Anri is my friend.
And yet I am in love with Anri.
……I didn’t know what it felt like to fall in love with someone. But I know that this is love.
When I think of Anri, my heart pounds.
Just being with her lifts my spirits. When we are apart, I feel lonely and sad.
…… but we are still friends. I can’t ask for more. That’s what I thought.
“Sh-Shinjo-kun, can I take selfie with you!”
“…… No. For certain reasons, I don’t take selfies with anyone other than my friends. Sorry. ……”
After dinner, the students were told to stay in their rooms until recreation time.
It’s time to pack up and get ready for bed. Anri and I said our goodbyes and decided to return to our rooms.
For some reason, I was going to the room with Hiratsuka, the flirt, and Hirano, the big guy.
A few girls talked to us while we were there.
I’ve gotten used to people a little, but I’m still not dexterous enough to talk to strangers.
“Hehe, Shinjo is not allowed. The Yankees will get mad at him! Take a picture with me! Eh? W-Wait, why are you running away?”
Hiratsuka talked to the girls with a delirious look on their faces, and they ran away with a dejected look on their faces!
“S-seriously. ……. I mean, isn’t Shinjo too popular? I knew it, being cool makes you popular! Maybe I’ll change my character too. ……”
‘…… Hiratsuka, you’ve got Seo, no? Geez.”
“S-Shut up! I-I have nothing to do with her?! We’re just childhood friends. Besides, …….”
I wonder what it is, I’m very curious. Hiratsuka’s flirtatious face became a little more serious.
“……I’m being hated by her. And……. A-another girl!?”
“No, not another girl. That’s my sister.”
When Hiratsuka was about to say something, Haruka came over here with Nanako.
“O-Onii-chan, ehehe, are you having fun? Forests are fun, right? There are so many mysterious things to explore with Nanako! Look, pine cones!”
Haruka’s clothes were covered in mud. …… She has dirt, tree branches, and leaves all over her. With a big smile on her face, she hands me a pine cone with bugs on it.
I brush the bugs off the pinecone and take it. …… What is this exchange?
Well, no offense to Haruka. I am sure this pine cone is a treasure from Haruka.
“Let’s throw it at that tree and have a competition to see who can hit it the most!”
I see, it wasn’t even important. Just a tool for fun…….
I decided to throw a pine cone in the right place and dust Haruka’s body off. Haruka’s body was so dirty that I couldn’t bear to look at her.
“Look, let me see your back too. It’s so dirty and ……. Mother is going to be furious with you.”
“O-Onii-chan?! …… T-thank you. Hehe …….”
Haruka was squinting like a cat. Her mouth was smiling.
I felt strange seeing that. I felt …… warmth, or how can I say it,…….
Looking back, Haruka and I have been through a lot. I can’t just say that everything is in the past and put it to rest. Still, she is an irreplaceable sister to me.
When I decided to be brave and move forward, the color of the world changed.
“…… No, thank you.”
Haruka looks dumbfounded with her mouth open. …… I feel affection from Haruka. It’s the love of family.
The relationship with my mother is still awkward, but it’s a lot better than it used to be.
This is how I’m going to move forward little by little.
…… But she should stop bothering others. When I saw Nanako’s face, she looked so worn out that she was causing me a great deal of trouble.
“Haruka ……. You should play quietly today. It’s night and dark, and it would be a disaster if you get hurt. See, Nanako-san is tired, right?”
Haruka nodded broadly as I brushed the dirt off her.
“Yes! I will!”
I looked at Nanako, who was smiling bitterly. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen her since the subway station.
“Good evening, Shinjo-kun. ……”
“A-ah, Nanako-san, are you all right?”
“Yes, I’m fine. Haruka-chan is here for me. …… It’s fun because it’s so different from when I was in middle school.”
I honestly don’t know what is going on with Nanako’s situation. There are some aspects that worry me, but I am sure she will be fine because Haruka is there for her.
Nanako-san had a peaceful smile on her face.
“Ah, right, Onii-chan! Let’s take a picture with Haruka and Nanako!”
“I don’t mind–“
Haruka gave me a body slam. In her hand she holds a phone.
Nanako stands beside me shyly. The distance is a little too far, but it’s appropriate.
“Mou, Nanako, get closer to Onii-chan!”
“Eh? L-Like this?”
“NO!! ……Well, okay, that’s about right! Then I’ll go–“
Nanako was a little closer to me than before. Nanako-san’s face was a little red.
I get strangely nervous too. Come to think of it, I haven’t taken any pictures with Anri. I have to take–
As I think about this, the shutter is repeatedly lowered, and Haruka leaves me with a satisfied look on her face.
“I’ll send it to Onii-chan later! Bye bye!!”
Haruka pulled Nanako’s hand and left the place.
…… I didn’t mind the photo, not really.
Hiratsuka’s wailing echoes in the room–
I was listening to Hiratsuka’s complaints while we were getting ready to put the futon on the futon.
