I was in trouble.
“So…I was wondering if you would like to join me on Sunday or something. …….”
A pretty girl blushes in front of me and shyly invites me to join her.
While waiting for my reply, she was shaking her body restlessly and wandering around with her eyes.
“Let’s see… …….”
“Ah…busy this week? It is the day after tomorrow, isn’t it? I’m sorry, I’ve been wanting to ask you out for a long time, but… well, the timing just hasn’t been right. …… So, if you can’t make it, don’t hesitate to tell me, okay? But then, if you can, we can do it another day …….”
I was at a loss for an answer when she started talking fast, playing with the ends of her medium-length hair, which she must have cut over the weekend.
I could sense her nervousness and impatience from the way she was talking, and I realized that she hadn’t changed yet.
I just knew it was only a matter of time, and I was fed up thinking about that time.
-so my response is a given.
“Sorry, Umm …….”
“Uuu, Nono! It’s totally fine! I shouldn’t have said that so abruptly! I’m sorry, I didn’t get a chance to talk to you much this week. I’m sorry, okay? Oh….that’s right. If you could give me your contact information or something, I’d be happy to do so…….”
She didn’t even allow me to say no properly.
I’m sure that’s how desperate she is.
I grabbed this girl, Sakurae Sana, by both shoulders with both hands and stopped her from talking.
I was suddenly touched by her and she looked up at me with a frightened expression on her face.
In addition, it’s probably because she’s doing things she’s not used to, like inviting men over.
The fact that she was so surprised and her eyes were wide open and moist already tells you how much courage she must have summoned up.
Even with that in mind, I couldn’t give in.
“I’m really sorry, but I prefer to see movies alone. …so invite someone else.”
I couldn’t say “another guy,” but Sakurae seemed to sense my intention to reject her.
I was so disappointed that I couldn’t even say “another guy”.
I pushed down my guilt and pulled my hand away from Sakurae’s and told her clearly.
“…It was fun talking to Sakurae. But I didn’t intend for it to be that way. I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong impression.”
Sakurae repeats this in a tearful voice and begins to tremble.
I will attack further.
I have to make something clear here…
“I’m not going to meet Sakurae outside of school. …So don’t try to get involved anymore than you have to.”
I immediately heard the sound of Sakurae sobbing, but I turned my back on her and walked away without another word.
The first time I met Sakurae was in a committee activity in high school.
We were in the same class in our first year of high school, but we had no contact with each other before that and probably weren’t even aware of each other’s existence.
But when we became members of the same library committee, our relationship began to change.
“Hyaa!? W-What is it?!”
“The doorbell rang already. Let’s hurry up and get back.”
“Eh? Oh, it’s already this late. ……”
It was the first day I was in charge of lunchtime book duty.
We talked for the first time.
At this time, Sakurae’s hair was still long and we were only having business-like and awkward conversations.
However, as we talked more and more, we became more and more comfortable with each other, partly because we both liked to read.
“Have you read this book, too, Kokonoe kun?”
“Yeah, it was pretty good.”
“I see. Fufu. …….”
“What is it?”
“Because, It’s a romance novel…”
After a month of being on duty once a week, we got used to each other, and little by little Sakurae started laughing in front of me.
Sakurae, who is usually quiet in the classroom and doesn’t seem to have any friends, smiles in front of me.
I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel a sense of superiority.
It was definitely true that I liked spending time with Sakurae.
“It’s fine right! It doesn’t matter if I read romance novels.”
“Fufu, I’m sorry? That’s right. Tell me your recommendation for romance novels again, Kokonoe-kun?”
When I turn away from her out of embarrassment, she laughs at that too in a funny way.
I’m not sure if I’m being honest, but Sakurae seemed to be getting the hang of my personality by this time.
“…That’s going to kill the heroine at the end.”
“Aah! I’m still in the middle of it…. You bully!”
I spoiled the story to get back at her, and Sakurae puffed up her cheeks and got angry.
Her frightened look at me was completely gone, and she was showing me her original teasing cuteness.
But after the midterms were over and I had been on library duty with Sakurae for a little over two months, she started cutting her bangs until I could see her face, and a certain uneasiness began to smolder inside me.
