To everyone. I’ve always been the ‘weird kid’.
Back in kindergarten, I drew a picture of a mover’s mark instead of a drawing of my mom, and in elementary school, I wrote my dream essay, ‘I have thought about it a lot, but I don’t have anything in particular at the moment’ with quite a few pages, and everyone called me a ‘weird kid’ ever since then.
It seemed everyone would peek at other children’s drawings and essays, and try to go along with them
Is it true?
In kindergarten, I was told to ‘draw whatever I like’. In elementary school, I was told to ‘write honestly’, and I was never told to write what others thought, or draw what others wanted. Did everyone really get it?
I didn’t understand.
Or rather, I still don’t understand. I’m not sure.
And mom told me.
—Weird kid? That’s good.
—Look, Isana, you’re the only one in this world. It’s no wonder that you’re different, right?
Then, why can’t I call other kids weird? So I asked
—That’s because they’re scared of showing their true selves to others.
Mom didn’t understand.
How would she understand when she didn’t have any fears?
And as for me, why didn’t I try to not be scared?
Why didn’t I try to show my truest self, and let myself be hurt, without any safeguard?
I just couldn’t hide it.
I just couldn’t protect it.
I just couldn’t do it.
—That’s all it was.
“Long time no see!” “Been a while—woah, you’re so tan!” “Did you finish your homework?”Barely…I thought I was going to die.”
It’s been a while since I was in the classroom, and it felt so new.
I looked around at the familiar faces of my classmates everywhere, and heard comments of ‘you’ve changed bro’ and ‘you haven’t changed’ in equal measure. This made the classroom familiar and new at the same time. It’s not like I wasn’t active on LINE during summer vacation, but it’s really a completely different impression from a face-to-face meeting after all.
“Irido-san! It’s been a while~!”
“Hi there, Irido-chan!”
“Maki-san, Nasuka-san, it’s been a while—so we say, but didn’t we just meet last week?”
I put my bag on my seat as I chatted with the usual suspects—the tall Maki Sakamizu-san (of the basketball club) with the short haircut, and the bobbed cut, always sleepy-looking Nasuka Kanai-san (from the karuta club). I put my bag down on my seat. It’s the day of the opening ceremony, so my bag is light.
Maki-san sat in front of me without hesitation, and Nasuka-san sat calmly next to me..
And then a familiar ponytail jumped in and joined us.
“Yume-chan! It’s been a while~! I’ve missed you so much!
“Whoa! …Akatsuki-san, didn’t we just meet last week? ”
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Yume-chan in uniform.”
“So I’m a different person in every outfit…?”
“Are you some social game character?”
Maki-san let out a loud, hearty laugh early in the moment.
For the time being, I pried myself away from Akatsuki-san’s embrace. It’s hot. Even though it’s September, the temperature still felt like summer.
“But well~ summer vacation ended huh.”
Maki-san said as she looked around the classroom, seemingly lamenting
“Well~ it wasn’t as summer-like as I thought it would be. Not enough youth, I guess? Well, there was a study camp and club competition~, but it feels like everyone else hasn’t changed much either.”
“I spent most of my time lounging around at home too, though I did help out at the sports clubs from time to time. The homework was too hard~.”
“That’s true! I had no time to enjoy my youth! It’s frustrating!”
It’s a little scary as to how Akatsuki-san could just lie and conceal the fact that she went to the pool with Kawanami-kun unflinchingly.
“What about you, Nasucchi? Anything during summer vacation?”
The ball was thrown onto Nasuka-san’s court, and showed a vague look a little reminiscent of Higashira-san.
“We just had a club tournament too.”
“Oh. We’re the same~.”
“And I just got a boyfriend.”
“What? A boy…eh?
We all perked up, and looked at Nasuka-san’s vague face at once.
“Boy…eh What? What did you say?”
“I participated in a club tournament.”
“Not that! Not that!”
“Can’t you be more creative about bluffing!? We’re talking about your boyfriend here!”
Maki-san was so upset that she didn’t bother to correct her tone, but Nasuka tilted her head in confusion.
“About the boyfriend?”
“Yes, yes, yes!”
“Is it true!?”
Nasuka-san nodded flatly.
Haehhh~…we stared at her face in amazement.
Nasuka-san was the type who would conserve her energy, really didn’t want any trouble, and never really showed interest in the opposite sex. She’s basically the female version of Houtarou Oreki…but I never thought there’d be such a drastic change over the summer vacation…
Maki-san was the first to recover, and immediately leaned forward towards Nasuka-san.
“Who is it!? Who are you dating!? From our class!?”
“A senior in our club.”
“Did he confess to you?”
“No, I confessed.”
Confessed? Love? With that dull look all year long!?
Nasuka-san didn’t show any embarrassment at all.
“So I told him ‘senpai. I know you’re interested in me. Let’s date if you want’.”
“Is that really…a confession?” Maki-san said.
“It’s not what I was expecting…” Akatsuki-san followed up.
“But maybe it’s just like Nasuka-san to do this…” I said this.
“It’s a waste of time to dither after all.”
The sharp edges of the words pierced my heart. People always had troubles when it came to that…
“Speaking of which, it’s the first time I heard that you know about love, Nasucchi?”
“What do you think I am?”
“It’s true that I have an image of you going all ‘love is so annoying’ and rejecting confessions.”
“I get you~!”
Once we heard this sudden special dialogue, “Ooh!?” all of us immediately sat upright.
“He buys me ice cream on the way home from club activities.”
And then we’re all deflated.
I’ve been treating Higashira-san like a freak the entire time, but thinking about it, Nasuka-san’s pretty much the same…
But Nasuka-san actually would go home with a senior at the club every day without us knowing, and he would buy her ice cream. That’s really his clumsy approach to romance, and she vaguely realized his goodwill—I just couldn’t help but feel my heart beat wildly when I thought about it.
The involved party herself nonchalantly looked in a completely different direction though.
“Speaking of romantic feelings…isn’t Irido-kun a bigger topic than me?”
“Ah! Yes yes! I heard about that little brother Irido!”
My heart jolted.
Mizuto’s seat was far away from mine due to the seat change before summer vacation, and was in the middle row near the hallway. Kawanami-kun was currently sitting next to him, fending off the classmates who were itching to ask Mizuto something.
“There’s a rumor going around, isn’t there? The Irido brother is dating that girl from Class 3! Say Irido-san, is it true?”
I looked away and wondered how I should react, so I looked to Akatsuki-san for help.
“Well, why don’t you just be honest?”
She says with a light laugh.
“Oh? What what? You know about this too Akki?”
“Well, sorta. I did spend time with him a few times—and didn’t the four of us talk about Higashira-san a few times before?”
“Higashira—ah, that girl.”
Speaking of which, I remembered Nasuka-san saw them together when Mizuto had just met Higashira-san. She didn’t react much to that fact though.
