Implication 6: Reality


*Credit and thanks goes to corruptedsoul for the poster!

I’m off to search for breakfast before I head off to school. Luckily after walking for a bit, I spot this bakery just at the end of the road. I’m honestly surprised to find a teenage boy at the cashier. I wonder why he’s not going to school at this time. Oh wait, it’s only 7:00 am. Is he that poor or what? I’m honestly confused about his presence. The guy stares me down, making me feel annoyed. I already didn’t sleep last night because I didn’t get a bed yet. I guess I’ll go furniture shopping after class. There’s not much to do for the first week anyways.
I can’t help but scoff, “What? There’s something on my face? Or do you just like to stare at people rudely?”

The kid mumbles, “No . . .”

“Say, aren’t you supposed to be at school?” I begin to interrogate.

His frown deepens as he questions back, “Aren’t you supposed to be at work?”

“Haha!” I laugh too loudly. “Me? Work? Do I look that old, kiddo?”

“Maybe.”

I grab a bun that I spot on one of the shelves and a brownie. Then, I walk towards the cash registrar and tell him, “You’re a funny kid, Nakihara Sentaro.”

“How’d you know—“

“You have a name tag,” I explain.

“Oh . . .”

“So . . . why aren’t you at school?” I slip one of my hands into my pockets while asking.

He presses a few buttons before replying, “That will be 580 yen, and I will go to school soon. It’ll be my last year of high school. Thank god.”

“High school is that bad huh?”

Sentaro nods his head like a robot. “Horrible,” he declares monotonously. “Absolutely pointless and horrible.”

“I take it you don’t have a girlfriend?”

“No, I do.”

“Then what’s so bad about high school?”

“I want to be a pastry chef, but what I’m learning in school is not going to help me in that area.” 

He shoots me a vicious, all-knowing look. I’m kind of reminded of myself, except I’m sure this kid doesn’t rebel much at school. He’s one of those silent, resilient types, who doesn’t say much yet actually has a lot to offer outside of school. I’m thinking to myself that Sentaro hasn’t experienced failure yet. I know I have. I once dreamed of being the best soccer player in Japan, but then realized that I had no talent. I was just a player that knew a few tricks. I wonder now if this kid has skills. I find that if you have talent and determination to fulfill your dream, then you will succeed. If you’re missing either one, you’re lost or are destined to fail.

“Well, here’s your money, and I suggest you treat everything as a learning experience. Maybe your English will be handy if you go study elsewhere for baking,” I clarify and throw the change into the pan. “And you should work on your French if your goal is to go to Paris.”

Surprisingly, Sentaro’s eyes almost pop out. In an elated shout, he utters, “You’re right!” Slapping his forehead, he groans, “Ugh! Why didn’t I think of that? Damn it!”

I can’t believe I’m chuckling but I am. “It’s fine. You still have time, but . . . I bet you’re going to break up with your girlfriend.”

“What?” He almost chokes on his own saliva but manages to cough up a retort. “What are you talking about?”

Relieving a sigh, I note, “Trust me . . . when you graduate, you two will break up. It’s inevitable, especially with that career choice of yours.”

“What’s wrong with being a pastry chef?” Sentaro raises an eyebrow at me.

I try to give him the benefit of the doubt and continue on interrogating, “Is she going to be one too?”

Sentaro shakes his head nervously to answer, “No . . . she’s probably going to be doctor. She’s a really smart girl, you know?”

I snap my fingers to demonstrate my point. “Exactly, and you aren’t going to university are you?”

“N-n-no?”

“Exactly. You’re on two different paths, pal.” My head sways side to side. I feel bad for him really. He’s just a kid. Still, I do my duty and break the news to him: 
“You really think she’s going to stick with someone that doesn’t even have his college degree?”

“In the pastry—“

“You really think her parents would like you?” I cut him off almost too immediately. “They probably want her to marry a doctor. A doctor marrying another doctor sounds awfully good. Don’t you think?”

Avoiding eye contact, Sentaro shrugs his shoulders. “I guess so.”

As I open the door, I look over my shoulder and utter, “Don’t let what I said mess up what you have now. Just enjoy the time you have with her, and when it comes, don’t make me say that I told you so.” 

Just when I finish my sentence, a girl enters through the door. She almost bumps into me, causing me to drop the buns in my hand. I nearly curse at her, but I don’t after realizing that it’s her. It’s Fan Girl. She is going to have breakfast here now? 

