plot line or jump into the first "arc" of the anime (but it shouldn't be that much longer, honestly).

Anyways time for the notes and terms!

Oniichan - like I said in the last chapter, Onii is the term for big brother, -chan is a suffix generally used for girls and children but in some cases it can be added onto people's names to symbolize their relationship. In Natsumi's case, she's close with Yusuke so she calls him Oniichan.
Natsumi - I've already stated the meaning of her name but this particular chapter explains the second meaning, "Plucking/picking vegetables/greens."
Natumi's lunch - Not a term but typically the lunch Natsumi had was a typical lunch with riceballs and vegetables. (something like this)