“If anything, I should be the one apologizing. I’m sorry, Suzurikawa. I didn’t mean to tell everyone about you.”
Earlier, when Suzurikawa spoke to me, I inadvertently let slip that Suzurikawa had a boyfriend. I don’t know how she feels about it, but at least she doesn’t feel good about having someone else divulge her personal information.
“I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. I …… have to be told to understand.”
“W-Why are you apologizing to me? I’m the one who’s to blame! Even at that tim—“
It is true that there have been times when I have been told harsh things by Suzurikawa. But those were just facts. I did not think it was harsh. I never felt that it was unreasonable.
Because she clearly told me that it was annoying, I was able to know my place. I am very grateful for that. It’s much healthier than having a superficial relationship with someone whom you don’t want to be with.
“We are not fighting. I’m not angry, and there’s no reason for you to apologize.”
The two of us didn’t end up like this because we were on different paths. The only thing that happened was that we took different paths and I couldn’t stand next to her. I have no regrets or resentment about that.
“—You are kind. That’s why I …… wish I hadn’t met you.”
Reunion is a tragedy. If I had never met her, I would not have made her face like this at this very moment. It doesn’t change the fact that she is important to me. That’s why.
I just wish her happiness so that I won’t be in her way anymore.
We’re just classmates now, disqualified as childhood friends and not even friends.
I wet a towel under the tap and wrap it over the taping to cool the affected area. I told Suzurikawa to stay as calm as possible and left the place.
Kamishiro called out to me as if she had seen me coming. This depressed me terribly.
“What were you talking about with Suzurikawa-san?”
“Three things: foot odor, sisterly quarrels, and consultation on future paths.”
“Uhm….I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
That’s strange. I told her everything, but she didn’t get the message at all.
“We’re all going out together next time. Yuki couldn’t come before, so why don’t you join us? I’m sure it will be fun. Do you have any places you want to go?
“It’s going to be awkward, so I’ll pass.”
“…I-I see. I’m glad you gave it some thought!”
The way she slumped her shoulders was painful. Kamishiro has a heavenly personality.
She is popular because she treats everyone with open arms. But now, her usual vivaciousness is gone. I’m the cause of it.
Her eyes were shaking as if she was clinging to me. There was no trace of her innocence.
“May I ask you one question? Why did you choose Shoyo?”
“Becase….. I knew Yuki was going there.”
Worst answer. Nevertheless, I did what I had to do. Kamishiro came to apologize, but I told her she didn’t have to come back. If I hadn’t told her, she would have come to the hospital every day, and that might have led to unnecessary scrutiny.
I wanted to avoid that. I was responsible for everything, including the decision I made in the first place. There was no need for Kamishiro to be concerned about me.
Besides, if by any chance she ran into Yuuri in the hospital room, it would be a major incident.
I had no intention of seeing her again. And yet, she was chasing after me.
“Hey, Kamishiro. you’re such a sad little girl. Do you think I’m that pathetic? Do you feel that sorry for me?”
“I don’t think so! I know you don’t like me. I couldn’t tell anyone at school, and I couldn’t even help Yuki with your rehabilitation. I just want to do something for Yuki. That’s all I can do. …… Please, let me do something too! Otherwise,…….”
“Even if I don’t want it?”
“……I know Yuki doesn’t want to see me. I’m just using Yuki for my own personal satisfaction. But I hated to say goodbye like that,…….”
Tears were welling up in her large eyes, threatening to spill over at any moment.
“Haa ……. Kamishiro. There is nothing you can do. Just join the club. Everyone is looking for you. It doesn’t suit you to be a homecoming club member.”
“That’s …… sorry. But I want to be with you!”
“There is no point in being so stubborn,”
As long as I’m around, Kamishiro will continue to be tormented. I don’t want to see Kamishiro to suffer like this. It was best to leave, and I was happy to see her smiling in some unknown place.
“…… Yuki, are you really not playing basketball anymore?”
“I don’t even have any regrets now.”
I was originally just devoting to shaking off my broken heart. It is not something to be admired.
But the habits I acquired during that time are still alive today.
“But I do play street ball sometimes.”
When I unexpectedly said something unnecessary, Kamihiro’s reaction visibly changed.
“My body is getting weaker and slower, it’s kind of a habit.”
“It’s a free court in the park ……”
Oi, oi, what’s going on, Kamishiro? Wiping her tears with her arm, the light returned to her eyes as if they had been rapidly recharged, and the usual Kamishiro-like tension was restored. The conversation is a bit bouncy, in contrast to what it was a moment ago. The difference is so great that even a circuit breaker seems to be triggered.
