To those who had no particular interests, spring break was a rather boring period.
Amane himself did not have many interests, just reading and strolling about; his classmates had given him wry smiles, wondering why he had such hobbies.
He would not take the initiative to do any outdoor activities as he had these hobbies, or attend any leisure facilities. If he was not invited out, he would go jogging, strolling, or buy ingredients and so on.
A dumbfounded Itsuki once asked if it was fine for Amane to not enjoy his youth even though he was a high schooler. The latter felt that he did pay some attention to his health, and exercising, so he should be fine.
Mahiru too showed no signs of going anywhere.
Of course, he would occasionally see her exercising, or shopping for necessities. However, she hardly went anywhere to play.
“Is there anywhere you want to go to play?”
He himself had no right to criticize, but he wondered if it was fine for a high school girl in her prime to be like this…so after dinner, he asked Mahiru, and after some deliberation, she showed a wry smile.
“Go to play…well, I have not thought of anything. I do prefer staying at home.”
“Well I’m the same. Don’t feel like there’s anything much outdoors.”
“…Like going back to Shihoko-san’s?”
“We just met in New Year, so that’s fine. We’ll be going back during summer break. That means I won’t get to eat your cooking, Mahiru, and it’s boring.”
“…I-Is that so?”
He was already used to Mahiru’s cooking, to the point where he would suffer if he did not get to eat it; the desire to eat her cooking intensified with every passing day. At the same time, he got used to her presence next to him, and her existence was to be expected, which was another reason why he did not want to return to his hometown.
He already realized she was cute and adorable, but her presence calmed him. It probably was because her demeanor meshed well with his personality.
“Well, if I go back, they’ll drag me here and there, and that seems tiring.”
“…Here and there?”
“Like, tourist attractions, shopping, and so on. If I don’t make plans, they’ll drag me off to a certain place. I remembered going to a hot spring trip during my winter break in middle school.”
Shihoko liked staying at home, and also liked to go out. One would say she was such an energetic person, happy to do anything.
She really treasured family time. She would drag Amane anywhere as long as she did not have a prior appointment, or if Amane really hated it. She did have a shred of conscience to give Amane some semblance of choice, but once he answered, she would whisk him off.
He was fine with stuff like theme parks and shopping malls, but if they were to go do sawanobori or survival games, she would suggest that they should challenge everything, and he would be forced to participate, which was tough on him. He wondered how that delicate body contained so much energy.
Thanks to that, he learned lots of things, and his body was trained to some extent. He could not deny however that because of the downsides, his hobbies were more individualistic and mild.
“…It sounds like you have fun.”
“It’s tiring to do that over a few consecutive days. The enthusiasm leaves me really tired, and I have to start the new semester like that.”
“Fufu, I can imagine that.”
“You can tell if you visit my family. Though her attention will be on you instead.”
“Th-that is true…”
If Mahiru really came along, Shihoko would happily drag her out.
She probably would not let Mahiru do anything dangerous, but she would surely drag the latter off for shopping or other leisure places. His mother always wanted a daughter, so she would be more than happy to raise a girl of this age, Mahiru of all people.
“You’ll know in the summer. She’ll probably bring you out and make you wear all kinds of clothing like a doll.”
“She’ll make sure I’ll bring you along anyway.”
It appeared that during summer break, Mahiru would receive a personal invitation from Shihoko.
“Ah, I can refuse if you don’t want to.”
“I-I do not dislike it! I am happy about it.”
She shook her head vigorously, her hair ruffling like the waves, the shampoo scent stinging at his nose.
“Nn, I’ll go ask my mom, though she’s probably more than happy to welcome you.”
“…Thank you very much.”
“I should be thanking you for bearing some of my suffering.”
Amane was slapped lightly on the elbow.
Of course, it was a mere prick, and not painful, but that gesture was a little bad for his heart.
His heart started pounding wildly, for Mahiru had started a little skinship on him.
“N-no, it-it’s nothing.”
“You say that, but your eyes are looking around…”
“Nothing at all. Ah look, you got a message.”
He tried to change the topic, not wanting to look rattled, and pointed at the vibrating, flashing smartphone.
What is it? Mahiru looked incredulous as she directed her attention elsewhere, and opened the smartphone app.
He thought it would be rude to see the message, and he really did not want to look at her in the eyes, so he looked elsewhere…he then heard a thud, and turned his eyes back towards Mahiru.
He wondered what it was about, and looked over to her, only to be stunned.
Mahiru dropped the smartphone onto the cushion beneath her knees, giving the teary look of a lost child.
She did not shed any tears, nor did she twist her lips…but it appeared that she would shatter upon contact.
When was it when he last saw such a face?
Yes, it was similar to when they first spoke to each other……
“No, it is nothing. Please do not mind me.”
Mahiru responded with a stiff voice before Amane could ask anything.
“Sorry, I should be returning for now. I have something tomorrow, and I will not be able to make dinner. My apologies.”
Mahiru replied before Amane could interrupt, quickly packed her belongings, and left.
Amane’s hand was outstretched, but one had to wonder if she noticed it, or pretended not to…for his outstretched palm merely grabbed air.
…Why out of a sudden?
Surely the trigger was the message.
Amane knew there was only one possibility as to why Mahiru would make such an expression.
Mahiru hardly informed others of how to contact her, and only a rare few knew of her ID.
He knew there were him, Shihoko, Chitose, Itsuki, and a few tightly-lipped girls. The only others would be her parents.
One would have to assume that her parents had contacted her.
She said nothing all this while, even till yesterday. She suddenly said she had something urgent, and ran off. Perhaps she wanted to meet her parents.
He knew she was on bad terms with her parents, and could only deduce that they were the reason for her expression just now.
He could deduce, but he could not do anything.
He saw her leave, and spotted the contorted frowning face. Despite that, he could not say anything.
He could only murmur helplessly the name of a girl who was not present, and slammed a fist onto the cushion that once held up her knees.