“That’s not true. You’re totally mistaken, Kokonoe-chan.”
Mineda was visibly annoyed, and everyone else’s reactions were the same. What’s going on?
“I thought you were taking so long to change, but what’s with the marine suit?”
“It’s a wetsuit.”
All eyes were on me as I walked out of the changing room in a full-body black wetsuit. That’s when I realized.
Ah, I see. They must have misunderstood me, thinking it’s a kinky choice.
“Don’t worry. I took a proper lifesaving course, so there’s nothing to be concerned about.”
“What’s there to be not concerned about!?”
A marine blue sea. A glistening white sandy beach. The scorching sun beating down on us. A sharp retort.
We had come for a beach outing. On the last day of school, Elizabeth and others invited me, and surprisingly, more than half of the class decided to join. It was an unprecedented large group. We’re way too close as a class…
To ensure there are no accidents, I decided to take a lifeguard training course.
You can take the course from the age of fifteen, but you need to have already acquired Water Safety and BLS qualifications. Furthermore, gaining practical experience from here allows you to obtain further specialized certifications, but unless you’re aiming to become a professional in this field, that shouldn’t be necessary.
Hinagi-chan sighed, exasperated. Her stylish bikini caught everyone’s attention, and words of admiration slipped out unconsciously.
“Hinagin, you’re so cute!”
Hinagi-chan blushed and played with her hair. Should I continue the pursuit? YES/NO
“Yuki, how do I look?”
Shiori was monopolizing the male attention with her bouncing assets. It’s way too big… Oh, did she mean her height? Seriously, she’s so tall.
Shiori has a healthy and fresh vitality. She’s like the princess of the beach, the beach princess. Maybe the resistance has lessened in her dancer outfit, as her swimsuit is quite revealing.
Ignoring Shiori, who was still in shock, the others cheered again at the sight of the female students in their swimsuits. It was a stimulating view of the girls that they never got to see at school. It was the true taste of summer.
“Nice, looking good for summer. Let’s have fun today!”
“I’m a bit embarrassed, but I’m not very good at swimming, actually…”
“Then, should I teach you?”
Takahashi and Natsume were engaged in a friendly conversation. The lively atmosphere returned as everyone chatted.
“It’s been a while since I last came to the beach. In junior high, I was busy with club activities. How about you, Yukito?”
“It’s my first time in a while.”
“What an unexpected answer…”
Sorry, refreshing and handsome guy. Unlike you, the embodiment of popularity, I’m enjoying my summer to the fullest. I’ve already finished my homework, and I feel invincible. In fact, I’m itching to study more.
“Shakado and I came to the beach yesterday too. Alright, Shakado, let’s dig it up right away!”
“Hihii… I’ve been waiting for this! Fufu… Fooooohhh!”
With a mischievous grin, Shakadou headed towards the deserted sandy beach, grabbing his nape. Some of us followed curiously.
“Hey, Yukito. Were you really at the beach with Shakadou-san?”
“Just so you know, it’s not like we came here to swim. It’s for insect collecting.”
Contrary to appearances, Shakadou was quite active. He would even catch insects as food for his pet reptiles. So, we decided to come to the beach early yesterday and buried about thirty plastic cups in the sand.
The cups were filled with bait, and when insects actively moved around at night, they would fall into the cups in search of food and get trapped in a classic trap. We began taking out the cups one by one. Some were empty, but others had black insects inside.
“Yay yay! Hihi……kuhihihi……kihihihihihihihihihihihi! ”
To Shakado’s excitement, the reaction of the girls were not good, perhaps reminiscent of G. People who don’t like insects quickly flee from this place. (G = cockroaches)
Although rhinoceros beetles and dung beetles may look similar, Shakado could easily distinguish them.
Even so, isn’t the name of insects such as ground beetles and dust beetles too terrible?
Wouldn’t it be terrible if there were a “Fake Yukito Kokonoe” or something? It would probably have sharp eyes and all.
“It was worth setting a trap.”
“Thank you… I’ll never forget this favor…”
“It’s too heavy. Just forget about it already.”
It’s way too much gratitude for just accompanying them for insect collecting.
“Mission complete. Let’s go back and swim.”
“Wait… I’ll put them in the cage…”
The cage is filled with soil, and after spraying water with a mist sprayer to moisten it, they carefully place the insects inside along with insect jelly, then gently close the lid of the cooler bag.
