TL: I had some time
I used to hate taking pictures.
I hated seeing my dark face in the album.
That changed when I met Anri. The folders on my phone are filled with pictures of me and Anri.
It started from the field trip to Destinyland. When I look at the pictures from then, we both still had stiff smiles on our faces, but now it’s different.
In the picture of us sitting together in the corner of the kitchen, looking at each other, we had natural smiles on our faces.
“It wasn’t that long ago that we took our first picture together, and I miss it. ……”
Anri scrolls through her phone and looks at old photos.
Rewinding back to the pictures from the time in Destinyland. It seems as if it rewinds back to the memories of that time.
“I remember how surprised everyone was when they saw Anri back then. You looked so beautiful.”
“T-that’s not true!? A-All the girls were staring at you, Makoto-kun.”
“Is that so?”
“Mou, Makoto, you are in trouble for not being aware of it. ……”
That day’s excursion was something special for us.
If we were together, the wounds of the past would disappear. That was the day I was convinced of it.
“Speaking of that day, I remember that Anri’s tone of voice became kinder and gentler.”
“Eh!? T-That’s not true. I-its because of Destinyland.
“Of course, it was a mysterious space.”
Summer vacation is long. There is still a lot of time off after this forest school is over.
Of course, I have to revise for publication and write a bonus chapter for the store. That’s not a problem. Everything is going according to schedule.
And I’m getting motivated to create when I see Mitobe-sensei’s wonderful drawings.
Anri is still looking at the pictures with a smirk on her face. It’s a picture from our walking date.
……I had this look on my face.
“Makoto, you cried a lot after that, didn’t you? Fufu, you were so cool, helping Haruka-chan afterwards.”
“A-aah, that’s uhm….”
Anri turns to me, shutting her phone.
It was just a gesture, but it made my heart beat faster. I can’t look at her face.
“Ah, there you go again! You’ve been doing that a lot lately. I wish you would look at me properly.”
“Right. ……. That’s because, Pomeko-san is so cute, oh, no, I mean, ……–oh, let’s go out with Puggy for summer vacation, shall we?”
“C-cute, that’s embarrassing. ……. Stop joking around and talk to me face to face, will you?”
“I’m not joking.”
“M-Makoto? U-uhm, I agree with you about going to hang out with Puggy. What shall we do?”
Nobody of the students approached this place. I felt like my mouth was getting lighter.
It was like I wanted to say something, but couldn’t.
Anri clears her throat with a “kohon-koh. Her face was a little red. Then she gently took my hand.
“Makoto-kun, we have to go over there soon. Hehe, here I can talk normally, but over there it will be difficult.”
We are always alone, but I don’t want to leave her.
We are together, but at school we are different.
I push down the feelings in my gut and stand up holding Anri’s hand.
Is it okay to be so happy?
Will anything bad happen to me like that time in the forest school?
All my fears are blown away when I’m with Anri.
We decided to go to the recreation square.
….Master, I’ve found someone I care about, thanks to the novel.
I decided to talk to Anri about my Master someday.
It was Hiratsuka who approached me first.
“Oi, oi Shinjo! you’re late!! It’s already started! Your little sister’s on the stage! Kaa~ Haruka-chan’s so cute!”
When I went to the place of our class, my classmates had already gathered there.
……I used to hate this scene.
In a group of classmates all gathered together and chatting, I was the only one who came later and spent time as a loner, like an outcast.
Now that I think about it, I realize that the feeling of alienation can take a person’s mind in an unpleasant direction.
I looked at Anri next to me and she was smiling a little bitterly. Maybe she was thinking the same thing.
Anri is not good in a group because of her past experiences.
“O-oi, Shinjo, d-don’t be too far away from me.”
Still, maybe things are a little different now.
Hiratsuka looks at me and speaks to me with a carefree smile. He looks like a flirt, but I guess he’s a surprisingly nice guy. And the serious Hirano is always with him.
