When I opened the door, I found my stepsister, Haruka, standing there.
She seemed to be in a hurry.
“Huh? You’re late, aren’t you? Did you go home with Shizuka-chan?”
I see, she was watching me with the security camera since we were talking in front of the house.
“I’m home now. I’m sorry to say ……, but may I come up?”
“Oh, um, yeah ……, hey, bro, let’s make more friends, okay? You used to be so cheerful……and let’s not use polite language……. B-be friends with me…….”
Nothing resonates in my mind. If this had been in junior high school, it would have been different.
I was still weak and hopeful at the time.
When bad rumors about me started to circulate, my stepsister didn’t believe me, kept saying, ” I hate molesters!”
I don’t feel anything anymore when I remembered…….
I’m not going to let my childhood friend’s false confession hurt my heart. As long as I say it once and for all so as not to be misunderstood, I’m fine.
“Haruka-san, excuse me.”
We’re not blood related, we’re not brothers or sisters.
We’re just roommates.
I was going to go back to my room.
” Oh, welcome back, Shin-kun. You’re late, aren’t you? Hurry up and get ready. I know I’m late because of my work, but we’re going out for dinner today to celebrate your entrance.”
I didn’t hear of any such plans.
“No, I’m fine. Have fun with your family.”
When I was a child, I used to look forward to going out with my family.
Even after the incident, my parents still invited me as part of their family duties.
I was mentally young at the time, so I went along with them, but when I went, the family atmosphere would deteriorate.
So I stopped going on trips and eating out.
It felt good to be home without anyone else. Maybe I had felt loneliness when I was young. But now, I feel nothing.
I enjoyed studying and writing novels by myself all the time.
My family tells me, “You’re the big brother——” and my stepsister comes first in everything I do.
But that can’t be helped. Things need to be prioritized.
My priority is peace.
” Dear ……, don’t keep sulking ……, your father is away on his own, and we are a family, so you should be more–“
“I’m sorry. I’ll be more careful.”
Me sulking? I have no such feelings. I never thought about it.
The best option is for me not to go. The best way to not ruin the family.
In fact, my stepsister and stepmother both look more cheerful when I’m not there.
Although my stepmother had a bitter look on her face, in her heart she was probably relieved that I wasn’t going.
Study hard and have a serious school life. It’s the least I can do to atone for the trouble my rumors have caused my family.
I bowed to them and went back to my room.
Studying is easy because it’s all I have to concentrate.
I like writing novels as a hobby because I can immerse myself in the story.
There is no better hobby than this for someone like me who has nothing.
You can do it with just a phone.
I’m going to have to earn some money so I don’t cause any more trouble at home.
” Yes? What’s this?”
A message from a novel site popped up in red letters.
There are two messages.
When I opened the first message, I found that it was a comment on my otherworldly reincarnation story. It seemed he was an avid fan, and he had written a long letter praising my work.
“Thank you, …….”
I couldn’t help but relax my cheeks. This was the only time I could feel my emotions.
Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to stabilize my mind.
I opened the second message, ……, and there it was.
“Management? …… publisher …… please contact?”
My hand trembled as I held the phone.
Is it possible that even I get impatient? I took a deep breath and calmed myself down.
While I was happy about ……, I was worried that it would be troublesome.
A heart that was happy for even a moment would falter.
It has nothing to do with schoolwork. …… Let’s pretend I didn’t see that.
That night, I had a hard time falling asleep.
The classroom before homeroom was noisy as usual.
Saito-san, who took off her glasses, was reputed to be a beautiful girl.
Although she and I were reluctantly in the same class, we had no relations.
Unlike when we were in junior high school, she had a trendy hairstyle and wore makeup. No one calls her plain anymore.
She reigned supreme as the class’s liaison.
My heart didn’t feel anything. All I had to do was just stay out of it.
That incident was just a combination of bad luck.
Saito-san and I were standing in the library talking. We shared the same hobby, and I was in high spirits.
Maybe I was harboring some kind of faint love for her. I don’t remember now.
It was raining that day, so the library was more crowded than usual.
–Then the earthquake happened.
The shaking stopped after a moment, but the luggage on the bookshelf fell on Saito-san’s head. Before I could complain, my body moved of its own accord.
I immediately said, “Saito-san!” and wrapped her in my arms.
Something hard hit my head and back.
I couldn’t bear the impact.
I collapsed on top of Saito-san.
I think I might have fainted for a moment. I don’t know, maybe I was conscious.
I do not remember much.
When I came back to reality, I found Saito-san crying.
Blood was flowing from my head. And I was being denounced by a crowd of students.
“What are you hugging her for?”
“Saito-san, are you okay? Let’s go to the infirmary.”
“Seriously ……, were the rumors true ……?”
I felt the same air as I did with my childhood friend Miyazaki-san. I regretted it from the bottom of my heart.
I should have stayed alone.
However, in a corner of my mind, I still believed in Saito-san.
She would understand why I was protecting her when something fell on her.
” Um, something fell from above—-“
Saito-san interrupted my words and shouted, glaring at me.
” Shin suddenly!! I-I’m scared……get away from me!!!!”
I thought I had found someone I could trust.
But it was an illusion.
No one would believe me.