“I-I will go too! Can I join you?”
“You can do whatever you want?”
I couldn’t possibly say no. The distance between us was too close! Her sparkling eyes reminded me of a dog begging to be walked. If she had a tail, she would be wagging it.
Kamishiro looks best when she’s in good spirits rather than depressed. That has not changed since then. She is an athletic person at heart.
She probably wants to be physically active. When I entered “homecoming club” in the search window, the words that came up in the suggestion box were “bum” and “regret,” which are not good words. There is no need to make Kamishiro stay with me no matter what. Her place is elsewhere. However, the urge is irresistible, and I end up doing it.
“Okay, Kamishiro fetch.”
I took out a bag of candy balls from the snacks I always carry as emergency rations and tossed them. Kamishiro ran to get it at once. Eh, you’re really going after it? Ah, she’s coming back.
Kamishiro, who came back with the candy balls, was looking at me with expectant eyes while her cheeks were lightly stained. What should I do?
“C-Can you pat me?”
“Listen to me carefully, Kamishiro. You are not a dog. You are a human being. Be aware of that.”
“You made me do it, Yuki! I had to get it for you!”
What are you talking about? Stroking a high school girl, that’s a perverted *sshole…
Didn’t I say this earlier? Geez, It’s a little late for that.
Well, then, I can’t help it! I observed Kamishiro again for about 10 seconds.
She was more feminine than before, yet still had an innocent look about her. But I couldn’t stop.
I’ll do it! Let’s do it!
“I understand. If you feel like a dog, then I’ll be like a breeder.”
“T-that’s not what I meant, but if you pet me, I’ll still ……”
“I’m ready to do it. Good girl, good girl, good girl, good girl.”
“Y-Yuki!? Just the head! That……You can’t stroke my tummy there!”
“Good girl, good girl, good girl, good girl. Great job ~ well done for getting it.”
“Hiyan! Don’t touch there…Ah ……, I can’t take it anymore………, stop!….”
Kamishiro was writhing in agony. I wonder how many years in prison? I hope there are extenuating circumstances. ……
“Have you remembered that you are a human being?”
“I’m a human being.”
“Fuu. My sacrifice was not in vain.”
“Yuki! I-If you do this to anyone else, it’s sexual harassment!”
“No, it’s sexual harassment even if it’s on you.”
“You were aware of it?!”
“Wouldn’t it be bad if I didn’t know I was doing it?”
“Even if you are aware of it, it’s still bad!”
It is still the same wherever I looked. Kamishiro suddenly started laughing.
“Hahahaha …… s-sorry. I somehow teared up. ……”
“No it’s not that, sorry. Yuki, your arm is fine, right?”
“Haa. You don’t have to worry about it anymore.”
“It doesn’t work that way. ……”
As if she were touching a tumor, Kamishiro gently touched my arm. It’s not uncommon for me to get suspicious. Somehow, it could be described as an everyday occurrence. I had gotten used to the pain.
The unassuming exchange with Kamishiro. The time between us goes back a little to a year ago.
Even so, it is definitely different from a year ago. The relationship between me and Kamishiro now is not equal.
No matter how much I s*xually harass her, she will never sue me.
And as long as that is the case, the relationship between me and Kamishiro will remain stuck in a frozen state of stagnation.
“Wha……! Why?! I dropped it…… this can’t be true…… No way……–!”
“What’s the matter, Suzurikawa-san?”
“Gone, It’s gone! The strap….”
As we descended to the bottom of the mountain and were about to board the bus, Suzurikawa began rifling through her luggage as if in a panic. Only the strap’s string was held in Suzurikawa’s hand, and the ugly bear mascot that should have been attached to the end of the strap was missing.
“That thing, huh? That was up there, right?”
“Yes. I dropped it on the way down the mountain! What am I going to do …… without that thing ……!”
“No choice but to give up?”
“No! ……I’ll go look for it!”
“Don’t be absurd. The bus is leaving.”
“The strap broke, that means it’s got to be long-lived. You’ve had it long enough, no?”
“But…… but it was the last thing that Yukito gave something to me…..”
“I’m sure your boyfriend will buy you one of those.”
“Stop it! I don’t want to hear any more!”
Suzurikawa was distraught. Girls’ tastes are difficult to understand. But that doesn’t mean she could go looking for it. As long as the group was acting together, there was no way she could delay everyone’s return home just for the sake of one person.
