—Hear me out, Irido-kun! I made a friend in class!
I didn’t know I could have such an ugly side.
But it certainly was my history, one that remained inside me.
—There was a girl reading a book during lunch break, and I mustered my courage to call out to her…!
Yep yep, so I just nodded away.
I smiled and congratulated her on her growth.
It’s not a lie.
Really, it’s not a lie.
After all—you smiled so happily back then.
And yet, why, I wonder.
The next day, when I passed you by in the classroom and found you chatting happily with your friends, this thought crossed my mind.
Ahh—so you went to that side too?
That’s when a wall divided us.
She was the only one who was on this side of the wall, and I shoved her to the other side.
—I’m sorry, Irido-kun…! I had an appointment with a friend today…
I knew. I had to say it.
I should have accepted the ugly feeling of alienation, but then I told her.
—… It’s okay, I don’t mind.
I shouldn’t have sounded so spiteful.
I shouldn’t have turned my back on you without saying goodbye.
I shouldn’t have concealed my feelings.
I should have faced them head on—
…It’s easy to talk about ideals, huh?
But isn’t reality merely the accumulation of unfulfilled ideals?
“Ehhh… for today’s Homeroom, we will decide on the committee members for the culture festival~.”
The homeroom teacher ordered sleepily. This teacher’s always feeling so lethargic even though the class was full of first-year students with excellent grades. Well, for someone like me, it’s nice not to be bothered with too much. Thanks to that, I was able to focus on my own job.
“The committee members are mainly responsible for gathering the class’ opinions, and to communicate with the management.”
The explanation fell on deaf ears to me as I stared at the few pieces of loose-leaf papers.
At this point, the most important thing for me wasn’t the culture festival, but rather this short story that I was going to show Higashira.
I have to finish it as soon as possible and prove to her that I wasn’t special, that she’s just just overrating me.
I’d been struggling with this for the past few days because I never tried writing, but at this point, I was finally seeing the end. As I penned all my frustrations into the words I wrote, Homeroom continued on.
“Yes~, I think Yume-chan will be a good choice!”
“Eh!? Wait, Akatsuki-san…!?”
“She’s serious, kind, she’s the right person for the job!”
“Yay~!” “I agree!”
Hmmm… shall I write ‘I have’ here? Or ‘I had’…?
“Then, Irido and one more person—preferably a boy.”
“Yes, yes, yes!” “Me! I’ll do it!”
“Woah, your intentions are obvious.” “Boys, please” “You’ve been acting dead up till now.”
Rhythm’s too delicate here… I’d like to add a four syllable word…Hmmm…
“Can’t we just choose Irido? “
“What? The little brother?”
“Yeah, yeah. Irido wouldn’t have any ulterior motives, right? I mean, they’re family, after all~.”
“Sure, that’s a good idea!” “Irido-kun huh~ “That’s right! He’s smart enough too.” “And he has a girlfriend, so he’ll be okay, right?”
“Then, the male Irido, are you fine with that~?”
I answered instinctively, and then finally looked up.
But at that moment, my name was already written on the blackboard.
The proceedings continued before I could object.
“Yume-chan, congrats on being a committee member~!”
“Th-thank, you…? I feel like I’m being forced into this…is this really fine …?”
“Well, doesn’t everyone listen to you, Irido-chan?”
“Yeah, yeah! Especially those damn boys, whip them hard
“Good luck, Irido.” “It’s a shame, but I’d rather that… than have more bugs gathered around Irido-san…”
“Okay, next, let’s decide what we’re going to do next, Irido siblings! Irido siblings, I’ll leave the floor to you~!”
And before I knew it, I was standing on the podium.
Together with Yume, facing at least thirty of my classmates.
Amongst them, I saw Kogure Kawanami’s face.
He was leering and holding up his thumb for some reason.
” (…Hey, what do we do…? Which one of us is going to talk?)”
Yume spoke to me in a hushed voice. It’s obvious.
“(I’ll leave it to you.)”
I took a step back and left the proceedings to Yume.
I’d just be the scribe. The class should be more comfortable with this arrangement.
I picked up the chalk, and Yume glared at me resentfully for a moment,
“Eh-erm…if you have any ideas, of what we should do…”
“Ehh~? What do we do? What do we do?” “It’s a standard haunted house, isn’t it~?” “Woah, that sounds like a lot of preparation~.” “I mean, what do you usually do?” “I don’t want to clash with the other classes.”