“Ah Sumi!” I hear Sentaro’s voice brighten like no tomorrow. “What would you—“

The door shuts all that I can absorb in my ears. I guess I know her name now. Sumi. Honestly, that suits her a lot. Her parents probably wanted a sweet, pure child, and she does seem like the type to have a gentle soul. I can picture her consoling that poor baker boy that has been traumatized by me. What a pitiful, pitiful scene. The damage that I have done is absolutely irreversible. I seriously feel like a villain destined to kill off the hero. So be it, let me be the bearer of bad news and shake the kid to reality. Reality bites, hurts, f.ucking double slaps you, but that’s how the world works.

Sad.

---

I decide to do as Sen has requested. I start visiting his workplace more often. The cupcake was rather delicious; I think he chose the right one for me. What I don’t expect is to find Azuma leaving the place. I hear a bit of his sentence, the last part about enjoying the time Sen had with her and not making Azuma say that he told Sen so. I honestly don’t understand what the two talked about, but once I see Sen’s face, I know something is up.

Even though Sen is greeting me with a smile, he seems too happy to actually be naturally happy. Whatever Azuma did is affecting Sen. Even Sen’s tone is wrong. “Ah Sumi! What would you like today?” Sen asks in a bubbly tone. “The chef has baked this almond croissant and a dark chocolate one. I think the dark chocolate would be better for you. You don’t really look like someone that would like—“

“Sen . . .”

“Yeah? What? You don’t like either? There are also these—“

“Sen, that’s not it,” I cut him off. 

“Then . . . what?”

I can’t believe I’m being nosy here, yet I still wonder, “Did something happen before I came here?”

“No,” Sen tries to lie, “nothing happened.”

I know he’s lying because he can’t face me, and he is touching the back of his neck. Sen is such a bad liar unlike Azuma. I’m sure if Azuma said everything was okay, I’d believe him. “Wh-whatever it is,” I state, “don’t let it get to you.”

There’s a moment of silence between us. Sen is now looking at me intently. I’m a bit anxious to be honest. I’m not used to someone giving me his or her full attention. Then, suddenly, Sen blurts, “Do you think my girlfriend would break up with me after I graduate because I won’t be going to university?”

“Umm . . .”

“She would right?” Sen slumps his shoulders over and rests his elbows on the counter. “I guess what that guy said was right. My girlfriend who’s off to medical school wouldn’t want to stick with someone like me.”

For the first time, I recognize that even someone like Sen could have his own securities. I’m sure he is frequently overshadowed by her brilliance. I imagine her to be smart and beautiful, the type that excelled in everything, and as for Sen, he would seem like her foil. He probably had poor grades at school and didn’t do much for sports. He just had his baking and maybe his looks. Those would never match up with her, and I knew how that felt—to always be the inferior, to always be the outcast and to always be the loser. I don’t want to feel that way anymore. I’ve been trying to prove that my life is meaningful too, that there’s a purpose out there for me. Sen . . . he shouldn’t even have to feel this way. He already has a vision, and I’m sure he has talent or else this chef wouldn’t hire him. Sen just needs to be encouraged, and so I do him a favour like he had done for me.

“Don’t get discouraged,” I reassure him. “Maybe it seems like she’s better than you now, but trust me, I think you’ll be able to fulfill your dream. I have faith in you.”

“But you haven’t even tasted my food?”

“I don’t know, Sen,” I say. “I just . . . have a feeling that you’ll make it. I know you’ll give it your all just like you have been for your relationship right? Even if it doesn’t work out, at least you’ve tried. Just don’t stop trying. And she probably knows all your faults now, so if she has chosen you, then you’re not worse than her.”

Sen buries his head in his arms, mumbling, “I-I-I’m just worried. What if . . . she can’t go on supporting my dream? I want to study in Paris one day, so we’ll be away from each other. I’d love to take her with me, but she’d still be in school. Then what?”

I end up patting Sen’s head. “It’ll be okay, Sen,” I mutter. “You’re not even accepted to Paris yet. I think it’s a bit early to say that.”

Instantly, he looks up to glare at me, reminding me of a fierce cougar about to rip apart its prey. “Hey! I will get to Paris, all right? Don’t look down on me,” he proclaims in a serious tone. 

I believe this is the first time I have ever seen him become so stern. I know now never to doubt his dreams. Sen is the sort that won’t rest unless he accomplishes his goals. He’s the crazy one that will step up even if defeated over and over again; he’ll smile at criticism any time because that’ll make him improve. But, he’ll most definitely frown if you don’t believe in him.

“Sorry,” I murmur softly and lay my head low.

I’m expecting Sen to yell at me or ignore me. Instead, I feel a hand ruffle my hair on the top of my head. Glancing up, I find Sen cheekily smiling. Then, he flashes his tongue at me and chuckles. “I was just playing with you!” he jokes before bursting out in laughter. “Sumi, you take things way too seriously! Chill! Chill!”

