Otorimonogatari : 005

If you had to put the blame on someone, then, well, it wasn’t anyone’s fault, really — but if I must give a name, put someone’s name down in an anonymous vote on what exactly the cause of this situation had been, then I think everyone here would point to that swindler, Kaiki Deishuu-san.

Of course.

Oh, it may sound like I know this man, but I’ve never met him before.

I didn’t just know him.

He was extremely important in my case, a VIP.

If you took away my family, Koyomi Onii-chan and Tsukihi-chan, he would be the one who’d made the biggest impression in my life — it was because of him that Nadeko’s life began to come apart, after all.

He unhinged my life. It fell apart.

……

Oh, is it words like these that make me sound like a victim?

I really shouldn’t, let me try again.

Only the things around Nadeko came apart.

All the unhinging, and the falling apart,

it was all in the surrounding, not in Nadeko.

Nadeko has always lived like this, even before Kaiki-san came — just like now, just like the present, with nothing ever changing.

It’s just that,

now the classmates around Nadeko — now everyone was the same as me. That’s all.

That’s why, really, it’s my classmates who are the victims.

This might be going a bit off topic, but it’s necessary for the telling of this story, so let’s talk a little about the past.

In summary,

June was when it all began.

Well, it was actually the first page of Kaiki-san’s Swindling Case File — I don’t really know much of the details, so a part of this will just be what I heard from Tsukihi-chan, from the Fire Sisters of Tsuganoki No.2 Middle School.

Kaiki-san is a psychic who formally calls himself a ‘Ghostbuster’.

Simply put, he is a colleague of Oshino-san, but the nature of his work was a bit different in that Kaiki-san devoted all of his spiritual abilities to making money.

It might be too explicit to call him a fake medium.

But these things probably should be made explicit here.

To conduct his business this year, he decided to take root in our town — Kaiki-san’s target was the middle school students of the area.

Although, to be a bit more explicit, what he actually spread wasn’t roots, but a spider’s web.

His scam involved selling fake charms to an unspecified number of middle-schoolers — to be clear, it didn’t cost a large sum of money.

You could manage it on your allowance.

It was small profits for quick returns, from the Kaiki book of business.

There were some who spent way too much on them, but then of course, the Fire Sisters would do something about that — although as the months passed by, it seemed like the real problems came with the majority of the sales by those who could manage it on an allowance, the ones that no one thought would turn out badly.

That’s right.

They would have been better off if something did happened to them — like what happened to Nadeko.

I think that’s exactly why Nadeko — why I could still live in the same way, at the same pace, without a change in my mood (which is to say, still quiet and shy).

They say that having an incident properly resolved is, in a way, an important ritual in itself — and that’s why,

that’s why, those who didn’t have an incident and just let the ritual pass them by — the classmates who just let things settle down by themselves, now live their school life carrying a sense of heaviness.

I probably won’t ever be able to put a finger on and explain what this ‘heaviness’ is if I kept wording everything so ambiguously, so I will be a bit more frank — basically,

‘Who likes who’

‘Who hates who’

‘Who thinks what about who’

‘Who wants to do what to who’

in our class, all of these ‘thoughts’ the classmates had towards one another, details more personal than even our dates of birth, were completely exposed.
+
The ‘charms’ that Kaiki-san spread around were aimed at middle-schoolers, so most of them had something to do with relationships — that’s why.

Besides, the ‘charms’ that Kaiki-san sold really were fake, so the majority of them had no effect at all — so we were left with zero results, only all of the intents behind them.

They found out what someone they assumed was a friend really thought about them, and the ulterior motives behind everyone who had been kind — there was no way for past relationships to continue to exist, and no way to for anyone to keep getting along the same as before.

…Well, you can imagine how this ended.

Of course, Kaiki-san wasn’t trying to destroy all these relationships on purpose — the only thing he wanted was our money.

It was just business.

And it wasn’t like Kaiki-san was going after our class specifically — he targeted all the middle-schoolers in town.

I wonder if it was just a twist of fate. No, it probably wasn’t something so over-the-top, but just a regular coincidence — for whatever reason, those ‘charms’ Kaiki-san sold were extremely popular in Nadeko’s class.

If it was the flu, our school would be locked down right now.

The result from all of this is our current school life of melancholy — with everyone on edge, feeling heavy, and unable to have a true heart-to-heart talk with anyone else. A class that was peaceful only on the surface.

No matter what anyone said, it only made people think. What if it’s a lie? What if it’s just an act? What if he doesn’t mean it —

No incidents occurred.

Nothing happens in this class.

Everyone just pretends to be asleep in this class.

Nobody does anything in this class.

I’m sure everyone is looking forward to changing to a different class next year — it can’t be worse than it is now, so I can’t say I didn’t want that, either.

I do wonder if something could be done.

But I think that nothing could be done.

It’s too late for anything to be done.

“……”

Good morning.

Nadeko thought about saying this, of course giving up in the end, and just crept into the classroom, wordlessly, as always — some of my classmates would turn to look at me creeping in, and some wouldn’t react at all, but I didn’t really care any more.

Nadeko was used to it.

I was used to this feeling, like I just walked from the platform onto the train.

Hunching a bit to keep myself from standing out, I headed for my own seat.

I have to get ready for a quiz during this morning’s home-room class.

“……”

…Nadeko didn’t scream this time.

It was the third time, after all.

I was in the middle of the classroom — wouldn’t it be strange to suddenly scream while you’re sitting on the train?

And while this is the third time I felt like screaming today, it’s only the second time I have seen a snake.

From inside Nadeko’s desk — this time, the white snake clearly appeared.

It slipped out, creeping, and bared its fangs.

But then it quickly disappeared.

Nadeko sat down as though nothing happened and prepared for the quiz — well, maybe Nadeko wouldn’t have screamed even if this was the first time.

Our entire class had already been firmly bound by one snake.

None of us would scream from another twisting around us — not unless it tries to bite.

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