Translated and Edited by: ynlucca.
Picked up a series that seemed very good! Enjoy!
-san: A polite suffix, but not excessively formal.
-kun: A common suffix among friends and younger people.
-chan: A common suffix among people you’re close with, mostly used for feminine nicknames and girls, since it’s cutesy and childlike.
It happened a while ago. When I was in third grade I searched for a new place to play, and I managed to find a small park. That’s where we met.
A bunch of kids surrounded a little girl wearing my school uniform. However, there was one big difference between her and other girls—The bandages wrapped around her small frame.
Cloth encased her entire body. The only way her skin could see the light of day was through the holes on top of her eyes, mouth, and ears. Moreover, you could also notice her shaved head from underneath the bandages.
No one had ever seen her bandaged face at school, and I’d never seen her before.
Encircled by the other children, she trembled. Her frail body bent down as tears rolled down her face. One of the kids, a mean-looking boy too big for his age, raised his voice. The other children followed suit, and also began abusing the defenseless girl.
“Look, the freak mummy! What’s going on under those bandages, huh~? Let me see!”
“My brother told me she’s cursed under those bandages!”
“Yeah, you monster! What kind of hideous face is that?”
The boys reached out their hands, trying to grab the bandages that wrapped around her feeble face.
“S-Stop… Please, stop…”
With a voice so thin it almost seemed to disappear, she cried and tried to resist. Yet, her sickly arms could not shake the boys off. It was then the moment I jumped out in front of them, protecting her.
Armed with the pure and innocent sense of justice I had as a child, and from my gullible recklessness, I skimmed around to find what I could only assume was the leader of the bunch. I punched him with every ounce of strength I could muster.
The surprise attack worked, and the brat fell down on his butt, spraining his foot on the way down. He even tried to stagger back on his feet but ended up falling butt-first again.
“What the hell are you doing? You ganged up on a little girl!” I howled at them.
“What the— Get out of our way! Ouch—!” The biggest brat held his ankle, wincing on the floor.
Seemingly worried, the other boys ran up to him to see if he was okay. I took the opportunity and clutched the small girl’s hand. She was still flinching from their abuse.
Hand in hand, we quickly ran off. We could still hear the boys crying “Wait!” behind us, but they didn’t make the effort to follow us, probably because their “leader” was still down on the ground.
Running out of that park, we hid behind one of the trees a bit far from there. I look at her while trying to calm my breath. She was still quivering from their bullying.
“Shh, it’s okay. We probably shook them off, and they’re probably not coming after us. Calm down, I didn’t bring you here to do anything bad.”
“I-I know… Thanks for helping me…”
She gazed straight into me, eyes still damp from her tears—And how beautiful were her eyes. Clear jewels, akin to sapphires.
“Do you want me to walk you home? I don’t want those guys to find you again…”
“Then let’s go together. Could you show me the way home?”
We walk away from there, my hand still clutching hers.
On our way to her house, she anxiously mustered up a question. “Um… W-Why did you help me?”
“Hmm, one reason or another. Well, you may not know it, but we’re from the same school, though our classes are different.”
“But… Aren’t you repulsed by me? Don’t you think you’ll… Get sick if we hold hands?”
“Oh, am I gonna get sick though?”
She shook her head at my question. “N-No, you won’t. But everyone around me always tells me not to touch them, because I’m sick and I’m filthy…”
“As long as it’s not contagious, I’m fine with it. Also, you’re not filthy.”
I glanced at her hand. It was so small and smooth, with a bit of paleness and translucency. Her round, well-kept fingernails were lovely pink pearls—How could these dainty hands ever be called filthy?
“Look, you have the most beautiful hands I’ve ever seen.”
“I-I’ve never been told I’m… Beautiful before.”
“Really? I really like your hands.”
“L-Like…?” She turned her face away from me.
I could see her little ears turning pink from the holes in her gauze. It was kind of cute that she squirmed a bit, perhaps embarrassed at being praised for the first time.
“I’ve never thought you were disgusting. Not when I saw you at school, and certainly not now that we’re close.”
“I can only think it’s odd that your face is wrapped around in bandages. That’s all, though.”
She wasn’t in my class, and I never talked to her. I’ve only ever seen her from a distance, and I had no idea how her classmates treated her. Moreover, I had just found out that she was being bullied, so the bullies hadn’t influenced me in any way. My values were all I used when looking at her, so all I thought was that she was different, nothing more.
“Are those kids from your class?”
“Yeah… They called me out to play with them, so I went… But they lied.”
“I see. Some people really do horrible things, huh.”
“I don’t have any friends, and I’m always alone… But today, for the first time in my life, someone had asked me to play with them. I was happy, and my mother was too, but… They lied.”
The clothes she was wearing were badly stained with mud. That happened when she was being bullied by those guys. Even so, with all the mud, I still thought her clothes were pretty at first glance.
So she was usually bullied and never had friends to play with. This was the first time her classmates called her out to play with them, so it must’ve made her so happy. She was so innocent, she didn’t know how to doubt people. Her happiness was genuine.
Her mother must’ve been so elated to hear that from her child, hearing how happy she was. She probably picked out some clothes with her and brought her to the park, watching her girl go play.
But what really awaited her child was horrid bullying.
I wonder how she felt; how frustrated she was for having her anticipation and joy trampled on like that.
I squeezed her hand as she was about to cry, her shoulders quivering.
“Let’s ignore them from now on, so play together with me next time.”
“Eh, you want to play? Together with me?”
“Yeah. If you don’t mind, I’ll play with you when I can.”
“Are you sure…? If you hang out with me, you might… Be bullied too.”
“If they try anything, I’ll just deck them again. I’m a pretty good fighter.”
Gazing into her eyes as she cast hers down, her frail voice almost breaks.
I don’t know what kind of bullying she’s been subjected to, but I felt my naive sense of justice only grow stronger. I knew I couldn’t leave this fragile girl alone.
“If you don’t mind, can we be friends? Is it not okay?”
“It is… You’ll be my friend…?”
“Yup! Let’s play together, so don’t hesitate to come and play during recess. I’m in class five.”
“I’m in class 2… So, can I really come to your classroom during recess and play with you…?”
“Of course! Oh yeah, what’s your name?”
“Um, I’m… Yuki. Yuki Amagi.”
“I’m Haru Hinakura! My first name is Haru, which means ‘clear weather’! Pleased to meet you!”
“Haru-kun… Please treat me well…” Yuki looked at me, wiping the tears that couldn’t stop flowing from her eyes.
Covered in bandages, she beamed a huge grin.
That was the first time I saw her smile.
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