In his 3rd year of elementary school, Koremitsu did not have a single friend.
When they went hiking in the hills previously, he was the one sitting on the last seat in the bus. When they reached their destination, his classmates were gathered in groups, chatting and laughing away as they trekked on, but Koremitsu continued to keep his mouth shut, and his sharp expression was fixated forward as he wordlessly head towards the hilltop alone.
There were beautiful flowers beside his path, birds perched atop the branches, but he did not look at him.
He knew, at the tender age of 9, that if he were to meet them in the eyes, the birds would be fearful of him and run away, just like his classmates.
Even when they reached the hilltop, he would not talk with others, and would find a place where nobody would notice him. Once he found such a place, he would set his picnic cloth and eat his bento alone.
That was because, if the teacher saw it, he would probably say,
“Everyone, please let Akagi join in too.”
He might say such things.
In that case, the students who were chatting and eating happily would quiet down and avert their eyes as they lower their heads, fidgeting around.
—Akagi seems really scary. That red hair belongs to a delinquent.
—I heard he fought against a fifth year and injured him.
—I heard that he bit the bulldog Shingen belonging to Tanaka in front of the school.
He knew all too well these rumors that were said about him.
You’re too arrogant even though you’re just an underclassman. The 5th years looking for trouble said this, and Koremitsu ducked past a hole in the metal fence in order to escape. The 5th year too tried to follow through, but was stuck inside, and because he struggled as he was stuck, the tips of the wire fence cut his arms and back, causing him to bleed all over, and he wailed out in pain.
The famous bulldog, Shingen, which often barked at students leapt towards Koremitsu as its collar ring was released.
He tried to restrain Shingen and pressed his head down on its face. The passers-by, upon seeing this, yelled—3rd year Akagi just bit Shingen—and the crowd gathered, creating quite a commotion.
“I…it’s fine even if I don’t have a friend.”
“Did you eat your bento with your friends?” his aunt Koharu asked as he came back from his trek, not thinking about what he felt at all, and he answered quietly,
Everyone, says that, I’m arrogant, unsociable, a delinquent, when they see my face.
Mom left me behind when she went off. I definitely have a face nobody likes. I might as well not hope for others. If I say that I don’t want to make friends right from the beginning, I won’t have any lonely feelings.
But his once divorced aunt, who returned to her maiden house, spoke with a serious look on her face.
“Koremitsu, you may look a little less cute than the average, more violent, and a little more lacking in gentleness, but this can’t be the excuse why you can’t make friends. Your grandfather looks like you, he does have a calligraphy class for 40 years, and he has quite a few Go player friends in the neighborhood. Even I have friends who’ll listen to my rambling.”
Koremitsu widened his mouth in shock.
It was true—that both his grandfather and Koharu both had savage looks like Koremitsu.
When the three of them were gathered at the dining table, it looked like they were discussing some devious ploy. When they go for their rare shrine visit together during the New Year, the other tourists who came along would instantly avoid them.
A few days ago, the Akagi residence had a thief, who collapsed in fear once he saw grandfather hold the carving knife with a savage expression on his face as the latter worked on his art print. He wanted to escape, but upon reaching the kitchen, found Koharu chopping the mackerel in the kitchen with a bloodied knife, and was immediately restrained.
I thought I just entered a demon’s lair—When he was questioned by the police, he shuddered as he admitted his guilt.
The neighbors muttered, seemingly pitying him…for entering that one particular house to steal.
But despite this, his grandfather and Koharu actually had friends.
Koharu taught him that despite his savage and scary appearance, these were not to be used as excuses for why he could not make friends. He was not to look for excuses, complain, give up easily, for that was not manly.
These were words of a senior who walked down the same arduous route, and they were immediately etched within the young Koremitsu’s heart.
At the same time, he lifted his head up in hope.
“…Can I make friends too?”
Koremitsu asked with a throbbing anticipation.
“Yeah, that’s why you have to try your best to form relationships with others. You won’t succeed easily, but that’s how you’ll make ‘real friends’.”
“Friends that are together for eternity are ‘close friends’.”
Those words caused a tremor in his heart.
Koremisu checked on the meaning of the term ‘close friend’ in the dictionary, and went towards the calligraphy classroom. Once the students left, he sat down on the table alone.
He grinded the ink and wrote ‘close friend’ in large font on the writing paper.
He continued to write the same words on every single piece of paper, again and again, and for every piece he wrote on, his heart soared higher.
