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Chapter 7: Daily Life
After the incident, I missed three days of class trying to process it. But, personally, I didn't have anywhere to go back to except the school dorms on campus, which meant my classmates and dormmates and even people like the little squirrel-like girl from the crafts club could come out of their way to express their concern. I had thought that I didn't have any close friends or even just casual pals I could rely on, but having so many people concerned for me might just make me happy enough to make up for it. I was able to reflect upon that daily life from a new perspective.
Kyouko Kirigiri had apparently gone back to class the very next day, just like normal. I heard the name Kyouko Kirigiri over the school broadcast system, as she was called into the middle school staff room. It was hard for me to think of us attending the same school as just a weird coincidence. That murder case had been too surreal, and meeting Kyouko Kirigiri during it made her seem just as surreal. And yet, here she was, undoubtedly here in the real world as just a regular girl attending middle school.
Five days after the incident—I went to peek into the middle school building during lunch break. I asked Kirigiri's homeroom teacher what classroom she was in.
In the classroom were rows of young, fresh faces in their first year of middle school, Kyouko Kirigiri's among them.
She was sitting by the window, propping her chin in her hands and gazing outside. All around her were girls who had pushed their desks together to eat lunch, and girls who were chattering away like chirping baby chicks. On one hand, seeing Kyouko Kirigiri in the middle of all that made her seem lonely, but thinking of it another way, she had melted completely into the background of the classroom, like a shadow.
A murmur went through the classroom as the girls started noticing me peeking in. Those murmurs finally spread over to Kirigiri, and at last, she noticed me as well.
Our eyes met.
But, as if nothing was amiss, she just went back to staring blankly out the window.
"Wait, why are you ignoring me?" I entered the classroom and went up to stand next to her. I put my hands on my hips, staring down at her. Everyone else in the classroom was watching us, now. Even the girls who had been chatting fell silent. "If it's because you don't want to talk here, then let's step outside for a bit." I dragged Kirigiri out with me, half by force. I'm sure we became the subject of a lot of classroom gossip as soon as we left.
Kirigiri and I went all the way out to the deserted entrance of the building. We huddled together in the shadow of the shoe lockers, as if we were hiding.
Kirigiri leaned back against the lockers, crossing her arms. "Do you need something?" she asked, looking up at me. She sounded indifferent, but it didn't seem like she was in a bad mood. This was probably just what she was like.
"Did you hear that Asakura-san died? It was even in the newspaper. They're calling it an accident."
"I expected that that would happen as soon as I realized he had been taken by the Committee. Perhaps he understood as much himself—that he had reached his end." Kirigiri looked down at the ground, letting out a sigh.
"Does the Committee kill the losers of the Duel Noir?"
"I wonder? That may be so, at least in the event that they cannot pay for the tricks that they purchased."
"No way..." I put a hand on the lockers, hanging my head.
Kirigiri's small head was right in front of mine. I suddenly glanced to the side and noticed a gaggle of girls in middle school uniforms watching us. When they noticed me looking at them, they quickly hid.
After the incident, we were famous now, apparently. We'd been reported as ordinary people who were caught up in the case. There hadn't been any mention of us being involved as detectives.
"Hey, Kirigiri-chan. This isn't over, is it?"
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