-Chapter 7: What makes us smile-
"Well, you see, doc... we don't know what's wrong with her."
My father addressed the lean man in a white coat in usual laid back tone. There was a hint of anxiety in his voice. The doctor nodded as he continued to listen. My mother casually sat in her seat with a tensed expression, twiddling her thumbs in anticipation and uneasiness.
"I see," the doctor said, standing up from his leather chair to get a better look at me. He smiled gently. "Don't worry, little lady. We'll find out what you're Problem is."
I heard that word countless times. Even today I still hear it. People say there is something wrong with me, that I am not normal. I've never seen anything wrong with me at all.
I enjoyed reading books. It didn't matter what genre or what subject they were about. Seeing the various words to the top professional to most unusual enlightened me more than television or chatter.
And that exactly was my Problem, so to say. I never wished to talk to anyone, not even my own family. All I wanted to do was read. Was that so wrong?
"I'm telling you there's nothing wrong with our daughter!"
"Why are you in so much denial?! Can't you see there's something wrong with her?! I'm doing this for her sake!"
My parents argued back and forth. My mother believed there was absolutely nothing wrong with me. She said I was a smart girl who simply read better than children my age.
My father, on the other hand, didn't. He strongly believed the doctor's words that I was diagnosed with Hyperlexia, a condition where I was fascinated with letters and words yet had difficulty with spoken language.
I was gifted, yet cursed.
Eventually, my mother took me and we left father to live alone by himself. We moved to an urban city where few people lived next to us.
It was fine with me since I never bothered to talk with anyone. Some days I would indoors and others outside. I attended school like normal and lived a quiet, peaceful life.
However, one day my world changed. Someone invaded my world of literature, dragging me into the real world.
"Hello there!" a girl around my age approached me, sprouting a fancy white sundress, "I'm your new neighbor! My name is Angelina Kaneko, it's nice to meet you!"
I groaned. I hated being interrupted from a good book and shot an irritated glare at the girl. But when I looked at her face, my glare vanished instantly.
She was outstandingly beautiful. Her smile was as bright and warm as the sun. She had blue eyes that contained the utmost sense of innocence.
One thing struck me as odd though. Her right arm in a cast, her hand wrapped in bandages.
"W-What happened to you?"
"Oh this," she looked down at her injured arm as if she just remembered it, "My papa said I hurt my hand and elbow when I fell down, so he took me to the doctor and got this for me."
"Said you're hurt? What does that mean?"
"I didn't know I broke something. My fingers were bent oddly, but I didn't feel anything."
I simply gazed at her confused. I had no idea what she was talking about yet I was so intrigued by her.
Somehow, I became less and less focused my books and more on what was around me. Angelina.
She came by nearly every day, wearing that same radiant smile of hers and having a new injury on her body. She was so clumsy, always getting hurt. I couldn't help not paying attention her.
Her parents were worried sick about her condition whenever she was out, so I took the responsibility of watching over her. I didn't like to see her get hurt.
On one occasion, she fell down a tree in an attempt to climb it and broke many bones in her legs. Yet, she still smiled without showing any indication of pain. I wondered if she was brushing it off so she wouldn't cry in front of me.
However, there was one time she did cry. It was at her mother's funeral. She never understood what pain felt like until that moment. Yet, I still couldn't why she couldn't feel pain before.
I didn't understand until I reached high school. She was just like me. We both had our own Problems.
One day, a man in a black suit by the name of Mr. G came by and told us one simple thing.
We were unfit for society and were to attend the School for Looneys by the order of the Japanese Government.
We had no choice in the matter. I figured my mother would rebuttal his claim, but she agreed without so much a word of disagreement. Angelina's parents reacted in the same way.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I had to leave my school behind and my mother had no problem with it.
Did I end up in an altered dimension?
We didn't know the answers behind this sudden change in our lives, but I was relieved that was going along with someone I knew. Someone I held dear in my heart.
My face turned bright red, eyes glancing back between at her and the floor of my room. I had to say it. I couldn't keep this bottled up anymore. We've known one another since we were children. We were childhood friends who shared similar likes and interests.
Out of all the people who let me be alone in my own world, she invaded it and I couldn't have been happier. She dragged me out of my shell I thought was paradise but was truly my prison. She showed me kindness I've never received, happiness I've never felt, and sympathy I've never seen.
She was best friend and still is... but I wanted to be more than friends. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.
"I-I love you."
I knew this kind of love was forbidden, yet I didn't care. I confessed and there was no turning back...
Angelina stood over Adena's bed, lightly shaking her. The morning sun shone through the curtains of the vice president's room.
"Hmm..." Adena groaned, refusing to rise from her bed.
