[I want to talk to you after school. Just once, please.]
It was Sachi who sent me such a message on Tuesday morning.
My honest impression was that it was a pain in the *ss.
(Come to think of it, she originally said she had something to do yesterday as well.)
Is that what this is about? Well, whatever it is, I’m in no mood for it.
I’m not even sure if I want to go to school or not anymore. Please don’t give me any more heartache.
”I’ll go to school anyway…”
I don’t feel like it, but I have to go sometime.
If I do, it will be better to do it sooner rather than later. I knew from experience that the later I went, the harder it would be for me to go.
It was the same with Sachi’s invitation, and I was sure she would persistently ask me to go. If that is the case, I should go out with her once until she is satisfied.
With this in mind, I replied to Sachi with a single word, “Okay”.
The reply came back immediately.
“Oi, there he is…”
“Really… Who the hell do you think you are?”
When I arrived at school, of course, I was not welcomed.
…..I heard you. Please be careful, because you might be surprised how much I hear you talking behind my back.
As I sit prostrate in my seat, I can feel a lot of stares coming my way.
I miss it. I thought, somewhat optimistically.
I realize now that when I was betrayed at that moment, it must have already been about me bullying Sonoda.
I felt something similar to the feeling I had at that time from the way they were looking at me now.
Sure enough, the fact that I was bullying someone else had been conveyed.
I heard that even the details of who was bullying whom had been passed on.
Source? Of course it was the boys in the back seat. I was in the bathroom stall and happened to hear what he had to say. Many thanks for everything.
Now, here’s what I’m going to do.
It’s obvious. I’m going to go through with it.
Because a rumor is a rumor.
If anyone tries to do any real damage based on this rumor, I’ll crush them thoroughly.
Assuming that my history of bullying Sonoda is true, that’s no reason for them to bully me. Justice is not on the other side.
It’s just a rumor now. There is a possibility that it will stop someday, and there is no way to identify the culprit in the first place.
And I don’t think I’m going to try. I can get away with it if it’s just like this, and above all, it’s a hassle. If this is all I have to do, I’ll just let it slide.
That’s the best. Somewhere between being an one person and alone. Well, I guess you could say I’m a floater.
My heart is fine. There’s no such thing as a ” all-or-nothing ” situation.
It was lunchtime, and I left the classroom.
For the first time in about a week? Maybe. I caught a glimpse of her.
It was Emi Sonoda.
Even though we did not see eye to eye, we both recognized each other.
She was not upset and continued chatting with her friends.
Fukumura was not there.
The girls around me noticed me. And they gave me wary glances. But I quickly looked away, wondering if Sonoda had said something.
I wondered if she knew about the rumors circulating.
Or is she the one who started the rumor?
It is possible. But there was no way to know for sure.
So I pass by her without saying anything. She didn’t say anything, nor did she shed a tear.
That was fine. That is the most appropriate distance.
From now on, I am sure I will be spending time with every student at this distance.
It occurred to me that, in the truest sense of the word, the person who is the least involved with others is me right now.
I am not a “one-person” person who actively doesn’t engage with others, just not when I need to. If they talk to me, I respond at the very least.
A ” one-person” person can exist only because of the interference of others. Strictly speaking, a person cannot be “alone” without being involved with someone else.
Then, what about the middle ground between “one-person” and “alone”?
Of course, I do not go out of my way to get involved with others, and I am shunned by others as if I were a tumor.
There is no moment when sparks fly between “One person and alone”
When it happens, that is the moment when “one person” becomes “alone.
And it is usually caused by “malice.”
Therefore, this situation is a turning point.
My future will be determined by how I respond to this situation. Yeah, it’s depressing.
<Sachi’s point of view>
”Oh, Onii-chan! Over here, over here!”
“….Don’t make a scene.”
At the sound of my voice, my brother looked a little embarrassed and said so. I couldn’t help but raise my voice.
After school, he accepted my invitation. To be honest, I was afraid he wouldn’t come, but I am glad he did.
I guess he didn’t want me to have to worry about him asking multiple times or visiting his house in the future, so I guess he thought it would be a good idea to avoid any lingering worries, but I guess that’s just the way it is.
The place was a family restaurant near the school. I was waiting for my brother at the meeting place.
After meeting up with him, we went inside the restaurant and were shown to our seats.
Since I did not intend to stay long, I asked for something light to snack on.
“So, what’s this talk about?”
