I ran for the position of buying paints, but I didn’t expect Shu to come with me. From the way Shu looked, I guess he didn’t say he wanted to do it by himself, but was nominated by one of the art club members. I chuckled, thinking it was somewhat typical of Shu.
“This one and this one …… and then maybe this one.”
“Yes. The rest is over there.”
It’s strange …… to shop side by side with Shu. In the past, it was like this kind of scene was the norm, but now I no longer talk to Shu. Even if something like that had happened, it’s awkward that the rift has remained deepened all these years. After graduating from high school, we may never see each other …… again. I think that would be a little sad.
I’ve got everything I need. Now, let’s go back.
We were walking in silence when Shu suddenly opened his mouth.
“Hey Towa, can I talk to you for a minute?”
I nodded in agreement.
We stopped at a park on the way to school and sat together on a bench. We both bought juice to quench our dry thirsts, and Shu took a deep breath and began to speak.
“I’ve been thinking a lot since I stopped talking to you guys. In the end, I realized that I was only looking at myself and not at you or Ayana in any real sense.”
When I looked at the face of Shu, he looked as if he was staring into the distance. But is it my imagination, or does it look as if the possessions have fallen away?
“At the time I didn’t understand your words, but now I do. It’s too late for that.”
Shu cut off his speech there, tightened his expression once again as if to look me seriously in the eye, and then bowed his head.
“Towa, I have to apologize to you. At that time I cried and apologized, but I didn’t think that counted as an apology. So, I’m sorry.”
I opened my mouth in a hurry as Shu bowed deeply.
“And I told you, it’s not your fault, so don’t worry about it. That’s why—“
That’s right. The accident was really a coincidence. It is true that Shu may have been in a daze, but I still jumped in to save him. I may have held a grudge at the time, but on the day I confessed my feelings to Ayana, I truly shook off the past. I told him that there was no need for him to worry about it, but it was not for the simple reason that he apologized.
“Towa, you have been my admiration for a long time. You can study well, play sports, be cool, but you’re not overbearing or snobbish,…… but at the same time, I was intensely jealous of that about you.”
Shu was on the verge of tears, but never let them fall.
“At that time, when the doctor told you that you could no longer participate in the soccer (football) tournament,……, I laughed at you. You could do anything, and seeing you so sad, I …… laughed at you…..!”
……right, that time Ayana clutched her hand as if she was holding something back, maybe …… no, but strangely enough my heart was at peace. I’ll say it again, I don’t care anymore. Even if what Shu said was true, including what Hatsune-san said to me that time, it’s no longer an encumbrance for me.
“It wasn’t just me, my mom and dad said whatever they wanted to you,…… and I only recently found out about it, but it didn’t change the fact that I made you suffer.”
Perhaps Shu suffered, too. By reexamining himself, who was self-centered, he can see things around him calmly. I guess that’s how Shu was troubled in his own way, and now he is apologizing to me for what he did at that time.
The tears that he had been holding back flowed freely, and Shu was shedding a few tears.
“It doesn’t matter if you don’t forgive me,…… but I really wanted to tell you. I don’t even want to say that I want to be friends again. But I still wanted to talk to you one more time. I wanted to apologize …… and tell you that you and Ayana should be happy together …….”
It’s hard when a friend who has been with you for a long time leaves you in any way, and even if you think you don’t care about them anymore, they will remain in your mind in no small part. Maybe that’s why I cared about him. Maybe I should have done better, made him aware in a different way.
I handed him a handkerchief from my pocket.
There are many things I want to say ……, but for now, I’ll simply say these words.
“Thanks ……. I accept your apology.”
“……Yes! …… Yes!”
As Shu said, it will be difficult to return to exactly the same form as before. As the relationship between Ayana and I has changed, it can’t be completely the same as it was before. Nevertheless, if Shu says he has moved on, I welcome it and support him. …… Well, looking at Shu’s eyes now, I can see that he’s okay now.
“Oh, I didn’t answer another one.”
Fist forward, I declared.
“Trust me. I will make Ayana happy. More than anyone else.”
“….Yes. I’m sure Towa and Ayana will be fine. I’ll be rooting for you.”
Our fists hit each other with a thud.
I can’t blame Shu for smiling a little awkwardly, but I took his words to heart. We both chuckled at each other’s greenness, realized we had talked quite a bit, and decided to head back early. On the way back, however, there was an incident.
While waiting for the light to turn green at an intersection, I saw a little girl walking. Behind her were two women, one probably her mother and one probably someone she knew or something like that. The little girl was walking away from them, giggling and chit chatting happily, and with a toy in her hand —– she went out into the crosswalk.
I noticed that my body was moving.
The signal to the pedestrians is still red, which means the car side is green, so they continue straight ahead. The girl finally notices when one car honks its horn, but it’s too late. As the woman turns blue in the face, I reach for her, but there is no way I can reach her……. I hold the stunned girl in my arms……. And then, unexpectedly, my arm is pulled from where I did not expect it.
I fell on my butt with the girl in my arms, but I breathed a big sigh of relief that the girl was safe. The girl went crying to her mother, who also looked relieved to have the girl in her arms.
“…… haha, I got saved, heh?”
The being who pulled my arm, Shu was breathing heavily and holding my arm.
“….It’s no laughing matter.. But …… I’m glad.”
With that, I dropped to my knees and Shu let out a big sigh, as did I. The girl’s mother bowed down to me and Shu with great force, but luckily nothing happened, so I told her not to worry about it. But I imagine that if Ayana had been there, there would have been a big thunderstorm.
“I’m sorry, Onii-chan. Thank you……!!”
“I’m glad everything’s okay. Come now, say thank you to this Onii-chan over here, as well.”
“Yes! Thank you, Onii-chan!”
“You’re welcome, …….”
Oi, don’t smile so awkwardly at a little girl.
I feel bad for the mom who still looks apologetic, but Shu and I have to get back soon, so we leave the place as quickly as we can.
“Haa….I don’t know if I can say this, but if you had another accident right in front of me, I might not have been able to recover from it this time.”
“Sorry …… for worrying you.”
“It’s the truth!”
I was a little surprised at the intensity of the conversation, which was stronger than I’d ever heard before. But I feel bad that I made him worry that much. That’s right… No matter how much I tried to help a girl, I might end up making a lot of people sad again. I have to reflect on this as well.
“Hey Towa, I think I’ll talk to Ayana again after some time.”
“Is that okay? You can at least take the time if you want to.”
“It’s okay. I can feel that I have moved forward with confidence, just like Ayana.”
Really, it looks like we’re all good to go.
Then we went back to school, talking about many things for the first time in a long time, and then and then —– and then….
“Hey, what’s with the crushed paints?”
Well, after what happened, I had no choice.
Shu and I were both a little scolded by the art club members.