The extraordinary atmosphere of the school festival culminates in a costume parade that begins at 3:00 pm.
Students gather on the ground in costumes based on themes decided by the class, such as ninjas, costumes from famous science fiction movies, a certain fantasy movie about a magic school, or ethnic costumes from around the world. The venue was crowded with spectators who were there to grade the entries, and it was hard to believe that it was normally a ridiculously spacious place.
Unfortunately, the weather had been poor all morning, with damp air flowing in and thick clouds covering the sky, and the occasional drizzle falling, but this did not dampen the enthusiasm of the audience.
The theme for our class was “King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table,” with King Arthur and twelve knights, peasants, farmers, and horses circling the field.
Our class’s costume parade team put the most effort into making the knights’ armor, and the first one we made for King Arthur was so good that it looked like a movie costume.
The armor was so finely crafted and detailed that it could have been a guest in a Hollywood movie.
However, perhaps they ran out of steam after that, or perhaps the more they went down the production order, the more inadequate they became, and in the end, as if they didn’t have enough time, they just painted on the cardboard. The roles of peasants and farmers were played with a “just dress like that” approach.
As a result, I wore a school uniform shirt, a faux fur vest and half pants bought at a recycle store. Or maybe it was the tattered work pants that my grandfather used to wear when he went out to pick wild vegetables, a worn-out old man’s shirt, and a hoe in his hand.
I worked on the horse’s hind legs. It seems that the production team was as enthusiastic about this horse as they were about King Arthur’s armor, and the realistic upper body was made of paper mache molded from a large piece of cardboard. The neck is threaded with a core rod, which is held in the hand by the guy who plays the paw.
It was quite difficult to walk around in brown tights with the horse’s upper body completely covered, but the fact that I couldn’t see my surroundings made it less embarrassing.
The horse’s rider pulled on the reins attached to the horse, and my forelegs and I walked in step with each other. I wondered if it was the narrow field of vision or the sound echoing in the horse’s cavity. Perhaps it was the narrow field of vision, or perhaps it was the way the sound reverberated through the horse’s cavity, but I felt as if the audience’s cheers and the background music from the speakers were refracting and filling the area.
“Sasuke-kun, good luck —–!”
There was a lot of laughter and a lot of excited shouting.
It seemed to be Mukaishima and a member of the soft tennis club. I was surprised to see that Mukaishima hadn’t gone home with Minoya-san, and jumped up and down to show my appreciation for their support.
“Heck, it’s nice to get the rear end.”
The forepaw blurted out in a grumpy voice, but he still gave the core rod a big shake and tilted the horse’s head back.
Suddenly, I thought,
I wondered what Kotono Harukawa would say if she were here.
But that was not possible. The masquerade parade was for the enjoyment of seeing the costumes, and Kotono was outside the boundaries of that entertainment.
Kotono has never come to visit me at my school festival.
＊ ＊ ＊ ＊
The parade of the costume parade, the scoring by the audience, and the announcement of the results and awards. After all this, the clock struck five in the afternoon. The visitors leave, and the remaining students, still in their costumes from the masquerade parade, begin to clean up the research displays and stalls.
In the meantime, the school festival committee erected a large yagura in the middle of the ground with firewood. This was in preparation for the firestorm that would take place at 7:45.
As a tradition, Firestorm participants wear their costumes. Of course, this is not compulsory, and those who wish to change into their school uniforms are welcome to do so.
However, the students, who wanted to get away from the daily routine that would begin again the day after tomorrow, would not let go of their costumes that were soaked in the hustle and bustle of the festival.
So the men in armor cleaned up the leftover plastic containers, the ninjas used mops, the force masters tore down the posters in the hallways, and the wizards in black robes went about with the city’s yellow garbage bags in their hands.
I couldn’t just wander around in my brown tights, so I changed into my school uniform and sorted the garbage. I changed into my school uniform and sorted the garbage: burnable, plastic, non-burnable, and hazardous.
As I went out into the hallway to open the used up spray cans of fuel for the gas cassette stove, I could see from the window that the dormitory students were gathered around the fire pit and were diligently inserting something into the cracks.
This is the annual event of the school festival, the “burning of the sacred fire.
This is an annual event at the school festival, the “O-burning”. It is an act of purification to burn magazines that you want to throw away but don’t want to show to the lady in the dormitory.
These magazines should be thrown out as burnable trash, but the teachers and dormitory supervisors tacitly approved of it because it was a necessary mental cleansing for the students. One of the students, Agawa, was wearing armor and a sword, and he was shoving the last of his worries into the firewood.
The early summer sun has finished its long afternoon duties and has fallen to the west, and the distant ridge lines have emerged from the blue evening darkness.
The fire was lit in the open air.
It was a firestorm, the closing event of the school festival. Students in fancy dress surrounded the fire and cheered the flames as they burned vigorously. If this were a co-ed school, there would be a happy and embarrassed folk dance, but unfortunately there is no such thing.
The cheering squad sang the cheering song and the school song, and the dormitory students sang the dormitory song. After that, there was a band performance by volunteers. The rest of the time, everyone is doing whatever they want around the fire. There is a rumor that every year at least one couple is born during this time, but the truth is unknown.
I grabbed the leftover okonomiyaki and sat down on a picnic seat some distance away.
“Oh, Hey good work there , Can we sit next to you?”
Agawa in armor, Honda in faux fur, and Shinohara in his grandfather’s work pants sat down without asking for an answer. The picnic seat, which was not very large, was filled with the buttocks of the armed men.
“Oh, it’s finally over.”
Agawa, who was sitting next to me, cracked the disposable chopsticks with his teeth. He opened the lid of the Hiroshima-yaki with a satisfied look on his face. Shinohara ate a sandwich he had received as a gift and expressed his feelings about the festival. He said that he had hit it off with a high school girl from a neighboring town who had come to visit and that they had exchanged e-mail addresses yesterday, but that the e-mail he had sent had come back as unknown address.
