My grandfather’s house was very comfortable.
It was a one-bedroom house, too big for one person to live in.
I stood in the kitchen and made myself a cup of coffee. I brewed mine black while I brewed Shinozuka’s with warm milk, plenty of sugar and instant coffee.
I took both of our cups to the table.
“Coffee’s ready. Let’s take a break.”
“Thank you. Mmmm! the serialization is interesting after all.”
Shinozuka stretches her back as she sits on a chair. By the way, I’m wearing a jersey.
It’s the most comfortable.
A few days have passed since I moved in. …… Well, since we declared ourselves friends….
After that, there was no awkwardness between us.
We are not bound by the word “friend”.
We just spent the days naturally.
Shinozuka huffs and puffs until the milk coffee cools down.
I took a sip of my coffee.
“By the way, I haven’t heard from Saeko-san at all. ……, are you sure they’re going to be able to make the book?”
We’ve only exchanged a few e-mails since the book project was discussed.
I asked her what I needed to know, but she never contacted me.
“That’s right. It takes a long time to make a book. You’ll be very busy with revisions soon, so update it while you can, okay?”
“So that’s how it is. By the way, how’s that romance novel I wrote coming along?”
I wrote a romance novel to take my mind off things. That’s all I can do right now.
Shinozuka sipped her milk coffee, which was getting cold.
She looks at the cup and grimaces a little.
“Is …… that …… a romance? They just suddenly start dancing, or a battle begins….They’re not in love at all, It just happens on the spur of the moment!”
“I see, it’s not that good …….”
I was pretty confident, but ……, it’s difficult.
But it is still a strange thing. We can’t trust anyone, but we’re having coffee at home while we both write. A few years ago, this would have been unthinkable.
“I’ve never been in love, so I don’t know. ……”
Shinozuka hurriedly denied it.
“Wait, wait, wait! I’ve never been in a …… relationship with anyone too, I’ve never even had a crush on anyone yet. I’m just writing about my fantasy. ……”
“Is that so?”
A silence flows. But it’s not an unpleasant silence. A silence that doesn’t make you feel lonely.
Shinozuka also had a calm face.
“Uh, yeah, did you get ready for the field trip? It’s in three days, remember?”
“Prepared? What am I supposed to prepare? I don’t have to do anything in particular, do I?”
“You have to prepare……, some comfortable clothes, a small bag, and a guidebook to help you figure out where to go first!”
Shinozuka’s tone becomes gentler when she talks about the field trip. I’m sure she’s looking forward to it.
If that’s the case, I’ll have to do my best to support her.
As for clothes…
“Aren’t you going to wear your uniform? All I need to wear is a jersey.”
“………… No way-that’s true?”
Blood drained from Shinozuka’s face.
“So I wore a uniform even on my days off……. It was a blind spot …….”
During school breaks, Shinozuka would look at me and complain about what I’m wearing.
Even Shinozuka has only ever been seen me wearing a jersey.
I felt like I was being told something unreasonable.
“Well, don’t worry about it. Jerseys are easy to move around in.”
“I know that! I didn’t care that you looked so fancy in your uniform anyway!”
“Do I have to go shopping?”
“Yeah, let’s go to Zaru after school today. You can find cheap and fashionable stuff there if you choose. ……”
I nodded honestly. It’s a good idea to listen to Shinozuka, who has experience with Destiny Land, at times like this.
In the corner of the classroom, my stepsister, Miyazaki and Saito-san were talking in a circle.
I could hear them laughing from time to time.
Only Miyazaki, who was looking in my direction, noticed my gaze.
Miyazaki had a smile on her face that seemed to kill her emotions, and she bowed her head slightly.
I didn’t know how to react.
…… I don’t want to get involved anymore, even though I know I should. It reminds me of the feelings I used to have.
Shinozuka muttered to herself.
“Shinjo’s childhood friend is really cute ……. Very different from me. ……”
She probably thought I couldn’t hear her.
“That’s not true–Shinozuka is better than …….”
“Did you hear me?”
In fact, I wanted to say that Shinozuka was beautiful. But I was too embarrassed to say it.
I’m sure that this level of distance is just right. Shinozuka and I have just become friends, you know.
