The ball game is next Friday.
It’s not an event that I would normally pay that much attention to. …… but this ball game might be a chance for something to change.
…… If I ever get to the game, it will be a great experience.
Or rather, I’m starting to feel like I’ll never get over it if I don’t think that way.
Anri and I were brought to the gym by a flustered Haruka.
It was the end of the test, so club activities had resumed.
In the large gymnasium, the volleyball and basketball teams were practicing diligently.
“Eh, uhm, I-I think it’s best if you watch the volleyball first.”
While listening to Haruka’s strange honorific, we visited the volleyball club.
The volleyball club members are skillfully handling the volleyball and running around the court.
…… The net is higher than the rest.
“T-The volleyball team rotates and changes positions rapidly. The rules can be found …….
“Haruka, I’ve memorized the rules by the book, so I should be fine. Even …… it’s so intense.”
“Hyai! Y-you know, the ball game will be more relaxed, I think. Girls are less competitive than boys. …… And I think the net will be a little lower, too.
I couldn’t stand to watch and interrupted her.
“Haruka, let’s not use strange honorifics. …… Well, I’ve been using strange honorifics too, but Haruka doesn’t have to force herself to use them. Just be normal.”
“Umm, yeah, but I’ll try my best. ……”
As we were talking about this in a corner of the gym, a senior member of the volleyball team came towards us. The short-haired schoolgirl gives Haruka a high-five with a refreshing smile. …… This is the atmosphere of the rear …….
“Oi Haruka-chan! What what, are you going to help us practice today?”
“Hello, senpai! Uhm, I-I’m explaining volleyball to someone who has helped me a lot today. …… C-can I borrow that end of the gym?”
” Um, yes, Haruka is fine. If so, why don’t you come with me for one practice session? I don’t know anyone who can spike like Haruka.”
“Y-yes, j-just for a little……”
Haruka glanced at us. Anri and I nodded at each other to go.
I’ll wait until Haruka’s practice? For now, we decided to wait until Haruka’s practice was over.
Haruka was wearing her school uniform, but she seemed to be wearing spats underneath.
To my surprise, she was about to join the practice as it was.
I could see that all the eyes of the boys in the gym were focused on Haruka.
I stopped her before she went to the court in her uniform.
“…… H-haruka. Are you going to play volleyball in that? That, and if you fly, your skirt is …….”
“Yeah, but I’m wearing spats underneath. ……”
“No. You need to change into your gym clothes. Look how the boys are looking at you like a beast? …… Haruka is a natural and only looks pretty, so don’t give them a chance.”
“Heee!? O-Onii…..U-un, w-wait for I’m going to change”
Haruka grabbed her gym clothes and ran to the locker room. In a minute she was dressed and out the door.
I patted myself on the chest. I felt a stern look from the boys.
“—–I’m Haruka’s brother.”
I said and looked at my surroundings with cold eyes.
The word “brother” may have had an effect, but the stares did not disappear.
Haruka participated in the practice and showed amazing physical abilities.
She is comparable to a member of the volleyball team,……, or even to a layman’s eye, to the head of the volleyball team who called on her earlier.
Her little body jumping up and down. A powerful serve pierces the court.
The attack was interesting as it broke through the blocks.
…… What the hell is this girl’s physical ability? …… I didn’t know Haruka like this because I had little to do with her at school.
I guess I didn’t know Haruka at all.
The past events run through my head. But when I saw Haruka happily playing volleyball, all those things started to fade away.
Anri whispered next to me.
“……U-uuu, Haruka, you’re so cute. I’m so …… jealous that you and Makoto lived together. ……”
Anri was so cute with her mouth agape that I decided to ignore her mutterings.
“———-And, it’s like this. Volleyball is quite challenging, isn’t it?”
Haruka, who was not out of breath, came back looking a little embarrassed.
She has a ball in her hand. She threw the ball softly to Anri.
Anri was surprised but caught it.
“S-Shinozuka-san, first we will practice tossing by making a triangle with the palms of our hands on our heads. Oh, A-are you sure you have time?”
It’s the end of the test today, so there’s still time. Anri nodded as she stared at the ball.
But here I felt the boys’ eyes on me again. It was nothing compared to Haruka’s earlier.
