“[Can’t take it anymore] huh…”

A heavy sigh escaped my lips as soon as I stepped into the doorway.
From the living room, I could smell the appetizing aroma of yakisoba noodles, perhaps, and the sound of my parents talking. Fortunately, my brother had not woken up yet, or I would not have heard that leisurely voice – but even so, I did not feel like showing my face in the living room right now.
I don’t feel like talking to my parents as usual, let alone my brother.

How could I spew such stinky lines one after another, I thought back and almost fainted in embarrassment.

I guess I was in a trance – or something like that.
Anyway, I was desperate. There was no room for nervousness, embarrassment, or any of those things. I felt a strange sense of elation, different from excitement or impatience, similar to a sense of mission,……, and I felt as if all the nerves in my body were being sharpened. The first time I saw a woman in the field, I was so excited that my head was calm,……, and I was more focused than ever. The only thing that was echoing in my head was the voice that said …… that I wanted Honami, and my mouth was moving as if driven by that voice. It was as if something had taken over.

I think it was selfish and delicately …… really a ‘lousy confession’. I’m not sure I could have done any better than that. It was the best confession I’ve ever heard. I feel that I have conveyed everything so that I can say that.
That’s why …… I can endure
If this doesn’t work, then I can’t do it anymore. I am feeling overwhelmed by the lack of response.
What is ‘I’ll wait as long as I have to’?
It hasn’t even been long enough, and I’m already overwhelmed.

I didn’t even feel like taking off my shoes, so I crouched there and hung my head.

I wasn’t expecting it. I knew Honami liked my brother and I knew he didn’t see me as a man. I knew that he didn’t see me as a man, and that when I told her, I would finally be able to step into the ring. I knew I was starting from the bottom.
I can’t. I can’t. I can’t look at you. –What do you mean you can’t see my face? It’s more than just a pulseless ……, isn’t it? It’s more like a rejection …….
I never thought I’d see the day when I’d still think I’d rather be cursed …….

I stare down at the tiles at my feet and think – if only.

What happens if I get rejected for this ……? If she says she just can’t see me as a man, what happens ……? What if she says it’s a no-go ……? I don’t want to give up – I know I don’t want to give up, but pestering someone even if they say there’s no chance is no different than stalking.
I want to make Honami happy, not annoy her. I don’t want to do anything that Honami is not willing to do.
If Honami’s answer is a complete ‘no’, then I’m going to back off – but then……?
Can we go back to …… ‘childhood friends’ like before? Will things go back to the way they were, like nothing ever happened? No,…… I don’t think so. I’m sure that ‘just neighbors’ is already in jeopardy. If my brother broke her heart and dumped her, …… as expected, even Honami would feel uncomfortable coming to our house. Even if she did, she would probably feel uncomfortable. When I get home, I will definitely not see Honami lying on the sofa.
Will the “daily life” that Honami has taken for granted until now, as if it were a matter of course ……, disappear? Depending on Honami’s answer–.
I mean, no,…… why, I’m starting to regret it a bit, am I! It’s too soon. I’ve declared something embarrassing like making her fall in love with me, but what the heck is going on?
I take a deep breath to compose myself and stand up.
If I just sit here …… for now, Mom will find me and say, “You don’t have time for this!” I’m not sure how long it will take her to find me and force me to clean up the mess.
I’m not sure how long I’m going to be able to keep this up, but I’m sure I’m going to be able to keep it up.

Anyway, now all I can do is wait and see.

I gave her the key, and all I had to do was wait for Honami’s answer – and then I sat down on the bed.


I felt a strange …… discomfort.
Was that ……?
What is it? This feeling ……? Something …… strange. What is this uncomfortable feeling? Something hard in my ass……, wait a minute!
With a huff, I hurriedly stood up and stuck my hand in the back pocket of my pants. And then, “Ah ……,” a fawning voice leaked out.
I was hit on the head with a thump, as if I had been hit on the head with all my might. No …… longer, I want to hit the wall with all my might.
There it was – still in my pocket, the duplicate key to our house that I had gone to give to Honami.

“I didn’t give her the keys…..!”

*   *   *

How in the world am I supposed to come back and say, “Sorry, I forgot this I’ll wait as long as you want, just think about it when you get settled.” I can’t just come back and say, “I’m back again,” before I’ve even dried my tongue!
But …… that said, …… I can’t just keep this key with me.
I want her to come and see me – and that, of course, is a part of it. Apart from that,…… no, before that, this key is for ‘in case something happens’. Honami’s parents both work, they come home late at night, and they often go on business trips. The key was originally given to Hohami by my parents when she was still a kindergartener.
More than ten years have passed since then, and nowadays, Honami uses this key only to “see my brother” and never comes to me for help (except to force me to do her assignments). Honami is no longer a child, and if she has a problem, she can handle it on her own. I guess I am not old enough to meddle ……, but even so, she’s a woman, after all. I’m worried about being alone in the house next door. I don’t feel comfortable if I start thinking about …… in case she get robbed.
Not only as a man, but also as a childhood friend. I want her to have a key.
That’s why…

“I’m going to the convenience store.”

