Translated and Edited by: ynlucca.
-san: A polite suffix, but not excessively formal.
-kun: A common suffix among friends and younger people.
-chan: A common suffix among people you’re close with, mostly used for feminine nicknames and girls, since it’s cutesy and childlike.
-senpai: A common suffix and noun used to address or refer to one’s older or more senior colleagues in a school, workplace, dojo, or sports club.
-sensei: A suffix and noun that literally means teacher.
One day after I enrolled in the school, I had the biggest hurdle come my way… It wasn’t a catastrophe per se, it was a problem only I had.
I’m in trouble…
I feel like clutching down and grabbing my head with my hands. Glancing at the seat next to mine, I saw Sakurai with the same puzzled look I had on my face. Like me, she didn’t know what to do.
It all started ten minutes ago, right at the start of today’s class. The teacher in charge said a few words after walking in.
“Morning. So, before we start classes, I have to say this school has a rule in which, at the start of a new school year, students have to hold conversations with their seatmates as part of improving their own communication skills. It seems that Principal Tachibana values the importance of encounters—”
What the hell is up with that, huh?! I’ve never heard of anything remotely like this… Actually, I have, but it doesn’t matter!
So it’s a rule set by the principal, huh… Another one of her weird ideas!
My only seat neighbor was Sakurai. It was quite difficult to even talk to her considering what we’ve been through, even greeting her sounds like climbing Mt. Fuji.
I looked around. Other students were already talking amicably with each other, and we were the only ones silent in the whole room. The teacher noticed our silence and said, “You two! Start talking, now!”
Ugh, if we don’t do something, we’ll both become the center of attention here… What do I do now?
—And here we are. This is the hurdle.
I never thought this situation would ever come. How could I? What’s with all this ‘communication skills’ schmuck? Well… I guess it’s an important thing to practice and I was just unlucky.
As time passes, I’m trying to figure out how to go through this situation.
That’s right! We don’t have to talk only between ourselves, we just need to get others involved so we don’t talk directly!
I’d get more people to talk with us both, then I fade into the background as their conversation ramps up. Okay, let’s do this!
Looking around, I see Towa having a nice conversation with Suzume… I envy these two since they won’t need to leave their comfort zone to comply with this rule. There’s also no room for me to join in, they’re talking so happily after all.
Tetsu’s next. I’m a bit worried about how this can turn out, but I need to sacrifice something to win. Then, I noticed he was sitting next to… Hinata, was it? He seems to be having a blast, too.
Come to think of it, Hinata is often with Sakurai, so this could work out well.
As I was thinking this, Tetsu approached me. “Yo, Tatsu. I heard from Hinata you and Sakurai are childhood friends, right?”
I appreciate you talking to me regardless of what it is. If this keeps up, the strategy I came up with will work without a hi—
“Oh, I also have a childhood friend who’s a bit of a nag. When I took down those who bullied me, I was told not to fight and that I had to keep my promise, and—.”
It might not work… My faint hopes were drowned out by his excitement and the story he told nonstop. Did I say he didn’t stop?
People who don’t have an opinion on something have no choice but to shut up… I was a fool to expect anything from this guy. All he ever does is step on land mines.
I looked back at Sakurai. Her eyes were moist, and she looked like she could cry at any second now. Meanwhile, Tetsu, who had a lot to say about his childhood friend, talked like a waterfall never stops flowing… Dude, I beg you, don’t do this to me…
However, after a while of talking passionately about his childhood friend, he stopped with a dissatisfied tone. That waterfall had stopped for a brief second.
“But… I still care about them, after all. They care about me too, otherwise, I wouldn’t have a childhood friend.”
“… What’s up with you two?”
We both couldn’t answer him… I’ve already lost the feelings I once held for her, though, I wonder how she’s doing. Does she still care about me?
Seeing us both not answering, Tetsu said, “Well, it’s fine,” and returned to his conversation with Hinata.
Silence reigned over us again. The operation had failed, but that didn’t matter anymore. After that, I looked at my watch. Thanks to Tetsu’s constant babbling, a lot of time had passed.
But there was no way we could still keep silent. This class wouldn’t allow it.
Something… I need to come up with something.
With that in mind, I looked at Sakurai to see if there was anything we could talk about. That’s when I noticed a familiar bracelet on her left wrist.
“You’re still wearing that, aren’t you?”
She gave a small nod and turned over to keep quiet. Then, with her right hand, she clutched that small bracelet as if it was something very important to her.
… Guess I’m the one who landed on a step mine. I can’t judge Tetsu after this.
Then, she turned over and started talking very quietly.
“… It’s important to me.”
Her voice was so frail it could almost disappear, trembling slightly as if something very complex was going on inside her. I listened silently to her words.
“It’s a precious memory with a precious person…”
So you still think like that…
I won’t answer her. It’s too late to go back now. I hurt her back then, so I have no right to say these words…
She betrayed me, and in my desperation, I blurted out things I didn’t mean. After that, I lashed out and ripped our old promise to pieces, the symbol of our emotional relationship… Her wounds must’ve been so deep when that happened, that she no longer wanted anything to do with me.
That’s why I thought our friendship was over. That old promise the two of us made would never be fulfilled… However, she just said while clutching a remnant of our past that she still cherished that promise.
So she still holds the same feelings she had for me back then, even after all that’s happened between us.
I’ve lost such feelings… No, I threw them away and ripped them out of my chest. I didn’t want to hurt myself any longer, and I was afraid that someone I held dear to my heart would leave me again.
… So I let go of “love”.
Because I didn’t want to be hurt, I just ran away from her and all that’s happened… I still recall the day of my enrollment here, and she had the courage to try and talk to me.
And what did I do? I didn’t even glance at her face, throwing some one-off blunt reply at her. To top it all off, I shooed any worry she had for me away.
Come to think of it, everything I’ve done is nothing short of appalling.
If you realize it, you should do something about it.
“… Hey, Sakurai.”
“… Did I surprise you that much?”
“Oh, yeah, um, sorry…”
“It’s fine… Well, about the other night, I’m sorry… You were worried about me, and I kinda ignored you.”
“Not just then, other times to… Um, I’m sorry,” quite awkwardly, I told her my honest feelings.
“Uh, no, it’s…”
That’s right… If you realize you’ve done a mistake, you should apologize. Eventually, she regained her composure, straightened her posture, and looked at me with resolve.
“It’s fine… I’m also—”
But before she could even finish whatever she was saying, the chime of the bell cut everyone’s conversation short.
“Were you going to say something?”
“… No, I’ll tell you some other time.”
“… Got it.”
Another time huh… Will I be able to talk with her face to face then? Well, I believe there’s some significance to at least taking the initiative this time.
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