Even though she successfully made her high school debut, it didn’t mean her voice suddenly became louder. Yume’s soft voice wouldn’t actually reach her noisy classmates.
We’re in for a rough ride, so I thought as I wrote ‘suggested items’ on the blackboard.
I guess it’s Minami-san who voiced out after seeing Yume like this, and then—
—Tap tap. I tap the blackboard lightly.
Everyone instinctively reacted to the sound. The little break caught their attention, and I looked to Yume.
“If-if you have an idea, please raise your hand!”
Thanks to that, Yume’s voice finally came through, and the attention went from the sound to Yume.
Such an honor student that needs to be taken of, goodness?
I sighed discreetly, and Kawanami let out a small whistle while Minami-san looked at me like, “Y-you’re good…” Thanks a lot.
“Okay! A cosplay cafe!”
Minami-san quickly raised her hand to suggest when we started to ask for ideas for this event.
Kawanami made a dumbfounded face,
“You know…, isn’t that usually what a boy would say?”
” I want to see Yume-chan’s cosplay!”
I wanna see! I could hear voices from all over the class, mainly the girls. The guys were strangely quiet, probably because it would be sexual harassment if they said it.
Cosplay café huh…that’s a classic.
“Eh, eeerrrmmm…th-that’s fine, right?”
Yume immediately gave me a pleading look. Put some more effort into it, so I thought as I spoke to the homeroom teacher watching from the side of the podium.
“Sensei, do you have any information about what stalls we had at the culture festival last year?”
“Yes, I do.”
The homeroom teacher seemed to be waiting for this moment, and took out several documents from a file under the arm. You should have showed them earlier if you had them—so I thought, but that’s just our school. They don’t give anything to the students unless they’re asked for it—or rather, they always encourage the students to take the initiative.
I flipped through the materials and checked,
“…We got a cosplay cafe last year, so I don’t think it’s a no go.”
“So you’re saying there’s a chance?”
“Yes, but there’s also a chance that we might clash with other classes. I don’t know how they usually resolve this when that happens though…”
I turned to the homeroom teacher, who immediately spoke up,
“We have a fixed number of slots for the same activity. In situations when the requests exceed the slots, we’ll narrow the list through presentations.”
“So what’s the criteria for that?”
“It depends on whether the students are well prepared to operate it, whether the dress code is appropriate for the school’s discipline. Of course, the appeal part is a very important factor here. Lastly, the results will be determined by how the management—that is, the student council and the PTA feel about it.”
The teacher spoke up like a game NPC, and shut up immediately after giving only the necessary information.
Hmm, so I pondered,
“So, I guess the biggest problem is whether or not we can get the cosplay outfits. If we don’t have any chance to do that, we’ll probably lose the presentation.”
“P-presentation, huh…? So that means that’s supposed to be done by the committee members, right …?”
“Sensei, is there any rule on who can present the presentation?”
“It must be a student of the class. There’s nothing that says it has to be a member of the committee though.”
That was quick. It’s always better to ask straightforward questions in such situations.
“Well, then, I guess we should look for an expert. Let the guy who seems to be good at presenting and started it all do it.”
“Seems to be good at presenting….ahh”
I closed the documents, and left the rest to Yume.
Yume turned to our classmates again,
“Erm…it’s possible if we can get the costumes ready.”
“If it comes down to a presentation, I’d like you to be the presenter. Since you suggested it.”
“Oh, you mean that. That’s fine?…How, ev, er.”
“I’ll leave the modelling job to you then, Yume-chan? I need a sample to do a presentation, you know?”
Ohhh! The class went wild.
Yume gave me another troubled look, but I ignored it this time. There’s no way they’ll allow any erotic looking cosplay, so there shouldn’t be any problem.
“…I-I get it. It’s all about the presentation, right?”
I wrote ‘Cosplay Café’ on the blackboard, with the caveat “*if costumes can be prepared” It was a modest conclusion, but in the end, the cosplay café remained the most popular idea.
After Homeroom, Yume returned to her seat, and Minami-san and her friends gathered around her.
“Haa~, I was so nervous~”
“You were so cool~, Yume-chan!”
