The novel Chika had lent me this morning still had the warmth of her hand when I touched its cover. I managed to go through a few pages when my friends returned to the classroom, carrying their lunches.
I had to put aside my reading.
A little distance away, Chika was at her desk by the window. I envied how she could eat while reading the book on her lap. She was reading the book that I had lent her last week. She seemed to be enjoying it, judging from those eyes glimmering through the thick glasses. Even though her lips were not moving, her eyes were smiling.
“Harumi, are you listening?” One of my friends’ raised her voice.
“Sorry, what?” I responded.
“We were talking about Chika,” another one said in a whisper. “Don’t you think she’s been acting superior lately? Like, she’s better than everyone else?”
These phrases are how bullies usually start.
“Somebody should teach her her place,” another friend chimed in. The rest of them murmured their agreement.
“Not interested,” I said, resting my face on one hand. “Chika acts like who she is, while we act like who we are. It’s not worth troubling over what she does. So, can we talk about something else?”
All of them looked my way. I could sense their discomfort rising.
“You are right,” one of them finally spoke. “Chika’s weird. But I couldn’t care less about whatever’s going on in her head.”
At that moment, Chika stood up. She always used the restroom before the afternoon class. I saw the book she had left on the desk, with a bookmark near its last page.
I guess it was time to lend her a new book.
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