I was so shocked that I almost lost my memory.
And then the rumors started to spread, and I became the criminal who attacked Saito-san.
I haven’t talked to Saito-san since then.
I missed three days of school with a high fever caused by the head injury.
I had no chance to explain myself. I don’t need to.
My stepsister made fun of me. My family found out through my stepsister, and they looked annoyed at me. They didn’t even scold me anymore. They looked like they had given up.
Fortunately, Saito-san was unharmed.
I didn’t think anything of it when I heard that. Something was slipping away along with my faint love for her.
Saito-san’s laughter snapped me out of the past and back to the present.
“Let’s see, Miyu wanted to go to karaoke, hehe.”
“Oh, karaoke today!”
“Yeah, you’re a good singer, aren’t you, Miyu?”
I read a book in my seat.
I didn’t look at my phone. I don’t want to get in trouble if someone finds out I’m looking at a novel site.
If someone took my phone and looked at the contents, it would be a disaster.
I don’t want to waste my time.
I read my book and thought about the next development of my novel.
That was my happiness.
The person sitting next to me, Shinozuka-san, was one of them.
She was reading a book with a grim expression on her face. She had a strong aura that told me not to talk to her. From the looks of her, with her blonde hair, worn out uniform, and bad eyesight, she had been called a “yankee” behind her back.
It hadn’t been a month since I entered the school, but I’d heard bad rumors about Shinozuka-san too.
But that’s not important. I’ve heard a lot of bad things about me too.
When the teacher entered the classroom, both Shinotsuka-san and I closed our books.
In a classroom full of noise, only the area around me and Shinozuka-san were quiet.
” Uhm, Shin-kun, the next room is the audio-visual room. Hurry up and move.”
” I see. Thank you very much.”
” Again with the honorific, though it’s okay.”
A male classmate sometimes calls out to me out of concern.
I give a bland reply with a smile.
If I do that, we can keep our relationship flat.
If I don’t talk to them at all and ignore them, I become the target of hostility. For example, if you look at Shinozuka-san, you’ll understand. All the girls don’t like Shinozuka-san. The reason is trivial. They ignore you when you try to talk to them, they get carried away because you have a pretty face, or because you’re a yankee.
I don’t ignore people when they talk to me. I end the conversation immediately with a smile.
It’s easy to smile. If you squint your eyes and raise the corners of your mouth, they’ll think you’re a junkie.
I’m a shady guy who only makes small talk in class.
…… Honestly, I thought Miyazaki would spread rumors about her junior high school days, but there was no sign of it.
Even if it did spread, it wouldn’t change me. I don’t feel anything in my heart.
Shinozuka-san, who was sitting next to me, was sleeping peacefully.
I didn’t even think to wake her up. If I woke her up and made a mistake, it would be troublesome.
Let’s move quickly.
There was a change in the rear group that was hanging out in front of the classroom entrance.
“Excuse me, Miyu has some business to attend to. I’ll be with you in a minute!”
I didn’t expect that.
Miyu Saito approached my seat.
“It’s you, right? Do you know me? It’s Miyu? We were always together in the library, right? You know, we’ve been through a lot, so it’s been hard to talk to you.
The tone of voice was from the top of my head.
I tried to pass it off with a fake smile.
“What’s that? What’s that? It’s super funny! Hey, hey, what kind of books are you reading now? Oh, I read that too! It’s funny!”
“I think we should move to the audio-visual room.”
“So polite, that’s so funny!”
The last thing Saito-san said to me was, “Stay away from me, I’m scared.”
I haven’t spoken to her since then. What the hell is going on?
There’s only one thing I know.
–Don’t get involved. Run away. Don’t make trouble.
“I mean, Miyu was super concerned about you. You see, Miyu’s misunderstanding caused a lot of trouble for …… Makoto. So, Miyu want you to enjoy your high school life! Your friends are all good people. Let’s go to karaoke together with the class! It’s for you, Makoto! …… And …… Miyu want to read a book with you again. ……”
Saito-san blushes as she says it.
For my sake–
I see, I guess I can interpret this as good intentions.
It’s okay. I don’t feel anything. I don’t need forced good will.
I was about to leave my seat.
“W-wait! Don’t go?! Miyu believed in you, ……. At the time of graduation, Miyu heard from a girl on the library committee that the kind Makoto protected Miyu, didn’t you? Thank you ……. It was an important time for me, Makoto, …… who saw the plain Miyu, ……. So, from now on–“
Believe me —– huh.
Even if someone told the truth at that time, the air would not allow it. It doesn’t matter what the truth is.
I learned that lesson the hard way with those rumors. So I won’t make mistakes anymore.
I couldn’t let it go even if I wanted to. But my heart was still empty.
” Saito-san, you can’t erase the past allegation that I attacked you. –I’m sorry, but it’s too late for you to believe me now — these are hollow words.”
I couldn’t help but forget my honorifics.
I stood up from my seat and walked past Saito-san, who was trembling.
Speaking of which, before I knew it, Shinozuka-san had disappeared.
“-Sh-shin… Mi-Miyu … isn’t bad? Why … for Shin… beautifully …”
I didn’t reply to her words, but quietly closed the door of the classroom.