“Ah, Maika. Hello.”
”Huh, Shion-chan is here too.”
We met up with Fukumura at the family restaurant where we were meeting.
I was surprised that Sakakibara followed me, and Fukumura looked a little surprised. They were calling each other by name before I knew it.
“Do you two know each other that well?”
”We exchanged contact information the other day and kept in touch for a while.”
So that’s how it was. Well, they both seem to have good communication skills, so there is nothing wrong with that.
”I know it’s a little late for this, but are you two okay with the time?”
I am fine, by the way. I called Sachi before my part time job.
The cooking is usually my responsibility, so I’ve inconvenienced her a bit, but I hope she’ll forgive me for that.
Sachi is probably not at all angry with me, but I hope she will forgive me for that.
”I’m fine. I went home once and told everything properly.”
”I… I’d like you to send me home if you can!”
“Yeah, that’s the plan, of course, but…”
She was asking me to go out with her at a late hour. I was going to give her a ride home, if not to the house, then to the neighborhood.
She was staring at me. What’s wrong with her?
”Well, I’ll make sure to take Fukumura home, too…?”
“….I see. Well, I don’t really care?”
Huh, another subtle……. It’s the same kind of reaction Sakakibara gave me earlier.
”—What is it? What is this air…?”
As I was exchanging something like that, Itakura arrived. It was exactly 5 minutes before the meeting time.
It was a table for four, so Sakakibara and I were next to each other and Itakura was facing me.
This was probably the easiest way to talk to each other. So, Fukumura-san, could you stop glaring at me so casually?
”… Um, who’s the girl?”
Itakura asks. Of course, the target is Sakakibara.
“I’m Shion Sakakibara, a junior at his part-time job. The reason I’m here is… I was just worried about senpai, nothing else, so please don’t worry about it.”
”No, I do care… Well, if it’s okay with both of you, then fine.”
So, we decided to get right down to business.
Before I could get into the main topic, Itakura opened her mouth.
“Before we start…I’m sorry”
Saying this, Itakura suddenly bowed her head.
Fukumura and Sakakibara looked surprised and silently watched the situation.
So I asked. It was easy to see from her appearance that she was not merely apologizing.
“For spreading rumors.”
To which I responded.
“You’re apologizing because you realize that it’s just an inaccurate thing to say?”
This was the point for me. Was she apologizing for the act of spreading it, or for the fact that it was false?
That’s what she said. Immediately Fukumura and Sakakibara tried to say something, but I stopped them with my eyes.
First of all, I want to hear what Itakura has to say.
“If that story was true, I wouldn’t apologize. That … I thought the child you were dating at that time was really deceived. I’m really sorry”
Two people responded to the word “date”. Wait, this is serious now….
”Eh, you didn’t know? I mean, she crossed her arms and called him by his name…”
”She’s my sister!! Fukumura, you’ve met her before! So don’t get so upset!”
No, she’s my sister.
“Wait, can we go back to the topic?”
“I’d love to.”
I mean, you started it.
“… I wouldn’t say it wasn’t malicious.”
For a change, I could feel the place cool down. There was that much dark emotion in her words.
”I thought about it again, and I wished you, you know, hated me. I wish you don’t like me so much.”
”I wanted you to suffer the pain that Emi suffered, and I thought that this was retribution. But you didn’t do anything wrong.”
”…I don’t know what to do, mou.”
Good intentions with bad intentions. These words suddenly came to mind.
Wishing to bring people down. I thought that malice was born from negative feelings.
But there is malice born out of good intentions.
I think there is a fine line. Good intentions can become bad intentions depending on the direction they are directed.
When someone is hurt and you feel sad about it, I think you can call it good will.
But is it really abnormal to turn that feeling into malice toward the person who has hurt you?
Would it be strange to want to get back at the person who hurt you, and to feel a desire for revenge, however small or large?
I thought that it was not strange. I understood her mind and her principle of action.
I could no longer blame her unilaterally.
This led me to a certain conviction.
”Then why are you still spreading messages like that?”
It was Fukumura, sitting next to her, who asked that question.
I actually have the answer to that question. And maybe Fukumura knows the answer to that question, too.
”–What are you talking about?”
I knew it. I thought to myself.
”Do you recognize this?”
I show Itakura the image Miyajima gave me. It was the e-mail with the slanderous remarks.
”—-I don’t know, I don’t know anything like this! I did not do this!”
”M-Mizuki! Calm down!”
Itakura was distraught. Fukumura calmed her down.
