Our actions were not considered taboo, but one thing that was strictly prohibited was penetration. At the end of every term, the school nurse would check to make sure that all the girls were still virgins. If the hymen was discovered to be broken, the student would be questioned, and if the reason was that it was caused by impure heterosexual intercourse, she would be expelled.
At that time, there wasn’t anyone around us who had been forced to leave school for this reason. There was only a rumor that it had happened to a girl about seven years ago. It was said that she was never seen again after that incident, but like many of Satoru’s stories, there was no source for the legend, so its legitimacy was questionable.
After we were done, Maria and I lay back on the sand, covered in sweat. I suddenly remembered something the false minoshiro had said. In order to rid the society of violence, we had decided to change the structure of our society to one based on love, like the bonobos…
Since that summer, many of the things central to our lives started to go slightly awry. But these warnings were ignored as we were busy struggling with all the changes in our bodies caused by puberty.
What exactly was the first sign? I can’t remember, but there seemed to be a general feeling of unease and unexplained irritation. Maria was plagued with frequent headaches, and I often felt nauseous when I was tired. Everyone else also had some sort of physical discomfort though we all thought they were nothing more than growing pains.
Meanwhile, one relationship was the first to meet its demise.
I found out when I happened to come across two people in town.
Shun was walking quickly along the path next to the canal with Satoru chasing after him. What caught my attention was Shun’s attitude. It was considerably more distant than the last time I had seen him with Satoru.
“Hey, give me another chance,” Satoru touched Shun’s shoulder but was brushed away coldly. “Shun, what’s wrong?” his voice carried clearly on the wind. He sounded almost embarrassingly flustered.