“Ah, I heard there’s an egg sale today! You’ll buy one, right?”
“…..Yeah, take two packs.”
After school, I was shopping with Sachi.
Of course, I didn’t bring her with me. She just followed me on her own.
It is a bit far from our house, but it is a supermarket famous for its cheap prices.
Not only fresh food, but also cheap snacks and other items that can be used as a party set are inexpensive, so I saw a few students in school uniform here and there.
However, it is far from the school, so I did not see any uniforms of students from my school.
”…I’m sorry. I was being selfish.”
”…If you know what you’re doing, go home.”
”I don’t like that.”
How many times have we had this exchange in the past three days?
It seems that Sachi has her own non-negotiables and has no intention of leaving yet.
Well, she is not causing me much trouble in terms of living.
Seeing that she has been paying for her living expenses (mainly food) from her savings, probably from her New Year’s gift and other savings, it seemed that she is quite determined to do so.
(I wonder what she wants from me, after all.)
I honestly don’t have much anger towards Sachi anymore.
At least, I won’t hold Sachi responsible for that one incident.
To that extent, my coiled feeling toward Sachi had been resolved.
But that didn’t stop me from wondering if I should tell her the truth about the incident. Or rather, is it correct to say “Listen”?
I would probably feel even more responsible than I do now, and that is not what I want from Sachi.
I am sure Sachi would like to hear it. That’s why she is using such forceful tactics.
—-But the timing is not right.
Undoubtly, she is just like her.
“All right, I’m almost done buying. Let’s go home.”
With Sachi’s cheerful reply, the shopping is over.
With no intention of making a detour, we headed straight for the exit.
That’s where our eyes meet. Ah, it’s not my lucky day.
”Kitami… Who is that girl?”
I didn’t want to see her anymore. But it seems I am doomed to not escape so easily.
”Itakura and… you—-“
I ran into Itakura and the guy called Kenji.
(I mean those two know each other.)
In other words, it was Itakura who told Shinohara the incident.
“Let’s go home, Sachi.”
I took Sachi’s hand and try to walk past them.
Then Kenji stopped me.
“Oi, get your hands off her. You’re cheating on that kid, too, no matter how look at it.”
Oh, yeah. These guys don’t know about Sachi.
But it would be troublesome if they knew she was my sister and started messing around with her.
—Now, what should I do?
However, Itakura did not wait for me in such distress.
”—Hey, don’t you want to know about his past? Do you want me to tell you what he’s done?”
The trigger by malice was now pulled again.
How much does Sachi know?
Regardless of what she believes, all Sachi has known so far is that her brother bullied someone at school.
What about now? I didn’t ask her, but it is possible that she and Fukumura have exchanged contact information and she may have heard a lot of things from Fukumura.
It might not be surprising that Fukumura would have told her, if she was my sister.
Anyway, Sachi would surely be interested in this story.
And from the way Itakura was talking, one could probably guess what she was talking about.
I found myself interrupting Itakura as he spoke.
Aah, right. I’m scared.
I’m afraid that Sachi’s attitude will be changed by a third party’s words.
” No. You hid it like that and cheated on Maika too, right?”
Itakura smiled wickedly, fishing the edges of his mouth.
As I thougth, Itakura was the one who leaked the information…..
”Yes! That’s how you tricked Maika! You didn’t even tell the girl anything real anyway!”
Kenji starts to ramble on. Ah. That’s right.
On the contrary, Sonoda is the only one who knows the truth.
Probably the one who hurt Fukumura, too…
”Hey, don’t you want to know? What kind of a man he is?”
Itakura asks Sachi.
Sachi’s answer is surely be “YES.”
Because she won’t hear it from me.
Sachi must have come to me in order to find out. She will probably accept his offer.
Finally, Sachi will make a choice.
That choice is what I fear the most.
Either she will push me away or she will stay near me.
But the ball was thrown.
In the worst way imaginable.
“I’m not interested.”
As a matter of course, she said so.
”Yes. I’m not interested.”
Itakura’s eyes widened as if she had heard something unbelievable.
”Funn. A story about a guy who used to bully someone?”
Not caring about her answer that she was not interested, she started talking about it.
It was as if she had intended to do so from the beginning.
”I’m not interested.”
Still, Sachi did not change her opinion.
”Wha, why are you not interested? Cause that guy is an a**hole…”
Perhaps this was unexpected, but Itakura seemed unable to spin the words beyond that.
“Shall we go now? Shuya.”
Sachi entangled her own arm in mine. I was pulled away by Sachi.
