He’s an unsociable person.
That was my first impression of Senpai
Right before I became a high school student, I started a part-time job during spring break.
The place was a neighborhood café, which I had visited several times as a customer before, and I had decided that this was the place to work because of its calm and stylish atmosphere.
I also thought it would be easy to work there because it didn’t seem to have many employees and there weren’t many customers. There were no restrictions on hair color, which was quite convenient for me since I had dyed my hair a bright color.
I successfully passed the interview. My part-time job started.
”I’m Sakakibara, a new part-timer! Nice to meet you!”
”….I’m Kitami. Pleased to meet you.”
This was our first contact. The difference in tension was enormous.
Senpai, who had been appointed as an educator, greeted me with a look as if he had just received a troublesome job offer.
Well, it must have been troublesome for him to be appointed as a trainer.
（But I felt a sense of familiarity with him.)
Yes, even though I thought it was unsympathetic, I felt a sense of kinship.
Specifically, it was like watching myself in middle school.
Yes, it was my high school debut. I had succeeded in that.
I had always been what people called a “plain girl” behind my back, and I tried to break out of that situation by making my high school debut.
I didn’t force myself. I had always longed to dress a little flamboyantly and wear bright hair color.
Please note that I am not pretending to be something I am not.
Rather, in terms of gaining confidence and being able to be natural, I can confidently say that the person I am now is the real me.
Perhaps it is because of this background that I thought he was living a very cramped life.
On premise, Senpai is kind. And quite extraordinarily so.
It was obvious that Senpai was keeping his distance from me.
He would only greet me with the bare minimum of conversation, and even if I tried to talk to him, he would only give me a curt response. That too, with a fake smile.
It was obvious that he was making up a smile.
But Senpai must have known that.
He was not interested in getting along with me in the first place, so he didn’t make any attempt to hide it.
And it was a familiar feeling.
Senpai doesn’t care what I think of him, I’m sure.
I couldn’t dislike him, despite the fact that he was like that.
It was not because I felt a sense of familiarity with him.
The reason is simple. Because he is a good person.
First of all, he is very considerate.
How can I put it, he cares about me a lot.
He notices my mistakes immediately. And he covers for me immediately.
But senpai doesn’t say anything. So I always noticed it later.
I would thank him when I noticed it, but he would give me a curt response.
Gradually, the impression of being unsociable changed to that of being clumsy.
Then an event occurred that became a defining moment for me.
I made a big mistake.
I spilled the ordered coffee all over the customers by tripping over it.
It was the biggest mistake I had ever made, and my mind went blank.
The customer was saying something to me. I know. He was angry.
I should apologize. What do I say? Before that, would he like another cup of coffee. No, wrong. I have to wipe first.
”What are you staring at! These clothes are expensive!”
Just when I was about to regain my composure, he wound up in a rough tone and confused me even more.
I stood there helplessly.
”What are you ignoring me! You!”
The man became numb to me and threw me a glass of water that had been served on the table.
I was so surprised that I sat there.
After a resounding thud, the glass rolled on the ground.
The glass never hit me.
It was because Senpai intervened between me and the man to protect me.
”What’s your probl—“
“—-I called the police.”
Senpai said this as if to interrupt the man’s complaining.
I thought he looked angry. It was the first time I had seen this expression.
”Wha!? I-I’m the victim, you know? Is that how you treat customers!!”
The man did not back down, though he showed some dismay at Senpai’s words.
“It doesn’t matter. You are already the perpetrator. There are surveillance cameras, so give it up.”
”D-damn it! I’ll never come back to a place like this again!”
The man walked out of the store as if he were running away.
”Se-senpai … thank you.”
With my thoughts still unclear, I managed to twist out a few words of thanks. I was still sitting on my haunches.
“Are you okay…uh, you’re okay, right?”
”Ah… yes. I’m fine…”
Senpai was about to reach out to me, then stopped. The expression on his face was still something I had never seen before, and it looked sad, a complete change from earlier.
No doubt, Senpai did not know that I wanted to hold his hand someday.
Later, the manager called the police and took care of things.
What I did was only a mistake, and it could have been solved with money in the extreme. Reimbursement was the form.
But the other side clearly did it intentionally. The fault was said to be on the other side.
I had grown to adore this kind, but clumsy, senpai.
And I had noticed something unusual about senpai recently.
He seemed to be troubled about something, and this had been going on for about a month.
Then, he stopped coming to work.
The manager told me that he was taking a leave of absence now and that there was no set deadline for it.
I regretted that maybe I should have approached him. I thought that I could have done something about it, since I had been thinly aware that he was troubled.
But that is solved in one day.
The manager’s verbal misunderstanding was uncovered. Senpai returned to his part-time job.
This was the first time I felt like I could talk naturally to Senpai. It was a selfish impression, but I felt as if something had fallen from my mind.
Something must have happened.
I felt a little frustrated by this fact.
I genuinely wanted to know what had happened outside of my presence.
I was also curious about the relationship between Fukumura-san and Senpai. All these things are bothering me.
And I saw Senpai crying for the first time.
I don’t know what the relationship is with her. But I knew that it must have been important for him.
And at the same time, I envied her for knowing him so deeply.
Is this impatience? Am I in a hurry?
There is no doubt that I am harboring feelings of jealousy.
I had even obtained his contact information.
Can I be more greedy?
I laugh a little at myself for thinking such a thing.
“I’m going to try just a little bit harder…yes!”
A small declaration was muttered, unbeknownst to anyone.