(Title – 苦 – Ku – Hardship, Part 2)
When Kichirō arrived home in the afternoon, he did not know how to tell his parents about this — especially his mom.
“Son, prepare the table for dinner,” Akihiko said.
Kichirō was staring blankly. He was overwhelmed by what is happening lately.
“Didn’t you hear your father?” Fumiko yelled.
Kichirō woke up from his temporary daze. “I’m sorry, Okāsan. I was thinking about something. Ano…”
“What’s wrong again?” Fumiko frowned.
“Eto… Okāsan, our student council teacher wants to talk with you and Otōsan tomorrow in the afternoon,” Kichirō was fidgeting.
“What did you do this time again?” Fumiko’s face was dark and gloomy.
“It’s… Ano… Someone reported that I stole our school funds.”
The atmosphere in the dining room became ominous. The air became seemingly heavy as the once busy room became incomparably quiet… So quiet that it was deafening.
Then a loud sound came over. Fumiko slapped Kichirō again. “Are you really my son?!? What did I do wrong for you to give our family such shame? We gave you enough money and you dared to steal money from others. How dare you!”
“Honey, calm down. It’s not yet proven, is it Kichirō?”
Kichirō was holding onto his cheek that was slapped by his mother. The once pale cheek became ruddy and swollen. “I don’t know Otōsan. I don’t know. Please just kill me! I don’t know what I did in my previous life to deserve all of this,” Kichirō cried and loudly sobbed.
Without waiting for their response, Kichirō ran out of their house. He only had one thing in his mind — to see Shirō. Shirō was the only person who understood him. He knew that he already bid farewell to Shirō but he was already helpless. He didn’t know what to do.
He was crying along the way. People were already staring at him but he didn’t mind. He ran and ran until he reached Shirō’s neighborhood. I should have agreed with him when he said we should have eloped. I should have fought for him. He was the only one who understood me… Why did I let him go?
It was around 9 pm when he got to Shirō’s apartment. He knocked on the gate, loud enough for the next-door neighbors to hear.
After a few minutes of waiting, the gate opened. It was Oe-san.
“Oh, Kichirō dear, what brought you here?” Mrs. Oe looked puzzled. “What happened to your face?”
“Nothing. Is Shirō around?”
“Uhm, he’s inside.”
Kichirō did not wait for Mrs. Oe to invite him to come in. He immediately went inside their house. He went upstairs and knocked on Shirō’s door.
“Shi-kun, let me in. I want to talk with you!” Kichirō shouted.
Kichirō continued knocking. “I know you’re in there. Obasan said you’re here. Please, let me in!” He pleaded.
A moment later, the door opened. “What are you doing here?” Shirō asked.
“Please, let me talk with you. I don’t want to live anymore. My life has been ruined. Let’s… Let’s run away together!” Kichirō wailed.
“I’m sorry, Kichirō. We already talked about this. As much as I want to be with you, we can’t be together right now because of our circumstances. You were the one who told me that no matter what happens, I shouldn’t welcome you back unless we are both free from our families. I’ll walk you home. It’s already late. You’re parents will become angrier if you continue being like this.”
The two walked side by side, both not uttering a single word. Deep inside, their minds and souls has been completely torn by the pressure that they have been going through.
“We’re here,” Shirō said and walked away.
Kichirō looked back and ran after the other. He hugged Shirō from his back. “Please wait for me, Shi-kun.”
Kichirō let go of him. He watched Shirō walk away until he could no longer see his silhouette. What have I done?
The following day, Kichirō was nervous as he thought about what will happen in the afternoon once his parents talked with their teacher. He knew that he was innocent but somehow, he could not help but worry because of the lies that will be fabricated by the conspirators who reported him.
He decided to stop by the student council office first to check on some files he needed to work on. He wanted to check on the records to look for proof that he was innocent.
As he traversed the hallways, he came across a few fellow students. They were eyeing him, as if they wanted to shoot daggers at him. Traces of disgust could be seen on their faces as they murmured amongst themselves. Kichirō ignored this and approached them to greet them.
“Oha–” he was about to greet them good morning when they left in a hurry. Kichirō was puzzled so that he scratched his head thinking about what just happened. He shook his head and lightly slapped his cheeks. “It’s not you. They may have been in a hurry to do something,” he muttered.
He continued walking and suddenly, he noticed a weird pattern. He ignored this at first, thinking that it was just some announcements. When he looked at the walls, he noticed there were posts of the same photo. It was him being embraced by Shirō! There were notes written on each saying “I’m the faggot school president.” His face darkened and he felt his knees became weak so that he helplessly flopped to the floor.