Episode 54

source

https://kakuyomu.jp/works/16816927861803370576/episodes/16817139555910909951

I, Sakino Shizuka, heard a strange rumor.

“Do you know? I heard that Ichikawa Aoi was really ugly in middle school!”
“Ehh!! Is is?”
“Yeah. She was bullied for it.”
“Well yeah that’s for sure!”
“I mean, I’ve always been annoyed by that clear-cut attitude.”
“she’s really on a roll. Everyone’s talking about it.”
“And I hear she’s a bitch, changing men all the time.”
“What? Weren’t the boys swinging around?”
“I’m sure she’s quiet at her own school. I heard rumors that she’s been having a lot of intercourse with boys from other schools. I heard that’s why Jinguji kun dumped her.”
“Was she! That sucks.”
“Yeahh!”

I was in a private restroom room when I heard the girls having such a conversation.
When I came out of the private room, the girls who had been talking about it were already gone, and I didn’t even know who had been talking about it.

“Aoi…..”

I think of my dear best friend.

I had somehow noticed that Aoi had been acting strangely of late.
However, Aoi was acting as if nothing had changed as usual, and I assumed that I was just imagining things.

The reason for this was the previous Saturday.
Because I can’t help but remember that day.

That scene where Komiya kun and Aoi were kissing. (Ahh so it was her who saw it…)

……I have to admit, I was curious about Komiya kun.
I couldn’t say for sure that I liked him, but I had been feeling something close to that lately.

I really wanted to hear it.

What is this all about? Why are you hiding this from your friend?
How did you feel when we were choosing birthday gifts together?
Was the promise you made then a lie?

The more I think about it, the more it overflows.

But I kept my ears closed to that fact because I felt that if I listened, something would break, something would change.

That is why I was so full of myself and did not know how to respond to Aoi’s strange behavior.

And rumors like the one I just heard.
The girls’ conversation just now convinced me that I was in the right place.

“…..Hey, What am I supposed to do ……?”

my feelings for Komiya-kun and my relationship with Aoi
This complicated, smoldering feeling had reached a point where it could not be contained.

I plan to go home with Aoi after school.
But today, Aoi had gone home first because I had been summoned by the teacher. I followed her later.

The teacher’s errand was not a big one, so I quickly followed Aoi and was able to catch up with her a few minutes after she left the school.

Aoi, walking slowly, somehow reminded me of the old days when she was transferred to …… our junior high school. The most important thing to remember is that you can’t just take a look at the internet and expect to be satisfied with it.

……I knew it, from earlier…….

When I called out to Aoi, her body When she realized that it was me who called out to her, a look of relief appeared on her face.

Then we headed home, chatting as usual.
But I couldn’t concentrate much on the conversation, and occasionally I stared into the air.

“……………Shizuka !”
“Hee!?”
“Shizuka, What’s wrong? You’ve been in a daze since a minute ago.”
“Eh!? Ah, noo….”

Aoi noticed this and looked at me.

I still can’t get my thoughts on Aoi straight, and I haven’t been able to treat her much the way I usually do.
Aoi acts like nothing is wrong, but the truth is that it must be painful.

“What’s troubling you?”

Such concern from Aoi made me keep my mouth shut.

———Isn’t that Aoi?

Such words almost jumped out at me.

“I-It’s nothing”

Somehow I swallow it and work through it.
However, Aoi did not miss such an anomaly of mine.

“Shizuka, if you have any problems, don’t hesitate to tell me. We have nothing to hide from each other, right?”

Aoi smiled gently at me.

Why are you smiling like that?
You’re lying. You’re not telling me anything.

But those words provoked a black emotion in me.

“Tss”

But I soon realize it’s something I shouldn’t be directing at my best friend, and I hate myself for it.

“What’s wrong? You’re acting really weird. If you’re not feeling well, we could take a break…”
“I-It’s fine!!”
“…….ah”

I involuntarily brushed away the hand that was extended to me.

I see Aoi’s confusion in my eyes.

“I-It’s okay. I’m sorry too.”

But Aoi immediately apologized.
Seeing this, I calm down once again and now I ask her.

It’s okay. Calm down.

“Aoi is the one who’s been acting strange lately, what’s wrong?”
“………… is nothing.”

After a long silence, Aoi still did not speak.
I felt something inside me snapped as she turned her face away and misdirected me.

“Why…….?’
“S-Shizuka……?”
“Why !?”

Aoi seemed confused by what I had shouted.
Seeing Aoi like that, I can’t stop talking as if I had been dammed up. Emotions overflow.

“Why won’t Aoi tell me anything? Why doesn’t Aoi rely on me?”
“Shizuka! Calm down!”
“Nothing to hide? What are you talking about? It’s Aoi who has something to hide, isn’t it ……?”
“!”

I could see Aoi’s eyes swimming. She seems to be self-aware.

“Aoi, you’ve been acting weird lately.”
“………..”
“Yet Aoi won’t talk to me even though I worry about her. I want to help, but ……”
“………..”
“I know, you know? I also know that Aoi is dating Komiya kun. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“T-That’s………! N-no…..”
“If I’m so unreliable, why don’t you talk to Komiya kun all you want!”

I spat that out and ran away from Aoi.

“I suck. ……”

When I got home, I went into my room and collapsed on the spot.
Tears naturally well up in my eyes.

My head was a mess.
Now I was just sad.

I, Ichikawa Aoi, stood there.

I hurt someone close to me.
It was self-inflicted.
If only I had been able to explain well that I am dating Komiya kun.
If I hadn’t kept it a secret, I wouldn’t have hurt my precious best friend like that.

“Shizuka….”

Still, to think that I was able to keep her away from that man with the rotten guts….

“Uuu”

The ground was wet with drops.

I had to think rationally about things.
I cowered in place, unable to move for a while, even though I knew in my head what was happening.

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