“What do you mean?”

–You. You look like the old Kirika. And looking at you now. I can only see a future of regret.

I tried to think of the meaning of those words in my brain, but I couldn’t understand them.

“Well, you don’t know the old Kirika either, do you? Let’s talk about it first.”

Eiji folded his hands and began to talk.

“A long time ago, Kirika used to have a strong feeling of inferiority towards me.”

I gulped.

I had never known this before.

And the word “inferiority complex” stuck in my mind.

“Well, if I tell you everything, it will be morning. I’ll keep it short.”

Eiji began to talk.


I met Kirika when I was in preschool. It was when I was quite young, but I still remember it.

“Let’s play together !”

Kirika would read picture books by herself all the time while everyone else was playing. She was that kind of child.

At first she was reluctant, but Kirika played with me. After that, we started playing together often and became friends.

I entered elementary school.

I had more friends. Of course, I played with Kirika the most, but I also played with other kids.

One day.

“Eiji is my best friend, but I wonder if I can’t be Eiji’s number one.”

Kirika said anxiously.

You may think it’s heavy or something. She was still a child.

Besides, I was happy.

I could be someone’s friend, but I could never be their number one.

Because I was making a shallow and broad relationship. I was happy to be Kirika’s number one. Talking about it will be long again, so I’ll save it for a later time.

Then I started playing with Kirika.

I stopped playing with anyone but Kirika.

I think it was after I entered the sixth grade at elementary school.

Kirika changed. She was just like she is now.

If that was all, it would have been fine, but she said to me.

“I hate Eiji.”

These words were rather effective.

It was unusual for me to be in bed for a week.

But there were various reasons for this statement.

It was the result of many things. The main factor–


If I may say so myself, I was quite popular.

But I didn’t play with anyone except Kirika. I guess that’s why.

I’m an idiot for not realizing it.

There is one more big reason.

It has more to do with Souta.

After I recovered, I questioned Kirika. I didn’t want to be unable to talk to her because of this.

Kirika said,

“Eiji, if you stay with me, it will be bad. I thought if I told you I didn’t like you, you would leave me.”

Kirika had no friends except me. On the other hand, I didn’t even try to make friends with anyone other than Kirika.

So, I don’t know. Of course I was happy then, too.

“I was happier with Eiji before that. ……I ruined you.”

That’s what she told me.

That’s where it started.

As we were talking, I realized that Kirika had a very low self-esteem.

Because she started self-deprecating.

–I hate myself.

–All I can do is drag down the people I love.

–I hate myself for conveniently blaming others.

–I hate myself for being weak.

I was surprised. Partly because she was an optimistic and positive person to begin with.

I didn’t think I would be so overwhelmed.


“I didn’t think. I’m such an idiot.”

I couldn’t say anything.

His face was distorted with grief like I’ve never seen before.

“Well, that was a bit long.”

“……And after that.”

I managed to squeeze out my voice, but I couldn’t say anything from there.

Eiji nodded.

“I confessed to her. …As expected, I’m not going into details. I told Kirika what I like about her.”

“Is that so. Then–“

――I was trying to ask him if they were dating. But Eiji opened his mouth before that.

“I was rejected.”


“Well, I wasn’t pretending to be backwards. She said she needed a little bit of time. She tried to be a good match for me.”

“…..And the conclusion?”

“On graduation day, I couldn’t resist and told her again.”

That’s a lot of energy.

I probably wouldn’t be able to do it.

“It’s cowardly, but I’m giving her two choices. If she rejects me here, I’m not hanging out with her anymore.”

“…..That’s pretty aggressive.”

“But I thought if I didn’t do that, Kirika would run away and say she’s not ready yet. Like someone else.”

The words were clearly directed at me.

Running away….huh. No, yes. Yes, that’s right.

“Now, to the point. Souta.”

His eyes with their strong light strike me.

“I think you will regret it if you don’t do it now. No, you will. I know you.”


“I was torn, too. I’m not sure whether I should say it or not. People have different strides around here.I know it’s not up to anyone else.”

But, Eiji shook his head strongly. He slapped my cheek.

“I thought it would be wrong not to say anything here. As your best friend.”

I closed my eyes to Eiji’s words and thought.

Regret, huh.

“I thought about how you feel. ….The otehr party is the daughter of a famous company. She received Japanese dance instruction from a ridiculous person, and her studies and sports are at the top level.

She is also a model in terms of appearance. It would be strange if you didn’t feel a little self-conscious.”

“It’s amazing to put it into words once again.”

But it is all true.

Nagi is–she’s amazing. She really is.

“You’re doing great, though. A lot.”

“But it’s not enough.”

“It’s natural.”

Eiji nodded his head in agreement to my words. Eiji is the kind of guy who doesn’t deny it out of concern.

“It’s the difference in effort from the beginning. That’s why I’ve been working hard since I was very young……you know better than me without having to say this.”


I met Nagi in the fourth grade. Nagi must have been working hard even before that.

“The point is. I’m talking about whether a guy who has been playing soccer since middle school can beat a guy who has been playing sports soccer since elementary school. And he’s a guy who has really devoted himself to the sport.”

A voice leaked out. It’s true… won’t be easy to win.

“The other person knows how to work hard. Besides…..I don’t like to say this, but she’s probably talented too. And she got the environment in place.

I nodded in agreement.

Indeed. I’m not talking about winning, it’s difficult to line up next to them…or something like that. That’s not what I’m talking about. It would be impossible unless you are very talented.

“I’m sorry if I’m being a little harsh, but I’ll do it again. I’m sure you’re thinking, [I’m not going to confess until I catch up with Shinonome].”


