Session 09: School Daze
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First period began shortly after I arrived at school, and thanks to Shiaka’s notes, I was able to find her desk and assume her identity and not look like a complete goof. The class was AP Calculus, a step above my math course, which was just regular Calculus, and today was thankfully pretty lax. 

We were just going over a test the teacher graded over the weekend. I took a sigh of relief as I realized that Shiaka’s prediction for this class was, indeed, correct. But that does not mean that I was all that comfortable during class. If you could not tell, I am not a very charismatic person, and needing to pose as somebody else, while surrounded by people I didn’t know, was discomforting, awkward, and intimidating to me. 

I felt like I was doing something wrong, that I was going to be ‘found out,’ and that I was missing something obvious, even as I had all the answers I needed right in front of me. Whereas I knew Maxxie’s home life pretty well, I knew very little about Shiaka’s school life or daily routine, so the best I could do was copy her more reserved and introverted mannerisms. So I stayed quiet while looking through Shiaka’s test. A test she got a 94% on, surprise, surprise.

Wanting to focus on something, I decided to follow the teacher as he ran through the test, casually explaining concepts that I was not familiar with. I did my best to write notes on what Shiaka got wrong so she could review later. As I wrote, I tried to write something resembling Shiaka’s graceful penmanship, but even with her hands, my writing was still pretty sloppy. While in this focused state, I was interrupted by a low pitched female voice that perked up from behind me, followed by a finger that tapped me on the shoulder.

“Shiaka, may I see your work on question 19?”

I immediately shot my head behind me and locked eyes with Vivi Gaimz. I would not say that she was a friend of mine, but we were acquaintances who worked amicably on a few projects in the past and got along well in general. She was a very reserved and responsible young woman, but also a very curt one. She spoke plainly and directly, always getting to the point with any conversation and trying to end it as quickly as possible. 

She was not rude by any stretch of the imagination, but she put off an air that drove people away from her. This left her as something of a social outcast beyond her small group of mutual friends. Friends who seemed like they would not get alone, but were supposedly quite close. Kind of like me and my friends, I guess.

As for her appearance, she had a head of long curly red hair, dull green eyes with bags beneath them, a pale complexion, and was covered in freckles, head to toe. Her hair was not very well brushed from the morning, it almost never was, and I could see a pimple or two on her face. Her uniform consisted of a dark violet shirt, navy vest, and black pants. Something plain, androgynous, and unremarkable. She was never the type to dress up, which I think was a shame. I had a gut feeling that she could be pretty cute if she tried a little harder, not unlike Maxxie.

“Shiaka?” Vivi said back to me after I spent five full seconds staring at her.

“Hm? Oh, yes, here— you can take a look at it,” I meekly replied as I handed her Shiaka’s test.

Vivi spent the next minute looking over the problem in silence, glancing at her own test and writing in her notebook with a purple pen, rapidly scribbling notes.

“Thanks, Shiaka. Here’s your test back,” Vivi said as she placed the assessment back on my desk.

“Oh, no problem Vivi. Anytime,” I muttered under my breath.

Following that interaction, I was instilled with a sense of slight confidence that, perhaps, I truly was overthinking this. The belief that the life of a student was not filled with as much nuance as I thought it could have been. 

After chiding myself for getting so worked up over nothing, I continued to diligently take notes, trying my best to understand what was happening and to mimic Shiaka’s handwriting. I did this even though, realistically, nobody would question why ‘my’ handwriting was suddenly worse today. Every oddity in my behavior would likely not be perceived by others due to change blindness, especially with regards to the girl who never speaks during class due to… a lot of reasons, really.

Verde: Are you going to bring some of those up now, or…

There is a better time to bring them up later on in the day. For now, I’ll move onto second period, which is a study hall for myself, Shiaka(J), and Maxxie(Z). …Except on Wednesdays and Fridays, because of AP Physics.

Verde: What exactly are your schedules? …I should have asked you to explain this earlier.

