Da na na, na na na, Neeeeooooo.
Kou lays out his pencil crayons with precision, the laws of the colour wheel observed (beginning with indigo, as is his preference), before laying out the other contents of his pencil case. It is a new semester and the first day of cultural class in 1-01. He brushes nigh-invisible specks of dust from his new sketchbook.
Yves, Hiroki, and Rob look on with eyebrows climbing up their foreheads. And Yves, realizing that for once he has the chance to make a jab, tries to make one that the other two might appreciate.
Yves: “Kou,” faint laugh, “Kou, what the heck? You’re acting like some girl.”
Rob sniggers – Yves waits for the rejoinder. But Kou just frowns. He doesn’t even look at Yves, he stares at his sketchbook and frowns mightily. He selects a pencil. Then he doesn’t speak to any of them for the rest of the day. He stays bent over his sketchbook, even through science in last period, and heads out on his own as soon as the bell goes.
The next day Kou comes to school wearing a purple shirt.
Yves feels a wriggle of discomfort. Kou in purple is unprecedented. Yves’ comment of yesterday simmers and bubbles. Then Kou pauses in his work and takes out a tupperware, which has a pink lid, and he begins eating vegetables out of it.
They huddle up two desks over from Kou, all whispers.
Yves: “Doesn’t Kou seem a bit off? Maybe, since yesterday…”
Rob: “Yeah, like since you said that stuff.”
Yves: under his breath, “You thought it was funny!”
Rob: “Well you said it.”
Terrence: “What’d he say?”
Rob tells Terrence and Eshwar.
Eshwar: snort, “And then it came true!”
Terrence: “Well, if what you said hit a sore spot…” and his mouth broadens into a smirk, “it’s probably your fault, right?”
Yves: “My fault?”
Rob and Eshwar see what Terrence is about and chime in on the same note. Hiroki sees what Terrence is about, but chooses to remain bemused.
Rob: “You can’t just say that stuff to people.”
Eshwar: “Way to be intolerant, Yves.”
Terrence: “It obviously bothered Kou, and you should apologize. He shouldn’t have to deal with judgement like that.”
They have Yves cowed faster than you can say social justice warriors. Hesitant, he goes and hovers near Kou’s desk. When he glances back, Rob and Terrence and Eshwar are making chivvying motions, and of course it’s when he turns back to Kou that they revert to shit-eating grins.
Yves: “Kou…” Kou doesn’t look up. “Kou, you know about yesterday… I’m sorry I said that, I mean, just because your pencil crayons were in rainbow order and you had things so prissy – I mean, particular. It’s not like that makes you a girl – unless you want to be, of course! And that would be fine! Totally cool!”
Closer to the front of the classroom, Lana’s head snaps up as she hears this.
Kou makes an annoyed grunt. He stops drawing, leans back in his chair, and finally looks up at Yves. “Did you say something yesterday? I didn’t notice.”
Yves: “Yeah – wait, what?”
Kou picks up his pencil crayon again. Before Yves can process this, Lana comes in like a freight train, levelling a finger. “Hey! He’s not girly for being organized! You can’t be a decent human being in the first place if you’re not organized!”
Rob snorts and throws his eraser (which he has not been using anyway) at her.
Slow-mo. Lana’s eye darts, locks onto the eraser. She catches it, a one-handed ninja blur, a declaration of war. She and Rob glare at each other like stray cats.
Into the mounting tension Kou finishes a stroke of colour, and there is a click of finality as he puts his last colour back on the desk. It and all the other pencil crayons are laid perfectly parallel to the edge of his paper. He declares that he has finished his pachycephalosaurus.
His non sequitur fizzles out the lightning bolts that Lana and Rob’s eyes are hurling, de-escalating the war. Lana carelessly tosses the eraser in the vicinity of Rob’s desk and goes to look at Kou’s drawing.
The next day Kou is wearing his conventional blue shirt. When Hiroki asks him about the purple shirt, and the pink Tupperware, and the vegetables, Kou sweeps his expectant audience with a sneer.
Kou: “That was indigo, you morons. And I don’t pack my own lunch.”
A flip through Kou’s sketchbook would reveal coloured drawings of considerable taste and technical execution. It’s not like he only reads in his spare time…