Contact.213 – The 214th Confession
“Who are you?”
I was approached by a girl I never met before.
It happened after I left Yoshi-kun, and went off to the hotel before the station.
The girl’s voice was filled with the natural feistiness, along with some uneasiness.
Suddenly, I recalled the boy I was with till just now.
An uneasy premonition left my mouth dry. Most of my hunches about anything good hardly come true, while the bad ones strike so often, I could strike the lottery. It’s ridiculous, this time, definitely–
“Who are you?”
I lowered my voice, trying to ensure that she wouldn’t determine my thoughts. Most of them wouldn’t talk whenever I did this. It seemed there were such pressure from me whenever I did so.
And it seemed the girl before me was intimidated by the pressure in my voice, for she widened her eyes in shock.
I wanted to turn away and leave immediately, but I was grabbed by the elbow, unable to slip away.
Her voice lacked the feistiness from before, but even so, she didn’t back down, and instead stared into my eyes intently. The eyes were as dazzling as the light of the summer sun; hot, sharp, mesmerizing.
It was then that I realized again that I couldn’t run away. No matter how I tried to shun her, she’s not going to let me go until I gave her a proper answer. I’m a girl, and she’s a girl. Either way, I knew that.
“Anyway, please tell me your name.”
“Ahh, I see. Sorry. I’m Akane Rindou. And, erm, you?”
I had some vague recollection of the name.
Yoshi-kun mentioned her many times.
The premonition I had was increasingly becoming a reality. It felt as discomforting as something rough licking at my neck and back.
But even so, I reined in the various things rising up my heart, let out a sigh, and brought my dangling hair to the back. I didn’t know if I looked sufficiently conceited. At the very least, it’ll be good if I can hold her off for a while.
“I’m Yuki Shiina. So you’re that Akane-chan? I heard from Yoshi-kun.”
“Haruyoshi Segawa-kun. It’s how I call him. You’re from the same year as him, right?”
Even as a female, Akane-chan’s a pretty girl.
The long slender limbs were nimble. Beneath the long eyelashes were fiery, proud eyes, but there was some honesty hidden within them, and the weakness that accompanied it. The soft hair’s something to be envied.
I guess most boys can’t resist such girls.
My throat was increasingly parched.
“Then, is there anything you want with me, Akane-chan?”
“Ermm, yeah. Actually, what’s your relationship, with Haru, Shiina-san?”
A car horn could be heard from somewhere. It seemed near, and far.
It happened in my 19th winter.
That was how I met Rindou Akane.
This isn’t something that can be settled with a few words, so I told Akane-chan, and without for her reply, I went to the cafe I visited several times. Once I saw the indoor lights of the unimpressive looking, empty cafe, I heaved a sigh of relief. I nudged the door aside, and the bell chimed.
Welcome, the big sister approached with a smile. For two please, I told her, and went to the place by the window, as I did the first time I visited this place with him.
The moment I sat, Akane-chan called my name.
Luckily, her voice was soft enough that I could pretend to ignore. I ordered a hot black coffee. Akane-chan didn’t, and stared at me intently.
Once the big sister left, I asked with a harsher voice than expected.
“Have you been to this shop before?”
“I see. I visited this place with Yoshi-kun before.”
What am I being gleeful for? I’m the one losing if I say such things here. The fact that I came to this shop with him no longer exists on this world.
I feel gaudy and tragic for having to rely on such facts.
“I hope you’ll answer my questions.”
She went back on topic, maybe unhappy with what I said.
Her voice remained soft after all.
“Your relationship with Haru.”
I didn’t want to order anything more, but I was slowly flipping through the pages, with the menu in hand. Curry rice, sandwiches. Yoshi-kun liked the Napolitan pasta. Hey, you know this, Akane-chan?
“Even if you ask me of our relationship, I don’t know what to say.”
I flipped to the next page. There’s Blue Mountain coffee, Kilimanjaro and others. Various coffee names were listed. On the adjacent page, there were names of black tea. I remembered Yoshi-kun once going something like, who would order such stuff, maybe some company boss.
“…Not his girlfriend, right?”
I slammed the menu instinctively. Uh oh. No choice left. I could only put the menu back at its original position. Finally, I looked towards Akane-chan.
“Hey, I say, does that have anything to do with you? You’re just ordinary classmates, right?”
“We’re not just classmates.”