“How many years do you think it will take?”

It’s something I’ve been ignoring until now. It was pushed out in front of me.

A small voice leaked out, but it did not spin words.

“Let me put it this way. How many more years do you want her to wait?”


“I’m sure she’ll wait. I’m sure the parents over there think it’s impossible other than you. Whether it’s one year, five years, or ten years, they will wait.”

Eiji said so. Eiji’s words and expressions did not look like he was blaming me.

“Let me change the subject a little bit. You. How come you don’t hate Shinonome?”

“How could I?”

I was able to respond immediately to those words. Eiji laughed.

“Yeah. You don’t hate Shinonome at all. But, you know, it happens more than you think. It’s not always easy to feel inferior to someone close to you and dislike them regardless of whether they are family members or not. I had a relative like that, and I was close to them. I’ve heard a lot of stories.”

“……There’s no reason to dislike her in the first place.”

“It’s a feeling of inferiority. The main reason.”


A word that stuck in my mind a while ago. I think I understand the reason now.

It is true that I may have a sense of inferiority. But I will never hate Nagi. I have never and will never.

Eiji stared at me and made eye contact with me.

“I didn’t say it earlier. Kirika’s words. It seems that she really meant what she said.”

My eyes widened involuntarily.

–I hate Eiji.

Those words?

“Human beings can at least have a sense of inferiority. So, you can’t keep up with them forever. If you let your inferiority complex get the better of you, it can eventually lead to a ‘dislike’ to the other person. At least, that was the case with Kirika.”

As if remembering that time. Eiji made a bitter face for a moment. But then he quickly shook his head and his expression returned to normal.

“I still loved Kirika. I didn’t want to give up, so we had a crazy discussion. I’ll leave it at that because it’s going to be a long story.

I can’t read the story well. I don’t even know what Eiji is trying to say.

I kept listening to Eiji while somehow turning my head.

“You’ve never hated Shinonome, have you?”


If that’s the case. There is no reason not to go out with you anymore. Unlike us.

Eiji takes a sip of tea.

All the while, his eyes were fixed on me.

“I understand that you want to stand next to Shinonome. But if you really love Shinonome and want to make her happy.”

Eiji cut off his words once and folded his hands.

His gaze became soft.

“I think it’s better to make her happy during that waiting time.”


That’s what you’re saying. What Eiji wanted to say.

“If you have time to make her wait, it’s better to be together and have fun. Mutual.”

“…..You can always improve yourself, is what you’re saying.”

“Yeah. That’s why it’s fine to line up by the time you get married. ….Then, if you keep making her wait like this. If you confessed at that time and were dating, you could have done this, you could have done that. I think you’ll regret it. Souta.”

I closed my eyes. I think about Eiji’s words.

Indeed, it may be so. No, I think so.

If that’s the case, I’ve–

“Don’t make that mistake. You just worked a little too hard and narrowed your vision. It doesn’t mean that your hard work wasn’t worthwhile.”


“You should take it easy. I don’t think Shinonome would have been able to achieve such a good result without Souta.”

“Is that so?”

“You didn’t even notice?”

I don’t really understand…as I was thinking, Eiji explained.

“The environment is also prepared. You know, that ‘environment’ includes Souta. Souta is the biggest factor.”


“Yeah. No matter how good the environment is, it is different whether you can give your 120% in the real competition or not.”

Because I was there–I would like to think so.

“Discuss this area again. I can only imagine.”

“Yeah, right.”

Maybe I was a little too much in my own head. No, I was too overwhelmed.

If you really love her. Don’t get your priorities wrong.

Improve yourself. It’s important. If you are going to stand next to Nagi.

However, there is something that can only be done now. surely.

For example, what if I had confessed my feelings to her earlier, before entering middle school and we could have been in a relationship?

I might have had a more enjoyable school life than I do now.

Even school trips could have been more fun.

…..I think about it now, and I still regret it.

I have kept Nagi waiting. What I can do is getting less and less.

Wait. What I really need to do now is not regretting.

I took a deep breath once.

I decided.

“Thank you, Eiji.”

“You’re welcome?”

Eiji grinned. I smiled too.

“But I’m sorry. Even though we’re the same age, I said something that sounded like a lecture.”

“No. It would be helpful if you said this much. ….I couldn’t have realized it alone.”

I’m sure if it wasn’t for Eiji, he wouldn’t have gone so far as to say that.

Because of what he said, I was able to reconsider myself.

“If there’s anything you need from now on, just keep telling me.”

“Yeah. I’ll leave it to you.”


Eiji put out his fist. I clashed my fists with it.

“About Kirika. You’re the first person I’ve talked to, you know?”

I was surprised at the words he said with a grin.

“It’s because it’s too long to talk about it, and it’s just too heavy. Usually, when people ask me about it, I just kind of goof it up and say it’s just a random thing.”

“……I didn’t know that.”

“Well, anyway, I was planning to talk to Souta someday. I just didn’t have the right time to do so.”

There’s really no time to talk about these things. It means that now was just right.

“Thank you for telling me, Eiji.”

“Well, I wanted you to hear it from me.”

Eiji chuckled, but I shook my head.

“Still. I’m glad you talked to me.”


To Eiji who smiled embarrassedly. It was rare and made me laugh.


The next morning. We gathered in the lobby to take roll calls.

Nagi is next to me.


“Yes? What’s wrong?

“After the school trip, let’s go to the amusement park, shall we?”

–For a moment, Nagi froze.

But in the next moment, her face–a smile I had never seen before.

“Yes !”

She replied cheerfully.

–Just wait a little bit longer.

Definitely. I’ll make you happy.

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