Ridiculous Rivalries Leave no Room for Smiles

The air surrounding the lunch table was almost as thick as the wrinkles creasing Yayois forehead. Chiiya sipped a small carton of milk as she hummed and looked around the lunchroom, knowing her rival was staring her down from her seat. Soma took in the sight in front of her and smirked slightly at her success. Shed forced the two to have lunch with her. Well, it was supposed to be just with her. But theyd been double-crossed, and Soma felt not the slightest bit of guilt from her ploy.

In a last resort attempt to get the girls to tolerate each other (without the name-calling and battles), Soma thought a normal lunch would give them something real to talk about.

Yayoi placed her elbow on the table and sighed, using her other hand to tap a rhythm on the surface. ”Oh? You listen to Remi? Thats her latest song! ” Chiiya smiled. ”I didn think youd listen to such happy music! ”

”Well whats that supposed to mean? ”

”Oh, come on Yayoi! Have you seen yourself? You
e like a monochrome rainbow with no gold at the end! Id suspected you listen to blues or something, and maybe metal when you
e in one of your moods. ”

e just gonna let her say that?! ” Yayoi turned to Soma.

”Not my problem ”, Soma replied, continuing to eat her lunch. Yayoi groaned and rested her head in her arms and on the table. She closed her eyes and imagined a world devoid of Chiiya and filled with an endless supply of ingredients. On Tuesdays, it rained olive oil and the wind blew aromas of freshly cut ginger. A smile graced her face, encasing her in a world of her own. Shed just gotten to the good part of her fantasy when a giant, crass, pink-haired, monstrous beast of a girl ripped through her world and forced her out.

”Hey! Whats Nakaga doing?! ” Chiiya stood up and pointed to Nakaga, who was now approaching their table with a group of other students and a lighter in her hand. ”Are we about to get jumped?! ”

”Look, Im sorry for stealing your lunch money last week! Just don hurt Soma! Shes fair game though, if you really must! ”, she pointed towards Yayoi. ”Ill give it back, I swear! ”

Nakaga flashed the panicking girl a worried look and continued on to the table. ”Please don ! Ill…! ”

”Happy birthday! ”, the group shouted. A boy placed a vanilla cupcake in front of Soma, sticking a candle in the top. Nakaga lit it and motioned for Soma to make a wish. She blew it out and thanked everyone. Nakaga gave her friend a short hug and the group dispersed, leaving Chiiya stunned at the table. ”I thought I was done for… ”. Chiiya sank back into her chair, letting out a sigh of relief. ”Hold on… ”, she shot up from her relaxed position. ”Its your birthday?! ”

”Yep. Though seemingly, you both forgot. Oh well. ” Soma unwrapped her cupcake and put it to her mouth.

”What are you doing to celebrate? ” Yayoi asked.

”Hm? ” Soma paused. ”Nothing. Its not that important. ”

Chiiya and Yayoi had never met anyone so unenthusiastic about their own special day. It was true— Soma wasn particularly passionate about anything. But for crying out loud, it was her own birthday. The two were unable to relax while time passed. They wanted her day to be special, and they would shove the festivities down her throat whether she liked it or not. And they were perfectly certain that she would not. Unfazed by that inevitability, they began silently planning a party.

Soma side-eyed her friends. ”You two look oddly determined. ” That snapped them out of their thoughts. Yayoi got up and announced her leave to the restroom, Chiiya making a feeble excuse to go with her. ”You
e going together? ” Before Soma received an answer the two had already made their way out of the door and down the hall. They entered the restroom simultaneously.

”Why did you follow me? ” Yayoi asked, oddly calm at the situation.

”Because! I know you
e thinking about doing a party. And I also know that you know that I know that we
e both thinking the same. And you know that I know that you know- ”

”The point, Chiiya. The point! Get to it. ”

”Lets throw her a surprise party together! ”

Yayoi paused. ”Together. Like, we? As in, you and I? As in, us? ”, she pointed between them.

”Well duh. Thats what together means. ”

Her options were slim. It was either she threw Soma a party by herself with Chiiya doing the same, which would only leave the girl choosing between two friends. Though Yayoi swore she was the obvious option, she was still a bit nervous as to what she would feel if her party went unchosen. Or, she could swallow her pride and cooperate with *her*. She shivered at the thought, but ultimately gave in to common sense.

