My childhood friend was more important to me than anything else.
I have always loved Ayana, and having her by my side has made me happy. But my feelings for Ayana did not reach her. Why, why, so I kept saying dirty words to Towa and Ayana in my mind, …… I was too miserable.
With Ayana and Towa gone from my side, my world has become quiet. But I am sure that in my heart I am thankful for being able to be quiet like this now. Being alone like this, I don’t have to think about anything strange, and it has given me a chance to look at myself in a new light.
“Ayana seems really …… happy when she’s with Towa.”
She was smiling at me, but I realized that her smile when she was next to Towa was the real Ayana’s smile. After all, I was just getting excited on my own. Ayana likes me, I kept thinking about such an impossible and convenient thing.
I feel lonely on my way home after school, even though I feel calm when I am alone. I was almost home when I saw a familiar face.
“…… Ara, Shu-kun.”
Seina-san, Ayana’s mother whom I hadn’t seen for a while was right in front of me. I had not seen Ayana’s mother for a long time, and it felt like it had been a long time since I had actually seen her face. I couldn’t find the words to speak because of my estrangement from Ayana, and I was about to walk past her face down as I was, but Seina stopped me.
“Shu-kun, would you like to have tea with me?”
I don’t know why at the time, but I nodded at the suggestion. It was just a hunch, but I thought the invitation was something I needed to do to move forward. Seeing me nodding my head, Seina-san smiled happily.
When I entered the house, I was greeted by an atmosphere that made me feel a little nostalgic.
I was taken to the living room and offered a cup of tea, and a small tea party started without Ayana. There was nothing to talk about at the tea party, so I could only look around at random. At that moment, I found a picture.
Towa and Ayana are holding hands, and behind them are Seina and …… is this Towa’s mother? It was a picture of the four of them laughing happily. It is not that I am not jealous or envious of Towa in the photo ……, but the sight of him smiling happily like this makes me feel as if I could smile too.
“Aren’t they smiling happily? I never thought that the day would come when I too would take a picture like this with Towa-kun, …… and that boy’s mother ……. Even though I did such a horrible thing.”
Horrible thing? What is the worst thing? What is the horrible thing? As I wondered, Seina-san told me. The words that she should not say to Towa, who was involved in an accident, about the sin that she had been carrying around for a long time.
“And Ayana also said that she didn’t want to think that the same blood was running through her veins.”
I was speechless when I heard the story. Ayana’s comment was a surprise, of course, but the fact that Seina-san said such a thing was also a surprise to me. To me, she was my childhood friend’s mother, but she was also a kind mother who treated me well. I could never think of her as a person who would say anything foolish or hurtful to anyone.
I wonder what Towa, who was the same age as me at the time, thought. Despite the accident being my fault, Towa laughed and forgave me. He had always given me words of encouragement when I cried… but then it hit me. What did I do back then? What was I like back then?
That is right, there was a part of me that was sad about Towa, but when I saw that he was at the bottom of his game and could do anything,…… I was happy about it.
I feel nauseous again when I think about my own dirty side. Even though I saw Towa as my best friend, maybe deep down I only saw him as a hindrance to Ayana. When I shouted on the rooftop about how he had betrayed me… I can only say that I was foolish.
After saying goodbye and exchanging pleasantries, I left Seina-san and went home. I crawled into bed and couldn’t bring myself to do anything. All I could think about were memories of Towa, Ayana, and myself.
Towa… he was always cool. He had everything that I didn’t have, and he could easily do things that I couldn’t. And yet, he never got conceited and kept trying his best… Ayana and I had always watched him do that.
“My mom said something like that…”
Then I heard another word that shocked me.
At that time …… yes, I can vividly remember what happened in that hospital room. She told me to leave because she needed to talk to me for a minute, and I left the hospital room and headed outside. I didn’t know what they talked about at the time, but that’s what Seina-san told me.
I was convinced by what she said. It would have been too cruel to tell such words to a child who had just been in an accident, and it was something that should not be said as a human being……..I understood why Ayana had always disliked me and why she had said so. It was because of my mocking of Towa and my carefree attitude, while Towa had been suffering all this time.
“…..We will be happy……huh”
I repeat the words that Towa told me on the rooftop.
Towa declared that the two of them would be happy together, and I, who thought that happiness would come on its own by asking for favors one way or another,……, am truly ashamed of my foolishness and helplessness.
I reached up to the ceiling and made a clenched fist as if to reel in the connection that has already separated us. No matter how much I regret it, no matter how much I look back on the past, I have already severed the connection between Towa and Ayana. It may also be a suitable end for me, who can’t help myself ……, to give up on my own, thinking that no matter what words I say now, I won’t be able to reach them.
The summer vacation has passed to some extent since then. I was not in any club activities, so I had to go to school to prepare for the sports festival. Of course, Towa and Ayana were not in the club as well. The two of them are the ones who are taking the initiative and everyone else is following suit.
“Sasaki, please use this color from here to here.”
The simple task of coloring in the indicated areas, Towa was also coloring in the same way. Ayana went to another room to work on the costumes she was going to wear during the cheering song.
After some time had passed, one of the art club members let out a loud gasp.
“Not good… Is this bad? Don’t we seem to have run out of paint?”
Towa talks to a member of the art club whose hand has stopped, who apparently has something missing.
“I’ll buy it for you, then. As I recall, I can get the school to pay for it if I tell the teacher, right?”
“Yes, that’s right. Can you do that for me?”
An art club member who had been staring at Towa as he stood up looked at me. He must have looked at me because my hand was free. And it went like this.
“Sasaki-kun, you should go, too. Maybe the two of you will get this job done faster.”
“…… Got it.”
I ran after Towa, who had left the classroom earlier. Towa was surprised to see me standing next to him, but he immediately seemed to understand and nodded his head in agreement.
“I don’t mind being alone.”
“I don’t know what people will say if I return with this atmosphere.”
……It’s only been a few words, but it’s been a really long time since we’ve exchanged words like this. But maybe this is a good opportunity. I was so scared that I didn’t do anything, so I decided to talk properly while looking at Towa’s figure.