In turn, Maki-san was very curious.
“Isn’t the Irido brother the type to not be interested in romance? I heard that since the middle of the first semester, this part of him made him so popular. That’s why this news caused quite the impact, huh~?”
“There were rumors since study camp about a girl who’s been hanging out with Irido-kun. I’ve heard about it.”
“There wasn’t much noise about it back then though. You see, weren’t there rumors of him being with you, Irido-san? Compared to that…”
I looked away once again. Well, I started this rumor to begin with, so I couldn’t really defend myself against it.
“But well, it’s a different matter when you’re seen on a date. That girl—Higashira-san, right? I heard she was dressed really cute and adorable, and had a different vibe from when she’s at school..”
Akatsuki-san gave a dry laugh. That different vibe from school was created by both Akatsuki-san and me.
“So? What’s up? Are they dating?”
Akatsuki-san’s right. The rumors would get ridiculous if I tried to bluff them.
“They’re not dating…I think.”
“What? So it’s just fake news?”
“That’s just the way it is. Rumors.”
“Then, Is that fake news too? Anyway, she does have tits that would make a gravure idol blush~.”
Akatsuki-san and I spoke in unison.
“Ueehh~ really? I should have a look.”
“I can introduce you to her though? I guess Nasuka-chan can be fast friends with her, right Yume-chan?
“It’s true that they have the same vibe.”
“Oy, what about me?”
“Delinquents aren’t allowed here.”
“Who’s the delinquent!?”
Behind the laughter, I was secretly worried.
Not at the fact that Higashira-san’s position was being solidified—but rather, the dramatic change in environment that would hit her.
The moment I opened the classroom door. I was surprised.
After all, before this summer break, I had spent my entire school life as if I were air. Even when I entered the classroom, nobody would greet or even glance at me, and I was already used to that.
But at this moment—what’s with the stares piercing through me?
I heard from Yume-san about the rumors between Mizuto-kun and me.
I had some awareness since the study camp, but Mizuto-kun’s rather popular. Ahh, I was the first to have my eye on Mizuto-kun though.
I shrivelled, trying to hide from the eyes, and sat at my seat. Phew~ I just felt uncomfortable, since I wasn’t used to being the center of attention. Speaking of which, the really popular Yume-san always had such looks since she entered the school. I really respected her.
While I hesitated as to whether I should sleep or read until class started, I heard a somewhat tentative voice. Ah, who’s she talking to? —Huh? Did she just mention my name?
“Uh, yes, that’s right..”
I looked up to see two girls standing before my seat. They’re my classmates…their names…erm…sorry! Well, it’s safe to say Mizuto-kun doesn’t remember every classmate’s name either!
The two of them probably never expected anyone to not know their classmate’s name heading into the second semester, and they continued on without introducing themselves.
“Well, we heard a rumor…that you’re dating Irido-kun from Class 7. Is that true…?”
Yume-san and Akatsuki-san only told me that someone else saw Mizuto-kun and me together, so I suppose that’s why people assumed that we’re dating. In other words…I had to be sure first.
“Erm…so, it’s about the 27th?”
“Ah, yes yes!” “I knew it was true!”
Eh, nope. I just wanted to be sure of the date. I hadn’t answered yet…
I wanted to correct them, but it’s too late.
I didn’t know if others were eavesdropping or something, but it felt like all the girls in the classroom started to gather around at this opportunity.
“How long have you been going out with him? “You two were always together since camp, right?” “Why didn’t you tell us!?” “What’s Irido-kun really like?” “He really looks aloof!”
Awawa. Awawa. Awawawawawawa!
I was bombarded with the torrent of questions, and I felt like Yoshi. I couldn’t catch a word of what’s being asked, and some of them acted like old friends for some reason. I didn’t have any opportunity to ask.
And more importantly, they thought we’re totally dating.
Even I couldn’t help but get nervous. After all, we’re not dating, I got dumped. It’s just their misunderstanding, and I’d feel guilty thinking that I was lying to them. I had to hurry…and deny it while I still can…!
“Hey! How often did you see each other during summer vacation?”
“Eh, about every day…”
“Every day!?” “You two are super in love!!”
“Oh, n-no, when Mizuto-kun returned to the countryside—”
“She’s calling him Mizuto-kun~!” “Hey, where do you usually date at? If you meet every day, there’s not many places left to visit, right?”
“Eh? No, well, I usually go to Mizuto-kun’s house…”
“His house!? Every day!?” “You two are basically living together!”
Kyaaahhh!!! The girls let out raunchy squeals.
W-what should I do…I just answered instinctively, and missed out on the chance to deny the rumors.
But…I was a little, happy.
Basically living together. Basically living together…is that so…
“What about the confession? Who confessed?”
“Eh, ah, well, I did… ”
I was rejected though.
“What~? What did you say~?”
“Well~, I guess, it’s a little…”
“You’re embarrassed! So cute ♪!”
When was the last time I had a conversation like this with my classmates?
It might be the first time in my life.
Well…we’re not really dating, but I wasn’t lying…I wouldn’t suffer divine retribution if I continued to act like his girlfriend—right?
The opening ceremony ended, it was after school, and I went to the library as per before summer vacation.
Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I felt like I was being watched just walking down the hallway. I felt a mixture of superiority and unawareness, fluffy even.
Oh no, anyway, it’s really surprising, I guess. I had been answering everything honestly, and they didn’t think otherwise. Yume-san said that we’re like lovers, and I never thought it was true.
But still, if we caused such a scene like that in the library, I might trouble him. I should pay attention and not let others realize so.
I felt like a celebrity as I paid attention to the surrounding stares, and entered the library.
I went to the usual place—the corner by the window…huh?
At this moment, I realized something. Would Mizuto-kun really be there?
It’s true that we always met there during the first semester, but the summer vacation was just over. Mizuto-kun couldn’t possibly remain at the same place the entire time, right…?
While feeling a little uneasy…I took a peek beyond the bookshelf.
There was Mizuto-kun— his buttocks leaning to the air conditioner by the window.
It was to be expected back in the first semester, but at this moment, I was strangely glad.
It seems Mizuto-kun will be here every day for the second semester too.
In other words…he’s keeping to that promise, right?
Mizuto-kun noticed me, and looked up from the book he was reading.
I approached him, and said,
“It’s been so long, so I thought you wouldn’t be here.”
“Habits are hard to break, you know.”
“What are you reading today~?”
We talked as usual, and I put down my bag, took off my shoes and socks, and sat down on the air conditioner by the window.
I felt a sense of security.
There were few people in the library, and I was barefoot in a corner where no one could see me, with Mizuto-kun next to me…I felt a sense of comfort, like I was in my own room.
Hmmm…it’s fun to be surrounded by my classmates, but I suppose it suited me more to stay here quietly. If I could take only one thing with me to a deserted island, I would take Mizuto-kun with me.
