TL: This chapter happened in the middle school/junior highschool.
“Yukito, we’re having a Christmas party. You’ll come, right?” (Minagawa)
After the end of the school day, as I’m getting ready to leave, Minagawa tells me that the Dark Religion is going to be held.
I’m in my second year of junior high school.
I am too old to be excited about Christmas.
The winter vacation is finally here starting tomorrow, but the world in general is still excited about Christmas. After that, it’s the end of the year and the beginning of the New Year, and it’s a busy time of year, but people still can’t help dreaming about Christmas. I’m sure Kernel is laughing his head off at this. Why do people want chicken so badly…..? [TL: some joke about KFC]
“You don’t have a girlfriend, do you? Let’s have some fun together!” (Minagawa)
It’s true that I don’t have any plans for Christmas this year.
Minagawa and his friends are simply going to karaoke with the guys and girls in our class.
They’re also planning a gift exchange just for Christmas. This is why I can’t stand people who are full of life. It’s an event that is strictly forbidden for people in the shadows, and if I stepped into such a place, my soul would be purified.
In the past years, I was sometimes invited to Suzurikawa’s house to participate in a Christmas party, but now that Suzurikawa has started dating a Senpai, that’s not possible. In the first place, even last year there was a delicate atmosphere.
Her mother Akane-san, her father Ryo-san, and little sister Hiori-chan might have welcomed me, but for Hinagi, who had been reluctantly interacting with me as a childhood friend, Christmas might have been an unpleasant day. She looked unhappy and uncomfortable the whole time.
But now that she had a boyfriend, I was sure that this year she would enjoy spending six hours of sex with her senpai. It has absolutely nothing to do with me, and if that made Suzurikawa happy, then it was the right thing to do. People are creatures that should pursue their own happiness. There’s no need to focus on trivial, rotten relationships.
Yes, I am Yukito Kokonoe, a man who does not believe in Santa Claus.
“I don’t mind. But I don’t have any presents prepared.” (Yuki)
“Why don’t you just go buy one now?” (Minagawa)
“No one will be happy to receive a gift of my choosing.” (Yuki)
“What with your….. confidence?” (Minagawa)
“Well, I could always go with a prepaid card.” (Yuki)
“Let’s not do that, seriously.” (Minagawa)
Wouldn’t it be better to receive a prepaid card that can also be used for billing than a gift chosen by me, whose aesthetic sense is destroyed? There was once a famous player who said, “Sincerity is not a word but a price.” rather than being told “Merry Christmas!”, wouldn’t it be more honest to be given a prepaid card?
“Either way, I’ll pass. Have a good time. See you next year.” (Yuki)
I leave the class. The next time I’ll be back here will be next year.
Anyway, a lot has happened this year, and the relationships around me have changed a lot.
But that doesn’t mean that I’ve changed in any way.
People can’t help but change. Then, what am I?
I don’t have an answer, nor do I want to seek one. Whether it’s Christmas or not, there is only one day where nothing changes.
And I’m the only one here who hasn’t changed at all.
I’ve never believed in Santa Claus, and I’ve never cared about Christmas.
I’ve never wanted anything in the first place, and I’ve never prepared a pair of socks. So Santa Claus never appeared to me. We had no chimney, no fireplace, no way for Santa to get in. Reindeer do not fly in the sky. Santa Claus is just a mysterious old man.
My mom often asks me if there’s anything I want every year around this time, and I think she might be in league with Santa Claus or maybe she’s in love with him. It’s a shallow but reasonable way to win over a child. When I was a little boy, I used to get nervous wondering when my mother would introduce me to my new father, but that day never came. My mother was already divorced, so it wasn’t an act of adultery if she was having an affair with Santa, but if she was, she should have a relationship with him.
I stopped thinking about the imaginary old man as soon as I could and went home, but nobody was home yet, not even my sister.
“I think I’ll go to the arcade.” (Yuki)
Most of my homework for the winter vacation was done. I had nothing better to do, so I changed out of my uniform and headed straight for the arcade.
I heard that my son will be home for Christmas this year.
I was very happy about that. On the way home, my feet naturally sped up on the way to my house.
Every year, my son was invited to the Suzurikawa house on this day, but this year, he was not going. Even now, after hearing the reason from Yuri, I still couldn’t believe it. I thought about asking Akane-san about the situation, but I hesitated, wondering if it was appropriate for a parent to interfere that much. The only thing I’m sure of is that something happened in their relationship, that’s all.
If something painful had happened, I would like to help him.
But I also knew that this was an unfulfilled wish.
He never talks to me about anything. Whatever feelings he had in his heart, it was always a black box that could not be opened. He never says anything to me, never expects anything from me, never asks for anything from me. Maybe it’s even the fact that I’m not a parent.
He never asked me what he wanted for his birthday or for Christmas. Whenever I ask him, his reply is always the same.
After work, I bought a cake on my way home. My son seems to like sweets. That’s all I know about him.
It’s Christmas. Even if he doesn’t tell me anything, I want to buy him something. Maybe it’s shallow to try to catch a child with things. But I still think it’s reasonable. The problem is that I can’t think of anything.
“The present is me……?” (Mother)
I blush when I say it myself. I actually wanted to try it once, but I felt embarrassed inside, wondering what I was thinking at my age. My son would have said “Return it” with a straight face. If he said that to me, I would be so shocked that I might fall ill in bed.
