“Ara ara, good morning, Makoto-kun. Anri-chan overslept, so you’ll have to wait a bit.”
“G-good morning. Y-yes, I understand.”
“Nn, mou, please don’t use polite expressions. You’re my future son!”
Last night, after seeing Haruka and her friends off, I was invited over to Anri’s house.
Anri’s mother was waiting for me with a sumptuous meal. Saeko-san was also waiting for me with a lot of drinks.
The mother brought pictures of Anri as a child, we listened to Saeko’s complaints, tucked into delicious food—–, and the father joined in online ……. I was really impressed. Anri’s father was so cool and dandy, he looked like a movie actor.
I can understand why Anri grew up to be such a gentle child.
This is what it means to have a warm family. ……, that’s what I thought.
When I left Anri’s house and went back to my grandfather’s house by myself, I felt a little lonely.
I had never felt this way before. Being alone was normal for me.
It’s different now. I feel more at ease when I am with …… someone than when I am alone. I feel more relaxed when I’m with Anri. That’s what’s normal for me.
But yesterday, I was glad to be alone. It helps me clear my mind.
I spent the whole night thinking about the past I told Anri.
From time to time, I writhed as I remembered the distance between me and Anri, but ……, well, let’s just forget it …….
Her mother smiled and spoke to me. She looks so young that it would be no problem to call her Saeko-san’s older sister.
“So, Anri-chan, after that, you talked about Makoto all the time. You’re up early today, huh?”
“…… Yeah, I fell asleep last night and had a good night’s sleep. I have to decide on the number of copies of my new work, and I have a meeting with sales today. Oh, good morning, Nyanta-sensei.”
As usual, Saeko-san has a loose the air.
But she seems to be diligent in her work.
“Good morning. Ah, there’s a ladybug on your suit. ……”
“…… Eh, Ah w-where is it? Take it off!?”
I remove the ladybug from Saeko-san’s shoulder and let her go.
“Ah! S-sister! W-what are you doing?!”
Anri puffs out her cheeks and grabs Saeko-san’s arm.
…… So, from behind, it looks like I’m hugging Saeko-san’s shoulders.
Saeko-san turned around and looked at Anri with a nasty expression.
“Oops, I’ve been caught in a strange position! Nyanta-sensei is melted by my mature charm…”
“No, that’s not true.” “Mumu……T-That’s right, sister is beautiful, but …….”
I feel smiling just seeing such a scene.
“- Saeko-san is beautiful, but Anri is also very pretty ……. I just picked up a ladybug, you know. Anri, let’s go to school.”
“Wh-wh-wh. I-if you say that with such a refreshing smile, ……, I’m going to be embarrassed!”
“Ehehe yes! Go to school with her, Makoto!”
“Ara ara, have a safe trip~! Be careful~”
Her mom and Saeko-san saw us off and we headed off to school.
We arrived at the classroom and sat down in our seats.
It’s the same old routine. But it’s an irreplaceable routine.
Anri asked me in a whisper as soon as we took our seats.
It was a school, so she used a yankee tone.
“Hey hey, I couldn’t ask you yesterday because of everything, but how far did you get with that?”
Anri asked me, tapping her book.
I guess she was talking about the book. I moved a little closer to Anri and answered in a whisper.
“Yeah, I was able to decide on the end of the web version ……, and it was pretty much what I expected, so I sent them the manuscript of the first volume last night, converted into word and with some additions. After that, I received a list of potential illustrators…….”
After discussing it with Saeko-san, we decided not to change much of the content of my work, but to add and revise some parts. Before that, when it was decided to publish the book, I had been converting it to word and revising it as much as possible myself in between updates.
This is why……… my sister was so surprised when she saw ……. [He is working too fast, Makoto!] She said. Well, it’s okay, isn’t it? I think it’s going to be a lot of proofreading, but I’m looking forward to being an illustrator.”
Anri also replied in a whisper. I don’t have any classmates around, but I don’t want to get in trouble if they’re asking.
“…… I don’t know much about drawings. Can you look at …… with me?”
That’s all we talked about, and then we each started reading our favorite books.
By the way, Anri is also writing a book, right? She said she’d show me when she’s finished ……. I’m looking forward to it…….
I could hear Anri humming in a good mood. I glanced at her and saw that she was reading my latest story on her phone.