“—H-hey…” “It’s true…”
Suddenly, I heard the faint whispers of girls.
I looked over, and found a few girls sitting in a chair in the reading corner, peeking at us from time to time and whispering. Huh, are there Mizuto-kun’s fans here?
When Mizuto-kun looked at them, the girls quickly turned away.
Seeing this, Mizuto-kun frowned lightly.
“…Are you curious?”
Most probably, Mizuto-kun didn’t like to be the center of attention.
It’s only natural when I think about it. There’s no way he would be happy with how this situation had turned out.
But Mizuto-kun didn’t answer my question.
“I should be the one asking. Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Well. I’m just a little flattered to be questioned by people.”
“Don’t do that, you idiot.”
He lightly poked on the head.
It’s just the usual casual poke on the head.
But at that moment, I heard a little squeal from the girls.
Mizuto-kun hurriedly withdrew his hand.
He fiddled with his hair with his fingertips, as though to brush off his actions, and gently sighed.
“…What did you actually say?”
“Your classmates did ask you, right?”
I wasn’t kidding when I said I was a little flattered, but naturally, I couldn’t say that.
“Well, I didn’t lie to them at least~… ”
“Now I’m curious about that comment…well, that’s fine, I guess. I’ve had no comment so far after all.”
“Is there a problem?”
“Of course. If you actually told others that we’re dating, and someone else actually says we aren’t, what do you think will happen?”
“You’d be the bad person for insisting you’re in a relationship.”
“…Woah! It’s true!”
“You didn’t think of that, did you…?”
I really didn’t.
That was dangerous. If I got too cocky and bluffed away, there’s no turning back from there.
“Well, so be it. We need to make sure we’re on the same page.”
“Right. But it’ll be counterproductive to deny it so vigorously. I think it’s best to keep it vague …”
“Understood…! I’ll do my best to keep it vague!”
“It’s worrying me…haa, what a hassle.”
Mizuto-kun gave an annoyed sigh.
“These guys really got nothing better to do…”
…I guess I was really happy to have my classmates actually talk to me.
I was more of a peasant compared to Mizuto-kun, and I felt it was nice to be noticed.
But… I didn’t want to trouble Mizuto-kun in trouble for it.
“And so? How’s the situation over there?”
I asked Akatsuki as I popped a pizza into my mouth.
Akatsuki held her phone with one hand while stretching a long trail of cheese in the other.
“It’s really a wide~spread topic amongst the first year girls, but I don’t think there’s any malice, and I don’t think it’s a problem to leave it alone.”
“Really? There’s isn’t anyone who’ll go all ‘isn’t she getting carried away here’ or something like that?”
“I don’t think so. Even if there is, she’ll feel like a spoilsport while everyone’s praising. Luckily the rumors spread before Irido-kun’s popularity really took off. There’s also a strange recognition that those two weirdos are a match for each other.”
“Huh. I’m not convinced at~ all.”
“What about the boys?”
“There’s not much reaction amongst the boys compared to the girls. But well, maybe there’s some idiot who’ll try to mess with irido-san who’s been pretending to be a brocon so that she wouldn’t be wooed…”
“Make sure you slaughter them, alright?”
“What are you saying? I’m doing it even if you don’t tell me.”
I too was on my phone.
“…I guess we don’t have to put out the fire after all.”
“Busybody, huh…well, Irido-kun doesn’t really care about what others think of him though.”
“I told Irido that I could give him a hand if he found it a hassle, but he just told me not to be a busybody..”
“Busybody, huh…well, Irido-kun doesn’t really care about what others think of him though.”
I recalled what Irido said when I suggested spreading rumors to counteract.
—Are you taking Higashira for an idiot?
“What do you think?”
“What do you think?”
Akatsuki frowned, and tilted her neck in annoyance.
“…You know, Higashira-san’s really acting like a maiden when she’s with me and Yume-chan. She’s, you know. She gets embarrassed when Irido-kun praises her, and when he gets angry, she gets depressed…I feel like I’m taking care of a younger kid.”
“Huh? So what?”
” I wonder if Irido-kun knows about this side to her…”
This psycho woman showed a rare moment of worry..
“Does he know that Higashira-san’s just a normal girl too…”
“Hey, Higashira-san! Shall we have lunch together?”
Isana Higashira’s pickup period continued the next day.
It was the first time in my life that I could remember being invited to lunch. Even Mizuto-kun, Yume-san and Minami-san hardly met me during lunch.
“Eh? Ah….i-if you don’t mind…”
“Sure! Let’s go! Ah, do you have a bento? Or do we go to the shops?”
“N-no, I do have, my, bento…!”
Mom…thanks for making a bento for me today. Usually she would be all sleepy eyed and yawning while giving me money, I should thank the sleep gods.
It’s going so well that I wondered if they were hiding something from me, but they were all very kind, though I couldn’t remember their names, like before…
“Is Irido-kun a family friend of yours? Then Irido-san—ah, erm, do you know your sister-in-law well?”
“Ah, yes…Yume-san does invite me from time to time…”
“Ehhh~!?Really!?” “I’m jealous!”
The mealtime topic naturally involved Mizuto-kun, and I was amazed at how many questions they asked, since it felt like it was endless. I initially suspected that they might be after Mizuto-kun, but after some interaction, I felt that they’re just curious.
I tried to answer as much as I could, but I wouldn’t answer anything that might affect the privacy of Mizuto-kun or Yume-san. There were a few who understood the issues I had, and once they saw my reluctance in answering, they would say ‘you shouldn’t be asking this~’, and tap their friends. I could tell that they were all nice people..
“Well~ it’s great~ Irido-kun seemed like an obedient person.” “Yeah yeah, he doesn’t look like someone who’ll fight at atll!”
“He saved you from the delinquents, right Higashira-san?” “Oh noes! It’s like a shoujo manga! I’m so jealous~!”
I didn’t remember…saying anything like that at all, right?
“I think he grabbed Higashira-san’s hand and ran away!” “Eh? Didn’t he beat up the delinquents?” “Why did I hear that he escaped while carrying her like a princess~?””
Th-that escalated quickly! The rumors escalated quickly!
Th-they somehow thought of Mizuto-kun as Superman…! Does he look like such a person!? Did everyone wish for him to be a prince charming!? Well I get your feelings though!
“E-erm, that’s not—”
“Irido-kun can cook too, right, Higashira-san?”
Everyone immediately looked at me in unison.
Their expectations were overflowing, and I could tell from their eyes that they were hoping to hear the coolest stories involving Mizuto-kun from me.
But Mizuto-kun’s not as perfect as everyone thought. Even when I would visit him early in the morning, he would space out with sleepy eyes, and his bed hair could sometimes stay there for three days. He couldn’t even do a few push-ups, and if he actually got into a fight, his fist might hurt more than the guy he hits.
I had to deny it…deny it—
“—I guess…he’s decent at cooking?”
