Chapter 62: Choice (2)
The by-election caused quite a bit of mayhem throughout all of Inpyeong, to the point that campaign sounds, from shouts and cheers to promotional songs, echoed through the classrooms of the elementary school, despite the fact that the main campaign locations were very, very far removed from the school. The ruckus invaded Class 3-2 as well, though unlike the cheerful shouts of the campaign, the classroom was immersed in a tense, bone-chilling silence.
Following lunch break, just as some of the boys had run outside to play in the courtyard, the remaining students of 3-2 gathered to the center of the classroom, forming a large circle. At the center stood the two Amazons of the class, engaging in a fierce staring contest. Indeed, the classroom was more akin to a battleground than an actual classroom.
10 minutes prior.
The students were happily eating their lunches, talking amongst themselves as they dug in with gusto. The impatient boys shoveled their food down in a hurry, eager to get outside to play. The girls sat in their respective groups and slowly enjoyed their lunchtime. However, the atmosphere was different from usual, more tense and anxious than ever.
“Wow, look at you eating without a care in the world. Must be nice to be thickheaded.”
The first jab had been thrown by Yu-kyeong, sitting in Section 4 of the classroom.
“Why do you care whether I eat or not? Must be tiring to be so nosy.”
A full swing to counter the jab. This time, it was Eunjin, sitting in Section 1.
“Is that all you can say, little miss savage?” Yu-kyeong mocked again.
“You absolute…!” Eunjin got up abruptly, knocking her chair back. It clattered loudly as it fell over, and the whole classroom fell into silence.
“Eunjin. Sit down.” A sharp voice rang clear across the room. It was Hyejin, who was sitting with Yu-kyeong. She glared daggers at Eunjin, who flinched slightly.
“Hyejin, who do you think you are? Stop butting in.” Yurim’s voice, still quite high-pitched and childish, shot out, cutting through the thick silence. She also glared at Hyejin, and the students grew increasingly restless.
The playful voices of students playing outside drifted through the open windows along with the cool autumn breeze, but neither did much to alleviate the heavy tension in the classroom. Just as a battlefield is most quiet before the fight, no one in the class was brave enough to make a noise. Yurim, sitting by the window, and Hyejin, sitting by the backdoor of the class, continued to glare at each other, not even blinking once. It was Yurim who spoke first.
“Hey, Hyejin. Are you blind? Why are you telling Eunjin to sit? Yu-kyeong started it first. Or are you deaf? Maybe just shameless?”
“Shameless? Shameless? Are you out of your mind?”
“Out of… Hah! You wanna die?”
“Pfft. Sure, yeah. Go ahead, kill me. Come on!”
Hyejin stood from her seat, and Yurim followed in suit. The two Amazons met at the center of the classroom, and the rest of the students surrounded them in no time.
“You’re funny, you know that? You think you’re so great?” Yurim, clad in her white sweatshit and red checkered skirt, stood tall, shoulders open, smirking defiantly at Hyejin.
“What did you say?” Hyejin said, stepping closer to Yurim. Hyejin was wearing a beige sweatshirt and a pair of leggings. A simple attire, but she was intimidating nonetheless.
“Or are you her little servant girl?”
With that, Hyejin lost all patience and reached out first.
Two hours prior.
During the students’ social studies class, the teacher had begun talking about the Inpyeong by-election, since it was a good opportunity to dig deeper into democracy as a foundational principle for society.
“Alright, today we will be discussing things that are happening within our own town. Have you come across people making speeches or greeting crowds in public while wearing colored ribbons recently?”
“Can anyone tell me why they’re doing this?”
“That’s right, elections. We’ve had elections during first semester, as well, but we didn’t have a chance to really learn about what they are. That’s why we’ll be taking these elections as an example to study more about the election process and our country’s democratic system.”
The teacher continued his explanation of democracy and elections in a clear, concise way, so that the young students would have no issues understanding the various concepts. Then, before the end of class, he briefly took the time to mentions the current by-elections in particular.
“Usually, when someone is elected into office, it’s customary that they remain in position until the next elections, just like our own class president. Eunjin, you were our class president during first semester, and you gave it your all, didn’t you?”
