After finishing overtime work, I returned home. I quietly opened the front door, trying not to make any noise out of consideration for my wife, who was probably asleep already.
However, that day was different from usual.
I heard voices.
Was someone here? Past midnight? I hadn’t heard anything about anyone coming over.
Then, who was my wife talking to?
It was a phone call.
I couldn’t hear the other person’s voice.
But I heard my wife’s voice.
I couldn’t help but hear it.
“I’ve only ever loved you. Since our school days. No, even before that, since I can remember. I’ve only ever loved you. Marrying that person made me realize that. I deeply regret accepting his confession and getting married…”
Her words continued, but I couldn’t listen to the end. I didn’t want to hear such a confession.
I didn’t want to stay in this place any longer. I didn’t care if there was any noise. I swung open the door wide and rushed out of the apartment we shared together.
Running aimlessly, I was headed somewhere that wasn’t here.
And then, perhaps, I must have run onto a road or something.
Car headlights blinded me, and I felt a dull impact on my body.
I died. I was supposed to be dead.
But, I, Yuma Yamazaki, am alive.
I had gone back to my high school days.
And what an irony it was. I never expected this moment.
It was the spring of my second year in high school. After school, in a classroom tinged with orange, I confessed my feelings to my future wife.
That moment was right now.
In front of me was my wife—or rather, at that time, she was just a classmate.
Her name is Megumi Kayama.
She had black hair that reached her shoulders, and her large eyes drooped slightly.
She used to say she didn’t like her slightly plump lips, but I found them cute and liked them.
I remember it all. I have never forgotten.
On that day, I confessed to her.
She was adorable, and many boys in the class liked her.
So, after that, I spent my high school days happily, despite the envy and jealousy from my classmates.
We supported each other through university entrance exams, and on the day of the college acceptance announcement, we became a couple for the first time.
And four years later.
After graduating from university, we got married.
We were both busy with work, but we spent our weekends together and nurtured our love.
That’s what I thought.
In reality, just a moment ago from my perspective, I found out the truth.
She had someone else she loved, apart from me.
…No, that’s not it.
That person was the one she truly loved.
She had a childhood friend. He attended our wedding.
Considering the content of the phone call, there was no doubt that he was her true love.
She called out anxiously.
There’s something she wants to talk about. And it was me who called her out here.
It’s natural for her to be worried if I remain silent.
She probably has some inkling as to why I called her out—to confess my feelings.
It was one year ago. In the spring of our first year of high school, I met her.
We were in the same class, sitting next to each other.
At first, it was just saying “good morning” to her, but it was when she pointed out my messy bed hair that we started talking about casual things, and I became more aware of her.
She liked her tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelette) salty. She put ketchup on her sunny-side-up eggs. During class, when the problems were difficult, she’d pout her lips. When she felt embarrassed, she’d extend both hands and fidget.
Before I knew it, I found everything about her cute and endearing.
Even so, I hadn’t thought about confessing my feelings. Not just from my own perspective, but because she was incredibly cute and popular.
I thought we didn’t match. I, a plain and unremarkable guy, and her, who was so lively and loved by everyone.
But in our second year, I found myself in the same class as her again.
And once more, we were seated next to each other.
I think it was inevitable that I felt like it was destiny.
I called her out like this. All for the purpose of confessing.
In hindsight, I probably wasn’t very good at hiding my feelings for her.
My face would turn red just from meeting her gaze, and my voice would become lively when talking to her.
So she probably noticed my feelings for her.
Still, she responded to my invitation, and I’m sure it’s because she had some feelings for me too.
So all that’s left is for me to confess.
If I do that, then we’ll officially be a couple, and we can spend a happy future together—that’s what I thought at that time.
But now, as I return from the future to this moment, I can’t think that way anymore. I can’t.
Because I found out that she has someone else she truly loves.
“Sorry. Even though I called you out here, I’m feeling a bit unwell.”
“Eh? Are you okay!? I’ll walk you home.”
“I’ll be fine. I’m really sorry.”
Waving to her, who was genuinely worried, I left the classroom.
I don’t want to confess. I don’t want to be alone with her like that.
That’s really how I feel.
But it’s not a lie that I’m feeling unwell.
I feel nauseous. My head is pounding.
Why did I come back to this moment?
Why didn’t I die back then?
If I had died at that time…
Then I wouldn’t have to go through this painful experience.
From the next day, my attitude towards her became very awkward.
Even when she shyly said, “Good morning,” as usual, I couldn’t respond as I always did.
