The Love Letter Lovelies
Makoto Akiyama stood in front of her mirror posing in her new school uniform. Finally she was a High School student. Ever since the end of Middle School, she had spent the last part of that year trying and change her image. She wanted a fresh start when she finally walked the halls of her new school. She was sure that she wouldn't know anyone there, and in turn no one wouldn't know her. She could re-invent herself.
Behind her her cat Taro lay on Makoto's bed watching her practice making cute facial expressions at herself. He was a fat ginger tabby that always had a cranky look of boredom on his face. But that morning his yellow eyes watched her was a hint of interest as Makoto tried giggling and smiling over and over. Occasionally if Makoto caught her cat's eyes, she'd laugh at his expression.
Turning around Makoto looked at Taro directly. "This year is going to be different, Taro… I can just tell."
He lazily raised his head as she spoke to him and flicked one of his ears. Makoto always felt slightly embarrassed when he looked like he could understand her. She took a seat next to him and stroked his fur a few times. He looked less than thrilled about the attention, but couldn't be bothered to move.
"I'm serious. I won't be getting anymore love letters." Makoto spoke in a small voice.
This was the core reason why Makoto wanted to change herself. The start of the previous school year, Makoto had started getting noticed. She couldn't understand why, as she felt she looked pretty average if not tomboyish. But as the year went on, the more attention she got. Makoto had decided that it was the tomboy appeal to her that caused this change. The only problem was that she wasn't getting love letters from the boys in her class, it was the girls.
So as the year was coming to a close, Makoto had decided to become more girly. If she became cute, then perhaps girls would stop having crushes on her. From that day on she started growing out her hair, exercising, and experimenting with clothes and make-up. That wasn't all. She didn't just want to look the part, she wanted to act it as well. So ever since then Makoto had been studying pretty girls on tv, the movies, anime, manga, even gravure idols, just trying to learn how to act cute. She even took notes and practiced acting in front of the mirror every night. Now the moment of truth had come.
Giving Taro one last pet, she stood up, gave herself a final look in the mirror, then went downstairs. She felt slightly anxious on doing this, as her family wasn't aware of what she had been doing. She didn't know how they'd react. What if they laughed at her and told her she looked silly? On entering the kitchen to eat breakfast with her older sister, she avoided eye contact with anyone until she absolutely had too. When she sat down, she noticed both her Mom and her sister were staring at her.
They probably think I look stupid! Maybe I should have consulted my sister about fashion and such beforehand? She's always been really into that sort of thing. She probably is just sitting there judging me right now! Makoto thought to herself, as she tried to ignore their eyes focusing on her hair and make-up.
"This is new." Nori, her sister finally stated.
"Oh?" Makoto pretended to brush it off. "Is it too much? I thought I'd try a little harder now that I'm in High School."
"Mako-chan, you look lovely." Her Mother said.
Snickering, Nori nudged Makoto's shoulder. "Is there a guy you like?"
"I haven't met anyone yet." Makoto blushed.
"Hmm." Nori was still looking at her. "Maybe you can give me fashion advice later."
"Oh stop." Makoto felt her cheeks warm from that compliment. "I'm not that different looking."
Nori didn't answer her. They ate their breakfast as their Mother made their lunches. Nori was a year ahead of Makoto, but she went to a different High School than where Makoto was going. Nori had better grades than she did so she went to a better school, that was further away than where Makoto was going. Still, her sister was giving her sagely advice on High School life as they ate.
When they finished eating, their Mother gave them both last looks then saw them out the door. Waving at each other the sisters separated. As she walked Makoto's heart raced as she went over and in her mind how to act cute. She practiced gestures silently to herself and reminded her self to smile a lot. She had to stop this act however, as when she passed an elderly woman she was giving Makoto a smirk with a raised eyebrow.
As she reached Yumoto High School, Makoto stopped at the entrance feeling her heart race. Can I really do this? What if everyone sees through me? What do I do? Her mind toiled back and forth. No! I decided I was going to be different. I got to at least try. If I make myself look like a fool, so be it! Taking a deep breath, she stepped inside the entrance. She decided that she'd take her mind off first impressions for the time being and just find out where her homeroom was.