I almost want to snap at him, but when I see him grinning away, my anger subsides. I know he doesn’t want to distort the atmosphere; he’d rather everything be out of fun. So, I let him have it his way. “I’m glad you’re all right, Sen,” I inform him.

Politely smiling at me now, he agrees, “Yeah, thank you, Sumi.”

“No, no, I didn’t do anything!” 

I wave my hand at him and back away. The silly me trips over my own feet and lands on my bottom. The floor is made of granite that I end up wincing and groaning in pain while Sen is snickering. Sen still comes over with a chummy face and reaches his hand out to me.

“Here,” he suggests like a gentleman at a ball.

I accidentally pull too hard that Sen loses his balance and falls over. We’re in an extremely awkward position because of his height. I’m buried under his belly button and can barely breathe. I’m sure this looks wrong to whoever that is passing by. What makes matter worse is that Sen moves forward, meaning that I’m getting closer to his crotch.

“S-s-s—“

“What?” he grumbles and after a minute, he realizes what’s happening because of my suffocated voice. Immediately, he rolls over to his back and laughs his heart out.

“Th-th-that wasn’t funny,” I complain, thinking about how gross it was to be near centimetres away from burying my nose in that area. 

As I stand up and wipe the dust off of my jeans, Sen, still on the ground, looks up at me and says, “Thanks Sumi. I owe you one.”

“No, it’s fine. We all have our ups and downs.”

“Well, I won’t be able to sleep on it if I don’t thank you back.” Sen hops on his two feet and flashes a heartwarming smile at me. “How about this? You get to try everything I make, fresh from the batch.”

Somehow that sounds more advantageous to him. Is it really safe to eat Sen’s food? I don’t want to upset him. I don’t really want to be poisoned either. The better part of me wins, and I nod my head. “Sure, that’d be good. Just . . . try not to make me fat.”

“What? You’re on a diet?” Sen eyes me quizzically and then leans almost too close to my face. “Are you . . . in love with someone, Sumi?”

“Wh-wh-what?” I accidentally spit in his eye. He did stand rather close to me. “No!” I shout. “Of course not! Why would I be in love with someone? That’s just—“

“It’s okay to like someone Sumi,” Sen interrupts.

“But that’s not why I want to lose weight.”

“Oh . . . okay.”

“It’s more of a personal improvement sort of thing,” I clarify.

Sen doesn’t seem to believe me, but he still bobs his head up and down. “Okay, well, I’ll help you out too. I’ll get Arisa to take you out shopping!”

“Arisa? Your girlfriend?”

“Yeah, she’ll get you fixed up in no time!”

“Um, it’s okay,” I urge. “I can look at magazines by myself. I mean, I have been studying, and I don’t think your girlfriend would really like me there.”

Sen places his palm over his face and waves his hand at me. “Nonsense! Arisa wouldn’t get jealous over this little thing! Honestly, Sumi, you’re way too serious!”

No, I want to correct Sen. I’m a girl, so I know what girls are thinking. Who would want her boyfriend to suddenly have a friend that’s a girl who also happens to live close to where he works? I really don’t want to spoil their relationship, and Sen honestly doesn’t like me in that way. He’s just the nice kind of guy, who likes to help out. I can imagine him building houses in a developing country if he were not baking.

“Well, I still think it’s a bad idea,” I regurgitate my point, hoping that he’ll understand what I mean.

Unfortunately, Sen is too stubborn and reassures me, “I’ve been dating Arisa since the first year of high school, so I think I know what she’s like. Don’t sweat it. I’ll arrange it to happen, and she’ll thank you for saving her and me! Anyways, give me your phone.”

“Wh-wh-what?”

“I said, give me your phone,” he demands while motioning me to hand over my device with his fingers. I don’t know why I listen to him, but I do what he says. I watch him do a few moves, and then he returns my phone. “There! Now I can send you the date, time, and location of our meeting!” I think he notices my appalled stare for he asks, “What? Why the sad face?”

“No, it’s just that . . .”

“You’re still worried that Arisa will take it the wrong way?” He pats my shoulder a few times before confirming, “Trust me. It’ll be fun! Don’t think too much!”

And that’s how I unexpectedly gain two helpers to help makeover myself. That’s also how I become friends with Sen. He’s really a great guy. Arisa is lucky to have him, and I hope, one day, that I’ll find someone just as good as Sen. I’m not attracted to him in any way, but it would be nice to have a boyfriend that would make others slightly jealous. I’m a bit jealous of Arisa’s luck in high school. All the guys at my school were lame. Well . . . there is someone that might not be that bad. Azuma, you’re really something special, and I’m not sure how you’re doing right now but I think you’ll be just okay. 
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