|English||my little daze|
|Release Date||18th June 2014|
|Type||Limited Edition, Booklet, Novel|
This abrupt command woke me up from my deep sleep.
Around me, students began to stand up, though they all had unwilling expressions on their face.
Ah, this was bad. I had accidentally fallen sleep.
I frantically began to stand up, but it seemed that I was still half-asleep, and my mind wasn’t working properly.
I looked towards the clock that hung beneath the speakers on the left side of the stage before me; the clock hands were pointing towards 10:45.
I vaguely recalled that the paper handed out this morning had written when the opening ceremony was scheduled to end, but I just couldn’t remember what time that was supposed to be, probably because I had been out of it for the whole day today.
This had to be because it was spring.
Yep, it had to be that.
Dad had once said, “During early spring, it’s normal to be sleepy. It’s usually because of the season.”
However, I had no idea what the reason behind this spring sleepiness was.
But this wasn’t important right now. Things like “being trapped in your past,” I hated them.
I had no idea how far into the opening ceremony we were in. The command to rise just now, what exactly had it meant?
Was the next command going to be “bow”? Or was it going to be “sing the school anthem”?
For the time being, I decided to straighten up to see what was happening on stage, but to my dismay, the tall girl sitting in front completely blocked the view.
Slightly irritated, I was almost tempted to jump up so I could see, but I realised in a place like this, that was probably going to be a bad thing to do, so I forced myself to stay put.
…speaking of which, I really was shorter than I thought I would be. I had originally planned to grow taller than this; I wonder what went wrong.
— from today on, I was going to be a second year in middle school. It still didn’t feel very real.
Hmm, by my second year, I had thought I was going have more of a ‘big sister’-like image, but somehow the feeling was different from what I had imagined.
Still, it wasn’t just the girl in front of me. All the girls in my new class seemed really mature, huh~
Everyone was not just tall, but their hair was really nice too, and I even saw some girls wearing make-up…how did everyone manage to look so mature?
Maybe there was a class somewhere that taught things like that. Like a club for girls to become more mature.
Though it’s not as if a strange club like that could actually exist.
That’s right, if something like that existed, it would’ve been discussed more often in class. …still, was it possible that I was the only one that didn’t know about it?
No, no way! That definitely wasn’t true. Yep, it wasn’t true. Everything was okay.
What if, for example, the club was controlled by some evil secret society that, behind closed doors, was trying to mass-produce cute girls…and for a ‘specific reason,’ it was something I couldn’t know about…
A ‘specific reason’…right, for example, the heart of justice within me was going to react to it and awaken some sort of amazing power, which they feared…something like that.
Ah, actually that was kind of nice. A belt that was going to let me transform only appearing on my waist when I needed to fight~ Something like that would actually be really nice.
I was almost at an age where I could get a motorcycle for myself, so I totally could’ve been one: a transforming hero.
And if it came to that, I was definitely going to need one, right? A special attack.
After all, I wanted to defeat them at the end with something special, and if I made the final blow with a ~boring~ punch, I was going to feel bad for the villains too. I needed to come up with something that would stand out with an explosion.
I wondered what kind of attack would be good. Maybe a kick?
Or a punch…no, that wasn’t going to do. A kick. Yep, it had to be a kick. A punch didn’t seem like it’ was going to make much explode at all.
But I didn’t know if the villains would explode at a kick. Maybe I could make something come out of the base of my foot. Though all heroes wear shoes, huh. I wonder if those shoes could had some type of special sole…
I was shocked by the sight I saw when I suddenly opened my eyes.
No matter where I looked, all I saw — everyone bent forward, facing the floor — were the backs of the student’s around me.
Among that, diagonally in front of me, there was one isolated chair. Ah, I guess someone in my class was absent today.
All of a sudden, on the stage I had almost jumped in order to see, I saw the principal smiling, satisfied, watching the entire student body bow.
He was watching it, but…
Right at that moment, the principal looked toward the row my class was in, and he tilted his head when he saw me, the only one bewildered and still standing among an entire school that was bowing.
Just then, the thickheaded me that had been in a daze finally woke up, and a shiver ran down my spine.
As I frantically lowered my head as far as I could, the students around me were already beginning to raise their heads back up, and I could hear the sound of rustling clothes.
Next, what I heard was a “s-sit down!”, a command that seemed almost kind of angry.
Aaaaaaah, I’d really done it this time.
My head still lowered, I sat down and thought to myself repeatedly, “someone, please kick me so I can go flying into the air and explode.” But even until the very end of the opening ceremony, a hero wearing a red scarf on a motorcycle, of course, didn’t appear.
“No, um…I wasn’t feeling sick.”
“I see. Then can you explain ‘that’ from just now?”
“I was kinda t-thinking…about something, and uh how do I put it…”
If I change classes, the teacher in charge also changes.
The teacher that was in charge of our class from today on was a pretty teacher who had a short hair that suited her well.
The voice that gave the command was cool and strict, and she gave off a feeling that really made her seem like a grown-up, mature woman; I thought she was a wonderful person.