It didn’t seem like such a big deal. Somehow, I managed to appease and calm her down as we boarded the bus, but she was downcast as if she were a puppet with broken strings.
Is this also a divine punishment? Was it because I was so excited to be able to talk to the Yukito for the first time in a long time?
If so, it was too cruel. As I swayed on the bus, a helpless sense of frustration built up. That strap is a bonding bond for me. It is a precious thing that proves the existence of irreplaceable time.
It was also the last present that Yukito gave something to me. I am sure that even now, if I ask for it, he might give me something in place of it. But that’s not what I want.
What I want is that I don’t have what I really want anymore.
What should I do ……What should I do ……? Shall I go looking for it as soon as I get back? It’s not that far away. Maybe I can find it before dark.
But I quickly dismiss the idea. I’m tired. It was already too much of a chore to move around today. The weather was starting to break. It would be dangerous to head out alone in this condition. But that doesn’t mean I can’t involve someone else in something like this.
So, should I go tomorrow? The more time passes, the less likely it is that I will be found.
With no answer in sight, I manage to make my way back to the school, and HR begins.
My homeroom teacher, Sayuri sensei, is saying something to me, but I can’t get it out of my head. But I couldn’t miss what she said.
“Oi, Kokonoe, where is he?”
“Now that you mention it, he said earlier that he wasn’t feeling well and that he was going home.”
“I didn’t hear anything about it. Mihou, is that true?”
“No, I didn’t know either.”
“I don’t mind if he just went home now, …… that troublemaker. He could have told me”
His seat was blank. I don’t know, I haven’t seen him since he arrived at school. I thought we were on the bus together. What is the meaning of this? He didn’t seem to be sick. Did he suddenly have a stomach ache …… Maybe I should call him later. I’m sure he won’t respond, but I’m worried.
An inexpressible uneasiness was growing. For some reason, my bad premonition kept growing.
I shouted loudly, but there was no response. It was a sad monologue.
Just an hour ago, the place was filled with the hustle and bustle of students, but now I was the only one there.
I fantasize about living a slow life in the countryside in the future, but it’s just not possible for modern people. I, Yukito Kokonoe, live and die by the convenience store within a minute’s walk from here. I’m so much of a regular that the staff might give me strange nicknames. Ignorance is bliss
But I can’t just leave her alone, can I?
I’ve known her for a long time. With a face like that, I can’t just ignore it.
Even if we are just classmates now, I should at least be able to help her if she’s in trouble.
I make excuses to no one and get into the swing of things.
I picture the steps in my head. No doubt they were there when I talked with Suzurikawa at the top of the mountain. If so, it must have fallen somewhere along the route. The wind was not strong. It might not have been blown away, but if a small animal like a squirrel was moving with it in its mouth, it would be lost. No choice but to hurry. I quickly made my return, it was around seventeen o’clock. Thick clouds covered the sky and the temperature dropped rapidly. It was less than an hour before sunset.
“If I can’t find it after going back and forth, I’ll give up, Suzurikawa….”
I carelessly put my bag down in my room and threw myself onto my bed. With a familiar hand, I operated my phone and opened the images. That was my usual routine.
There were many memories of the good times we had together. However, that stopped after the second year of junior high school. From that point on, there were fewer and fewer pictures, and the happy days faded away and the gray days continued. The pictures of my face in them were tired and lonely.
“Can we go back? ……I hate it”
I was always smiling in those days. The first time I saw him, I thought he was a very nice man, and I was very happy to see him. Next to me was someone I loved and who loved me. Whenever I tried to get close enough to take a picture of him, he always responded with a troubled, embarrassed, but still expressionless face. They are all precious, truly precious memories.
—-And now I have lost one of those precious memories.
It is a picture of me in a yukata. Every year, I used to go to summer festivals with him.
At first we went together as a family, but at some point we started going together.
All of them are faint, fleeting, beautiful, and tender memories that come back to me. But all of them were broken. I broke them myself.
I wonder if we could still go out together like this? I wonder if we could have a deeper relationship, go out together to a summer festival, hold hands together, kiss, and then come back home together—- Tears well up in my eyes. I am so stupid, and I have lost something precious to me.
Why? It was a sin to ask such a question. It was all my fault. I had thrown it away. I, the ugly, petty, cowardly one, couldn’t stand the happiness and destroyed it. Will we ever be able to talk again like we used to?