“It was good~. You were so inspiring over there.”
“Yes, yes! Confidence confidence~!
Yume smiled happily…how pragmatic of her. She looked so troubled just now, but immediately got carried away the moment someone praised her. In hindsight, she acted so dignified when she was initially chosen to represent the new batch of students. Maybe this kind of thing suited her better. But back then, I just assumed that…
“Yo Irido, good work!
Kawanami gave me a little holler when I returned to my seat.
“You did a good job supporting Irido-san. The other students were impressed, saying that you’re smart, just that you don’t really want to be involved with other people, you know?”
“That’s it? You should be a little happier.”
I didn’t feel happy at all.
In fact, I found myself frustrated by the possibility of more hassle.
And again I discovered it,
“…I guess… I’m different after all.”
“Haha! What are you saying? It’s too late to be a chuu2 now, you know?”
I said goodbye to Kawanami and left the classroom.
I couldn’t go to the library yet.
Of course, Yume, who was supposed to go home with me, didn’t follow me.
I muttered to myself with a sense of accomplishment.
On my desk was a stack of loose-leaf papers with a lot of words written. It’s the novel I worked so hard to finish, to be showed to Higashira.
Results-wise…it’s not as good as a commercial work, but it’s pretty good for an amateur high school student, I guess? Hmm, initially, I wanted to write a mediocre piece at first, but I got a little carried away. Well, I couldn’t just show her something that couldn’t even be read. It’s not too bad, I guess. Yep.
All that’s left was for me to take it to Higashira the next day—but before then.
“…Well, I promised.”
I haven’t forgotten.
I made a promise to Yume that she would read a novel I wrote.
I didn’t have an obligation to keep to it, but it would be a hassle if I got into trouble again…she could help me check for typos though, yeah. That is, if she hadn’t forgotten about the promise.
I left the room with the loose-leaf papers in hand. I didn’t find anyone next door, so I went downstairs.
In the living room, I spotted Yume, dad and Yuni-san. Yume was sitting on the sofa, talking to someone on her phone.
“Yes, yes… ehh!? Amazing! Yes. Ah~, but, we can’t decide on our own, so I’d like you to put it on hold for now…”
She sounded serious, and seemed to be busy with something.
“Yes. Of course. We’ll decide at the next Homeroom—ah.”
Yume noticed me enter the living room, and moved her phone away from her ear.
“Just in time, Mizuto—kun.”
Yume saw that Dad and the others were nearby, so she changed the way she addressed me at that moment.
“Akatsuki-san called me. She said she might be able to get us costumes.”
“It’s going to be a rental, so it depends on how much we can afford… At the next Homeroom, we’ll decide what exactly we’re going to use for the cosplay cafe.”
“I guess….It’ll be easier to choose if we decide on a theme.”
“Right. What do you think would be good?”
“Aren’t we supposed to decide on Homeroom?”
“Akatsuki-san says that if we decide on some things, we should be able to lay the groundwork, we can decide without getting into trouble.”
“Laying the groundwork…is she really a first year high school student?”
She’s acting like a politician.
I looked at the loose-leaf papers in my hand for a moment, and changed my mind.
“…First of all, we can’t wear costumes that are too sensational. We’ll definitely be rejected.”
“That’s true…but how sensational is too sensational?”
“Looking at the data, let’s cross out mini-skirts just to be safe. If we’re going to have a maid cafe, the maid uniform would be Victorian style.”
“Victori…? I’m not really sure, but that’s pretty strict ….”
“And now that we’ve talked about maid cafes, I think there’s a good chance we’ll get complaints if we only allow girls to cosplay. It’ll be better if the guys can cosplay too. It would be more desirable to have cosplay for boys as well. By the way, I’ll absolutely refuse the culture festival’s usual nonsense that boys should be allowed to crossdress.”
“Well, I knew you’d say that. According to Akatsuki-san, most of the girls are like ‘let’s take the high road and not do anything funny’. They’re all pretty serious about it.”
“High road huh…. It’s hard to think of cosplay for both boys and girls that can be accepted by both the general public and the PTA.”
“Well, maid and butler uniforms do fit the bill, but it’s likely others will wear them.”
“That’s true. Now if we can avoid clashing with the others and distinguish ourselves, I think we can get a bigger budget, right?”