Eunjin’s answer was rather quiet, but the teacher continued explaining nonetheless.
“And with the beginning of the second semester, we picked a new class president. Who did we elect as a class?”
“Yu-kyeong,” a few students answered. However, some students took this time to pointedly glare at Yu-kyeong, whose face immediately turned bright red. The teacher finally noticed something was off about his students today and turned to face Yu-kyeong.
“Yu-kyeong,” he called, “Is everything okay?”
But her answer was so obviously forced that even the most indifferent person would have had little trouble noticing. The teacher silently reprimanded himself for being too immersed in his own explanation to realize something had happened to the children. Indeed, it was in times like these that he felt like being in charge of almost forty children was too difficult a task for a single person.
Looking around the classroom for more clues, he noticed that Eunjin’s expression was also out of the ordinary. This much was obvious, since she hadn’t stopped glaring at Yu-kyeong ever since her name had come up.
“Eunjin, what’s wrong?”
Eunjin gave no answer, turning her head slightly to consider her teacher before choosing to go back to glaring at Yu-kyeong.
“Did you two have a fight?”
And just in the nick of time, the bell rang, signaling the end of classes. The teacher called the two students to the counseling room, and the remaining students collectively let out a sigh of relief. Much of the tension that had been present since lunchtime had lifted, and some of the more dense, unaware students ran out of the classroom to make a ruckus in the hallway. Most, however, sat still at their desks. Though the tension had indeed lifted, they still felt its aftereffects much too strongly to snap out of it so quickly.
Five hours prior.
Students were just now entering their respective classrooms, and Lucid was also busy preparing for class. Busy was a rather strong exaggeration, though, since his preparation only really consisted of reading his textbook. He didn’t attend private academies nor receive tutoring, and he certainly didn’t have a separate workbook at his disposal. As such, all he could do was read his textbook or books borrowed from the library.
Just as he was beginning to immerse himself in his studies, he noticed a commotion behind him, disrupting all his concentration. Turning around, he saw that Eunjin and Yu-kyeong were standing there, facing each other without even putting their backpacks down.
“Hey. Are you delusional? Do you still think you’re the boss here?”
“What are you talking about?” Eunjin questioned back. Yu-kyeong had stopped her as soon as she had entered the classroom, and that was the first thing she said? Eunjin honestly didn’t understand what was happening.
“Who do you think you are, to order everyone around?” Yu-kyeong asked again, crossing her arms defiantly.
“Order everyone around? Me?”
“Yeah, in the group chat! You told everyone to stay after classes!”
“Oh. That’s because my mom said she wanted to buy us food. I said that in the chat, too. How is that an order?”
“Hah! It’s not even your birthday or anything, so why are you gathering everyone up like you mean something? Besides, you literally said to “stay after class.” That’s something the class president can say, which you are not. So obviously you’re delusional about your position here. Speaking of which, did you know people hated that about you during first semester, too? Do this, do that. Everything you said was a command. Who do you think you are?”
“Don’t you know how to ask? How rude can you be? Ugh, you seriously don’t know anything, do you? Everyone said you were totally bossy and annoying. I really didn’t want to say this, but you are so obnoxious.”
Eunji had lost track of the subject, what with all the words being thrown her way, but she had understood a few keywords that Yu-kyeong had spat out, and she didn’t like any of them. In short, the little she had managed to grasp had been enough to make Eunji completely snap.
“Wow, you’re totally nuts, aren’t you?”
“Nuts? Nuts?? Did you just call me nuts??”
“I did. What about it?”
Just as Yu-kyeong, having lost all her temper, was about to reach for Eunji’s hair to yank it, someone grabbed her wrist and pulled her back.
“Hey, enough. Why are you fighting right in front of the door?”
It was Hyejin, having just arrived in class. With Yu-kyeong standing at just around 135cm (4’5″), she was no match against Hyejin in terms of strength. So, she turned to words instead.
“You saw it too, didn’t you? She’s always bossing us around and ordering us to do this and that. So I told her to stop, as is my right as the class president, and she called me nuts!”
“Did you really?” Hyejin asked, or rather demanded, as she turned back to look (or rather glare) at Eunji. Wholly terrified of the girl towering above her, Eunjin flinched and her mouth went dry, preventing her from saying anything.