“Then what? Acquaintances? Friends?”
I retorted back with the words she said ten seconds ago.
“You’re not his girlfriend, right?”
“Not, at all.”
At this moment, Akane-chan’s eyes were blazing with a completely different emotion. Rage, or rather, hatred. Ahh, this makes it easier for me. We can fight.
For I would find myself pitiful in the face of that honesty. I can no longer look at anyone with such eyes again.
“Then it doesn’t matter what my relationship with Yoshi-kun is now. I don’t have anything to say to a mere classmate–“
Before I could finish, a sound rang.
I realized that I got slapped, for my cheek was feeling hot.
“I said I’m not just a classmate. I’ve always liked him.”
“But that’s just what you wish.”
Once I answered calmly, Akane-chan raised her hand again.
This time, I was mentally prepared, for I knew she was at her limit.
But her raised hand slowly dropped, weakly.
She bit her lips hard, her eyes overflowing with tears as she carelessly grabbed her bag. Sorry for hitting you, she said, and ran off.
Phew, I heaved a sigh, and my shoulders turned weak. My hands were shaking. It’s a good thing she hadn’t realized it. I really didn’t want to do that. But since she wasn’t going to let me go, I had no reason to back off.
Especially since she’s a girl with so much charm, it was vexing.
Since neither of us were going to back down, we’re just going to be enemies for eternity.
Soon after, the big sister brought the coffee out. She didn’t say anything, and put it on the table with the usual smile. Ahh, why did I order this again? I sipped the piping hot coffee, and grimaced.
My tongue was stinging.
This coffee was so much bitter compared to everything else I had ever tasted.
It was morning. I woke up, and found the fragments of my dreams slowly fading away.
It happened from time to time. Like the snowflake grasped in my hand fading away, I couldn’t contain the fragments within my memories.
In my dreams, I was holding hands with someone. I was smiling.
But when I woke up, I couldn’t remember who it was. The emotions in my heart too vanished. Finally, I too forgot about having such dreams.
This is probably how I vanish from his memories.
Yoshi-kun, who was in his second year of Middle School, is now a third year in High School.
Ever since that, he, who had been shorter than me, grew much taller, and I had no choice but to look up to him. Looking at how his face is no longer effeminate, I guess nobody will say that he looks like a girl now.
This is the proof that four years had elapsed, a period that was not short in any way.
But in these four years of Yoshi-kun, I never existed.
Every Tuesday night, 10.54pm, the world will erase my existence.
Completely without a trace, like white snow melting into the Spring. There is no sign of my existence anywhere in the past world.
And every day, I would encounter Yoshi-kun again and again.
All for one purpose, to get Yoshi-kun to like me no matter what.
I finished my shower, and began my thorough preparations. The hairstyle Yoshi-kun likes. The clothes Yoshi-kun likes. It seems he likes girls wearing slightly oversized coats. It seems he thinks it’s cute that I reveal some fingers from my sleeves. They call it Moesode or something. I forgot when it was when he told me about that excitedly.
I can’t understand. But well, since he likes it, so be it. I’ll be cute for him.
After a long time, I finally dolled myself into a fashion Yoshi-kun would like.
And with heartfelt feelings, I sprayed the sweet fragrance.
It was the sakura perfume he said he wouldn’t forget.
When I left the hotel, the sky’s completely grey.
It seems like it’ll snow again.
Let the snow pile up, so I prayed.
I left the hotel, and made my way back again, tossing the red gloves onto the bed. I didn’t know what to do with the pale hands now that I had removed my gloves, so I bent my reddened fingertips, before heading to school to meet Yoshi-kun again.
Till this point, I had talked to Yoshi-kun 213 times.
But never once did he say that he liked me.
I heard a sharp screech from the chair grinding the floor, and lifted my head up from the book.
The third year classroom had many empty seats, for it was the time when students were free to attend school. Nijou, the one seated before me, hadn’t been around for a week, so it’s been a while since I heard him.
However, sitting down wasn’t the classmate with the iconic spiky hair. It was a girl with shoulder-length soft hair. If she hasn’t spoken up, she would be a cute, pretty girl, but she had no intention of hiding her crude personality as she beamed.
“What do you mean, what? I’m here. You got a problem with that?”
She’s the one who seemed to have a problem as she pouted with a sulk. If it’s the usual routine, the follow up will be a little punch. Honestly, I want to avoid that.
