At the time of day, there were many students at the station who were after school just like me.
With a slight feeling of disgust at the groups of students walking around spread out, I headed for the meeting place.
The station is a passing point. My destination was somewhere else.
I rode my bicycle for about 10 minutes and arrived at my destination.
”Manager, I’m sorry for being so selfish. This might take a while, is that all right?”
“….It’s okay. Think of it as an apology for the other day.”
The place was my part-time job. I chose this place because she said she would leave the location to me.
I told the manager that my business was a little complicated, and he gladly accepted my request.
Well, maybe there was no reason for him to refuse me, since I was just a normal customer.
“…Sorry to keep you waiting, Miyajima.”
“…No problem. Thank you for coming.”
Miyajima, who had been ushered in before me, greeted me with a deep and strange look on her face.
” Ah, have you ordered yet?”
”No, I haven’t … the waiter said we can order together. I have already deciced….what to order”
I see. It must be the manager’s kindness.
But rather, there is something that bothers me a little. Let me point it out without hesitation.
”You don’t have to use honorifics.”
”Eh… ah yes. I understand…”
From the looks of things, it seems that she was unintentionally doing it.
Well, if I’m right, it’s probably something to do with the conversation we’re going to have later.
”Anyway, lets order”
I finish ordering. And finally, I asked her what she wanted to talk about.
“So… what’s this about?”
” Ah… Yes. Uhm. First of all…”
She broke off and took a deep breath.
Her voice was already trembling. The trembling reminded me of a recent event.
As I thought huh.
“—-First of all, let me apologize. I’m really sorry about that time.”
She bowed her head and said so. Her voice and body were trembling. It was as if she was scared of something.
I didn’t ask her what. I knew it was a meaningless question, and I didn’t want to push the girl in front of me.
Instead, I asked,
Why now, all of a sudden? For the life of me, I couldn’t figure it out.
No, there was one possibility.
”Perhaps, did Itakura say something to you?”
….I guess I got it right. Is he up to something after all?
Because there is no reason. What was the need for her to apologize to me?
I couldn’t figure it out.
”W-wait! I’ll explain everything! I know it’s my fault! So please!”
“Explain… about what?”
There is nothing to explain. What am I supposed to trust you for, when you’re not even on my side?
”…..What is Mizuki doing to you right now?”
“What…. do you mean by that?”
I didn’t want to expose myself to that kind of nonsense that would make me dig my own grave. I only asked for an explanation from her.
“….I want you to take a look at this”
Miyajima gave me her cell phone. The message from Itakura was displayed on the screen.
[☆ Breaking news ☆ Kitami was working part-time at a cafe from XX station! !! Everyone be careful! !! ]
[Kitami was walking around with his girlfriend! That girl seems to be cheated too!]
[It seems he’s also bothering Maika at school! And according to rumors, he’s even two-timing her!!]
Numerous personal information. Slander and slander. There were numerous personal information and slanderous remarks.
Numerous personal information. Slander. And there were many of them.
”…This is terrible.”
They are going this far. I mean, probably…
”This will probably spread to my school someday.”
Maybe it’s already spreading. No, I should think so.
After all, Shirakawa and Itakura are connected.
“I’ve got to do something about it. Of course, it’s not my place to say that.”
She said this in a self-deprecating manner.
Well, I understand what’s going on.
But I still don’t understand.
Why did she appear in front of me?
”—-Why did you think you had to do something?”
She stopped right there.
“Sorry, maybe I didn’t ask the right question. Uhm, What kind of thinking, thought process–no that’s not it.”
I couldn’t formulate my words properly.
[—–Because it was]
But suddenly, a word came to my mind. I was still stuck in my mind.
So, with words similar to those at the time, I ask.
“—Why do you want to help me?”
Nothing. She should have just left me alone.
I could have ignored the call and pretended I didn’t see her. It would have been easier than anything else.
But she chose to get involved with me. I just don’t understand it.
“—-It takes a while, is that okay?”
”Yes, it’s fine.”
Let’s start with a little bit of the past. Then she began to speak slowly. Her voice was still trembling.
”Uhm, I’ve always regretted it. To put it in terms of timing, from the moment I started bullying Kitami.”
I had never bullied Emi. The only time I was involved in bullying was against Kitami.
I knew that Emi was being bullied. But I did nothing.
I was afraid of retaliation, afraid of becoming the next target.
