“Sorry to keep you waiting.”

Rika stood with her back against the wall, standing at a slight angle.

She straightened up and opened her mouth.

“It took a while. You didn’t reply at all.”

“I couldn’t get out.”

“I was so worried about you that I sent you a bunch of messages.”

“I was more concerned about You sending three-digit messages.”

Since it was about Masa kun, I thought he would just play it off as usual, she said. If you don’t get a reply after several messages, that’s probably the case.

This was not the case this time. Messages were constantly appearing in the notification box. It was a tremendous amount of work.

“I regretted that I had indeed gone too far. But, you know, my emotions got the better of me. I feel like I’m on a high, like all the reason and discipline that’s ingrained in my body has been blown away.”

“Isn’t that a very difficult situation to handle?”

“I’m a little scared, too. But the drunkenness is not easy to sober up. It takes time. I’ll be careful, but there may be places where I can’t control it.”

A student came out of the door of Rika’s class wagon. They had to use the restroom.

As soon as the student came in, I decided to pretend to be someone else. It was like an instinct. I had nothing to hide.

“There’s no point in hiding it now, right?”

“Even though I knew it in my head, my body didn’t do what I wanted it to do.”

“Masa kun, that’s right. That’s exactly what happened to me.”

“You mean you have to be very careful with me.”

Yeah, Rika nodded.


The feelings of course come in waves. If you find that you are being swallowed by the wave of outbursts, you must understand and act accordingly.

It is at my discretion whether to accept or reject Rika. I have no intention of denying her. I am interested in what will happen if Rika does not stop. I can’t say that I won’t be interested.

“If you understand, that’s how it is.”

“Rika’s feelings about me are okay. But, well, it’s out of the question for you to put messages or incoming calls in a row. I’m going to ask you to stop it.”

“But it takes a long time, Masa kun.”

“It’s only an hour. An hour is the equivalent of two anime or one drama. You can live without communicating with me.”

“I tried to reach you because I knew I couldn’t.

“Let’s pretend it’s possible. Sometimes you have to wait. Sometimes time is a nurturing force.”

“You’re right, Masa kun. I will try to enjoy the waiting time.”

“I’m glad you agree.”

Rika is not stupid. She is much smarter than I am, and I’m sure she would understand if I could persuade her.

Rika seemed to have calmed down. Her cheeks relaxed. She seemed to have lost her strength and was about to fall to the floor. I immediately supported her back with my hands, and everything was fine.

“You’re tired, Rika.”

“I guess I have to admit it. Maybe I’ll sleep soundly in my seat.”

Her eyelids looked heavy. Rubbing her eyes, I was heading back to my wagon class. I waved her off as I walked back to my seat.

“Did you enjoy your talk?”

“I guess so.”

I brushed off Nanase’s inquisitiveness lightly. I had to see her once. I just needed to see her face. The only thing that mattered was that.

I felt a little concerned when I saw how dependent she was on me. It’s okay because she’s exhausted and sleepy at the moment, but if Ishewasn’t, things might change.

“I don’t get it. From the outside, you’re a happy man. So why don’t you express your joy more?”

“I think I’m happy enough, and it shows.”

“If that’s what Masatoshi thinks, then maybe so, but as a classmate, I have to say that I still see some hesitation.”

I wonder if that’s true. I’ve eliminated what should have been eliminated, so the only ones left are me and Rika.

“The world is not so sweet that you can remain with no complaints at all. But I can’t help but feel that there is something that is not quite right with Masatoshi. That’s all I have to say.”

The three of us at the four-person table agreed that there were no objections.

“I see, I understand what you’re thinking. I’m going to take the time to find out what’s going on and what’s not making sense to me.”

“I’m rooting for you.”

The only thing I can do is scratch my head to cover up the fact that all three of them gave me thumbs up at the same time.

To be honest, Rika is a little scary right now. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel suffocated by the sensation.

But I wouldn’t say it’s unbearable. I am more than half happy.

I guess this is the turning point. Do I accept Rika’s love, or do I reject it and back off? It is not a choice between the two, but it is something to consider.

I would ask the school trip to make that decision. Become a catalyst to reflect the state of my heart.

I’m so confused. I will slowly decide whether she is a suitable childhood friend for me. I don’t want to continue to feel uncomfortable and cause discord. Immediately confront the discomfort. That’s it.

I put Rika in the corner of my mind. The four of us, seated close to each other, passed the time by playing cards. I had experienced firsthand that playing cards on a journey is very special.

We heard an announcement that we were passing several stations. The next stop was our destination.

I gathered my belongings and thought about the next steps. For the next few hours, we will be moving as a group. Rika and I are not in the same group. The brief separation continues.

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