”No, Kitami! I don’t know anything about this! I sent this…”
The contents of the e-mail she showed me were much different from what Miyajima had shown me.
[There was a guy who bullied Emi in XX city. Be careful.]
I got a much different impression. I mean, it didn’t even have my name on it.
“Is this the only one?”
”No. I’ve only exchanged a few messages on social networking sites with the person who replied.”
”Someone is pretending to be Mizuki? You mean?”
”I think so.”
“It can’t be…”
Itakura seemed quite surprised. Well, that’s because it’s like she’s being asked to be a part of a crime.
“Does that ring a bell?”
“Maybe, just maybe, there are people out there.. But I can’t be sure… I don’t know, so…”
Yeah, you don’t want to say anything you’re not sure about.
”Just let me know when you’re sure.”
”Yeah, got it”
Anyway, my biggest concern is gone.
“Well, I know now that Itakura isn’t overdoing it, so I guess I’m good for today anyway. It wouldn’t do to stay up too late.”
If I don’t go home soon, Sachi might give me a hard time about it.
“I guess so.”
“… I understand. Today, uhm, thank you.”
Itakura said so in a respectful manner. What the heck, she could take that kind of attitude, too.
I realize that I feel a little better. After all, I can understand a lot of things when I talk about it.
However, there were some who would not accept it.
It was when she started to get ready to leave the restaurant.
”—What’s this all about? Let me make this clear.”
She was quiet and continued like this.
“—-This is disgusting, all of it.”
”—It’s just weird. That is not kindness, I just want to be clear”
To be honest, I was surprised. I was more surprised than the question of what or where, but this was the first time I had seen her reveal her emotions like this.
It is disgusting. This was something that had been pointed out to me before. But this time was different, because her expression contained clear anger.
”Itakura-san. After all, whose side are you on?”
It was Itakura who first bore the brunt of the anger.
“I am… I am on Emi’s side.”
Itakura said that clearly. And I knew that.
”Emi… She was crying all the time, and she was troubled all the time. Well, I know it’s wrong that I did something terrible to Kitami, but I don’t think all of it was a lie. That’s why….”
”… I see.”
She must have sensed something from Sonoda. The fact that she knew about the betrayal to me and still didn’t change her position.
I was fine with that. I have my standards and she has hers.
Besides, it’s hard to be alone.
“… See, as soon as I said it, here it is.”
Sakakibara said to me with a somewhat dumbfounded expression.
“Don’t you think anything of it after hearing what she just said?”
“I don’t think anything of it…I’m sure Itakura has her own problems…”
I replied, and Fukumura raised her voice as if she had noticed something.
Sakakibara took no notice of this and said.
“That’s what I’m saying, it’s disgusting!”
She did not stop.
“I don’t really care if this person apologized or how this person feels! Now this person has declared, “I am the enemy!” Don’t you feel anything about that?!”
What do I, what do I want to do? After all, that’s my–
“Where are your true feelings, Senpai?”
It was as if ice water had been poured over my head.
I felt my chest tighten at the word “true feelings.”
“—Uhm, customer. I’m sorry but….”
Sakakibara did not seem to have noticed. When the clerk told Sakakibara that she had been talking too loudly, Sakakibara was embarrassed.
”—I’m sorry. Uhm, I’m going home. Lastly, Maika-san—“
After overhearing something she said to Fukumura, she just left.
An awkward air flowed among the three of us. It was probably because each of them had a part of her words that stung, though in a different form.
”… Let’s go home.”
In the end, I didn’t say anything and we split up for the rest of the day.
On the way home. I walked home with Fukumura, who was silent, and continued on my way alone at night.
“What do I want to do, huh”
She said she meant what she said. I thought about the meaning of that word.
It was not that her words were lying.
She said exactly what she really thought. So, I am sure she wasn’t lying.
Her true intention was not there.
“Ah, are you talking about that?”
The meaning of the word “true intention” fell into my heart with a thud.
Oh, I see. So that’s what she really meant.
The bare emotions that I had expressed to my mother that day.
Yet, I was able to do so only because it was my mother. And above all, Sachi was there for me.
Because I knew subconsciously that the line would never be broken.
I know that’s a scary thing.
There was a fear of turning it on others.
Because if I did that, it would be broken. The connection that has been seized would be severed.
But that’s what her intentions.
How reassuring it is—-.
“I’m no match for her, after all.”
The street lamps illuminate the nighttime street. I dared to take the road I usually don’t use. It was a shortcut, but there were few streetlights and it was dark.
The road that I usually find a little scary was somehow not scary at all, and just the thought of it made my steps a little lighter.