I approach Akazawa, who is waving her hand.
Akazawa was wearing a yukata. It was a yukata with morning glories on a white background. The wisteria-colored morning glories give the yukata a neat and clean impression, while at the same time giving it a mature look.
The belt is red like the color of her hair. It is brighter red than her hair, and is coordinated in a glamorous yet neat manner.
Her hairstyle is side-up. The beautiful nape of the neck can be glimpsed.
She was so cute that I was at a loss for words to describe how she managed to be glamorous, neat, and attractive at the same time, a feat that even the gods would not be afraid of. I could see that people passing by were also looking at her.
I have mixed feelings about seeing my childhood friend in a yukata, who has grown up a lot since I remember her.
“You are early. Perhaps you couldn’t wait to see me either, Nijitani?”
“……I guess so”
“I’m actually in the same boat. I was so looking forward to the festival that I came too early.”
This girl has always loved festivals. I remember well the way she used to eat cotton candy and takoyaki (octopus dumplings) with relish.
Not only did she like to eat, but she also liked to play. I remember her trying her hand at target shooting, die-cutting, and yo-yo fishing many times.
“I’m looking forward to the festival.”
I answered and stood next to Akazawa.
Awkward. I don’t know what to do.
It’s not calculated. I thought I’d come early and play shag until we all gathered, but I didn’t expect this girl to be earlier than me.
Akazawa just stood next to me and didn’t talk to me.
What should I do?
It would be different, or perhaps too unnatural, to leave at this point. I am just a classmate now. It would be strange if I didn’t behave in a normal way toward a female classmate.
If this is the case, the right choice is to have a conversation.
I look for something that could be a clue to a conversation.
“…… looks good on you. That yukata.”
I came to the conclusion that I would compliment her on her yukata.
Kanon was also smiling when she was complimented on her yukata. I don’t know about female psychology, but this should be the safest choice.
A slight compliment was met with an over-the-top reaction. Apparently, I was right.
“It looks pretty good.”
“I’m glad. I hadn’t worn a yukata in a long time, so I was a little nervous.”
“Well, not since last summer.”
“No, I didn’t wear it last year.”
“Didn’t you attend the festival?”
Did things not go well with his classmates?
Speaking of last summer, Akazawa is not yet a goddess. Maybe she wasn’t as popular as she is now. Or maybe she had other plans. I have no way of knowing.
“Nijitani, you’re not wearing a yukata, huh?”
“You could say that. Do I look strange?”
“I don’t think it’s strange, but it’s a little disappointing. You look like you’d look good in a yukata.”
I don’t think there is such a thing as looking good in a yukata or not looking good in a yukata.
A message arrived on Akazawa’s phone as she mumbled her disappointment. Akazawa gave a dubious look, then began to exchange with someone.
I took my gaze away from Akazawa and looked at the station.
There seemed to be quite a lot of people going to the festival, and there were a few people dressed in yukata here and there. It must be the effect of the yukata that there seemed to be about 30% more beautiful women than usual. I have seen the station filled with the atmosphere of a festival in the past, but now that I am an adult, I have a different impression of it.
Suddenly, I hear a sigh from beside me.
It seems that the exchange with someone I had been communicating with had come to an end. I pretend not to notice and continue to look at the front.
“Your hair has grown long.”
Suddenly, Akazawa said so.
I hadn’t cut my hair for a while, so it had indeed grown quite long. I should cut it by the end of the summer vacation.
I huffed. The longer my hair grows, the more it may overlap with my past self. Fortunately, Akazawa didn’t seem to notice, but it was a close call.
“I’ll cut it off before the new semester.”
“Yeah, you should definitely cut it. I think you look better with short hair.”
You always hated guys with long hair?
I had never heard of such a thing, but either way, it was still a cut. I would have to follow her advice.
“Hey, how did you spend your summer vacation?”
“Nothing out of the ordinary.”
“Have you gone out anywhere?”
A swimming pool comes to mind.
“Nothing special. I just went out to the countryside.”
“You didn’t go to the pool or anything?”
“…..I didn’t go”
“Heh I see. An acquaintance of mine said she saw someone who looked like Nijitani-kun at the pool, but she must have mistaken him for someone else.”
Don’t tell me you knew someone who was there?
My heart palpitates.
Calm down. She didn’t see me. If I show my face here, she’ll know I’m lying.
“It’s all in your mind. I’ve been cooped up at home. I don’t even like swimming pools. I’m sure this acquaintance was mistaken.”
Akazawa seemed convinced. I think she was looking at me a little sternly, but I must have been mistaken.
After that, Akazawa played with her phone for a bit.
“I’m going to change the subject, but didn’t you take part in a gaming convention?”
“I see. Someone I know said someone who sounded like Nijitani-kun was at the tournament, but I must have been imagining things.”
