When I opened the door to my house, the smell of simmered food tickled my nostrils. Rinen emerged from the living room door and greeted me in her apron.
“Welcome home, Hisanobu. You’re back late today.”
“I’m home, club activities took longer than I expected.”
“Do you want to join the photography club?”
“Yes, I’m in.”
“You like photography, don’t you? Did something good happen?”
“Because you seem happy today.”
Even though I was rejected that day in the summer, I still feel a thrill in my heart when she says something like this, affirming me or expressing that she knows me.
But I’m family, so I can’t let her know that I feel that way, so I smile and say thank you, and head off to my room to shake it off.
“Dinner will be ready soon. Get dressed and come downstairs”
Rinen’s adorable words nearly sent me tumbling down the stairs. The sight of her in my house with her family always made me dance in the palm of her hand.
As I tried to get dressed quickly, I noticed her bag in my room. She would always come over to my house and climb into my room before going back to her own house. I told her several times that I found this behavior troubling, but if she said she had been doing it for a long time, there was nothing I could do to deny her. Since mother doesn’t stop her, she won’t stop.
We are family. We don’t mind.
After I finished getting dressed and before I went downstairs, I noticed a notification on my phone. It was from Suminodo-san and Yuisa-san.
I looked at Yuisa’s first and saw that it was a cheerful message with stamps. The content of the message was a thank you for coming, and since I had nothing special to say, I just responded with a light stamp.
I was surprised because I did not expect a message from Suminodo-san. First of all, she lightly said that she would be happy to see me tomorrow as the class president and asked me how my club activities were going. She may have wanted to ask me about my impression of the photography club, which I had talked about.
I read the message, but since it was not something I could reply to immediately, I decided to reply later and headed downstairs to the living room for dinner.
Dinner was served with five people including my family and Rinen. When I mentioned that I might join the photography club, my parents asked me if it was okay if I didn’t play basketball, and they were surprised that I was that into cameras.
Rinen was unable to participate in club activities because of her family’s work, so she had to go home. But she still had time to prepare dinner with mother at my house, so her lessons remained a mystery to me. But when I search for the name, a site that lists her name and awards does indeed come up in the search, so she must be doing the lessons themselves, but I wonder when she is doing them.
“You’re both in different classes, have you made any friends yet?’
My father, who is a bit of a worrier about my relationships, throws such words at me. I guess he was talking about me in particular. So I answered his question honestly.
“I talk to my male classmates, and with girls, I talk to Suminodo Ageha san in the mornings,”
Rinen reacted with a twitch. Rinen’s memory is naturally good, so she probably remembered the name of the person she greeted when the party met because of her house. My father also knew the name and nodded his head.
“The daughter of the Suminodo family, huh? It’s a bit far, but she went all the way to go to that high school, didn’t she?”
“Yes, she told me that she chose this high school because it was further away than she wanted to go if she wanted to go to a higher level because of her academic ability.”
“Hisanobu, Are you close with Suminodo-san?”
“We sit close to each other, and you know how there is a male-female class president in the class? Me and her became the chairperson of the second class. I think it’s a good idea to get to know each other since we’re also class president.”
Rinen didn’t ask me any more questions, and my father was surprised that I was going to be the class president. When I jokingly told my sister that it was my high school debut, my sister did not like it very much, and my father and mother worried me a lot, so I promised myself not to talk about my high school debut too much.
By the time dinner was over, Rinen’s house was lit up. Seeing this, she also went back to her own house. Until then, she stays in my room, talks with my parents in the living room, talks with my sister, and so on.
I walk her home, which is right next door. I walk through the gate of the mansion to the door, where a woman in her thirties or so, who lives in the house and manages it, greets me.
See you later, Rinen says, so when I answer that I’ll see her tomorrow, she leaves a gentle smile and enters the house.
The cold spring moon looked down on me as I walked slowly back to my own house.
I was thinking about replying to Suminodo san, but suddenly I feel the need to make a call, so I place a call to her. After a few moments of calling, the call itself connected, but even as I said hello, I could hear a flurry of activity on the other end of the phone.
It was probably two minutes after the call was eventually connected that I calmed down. The clear, dignified voice of Suminodo-san reached my eardrums.
“Sorry to call so late. Is it okay?”
“Of course, no problem. Is something wrong?”
“No, I just thought it would be less formal if we talked on the phone, since messages are so long.”
“Iiiii-I see. I hope I didn’t bother you ……?”
I tried my best to answer her in a cheerful voice, saying that it was fine.
“Sorry for being late”
“I usually just take my time to read and sleep, so it’s no problem.”
“I went to the photography club. The head of the club was an unusual person, but I joined the club itself.”
“I see. I’m going to go to the tea ceremony club tomorrow, because I think they have an activity tomorrow.”
“The tea ceremony club, huh? I was told about some photo spots in the photography club, and the tea ceremony room was introduced as a recommended spot for portraits.”
“Fufu, So, you visited the tea ceremony room at the high school before I did?”
“Hahaha, I got to see it first, sorry. I was surprised that the room was bigger than I expected, but when I asked about it, I was told that it was natural since there were so many people. I heard that the head of the photography club often shows up at the tea ceremony club, so I might come along as well.”
She sounded flustered, and I heard a plop and a sound as if her phone had fallen on a soft cushion. She apologizes for dropping her phone and hurriedly says she is sorry.
“It’s all right. So it seems that the head of the club has some third-year and second-year students in the tea ceremony club who want to have their pictures taken, and she’s been showing up to take pictures of them when she feels like it. And she wants me to come along, too, halfway.”
“I see. You are an unusual person, aren’t you? But the tea ceremony club is forbidden to men.”
“Yeah, the tea ceremony club is like that, but I don’t think the tea room is like that, and even at the school festival, the members of the photography club and the hired photographers will go to the tea room, so there won’t be a problem during the shooting spot introduction tour. Our manager persuaded the tea ceremony club manager, and the other manager sighed as she was defeated.”
“I see, so she has been defeated. ……”
“The head of the photography club was a bit strange, but I don’t think she’s a bad person, so I’ll try not to cause any trouble myself, so please be nice to her.”
“Of course, I will be working with Orikawa-san as class president as well, and I hope we will get along well with each other.”
“Thank you, that’s a relief. In order for us to get along well, is it okay if I call you by your first name too, Suminodo-san?”
“WWWWW-Why so sudden?”
“No, when I was talking with Yuisa-san and Suminodo-san today, I thought it might be strange if Suminodo-san called with a last name, even though we met on the same day and became friends.. So I thought, if you don’t mind.”
“IIII-I see. A-As for me, I don’t have any problem with it. YY-You are my friend!”
“I see! I’m glad to hear that. Then, Ageha, please take good care of me from now on.”
After leaving such a voice, the call was disconnected. I was so surprised that I was about to call her back, but she interrupted me and sent me a message. Unlike the message she had sent me earlier in the evening, it was accompanied by a cute character stamp. The mistakes in her message are cute alongside her dignified image.
“Pwise take care of me. Hisanobu-san.”
“Nice to meet you, Ageha!”
In response to my reply, she sent me a stamp saying, I’m going to sleep! I responded with a similar stamp to end the exchange.
It was almost midnight by the time I looked at the time. Ageha is a little far away from school and comes to school even earlier, so I felt bad that I called too late and turned off the light in my room to go to bed early.
The futon was filled with a sweet fragrance similar to the perfume often used by women who are not family members but close to me, and it lulled me deeply and profoundly into sleep.
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