“Wake up Shinjo, it’s morning!”
“……, I’m already up”
I woke up in the early hours of the morning to write a novel on my phone.
Good thing I brought my tablet for writing, in case.
I sat down in my chair and drank my coffee.
“Haa? W-Why so elegant in the morning? Where did you bring the coffee from? –Oh, I mean, don’t tell anyone about [that] thing you did yesterday! I’ll tell everyone about it!”
After I left Anri, I was ambushed by Yamada.
I was so surprised when he suddenly came out of the bushes that I almost strangled him. ……
“Do you drink coffee too, Yamada? It’s instant.”
“I can’t drink coffee because it’s bitter. I mean, those guys don’t wake up! We talked until late last night. Shinjo fell asleep right away.”
“I don’t want to disturb the pace of their sleep.”
“Gaaa! You smell like an old man. I guess that’s what’s good about Shinjo.”
Yamada talked on and on as if he was trying to hide his embarrassment.
I think he was so embarrassed that he was seen at the scene yesterday. I wonder if anything has changed since they started going out?
“Hey, when did you decide to confess your feelings?”
I suddenly asked what I wondered.
“H-Haa? …… I don’t know. I was sitting next to her and I had been interested in her for a long time, and as we got to know each other, I started liking her more and more. O-oi come on, that’s embarrassing!”
Well, that’s what it feels like to like someone.
For the first time, I felt sympathy for Yamada.
” Have a happy life with Tanaka-san.”
“T-thank you! I mean, Shinjo, you’re next, right?”
I almost blew out my coffee.
“W-What are you talking about?”
“Hmm, whatever. To be honest, Shinozuka is super popular now that she’s becoming curvier and prettier…. Tanaka is prettier though.”
I know that.
Anri is very cute. I understand that better than anyone else.
Suddenly, Nikaido’s face came to mind.
He’s the guy Anri had a lot of trouble with in junior high school.
A strange feeling comes to my mind. ……
Is this jealousy? It’s a disgusting feeling. But I can’t stop it.
“Don’t look like that! You guys are going to be fine. I’ll guarantee it!”
“I don’t care about Yamada’s guarantee. ……”
“Haa, you’ve got to be kidding me?! I mean, it’s kind of weird. We’re talking about love.”
“I guess so. …… I don’t mean it in a bad way.”
“I see, Shinjo. I’m sorry I misunderstood you in a weird way. I thought you were a much nicer guy than you were.”
What would the old me have said?
I would never have talked to him like this in the first place.
I would have told him to stay away from me.
To me, my classmates were something mysterious. They all had masked smiles on their faces, lived blandly, read the air, were influenced by other people’s opinions, and trampled on people’s hearts.
But not now.
Everyone just couldn’t grow up.
So, it’s all right now.
I patted Yamada on the shoulder.
“Yamada, I’m grateful to you too. You’ve taught me a lot.”
“Hehe, Oyo! I’ve only just started my high school life! Keep up the good work, Shinjo! …… What’s this? [Yamada goes to Tanaka’s place even though he’s covered in blood]?
This is what I mean by “bloodied”.
The novel that I had been writing on my tablet earlier was still open.
I was writing a fantasy style love story about Tanaka and Yamada.
Yamada, a foolish and ditzy adventurer, was expelled from the guild and plunged into the abyss. There he meets Tanaka, a demon tribe, and falls in forbidden love.
In the last scene, Yamada tries to save Tanaka by using his own life to revive the dying Tanaka.
It was supposed to end with a bitter ending.
No, this is not the time to be thinking like this!
Yamada put his hand on his chin and pondered.
“Oh, this is a novel! Ooh, I’m the main character? Let me see it, Shinjo!”
“An? I know you’re writing a novel. I mean, you and Shinozuka are always talking about novels. I’m not surprised now! I mean, am I a super cool character? Let me see!”
I was shocked.
I thought nobody would ever find out. I had been whispering to Anri, so I thought I was okay.
But when we were in our own little world, I might not have been paying attention to what was going on around us.
“Hey, Shinjo, how can I read this from the beginning?”
“W-wait, I haven’t finished writing it yet, so I’ll show it to you when it’s done properly.”
I have to change it to a happy ending. ……
“I see. I’m looking forward to it! I mean, these guys are really not waking up. Let’s wake them up!”
I took a deep breath and tried to regain my composure.
I started to sweat funny …….
But I didn’t hate it that much.
