I heard someone say.
”You’re making me sick, go away lol”
”I don’t want people to think we’re friends…”
Negative feelings are contagious. It didn’t take long for me to isolate myself.
And so I was alone.
Being alone is hard. Because it’s a sign that someone has rejected you.
It’s proof that I didn’t fit into the circle.
That’s why being lonely is not hard for me. Because it’s the path I choose.
At least I never felt alienated by being alone.
I have tried not to get involved. Regardless of Sonoda. I have avoided contact with people as much as possible.
“….Don’t be ridiculous.”
I had no idea to whom it was directed.
“….I’d like to talk to you.”
The next day, as expected, Fukumura came to my desk during lunch break.
The place was a classroom. I was having lunch alone.
I was going to school. I still don’t think anyone other than Fukumura knows about it. It was yesterday. I thought Fukumura would have to confirm it with me first.
Besides, I honestly didn’t care anymore.
The manager had actually fired me after that.
Apparently, he had seen what had happened yesterday.
The manager probably didn’t want any trouble, so I didn’t hold a grudge. There are probably plenty of replacements.
” Then is it true what happened yesterday? That’s all I have to ask.”
She did not back down. You say that’s all, but that’s probably not what you want to hear. You are showing concessions, but I’m not fooled.
“That’s none of your business. Fukumura-san has nothing to do with it.”
“It doesn’t matter. I’m doing this for my friend”
“Then why don’t you ask her? Cause I’m sure she knows the truth.”
After all, it doesn’t matter what I say.
It has already been proven.
I thought about saying what I thought she had done. But I decided against it because I thought it would be pointless.
After all, it was my fault. That was the end of it.
In other words, if she says so, so be it.
It doesn’t matter what I say.
I was already half-open to the idea. I had to graduate from high school anyway.
Sooner or later, this would have happened.
I had to endure it anyway. Then, maybe she could give up.
Well, what the heck. I am a high school student. It wouldn’t be as blatant as it was in middle school.
What let’s hope.
”So please don’t get involved with me anymore. Please.”
“I want it to be over. That’s why I’m begging.
“—-I don’t want to.”
One short sentence, I told her.
“It’s not fair. You pretend to be so mature, and then just sweep it under the rug. Whatever the circumstances, there should be atonement. I think so, and I don’t like it.”
She said it without hesitation. It’s only natural, she said.
But that’s not how I think.
”Is that what Sonoda wanted?”
No doubt it is not. I was certain of it.
The fact that she hadn’t said anything in the first place meant that she wasn’t going to dredge up the incident.
“ I will not get involved. I promise you that. So you stay out of it, too.”
Then I bowed my head to her.
Some students were looking at me, wondering what was going on.
”…..I’ll be back. Tell me your story next time.”
There is nothing to talk about. She left without waiting for my reply.
That’s better. That way, I can be alone again.
I put away my bento box, leaving the rest of my lunch there.
I had no appetite.
A week passed.
My school life was calm.
Apparently, my bullying incident had not spread.
That’s not so surprising. It’s not something she particularly wants to dredge up.
So this is the best for both of us. It’s the situation we both wanted.
（I’m glad it worked out….)
One wrong move and I might have lost my place in the classroom by now. I shudder at the fact.
For a week, Fukumura did not visit me.
I don’t know why, but I am grateful.
I’m not going to have anything to do with Fukumura in the future.
After all, this is what happens when I let my guard down, apparently. I resent myself for repeating the same mistake.
It was time to move to the classroom. I saw her walking in front of me.
Surrounding her were two female students, including Fukumura. A group of four in total.
Well, as expected, it was impossible to avoid them all, so I guess it was inevitable.
It was enough to just walk past them without saying anything.
Unfortunately, I had an eye contact with Fukumura. But she didn’t say anything either. It must be all right.
But it seems I was the only one who was okay.
Fukumura’s voice echoed through the hallway. It was a moment after our paths had crossed.
I was concerned and turned to look behind me to see what was going on.
There I saw Sonoda sitting on the ground, covering her face with her hands.
Fukumura was worried about Sonoda and was trying to quiet her down.
At that moment, Fukumura looked at me. Our eyes met again.
I thought I was going to be blamed. I thought she would suspect me of having done something wrong again.
But Fukumura’s eyes were a little different from those of accusation.
The look in her eyes was as if she was asking for help.
（I don’t know.)
