After we finished our lunches, we sat on the benches for a while and enjoyed talking about nothing.
As usual, we could hear the cheerful voices of the children running around happily.
“It brings back memories. ……”
Looking at the scene, Saegusa muttered quietly.
“I was wondering, Shi-chan, have you been here before?”
I finally asked Saegusa a question.
About why Saegusa-san is saying that she misses this park.
“My grandma’s house is actually near here. Because of my family’s schedule, I used to visit my grandma’s house most summers when I was little, and I used to come to this park a lot.”
I understood that if there was a grandmother’s house in the neighborhood, she would have come to this park to play.
“But you know, when I was little I was much more reserved and withdrawn than I am now, and I wasn’t the kind of girl who could talk to people on my own.”
“It’s hard to believe, isn’t it?” said Saegusa, laughing a little self-deprecatingly.
Indeed, I honestly couldn’t believe it if I knew the cheerful and active Saegusa-san of today.
“So, when I came to this park, I was a stranger and didn’t know anyone, so all I could do was sit on this bench and watch the kids my age playing happily. I used to read books by myself, thinking, “That’s so cool, they look like they’re having fun.”
Saegusa-san nostalgically shared her memories with me.
So that’s how Saegusa-san was reading a book alone in this place ……, and another memory came back to me.
“But then a boy approached me. He said, “Are you alone? Then I’ll play with you!””
Saegusa-san must be remembering those days.
Because she had a gentle smile on her face, as if she was nostalgic for those days.
“After that, I would come to this park every day and he would take me to play with various things. he even took me to a nearby fireworks display. …… As I played with him, I gradually became more and more shy, but thanks to him, I became more honest and cheerful.”
I listened to her story, thinking, “Well, that’s how she became as cheerful as Saegusa is today.”
“What was most decisive was what he said to me. “You’re funny and have a pretty face, so you should have more confidence in yourself. Those words made me really happy, and I wanted to be like him. He was a hero to me.””
Saegusa-san spoke happily, but the next moment, her happy expression suddenly changed to a sad one.
“That summer was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. I had the time of my life. So, after that, I made an effort to change things back home. And thanks to that, I made a lot of friends. So I was really looking forward to seeing him the next summer so that I could show him the changed me and surprise him I wanted to tell him about everything. I wanted him to praise me. But when I came to the park the next year, there was no sign of him. ……”
Yes it was …….
But you…..got it wrong……
“After that, no matter how many times I came to the park, I couldn’t see him again, and I went home that summer without ever seeing him. By chance, I was scouted by an idol agency on the street. I thought, “If I become an idol and become famous, maybe that boy will find me.””
“Isn’t it funny to become an idol for that reason?” Saegusa-san laughed.
But I couldn’t laugh.
She took a deep breath and then continued.
“I’ve been wanting to see you for a long time, you know? Takkun …….”
“I see. …… So Saegusa-san was the Shi-chan. ……”
When I replied, Saegusa smiled happily and said, “Yes, we finally met”.
And from those beautiful eyes, a single tear was falling.
When I was in elementary school, I met a girl in this park.
I was curious about the girl who always sat alone on a bench reading, so one day I took the liberty of asking her to play with me.
After that, I wanted to change her, so I asked her out every chance I got and took her around.
I would play tag with Takayuki and his friends, take her to the local candy store, and always meet her at this park and then part ways with her there.
As I took her around, she started to talk about her thoughts and feelings, which made me very happy, and we continued to meet at this park and play every day.
As I was playing with her, I realized that I was falling in love with her.
–That was my first love, no doubt about it.
So I plucked up the courage to invite her to a fireworks display in my hometown.
But since I had already heard that she was only in town for the summer for family reasons, I couldn’t bridge the distance between us any further.
Holding her hand and watching the fireworks together was all I could do at that time.
When the fireworks display was over and the summer was coming to an end, I knew that she had to go home when the summer was over, so I went to the park as usual to make an important promise to the girl.
However, on that day, the girl never appeared on this bench, where she was always waiting for me.
The next day, and the day after that, there was no sign of the girl at the park or on the bench.
I wished I had asked her for her contact information or where her grandmother’s house was, but it was all too late.
I thought I would be able to see her during the summer vacation if I came here, and I was still a little kid at the time.
Then I realized that the girl had already gone home.
I couldn’t tell her how I felt, and I couldn’t make the promise I wanted to make.
After that, I was a little afraid to come to this park because it reminded me of that girl.
So, after that summer, I didn’t play in the park anymore.
When I went to junior high school, Takayuki started playing basketball, and I joined the track and field team in junior high school, so we didn’t run around in the park anymore.
In the midst of these days, the memories of that summer slowly became a thing of the past for me.
But even now, there are times when I suddenly remember it.
Every time I think about it, I hope she is doing well somewhere else, unknown to me.
That summer, she had been so shy, but by the end of the summer, she had become so cheerful that she could speak her mind, so I was sure that she would be fine, and I quietly kept those feelings of first love in the back of my mind.
I will never see her again. ……
I could only wish for Shi-chan’s happiness.
“……, What do you think? I’ve changed, haven’t I?”
“…… Yes, very much.”
Saegusa smiled at me with tears streaming down her face, and I replied as if I remembered those days.
–You’ve become really, really cute, Shi-chan.
I rewind the time in my mind in front of Shi-chan, who has grown up and become a beautiful girl.
Then I remembered that I had a promise I wanted to make to Shi-chan.
But it was a promise that I had run away from and given away.
But if I’m allowed, I’d like to tell her properly again.
And I want to make it happen this time.
I made up my mind, and slowly spoke to Shi-chan, who was crying in front of me.
“I had a promise I wanted to make to Shi-chan.”
“Yeah, that’s it. He said I’ll see you next summer. So, Shi-chan. It’s been a long time since then, but …… will you play with me again this summer?”
As if rewinding time, I told her with the same feelings I had back then, chewing on every word.
Then Shi-chan was surprised, holding her mouth with both hands, and then smiled.
“Yes, please take care of me”
Her angelic smile reminded me of the young Shi-chan I knew back then.
After all, Shi-chan is Shi-chan.
I was amazed at how I hadn’t noticed it before, but I was convinced why I had fallen in love with Shi-chan all over again.
And so we sat on the same bench as before, vowing to enjoy this summer together this time.