” Makoto, do you have a minute?”
It was a weekend morning. I woke up early, posted my latest story, and was just about to leave the house.
If I didn’t leave my room for a long time, my stepmother and stepsister would get involved.
We always spent our weekends at the park or at a commercial food court.
“Excuse me, I have to run an errand with my friends…….”
Of course, I don’t have any friends. If I had plans to meet someone, I would give up thinking that I would be bothering that person.
My stepsister popped up from behind my stepmother.
“Hey, hey, Onii-chan. I feel like something shocking happened, but I can’t remember anything. Do you know about it, Onii-chan?”
“I don’t know …….”
I can’t believe she forgot the inconvenient parts. …… She’s a horrible girl.
Stepmother let out a sigh and told stepsister.
” Haa… Why don’t you take a lesson from Makoto? You can study and exercise.”
“Heh, I know. I’m proud to be his sister now! …… Oh, that’s right, we’re going shopping together today! I’m looking forward to going out to eat!”
“Then hurry up and get ready. Makoto is already ready.”
“No, I’ll just be a nuisance if I go. Please enjoy yourselves.”
Step-mother turned bitter.
“You know, ……, there’s nothing wrong with going out with the family……. Forget about the past. You’re in high school now, don’t dwell on it forever.”
–You’re in high school now, huh
I’m not going to be dwelling on it. I don’t feel anything in my heart from those words.
I’m not trying to be a jerk.
In fact, why are you even bothering with me now?
At the time of my junior high school graduation ceremony, my stepsister and stepmother would have gone out together without saying a word to me.
I went straight home. They came home late at night.
“Oh, I heard from Haruka that you went to the launch with your friends. So, yeah, you were alone. ……”
“There’s nothing wrong with that. I would like to work part-time until I enter high school. Please give me permission.”
“You can’t get a part-time job……When school is not in session—“
“Thank you very much.”
“Well, seriously, since we’re here to celebrate—-“
“It’s a waste of money. Good night.”
My stepmother’s personality has not changed now or in the past. People’s personalities don’t change.
You can’t change it.
I threw the words at her again with emphasis.
“My friends are waiting for me, so I don’t want to be told to go out with them out of the blue.”
My stepsister interrupted me.
“O-Onii-chan……, please stop having air friend……. Hey, why don’t we go out together? It’s fun, right? Eat meat? Hehe, I want to walk hand in hand with Onii-chan”
I see, you know me well because we go to the same school.
” Makoto, come on. You are the eldest son of this family. With your academic ability, you can go to a good university, get a job at a good company, find a good mate and live a happy life. What you lack is the ability to communicate with others. So with a family–“
I certainly want to live in peace.
But that’s not the life stepmother told me to lead.
No matter how much they say we’re a family, at the end of the day, we are still individuals. I’m a stranger and a roommate.
I’m very grateful to my parents for taking care of me as their duty. As soon as I graduate from high school, I want to work and pay back the money they spent on me.
My stepmother’s words were hollow.
When she heard about my case through my stepsister, she said:
“I don’t care about the truth. It’s your fault when such rumors start. I don’t know how …… I got into this mess, and I’m in …… trouble …… at the ladies’ meeting.”
This was before my stepmother believed or disbelieved me.
By the way, my stepsister undoubtedly thought I was a criminal at that time.
I bowed deeply.
–I had to get out of the house.
“You certainly can’t trust my words, I apologize. Please excuse me…….”
“T-that’s not what I meant. ……”
I headed to a desolate shopping center far from my house.
It was a 30 minute walk from my house to a deserted shopping center.
A new shopping center had been built in front of the nearest station, and the customers had drifted to it.
If my stepsister wanted to go shopping, she would probably go to the new commercial facility. She would never come to this facility.
As I headed to the food court, I saw Shinozuka-san eating by herself.
–I didn’t expect to see her here …….
The fact that we had met at that supermarket meant that we must be in close proximity.
Shinozuka-san was too familiar with the food court at the end of the street.
She was wearing a jersey that the Yankees often wear, and she was looking at her phone with a difficult look on her face, wrinkling her brow as she bit into a piece of bread.
Suddenly, Shinozuka-san smiled.
Despite her angry expression, she looked happy and …… joyful.
After a while, she put her phone on the table and took out her keyboard?
I wondered if it was a novel site.
I wondered what was going on, so I checked my page on the novel site.
Then I went to Pomeko’s page.
“…… This is ……no way.”
I hadn’t noticed it at all. I was only interested in uploading my own works.
The list of Pomeko’s works was huge.
…… And … “I made it into a book!” There was a character.
However, the activity report of her works had not been updated since a year ago.
When I went back to my page, a red text jumped out at me.
“It’s Pomeko! I read the latest story. It’s a very painful story, but it has a redeeming feature. …… It was very good……. I’m so glad I found this story. I really understand the feelings of the main character, Mikey Saburo. I know it’s hard to update, but please do your best! Pomeko”
My feet were moving on their own.