Hmm, while Yume was frustrated,
“What are you talking about? The culture festival?”
Dad, who was at the dining table, joined the conversation.
Yuni-san was opposite him, opening a small bag of sweets,
“I heard they’re having a cosplay cafe at the culture festival. It’s youth, isn’t it~?”
“Well, it hasn’t been decided yet. We need to get our costumes first …”
Yume waved her hands anxiously, “I see.” , and Dad muttered,
“In that case, why don’t you talk to Madoka-chan about it?”
“Yes. I think Madoka-chan’s a member of the drama club in college.”
“Is that so?”
Yume asked, and looked at me. I didn’t know. It’s my first time hearing that. It’s true that our cousin Madoka Tanesato-san seemed the type to be involved in cultural activities.
So I wondered, and next to dad, Yuni-san tilted her head and said,
“Huh? Isn’t she in the arts club?”
“Hm~…I think she said she’s in the tennis club too…?”
Why’s she so vague? Or were they all true?
“Hahaha! At any rate, I guess there’s no doubt she’s very well known there. She’s always been a friendly girl, you know. If it’s her, I think a few costumes or so should be easy. I also remember hearing that she was a member of the school festival committee, so I’m sure she can give you some advice.”
“If I remember correctly, Madoka-chan is attending Kyoto university, right? I guess she’s still having summer vacation, and she’s probably more than happy to help, you know?”
While the authenticity of the information was questionable, it might be a good idea to ask her about it.
“Then let’s do that… Akatsuki-san, did you hear that? Yeah, our relative in college has quite the connections—eh? Yeah, a girl…her breasts U, uuun…I think you shouldn’t ask…”
…’Our relative’. I thought she’s already used to this brand new family environment, but I felt something amiss when Yume addressed Madoka-san, whom I have known for a long time, as such.
Anyway, it seemed we settled this issue, and there’s nothing for me to do.
But…I wasn’t done with this yet.
I put a little pressure on the loose-leaf papers in my hand.
At that moment, Yume’s eyes looked at me again.
“By the way, did you want something from me?”
At that moment, I unwittingly hid the loose leaf papers behind my back.
Why did I do that?
Yume was the one who asked me to show it to her, and I just wanted to fulfil my side of the bargain. Logically, there’s no reason for me to be so timid, but…
…No, dad and Yuni-san are still here…and we’re still a little too busy right now with the committee work, which we’re not exactly familiar with.
It didn’t have to be at this moment.
I could show it to her after I showed it to Higashira…that’s all.
It’s not loneliness, it’s not alienation.
I just finished a novel, but I couldn’t think of the right words to describe my current mood.
I just feel depressed and disgusted for some reason. It’s not like this. It’s not like this. It’s not like this. I felt something in me screaming, like a spoiled kid.
I thought I had said goodbye to that me. I thought I abandoned it long ago in middle school, when I suggested to break up.
I couldn’t validate my past self.
If there’s a novel in which this me was the main character, I would never want to read it.
…Ah. I’ve felt this feeling before.
I hated myself for being jealous. I hated myself for being so prickly. That’s why—I lowered my head to her, to deny this side to me, to prove that I wasn’t that kind of person.
And then, you said—
—At that moment, I hated the me back then more than anything else.
After I apologized, when you started accusing me of cheating on you.
I felt disgusted—but at the same time.
I felt…somehow relieved.
“…I guess I don’t have the right to tell off Higashira.”
Maybe the desire to wish for others to be like oneself—is a common desire that is rooted deep within human beings…
I got up from the bed. I might fall asleep if I remained on the bed like this. If I wanted to sleep, I should take a bath before that.
With that thought in mind, I left my room.
But right after that, my feet stopped.
Yume had just come up the stairs.
“… Are you taking a bath now?”
It’s a simple question, but I paused for some reason.
It was just another casual conversation.
That’s all we talked about. I walked past Yume, and went down the stairs.
Yume called me from behind, and I turned around.
She didn’t look at me, and instead was looking at the floor,
The fading teeny-weeny voice got me to frown.
“You know…when we were deciding our event…”
“…I might be unwilling, but I’m a committee member too. I was just doing my job, you know?”
“But … if it wasn’t for you, it probably wouldn’t have gone so well. So, thanks.”
I walked a few steps down the stairs, and looked up at Yume’s face.
