The next day at lunchtime, I was summoned to the rooftop.
When I arrived at school as usual in the morning, I found a letter in my shoe box with no ornamentation on it that said “See me on the rooftop during lunchtime.”
I couldn’t tell whether it was a boy or a girl from the handwriting alone, but I hoped it was from a girl. Even though I say girl, of course, I hope that she is Yuri Takase, who has a difficult future.
If I could think a little, I could understand that it was impossible for a girl of high school age to send a blunt message to the opposite sex, “See me on the rooftop during lunchtime” without any trace of cuteness, but, to my shame, my mind was filled with Yuri Takase day by day, week by week, and I was no longer able to think calmly.
So when I found out that it was actually a male student who appeared on the rooftop, I let out a single disappointed sigh because my faintest expectations had been shattered.
“Hey, I’m sorry for calling you out in such a strange way. But you don’t have any friends, so I couldn’t get your cell phone number from anyone, and you’re always so mysterious in class that it’s hard to talk to you, so I had no choice but to do it this way. No hard feelings.”
I felt like I was being criticized right off the bat, which made me feel irritated, but I couldn’t say anything back because it was all true.
The man was a classmate, a student named Taiyo Hayama.
Hayama appeared alone on the rooftop, smiling shyly and scratching the top of his nose.
He was about the same height as me, but his shoulders were a little wider than mine, giving him a more masculine look.
His short, elegant layers, which were not too long, his well-tanned, fair skin, and his perfectly polished white teeth gave the impression that he had been brought up in an inner-city environment.
“What does the popular guy in class want with me, Hayama?”
I said as if to shun him.
“Haha. I guess that’s how you feel when you talk to me in private, Yusuke Kanzawa. Hey, Kanzawa. Why are you …… always alone?”
“Sorry, but I prefer to be alone.”
Because of “certain circumstances,” I had fallen into a slight distrust of people. No, it’s not so lukewarm to say slight.
It is somewhat strange for me to describe it myself, but even looking at it objectively, I think my rejection of people is quite deep-rooted.
So even after entering high school, I didn’t hang out with anyone in particular, but spent my days building walls against others.
“What a waste. There are a lot of kids who would like to talk to you. Of course, they are girls.”
“If you’re going to talk nonsense like that, I’m going home.”
I replied, and Hayama immediately responded.
“What, you’re not interested in girls?”
It’s not that I don’t have any interest in girls, but at least I’m not interested in girls who don’t know anything about me and say things like “I’d like to talk to you”. For me, Yuri Takase, who I could see from afar, was enough.
“Whatever,” I said. “I’m leaving.”
Hayama was as nervous as a cartoon character.
“What I wanted to do wasn’t this boring talk! Spreading his hands wide, he continued, “I’ll get right to the point. I’m going to ask you to be my friend, Kanzawa.”
I was so surprised by Hayama’s completely unexpected request that I ended up making a crazy noise.
“Please, I’m serious! Please respond somehow.”
Hayama bowed to me with a low profile, as if apologizing for his rudeness. It was as if I was picking on him.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t need friends or anything like that. And Hayama. You have plenty of “friends.””
Taiyo Hayama is the son of a family businessman whose family runs a general hospital that is well known in the area.
He has the appearance of a famous movie star from the Showa period, and his behavior has a certain elegance to it.
However, without being arrogant, he had a friendly and amiable personality, and people naturally gathered around him without him having to do anything, exactly like his name, a man like the sun. (Taiyo 太陽 = sun)
As such a nice guy, as far as I can see, Hayama already has a lot of people he can call friends, both male and female, in and out of the H group.
“Those guys aren’t really friends.”
He says with a sullen look on his face.
“I want a ‘real friend. A friend with whom I can talk about anything, and not just on the surface.”
“I don’t understand. Why would I be a candidate for a ‘real friend’ with whom you can talk about anything?”
I don’t remember showing any social behavior or openness in front of him.
“Because you seem to live your life with a lot on your mind.”
Hayama said with a nice, sarcastic smile.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I don’t know how to say it, but when I’m with you, I feel like I can understand what life is all about.”
Apparently, this man is not saying this in jest. His face is serious as well.
“You won’t get anywhere with me. I’m a pestilence. Nothing good will come out of it. You should find someone else.”
When Hayama heard what I said, he looked somewhat sad and let out a sigh.
“Hey, Kanzawa. What’s driving you that way? Why do you refuse to get involved with anyone or anything? Why are you so stubbornly refusing to have anything to do with anyone? Do you hate people that much?”
I felt as if Hayama had suddenly jumped into my bosom and I felt a strong aversion. I muttered to myself, “Yeah, I hate them.”
“No, you know, I’m not blaming you.”
Hayama said as if he could see right through me.
“I think you and I are rather similar. I have a tendency to distrust people, too. The difference is that I don’t dare to force myself to be alone. Being alone is something I’m afraid of. But you are not afraid of anything, and you are not afraid of isolation. Tell me honestly. Kamizawa, you must think I’m an idiot when you see me in the classroom, talking to everyone, right?”
It was hard to believe that this man who is always at the center of the circle of people could also have a distrustful side, but I answered Hayama’s question with a quick “I think so.”
“Right? I’m thinking so myself,” Hayama said with a small smile. “I wondered what I was doing now. I’ve developed a weird way of dealing with things when I think, [Oh, I don’t trust this guy,] or [He’s kind of a jerk]”. I’ve learned a strange technique to deal with it. I hate myself like that. Well, I’m not going to stop hanging out with them. But even when we’re chatting amiably like that, I’m still conflicted in my heart.”
I thought that was a rather useful and desirable skill to have, but I kept my mouth shut, because it would have spoiled the conversation.
Hayama clenched his fist, saying, “That’s why.” “That’s why I want you to be my friend. During high school, I want to get along with people I really want to get along with.”
“O-oi, wait a minute.”
I felt as if Hayama had somehow been rounded on, and I opened my mouth in a panic.
“What about my feelings? I told you I don’t want any friends.”
“Fue, I didn’t think for a minute that you were this stubborn. Can’t be helped.”
Hayama then pulled a folded piece of paper from the inside pocket of his blazer and handed it to me.
I opened it and saw that it was an answer sheet for something.
In the next moment, I was struck by a chill, as if I were looking at something I should never see.
“Oi, this is–” I exclaimed unintentionally.
Hayama nodded guiltily. “That’s right, the entrance exam for Meio University.”
Although “Taiyo Hayama” is written in the name field, which seems to have been written by the applicant, all the answer fields on the paper are completely untouched, with only a few empty frames.
Of course, this means that the score is zero.
There were two things that were definitely puzzling.
One is that for some reason the student himself is in possession of this paper, even though it is the answer sheet for the entrance exam.
It was not a quiz or an end-of-semester examination, so there was no way that such a thing could have happened.
Another is that a person who scored zero in the entrance exam of Meio High School, a school for advanced education, is now standing in front of me as a student.