The sky is unusually blue for the rainy season, but it is so humid and dreary outside that I soon start to sweat.
The humidity is very uncomfortable, but it is a trivial matter for me, and I am getting more and more excited every time I walk. It’s no wonder, because today is the quarterfinals of the second round tournament of the all-round tournament, and if we win three more times, we will go to the nationals.
For a school that does not put much effort into athletic club activities, it is an accomplishment. And one person who has significantly contributed to this accomplishment is my childhood friend Kanade, who is walking next to me now.
“It’s finally the quarterfinals! Show us how cool you are today too, Yuu-kun!”
“Oh, you can count on me! Kanade made us strong, we won’t lose to anyone!”
“No, that’s not true. It’s the result of Yuu-kun and the others always trying their best. I know because I’ve always been watching you.”
I know because I’ve always been watching you.
I bump her fist with my fist.
Kanade said, “Let’s definitely win,” and gave me a dazzling smile.
“But then again, today’s opponent is a school with whom I had a practice match when I broke up with Hazuki.”
“Yup. At that time, Yuu-kun was particularly great, so I think he’ll be marked relentlessly today.”
“I’ve learned a lot from Kanade, like how to get off the mark and how to move to the back of the field. I’m going to put everything Kanade taught me into today’s game, so watch me carefully!”
After the gymnastics festival, I had been practicing on my own with Kanade every day after club activities.
Kanade managed my practice methods based on various scenarios, so I was able to practice efficiently without any waste.
In order to repay her kindness, I vowed once again, “I will definitely win today’s match!”
The match appeared to be a back-and-forth battle with neither team scoring until the last 30 minutes of the second half.
However, four minutes before the end of the match, the other team cut off a pass from their teammate and scored a goal on the counter. The goal proved to be the deciding point, and we were eliminated in the quarterfinals.
While my teammates broke down in tears, I was the only one who could not cry. I couldn’t feel that this was the end. I called out to my teammates, walked to the center line, and gave my final speech.
After the game, everyone was crying in the waiting room, but after a bit they calmed down and congratulated each other, saying, “It’s great that we made it to the quarterfinals of the second round tournament.” There was a suggestion that we should celebrate the conclusion of the tournament, but we settled on having it on the day of the handover ceremony and disbanded on that day.
And now I’m here on the school grounds with Kanade.
“It’s over, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. It is.”
It was not yet late, so club activities that did not have a tournament were practicing normally. For some reason, seeing people engaged in club activities made my heart flutter, so Kanade and I moved to a bench in the courtyard.
“I don’t really feel like it’s over. We don’t have to do club activities after school tomorrow right? I can’t believe it.”
“I can’t believe it either. It was natural for us to support each other’s efforts in club activities. We still have the handover ceremony with each other, but that’s really all there is to it.”
After that, Kanade and I continued to look into the distance in silence. When I looked at Kanade’s face next to me, her eyes were bloodshot, probably from tears.
“Kanade ……. I’m sorry I lost, even though you went to the trouble of going out with me to practice on your own. I wasn’t good enough and couldn’t get off the mark. I couldn’t give it my all and it was over.”
“No problem. Yuu-kun was cool. We indeed lost the game, but we created a lot of good scenes. So don’t say that. Yuu-kun was great.”
“Thanks. But I wonder why. I’m supposed to be disappointed in losing, but I can’t cry. It’s so strange to me. If anything, I’ve always been a quick-to-cry kind of guy.”
Suddenly, Kanade stood up, put her hands around my neck, and hugged me.
“Oi oi. What’s up with Kanade all of a sudden?”
“Will you just stay put and listen to me?”
I was suddenly hugged and I mumbled “ah ……” in confusion.
“Yuu-kun, you are not a guy who has no feelings. You just have a lot of things going on and your feelings probably haven’t caught up with it. You used to be able to turn your eyes away by keeping busy, but now that’s gone too, you’re probably feeling a little left in the air.”
Kanade patted my head affectionately and continued talking.
“You know, just because you lost the game and everyone else is crying, don’t blame yourself for not being able to cry. Just because you cried doesn’t mean that you are more frustrated. So, Yuu-kun, it’s fine just the way you are, just the way you are. I know how hard you have been working, and everyone knows that.
I felt lightened up after listening to Kanade’s story. I felt like I hadn’t shared my feelings with everyone because I hadn’t cried, but I guess that wasn’t true.
I moved away from Kanade’s body and stared into her eyes. Her cheeks gradually turned slightly red as she stared at me. I said a heartfelt “thank you” to Kanade, who is always there to help me out.