I hate it…… I want to talk to him more…….touch him like we used to…——
That day at the summer festival, when he tried to h*ld my hand, I was so embarrassed that I pulled my hand away and shook it off in a spur of the moment. I didn’t want him to realize how nervous I was. [TL: Too lewd]
I wondered if my hands were sweating. I thought desperately, and secretly wiped my hands with a handkerchief.
But he didn’t hold my hand again. No. It’s not that. I should have just held his hand back.
The feelings that I couldn’t reach him. Words that won’t be conveyed. I want him to know the truth, but I couldn’t tell him, and I’ve come this far without telling him. If only I could have expressed my feelings to him sooner. Such regrets are piling up day by day.
When I stand in front of him, my legs cower. When I look into his eyes, I am afraid to say anything. I feel as if he thinks that I am no longer important to him.
No longer a childhood friend, no longer a friend, not even a classmate, but an uninterested, irrelevant stranger. I might be considered as such. It was so cruel and terrifying.
But I could tell from his words that it was because he still cared about me. I wanted to believe that he still thought I was important after betraying him like a joke. Believing that that was why he was acting the way he was was the only thing that supported my heart. I didn’t know that this would cause me even more pain.
But I had reached my limit. I couldn’t take it anymore. I was happy that we were in the same class and that it might be a chance to improve our relationship. But it was too difficult, and the distance between me and him, who was supposed to be so close, was tremendously far.
Even in the ninth grade, he had been badly injured. In my memories he is always injured. He was always hurt by something. And he never once told me why. All he would say was that it was his fault. He never said anything to anyone.
Why, why would he go to that extent–
Today, after just talking to him for the first time in a long time, my feelings had become uncontrollable. The feelings I had been suppressing were swirling like a storm and threatening to erupt.
I held my knees, hugged my body tightly, and gently stroked the taping that was wrapped around me.
Walking was much easier now. He’s noticed. He always, always, would save me if I asked for help. But he didn’t do it that one time.
I must follow this feeling honestly. I remember the words of Yukito.
Even if we can’t go back to the way things were, we might be able to create a new relationship. If I don’t step forward here, if I don’t step forward now, this whole year will have been for nothing.
I will never get another chance like this. Then I may never see him again. I will not even be allowed to approach him. Am I really going to end up like this, a coward? Is it okay to stay like this? It couldn’t be good.
“—-Please. One more chance, please.”
I clench my shaking hands as if asking for forgiveness, hoping for someone to forgive me. As if to make up for the days that have passed us by.
I gathered up all my courage and apologized. But there was a sense of discomfort. A discrepancy that would not be filled.
I had been thinking only of apologizing, but his words left me completely blank.
“……What do I want to do with Yukito”
I had never been in a fight with him before. He never got mad at me. It was always just me saying something one way to him.
Tell him everything. Tell him what has happened, why I did the things I did. I will tell him how I feel, openly and honestly, and I will tell him everything about me, nothing hidden, nothing cowardly.
And I will give him everything I have. So please, just one more time—-.
“How could I possibly find something like this ……”
Yes, I found it! I got distracted and sat down in the shade of a tree. I had gone back and forth three times. Even though I was confident in my physical strength, I was tired. The rain that had begun to fall took away both my strength and body heat. My knees were wobbling and I couldn’t stand on my feet. It was dark! I was getting used to the night vision, but I heard an owl hooting from somewhere. It’s so elegant, isn’t it? I’m glad it wasn’t a wild dog. There was nothing I could do about it.
It was near the sixth station. It must have rolled when she dropped it, or it was stuck on a slope slightly off the route. I looked at it again, and the expression on the ugly bear’s face was annoying. For how long do you cherish something like this ……?
I threw away all the things and memories given to me by Suzurikawa at that time. There is nothing left now. And yet, Suzurikawa’s…
I shake off my thoughts. The time is almost up. If I don’t hurry, I will not be able to return home in time. I drag my heavy body down the slope—-.
Haa……. I’m glad I managed to find it. Suzurikawa was so upset that she would have gone looking for it by herself if I hadn’t. This is just my self-satisfaction.
As long as I enjoy nature this much, I’ve had enough of it for a while. Modern city people are incompatible with nature.
I think I’ll go to the public bath later. ……huh? My feet are caught in the muddy ground.
My knees collapse and I lost my balance.
Aah, this is a bad one. I’m falling down huh.
Time passes slowly. The end credits has started to roll, and my life is sadly short.
“Am I not lacking in knowing others?”
I was so dismayed at how little I knew about others that I just rolled down the slope.