“Thanks a lot. I’ve been able to push myself pretty hard the last two days.”

“No, I’m the one who should thank you. …… I think I will get a good score in English this time.”

On the train. While grabbing the strap. The two of us were swayed by the train on the way home.

I made a lot of progress in my studies. I’ve come to understand everything that I don’t, and I’ve memorized a lot of things.

“And……it was fun, really.”

“Yeah, me too.”

I smiled at Shinonome’s words and nodded.

Although, I myself don’t hate studying that much. …..But I hate studying. I hoped I enjoyed it.

“The food was delicious.”

“Yes ! Let’s go out to eat again !”

……In the same place like this.

If only Shinonome had more friends. I guess it’s not a matter of communication  skills.

She would’ve been more popular than she is now. Both men and women. At the same time, she’d be quite a promiscuous woman.

No, I don’t think that’s a good idea.

“Yeah. Let’s go again.”

I replied. Then, suddenly. Shinonome looked at me.

“Excuse me, there’s one thing. I wanted to ask you.”

:What is it?”

“Minori kun, do you have a girlfriend or someone like that?”

I’ve never been asked such a question before. I couldn’t help but smile bitterly. 

“I don’t have. It’s a sad story. I’ve never had any female friends other than you, Shinonome–“

For a moment.  I remembered Eiji’s girlfriend. …I wonder if she can be counted as a friend.

No, Eiji’s girlfriend is nothing but Eiji’s girlfriend.

“Yup, I don’t have any.”

“…There was a strange pause.”

“Don’t worry about it. She’s my friend’s girlfriend. We’ve talked a little, but I don’t know if we’re friends or not.”

There’s no need to hide it. At times like this, it’s best to be honest.

Shinonome nodded and looked at me again.

“I’m sorry. How do I put it? I’d say that you used to deal with women. Judging from your behavior up until now, it seems to me that it would be strange for you not to have a girlfriend. Even though you’re a good person.”

“Haha. I’m flattered.”

“I’m not flattering.”

I said with a dry laugh.

Unusual. Shinonome had a little anger in her voice.

“Minori kun is kind and considerate of others. He is a courageous person. In the short time I’ve known Minori kun. I could feel that.”

She looked me straight in the eye. That’s what she said.

Shinonome would never lie in a place like this. Yes, I know that.

However, the blur in my heart is still there. I just can’t help but open my mouth.

“…..But you don’t know about that, do you? Maybe I’m just hiding my ulterior motive to get along with Shinonome in this way.”

“Even so, I think I’ve cultivated a good eye for people.  Also, please don’t talk about my friends like that, even if it’s the person in question. I’ll be angry, you know? ……Absolutely, that’s not going to happen.”

At Shinonome’s words. I let out a sigh.

 “Sorry. I was too self-deprecating.”

It’s not good. It’s not good to lower yourself more than you have to. As I reflected on this, Shinonome bowed her head as well.

“…… No. I also got a little heated. I’m sorry. But let me tell you this.”

Shinonome looked at me again and smiled softly.

“At that time, when I asked Minori kun for help. It was the right decision. I’m still afraid of men. But I’m able to spend my daily life happily thanks to you, Minori kun.”

“……You’re welcome”

“Fufu, now that I think about it, that’s what made me interested in you, Minori kun.” 

Shinonome chuckled. I looked at Shinonome and said…..

“Shinonome. You’ve changed in a lot of ways. This looks like the real you.”

I said that.

After saying that, I closed my mouth and thought that it was a bad idea.

“……I guess you’re right. This is maybe the real me.”

Shinonome laughed quietly. It doesn’t seem like she’s angry…. Maybe.

“But it’s about time. My personal life is about to be exposed as well. I have to be careful.”

Ah, no. It’s not a good one. This.

I was in a cold sweat because of the somewhat unusual atmosphere.

“I think that the real Shinonome… better, you know?”

“No. ….Um, that’s.”

Shinonome hesitated for a while before opening her mouth.

“My father is a famous businessman, and he has a lot of relationships with various famous people and rich people.”

This is the first time I had heard about Shinonome’s family. I was surprised, but listened to the rest of the story.

“My father used to say to me, ‘In this industry, you have to avoid showing weakness to others. That’s why it’s best to cover myself.”

What a great lesson.

“That’s why you covered yourself?”

“Yes. I’ll have to take over my father’s business someday. And…… no. I have spent my life according to my father. So this current situation is…..not good.”

I see…….

I can’t get too deeply into other people’s family affairs.

But I can’t help but wonder if this would be bad for Shinonome.

“The other day, I was told at school. Um……during class. Said that my expression was a little loose.”

“…..? Why is that?”

“Because I remembered the time when I was with Minori kun, and I was having fun.”

To those words that were told directly to me, my face began to heat up.

“…..That’s why. I have to be a little more careful.”

I think about it as I cooled down my face that was blushed at Shinonome’s words.

“……You know, Shinonome.”

“What is it?”

“Shinonome’s father. He’s always been……strict. Is he tense?”

I understood what Shinonome was trying to say. For that reason, she has to keep up her appearance.

But, doesn’t that make you tired?

“….Yes. At least in my eyes.”

“Then. How about when he’s alone with your mother, Shinonome? Do you know?”

At my question. Shinonome’s expression stiffened.

“……I don’t know.”

“I won’t deny your thoughts, Shinonome. With that in mind, would you listen to my thoughts?”

If he’s thinking about Shinonome’s future. It might be better. ….But.

As a friend. I don’t think that’s a good idea.

“….I’ll listen.”

“Thank you. For me, I think it’s important to loosen up.”

While organizing the thoughts in my head. I stared at Shinonome.

“Of course, it’s great that you always keep trying, and I think it’s important. However.  …….I think there will come a time when you will get tired of it. When that happens, your performance in everything will drop.”

Hearing my words quietly….Shinonome nodded.

“That’s understandable.”

“…..I don’t mean that you have to expose the real you all the time. I know that’s not in line with what you want, Shinonome.”

Ah damn, my face is getting hot again.

But I have to say it.

“At least when you’re in front of me. I want you to relax. It’s better that way. I would be happier if I could see the current you, Shinonome.”

Looking straight at Shinonome. I conveyed my feelings honestly.

Shinonome stared at me. ….She stared at me for a while.

And loosened her cheeks.

“I understand. I’m not going to refuse my friend’s request.”

I was relieved from the bottom of my heart and wondered….why I was so relieved.

Before that question was resolved. Shinonome continued to speak.

“Besides, it’s just as you said, Minori kun. It’s important to have a sense of balance in life. It also serves as training for that.”

“Yeah……that’s true.”

I also smiled at those words. A phone notification rang.

“Sorry, I’ll look at my phone for a bit.”

I said so and looked at my phone. The notification was from Eiji.

[Don’t go to the station nearest your house first, Souta. I’m at the station near the high school and will take the next train. How much longer is it going to take?]

I broke out in a cold sweat.

I was sweating because the next station was the closest one to my high school…..where I usually get on and off.

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1 year ago


4 months ago

Oh. His name was Souta.