“I knew it!” “He’s so smart, and can fight, and he’s practically invincible, right?” “And he has a cute face!” “it is!” “He’s really pretty!”
“I know I know! That face’s really adorable!”
I wasn’t lying! It’s true that he can cook and is cute! I just didn’t have the guts to break this mood!!
I really…didn’t intend to bluff them.
After school, there seemed to be more people in the library after school than yesterday.
I didn’t really count the number of people every day, so maybe it’s just me, but when Mizuto-kun and I were reading at the window like usual, I could hear strange chatter.
Maybe they weren’t talking about us..
It might not be malicious.
But to me, considering how quiet it was before summer vacation, it’s clearly noise to me.
If only the library staff or the librarian could actually tell them to remain silent—ah, but if they get scolded, the ones to be scolded first would be Mizuto-kun and me.
Mizuto-kun’s probably mindful about being watched too, and seemed to be keeping his distance away from me. Usually, he would ruffle my hair or touch my head, but he’s not doing anything of the like. I’d been secretly looking forward to it, but I was left frustrated.
More importantly, his eyebrows were furrowed more than usual…for me, I was getting carried away, but Mizuto-kun might be more stressed out than I was…
“Erm…shall we change locations?”
I suggested cautiously, and Mizuto-kun smiled.
“I’m fine. Don’t mind.”
I’m fine. That’s what Mizuto-kun always said.
But was it really the case? I couldn’t help him at all, and did he say this because he’s not going to talk to me even when he’s in trouble?
Even when I confessed to him—Mizuto-kun never mentioned that he had an ex-girlfriend.
I was too stupid and naïve, and I was too delighted to be able to remain with him even when we couldn’t be lovers, so I hadn’t realized in a long time—clearly he said that out of consideration for my feelings, so that I wouldn’t be hurt.
Right after my confession failed, I thought I wanted to spend more time with him—and he complied silently with the ridiculous request…
Was he really fine with that?
Did I really—do the right thing?
“You just need to act like it’s normal. It’s okay.”
It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.
Yes, that’s right.
If I could do that, I—
“…You haven’t seen me in the classroom…”
…What did I, just say?
“What’s wrong, Mizuto-kun?”
Mizuto-kun looked concerned, and I asked back in my usual tone.
That was close, real close.
Once again—I almost failed to read the mood again.
It’s not like anything special happened..
It’s just a repeat of routines, stupid unoriginal repetitions.
I was just labelled a ‘weird kid’, and wasn’t able to correct this weirdness.
For example, back in elementary school, two boys in my class got into a fight. I forgot the exact reason, but maybe it’s because one badmouthed the other, and the other started fighting—I guess it’s probably something like that.
They grabbed each other and fought, were dragged apart by the teacher, and they both started crying. The teacher heard what happened, and told them off.
—Look, both of you are in the wrong, so apologize and get along well.
In hindsight, these words left me skeptical..
Even if they both apologize, shouldn’t the one who fought first start? They weren’t on good terms to begin with, so how were they really supposed to get along well—?
Did the teacher actually listen to them?
I mean, did the teacher remember the two of them well?
So I said what was on my mind.
I wasn’t even a part of that fight, but I told the teacher the question on my mind.
I vividly remember the atmosphere in the classroom at that particular moment. The teacher clammed up immediately, and my classmates looked at me as if to say, “Why did you say such unnecessary things?”. The two classmates who fought pursed their lips and stared at me, looking all red-faced.
I remembered that in the report card for that semester, the remark given to me was ‘a little lacking in coordination’. So I looked up the meaning of the word on my phone, and was rather shocked. To be honest, the teacher hinted that I didn’t really get along with my classmates. That teacher always told all 36 students in the class to ‘everyone must get along well, okay?’
I cried and told mom about that, and she laughed hysterically.
—Get along!? All 36 people? No way, hahaha! There’s no way to do that, you idiot! Pfhahahahaha!
—Oy look Isana, I got 112 friends on my gamer account, but these guys will insult me all day long the moment I make one or two mistakes! They’re still my friends in the game though! They’ll yell ‘shit’ or ‘fuck’ and all kinds of swears, but when they get something good, they’ll share, and they’ll chip one when the enemy attacks—so what if you can’t get along well? Just say what you want. It doesn’t matter if you get into a fight with them! If they’re troubled by that, it means that they’re such narrow-minded adults who can’t even take any unfiltered nephew’s words Hahahahahaha!”
I really admired mom, and always wanted to live freely and openly like her, so I chose to believe her instead of what was written in the report.
As a result, I never made any friends in elementary school.
I entered middle school alone. And then—
—Hey, Higashira-san, can’t you read the mood?
—Everyone’s fed up with you, you know? You always say such unnecessary stuff.
—Shut up! Everyone’s everyone right!? This is the annoying part about you!
What did they mean by mood?
Did I say anything wrong?
—Look, Higashira, I know you got your logic, but you need to learn how to compromise. You can’t survive in society like this.
—Do you think that’s an acceptable attitude? Think Higashira think! Use common sense!
What’s common sense?
I don’t understand. I don’t understand. I don’t understand.
They’re not telling me anything. Why did they sound like I was supposed to know everything? Everyone did sing that we’re all different back in elementary school, right? Why do they get mad when I say something different? Were they telling me to be like everyone else?
I couldn’t do it.
I couldn’t take the initiative to talk to others like everyone else, I couldn’t borrow a textbook whenever I forgot to bring it, I couldn’t ask others to help me pick up the eraser that dropped on the floor, I couldn’t be paired with anyone in class, I couldn’t write a field trip report, I couldn’t voice out in a singing test, and I couldn’t finish the school lunch given to me.
I couldn’t do things that everyone else could.
Was it all because of myself? Was it my fault? Was it to be accomplished with hard work? Could I become like everyone if I worked hard? So why didn’t everyone work hard to be like me? Why did I have to do whatever I didn’t want to do?
All of you are just saying that I’m weird.
From my point of view, everyone is the weird one.
I adored my mom, but I just couldn’t be like her. I couldn’t just laugh it off when others got upset with her, and I wasn’t popular enough to make friends while doing whatever I wanted.
Nobody taught me, and I had no example to learn from. If I could be praised by the adults and get along normally in society—well, anyone would want to be such a person, right? But I just couldn’t. If I ended up like that, I might not be me..
Where’s the world where I could live as myself like a light novel character?
Could I do it by isekai-ing? Could I have an easier life if I reincarnate in another world?
It’s really a silly fantasy.
I realized then that it’s a shallow escape from reality, and couldn’t help but sigh.
But it was the only option I had as a middle schooler.
That’s why I decided to attend this prep high school nobody else in my school would attend.
Because, you know, they say Kyoto University is full of freaks.
I thought if I were to go to a place full of smart people, there would be lots of people like me. That’s when I wondered—could I be ‘everyone?’