“… Since when did you become such a reliable person?”
“I mean, the you I knew wasn’t the kind of person who would just say nice things for the sake of it…”
And then, I realized that I said too much.
I averted my eyes awkwardly…ah whatever. I just need to walk away. I went down the stairs, one step at a time,
“Do you think the old me was better?”
I looked back again once again.
Yume was looking down at me with a terse, somewhat angry expression.
“I’m asking if you liked me better when I was weak and unreliable.”
I was a little silent,
“…Maybe so. But so what?”
“You can drown in your memories. But—”
Yume suddenly smiled a little, and continued,
“I can listen to your troubles now, you know?”
“You look so unsure now. You’re acting like me back when I gave you that love letter.”
At that time, you were…yep, looking like a weak wet puppy in the rain.
“…No need for the hyperbole. I’m not at that point. I’m not even bothered.”
“…I’m just a little worried about whether a certain forgetful woman will remember a promise she made with me.”
She blinked away. Yep, she didn’t remember after all—
“Are you going to show me?”
“The novel! Hurry up and show me! I’ve already dug it out for you!”
“You remembered …?”
“Of course I did! You know I have a good memory, right?”
My mind went blank for a while. As if to fill up this blank, I spoke up.
“… You really do remember a lot of unnecessary stuff.”
“What do you mean, ‘ unnecessary stuff ‘?”
“Like when you once got influenced by something and changed your first person pronoun to ‘boku’—”
“Ahh~ ahh~ ahh~! I forgot, I forgot, I forgot!”
She shouted and covered her ears,
“…Anyway, you’re the one who remembers so many unnecessary things.”
“…I guess so.”
It’s unnecessary. Really, it’s unnecessary.
Those were the memories of when we’re young, brash and foolish.
“Then… after you finish your bath, come to my room.”
“Isn’t it off-limits at night?”
“This is an exception.”
Yume peeked downstairs, and hushed her voice.
“(Don’t let mom and Mineaki-san find out, okay)?”
My heart—why do you always beat unnecessarily?
After that, I read a novel that Yume had written a long time ago.
The detective seemed to be a clone of Souhei Saikawa, spouted off random meaningless lines, and deducing stupid locked-room tricks exaggeratedly.
“Don’t say that with a straight face!”
“Didn’t you say this novel was like a Christie knockoff? It’s more like a Mori Hirotsugu.”
“That’s…what I wrote in middle school. I couldn’t find the one I wrote in elementary school…”
“Hmmm~ so from what I see here, this detective character who’s always saying smart things and acting like a 100 yen Souhei Saikawa is….”
I hope she didn’t use the boyfriend she was dating back then as a model.
Oy, don’t look away.
“…Y-you act like you’re the winner, but yours isn’t much better, right!?”
“Huh? You’re kidding. It’s much better than this.”
“The monologue is so long that I can’t understand what you’re talking about, and the metaphors don’t come across as well as they should. What do you mean by “like an overcooked curry”? Burnt and bitter?”
“You don’t have any reading comprehension at all! That’s—”
I explained as fervently as I could, but she couldn’t understand at all. It was a little shocking to me, since I didn’t think my writing would be that difficult to understand…
We roasted each other’s works for quite a while, and then there was a hollow silence.
And while our wounds were still gaping, we slowly regained composure. I read my novel, and then Yume’s, and I discovered one thing.
“…Higashira’s pretty amazing.”
“Eh? Higashira-san? …? She wrote a novel?
“I heard she wrote one, but what I saw was an illustration. It wasn’t a copy or a tracing, she just thought of the entire composition by herself. The face and the limbs are decent enough that you wouldn’t think there’s anything weird about it—the way she draws things is like ‘it’s close to complete’. That’s a great talent in itself, right? That’s what I thought when I saw that.”
“That’s true…when you think about it, your great -grandfather’s autobiography was rather complete.”
“Well, we know what the text means after all.”
We were both depressed.
It was a shock, but in a way, it gave us confidence. This might have a certain therapeutic effect on Higashira’s humbleness.
While we’re all feeling somewhat carefree and relaxed, Yume said ambiguously.
“…Hey, would you want to be a writer?”
“Nope. I might have thought of it back then though.”
There’s nothing inside me that needs to be written.
I had no desire or conviction to do so.