I don’t feel any strange pressure from my other classmates. Both Yamada and Tanaka say, “Ou!” “Shinozuka-san, this side of the room is free. ……”.
This is probably a normal thing.
But is it really normal? Because I never thought I would be the one who tries to fit in with the group without rejecting people like this. I thought that there was no one who would accept me.
Anri, who was invited by Tanaka, looks at me.
She looks a little timid. …… I’m sure she is fine.
“After this forest school is over, let’s talk a lot alone.”
“Y-yes….. A-Absolutely. …… Then I’ll go. “
Anri gave me a small wave and then walked toward Tanaka-san.
Anri, betrayed by her friends, might make friends again.
……mu, I’m a little jealous.
Yamada, who was standing beside Tanaka-san, approached us, scratching his head.
“Uhehe, ooou, Shinjo! How are you doing? I’m doing super fine! Hehe, I got to see Tanaka, whom I haven’t seen in a long time! You must be happy to see Shinozuka-san for the first time in a while, too, right??”
“Ah, I-I guess so”
Truth to be told, we met almost every day. …… Let’s not say anything unnecessary.
Then Hirano interrupted.
“Shinjo, your sister is going to start singing. Listen to her.”
“Is that so. …… hmm? She can sing? I’ve only heard her hum.”
There was a high place in the plaza that was used as a stage for the show.
Haruka and other girls in the next class were standing around in their jerseys.
I wonder if they were still a little embarrassed. In contrast to Haruka, who seemed to be enjoying herself, Miyazaki and many of the other girls looked embarrassed and dejected.
…… childhood friend, huh.
I glanced at Hiratsuka, and his gaze turned toward Seo.
I was starting to have some mixed feelings about something.
I looked at the stage again and saw Haruka acting suspiciously, scurrying around, looking for something.
Suddenly, I felt her eyes met mine. It was dark, so I couldn’t see it clearly……
Haruka smiled shyly and gave me a small wave.
Maybe she was waving at me. In the past, I wouldn’t have understood. She never changes no matter how old she gets. …… Right, she’s my sister, after all.
…… should I show her something big brotherly once in a while?
I waved my hand and shouted unusually loudly.
“——-Haruka, go for it!!”
With the students buzzing around, I don’t know if she can hear me. Although I had no idea what I was doing, I wanted to cheer my sister on. Maybe it’s just a natural feeling.
Haruka jumps up and down happily with her mouth agape.
‘Yeeeeeey！！！！ Listen to the song from Year One, Class B!”
Haruka stepped forward from the group and began to sing the song in her earthly voice–
One wonders if it’s okay to blast out in a forest like this, but the audience was in for a real treat.
I had not expected Haruka to be such a good singer. Of course, other students were singing, but they were all drowned out by Haruka.
The song was like an idol song, and I don’t know whose song it was, but Haruka was trying her best.
Some students were dancing. Among them, I could see Miyazaki.
“That person can do anything if it has to do with athleticism.”
Memories of my childhood come back to me with the song.
It’s all painful memories, but there were happy times, too.
Although things have always crossed paths, I was able to heal my wounds.
I can’t help but follow Anri with my eyes while listening to Haruka’s song. Anri was spending time with Tanaka and the others with a smile on her face.
I felt irresistibly happy.
I never thought that the time would come when I could enjoy a normal school event like this.
“Thank you very much. ！！！！ Next up, Class A of the first year! Adeju!”
Haruka looked satisfied and was cheered by the students.
I kind of felt like patting Haruka on the head for the first time in a while.
“Oi, Makoto, it’s next on the list, so let’s go get ready quickly!”
Hiratsuka grabbed my shoulder for some reason. My head was filled with question marks.
Our C class’s performance? What are we going to do? I didn’t hear it.
“I’m sorry, Shinjo ……. But I’ve got your wife’s approval!”
Yamada looks away awkwardly. By “wife” you mean Anri!?
‘O-oi, what in the world are we doing? Hirano? Why are you grabbing me? Oi, wait?! What’s going on??”
I was grabbed by Hirano and was moved backstage.