After parting ways with Kanzaki-san, we decided to head for the downtown area near the office district.
The closer we got to the downtown area, the more crowded it became.
Anri and I walked hand in hand through an unfamiliar town.
It was very refreshing. I had never walked in a another city with someone like this before.
“By the way, I forgot to ask Kanzaki-san to critique my work. ……”
“I can always do that since we’re both seniors at the same publishing company! …… Besides, Makoto-kun, I think you’ve grown fond of Kanzaki-san, aren’t you?”
“…… Is that so? I didn’t do anything, right?”
“And yet, you did! Girls can tell that much you know…… Hehe, Kanzaki-san, I’m glad you’re happy with my novel. I’m moving on too, you know.”
I had heard that Anri had recently been in contact with her old editor.
Maybe she was working on a book version.
I’ve read some of Anri’s short stories and old works, but I haven’t read her current work yet.
“–Ah I’m looking forward to it, but make sure you let me read it too.
“I’m a little embarrassed, but …… You’ll be the first to read it when it’s done! I’m proud of it., ……, and I couldn’t have done it if I hadn’t met you.
We walked up the slope of stores and passed by a shrine.
There are a lot of food shops, but still no café-like stores to be found.
“Where is the pancake shop, by the way? I’ve seen a meat bun shop, but…”
“Well, it’s at the top of the hill. It’s a place recommended by my sister, so I’m sure it’s delicious! Besides…”
Anri took a half step closer to me. We were within touching distance of each other.
“It’s fun just to walk slowly with you, Makoto!”
It’s more fun when we’re both looking at the same scenery than when I’m alone.
Seeing Anri so happy made me want to write the rest of my novel.
“Hmmm, Makoto, let’s write when you get home, okay?”
What the.. am I ……?
“Am I that obvious? I’ve often been told I have no facial expression. ……”
“I can just tell…Heh, let’s get to know each other better!”
As we walked up the hill, the atmosphere of the local shopping district gradually became more and more familiar.
There were rice cracker shops, old-fashioned coffee shops, and we passed a lively grocery store. A lot of people are walking around with smiles on their faces.
I didn’t expect to see so many people walking around the city just a short walk from the office district.
As I passed a small bookstore, I could see that Kanzaki-san’s books were stacked on the floor. It’s still amazing. I’m going to get one someday.
“I wondered when Puggy-chan would be here.” Have you heard from her since then?”
When I’m with Anri, I completely forgot about Puggy.
If I had studied hard enough, it wouldn’t have mattered if I missed half a day of the test. It’s hard to compare my feelings with others, but…
I checked my phone.
No messages had arrived.
But then I saw a familiar figure at the top of the hill.
A pug kid was walking while talking to a guy.
You’re moving awfully fast, ……. Is that tall man a friend of Puggy?
“…… Anri, see that puggy over there?”
“Oh, yes! …… Wow, he looks so prissy and delirious. ……”
“It’s so sweet and sour to watch. It makes my heart burn.”
“Hey, you could be a little more discreet, couldn’t you? You look like you’re making out with him! Pug-chan!”
Anri waved her hands in a loud voice.
The puggy girl seemed to have noticed us and was acting suspiciously, fidgeting.
The man next to her was strangely calm. He had a soft gaze on the puggy girl.
…… He is a boy with a somewhat mysterious atmosphere. He feels affectionate towards the pug child, but …… it feels like he’s making an effort to do so.
The pug child pulled the man’s hand and came toward us.
Hey, what’s with the hand?
“Hahaha, Shinozuka onee-san! I missed you so much!
The pug kid hugged Anri as soon as they met.
Anri gently stroked the pug’s head.
Anri gently stroked the pug’s head, “Hai, Hai…. –You’ve been studying hard, haven’t you? Do you think you’ll be okay for the test?”
“I’m sure I’ll do better than average. –Hello, Shinjo onii-san.”
Puggy peeked out from between Anri’s arms and greeted me.
I’m not sure if she’s a little embarrassed or not, but she turned her face away from me after saying that.
“Well, Puggy, that boy over there is …….”
The man sat back and stared at the flowers growing on the ground.
…… Is he.. okay?
“I’m sorry. What are you doing? Come on, come on, say hi!”
The man stood up and turned to face us.
He has a strange dignity. He looks unassuming, but ……, is he really younger than you?
“Mmm, excuse me, nice to meet you, Shinjo-san, and Shinozuka-san. I’m a friend of Chisa’s, Dojima. …… Well, that’s it for me. Chisa, have fun with the rest.”
“Oi, aren’t you coming with me ……?”
Puggy sounded a little disappointed.
“Chisa has taught me a lot about emotions. I don’t plan on getting to know anyone other than Chisa right now. I’m still inexperienced. …… And, hmm, I’m sure these people will be fine.”
“I think Dojima is starting to understand emotions a little better now. Will you teach me how to study when I get home?”
“Haha, of course. I’ll make lots of problems for you. ……. I’ll pick you up in the evening, and when I do, you can tell me all about today. –And I haven’t even finished explaining the romance novel by the author called Nyanta. Continue, please.”
–Hey, wait a minute? What do you mean, “explain my romance novel”?
“Puggy, what’s going on?”
Dojima ignored my words and only looked at Puggy.
He patted the pug’s head.
“Hmm, after all, stroking Chisa’s head seems to bring about some kind of emotion. Now if you’ll excuse me–“
Dojima went down the hill. The …… station is not that way, okay?
It’s just walking, but it’s terribly fast ……. What the hell is that guy?
No, wait, what’s up with my description of a romance novel!
“Puggy ……, we’ll talk later. ……”
“Hee-hee! Oh, onee-san ……, onii-san …….
“Makoto, stop embarrassing puggy! I’m glad you’re doing well, puggy.”
“…… Oh well. Puggy, are you hungry?”
Puggy said to me while hiding behind Anri.
“U-Un, I didn’t eat anything yet, so I’m starving. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you. …… Well, onii-san, …… hi, I’m so happy to see you too.”
After that, the pug child hid again in Anri’s chest..
I’m so glad to see you again,……. You can’t say anything if you look like that.
This is what it means to have no pain in your eyes?
The pug child came out of Anri’s arms and took my hand fearfully.
Anri sees this and laughs as she takes my other hand.
It’s been a long time since the three of us held hands.
We decided to head to the pancake shop, the three of us together for the first time since Destiny.