Episode 66 – Shiina Haruka ③

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https://kakuyomu.jp/works/16816700427224608463/episodes/16816927861603270984

[……]

At my outlandish suggestion, Kanata was staring back at me with a look of disgust, as if this was too much for him. I guess I had indeed skipped too many steps.

[You still don’t want to go to school?]

[……I don’t see the point of going.]

I guess those words have all kinds of meanings. Why should he go to learn when he’s this brilliant, and have nothing in particular to learn? I wondered why she would go out of her way to make a proposal that would gouge out his wounds when his heart is not fully healed. I’m sure that his liking for me has been quickly shattered by what I just said.

But still, I thought I should tell him what I wanted to tell him.

[If Kanata chooses that way, it’s fine, and nowadays there are correspondence schools and night schools, so that’s one way to go. If I were to say just one thing out loud…..]

[?]

[Is it really okay to keep losing?]

[Keep losing?]

I won’t specifically mention what this means. I’m sure he has his own ideas, and I don’t know all of them. It’s entirely up to him how he perceives my comment. If he feels uncomfortable and this time he really wants to lock himself in his room, that’s fine.

[Besides, our time is always limited. We should do what we can while we have it. Or try to do something we haven’t been able to do before.]

[No, there’s almost nothing I can’t do, but……]

[Well……then how about this?]

My thoughts. It’s a method that a half-hearted person like me can never do. It’s a method that is absolutely impossible for me, a person who is helped or dragged down by others.

[Use all your talents for yourself.]

[?]

[I’ve learned over the past few days that you’re amazing. I’m sure you lived your life in a way that you always cared about someone else, right?]

[……]

[Then use all of that power, time, and resources for yourself starting today. Not that I know everything, but I’m sure you’re such a kind person that you don’t need anyone else’s help. If you feel like it, you can really live alone.]

[……]

[You don’t have to force yourself to help anyone. Leave that kind of thing to older adults or professionals. And you need to minimize your cooperation with anyone else and think of yourself first. Ah, except for that one time you took care of me, that was helpful, okay?]

[…….]

You don’t have to try to save others by cutting yourself off, except for life-threatening problems. You don’t have to meddle in other people’s problems that you have nothing to do with. It’s easy to do so as long as you have a firm sense of purpose. However, whether or not the environment is conducive to putting that into practice is another matter. Someone has to create such an environment.

(I’ll have to do my best……but let’s start with the immediate problem first)

From the looks of it, Kanata was a little upset. Maybe my speech like that gave him something to think about. Is it about what he has been or what he’s going to do? Either way, what I have to do now is to support him as much as I can. That’s all.

[Well, I’m not going to say anything else. It was a comment that took away my delicacy, and I wouldn’t be so sure about it even if I were in the opposite position. For now, take a good rest.]

I said so and returned to my studies. It’s going to be winter break soon anyway, so I’ll be able to spend more time with him. The Archery club doesn’t have frequent practices scheduled, so this is a good time for me to take a fresh look at myself.

In order to change something, you have to make a move. In order to move, you must have the appropriate strength. In order to have the strength, you have to polish yourself steadily and diligently every day.

Everyone knows how hard that is. That’s why I can’t force my ideas to Kanata.

[……]

Sure enough, he was sitting in a triangular position on a chair, staring at his phone in a daze. He’s not playing with his phone, but just staring at the screen, which shows nothing. Perhaps he’s asking himself something. If so, it’s worth having the courage to talk to him……

[……High school.]

[Hm?]

[Is it interesting?]

In contrast to the disgusting face from earlier, there was a little interest in that face. His eyes seemed to be either questioning me or assessing me. Either way, my next statement would surely change his life.

[……I’ll be honest with you, I’ve found school pretty much never interesting.]

[……]

[It’s a preparatory school, so I had to study all the time, and because of that, I wasn’t able to build satisfying friendships. Even I did the archery club half-heartedly, and if you were to enroll, you’d probably see me as a ridiculous older sister.]

[……Hee.]

[But !]

[……?]

[……I never thought it was boring.]

This is my honest feeling. I don’t talk much with my classmates, but I watch them all trying something in a friendly way. I like that scene. Seeing that makes me want to work harder, too. I have been able to do my best so far, even when things are unpleasant or painful, without falling apart.