“It’s good that I have tomorrow off. The day after tomorrow is going to be tough. I’ll sleep all day.”
“That’s good. I’ve got to go give my work pants and my hoe back to my grandpa.”
“By the way, the sky cleared up before I knew it.”
I looked up to the sky at Agawa’s words.
The thick afternoon clouds had been wiped clean. The moon, floating in the sky brighter than usual due to the fire spreading fire, was looking down on us.
“Hey, you know…”
Akawa, next to me, scratched his steaming neck against his armor and blurted out.
“Are you paying attention to what I said yesterday?
“By the way, the sky cleared up before I knew it.”
He looked into my face with a look as if he was considering my opinion. He was a flirtatious guy on the outside, but he was actually very naive and concerned about details. I answered easily.
“It’s okay. I’m fine.”
“Oh, I see. I was thinking I might have slipped up a little.”
“I don’t mind. I forgot about it until just now.”
This is a lie. I finished my okonomiyaki and sipped my bottle of oolong tea. I finished my okonomiyaki in silence and sipped my bottle of oolong tea as I recalled the events of yesterday.
Last night. As I stayed in my room last night, Agawa offered me a clear, colorless “disinfectant” made by a relative’s uncle, and when I smelled it, I could taste the fruit flavor mixed with alcohol.
I took a sip, gave up, and switched to soda water with no sugar in it.
It’s not uncommon for two guys to stay over and go to bed because the time has come and they have an early day tomorrow. On the other hand, one of the men was so excited by the “disinfectant” that he kept talking about girls.
After leaving his strict father and entering a boys’ school in another prefecture, Agawa was like a broken kite and quickly lost his virginity to a college girl in his second year of middle school. Since then, he has had a brilliant history with women, but he is concerned that it has not lasted very long.
He is a romantic in a strange way and is secretly looking for his destined girlfriend. His current girlfriend is a freshman in high school who he has been dating for six months, but he doesn’t seem to feel comfortable with her.
“Well, Mukaishima-chan is coming tomorrow, right?”
Agawa reminded him.
“I wonder if Mukaishima-chan can introduce me to someone.”
“Hey, you’re being too hasty when you haven’t even broken up yet. Even if you ask Mukaishima to do something like that, it’s bound to be rejected.”
“What about you, Mukaishima-chan? You?
“What about me?
“I mean, you’ve known her since childhood, right? She’s so cute, but you’re not going out with her?”
Here we go again. Agawa’s question, which has become a tradition on the first night of the school festival.
I’ve already answered this question four times. I’ve already answered this question four times, but Agawa keeps repeating it every year, as if he can’t get through the night of the school festival without asking it.
“I’ll say it again, Mukaishima is like a younger sister or a sister of the same age. It’s not a romantic thing.”
“In that case, have you made any progress with the young lady from Harukawa?”
“That’s not gonna happen.”
I immediately took a passive attitude. A topic that I could have laughed off last year was no longer a joke now.
“Because I heard she’s really pretty. I thought maybe you liked her more.”
“I’ve told you this many times.”
I tightened my tone.
“That’s never going to happen.”
Normally, I wouldn’t have been so decisive. However, I felt guilty that I had entered into a somewhat unhealthy relationship with her as a sex slave, even if it had come to that.
She was a rich young lady and lived in a different world from me. That’s what I meant, but Agawa had a completely different interpretation.
“It’s true, it’s tough to be blind no matter how cute you are. Even I can’t do that, after all.”
A tiny but sharp scalpel cuts through me somewhere. There was probably something pouring out of it, but I feigned ignorance.
“Well, that’s true, isn’t it?”
“You know, movies, zoos, vacations. You can’t see the other person even if you go together. You can’t share the memories and that makes both of you unhappy, right?”
“I agree. But you know what? ……”
I took a sip of my soda.
I drank some soda and then said, “You know, if you were to marry someone in the future and vow to be in love for a long time. But what would you do if your wife had an accident and lost her sight?”
The flirtatiousness in Agawa’s face disappeared and his eyes changed to look at me.
He thought for a moment, played with the cup in his palm, dried the contents and answered.
“I’d probably get a divorce. For both our sakes.”
Agawa is a man who is always honest with himself, and sometimes I envy him for that.
The blazing flames of Firestorm extended its reach with a force that scorched the heavens. The exploding sparks of fire flew through the air like a living thing and disappeared.
It’s a little scary, but it’s also very beautiful, in my opinion. But it’s not something I can share with Kotono Harukawa. No matter how hard I try, it will be difficult to explain to her exactly what I saw and felt at this moment.
Kotono, who has never been to a school festival before, will always be like that. Standing on the same ground, we continue to run on rails that will never cross.
“Hey! The bingo game is about to begin. —-!
Yoshio Tatsuno, the president of the organizing committee, shouted into the microphone, interrupting my thoughts that had nowhere else to go. The students, who had been scattered all over the place, gathered like sheep hearing a horn.
“Okay, let’s go!”
Akawa leads the way and we join the pack.
“Are you ready, —–?
Yoshio Tatsuno called out, and all the bastards threw up their hands in unison.
“We’re ready for —–!
They shouted, The ground was filled with a mixture of thick old man’s voices and high-pitched voices that were still in their inflection stage. I was desperately struggling to cope with the mundane daily life that was approaching every second, trying to prolong the excitement of the festival as much as possible.
Surrounded by these people, I suddenly realized…
I wanted to see Kotono so badly.
＊ ＊ ＊ ＊
The next day, I woke up in my room in the mansion for the first time in about two days, and I found that Harukawa Kotono was covering me.