For the next two days.
On Thursday and Friday, neither Kohinata nor Saejima contacted me.

I asked Keiichi what he had done, but he just smiled a creepy smile and said nothing. I was annoyed that he was so handsome and so good-looking.

Well, he said something like “I’ll take care of it” that day, so I’m sure he did something behind my back. In elementary school, I was in the position of defending him, but since junior high school, he has been helping me.

I was polishing a table at the coffee shop where I work, when the bell rang to announce my arrival.


–I couldn’t say anything until the bell rang. My thoughts stopped for a moment and I couldn’t understand what was going on.
There are two girls I’ve seen before and one boy who looks too familiar.

“…..What are you thinking about, Keiichi?”
“Well, well, well, that’s all right, can I sit in the empty seat?”
“–good grief, I’ll have you explain it to me properly,……, take any seat you like.”

Cowering my shoulders, I still lead Keiichi and the others to their seats by hand as per the manual.

Keiichi was wearing light-colored jeans and a plain white T-shirt. It was too simple an outfit, but his face deviation was unusually high, so it made him look fashionable enough.

So, of the two girls, he is the loud one.

Saejima is wearing loose-fitting beige wide pants, a white innerwear, and a pale green oversized shirt over that. The colors are spring-like, and the checked pochette seems to be a point of interest.

And the other quiet one.

Still small in stature, she is wearing a long dark brown skirt with decorative buttons and a somewhat dusty, ivory long-sleeved shirt. Her outfit somehow gives the impression of tiramisu. It suits Kohinata well.

I pour ice and water into glass cups at the counter, taking in the sight of the two in their casual clothes, which I have never seen before. As I go out front to put them on a tray and take them with me, I pull a face at the sight I see.

“……What are you seriously up to?”

For some reason, Kohinata was the only one sitting alone, even though the three of us had entered the restaurant. Incidentally, Keiichi and Saejima are sitting alone in a four-seater.

Fortunately, it was after four in the afternoon and there were not many customers. If it were a busy time, I would have made them sit together to secure a seat, but looking at this quiet restaurant, I cannot say so.

I mean, in the year since I started working here, I have yet to see this restaurant full.
Without a doubt, this restaurant is breaking even.

“If possible, I didn’t want the guys at school to know where I work.”

I went to the table where Keiichi and Saejima were sitting first, put down two glasses of cold water, and muttered a few words of complaint. Then Kageichi said

“Manager! This guy is talking to me!”

Keiichi then said

“I’ll kick your ass, Keiichi!”

“Hahaha! Well, the manager won’t be offended if I talk to you privately. If anything, he’s the one taking the initiative in making a fuss.”
“I won’t deny it – for now, Keiichi, would you like a glass of Spiritus as usual?”
“That’s just plain old undiluted spirit! I’m underage! What is this place trying to make a minor drink?
“You’re not being very forthcoming ……, I was just trying to fulfill a customer’s need …….”
“Hey, what’s with the sudden sobriety? I’m not sure if I’m that strong of a drinker. I’m looking forward to your future.”
“No, I think you need to sterilize my customers with alcohol.”
“I’m treated like a germ!? Isn’t it too much to treat a customer like that?”

Satisfied with seeing Keiichi’s astonished expression, I turned my attention to Saejima, who was watching the exchange with a poker face. She then noticed that I was watching and bowed her head apologetically. Then she murmured, “I’m sorry to interrupt your work.”

“I’m not good with …… Saejima ……, but she’s a valuable customer. I’m not going to tell you not to come; if I did, I’d be the manager’s target.”
“Haha…… that’s tough.”
“It’s true. And for reasons I don’t understand, like, [I saw it in a comic book and I want to try it out].”
“That’s really tough.”

When I said so with a distorted face, Saejima spun her words with a mysterious look on her face. I’m glad she understood. Keiichi is laughing as if he were talking about something else.

“Besides, the manager is a woman who isn’t even 30 yet. I’m sure it’s hard on adolescent Tomoki in many ways, physical contact-wise.”
“I’m telling you, the pain doesn’t help that much, okay?”

There are a lot of tricky parts, but that manager knows that I’m not good at talking to more than one girl, and she always changes when those customers come in. She is currently in the kitchen, but probably realizes that I know her and doesn’t talk to me.

If you ask me whether it is easier or harder to work at the restaurant, I would say without hesitation that it is the better choice. I don’t tell her because I know she would make fun of me.

I asked them to call me when they decided what to order, and I went to the other classmate. She was looking at the menu list with pictures in both hands and staring at a certain point.

“Hey, Kohinata. It must be tough for you, having to deal with those guys.”

When I put down the cold drink and said this to her, she shook her head.

I’m not sure if it’s a denial of being “forced to go along” or a denial of the “hard work” …… Well, I guess it’s the latter. She’s not likely to say she wants to go to my place of work.

“Have you decided what you want to ask for?”

I moved to a position alongside Kohinata so that I could share a glance with her, and bent down. Then she pointed vigorously at the menu. This is all I have! There is a strong will of “This is the only way!”

“…. You’d better not try that. It will be hard unless there are at least five gymnasts in the group. And if you leave anything behind, the manager will be furious.”

The menu she directed me to was called “Ultra Hyper Deluxe Special Megaton Parfait”. The name sounds like something an elementary school student would come up with, and the price, including tax, is a joke at 5,000 yen. The name, by the way, was given by the manager.

“If you want a parfait, you should choose this seasonal parfait. This time of year, it’s strawberry.”

I’ll have that one, then! Kohinata slides her finger on the parfait I suggested.

“Okay, what do you want to drink?”

I exchanged something like that with Kohinata, and she ended up ordering a hot café au lait.
After writing down the order on a piece of paper and putting it away in her pocket, she started playing with her phone, flicking through it. It was kind of lonely, like she was really at a coffee shop by herself.

I would like to ask her why she decided to sit alone like this, but it would be quicker to ask Keiichi and the others than Kohinata. And if I were to ask that, I have a feeling it would be a long conversation.

I thought to myself, I have to get my work done and was about to go to Keiichi and the others to ask for the menu when, with a jerk, the hem of my uniform caught on something.

I wondered if there was something that caught me, and when I looked at it, I saw that Kohinata was picking at my uniform with her fingers.

“Hmmm? You want to change your order?”

I ask, and she shakes her head sideways.
Then she thrusts her phone in front of me. The LCD screen is facing me, and my eyes naturally go to it.

[Thanks, vending machine.]

On the screen that looked like a notepad, such words were written.

Kohinata, who is a woman of few words, is apparently similar to me in the digital world.
But those two short words seemed very much like her to me.

“You’re welcome.”

She nodded her head with the same blank expression on her face.
Her cheeks seem to be slightly reddish, perhaps due to the air conditioning.

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