Only after that fiasco was over I started working part-time at the same time as Kuromine.
During the job, Kuromine was as serious a waiter as ever. I was also doing the work I had just learned without worrying about what I had done at school.
I was just a few minutes away from finishing my work.
“I need to talk to you ……. Please spare me some time.”
She approached me.
So I waited in the back of the store.
As I waited, I was reminded of past events. It was terrible after that rumor. I was completely treated like a criminal and had to spend hellish days. The feeling of being cut from behind by my fellow workers is still a traumatic experience for me.
While I was immersed in a sad mood, Kuromine came out after finishing his preparations.
“….Thank you, Nijitani-kun.”
The first words of thanks came out of her mouth.
“What are you talking about?”
“You already know what I’m talking about. It’s about me.”
“I knew Kuromine was the Black Goddess after all.”
Kuromine pretended to be lost for a moment, then nodded her head.
“Everything’s totally different from school, isn’t it?”
“By the way, the way I look now is the real me. My personality at school is an act.”
She said that at school she acts like a loner.
The question is, why did she tell me about it?
If she feels indebted to me for dispelling the rumors, give me a break. I’m not interested in getting along with you now.
“But lately I’m starting to think things are a little different. Maybe I’m just being myself over there. I don’t feel like I’m acting anymore.”
Oi oi, she started talking even though I didn’t ask her.
But if I don’t respond, the conversation won’t go anywhere.
“Uhm….what do you mean……?”
“It’s like I don’t even know who I am anymore. The real me.”
“Don’t talk like a chuunibyou. This is ridiculous. Both are Kuromine.”
I cannot make a wrong choice here.
This girl knows about the matter that I dispelled that rumor. If I was too nice to her, it could deepen the relationship. I should push her away.
“I don’t care if it’s inside or outside. You’re both Kuromine, no? The serious and sober figure you show at your part-time job, and the flamboyant and savvy figure you show at school, they’re both you.”
“…… does that mean you accept the both of me?”
No, no, not that. Don’t interpret it in a convenient way.
“Speaking of which, why did you help me?”
“That was, uh—-“
“I heard that Nijitani-kun helped spread that story. But we didn’t know each other except at our part-time jobs. I don’t think you knew I was the Black Goddess.”
“……It just didn’t feel right.”
Kuromine’s eyes flashed.
“I don’t like gossip and rumors. I saw Kuromine walking happily with your father before. When I know it was your father’s face because he came here to pick you up. So I just told the girls in the area. I was pissed off that they were talking nonsense.”
I never wanted to help you. It was for my own good.
“I can understand why you don’t like backbiting. I don’t like it either.”
Who are you to talk like that?
I’m the one who was the victim of the worst rumors spread by you. Well, you didn’t actually spread it.
“……I have a question for you, too.”
“Why didn’t you deny it? You could have said it was your father.”
I didn’t understand the point of prolonging a problem that could have ended with just one comment. There would have been no gain from a few days of wasted ill will.
In the end, the good impression was accelerated because she was good friends with her father, but I don’t think she was aiming for that.
“…. Would you listen to me tell you an old story?”
What should I do, I don’t want to hear it at all.
I don’t think I’m going to be able to react or anything when I hear about this girl’s past now. I mean, I know most of it.
I know that she was heartbroken by her childhood friend’s brother, that she was unable to fall in love because of the trauma, that she was bullied and isolated in elementary school, that she developed a phobia of men after a relative touched her chest… I know that she has a lot of secrets about her past, but I don’t know how to respond to them.
Perhaps the old stories being told here are traumas from elementary school. Someone who couldn’t confront rumors head-on or appeal to their weakness because of the trauma of those days, anyway.
“There was a rumor. One of the students couldn’t come to school because of the rumor.”
That’s me, isn’t it?
“I will just ask, the rumors were false right?”
“It was a mistake. The person was not at fault at all. He didn’t do anything wrong, but the worst people around him made him look bad. It was irreversible.”
It’s a story I was once told.
Kuromine was betrayed by someone she thought was a friend and subsequently bullied. The shock caused Kuromine to withdraw from school when she was in the sixth grade.
It was this one incident that made her personality withdrawn.
I sympathize with her on this.
“I really was an idiot. The old me.”
“I don’t know why I didn’t realize it was such a big deal. By the time I realized it, it was all behind me. I was too stupid, and the people I admired let me down.”
Kuromine had a sad look on her face.
Could this be a story not from elementary school, but from after I moved to a new school? In addition, from what I’ve heard, it seems that this girl did something to someone. Maybe she did to others what she had done to me in the past. No learning ability at all, huh?
Well, I don’t have the ability to learn either when I’m involved with this girl.
“I don’t know what you did, but if you regret what you did, why don’t you apologize?”
When I said this, Kuromine looked at me seriously. It was as if she was trying to appeal to me about something, but I couldn’t read her intention at all.
“Impossible. I couldn’t. He is no longer with me.”
“Can’t you reach him?”
“…… That person is nowhere to be found.”
I thought for a moment that maybe it was me when I heard the story, but no. Because if it was me, they would know that I’m at my new school.
It’s strange that he’s nowhere to be found.
The vibe I got from her was that he was already dead.
It seems that after I left, that middle school went through a rough patch, so maybe there was some sort of incidental thing that occurred. If so, that’s too scary.
Kuromine was completely dejected, as if she was enduring a lot. It was painful to watch.
“Is it atonement for not dispelling the rumors?”
“…… I must atone for my sin.”
What kind of thought process is that?
You’re not going to get the dead guy back if you take that punishment. You were supposed to be smart, but you are surprisingly stupid.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s not good to keep on enduring. The more you endure the pain, the more the damage accumulates, and the worst that can happen is that you go under.”
It’s something I’ve developed in the past.
If I was in the same situation as in the past I would be proactive. I bet I would have denied it out loud and gone to beat the crap out of the bum and that woman. It doesn’t make sense to think about it now, though. That was a long time ago.
“……Nijitani-kun, you are so sweet.”
“I’m just stating my general opinion.”
“Ah, and thanks for the rumors. I thought I could stand it, but I guess I was damaged. Sometimes I even say strange things like, I don’t know who I really am. I also made a lot of mistakes during my part-time job.”
Although she appeared unconcerned, this girl was damaged, too.
“Don’t worry about it. Everyone gets upset. Next time it happens to you, you’d better speak up. And don’t try to redeem yourself in a weird way, it won’t get through to them. You should stop it.”
“……Yeah, if Nijitani-kun says so, I’ll do it.”
“I guess we’re done talking. I’ve received your thanks. Well, I’d better be on my way.”
I was about to step over to the bike when I was stopped.
“Uhm, can I talk to you at school, too? I know I asked you not to talk to me myself before, and I know it’s selfish of me.”
“…… I thought you said you didn’t talk to guys.”
“I’m just scared. I haven’t always been good with men.”
“You think I’ll be okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine with Nijitani-kun.”
What the hell. How did I become so likable?
“Could I ask you to help me overcome my male phobia?”
This girl’s cronies include my stepsister. If I give a poor response here, it could be the worst thing that could happen. Considering her past behavior, there is a possibility that my stepsister will be exposed to malicious intent.
“If it’s just small talk”
I look at Kuromine, who is smiling, and start pedaling my bike.
On the way home, I suddenly have a question.
…… Huh, didn’t she say something about not being cured of her man-phobia?
If that’s the case, then why was she so normal from the first meeting with me? I think she looked rather happy.
The question remained in my mind, but I headed home without paying any more attention to it.