In the end… my situation didn’t change much.
In the end, everyone’s still everyone, and I was just the same old me.
—This series? You like it too?
But then I met Mizuto-kun.
Mizuto-kun was the only one who didn’t get mad at me.
He didn’t tell me to read the mood, and didn’t ask me to use my common sense.
Whenever I said anything weird, he would tell me what’s weird.
And instead, he’s the one who said something crazier.
He told me he’d stay by my side…
So—yes, that’s why.
That’s why I finally found out.
I shouldn’t bother Mizuto-kun because of my personal reason.
“Higashira-san, I heard you met Irido-kun in the library yesterday?”
“You guys are really in love!”
The next day at lunchtime, the same girls talked to me.
I was glad to hear those words, really glad.
But…I had my priorities.
“Come on. Let’s go to lunch and chat.”
I mustered the courage to speak louder. Everyone stopped talking, and looked at my face.
And then…I couldn’t help but look down. However…I still said whatever I had to.
“I-I’m not…dating, Mizuto-kun.”
I said it.
It’s the truth. I wasn’t Mizuto-kun’s girlfriend, anf far from it, I was the loser who confessed and got rejected outright.
So…please…Please leave Mizuto-kun alone. Please leave us alone.
There was a pause.
They seemed to be scrutinizing what my intentions were.
And then the classmate who always took care of me broke the silence.
“Again with that? You don’t have to be shy.”
She said and put her hand on my shoulder.
I didn’t think she meant any harm.
To be honest, she’s so clumsy that she probably couldn’t convey her feelings properly to me.
But I had no choice.
I didn’t know what else I could do.
“—I’m telling the truth!!”
The classroom fell silent, and I felt suspicious stares piercing through my whole body.
I…I didn’t mean to yell at all..
I’m sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Sorry. Sorry.
I mumbled in a really low voice a small part of the feelings that swirled in my chest.
Did they hear my apology? I didn’t know. I just couldn’t, I had no idea how loud I had to be so that others could hear.
The hand on my shoulder moved away awkwardly.
The girls pulled away from me, and started muttering away.
They’re probably saying that I couldn’t read the mood…again.
I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders.
And then, I hurried out of the classroom while ignoring all the intel around me.
Mom didn’t make me lunch on this day.
“…She’s not here yet?”
I went to the library as usual, but Higashira hadn’t showed up.
I put my bag on the air conditioner by the window, and took out a paperback I was reading. Perhaps her class was running long, or maybe she had class duty. Well, she should be here soon.
And I—finished my book.
I tilted my head. What’s the time? I put the finished book back into the bag, and pulled out my phone.
It’s been an hour since I arrived in the library—even classes and class duty should be long over by now.
There’s no sign of Higashira.
I checked LINE, and didn’t find any message from her. What’s with her? Did she catch a cold or something?
In this quiet library, the only sound was the flipping of pages from the librarian at the counter.
It was then that I noticed.
The herd that had been spying on us yesterday wasn’t present.
Did they get tired of us? So soon? If that’s the case, I should be happy—
But what suddenly popped in my mind were the words Higashira said.
—……You haven’t seen me in the classroom
I’d…never seen Higashira like that.
It’s not the…Higashira I knew.
And then, pok, I heard a notification from the phone in my hand.
The chat window was open. It’s moving.
“Sorry, I won’t be going today.”
It was a message from Higashira that came far too late.
I quickly typed a reply.
“What’s wrong? Caught a cold or something?”
It’s instantly read.
And then, a little pause later.
“I had some business to attend to. Sorry.”
Something seemed off.
Did she need to spend that much time to write such a short reply?
Why’s she sounding so cold? Usually, she would have written something like ‘are you coming to visit me’?
Why’s she so apologetic?
“Did something happen in class?”
And again, a tad later.
“I just thought it would be better if we didn’t see each other for a while.”
Two messages in quick succession. I frowned.
“Did they say something to you?”
“It’s not like you. You wouldn’t care about what others say.”
I hastily sent these messages, and then I received instant responses.
“It’s who I am.”
After that, she wouldn’t respond to my messages.
I laid down on the living room sofa, and looked up at the ceiling.
I didn’t feel like reading.
The monotonous ‘sorry ‘ just lingered in my eyes. Even when I started to read the book, those words always ended up printed on it, and I couldn’t cram anything else into my head.
So I could only look at the ceiling.
All I could see was the reflection of Higashira’s ‘sorry’…
“… Hey. You okay?”
And then Yume’s face suddenly covered the word on the ceiling.
She’s leaning over the backrest, holding up her long black hair as she looked at me..
“There’s even a rumor going around about you putting on her socks, you know? I told you to at least rein it in. Anyone could have seen you in that corner of the library—”
I jolted up, and Yume cried out as she moved her face away.
I was enraged.
Everything felt like an eyesore, and it’s like everything in the world was alien to me.
“Higashira and I have been hanging out over there for a long time. Why should we run from there with our tails behind us? Hey!”
“W-wait…what’s with you?”
Once I saw Yume’s confused look…I realized that I was out of line.
I let out a gulp of air, shook my head slowly. My head cooled down a bit, but the … anger simmering in my chest. It won’t go away.
“It’s fine, but…”
Yume stared at my face.
“Just, move it.”
“Enough already! Give me some space!”
I did as I was told, and moved to the edge of the sofa. Yume sat hard onto the empty space with a plop.
She put her hands on her knees, and looked straight at me.
“About what …?”
“What’s going on between you and Higashira-san?
“It’s none of your business—”
“I knew you’d say that! I even got my counterargument ready! One’s family, one’s a friend, you think that got nothing to do with me!? ”
I shut up.
My excuse was…unexpectedly negated.
Yume frowned and said in a soft voice, like a mother soothing a crying child.
“… What’s wrong? Did someone say something bad to you?”
“If someone gets carried away and harasses you, I’ll do whatever I can to show them who’s boss—that’s what Akatsuki-san said.”
“What’s she going to do…”
Ah dammit, goodness me..
I couldn’t let others get the wrong idea because of a misunderstanding.
“…Well, nobody’s doing anything to me. Kawanami’s my bodyguard.”
“I know that. That means the problem is on Higashira-san’s side?”
“…I don’t know, either.”
I put my fingers to my temples, and frowned hard.
“I heard from Kawanami that Higashira’s not bullied or anything, that some girls just talked to her. Higashira herself also said something similar, but …”
I told Yume that Higashira didn’t show up at the usual place, and showed her the LINE chat. It’s not really a scandal anyway.
“I guess she’s worried about what I thought. She got over her failed confession, so there’s no way she cares about the people around her now.”
A long, deep sigh brimmed from Yume’s mouth.
I tilted my head.
“…Now, I’m going to say these words for the first time in my life. I know it sounds corny, but there’s no other way to describe you.”
And then Yume pointed at me—her face raised as she gave an uppity look.