Oh, it’s no problem… I think it will be easier to explain if I could get some paper and a pen-

Verde: *Snap*

…And you suddenly poofed that into my hands.

Verde: We’re in a pocket dimension of my control. I mean, I am the one who made the walls this lovely shade of lavender with a head nod.

Okay… so all of our schedules go something like this:

Period Jad Novus

Maxxisaurus Flare

Zoe Xing Shiaka Kurokawa
1. Psychology Psychology AP Physics AP Calculus
2. Study Hall Ceramics AP Physics (W&F) Study Hall
3. Creative Writing Creative Writing AP European History Strength and Conditioning
4. Strength and Conditioning Studio Art Strength and Conditioning Psychology
5. Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
6. Consumer Education Consumer Education AP Calculus College Prep English
7. Calculus Study Hall Consumer Education Consumer Education
8. College Financial Accounting Adventure Education Honor’s College
Prep English
College Financial Accounting
9. Study Hall Study Hall AP Microeconomics Study Hall

Verde: That is a lot of study halls… Mind if I ask why your Senior years are so lax?

We only need a certain amount of credits for graduation, and we already took most of the classes we wanted to. We tried to get into more classes, but if less than fifteen students wanted to get into a class, they were not green-lit. Plus, Maxxie wanted us to start working on a big project of some sort, and… we just didn’t … she is not a very organized young woman.

Verde: And what exactly is this project?

She wanted all four of us to make a video game together, even though half of us know little to nothing about game design. Nothing ever came of it. Not even a complete game design document.

Anyhow, after a disorganized break between classes where I was reminded of how unsettling it is to be surrounded by people who were a full head taller than you, I made my way to the IRC. I quickly reached into Shiaka’s backpack to pull out her student ID, swiped in at the front desk, and once again was surprised by just how small I was at the moment. I went there to the IRC on a daily basis, so seeing everything be so proportionally bigger than me… it brought me back to freshman year and gave me a slight sense of nostalgia.

The well-laid-out mesh of bookshelves, wooden desks and chairs, and scattered computers, all part of a U-shaped room that overlooked a small courtyard area that housed a massive tree from back when this school was built in 1985.

As I was taking in the familiar sights, I was called over to a corner by a familiar voice, the one I had for 18 years, coming from my usual table. There I found Maxxie(J) and Shiaka(Z) already immersed in a conversation.

“—Well, you can try to find some time in the bathroom— when is your next study hall again?” Maxxie(J) whispered.

“M-Maxxie, look, I really do not want the first thing I do while in one of my friend’s bodies to be so… lewd.” Shiaka(Z) stammered, her tone and frazzled gestures looking out-of-place given her tall male form.

“You’re lucky nobody’s around this table, you know?” I said, jumping in on this conversation before plopping my butt and backpack down.

“Good morning Shiaka, how was your first period? Oh, wait, you made sure to keep your legs closed, right? I’m sorry, I forgot to mention that in my notes.” Shiaka(Z) said, her voice and tone still shaky.

“I always cross or keep my legs pretty close together,” I said I gestured to show my legs crossing without creasing the skirt.

“Yeah, he learned to act like a lady when he was eleven— Or did I not tell you that story?” Maxxie(J) added… referring to the crossdressing story I brought up a while ago.

“Oh, yes, you told me. …I’m still surprised you didn’t get in trouble with the school.” Shiaka(Z) replied.

“Pfft, you kidding?” Maxxie(J) began. “They were talking about a crossdressing day for a while. It was about to enter the planning stages, but then some parents caught wind of it, and got super salty about the idea of their dear little Nathaniel wearing a skirt! It kinda sucks, but in just a couple dozen more years those old farts will be powerless and out of the public eye. Then we’ll get to run this world and become the crotchety old folks yelling at those damn dirty hip and happening pansexual genderqueer tweenagers! …So did that schlong bother you while sitting, Shi-Shi?”