Luckily, there’s something else to discuss, so I made use of it.
“Not really. Just a little shocked. It’s rare to see you let your hair down, and I couldn’t tell. It gives a really different impression. You kept it longer since half a year or so, right?”
“Ahh, yeah. My big sister told me how to take care of my hair, and I’m working hard on it. It’s fun, though there’s some troublesome part about it.”
Ever since Akane retired from club activities in the summer, she’s been acting more like a girl.
She kept her hair longer, and seemed have been putting on makeup. It’s not too obvious if I didn’t pay attention to her, but a little bit of makeup increased her charm dramatically. All I knew was that over the past half year, five people tried to woo Akane.
She fiddled her fingertips, maybe because I was staring at her, and she asked,
“Do you find it weird?”
She asked with some hesitation. I guess a charm of hers was that her expression was always changing, so I thought blankly.
“No, not at all. I just find it cute.”
“Really? Then, great. Eh, yeah. Forgot what I wanted to talk about. I just chatted with Takuma. Want to go to the shrine to pray today?”
“Didn’t we go already?”
“Any, way, we can go there many times, probably…”
Is that so? Won’t God feel annoyed to be pestered by countless prayers? Or will he fulfill wishes because he feels the passion in those praying?
“No, I’m not going today. Got an appointment.”
I had to shake my head and refuse.
Because I had an appointment with a girl I just met.
Once I said that, Akane frowned, and the mood changed completely. Well, it’s like a summer downpour. Some feeling of a crazy thunderstorm coming. Her face was completely covered with grey clouds.
“…With Yuki Shiina-san? She’s a pretty one.”
“Huh? How do you know?”
“Ah. I guess so. You’ve been with her recently, right Haru? Guess you have lots of free time before the exams. We’re examinees. There’s no time to go out and play with such a ridiculous person, you know?”
“That’s not it…”
“Anyway, it’s a promise.”
I wanted to retort, but Akane’s words swallowed me. Everyone in class was looking at us, for her voice was loud. Several of them, all girls, were watching with glittering eyes. They’re hoping to see what’ll happen.
“No, just wait a minute, Akane.”
Akane left the classroom, as if she didn’t hear me. Even so, I had to shout.
“I got a prior appointment!”
The 3.30pm bell rang, and I got up, moving from the electric pole to the school gate. I promised with Yoshi-kun yesterday that we’re going to meet at the school gate.
I tidied my hair with help from a hand mirror, rolled up my muffler, and breathed some air onto the aching, frozen fingertips. They were warmed for a little moment, only to cool down immediately. Once Yoshi-kun comes, let’s go and get something warm to eat. I’ll treat him as reward for his hard work.
But soon, it was past 4pm, 4.30pm, and Yoshi-kun still didn’t show up.
I wasn’t really worried. I understood he had reasons for not showing up.
For example, there was a chance he was asking his teachers about questions he solved.
But my legs ignored all sense of logic as I went off towards school. I was thinking about the girl I met the previous day. She’s pretty. Once I recalled the honest eyes, my chest ached. It was painful. Hey, Yoshi-kun. I’m in pain. Why is this?
As I got closer to school, there were more students around. I hastened.
wIt was the first time I went to pick him up at school.
For I never once entered Yoshi-kun’s school life.
Because of my presence, Yoshi-kun lost lots of time.
He should be spending time with his family and friends, but ended up lonely. In his memories, he was alone in many scenes.
So at the very least, I thought I should take away his memories in school.
And for me, at this point, I wasn’t in the mood to abide by the rules I set.
I entered the school gates. I wasn’t wearing a school uniform, and didn’t look like a teacher, so I was really standing out. Various stares were stinging at my skin. I was used to this, but on this day, I was a little disturbed.
I was starting to think, in an unbefitting manner, that if I’m a student here, nobody will be looking at me like this.
No matter how many times I tried talking to Akane, it’s useless. It’s rare to see her this angry. There’s no doubt I hit a sore spot on her, but I didn’t know what it was. Immediately after class, I went to talk to her, but she hid in the girls toilet every time, and I didn’t get the chance to talk to her.
After at least 6 times, it was after school.
“So I said that I got an appointment already. Listen to me already, Akane.”
I went to the corridor linking the club building and the school building. The bamboo floor rattled slightly due to our weights.
“I heard that. So you’re saying that you prefer to go out with a girl you just met instead of me?”