Where did she get that information from?
I thought, but it seems that the viewers of Aomi, the streamer, are also in Tenkain Academy. Maybe there was a guy who realized who I was just by hearing my voice and pretended to be a detective.
Don’t worry, this is not confirmed information either.
“It’s all in your mind. I didn’t attend any competitions or anything.”
“But, Nazuka-kun said he participated in it with Nijitani-kun.”
That’s the source of the information, huh?
“Oh, I forgot. I participated in a tournament. I didn’t win anything, so it slipped my mind. Aaah, that was a tournament.
“…… were you only with Nazuka-kun?”
“O-ou. I was a duo with him. We got to a good position, but in the end we didn’t win. I’m sorry you have to hear that, hahahaha.
Even Mahiro would not reveal that Aoyama is a streamer. He would not divulge personal information. And there was no way he would leak Aoyama’s information, her personal information, without permission.
It seemed that my hunch was correct, and Akazawa did not pursue the matter. Akazawa seemed to be trying to say something, but it must have been an illusion created by my inner frustration and nervousness.
Wait a minute……… Why did I lie? It wouldn’t have mattered if I had told her. Even if I had met with another goddess, it would have been none of Akazawa’s business.
After that, we chatted lightly without pursuing the matter. It seems that Akazawa’s summer vacation was not that fulfilling. Other than studying at home, she did not do anything in particular. Like Aoyama, who spent every day playing games and streaming TV, it seems that goddesses have a lot more time on their hands than one might expect.
While we were talking about nothing of substance, our classmates came over to us.
We met up with our classmates without incident and headed for the venue, although I could have sworn I heard a tongue clicking sound coming from next to me.
The venue was already crowded.
At a quick glance, there were about half a dozen people dressed in yukata. Surprisingly few people wore yukata in a group, and we stood out quite a bit.
As for today’s attire, all the women were in yukata. The other two boys were in yukata except for me and Mahiro. It seems that the girls had talked in advance about wearing yukata.
There were eight of us gathered today.
There were four men and four women. If it was true, there were supposed to be ten people, five men and five women, but two of them cancelled at the last minute. They had apparently started dating after the summer vacation, and they jokingly said that they wanted to participate in the summer festival alone. I really hope they will have a bad time.
“There are a lot of people here, as I thought.
“If you leave, the girls might be swarmed with pick-ups and it might get depressing.”
“It would be wise to stick together.”
We all agreed with my suggestion and decided to move as a group.
We walked across the stalls, buying and eating. As one would expect from a large group, no insolent men approached us. Instead, they looked at us from all over the place.
Akazawa, who was attracting the most attention, looked happy and excited.
Earning stuffed toys at the target practice, fishing with yo-yo, buying takoyaki (octopus dumplings) and feeding them to each other.
The same goes for the other classmates. They are usually serious in the classroom, but they seemed to be excited by the festival and were making a lot of noise. What a bunch of kids!
As for me…
“You’re getting too excited.”
It had been a long time since I had been to a festival, and I was enjoying it to the fullest. It was also a bad thing that I had some spare time after working part-time. I was carrying a cotton candy in my right hand and a candy apple in my left. My classmates made fun of me for being a child.
It can’t be helped.
I never went to this festival when I was in junior high school. Besides, I used to be poor, so even when I came to festivals, I often just watched. It would be natural for me to do this when I could afford it.
Since my classmates were with me, I didn’t mind Akazawa’s presence and enjoyed the summer festival. It had been a few years since I had been in such a large group and it was a lot of fun.
There was just one problem.
Basically, the only memories I have of the festival are from my childhood, but every time I bought something, Akazawa’s face from long ago would pop into my head.
[Sho-chan, this is delicious.]
[Sho-chan, let’s play target practice.]
[Sho-chan, the fireworks are starting.]
Every time the image of innocence flickered in my mind, my heart would flutter.
As if to escape from the memories of the past, I bought a mask of a strange character sold at a food stall. The price was surprisingly high, which scared me.
It was right after that.
After a roar, a flower of light bloomed in the night sky.
The fireworks started. The eyes of the people around me turned to the sky at once. The continuous fireworks monopolized the view of many of the people there.
I was also impressed by the beauty of the fireworks with my mouth half open, when I suddenly caught a glimpse of a person out of the corner of my eye.
Nekoda was sitting on a fence, far from the crowd of people. She was not looking at the fireworks from overhead. Come to think of it, Nekoda was much less energetic today. Normally she would be walking at the front of the line, but today she was only following at the tail end.
When I saw her at the family restaurant, she looked the same as she does now.
“You haven’t been well for a long time. Are you sick?”
“I’m not sick, mind you.”
“I’ll talk to you about it if you want.”
I sat down next to Nekoda, and after she looked a little lost.
“Then, I’ll ask for your advice.”