My Baking Pan’s Level is Maxed Out

Color Coincidences are no Mistake

Today was going great!

Yayoi first woke up to a blaring alarm. Unpleasant to hear and absolutely deaf-inducing, but hey! At least she woke up. On her way to the bathroom, she slipped over clothes shed thrown on the ground the previous night, too lazy to walk them over to the hamper. She landed directly on her face, bruising her nose a bright red. It didn even matter! She was elated! She forgot to stand up off of the toilet when she flushed it, so a bit of the water splashed her bottom. But she didn mind! Her toothbrush fell into the trash, her showerhead snapped right from its hold, her moms toast felt like razors in her mouth with the cracks of blackened, burnt edges protruding from the sides, but none of it fazed her in the slightest! Today was a great day!

And why was the great Yayoi having such a splendid day? Ask the mailman! Hed dropped off her freshly bought cast-iron skillet the night before. It was too late for her to begin using it at the time, but as soon as school was over today she could get right to it! She could hardly sleep, taking all the time in the world planning out dishes and recipes to make the day after. Everything looked brighter than usual, and nothing could get in her way! Not even the bus being thirty minutes late!

Oh yeah, the bus was thirty minutes late. If this was the first sign of impending doom, it certainly wasn the last. Yayoi hopped off the bus in front of her school and walked to her homeroom class without a care in the world. She was sure the principal was shouting something in her direction. Something regarding detention?, but she didn even bat an eye. The dazed girl opened the door to her class, not realizing the concerned stares being thrown at her, nor the befuddled look of her teacher. They were rightfully stunned— the last time they saw Yayoi with a smile on her face was when she beat two elementary kids at soccer during their own game. And even that was a stretch. They were too intrigued to ignore her, but too afraid to ask, scared that she might unleash some ”good ” news that none were ready to hear.

”Uhm, okay then. Just…just continue reading page 259. Ill…pick up later ”. The teacher sat down at her desk, still organizing her thoughts.

Yayoi opened her workbook and started reading quietly and happily. Despite her inability to concentrate, she made an effort to absorb all the information she could. The article was wordy and tedious; it talked about a middle-aged guy and how his school loan debt would follow him into old life. Or, something like that. She didn really know. Nothing could dim her anticipation for the evening. She chose to start with an egg frittata and possibly go on to baked macaroni later. Recipes quickly whizzed through her mind. She was moving so quickly that she failed to notice the arrival of a new body in the classroom.

That was, until a loud voice equivalent to her alarm this morning ripped through her thoughts.

”Miss Kanagi!! ” Chiiyas voice dragged out.

Oh, youve got to be joking Yayoi thought to herself, intensely watching the situation unfold.

”Ms. Chieko! What are you doing here in the middle of the period? ”

”Ive been transferred to this class. I just left my counselor! ”

Yeah, this had to be a joke. Yayoi sunk into her chair, slapping her hands on her face with a loud impact. They sank down off of her face, resting in her lap. There was no way. Shed already collided with Chiiya a million times this week in the hallway; was that not enough? Chiiya faced the class to find the source of the noise, staring directly at her rival. Her mind was blank, the only thing resonating in it nothing more than a simple question mark.

”Okay, guys! This is really hilarious! Im laughing, see?! Now Chiiya, you can go. Like, now. Leave, Ive got the joke! Its haha funny, okay?! ”

”Oh? But Ms. Yada, Im afraid shes very serious. I see the transfer here in my e-mails. And since you
e so well acquainted already, you two can have a seat next to each other! ” Ms. Kanagi smiled, pointing Chiiya to an empty seat next to Yayoi. She smiled in return, making her way down the row.

Suicide was never the answer.

…Right?

The question rang in Yayois head over and over again. It was just an intrusive thought, but one more chance encounter with her rival and she mightve just considered it. She faced the wall for majority of the class, avoiding any eye contact with Chiiya as to avoid a chuunibyou breakout. A little before class was over, a quick exam was handed out. It was on finances and such, something Yayoi boasted perfect knowledge over.

Chiiya was the first to hand in her test, followed by Soma and then Yayoi. Ms. Kanagi graded them immediately. The girls tried to read her facial expressions to gauge their performance, but she had a poker face of a three-time gambling champion. It was helpless. Yayoi shrugged it off, knowing she passed regardless. The bell rang as the brown haired girl and her peers packed up for the next class. Before they could head out the door, the teacher called Soma, Yayoi, and Chiiya back inside. Great, just their luck.

”Let me just make it clear. Chiiya, you scored a negative four percent ”. Chiiyas face fell in embarrassment. She knew her financial skills weren the best, but negative? Even the clutz at math knew that scores were not supposed to past zero on the number line.

”How…how did I manage that, I wonder?… ” she nervously chuckled.

”You added an answer choice for question five and proceeded to choose that answer ”.

”What is wrong with you? ” Soma looked at her blushing friend.

”The answer wasn there! I looked over all the choices and it wasn there! ”

”The answer was all of the above! Answer choice number four. All of them were right, and your first thought was to create your own answer, not even choosing one of them?! ” Soma scolded.

