５ Ｊｕｎｅ， Ｍｉｋｏｔｏ Ｍａｓｈｉｔａ
I tried a
gyarumakeup look for the first time in my life.
I had never Zoomed before, but using the video chat app was easier than I thought it would be. Through the computer I commented to Yuki, who was completely focused on her mirror, “Makeup is kind of amazing.”
We laughed together, and it was like we were back in junior high. How long had it been since I had laughed with a friend?
“I think I’m going to add a little more glitter,” she said, applying the sparkly white eye shadow under her eye, so I tried putting another layer of mascara on.
It was the previous day that Yuki said we should Zoom. So I said that I wanted to check out some tutorial vids and do
gyarumakeup. Yuki got excited and said that we definitely should, that it would be just like the time on that school trip when we bought matching osmanthus perfume.
I got sick of applying mascara, so I switched to lip gloss and put on so many layers it started to drip. As I was closing the container, Yuki asked, “So Hinako, you’re not going to school, huh?”
Click.The cap locked into place, and I looked at the screen. Yuki was turned a little to the right, looking straight at my face on her screen.
“The English teacher, Mrs. Taguchi, went on maternity leave in February, right? So my big sister is subbing at your school now. Well, they’ve been closed since March, but. . . .”
Clink.The lip gloss fell and hit my big toe.
“But you weren’t in the seat marked Hinako Sakashita. Instead this
gyaru-ish girl Tsurumi laughed and said, ‘She’s not here.’”
Clatter.The floor should have been level, but the lip gloss rolled away from me.
dead?Tsurumi’s sharp voice stabbed into the soft part of my mind.
“I was so worried about you.”
The voice, fluffy like a comforter, that wrapped up those biting words was Yuki’s. There was a short silence, and I checked to make sure the mics weren’t muted. I read some advice for using Zoom for the first time, and it said to always make sure your mic isn’t muted.
I stared at the lip gloss that had rolled away and heard her voice again.
She giggled and said we should take a picture together using the Print Screen function.
When I pushed the key on the upper right, nothing happened on the screen, but a picture must have been taken.
I laughed that we were taking photos remotely like Mika Ninagawa, opened LINE, and pasted in the picture.
I remembered what things were like back when I was going to school. I hadn’t been since January, so it was already over four months ago.
Right at the start of the third trimester, we had a seat change, and I ended up next to Tsurumi. When I asked to read along with her because I forgot my textbook, she didn’t have hers either, so we both got in trouble. After that, she started talking shit about me, I found scribbles in my textbooks, my desk would go missing, my lunch would be mashed up. By the end of January, I couldn’t go to school anymore.
Back then, even though I was given 1/40 of the space in that room, it felt shrunken, as if all the others were pressing in on me. I had felt like that even before the bullying started, and maybe it was that attitude that Tsurumi didn’t like.
But. . . .I looked at my face on my screen.
“Your makeup looks great.”
“You look like a whole new person, Hinako,” Yuki said, showing me a picture she had just taken.
“Do you think I can change?”
“You can, but also, I don’t think you have to.”
When I whispered thank you, the area around my face sparkled yellow, almost like a frame.
It was after I got off the Zoom call with Yuki that I heard online classes would be starting. I wouldn’t have to sit in a classroom. I could attend by just putting my face on the screen.
In an online class, the screen would be divided up equally. Me and Tsurumi would each get 1/40. Nobody could kick my desk or hide my chair. I would be able to keep my books clean, and I could ask the teacher questions in the chat. I would be able to go to school.
When I looked at the bookshelf, the spines of the textbooks I’d been working through each day on my own seemed to gleam.
Translated by Emily Balistrieri/Arranged by TranNet KK
Born in Saitama Prefecture, 1997. Currently enrolled in Waseda University. Won the 61st Mephisto Prize for
kakurenbo(Hide-and-seek with #Yuria), and made her literary debut in 2020.