“Damn?! What’s with Shinjo, he’s really popular! What’s the difference with me? Can such a cute little sister even exist? Even Nanako Minami-chan is famous for being super cute these days! You know, Miyu and him have some kind of mysterious relationship, and Miyazaki, the beautiful girl in the next class, is also a childhood friend, right? Damn …… it’s unfair. ……”
I don’t like being told that. …… You don’t have to say that you were hurt, hurt—– and the relationship was like that.
And I don’t see these girls as the opposite sex. Haruka is family.
The other girls are …… to me–what are they to me?
What can I say? I haven’t moved on yet.
“That’s not the point, Hiratsuka, why do you hate Seo-san so much?’
Hiratsuka fell silent. Hirano let out a light sigh as he finished laying out the futon.
We are the only ones in this room now. Everyone else has pulled the futon off first and gone to the girls’ place.
Hiratsuka scratched his head and began to speak lightly.
To summarize Hiratsuka’s story–
Seo and Hiratsuka are childhood friends.
They have been together since childhood and have always been next to each other.
It seems that their relationship started to sour when they had some problems in junior high school.
They couldn’t be honest with each other, and people around them made fun of them.
It was then, when the girls were talking alone, that Seo–
[“He’s just a good-for-nothing. He’s really gross. I mean, I’m a fan of Hayato-senpai.”]
Before hearing those words, Hiratsuka was actually thinking of confessing to Seo.
Hiratsuka also heard those words–
“Haa? ”I didn’t ask you to stay with me. I mean, I like Maki-chan, you know”.
They were both stubborn and unable to be honest with themselves,…… and Seo had a boyfriend.
Hiratsuka begins to speak in a frivolous tone of voice and in a ridiculously cheerful way to hide his shock.
Since then, Seo and Hiratsuka had a delicate relationship.
After all, Seo apparently broke up with her boyfriend within a week.
Even though they broke up, the relationship between Seo and Hiratsuka never returned.
They were both aware of each other, but they could not be honest with each other and regretted it. This has been an ongoing process.
Hirano has been watching the two of them with a jealous feeling since junior high school, it seems.
…… I wonder why Hiratsuka told me all this?
We have never talked in class properly, our relationship.
Childhood friends, huh–
I have a childhood friend named Miyazaki. We drifted apart before I could develop any feelings for her.
Seo and Hiratsuka are different. They are aware of each other, but they can’t be honest with each other.
Is Hiratsuka in love with Seo?
…… If she has the same feelings as he does – that guy must have felt very hard feelings.
I was alone in the galley on the camp thinking about what I just said. This is a place I remember from junior high school. My life wouldn’t have been the same without my mentor back then.
No one comes here at this time of the day, so it’s a good place to think.
“Oh, Makoto! There you are.”
“Anri? Have you finished getting ready?”
“Yeah! Makoto? Are you tired?”
“Well, kinda. ……”
Anri looks good in a jersey. She wears the same outfit she wears when she is at the shopping center.
I went crazy thinking about it.
“Ah, yes, Makoto. You were taking a picture with Haruka and her friends earlier, weren’t you? W-Wasn’t she getting kind of flirty?”
“A-Anri? W-what’s that scary look in your eyes?”
“N-nothing. It’s the same as usual. ……. H-Hey, can I sit next to you?”
Anri sits next to me. That alone makes me nervous. It’s a different vibe when Haruka was taken a picture of me earlier.
It makes me nervous, but it also puts my mind at ease.
I want to touch Anri’s hand. I want to be close to Anri. Such thoughts are born in my mind.
I was not conscious of it before. Even if I held her hand, I was exempted because we were “friends.
But I am in love with Anri.
Suddenly, Anri put her head on my shoulder.
“…… I’m so happy, ……. I didn’t think we could have a daily life like this.”
I was anxious that she chould hear my heartbeat.
I was worried that I wouldn’t be happy.
But when I heard Anri’s voice, my fears were drowned out.
“—–I’m so happy to have met you.”
“Yes, I met Makoto, too.”
These are not pretty words, but words from the heart. We both know that.
Anri suddenly pulls her phone out of her pocket and points the camera at us.
The shutter clicks.
Anri’s face was even closer. My heart jumped.
“Uhm, one more time, okay? You were making a funny face right now.”
“A-Anri? I-I have to get my mind ready ……”
This time Anri puts her cheek on my face. The distance between us is even closer than before.
I must be making a funny face. I can hear Anri’s heartbeat.
“I-It’s not that I’m jealous of you taking a picture with Haruka-chan or anything”
Anri finishes taking the picture and moves away from me a little.
Anri’s cheeks were puffed up.
This time, I move closer to Anri.
I support Anri’s shoulders from behind so that she does not fall down. Then, I brought her face close to mine.
I lowered the shutter.
We looked at each other and laughed.
Surely there will be no more mistakes between us. Being betrayed by Anri is fine with me.
I really love Anri.
Anri in the picture—– she looked really happy with a bashful smile on her face—-.