5: Marii, Nice to Meet You

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Qualia the Purple

Arc 1: Various Notes on Marii

Chapter 5: Marii, Nice to Meet You

"By the way, Gaku-chan, do you like your name?"

"Of course I don't. If I could go back in time I'd go all the way back to my birth and force them to change it."

"Wah. Wah. I like your name though..."

My name is Hatou Manabu.

Manabu, as in the Japanese word for "to study," written with the appropriate Japanese character.

I apologize if there are any other girls named Manabu, but I honestly did not like my name.

After all, Manabu was more of a boy's name.

I'm not sure who decided that it was a good omen for children to be named by their grandmothers, but one word out of my grandmother's mouth and Manabu was the name I got stuck with. And since then, because of that name, I had been mistaken for a boy so many times, had been teased so many times. The fact that I always looked grumpy, the fact that I didn't act like a girl very much at all... it was all definitely because this name had cursed me.

By the way, shortening my name to "Mana" made me sound way too girlish and that became even more embarrassing, so my friends either referred to me by my last name or used the alternate reading of the Japanese character for Manabu and called me Gaku.

"But you know, I think I wouldn't have met you if your name wasn't Manabu."

"That's just because you saw that name and were curious whether I was a guy or a girl, right?"

"Wah. No, I always thought you were a girl... I mean, you're wearing a skirt, right?"

"For some reason that doesn't make me feel better at all..."

Because Yukari saw others as robots, it was often difficult for her to distinguish between the sexes (although lately she might be improving on that front).

Robots didn't really have a gender, after all, so she usually judged gender sixty percent based on vocal tone and figure, twenty percent based on name, and the other twenty percent based on clothing (pants for guys, skirts for girls, etc.). Not only was my name Manabu, but my voice was relatively deep and masculine (there were also a lot of guys around us whose voices hadn't gone through puberty yet), and my figure was relatively gender neutral (okay okay I didn't really have very formed breasts yet but I'm still growing, leave me alone). So Yukari couldn't really decide whether I was a girl or not just based on my skirt, and this made her very curious.

She wasn't satisfied with just checking my gender in the class registry and really wanted to make sure for herself, so she began to follow me around. I never noticed her doing this, and one day we dramatically crashed into each other (if you ignored the fact that she was a girl, this probably counted as my first kiss).

Yes, our first meeting may as well have come out of a manga. Yukari reeled from the shock of our collision and began to cry, but I managed to get her to tell me why she was following me and learned about her purple eyes. After that, I had a slight change of heart and ended up growing out my hair a bit (my hair used to be short and I had decided to change it into a bob, and now some heartless people referred to me as 'Bobby'). But anyways, one could indeed say that I had met Yukari because of my name.

In that case...

"Well, I've been stuck with this name for fourteen years already, so I guess I've learned to live with it."

"But but, I really want Gaku-chan to like her name too. Because I really, really like it. I really like Gaku-chan's name."

".................. Well, thanks I guess......"

"Umm, so, maybe I should start calling you 'Manabu-chan'?"

"...... That's... uhh, I'd rather not..... Just let me off the hook... just this time, please..."

I pursed my lips and turned my eyes away from her, trying my best to not look at her as she looked up at me with those big, pleading eyes. My cheeks were probably a bit flush right now... I had to do something here and get myself out of this situation...

But..... Manabu...... chan?

Hm..... I mean, now it didn't really sound as bad as it did when I was young...... maybe.

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