”Okay. ”

”Great! ” The two began devising a scheme to get into Somas house without being as creepy as possible. ”Oh, I know! Lets use your horrendous test scores as bait! ” Yayoi said.

”Thatll work! ” Chiiya wasn even offended; it was quite obvious to anyone speaking to her for more than five minutes that she wasn the brightest girl in the world. Shed gotten used to it. After finishing the plan, the two headed back out to persuade Soma at the lunch table.

”Hey, Soma~ ” Chiiya said as she flipped her hair behind her back and leaned on the table. To anyone outside this plot, it would look like Soma was being seduced, but really, this was just Chiiyas nerves being held down with all her might.

”Hey…? ” Soma placed down her cupcake wrapper and looked at Chiiya with a perplexed face.

”So, yknow, uhm, I have a science test coming up. And Im already at a 40% overall grade, I can really afford this one like all the others, right?! So could you help me study tonight? Seeing as you
e so unbusy and all. ”

”Sure. My parents will be out, though. ”

”Perfect! ” Yayoi shouted from behind the door where she was peaking. She quickly covered her mouth.

”Perfect? ”

”Perfectly quiet! An environment with no distractions! Haha! ” Chiiya looked around for an easy escape once this was over.

”Uhm, alright, see you after school? Maybe at 5? ”

”Yes! Yes thats great! Okay, bye! ” She stood straight and ran out of the cafeteria. Soma didn bother to look back. It was clear the two were up to something, and shed rather not know. She threw away her trash and left the table for a different exit.

”You almost gave us away! ”

”Oh shut up, lets go! ”


School was over, and the three girls were now sitting around Somas living room table. Chiiya and Yayois bags were filled to the brim with party decorations, so they were ultimately only able to fit one or two books in for the so-called study session. Theyd gone over a few lessons when Yayoi checked the time on Somas wall clock. It was nearly 6:30, the time in which Somas friends were supposed to be arriving. She knew they had to begin jazzing up the place.

”Can we take a break? ” The other girls looked up from their books at this. ”My Carpal Tunnel is acting up. ”

”You have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? ” Chiiya asked, genuinely curious about the issue.

”No… ” she gave Chiiya a telling look. ”But I might just develop some if we don stop studying, right now. ” Yayoi glanced at the clock while staring at the other party planner.

”Oh…yes! I could go for a break too! ”

”Okay. Ill go shower. I feel gross still in my uniform ”. Soma left for the bathroom. ”Help yourselves to anything in the fridge ”.

The girls peeked over the corner. Once she was out of their line of sight, they emptied their bags and began decorating. Theyd brought streamers, hats, and other miscellaneous things they already had stored in their houses somewhere. Nothing matched in color nor theme, but it was the thought that counted.

”Really? A crocodile? ”

”What! I was an eccentric child… ” Chiiya inflated the balloon from her past birthday. As Yayoi was taller, she offered to hang up the streamers, taping them to the ceiling with the help of a little elevation. She then began placing a homemade centerpiece on the table after clearing away their books.

Just as Chiiya went to blow up another reptile balloon, the doorknob to the bathroom began to jiggle audibly from the end of the hallway. As quickly as they humanly could, the girls snatched every decoration from visibility and stuffed them under any surface they could find. Streamers were pushed behind the curtains and vase of a plant; balloons stuffed underneath the couch.

”Act natural! ”, Chiiya shout-whispered. She grabbed a random book from a large shelf to the side of the room and flipped to the middle, burying her face as far as possible into the contents while leaning with one elbow on the shelf. In a panic, Yayoi found herself lying on the floor as straight as a board. She tried to move, but Soma was already on her way back to the living room.

”Just came for some toilet paper. ” Soma opened the hallway closet, taking out a roll. ”Are you guys…Chiiya is she dead? ” She pointed to her friend, now stiff with fear. ”Is that rigor mortis? Chiiya, did you really kill her?? ”

”No! Shes just…carpet watching…? ”

”Carpet watching. ”

”Yeah! You know Yayoi and her strange hobbies. ” Chiiya continued when Soma looked unconvinced. ”Its a…landowner thing, you wouldn get it really, its no biggie. ”

”Huh. Okay… ” She slowly turned away. You wouldn want to know anyway, Soma she said to herself as she erased the situation from her mind. She went back into the bathroom.