I just feel frustrated thinking that I wasn’t like this, yet I didn’t have a form I was aiming to be.
I was hollow.
After writing the novel, I felt even more so…
“…I haven’t really mentioned it until now.”
“Actually, my dad’s a creator.”
I slowly looked towards Yume.
Yume had her back against the side of the bed, her knees tucked as she rested her chin on them.
“Dad, as in your real …Yuni-san’s ex-husband, right? He’s a writer?”
“Not a novelist, but…something like that, he’s working on the creative side. I can’t find anything related at home, and I don’t really know what he’s making…”
“So your interests…”
“Yes, it all started because of dad’s bookshelf.”
With her chin resting on her propped-up knees, Yume began to speak haltingly.
“What I vaguely remember about dad was a voice I heard from my bed…I was dozing in bed, and I heard a deep voice saying, ‘I’m home’. It came from the living room, where the light was leaking. … And then I heard mom’s voice, ‘Welcome home’. followed by, ‘Have you eaten?’, which was responded with ‘I bought it’.” “
“Not… ‘I’ve eaten’?”
“Yes, ‘I bought it’. Then, the sound of plastic bags rustling In the background, and mom said ‘I see…’ with disappointment…That’s pretty much what I remember about dad. When I wake up the next morning, he’s always gone. That’s why I can’t remember much of his face now. I wouldn’t even recognize him if I saw him.”
“Well, how do I put it…”
I could imagine that he’s a busy man.
…But more than that…I felt that he’s rejecting his family. They lived under the same room, yet he acted like he’s living alone… from his actions, I could sense that he’s clearly rejecting them—or rather, isolating himself from them. It’s like he’s partitioning the house, or so the intention comes across.
“Just as you didn’t have a mom from the beginning, that was the norm for me, too. He did show up at the sports festival once…but in hindsight, mom most probably yanked him over.”
Surely Yuni-san tried to wrestle back.
Yuni-san must have tried to prevent it, but she couldn’t bring her husband into the circle called family. That’s why she had to keep strong-arming him, for herself, her daughter—or maybe, for her husband’s sake.
“I know mom had a hard time with it, personally, I didn’t really hate dad.”
“That’s because… you haven’t really met him in the first place.”
“It’s not that… it’s like, Isn’t it exciting to be a kid to have a room in your house that’s always empty but full of stuff? You can play all you want.”
I knew that feeling too.
When I found my great-grandfather’s study for the first time, I clearly remember the heat that welled up deep in my chest.
“Children always get excited when people give them fun things, right? For me, I’m rather glad that dad gave me such a fun room.”
Really…everyone has a similar story, huh?
“…What were we talking about again?”
“We’re talking about our lack of talent.”
“Oh, yes yes. Well, we’ve digressed, but what I want to say is, like…I feel like people who become creators are looking at something different. Don’t you think Higashira-san’s someone like that?”
It’s true that she seemed to be at something else.
We’re very much in tune with each other, but…sometimes, I could sense that our perspectives were in different places.
“I wonder what that’s about…Again, I don’t think I fundamentally understand what Higashira’s actually looking at.”
“Try to understand her already. You’re the only one who can do that.”
“Even you don’t get it?”
“Hm…if I think about it, maybe that’s what I’m looking at.”
…I felt like I knew what that word meant, even though she didn’t explain it.
It might be my imagination…no, it’s definitely my imagination, just a misunderstanding on my part.
I should have asked her. At this point, I felt that I was inching closer to the truth…I didn’t know how I should ask though.
“…I might not be able to see what Higashira’s seeing.”
“I can hear from her what she sees though…maybe.”
“This is where you should say you’ll definitely do it.”
Yume giggled, as though teasing a timid little brother.
“So? Have you gained confidence?”
“I have. I’m very confident that I’m an ordinary person.”
“If you’re an ordinary person, what about me?”
At that moment.
The words I should have said to you over a year ago, when you made a friend.
” You’re really an amazing person.”
Yes, let’s start by admitting it.
You’re no longer a weakling who needs me to pull the tab of a canned juice.
You’re amazing enough to do things I can’t.
“Eh? Eh? H-hey what do you mean? What do you mean amazing? What’s so great about me? Tell me more!”
“…I mean your lack of writing skills!”