“What’s up with you? Why are you looking at her like that?” A childish, high-pitched voice, resounding sharply through the classroom, cut in before Hyejin could question Eunjin further.
It was Yurim, who quickly reached the girls and purposely shoved her way in between Eunjin and Hyejin. Two pairs of glaring eyes met, and the onlookers could feel the air around them crackle under the intensity of the two gazes. Unable to say anything, the students simply looked on.
Lucid also looked on, carefully considering the four people involved. Being the only student in the class without a cellphone, he had no way of knowing why the fight had started in the first place. However, he was aware of the fact that some of classmates (mostly girls) had indeed voiced their displeasure towards Eunjin’s way of speaking to the class. Boys, for their part, hadn’t felt anything off about her speech at all, because most of them didn’t really care enough about such things. Perhaps they were simply indifferent, or dense, in those regards, or perhaps it was simply because of the class structure of Class 3-2 itself. Class 3-2 was, after all, what even teachers referred to as a “girls’ party.” Indeed, most of Lucid’s classmates were girls, with boys being the absolute minority.
However, Lucid felt that the issue at hand wasn’t just about Eunjin’s manner of speech. Instead, it felt more as though Yu-kyeong was angry that her authority as the new class president had been undermined. Of course, this was all just Lucid’s speculation, but the repeated questioning of “who do you think you are?” made it clear enough. After all, didn’t people usually ask that if they felt someone was looking down on them?
What he truly didn’t understand about all this was, however, that it all seemed rather meaningless. Class president? So what? What authority did a class president really hold, and was it worth all this trouble?
Of course, no one had flat out admitted that this was about authority at all, but all the context clues pointed to this being the real problem. Lucid couldn’t quite agree with the idea that being the class president in an elementary school, in a class of just 40 students, meant all that much. This was why he had no idea how to mitigate this situation.
Of course, there was no way for him to come up with a solution, because he had misunderstood the main cause of the fight itself. This wasn’t about authority at all. It was about pride.
Perhaps surprising to some, but girls had more pride than most people acknowledged, and issues that hurt this pride could, indeed, turn rather serious, especially among girls who were halfway done with their third year of elementary school. For example,
“Who are you to talk to my friend like that?”
Was a very, very common reason for fights. Someone looking down on a friend was a personal attack, since they were looking down on them by association. Or perhaps,
“That’s it? That’s the best you can do?”
Was enough to cause a fight, because of the immense feeling of defeat and shame that the words “that’s it?” brought upon someone.
None of these things were things Lucid could understand, but this had all to do with a third grade girl’s untouchable pride getting hurt.
While Lucid was deep in thought over these happenings, the teacher walked in to begin the class, which broke the near stasis the whole classroom had been put in under the intense pressure from the four people at the back of the class. Everyone went back to their seats, and class began as usual.
Back to lunchtime.
The fact that the fight between Eunjin and Yu-kyeong had escalated to become a fight between Hyejin and Yurim was also because of hurt feelings going unaddressed for too long. Their longstanding rivalry had been gunpowder scattered along the field, and their pride had become the spark to ignite it all, causing the two to stand against each other like two generals facing off in battle.Read latest Chapters at Wuxia World.Site Only
The moment Yurim had called Hyejin a “servant girl” had been the deciding moment. Hyejin had lost all cool and promptly grabbed hold of a chunk of Yurim’s hair. Yurim had also reacted at lightning speed, her hand immediately shooting up to grab Hyejin’s hair in return. The two girl’s heads snapped forward towards each other, unable to withstand the sudden pull.
None of the other students had the courage to step forward and stop the two girls. With the girls’ height and strength, the students simply didn’t know whether they could leave unscathed should they butt into their fight.
However, Lucid decided that he couldn’t sit back and watch any longer. All feelings aside, they were all classmates who spent the majority of the day within the same space, and physical fights should be stopped no matter what. That’s what he had learned from his past mistakes, and his experience had made him wiser about such matters. Now, it was his classmates’ turn to learn that same wisdom, and he would be the one to provide them with the chance.
Lucid pushed his way into the center of the circle and stood in front of the girls.
<Choice (2)> End.