The president smiled, leaning close to her ear, "If you don't get up, I'm going to kiss you awake." she teased.
Much to Angelina's surprise, she rolled towards her and puckered her lips.
Adena opened her eyes and smirked upon seeing Angelina's red face, "What's wrong? I thought you were going to kiss me awake?"
The president smiled back, amused. "You're not usually this willing, but if you insist..."
Angelina leaned forward, pressing her lips against Adena's. After a moment, they parted and gazed sweetly into each other's eyes.
Looking at her clock on the wall, Adena's eyes widened and she sat up to scurry to her dresser, "Ah, we're going to be late!"
"I was just about to tell you that." Angelina said, attempting to avert her eyes.
"Well, if you hadn't began playing around, we..." Adena stopped mid sentence when she realized she was in her underwear. "G-Get out!" she demanded, while pushing Angelina out of her room, blushing heavily.
"There's no need to be so embarrassed," Angelina giggled as she left, "It's not like I haven't already seen you..."
"Q-Quit being such a pervert!" With that, Adena slammed the door shut behind her. Sighing, she readied to get dressed for school. If only my girlfriend wasn't such so pervy...
After a few minutes, the couple departed from the house and left towards the School for Looneys. The walk was calm and peaceful as ever since not many would walk through to the direction of the school.
Adena attempted to put a silent treatment act for Angelina's actions back in her room, but she couldn't stay mad at her no matter how hard she tried. "Today we're going to class, right?"
"Yes," Angelina nodded, "It has been some time since we've been in there. Student council work can be tiresome at times."
"Especially when we're investigating the school's background at the same time." Adena added.
Angelina crossed her arms over her chest in deep thought. After a moment, she said, "We should speak with Madison again. I'm willing to bet we both have information we'd like to discuss."
After dealing with student council assignments in the morning, the two entered the classroom, expecting to be welcomed with shouts of joy. However, they could only stare on in disbelief by what they saw.
The classroom was a mess to say the least. It looked like an explosion gave off, charring the floors and ceiling in smut as smoke lingered in the air and escaped through the broken windows.
Their classmates were relatively fine, aside from having soot all over their clothing.
"W-What happened here?" Angelina asked, glancing around to check on the condition of the others.
"Oh, hey, Angelina," Nicandro waved at her, with a smile nonetheless, "Alfred's machine over here unfortunately blew up... again."
Lying motionless in the middle of the room was a medium sized machine. From its broken appearance, it looked like a robot with four arms.
"Nice work, nerd." King glared at Alfred, who was staring at his destroyed machine with a sadden expression, "You're lucky no one got hurt from your mistake."
"Shut up," Alfred muttered. He picked up one of the robot's arms, looking as if his life's work went down the drain.
King simply scoffed, brushing soot off of his cape.
"Well, I'm glad everyone is alright," the president said.
"Angelinaaaa!" Cecilia sang happily as she walked towards her. "I missed my favorite president, but I must make sure it's you!"
Cecilia began her examination by touching her face, but only just for a moment. She then slowly made her down to her chest.
However, before she touch it, Adena hoisted her arms up. "I don't think a full identification is necessary, Cecilia." she said with a sheepish smile.
"Wow, you were quick to stop me, weren't you?" Cecilia replied with a teasing smirk.
The classroom sliding door opened. Everyone turned to see Madison enter with an expression quite like Alfred's.
"Oh, hey, Madison," Nicandro said, "you alright?"
Madison snapped out of her thoughts. "Hmm? Huh?" It took her a moment to realize Adena and Angelina were in a classroom and smiled, but she then noticed the condition of the classroom and frown.
"It's a long story," Nicandro said. "So how did your search go?"
"Oh, um," Madison glanced down at the charred floor to collect her thoughts, "Mr. Iven said he'll be back in a little bit."
"You sure about that?" King asked, "You look like something is eating you. Wanna talk about it?"
"I'm fine. I'm just..."
The door slid open again. This time, Mr. Iven strolled into the classroom, whistling a merry tune. He stopped once he noticed the classroom.
After a moment to look around, he turned to Adena and Angelina. "Oh, welcome back, you two." he greeted with an untroubled smile.
"He doesn't have anything to say about this?" Dina questioned, dumbfounded.
"Okay, class, let's..." the teacher stopped himself. "Just stand and pay attention. I have an important announcement to make about our future activities."
The class all stared at him.
"I know we haven't done much lately, " he began, "but that's because I've been making an effort to convince the school to fund something. Thankfully, after how knows how many hours, I've accomplished my goal! In a matter of days, we'll be having our first class trip !"
The students responded with gasps of delight and shock.