Rather than saying she was cute, I’d say that she was beautiful. She was the type of teacher that fit that term much more.
But when she was angry, she was also extremely scary.
Currently, I was the only one in my class learning of and experiencing this hot new fact about my teacher.
“I’d very much like to hear about your troubles. If it’s something so bad it would cause you to freeze during the opening ceremony — and during the principal’s greeting too — as your teacher, I have to ask.”
As she said this, the teacher rigidly looked me in the eye.
At that instant, a shiver ran down my spine so hard I almost thought it would make a sound.
In order to fool her, I tried my best to pull my lips into a smile but I was trembling so much I couldn’t do it well.
“Uhhhh, i-it’s not really that big of a deal. It just somehow happened…”
In a serious situation like this, there was no way I could explain what I had been thinking about earlier today.
“I was thinking about my special attack!” I wonder what kind of reactions I’ll get the day I say these words…
“It’s not a big deal..? So you zoned out because of something that’s not important at all?”
As the teacher asked this, her eyes suddenly seemed to be filled even more obviously with murderous intent. I couldn’t say that she was really angry, but she was definitely ready to be.
Having noticed that, my body began to tremble even more in fear.
Aaah, I’d said something wrong without thinking again. It would’ve been better if I had just stopped with the boring excuses and honestly told her that I zoned out.
Trying to fool her in such a unconvincing way, it was unfair. It wasn’t cool at all.
Speaking of which, my dad once said to me, “If you think you’ve done something bad, don’t make anything up, just honestly apologise. If you do that, your soul will become more pure.”
Yep, that’s right. It really was bad to be dishonest.
I had to apologise properly, then get lectured properly.
…and then, I was going to make sure I didn’t cry. Crying wasn’t cool either.
“Oi, how about you actually say something.”
Watching me, Teacher quietly said this. Though her voice was cool, her eyes were definitely still trying to correct my mistake.
“Y-yes, I’m sorry. T-to be honest…”
I had to honestly explain that I was caught up in my thoughts.
“…I-I was thinking about how I hadn’t become the second year I had thought I would be…I had been thinking that even just now, everyone in the class seemed to be so much more mature…”
“I see — and then?”
Teacher, her expression still exactly the same, continued to look me straight in the eye. I couldn’t look away from those eyes.
Yes, I was a “frog that was being glared at by a snake.” I felt exactly like that at that moment.
Though I hadn’t planned on going in circles, stared down by my teacher, my head began to lose focus again.
“Um, uh, and then…I thought about how e-everyone got to be so mature…”
Having somehow come this far with my explanations, everything in my mind became pure white.
Not bothered by that at all, the teacher firmly continued to urge me on.
Inside the shirt of my uniform, I began to sweat. What do I do, I’m so nervous the right words won’t come out.
“I-I’m sorry. Um, I can’t really explain it properly from here on…I-I’m not trying to avoid the topic or anything though! Uh, I just don’t know what to say now…”
Aah, I was pathetic. Why did I have to become to jumpy when I talked to someone else.
However, the teacher that seemed like she was still angry, seemed to suddenly blow off all her steam.
Continuing on, just I had thought I had heard her chuckle, Teacher said, “Ah, sorry, sorry” and waved her hand, relaxed.
I wondered what had happened to her all of a sudden. Just now, had I said something interesting?
Or was it that — was the way I spoke weird?
I couldn’t figure it out no matter how i thought about it, so I gave out an “ehehe…” and smiled nervously.
After laughing for a bit, the teacher suddenly reached for the hot coffee she had placed on the desk and placed the cup to her mouth.
Even at such a small detail, I thought to myself, “She really is an adult huh~”, and at this, I realised once again that I truly was a child.
“No no, sorry for forcing you to speak. Since you said it wasn’t a big deal, I had wondered what you were going to say, but what you said is really…”
As she said that, the teacher seemed to be extremely happy for some reason.
Even though she had been so stern just a while ago, what in the world had happened?
What I had said was kind of…—no, what I had said was unmistakably foolish.
But Teacher, for some reason, didn’t think this at all.
“Sensei, um why….why do you seem so pleased? I had thought you’d been angrier, but…”
Once again, I had let my thoughts slip out of my mouth.
The teacher put her cup of coffee back on the desk, straightened her back, and tried to collect herself.
“Indeed, being caught up in your thoughts and not being able to do what you were supposed to do is not something that you can be praised for.”
“Uu, t-that’s true. I’m sorry…”
As I shrunk in my seat, she flashed me a smile again.
“That’s why I was a bit harsh on you, you see. Well, it seems that you really are reflecting on what you did, so I won’t say anymore on this matter.”
“That’s why I don’t want you to forget.”
The teacher looked at me in the eyes once again.
“…the job all of you should be prioritising is the job of thinking about yourself, your future.To help you guys with that, teachers are here. The way you’re living right now is correct.”
The look in the teacher’s eyes was completely different to what it had been like. Her eyes were like a mother’s, warm and gentle.
