One of the personal belongings of a woman who was here as an educational intern is missing. And somehow it turned up in my desk. I was innocent.
The education trainee, with a gentle smile, calmly advised me, “When you do something wrong, it’s best to apologize sincerely, you know?” But no matter how much she said that, if I didn’t know anything about it, I couldn’t admit to it. I continued to deny any involvement.
While the education trainee remained calm, the homeroom teacher, on the other hand, was furious at my refusal to admit guilt and scolded me relentlessly.
“What you did is theft. Do you understand that this is a crime!”
Naturally, I found myself isolated within the classroom. My classmates distanced themselves from me, leaving me alone.
This situation couldn’t continue. So, I decided to resolve it myself.
On the day the personal belonging went missing, I meticulously listed all of my actions during the presumed timeframe. I detailed who I was with, where I was, and what I was doing at every moment, and submitted it as a comprehensive report.
Through this process, I narrowed down the list of suspicious individuals and identified the culprit.
He was a male classmate. Though we didn’t really interact, he had a crush on the education trainee. Apparently, he impulsively stole her belongings and, when he heard a noise, hastily stashed them in my desk. It was beyond ridiculous. I gathered all the evidence and presented it to the teachers, including the homeroom teacher and the education trainee. They seemed to say something, but I didn’t really care.
It was a trivial incident with a trivial resolution. By that time, my mental fortitude had grown as sturdy as an acacia tree, and I didn’t really feel much about it.
I had no intention of getting along with the classmates who had treated me like a criminal. After that, I moved on to the next grade and went through a class change, spending my time without saying a word to the homeroom teacher and my former classmates.
During that time, nearly half a year had passed, and an awkward atmosphere continued to linger within the class.
It almost escalated into bullying, but I resisted fiercely and crushed them. Violence seemed to be the only way to resolve everything.
Perhaps, in addition to feeling guilty for their own actions, my classmates were hesitant to approach me because I excelled in both academics and sports. Moreover, if they tried to harm me, I would fight back without hesitation. That’s just how I was.
It feels quite nostalgic. It was indeed a dark period of my elementary school days.
“So, the homeroom teacher at that time was Sanjoji-Sensei. I completely forgot.”
“I apologize for that… I should have created many happy memories for you, but I erased them all. I don’t think I can be forgiven even if I apologize. Still, please let me apologize.”
Sanjoji-sensei kept bowing deeply, refusing to lift her head.
“Don’t worry about it. Thanks to that, I learned how to deal with unfair situations.”
“Kokonoe-kun, you are truly…”
She looked so sad, and I wondered what I should do. But the truth was, I really didn’t mind.
In fact, I couldn’t afford to be bothered by every little thing.
However, telling Sanjoji-sensei that would only make her feel worse. I didn’t want to make her overthink it.
What should I do? What is Sanjoji-sensei expecting from me?
Why did she apologize now and what purpose does this apology serve?
Should I forgive her…? But I’m not angry.
So, how do I forgive her? That’s right, just like I kept tormenting my sister.
How can I make Sanjoji-sensei return to her usual self?
I have to think. I won’t throw away my thoughts anymore. I won’t give up. There must be an answer.
So, I’ll express myself. I won’t run away. I’ll speak my mind as it is.
“Sensei, let’s sit down and have cake together.”
“I want to do that.”
I didn’t have any memories from that time. There were no recollections. All I knew was that such an incident had occurred. I even forgot the name of that one person. But seeing Sanjoji-sensei sitting there, looking pained and avoiding eye contact, made me feel somewhat uncomfortable.
I see, in that case—
“Then, please tell me, Sensei. What was it like back then? What kind of class was it? Who were my classmates? Since we’ve met again like this, won’t you share those memories? You have this album here. Please, tell me. Now that we’ve met again, it’s the perfect opportunity.”
It’s simple. If there are people who know, people who remember, then you just ask them. I wouldn’t have noticed it if I had stayed alone. The fact that there’s someone to rely on, someone to ask. The answer is straightforward, clear, and concise. I just need to lean on someone.
“—Is that alright?”
“I don’t remember anything at all, so I won’t know unless you tell me.”
“I- I understand! There are more albums. Please wait a moment!”
While still on all fours, Sanjoji-sensei headed towards the bookshelf in the back.
However, I realized. Crap! This is bad, really bad, Suzuka-chan!
Sanjoji-sensei is wearing a skirt. And not just any skirt, but a short tight skirt.
Even if she’s wearing stockings, being on all fours like that, with her backside facing this way, inevitably results in that.
“…Sensei, your panties.”
They were purple. I saw something lovely!
