The ball game tournament had results like …… where my class basketball made it to the finals and Miyamoto-san lost in the semi-finals, and now I am on the second floor of the gym to cheer for Yuki.
Miyamoto-san and Obata-san’s class made it to the finals in ping-pong or something like that, so they are not on this floor. Yuki is on the court because he is competing.
This makes me feel kind of lonely. …… I feel like there is no one left to protect me. I feel like I’ve become very weak …….
I used to think I was strong. …… In the past, I thought I would be a strong person who could protect what was important to me.
But I realized in junior high school that I was weak and useless. I began to think that I didn’t need to be strong. I decided that I didn’t need to be strong anymore, that I just needed to be alone, and I wanted to stay quiet.
And now, although I wish I could spend my time quietly and peacefully, I also wish I could spend time with the four of us. I want to be strong so that I can protect this relationship that I have miraculously been able to build. I think I’m too dependent on my friends to protect me now. ……
I was thinking about it for a bit and before I knew it, the game started.
…… Yes. Both teams are good, but it looks a little tough. I only saw a little, but I feel that the opponent is better or more accustomed to it. Many of the players are bigger than the opponent.
With the cheering voices making it almost impossible to hear the small sounds around me, my heart beats loudly when she suddenly speaks to me. Perhaps it is because I was concentrating on the game and suddenly heard a voice I didn’t want to hear, or perhaps it is because of this that my heart feels as if it is clutching at my body. I feel a cold sweat trickling down my back. Then, as if on cue from Sumika’s voice, the sounds around me suddenly become muffled. ……
…… suuuu …… haa……. Calm down. It’s okay.
I take a deep breath, and a little sense of my body comes back.
I was cheering a little further away from where the rest of my classmates were. But I didn’t think she would bother to talk to me. ……
“You didn’t even try in the third game properly.”
“Why didn’t you try? If it was you in junior high, you would have scored more points.”
“…… I was focused on my defense. I didn’t cut corners.”
Sumika’s face contorts as if to say, “You still say that?” But the words do not continue. She is talking on the premise that I am not doing it properly, so if I deny it, she will have nothing to say. ……In fact, I haven’t cut corners. I was serious about my defense.
“….. If that’s all you’ve got to say, I guess I’m done. My friends are out there, and I want to cheer them on.”
The tone of Sumika’s voice drops a little and the contempt in her eyes darkens. It seems to contain anger.
“…… you still haven’t apologized to Ryosuke-kun. Despite all of this ……. friends?”
It was like I was holding on just in time and then I was kicked as hard as I could. My heart, which had calmed down a bit, started beating loudly again, and the sensations in my body became thinner and colder all at once. Then, a feeling of vomiting came over me as if my stomach was being squeezed to the bone.
As I try to walk away from the place to go to the restroom at a brisk pace, my feet get tangled up and I can’t even stand on my feet, so I fall down and land on my hands.
“W-What are you doing ……”
I reflexively brushed off Sumika’s hand, which had been extended to me, perhaps in an attempt to help me up. Then, our eyes met for a moment, or maybe a few seconds, I don’t know.
Hurriedly, I headed for the restroom. By the time I reached the restroom, however, the vomiting sensation had faded. When I calmed down a bit and checked my current state, I found that I was not drenched in sweat, but I was sweating more than normal, and on top of that, I was crying.
When I look at myself in the mirror, I feel as if I am seeing a reflection of someone who is not me. And I feel as if the person there is blaming me. I feel as if the person I see in the mirror is also directing their dislike toward me.
“Suuuu …… Haa ……”
…… Maybe it’s okay.
I took a deep breath and the weird feeling I had about myself in the mirror left and I was back to normal.
……Fuu……. Ah, I wonder what happened to the basketball. I lost all sense of time earlier, and I don’t know how much time has passed. Maybe not that much time has passed. ……
I returned to the gymnasium, wary of Sumika, and as expected,……, it may not be a good idea to say, Yuki’s team was outnumbered. I looked at my classmates and saw that they had gathered together and were cheering and clapping and getting excited when a point was scored.
…… l think they’re having fun. ……
Earlier I would have been trying to cheer with a certain amount of enthusiasm myself, but now I’ve gone cold feet. It’s a feeling I’ve felt since junior high school at these events,…… but I think the loneliness is greater than in junior high.
Then I watched the game, keeping a wary eye on Sumika.
“I’m tired. ……”
The result of the basketball game was a runner-up finish. It was a good game, but we lost. Now all the competitions are over and homeroom has just finished.
“No club activities?”
“Ou. …… ah, let’s go for karaoke, okay? And good work on today’s ballgame”
“Same to you”
As we were talking, Obata-san enters the classroom through the back door. Miyamoto-san was following behind her.
“Hey, you two, are you free after this? We were just talking about going to karaoke.”
“Great! I’m going, I’m going! I don’t have club activities either!”
“I can go today, too.”
Although she must have been tired from the ball game, she responded by raising Obata’s spirits, and Miyamoto-san followed suit. I’m sorry when it comes to this.
“Ah ……, sorry. I have a part-time job after this.”
“Oh, well, I guess some other time, then.”
“Was it a coffee shop?”
“Yes. It’s a tiny, privately owned place.
In response to Obata’s question, Miyamoto-san continued to speak.
“….Then, let’s go there……”
Eh, how to say it, that might …… be a little uncomfortable.