Hellping

 

A sakura petal fluttered to the ground.

It fluttered as though it was in a hurry. And so, it fell onto her hair—as though it was sucked in.

I noticed it immediately. I could have called out to her easily, and could have reached out and pluck it off easily.

—What’s the matter?

She looked back at me curiously. My hand was almost at her waist, and I was sure she had not seen it.

—It’s nothing.

I touched her hair before.

I lost count of the number of times we talked.

So, even at this point, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t tell her about this petal.

It happened on a certain day during the spring break while we weren’t in our second or third year—until the very end, I remained silent about the fact that there was a flower petal on Ayai’s hair.

 

 

On this day in the interval between middle school and high school, while I was still a nobody, I had a sibling the same age as me.

However, she was a familiar girl to me.

She so happened to be my ex whom I broke up with the moment we graduated from middle school.

I learned of this fact while having a meal with dad and his new marriage partner, and my mind was in orbit.

I guess she probably was the same. The moment she saw my face, she lagged for several seconds. Our conversation ended up like an AI, and our parents chalked it up as nervous, but we were struggling hard. We were practically—rejecting the reality that was happening before our eyes.

No, well, if we thought about it calmly, it’s not like there weren’t any odds of that.

They live in the same area, so they probably met other, and since they have kids of similar age, they probably got a common talking point. Then again, why her of all people!? Didn’t we clearly break up on the day of our middle school? It hadn’t even been a week since then. I thought our relationship was over. Isn’t this sequel starting way too early? At least give us a break before then!

And so, we left the restaurant in a somewhat awkward mood.

The sakura trees by the river were practically lined together in a row by a strong. Our parents said that they wanted a walk after a meal, so they went down to the river terrace. Ayai and I followed them.

Dad and Ayai’s mother kept peeking at us from time to time. I guess the primary concern before they remarry was us. If we couldn’t get along, there’s no doubt our parents would call off the marriage.

Goodness, it’s a ridiculously impossible problem. We had just broken up after all. We broke up because we couldn’t be together. So now we’re together again as a family? The difficulty was ramped up here.

I casually glanced aside at my ex, who was walking next to me, without making eye contact…I wouldn’t have any problems with this if it wasn’t for you. We could have kept a reasonable distance and been proper siblings. The fact that it’s you however—made me feel gaudy just by walking next to her.

It used to be an ordinary event.

It used to be a daily event that was expected of us.

That’s why I was under so much duress; because of the changes that suddenly popped up…I just couldn’t help but hate this.

I let out a little sigh, and lifted my head. The blooming sakura flowers covered the skies like tickets.

And then, the sakura petals fluttered to the ground.

It fluttered as though it was in a hurry. And so, it fell onto her hair—as though it was sucked in.

“…Ah…”

I recalled that incident a year ago.

I didn’t reach my hand out for the petal. I was reminded of myself from a year ago.

I didn’t know why, and at this particular moment, but it just happened. When I had a feeling of déjà vu from the sight before me, what came to mind was—

—It’s different from back then.

That’s all that came to mind.

And so I naturally reached my hand out.

“Eh?”

Ayai, whose hair was abruptly touched, turned around in shock.

I showed her the sakura petal I had just plucked off.

“It latched onto you.”

“T-Thanks…”

She murmured.

But that was just one word. It was surprising, yet natural. I had assumed we would never speak to each other again.

The breeze swept the petal from my finger. The tips of Ayai’s hair danced obediently in the air.

Ayai gently held down her hair with her hand.

“…Say.”

“…Yeah?”

“Nice to meet you—is this fine?”

Ahhh…I see. So that’s how it is.”

“Yep—nice to meet you. I’m Mizuto Irido.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Yume Ayai.”

We introduced ourselves to each other again with serious looks.

“…Fufu.”

And Ayai-no, Yume smiled.

Feeling bemused, I giggled.

It’s not a good feeling.

I wouldn’t be able to stay composed if I were to stay with her.

But—that’s to be expected of a first meeting.

At this point, that’s what we could do.

Just as the sakuras wilt and shall bloom again.

 

 

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