In the end, there were pieces of paper with the words ‘close friend’ all around the table.
Such wonderful words.
Such awesome words.
He wiped off the sweat on his forehead, and his face was all red as he looked at the many ‘close friends’ in life.
I’ll take the best written words and put it under the pillow when I sleep.
Maybe I might finally dream of this close friend.
“Hikaru’s too indecent! I hate him!”
“Eh, Miss Aoi!”
Hikaru, who was in his 3rd year of elementary school, weakly called out.
“You made Aoi angry again?”
His cousin Asai came into the kids room, tagging out Aoi as she said coldly.
Asai and Aoi were 4th years, a year older than he, and the trio would often play together.
Recently, Aoi had begun to say things like, “You’re a playboy, Hikaru,” or, “You’re happier with other girls, right?” more often than she had before. She would glare at him through teary eyes, her cheeks puffed out. This was cute enough for Hikaru to wish he could bring her home.
“Miss Aoi asked me who’s in my group for the school trip, and I just answered ‘Erika, Fumiyo, Yuna, Minami, Shiori,’ that’s all.”
Even though Hikaru didn’t understand the situation, Asai questioned him.
“Don’t you have any boys in your group, Hikaru?”
“Well, the boys hate me. None of them are willing to bring me along. My classmate Fujiwara told me today ‘Don’t you dare to be arrogant; you were born out of wedlock.’ Erika scolded them a lot to help me, but the class broke into a huge argument between the boys and girls.
“—Hikaru, you’re special! Don’t talk with those outrageous boys.”
“—Hikaru, ignore those boys and do homework with us. You can form a group with us for the trip.”
Ever since he was in kindergarten, the girls were the ones who had been helping him, protecting him, lending him textbooks when he forgot. Every girl was extremely gentle, and he felt as relieved as being in a flower field when he was with them. He really liked them all, but he wanted to play with boys too.
However, when he forgot his textbook, the boys would look away when he ask them for help, and would deliberately make things difficult for him by telling him ‘go borrow from the girls’.
“Hey, Asa, I really want to get along well with the boys and make friends with them. Erika keep saying things like “I want to be your bride, Hikaru” or “I want to be his girlfriend”, but this and being friends are two different things…what kind of people are willing to be my friends?”
The older, wiser, and calmer cousin went silent for a while, and then said without holding back.
“The one fatal flaw you have is that you’re too obedient to your desires, Hikaru, and I might say that it’s because you’re too much of a playboy. You should get a friend who’s prudent.”
Asai used adult terms that Hikaru did not know of. ‘Desire’ and ‘obedient’ were terms that she would say when she told him off. Perhaps she was saying that he was too straightforward with what he wanted to get, what he wanted to do.
“What does prudent person means?”
“It means a wise person who thinks sensibly before acting and thinking.”
“But isn’t that like you, Asa?”
Hikaru looked over at Asai with a clear expression.
Though her expression was aloof, Asai’s shoulders jerked slightly.
“That’s because you’re the smartest and most reliable one amongst all I know, Asa. You taught Miss Aoi and I lots of things.”
“Oh yes! Can’t you be my friend, Asa?”
Hikaru lowered his eyebrows, and Asai said with a firm, cold expression.
“Boys and girls can’t be friends. Even if they’re temporary, it’s just appears to be, and can’t be real. It’s a fragile friendship that will soon break. That’s why you have to make friends with boys.”
“It means easily broken, like the icicles on the roof in winter.”
“Is that so…fragile…I can’t be friends with girls, is it? It’s a little unfortunate.”
Hikaru looked utterly devastated. He thought that he managed
Asai remained speechless as she looked back at Hikaru.
“If only you were a boy, Asa.”
Asai’s shoulders jerked slightly.
But Hikaru immediately shook his head, smiled and looked back at Asai.
“No, I think it’s good that you’re a girl after all, Asa. I get it! Asa! I’ll try my best to think of a way to make friends with boys.”
Asai looked away uncomfortably.
“…That’s good. If you play with boys instead of girls, you probably won’t make Aoi angry.”
And then, she said curtly,
“Aoi’s still waiting downstairs, probably wondering what to do. Go find her.”
“Yes, thanks, Asa.”
Hikaru ran out of the children’s room with a cheerful expression, and dashed down the stairs.
Just like what Asai said, the white ribbon could be seen from the corner of the staircase.
He grabbed Aoi by the hands as she tried to run away, and smiled, saying,
“Wait for me. If I can make a male friend, you won’t go back angrily. And then, we’ll remain close to each other.”