Why, it’s none of my business.
So don’t look at me like that. What I went through has nothing to do with cause and effect.
I had nothing to do with it.
That’s why I’m not going back the way I came.
I turned away from Fukumura and left the place with firm steps.
“Crap, I overslept…”
By the time I woke up in the morning and looked at the clock, it was already time for my first period class to start.
（….I didn’t get enough sleep.)
I must have slept plenty in terms of time, but my body was more tired than I thought.
The blurred feeling in my chest would not go away.
The cause of this would still be yesterday’s incident.
Why did she cry? The reason…well, I kind of know.
But the way Fukumura looked at me at that time. It stuck with me and wouldn’t go away.
Why, why, should I help?
I can’t help but feel that she was appealing to me.
I should go back to sleep.
I did so and ran away from my thoughts. I didn’t have the energy to face any more unpleasant things.
I pulled the covers back on and went back to sleep.
”Hey?! Onii-chan! You still alive!?”
Boom, boom, boom. A knock on the door woke me up.
From the sound of her voice, it’s my sister Sachi. I mean, is Sachi the only one who knows this room and calls me Onii-chan?
“What’s wrong? Oi, Sachi? What’s this all about…?”
I open the door and try to ask Sachi what’s going on, but I am surprised to see an unexpected person.
“—Oh, am I interrupting you?”
It was Fukumura who was with Sachi.
”Don’t worry about me being absent without notice.”
Apparently, Sachi had come to the high school to see me.
“I asked her if Onii-chan had gone home, and was told that he hadn’t come to school, so I called you, but you didn’t answer at all, and I was really worried.”
‘Well, I’m sorry about that…”
I found myself sleeping all day without eating, apparently. Come to think of it, I forgot to call the school.
As for Sachi… well, that’s okay. The problem is the other one.
“What’s Fukumura doing?”
According to the story, it was just Fukumura that Sachi approached.
“But that doesn’t mean she would normally follow you?”
”I’m sorry it was so sudden … but …”
but she said and continues. I somehow knew what she was going to say.
“After all, I want to hear your side of the story”
Don’t get involved. I told her so, but why does she stick her neck out like this?
I couldn’t form words for a while before the question came up.
”Why are you asking me? Why don’t you ask Sonoda directly?”
What I finally squeezed out were the same words.
“… The whole time, she kept saying, ‘It’s nothing’ and she wouldn’t tell me anything.”
Who cares about that? I was about to say so, but Fukumura interrupted me by continuing the conversation.
“It can’t be nothing. Emi cried because there was something wrong. But she won’t tell me anything. That’s what makes it so hard… I feel so miserable…”
She found herself in tears.
”Emi, she missed school today. She said she wasn’t feeling well. But that’s definitely not true. That’s definitely not the reason.”
Her tone was slightly childish. Facing Fukumura like this, I was unable to say anything.
Sachi, too, seemed to be at a loss, as if not quite grasping the situation.
”I’m sorry, but you have to leave, Sachi.”
”Haa… I beg of you, stay out it.”
”Wait… don’t talk like that.”
”–Yes. I understand. I’m going home then, right? Fukumura-san.”
Sachi left without much objection to my words.
Fukumura looked as if she wanted to say something, but I guessed she was satisfied for the time being, so she looked at me again and began to talk.
”There’s a reason, isn’t there? A reason why you can’t talk about it. I really want to know. ——I don’t want to end up unaware.”
She said this with a hint of determination in her voice.
The tears had stopped. But if the slightest slackening of attention was given to her, she would make such a face.
(I envy you.)
I honestly thought so.
I was honestly jealous that I had such an existence that cared about me so much.
At least, I didn’t have such an existence.
Such feelings only fueled my sense of inferiority.
“That’s no reason for me to explain myself.”
”Maybe you’re right. But I really want to hear it from you.”
Like again, why? Why are you so obsessed with it?
I was clearly annoyed. I wanted to end this conversation as soon as possible.
“—You seem to be in more pain than she is.”
”… I look like I’m in pain?”
What are you talking about? Why are you talking about me?
”—I’m sorry, I don’t understand either. But I felt like I had to hear it from you.”
I don’t understand, that’s my line.
Why do I have to accommodate you? That’s not what I’m asking.
“So, please, let me ask you this.”
Why should I explain it to you?
Without waiting for me to ask her back, she said.
”——–Did Kitami really bully Emi?”