[……So what you’re saying is, you’re trying to……enroll me in a school that you don’t even know if it’s interesting or boring?]

[……It’s not me who chooses it. The choice is always yours. Just like in a story or novel, the protagonist of your life is always you. It’s only you, the protagonist of your life, who makes the choice to change something. So I can’t decide for you, Kanata.]

[Yeah…..I know.]

Then comes the silence. I had never been in such an awkward atmosphere before. The tension was so intense that I felt as if I was about to gasp for air. And the one who broke it was, unexpectedly, Kanata, who stood up in front of me. Kanata was……

[F-fufufu…..]

He was laughing. As if he had found something interesting or a new goal. I’m not an esper, so I cannot know what was going on in his mind, but something had definitely changed in him. Then he went straight to the stairs.

[Kanata?]

[You never know how life will turn out.]

[……Yes. That’s right.]

[Well, maybe I’ll accept your offer.]

[……Seriously?]

[I’ll decide if I go or not afterwards.]

From there, he acted quickly. We contacted the middle school and told them that he was going to take the entrance exam and ordered the application form. He also went out of his way to take a mock exam, showing a very positive attitude. I don’t know the results of the mock exam, but the fact that he didn’t stop taking the exam after seeing the results suggests that he was within the passing range. And that was proven in the real exam. He accessed the school’s website with his smartphone and checked his result.

[…….Passed.]

[No, you’re ability to take initiative is just too much. I mean, I didn’t see you studying.]

[Wasn’t it you that told me to do it?]

[But still, you wouldn’t normally think it’s this amazing, would you?]

[I cut a lot of corners.]

[Is that something you did out of spite for me?]

I also spent a whole year attending cram school and studying hard to get into Ichinose High School. The actual fact is that I almost threw up because of so much pressure. Well, I guess it’s not worth comparing myself with him.

[Oh yeah, Kanata, I want you to hear about my resolution.]

[Resolution?]

Kanata accepted, but he could’ve been kicked out of the school. If he doesn’t find any meaning in going to school at this point, it’s quite possible. That is why I’m declaring to him. This is my answer to him for responding to my feelings. And at the very least, it’s a way of repaying the favor.

[I will be the student council president !]

[……Huh?]

[I know I said school was an uninteresting place, but maybe it could be a little more interesting.]

[No, I don’t get it.]

[Well, I’m serious. If I become student council president, you’ll have to give me your best wishes then. Promise?]

[Well…..have it your way.]

[You clearly are not interested at all……hmph, just look from now on !]

Then I get excited. Maybe I have started to change a little since then. Otherwise, I would’ve been one boring girl for the rest of my life. But now …..

※ 

As soon as I moved up to the second grade, Kanata became my junior. So I immediately joined the student council and worked hard to get a recommendation through the scouting system. Although I had not left the Archery club, I was truly a ghost member during this period.

The reactions from those around me were mixed. Some looked at me with interest, others snickered and made fun of me, and still others, thankfully, were supportive. In particular, the people in the Archery club were cheering me on as much as they could. I had never spoken to them before, and I was prepared to be looked at with suspicion, but the unexpected warmth almost made me cry.

But things didn’t go so easily. The incident occurred about a month after I joined the student council. I was in charge of organizing the supplies in the equipment room.

[One of the supplies here is missing. Is there more in the back?]

And so I reached for the back shelf. In retrospect, I should’ve moved the equipment out of the way or used a light. But I didn’t have the brains to do that, and fortunately or unfortunately, I found the missing item.

[Thank god ! This is all….kyaa !?]

I tried to pull out the equipment from the back of the shelf, which was filled with a large amount of supplies, and the shelf fell toward me. I was pinned under the shelf itself, not to mention my belongings, and was unable to move.

[It hurts……my bones, are they okay?]

I quickly checked my body, and it seemed that the gymnastics mats on the floor had helped to lessen the impact. However, I’m still unable to move. And the equipment is scattered all over the place.

[S-someone help me……]

I then reached for my phone with my right hand, which I could barely move. Fortunately, the phone was not broken and turned on.

[I mean…..who should I contact?]