I was petrified.
“You think she got over her failed confession? Why would she care about the people around her? You dooooonnnnnnn’t know what you’re talking about! That’s why you’re a virgin! You have too many ridiculous fantasies about girls!!”
“No…? Huh, What fantasies—?”
“You obviously do! Aren’t you just imposing your ideals on Higashira-san!? You’re a literary buff, so you’re probably secretly calling Higashira-san a femme fatale, aren’t you?!?”
Did she really think that I would call the girls around me femme fatale? What bias is that!
“Why would she not care about what the people around her think!?”
Yume raised her voice, seemingly not caring about escalating this squabble.
“Myself aside—if it’s someone she loves, all the more she would care.”
“You must be frustrated that they’re giving you curious looks while you’re in your personal space with Higashira-san, right? Do you dare say that you never showed it in your attitude at all? You knew what Higashira-san would think if she saw you like that, do you? That shy, timid girl might look like she can’t read the mood, but she’s sometimes able to. Can you really say she’s not scared at all?”
Higashira…would sometimes look towards me anxiously.
Whenever she did so, I told her every time that I was fine—I promised that I would never change myself.
—Hmm, I don’t think I’m really the obedient type.
—…You don’t like it?
—You seem to be in a bad mood today, aren’t you?
Was she really fine with all of that?
What’s she so restless about, really?
Did I—really understand Isana Higashira?
“She’s really just a normal kid. She loves you. She’s just acting like a freak awkwardly because the one she likes thinks she’s someone who can’t be influenced by others. If she couldn’t do that, she probably wouldn’t be able to go back to being friends with you. She’s definitely hiding her broken heart.”
“—Thank you. That’s enough.”
I interrupted Yume.
I was ashamed of my obliviousness.
But—at that point, I would never underestimate Isana Higashira again.
Was she just playing along with me?
Did she hide her broken heart just so that we could go back to being friends?
“I get your opinion, and it’s really helpful…but I can’t believe you fully.”
“As a hyperbole, I’m a nasty otaku for Higashira.”
I told the doubtful looking Yume.
“Original setting is justice.”
“Finally picked up, huh?”
“Sorry. I was playing a game…”
“For four hours?”
“That’s about right.”
“Well, to be blunt, I’m the weirder one for trying to call you for four hours.”
“…Yep. That’s right.”
“It’s really late. Let’s not chat too much about the stupid stuff.”
“That’s okay though?”
“No, I’m going to be direct with you today. Higashira, did I misunderstand you?”
“What do you mean…?”
“I always thought you’re a strong girl, that even when you are hurt, you can get over it.”
“No no no. No one is as weak as me.”
“That’s what Yume said. You’re actually a normal kid, but it’s that you’re just trying to fit in because I think you’re weird.”
“… Hmm. Maybe that’s part of it. I’m not sure though.”
“You said it before, didn’t you. I remember when I talked to you about…how Yume’s behaving weird”
“Ah…that’s when I hadn’t interacted with Yume-san and Akatsuki-san, right? I remember.”
“Yes. At that time. You said, ‘Isn’t there some form of standard in your eyes? And when that is under threat, well, if I have to put it, I’ll get into battle mode straight away. That’s why I’ve been told often that I can’t read the mood.”
“…I guess I said that before. You really remembered it.”
“That’s why, after I heard that, I assumed you were a strong person. Aren’t you quite a contradiction. Why would someone like you try to change your behavior to accommodate me?”
“I just said it randomly though. Just copied it straight out of a light novel.”
“Maybe, but then I did say to you ‘Reading the mood is important, but you don’t have to do so in front of me, Higashira.’”
“Do you remember?”
“Did you forget about it? Or did you just ignore it?”
“Who knows? It’s easy to remember now, but I might have forgotten it at times.”
“Was it the same when you confessed?”
“After the confession failed, when you asked me to come home with you as usual. Did you forget what I said?”
“You didn’t, right?”
“If I didn’t remember… I wouldn’t have said those things.”
“…Honestly, I forgot about it.”
“If that’s the case, then Mizuto-kun, you’re really that kind of person to begin with. You read the mood for me, and really cared for me.”
“Back then, I was really saved—and also miserable.”
“Hmm. I’m surprised I said that. I see. Yeah, I was so miserable back then…”
“Why? You were amazing back then. I…never respected a person as much as I did then.”
“You overrate me. You’re the more amazing one for saying that, Mizuto-kun. So cool, so strong, living so boldly. I really—wanted wanted to be like you, Mizuto-kun.”
“I want to be someone who’s able to live strongly on my own, without the need for friends. Such characters are cool after all. I want to live like Hachiman Hikigaya, Kiyotaka Ayanokouji, Tatsuya Shiba, invincible protagonists. If it’s possible, anyone would want to become such a person, right?”
“But, I just can’t. I’m not a weird kid, nor am I a normal girl. I’m just someone who can’t read the mood.. That’s not rare or valuable, and I just look like I stand out because of my lack of ability—I don’t have the ability to conceal myself. I’m just a straggler.”
“This time too, I guess I couldn’t read the mood. I said that we shouldn’t meet for the time being, but that’s not what you want, Mizuto-kun. If I think about it, I thought we’d decided to keep it vague, but then I actually told my classmates outright that we weren’t dating…Really, I repeated this over and over again. I knew what’s the right thing to do, but when it came to doing it, I always chose the wrong option.”
“I’m still the same now. I don’t know why I’m talking about myself for so long, and I know I’ll regret it later, so much that I’ll be rolling on the bed, wanting to forget about it. But I always end up doing it, I can’t read the mood. I’m always by myself, and I can’t see what’s going on around me—ehehe. Actually, when people call me weird…It makes me happy. if I’m really weird, how can I possibly have such thoughts…it’s such a stupidly normal thinking.”
“So, I always do things half-heartedly…whether it’s illustrating, writing novels, or trying to livestream, I would always quit right before I present. After all, that’s how it is, right? There are tens of thousands of kids out there weirder than me. Who am I compared to them?”
“But you’re the real deal, Mizuto-kun. That’s why I admire you…that’s why I want to be with you…that’s why…”
“You like me?”
“That’s not it.”
“That’s…that’s the one thing that’s not right…maybe…”
” I’ll tell you a little bit about my past.”
“Back in middle school, my favorite book was “Dogra Magra. As you can imagine, it’s because I thought the tagline sounded cool, that it’s ‘one of the three strangest books in Japan”. I knew very little about it though.”
“That’s when I got a girlfriend. She really loves mysteries, and would disparage anything that didn’t go along with Knox’s Ten Commandments.”
“In short. Me and her, we’re just normal middle school kids, just a normal couple. We’re so normal that it could make anyone yawn, let alone be part of a novel.”
“Maybe no one’s weird, Higashira. Everyone’s normal.”
“…Mom said the opposite to me.”