“Not really. How about tomorrow? Can we go to the shrine tomorrow?”
Akane might have been annoyed about hearing the same words over and over again, and finally turned towards me.
Then, something unbelievable happened. I thought Akane would be really angry, and was prepared to be glared at. However, she looked towards me, giving a stunned look, and after a while, glared at me. What’s with that look?
“…Got it. Then, lend me some of your time. Just a little while. Over here.”
Then, she grabbed the tip of my uniform, and went further in.
“Wait, Akane. I can walk by myself. Don’t pull me like this.”
I tried to steady myself, making sure not to fall over while being dragged off by her.
I was in school, looking for Yoshi-kun. I passed the courtyard, and went into the opposite corridor, hearing a few voices. They were from behind me. Some people were on the corridor I just passed.
“So I said that I got an appointment already.”
I sought out the source of the voice.
But I never could look back, and I hid behind a pillar. What? Why? There’s no need to hide. I had to talk to him. Say something.
But my body wouldn’t obey.
“Listen to me already, Akane.”
“I heard that. So you’re saying that you prefer to go out with a girl you just met instead of me?”
“Not really. How about tomorrow? Can we go to the shrine tomorrow?”
Tomorrow. Once I heard that word, I shuddered.
Tomorrow, I’ll vanish from his memories. That ‘tomorrow’ will be taken by someone else. I suddenly lost my balance, and fell over. I couldn’t exert strength in my legs. I barely manage to lift myself off the wall, and looked towards the source of the voice, only to meet one person in the eyes.
She was a little shocked as she glared over. Then, she said, probably for me to hear.
“…Got it. Then, lend me some of your time. Just a little while. Over here.”
She then pulled the boy by the shirt, and left.
They went away, and left behind was an emptiness contrasting the commotion from before, spreading as though left behind there.
Why was it that even though I wanted to cry, I couldn’t make a sound?
I stood there for about two minutes or so, stunned.
Even so, I summoned my courage, grasping at straws as I went over to the disappearing voice.
If I didn’t do so, I would lose something.
That premonition forced me to move.
Both of them vanished into the school building with few people.
It seemed to be the clubroom building. On the day of the culture festival, Yoshi-kun introduced me around school, and I recalled his voice, “I sometimes play in this classroom. Keep it a secret.” He put his index finger on his lips, shushing me.
I’m not even a student here. Who am I supposed to say this to? I was surprised, but I was happy that he was willing to share a secret with me, yes, so I obediently nodded. If I remember, the classroom’s–
I ran up the stairs with large steps, and at the turnaround, I took large steps up again. Grabbing the handrail, I exerted strength into my thighs as I moved into the second floor. I didn’t meet anyone on the way. I went to the third floor, just like this. My footsteps alone echoed on the corridor.
Finally, I arrived before the room furthest West of the third floor.
It’s a classroom that’s no longer used. However, there’s human presence inside. I couldn’t hear clearly, but I knew there’s talking. Yoshi-kun’s definitely inside. Let’s go. If I go now, I should be able to make it.
I did my best to maintain a smile as I put my hand on the handle. At that moment, a loud voice rang.
“I like you, Haru. Please go out with me.”
Her always earnest eyes must be captivating Yoshi-kun.
I moved my hand away from the handle, and ran down the stairs.
Where exactly was I going? There’s nowhere for me to go in this world. The place I’ve always been had been taken away.
But even so, I prioritized escaping, rather than staying.
The door to the empty classroom closed, Akane and I were the only ones left in this space.
At that moment, the mood around us changed.
Even this dullwitted me knew what was going to happen from now on.
My name was called, yes, and I responded, remaining rigid. Poof, Akane snorted.
“Why are you nervous?”
“Don’t worry. I’m not going to eat you up. Just listen to me, okay?”
I nodded, and faced the girl before me. Our eyes met. Something was about to begin, or rather–
“Yeah. Thanks. Um, I’ve always been interested in you, Haru. But I just noticed it during the last summer vacation of middle school. Remember when we met once in the courtyard back in middle school?”
Was it when Akane was thinking about whether she should give up on swimming?”
“Back then, you told me, I can hear you out a little at least. You might have thought it wasn’t anything much, but for me, that’s not true at all.”
Our surroundings was a little dim, so I hadn’t noticed, but Akane’s legs were shaking. Her honest eyes were filled with a flickering light. However, she’s the type of person who’s able to overcome her fear or nervousness.