I have never actively tried to befriend anyone. So I don’t have contact information for most of my classmates, and my contact list is blank. I thought about contacting the members of the Archery club, but they are practicing right now and I didn’t want to go out of my way to call them.

[It can’t be helped, I have to call the school’s phone number……no, wait.]

There’s one person with whom I have exchanged contact information. I decided to contact that person to see if I can’t get a hold of him. He may have already left, and I don’t know if he can help me. But at the last minute, I wanted to take a chance on that possibility.

So a few minutes after I contacted him, he came surprisingly quickly. He opens the door to the tool room and is startled for a moment, but soon regains his normal demeanor.

[What are you playing at, Nee san?]

[If this looks like playing, you need to go to the hospital right now. I’m trapped under a shelf. Help me.]

[Why me?]

[Just because.]

[Is it not because you don’t have many friends?]

[You crossed the line.]

It had been some time since I met Kanata and we had come to be able to catch more words than we should. Recently, he has started to say some cheeky things, and I can’t help but get harsh with him. Perhaps it’s a sign that we’re getting to know each other better, but I can’t help but feel that things are going in the wrong direction for both of us.

[Here.]

Kanata pushed up the shelf that was covering me with a cool face as usual. He then returned the shelf to its original position. His unexpected display of strength made my eyes widen.

[Kanata, you’re so powerful.]

[Well, yeah.]

[You’re not going to join the sports club? You might get special treatment.]

[I don’t care. It sounds boring.]

[……I see.]

He has an extreme aversion to standing out. I’m not sure if it’s because I told him to live for himself or if it’s because I told him to be himself. That’s why I’m also very careful and try not to talk too much to him at school.

However, recently I have been thinking differently. I think he doesn’t really dislike being noticed, but rather he dislikes being boring. I wonder if he has never met anyone with whom he could throw himself into his presence with all his might. Or maybe the people he has met so far have been extremely despicable. Well, I don’t know.

[Here, stand up, Nee san.]

“Yeah. Thanks.]

[You thanked me, Nee san? Will there be a disaster tomorrow?]

[You’re really getting cocky, huh.]

[Eh, is that how you treat the people you save?]

[Yes, yes, thank you, thank you, thank you for saving my life.”

I thanked him in a very appropriate manner, but I really meant it when I said that he saved my life. Recently, I haven’t been able to properly express my gratitude and thanks because I get embarrassed, but I’m trying my best to show it through my actions.

I thanked him and resumed my work. I thought he was going to leave, but he was watching me on the jumping box in the equipment room. This boy often observes me. Or is he assessing my existence? If so, that’s fine.

(I will definitely be student council president. And even if it’s just a little bit, I’m going to make him……)

I will make him feel comfortable in the school. If I do that, maybe he will have a chance to get over his old trauma. Or maybe he will forget about it. I don’t know which way it will turn out, but that’s what I want to do now. That’s what I have to do.

And so, in my second year election, I was indeed elected As student council president. It was the moment when all my hard work paid off.

And I made various efforts for my only brother. Of course, I took into consideration that the whole school would benefit, and I made efforts to be an example not only to him but also to other students. I’m sorry that I have neglected the activities of the Archery club, but I hope they will forgive me because my efforts in my studies have begun to bear fruit. Now my grades have improved to the point where I’m among the top three in my grade.

Along the way, I interacted with many people, including Shinkai san, as I trained younger students. At first I was groping my way around, but I was able to open up to them sooner than I thought. It was also around this time that I realized the importance of interacting with people. In this way, I myself have grown a lot.

–With this, I’m sure……

However, I still hadn’t achieved my main goal. In fact, I might retire as student council president without fulfilling it. I quietly watched him go up the stairs to his room the day before the sports festival.

“……I’m sorry.”

I muttered to the void. It seems that life is still as difficult for him as it was then. I couldn’t change anything. Even if I became the student council president, I couldn’t achieve anything in the end.

“……I’ll go to bed too.”

It was no use staying up like this. I decided to go to sleep right away so that I could get up early again tomorrow morning. Tomorrow will be my last day of work as student council president. Then I will forget my personal feelings once and fulfill its main purpose. At the very least, let’s show my cool side at the end.

Hopefully, something will change at this sports festival. I prayed, clinging to the straw.

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