It’s hard to change immediately, so let’s do it bit by bit.
And so, the novel I submitted was harshly rated, but it did well to cure Higashira—no, Isana’s mental state.
But of course, there was no way I could have predicted that this would lead to the formation of such a group—
“It’s a good thing our school is having a culture festival.”
Saying this from the other end of the phone was Kogure Kawanami.
“And just yesterday, you got to be a committee member with Irido-san! So now you’ll have more opportunities to work together at home and at school! Nice going, this past me!”
“No, no, no.”
Calmly retorting on the other end of the phone was a well recovered Isana Higashira.
“It’s disgusting when you don’t inform them beforehand. That’s like a shipper demanding for Vtubers to collaborate with each other.”
“Shut up! It’s my life’s work!”
That’s quite the worrisome life’s work. That should just stay in 2-D.
“Anyway, it’s the culture festival! It’s the most youthful event. I’m not telling you to confess to her, but you should at least get into the mood with her! Maybe she’s the one who wants to confess to you!”
“Well, it’s common in light novels and manga during a culture festival, but does it actually happen? Especially in our school that’s a prep school?”
“It’s because we’re a prep school that things get crazier. Look at Kyoto University’s school festival.”
“Uggh…I didn’t think we’d refer to them.”
Isana, who came to this prep school because she wanted to aim for Kyoto University that’s full of weirdos, was greatly hurt. My understanding of that place was mostly limited to Tomihiko Morimi’s works though.
“Listen up, you two.”
Kawanami said as though he’s a teacher on a school trip, giving us a warning.
“Every year, our high school’s culture festival has a campfire in the night. Do you know that Higashira? It’s when they dance around a big fire.”
“I know that! How oblivious do you think I am?”
“Don’t you think they’ll be united forever if they dance together?”
“It’s just an impression! Isn’t that just a legend going around?”
“There’s no way it happens in a manga or something. Even if there is, it’s probably part of a romcom scene or something.”
“…So? Do I dance? Me? With Yume?
I interrupted the ramble and said straight to the point, to which Kawanami replied emphatically, “Yes.”
“Well, they’re not exactly dancing, they’re just flirting around the fire. In addition, you can kill two birds with one stone by dispelling the story that you’re a couple with Higashira.”
“In this situation, wouldn’t that mean I got dumped so quickly.”
“Don’t worry about it. You’ll just be seen as a pathetic woman who tried to barge between the Iridos and got repelled back.”
“That’s even worse!”
Why do I have to do this…
Haa, so I let out a sigh.
“Don’t you want to know Irido-san’s true intentions?”
Kawanami’s voice took on a more serious tone.
“If Irido-san has such intentions, you just need to set up a moment for her to approach you. if she doesn’t, your efforts will be wasted. You can relax and be her family then. Either way, you won’t be stuck in this awkward state, not knowing what’s going on. There’s no disadvantage for you. If there is, that’s—”
This time, I called his name firmly.
“You’re going too far…even I can get angry at times.”
“… Oh, I’m sorry. It was a little tactless.”
Well, he’s never been tactful
Isana breathed a sigh of relief, as if she had been choking on the tension of the moment.
“’Well, the point is, there’s no harm in it, right?”
“… What if she wants to?”
“Just go out with her then.”
“You could just go out with her.”
“Were it so easy…”
They could say it easily because they’re uninvolved. They had no idea what it’s like to be in love in the same house.
“If you really don’t want to do this, just dump her. You may be bothered, and you may think you’re toying with her feelings—but you need to make a stand, right? You can play dumb if she’s just an ordinary classmate, but you’re family now.”
…What a despicable logical armament. It’s true that if she really had feelings for me, I couldn’t just play dumb. I had to settle it ASAP.
If it’s all for nothing, so be it. I could just relax and treat her as family without having to worry about anything else—
“… I get it….”
After much pain and anguish, I said,
“As long as your ideas are still within the bounds of common sense, I’ll go along with them. I just don’t want to go overboard and make her think that I’ve fallen for her.”
“Okay okay. I get it!!”
“Even if you don’t make it, you got me as the backup. Go wildin’!”
“You bitch! Don’t you have any shame as a woman?”
“Not even a millimeter, you know?”
And so, to gauge Yume’s true intentions, I had to hit on her.
I had no choice.
…I had no choice.