Prologue – My Encounter with Her
This is the one week love story I (boku) lost 214 times.
This is the love story I (watashi) obtained which spanned four years.
“Hey, Yoshi-kun. I—”
A girl I did not know of called out to me.
It was a voice as warm as the spring sun, as gentle as the breeze lifting the flowers.
Thinking back about it, that voice was the first thing that attracted me.
The hour hand passed 10, and it was 11pm.
My shoulder bag was filled with textbooks, the belt of the bag sinking deep into my shoulder, causing pain. My stomach was rumbling away. Normally, I would have returned home at this time.
But on that day, I wandered aimlessly around town.
What happened hours ago could not leave my mind.
The truly earnest eyes I ran away from.
The strong emotions.
Back in the dim classroom after school, my classmate, Akane Rindou said to me,
“I like you, Haru. Please go out with me.”
Her face was completely red, and her shoulders were quivering before me. Her voice alone was loud, unfaltering.
She was as charming and pretty as usual.
Really, really pretty.
Thus, it’d be great if I said that I liked her back.
In fact, I was a little admiring of Akane. However, the feelings I had for her was different from hers. It didn’t matter whether it was the color, the shape, the weight, or even the types.
The feelings we harbored for each other were of unequal values.
That fact alone prevented our feelings from reaching each other.
I swallowed my saliva that quenched my parched throat, and eked out these words.
Akane’s head lowered slowly, and finally dropped. The long hair covering her shoulders covered her expression. Even though, Akane tried to speak up a few times, but her thoughts were merely conveyed in breaths, unable to form words.
I too could not say anything as I lowered my head, and escaped the empty classroom.
I forgot everything that happened after that. Part of my mind was numb, unable to move. I didn’t return home, and merely wandered about.
It was winter, but my back was soaked in sweat. The world in my eyes was without focus, shaking about. My feet seemed to have forgotten how to stop as I kept moving forward again and again.
And so, I finally stopped after walking to an ordinary space.
For it was not the billboard, which had changed sometime back, that I noticed.
This place had been vacant for many years, but it seemed a building would be built starting next season. I see. So this place will be gone? I didn’t know if I should consider them memories, but this was a place I had some memories of.
It was the place I buried a cat at.
A beautiful cat with pure white fur.
The white cat had closed its eyes, looking asleep when I touched its little body with my fingertips. It was then, that for the first time in my life, I understood that concept. Yes, no life exists in it. It was just a hollow husk. Stiff, heavy, colder than anything.
What appeared before the middle schooler me was ‘death’.
I was powerless before this.
And like most people on this world, I poured dirt upon the white body just to get my heart to relax, and clapped my hands together. That happened about four years ago.
By the time I realized it, my feet had stumbled towards the center of the space. Maybe I should clap my hands together to pray again. It would be a perfect opportunity to end this never-ending escape, so I thought.
And it was there that I met her.
It was a pretty girl as white as the cat. Her skin was white as snow, her cheeks as red as apples. The long hair had snowflakes resting on her hair.
A snowflake touched the face of this girl, whose name I knew not of, and it melted away. She was smiling blissfully, yet because of that one snowflake, she appeared to be crying.
Her finely-shaped lips moved, finally composing pure white words.
–Hey, Yoshi-kun. I like you.
Why was that?
Why was it that Akane’s words did not move me at all, but a stranger girl easily got me moving? Aspects like composure and rationality were shredded apart at that moment.
Before those emotions, I was utterly powerless.
Upon hearing my answer, she smiled.
She seemed really happy.
And also, a little forlorn.
It was winter, in my third year of high school.
That was how I met Yuki Shiina.
This was my encounter with Yuki.
Yes, because of that, I knew nothing.
Nothing of Yuki’s feelings when she confessed to me back then.
Nothing of the determination Yuki had at that moment when she decided to smile before me.
Nothing of what Yuki gave me, of the things that melted and fell from my hands.
Really, I knew of nothing at all.