Ch 21 Meeting and Farewell
I was accompanying Ageha in her studies, and it was getting late when I got home.
As I walked home much more slowly than usual, I looked up at the sky.
This area, where there is a lot of nature, looks somewhat starry compared to the city.
… Since that day a week before Christmas when Karen confessed to me that she had a boyfriend.
No, it has already been almost three months since that day when Ageha confessed to me.
The Aizawa family and I have known each other since I was little, and if you compare our relationship to the past three months, the latter is clearly shorter.
But for me, these three months have been more intense than anything else.
The cold night wind blows against my body.
On the way there, I was attracted by the light of a vending machine on the side of the road, and before I knew it, I had put in some change and picked out a can of corn pottage.
I wrapped my hand around the can.
The warmth of the can gradually spreads.
I want to stay like this, but I can’t help it if the corn pottage gets cold, so I shake the can a few times before hanging the tab on my finger to open it.
It warms me from the inside out.
Sitting on a bench at the bus stop, which is naturally empty at this hour, I sip the corn pottage and think for a while.
What should I do now?
Of course, I was thinking about the Aizawa sisters.
On the one hand, I want to stay in the same relationship with them as before, but on the other hand, there is a part of me that thinks that I shouldn’t stay in this relationship.
At least Karen has a boyfriend now, and Ageha has told me that she likes me.
I have turned down her confession, but it is also true that I have been ambiguous about her attitude of not giving up.
I chewed the corn with a crunch.
The sweetness that was not in the potage spreads in my mouth.
After swallowing, I let out a gasp.
After all, I feel like this is just another attempt to be vague.
I’m thinking about the future, trying to think about it, but without coming to a final conclusion.
I’m just pretending to be thinking.
“This is the kind of thing that really gets under my skin.”
I couldn’t help but say it out loud.
How many times have I hated myself in the past three months?
… If you want to reject her, just stop contacting her as you have been doing.
Don’t make plans for a date, don’t go on a hatsumode with her, don’t accept her chocolates, don’t bother to visit her on a sudden call.
Why didn’t I do so, why couldn’t I?
Maybe I think I knew the answer a long time ago.
I think I knew and told myself I didn’t.
Because we were childhood friends? Because she was the sister of a girl I liked? Because she would be sad if I rejected her?
It shouldn’t be that way.
In the finished can, a few corns were trapped inside, unable to come out of the mouth.
I turned it upside down on my mouth and tapped the bottom of the can a few times.
The less stubborn grains fell easily into my mouth with that.
… Today, I watched from behind as she studied.
I forgot to read my book.
That, more eloquently than anything else, should have told me the answer to my question.
I tapped the bottom of the can hard.
The remaining grains finally fell out.
Chewing it down with a faint sense of accomplishment, I got up from the bench and began to walk away.
As soon as I opened the door to the rooftop, a warm spring-like breeze blew by.
The wind blew my hair, which I had combed by hand in the morning, into a mess.
I held my hair in place as I approached the fence, which was more than two meters high.
Cherry blossom petals, towering in the shade of the school building, were floating on the ground in the wind.
A week has passed since the opening ceremony, and I have begun to get somewhat used to life in a new school year.
It is often said that the second year of high school is the most enjoyable time.
This is probably because there is no anxiety about the new life, no pressure from exams, and school trips.
After looking down at the ground through the fence for a while, I saw Karen and Saijo-Senpai with their lunch boxes coming out of the school building side by side.
I casually followed them with my eyes, and they sat down side by side on a bench in the courtyard.
I broke off my gaze and moved away from the fence.
I lay down on a wooden bench that was to be installed on the rooftop, which was to be liberated this school year.
The warm sun caressed my skin.
It’s lunchtime and no one is around, is it because they don’t want to go all the way to the rooftop or because they are desperate to build new relationships?
I had been thinking that I would have to join the crowd once I became a sophomore, but it seems that I no longer have to do so.
I gently put down the lunch box I had been holding in my hand and shut my eyes.
I wondered if the first-year students were still in class.
As I waited while thinking about such things――
From the rooftop entrance, I heard a familiar voice, so bright that it almost blew away the spring weather.
I opened my eyes and slowly raised myself up to look that way.
Ageha, dressed in her Yodogishi High School uniform, came running towards me with a lunch box in her hand.
“Sorry to keep you waiting.”
I went over to the edge of the bench.
Then, Ageha gently sits down next to me.
We opened our lunch boxes and put our hands together.
We had lunch in silence for a little while.
Suddenly, next to me, Ageha let out a laugh.
When I looked at her quizzically, she said shyly.
“I’ve always dreamed of having lunch at school with you, Haru-kun.
In junior high school, you weren’t allowed to leave the classroom, right?”
I nodded back at her words.
On the day that Ageha was accepted to Yodogishi High School, she directly said to me, “Let’s have lunch together!”
I nodded back as I had done in the past.
Today was the first day of classes.
It was the first time I had to eat lunch at school with Ageha.
Seeing the happy profile of Ageha next to me with her twin-tailed hair swinging, my cheeks relaxed as well.
This was partly because I found her childishness hilarious, and partly because I was once again confronted with the change in my feelings.
Looking at her twin-tail hair tied up with the hair ornament I had given her on White Day, I decided to tell her.
Ageha, whose mouth is just full of rice, looks at me with a slightly goofy face.
I said while holding back the urge to laugh.
“I’m glad you and I can have lunch together like this.”
I move my chopsticks again, while Ageha has been curdled up with a bright red face.
… Yeah, I really like Ageha.
Once again, I feel a little embarrassed when I put it into words in my head.
Anyway, now that I’m aware of this, I should probably confess my feelings to Ageha.
I glanced next to her and saw that she had finally started to move and was looking up at me.
The first time I looked at her, I was strangely embarrassed and turned my face away from her.
I’ll confess after I’ve sorted out my feelings a bit more.
The season of meeting and parting.
I broke up with Ageha as a childhood friend, and met Ageha as a girl.
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