Aoi blushed as she looked around, her lips opening and closing at times,
“I-I don’t know.”
She answered, seemingly angry and yet troubled.
At night, Hikaru laid on his bed and looked at the stars outside. He made a wish,
“I hope that I can make friends with boys. I’ve been too obedient to my own desire, and it’ll be good if I can make a prudent friend.”
But there was no boy in the class who was like Asa.
It seems that it’ll be difficult to find a prudent friend like what Asa described.
And speaking of which, if I want a prudent person, won’t Asa be enough…
I’ll add another condition then.
“A courageous person will do too.”
Right, like a hero who helps everyone.
That kind of friend must be great too.
He buried his head into the pillow, and closed his eyes delightedly.
It would be great if he could make a real, real friend one of these days.
That person may be from another class.
In that case, once class ends, he’ll run to the friend’s class and shout,
“Hey, I forgot to bring my textbook. Can you please lend me yours—”
Hello, I am Mizuki Nomura. Thank you for being the first volume “Aoi” of the new series “When Hikaru Was On the Earth……”.
As I previewed in the “Soft-boiled Author and the Book Girl Muze”, I based this story off of the “Tale of Genji”. There are also elements from another famous work in the setting too, and to the readers who understand, please read on with a hearty smile.
I wrote the “Soft-boiled Author and the Book Girl Muze” during the end of March last year, and though I gave ample time for this new series, all sorts of public and private affairs caused me to feel dejected, wondering, “I can’t possibly make the deadline and release this in May” anymore. It’s really~~~~~~ great that I can release this successfully!
The initial design for the protagonist Koremitsu is that he’s a healthy (?) delinquent growing up in a normal family. However, since ‘a delinquent is the second greatest enemy of an otaku’, I changed him to be an unfortunate boy mistaken for a delinquent. Then, I thought, ‘if he’s tall, handsome, he’ll feel like someone who has a good life, and the biggest enemy of an otaku is someone who has the good life’. After trimming and adding a few parts, I have this current Koremitsu.
THE PROTAGONIST IS NOT A DELINQUENT~!
It might feel a little weird now, but it will soon improve…I guess.
Speaking of which, how would the questionnaire look after 3rd place? I am rather curious.
The name of this series is ‘When Hikaru Was On the Earth…”, and the name was derived from the drama troupe Caramel Box ‘When You Were On Earth’. When, I saw this title for the first time, I wondered what kind of story it was. Unfortunately, the public performance had already ended, but I chanced upon an opportunity to read the script after the public performance ended. This is true a heartbreaking story, and coincidentally, the protagonist’s little sister knows how to paint too. Her role overlaps with Aoi’s role in the arts clubroom, and it certainly is inexplicable.
A lot of things really happened when I was creating the first volume of “Hikaru”.
One of it is regarding my workplace. I had nothing to complain about my work environment and treatment, and I wanted to keep working there until retirement. However, bad financial performance caused it to close down at the end of the year.
I wanted to find a new job after writing the new work, but I still had not finalized the story in at the end of April. I had been staying at home for entire days, and it was winter, so the electric bills were certainly going to be high. When I saw the unknown astronomical number that far surpassed my imagination on the bill, I nearly fainted.
I had been putting on weight, my strength was becoming insufficient, and I could not take care of my beauty and health. I swore to myself: hurry up and find a new part-time job!
Recently, a lot of people had been asking me ‘Is being a writer not enough to feed you? Are you really living a distressed life?’. Perhaps this is because I once wrote about me working on part-time job in one of the afterwords.
Sorry to make everyone worry, but this is not the case. Ever since I started working with Famitsu Bunko, the work is enough for me to live a steady life, which is a fortunate. But I really do not like to have trouble, and like to stay at home; if I do not go out to work and snuggle at home like this, I may end up sleeping 12 hours every day…thus, I feel it is better for me to find a part-time job in this situation.
Wearing neat clothing and walking down the morning roads carefreely feels as relaxing as sleeping in like this. This is why I have to find work!
As preluded at the end of the volume, the second volume of the “Hikaru” series is “Yuugao”.
“Hikaru” is a story of separation. Once you finish reading it, you may feel sad, but you will feel a warmth feeling in your heart too. It will be great if I can write such a story. After “Yuugao”, I will try to continue with “Waka Murasaki” and “Oburozukiyo”. Please continue to follow me until the end.
Year 2011, April 30th Mizuki Nomura.