I was on the train with Shinozuka, talking about my novel, and we arrived at Maihama in no time. Our conversation was endless.
I could tell that Shinozuka really liked novels.
“What? We’re already here. Shinjo-kun, the parking lot downstairs is the meeting place, right? We still have some time, so let’s take a walk!”
“I don’t mind, but the …… store is only a cafe. Let’s take a leisurely tea break.”
“Yeah! Let’s check out the EXDES over there first!”
EXDES is a commercial facility adjacent to Maihama Station.
There are many stores related to Destiny Land lined up.
I’ve never been to one so I’ll leave it to Shinozuka.
We were about to head for the EXDES when we saw our homeroom teacher sitting alone on a bench in the central square. The teacher who leads …… the class comes this early?
The teacher noticed us and raised his hand lightly.
We walked up to the bench where the teacher was sitting and said hello.
“Hmm, you two are early.. …… Aren’t you two quite the fashionistas? It’s really a sight for sore eyes.”
“Oh, haha, you’re wearing a suit, aren’t you teacher?”
The teacher always has the impression of being cool and keeping her distance from her students.
This morning, she felt a little different. …… usually has beautiful but sharp eyes and is feared by her students. Now I get a softer impression.
“It’s not a game, you know. It’s an important job to lead. …… If some student does something stupid, you’ll have to clean up the mess. It’s for that time.”
I’m sure the job of a teacher is very hard, because you have to take care of other people. I don’t think …… I’ll ever be able to do it.
The phone in the teacher’s hand popped and a notification sounded. …… It was a strangely cute notification sound.
The teacher is working on her phone, looking at what looks like an email.
She had a kind look in her eyes.
She must have noticed my gaze, because she opened her mouth.
“It’s from an old friend….I used to come here on field trips when I was in school, just like you guys…….I got nostalgic, so I sent him a picture.”
“Was it …… nice?”
I didn’t know what to say. But the teacher had a very nostalgic look on her face.
“By the way, are you guys finally friends? …… Well, you don’t have to tell me if you’re embarrassed. I can tell by looking at you.”
Shinozuka glanced at my face and answered the teacher.
“Yes, yes.. We’re …… friends.”
It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a good thing that I’m friends with Shinozuka, because I’m happy to be her friend.
“Oh, Shinozuka is a dear friend.”
Shinozuka’s face is turning red. My face is hot too, I’m sure even my ears are red.
The teacher did not make fun of me, but gave me a gentle smile.
She said, “Then enjoy the day. We, the teachers, are responsible. …… You may not be able to erase the scars of your past, but you can make your own memories. If you are with your loved ones, you will forget them. It’s a good idea to think of this time, this moment, as finite and make memories as best you can. …… Oh, I’m sorry, I spoke out of character. …… Look, you’re going to see the EXDES, right? Go ahead.”
The teacher knows about our past. The doctor understood that the scars of the past would never go away.
Even so, she seemed to be pushing us to move forward.
I see… I must have been blessed with a good teacher.
For some reason, Shinozuka had tears in her eyes. Maybe she’s a little more fragile than I thought. …… Ah, I still don’t know Shinozuka. I’d like to know more about her besides her novels. I want to get closer to her because she is my friend.
It was a moment when I could honestly think that.
“Yes! Ah! Thank you very much!
“Please enjoy your time at …….”
The teacher fluttered her hands and started looking at the screen of her phone again, as if to say she was done talking.
–I wonder what kind of person was the teacher’s significant other? Maybe I’ll ask her sometime. ……
We bowed and left the place.
“I wonder what her friends are like? Do you think they’ll be as cool as the teacher?”
“I don’t know, but I’m sure they’re good people.”
“Friends. When I first started school I never dreamed I’d be friends with Shinjo-kun.”
“Not at all. I remember being amazed at Shinozuka=san, always with her wrinkles between her eyes, a crispy Yankee.”
“Even …… Shinjo-kun had a weird fake smile.”
We had nothing to do with each other.
We never even spoke to each other until the Pomeko case came to light.
I remember being intimidated.
“Yeah, because I couldn’t trust anyone.”
“…… Yeah, hey, I’m still ……, um, nothing.”
The reflection of Shinozuka’s face in the glass of the store, which was not open, was a little uneasy.
Yes, the wounds of the past will never heal. We both understand that.
I smiled at Shinozuka-san through the glass.
“I’m not sure if it’s safe to say that I’m going to be fine,……, but I’m not going to betray my friends,……, and I won’t. I’m sure that with …… Shinozuka–“
“Haha, I …… can’t say I’m okay either, but I’m sure I’ll be okay with Shinjo-kun! Because although it is invisible, we are surely connected. –What? I’m starting to feel embarrassed!”
“Oh, I’m breaking out in a weird sweat.”
Shinozuka-san said, blowing away her anxious expression.
“‘Hey, hey, there’s a mookie store over there, let’s check it out! You can even see the stuffed animals from outside!”
Shinotsuka’s tone of voice remained soft.
I didn’t force myself to point it out, but walked with Shinozuka in her natural state.
“…… By the way, who is that rat? It’s strangely powerful and intimidating. …… There’s only one rat in Destiny Land, right? Looks like it’s going to be tough for the people inside.”
The light-footed Shinozuka-san glared at me.
–It’s kind of nostalgic. It was just until recently.
“It’s not a rat! Mookie is a chinchilla, the king of Destiny Land! Destiny Land is a dreamland, and Mookie is real! There are no people in there!”
“Oh, yeah, I’m sorry about that. …… Okay, he’s special, there’s only one …… of him. Then we’ll have to do our best to find him in the park.”
“Yeah, that’s good to know. I have to get a picture with Mookie! Oh, that’s right, ……. Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey. Can we take a picture …… together?”
Shinozuka said apologetically to me while pointing to the Mookie store.
It is very understandable that you would feel hesitant.
It’s …… okay, I just need to understand those feelings.
Memories remain in the mind.
When you look at the photo, the memory comes back vividly.
So there is no reason not to take pictures.
“Whose phone should I use? Do you want me to take it with mine and send it to you later?”
“Well, ……, since we’re here, let’s take pictures with both!”
Shinotsuka set his phone to selfie mode and moved right next to me.
The distance was very close. I couldn’t help but feel my body twitch.
“Well, um, ……, you can’t take a selfie unless you’re close enough. ……”
“Oh, really? Then we have no choice.”
“That’s the way it is. ……, I’ve never taken a picture with anyone before. ……”
“Oh, it’s my first time too.”
I felt the gentle smell that I always get from Shinozuka-san in my nose.
I was getting strangely nervous.
We look hard in the picture on my phone.
It was strange.
“Pfft, Shinotsuka’s face is …….”
“Hey, hey, Shinjo’s face is weird too. Okay, I’ll take this shot then.”
Shinozuka-san pressed the shutter.
On the screen, we were smiling with happiness.
I think the stuffed Mookie in the background is smiling too.
Shinozuka looked at the photo on her phone and smiled gently.
“‘……, our first photo. It’s a memory. –Yes, let’s take lots of pictures today!”
“Go easy on me.”
I’m glad my first selfie was with Shinozuka-san.
I didn’t feel …… bad about myself for thinking that so naturally.