“I’ve been thinking about it a lot. About what happens after I graduate from high school, or if I get into university. But I guess this is the last chance. I’m going to say it now…”
Akane then said those words, with a loud voice typical of her,
“I like you, Haru. Please go out with me.”
Her words were like a stone thrown into my heart. It entered with a plop, and the ripples spread. In the ripples that spread, I saw my future with Akane.
We seemed really happy.
I didn’t hate Akane.
Well, to be honest, I do find her cute.
I was able to talk about many things with her, and we like the same type of foods. We share similar friends, and we had fun playing sports on our rest days.
There were definitely times where we quarrelled. Lots in fact.
But after quarrelling, we’re always able to patch up. I don’t know how many times we argued, but we’re always able to smile and patch things up until now. I can’t really say that I like Akane as someone of the other gender, but I’m confident that we can continue to slowly make up for what’s lacking.
Because there’s clearly the time we spent together.
But even so, why?
At this moment, I clearly heard someone call for my name. It’s a name I shouldn’t be able to heard.
There’s only one person in the entire world calling me that.
I recovered, and heard footsteps coming from somewhere. The footsteps got further. It’s impossible, but there’s only one girl on my mind.
And that girl wasn’t Akane.
Before I knew it, I lowered my head.
My chest ached. Maybe it’s because I was running, and my lungs took in lots of cold air. Yes. That’s definitely it. There’s no other reason.
Because I don’t like Yoshi-kun.
Anyone can do. It’s just that Yoshi-kun seems to fit what I want, and so happened to be before me. That’s why I chose him.
WIth my frozen palms, I did my best to wipe my twisted vision. I didn’t know if I used too much strength, but my eyes were a little hot, burning with pain. I should have worn my gloves after all. Haah. It’s difficult to breathe. My throat’s thirsty. I gritted my teeth hard, just as the night when I screamed into the sky.
“Idiot, idiot idiot idiot idiot idiot idiot idiot idiot–“
Who exactly were these feelings, these words directed at?
I repeated the words over and over again, not knowing why.
The word that signified a fool was delivered countless times into the world, melting into the darkness of the night.
My mind was preoccupied with Yuki.
I was just confessed to by a female friend I knew for a long time, and yet I, being so heartless, prioritized another girl instead.
An hour passed since the meeting time, and as expected, she’s not there. I felt my heart ache.
Deep within my ears were the echoing footsteps of a certain person leaving, and that got me to move.
It was the first time in my life–
The first time I yearned to meet someone.
I wanted to meet Yuki.
So I kept running.
In the end, I couldn’t figure out what this lingering pain was. I kept running, running, until I reached an empty land not too far away from the station.
It wasn’t long ago that the billboard on this land was changed. In the coming Spring, it seemed there’ll be a skyscraper built here. Another thing important to me will be taken away.
This is where Shiro lies in eternal rest.
Gasping for breath, I tried to sort out my breathing. My mouth was really dry, so I kept swallowing saliva. Why? Wondering that, I kept rubbing my eyes, but it didn’t vanish.
It should be reality.
I asked reluctantly. I was asking the person who somehow arrived at that place before me, who shouldn’t be at this empty space.
“Why are you here?”
He had his palms put together, as though praying. Once he heard my voice, he lifted his head.
It’s Yoshi-kun, wearing the school coat he had been complaining about. He didn’t appear to be returning home anytime soon. At his feet was that old school bag.
“A long time ago, there’s a pretty cat I buried here. I so happened to think about it when passing the road there, so I decided to come here to put my hands together and pray.”
Saying that, he stood up, dusting his knees.
“Found you. Since I couldn’t find you at the place we agreed, I came to look for you.”
“I’m going back.”
I turned around, and hurried off. Two meters away from the road however, I was grabbed on the hand. His hand was really cold, probably because he was outside the entire time. And I, who’s supposed to be colder, was a little warmer because I had been touching my hands. Everything’s different from the past, the hand temperature, the conversations, the one being chased. I was the one chasing him up till now.
“What are you doing?”
“Sorry for breaking the promise. You angry?”
“Not at all.”
“I’m apologizing to you. I’m really sorry.”
“Sorry about what?”
I instinctively scolded him.
“Aren’t you always like this? Haven’t you broken the promise countless times already? Why are you apologizing now? Let go. My hand hurts!”
