“Oh, isn’t that the cross-dressing grand prix we saw earlier?”
” It was really cute!!”
“That was Shinjo-kun, wasn’t it? He’s really beautiful~”
“Can you take a picture with me?”
” You’re looking so bright these days, you know?”
After our class recreation was over, I burned up white.
I probably won’t be doing anything called cross-dressing in the future. ……
The recreation itself went well because Yamada, who strangely liked cross-dressing, was very enthusiastic, but I was tired …….
I sat down on a bench in the plaza to rest as I watched the other classes’ presentations go on and on.
It was a strange feeling to be away from the group.
I had been so afraid of the group, but now that I was in it, I felt I could fit in, even if I was clumsy.
Everyone in my class was removing their makeup and enjoying watching other performances.
Anri was chatting with Tanaka and other classmates. Seeing her natural smile made me happy.
Thinking back, I had stayed in my shell.
Although we were classmates, we went to the same school, but I tried not to get involved with anyone.
I refuse to believe anyone anymore. I really believed that.
What if I had opened up to my classmates in middle school? …… Stop thinking about the past. That was my choice to do that. I have no regrets.
Because of my past, I was able to meet even Anri, and I was able to meet my Master and have the opportunity to write a novel.
I hear the sound of small, scraping footsteps.
“Are you tired from doing something you’re not used to?”
Unbeknownst to me, Hirano was standing next to me. Come to think of it, I don’t know any of my classmates.
I barely know their names.
“I guess so. I’m tired……”
Hirano waits patiently for me to answer. Is he really the same age as me? He looks very dignified.
I thought about it and gave him a short answer.
“I thought it was fun.”
“I see. ……. I’m glad to hear that.”
Hirano’s eyes are looking at Hiratsuka.
“I like Seo. I want her to be happy.”
I couldn’t help but let out a strange voice. I didn’t know how to react.
“Don’t worry. I don’t mean love. Hiratsuka and Seo saved my life.”
I still didn’t know how to react.
The quiet Hirano sat down on the bench.
“As you can see I have a big body and a weak temper. That’s why…… I was made fun of when I was in junior high school.”
When I looked at Hirano’s face, it was more serious than usual. He was trying to tell me something.
I nodded my head.
Come to think of it, this may be the first time I’ve had such a long conversation with a male student.
I was ready to listen to what he had to say.
“I think the treatment is probably several times worse than Shinjo imagines. They don’t care what you do because you are big. They don’t care what you say because they don’t say anything back. …… I hated school and never wanted to go there. I’ve had girls cheat on me and treat me badly.”
I felt like my heart was beating faster. The feeling that only those who have gone through similar experiences can understand.
“Yes, I had Hiratsuka and Seo.”
Hirano let out a big sigh.
The two were in different classes, but they noticed that something was wrong with me. They pulled me out of school when I was about to leave. Even now,……, when I think back to those days, you see, my hands are shaking, right?”
Sweat was dripping down Hirano’s face, and his hands were definitely shaking.
Hirano grabbed my shoulder with such trembling hands.
“I’m sorry for talking about such a heavy subject during a pleasant time. But I wanted Shinjo to hear it. …… We are classmates.”
Hiratsuka and Seo, who are in Hirano’s line of sight, notice that Hirano is looking at them and wave their hands.
Oh, so this is what it feels like to be friends. It’s just like me and Anri.
We are feeling the same way.
“They still can’t be honest with each other. All they do is fight.”
Hirano looked kind as he complained.
I thought about what to say. I couldn’t find a suitable answer.
Hiratsuka looks like a flirt, but he’s a normal guy.
“Seo is just a normal girl who can’t be honest.”
“Yamada, Tanaka-san and …… Saito-san are normal high school students.”
“That’s right. They’re all normal high school students, our classmates.”
I never even tried to look at my classmates from the beginning.
It was self-preservation. I didn’t want to get involved with anyone because I didn’t want to get hurt. This is why I was unconcerned.
My world was colored by Anri.
I felt as if I recognized my classmates for the first time at this forest school.
I had never seen my classmates’ faces.
I didn’t recognize them as people.
I was only thinking about myself.
I was only vaguely aware of them.
When I looked at my classmates in the group, they all looked happy. I didn’t know the names of half of them.
Still, it was different from before. I felt as if I could see them with color. I felt like I could see the emotions of each and every one of them.
Maybe some of the students had gone through more pain than I had.
Yamada is always joking around, but he may have had a hard time in club activities.
Tanaka-san is quiet and may not have fit in with the class.
Hiratsuka might have been disliked because he looks like a flirt.
Everyone is moving forward while suffering.
I looked up and saw Hirano.
Hirano, who looked mild-mannered, had been through a painful experience. But I could not see it.
I thought I was the only one who was suffering. I was a child.
“Finally, you’ve seen my face properly. Shinjo, it’s time to take a bath. Let’s go.”
“Yeah, sure. Thank you.”
“Hmm. I didn’t do anything. We’re classmates.”
The final performance had begun.
It was called “dance time,” and everyone was dancing slowly.
It reminded me of the dance time at the forest school in junior high school.
It was a hard time then, but not now.
When Hirano and I walked into the group, our classmates waved at us and invited us to join them.
It was just that one time, but for some reason I felt my heart warm up.
[Pomeko, I’m going to take a bath.]
[Yes, it’s a big bath. I’m looking forward to it because it’s a large communal bath.]
[I can’t see you at night because I can’t go back and forth ……]
[I’ll miss you, but let’s have fun at forest school tomorrow!]
[Yeah, I’ll make sure to update my novel.]
[I’m looking forward to it!]
Before moving to the bath, I exchanged messages with Anri.
It makes me feel warm. My face naturally relaxes.
By the way, I haven’t received any e-mail from Saeko. I wonder if the revision is okay?
I heard that the illustrator, Mitobe-sensei, is sending me illustrations at an incredible rate.
Well, I guess it will be all right if I leave it alone.
“Shinjo~ We’re going to be late if we don’t get going soon. Hmm, an e-mail. Kaaah! You can’t meet her, so you’re texting her, right? I know how you feel.”
Yamada is thinking he understands how I feel.
I don’t know, I was feeling like I had to think about a lot of things when I was talking to Hirano earlier. ……
“Shut up, Yamada. You and Tanaka-san may be dating, but me and Anri are …… friends.”
“Haa? What are you talking about?! T-Tanaka and I are not really….”
Yamada’s face turns bright red and he starts fidgeting. I’m a bit uncomfortable. And I haven’t removed my makeup.
At that moment, I received a message from Saeko-san.
A call for a further revision of a revision?
I casually open the message.
“—- W-What, a manga?! What do you mean, Saeko-san!? That is …….”
“What going on, what’s going on?”
“Oi, Shinjo, what’s up?”
“A-Are you okay?”
“What about a manga?”
My classmates in the room were surprised at my sudden loud voice.
Saeko-san’s message said.
[Uhm you know, Mitobe-sensei’s mood got the better of him and he seriously drew a manga based on Nyanta-sensei’s original story. It’s about ……100 pages. The senior editor was kind of proud of it, and when he showed it to me, the editor-in-chief said, ……]
He asked if he could publish a manga based on my novel.
Wait a minute. I’m certainly happy to comicalize it, but the novel hasn’t even been published yet …….
I-I should talk to Anri about it!
I send a message to Anri. But no reply comes. No good, she’s already on her way to the bath.
“O-oi, Shinjo, are you crazy? Pome? What are you talking about? I don’t know, but just take a bath and calm down.”
Hiratsuka’s voice brought me back to myself.
It seems that I was distraught.
With my head in a daze, I decided to head for the bath.