She arrived at the bulletin board which advertised where each student's homeroom was. As expected on the first day, there was a small crowd around it. Makoto was too small to see over the heads of those around, and looked for an opening to slip into the crowd to get closer to the board. But the longer she stood there trying to find a way in, she bigger the crowd seemed to get. Whining Makoto started hopping up and down pathetically trying to glimpse her name.
"Excuse me." A girl pretty girl joined her. She had long hair pulled back into a ponytail, and had this air of grace about her. That alone would have made Makoto notice her, but she was also holding a shinai (a bamboo training sword used for kendo) along with her school bag. Makoto was about to step out of her way, but she stopped next to her. "If you don't mind telling me your name I'll go ahead and take a look for you."
Makoto blinked. The girl spoke in a soft polite voice, but somehow she heard her over the mass of students crowding the board. "Oh, my name is Makoto Akiyama."
"Makoto Akiyama." The girl repeated then gave a nod. Within moments she had forced her way into the mob.
Oh no, when I told her my name I didn't sound cute at all! Makoto kicked herself. Still, it's nice of her to look for me.
The girl returned, somehow still looking as pretty as ever despite being pushed around as she fought through the horde. She ran her fingers through her ponytail then rejoined Makoto. "We're in the same Homeroom. Class 1-3."
Act cute! Makoto thought to herself before replying. Taking a smile she gave a small bow. "Thank you so much! So that means we're classmates. I hope we get along!"
The girl's lips curled just slightly, barely noticeable. She turned away as if to hide her smile, then said. "My name is Kaede Ozawa. Pleased to meet you."
"Pleased to meet you as well, Ozawa-san." Makoto spoke her cheery voice. Kaede still wasn't facing her, but she nodded.
After they entered the Class 1-3, Kaede separated from her and took a backseat near the door. Of course seating arrangements hadn't been assigned yet, so it didn't matter where anyone sat at that point. Makoto decided not to be overly clingy to the one person she knew and just took a random seat in the middle of the room. As she hung her book bag on the side of the desk she noticed a few girls looking at her.
Oh no you don't. I'm going to be extra cute now, so fall in love with that kendo-girl or something! Makoto mentally shouted at them.
After a while a grumpy looking man blustered into the room. Everyone correctly guessed that he was their homeroom teacher, so they took the seat nearest to them and sat down. He walked to the blackboard and wrote this name down: Jin Hayashi. Makoto secretly thought he looked a lot like her grouchy cat and realized that if she were to name him, she'd call him Hiyayaka-san (Mr. Surly).
"That's my name." Hayashi-sensei grumbled pointing to the blackboard. "I don't like alphabetical assigned seating, so I'm arranging the class differently. Everyone stand up. Shortest up front, tallest in the back."
There was some shuffling around, as people didn't seem to know where to go. Hayashi-senshi gave them no direction at all for the longest time, until he got so aggravated at them that he started shouting orders to everyone. When that didn't seem to work as fast as he wanted it to, he suddenly was in the midst of them personally dragging them to the desks he saw fit. Makoto found herself in the second desk nearest the window.
After getting everyone situated how he liked it, he demanded the traditional meet-and-greet introductions from everyone starting from the window first seat going back. He pulled out a notebook and apparently was going to do his seating chart based on that. The boy in front of Makoto was named Nobuyuki Takei. He seemed especially upset that Hayashi-sensei thought he was shorter than a girl, Makoto, who was behind him. But as upset as he seemed about this, he dare not voice his complaint. Hayashi-sensei seemed scary.
When Nobuyuki sat down, Makoto swallowed and thought to herself: Be cute! But before Makoto could stand up, Hayashi-sensei shout at her. "Hurry up! Next! Come on girl, get on with it already!"
Makoto shot up, completely forgetting to be cute. "S-Sorry Hiyayaka-san." Then a wave of dread flowed over her. Oh no! I said that out loud! He's going to kill me! She had called him the nickname she christened him in her mind. There was a mass of muffled giggles from the girls around her and snorts and chuckles from the boys.
"What was that? Hiyayaka-san?" Hayashi-sensei glowered at her. "Are you trying to be cute?"
"Y-Yes… I mean no!" Makato stammered. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to call you that!"
Breathing in, Hayashi-sensei leaned back in his chair. "Whatever. What's your name?"
"Makoto Akiyama." Makoto spoke in a small mousy voice now, feeling her lower lip jut out slightly into a pout.
