Kotori Miko, classroom weirdo. Looking back on it, I don't really know why we were so mean to her. My memories will always tell me the excuse of "it's 'cause of the umbrella," but there's just no way that I can go on believing that, or accepting it as the truth.
She brought an umbrella to school every day, and it didn't matter if it was rainy, sunny, cloudy, or clear. Kotori really liked having it around, and I guess that's why we picked on her.
The first time we asked her about it was on a sunny Wednesday. The weather was cool, the sky was a clear blue, and there was a light breeze blowing. It was a good day to be outside, but for some reason, Kotori had her umbrella with her.
"To put it simply." She said. "If an asteroid falls down from the sky, then this umbrella will protect me."
We called her silly when she answered us. How could an umbrella protect someone from an asteroid? So of course, we labelled her as the classroom weirdo, and that's where it all began. Me, Kabe, and Tadaki started playing pranks on her throughout the week, because she was a weirdo.
Mondays and Wednesdays were Kabe's prank days. It didn't really seem like a prank, because it was basically a hit and run. Kabe would just grab Kotori's umbrella while she walked to the bus stop, and then Kotori would just start crying and wet herself while Kabe ran off somewhere.
Tuesdays and Thursdays were Tadaki's, but her pranks were lame. All she ever did was throw paint at Kotori, but it never worked 'cause she was an expert at using her umbrella as a shield. Tadaki just got madder and madder as the days went by, and so she started doing a different prank every week.
Then it was my turn on Friday.
Compared to Kabe and Tadaki, mine was the most simple. All I did was take out a brown marker from my pencil bag, and draw cat whiskers on Kotori's cheeks. I remember the first time I did it, she was surprised. She went "Huh?" Then stared at me as I colored in the tip of my nose.
"Ta-da!" I'd say, and raise my arms. "You're a cat now, and I'm a dog!"
Somehow, that made her smile every time.
"I'm a cat?" Kotori said.
"Yeah, you're a cat now, and I'm a dog. I'm supposed to chase you, like a game of tag!"
Kotori was super slow, but that's probably 'cause of the umbrella. She laughed so much that I began wondering if an invisible person was tickling her. And as the year went by, I caught her so many times that I lost count. Though sometimes as we played, I'd stop, and wonder if she was having this much fun with Kabe and Tadaki.
Sometimes, on my way to school during the Mondays and Wednesdays, I'd find Kotori on the side of the street, curled up in a little ball as she wet herself. It was stinky, and embarrassing, and it made me feel sick.
And when Kotori wasn't curled up on the ground, and didn't have paint on her skirt, she'd be holding her umbrella while shivering. Whenever I came up to her she'd hide her face from me. I wondered why. Was it because of the pranks? I thought...
They're supposed to be fun, right...?
So, that's why I decided that I'd make mine even better!
Three weeks later on Friday, I gave Kotori the marker, and let her decide who was the cat and who was the dog.
"Ta-da!" I said in the same tone as ever as Kotori drew on my face. "I'm the cat now, and you're the dog!"
"Do I have to chase you now?" She'd say in her usual quiet voice.
And then we played and played throughout the entire day, missing the morning bus. But that didn't matter, 'cause we skipped it on purpose. I mean, there's no way that school could stop us from finishing this make-believe war!
And after all that playing wore us out, the two of us would forget about everything while we laid down on the grass, sweating like cats and dogs.