Chapter 125: Whispers of the Past: The Misunderstood

Johan… Johan…


A hushed and sweet voice called out for me. The voice was incredibly familiar then it resounded clearer and clearer, then right beside my ear.


“Johan~. How come you’re not waking up yet? You have to go to school, forgot?”

“Mhm~…”

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I then mumbled something and got up from my humble bed. I lived inside an apartment from a rundown block with eight floors. The apartment was quite spacious but it was old and the furniture quite ragged. Even so, it was enough for a happy family to live in.


My real name is Johan Hanover. A young boy of just 14 years old and right now school started again. The second year of Middle-School after changing schools and I already felt like not participating. Only in Elementary School I had to change 3 schools because I either had problems with the teachers or with the other students, now it seemed to be no change as I had to change once again after getting into a conflict with my classmates because I just wanted to sleep in my bench, trying not to mind the others. I simply couldn’t find myself in any group while the teachers expected too much from me when they didn’t even know me, saying s*** like: He’s so smart but why isn’t he studying?! He should be studying more with such a good head on his shoulders! Then trying to convince my parents to send me on those weird competition for math, geography and some other things I couldn’t find any interest for.


“Mom… why do I need to go? I hate school. The teachers are having expectations of me and make me study more while the others are mean and take everything as a competition. I hate that place!” → Johan


I rolled over in bed while not wishing to get up. Seeing me like this, mother simply sighed lightly and with a warm smile, she caressed my messy hair.


Sigh~… Johan… I understand that you don’t like schools. I wasn’t that fond of them when I was your age, either.”

“Then why?” → Johan

“Because that’s the only way you can have a place in society. Either that or do evil things and make your loved ones cry. Do you wish to make mommy cry? Or you don’t love her anymore?”

“Argh~ I got it, I’ll go! Mom~ stop talking like I’m a child damn it! Haah~…” → Johan


I started to feel embarrassed by the way she talked so I jumped out of bed and hastily changed clothes.


Fufufu~ look how fast you changed. Come now, breakfast is ready.”

“… You tricked me again…” → Johan


I pouted then walked toward the kitchen where father was walking around restlessly.


“Morning father…” → Johan

“Morning Johan. You were too slow today. Next time be sure to go to sleep earlier. School already started so you can’t be tardy from the very first day. Understand that summer is over.”

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The first thing in the morning and father already started to nag me with a straight face.


“Okay okay! I understand! God, can you please not nag me so early in the morning?” → Johan

“…Dear, look at how you raised your brat. Now he thinks he can talk back.”

“Oh, my~ just let it go and let’s eat. Today you have to go to the interview for your next voyage, right?”

“Yes. If everything goes right, I might have to take the first plane at night.”


Hearing them talk, I started to eat my omelet without really thinking of anything. After hearing about father leaving again I stopped and asked almost instinctively.


“For how much…?”

“Huh?”

“For how long will you be left?”


When father had to leave, I wouldn’t be able to see him again for half or an entire year. From the few memories I still have from childhood, father barely appeared in them. The first clear memory I have with him was when I was ten years old and the first question I had in my mind was: Who? I was extremely shocked to hear that he was my father. Even now I still percept him like a stranger, making me feel weird around him.


“… I suppose that six months will take until the voyage is finished.”


Father said after thinking for a little while, while mother sighed knowingly. After I was done eating, I changed, left the apartment and rushed to the first bus-station but not before saying my goodbyes to them. Because I slept for too much, I was late on my first day and the gatekeeper had to verify my Identification card. For some reasons, our school had every student make an identification card of the school to prove that he was from that respective school, as if the uniform wasn’t enough.


“What do you mean you forgot it? Brat, where do you think you are?”

“By forgot I literally mean I forgot. And where could I be if not at school?” → Johan


I looked somewhat revolted at the gatekeeper that crossed his arms in front of me with a mean face. He glanced at me as if I just insulted his mother. I wasn’t aware that he was in truth trying to intimidate me by asking obvious questions so I just answered logically.


“You snotty punk. So you think you can simply come here and play the smart-ass, huh? Let me teach you a lesson.”


The gatekeeper tried to grab me by the ear but I simply stepped back and shouted out.


“What are you even trying to punish me for?! I’m just answering questions!” → Johan

“You punk! So you dare dodge?!”