“Look, this is really not the place for conversations about genitalia. Plus, we should probably use our body’s respective names and behaviors, if you catch my drift, Jad and Zoe.”

“Oh, in that case… Zoe, I just want to make sure you were… okay during this period, and didn’t have any… lower body troubles.” 

I was impressed with the way Maxxie(J) worded that question, as it was a pretty close approximation to how would phrase the same question.

“I… I suppose that I did encounter some issues with controlling it. The boxers, size, and general position of it all when it was fully erect proved to be a tad problematic.” Shiaka(Z) explained, imitating Zoe pretty well.

“Nice, full points except for the tad comment, ‘cos it’s a ‘tad’ redundant.” Maxxie(J) said with a snarky smirk. “Personally, I encountered some… problems when it came to hiding it, but seeing as how the desk hides your lap pretty well, nobody noticed. ‘Maxxie’ seemed to notice it and gave me a wink in response, but that was about it. The class was pretty boring otherwise, as it was a simple review of concepts we already went through. I couldn’t help but notice that ‘Maxxie’ was really focused on the material, frantically writing things down. She should have probably asked a question, but she was never the sort to interrupt class, not like you, Zoe.” 

“My AP Calculus wasn’t that interesting either,” I explained. “We just went over a test, which did pretty well on. I also handed my test over to Vivi Gaimz when she asked, and that was the only time I really did much but sit, listen, and make some notes.”

“That is certainly more involved than my AP Physics course was,” Shiaka(Z) began. “For whatever reason the AP students feel as if they can simply skip classes for an early holiday, and as such my class was far more vacant than usual. Even my professor felt this way, as they put a substitute in charge of this class for the next two days. A substitute with absolutely no lesson plan. All I had to preoccupy myself with during this period was a novel, Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, in my backpack, as my homework had already been completed. I was worried that my peers would try to speak to me, but they were all content with their AP class being a study hall for the next two days.” 

“Eh, Zoe would be sure to mention the study hall thing sooner, but you’re doing a good job, Shi-Shi.” Maxxie(J) playfully noted.

“Not to be rude Zoe, but if I weren’t friends with you, I wouldn’t approach you when you have your head buried in a book. You can be pretty… intimidating.” I told Shiaka(Z).

“True, true, you don’t look that friendly when you are giving someone that gaze of yours. I think it may just be your default expression.” Maxxie(J) commented.

“I like to think it has to do with my more mature features. Even then, teenagers are notoriously bad at identifying facial expressions, often assuming that people are angrier than they actually are.” Shiaka(Z) stated, adjusting her glasses after speaking.

“But seriously, guys, how are you liking your temp bodies?” Maxxie(J) asked, taking over the conversation.

“I feel tiny. I mean, not just regarding height, my volume in general is so much… less than I’m used to, and I feel a lot daintier and weaker than I’m used to. No offense, Zoe.” I bluntly laid out, feeling a bit bad at my lack of sugar coating.

“After being in your body for a few hours, I can certainly understand your perspective. But it’s nothing compared to jumping into Zoe’s body. I keep feeling that I will bump my head on something, slam doors, or accidentally throw things in the air. I can appreciate this in some way, like the strength, the height— I feel like a genuine giant in Zoe’s body. I no longer need to look up at people, I need to bend my head down to them, and I can’t begin to tell you how different that is! That said, I do dislike the bodily hair that Zoe has, and the voice. His deep masculine tones sound even deeper in my head, and it’s… unsettling to hear myself speak.”

“Yeah, that’s one thing I don’t like about this side of the fence, the voice,” Maxxie(J) said. “It just doesn’t sound right to me. As a former male… Shiaka, what’s your angle on your squeaky new voice box?”

“I think I always preferred female voices over male to be honest,” I said, being honest about being honest. “There’s a lot of baggage you’re free to dive into to figure out why. But the long and short of it is that I actually do like using this voice. I wouldn’t really want to have it forever, I’d prefer something less… extreme, closer to your voice, Maxxie. …Wait, what do you mean by ‘former male’?”

