“Thank you, Haruka, for today. Thanks to you, I know a little more about volleyball.”
Anri, a little sweaty, thanked Haruka.
Haruka was puzzled by her words.
“Uuuuu N-no way, I’m useless. ……”
She looks away awkwardly as she stares at the volleyball in her hand.
I wonder if there are emotions swirling inside Haruka that I can’t imagine.
I can’t imagine Haruka making fun of me.
Anri approaches Haruka. That alone was enough to make Haruka’s body tremble.
“…… Makoto, please wait in front of the school gate for a moment. Haruka will teach me the tricks of volleyball for a little while longer and then I’ll go. It won’t take that long!”
Haruka was making a bare voice.
…… I will let Anri do as she pleases.
‘Okay. If you have any questions, please contact me immediately. I’ll fly over.”
“Ehehe yes! See you later!
“Ah B-bye bye…..”
I waved to them and started to walk towards the school gate.
There were hardly any students on their way out of school. I could hear the shouts of the students doing club activities from the ground.
School is a strange place.
Students who are strangers to each other are squeezed into small classrooms, and everyone spends their time looking at each other.
If I don’t read the atmosphere, I’m ostracized, but if there’s a common enemy, the unity becomes stronger.
Before I met Anri, school was just a hell for me.
What if I hadn’t met Anri back then? What kind of life would I have led?
Would I have abandoned the book project? Would I have spent my life not being able to trust anyone?
I had given up because no one would believe me.
Yes, I had given up. I didn’t try to take any action. I thought it was useless to make excuses.
I don’t need friends.
Then, miraculously, I met Anri.
At first, we couldn’t believe each other. But as we talked in a deserted shopping center, my heart began to open up.
I enjoyed the time I wasn’t alone.
“…… That was”
As I waited alone in front of the school gate, I saw Nanako-san walking down the street, looking down.
Her shoulders were slumped and …… somehow her uniform looked wet with water.
She wasn’t wearing shoes, but was trotting along in …… her jacket.
Is she crying? Is she looking for something?
Nanako is letting her eyes explore the surroundings.
Nanako’s gaze stopped at a patch of grass next to the elevator entrance.
With slow movements, she was brushing through the grass, not caring that her body would get dirty …….
Then, sobbing at the sight of his tattered …… shoes, she changed shoes…….
…… It had nothing to do with me. It was supposed to be that kind of relationship between us.
But for some reason, my heart is buzzing. I shouldn’t have had to get involved, but my feet were moving on their own.
Nanako reminds me of my unpleasant past.
Ever since the incident with Saito-san, I hadn’t been able to trust anyone in middle school.
Nanako was the one who talked to me. The incident happened just when I was starting to forget the hurt that Kisaragi had caused me.
It was a decisive incident that made me think that I couldn’t trust anyone completely.
I hadn’t spoken to Nanako since she called me out to karaoke.
She spoke to me a few times, but I never said a word.
Nanako-san in junior high school was a cheerful and friendly girl who could be friends with anyone.
My impression of Nanako stopped there.
I had no idea that Nanako had changed into such a somber and dark girl.
I didn’t even notice that she was with Haruka.
…… Why didn’t Nanako-san come to karaoke? …… At that time, I just thought I was tricked. Maybe there was a reason?
I think about it as I walk.
In the back of my mind, I hear voices saying, “Don’t do it,” and “You’ll only get hurt.”
That was just malice. It was just an act of amusement at my reaction. It’s a junior high school joke.
But I can’t stop my feet. –It’s okay. Even if it was malicious intent, I already have someone I care about next to me. I can face the facts of the past.
I stood in front of a sobbing Nanako.
Nanako notices a figure and raises her eyes.
She has no makeup, shaggy hair, and a sneer in her eyes. Her tattered shoes are covered in mud, …… and my heart buzzes uncontrollably at the sight of them.
“Eh? W-what? Eh, N-no, I-I have been seen….”
Nanako-san was distraught when she saw me.
She seemed to be embarrassed by the fact that she was being watched.
It was the same as with my stepsister Haruka. For some reason, the words came out of my mouth on their own.
‘…… You’ll catch a cold. Use this.”
For some reason, my words became stronger. It seemed to express my mixed emotions right now.
I put the towel from my bag in front of Nanako-san.
Nanako just looks scared and refuses to take it.
I forcefully handed the towel to Nanako.
“If you don’t wipe it off, I’ll be in trouble. So wipe it off for me.”
Nanako-san was staring at the towel and laughing ……. She wasn’t laughing because it was funny. She’s laughing at herself.
“Ah-haha ……, you’re miserable, aren’t you? I can’t help it. I’m disgusting, and no one will believe you. ……”
No one will believe me? What the hell happened to her? But that’s not the point, she’s really going to catch a cold.
“I made fun of you, Shinjo-kun. I made fun of Shinjo-kun for being alone in his shell after the molestation allegations and false confessions. It was annoying to watch. He should have at least made an excuse, but he looked as if it was his fault, and he was looking down his nose at Shinjo-kun.”
In a muffled voice, Nanako suddenly began to speak.
I realized that Nanako was talking about her junior high school days.
I was too taken aback to say anything.
“So, to be a little mean, I invited him to karaoke ……, and stupid Shinjo-kun came to karaoke, and I tricked him……, and so…. …Anyway, I tried to hurt Shinjo-kun. So it’s all my fault. ……”
I noticed something strange. A question popped into my head.
Why is Nanako trying to make herself the villain?
“T-that’s why, ……y-you can hate me for that. ……”
The words that came out of my mouth were completely unexpected.
“—–P-please get along with Haruka……”
I don’t know why it looks so painful.
I could feel that the words were coming from her heart.