I was loudly lying and said that, “You’re home? At least tell me you’re home! What are you going to do for lunch?” I ran out the front door, ignoring my mother’s voice echoing from the living room.
With a feeling of anguish in my heart, I went to Honami’s house with the key – the exact same situation as just a few minutes ago, and a wry smile escapes my lips.
I can’t believe I went to give her the keys and then brought them back. I was stunned at how stupid …… I was. I can’t help what I’ve forgotten. I can’t change my back. No matter how bad I looked, I had no choice but to go and give it to her.
Just a few minutes ago, she told me that she can’t even see me. I don’t know if she’ll see me or not, but – and with a bitter feeling in my heart, I opened the gate and went out into the alley.
It was then.


I heard a weak voice right beside me, and I turned around with a start.


It was too sudden. Too unexpected. A muffled voice leaked out.

–it was strange.

She’s just a few meters out of my house ……. Come to think of it, when was the last time we met outside like this?
Since we graduated from junior high school, we have always met in our living room. I’ve always seen her lying lazily on the couch under the tasteless lighting in a disheveled outfit,…….
It is almost noon. The sun was shining brightly and rudely, and the sight of Hounami standing in the sun’s rays looked fresh and new.
I was surprised to remember that she was so petite, even after all this time.
Her fluffy white blouse seemed to shine in the sunlight, and her fluttering knee-length light blue skirt was as fresh as the blue sky. Her long black hair, which had been tied back in a sleep habit, was tied into a tight ponytail, and even the contours of her small, lovely face were generously revealed.
She was wearing neither the sailor uniform she had worn in junior high school, nor the loose-fitting T-shirt and shorts she had on. She looked much more innocent and sweet than usual, and I felt as if I was being shown what a “girl” really is.
I felt as if my heart was being grabbed, and I gulped.
Come to think of it, I hadn’t seen her in casual clothes for a long time. Since I’ve reached the age of 20, I don’t play on weekends anymore, and when Honami comes to my house sometimes, she’s dressed in her loungewear. That had become the norm. ……

I forgot about the key and …… the confession and …… for a moment, and fawned over it.

I must have had a crush on her for years. I was dropped into such a …… shock, as if I had fallen in love at first sight.
The face was blushing, and the eyes, which were downcast under the eyelashes, seemed to be shaking and even moistening.
Normally, she would have spat a venomous “What are you staring at me for?” I would have expected her to spit venom at me and glare at me. But there was no such stinginess in her eyes. There was no venom, no thorn in her flesh, and there was only a healthy, beautiful girl with a lovely face contorted into a sad expression, as if she was desperately enduring something.
I have to admit that I was irresistibly tempted by this appearance of Honami, which I had never seen before.
With a …… perverse urge that was a mixture of a desire for protection and a desire for control – no, who the hell is that? I was screaming in my mind.

What is it? What is this? What is the situation? Who the hell is this?

It’s like a different person.
Is that Honami? Is this girl really ……Honami? This teasing girl is ……! I even had the ridiculous thought that she might be a fox in disguise.
What in the world is wrong with her? What is that reaction? How should I take it? I mean, what am I supposed to do!
I was about to go see her, but I didn’t expect to run into her ……. It was so unexpected that I didn’t even have the tact to hand her the key and say, “Just in time”. “Why in front of my house?” I suddenly had such a question, and my whole body felt a shock as if an electric current had run through it.
Maybe she came…… to say “answer” or something? So soon ……! No, but what else ……?
All at once, my body stiffened with tension. My heart was beginning to beat slowly and heavily.
I swallowed hard and swallowed hard, desperately trying to calm myself down as I quietly called out, “Honami …….’
Then, Honami’s body shook with an obvious shudder.

“it’s not!” She shouted with a bright red face, as if she had been played. “I …… still can’t …… do anything about it. My head is full of ……, so I didn’t come here to …… reply, I just came to see Hiroyuki san!”

Choking up in a trembling voice and speaking quickly, Honami ran past me.
I didn’t even have time to ask her what she meant. Without even pressing the intercom, Honami passed through our gate and headed for the front door. I stood there, staring at her back, stunned. There was nothing else to do but stand there …….
It was like I was being held by a fox,……. But while I was stunned, I was at the same time convinced that it was real.
It’s been ten days since I’ve heard that line, too. It was both pathetic and vain to think that this was typical of Honami. A kind of self-mockery overflowed in a mixture of sighs.

In the end, I couldn’t even have a proper conversation with her without her face being turned away from me.
I knew it was more than just a pulseless …….
I don’t even know how many times she told me she came to see my brother. I’m used to hearing that ……. That was the most painful thing I’ve ever heard.

At any rate, I didn’t want to go back home now, so I headed for the convenience store, as I had declared to my mother.

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