It was 10 p.m. when a cold wind chill snatched my cheeks and passed by.
We were sitting on a bench in a park in a neighboring town that I had never been to before.
This park is neither large nor small, and there are always one or two in every town.
At the entrance, there is a stone slab with “Dogwood Park” written assertively.
It is not a large park, but it must be a busy place for children to play during the daytime, as there is playground equipment placed at moderate intervals within the grounds.
However, it is now 10:00 at night.
There are hardly any children walking outside at this time of night, and even fewer people playing in the park.
Therefore, the park is shrouded in the darkness of the night, and a slightly eerie silence prevails without a soul in sight.
I turn my gaze to the woman sitting to my right.
She is so beautiful that there may be no words in the world to describe her beauty.
Yes, that’s right,
is sitting right next to me.
“Ginro-san, how are you feeling?”
“…I’m sorry, I’m still a little dizzy…”
Ginro-san and I had a date (?) a few hours ago.
And while we were there, we were attacked by men who were up to no good.
With Yuji’s help, I managed to escape from them, but Ginro-san was attacked by a sudden fever and fainted.
At that time, Ginro-san’s body was like an electric heater, emitting so much heat that it was enough to warm everyone around it.
While holding Ginro-san in my arms, I searched for a place where she could rest and finally found this park, and managed to get her to rest and get some rest.
When I arrived at the park, Ginro-san, who had fainted, immediately woke up and got up.
However, her face was so emaciated that I could not believe that she was the same person I remembered in my memory.
That is how much that outburst hurt and trampled on Ginro-san’s heart.
Above all, I am angry at myself for being so ineffective in protecting Ginro-san……
I was about to call an ambulance when I sensed a life-threatening situation with Ginro-san’s obvious change, but I was told that there was no need to do so.
I wondered if I really didn’t need to call an ambulance.
“It’s so cold…”
Ginro-san suddenly spoke up.
Ah… Now that I think about it, it’s only natural to be cold on a midwinter night.
I was feeling unusually warm due to the battle earlier and carrying you, so my senses were numbed, but if I think about it normally, it’s really cold.
“I’m sorry, Ginro-san, I’ll lend you my coat.”
The reaction is subtle, but the best option right now is to lend my coat to Ginro-san.
Currently, my body is warm due to the battle and carrying her, so it might be a superficial thought that I don’t need a coat, but if there’s a girl right in front of me who’s feeling cold, anyone would do the same. I would too.
“… I don’t need it.”
D… don’t need it?
I couldn’t help but be surprised by this unexpected answer.
After feeling cold just a moment ago… does this mean she’d rather freeze to death than borrow my coat? Is that the message behind her refusal!?
I put my coat back on, somewhat shocked by Ginro-san’s rejection. Something salty passed down my cheek, but I didn’t think it was tears.
…No, I wanted to believe that.
“I don’t need the coat.”
Ginro-san, who had been looking down until now, turned her gaze toward me. In her eyes, there was a kind of plea.
“Not the coat, but I want you, Kimisaki-kun.”
I was utterly shocked, beyond anything I could have anticipated.
‘Want you, Kimisaki-kun’…
What did that mean? My thoughts were scattered, and my brain short-circuited. My body felt like it could start emitting steam at any moment due to the overwhelming heat.
“No, that’s not what I meant.”
I was sure that I was thinking of something bad, but Ginro-san saw right through me and corrected my thoughts with a strong tone of voice.
“Come next to me. Warm me with your heat.”
I was thinking that this was nothing different from what I had in mind, but it didn’t matter anymore when I saw the look in Ginro-san’s eyes.
Ginro-san’s eyes were somewhat lonely.
It was as if she was left alone in the darkness.
As if she was in a state of fear from which there was no way out.
As if she had given up on everything.
I didn’t want to be alone with those eyes of Ginro-san. I was driven by such an impulse.
I sit down next to Ginro-san’s vacant seat.
She leans her shoulder against me, and I don’t refuse her, but I also put my shoulder against hers.
Our bodies touch each other, and even though it is just that, it warms my body more than any heater.
It seems that Ginro-san is the same way… with his cheeks dyed red.
“…Sorry about your face.”
“It’s all swollen because of me… It’s really bad.”
“Oh, well… it’s not a big deal.”
“It’s fine. You’re safe, Ginro-san. Besides, they say that the scars a man gets protecting a girl are badges of honor, right?”
“Is that so?”
Ginro-san squeezed my arm tightly.
This wasn’t a place where I could see beautiful constellations. It was a corner of a dirty park in a residential neighborhood. At best, I could see the moon in the night sky.
But more than any beautiful constellation, I realized that I was happier being next to this woman.
