When I heard the front door close behind me, I finally let out a deep, huffing breath and relaxed my entire body.
Even so, my …… heart was still beating madly and violently, as if it were about to burst into flames at any moment. My whole body seemed to be affected by the heat.
I crouched down and grabbed both arms as if to hug myself tightly.
What’s with Kouki? What is it all of a sudden? He’s totally different. He always seems to take a step back. Annoyingly calm and collected. He’s rational, like he’s matured. Not only did he seem fine with me being next to him,…… but he usually had a look of dismay on his face. That’s …… what? What do you mean, you’ve always had ulterior motives? You’re here again, aren’t you? You were standing next to me the whole time, thinking that you wanted to hug me? And you said ‘even more than that’ ……? The other day – when I was pretending to be asleep in the living room – you flatly denied it, saying ‘I would never think of kissing you.’
It’s like he’s a different person.
I didn’t know all that. I didn’t notice it at all. Was he the kind of guy who would say things like, “From now on, I’m going to make you really fall in love with me” ……?
Ah, I can’t do it anymore. I really can’t.
I’m going to die in …… agony just remembering it.
My chest tightens and I let out a weak voice that I’ve never let out before, “Hauu……”.
What does that mean?
Does this mean we are in love with each other ……?
“Love…..Loving on both sides……”
Just a few words, and my face was hot as if it had been set on fire. Immediately, I held my face in my hands.
What should I do—
My chest is full. Something in my body is about to explode. Because …… we are in love with each other. I am in love with Kouki. All I have to do is to tell Kouki the answer. Then, I’ll become Kouki’s wife. That’s too early to say. Kouki and I are both fifteen, and we can’t get married…… not that!
This is bad. I can’t think at all. My thoughts run wild. I just want to pour cold water on my head. Then I might be able to calm down a little.
Yes, I said, looking up.
Let’s take a bath ……! So, once I calm down,…… let’s go tell Kouki.
I’ve always loved Kouki, too,…….
I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to do that.
Just imagining that moment, tension binds my body as I remember it.
I wonder if I can say …… properly. What do I look like when I say ……?
After all, is it better to smile? Or should I say something serious? What if I cry again ……?
Then, but …… Kouki, will he hug me or something? Because he’s already going to be my ‘boyfriend’ – I’m not sure.
The word came to me spontaneously, and I found myself sitting there as if I had just fallen off my back.
The word “Boyfriend”–that’s the word that glimmered in my mind.
Kouki’s …… girlfriend? My boyfriend? My own boyfriend?
I’m not sure what to do.
What is this? I’m so excited like a child. …… I feel like an idiot. I’m not sure what to do with the fact that I’ve been so depressed just a few minutes ago.
It’s all the hanpenman’s fault.
Because Hampenman gives me such funny nightmares. So, I assumed that Kouki likes Sada san, and I also misunderstood Kouki’s confession–.
Suddenly, a sense of discomfort sharply pokes me in the chest.
Wait. ……. Something’s not right.
That’s not ……. That’s not …….right?
There’s really no such thing as the Hampenman curse. …… The Hampenman is just a stuffed animal. The nightmare was created by me. It was just my subconscious anxiety taking shape and projected into my brain.
That’s right–I got carried away and forgot the most important thing about …….
The nightmare is not the cause.
The reason I thought Kouki liked Sada san was because I heard it from his mouth. I overheard Kouki clearly tell Hiroyuki san that there was someone he liked at school and that it was Sada san. So I started having nightmares.
It was just like being splashed with cold water.
In an instant, the excitement cools and the blood drains from my body.
The question now fills my head, which has regained its composure: Why?
Why did Kouki say, “I don’t even know what kind of girl Sada san is”? She’s the girl who he told Hiroyuki san that he’d liked just ten days ago.
–That’s not all.
As if my suspicions were being cunningly drawn out of me like a hot potato, I suddenly remembered, “Oh, by the way, …….”
Kouki had been saying some tiffs about Hiroyuki san. He said that he knew I liked Hiroyuki san, but he couldn’t get rid of his ulterior motive. He said he would make me happy and make me forget about Hiroyuki san, …….
It’s true, I like Hiroyuki san. So, what? What does that have to do with Kouki’s ulterior motives? Is it because you are his brother that you are ashamed of him? But what does making me forget Hiroyuki san have to do with ……?
At that moment, a flash of light seemed to burst in my brain.
Aa–then, eyes wide open, alone in the living room, I was astonished.
Don’t tell me …… Kouki, you think I like Hiroyuki san as a man, …… Kouki! Could it be that …… or even if it’s not, …… that’s why you told me that you like someone in front of Hiroyuki san?
Is that what he mean ……? Then, surely, there are many things that can be connected.
Looking back on it calmly, Kouki’s confession is strange. I’m sure Kouki told me at first that he knew how I felt about him. I panicked,……, and from there I was so distraught that I couldn’t even listen to Kouki’s story properly. And yet – just now,…… Kouki said, “I’ll wait”. Waiting for my answer,……. If you really know how you feel, you would know that you don’t need to wait.
I’m sure of it. Kouki is under the mistaken impression that I have a crush on Hiroyuki san …… and that’s my ‘feeling’.
But …… why? Why is it such a misunderstanding? I …… had been avoiding Hiroyuki san for a long time. These days, I am sure I had never even had a proper conversation with Hiroyuki san in front of Kouki.
I sat on the floor and held my head.
How is this …… going?
It should be just one more step. One more word and I should be Kouki’s girlfriend.
But now, the question is getting in the way. Before that single word, “I love you,” a pile of words like “why” stood in the way.
About Sada san. Hiroyuki san. I just don’t feel right. It bothers me. Hesitation arises. If I don’t do something, I won’t even be able to tell Kouki the “answer,” let alone smile …….
I close my eyelids and take a deep breath to prepare myself.
Let’s ask, I thought. I’ll ask Hiroyuki san……. I’m sure Hiroyuki san will know all the answers to that day and everything else. ……
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