And thus, I stored that image in the memory of my heart.
“By the way, Sensei, why did you become a high school teacher?”
As I looked through the album, Sensei told me various things. Choir competitions, sports days, field trips—back then, I boycotted all of those events, but in hindsight, it was childish. A result of youthful indiscretion.
“I got afraid.”
“For a whole year, I was at a loss and unable to do anything. I struggled and struggled, but it didn’t lead anywhere. Time just passed by. What if the negative influence I had on the students affected their character formation or led them down the wrong path? Thinking that way, I became afraid to stand in front of the class. It was also shocking when a student openly asked to be transferred to another class.”
Sensei’s expression turned somber. It hinted at the depth of her struggles.
“I lost my confidence, my passion faded, and I thought I couldn’t do it anymore. I even resigned at one point. But I realized that in high school, a teacher’s influence on students might not be as significant. So, I took the teacher recruitment exam again. And that’s how we met again.”
“It was because of me… I’m sorry, Sensei.”
I felt compelled to lower my head in the face of her heavy past. Even though I had completely forgotten about it.
“No, it’s not your fault! It was my immaturity. I couldn’t fully become an adult. The year after resigning, I spent every day reflecting on myself. The students probably see me as the worst homeroom teacher, either erasing me from their memories like you or trying to forget that past entirely. Either way, I can’t face them.”
She offered a troubled smile, but her expression carried a sense of sadness and pain.
“Please, I managed to pull myself together somehow, but this reunion feels like fate. You might have already sensed it, but she had her spirit broken and gave up on her dreams. Just by being associated with me, her career was ruined. Please help her. Suzurikawa-san told me a lot about you. I believe you can make a difference.”
“Leave it to me.”
“Thank you. You truly are a kind person.”
Sensei smiled with relief. It was a small favor, but I didn’t mind. It was an easy task.
However, as cruel as it was, there was one thing I needed to bring up.
“By the way, don’t you think a favor should come with a reward?”
Suddenly, a foreboding atmosphere swept over Sanjoji Sensei, and she began to break into a cold sweat.
Rustling sounds came from my bag as I pulled out a sketchbook with a flourish.
“Could it be, Kokonoe-kun? Is this about that request? Definitely, it’s about that request, right!?”
“I am looking forward to this. Now, shall we begin?”
“It’s impossible! R-rethink this, please! There’s no charm in this messy body. Isn’t that right? You’ll be disappointed anyway!”
I shook my head as if to say “give me a break.”
“Is there something wrong with being messy? You said earlier that apologizing doesn’t automatically mean forgiveness, right? Well, I haven’t forgiven you yet. Ah, I remember being so humiliated in front of the class. It was tough, and it hurt.”
“Kuuuuu… I deeply regret being so thoughtless! However, that doesn’t mean…”
“It doesn’t look like you’re genuinely regretful, huh?”
I teased her relentlessly. I was really getting into it, as I’m usually on the defensive.
“But even so, it’s embarrassing, and…”
“At this point, it’s a bit late for excuses.”
I continued to rile her up. Despite the usual one-sided struggle, I was quite enjoying it.
“But it’s embarrassing, it really is…”
She was still making excuses while poking her index fingers together.
“Think about it this way. If you, as a teacher, accidentally witnessed a female student entering a love hotel with some old man, and then you questioned them later, would you believe it if they said nothing happened?”
“Well, that’s unlikely. Even though we should not punish someone solely based on suspicion, entering a place like that together would be sufficient evidence to conclude something happened. Even if it turned out nothing happened, it wouldn’t change the initial assumption.”
“Exactly. So, today, you called me to your home, and do you think people around us would believe there was nothing going on if you say so? No way!”
“Wait, we haven’t been caught, and I didn’t call you over with that intention.”
“That’s not for us to decide. Don’t worry; we’re at your home, so there’s no way anyone would find out. However, if nothing happened, it would be suspicious, and something happening would be natural.”
“Don’t use logical arguments to persuade me like that! It’s almost convincing! You know, you’re always like this, making an old woman like me…”
“Fine then, forget it.”
I pouted and acted like I was upset.
“Wait, why the sudden change? Don’t give me the cold shoulder like that. Are you planning to ask Kedou-san for help? Is that what you’re going to do?!”
I didn’t say anything in particular. I was just sulking.
“Alright, I’ll undress! You just want someone else to do it, right!? But please give me some time… I’ll go shave my armpits. No, better yet, I’ll get laser hair removal! I can’t bear this as it is!”
“Nope, that won’t do. It’s a form of art.”