My brother immediately started talking to me. For my part, I would have preferred to wait until we had chatted a bit more, but that didn’t seem to be the case.
I straightened up and told him.
”Onii-chan, will you come live with us again?”
“Sorry, but that will be a no.”
After a few moments of silence, my brother said so.
I know the answer. But I couldn’t not ask.
“You already know the answer, no?”
Right, he replied.
Yes, I know. It’s my crime, nothing else. How could I not understand?
Nevertheless, if he said that, then I knew that he was not bullying her.
My certain hunch turned into a conviction.
If that was the case, I couldn’t back down. There was no way I could back down.
”I’m sorry. I know now for sure. I know. That’s why! That’s why I’m asking you!”
A flimsy sense of obligation. Dirty self-satisfaction.
I know that. I am aware of it.
But if I don’t reach out my hand here, I’ll never be able to grab that hand again, so I reach out my hand.
”I really regret what I did back then. I’m really sorry.”
I bowed my head saying so.
No tears. I wanted to cry, but I held it in.
I had no right to cry like that person.
It must be very annoying for my brother.
But just this once, I want you to listen to my selfishness.
”What did Mom say?”
The most painful part of my body is being hit.
”—-She must be against it…”
He seemed to have guessed by my reaction.
Yes, when I told my mother about this, she was against it.
”T-that’s! I’ll convince her! That’s why!!”
”Impossible. Not while she needs to be convinced, at least.”
Saying this, my brother downed the drink in his hand.
His hand seemed to have more strength than usual.
“That’s why I’m sorry.”
Thus, my plan to bring my brother back to my mother’s house came to a dead end.
The plan to bring him back home.
“It’s okay if it’s someone who doesn’t need any more convincing, right?”
My brother flinched at my words.
I showed him the Boston bag I had brought with me.
So far, all according to the plan.
“As a matter of fact, this isn’t my club bag, you know.”
I am a member of the tennis club and usually use sports bags like this one, so I am sure he didn’t question it.
“Oi, it can’t possibly….”
My brother seemed to have noticed.
“I had a big fight with mother about this. I don’t want to go home for a while.”
I guess he knows the words that follow. My brother hung his head somewhat resignedly.
”So, will you let me stay?”
I don’t care if it’s self-satisfying. Still, I will not give up.
I will not leave my brother alone.
My father died when I was in the third grade.
It was an accidental death. My beloved family member died without warning.
He was on his way to watch the soccer game I was learning at the time when he had the accident.
Mom was taking care of Sachi, so she was not involved in the accident.
I remember I was depressed for a while. I remember that people around me felt sorry for me and were kind to me.
It was not only me who was depressed. Sachi and my mother were the same way.
Thinking back, it might have been from that time on. Mom’s attitude changed.
I don’t think Sachi would have noticed. Only to me, Mom was cold.
I think she wanted a reason to vent her frustration over my father’s death.
And I became the reason. Because I played soccer.
All the feelings of frustration were resolved by taking it out on me.
I didn’t hold a grudge against Sachi.
It was the people around me, most of all my own mother, who didn’t believe me.
I guess I had no choice but to believe that was the truth.
But logic and feelings are different.
I wanted Sachi to believe me. At that time, in that moment, in that scene.
I guess Sachi believes me now.
But that’s just a judgment based on the results of what happened later.
A sense of guilt, a sense of obligation. Above all, the fact that it’s not unconditional trust is what binds me.
Mom started working after Dad died. As a result, we spent a lot of time together at home.
I thought we supported each other. We had done everything together.
I just can’t shake off the despair of being betrayed.
I gently unclasped the hand that had been holding mine sometime under the covers.
Sachi and I were sleeping on the same futon, and there was only one set, so I had no choice.
Why did I swallow Sachi’s proposal and allow her to stay at my house? I wasn’t sure of the answer myself.
Did I want a change somewhere?
Or was I feeling shocked somewhere in my heart that my mother had rejected me?
I don’t know what emotions I should be directing toward Sachi.
Sachi says she came here because of remorse and regret.
So, should I forgive her?
Would it be enough if I said, “I forgive you”?
Will I be able to face Sachi after that?
I feel as if I have done something wrong. Of course, I know that Sachi has no such intention.
But I don’t have enough courage to turn my unconditional trust to her. Neither the readiness to face it nor the will to clash with it.
“….I don’t know.”
I wonder if my mutterings will ever reach anyone.
It’s not cool, so if possible, please don’t let it reach me—