"Akiyama-san, kindly make sure you don't go around calling people names again, got that?" Hayashi-sensei mumbled. For some reason he looked a bit rattled now. Makoto didn't know why.
"I won't, Sensei. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have called you Surly. That wasn't very nice of me and I really am sorry."
He stared at her. She felt awkward and continued standing there, wondering what he wanted. He didn't say anything, but his eyes were trying to tell her to do or say something, but she didn't know what. She scrunched her bottom lip to the side, feeling nervous. Finally he couldn't take it anymore and shouted out. "Well… tell us about yourself."
Makoto hopped a bit from the abruptness of the order. This act was followed by another wave of giggles. Okay. Be cute. You've already mess up enough! She told herself. "Erm, well I'm Makoto Akiyama, but everyone calls me Mako-chan. I like cats, sweets, and um…." What else is cute? "….um… singing karaoke?" There was another round of giggles. Makoto gave a deflated smile then sunk into her seat.
There was a noticeable pause between her introduction and the person behind her. It was as if the class was taking a collective moment digesting everything she said. All eyes were on her. Unconsciously she scrunched her lips to the side again, something she couldn't control herself from doing when she was feeling timid.
Before Hayashi-senshi could order the next person, she stood up on her own. "Hello. My name is Kaede Ozawa. I like Kendo, Rosaries, and other cute things."
Surprised Makoto turned around to see the pretty kendo-girl with the shinai standing behind her. She didn't realize they were seated so close to each other until that moment. All the re-ordering the class was doing with the assigned seating was chaos, and she hadn't noticed who was behind her. But on seeing Kaede standing up behind her, now she could tell they both were about the same height. Kaede spoke with that calm composure she had used at the bulletin board, and Makoto couldn't help but think she was so cool. She wondered if anything could rattle the kendo-girl.
When Kaede sat down, the girl behind her followed her lead and stated her name and a brief statement about herself before sitting down. And the boy after her did the same. Makoto forced herself to turn her attention to the front, so she wouldn't admire just how cool Kaede was. If only she could be so relaxed. Life would be simpler then.
Introductions and announcements took the majority of homeroom, so much so that no one had a chance to get to know anyone else. After homeroom, classes promptly started and the rest of the day seemed to be re-introducing themselves to the various teachers and getting a brief explanation on how the class was going to be structured.
With each new teacher, Makoto made it a point to be more cute. She still was getting looks from the girls, but then again the boys were looking at her now as well. For some reason that creeped her out a bit. Had she only made her problems worse? When lunch rolled around, Makoto wondered if she was over acting being cute. Maybe everyone was looking at her because she was being to obvious. She didn't know. As she pulled out her bento, wondering what she should do now, the girl sitting across from her stood up and came over to her desk.
"Do you mind if we eat together?" She asked.
Makoto didn't remember her name, but nodded. She looked a bit mousy, so Makoto could relate. She took her own lunch and sat down, looking red in the face. There was a long awkward silence. Makoto could tell that the girl wasn't the type to take the lead in conversations, but then again Makoto wasn't really that type of person either. Shaking her head, Makoto chided herself. This is my chance to act cute. If she thinks I'm ultra-girly then maybe she'll gossip and the other girls will stop looking at me. I'm not a tomboy anymore! I'm like the other girls. Like someone else!
"Sorry, I forgot your name." Makoto spoke in her best cheerful voice. "I'm Mako-chan by the way."
"I'm Izumi Kato." She spoke softly. She added nothing more. She was too busy blushing.
"Uh… what kind of things are you into, Izumi-chan?" Makoto tried to get the girl to talk. She thought calling her 'Izumi-chan' instead of 'Kato-san' would loosen her up. it did nothing of the sort.
"Hmm, you know… things." Izumi squeaked. Once again, she gave Makoto nothing to go on.
The rest of lunch was like that. Izumi was so high-strung that Makoto had trouble getting her to say anything. So in order to fill in her partner's dead muteness, Makoto started rambling on about herself. The things she spoke about were attempts to spark something in Izumi. But the other girl just nodded, either looking timid or completely enraptured in the story. At the end of lunch Makoto was completely tapped out and had nothing else to talk about. She was happy when class resumed and she didn't have to entertain the shy girl anymore.