Terrible Test Scores Pin a Loser on me
You could say Yayoi was an egoist.
Or, you could say she was the most egotistical, self-centered, narcissistic, vain and vile egoist to ever have lived. She would like that description much more. Now, if you were to find out that this egotistical, self-centered, narcissistic, vain and vile egoist lost at something she considered herself the best at (out of many other things), what exactly would you imagine? Whatever it is, you
e wrong, and that was the whole issue. Never had Yayoi collected herself so calmly after being denied a win. Never had her mouth shut so quickly after finding herself in the same spot as her competitor. But then again, she never did lose.
And she hadn on that day either. Every year, Akiharu held a citywide cooking competition. All were welcome to join, so long as you signed up for your correct division, based on age. In the 13-18 division, Yayoi had absolutely no competition. Not that she was good; there was quite literally no one for her to go against. In this day and age, parents would be lucky to have their children so much as glance at the stove without writhing in horror at the sight. This never stopped her, though. At every event, the tenacious teen would whip up dish after dish with unrelenting speed as if her favorite cooking knives were being held hostage. Seemingly, family wouldve been a better example, if it weren for the fact that Yayoi would trade them in for a nothing more than a half-burnt spatula.
But this year, things were different. As usual, things were in motion. Yayoi proceeded beyond the divided line for people between the ages of 40 and 60, which virtually wrapped around itself, and onto her desolate spot in front of the all too familiar sign-up form. To get the ink flowing, she picked up the pen and scribbled a few lines on the bottom of the paper. She reached the top of the page with the ease of muscle memory, only to see the words ”CHIIYA CHIEKO ” scrawled in pink pen with hearts dotting the is. She brushed it off. With handwriting like that, Yayoi assumed, Chiiyas knife work and coordination skills could be simmered down to nothing but a broken attempt to end her almighty reign. She may not have cared, but she certainly wouldn win without a fight. It was against her standards.
4:30 arrived, and the host called the beginning of the cook-off. Yayoi began making her signature alfredo pasta. She minced garlic and onions and tossed them into her homemade alfredo sauce that was now simmering on the stove. The judges watched intently as her hands moved swiftly back and forth between the smooth liquid bubbling in her pan and her cutting board. It was almost magic to those around her; they watched with salivating mouths and even hungrier eyes. That was, until a splendid sweet aroma filled the air. In a battle of the scents, the gentle coffee smell of Chiiyas dark chocolate tiramisu overshadowed the savory fragrance rising from Yayois kitchen.
Yayois head shot up, glaring bullets at the judges and spectators who were now crowding around Chiiyas station. The attention-filled girl let out a sickeningly sweet smile so radiant, it practically reflected off the surface of her glass bowls. Yayoi, not processing the idea that someones kitchen work could be more enticing than hers, decided to let out a competing smile of her own to bring back her viewers. It did not work. Instead, it can be certain that she mentally scarred several young children in the vicinity with her uneven, unconvincing smirk. Still, she continued on, vigorously mixing the life into and out of her sauce while sizing-up her competition. Unbothered, Chiiya continued to work wonders in her kitchen.
Time was called, and the two girls brought up their dishes simultaneously. Chiiyas light pink hair bounced as she rocked back and forth, fingers gripping at the hem of her shirt. Yayoi stood still, completely confident in her pasta. The judges inspected the dishes, old and frail hands poking around the edges of the plate. They first dug a spoon into the tiramisu. It was light, airy, and fluffy. The spoon had no trouble gliding through the dessert, scooping up soft éclairs, melted dark chocolate, and sprinkles of powdered sugar. The bite melted in the mouths of the judges, tongues now coated in the silky texture of the chocolate. The flavor of coffee lingered on their taste buds just slightly as the éclairs fell to bits under the force of their teeth. It was heaven on a spoon.
They moved on to the alfredo. Tender pieces of sliced chicken breast rested on top of the glistening noodles, covered with the creamy, aromatic sauce. Leaves of green parsley decorated the plate in perfectly calculated spots. The judges forks twirled around the pasta, lifting up a perfect portion. Sauce dripped down from the forks as steam rose up. They blew cool air for just a moment, not hesitating to enjoy the firm yet velvety noodles. Notes of black pepper and garlic arose from the dish. Even Chiiyas stomach grumbled at the sight of the delicious meal in front of her.
It would be an understatement to say that Yayoi thought shed won. She knew shed won. She was surely, certainly, undoubtedly, and explicitly the winner in her mind. A genuine smile graced her face as she held her head up high. She interrupted the judges deliberation, interjecting a statement of her own. ”Now, now, judging fellow. There is no need to spare the feelings of half-hearted wannabes. Im sure we all know the outcome of today. Ill be picking the fruits of my labor from the tree of victory now, thank you ”. She pranced over to the medal, gently taking it out of the hands of the host with a graceful head tilt. Spectators looked on in shock, the rest in confusion.
”Yes, well, Ms. Yada. On any other day that would be the case. Unfortunately, this wonderful tiramisu is too much to give up on
”. The oldest judge limped towards Yayoi, snatching the medal back.
”You girls both did great. You
e both winners! ” The spectators broke into applause. And soon enough, Yayoi had taken her silent leave. Maybe it was disbelief mixed with delusion, but the girl had gone completely quiet, inside and out. Not a singular thought came to her mind nor out of her mouth. She went home in defeat, and really, she was beating herself over the head.
All this would bring us to the current moment. Yayoi was bolting down the school hallway, her brown locks practically soaring behind her. It wasn because she was late for sewing club, (and although she was), her destination was anywhere but there. She dashed down the third floor stairs and rounded the first corner, shutting herself in an open janitorial closet. Her back hit the door as she panted heavily, catching her breath. She peeked out the thin window and scanned as much as the empty corridor as she could. She sat on the cold ground and put her head in her hands, praying shed lost her pursuer.