I think Emi and I were close enough. We hung out together, and there was no doubt that we were friends.
But I pretended to ignore it. I was scared. I was self-preserving.
And I told myself. It doesn’t matter.
It all started one day after school.
I saw Emi writing bad words in Kitami’s textbook.
I knew exactly what was going on.
She had done something I couldn’t do and had gotten herself into a situation I feared.
But I knew then that Emi had been on the perpetrator’s side.
I stopped Emi. I told her that I felt sorry for her.
”You didn’t do anything for me! Stop saying selfish things!”
What came back were words like that.
And what followed was the worst thing she could have said.
“You give me a hand …if you don’t, they’ll pick on me again, or you… So help me.”
And I accepted the proposal.
After that, Kitami stopped coming to school.
In the end, the only result that remained was “no hard feelings”
In the first place, Emi and I were not involved in the bullying.
I know why. Emi threatened the people who had originally bullied us.
She told them that if they exposed our crimes, she would expose all their lies.
In short, she made the situation go away in the most convenient way for herself at the expense of one person, Kitami.
She became the sole victim.
Having said all this, an order arrives.
However, she did not touch it and continued her story.
“I was threatened and swept off my feet. I don’t think that such things make me less guilty at all. I am definitely just as guilty as everyone else. I hurt Kitami.”
”I wanted to apologize for a long time. But Kitami moved away and I never had a chance to apologize to you.”
“So that’s why you found out where I was at that time, huh?”
I listened in silence for a while, and then finally interrupted her.
”….But that’s no reason for you to help me. Miyajima, isn’t it enough if you can apologize to me?”
She was just here to be forgiven, and she didn’t have to be on my side.
I guess it was an unexpected question for her, too, and she fell silent for a while as she thought about it.
I didn’t rush her and just waited.
Then, after a while, she said something.
”—I guess I’m atoning for my sins.”
”No, it would be better to call it self-satisfaction. Maybe I want to be on Kitami’s side so that I can forgive myself… I’m sorry. I the lowest…”
She gulps, on the verge of tears. I could see it clearly from the side.
She was holding on as if the act was unforgivable.
Perhaps she had just realized her principle of action.
And that, it seemed, was unacceptable to her.
“I’m sorry, I…”
She probably realized that it was selfish.
She must have realized that it was not 100% for the other person’s benefit.
”—-I don’t care if it’s about self-satisfying.”
Miyajima was taken aback by my words.
It was a very unexpected response.
”I’ll make it clear. I still can’t forgive Miyajima. I haven’t sorted things out enough to be able to forgive you.”
”But I understand that Miyajima is sorry and wants to do something about it.”
”…! T-Thank you…..”
That’s why, that’s why I.
“That is why I would like to accept your feelings.”
I know. That these words are not the answer to “I don’t care if it’s about self-satisfying.”
I won’t say it out loud. No, I can’t.
Because it’s the same for me.
What I wanted to do, what I once did to save something, was definitely self-satisfying.
It’s the same with not forgiving her.
On reflection, I acted on it.
Then maybe I should forgive her. Even if it was for her own satisfaction.
Otherwise, nothing will change in our relationship. It’s just stagnation.
I know. I don’t want to admit it. I don’t want to admit that this choice wasn’t a mistake.
I don’t want to admit that not forgiving is wrong.
Because I haven’t yet been able to forgive someone more important than the girl in front of me.
If I forgive this woman, I will be denying her feelings and the words she said to me.
So I rejected her. But I didn’t want to deny her.
At least I was happy that she said those words to me.
—I was happy that my mom saw me.
It was supportive. The possibility that I could get back on track, if I just forgave her, it filled my heart.
So I will not deny the girl in front of me her self-satisfaction. No one knows if it’s the right thing to do.
She is concerned about me, and that is the most important thing here.
For my convenience, my thoughts. For her convenience, her thoughts.
If there is even 1% of thought for others, it’s enough.
It is not about whether it is right or wrong, but what I myself and she herself want to do.
So, I will not deny her thoughts.
“I understand your thoughts. Forgiveness, as I said before, is still difficult…”
“…No, it’s okay. Thank you so much. I’ll do my best so that one day you can forgive me…”
She couldn’t hold back her tears.
And so did I. I didn’t know what to say to her.
I didn’t know what she was crying about, but I knew it was about something important to her.