“Do you expect for me to stay still like an idiot?!” → Johan


He then tried to grab my hair but I simply dashed to the side then entered inside the school.


“You damn punk! Where do you think you’re going?!”

“To school! Is it that hard for you?!” → Johan


I then dashed inside the courtyard of the school toward the amphitheater where everyone was gathered.


I slowly opened the door and sneaked inside, searching for an empty seat. Right before I could sit down, a teacher stopped me then with a stern face he glared at me. In a hushed voice, he started to scold me.


“You brat. You dare be late on your first day of school and simply sneak a seat wherever you want? Your Identification Card please.”

“I’m sorry but I forgot it at home. However, you can tell I’m from this school by the uniform, no?” → Johan


I tried to talk quietly like the teacher when he suddenly exploded making even the talking principal stop for a moment.


“You idiotic punk! How could you forget your ID Card?! If you don’t have it then just get out!”


He then grabbed me by the uniform on the shoulder and dragged me to the outside.


“Wah-? What the hell?!” → Johan


After getting me out, he slammed the door and left me outside. He then opened the door again and said:


“Just you wait after this. I’ll be sure to question you thoroughly.”


Then he slammed the door again.


“…”


I was left dumbfounded in front of the door then sudden fury made me kick in the air.


What the f*** is wrong with you?! You’d rather explode like that and bother everyone than talk normally and speak some reason? I thought only the gatekeeper is an idiot, but the teachers are dumb as well! F***! They’re all the same! → Johan


I then left toward the gate, feeling as if I woke up for nothing.


Like hell I’ll wait for you to spout more s*** in front of me. Damn dumb idio-… Great… I almost forgot. → Johan


After reaching the front gate, the gatekeeper appeared in front of me and cut my path.


“Brat, where do you think you’re going?”

“What? You tried to keep me out. Now I’m going out on my own, why are you stopping me for?” → Johan


The keeper started to become more and more annoyed then he suddenly grabbed me by the arm.


“You really have some guts for a little brat. Let me teach you something.”


He then raised his palm and slapped me in the head. His palm heavy, it felt as if a hammer smashed my head.


“Ouch! Stop! Why are you doing this?!” → Johan


I tried to deviate or block the palm from slamming my head again. Then I got even angrier and kicked his shin strongly.


“Argh! You f****** punk!”


He then made a fist and lashed out, only to have it grabbed by someone else.


“Huh?! Who da f*** are you…”


A man with a broad back grabbed his fist while his sharp eyes glared him down in anger.


“F-father…?” → Johan


I looked dumbfounded at him while he was emanating a pressuring aura. I never saw him so angered before.


“Eh? So he’s your brat? Next time you better teach him proper manners-! Guh!”


Not letting him finish, father instantly slapped the man with the back of his hand.


“Who’s the one here to learn proper manners? I saw my son trying to leave while you simply started slapping him for no reason. I’ll be sure to make you learn your place for touching my son.”

“Y-you dare touch me? Your son would never be able to enter this school again! As for you! Prison awaits for starting violence in the front of a school!”

“No worries.”


He then pointed at a camera atop an electric pillar.


“I’m sure the police will understand once they see how you started beating my son for no reason.”

“W-wait! T-the school-“

“As for the school. If the principal won’t be able to talk reason, then that means this place is simply no good for my son, and I won’t let him study from such dumb teachers either.”


Without further comments, father punched the keeper in the face and made him crash on the gate. He wished to continue some more but I stopped him instantly.


“W-wait! That’s enough… Let’s go… It’s my fault for not bringing the ID Card anyway.” → Johan

“… If you wish so. As for you, there better be no next time. I’m not such a merciful person myself.”

“Y-yes, sir… Understood…”


At father’s stern threats, the gatekeeper noded hurriedly while helding on his swollen cheek. After we left, I heard from father how he had the same path as me toward his interview. I explained to him what happened while walking toward the bus station then he frowned.


“First of all, it was your fault for forgetting your ID Card, and you simply don’t force yourself in and sneak inside the school.”

“I already said it was my fault, okay? As for forcing my way in; what else was I supposed to do? You two said to go to school, now that I forgot that damn card, am I supposed to simply return home? You would say I was just skipping again…” → Johan

“…Johan, we live in a world where smartness which isn’t backed by power, becomes the source of bullying and discrimination. I know that you wish to speak logically and reasonably, but like this, you’ll only invite the wrath of the others.”