I knew I was just throwing a tantrum, but I had no choice. I had yet to sort my feelings out. His words were just adding fuel to my strung emotions.
I needed some time to recompose to my usual self.
So let go of me.
“Wait. Sorry. Don’t cry already. I never thought you’ll be this sad.”
Ah, you’re still saying such things now? Do you need to repeat this misunderstanding again?
I couldn’t take it.
I was unhappy.
I was hurt.
I felt the heat of the tears down my cheeks.
“Because it’s not like this. Because you don’t know. That’s why I’m unhappy, that’s why I’m sad!”
I hammered at Yoshi-kun’s chest hard. For every hit I delivered, my hands hurt. I was bleeding inside. But even so, I couldn’t stop myself from hammering away.
“I’m lonely because you just wouldn’t like me. I’m suffering.”
Yoshi-kun remained silent as he let me hammer away.
“Because, you belong to someone other than me, and tomorrow, my daily life with you won’t be there, Yoshi-kun. I feel cold, scared–“
I kept hammering until the very end, thud, causing loud thuds. My hands touching Yoshi-kun were hot. Thud. I pressed my forehead on his chest. My forehead’s hot. I felt Yoshi-kun’s heartbeat. This is what I want.
This is what I lost.
“So that’s why you’re crying?”
Breathing alone took a lot out of me, and I could only nod.
It’s really weird.
Yoshi-kun should be the one suffering. Yoshi-kun should be the one crying. Yoshi-kun should be the one remembering my name.
Why do I have to suffer so much?
Why do I have to endure such painful memories?
Why? Why? Why am I the only one remembering Yoshi-kun? It’s unfair. Why is it that anything about me just keeps disappearing?
“Look, I get what you’re saying. It’s true that I might not know anything about you. No, I really don’t know anything about you. But,”
Saying that, Yoshi-kun passed, his hands pressing down on my cheeks. With a gentle, irresistible force, he lifted my head. These are the gruff hands of a man. My tears wet his hands. He smiled, and then frowned.
“I don’t agree with the last two lines you say, so I’ll respond to that.”
Yoshi-kun curled his middle finger in, and held it back with his thumb. The next moment, the middle finger was flicked hard onto my forehead. Tck. It didn’t sound like my forehead was hit, even though it was. I felt my forehead hurting, and hurriedly covered my forehead.
“Huu. What are you doing?”
“You’re the one who beat me up first. I’m hurting too.”
“But you’re a guy.”
“It doesn’t matter. Anyone being beaten will hurt.”
As for me.
I ended up yelling.
“I’m hurting a lot more than you, Yoshi-kun. You’re going out with that girl called Akane-chan, right? She confessed to you, right?”
You abandoned me. I’m alone because of you, you know?
“How do you know?”
I didn’t say that I eavesdropped on them. While I remained silent, well, Yoshi-kun sighed.
“Yeah, she confessed. But i rejected her.”
Faced with my question, he, who got beaten up and scolded, faltered a little. I didn’t know what caused him to make such a face.
After some thought, he closed his eyes, and then a while later, opened them, saying,
“Well, I like you.”
I felt my heart stop. It’s that shocking. I didn’t understand what he said. What, did he just say?
“I just said it, right? I can’t agree with the last two lines. I like you, so I don’t intend for belong to anyone other than you.”
It seemed I didn’t mishear.
“When did that happen?”
“Probably from when we first met. No. I guess I fell for you from when you first talked to me.”
These should be the words I really wanted to hear.
But someone in my heart was insisting that it was out of pity.
If it’s pity, I don’t need it. This kind of confession is meaningless. I’m angry, I’m crying, and this gentle him’s just telling me this.
“Enough with the careless words!”
If he didn’t say that he likes me from the bottom of his heart, I can’t remain there. If there’s no passionate heat that burns the body, there’s nothing to chain me down. One day, I’ll vanish.
“I’m not lying.”
How many times does he think I tried this?
I did various things to get him to like him. But every time, never once did he say, I like you. The feelings he had for me weren’t enough to get him to confess.
This time, we’re just strolling around after school, nothing out of the ordinary, and there’s no way he’ll like me because of this. In reality, he said that he likes me. I can’t believe it. I don’t believe me.
“How do you expect me to believe you when you don’t know anything?”
“Then what do you want me to do before you believe me?”