”Idiot! What part of that was natural? ”

”I tried! I tried and I failed, but I tried! ” The two went back to decorating. When Yayoi called the guests, they indicated that they were nearby.

Chiiya let out a satisfied sigh looking at their work. Yayoi could be a real piece of work, but she had to admit that she wouldn be able to make such an ugly, disorganized, but somehow still endearing party all on her own. A notification sounded from Yayois phone. The guests had arrived.

The problem? The front door was located closer to the bathroom than the living room. A point of extremely questionable home design from Somas dad who claimed that architecture was his passion. Surely, Soma would hear the shuffling of footsteps and movement of the door. They needed an excuse.

Before Yayoi could exchange ideas, Chiiya had already yelled out to Soma. ”Hey, Soma? We
e going to leave now! Well miss our bus and the next one is too late! ”

”Huh? ” she yelled back.

”I said, we
e going to leave now! Well miss our bus and the next one is too late! ”

”What?! ” she turned down the shower.


”Maybe she won hear the door after all… ” Yayoi whispered. ”I already made the excuse! ” Chiiya whispered back.

”Already? Well we did cover a lot today…be safe then. ” The noise of the shower resumed.

”Yes! Thank you so much, love you, kisses, bye! ”

”Love you, kisses, bye? ” Yayoi asked.

”Unlike you, I care about the people in my life. ” With a finger to her lips, Chiiya opened the door. The guests entered quietly and shuffled to the living room. Nakaga placed a heavy chocolate cake on the table, which Chiiya was *totally* going to reimburse her for. They took various seats and waited until they heard the shower shut off. Everyone took positions in different blind-spots to surprise the birthday girl.

Her steps got closer after exiting the bathroom. A silent 1,2,3 motion came from Yayois hand as they all jumped out, turning the lights on. ”Happy birth…! ”

”…day…? ” Soma froze in terror. Her naked figure, soaked with water, stood in front of everyone. Without a towel in sight, her hair was left cold and frizzy. Even though she could have covered her exposed goods with her hands, she simply could not. Shed lost all sense of movement, as had the partygoers that couldn tell if they were more embarrassed for her or themselves.

”W-Well don just stare! ” Nakaga snapped out of her daze, rushing to shield Somas body with her own. Soma realized her situation now and ran upstairs as fast as she could, Nakaga chasing after her on the side exposed to the group. Sometime went by before the sound of a creaking door was heard from the second floor.

Soma walked downstairs with a tank top, skirt, and branded fuzzy slippers. She said not a word, and her face was expressionless. Without so much as a glance at the root of this circumstance, she joined everyone in the living room, sitting on her knees. The guests looked around the room for a while, finding corner cobwebs far more interesting than facing a humiliated Soma. A few idle coughs and finger tapping could be heard at random intervals, accompanied by Yayoi and Chiiyas heavy breathing.

”So, uhm, are you, yknow? ” Hoashi, a boy from the guest list and member of the sewing club, spoke up.

”Am I what? ”

”Are you okay? ”

”Of course. Why wouldn I be? Nothing happened. ” Soma blankly responded.

Shes traumatized… the group thought to themselves, simultaneously.

”Well, uhm, why don we just have some cake? ” Yayoi said, unboxing the dessert on the table. For the rest of the night, the solemn sound of plates, forks, and teeth clashing were the only thing to resound from the Soudai household. The guests eventually trickled out one by one, leaving Yayoi, Chiiya, and Soma behind with a few gifts. After a few moments of silence, Soma spoke up to the delight of the other girls.

”I forgot ”, she stated. ”I forgot my towel. And I thought youd left, like you said. ” Soma buried her face in her hands. ”Ill never recover ”. Her head softly hit the ground as she fainted. ”Call the morgue ”.

”Hey! At least your boobs are bigger than hers! ” Chiiya slightly poked Yayois chest.

”What- you
e disgusting! Don ever touch me like that again! ”, Yayoi dusted off her shirt. Soma heard none of this bickering. She swore she was already headed towards the light, a grand, loud voice pulling her towards the source.

”Goodbye, world ”. Her face deadpanned as she laid motionless on the floor.

”Huh? Soma, get up! ”


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