“Huh? What’s that so suddenly?” → Johan


I starred confused at my father which was sighing helplessly. He then looked at me seriously and grabbed both my shoulders.


“Son, you already know that I’ll leave for almost half a year. You must stay strong and help your mother in any way possible. Can I trust you in taking care of her?”


I looked dumbfounded again then answered confused.


“How am I supposed to take care of an adult woman? Isn’t it the other way round?” → Johan

“You really take everything too literally. Listen, Johan. You’re 14 since a while now, you started pre-puberty since a year ago and your perception over the world will soon start to change as well if not is already changing. This is the hardest moment of a human’s life at an emotional level. Just try to stay out from troubles and talk as few as possible.”

“What? B-but-“ → Johan

“Johan. You mustn’t start troubles. You have the tendency to speak the truth without even flinching and that will disturb many people. I’m not saying that you should start lying, but in case there is nothing good to say, then just don’t say it. Don’t forget that mom and dad won’t be able to stay with you forever. You’ll have to do things on your own.”

“… I know… After we moved out of the old apartment, I remained alone since then. I can tell what solitude means.” → Johan


I looked downward with apathetic eyes then frowned while staring at my father, my eyes firm and serious. Because we moved to another city two years ago, all my friends I made in the neighborhood now had no way of visiting me while I was unable to do so either. We barely kept contact and after the first year, only one guy was still talking with me, and that once per one or two months or so. Basically, I lost all my friends when now I had nobody but myself.


“As for keeping quiet. I will decide when to keep quiet and when to speak. If the truth will help with something, even if I’ll be hated, I’ll still say it.” → Johan

Sigh~ being too smart will put you in quite the troubles, Johan. Try to stay strong, at least until you’ll find someone to befriend.”


We then parted ways, me going home while father rushing toward his interview. Mother wasn’t at home when I arrived but there was still some food left, made for when I returned from school.

The next day I had to keep up with that teacher that also nagged me on the first day, him also being my class-teacher. Just as told by father, I tried to be as quiet and invisible as possible, but some things would just not go my way.


“Hey hey, who is he?”

“I don’t know, but he seems kinda cute.”

“I think he’s rather cool. His dreamy eyes give off that artistic kind of vibe, don’t you think?”


For some unknown reasons I started to attract the attention of the girls in my class and this only brought forth the jealousy and frustration from the other boys.


“Oy, what’s the deal with that guy?”

“I don’t know, he didn’t say a thing since school started.”

“Eh~? Now that I look better, isn’t he the loser that angered the teacher and got kicked out then scolded on his second day?”

“Oh, you’re right! Pff~ what an idiot.”


All kinds of rumors started to appear about me but I gave them no mind, then one girl still wished to talk with me, making my quiet school-life change in a way I never thought it would.


“Hello~. My name is Maia. Who are you?” → Maia

“Huh?” → Johan


She was the most popular girl in class and her energetic character made her be liked even by the teachers. I could say that she was completely opposed to me who liked to remain quiet, to stare outside the window while letting my mind wander, and be in bad terms with the teachers who only knew how to nag me for not trying harder with studying.


“Eh, ah. Uhm, I’m Johan Hanover, a second year of middle school. Nice to meet you.” → Johan


I introduced myself with a serious face while reaching out for a handshake. Maia was dumbfounded for a moment then she started laughing.


“Hahaha~ what is this? Why are you so formal? Ahaha~! that was good.” → Maia

“Huh?” → Johan


Was I not supposed to introduce myself?… Oh? Maybe she’s laughing from something else…? → Johan


I couldn’t understand why she started laughing so I simply ignored her again then starred outside the window. My indifferent actions made her stop and look my way with a worried smile.


“Eh? Johan? Don’t tell me, are you mad now?” → Maia


Before I could answer, another guy came in between us and started talking.


“Ah, Maia. No need to talk with this guy out of compassion. Don’t you see he likes to be alone? Let’s go and have a chat together.”

“Hm~ sure. But later. Right now I want to talk with Johan, I think I insulted him just now.” → Maia

“No, you didn’t-“ → Johan

“Pff~ and who cares? These kind of people are immune to insults, look.”


Before I could explain myself, the guy interrupted me then slapped my head with a mocking smile on and continued.


“See? This idiot won’t even- Bugh!”