Itakura and Kenji did not say anything to me about the scene.
“Hey, I mean, why did you lie to her?”
I left the supermarket and went home.
And by the time I got into my futon now, we had barely spoken.
It was because there was an awkwardness that I couldn’t explain.
But it still bothered me.
I wanted to know why she had lied and turned down the offer.
I don’t talk about myself, but I’m curious about other people’s situations.
“I didn’t lie about anything.”
Sachi accepted my selfishness without a word.
“The only reason I called you Shuya and pretended I wasn’t your sister was because I knew you would want me to do so. If Onii-chan didn’t answer that I am your sister, then so be it?”
’That’s… right. That helps.”
I thank Sachi for caring.
However, that’s not what I’m asking.
”You said you weren’t interested. Do you really mean that?”
I bet she is, right? With that implication, I ask.
“Yes. It’s more of a bluff than a lie.
“You were bluffing?”
You know, said Sachi as she continues.
”Of course, I’m? I’m willing to hear it from Onii-chan’s mouth, no? But you know what? For me, it’s means a lot to me.”
“Means a lot?”
”Yes, means a lot. To get closer to Onii-chan.”
How is that different?
”Not at all. Because the truth has nothing to do with why I want to be here.”
Sachi says she doesn’t want the truth. But I don’t know what that means.
“I’m not here because I know Onii-chan isn’t bullying anyone.”
”Yes, even if Onii-chan had been bullying on someone, chances are you’d still be here.”
The truth of Sachi’s words began to emerge.
”Of course, I would have treated you differently. I’m convinced now that Onii-chan didn’t bully her, but if you have, I might have given you the cold shoulder.”
“But not to face it, because this is not the same thing. I want to, you know, face it. I just don’t want to repeat the same mistake I made”
”I want to be friends with Onii-chan like we used to be, you know? But if that’s not possible if you isolate yourself but then I’ll have to live with that.”
”In the end, I am aware of your complacency. It’s a selfish wish to correct my mistakes and to start over.”
”If Onii-chan did something wrong, I want you to pay for it. Otherwise, I don’t want to leave you alone. That’s all. Either way, I still want to be around you.”
”On top of that, I know Onii-chan didn’t do it. That’s good enough for me. Beyond that, I won’t ask unless Onii-chan to tells me, and that’s fine.”
Under the covers, hands are clasped. I wonder which one of us was the first to do that.
”Can I ask you something?”
I just want to ask this one thing.
”Why would you believe that I’m not the bully?”
I demanded a reason. I couldn’t help but ask.
”Onii-chan hasn’t changed for a long time.”
For that reason, though, she is ashamed of herself for having pushed her brother away.
Sachi laughed at herself as if she were mocking herself.
At that time, I thought she was talking about the image of the kind older brother she used to have when I was close to Sachi.
But it would take me a little while before I would truly know the true meaning of her words.
But on this night, my hand was never shaken off.
I put a little strength into the hand that held it.
As if telling myself not to let go again.
I could feel my face heating up. No matter how much I was dealing with my brother, I was so embarrassed.
(Was I being a little high and mighty?)
Thinking back to what I said earlier, everything I said was not considered for my brother’s convenience.
From one to a hundred, it was for my own sake.
（I knew it, he hasn’t changed)
I think again. Onii-chan is a kind man.
He could have called me his sister back then.
But I guess he thought he would get me into trouble if he did.
He prevented me from being labeled a “bad sister.”
Such kindness from Onii-chan made me happy, but it also made me feel somewhat lonely.
In other words, I cannot bear his pain and frustration.
I want to help. That is what I sincerely want to do.
Of course, I also feel guilty and obligated.
It was us who made Onii-chan like that.
But more than that, I love him and he is my beloved brother.
I am sure that even if I say so, Onii-chan will say that the reason is not good enough.
But I’m sure Onii-chan doesn’t realize it.
I can’t believe there is no reason, why Onii-chan is like this.
The reason why he hid the fact that I am his sister and tried to protect me.
I am sure there is probably a reason.
Just because he is kind. That’s all it is to him.
I am sure Onii-chan doesn’t realize how great he is.
This is completely speculative, but I am sure that not telling the truth is not for his own sake.
I think he’s afraid that by telling the truth, someone else might get hurt.
I don’t care what happened or what the truth is.
I would really like to know. But I don’t need to know it.
I just want to know why he is hiding the truth. That’s what I want to know.
I think that reason must be what is tormenting him right now.
（But right now…)
This is the closest I can get.
I decided to bask in the warmth I hadn’t felt in a while.