Anri was wearing her school uniform, but she hadn’t brought her gym clothes. If Anri were to play volleyball in a skirt, it would be …….
I pulled Anri’s arm without thinking.
“A-Anri, l-let’s practice in the back of the school building where no one is looking. We’ll get in the way of club activities here.”
“Ah, that’s right. Haruka-san, let’s go to the back of the school building.”
This time, I felt the gaze of a girl from the volleyball club.
They were looking at me with a grin. I didn’t mind because it wasn’t a loathsome smile, but why?
I pulled Anri’s arm and walked out of the gym, not caring.
Yeah, I feel more at ease when there’s no one around.
I thought this as I watched Anri and Haruka practicing.
Anri’s skirt swayed every time she returned the ball, but with a will of steel, I tried not to look at it.
Anri is tall. She returns Haruka’s ball with a beautiful toss.
In the beginning, the ball went in the wrong direction, but after a few repetitions, she was able to do it well.
…… What does it mean to be athletically challenged? Maybe she just didn’t participate seriously in gym class, but she’s physically strong?
Eventually, Haruka teaches Anri how to receive. Anri’s arm turns a little red.
When I saw that, I started to worry if she was okay.
“W-well, I think you should stop practicing now? Anri’s arms are getting red. ……”
I interrupted her, trying not to let her know how worried I was.
Anri’s voice, a little sweaty, was bouncy. She had completely forgotten her Yankee accent.
“It’s okay, Makoto! Hehe, it’s kind of fun! I’ve never played ball games before, so it’s refreshing!”
“I-I see, ……, T-then it’s fine, but be careful not to get hurt.”
We writers, our hands are our life. If Anri were to get injured, ……
The mere thought of that is enough to cause a disturbance to leak out of me.
“O-Onii, i-it’s okay. It’s just light practice to get her used to the ball. ……”
I nodded and took a step back. I check my email on my phone to calm myself down.
Ah, yeah, I should probably look at some of Saeko-san’s proofreading while I’m at it.
I opened the manuscript file that Saeko-san had sent me.
I couldn’t help but let out a squeal.
“What the heck …… this…….”
I kneeled down on the spot and made my own changes and additions from the web version and sent it to Saeko. I thought there would be few revisions.
“Huh? What’s wrong, Makoto?”
“Oni…… are you okay?”
They must have noticed that something was wrong with me, so they stopped practicing and rushed to me.
“I-I’m not fine……. No, I’m fine. Yeah, this is an ordeal. No problem, I’ll get through this. ……”
I show Anri my phone. The phone shows the manuscript, stained red with corrections.
Anri scratches her head and says to me.
“Ah it can’ t be helped. …… S-She said it was a lot less than my first draft. Hey, maybe all teachers are like that, right?”
Anri rubbed my back and comforted me.
Okay, so this is normal. …… I underestimated it. I thought it would be a smooth publication. And when I look at the revisions, I can see that Saeko-san is very competent. I can’t complain about the revisions.
Haruka smiles at me as she sits up.
“O-onii ……, are you okay? If you have a stomach ache, you should go to the infirmary. …… Oh, we have stomach medicine! Aww, aww, what should I do, Oni-chan is going to die …….”
D-Do you look that pale…….
I tapped Haruka lightly on the shoulder and stood up, so as not to worry her.
“I’m fine. It’s just a little unexpected, that’s all. Haruka’s dad and mom probably told you about it, but I need to revise my upcoming novel. ……”
“Ah, yes, that’s what mother said, but Haruka, I almost told someone, so I forgot!? …… Uhm, yeah, I’ll forget about it until I get it published properly!”
Haruka slapped herself on the butt with a pang……. A pleasant sound echoed through the back of the school building.
I-Is that how you forget? This guy, what the heck ….. Is she sick? Should I send her to the hospital? In fact, I’m more worried about Haruka than me.
Anri and I looked at each other. For some reason Anri was trying not to laugh.
I’m in the mood to laugh too.
“Fue? Why are you laughing? Well, I don’t know, you look like you’re having fun. Hehe, Onii-chan is laughing. ……, hehe, higu……, Onii-chan……, higu… …”
For some reason, Haruka was crying and laughing at the same time.
I guess she doesn’t know how to handle her own emotions.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been called Onii-chan
I was watching Haruka cry and laugh while thinking about that.