Yayoi watched on, wondering what any of this had to do with her or Soma. ”Well, Ms. Yada, Ms. Soudai, Ive called you back not to embarrass Ms. Chieko, but to call together a mandatory study group with all three of you after school. No club activities go on today, so I assume you
e all free? ” Good god. Yayoi could no longer see this day through. The images of her dirtied toothbrush, broken showerhead, and burnt toast ran through her mind in a montage. Today was awful. More than that, it was horrendous. And out of all things, she was holding on to hope over an over-priced skillet. What a life to have.

”We
e free… ” Yayoi stated, completely defeated.

”Wonderful! So, youll all meet in the library at the end of the day! Thank you for your time ”. The trio left going their separate ways, but not before Chiiya and Yayoi stared each other down in the doorway.

”Would you two just go to class?! ” Soma yelled, breaking the tension.

***************

The final bell of the day rung. The girls headed to the agreed destination from different classes, Soma arriving first. Yayoi entered next. A few minutes of idle conversation passed the time before the two could no longer glance over it. ”Wheres Chiiya? ”, Soma asked, earning an eye roll from the other sitting in diagonally from her.

”Who knows, maybe off in La-la Land of Licorice and Loopsie-Lou Ludicrous Laws where time, obviously, doesn apply! ” Soon enough, Chiiya was speed-walking over to their table, books sprawled out unevenly in her hands.

”Hey, Soma! Yayoi… ”, she looked away. ”Lets start, shall we? ”

”I wouldn be so enthusiastic. You
e late, Im tired, and your score is below unsatisfactory. Ive got places to be. Like my bed. So lets hurry it up, please ”. Soma got out her books and began flipping to a few pages of study material.

After attempting to study for a while, with Yayoi mostly silent, Chiiya grew bored. ”Oh, Soma! Your hair is brighter than usual. Did you dye it again? The red is more vibrant! ” Soma was tired of explaining to the girl that this was her natural hair color. She got up, announcing her leave to the restroom. She needed a break from the antics of Chiiya and the tension of both her friends.

Yayoi took over the role of studying with Chiiya. She would never find herself sitting in front of her again, so she made sure to pour everything she had into this session. ”Look, this is how you calculate with a percentage. Make sure to follow these steps as Ive written here ”. Yayoi believed the easiest way to assist the dimwit was to write easy to follow notes, as shed been doing the majority of the time.

”…No, try it again ”.

”What? Why are you squaring roots? ”

”Chiiya! Why is there a quadratic function graph on your paper?! ”

”I…I don know! ” Yayoi got up, slamming her left hand on the table as softly and reserved as possible, remembering she was in the library. Chiiya looked up in defiance. ”Im trying! ” Yayoi was now as frustrated as ever, staring her rival directly in the eye. She didn know what shed just started. The other rose from her seat, whipping out a baking whisk from her waist bag.

”It seems Myu-Pretzelle is back to challenge me… ”

”So it seems… ” Yayoi took out a spatula from her bag. They pointed the utensils at each other making unwavering eye contact.

”Make a move! ”, Chiiya shouted as she clashed her whisk against the hard surface of the spatula. The other dodged the second attempt, swinging her weapon left and hitting her opponents shoulder. ”How dare you?! ” Her pink hair swung backwards as she avoided another attack. This endless volley of attacking and dodging continued for quite some time, and endless amount of noise coming from the table. Soma had been here for minutes staring at the duo, unable to move or speak. She was overcome with shock, though she knew she shouldn have put this behavior past them, not even in the library. Of course, they were removed shortly after Chiiya yelled an unrepeatable spell that practically shook the walls of the room.

”I cannot believe you two. Well, actually, its not that hard to imagine. But still! ”

”Don blame me! She initiated the eye contact. She challenged me first! And Madam Soufflé does not back away from a duel! ”

”This whole thing started because you got a horrible score on a test, a simple one! And now, Im here wasting my afterschool time with someone that doesn even care! ”

”Oh please! You know you enjoyed yourself! Hows it feel having more than one person to hang out with, huh?! ” Chiiya remarked.

Yayoi scoffed, completely offended. ”I am not lonely! In fact, I…I have a boyfriend! ”

”Oh yeah?! Where is he, Yayoi? Can see him! ”

”He…! Hes in Canada! Yeah, thats right, a westerner! ”

”Mhm…I bet he owns several mansions of the coast of Scotland as well? ” Soma interjected.

”Oh, howd you know? ” Yayoi smiled, hand caressing her own cheek with a slight blush.

”The closest thing youve had to a boyfriend was neither a boy nor a friend! Or human, or alive! Give it up already! ” Soma yelled, tired of their antics. She stomped off towards the exit of the school, leaving the two to fend for themselves.

”But she was cuddly! And cute! ” Yayoi shouted after her, defeated.

”Pfft! You went out with a stuffed animal? ” Chiiya laughed.

”…No ”. Yayoi looked off to the side, grabbing her forearm. ”It was a mop ”.

Chiiya burst into an uncontrollable fit of laughter. ”How does that even happen?! ” She grabbed her sides as her stomach tensed up in pain over the pure foolishness that just left her rivals mouth.

”Oh, I don know! How about the same way you scored a negative on a test?! ”

”Hey! Too soon! ”

The girls ran out the front door, leaving their differences behind them as Chiiya inquired more about this mop on the way to the bus station.

”Hey…do you realize weve been talking for twenty minutes…? ” The girls paused.

”Gross! ” They turned in opposite directions, Yayoi finding a new bus route home.

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