“If everyone is weird, then the weird ones are the normal ones.”
“Sometimes the people who call themselves normal high school students are actually the weirdest.”
“Such protagonists seem commonplace.”
“If it’s so common, then he’s normal too.”
“All of humanity. Normal?”
“Each person isn’t the strongest or anything. Just a normal protagonist.”
“I’ve heard that line before.”
“Me too. I’m normal.”
“…I guess…you’re still weird, Mizuto-kun.”
“If you say so. So are you.”
“I’m not as weird as Mizuto-kun.”
“You overestimate me.”
“Then—why don’t you prove it?”
“Then prove to me that you’re normal, Mizuto-kun…that you’re not much different from me.”
“If you can answer immediately, you’re obviously not normal.”
“That’s just reading the mood and going with the flow anyway.”
“Is that funny?”
“Nothing…I can do that at least”
I hung up, and looked up at the ceiling of my room.
…So it’s an argument?
Did I just argue with a friend?
I was actually happy that I argued—happy for myself even.
I hated myself.
Ordinary people wouldn’t be happy about such a thing, and I was definitely weird to be happy about something no ordinary person would be happy about. Yet deep within my heart, I felt so happy that I was a good kid.
I really was sitting on the fence.
I was really, really, soft-boiled.
So how could this me be the same kind of person as Mizuto-kun? He’s so smart, never bothered with his surroundings, and continued to remain as himself even with the surrounding factors. He told me he wanted to prove that he’s just an ordinary person, but anyone who could say such a thing was definitely not normal.
There are such people in the world after all..
And I’m not one of them..
I covered the towel blanket over myself, and shriveled on the bed.
Even if I were to be isekai’d, I would surely be unaccomplished.
The next day.
I ate lunch alone.
I went home immediately after school.
I didn’t meet Mizuto-kun.
The next day.
It was a rest day.
I lazed on bed for an entire day.
I didn’t meet Mizuto-kun
The next day.
It was another rest day.
I spent my day lying on the bed.
I stared at the illustration of Mizuto-kun I drew back then.
I didn’t meet Mizuto-kun.
The next day.
I ate lunch alone.
I went home immediately after school.
I didn’t meet Mizuto-kun
The next day.
I ate lunch alone.
I went home immediately after school.
I looked at the illustration of Mizuto-kun I drew.
I didn’t meet Mizuto-kun
The next day.
The committee member for the culture festival was decided.
Everyone started discussing the festival.
Nobody was talking about Mizuto-kun and me.
A week passed..
I ate lunch alone—or so I was prepared for it.
But somehow I heard a voice close to me.
“Higashira, you hear me?”
I lifted my face in trepidation.
I saw Mizuto-kun stand right before me..
“I’ve come to pick you up.”
I hurriedly looked around.
It’s been a long while since I recognized this classroom, and everyone’s eyes were gathered on Mizuto-kun and me. Also, even the students from the corridor stopped to look at us.
Mizuto-kun said as if everything was normal.
“It’s true that I really don’t like to be the center of attention—”
And then, he said, somewhat bashfully.
“But more importantly, I hated that I lost the time to talk with you.”
At that moment…silence filled the classroom.
It took me several seconds to realize what he said..
At that moment—my heart nearly jumped out.
Immediately, my cheeks heated up, and nearly burned.
And then, the girls in the classroom let out raunchy squeals.
“Haaaaaa…! H-he said it~” “I-I always wanted someone to say this to me once!” “Ahh, wait, I can’t take it anymore! Timeout…!”
There was a ruckus in the classroom, and a few girls were hyperventilating, their knees wobbly.
No, erm, aeh? Wait, that was…to me? Was he…talking to me?
So openly in front of everyone—ahhh…
I guess that’s not a normal person after all.
I woke up.
I had a dream.
A real nightmare.
I was completely sober, terrified of the scene I had just witnessed, and hurried off the bed.
It’s really something Mizuto-kun would do.
And it’s something I would be happy about.
Maybe, just maybe, there would be such a grand ending.
Mizuto-kun would openly appear in the classroom, whisk me off, and we just ignored everyone else—
That’s, so, cool.
I really wanted to try it, if I could.
But the only one capable of doing that was Mizuto-kun.
“—Isanaaaa!!! Wake up already!!!”
“Awawawa! I-I’m up! I’m up~!”
Once again, I went to school on this day.
Ordinarily, I went to school on this day.
Noon break ended without anything extraordinary, and so did classes.
…On this day, once again, I didn’t think of going to the library.
Actually, there was once when I couldn’t help but peek over, but at that usual corner, I didn’t see Mizuto-kun over there.
…Was there a need to be so insistent?
At this point, nobody would actually care about us. We didn’t need to bother with keeping our distance…but why did Mizuto-kun send me that little wish of his through his phone.
I knew. It’s because we’re friends.
We could let the words be gone with the wind, and act as if nothing happened like before. We could meet in the library, hang out together during vacation…that’s enough for me. I just said those words in the heat of the moment…
I discreetly pulled out the tablet from my bag, and stared at the illustration of Mizuto-kun I had drawn before.
That was the illustration I drew of Mizuto-kun when he arrived at my place.
He’s not wearing any clothes, and looked sturdier than his actual self…I wanted to add some erotic parts, but I was stopped by self-loathing and guilt whenever I had such sentiments, so I gave up.
The moment I saw that illustration, I felt a sudden surge of regret.
I’m sorry for saying such weird things in the heat of the moment. Please ignore that and laugh it off, please don’t take it for real.
I’m sorry for being unable to read the mood, so can’t you just continue to ignore me like air?
That’s more than enough for me.
Even if he didn’t look at me, even if he didn’t have any thoughts about me, I wouldn’t ask for anything else as long as I could remain by his side—
I let out a small sigh to shoo away the negativity in my mind.
I erased the illustration, put my tablet back, and zipped my bag.
Well then—let’s get out of here for today.
I’d detour at a bookstore on the way home. Maybe there’s an early sale—
And at that moment, I sensed there was a buzz in the classroom.
What’s going on? So I wondered for a moment, but it got nothing to do with me anyway.
—I heard a voice next to me.
Did I still have a lingering hallucination of the nightmare I had this morning? It would be pretty dire if I could actually hear Mizuto-kun’s voice..
“Higashira, I know you can hear me.”
Wait…I wasn’t hallucinating?
I lifted my head tentatively.
And this time, I thought I was hallucinating.
But this time, it was reality.
Standing in front of my seat was the real Mizuto-kun.
My throat was parched.
It’s…not a dream.
It’s undoubtedly reality.
Why did you… show up?
Why did you show up so openly, in front of everyone?
I thought you were going to prove it?
Weren’t you supposed to prove that… you’re just like me?
So why did you do–something so cool?
If that’s the case, I’d end up remembering how shallow I am!
Mizuto-kun hadn’t changed.
He’s impossibly cool.