"That is correct," Mr. Iven continued, "For three days, we shall be visiting the town of Kysho and we'll be staying at the local inn, which I have already made reservations for us. Mrs. Dalila will also be accompanying us."
"Hey, isn't the Cat festival supposed to be..." Lysander gasped.
"That's right! We'll be going there as well!"
The class began excited conversations amongst themselves with talks of what they were going to do at the festival, sightseeing, and most importantly, what kind of kimonos they were going to wear.
However, Madison remained tensed. She stared at Mr. Iven with a calculating expression. She couldn't forget what had happened minutes ago.
"Madison," Angelina approached her, "Would you come to the student council office during lunch?"
"Oh, alright." Madison said.
"Hey, Nicandro," Rose said, "What's a kimono? Everyone is talking about it."
"A kimono is a traditional Japanese dress," Nicandro said, "It's mostly worn during special occasions such as festivals and funerals."
"Do you know where to buy one? I don't know much about Japanese culture, I'm afraid."
"That's alright, some of us are foreigners as well." Nicandro said. "I can show you a shop where you can rent one since it'll be used for one event."
"Oh, thank you!" the presumably dead girl shook his hands with a warm smile. "May the Reapers bless you with protection from demons!"
"I-It's nothing really," the demon hunter said, slightly blushing, "Demons are already causing me problems though."
"Y-You can see demons as well?" Rose gasped, "Could it be possible that... you're a reaper like me?"
"No, no, I'm not a reaper of any kind, I assure you. Although, I kinda wish I can get rid of them like you can."
"Worry not, my new friend! I shall instruct you on the need to know basis of demon exorcism!"
The two demon hunters rambled on the same topic, sharing tips and their experiences with demons.
"Well, well, isn't this great shipping material?" Dina snickered, nudging Madison.
"I-I guess." Madison frowned.
The day quickly passed into the afternoon after a strange morning. Madison walked into the student council office, not at all surprised to see Angelina enjoying a cup of tea. Adena sat next to her, fixing a cup for herself.
"I'm glad you can see me, Madison," Angelina said, placing her cup down.
"It's no problem," Madison said, sitting down on the opposite couch. "I wished to talk to again anyway."
The president sensed nervousness in her tone. Folding her arms, she shifted in her seat and began, "We found a critical piece of information in the front office and that being what are in the school's files."
"What about it?"
"It's strange," Adena answered, "Even though people in suits would tell you that the Government told you to attend this school, I found two contradictions in the school's files. Don't ask how.
"The first thing I found odd is how some of us were brought here. You can easily notice that this school's population is nearly half in terms of nationality. It would seem that what the people in suits told us what was a lie if we go by what they told us, that the Japanese Government enforced this idea."
"We do believe this something the Government is involved in though," Angelina added.
"Second, is how we were enrolled here," the vice president said, taking a sip of her tea before continuing, "For some time, I've been wondering what the word "Problem" meant to this establishment. Ever since me and Angelina have been kids, we've heard it from doctors."
"D-Doctors?" Madison asked, shocked to hear the word.
"I believe it's best you should be aware of our Problems," the president said, glancing down at floor, "For myself, my Problem is that I cannot feel pain."
Madison felt a lump in her throat.
"Throughout my childhood, I never understood why my father would get so worried when I fell. Sometimes, my leg or arm would turn in odd positions." Angelina continued. "At times, I thought my body was like a doll. But one day, I saw my mother in a very similar position when she got hit by a truck. I thought she was just like me.
"However, I was horribly wrong. That day I learned what pain felt like. Luckily, I had both my father and Adena by my side to help ease that pain."
She placed her hand gently on Adena's. The two gazed at one another with beloved smiles.
It didn't take Madison long to realize the status of their relationship, but felt it was a bad time to talk about it.
"Oh, my apologies," Angelina bowed, "I didn't mean to ramble on. Please forgive me."
"No, it's quite alright," Madison said.
Adena cleared her throat. "Well, for me, my Problem is Hyperlexia. It's a condition where I have a high reading ability, but have trouble communicating with language. I've honestly managed to lessen this Problem, although I'm still not used to talking to someone I'm not familiar with nor do I fully understand some words I read."
"I'm sorry to hear about your Problems," Madison frowned. She understood less of what the school was trying to accomplish. Every time she heard about a person's Problem, the purpose of being enrolled became less clear.
Nothing made sense.
"Oh, I should mention one last thing to you, Madison," Adena said. "It's about Nicandro."
"Huh?" Madison straightened up.
"I couldn't find his file. Among all the student files I've searched through, I found most, if not all, of our classmates. However, for Nicandro, his file wasn't in there."
"W-What does this mean?"
"Well, this is just a thought, but... it could be that I simply didn't find his file or he doesn't belong at this school."