I felt rather happy to be told that he was looking forward to it.
I see, it makes me happy to have people read my novels and enjoy them.
“You little s**t, Yamada! Wake me up more gently! I’m sensitive!”
“Yamada……, let me sleep a little longer.”
Yamada is fussing with Hiratsuka and Hirano.
I naturally loosened my mouth too.
I enjoyed this space even though there was nothing particularly interesting going on.
It was the first time except when I was with Anri.
I found myself laughing out loud.
The enjoyable forest school is now over.
We started to go down the mountain to catch the bus back home.
It is not that far, but it takes a lot of time to walk.
Anri is walking with Saito-san and Tanaka-san, talking with them.
They seem to be enjoying themselves, smiling from time to time.
“Very sleepy. I’m going to have a good night’s sleep when I get home.”
Hiratsuka, who is walking next to me, is yawning and leaning against Hirano.
“…..I have a part-time job.”
Hirano shifts his position and moves Hiratsuka out of the way. Hiratsuka almost slips and falls.
“Aren’t you a bit dangerous!? Stay strong! Take Hirano’s example.”
Seo, who was nearby, supported Hiratsuka’s body.
Hirano and I naturally kept our distance from them.
“An? S-shut up. I mean, thanks for the help. ……”
“I don’t care. we are childhood friends, after all.”
“Yeah, we’ve known each other since childhood.”
Last night, when I was in hot water, something apparently happened between Seo and Hiratsuka.
I didn’t ask for details, but it was obvious from the way they were acting.
The distance between them is so close that it’s hard to look away.
Yamada and Tanaka, who have decided to go out with each other, have a modest distance. ……
“The two were even more annoying when they were in their prime. This is just the beginning.”
“That’s …… going to give you heartburn.”
“I used to watch them next to me all the time. It’s good to see them again.”
Hirano was smiling thinly. The smile is rarely seen.
His gaze was on the two of us, but for some reason it seemed as if he was looking at Seo.
“Oh, it’s alright. I feel better now. I’m sleeping on the bus, so don’t wake me up.”
“I understand. It’s a tough job.”
“It’s what I have to do. It’s a way of life.”
Hirano is a lot more mature than most of us his age.
He works part-time to support his family.
He has to take care of his younger sister.
I heard that he also does housework.
When I heard that, I felt ashamed of myself.
I had been through a lot in my past, but I grew up in a privileged environment.
I was even able to write novels freely.
“Shinjo, happiness is different for everyone. I’m very happy right now, so it’s all right. I’ve made new friends.”
“…He’s talking to me right now.”
Hirano scratched his head to hide his embarrassment.
I was able to make friends with everyone through this forest school.
I thought Anri was the only friend I had.
I didn’t see the faces of my classmates.
Through this forest school, I was able to get close to everyone, even if it was only for a short time.
–After the field trip, I remembered what I thought in my heart while Anri hugged me.
I wanted to play soccer with everyone. I was really looking forward to the field trip. It was lonely to be alone. Even though I was betrayed, I thought that maybe. I was really happy just by talking to them. I wanted to go on a school trip. I wanted to go out to eat with my stepmother and stepsister. I loved my silly step sister. I was hoping that maybe they would celebrate my graduation. –I really wanted someone to hug me. No, this is not me. I gave it all up. I gave up on not giving a s*t. I built walls to survive. I built them with a will of steel.
The words in my mind’s eye, the reality of the consequences.
–I see, I was lonely and isolated.
Hirano’s word “friend” melts into my heart.
I respond to Hirano’s words as if I were trying to squeeze out my voice.
“Friends, is that right?”
“Of course, we are friends now.”
At that moment, I was slapped on the back from behind.
“What the hell, Shinjo! I’m your friend too! I mean, seriously, I’m looking forward to your novel! You’ve got to write it super cool!”
Yamada puts his hand on my shoulder.
“Yamada’s going to be banished, though.”
Yamada told me with a laugh.
This is normal school life. This is what I really wanted, but couldn’t have.
Anri turned around and watched our exchange with a smile on her face.
I felt a little embarrassed.
Tanaka-san was fuming when she saw Yamada.
Saito-san was also smiling.
It was at this point that I realized that I had come to the forest school for a good reason.
“Oi, Shinjo, that’s your sister, right? Haruka-chan, right?”
While I was walking and talking with everyone for a while, I saw Haruka walking slowly in front of me.
Next to Haruka was Nikaido. Why? Do the two of them know each other?
