TL: Sponsored chapter! Thanks WinoloTonolo for sponsoring this chapter. I really appreciate it! Enjoy this chapter.
“You know, Tanaka san and Yamada san are really good together.”
“Is that so? That dull Yamada?”
“That’s how it is! Makoto, you’re dull too, you know that?”
“Oh, I believe I’m not …….that. U-uhm…..Come to think of it, Tanaka-san really likes Tetsuro.”
“Hey! There was a Tetsuro key chain on her bag.”
When Anri and I are alone during the school day, we can’t stop talking.
Of course, there are times when we don’t talk. But it’s never an awkward silence.
It’s a peaceful atmosphere that I like very much.
I love it when we have dinner together at home, or when I see Anri off at her house.
Fufu …… So you’re going to your parents’ house today. …… Makoto, if anything happens to me, please call me right away.”
“Haha, I’m just going to get my stuff. It’s only …… slightly awkward, so it shouldn’t be a problem.”
I walked Anri off to her house.
We’re already at the door, but we’re still standing around talking to each other, as if we haven’t talked enough.
Speaking of which, I’ve been spending a lot of time with Anri lately. It’s rare that I don’t spend time with Anri after school.
“If you go home unexpectedly, they will be suprised so you have to call them. Oh, t-that’s right. Hey, Can I……call you tonight?”
I have contacted my stepmother via message.
“I understand. I’ll be waiting.” I couldn’t read any emotion in the text.
“C-calling me. …… Y-yeah, I never talked to you on the phone. …… Okay, I’ll definitely call you today. What time–“
We promised to call in the evening, and Anri finally went into her house.
I watched her until the door closed.
I gave myself a little pep talk. I had to do this, otherwise I didn’t feel like I could go home.
…… I’ll go back to my grandfather’s house, drop off my bag, and get that thing I bought at Destiny’s.
I walked quickly into action.
I’m standing on the doorstep of my parents’ house.
I was wondering if I should press the intercom in this case.
…… The last time I saw my stepmother, she was crying.
I don’t know what kind of look I should give her.
…… Yeah, I have a key to the house, so let’s just go in like normal.
I opened the front door.
“…… I’m home.”
…… There was no response.
I looked at the shoes and saw that Haruka had already come home.
The front door looks the same as it did when I left. That’s understandable. It hasn’t been that long since I left.
I took off my shoes and went to go upstairs, wondering why there was no answer.
Maybe my stepmother doesn’t want to see me.
…… Let’s get my stuff and get out of here.
My bankbook, personal seal, and insurance card are stored in the back of the living room.
Also, the contract needed to be signed by the guardian. I brought it with me, but I’ll get to it another time.
As I was thinking this, I heard a voice from the living room.
My body stiffened for a moment, but then …….
I put my hand on my chest.
It’s okay, there are no walls anymore.
I open the door now and–
For some reason, Haruka had gotten down on her knees and apologized to her mother.
When the two of them realized that I had come in, they had indescribable expressions on their faces.
They were not displeased by any means, but a very awkward air started to flow …….
I didn’t know what to do, so I held out the souvenir from Destiny that I had in my hand.
“T-This is a souvenir. Please eat it.—-“
“Ma-Makoto, would you like some tea? W-wait, just sit down for a minute.”
“…… It’s fine, the honorific is bit ……, b-but please do as you wish …….”
In the meantime, I sat down on the sofa in the living room. My stepsister Haruka in front of me was looking at her phone with a strange look on her face. She was typing at high speed. I try not to pay attention to it.
The atmosphere in the living room hadn’t changed at all.
On the low table, there was a test paper from the last midterm exam……. It must have been Haruka’s.
I casually picked it up and…
“Ahii?! O-Onii ……, uh, that ……, d-don’t look at me, I might be happy …….”
Even so, I picked up…….
Just at that moment, my stepmother brought me a cup of tea.
“….Ara, you saw it, huh? Haa, I was in a quandary and I didn’t know what to do. ……”
As I sipped the tea, I could only guess at the situation.