I could only manage to make groaning-like sounds like “Ah, yes” or something muffled like that.
Not only during break time but even during class, she worried about my strange behavior.
“Are you okay? If you’re not feeling well, you shouldn’t push yourself.”
She leaned in and whispered softly.
A sweet scent emanated from her.
Her whispering voice tickled my ear.
“Shouldn’t you go home early? Should I tell the teacher?”
My feelings for her throbbed. My chest ached. I loved her. I loved her so much.
“…No, I’m fine. It’s nothing.”
“…Really, it’s nothing.”
Probably, she had some inkling that it was a lie.
Even so, she didn’t press the matter further.
She laughed saying so.
Her smile seemed so sad, and my chest hurt even more.
But I decided to ignore that pain.
Because she truly loved someone else, and that someone was not me.
Didn’t she say so herself? That being with me, marrying me, was a mistake.
If I closed my eyes, I could remember everything. Her voice, so vivid. Her feverish breath. She was the first one like that.
Her beloved was not me.
Accepting that fact was agonizing and painful, but there was no choice but to accept it.
No matter what I do or how I try, I cannot change that reality.
I truly loved her from the depths of my heart.
Even after knowing her feelings, my feelings for her were stronger than the sense of betrayal.
For the person I loved so much, the person I cherished the most, I wanted her to smile.
I wanted her to be happy.
In that case, there was only one thing I could do.
Perhaps the reason I didn’t die back then and returned to the past was to correct my mistake.
I confessed and fell in love with her —– I guess I have to correct those mistakes.
I decided to distance myself from her—Megumi-san.
Of course, it was painful, and my heart ached terribly.
Especially, the more I distanced myself, the more Megumi-san seemed confused and sad, and it almost broke me several times.
It’s not unreasonable to think that way. Just a few days ago, we were more than friends but less than lovers.
Getting excited over trivial conversations.
Blushing when our hands accidentally touched.
Walking home together, pretending it was a coincidence.
But I steeled my heart.
Because Megumi-san’s true love was not me; it was her childhood friend.
Maybe she’s just worried about me right now. After all, our relationship until a short while ago was incredibly close. But that’s not it. It’s just a misunderstanding.
If enough time passes, Megumi-san will probably realize that. That’s what I thought…
One lunch break,
“Hey, today let’s—”
“—–Now, what shall I eat today?”
I interrupted her, just like before. This was fine, I thought.
Somewhere I couldn’t feel Megumi-san’s presence. I thought I’d have lunch alone, but…
As I tried to walk away, Megumi-san grabbed my hand.
I tried to shake it off, but I couldn’t, and Megumi-san glared at me.
“Hey, why are you suddenly distancing yourself? Did I do something? If I did anything weird, I apologize, so please—”
Please what? Just as I was thinking that, I heard a voice calling me.
“…Hey, Yamazaki-kun, still there?”
I wasn’t the only one surprised. Megumi-san was too.
Because it was a classmate, Watari-san, who called out to me.
Her chestnut hair reached her waist, and her narrow eyes were striking.
Always sitting in the very back seat by the window, with a straight back, she spent her time reading books, making her somewhat unapproachable.
Still, Watari was very beautiful, and she was just as popular among the boys in our class as Megumi-san, if not more so.
Perhaps even more popular than Megumi-san.
That’s because numerous boys had confessed to her, but Watari had brushed them all off with a single phrase: “I’m not interested.”
As a result, she got the nickname “Watari the Slayer.”
That Watari was now grabbing my hand.
“You promised to have lunch together today, right?”
Of course, we hadn’t made any such promise.
As the classroom erupted into commotion due to Watari’s actions, I stumbled forward, still holding hands with Watari, and walked away.
Megumi-san’s hand, which had been holding onto me, had somehow let go.
After leaving the classroom, we walked for a while before Watari-san stopped.
“Eh, w-what for?”
“I thought you looked troubled… So I said we’d have lunch together. It must have been a bother. I can’t believe I said something like that. What if there are some weird rumors from tomorrow onwards!?”
Watari-san spoke all at once, and she lowered her head so much that it seemed like her head would hit the floor.
Her behavior was so different from her usual self that I couldn’t help but find it amusing, and I ended up laughing.
“Because I got to see Yamazaki-kun smile after so long.”
“Ah, n-no, it’s not like I’ve always been watching you or anything…!?”
“That totally means you’ve been watching me all along, right…?”
Watari-san covered her head and crouched down.
