Currently, Rika is not acting innocently, but she is acting cheerfully.

It is not that she is unnatural because she is different from usual. I can see her as a child, and it makes me smile. Has she regained her childlike spirit?

Or perhaps she has regained her high school girlishness? She is at the age when chopsticks are funny when they’re falling down. The way she laughed out loud at my story may be what makes her healthy.

“…..So, what do you think happened to me?”

“What a tough question.”

This is how it’s been all day at school. I was the perfect listener. Rika’s machine gun talk is on fire.

Her talkative side has never changed. But this time, it’s different. This time it’s not a difficult discussion, just an episodic talk.

“Eh, it’s easy, isn’t it? The correct answer is–“

The conversation continued. All I could do was to just keep on talking. One reason was that the conversation proceeded at an unending pace. Another reason was that I was more than a little thrown by Rika’s change in behavior.

“Rika’s cheerful and energetic personality is nice, too.”

“I usually look like a gloomy woman.”

“I didn’t say that. I’m just saying you’re cheerful.”

“Geez, Masa kun.”

The hand I was holding was shaking. My arms move back and forth, and occasionally a popping sound can be heard. My body is too stiff.

“A buzzing arm sounds unhealthy.”

“You were feeling nervous. If you don’t exercise properly, your body will become weak.”

“I don’t feel like exercising.”

“I don’t want to see Masa kun getting sick. You must continue to be a healthy person by eating well, exercising, and sleeping well.”

“I’ll think about it, if that’s what you want.”

“All you had to do was say [okay].”

I was ashamed of myself for making Rika say so much.

“Do you know why I’m so worried about your health?”

“Because I stayed up all night.”

“That’s true, but we’re going on a school trip.”

“That makes sense.”

“You’re a slow learner, Masa kun.”

“I’ve been so busy with school that it slipped his mind.”

What awaits us is the school trip.

Since I’m in a different class from Rika, our time together is limited. Only during free time.

That’s when we can officially move. I remember Rika saying that we would spend time together in the same room. I wonder if that was true or if she was joking…….

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been away together.”

“Where is the original purpose of the school trip?”

“The trip as a learning experience? It’s boring. Everyone thinks it’s just a subcomponent of the trip.”

Looking back, I don’t remember much of the trip as a learning experience. Just good times. Looking back, that was all I knew.

“We were free to do whatever we wanted.”

“I’m just trying to tell you that it’s not a good idea to be alone at night.”

“You saw my line coming.”

“It’s totally fine. As long as I don’t get caught, there is no problem. Then, Masa kun then refuted the idea. Even if I did, I’d be in big trouble if they found out.”

I had no choice but to remain silent. I was about to say the same thing.

“That’s great……Rika.”

“After all, I can see right through you, Masa kun.”

She sticks out her tongue a little and makes a cute face. The fact that she predicted every single word would be the same scared me, but my fear was overshadowed by her cuteness.

“So don’t worry. It’s important to anticipate problems and troubles. But it’s a waste to get caught up in them and not be able to move. If something happens, we’ll just have to be flexible.”

“Oh, come on, you’re the type of person who believes in a quick fix, aren’t you?”

“I’m always prepared. Only this time, I’m a little unplanned.”

It was enough for me to know that Rika wanted me to go that far.

By staying up all night with Rika, I learned firsthand the value of intense time spent alone.

The story was different when it was just the two of us on a school trip and it was at night.

The two of us had to move without being noticed, spend the same time in a different place, and bring my relationship with Rika into the daily routine of high school, like a class or grade.

These elements intertwine. Heightened. I shudder at how wonderful it would be just to anticipate it.

Rika’s attitude of trying to be unplanned is probably intentional. Rika is well aware that if there are no holes in her plan, she will lose her sense of immorality.

“Masa kun also came up with my idea.”

“Yeah. Rika is indeed as good as I thought.”

“Fufufu. I thought about it first, so it makes sense. Me and Masa kun are one in the same spirit. If you use your mind a little like this, you’ll arrive at the same idea, right? So, after all, Masa kun is also amazing.”

Once this big event, the school trip, is over, another one won’t come for a while. In the blink of an eye, I will be a senior in high school.

Once the third year comes, the entrance examination awaits. It will not be the same as these days. I can’t continue to be absorbed in Rika all the time.

It would be too painful. If there were no exams, if my high school life had never ended, I wouldn’t have to worry about it.

Time flies. Relationships change. Rika told me that. We find what is important even in the midst of change. And we must continue to refine it.

But I still want to enjoy every day with Rika before the peak of our relationship changes. If that is the case, I have no choice but to put all my energy into the school trip. There is only one answer, and it is the one that has been prepared for me from the beginning.

“After hearing Rika’s story, I realized once again that I have to take care of my body. I will be even more careful until the school trip.”

“If possible, even after the school trip is over. Forever.”

“Suddenly the scale of time changed.”

“Neither a moment nor eternity will change, okay? The fact that I’m thinking of you, Masa kun”.

“You’ve suddenly become affectionate.”

“I’m always the same. It’s just a matter of whether I keep it in my heart or show it.”

While we were talking, the school gate came into view in no time. I see a few students here and there.

I feel their eyes on me. Perhaps it was because we were immersed in our own private world, but I didn’t mind the eyes around us.

When I start to be aware of them, I start to feel a little embarrassed. I couldn’t help but want to untangle my intertwined fingers.

“Why do you keep trying to get them off?”

“We’re being watched.”

“Why do you care if they see us? Most people are strangers to us.”

“We are at an age when we are concerned about the way they look at us. What if people talk about us?”

“What are you talking about, Masa kun? I guess it’s all about spreading rumors. Do you not like it when people say we are close? Do you want to get rid of me?”

“No, it’s not that extreme.”

“Then you don’t have to let me go. We have to show people that we will always be together. Otherwise, what’s the point of getting rid of those people?”

Indeed, I was convinced. As expected, I can’t go against what Rika says. The reason for letting go of my hand was suddenly gone.

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