In the scorching summer, leaving the insects exposed to direct sunlight would be harsh on them, but Insecter Shakado takes perfect care of them. Truly a princess of Lepser.
Once again, they walk back to where their classmates are gathering, firmly holding the cage.
The plastic cups used for traps have already been properly collected, so there’s no need to worry.
Just like the Japanese supporters during the Soccer World Cup, I, Yukito Kokonoe, am picky about cleaning up the trash.
“By the way, didn’t you apply sunscreen?”
“I already did. Could it be you wanted to do it, Yuki?”
“I feel embarrassed having Yukito apply it for me…”
Hinagi and Shiori blush, but I’m moved by their unexpected response.
“If it were Mom or Sister, they would hurry me to put it on… You guys are so pure… Please stay pure like that. It’s a request from Yukito Kokonoe.”
“What’s the right response to that?”
“Yuki, what’s wrong, Yuki!?”
“Mom… I mean, you should do it yourself there… So why are you… taking off your swimsuit…”
“Wawawaw! It’s still too early for us, Yuki!”
“――Haa!? It’s a daily memory that’s too frequent and can’t be forgotten no matter how much I try to forget!”
“What are you doing on a regular basis!”
“Yukito, you’re having a hard time…” (Mihou)
It was worth setting a trap for.
Thank you ……, I’ll never forget what you did for me. ……
It’s too heavy. Forget it in moderation.”
It’s too big a favor to pay for just accompanying him on his insect collecting trip.
Mission accomplished. We’re going back and swimming.
Wait, ……. I’ll put it in the basket. ……
The basket is filled with soil. After spraying water with a mist and moistening it sufficiently, I put in the insect jelly and gently place the insects, then put them directly into the cooler bag and put the lid on.
It is harsh for the insects to be exposed to direct sunlight in the middle of summer. Insector Shakado also provided perfect aftercare. The princess of the repoussé.
Once again, I grabbed it with a munch and returned to the place where my classmates were gathered.
The plastic cups used in the trap have already been collected, so don’t worry.
Like a Japanese supporter of the World Cup soccer team, I, Yukitoshi Kokonoe, am very picky about cleaning up trash.
By the way, don’t you need to put sun cream on?
I already did. Did you want to put it on, Yuki?
It’s kind of embarrassing for me to have the Snow Hare apply it for me. ……
That’s stupid …….”
The first time I saw the two, I was impressed by their unexpected replies.
‘Mom and sis would have urged me to apply it as soon as possible,……. How pure you guys are. …… I want you to stay pure as you are. This is a request from the Nine-Fold Snow Hare.”
How do I reply to that?”
“…… sister,…… that’s not the place to paint,…… why don’t you take off your swimsuit,…… and let’s see what you can do with it. I’m going to …… suck your dick. ……
“Yuki, what’s wrong Yuki?
“…… mother,…… I’ll paint it myself,…… so why don’t you take off your swimsuit,…… …… between ……”
I’m not ready for this yet, Yuki! We’re not ready for this, Yuki!”
“–Ha! It’s too frequent, too mundane a memory to forget!”
What are you doing with your life?
“Snow Rabbit, you’re having a hard time ……”
When did you buy it? The Tesla coil face chewed on the yakisoba noodles and wept a hollowness. Eh, where’s my portion?
“The first question. What is the most important thing to be careful about during a beach outing?”
Lifesaver Yukito Kokonoe’s safety class is now open.
“Yes, you there, the refreshing handsome one, go ahead.”
“Warm-up exercises. It’s important because sudden cramps while entering the sea can be troublesome.”
“Quite close! Panic is indeed scary. It’s the second important thing. Okay, next is Shiori.”
“Uhm, not going beyond the tetrapods?”
“Close, but in the first place, it’s unnecessary to go all the way to the breakwaters. Let’s enjoy ourselves closer to shore.”
“Yuki-chan, what’s the correct answer?”
“Good question, Mineda. The answer is sharks. Be cautious of red sharks as they can explode due to radiation. If you spot one, evacuate immediately. Also, shark ghosts may attack people. This ghostly shark appears anywhere there’s water, so it’s called a ghost—-“
“Alright, alright. We’ll do the warm-up exercises, right?”
The school is closed after just one question by Hinagi-chan. The Yukito Kokonoe safety class is now closed.
“Hey, you there, would you like to play with us?”
The beach in summer is crowded with people. Elizabeth was approached by someone for a chat.
“Ah, it’s the 3G group!”
