“Sada …… Sada Mayuko Chan ……? I’ve never heard that name before.”

He put his hand on my chin and muttered curiously.
I cringe.
“That’s right,” I spat out in my mind.
I had never called Sada san’s name, even at school. It was just a girl’s name that popped into my head when my brother poked me with it. She was the only girl in my class, and we had been in the same class in junior high school, so I happened to know her full name – that was the only reason I mentioned it.
But I couldn’t let my brother realize that.

I tried desperately to keep my composure and retorted in a stronger tone of voice, “Of course”
“I don’t tell my brother about every girl I like.”

Then, without missing a beat, my brother cut me off and said, “Right, right.”

“I don’t think a high school student in the middle of puberty would honestly tell his family the name of the girl he likes. Even if they were asked–“

I was surprised when he said it in a meaningful way.
I didn’t understand everything my brother was trying to say. Still, …… I somehow realized that I had dug some kind of grave.

“Kouki is that huh” he sighed as if to compose himself, and my brother gave a sort of pitying smile. “If you cheat, you have an alibi that is so rigid that it will backfire on you. You even carefully prepared the necessary receipts to give an alibi. [Why did you save all the receipts just for that one day!] Like get stuffed”
“W…What What are you talking about?!”
“I’m talking about a friend of mine.”

After laughing, my brother suddenly dropped his voice and scrutinized his eyes behind his glasses.

“Why did you lie about liking some girl?”

It was as if I had suddenly been slapped in the face with a slap.

He declared …… that it’s a lie.

He has a blank expression on his face, as if to say, “I already know everything.” It was stupid of me to keep on saying, “I’m not lying!” I feel like an idiot for even trying to resist.
I’m not going to waste any more time resisting …….
All at once, the tension is released, and my body relaxes.

“I didn’t want to get in the way of Honami and my brother’s ……”

I looked away and blurted out resignedly, and after a pause, “What?” I heard a fawning voice say.

“Me and Honami vhan? What do you mean you’re disturbed ……?”

My face tightens up.
As long as my brother thinks that I like Honami, he can’t see her as an object of romantic interest. I felt like that, so I thought I had to …… erase that fact. Even if I had to make up a story about who I liked, I would make it – that I liked Honami – just a “misunderstanding”. If I didn’t do that, Honami would always have a one-sided love. I knew I would never be happy. ……

“I don’t want you to worry about me. So I just want you to take Honami more seriously.”

I took a deep breath, looked my brother squarely in the eye, and said clearly.
My brother’s face, always aloof, turned into a grim frown.

“Why am I facing Honami? It’s because Kouki–“

He looked deeply puzzled and muttered something, then suddenly, as if he had an idea, his eyes widened and he said, “Ah ……!” and his eyes widened.

“Ah …… that’s what you mean ……!? That’s why you’ve been so vague?!”

What’s with that reaction?

“Kouki, you know,” my brother said as he walked up to me in a panic, and when he got right in front of me, he said something to me, “You’re mistaken ……,” and kept his mouth shut.

It was as if time had stopped. My brother is still and silent and still. He looks like he’s thinking about something, but at …… this point in time, what’s there to think about?

“What do you mean by misunderstood?……”

When I looked up at him quizzically and asked, his expression softened.

“I have a girlfriend.”


“What…What, kanojo? ……!”
“Someone you’re in a relationship with. Preferably on the premise of marriage.”
“That’s not what I’m asking you!”
“I can’t go out with Honami chan because of that, and I have no intention of going out with her in the first place. Honami chan is my little sister, nothing more, nothing less. My dream is to watch Honami chan walk down the aisle in her wedding dress, sobbing from behind, and I have no intention of standing beside her. –That’s all. I’m going back to college.”

He says this without hesitation with a slackened mouth and walks away with a satisfied look on his face.
And, no, it’s not “that’s all” ……!

“Why don’t you tell Honami chan that you have a …… girlfriend?

I asked as I followed my brother’s back to the living room door. 

Without looking back, my brother replied, “You didn’t ask.”
“I’m an adult now. I’m not old enough to be so excited about having a girlfriend that I’m telling everyone about it. You don’t like it either. You wouldn’t like it if I went around the neighborhood telling everyone that I had a girlfriend.”

“I don’t like it, but …… that’s not what …… is all about! Honami is ……”
“[I love your brother], huh? Did you hear that clearly from Honami?”
“I didn’t hear it either. I wasn’t told. So I’m not going to do anything. What you think about that is up to you–it’s none of my business.”

He had just left the living room.
I thought I had finally stopped, but then he turned back to me, who was mumbling, and said, in a slightly sharp tone of voice, I’m sorry, but I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do this.

“If you feel sorry for Honami chan, you should do something about it yourself.”
“What do you mean, Do something about it?……”
“Let me tell you one thing. Don’t think that you’ll always be able to meet a girl you like.” Suddenly he became mysterious and pointed at the tip of my nose. “Matchmaking, street conventions, and matching apps…… What awaits you down the road is a war of the crowds.”
“What…What are you talking about?”

As usual. Again, something that doesn’t make sense.
When I was taken aback, my brother cowered his shoulders and chuckled.

“Well you have a girl you like. You should take good care of her. Sano san, is it ……?”

Who is she, I said in my mind.
But it seemed odd to correct him here and say, “It’s Sada-san.” …… I just chuckled and let the brother’s sarcasm and joking words slide.

I guess he’s going to pick up his report. As I watched my brother’s back as he walked up the stairs, I felt an unaccountable feeling clutching at my heart.
I was still remembering the words of my brother, who said, “Take good care of yourself,” as if he was encouraging me, rather than telling me to do so or scolding me.
I thought I was taking good care of Honami, …….For some reason, I didn’t feel like saying anything back. I had such a guilty feeling, as if I had been hit in a bad spot,…….

My brother said flat out that Honami is his ‘sister’. He has a girlfriend, and I guess there is zero …… chance of them dating.
So ……? What happens from here? What do I do?
Without knowing anything, Honami will probably come back to see my brother again. Will I pretend that I don’t know anything and let her go through with it? Do I watch until Honami tells my brother and gets dumped? No. …… How is that? So do I tell Honami? Tell Honami, [I heard my brother has a girlfriend.[ ……? No – what kind of face am I supposed to make? Is it really something I should tell Her? Even Honami would want to hear it from the person himself. ……
I don’t know,–.
I had a kind of headache and held my head.

Do something about it, you know, …… is a reckless move.

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