“I take it you meant the city hotel…..”
Steam is coming out of Ryoko’s head as she lies down on the counter seat by the window.
After that, Ryoko clenched her hand very tightly and I led the way to the Hokusei City Hotel, wondering about her.
The City Hotel is a long-established and high-class hotel in the city.
The entrance was made of marble, reflecting the shine of the chandelier elegantly and creating a luxurious atmosphere, which made me groan.
Ryoko was also struck by the grandeur of the hotel and was speechless with an open mouth upon arrival.
Next, I took her to the [Harborside] bar on the second floor of the hotel, but for some reason Ryoko’s eyes were widened. She seemed to be unable to swallow the situation as if she had been plucked by a fox.
“The bar at the City Hotel was featured on TV, so I wanted to come.”
“Then say so ! You said hotel, so I thought you would take me somewhere else !”
“S-sorry, I didn’t tell you we were going to a bar. But where else are you talking about?”
I guess I gave Ryoko the wrong idea because I didn’t say it well enough.
Ryoko’s face turned redder as she was asked this question.
“D-don’t get me started ! Why are we here today?”
Ryoko did not answer my question, on the contrary, she forcefully switched the subject as if she was trying to smoke me out. That’s an unusual way to have a conversation, not like the savage Ryoko. It’s as if she’s afraid that I will find out what’s on her mind.
Well, that’s not the important point, so I’ll let it go for now.
Now, why did I invite Ryoko to have a drink with me after my part-time job? That’s because…
“To persuade you.”
“You mean you’re going to ask me to join Ari san’s band anyway !?”
Wow !? You know everything, don’t you? As expected of Ryoko.
Well, I guess it’s easy to imagine considering the flow of the evening invitation.
Yes, I want to add Ryoko to the band.
Nobuhiko asked her to join, but it didn’t work.
Ari san asked her to join the band, but it didn’t work.
So, this time, I would ask her to join the band.
Ryoko sighed loudly and took a sip of the cocktail in her hand. She then gazed blankly at the night view of Hokusei City beyond the panoramic window.
Ahead of my line of sight, the modest city lights typical of a regional city spread out. Beyond the city, the inorganic lights of the factory zone were shining brightly. Beyond the factory zone was a world of darkness, with nothing shining on the sea.
Ryoko looked beautiful with such a night view in her eyes.
The night view of HokuseiCity was worth about 100,000 yen, not a million dollars, but it adorned and accentuated her beautiful face.
Looking at her looking at the night view with an expression of melancholy, I felt my heart leap with a pounding heart, thinking to myself, [I guess that kind of face suits her now.]
“I’m not going to play music anymore. I just want to be close enough to see you guys having fun playing in a band.”
Ryoko’s reply, after regaining her composure, was, as I should say, curt. Contrary to my strange excitement.
Well, this is to be expected. I don’t expect her, who has never touched a musical instrument in her life, to change her mind just because I ask her to do so.
But I have no intention of backing down.
“It’s fine to watch, but it’ll be more fun if we do it together.”
“I’m not going to do it. I’m going to make some happy memories in college by being in a circle and having a lot of fun.”
What’s with that goal?
“Like that trip to the Silk Road?”
“You know, you can have it with your own band.”
“You’re asking me to join a club?”
We both blurted it out at the same time. Indeed, that line is heard all over campus during the recruiting season. It’s a cliché in Boston and in other loose-fitting clubs.
“Traveling sounds like fun, too. Whether it’s domestically or overseas, I don’t think I’ll be able to travel that much once I become a working adult.”
“You want to join the Silk Road, too? I’m planning to go to Okinawa this summer and Sapporo this winter.”
“Sounds like a lot of fun !”
What am I going to do if I get recruited? I was about to become a mummy.
“Putting aside the trip. What I want is not the memories of the trip, but the memories with everyone–Ari san and Misumi senpai. I want Ryoko to join in as well.”
“……If the band is to make memories for Ari san, why don’t you invite others?”
“It’s not just for Ari san. It is also for me. I’d rather have memories with Ryoko.”
Ryoko’s willow eyebrows twitched.
