Chapter 27: Summer Vacation Plans
The breeze was like a coolant, and you could smell the asphalt baked by the heat as you proceeded.
The blue sky that stretched overhead was as clear blue as an aquamarine.
It felt as if it brought happiness, just as its precious gemstone word indicated.
Flowers bloom along the roadside.
Trees lined up in a row.
Everything in the world that stretched out on my path was tinged with a slight feverish heat.
After the first semester’s closing ceremony, I said goodbye to my classmates on my way home earlier than usual after school.
It was already summer at this time of year, so it was no surprise that everything outside was hot.
It was hot to the extent that I could not help but talk to myself.
Even my summer clothes, which I felt like I had just changed just a few days ago, were only as effective as a hot stone in the face of the temperature outside.
Of course, it might be much more effective than wearing long sleeves, but hot is hot.
If the summer heat were solved by simply wearing short sleeves, mankind would not have invented the air conditioner.
As I continued on my way, I saw a sign for a restaurant.
Flowers, a family restaurant.
It was a family restaurant chain that was open 24/7.
I had been going to this restaurant so much that I could picture its menu in my mind just by seeing its sign or its silhouette.
I’d even conquered everything on the menu, except for the limited-time-only menus.
“…A chocolate sundae.”
The decision was instantaneous.
I imagined a plate of chocolate and a serving of chocolate ice cream and bananas.
Strangely, my stomach had become physically unable to accept anything but a chocolate sundae.
I dragged my feet, almost overcome by the heat, and went straight into the store.
Without even speaking to the waitress, I proceed through the store with a familiar gait.
The place I was aiming for was my usual seat.
And there was the girl who always sits there.
Her long golden hair was so beautiful that it seemed to be subjugated even by the sun’s rays.
Eyes colored azure, more beautiful than any ocean in the world.
Her skin was so fine and spotless that she didn’t seem to care about the midsummer sun.
The summer uniform of the Hoshimoto Gakuen wrapped around the outstanding style of the girl, whose ample breasts and slender neckline give her the look of an idol.
A very dear friend and classmate of mine in the second year D class of Hoshimoto Gakuen high school.
She was a very famous girl in our school.
There were two reasons.
One was her looks.
She was so beautiful that she was constantly being scouted by several modeling and idol agencies, which was understandable.
Naturally, there were not a few boys who were after her.
And the second one was that she was the younger sister of the very famous singer-songwriter, “Kuon”.
Her sister had a wide fan base, especially among high school students, young and old, male and female, and was now so popular that she could be called a social phenomenon.
Therefore, many people approached her to get close to her sister, “Kuon”.
Kazemiya herself had a complex about her older sister, and she did not take kindly to those who approached her because of her sister.
She was probably fed up with being approached on a daily basis.
Therefore, in her own way, she had been coldly rejecting those around her as a form of self-protection, and now there were almost no more people who approached her.
There was a time when Kazemiya had a bad reputation because of her cold rejection of those who approached her, but……she had cleared up the misunderstanding little by little and now Kazemiya was treated normally by her classmates and other students.
“Ah, you’re here.”
I joined Kazemiya at the seat where she was sitting.
“It can’t be helped if the teacher suddenly asked you to do something.
No need to apologize.”
“Kazemiya, you seemed to be looking forward to today.”
“I-I wasn’t looking forward to it.”
It seemed that she was looking forward to it.
“But they’re spread all over the table.”
I was just preparing!”
What Kazemiya had spread out on the table was a “Summer Vacation Reward List” that she had made before the first semester’s final exam.
I worked harder than ever before for the first semester’s final exam, partly due to my family’s circumstances.
Therefore, we made this list for the purpose of having a lot of fun during the summer vacation as a reward for doing well on the test.
And today, based on this “Summer Vacation Reward List,” we decided to make plans for the summer vacation together at a family restaurant.
“I’m going to take a free refill drink first.
How did you know?”
“Oh, I just thought you looked like you wanted a sundae, Narumi.”
Kazemiya made a triumphant face, apparently still holding a grudge against me for teasing her about her “Summer Vacation Reward List”.
Well, that didn’t make me regret it at all.
She should realize that she was just being cute when she did that to me.
“Then, can you take care of it for me?”
“Leave it to me.”
I poured melon soda into a glass.
By the way, I put one more ice than usual.
Although the amount of ice was reduced, I took the coldness of the drink over it.
Besides, this was a free refill drink, a student’s friend.
The quantity could be filled as much as you wanted.
“Melon soda, huh.”
“This drink has to be the first one.
It doesn’t feel right if it isn’t.”
Kazemiya giggled at my words.
In the classroom, Kazemiya always had a strong image of solitary cool beauty, but when we talk at a family restaurant after school like this, she was always like this.
“I ordered you a chocolate sundae.”
With a sideways glance, I looked at the touch-screen terminal sitting in the corner of the table.
The square terminal was a brand-new device that looked as good as new since it had only been installed a few days ago.
“Haa…… ordering is easy and nice with this device.”
Heartily thankful, Kazemiya also looked at the brand-new terminal.
This family restaurant, Flowers, used to allow customers to order directly from the waitstaff, but recently they introduced a touch-panel ordering system.
Both Kazemiya and I were familiar with digital devices, and both of us were modern kids.
We were able to operate the terminal and place our orders smoothly.
“The best part was that I didn’t have to talk directly to the clerk.”