It was simply that Haruka’s grades were astonishingly bad, and there was nothing she could do about it.
I took another look at Haruka’s test in my hand.
I couldn’t help but let out a squeal.
“…… This is a terrible ……. I can’t believe there’s only one subject with double digits. …… If you don’t get above average at the end of the semester, you’re sure to get a red. Your …… summer vacation will end with make-up classes.”
My stepmother looked terribly tired, as if she knew that.
“Yeah,……, she’ll have to be prepared to stay in school,…….Ah I-I’m sorry for the dark story,……, even though you’ve come all this way.”
“No, I will leave as soon as I get what I need.”
……I-I see. Yeah, okay. Give me a minute and I’ll bring it right over to you.”
My stepmother got up and went to the back room.
It smelled kind of good.
This is ……, it’s a nostalgic smell.
When I was a child, I looked forward to dinner every day.
My stepmother used to be a career woman, but when she remarried, she became a housewife.
Her cooking was very tasty, as she demanded perfection in everything.
……She would sometimes make a lazy dish ……. A simple curry using a commercial roux.
I loved it.
“[Stepmother! Another one!]” “[I got a hundred on my test today!]” “[Stepmother! I got first place in the marathon!]” —
When I got a hundred points on a test, or won first place in an athletic event, marathon, calligraphy or essay contest. Whenever I won first place in any event, my stepmother would always ask me:
“[You can have whatever you want for dinner.]” “[I like that curry then!]”
That was the only day my strict stepmother was kind to me. So I was trying my best to be the best.
…… I had forgotten about that. I kept the memories of the past in the back of my mind.
I heard about the Miyazaki incident, the commotion in junior high school, and that my stepmother had a tough time at the ladies’ club.
After that day, I stopped asking for anything.
And when I ate my stepmother’s food, I didn’t know what it tasted like anymore.
I shook my head.
I almost felt a pang in my heart, but for some reason Haruka, who was sitting in front of me, had a worried look on her face.
“No, no, no, Haruka’s in worse trouble than I thought. How can you get that score ……? What the hell, don’t Miyazaki and Saito-san ever teach you how to study?”
“Eh? Ah, na …….”
I don’t understand it either. But the words just come out of my mouth.
So, it’s okay for now, right?
Haruka answered me, looking down so as not to look at me.
“U-um, Shizuka and Miyu are about average, so they can’t teach me. …… Nanako and Kisaragi have good grades, but they’re not very good at teaching. ……”
I looked at my watch. It was still before dinner. I’ve already finished writing tomorrow’s post.
Today I was going to continue with my romance novel and put together a list of potential illustrators.
So, I have time. I have time, but… am I really ready to go this far? Am I going to get hurt again? Just like that time.
…… I hated the sight of my stepsister Haruka looking down. I can’t help but think of Haruka as a child, crying because she misbehaved and got angry.
“—-You’ve got time before dinner, right? …… study …… a little with you if you want. Bring your …… textbooks for all subjects, your notebooks, and your writing utensils.”
Haruka looked up. Her face was one of surprise and confusion.
But her mouth was tied tightly. For some reason, there was a hint of intelligence in her eyes.
Oh, I’ve seen this face before. That’s Haruka when she can concentrate.
Haruka nodded her head several times and ran to her room.
My stepmother brought me a small box with my valuables in it.
“…..Un, what happened to Haruka? …… Makoto, that’s everything. Is there anything else you need?”
“……Yes, I’ll watch Haruka study for a bit today.…… C-Can I have dinner with you?”
My stepmother almost dropped the box.
But she hugged the box desperately and fought back sobs.
“Y-yes, yes of course. …… Whenever you feel like eating, just let me know. ……”
I looked down at Haruka’s answer sheet, somewhat embarrassed that I had said it myself.
…… A strange feeling spread through me.
There is no way to forget the past. But it is possible to move forward while facing the past.