Shinozuka shyly turned away in embarrassment as she giggled.
The after-school shopping center was as busy as ever.
Shinozuka and I headed straight for our destination, ZARU.
“All right, I’ll pick one right away. It’s worth choosing because Shinjo is tall and has good style. …… Here, how about this one?”
Shinozuka seemed to be very enthusiastic. As for me, I think I’ll just wear something appropriate.
I’m in no mood to say …… that.
“Y- yeah. It’s nice I guess?”
It’s the second half of May, so the days are getting warmer. It’s late May and the weather is getting warmer.
“Hey, how about this shirt? It’s a getting colder now. …… These pants look good on you, too.”
I can’t keep relying on her.
“…… Shinozuka, how about this?”
Shinozuka took one look at the T-shirt I was holding in my hand and narrowed her eyes.
“…… Rejected. That’s not gonna cut it!! Why would a high school student wear a leopard print shirt? And it’s black! They’ll think you’re a midget! …… Well, honestly, you look good no matter what you wear.”
–I see, this is a no-no ……. I thought it looked beastly. …… I’m a little shocked.
I reluctantly put the leopard print shirt back where it belonged.
I followed Shinozuka as she went on and on.
Ugh…… I feel like a child.
Shinozuka put more and more clothes into the basket.
“Oh, you’re buying that much? I don’t have that much money”
“What? Just take what you need, okay? It’s fitting time! Come on, let’s go to the fitting room!”
“Oh, my God, …… all of this?”
Apparently, I was about to embark on a journey into the unknown world of …….
From there, it was time for me to try on the clothes, with the female sales clerk.
“It’s not a bad idea to be mature. …… But it’s not for field trips.”
“This is good, right?”
I tried on a lot of clothes. I think I probably tried on enough clothes to last me a lifetime.
…… Doing something unfamiliar is exhausting. But when Shinozuka saw me trying on the dress, she looked happy to see me.
–I thought, “It’s fine it’s just for today.”
“This is the last time!”
Shinozuka happily handed me the clothes. I closed the curtain.
After the incident with Miyazaki when I was a kid, I was left all alone.
I’d never had any real friends.
I was betrayed by the people I thought were my friends.
So, ……, I really enjoy this time very much.
I’ve never gone shopping for clothes before. It’s the first time I’ve ever gone with a friend.
I’ve always wondered what friends are.
I’ve always wondered why people call them friends when they’re all wearing masks and only socializing on the surface. That’s what I thought.
In the end, they betrayed me. That was a minefield for me.
When I am with Shinozuka, I can be natural. I don’t feel pain. I don’t have to think too much about it.
I’ve never been conscious of being friends, but ……, this feeling is a true friend.
After the last fitting, I was about to open the curtain.
–I thought in my mind.
What if I open the curtain and …… Shinozuka isn’t there? What if she’s laughing at me?
–No problem. I don’t think I’d be sad.
Because me and Shinozuka are …… friends. Even if that happens, I want to find …… Shinozuka, find …… her, talk …… to her, and be with her again.
I opened the curtain.
I was surprised to see Shinozuka looking at me. She was standing there holding her mouth with her hands. –Rather than relief, happiness prevailed.
Shinozuka’s face had turned red.
“Um, yeah, ……, what? What can I say, …….”
The female sales clerk said to us in a gentle tone.
“It looks really good on you. It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. She’s very happy with it!”
“No, you’re wrong..” (‘Chigaimasu’ well…it’s a cute way to say it so I left it here -TL)
“No, it’s not!”
Shinozuka turned her face away and said to me.
“Uh, yeah, that’s the one that looks best. ……, yeah, let’s go with that! …… really looks good on you. ……”
I mumbled to myself as I tried on the clothes.
“…… Oh, I’m looking forward to the field trip. Let’s have …… fun together.”
I want to be with Shinozuka.
I finally understood the teacher’s words.
–Shinozuka, I don’t care if she betrays me.
That’s why I thought, she’s my dear friend.
This are the words from my heart, thoughts that I don’t want to erase.
“Uh, yeah ……, yeah! I’m looking forward to it!”
I looked at the smiling Shinozuka and naturally let out a smile.