That day I quickly excused myself from the class once the lecture ended, hoping to avoid any unnecessary further contact. Still, that didn’t stop Kazama from smiling and waving at me each time he saw me after, nor did it prevent him from sitting next to me and chatting at the beginning of each class. He was extremely talkative and friendly, not only towards me but to anyone around him, and I soon learned that he could keep a conversation going even if I had nothing much to say in return. As such, that became the usual form of our interactions, and though I was still uncomfortable at his presence, that fact did give me a sense of relief. When I had gone by the first few days of school without any major accidents, I became both a little satisfied and secured, but also apprehensive about when my anger might catch me off-guard. Although it wasn’t really surprising, I was disgruntled to find that the answer would be very soon.
Upon starting my second week of classes, I found myself bumping into a small group of students shortly after my lecture ended on the way back to my apartment. I had been lost in my thoughts, and collided with one of them, who was stumbling a little back and forth in his saunter. I eyed him and his group, taking in their disheveled appearances with a bit of concern. I should stay away from them…
The boy who had crashed into me looked at me distastefully, spitting out his words. “Hey, that f****** hurt. Watch where you’re going, won’t you?”
I said nothing in response.
“F***, not going to respond, huh?” he yelled, grabbing my collar. “I said that f****** hurt!”
At the close distance, I noticed a slightly unusual scent coming from him, and suddenly I was aware of why he and his friends seemed so disorderly. My patience was slowly draining, but I reminded myself that it would be better to simply walk away, to avoid them.
Gritting my teeth, I muttered, “...Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.” I couldn’t bring myself to make eye contact with him, and though it wasn’t particularly strong, the smell began to make me feel a bit nauseated.
He gripped my collar tighter. “You think that’s how to apologize?” he snarled. “You’re not getting away with that, you b******.”
He threw his fist at my face, his entire weight put into the punch, but I quickly moved my arm to block it. The impact of his hit left a stinging sensation on my arm, and my reasoning snapped. I glared at him, the nauseating sensation drowned away by the black that crawled its way into my mind. I lunged at him, crazed, and briefly remembered feeling his companions grabbing my arms, trying to keep me away from him. Their fingers gripped and dug into my skin before I threw them off, and took them each down one by one.
When I returned to my senses, I was exhausted, my muscles feeling the pricks of pain from where I had been grabbed, along with the soreness that was a result of having not fought in a while. After a moment’s pause, I picked up my bag which had fallen to the ground, and stepped over the bodies that I had knocked out, continuing on my way. Gazing forward at a nearby building, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a window, where I looked just as unkempt and dirty as the people I had left on the ground. I brought my gaze to the floor, ashamed, and couldn’t help but feel a rush of self-loathing. As I made my way out of the university campus, those feelings ebbed and flowed in my mind, leaving me in a half-conscious state. I did it again. I had tried my best, but it was all in vain. Why do I still cling to this hope? Is it even possible for me to change?
I paused at a light before crossing a road. My eyes briefly scanned over a board next to me, half-seeing, half-blind. The signal changed, and I was about to head into the street when I noticed one particular flyer pinned on the board. Brought back to consciousness, I took a better look at it, letting the countdown go off on its own. It was an introduction to an on-campus clinical therapist. I stared at it for a while a bit skeptically, before I took out my phone and snapped a picture of it. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go, but I had also just been faced with the harsh reality of my own capabilities.
Even if I can’t help myself, would it be alright to hope that someone else can show me the way? I looked at the picture in my phone for a moment, and then closed my phone and slipped it into my pocket. Scratching my head, lost in thought, I made my way across the street.