I didn’t know how much time had passed since we sat shoulder to shoulder. I didn’t know how many times the wind had blown past us. But I wished from the bottom of my heart that I could stay like this forever.
Before I knew it, the darkness had lifted from Ginro-san’s eyes.
“Y-Yuran-kun, it’s just you.”
Suddenly, Ginro-san spoke. And she didn’t call me Kimisaki-kun but Yuran-kun…!?
I felt like jumping for joy, but I suppressed that urge and responded calmly.
“Just me… What do you mean?”
“Before, I also have a trauma with the opposite sex, like you.”
Ginro-san and I shared the same trauma. I remember feeling happy when I learned about it on the day we first met. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone.
“That’s why, naturally, you’re the only guy I can talk to.”
“So, for the past month, I’ve been watching you closely. Every single day, I watched you. Even though I watched you all the time, I never felt nauseous or fearful.”
“It was the first time for me.”
Ginro-san looked into my eyes and continued with a strong voice.
“I found out that there are kind guys like you.”
“Every morning, you’d always clean the classroom, even though you have a deep-seated fear of girls. You’d endure that trauma just to have normal conversations with them. You’d always look out for me. No matter how late I messaged you, you’d reply right away. You even took care of the neglected flower bed in the schoolyard. I know all of that.”
“It was the first time.”
“I always thought that men were dirty, that they would lose control to their sexual desires, become like animals, and willingly abandon their human dignity… That was what I thought men were like.”
“You are different.”
“You are kind.”
She poured all her strength into speaking, sharing what had happened since she met me, talking about me.
Honestly, the content was quite embarrassing from my perspective, but Ginro-san’s passion was so intense that any embarrassment I felt didn’t matter.
With her usually half-open eyes suddenly wide open, she spoke emotionally and passionately about me.
I had never seen her like this, and I listened to it all. Not just with my brain but with my heart, as that was the most sincere way I could respond.
“I’ve always thought that men were foolish creatures who would easily attach themselves to my face since I was a child, and I never had any interest in them. But after meeting you, I wanted to get to know men for the first time.”
“It was fun…”
I stared into Ginro-san’s eyes, making sure not to look away even for a moment.
“The past month I’ve spent getting to know you has been more enjoyable than any other month in my life.”
“The time I spend thinking about messages to send you, the nights I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about you… Those times should be annoying, but they’re so precious and dear to me.”
“It’s strange, isn’t it?”
“But… this is everything in my heart.”
Silence for a moment. A breeze passed between us.
“How about you, Yuran-kun?”
“Did you enjoy talking to me?”
“Did you enjoy spending time with me?”
A question from Ginro-san.
I was happy to see Ginro-san, too,
and had a good time.
I felt an urge to tell her that.
“…Ginro-san… I feel the same way. Getting to know you was fun and made me happy.”
“Yeah, it’s true. Every time we exchanged messages, I was happy to learn more about you. Talking to you, discovering your quirks, it was all enjoyable.”
“Even though you always seem cool and emotionless, I noticed how your expressions changed when something bothered or pleased you. During class, you’d sometimes fall asleep while still holding your pencil. You can be unexpectedly absent-minded…”
“I learned something new today too, like how you’re good at hiding your presence, enjoy horror movies, love spicy food, and how you got annoyed when I said all the clothes you tried on looked great…”
“…It was fun.”
“…Can you honestly say it was fun from the bottom of your heart?”
“Yeah, I can say it with pride.”
Ginro-san and I were the same, carrying the same scars and living in the same world.
In her world, there was only me, and in my world, there was only her.
It was a twisted relationship, but right now, I felt like it was enough.
“Fufufu, it seems like we’re thinking the same thing after all.”
“Yeah, you’re right.”
“I think you just gave a random answer.”
“It’s not like that!”
“Then let’s try something.”
“Yeah, I’ll ask you a question, and you answer honestly.”
“If you fail, it means Yuran-kun lied, so you’ll be punished.”
“A… penalty game? Alright, I accept!”
“Let’s do this.”
“…Do you have someone you like?”
To her sudden question, I hesitated for a moment, but I already had my answer.
“Then I’ll say it.”
With a smirk, Ginro-san spoke.
“Yeah, go ahead.”
A brief silence, and then…
“”I like you.””
We both uttered that word simultaneously.
The word tore through the sky at a speed faster than light, reaching my ears and penetrating my brain in an instant.
As soon as it reached my brain, I understood.
Understanding brought an overwhelming wave of laughter—joy, pure joy.
Looking at her, I saw that she was laughing too.
We locked eyes for seven seconds.
Then, as if a thread had snapped, we burst into laughter.
Our laughter echoed in the moonlit park.
You and I cannot fall in love.
Maybe that’s why we can love each other.