It’s getting hot in the classroom. Summer is near. It’s almost time for the final exam.
…… The test can be helped by just reviewing it. Summer vacation. …….
In the past, summer vacation has been nothing but a pain.
Ever since the incident with Miyazaki in elementary school, my family’s relationship has been strained.
I went to the library, finished my homework early, and read books all the way until the library closed.
I spent my days like that.
I had been refusing to go on summer family trips since I was in junior high school.
When I go, the atmosphere gets worse.
I take a deep breath.
It’s not uncommon for me to reminisce about the past.
Whenever I think about the past, I’m always trapped in negative emotions, but today was different.
I can see the past as the past. I can think positively.
I thought I had been hurt, but ……, no, my heart was actually broken.
But I used that as a reason to hurt my childhood friend, my stepsister, and my classmates with cold words.
Emotionally, I understand. But there should be no good reason to hurt people.
My stepsister tried to come closer to me. I was too broken to tolerate that.
I humiliated Kisaragi-san in front of a crowd of students. My stepsister and childhood friend were both crying.
I put my hand on my chest.
Yeah, there are no walls anymore.
I heard a flurry of footsteps coming from the hallway outside the classroom.
“Miyu-chan! Big trouble, big trouble! Nanako stepped in poop and went home in tears! Kisaragi’s going home with Nanako too. …… Miyu, do something!”
“Eh EEH!? D-do something…..”
Anri pokes me in the elbow. She looked at Haruka and giggled. Haruka seemed to be in good spirits as if yesterday’s incident had never happened.
…… Well, she’s a little silly, I guess. ……Well, is Haruka also getting to know Kisaragi? …… Speaking of which, I haven’t heard any bad rumors about Kisaragi. …… Could it be that Haruka is stopping them?
Saito-san was troubled to see Haruka explaining the temper tantrum.
The students around her were a little taken aback by Haruka shouting about poop and feces.
Haruka’s face became flushed and she lowered her voice.
She didn’t consciously try to look at me. …… I know that one too, consciously not looking at people. No one will get hurt if you do.
I thought so too—–
I got up from my seat. Anri called out to me.
“Nnn have a safe trip—-“
I don’t know why, but when Anri speaks to me, I can really be honest from the bottom of my heart.
I could see that the classroom was buzzing a bit.
It’s rare for me to get up from my seat and move around.
But I have to keep my head on straight. I need to show Anri how cool I am.
I can’t just cry all the time. I can’t keep making her cry.
Both Saito-san and Haruka were surprised to see me standing up.
Saito-san looked at me with watchful eyes. Yes, you’re right, she was a sweet girl at heart.
She wears an atmosphere like she used to.
Haruka was so frightened that she couldn’t make eye contact with me.
I guess she feels guilty about her words in the past. That’s what’s binding Haruka.
When I called out her name, Haruka’s body jolted.
Her face was crumpled and she was unable to move. Regret and guilt were etched in Haruka’s mind.
Still, Haruka was about to look up when I called her.
“Haruka, good morning. And good morning to you too, Saito-san. …… Please take care of my noisy sister, Saito-san.”
“Eh ……” “Little sister……”
I touched Haruka’s head like I used to. How nostalgic.
My mind is flat. There is no fluctuation in negative emotions.
So it’s okay. I don’t need to become a special friend. I just need to be able to interact with them normally.
We’ll get back to our normal lives little by little.
Haruka touched her head with her own hand after being touched by me.
Her face turned bright red, and she hid behind Saito-san, staring at me.
Her face was exactly the same as yesterday, but her body wasn’t shaking.
I tried to leave with one last smile on my face.
It wasn’t a fake smile. It was a smile that came out naturally.
“Hauu!?…… Awawa …… awaw a…..”
“W-wait, Haruka!? D-don’t put your snot on me!”
“Eh, Isn’t it awful?”
“…… It’s beautiful.”
“You’re pretty too, Haruka.”
“I see. You’re brother and sister.”
“I mean, isn’t Shinjo looking even more handsome now?”
“So much so that I don’t even feel jealous.”
I walked around the classroom, which for some reason became quiet when I moved, and sat down next to Anri.
Anri says to me in a small voice, her mouth slightly agape.
“….Muu, not fair. A smile like that ……”
“It was only because of Anri that I was able to do it.”
When I said that, Anri was embarrassed and looked down at her phone.