Lanterns twinkle and festival music plays a melody. The bustle and noise of the festival is filled with a sense of enjoyment. A street lined with food stalls. With cotton candy in hand, I walked with her.
“Hey, let’s eat apricot candy!”
She smiles carefree like she used to, perhaps because of her mood. Such an expression is rare nowadays. She flicks out her candy-red tongue and squints mischievously.
Perhaps it is the special day of the summer festival that casts a spell that brings me back to my childhood.
“Look, you’re good at target practice, aren’t you? Get it!”
The white-colored wisteria-colored yukata suited her figure well.
Aiming for the target, I did as I was urged. I put the strap of a small bear that I had shot down at the target shooting stall in my purse and proceeded with light steps as if in a state of elation.
This was an annual event for us. I had no doubt that it would continue to be so. As the sun gradually set, a single firework went off, as if to announce the start of the event.
“You know, n-next year….no, not like this—……why …….”
The crowd gradually grew and drowned out the words I was saying.
A loud thumping sound made me look up at the sky. Colorful fireworks were blooming in the night sky. People around us cheered, “Oh ……,” and everyone looked at the fireworks.
We were swept away by the crowd, and the distance between us and her was growing.
I quickly took her hand and held it so we wouldn’t get separated.
Her eyes widened in astonishment and she flicked her hand away with a snap. My right hand, which had been extended to the retracted hand, lost sight of its purpose and wandered aimlessly in the void.
A faint exhale escapes, and she turns back to cover her expression.
Maybe she had been haunted all along. In middle school, she had gradually become more spiteful. I should have realized it sooner.
I should have known sooner, even though she had warned me.
That our relationship had changed and was long over.
That the hand that was shaken off was an intention of rejection.
My body feels heavy. Is the earth’s gravity changing? My thoughts are hazy and hazy.
My shirt, soaked in sweat, was stuck to my back. I tried to get up to change my clothes, but it became too much trouble and I gave up. I had no choice but to wipe myself off with a towel, but it was too much work.
My vague and hazy memory gradually became clearer. I had caught a cold, I thought.
I managed to make it home in a shambles, but I must have overworked myself in the rain, because I collapsed as soon as I got home. When I took my temperature with a thermometer, I was surprised to find that it was over 38 degrees Celsius. I remember that I only took a bath and dove straight into bed.
When I checked my watch, it was around twelve o’clock. I must have slept for more than half a day.
I was still a little sluggish, but I felt better than yesterday. My temperature had gone down to normal.
After taking some medicine for the cold and getting another good night’s sleep, I should be able to go to school tomorrow.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a cold. It might be the first time since I started working out.
It was not good that I got wet in the rain. I wonder if it’s because I’ve been in the middle of a hectic schedule lately, or if I’ve been under some kind of mental stress. I had caused trouble for my family again.
In the silence, the only sound was the ticking of the clock. The regular sound, like a metronome me back to sleep. I felt like I was having a very nostalgic dream. The content was pleasant, sad, or somewhere in between. Only a sense of loss remained.
I noticed a strap on my desk. I had completely forgotten about it.
What was it about it that attracted Suzurikawa so much? Could it be that it was actually quite rare? It would make sense if that was why she was in such a panic. If that is the case, I have to give it to Suzurikawa as soon as possible.
But that may not be possible right away. With this thought in mind, my consciousness once again fell into the darkness.
“I want to ask you something. Can you give me a minute?”
“Eh, me? Wait, please a moment”
During recess, an unexpected person arrives in the classroom.
It was Yukito’s sister, Yuuri Kokonoe who showed up. The classroom, which had been quiet until a moment ago, started to buzz. Whispers of a possible confession can be heard, but even though Mihou is a popular boy, such a thing is absolutely impossible for Yuuri-san. She will only make a move if it’s about Yukito.
For a moment, her eyes are fixed on me, clearly hostile. It was probably even at Shiori Kamishiro
“Why is Yuri-san ……”
“Yukito is absent from school because of a cold.”
But I was more worried about Yukito than anything else. The vague uneasiness inside me is still smoldering.
[What do you mean?]
[That’s what I want to ask. Yesterday, he couldn’t—-]
The confused voice leaking from the corridor proves that it was not a confession at all. After a while, Mihou-kun came back with a mysterious look on his face.
“What’s wrong, Mihou-chi?”
“No I’m fine….but wait. I see! It can’t be he….. Suzurikawa-san!”
Mihou-kun noticed something, changed his expression and hurried to speak to me.
“Yesterday, I heard that Yukito came home at almost ten o’clock.”
“Why would Yukito come home at that hour? Because yesterday–.”
“Yeah. He left school early. He left school early. And yet he got home late at night. It was raining last night, right? And today he is missing school.”