“Gee, you—no, you’re Kokonoe-san!”
“Uh, no way, we haven’t done anything yet. Please spare us from becoming an online sensation! We’ll be good from now on!”
“We had a hard time after that! So please, forgive us and overlook it!”
They seemed so afraid. It’s strange, as I only have a good impression of them.
“Yukito, do you know them?”
They were the group of three college students we met before at the night pool with Mio and Tristy.
“It’s 5G now, you know.”
He seems to imply that the generation of flip phones is outdated. A bit sarcastic, that handsome guy.
“3G, are you by any chance just the three of you?”
“We want to hang out with girls too, but we’re from the engineering department. It’s hard to meet new people.” (3G)
“Actually, you’re amazing. Don’t you always hang out with different girls?” (3G)
“I hate it! I hate those people who are always in relationships!”(3G)
Hmm. We have a large group, and there might be situations where we can’t keep an eye on everyone, especially in the vast ocean. We want to avoid any potential dangers.
“If you want, would you like to join us and play together? We were worried about the large number of people in our group, so we thought having the 3G with us could help prevent strange approaches and accidents.”
“Really? We’d love to! Thank you!”
“Are you saying we’re the strange ones?”
“Actually, I follow you on social media. Can I get your autograph later?”
They turned out to be unexpected reinforcements. They’re really good people. With them joining us, we can enjoy beach time safely.
“I guess I’ll go swimming too.”
It seems like a fun and safe beach outing awaits us!
“Yukito, don’t let go! I mean it!”
Trembling, Hinagi-chan straddled the dolphin float (made of vinyl). It’s unexpectedly challenging to stay on it. It might be a good practice to improve one’s sense of balance.
Hinagi-chan is desperately holding on, but she doesn’t look relaxed at all. I’m here as her support on the ground.
She isn’t very confident in her swimming skills, but this is a shallow area just a few meters from the shore, and as long as Lifesaver Yukito Kokonoe is around, it’s safe and secure. She can challenge herself as much as she wants.
“I want to ride it too.”
“I want to as well, but it’s more unstable than I thought… Whoa!”
She flipped over and ended up with the float on top of her.
“You might not be cut out for surfing or anything like that.”
“I’ll practice on a balance ball when I get back.”
Her enthusiasm is impressive. Despite this little setback, Hinagi-chan is competitive and won’t give up easily.
As Hinagi-chan tries to ride the float again, she suddenly remembers something and speaks up.
“By the way, Hiori said she wants to talk to you, Yukito.”
“Hiori? What’s going on?”
If Hinagi’s younger sister, Hiori, is in trouble and needs help, I’d be more than willing to assist. But what could it be about? Hiori is a very honest and straightforward person who doesn’t usually make enemies.
“It seems like she wants to talk about something related to her friends.”
“I see… I won’t know until I listen to her.”
I don’t expect I can solve middle schoolers’ problems, but it depends on the situation.
However, why is it that I seem to attract mostly love advice to this self-established Yukito Kokonoe’s Troubles Consultation Desk? I’m terrible at this…
“I’m sorry for causing trouble between us, sisters.”
“If there’s anything I can do, it’s okay.”
She can now speak so honestly. Hinagi-chan is alright now.
“Hey, Yukito. Let’s go to the summer festival together.”
“A fireworks festival, huh? It brings back memories.”
“…Yeah. Let’s gradually regain our time together.”
I remember participating in the summer festival with Hinagi-chan every year. We would buy candy apples and cotton candy at the stalls, drink ramune, and watch the fireworks bloom in the pitch-black night sky. But now, those memories have come to an end. The last expression I recall from Hinagi-chan was never a smiling one.
“I regret it. Letting go of your hand, Yukito. It wasn’t because I disliked it. It was the opposite… I was embarrassed and acted impulsively, pushing you away. At that time, I had no composure, and I never thought about what you might think of me. I was foolish and self-centered.”
“If that’s the case, why not choose a different path? You don’t need to redo things now.”
That was the doubt I had been holding onto. It applies to Hinagi, Shiori, Mom, and even my sister. It’s understandable to have regrets about the past and want to redo things.
But in the end, the past is the past. We can’t erase or rewrite it. We can never time leap or change the past. We can only change the present and the future.
There’s no need to be forever imprisoned by the past. It’s more efficient to choose a better future, a path that leads to happiness. It’s not worth putting in an immense effort just to redo things.
