Chapter 55: Changes Come Slowly

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“Isn’t Yukako a year above you though, Tomomi?” Her father chimed in now. Tomomi instinctively bit down on her bottom lip, trying to keep her arms still by her side. She didn’t want to make her nervousness look too obvious to her parents. She was still trying to earn their trust back… She didn’t even want to imagine how betrayed her parents would feel if they knew she wasn’t telling them the complete truth right now.

“She is a year ahead of me but… Yukako’s grades aren’t the best. She wasn’t going to graduate if she didn’t pull them up some beforehand. I’m one of the students with the best academic performances in my year level so… I thought it would be good if I could help someone else improve their grades if they were willing.”

Tomomi watched her parents carefully, waiting for some sort of response from them. She wasn’t given a response, however. Instead, her parents exchanged a glance at sparked a new sense of worry in Tomomi’s mind. Did they not believe her? Did they think she was lying? She prayed they didn’t. She couldn’t bear the thought of her parents finding out she wasn’t telling the full truth. She knew they would be hurt by it.

Even when her parents looked back at her, a reassuring smile on both of their faces, it didn’t ease Tomomi’s worry much. She knew her parents were just starting. She knew they hadn’t gotten to the main point yet and Tomomi wasn’t sure if she wanted to know that main point.

“It’s great that you’re making more friends. I always wondered when you would come out of her shell, kiddo,” her father said with a small laugh. Tomomi returned the laugh but didn’t say anything, still unsure of what to say. Her mother took the chance, coughing lowly and clearing her throat to get the attention of her husband and daughter.

“It seems like you’re getting more comfortable around people… What would you say about pushing that envelope a bit more and trying to become slightly more outgoing and social?” Her mother began. She paused, looking over at her confused daughter. She knew Tomomi wouldn’t pick up on her subtle hints. She loved her daughter but she knew there were many times when Tomomi could be more than just a little naïve.

“What do you mean, mama?”

“Well… I mean… A lot of teenagers your age are beginning to get part-time jobs to prepare themselves for the real world beyond high school. We’ve never pushed the subject with you because you’ve always been so shy and focused on your grades. We want you to keep focusing on attaining high marks but we also want you to someday be able to hold down a steady job…” Her mother’s sentence trailed off, her gaze turning to her husband.

They had discussed this previously with Yukako’s parents when the two teenagers had left momentarily to find the bathroom but saying it all now… Asami couldn’t help but feel like she was judging her daughter a bit even though she knew deep down that she wasn’t.

“What your mother is trying to say is that we think you should consider finding a part-time job,” her husband quickly finished for the worried woman. “You have gotten into more trouble than usual and it worries us what sort of people you are placing yourself around. We think a part-time job could be a positive influence in your life to keep you on the right track.”

“Hiroto!” Asami scolded him quickly. Telling that to Tomomi was certainly not part of the discussion that the adults had had together previously. If anything, they had all agreed to not tell Tomomi about the concern Yukako’s parents had for the brunette’s safety while she was with their own daughter. It was their suggestion to find Tomomi more activities to keep her separated from Yukako and it was their suggestion that they not tell Tomomi that.

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