“I was being a silly Billy. And as for how I feel about this bod, I’m having a good time. Sure, impersonating boils my broth a bit, but I have an adult’s patience and can stand still for forty minutes at a time— just not for days on end… Actually, do you wanna go somewhere special for Winter Break and bust the VD out? We can be entirely new people and shaz!”

“We have briefly discussed this before,” Shiaka(Z) reminded us. “While we will almost certainly make use of this VD over Winter Break, we should focus on the present. We will have plenty of time to find a location if that is what you desire, so please, do try to stay focused on one thing at a time.”

“Fine! …But how about we…” Maxxie(J) began, sending us into a deluge of pretty pointless conversations about what we would do with the VD. 

It was a pretty one-sided conversation involving our parents, some mutual acquaintances, and even the world at large. It really didn’t take long for Maxxie(J) to fall down a thought hole where she would use the VD to effectively switch bodies with everybody around the world in order to free the world of sexism and racism. You know, the normal stuff.

Verde: You said that so dryly that I could not tell if you were being sarcastic or not.

My friends and I are basically social outcasts, and there are only… seven other students in this school who I really know. So I only have a slight grasp as to what is ‘normal’.

Verde: I actually never put two and two together, but, yes, you don’t have many friends, mister Haganai.

Hehehehehe. Goodness, I really am easy to please when it comes to anime references. But, yes, it is true and… You look like you want this conversation to go a very specific way.

Verde: I do. I would like to hear the story of how you became friends with your crew.

Okay then. Maxie was an outcast— the new girl at school, transferred from a private elementary school for roughhousing, and was looking for a clique she could be part of. I, um, I had a few friends, I guess you could call them, but they were mostly my friends because they were in my class, and none of them were in my second grade class. However, Maxxie was in my second grade class, she seemed fun when she did her class introduction, and I decided I should try to play with her. From there, we just kept growing, our friendship blossoming into… where it is today. We didn’t really have other friends at the time, and were perfectly content with just each other. At least for the following three years.

Verde: Can you explain to me why somebody as charismatic as Maxxie did not amass a load of friends in grade school? 

She got into fights with some mean kids and built up a bad reputation. Come third grade, we were separated, sent to different classes, and that really annoyed Maxxie, while it just left me kinda sad. Maxxie threw this massive fit where she demanded that the school put us back together, breaking things and punching people. Needless to say, she suspended pretty quickly. But instead of staying home, she started protesting outside of the school, demanding for us to be in the same class. After that display, the school took the path of least resistance and put the two of us in the same class. It was easier than dealing with her horse poop.

As for Zoe, he was the new kid who arrived during the fifth grade, a week after the year started. As such, he was something of an outcast, which I think he wanted. He was always very quiet, kept to himself, and took notes, which was really rare to see in fifth grade. One day during recess he decided to read in this bench area in the school playground. A really nice spot, surrounded by these tall bushes and short trees, casting this area in a lot of shade during the warmer months. Anyway, Maxxie felt kind of sorry for him, and tried to become friends with him. He was very reluctant, but after a week of pestering, he finally started hanging out with us. Continued engagement led to a bond and, bam, he became part of our group.

Then there is Shiaka, who was the ‘January Girl’ of our Freshman year. After learning about her, Maxxie invited her to eat lunch with herself, Zoe, and I. This was awkward for the first few days, as Shiaka was so quiet we could barely hear her over all the ambient clattering. As such, we eventually decided to crash a vacant classroom and eat lunch there. In this safer, quieter, environment, Shiaka opened up over the course of a few weeks and with that, another friend gained, amounting to a total of three. Yipee. 

Verde: So, you only ever made friends with the new kids?

I never really thought about that, but I guess I did. Well, new kids are in an ample position to be swept into social groups, and what better group for social outcasts than a group of social outcasts?