My first love was when I was in elementary school.
It was with my childhood friend, Yuuhi Akazawa.
I have no memory of how we met. We were neighbors, and our parents were friends, a common relationship. We were born in the same hospital and went to the same kindergarten as a matter of course.
There was no clear reason for me to fall in love with her. Her face, which I had always seen, began to flicker around the house, and gradually I couldn’t get it out of my head. At first it was just an uncomfortable feeling, but later I realized that it was a romantic feeling.
By the time I was in the upper grades of elementary school, I was fully aware of being in love.
Everything about her seemed so cute.
I was smitten by the way she followed me around. I fell in love with the way her expression would change when she was looking at a manga. The way she scolded me by imitating my mother’s tone of voice made me fall in love with her. When I was struggling with my homework, she looked at me like a teacher and explained it to me, which made me fall in love.
“Thank you for teaching me how to study, Yuuhi.”
“Ehehe, you’re welcome, Sho-chan.”
Her shy face was really cute and that made me squeal.
What I liked the most was when she smiled. Her smile made me feel as if a huge sunflower had bloomed, and it warmed my heart.
She never showed that face to anyone but me. That’s because she had a big problem.
She was born with red hair.
She suffered from a complex. Children are cruel and tend to focus on things that are different from themselves. No matter if there is malice in it or not.
“Why is your hair red?”
“Is it dyed?”
“Are you a delinquent, Yuuhi-chan?”
It was a curious question, but since Akazawa was shy by nature, she had a habit of squirming and turning her head when asked questions without malicious intent.
The troubled girl swept her gaze around, and when she spotted me, she approached me. She tugs at my sleeve and gives me a pleading look.
“You got it wrong, Yuuhi hair is natural!”
I always explain to them when she ask me to help. I’ve known her since she was a little girl, so they’re convinced that I’m telling the truth.
“Thank you, Sho-chan.”
“Don’t worry about it. Relax, it’s not Yuuhi’s fault. Be proud about it”
“You’re cute, so you should always smile like an idol. If you do that, everyone will become your friend.”
At the time, she was the most important person to me and I wanted to protect her more than anything. It made me feel good to know that I was protecting her.
It made me happy to be appreciated, so I began to take care of her.
My friends called me a meddler, but I would always try to take care of Akazawa so that she would not be teased about the color of her hair.
I think we had mutual feelings.
At the time, I wasn’t sensitive to such things, but when I cooled down, I realized that she was all over me. I was not sure if she was in love with me or if it was the kind of affection she would have for her brother or sister.
Through me, Akazawa also made more friends. By playing with my friends, Akazawa’s shy personality gradually changed, and before I knew it, she had become the center of the class.
I thought that this relationship would continue forever.
However, that relationship was soon to fall apart.
When I entered junior high school, I entered puberty. People started to talk about love here and there, and if someone got even a little too close to a boy or girl, it would quickly become a rumor.
In junior high school, another childhood friend and great friend of mine, Renji Inuyama, appeared on the scene.
Renji was very popular. He had a good figure and a sharp mind. In addition to his good looks, he was very athletic, so there was no reason for him not to be popular. A versatile prince should be popular.
He was truly the protagonist of this world, the brilliant sun shining brilliantly.
I, on the other hand, was ordinary.
It’s not that I despise him. If I were to despise him, I would have to lower my reputation even further. Yes, I was undeniably an ordinary man.
I studied in the lower half of the class. I was good at sports, so I was about above average. I don’t know about myself, but I’d like to think I had a mediocre face.
In junior high school, we often went out in groups. I was in a position of influence in the class because I was with my best friend, Renji. I guess you could call us a high caste group. Through Renji’s connections, I was able to belong to one of those groups.
I was just an extra.
It was inevitable that girls would gather around Renji, who was perfect in every way.
It was also natural that Yuuhi Akazawa, who had been harboring a faint crush on me, shifted her interest from me to Renji.
“Is there someone Renji-kun like?”
“Who knows, I never saw him with someone”
“What’s Renji’s favorite food?”
“He prefers fish to meat.”
“Does Renji-kun have a girlfriend?”
All I ever hear is about Renji.
Akazawa was chasing after Renji, her eyes glittering. There was no reflection of me in her vision.
When I was just a junior high school student, I was still in love with Akazawa, and I felt a stab of inferiority in my heart.
But the dark feelings never exploded.
If he had been a jerk, I would have been frustrated, but Renji is a really nice guy. He is smart and athletic, but most of all he has a good personality.
In junior high school, he served as a member of the class council, and when he found discord in the class, he tried to mediate between the two. He also actively reached out to those who were isolated in class.
He is handsome, an honor student, a man of culture, and a perfect person.
It’s a bit flimsy to put it all into words, but it’s true. His brilliance seemed to grow with each passing month.
When I entered the second year of junior high school, there was a change.
Akazawa began to visibly humiliate me. She also compared me to Renji.
“Compared to Renji-kun, Shota-kun is useless, you know. You’re not smart enough to compare, you’re a good athlete, but you will probably lose, and your face is a total disappointment.”
I had no intention of competing. It’s not because I can’t win. It was because my interest in Akazawa was fading.
When I responded appropriately like that, she used every means to humiliate me.
“There’s a new student in the next class. Unlike Shota-kun, he has a pretty face.”
“That senior is handsome and nice, right? Unlike Shota-kun.”