I bought two cups of juice at the store. I walked up to Shinozuka-san’s seat.
I was close enough to hear her mumbling.
She didn’t even notice me.
“Alright, hehe, good luck …….”
Her voice was filled with tenderness.
I couldn’t move. My thoughts stopped.
Shinozuka-san noticed the presence of people and raised her voice roughly with her gaze looking down.
“….If you’re looking for a pickup, I don’t want it. Get the hell out of here. …… …… Hey, are you listening–oh.”
She slowly raised her head and stared at me, unable to move.
Her eyes widened.
“W-What are you doing here? …..Oi Shinjo, I’m not going to get acquainted with you–“
I took a seat in front of Shinotsuka-san.
Shinozuka-san looked disgusted. I also heard her click her tongue.
“Yeah, I don’t feel like getting acquainted with Shinozuka either.
“Huh? Don’t you have a weird honorific like you usually do? I mean, aren’t you afraid of me? I’m not as scary as you, but you’ve heard bad things about me, right? Then go away.”
I’m sorry, but it’s not scary at all. It’s just a cat being intimidating. I’m more afraid of the blackness of the human heart. …… Hmm? Is the rumor of me already spreading? …… I see.
“I’ve heard the rumors about Shinozuka. ……I don’t care about rumors. I don’t know if they’re true or not. Right?”
I was awfully talkative. Why am I not using honorifics?
What’s the point? I’m not trying to get involved with Shinotsuka-san anyways.
The red letters flickered in my mind.
“Fun …… Stay out of my way. …… I don’t want to have anything to do with anyone anymore.”
Shinozuka-san, the rumors were terrible. She’s a daddy’s girl, she’s been mugged, she’s been violated, she’s had men taken from her, she’s been playing on the streets at night.
I couldn’t believe the rumors. I’ve experienced it firsthand.
I put the juice I was holding in my hand in front of her.
“If you like.”
I felt Shinozuka-san’s temperature drop. Her grim face became even more grim. It seemed to have stimulated something inside her. I don’t know what it is.
Shinozuka-san held the juice in her hand and tried to throw it at me.
“‘I don’t want to be fooled anymore! So leave me alone! Don’t show me your false kindness!”
My body reacts. I took the juice from Shinozuka-san before she could release it from her hands.
I grabbed it gently, but the momentum caused a little bit of juice to spill out.
A drop of juice splashed onto her keyboard.
I placed the juice on the desk and took out a handkerchief.
I wipe the keyboard gently.
“I-I’m sorry……… —–Funtsu, It’s dirty.
“……It’s hard when breaks down. It’s the juice I bought. I just don’t want to have to pay for it. I’m not doing this for Shinozuka, don’t get me wrong.”
“Damn, you, so what do you want……Haa…… You don’t want to have a friendly chat, do you?”
What do you want? Yeah, I didn’t have anything in particular to do.
The next thing I knew, I was on my way to Shinozuka-san’s place.
Was there something I wanted to ask her? What did I want to do?
My mouth opened by itself.
“It’s not that I want to be friends with Shinozuka. I don’t want to trust you and be betrayed.”
“Funn, I also don’t want to be friends with you. I don’t want this.”
I took a sip of my juice.
My hands were a little sticky and uncomfortable, but my mind was at ease.
Yes, we don’t want to be friends.
We don’t need friends.
Shinozuka-san in her jersey looked awfully small.
She looked like a Pomeranian on her phone.
“Why did you stop writing, Pomeko-san?”
“Ha, HAA?! You’re going to say that here? N-No, don’t do that, it’s embarrassing! I thought we pretended not to know each other!?”
“It’s okay, we’re not going to be friends.”
—No, I just can’t stop.
“No, that’s no excuse! I mean, Nya-Nyanta, there’s always too many dead people! Your stories are too heart-wrenching! You should care more about your characters! The heroine is cute, so I’ll forgive you.”
“…… Can I read Pomeko’s work now? I haven’t read it yet.”
–It’s pointless to talk about this. Don’t go any further.
“Oi, don’t do that. My past works are badly written!”
“Mm-hmm, romance. I’ve never experienced this genre.”
–Why can’t I stop?
“Nyanta, don’t make fun of romance! Don’t look at me like that!”
“Ooh, you’re starting off really fast. They are already dead”
–The words come out by themselves.
“You would have died out of nowhere, too! And if you want to read it, go home and read it slowly!”
I don’t intend to be friends with Shinozuka-san. The person inside Shinozuka-san is Pomeko-san.
–It’s okay, I won’t make a mistake.
When I was talking to Pomeko-san, for some reason I felt the same way I did when I saw the message.
The next thing I knew, we were in the food court of a desolate commercial facility, …… talking for a long, long time without saying anything but each other’s names.