I saw a small animal ransacking a vending machine.

“…… what is she doing?”

I may have expressed it wrong in many ways, but at least that’s what I thought the moment I saw the scene.

I looked around to see if anyone around me sympathized with me, but there were no students near the cafeteria, which had finished its work after lunch break, and during the few breaks between fifth and sixth periods, almost no students went for this vending machine far from the classroom.

Unless, of course, they don’t like crowds of people like me.

The little animal that was rummaging through the vending machine didn’t seem to notice me standing a few meters behind it. Even now, it is moving its small frame impatiently.

To her credit, she probably dropped some coins under the vending machine when she was trying to buy a drink. I heard the sound of money falling just a few moments ago, and she is fidgeting to look under the vending machine.

“What am I going to do?”

If I don’t do something, I might end up rubbing my cheek against the ground and watching a female student in my grade picking up coins from right behind me.
I think it would be a bad idea to watch such a scene from behind, considering the fact that the other person is wearing a skirt. It would be a bad idea to start another rumor.

I take a deep breath, clench my fists, and take a big step forward. Approaching right next to her, I called out from the side

“Kohinata, right? Did you drop the money?”

The little animal’s name is Kohinata – I’ve never been involved with her, and I don’t even know her first name.

She is a first-year student at the same Sakura Sei High School, and once tomorrow’s closing ceremony and spring break are completed, we will both move up to second grade. The reason I know her name, even though we are not in the same class, is because Kohinata is a particularly famous person in our grade – or rather, in our school.

Kohinata looks up at me in response to my voice. Her expression is cold and mechanical. The coldness of her face, which is so perfect that it seems fake, may have added to her coolness.

“How much did you drop?”

I ask, but there is no answer. After a short silence, she looked away from my eyes as if she had lost interest and turned her head toward the vending machine.
I’d heard rumors, but …… she really doesn’t talk, does she?

The first reason why Kohinata has become famous in this school is probably because of her too-small physique.

She is just barely 140 centimeters tall, which is more than 30 centimeters shorter than me. If Kohinata and I were to face each other, I would be able to see her whiskers.
Looking at her small body and her short bob of lightly pigmented hair, any student at the school would recognize her as Kohinata, even if she were in the back of the head.

“Ten yen? Fifty yen?”

I ask, and she shakes her head, her eyes fixed on the vending machine.

Another factor that made her famous was the fact that no one had ever heard her voice.

My friend Keiichi told me that Kohinata never opens her mouth, but if you ask her a question that can be answered with a yes or no, she will respond by shaking her head. Remembering this story, I asked her …… and apparently succeeded.

“Then 100 yen?”

I continued to ask, but Kohinata shook her head again.

“Five hundred yen?”

She nodded her head without changing her expression at my words.

Hmmm……… I see.
If it was 500 yen that she dropped, even I would put up with some shame and try to pick it up. I understood why Kohinata was walking left and right in front of the vending machine, and I folded my arms and nodded just like she did.
I took my wallet out of my pocket and plucked out a 500-yen coin.

“I’m supposed to clean this place today, so I’ll pick up your 500 yen for you. So here…”

With these words, she holds the 500-yen coin between her index finger and thumb in front of Kohinata’s eyes.
Then she turned her face to me again with no restraint.

“I can’t give it to you unless you give me your hand.”

I added a few more words to the somewhat dazed Kohinata. She did as she was told and held out her hand in front of me.

It looked like she was scooping up water with both hands, but the area was small even though it was the palm of two hands. I dropped a 500-yen coin into her small palm.

With Kohinata staring at the golden coin in my palm, I quickly went and bought myself a drink. It’s 100% grape juice. It’s my favorite drink.

I shoved the juice into the pocket of my uniform and started walking to the classroom. Because there’s no time to spare.

“Why don’t you go buy something and get back to class, too? You’ll be late for class.”

Kohinata’s small face moves up and down in response to my words.
I don’t know how Kohinata felt about this series of events. I don’t know what Kohinata thought about all this, because she doesn’t talk.

But as far as I was concerned, I didn’t care what she thought.
Kohinata, who never opens her mouth, is the perfect partner for my rehabilitation.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

“So, I’ll collect the 500 yen.”

After school, after I finished cleaning the cafeteria, I succeeded in retrieving the money that Kohinata had dropped. I didn’t think she was lying, but it was a relief to actually hold it in my hand.

For a student, 500 yen is a very precious sum of money. Even though I have some income from my part-time job, one meal is still a lot.

Akane-san, the cook, who was watching from the cafeteria window as I scraped the bottom of the vending machine with a broom, let out a “hmmm” sound, as if she was not sure whether she was interested or not.

“So, Tomoki-kun, you finally got to talk to a girl. Congratulations~”

What’s with that emotionless way of talking? If you’re going to celebrate, put more feeling into it!

“It’s not that I can’t talk to them. I just didn’t want to get involved, but I usually answer when someone talks to me. That’s why I can’t get a part-time job at a coffee shop.”
“That’s true. I’m a girl and you can talk to me, right?”

As for Akane-san’s “girl” comment, I decided to ignore it. Because, Akane-san, you’re my mother’s sister, so you’re old enough to know better.

“Well, if you’re trying to move on, that’s great! Your sis will be rooting for you! So I’ll reward you for cleaning today with a special donburi of hamburgers, katsudon (pork cutlet served on top of rice), and ramen!”
“Don’t mix it up, stupid aunt.”

(TL/N : Seems interesting, let’s see how this turns out)

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1 year ago

The summary looked good! So I’m here!!