“Well, let’s get going.”
As I walked out of the house and looked up at the sky, I saw a blue sky without a single cloud. The conditions were perfect for a soccer match. But despite the clear blue of the sky, my mind was as muddy as mud.
That is, of course, because I had been shown such an act through my phone. It is no exaggeration to say that I have hated Hazuki ever since then. I don’t want to see her face, and I don’t want to hear her voice. Just looking at her face makes me so irritated that I have a hard time suppressing my desire to hurl cuss words at her.
Moreover, when I was alone in my room at night, memories of the fun, happiness, and joy I had with Hazuki would flood my mind, and something like nausea would well up in the pit of my stomach, and I would find myself in tears.
I tried to fall asleep quickly, but I couldn’t because the scene kept flashing back to me when I tried to meditate.
(This past week has been hell…)
I started walking heavily toward the meeting place.
“Yuu-kun, good morning.”
I turn toward the voice and see Kanade approaching me at a trot with her usual bright smile on her face. I was relieved as soon as I saw her face.
“Good morning. Good luck in today’s game.”
“Today’s opponent is a stronger school than ours, but I’m sure Yuu-kun will be fine.”
“If Kanade told me that much, I have no choice but to do my best.”
“That’s right! Every one of us has been working very hard! I’m sure you’ll win!”
The high school I go to is a preparatory school, but the soccer team is considered one of the stronger ones in the prefecture. In fact, it was the result of Kanade becoming the manager and revolutionizing the way we practice.
“I’m glad the school that competed in last year’s In-High School tournament agreed to play a practice match with us.”
“We did relatively well in the last tournament, too. I wonder if they are aware of that. Or is it to give themselves a boost by beating a team that is not too strong or too weak?”
“It could be either. If that is the case, we can’t afford to lose, can we?”
“That’s the spirit! Let’s beat them and get our momentum going!”
We talked a lot and laughed a lot. We were both so preoccupied with what we were going to do after the match, but neither of us wanted to talk about it. Both Kanade and I are worried. Because we are about to sever by our own hands the relationships that have made up such a large part of our lives until now.
“We’re gonna win! Get fired up!!!!”
The first game of the new team is about to begin. Since the game is to be played on the opposing school’s field, the gallery is mostly made up of people who have come to cheer on the opposing team.
I look over at the bleachers and see Hazuki and Kouki standing side by side. Perhaps noticing that I was looking at her, Hazuki waved her hand and gestured for me to do my best, and cheered me on. I raised my hand lightly and quickly turned around and headed back to my teammates.
Contrary to most expectations, ours was by far the most aggressive team in the match. I was the one who was responsible for that.
It’s ironic that my best performance comes in the worst conditions. I probably have less enthusiasm for this match than everyone else, to be honest. It’s not that I have zero motivation, but I just couldn’t fully concentrate on what I was going to do.
In the end, the game ended in a 3-1 win for us. I ended up with one goal and two assists, so I guess you could say I was the hero of the game.
After the game was over, my teammates surrounded me and slapped me on the back. Laughing at the pain, I looked at the bench and saw Kanade hugging and sharing her joy with the other managers.
I managed to escape my teammates’ rough congratulations, and I sat down on the bench to rest my body while I looked out at the audience. There I saw Hazuki and Kouki high-fiving each other in delight.
(Please stop …… don’t let me see you like that ……)
When I see Hazuki and Kouki, I get the feeling that my heart is broken. I wonder if those guys don’t even realize that she’s getting laid and are laughing at each other about how they’re just floating around being a bit of a hero in club activities. I wonder if they even high-five each other and are that happy to see me turn into a clown.
I couldn’t suppress my irritation. But everything I’m thinking right now is paranoia. I know that. I know, but it doesn’t matter. I can’t do anything about it. Damn it…
I was sitting on the bench, looking down and holding my head, when Kanade put her hand on my shoulder.
“Are you okay? No, of course not. There’s no way you’re okay. But you don’t have to go through this alone. I’m here. I’ll bear the pain you’re going through.”
I looked up and saw Kanade with her usual smile on her face.
“Because, you know, we’ve known each other since childhood.”
“Ah. Yeah, you’re right. I really appreciate it, Kanade. You always helped me out.”
“When I was in elementary school, I helped Yuu-kun a lot more. I can afford this much! It looks like you’re feeling better, so let’s do our best in the next round.”
“Thanks to Kanade, I’m going to be able to manage. I’m counting on you.”
“My bad. The opposing school today asked me if I would like to practice with them from now on, in addition to the game. It was decided suddenly to have a joint practice. So, Hazuki and Kouki, could you just go home first? I’m really sorry for coming all this way to support us! I’ll make it up to you next time.”
I explained to them by putting my hands together, looking down, and trying not to look at their faces as much as possible. My heart is not strong enough to face these two people head-on right now.
“You don’t have to worry about it. Yuri was really cool today, by the way. Yuri can study well, and he’s also a soccer player, which is a bit unfair, isn’t it?
“No, seriously, you were awesome! I’ll be there to cheer you on in the next game! Don’t worry about what happened today! I’ll make sure Hazuki gets home safe and sound.”
(Where the hell are you sending her off to?).
Kouki, who thinks their relationship is unknown, almost snapped when he made the scummy remark, but he managed to keep his reason in his hands.
“Oh, thanks, you two… well, I’d better be on my way.”
He sends a shout to my back, “Good luck,” and “Say hi to Kanade for me,” but I don’t even turn around and dash past them to my teammates.