Another pair of footsteps could be heard lunging through the school as well. They stopped at the fourth floor, suddenly reoccurring on the second. Yayoi covered her ears as heavy panting approached the room from the opposite end of the hall. Those pants sounded desperate; whoever that was wanted something very dearly. The footsteps slowed, approaching the now shut custodial closet. The handle slowly turned. Light poured into the darkened room. The gasps for air paused as a thud was felt on the ground.
”Finally ”, a soft voice whispered from inside the room.
”I know, right? ” Yayoi responded. ”Wait… ” She rushed to her feet, finding the nearest light switch to flip on. ”For Gods sake! ” Yayoi threw up her hands in exhaustion. A familiar face stared back at the agitated girl, whose forehead was now wrinkling with annoyance.
”Why…how? How are you doing this?! ”
”I told you we
e stuck to each other! ” Chiiya yelled in return. Ever since the day of the cook-off, Yayoi and Chiiya could not stop bumping into each other. Even worse, neither of them particularly favored the other. They both wanted the medal that day, and instead they received a pat on the back for a job well done. It wasn enough! They wanted to feel the victory, to roll in it, to drown in it! Not share it with someone else! The girls stared each other down, Chiiya rolling her eyes before starting again.
”You still think you deserve the win more than me, don you, Mya-Pretzelle? ”
”Oh come on…Im not doing this…not again! Please! ” Yayoi slowly backed away.
”Resistance is futile, lowly scum ”.
”Lowly scum…? ” Yayoi looked to the ground. ”Ill have you know that my kingdom has yet to fall! Unlike yours! For millennia you lot did battle with the Kingdom of Salts! And thy did lose. Twice! Is that not correct, Madam Soufflé? ”
”How dare you reference that! We were merely lacking in the Sugar Brigade! Ill show you something thatll leave you begging for mercy, commoner! ” Chiiya raised her hand towards Yayoi, ready to release one of her unbeatable, perfect spells, as she called them.
”What in the multiverse are you two doing?! ” A voice rang out as the door slammed open. The two girls paused in an awkward position of Chiiya holding her hand in a pose and Yayoi scrambling desperately through her bag for her magical item. They looked up hesitantly, then down to themselves, quickly adjusting their behavior. See, this chuunibyou of sorts was never something either girl wanted. It mustve been the competitive spirit in both that arose the inner middle schooler in them. At every turn and tide that the girls would find themselves, theyd have to fight the urge to not break out in this ridiculous pretend play. Yayoi better understood how to keep it under control, but Chiiya was still a bit too childish at heart.
e sorry! ” they shouted. The girls paused, scoffing at the fact that they spoke at the same time. While the delusions were fake, the spite was very much real.
”You two…Yayoi, club room, now! Chiiya, just go home or something! Why are you even still here? ”
”Yes, Soma… ” the deflated girls replied to their friend. All three girls exited the room. The rivals began walking in the same direction, and if it weren for Soma snatching Yayois arm in the opposite direction, it wouldve continued that way. The girls headed to sewing club.
”Really, choosing to start that madness on today of all days?! We have six costumes to make, Yoi! ”
”I know! But, she…she called me lowly scum! And one just does not do nothing then! ” Soma stared blankly at this reply. She sighed and continued on to the club room where others waited on their arrival. The club worked on their costumes for the school fair coming up soon until the bell rung to dismiss all clubs.
The group separated, saying their goodbyes. Yayoi started down the hall to the stairwell, gripping a needle pan in her hand. She paused when she was yet again met with a familiar face, and that nausea-inducing pink hair.
The girls looked at each other. ”Well, last one there owes the other lunch ”. While the two were rivals, they would sometimes make bets when they came into contact with one another, and in a system of honor, they upheld their ends of the agreements no matter how much they despised it. Chiiya barely finished her statement as she ran towards the stairs. This would be the fourth time Yayoi would owe the girl lunch, and as inclined as she was to simply not care, her pockets wouldn survive another one of Chiiyas extravagant lunch ideas. She ran after Chiiya, the door to the stairwell slamming behind them.
”You didn go home?! ”
Step after step, they ran, shoving each other playfully into the walls and rails. Chiiya jumped a few of the bottom steps, knowing it was something Yayoi could not do. In response, Yayoi slid down the railing of the fourth floors stairs, something she didn even know was possible for herself. Chiiya was ahead, picking up speed as they reached the second floor. The other did the same, her knees now pushing ahead with a stamina system of their own. The two were on the second floor stairs. In just a few more steps, Chiiya could see herself ordering a lobster-for-three meal just for herself with her rivals money. What she didn anticipate, however, was Yayois jacket being taken off and thrown in her direction. It startled her, causing her to lean forward just enough to be swept off her feet. Yayoi bolted for the first floor door, grabbing the knob with a sigh of relief.
Both Yayoi and Chiiya panted heavily as they leaned down to catch their breaths. Chiiya took out her phone. ”One minute left, winner ”. She smirked and sprinted to catch her bus, knowing Yayoi was completely out of stamina. Geez, Yayoi whispered as she walked over to the bus station to wait for a later bus. Her legs were sore, she was out of breath, and her head was swollen in aggravation.
”You do it to yourself, Yayoi. You do it to yourself ”. Chiiya valiantly said to herself while riding the bus home.
”Im gonna kill her one of these days… ” She wouldn , but Yayois mind was clouded. She wiped sweat from her forehead, checking the time as cars drove past every so often. ”And now Ive missed the special episode of Ms. Kugas Office Adventures! ”
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