Source

https://kakuyomu.jp/works/16817330649941556887/episodes/16817330650300647676

◆◇◆

“Oh, this outfit looks good on you. I think this one is cute too. Which do you think he’ll like better? Oh, your choice, of course.”

“U-um !”

I was taken into the back of the store. I was made to try on various clothes.

Minori kun is waiting in another place because the staff said [You have to look forward for this kind of thing.]

I was going to say something when the time was right, but I didn’t have any chances at all. I ended up interrupting her words.

“I-I’m ! It’s not like I’m dating him or anything !”

As I said that, the staff looked at me with a puzzled expression.

“Hee,……I see, I see.”

She grinned. She seems to be thinking about something bad.

“So you haven’t dated yet, yeah, yeah, got it.”

“N-no. It’s not like I’m planning to.”

“Oh, well, well. You never know what life is like, right? Boys are like hungry wolves, you know?”

“L-like I said. We’re really…..just friends.”

It’s not like I particularly like him. ……Sure, he’s different from the others.

……But that’s all. I don’t have feelings for him or anything like that. Neither does he. Maybe he likes my face, but that doesn’t lead to liking someone.

Maybe there are people like that, but he’s not like that.

“……Not just me. It’s disrespectful to him too, so please.”

“Oh my. I see. ……Well, I won’t treat you that way then, sorry.”

What a surprise…..though it may be rude to say that. The staff bowed her head.

“N-no….as long as you understand.”

“Okay, thanks. Well, putting that aside. You have to look pretty.”

“…Look pretty?”

I asked back. The staff nodded happily.

“For example. Your…….”

“Ah, my name is Shinonome.”

“T-thank you. I’m Eika. ……So, Shinonome chan’s friend.  For example, if he comes in a shabby shirt or trousers. What do you think?”

…..Would Minori kun dress like that? I don’t think so. 

However,

“……Nothing. I don’t think anything of it. Minori kun is Minori kun.”

But it doesn’t matter. No matter what he wears he’s still himself.

“……Seriously?”

The staff…..Eika san, had a smile on her face. But she had a somewhat stiff look on her face.

“Yes.”

“………..Ah, that’s right. Well, then. On the other hand, can he stand sitting next to Shinonome chan when she dresses like that?”

I was taken aback by those words.

That is……not good. My own dignity is declining…even if it’s still a good thing if people don’t find out about it.

“……His dignity will be degraded too.”

“Mm, you think hard, don’t you? I think people will look at you quite a bit, in a bad way ……But if you dress up pretty. You’re going to stand out in a good way, you know? And then, relatively speaking, he will be seen better.”

“……I see.”

It’s no good to lower his reputation, but it doesn’t matter how much I raise it.

But.

“…… Won’t that make them think I’m his girlfriend?”

“It’s too late for that. If a man and a woman are walking alone together, more people will think of them as lovers than friends.”

“Is that…..so?”

Hearing those words, I felt the blood poured down on my face.

……To have that many people watching.

I might cause him trouble.

“……Are you all right? Is something wrong?”

“…… No. Nothing. Can I ask for some clothes?”

I’ll apologize to him later.

While I was thinking that. I waited for the staff to bring me the clothes.

◆◇◆

“I’m going to give you a big discount today, for you two young people.”

The price she told me was…..surprisingly low.

“T-this is……as expected, this discount is too much.”

“It’s fine. You know, my brother owes you two. It’s not like our sales are bad either, so it’s like a parting gift.”

I was overwhelmed. I decided to buy some clothes and pants, which were quite cheap, instead of a set……because these days, hot days and cold days come alternately.

“Thank you very much, I didn’t know that much about clothes.”

“M-me too….thank you very much.”

“Well, thank you very much for your purchase. Please come back anytime.”

We thanked her for the last time and walked out.

“T-that’s right, Minori kun. May I ask you something?”

“……? What is it?”

Shinonome asked me when we were about to start walking. Shinonome clenched her fist tightly and….looked at me.

:…..I heard from the staff. If a man and a woman are walking together, some people will see them as lovers rather than friends.”

“O-oh…..well. There might be some people like that.”

Even though I was puzzled by her words. I replied.

…..It’s true that I might think that too. It also depends on the distance between the two of them.

For example, the first class…..I think it might be better to call them that. If they look like they can get along with anyone, you might think they’re friends or something. Well, they would still look like lovers if they were holding hands or holding each other’s arms.

“So, earlier……um. Because we were seen by many people. I thought that perhaps I might cause you unnecessary trouble,…..and I apologize.”

And then, with a bow, Shinonome bowed her head.

For a moment, I didn’t know what had happened. I hurriedly shook my head and denied it.

“N-no, no. There’s no need for you to apologize, Shinonome. And I didn’t see anyone I knew around me earlier. Anyway, raise your head.”

“….Thank you !”

I was relieved when Shinonome raised her head. Shinonome put her hands on the bag that she bought and began to search for something. 

“I-I’ll take proper measures on the way home.”

That word…..surprised me a little.

I wonder if she’s going home with me.

But I quickly reconsidered. Going home with a friend would be normal.

Shinonome took out a hat……straw hat. Maybe because  the sun is strong these days, even though it’s the beginning of autumn.

“I-if you wear this.”

I guessed it when I heard the words that leaked out.

“I-I forgot about the tag.”

She turned red with embarrassment. She immediately hid her face with her straw hat.

“I-I’m going to” “Ah wait, Shinonome.”

I stopped Shinonome from going back to the store. I continued to speak.

“I have a pair of scissors. Can I borrow your hat for a moment?”

Shinonome stopped moving…..and slowly held out a straw hat to me.

I took it, took out the scissor from my bag and cut the tag.

“…Y-you’re always ready. That’s good.”

“I always have a pair of scissors with me. …..I also forgot to cut the tag once. Since then, I always carry them since it’s convenient.”

Then I cut the tag off. I hand the straw hat to Shinonome, whose skin is still slightly pink.

“I’ll throw the tag in the trash at the station. Here, I’ll give it back.”

“Oh, thank you very much……”

I put the tag in my pocket….. Shinonome stared at the straw hat. She put it on.

“…W-what do you think?”

“….It suits you. Surprisingly.”

Shinonome has a western-style face. Her skin is as white as snow, not burnt.

However, the straw hat made her look more attractive.

“You’re so pretty.”

The words were unintentionally pouring out of my mouth. Shinonome heard my words…..then took off the straw hat from her head.

I realized my mistake.

“S-sorry….I spoke insensitively.”

Even though she said that she’s not good with men, what do I do if I make it worse?

“……No, it’s fine. Then let’s go, Minori kun.”

Then,…..without showing her face, Shinonome started walking.

I followed behind her.

◆◇◆

…..No way. I didn’t think it would go this far.

No, I had begun to notice it a little more recently.

I enjoy talking to him. I’ve only ever had fun with hobbies like dancing,……but talking to Minori kun was a different kind of fun.

I understand what my mother was talking about when she said [Life is more fun when you have friends.].

…..But. I hadn’t realized it yet.

Being praised by a friend is…..such a joy.

My face suddenly became hot and I hid my face with the hat.

Luckily, he didn’t see my face, so it was good, but…

I made him apologize. I need to brace myself.

While adjusting my breathing so that he wouldn’t notice, I walked on ahead of him.

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