Translated and Edited by: ynlucca.
-san: A polite suffix, but not excessively formal.
-kun: A common suffix among friends and younger people.
-chan: A common suffix among people you’re close with, mostly used for feminine nicknames and girls, since it’s cutesy and childlike.
-senpai: A common suffix and noun used to address or refer to one’s older or more senior colleagues in a school, workplace, dojo, or sports club.
“Cruel? You’ve been doing the same to me for years on end, and you don’t get any of the blame? Have you ever thought about how I felt?”
I felt myself freeze to the bone with his cold stare. His tone was of someone who gave up believing. The moment he said those words to me I understood where I had gone wrong.
I met him during the winter of my freshman year.
My days were dull. After a load of lessons I didn’t want to take, I got on a train to go back home. All I do is study things that won’t help with my future, have superficial conversations with shallow friends, and try to look like I enjoy studying just so I can look good for my parents. The world around me was gray and dull. The only time I could drown out the repetitive nothingness was by listening to music.
But to my dismay, I forgot my earphones at home that day. I did not dare listen to it through the speakers. “Let’s do some people-watching,” I thought. I had no choice but to hold on to the train and look around me for something, anything to relieve my boredom. It was then that I noticed a boy wearing the same uniform as me. I could see his screen from where I stood, and to my surprise, he watched one of the music videos from my favorite band.
Well, peeping wasn’t good on my part, but I was happy to see someone with the same rare tastes I had. The song he listened to was very uplifting and, at the time, it was my favorite one. I could feel an inexpressible sadness in his eyes as he watched that otherwise happy song. Without even realizing it, I started talking to him. It was the so-called reverse-pickup, where a woman calls out to a man.
It started out like that, and my dull world gradually filled with color. A few months later, Yuta and I had gathered numerous memories. We played crane games at the arcade, watched the latest action movies at the cinema, and had unapologetic silly fun. Every single day burst with life. However, even when he put on a smile, I could still see the anguish in the color of his eyes. I wondered what happened in his past… Would I be able to find out someday?
A new spring had come, and I was officially his junior. That would allow me to spend more time with him. Before long, every single day of my life was enjoyable. The feelings I held for him gradually shifted from friendship to something more… He’s the first guy I’ve ever loved.
Then one day he ended up telling me about his past. His parents had died in an accident, and it was heart-wrenching for him. He also had a girlfriend who supported him at the time. He tried his best to be a good match to her, yet she still cheated on him. My senior told me these stories as cheerfully as he could, but I could clearly feel the thorns impaling his heart. The pain was still there.
I understood. He pretended not to care, but he was traumatized by that succession of events. The fact he told me such hurtful memories, clearly painful to recall, meant he opened up to me. After hearing his story I knew I shouldn’t be happy, but I was. At the time I wondered if I could do something to mitigate his pain.
But I got scared. I love Yuta, his shy smile, his sometimes dark humor, his soothing voice—everything about him. But what if he finds out about my feelings? He might think I’d betray him, something he’s been through before. If he did, our relationship would truly end.
That’s why I decided to bury these feelings in the back of my mind thinking that, by cracking jokes about the situation and making fun of him, I’d reassure my senior that my feelings never went beyond friendship. Someday, when the time would come for his wounds to close, I’d—
During this summer break, I sent messages asking him to hang out with me. I never got a single response, so I wondered if his phone was broken or something. In any case, I decided to wait since we’d have a lot of time together after the break. I truly wanted to contact him more, but the thought he might notice my feelings stopped me from even trying to call.
A month without seeing him passed, and he changed a lot. I could tell he was more careful with his appearance, and he no longer had a vulnerable vibe to him. I didn’t know what happened over the break, but he finally got over his trauma!—I thought back then.
I was so excited by that prospect that I started to say things I normally wouldn’t, like “I could be your girlfriend”, and I got carried away. My efforts were ultimately fruitless, and I didn’t even stop to consider it. I started berating his efforts as soon as we met again. Surely enough, he got angry and rejected me grandly.
Still, I was sure that if I apologized for saying those things, he’d forgive me. Since he was so incredibly kind, I thought we could go back to how we were. So, a day after his rejection, I decided to act like a stalker and look for him at the ticket gates early in the morning, all so I could correct the mistakes I made.
—But I was wrong! I’ve been wrong far longer than I ever thought!
Every word I unleashed upon him to keep my feelings from showing up scarred his heart. Each one was a small cut, but they ultimately piled up and left a big scar on his self-esteem. The reason he laughed so powerlessly whenever I made fun of him wasn’t that he was joining in, but rather because his heart was so wounded all he could do was laugh.
I’m the worst. Back when he told me his story, I should’ve made the effort to mend his broken heart instead of waiting for it to fix over time. I was so afraid of ruining our relationship, I ran away from honestly expressing my feelings and repeatedly broke his wounded heart.
I have no right to cry now, so I’ll only do so after I apologize for everything I’ve done. I’m sure he won’t forgive me, and I’ll have to disappear from his life. Even though we’ll never see eye-to-eye and never laugh with each other again, I have to apologize. I’ve taken color away from the one person who colored my world.
It must not have been a long time since he got on the train. If I hurry to catch up now, I’ll be able to make it in time. At that moment, I heard a sound announcing the train’s arrival.
I raised my downcast face and ran up the stairs with all my might.
“Haah… Haah… Yuta-senpai!”
After arriving at the station, I kept running until I caught sight of his back. He definitely heard my voice, yet he didn’t turn around. Of course, he didn’t.
Still, I didn’t give up and never stopped running. I did my best to catch up to him, even though I almost couldn’t breathe after running so much. Tiredness and tension wash over me, and tears well up in my eyes, distorting my vision. Out of perhaps a sense of security of finally almost catching up to him, my legs tangled and I fell down.
My knee hit the asphalt and blood soon gushed out. My legs were so exhausted I could barely move, and combined with this new pain, I was unable to stand.
I have to tell him even if it hurts. This pain is nothing compared to what I’ve caused him. As I looked forward, wobbly and weak from falling, I saw the figure that ignored me as I gave chase right in front of me.
“Haah… Haah… Sen… pai…”
He stared at me silently. Unlike his cold glares, however, I could see the surprise in his eyes. I could almost hear his thoughts just by looking at them. He didn’t understand the meaning of my pursuit.
If I miss this moment, I’ll never get another chance to say what I have to. It doesn’t matter if tears can’t stop falling from my eyes, that I have no breath, or even that words get stuck in my throat.
I’ll lay bare my every thought and feeling, all honestly.
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