“At my age, there’s no chance of meeting anyone new! So, even if my grooming is a bit sloppy, it can’t be helped! And what do you mean by ‘art’ anyway? It’s just your personal interest!”
“You say that with such a pure, untainted gaze!?”
“Well, look, even Inukichi here says the same thing, right?”
“When did Inukichi get so attached to you!?”
Inukichi entered the room quietly and climbed onto my back. He’s heavy…
The battle of words and wits between me and Sanjoji-sensei would continue for the next thirty minutes.
Passcodes, fingerprint recognition, face recognition—security measures are becoming stronger day by day. While there are people out there who claim that losing their smartphone would be the end of their lives, I’m just too lazy to bother with any lock at all. Besides, I don’t really use my phone much, and there’s hardly any important data stored in it. So, even if someone were to see it, it wouldn’t be a problem—or so I thought, until now.
“I guess my biggest enemy is my sister…”
I was in my room, alone, holding my head in my hands. What am I going to do about this situation?
After returning from Sanjoji-sensei’s house, I had once again done something stupid. I had stored the forbidden image of something purple in my mental memory and thoroughly enjoyed it. Feeling guilty about it, I honestly confessed to Sanjoji-sensei that I saw something I shouldn’t have.
I thought that would be the end of it, but for some reason, she replied, “I apologize. Um, since you’re also a high school student, if you’re curious, you can take a picture too. But it absolutely must not be discovered, okay?” I didn’t understand. Let me say it again—I didn’t understand.
So now, instead of being stored in my mental memory, the forbidden image is saved in my smartphone’s memory, specifically in the storage. It’s a picture that can never be shown to anyone; it’s way too dangerous. If someone were to see it, it could cause trouble for Sanjoji-sensei too.
However, I think the one at fault here is Sanjoji-sensei, not me, right?
“…Do I have no choice but to bury it?”
I search for a hiding spot, but in my room, which is filled with more of my mom’s and sister’s belongings than mine, there is no safe place. If I want to hide it, I’ll have to look outside.
How about burying it underground like a time capsule and retrieving it after several decades?
Maybe this is how erotic magazines that are found outside are created, through similar circumstances.
“Where were you today, running around like that?”
As usual, my sister, who has no concept of knocking, comes straight to my room after taking a bath.
She might be the only one who would commit such a reckless act of peering into my smartphone without hesitation. How can I hide it from her…? Wait a minute!
“Why aren’t you wearing pants!?”
“It’s a preemptive underwear move.”
“Enough with that joke! It’s not something you keep pulling out like that!”
Enough already! My sister, who is in an outrageous summer style with just a tank top and shorts, casually drinks milk.
My gaze was going all over the place. And I was right about the preemptive underwear! I’ll have to complain to Shiori about it later.
“It’s fine, right? You like it too, don’t you?”
“Please don’t decide things on your own.”
“What’s your favorite color? I’ll wear it for you.”
“I think your kindness is going in the wrong direction.”
“Ha? You do like it, right?”
Why on earth am I making such declarations? It was the declaration underwear.
“You’re such a good and honest kid. As a reward, I’ll show you the Summer Triangle.”
Her supple waist and slender curves were alluring.
“Just to be sure, which side is Vega, which side is Deneb, and which side is Altair?”
The Summer Triangle in the sky, or should I say astro-pants? This must be what they call perverted stargazing.
“So, where have you been since this morning?”
“I went to Sanjoji-sensei’s house…”
“Why were you invited to a teacher’s house during summer vacation?”
“I wasn’t scolded or anything, so there’s no need to worry.”
“That’s not the issue here. I’ll listen to everything, so tell me everything.”
Lately, my sister has been oddly curious about everything. Maybe she’s trying to make up for the lack of regular conversations we used to have. It doesn’t bother me; in fact, I’m happy to have her around.
However, she’s started to hang out in my room again, just like old times.
I want to go back to the carefree and easy-going relationship we used to have. Other than that one aspect, there’s nothing I need to hide, so I decided to be honest with her.
“I remember something from when we were in elementary school. It’s quite a coincidence that she was your homeroom teacher.”
“It’s a thing of the past, and I had forgotten about it, so it’s unnecessary to apologize now.”
“I see. It’s your virtue to be kind, but it makes me worried in situations like this.”
“I learned a lot about the past, so it was meaningful.”
“Well, okay then. By the way, you’re going to the hot springs, right? That’s nice, but it’s summer, so you should also go swimming. I’m looking forward to it.”
“I’ve already achieved my swimming quota for this season.”
“Ha? You’re not planning to go with me?”
“Please let me accompany you.”
“Just wait and see.”
It’s amazing how low I am in the hierarchy in this household.