Open Wound

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The next day at school, no one would talk to you. They were too busy talking about you behind their hands, only giving you the odd side-glance or dirty look. You had no idea what could have happened overnight, but you had a hunch Minoru had something to do with it.

You had no idea what she told the student body you said or did, but you were a pariah among your peers.

It wasn't all bad, though. Hinata, Kimiko, and Oshiro were included on the list of people not talking to you. Minoru floated by your locker that morning as if you never even met before, as if you were complete strangers, followed by her posse, who were not so good at pretending.

Hinata looked at you longingly, like she wanted nothing more than to run up for a quick hug before homeroom. Kimiko looked annoyed, on the cusp of anger but not quite over the edge. Oshiro... Oshiro looked like she understood. Like she knew what you were doing and approved.

And she should. This is what she wanted for you from the beginning. To get out of the group, safe and sound.

What did she tell you? You wondered. Was it any different than what she told the rest of the school? Then... Good. Stay away from me.

You slammed your locker shut and hurried to class, where you actually paid attention for once. Minoru didn't look at you once throughout World History.

She practically radiated you-can't-sit-with-us vibes, and you didn't want to have lunch with those girls anymore even if she didn't, so you took your homemade lunch and ate it in your homeroom rather than the cafeteria.

Then there was Study Hall. Once used for reading with Hinata in the library, you now spent the period in the classroom, actually studying.

Your mom started picking you up at the end of each school day in hopes of alleviating some of the bullying. It certainly made you feel safer than walking home alone.

You developed a pattern and stuck to it for a couple days without having to interact with any of the girls you were avoiding.

You were trying your best to wrap your head around the very concept of Calculus when Hinata appeared out of nowhere and knocked on your desk.

"Sorry, sorry! I know I'm interrupting. I just... I just wanted to talk to you," she whispered in the quiet classroom.

"Are you even supposed to be talking to me right now?"

"Well, um, actually... No. But I have something important to say, so I'm doing it anyway."

"Say what you need to say." So you can leave went unsaid, but you thought it was pretty well implied by how she wilted under your blank gaze.

Nevertheless, she took a deep breath and continued, "Okay, so listen... Whatever you said to Minoru, just apologize. She's not going to let you back in the group until you do."

"And what if I don't want back in the group?" You asked, a touch too loud, just to see her shiver and look around the classroom as if Minoru would materialize out of thin air to scold her for talking to you.

"Ex- Excuse me?" She gave you a shocked look, like you had just said something unthinkable.

So you repeated it. "I don't want back in the group."

"Aina... If you don't come back to the group, we can't be friends."

"Then it looks like we aren't friends!" You snapped. She was on the verge of tears now. You swallowed hard around the lump in your throat. You had to remind yourself that this girl stalked you, put a camera in your room, had been stealing your stuff to litter her little shrine. "Now you should go. I have studying to do."

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