He’s impossibly weird.
He’s there—just like he promised me.
… So that’s it.
Yeah. That’s right.
Mizuto-kun’s a big fat liar.
But…I love you, Mizuto-kun. I forgive you.
It’s what I loved most about Mizuto-kun.
Mizuto-kun gently placed a few folded loose-leaf pages on my desk.
What happened to ‘I’m here’?
Where’s the ‘it’s fine’?
Aren’t you the kind of guy who’ll say such cool things…and seize the hearts of all the girls?
Mizuto-kun muttered to himself, and walked out of the classroom.
It was like he was escaping from a piercing stare.
It was nothing like the nightmare I had this morning….
My classmates in the classroom all looked doubtful, and then started to chat about what they were discussing..
They acted as if nothing happened.
The only change there was the loose-leaf papers left on my desk.
…Is this…the proof?
He didn’t do anything over the past week. What could he prove with this stack of papers?
I timidly opened the folded paper.
—And then I started to read.
I continued to read.
I kept reading.
I finished reading.
I found myself laughing out loud.
The classroom went silent for a moment, and there were confused eyes directed at me.
Ah, I messed up. Speaking of which, it’s still the classroom.
I waited to catch my breath, hugged the loose-leaf papers to my chest, strapped my bag over my shoulder, and left my seat.
I left the classroom.
I ran down the hallway quickly.
I was headed to—where Mizuto-kun was.
I walked through the open door without hesitation.
There were still many people in the classroom.
But it didn’t matter.
Amongst them, the only one that mattered was that Mizuto-kun was still in his seat.
I heard Yume-san’s voice, but let’s leave it for later.
I walked through the crowd and stood in front of Mizuto-kun’s seat.
Just like Mizuto-kun did earlier.
I called out to him, and he looked up at me.
That cute little face seemed so unreactive…yet it seemed so funny to me at this moment.
I slapped the loose-leaf papers on his desk.
And then—I said what was on my mind.
“That was super! Stupid!”
That might be the clearest impression I had ever given in my entire life. It was a scathing review.
Written on the few loose-leaf pages was a novel.
That was what he personally wrote, some self-absorbed writing that was just a series of monologues with no narratives at all. It’s not even complete either. It’s a meagre novel.
Surely it would be rejected in the first round of a competition if it had been submitted to a rookie award, and might even gain a few reviews at most on a novel submission site. There’s no doubt it’s a novel written by Mizuto-kun.
Let’s get this straight.
I was certain that I could write something more interesting than that.
That really was a surprise. Mizuto-kun read so many books, but I didn’t think he would write such a typical self-indulgent novel. Wait, did he write it on purpose?
Mizuto-kun looked away awkwardly.
“… I knew you’d say that, but, it hurts when you tell me like that with a straight face…”
“You’re rather self aware, aren’t you?”
“No, well, I mean…I had a prior promise, and someone already read it before you.”
A prior promise?
Speaking of people who Mizuto-kun would actually show his novel to…
I turned around to see Yume-san looking at the looseleafs papers on the desk with dumbfounded eyes. It seemed he had already received her review.
“Just so you know. I did spend all my effort to write this. It took me a whole week to write just 2,000 words. I really admire people who post novels on novel submission sites every day.”
“Well. Only a skilled person can take it easy.”
“…You aren’t holding back at all…when I finished it, I thought it was so good that showing it to you would have the opposite effect. …”
Mizuto-kun mumbled to himself. He clearly looked depressed.
Seeing him like that, I too was relieved from the bottom of my heart.
What mom said was wrong.
But, she’s also right..
Everyone’s not too different from each other.
But everyone’s able to sense what’s weird about each person.
That’s why they wanted to feel safe.
They wanted to look no different from the others.
They wanted to be someone that could be understood.
The ability born out of this is ‘coordination’.
The methodology born out of this is ‘common sense’.
The human relationships born out of this is ‘society’.
In that case, I’ll proudly give up on coordination.
I will proudly become one without common sense.
I will proudly deviate from society.
I’ll—continue to be the ‘weird kid’ that everyone knows of
That’s all I could do since I couldn’t read the mood at all.
That’s probably fine.
Even if I failed—I’d definitely be fine..
To me, Mizuto-kun’s neither normal nor weird.
Even if I was coordinated, lacked common sense, and deviated from society.
I felt safe just being myself, being with someone I could understand, who was the same as me—
“I like you, Mizuto-kun.”
—He’s the only one in the world. He’s special.
Mizuto-kun chuckled softly.
“I like you too.”
My best friend’s more normal than me and yet weirder than me, and he said the exact same words I did.
People do call all the special existence amongst all friends as best friends, right?.
Mizuto-kun and I went to the library side by side..
Some people shot glances at us, but I wasn’t bothered.
But like before, it certainly felt great..
How about it? He’s my best friend. You’re jealous right?
After all, I’m vulgar after all.
While walking down the hallway. I bent down and peered into Mizuto-kun’s face.
“By the way, Mizuto-kun. How long are you going to call me by my family name?”
“I think it’s about time you do the same as I do, you know ~?”
We’re best friends, but it’s unnatural that I’m the only one calling him by his family name, while I was the one calling him Mizuto-kun, his given name.
I’ve suggested it before, but I felt this wouldn’t change if I let this issue drag on. I wasn’t going to let him off this time..
Mizuto-kun made a wry face.
“…I said I won’t change, right? ”
“You promised that you’ll continue to be the Mizuto-kun I want. The Mizuto-kun I want is that you’ll call me ‘Isana’, you know?”
“Damn…you’re stupidly quick-witted when it comes to this…”
Mizuto-kun opened his mouth, closed it, averted his eyes…and then muttered with a teeny-weeny voice.
“One more time!”
“I can’t hear you! ”
“Isana! Fine, that’s what you want, right? Isana! No complaints now, Isana?”
“Aba-ba-ba-ba-ba! W-wait, that’s an oversupply…!”
Mizuto-kun saw that I was flailing away because of the sudden counterattack, snorted proudly, and averted his eyes somewhat bashfully..
And immediately, I chuckled at an idea that flashed through my brain.
He’s the one who always caused me to panic—so he shouldn’t have any complaints if I was the one who shocked him, right?
“Mizuto-kun, there’s something I’ve been keeping quiet about since I’ve been reading the mood.”
“Read the mood? You?”
“Your ex-girlfriend is Yume-san, right?”
Mizuto-kun stopped in his tracks, and his expression froze.
I saw it, and grinned away.
“Mizuto-kun—please don’t underestimate me too much.”
I said, and skipped off happily without looking back.
I heard Mizuto-kun’s footsteps as he hurriedly chased after me.
“No, you, when—?”
“Who knows? I’ll leave it to your imagination.”
Both Mizuto-kun and Yume-san seemed dumber than me.
Even I wouldn’t be so oblivious until someone else actually revealed this to them.