Besides, I don’t mind at all. I don’t hold any grudges or hatred. So, if cutting me off is the most efficient choice, then go ahead.
But still, is there any value in me that makes her want to redo things?
“――A path without you, Yukito, is meaningless. Even though we are strangers to each other, you are a precious childhood friend. It’s not just anyone. It’s because you are Yukito, the one who has spent time with me.”
The credibility of currency is guaranteed by the nation and the central bank. That’s why the trust in international currency is strong.
In the same way, the credibility of a childhood friend is guaranteed by the time we spent together, Hinagi and me. She believes in something uncertain and faint like that, and she thinks it’s special.
――So, I wanted to believe it too.
I must regain what makes me “special” to her.
“I’m also growing. I don’t want to be protected all the time.”
A strong and confident smile. Crying doesn’t suit my childhood friend.
Hinagi has become strong. Maybe even stronger than me. The unwavering determination in her eyes is dazzling.
“You’ve become a wonderful woman.”
Indeed, she’s a remarkable woman. Just a bit too much dripping with seawater.
“Maybe it’s because of someone else. –I’m having fun. I wish this kind of time could go on forever.”
I briskly hopped on the inflatable orca (shachi) and, without hesitation, spun around once before splashing back into the water.
“By the way, have you finished the artwork for the contest?”
Having given up on the orca ride, we were taking a break at the beach while enjoying shaved ice.
With the sound of waves and the hustle and bustle of the surroundings as our background music, we spent some time alone together as childhood friends.
Around us, there were people being relentlessly hit on, causing their faces to flush, or others like Shakado, who were being dragged around by Elizabeth and seemed to be spinning around in circles, all of them thoroughly enjoying their time at the summer beach.
“As for me, I might not have any artistic talent. I was shocked by my lack of sense.”
“You’re not aiming for a prize, right? Just draw what you like.”
Art is such a thing. Though she looked troubled, I realized that since long ago, her drawing style has been original. That uniqueness is part of who she is. If she enjoys the club activities, then that’s good enough.
“Aren’t you going to come back, Yukito?”
“The art club has a natural enemy. ……”
Even I, the mighty me, shy away from the art club with the dreaded student council president. The painting of my sister is finished, and when Hinagi is in trouble, the ever-reliable Sanjoji Sensei is there to lend a helping hand.
Speaking of Sanjoji-Sensei, she seemed to be oddly preoccupied with her armpits. I wonder what’s so embarrassing about armpits?
“Hey, Hinagi. Show me your armpits for a moment.”
“Y-you idiot!? Why are you suddenly saying that! —-Ouch!”
Hinagi-chan is keening her head with shaved ice with too much vigor. She forced herself to eat it. ……
“Why are you so nonchalant about saying such tactless lines?”
“In the Kokonoe family, the concept of tact doesn’t exist.”
“You know nothing about common sense!”
I guess family background is really important. I truly think so.
Still, I wonder if Hinagi-chan is also concerned about that. So, I realized that I’ve made a terribly grave mistake. Come on, stop messing around.
Looking at it calmly, it’s just not possible. I’m truly a jerk.
I forgot about something like this; it’s just utterly lacking in tact.
What the heck. This must be why Sanjoji-sensei and Hinagi-chan feel embarrassed. Unable to bear the weight of my sin, I prostrate myself on the scorching sandy beach.
“I’m sorry, Hinagi! I was thoughtless. But rest assured, no matter how much you’re worried about the armpit smell, I don’t mind—”
“You really areeeeeeeeeeeee!”
Her face turned bright red. Could it be heatstroke? I hand her a sports drink. Hinagi-chan gulps it down in one go.
The cause of underarm odor is sweat. Apparently, the secretion from the apocrine sweat glands is the source of the smell, and it’s natural for people to worry about it. I can only apologize endlessly for my insensitive remarks.
“That’s it! If you’re so concerned, I’ll donate money for the surgery—”
“Shut up! Here, take a sniff! Come on!”
Hinagi-chan presses her armpit against me forcefully.
“It smells like the sea.”
“It’s because it’s the sea, right? Don’t let anyone spread this! What if people search my name and the search suggestions come up as ‘Hinagi Suzurikawa smelly’ or something? It’s all because of you!”
“Beautiful and non-smelly seas have fewer nutrients, while seas with the smell of the shore are nutrient-rich. Don’t you think it’s an interesting topic to consider? Let’s continue to be mindful of marine pollution from now on.”