“The trip is one thing, but even the band is not something you can do every day once you’re out. In fact, I think this is the first and last chance for the four of us to be in a band together.”
We will eventually graduate from college and go out to work. But I can’t imagine what I will be doing in the near future. The same goes for the other three, of course.
The only thing I can say is that we will probably go our separate ways. If that happens, it will be rare for us to get together in one place. It would be impossible for us to form a band.
I want Ryoko to join us to cherish this once-in-a-lifetime encounter.
“Besides, if you think about it, Ryoko and I have spent a lot of time together, but we haven’t done anything together, have we?”
When asked about the connection between Ryoko and me, there is no answer. We used to attend the same piano lessons and were classmates, but we have nothing else in common.
We have different hobbies, club activities, and departments.
We just kind of hang out together.
Of course, this loose relationship was comfortable, but I felt that it would be somewhat sad if it ended there.
“Certainly. The only thing we did together was drinking and chatting.”
“There’s a little more to it than that…… We helped tutor Ari san, right? Anyway, it’s a good opportunity for me to try again to be friends with Ryoko toward a single goal.”
Of course, this is my ego. I feel it’s wrong to make Ryoko give up her time just for that.
I don’t want Ryoko to be cramped for the sake of our own enjoyment.
“Besides, I want to welcome Ryoko into the band for your sake.”
“For my sake?”
Why is it for Ryoko’s sake to join the band?
She tilted her head curiously.
“Yeah. You said that you don’t have any good memories of music. I was quite shocked by that line. I felt very sad that music…..which is about enjoying sound, is not enjoyable.”
The world is filled with sound. Walking down the street, you hear hit songs and the chirps of birds and insects echoing out of nowhere.
There may be any number of difficult theories as to why living creatures use sound, but [fun] is surely an important reason.
But Ryoko, who avoids music, will never be a part of that circle in the future.
I am a musician myself. That may be why I felt sad.
So I wanted to do everything I could to help Ryoko fall in love with music.
“Playing the piano alone may not be fun, but I think music with others is fun. You used to look like you were having a lot of fun, didn’t you?”
“Used to? What are you talking about?”
“Don’t you remember? When we were in the third grade, we had a light session with my guitar and Ryoko’s piano.”
“That happened, didn’t it?”
Ryoko’s face lit up and she reminisced about the old days.
One day in my senior year of high school, I was practicing my part in the music room, and Ryoko came to me on a whim.
I don’t remember having any special conversation with her at that time. I just wanted to try playing together, so I sat Ryoko down in front of the keyboard.
“At first we didn’t get along at all, complaining about who was faster or slower, but gradually things started to take shape. Ryoko seemed to be having a lot of fun at that time.”
“I-is that right…… I don’t remember that much.”
Her face suddenly turned red and she turned away. She’s easy to understand.
One more push.
“There’s one more thing. On the day of the entrance exam, Ryoko, who sang with me, looked good. You were nervous, but you looked happy, and more than anything, you showed that you wanted to support me.”
Music is one of the ways to express feelings. Therefore, there is nothing to say if you were able to practice it in a fun and genuine way.
“If you say you don’t have good memories of music, I’m going to erase them. With our band’s music. Of course, we’ll add Ryoko to that list.”
In the end, I don’t know why she devoted herself to practice with such a devil-may-care look on her face when she was a child.
If that’s what kept her away from music, I’d like to hear why.
But I don’t think that is now.
I should wait for her to express herself with her own vocal sound.
Ryoko hesitated with only the tips of her ten fingers on the table.
She was as solemn as a taut string with narrowed, slender twin eyes, and she exuded the tension of a pianist on stage.
“I haven’t touched the piano for a long time. I traded in my parents’ piano, and I don’t know if I can keep up with your music.”
Blanks, huh? Ari san scouted Ryoko as an experienced keyboardist. She was probably worried about whether she could live up to her expectations.
Ryoko’s cheeks flushed again, her lips pouted, and she looked at me with a fragile, moist feeling in her eyes.
“So don’t get mad at me if I’m not very good at this, okay?”
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