After thinking, I said. I felt like I was giving up on something.
“I’ll tell you something. It’s not something that exists anywhere in this world, but it’s definitely something that involves me and you. If you hear this and can say something stupid like ‘I believe you’–“
I didn’t continue.
There’s no way he’ll believe.
Believing me will mean doubting the world, doubting his memories. Compared to the world I speak of, it’s obvious which one he’ll be more likely to believe in.
That’s why I never mentioned it once.
He kept staring at me, not averting his eyes once. I took it as a yes, and slowly began to explain.
I explained the many things that happened ever since the accident on my 7th birthday.
A long time passed by the time I was done talking.
There’s another ten minutes until the end of the world, or rather, the reset of the world.
“So you want to believe what I just said?”
“I believe you. No, I want to believe.”
He answered without hesitation.
“Why can you still say that?”
Hearing what I said, Yoshi-kun looked up at the sky.
Behind the grey clouds, Sirius must be glowing away, and so should Betelgeuse and Rigel. Once, we spent time looking for constellations. We had no knowledge of them, so we just kept looking at the picture books, searching for them.
You don’t know about this, right?
Soon after, Yoshi-kun muttered. Ahh, seriously, you’re a troublesome woman.”
“Wh-what? Why troublesome?”
“You are. Well, I think you’re cute because of that. I guess it’s a game of, whoever falls in love first loses. Hey Yuki.”
He scratched his head, smiling, and stared right at me.
Just like that Christmas Eve four years ago.
“It’s true that I do find what you say weird. What you say is different from my memories, and normally, it’s hard for me to believe you fully. Truth be told though, no matter what you say is true or not, it doesn’t matter to me. Either way, I’m going to say, I believe you. I don’t want you to misunderstand, this isn’t pity. When I see you in pain, my heart hurts, my heart suffers. If you can smile, I’ll believe in anything. The me who’s been with you all the time has always been like this, right?”
I couldn’t disagree.
Because it’s as he said.
The four years of feelings in my heart didn’t allow me for to refute.
Ah, yes. Yoshi-kun never got to fulfill any promise with me, but he never let me down on any of my wishes. He did everything to fulfill what I hoped for. Whenever I state my frustrations, he’ll help me, and he’ll reach out to me no matter when.
“I guess I’ve liked you all the time.”
These words were similar, but this time, they touched my heart.
The heat equivalent to his palm’s spread within me. I see. Guess I have no choice.
People probably call this warmth ‘love’.
In that case, I too might have been the same. For a very long time.
Before I knew it, the snowflakes flew. The world’s covered in white.
“Speaking of which, you’re a weird on ever since our first meeting, Yoshi-kun.”
I smiled, as he wished, and reached my hand out. He too smiled and held my hand.
My long journey should come to an end here.
I kept living for this moment, wanting him to say that he likes me. Right now, my existence should be able to remain permanently in his heart.
But I have a sudden lingering regret.
I haven’t been able to convey my feelings to Yoshi-kun properly.
That’s why it can’t end here. For us, who kept meeting even though we never got to say goodbye properly, it was a line we had to mark.
“Hey, Yoshi-kun, I–“
But my words never got to reach Yoshi-kun. It just ended. Ah, I see.
Once I saw Yoshi-kun’s face, I understood.
LIke before, he was giving me the look of a stranger. There was no longer the boy who said to me, I like you.
Silent, without any sign, the world resetted.
Before I knew it, our hands parted ways.
Surely, the fact that he held my hand was erased. Even so, there’s still that lingering warmth on my hand.
This is enough.
This alone is enough for me to keep moving on.
My heart’s pounding.
I took a deep breath.
I did it dozens of times, hundreds of times, but even until the very end, I never got used to it.
Whenever I talked to Yoshi-kun when he didn’t know me, I was always tense.
And the words I said were always different. It’s hot, it’s cold, you’re working hard. I even told him, bring me to the movies. Please help me get a book.
Just like that, I approached Yoshi-kun 213 times.
Not once did he feel annoyed by it.
The many ‘hellos’ I said were this clumsy me’s attempts to confess.
I wanted Yoshi-kun to like me, so I kept approaching him. For this reason, I kept meeting him. In this case, isn’t there something simpler and suitable?
I made up my mind.
I slowly opened my mouth. The air shook.
Come on, let’s begin with the first and last goodbye.
“Hey, Yoshi-kun. I like you.”