“….I’m sorry, I’m late.”
“…… No, it’s fine.”
Without blaming me for being a little late for my shift, Sakurae was glancing sideways at me, as if she wanted to say something.
“…you cut your hair.”
“Eh? Hehehe, yeah”
Sakurae looks happy at my question and looks up at me as if she expects something more.
“Ah…. yeah, Thanks!”
I praised her while turning my face away from her, and she answered in an even more joyful tone of voice.
–I looked away, not out of embarrassment, but out of awkwardness. ……
I was not concerned about my appearance that day, and Sakurae spoke to me in a normal way.
However, I had been thinking about how to distance myself from Sakurae from this point on.
The reason for this was the Sakurae I saw in the classroom surrounded by my classmates.
Yes, she had a dark atmosphere and her long bangs hid it, but her appearance was very well put-together.
Droopy, kind eyes and a small nose.
She had plump lips and a slightly round face that made her look young.
In addition, she had breasts for a petite girl and was probably one of the top cute girls in her grade.
After a while, Sakurae began to laugh a lot, even at her classmates.
Girls play with her hair and hug her …….
Boys would make her laugh with jokes or ask for her help …….
Sakurae was at first puzzled by her classmates who began to take notice of her, but gradually she began to blend in, and she began to have many friends around her.
She also began to show a cuteness that made those people want to tease her, and she became even more popular.
–I was sure that one day Sakurae would become just like them.
I couldn’t help but feel that way about Sakurae.
“You know…I was wondering what kind of hair style you like, Kokonoe-kun. …….”
One day she brought a fashion magazine and asked me for advice on her hair style.
She also noticed that my attitude was different from before by this time, and she would talk to me in a puzzled manner.
I felt a little relieved at this Sakurae’s appearance.
…… I thought that I didn’t have to try to force her to distance herself from me anymore, and that she wouldn’t get any closer than she already was.
“…Sakurae, do you like it long?”
I asked as I took the book Sakurae offered me and rolled it up.
Just don’t get too close like before, just keep an attitude that won’t hurt Sakurae any more than necessary.
I was careful to do so, but Sakurae’s face lit up and she peeked at the magazine I had opened.
“Well, I think this is about right. The girls in my class also said I would look good in this kind of thing, right?”
The two of us are looking at a single magazine, so we’re close enough that our shoulders are touching.
Sakurae doesn’t seem to be bothered by this at all, and because she’s even closer to open the page she wants to show me, I can feel her not-so-small breasts on my arm.
I was listening to her story, feeling confused and annoyed at the defenseless Sakurae.
–Soon, she’ll be pining for someone other than me in this way.
Perhaps she already has such a partner.
And eventually, she will look down on me for not fitting in.
“……Sakurae, you’re getting a little close.”
I desperately try to push those dark feelings out of my mind and manage to get away from Sakurae.
I was so close to her that she seemed to realize that we were now in close proximity. She then pulled away shyly.
“That’s okay. …… See, this kind of thing is good on this page, isn’t it?”
In contrast to Sakurae’s blushing face, I point to one haircut while handing the magazine back to Sakurae without hesitation.
I had no intention of doing so, I just recommended another haircut similar to the one recommended by her friend to cover up the fact that my opinion was involved.
Sakurae was mumbling to herself, “I knew I wanted this kind of haircut….” Sakurae starts looking at him with a serious expression on her face, muttering to herself
I returned my attention to the book and tried to read the rest of the story, but I found …….
“Um….! Sho, Shota-kun!”
I looked up with great vigor at the voice awkwardly calling my name.
I was surprised to see her face, and Sakurae smiled shyly.
“Well, you know. I’m on the same committee with you, and I wanted to get to know Shota-kun better. So, do you mind if I call you by your name?”
I was stunned and said, “Yeah….”
When Sakurae looks happy and shy, I realizes my failure.
(I’ve done it. …….)
Sakurae didn’t even notice that I was bemoaning my own failure, and her demands continued.
“Well, then…call me by my name, too?”
I replied, trying not to make the same mistake again.
“I’m not used to calling other people by their first names, so I’m fine the way I am now.”
