Victoria had meant to get up and go to sleep in her bedroom, but instead she had stayed glued to the anime channel because it was mindless entertainment. She had watched Cram School Soda Break until it went off and had been replaced by the first episode of another "slice of life" show called Fortunate Meteor about a group of young teenage women in high school who went about their daily lives and stressed over schoolwork, studying for exams, and just living their lives in a completely ordinary town. Unlike Cram School Soda Break, there was no band gimmick in this show.
Victoria watched the show and was not quite sure what to make of it. The show's lead characters were talking about different kinds of soda and which one was the best while eating lunch outside their school. It was not exactly thrilling to watch, but shortly after that scene things got more interesting when the pink-haired lead, a bespectacled young woman named Momo, learned from her friends that they had an Algebra test in less than an hour. She screamed and ran into the school, leaving her lunch behind and her friends asking if she would be OK.
The scene shifted to Momo hurrying into a library with her math textbook and notes, finding an empty table, and quietly sitting down at it before opening her textbook. Once she opened it orchestral music began to play as Momo began sweating and her internal dialogue indicated sheer panic as she exclaimed that her parents would kick her out of their home if she made less than a B. A female chorus began to sing a slow song in what sounded like Latin as Momo did her best to study with the test coming closer and closer. She listened a bit closer and thought that the chorus sounded like Mozart's Lacrimosa, but she was not certain. Victoria was somewhat amused by that scene and continued to watch the pink-haired girl do her best to cram for the math test as the clock in the library ticked slowly in a countdown to the great trial Momo was going to face.
The show then skipped to the day after the test and Momo got her test back after school ended for the day. She was sweating profusely when she got it back and to her immense relief she made an 88 on the Algebra test. Momo smiled widely and wiped her forehead as she quietly celebrated her victory. She would get to stay at home tonight instead of having to crash on a friend's couch. A girl with long white waist-length hair who was part of the group, a young woman named Kasumi, walked over to Momo and looked over the bespectacled girl's shoulder at her test paper.
"Wow, Momo. You were born under a lucky star!" The white-haired young woman exclaimed. Kasumi showed her test paper and she had made an 80.
"You can say that again, Kasumi. I don't need to make this a habit, though. If I count on luck to see me through everything one day my luck will give out at a really bad time and I'll be spending the night outside my home!" Momo said to her friend. The third member of the friend group, a young woman with long blue hair in a ponytail named Kaede, sauntered over to the group and slammed her test paper onto Momo's desk.
"I got a 72!" Kaede remarked happily. Momo and Kasumi stared at her with blank looks.
"What? I'm proud of that grade! I'm really bad at Algebra, OK?" Kaede said defensively.
"You really need to study more, Kaede." Momo suggested to her friend. Kaede frowned and took back her test paper.
"You really need to study more, Kaede." Kaede repeated mockingly in a nasally "nerd" voice. Momo frowned.
"Don't give me that look, Momo. You know that I study hours and hours for math tests. I study until I see numbers and equations in my sleep, but then I go blank when I actually get the test! I'm slowly doing better, but I won't ever be as good as you!" Kaede defended herself and her grade. Momo's face softened.
"Look, Kaede. I didn't mean anything by it. If you want me to help you study, I can help you study." Momo offered. Kaede's face softened.
"Don't waste your time on me, Momo. You've got your own grades to worry about. Your parents literally throw you out of your house if you make anything less than a B, so don't worry about me." Kaede replied in all seriousness. She also sounded a bit sad when she said that. She walked away from the pair and Kasumi and Momo watched Kaede leave the classroom while slow and sad music played.
Outside the classroom Kaede looked out a window. She looked towards the horizon and various voices began to echo in her head.
"YOU FAILED YOUR MATH TEST! YOU'RE SO STUPID!" A woman screamed at Kaede. Seconds later a little girl stumbling over multiplication tables was heard.
"2 times 4 is eight! EIGHT! IT'S NOT THAT HARD! Why can't you learn your damn multiplication tables?!" A man screamed at Kaede and both the man and woman started to call Kaede hurtful names. Victoria winced and the scene changed to a flashback with a small blue-haired girl sitting on a bed with pink sheets in a room decorated with children's toys and crying. The girl was a younger Kaede shortly after the verbal beating she received for failing her math test. The scene was getting harder and harder for Victoria to watch without wanting to cry, but she pushed herself to keep watching anyway.
Victoria's perseverance was rewarded when the scene mercifully switched back to the present and Kaede continued to look out the window.
"I wish I was born under a lucky star like Momo." Kaede said to herself. The episode took a commercial break and Victoria was relieved to receive a break. The episode was emotionally draining, especially the brief and sad flashback of younger Kaede crying in her room after her parents berated her for not getting her multiplication tables right.
She watched the commercial for Cram School Soda Break and some other shows on the anime channel, then five minutes later the episode continued and showed Kaede finishing her homework at 1:35 A.M. the next morning, then setting the alarm on her alarm clock for 5:00 A.M. The blue-haired young woman then shuffled over to her bed and fell on it, going to sleep without even bothering to pull back the sheets. The scene shifted to Momo asleep at her desk in her room with her schoolbag sitting on the floor to the right of her chair. The scene then shifted to Kasumi finally going to sleep at 2:05 A.M. after finishing her homework. Then the scene changed yet again to the girls arriving at school around 8:00 A.M. with Momo taking the lead, Kasumi following close behind Momo, and Kaede following Kasumi with a bottle of water in hand.
[Post Word Count: 1,186]
[Total Word Count: 4,504/11,000]