Then our conversation turned to the future.
“What are you going to do after school?”
“Hmmm. I think I have to start studying for the entrance exam in earnest. Isn’t it the same for you, Yuu-kun?”
“Oh, yeah, that’s right. I’ve been doing a lot of club activities lately, and it’s time to get serious about it. By the way, have you decided which college you want to go to yet?”
“I want to go to the same university as Yuu-kun. I went to different elementary schools, but I’d be happy if we could go to the same school from junior high school onward.”
“That would be nice. But with Kanade’s current grades, it’s going to be tough.”
“Uwaaa! I know that! That’s why I’m going to have to work harder from now on!”
It was very funny and cute to see Kanade holding her head while turning red in the face.
But I think it’s going to be hard for Kanade to pass the test at this point. What’s a good way to do it ……. Oh, why don’t you study with me and teach me what you don’t understand? I had a flash of inspiration and immediately proposed to Kanade.
“Hey, why don’t you study with me from now on? I’ll teach you what you don’t know, so let’s work together! You taught me a lot of things like how to practice efficiently in soccer, so let me return the favor.”
Then Kanade’s eyes lit up and she hugged me again.
‘Thanks! Yuu-kun, please do me a favor! Let me study with you!”
“All right, then, let’s start studying right away on Monday! First, we’ll study for the next on-campus exam. We also need to decide how we’re going to organize the handover ceremony.
“Yuu-kun, you remembered!”
“Of course, I remember. I’m looking forward to it.”
“I was actually having a hard time in the club, I was worried that you wouldn’t remember me. That’s why I’m so happy now! Let’s study and play together a lot, Yuu-kun.”
I was too cute to look Kanade up and down as she hugged me, so I ended up patting her head. Then Kanade squinted her eyes pleasantly and smiled shyly, saying “ehehe.”
When I returned home, I heard Hanaka’s cheerful voice saying, “Welcome home!”
“It was a pity about today’s game, wasn’t it? Yoshi-chan was crying in front of so many people, it was really hard for her.”
“I see, you were there to cheer us on, weren’t you? The result was not like we expected, but thank you for coming.”
“Please tell that to Yoshi-chan, too, okay?”
“Yes, of course. I’ll tell her when I see her at school on Monday.”
“It’s too late for that! You don’t have anything tomorrow, do you? Please contact her right now and tell her in person when you see her tomorrow.”
“Wait! Contact her now and meet her tomorrow?”
“Isn’t it obvious? After all, she gave you so much support, you should thank her as soon as possible!”
“You’re coming with me, right?”
What? What are you talking about? Of course, it’s just the two of you.
Of course! I was under so much pressure that I ended up calling Yoshi-chan right then and there. Incidentally, I knew her contact information because Hanaka had taken the liberty of registering RINE and her phone number on my phone before.
I gave up and pressed RINE’s call, and no way, Yoshi-chan answered in one call.
[Hya, hi! Hey there]
I hear a piercing scream in my ear. It seems that she bit her tongue as hard as she could. Poor thing. …… That hurts like hell, doesn’t it?
[Hey, are you okay? Calm down a bit, okay?]
[Ugh. I’m sorry. More than that, senpai, thank you for your hard work today! I’m sad about the result, but you were really cool!]
[Thank you for your support. I’m glad to hear you say that. So, tomorrow, are you free at noon or so? If you have time, how about having lunch with us to thank us for today? I was thinking…]
[I’m going! I’ll go! I’ll cancel whatever errands I have to run and go!]
[No, if you have a prior appointment, you have to go there first.]
[No. No, I don’t! I just wanted to tell you that I’m that enthusiastic!]
[Oh, oh. I’m glad if that’s the case. Then, can we go to a family restaurant in front of the station? ……Adadaaa.]
Suddenly, I felt severe pain in my leg, so I looked at my feet and saw Hanaka stepping on my foot with a grimace. When I looked at Hanaka in protest, she looked at me like Shura and said, “No, no, no! It should be a more fashionable café or something!” she whispered.
[Yuuri-senpai, are you okay? Is something wrong?]
[No, no, no, I’m fine. I heard there’s a new café at the next station.]
[Oh, I was wondering about that too! I’m too happy to go there with Yuurii-senpai!]
We decided on a meeting place and time and hung up the phone. Hanaka looked satisfied and said with a grin, “I heard that cafe over there has delicious cakes, so please buy one for me as a souvenir.” I cowered my shoulders as I looked at her and patted her head, saying, “I can’t help it.”