At times like this, I hate myself for being so blind. I hate myself for being so narrow-minded as to feel jealous of Mihou, who understands Yukito better than I do.
This is just a guess. Suzurikawa-san, you said you dropped the strap. Perhaps Yukito went–“
I was running out of the classroom before I had finished listening to him.
“Wait, please wait!”
Unable to stand still, I started to run towards her as fast as I could. I forgot about the pain in my legs. I called out to Yuuri, who was heading back to the second grade classroom. I felt a sense of frustration.
Yuri’s footsteps came to a sudden stop and she looked back. Her reirend gaze became even harsher.
“Is Yukito okay?!”
Yukito’s sister used to be kind to me. But now she’s …….
“…… It’s just a cold. The fever went down in the morning and he will get better soon.”
“Thank god……. Can I go visit—-“
“Suzurikawa-san. Don’t make me more angry than I already am.”
I was interrupted by a cold voice that chilled me to the bone.
“Yesterday, why was that boy so late coming home? Do you know what he was doing?
“Ah, ……, uhm …….”
What Mihou said is just a guess. There is no proof. Yuuri did not hide her irritation at my lack of an answer, and her words were filled with anger.
“Did you deceive him again? All the way to the ground!”
“I’m sorry! It’s my fault! It’s my fault! Because I said something unnecessary–“
I couldn’t help but apologize, even if it might have been a misunderstanding or a self-satisfaction.
“Enough is enough! How much more do you have to push him around!”
The unusual appearance of the place attracted everyone’s attention. Yuuri exhaled loudly.
“Haa, ……. Get out of here, I don’t have time to argue with you.”
“Wait! I also–……!”
“Don’t ever come back to him!”
I stood there in a daze as she said that, as if to spit it out.
“No good, I don’t have time for this.”
Shakily, I was fully recovered! I was completely revived, but I was starving.
Mom had to go to work today, and she was terribly depressed. She said she wanted to stay with me and take care of me, but I couldn’t rest if she did that.
I had too much energy. I’m short on hands and …… have nothing to do.
Isn’t she coming home early? It was not my mother. Is it my sister? Shall I pretend to be asleep?
I listen carefully and hear her talking to someone at the front door.
“…… go home.”
“I’ll take care of him. I don’t want you here.”
“Please! Just a moment of his time is all I ask!”
“If you care so much about him, why did you—-!”
“Why is it any of your business. You, who abandoned my brother?”
“I-It’s not like that……”
The front door is violently closed. I was terrified by the wildness of the situation.
She was the first one to enter my room. Don’t expect the common sense of knocking. She must have come home in a hurry, because she was a little out of breath.
“And, how are you doing?”
“The fever has gone down a lot and I feel much better, but …… did anyone come in here just now?”
I asked, scared. She seemed to know me, but I didn’t know who it was.
“……It’s a newspaper solicitation.”
“You’re not good at lying, are you?”
Lieeeeeeeeeeeeeesssss! What what what is going on?! Although I couldn’t hear the conversation, it didn’t seem like it was going to be like that! There was no way an argument could have occurred over the solicitation of a newspaper.
But when I asked her about it, she didn’t seem to have the slightest intention of telling me. I was curious, but when she said, “Ha?” That is the ironclad rule in our family. It’s hard to argue with my sister.
“I bought all kinds of things that look good for you.”
Sports drinks, nutritional foods, and jellies were placed on the table. Why are they all peach-flavored? She shows a mysterious faith in peaches, but thankfully they are easy to eat.
“You look much better than you did this morning. Is there anything you want me to do?”
I answered immediately. There is nothing to bother my sister’s hand.
“Shall I wipe your sweat for you?”
“I wiped it off myself a while ago, so I’m fine.”
“Then, do you want me to make you some porridge?”
“Haha, I would rather not”
“I’m getting carried away.”
Sadly, my trust in my sister’s cooking skills is buried under the ground. Facing the cruel reality, I gave up and went to the kitchen and started to make myself some porridge. “Make one for me, too,” she says.
How’s your appetite?
“I’m not so hungry”
“How’s your sleep?”
“I’ve been sleeping all night, so my eyes are still wide-open.”
“Your sex desire?”
Do you have to ask that? No need to hide my upset. Wait. This is just a medical interview by my sister. Even Yuuri Kokonoe would never ask such a meaningless question!
“Hey, what about your sex desire? Hey!”
“Answer me. How’s your sex desire?”
“I-It’s piling up?”
Unable to bear the pressure, I inadvertently answered honestly.
“I see. Hold on to it when you get over your cold.”
I was afraid to ask back, so I just answered honestly.
“I’m sorry for the trouble I caused you, Yuuri.”
“Trouble…..why are you—-Haa. If you need anything at all, just call me.”
After finishing eating, I returned to my room. Why did my sister’s face look so sad?