“If I’m going to have a boyfriend, he should be smart. Shota-kun is an idiot, though.”
Anyway, all she cared about was whatever she could abuse me. She loathed me so much that I wanted to know why she loath me. I don’t know when she changed the way she calls me.
Still, I couldn’t open the distance because our parents were close friends. I loved my mother. I didn’t want to make my mother sad. That’s why I didn’t leave her side even though I was compared to and humiliated by her.
…… Now I can see that the choice was a big mistake.
In the second year of junior high school, I still went to school with Akazawa as before.
My feelings had completely changed. My love for Akazawa has faded, and my first love, a childhood friend, has become a person I don’t like, someone who makes me feel inferior.
“I had fun at karaoke last night. Renji-kun is super good at it.”
“…… As expected.”
“You’re so different, Mukawa-kun.”
Of course, I was not invited to the party.
To be precise, Renji approached me. However, I was absorbed in a game I’ve been playing lately, and I had a prior engagement there, so I declined.
But I would have turned him down even if I didn’t have to.
“Final exams are coming up soon.”
” …… It’s summer.”
“I’m planning to go to the beach with my friends. Of course, Renji-kun will be with us. There are many other good-looking guys there.”
Akazawa and I belonged to different groups. In the first place, the chances of us talking at school had decreased dramatically since we entered junior high school, and in the second year of junior high school, she started to avoid me.
The other day, Akazawa finally called me by my last name instead of my first name. So I decided to call her by her last name, Akazawa, instead of Yuuhi as well. I felt like she wanted me to keep my distance from her, so I complied.
I don’t know why she was in a bad mood, but she was.
“Well, it’s none of your business, Mukawa, and I won’t even invite you.”
“Huh, did I hurt your feelings?”
” I suppose….”
“If you want me to ask you out, why don’t you ask me?”
“…… Don’t really care”
It was painful to go to school with Akazawa.
But I still went to school with her because my mother would get mad at me. As a childhood friend, I was told to protect her if anything happened. Akazawa’s parents also said hello to me. Apparently, they think we’re still close childhood friends. It’s really annoying and I wish they wouldn’t do that, but if I dare deny it, there’s a chance they’ll start trying to make up for it, so I just smiled fondly at them.
At school, I loved to read novels.
Light novels are great. They are easy to read like manga, but they can kill more time than manga. In addition, they are novels, so no one would be offended if I read them at school.
“Uwa, light novels. Mukawa-kun, are you an otaku, by chance?”
” …… Is that bad?”
“I’m not saying it’s bad. Some people might just think it’s weird.”
The giggling Akazawa was clearly mocking me. The only time she ever talked to me at school was when she was making fun of me.
It made me feel bad, but I was still able to live a normal life at that time.
The big turning point came one day when summer was approaching. While I was reading as usual, someone came up to me.
“Do you know the rumor, Mukawa?”
It was Hazuki Nekoda . Nekoda and I were in the same class, but we were not acquainted.
“Rumor of a stalker.”
“That’s a disturbing rumor.”
“Eh – It’s about Mukawa. There’s a rumor that Mukawa is stalking Yuuhi. Didn’t you know that?”
The words were unexpected. I had a feeling that my classmates had been avoiding me lately, but I had never imagined that such a rumor was circulating.
“Everyone is saying that Mukawa is following Yuuhi around.”
“I was curious, so I asked Yuuhi about it. She said it was true.”
I hadn’t heard that before.
I’m sure she knows what’s going on. The only reason I’m with her is because both of our parents have told me to.
It’s more like I’m the one being followed. She would come up to me and abuse me, and when I tried to go to school by myself, she would come alongside me, making fun of me.
Rumors had spread quite a bit.
If I paid attention to the whispering voices, I could hear them talking about how I was chasing Akazawa around every day.
“He talk to her sometimes at school, but Akazawa-san looks uncomfortable, doesn’t she?”
“It seems like he was waiting for Yuuhi to finish her club activities to go home with her before.”
“Uwa, he’s really a criminal.”
“Apparently he knows where she lives, so he waits outside at night and peeks in from his room.”
“I heard his phone is full of Secret pictures.”
“I heard that too.”
That’s a false accusation.
I was waiting for the end of club activities. The reason I waited for her to finish her club activities was because she asked me to. And since we’ve known each other since childhood, it was only natural that I know where she lives. The only reason I waited outside at night was to get a share of the overcooked food from Akazawa’s parents in front of her house.
Secret pictures on my phone?
Impossible, because I don’t have a smartphone.
How could these information be circulating?
It’s because Akazawa herself is the one who is leaking them. Only she would know about the fact that I was waiting outside at night.
When our eyes met, Akazawa smiled. It was as if she was saying, “You finally noticed?” I could feel the malice in her gaze.
I finally realized it.
I was being set up.
“Stalking is a crime, so you shouldn’t do it.”
I could only give a small nod to Nekoda’s advice.
Since then, I kept my distance from Akazawa.
However, she was the top of the caste. The influence was tremendous, and before I knew it, I was being looked down upon by people outside of my class. The boys who were probably aiming for Akazawa picked a fight with me, and the girls talked about me behind my back.
I was completely isolated.
Later, with Renji’s help, I was able to keep my heart together, but it was destroyed by the pursuit from other demons. I haven’t spoken to Akazawa since that day.
This was my first love.