I couldn’t hear their voices, but they seemed to be having a conversation.
They never seem to get along.
It’s like invisible sparks are flying. No one approaches the two …….
Hmm, wait. I heard from Anri that Nikaido has a fiancée.
I don’t want Haruka to be harassed by him like Anri was.
It would be better not to let Haruka get too close to him.
“I’m going to check on her.”
I told Hirano and the others and approached them.
“All the girls in class D are in good hands, don’t worry”
“Thanks for keeping her in check.”
“I don’t mind. Don’t be so friendly.”
“Well, there are a lot of bad kids at this school.”
“Your fiancée was pretty much the same.”
“Ex-fiancee. I’m fine, but what are you going to do about Ninomiya’s courtship?”
“Abba-ba-ba-ba! I-I don’t know about that!”
The two were so engrossed in their conversation that they didn’t notice me.
I don’t know what they are talking about. But the atmosphere was very gloomy.
I call out to Haruka from behind.
“Haruka? What do you mean with courtship? Could it be that Nikaido courted you?”
Haruka jumped up in surprise.
“B-big brother! N-no, that’s not it! Nikaido is just an acquaintance!”
“Yes. I don’t know if it’s an acquaintance or a friend. ….Right”
“I see, Haruka has made friends too. But Nikaido……”
“W-we’re not friends!”
I remember the incident in the bathroom. He’s not a bad guy by any means, a dark angel perhaps…….
It’s hard to know how to treat him.
“Haruka, Nikaido has a fiancée. Be careful not to get too close to him, or you could get into trouble.”
“…..Y-yeah, I’m fine!”
“Yes, yes, it’s ex-fiancée.”
“Hmm? Is that so? …… then Nikaido is interested in Haruka.”
“No, no, it’s not me. A friend of mine likes Haruka-san.”
The bag on my back almost fell off.
“A-agga!? No, no, big brother! I don’t like Ninomiya at all! I’m not interested!”
“N-no, love is free. ……Haruka, don’t throw pine cones at him.”
“Y-yes, come on, go back to Shinozuka-san, big brother! I have a few more things to discuss with Nikaido.”
“Shinjo-kun, see you later.”
I was pushed back by Haruka.
I couldn’t explain it.
When I looked back, Haruka and Nikaido had already walked far away.
….Well, that’s okay. Let’s hear about their relationship slowly from Haruka next time.
When I turned around, Anri was standing there with a strange look on her face.
” Makoto-kun, what’s wrong with Haruka-san?”
“No, I’m not sure. …… I heard she was courted by a guy named Ninomiya or something.”
“Eh? Ninomiya-kun …….”
Anri looked gloomy for a moment.
As Nikaido’s friend, he must have been in the same junior high school as Anri.
“I’m sorry, Anri. Forget about it.”
“No, Ninomiya-kun is fine. Because he once defended me against harassment.”
“I see. ……, but why did he fall in love with Haruka?”
“Ah, because Ninomiya-kun is the type of boy who is a little bit strange.”
We are almost to the bus.
“Haruka is certainly a bit odd.”
“Only a little. Besides, Haruka-san is very cute and attractive.”
“Yes, she is!”
“I find Anri attractive, so I don’t know about the others.”
“Oh, this is the voice of my heart: ……”
Both Anri and I walk in silence for a while.
It’s not an uncomfortable silence. A pleasant silence.
“Makoto, did you have fun at forest school?”
“Right, it was a lot of fun. I got along well with Hiratsuka and the others.”
“Yes, I got to know Tanaka-san and the others well, too! ……I haven’t been to an event that wasn’t so lonely since I was a kid.”
I remember the events of the past. Anri was with me too. Many of the events were spent alone.
“Yes, it wasn’t lonely”
“B-but, you know, there were times when I was a little lonely.”
A-are you all right, Anri? Did someone do something bad to you?”
“No, no one did anything bad to me. Kurosawa-san didn’t come close to me.”
“I see, then why ……”
Anri took my hand.
It was so natural and so normal.
“I didn’t have enough time to spend with Makoto-kun.”
The title of Anri’s novel popped into my head at that moment.
“The most important person in the world”.
It was Anri.
That’s why I made up my mind at that time.
I might break our relationship.
We might not be able to be friends anymore.
That’s why I tried to hide my love for her.
But I can’t stop this feeling.
–I want to tell Anri how I feel about her.
End of Volume 6