Sakurae looked obviously depressed and forced a smile.
The conversation ended with me returning my gaze to my book again.
Then, at the beginning of the week, she came to school with the exact same medium-length hair that I had pointed out.
The overall impression was brighter, and the randomly curled ends of her hair matched the impression of the soft and fluffy Sakurae.
Many of her classmates came to talk to her in the morning.
Many of the boys were praising her from afar for her more polished appearance.
(Oh, this is just a matter of time. …….)
In the midst of all this, I remembered a past mistake and watched it with bitterness.
–This week, book duty was taken over by a guy in the next class, and I never got to talk to Sakurae.
After that, knowing that Sakurae was looking for a chance to talk to me, I avoided her.
But after school on Friday, I was so engrossed in my book that I didn’t notice that homeroom was over, and I found myself in a situation where I was alone with Sakurae, who was unintentionally waiting for me.
As soon as I finished reading the book and realized that I still had a lot left to do, I began to quickly prepare to go home without looking at her.
…There was no way I hadn’t noticed Sakurae’s voice, even if it was small, but I couldn’t even think about it at that moment, and was desperate to leave this place as soon as possible without incident.
I might have even been thankful that I was seated far away from Sakurae.
But cruelly, Sakurae came up to me at a run and called out.
“…Shota-kun, can I talk to you for a minute?”
“What is it, ……?”
I couldn’t ignore her at this proximity, so I clicked my tongue in my mind before listening to Sakurae.
Probably I would have frowned.
“U-Umm? I’m sure you know that romance novel that Shota-kun mentioned a while ago that he liked? I heard that movie is coming out soon. …….”
Hearing those words, I knew what was going to happen. I wanted to look up to the heavens.
I found myself lying on the bed at home in my uniform.
I felt like my mom was worried about me but no words came in, I just looked at the ceiling.
It was already dark outside, and even though I usually have a hard time sleeping without a miniature lightbulb on, the darkness calmed me now.
(What, it was no good. ……?)
I thought I was getting closer and closer to the love of my life.
That relationship slowly began to break down, and finally I was rejected.
“Was it because he didn’t like my hair style…?”
When I had only cut the bangs and styled the rest, he said, ‘It looks good on you’.
I was really happy at the time and thought that if I worked a little harder, maybe he would say I was ‘cute’.
Yes, like the rest of my classmates …….
In the end, I didn’t get to hear those words from the person I most wanted to say so, and he shunned me, telling me to ‘stay out of it,’…….
My words disappeared in the darkness, unheard by anyone.
But I can recall his words in my mind as he said goodbye with a pained look on his face at the end.
As I was being overwhelmed by the recurring memories that would not disappear, something stuck with me.
It seemed so important to me that I desperately tried to recall my conversation with him.
Shota-kun’s actions, Shota-kun’s facial expressions, Shota-kun’s words, Shota-kun’s voice sounds …….
I search hard for memories not only of our last conversation, but also of the time when Shota-kun’s attitude started to change.
In this way, I went through those memories, which have now become painful memories for me,…… I arrived
(…… Shota-kun, did you look painful…?)
When I hit upon it, I felt as if I had found a thin ray of light.
Yes, if he really meant what he said, wouldn’t he have looked more depressed and clearly disgusted with me?
In fact, however, he even shows a hint of concern for me.
[…it was fun talking with Sakurae.]
If he really meant this, why did he even tell me not to get involved?
(Something, there’s a reason ……!)
I concluded with certainty that it was not his intention to keep Shota-kun away from me.
(There must be something that hurt Shota-kun…. I will never allow that!)
For example, if other kids were in the same position as me, they would never notice.
Only I can notice it.
(…… Only I can save him.)
When I think of this, I naturally gain strength and even smile.
I will save him. And Shota-kun and I are …….
I get up and look at his picture, which is stuck all over the corkboard on my study desk, and gape at it.
The moonlight, which had somehow entered the room, was shining down on him in the photo as if to shine a spotlight on him.
“Wait for me, Shota-kun. …….”
I gently picked up one of the pictures and held it carefully to my chest.
(TL/N: VERY LONG….but worth it, this will be fun guys)
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