“I finally found you! Do you know how many days it’s been since then!”
“There’s nothing to explain. Like I said before, Kusunoki and I are playmates.”
Also, can you lower your voice volume? It echoes in my sleep-deprived head.
“That’s a lie! You just came out of Kusunoki-san’s house with that woman⁉︎ What were you doing there?!”
“We were just playing a game.”
“Even if that’s true, spending a night under the same roof with a woman before her wedding is a crime!”
“Can’t argue with that.”
So this is the first time I’ve stayed at Kusunoki’s house. I couldn’t leave without thinking about it, and was dealing with a noisy young lady.
“Hey, you’re making too much noise. Can you please stop making noise in front of my house?”
After a while, Kusunoki came out of the house to see if it was too noisy. It was definitely disturbing the neighborhood.
“I’m sorry, too.”
I apologized honestly and Kusunoki let out a sigh.
“Anyway, you can continue inside the house.”
I ended up back in the living room of the Kusunoki house. I made a cup of coffee for a number of people to help themselves wake up from sleep.
“So? I don’t have anything more to explain, what do you want to ask me?”
I asked her as I sipped my coffee, and she frowned at the bitterness of the coffee.
First of all, I want to make sure that you are right, Renya Tsukiyomi? You’ve been caught molesting someone before. …… Also, can I have some sugar and milk?
“…… that again? That’s right, I’m that Renya Tsukiyomi. Ask Kusunoki for sugar and milk.”
“Here, go ahead and use them.”
The past never goes away, and it will always follow me. Even though I’m falsely accused, I’ll always be accused of being a molester. Is it possible for me to go to a place where no one knows who I am?
In this country, we basically don’t arrest people without evidence, but when it comes to molesters, we catch them even if there is no evidence. It’s all a bit twisted, isn’t it?
“So? Are you trying to say that criminals should stay away from Kusunoki?”
When I said this to her, she surprisingly denied it.
“I apologize for the way I said that. Sorry about that. You’re falsely accused, right? I have no doubts about that.”
“Hmm? Did you think I did something to Kusunoki because I was a criminal?”
No, I don’t. I sympathize with your situation. But why do you stay away from soccer now that you’ve been cleared of all suspicion?
“That…. I’ve been told that too many times. The answer is simple: because I lost my motivation.”
I don’t know what that has to do with Kusunoki.
“I did a little research and found out that you were one of the most popular players in the country at the time! So why do you give up so easily⁉︎ There are many people who admired you and lost to you⁉︎ It is the duty of the strong to bear the expectations and disappointments of those people!”
I could picture Sasaki’s face in my mind, shouting at me not to throw away what I wanted so easily. But to be frank, there are plenty of players who are better than me. Besides.
“Just because I am good at something doesn’t mean I have to keep doing it, right?”
“You seduced Kusunoki-san by saying so⁉︎ She used to be the best student in her grade and won awards in many of her lessons! And now she’s fallen out of first place and quit all her lessons. Please don’t ruin everything she’s built up!”
She shouted and breathed on my shoulder, seeming to be seriously thinking about Kusunoki. I’m sorry that I’ve been taking you for granted until now. I mean, Kusunoki had higher specs than I thought.
“I understand what you’re saying, but Kusunoki quit her lessons before she met me.”
“Yeah, I quit before I met Onii-chan”
“You’re lying! Then why did you quit when you had achieved so much⁉︎ You were my dream! My goal was to stand side by side with you one day and engage in friendly competition!”
Kusunoki is calm to the excited young lady.
“It’s not like I was doing it for the love of it.”
“…… Why are you getting good results with that?”
“If you keep at it, even if you don’t like it, you’ll get good at it. I started doing it when I was little, so I’ve been doing it for a long time.”
“To outperform other people who would have worked hard just because of your age. …… Is it still talent…”
Kusunoki, who had been aloof up until now, changed her mood, as if she was thinking about what she just said.
“Do you think I didn’t try? I don’t have much of a talent to begin with.”
The anger in Kusunoki’s voice was evident.
” Sure, it’s not what I wanted to do, but I took it very seriously! I just wanted my parents to admire me! I’ve been trying every day since I was a little girl to get my parents’ attention, and I’ve only barely made it to the top! And since I didn’t make it to the top, my parents didn’t even praise me!”
After shouting that much, Kusunoki was breathing heavily with her shoulder as if she was out of breath. A few moments later, she took a deep breath, calmed down and returned to her usual tone.
“I was working hard to get my parents’ approval, but they’re gone now, and all I wanted was for them to praise me, but that’s never going to happen. Then what’s the point in continuing?”
Kusunoki looked somewhat sad as he muttered, “After all, they never complimented me once.”
The world is cruel. No matter what your circumstances are, no matter what your determination is, that alone will not change the outcome.
In order to get the best results, you have to put in as much effort as possible, but when you do that, even if you started something because you love it, you may feel pain as well as enjoyment. And if you are aiming for the top, you may feel more pain than pleasure.
Of course, there are things that you want to accomplish, and you may feel a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
But no matter what the circumstances, if you are defeated, you are nothing. There are not many people who can continue to compete in such a world without a purpose.
Most of them will probably compromise without aiming for the top, or enjoy the game without caring about the result, or leave the world of competition. Just like me.