I was already furious because of all the injustice that happened to me after arriving at this school. The adults all around me nagged, scolded and almost started to slap me for no good reason while the other students joked behind my back for just as baseless reasons. This one slap was enough to lit the fuse inside my heart. With a right jab, I punched him in the liver, making him collapse on the ground, barely able to breathe.


“Kya!”


Maia shouted in shock while the boy was trying to hold onto my table, his breath cut.


“Feel free to talk s*** behind my back, or even in front of me. But don’t you f****** dare start bullying me, because be sure I’ll get you back in full.” → Johan


I made a ferocious face while looking from up at the boy.


“Y-you bastard. I’ll report it to the teacher!”

“And? Go on. Little girls like you can only cry to the teachers and exaggerate their words. What will you do next? Come at me with some help? You lot are the same everywhere.” → Johan


My face then relaxed and looked at Maia with a plain expression.


“As for you, I wasn’t mad at you. I just didn’t know why you started laughing so I thought you heard some kind of joke from somewhere else.” → Johan

“Huh?” → Maia


Maia stared at me a little bit dazed then she woke up and helped the boy to get up.


“A-anyway, Johan. Please don’t start fights like this, it’s not good! As for you, let’s go, I’ll help you to your seat. That’s what you get for trying to pose as the big guy.” → Maia

“…”


Why am I being scolded again? And by a classmate no less… → Johan


I stared confused at her for a while until the teacher entered the class.


Days of school passed by while everyone changed their perception of me. The girls seeing me as a: Strong and charming man while the boys seeing me as a: Violent punk who plays with the heart of the class’ beauty.


Maia continued to talk with me and without knowing we started to call each other as friends. Months passed by and spring came without even realizing, even my birthday passed while I was unaware and I was already 15 of age now. Since Maia played around with me, nobody started any other kinds of conflicts with me while even the teachers seemed to show more kindness to me, perhaps just to please Maia who was always around me at school.


After the first snowdrops started to show their heads through the snow, Maia started to behave more bizarre around me. She would suddenly grab me by the hand, steal bites from my sandwiches, or call me in weird ways like handsome, awesome, cool, or, the most disturbing for me, cute. I tried to ignore her weird behavior, unable to understand what she meant with all that, until one day when I asked her for her homework to let me copy it.


“How unusual. You normally do your homework the moment you arrive at home, don’t you?” → Maia

“Ugh… I had a weird dream yesterday so I completely forgot about it…” → Johan

“That explains why you were so absent minded.” → Maia


It was another vision of a woman which slew fully-armored knights with just two thin daggers, dashing and slashing as if she was dancing.


A rare vision in which I was a woman in my other life… Damn, even as a woman I had to kill… → Johan


It was known that since old times that women were forbidden to fight. Even so, that doesn’t mean there weren’t any exceptions. And from that dream, I appeared to be one of the very few exceptions. While engulfed in my thoughts, I suddenly feel a warm and somewhat soft body on my back. A sweet smell invaded my nose while black hair fell down from around my shoulders. A sweet voice then whispered beside my ear.


“What are you thinking about?”

“…Eh? W-wait! Get off! What would the others say if they see you over me like this?!” → Johan


I panicked for a moment and fidgeted in my chair.


Damn, here she goes again! Seriously, what’s wrong with her?! Last time she made me walk her home while she held onto my arm like it was nothing! → Johan


The others looked at us and started to whisper in hushed voices. The girls had amused and even excited faces while the boys stared at me as if we were enemies for life. I was unable to hear what they talked about but then Maia got up and walked in front of my table.


“And what’s the problem if the others see us? Are you shy~?” → Maia

“Huh? No! But isn’t it a problem if they would say that we’re a couple?” → Johan

“And what if they say that? Don’t you want to be a couple?” → Maia


Everyone else, me included, froze in place at her sudden confession. I was completely taken by surprise and felt my mind go blank. I never saw her as something more than a friend and wished for things to remain like so at least until I finished middle school. To suddenly hear her confessing to me in front of everyone made me fidget and restless. In the end, I grabbed her arm and tried to take her outside the class.


“Come with me for a moment.” → Maia


However, she had something else on her mind. She retracted her hand and looked at me with eyes that I wasn’t able to read. That was the first time I saw such an expression on someone’s face and it made me shudder for a moment. I didn’t know what she was thinking. I wasn’t able to tell if she was mad, amused, saddened or if she even cared about all of this. Even a neutral face is easier to read than that one.


