Student: Kato Ren
Student ID: KATO*R240BM
Grade Level: 10
MONDAY – AM: Pre-Calculus/Chemistry; PM: World History/Sports
TUESDAY – AM: English 2/World Literature; PM: Japanese/Sports
WEDNESDAY – AM: Pre-Calculus/Chemistry; PM: World History/Sports
THURSDAY – AM: English 2/World Literature; PM: Japanese/Sports
FRIDAY – AM: Music Theory/The Arts; PM: Sports
—Weekly Schooling Schedule for student Kato Ren
Following the little map, Kato arrived at room 10D. He peeked in and saw that there were only a few seats left. He looked at the clock and there were still 15 minutes left. Damn, how do they do it? As Kato was contemplating how the students got here so early, he was shoulder-bumped out of the way by a much taller boy who went into the classroom. He was sure that was intentional. Wouldn’t be much of a school without dickheads like that, he thought. The jerk took a seat, middle-right of the class. That left only two more seats: one on the left side of the room, third row, and one on the left corner at the back. A chill ran down Kato’s spine as he was pretty damn sure whose seat that was. No way in fuck I’ll sit there, he thought to himself.
The room was full of noisy chatter as Kato walked into the room. He got quite a few stares and the noise level in the classes plummeted. Well, he’s the new kid, that happens, he surmised, but why does everyone have to stop talking when I enter the room? Then he heard a couple of students say to each other, “Takahashi-san’s new uke.” That phrase sent a small ripple of panic through Kato’s already worn-out heart. He approached his seat, looked at the students about and politely asked, “Is this seat taken?” They all shook their heads. He put his stuff on the desk and sat down, hoping he would disappear. Strangely, that is precisely what happened. The boys started talking up and again, goofing around, telling bawdy jokes, and Kato was pretty much ignored.
With ten minutes left before class started, he began looking over the orientation papers. It said that each grade level had 4 classes, comprised of a max of 30 students each. Classroom assignments change quarterly. The morning and afternoon classes are broken up into 90-minute sessions. The instructors rotate rooms while the students remain. There is a 10-minute break between sessions. The last class of the day is always Physical Education. Students will report to the Sports Complex for this class.
Looking at the schedule, being a Thursday, it was English 2. Fuck…he thought to himself. It was his worst class. Kato believed that English was the worst language ever because it’s so damned arbitrary. He hated remembering all these little rules, and then the exceptions to those rules, and the exceptions to the exceptions. It drove his little mind mad. He was exceptional at math and science. He loved how simple it was to remember a formula, apply it, problem solved. English was anything but that. Smush a bunch of scribbles together and guess at how it’s pronounced, thought Kato, is the most absurd way to communicate. He hated vowels. It seemed inane to him to have to look at a word, figure out what is before the vowel, after the vowel, or even clear at the end of a word to figure how the damn vowel is pronounced. A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y? Sometimes? WTF?—
Kato was snapped out of his mental English ranting as happened to look up and see Takahashi waltz into the room. How comes the room doesn’t get quiet when HE enters? Kato snidely thought. Takahashi walked toward his desk and looked down, and making eye contact for the briefest moment as he passed by. Kato was actually somewhat glad that there was no communication between them. He still saw Takahashi as a dangerously wild wolf waiting to eat up a defenseless rabbit. Even if the wolf did give the rabbit a carrot at breakfast this morning, he was still unconvinced.
Precisely at 8:00, the familiar Westminster Chime announced that school was in session and Sister Mary entered the room. One of the students spoke loudly, “Stand.” Everyone stood. Then he said, “Bow.” All of the students bowed and said, “Good Morning.” The Sister replied with “Good Morning” and gave a bow. Then she followed it up with “Be seated.”
“Class, today we have two new students. They will come up here and introduce themselves. Murata-san, please step forward.” The class watched a boy stand and go to the front of the class. He turned around and addressed the class, “My name is Sōta Murata.*” Kato recognized him as one of the two boys he saw when he was picking up his school uniform.
[* In Japanese, his name is 村田 颯太, Murata Sōta, but for English readers, I put it first/last]
Sister Mary had a few questions for Murata, but Kato wasn’t listening. He was focused on something else: the swollen eye Murata had. Kato wondered if this was the result of the seme/uke thing. Could his seme have attacked him? He pondered. He felt a great swell of pity for the boy. Then he started thinking of himself. That could have been me. Thankfully Takahashi chose me, so I didn’t get beat up. Kato’s brain came to a screeching halt. Thankfully? What the fuck am I thinking? I don’t need him to—
The classroom applauded, interrupting Kato’s ruminating. “Kato-san, you’re next,” Sister Mary announced. “Please have a seat Murata-san.” Kato got up and went to the front of the class. He turned and gave a bow and announced his name, “I’m Ren Kato.” He heard someone say “rabbit” on the side of the room causing the students to giggle.
“Quiet down,” Sister Mary said. “Kato-san, tell us a little about yourself. Do you like sports?”
Kato nodded, then immediately blurted out “Yes.” He felt the back corner of the room darken and could imagine piercing red eyes of death watching him. He made absolutely sure he did not look into that corner.
“I see. Are you particularly good at any?”
“No.” This cause another ripple of giggles to spread through the class.
“Oh, come on. There must be something you’re good at.”
“I like ping pong,” he stupidly replied. More giggles.
“Well, that’s a sport! We do have tables in the Sports Complex. But maybe try some other ones while you are there.” Sister Mary gave Kato a reassuring smile and asked, “Do you like to read books?”
“Yes,” was all he said as he just stood there looking like an idiot. Even more giggles.
“Math.” Still more giggles. Seriously, it’s all he could think of on the spot! With each question and answer, Kato’s face became a shade redder.
“Ok, ok class. Give him a round of applause. Take a seat, Kato-san.” Everyone clapped but a few still giggled while doing so. Ren put his head down and walked briskly back to his seat to hide. He didn’t look up once. The person he wanted to hide from the most only sat two seats back. As he faced forward, his face on fire, he also felt that the back of his head was on fire as those glowing evil eyes of evil were no doubt attempting to burn a hole through Kato’s head.
The rest of English class went smoothly, much to Kato’s surprise. As much as he hated English, at least everyone was super busy, which afforded him a moment’s peace. Sister Mary spent time helping him find his place in the new textbook he was assigned and bringing him up to speed on what she expects of students, assignments, homework, and so on. Kato thought that Sister Mary seemed like a rather kind lady. He wondered why she had such a bad reputation.