As I laughed once more at the funny sight of her, Watari-san muttered to me.
“Until a little while ago, you used to smile normally. But lately, something seems off with Megumi-san, and you stopped smiling. So, I was worried.”
She stood up.
“…Hey, you can make use of me, I don’t mind?”
“You’re trying to distance yourself from Megumi-san, right? So…”
“I’ll be fine.”
[…Yamazaki-kun, I’ve liked you all along.]
I remembered when Watari-san confessed to me at the alumni gathering just after I got married to Megumi-san .
Why did I forget that? Ah, I see. It’s because I was only focused on Megumi-san.
I’ve always been thinking about Megumi-san.
Even after getting married, always. Megumi-san was always at the center of my heart.
Even when I failed to die back then and returned to high school, that didn’t change.
But the truth was that Megumi-san had someone she truly liked.
I had to forget about Megumi-san.
“…That’s not fair to you, Watari-san.”
“I’m saying it’s okay because I want to. See!?”
“I should be the one to thank you.”
Watari-san’s muttering was so quiet, but I heard it clearly.
Her ears were astonishingly red.
I, Megumi Kayama, loved Yuma Yamazaki deeply.
Being together with him brought me joy and comfort. I felt safe and secure.
So, when he confessed to me during our second year of high school, I was overjoyed.
During our school days, we cherished our time as a couple and got married right after graduating from college.
From the very beginning, I took the lead in our relationship. That’s how much I loved Yuma.
After getting married, our lives became busy as working adults. There were times when we drifted apart and had arguments, but we were happy.
But my sin was taking that happiness for granted.
When I coincidentally reunited with my childhood friend, he embraced me.
Alcohol might have been involved, and there was some forcefulness from my childhood friend.
However, I mistakenly believed that there was something I couldn’t obtain in the days spent with Yuma but found in the time spent with my childhood friend.
Since then, I continued a secret relationship with my childhood friend.
Using the excuse of being busy with work, I went on dates and stayed at hotels with my childhood friend while avoiding Yuma.
Once, I even brought my childhood friend to our apartment.
The feeling of guilt when my childhood friend embraced me on mine and Yuma’s bed was overwhelming, and I saw a side of myself I didn’t know.
When confessing my true feelings to my childhood friend became a regular occurrence, Yuma found out.
He overheard my conversation with my childhood friend over the phone.
With a loud noise, he opened the front door wide, and then I heard his footsteps as he left.
When I saw Yuma’s commuting bag on the floor, I felt all the blood drain from my body.
I rushed after him, but Yuma was nowhere to be seen.
In the distance, an ambulance siren wailed.
I thought it had nothing to do with me… But that wasn’t the case.
Yuma had died. He was hit by a car.
According to the police, it seemed like an impulsive suicide. Several passersby had witnessed Yuma running into the road.
I felt despair. Losing Yuma made me realize how foolish I had been.
My childhood friend came to comfort me, but I rejected him.
Why did I whisper love to such a man? Why did I give myself to him?
My heart belonged to Yuma alone.
Being happy had become so ordinary, so taken for granted that I didn’t notice it.
Unable to bear the despair of never seeing Yuma again, I threw myself into the road, just like he did, and was hit by a car.
If I said I didn’t believe I’d see Yuma after death, that would be a lie.
But no way.
I couldn’t believe that time had rewound.
Before I knew it, I found myself standing on the day when Yuma confessed to me.
Yuma was right in front of me. The person I thought I would never see again. I felt like crying, but no, not now. This isn’t the right time.
I thought I would cry when he confesses to me at least.
But… Yuma didn’t confess.
Something’s wrong. He should have definitely confessed today.
From the next day, Yuma’s behavior was strange. He started avoiding me and keeping his distance.
I wanted to create opportunities to spend time with him, but he only acted as if he was trying to avoid being with me.
And before I knew it, Yuma was always with Watari-san, sitting beside her.
I knew it. I knew Watari-san had feelings for Yuma. But I thought Yuma and I were much closer, so Watari-san should have given up on him.
As our conversations withered away, and while I became more anxious, I noticed that Yuma was becoming increasingly attracted to Watari-san.
We’ve been together for so long. We spent so much time together. So, I know. I know that Yuma deeply loves Watari-san.
Even though I thought I could start over, even though I came back to the past.
Our futures will never intersect.
Why did it come to this?
Why did I take happiness with Yuma for granted?
If I didn’t think that way, right now, it should have been me smiling beside Yuma, not Watari-san.