“No. I wish to hear your answer, now.” → Maia

“M-Maia… Are you aware that, to be a couple you first need to love the respective person?” → Johan

“And that’s exactly what I’m telling you.” → Maia

“B-but… please don’t make things complicated for me, let’s go some other place-” → Johan
“But I want to hear your answer here and now. I have at least this much right, no~?” → Maia
“ Y-yeah but…..” → Johan


I wasn’t able to say it. Not in front of everyone present. I stared around and felt the pressure overtake me, making me unable to say a word. Then some guys got enraged and got closer to me.


“What does it take you so long to accept her confession, you idiot!?”

“That’s right. Maia actually has feelings for you, so why aren’t you responding to her already?”

“What. Are you chickening out now? Come on! Say something!”


Even the girls now started to get angry and rush me for an answer.


W-wait. What? Do I have to accept? But I was told that I should be with someone only if I love her back. B-but I feel no such thing. → Johan


In the end, another guy got pissed off and grabbed me by the collar.


“Come on! What is your answer!?”


At their violent form of forcing my answer, I snapped and roared out.


“I don’t accept it!” → Johan


My answer stunned everyone in the class and Maia finally changed her expression. I saw shock, hopelessness and, to my incredible surprise, some cunningness, craftiness together with a revolting feeling of superiority.


Uh, huh? W-what? → Johan


Without being able to say anything, Maia rushed outside the class while the girls followed with the wish to console her, while at the same time jeering and glaring my way. The boy that held my collar snapped again and punched me in the stomach, making me fall on my knees. Then the others also snapped and wished to punch at me.


“You fuckers!” → Johan


I roared out again then while using all the power in my legs, I got up and pushed everyone away. All my rage and indignation turned into adrenaline and my push made them all fall back and crash on the tables and chairs.


“Y-you s***-head! You still dare be like that-“

“Quiet!” → Johan


I roared out then looked at them with a red face, my face twisted with anger and indignation.


“You all spout s*** that I should be thankful that she offered me attention, but I never asked for it in the first place! And you cry for her feelings but what about mine?! Does it really not matter if I like her or not? Or was I supposed to be like you dogs in heat and stick out my tongue after her?! If you wish her, then go for it! I don’t give a damn anymore! Go and play the hero and just leave me alone already!” → Johan


I see. So that’s why she confessed in front of everyone! That’s why she wanted to hear my answer in class! That sly shine in her eyes was because she knew that if I don’t accept her confession, then my school-life here will be doomed. Bah! Like I give a damn what these idiotic brainless puppets think about me! They all can just dance in her palm for all I care! → Johan


I then sat down on my table, my heart feeling betrayed while my spirit hitting rock-bottom. I only felt indignation and fury. The other boys didn’t dare make another move against me, as for the other girls, they only intensified the trash-talk about me, Maia now ignoring me completely. But I couldn’t care less. I needed no such people in my life, so this outcome was for the best.


When I told mother about this, she shook her head and said:


“The expression you saw at that time was one of lust, positivity, and possible even some love. I don’t think she really wished to do something bad to you. At least not to such an extent.”

“Love? That was love?! It was filthy! If that is love then I’d rather turn into a hermit! She only wished to possess me! Like an object! And she used the mobs in class as ways to chain me down, as if using my own judgment against me! Love is wicked and if that’s its true face, then I don’t need it.” → Johan


I felt my stomach revolt while thinking about all the times Maia showed kindness and friendliness to me. I grit my teeth as my fists trembled and cracked from the tension.


So she was just faking it…? → Johan


Sigh~ Johan, at this age both girls and boys hit puberty and it will go on until the age of 20 or 21. It seems it has a weaker effect on you, but not everyone has the same discipline and strong will like yours, you must understand this. Also, at this moment girls are especially dangerous. Unlike boys who’d rather use their fists to end a conflict, girls keep grudges and will try to strike on the social life, being able to modify the social image of a person with just their words alone.”

“Bah! I don’t give a damn about my social image! As for the boys, I’m starting to fear violence less and less, so let them come!” → Johan

“Also, you must try to control your rage, or you might kill someone.”

“Eh?” → Johan


Mother said with a rare serious expression and her words made me completely dumbfounded. We both sat down at a cup of tea inside the kitchen and I almost dropped my cup from shock.

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