“Pay attention to my suggest pollution!”
Environmental issues, such as microplastic pollution, are serious problems facing humanity.
As Hinagi shook me back and forth, I made a pledge. I’ll stop littering.
“What’s wrong, Yuki? You look troubled.”
I was looking forward to the beach trip, excited and full of anticipation. My chest was swelling with excitement, my heart racing in anticipation of thrilling moments.
Yet, it seemed like nothing exciting or embarrassing was happening around me. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.
“Something’s not right. There’s hardly any accidental revealing going on.”
“Yuki, are you saying weird things again!?”
“It’s a beach trip, right? Normally, there should be some revealing moments happening around here, right?”
“Um… everyone is being extremely careful to avoid any embarrassing accidents!”
“Could it be that revealing accidents aren’t as common as I thought…?”
If that’s the case, it’s a letdown. Oh, what a disappointment! I wanted some excitement!
“Uwaa, Yuki looks more down than I’ve ever seen before.”
“I thought something was off. Mom and my sister usually have an accident like once every hour, so I thought it was just a normal thing.”
“That’s not an accident; it’s a deliberate and extremely malicious act!”
At home, my mom is always saying things like, ‘Oh, my shoulder strap came off again,’ while revealing herself all the time.
Although it doesn’t happen frequently, the fact that she does it so often is probably due to some ghost’s influence, a supernatural occurrence. It might be something like a poltergeist.
Considering how my sanity is wearing thin each time it happens, I might soon be cursed to death by the revealing. It’s terrifying. Revealing and dying is not a laughing matter.
“Yuki, do you really want to see that?”
While looking down, I tightly grip Shiori’s shoulders, her face turning bright red.
“W-Well, if you want to see it that much, I can—”
“Accidental revealing that isn’t actually accidental isn’t lucky at all”
That’s a principle I cannot compromise on.
“Your dignity as a maiden will be doubly hurt!”
I’m being poked and prodded. The debate about accidental revealing on the beach has become intense.
Eh, Shiori had an accident? I will protect the dignity of maidens!
“By the way, how is the girls’ swim team?”
“Yeah! Even though I joined in the middle, the seniors and other girls from different classes treat me well.”
Shiori happily shares her recent experiences as she floats gently on a water ring.
I wasn’t too worried, but it seems she’s doing really well without any issues.
The girls’ swim team captains were also delighted, and the advisor welcomed her warmly. She has accumulated a huge debt of gratitude, so she plans to repay it eventually. Besides, Shiori isn’t the type to isolate herself.
Being a manager is great, but Shiori is more attractive when she actively participates.
“Captain Sasaki also wanted to thank you. Thanks for that he said.”
“But in the end, it was you who decided to join.”
“That is not true, if Yuki hadn’t encouraged me, I would still have been hesitant. The boys’ basketball team manager is important, but I wasn’t sure if that was the right path for me. I need to be more observant like Yuki. This won’t do――ah!?”
That’s not true. Shiori should have realized it herself eventually. I just sped up the process. Shiori has talent that would be a waste to let go to waste. The stage where she can shine is not the boys’ swim team.
“Don’t let your guard down, Shiori.”
I spray a water gun playfully. We’re here to have fun at the beach. There’s no time to be down.
“You have a wide range of variations, like a rabbit or a squid, Yuki. But, but, I won’t lose either! I’m a dancer after all. So, here I gooooo!”
“You actually liked that embarrassing outfit, huh…”
“You were the one who made me wear it, Yuki!”
“In fact, I was the one who suggested that a sexier outfit would be better.”
“Are you an audacious villain in disguise!?”
Shiori counters back relentlessly. She’s not holding back, maybe she’s been holding some resentment towards me.
In the sea, our sweet romance is just playing around, nothing more.
Between us, it’s a fierce battle, betting on not revealing too much.
“Calm down! Do you really want to expose yourself again?”
“I believe that Yuki will protect the dignity of a maiden!”
The territorial battle that suddenly began continued the offensive and defensive back and forth. It’s a monster with unusual physical strength.
We are evenly matched. It’s a neck-and-neck battle. If it comes to this, I have no choice but to use my secret weapon!
“I have no choice. I’ll have to activate my special weapon. Farewell, Shiori.”
“Eh? Wait—Yuki, you idioooooooooooot!!!!”
I toss it with a thud, and a massive spray of water splashes up.
By moving our bodies and playing with all our might, our minds and bodies feel refreshed.