“You don’t like it that much?”
“I hate it when people look at like, ‘Ah, he’s here again’.”
“You’re being paranoid.”
“But you know what it’s like to be paranoid, right?”
I sometimes wonder if someone is giving me a nickname or something behind my back.”
Just like me, then.”
I just hope that the nicknames wouldn’t reach our ears.
“…Well, enough of that.
Let’s get started.”
Without further chit-chat, we got right down to business.
Today’s topic was—our summer vacation plan for me and Kazemiya.
The first semester of Narumi Kouta was a semester of many significant changes.
During spring break, my parents remarried and I had a step-sister and a step-father.
My father was an absolutist in his belief that I was not good enough for his expectations, and my mother divorced him because of it.
Because of that experience, however, my mother had come to care about me to an excessive degree.
This did not change even after we became a new family, and I began to feel uncomfortable at home, so I started going to family restaurants after my part-time job.
There I met one of my classmates, Kazemiya Kohaku.
She, too, found it hard to stay at home, so we would pass the time at the same restaurant.
I formed an alliance with Kazemiya, with the family restaurant as our “refuge,” spending after-school hours together just to get away from our family.
Gradually, our relationship changed from “alliance” to “friendship,” and the time and experiences I spent with Kazemiya allowed me to face my family once again.
I was able to improve my family situation, including my relationship with my step-sister, with whom I had a delicate relationship, and now I was able to spend a much easier time at home.
It was thanks to Kazemiya that our family had been able to move forward.
So this summer vacation was a reward for me, but at the same time, I had secretly vowed to make it a time of gratitude to Kazemiya.
I think this will do.”
In about an hour or so, we had a rough draft of our summer vacation plans, which we had worked out based on our mutual schedules and availability.
We would probably make some minor adjustments to it, but at least there should be no problems at the beginning.
“Well, now that I look at it this way, you’re pretty busy, huh?”
“You don’t like it?”
“I’m looking forward to it.”
Of course, my first priority was to make sure Kazemiya had a good time.
But I couldn’t help but look forward to spending the summer vacation with my friend, Kazemiya.
Now we just need to decide on a day when Natsuki, Raimon-san, and the four of us will play together.
I’ll ask him about his plans and opinions.
……Can you ask Raimon-san about it?”
“Leave it to me.
Please ask for Inumaki’s side.”
Inumaki Natsuki was my childhood friend and Raimon Shiori was a friend of Kazemiya.
These two helped me a lot during this final exam, so the plan was for the four of us to go out and have fun as a way to thank them.
“You said you’d buy Inumaki and Shiori some food.
……Narumi, are you sure you can handle the money?”
“I’ve been taken care of by the two of them.
so this is about as much as I can afford. Besides, I’ve been working a lot to get away from home, so I’ve got a lot of money to spare.
If it’s all right, I was even thinking that it might be a good idea to travel with Kazemiya.”
Do you know what that means?”
Kazemiya deceptively put her mouth on the straw and quenched her thirst with apple juice.
She usually had tea from the drink bar, but lately, since it was summer, she had been mainly soft drink-based.
“If anything, is Kazemiya going to be okay with this? I’ll still play with you though.”
I’m given an excessive amount of allowance.”
Kazemiya complained about the somewhat harsh words.
“…And besides, we’re rich.
Even if we weren’t, my sister earns so much money that she’s astonished, so you don’t have to worry about my money.”
After a pause, she continued to speak in a self-mocking manner.
I want to have a part-time job like Narumi so that I can play and buy things with my own money, but…my mom doesn’t want me to have a part-time job.
She doesn’t want me to go out and do something that will tarnish my sister’s reputation.”
Kazemiya lightly stirred the remaining ice in the glass with a straw.
The cool sound of the ice faded into the bustle of the restaurant.
“I go into the store with Narumi like this and complain about my family.
Even this money was given to me by my mom.
It’s……lame, isn’t it?”
“…It doesn’t matter.
We’re high school students.
It’s not unusual to have an allowance, and not everyone can get a part-time job.
And if you’re caught up in playing with money given to you by your parents, I’ll pay for everything.”
“That’s even more of a problem for me.”
“You’ll have to be patient.”
“Isn’t that the same as now?”
“If you’re going to put up with the same things anyway, wouldn’t you rather be treated by me?”
Kazemiya became silent as if she was about to admit that I had a point.
“…anyway, I hate it.”
“I’d be willing to spare it to play with Kazemiya.”
“…Don’t say such a thing so casually, idiot.”
Kazemiya looked away as if to hide her face, and I almost said something like, “cute,” but I knew that if I said that she would stop looking at me, so I exercised self-control and held back my words.
We then proceeded to do our summer vacation homework while chatting a little more, and the day was dismissed.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.”
We’ll meet in front of the station at ten in the morning and go straight to the movie theater……right?”
“Don’t be late and suddenly ruin all the plans we’ve made.”
When I teasingly said this, Kazemiya also laughed in her usual way.
“See you later, Kazemiya.”
Thanks for walking me home, Narumi.”
And so we parted as usual.
If I were to conclude—the summer vacation plans we made would fall apart before the very first day.
“Sorry, Narumi, I…”
Because after this, I was going to encounter her before the night was over.
In the dark of night.
In the middle of the pouring rain—
“…I ran away from home.”
—with Kazemiya Kohaku who ran away from home.
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