“I’ll have to put my best foot forward!” (Mother)
I have a son. Let’s go out with a bang today. Let’s keep the gift safe and get him some clothes. I have to pick something cool! After getting myself together, I headed straight for the shopping mall.
I was alone in the game center. I didn’t want to be at school or at home.
Christmas, which I used to look forward to every year, had now become just another empty day with faded and vulgar stares. I can’t stand the thought of having that kind of relationship with him. With that thought in mind, I left the school as quickly as I could. When I returned home, my little sister gave me a bitter look.
There was no way that Yukito would ever come to my house again. Of course not. There was no way I could call him. I didn’t have the courage to ask him what he thought of me now. I couldn’t stand it any longer and left the house. I, Hinagi Suzurikawa, was just vainly looking at the stuffed animals in the prize corner.
If it were true, we would have been having a party together at my house right now. Just like we did last year. If only I hadn’t done something so stupid, we could have been together. He always had a gift for me. Not just for me, but for my family as well. He had very good taste and I looked forward to it every year. I treasure all the gifts he gave me.
I want to apologize that it was all a misunderstanding and start over again. I want to meet him and talk with him. If we could talk in a place where no one would disturb us, just the two of us, as we have always done, we would be able to communicate.
But I couldn’t talk to him, as if fate was preventing me from doing so. Am I unconsciously avoiding him? I don’t know. Not so long ago, we were so close together, but now I feel as if we’ve become more distant than strangers.
It’s almost as if someone is telling me that a childhood friend is just that, a friend. ……
“I miss you.……” (Hinagi)
These words spilled out naturally. Then, I should just go see him. Don’t do something stupid like this here, just send him a text saying you want to meet him.
But I’m scared. I’m afraid of being rejected. I wonder what he thinks now. Does he think I’m with senpai? The label attached to me as a person has spread as an open fact. It’s pointless to deny that it’s a lie, no matter how many times I try. And I haven’t told anything to the people I want to deny it to the most. I have not been able to say anything to the people I want to believe the most.
It’s all my fault. The cause is all on me, the idiot.
So I have to change!
I’m sure I’ll always be the same as I am now.
“Hey. What are you doing right now?” (Hinagi)
With trembling hands, I sent a message.
Just one sentence “I want to meet you”
I was surprisingly enthusiastic.
I knew that the old side-scrolling action games were very challenging. The latest games are good, but the old games are also good. The relentlessness with which they unreasonably try to kill the player is unbearable. I didn’t completely clear the game, but if I can make it to the last page in one credit, I think I’ve done well. Let’s make revenge against the boss a goal for next year.
Perhaps it was because I was so excited, but more time had passed than I expected. Suddenly, I looked at my phone and saw an inexplicable message from Hinagi Suzurikawa more than an hour ago. It was a one-word message without any embellishment.
Haha, I see. She sent it to the wrong person, huh?
It must have been for her boyfriend.
I don’t have too many friends on my phone, so I’ve never had a misdirected message, but it happens all the time. My sister also often accidentally messages me with strange words, but it’s embarrassing when people point out these mistakes. And she knows it best. I try to be mature and leave it at that.
If she really had something to do with me, she would have written something to that effect. Only a girlfriend would be able to convey her feelings with a simple “I miss you.” It was more than an hour ago, she would have noticed the miscommunication, but just in case, I sent her a message saying, “You’re talking to the wrong person”
Still, it seems that lovers are so close to each other that they can communicate with such a simple message.
That is incomparable to childhood friends.
“Return it.” (Yuki)
“What, you don’t like it?” (Mother)
“There must be a cooling-off system!” (Yuki)
“Waah, I’m so happy.” (Yuki)
Not even in my heart was I happy.
Mom came home early and somehow she decided to do something Christmasy at home. We didn’t have a tree or anything, so it was just a formality, but what is it about Christmas that attracts people so much?
My sister, who seemed to have lost her mind, said something unintelligible like “I’m the one who gave you the present,” but it was not a refundable gift. I don’t even want to get it. And for some reason, my mom turned her back on me. What in the world is happening …..?
My mother gave me some clothes. The clothes my mother bought me were all kinds of old and new, but they were very fashionable. It was hard for a gloomy little guy like me to wear them. I didn’t need to worry about the clothes since I wasn’t going out with my friends anyway, but when I told her that, she gave me a very sad look. I’m sorry.
“Where have you been today? Were you invited to a Christmas party?” (Yuri)
“I was at the arcade, experiencing the games in the 80s.” (Yuki)
“By yourself?” (Yuri)
“My age = x years without a girlfriend. I don’t care about Christmas.” (Yuki)
“Hmm. Well, good for you. I’ll get you a present.” (Yuri)
“I don’t want it.……” (Yuki)
“I’m so happy I’m about to cry.” (Yuki)
“You’ve never cried before.” (Yuri)
“Fufu. It’s nice sometimes. This kind of thing.” (Mother)
I don’t know what she was enjoying, but she was in a good mood.
She cut a whole cake and munched on it.
But then again, don’t Mom and Nee-san have anyone to spend Christmas with?
I wish they could have a more meaningful Christmas without me.
Christmas is an event that I don’t really understand.