“That’s why you should rest assured and think about these things. Imagine a ton of things, worry over a ton of things. Don’t rush, you’ll become an adult in due time, so it’s okay.”
After saying this, the teacher smiled again, and added on, “Maybe that was a bit too complicated for you.”
Somehow embarrassed, I replied with, “A little bit” and lowered my head.
And so, as if our conversation had just been waiting to take a break, the telephone on the teacher’s desk began to ring.
“Oh, sorry. Can you wait a bit?”
At my reply, the teacher picked up the receiver, and pressed the answer button.
I figured it would be impolite to keep looking at her, so I distanced myself a little from the desk, and dropped my gaze to the ground.
But still, I could still hear Teacher’s voice and from what she was saying, I could tell that she was talking to the school nurse.
Things like “No, it’s okay” and “Are they feeling better yet?” were said.
“Feeling better”…which means they were discussing a student with a cold or something.
Ah, now that I thought about it, maybe it was the student from that empty seat back then.
“…I understand. Well, let the student know that I hope they get well soon. Bye.”
Having ended her conversation, the teacher put the receiver back in its place and sighed quietly.
“Sorry for making you wait.”
“No, it’s fine. Um, was the conversation just now about the student who was absent today…?”
The teacher picked up her coffee cup again, and repositioned herself in her chair so that she was facing me like she had been.
“That’s right. The school had been contacted this morning too, but the student’s mother gave us another call to apologise. ‘Sorry for the trouble,’ she said.”
“I see, so that’s what happened. Feeling sick on the first day of school…I kinda feel bad for them.”
At my words, the teacher smiled bitterly.
“But you never know…even if they say they’re feeling unwell, it could just be an excuse so they can have a day off.”
“An excuse…you mean that it’s all a lie?”
Uneasily, the teacher replied, “Well, I can’t deny that.”
Lying to have a day off; that basically meant that they were skipping school.
I understood that going back to school after a break definitely wasn’t something to look forward to, but skipping school without even trying hide it felt strange to me.
“That’s right. This student, do you know who they are? They’re called Kisaragi…”
“Kisaragi…ah! I know, Kisaragi-san, right? We were in different classes during our first year though, so I’m not sure what kind of person they are…”
That’s right, the student in the same year as me, Kisaragi-san.
During my first year, when I had first noticed the name “Kisaragi” written on one of the spaces on the shoe rack, I had stopped for quite a while, staring at it.
After all, it’s quite a rare surname, and the kanji in it were cool. It seemed like the sort of name a manga protagonist would have; I was really envious.
However, I had never met this Kisaragi-san, and I didn’t even know their first name.
“I see. But, how do I say this, Kisaragi is…someone that’s like the complete opposite of you. Somehow, even compared to the rest of your year, they’re different…and it’s like no matter what it is that they’re asked, they’ll always give a blunt, straightforward reply…”
Having said this much, the teacher pinched her nose bridge with a tired expression.
“Yeah, if we speak in terms of their studies, it’ll be easier to understand. Last year, out of all the tests given throughout the entire school year, this kid was at the top; and with full marks for everything.”
“F-full marks for everything?!”
For the teacher to be able say something so that even someone like me could easily understand it, it was amazing.
For last year’s exams, I would’ve had to combine the marks from all 5 subjects just to reach 100 points, but for someone to get full marks in everything…
“Kisaragi-san is r-really amazing, huh.”
Somehow a little sadly, the teacher said, “That kid is. Even among the teachers, there are some who openly talk about Kisaragi. It’s just that…I don’t think that being able to do everything without a single mistake is always a good thing.”
“Humans are all different, and this means we can always hurt each other. At a glance, this may be thought of as a cause of unnecessary pain, but in the end, only those who have made mistakes are able to forgive the mistakes of others.”
“Right. That’s why mistakes, as long as you can live with them, are extremely important things…however, that kid is so perfect, it’s difficult for them to recognise and respect those who are flawed. Anyone around Kisaragi will be shut out as long as they’re not as smart as they are. They use ‘I don’t want to be involved with stupid people!’ as a convenient excuse.”
Though Teacher’s words were a bit complicated for me, I understood the meaning of her words and the fact that her troubles definitely were not good things.
…“I don’t want to be involved with stupid people,” was it? Someone like me was just going to be ignored even if I tried to talk to them, without a doubt.
But if Kisaragi-san was the top of the whole school year, that meant there was probably no one smarter than them, right?
And the same Kisaragi-san refused to be involved with stupid people. Which meant…
“E-excuse me, Sensei. Does Kisaragi-san have friends or anything?”
“…as far as I know, they don’t. Kisaragi in person said that they didn’t need things like friends. Moreover, I’ve never even seen them so much as talk to another student.”
So I was right.
“At the end of the school year, Kisaragi even said this to me: ‘There’s no meaning, being with these idiots all time.’ I think that kid’s absent today too because they see no meaning in school or friendship.”
As the teacher said this, she looked extremely pained.
Seeing her like this, somehow I became sad too.
Saying “I don’t need things like friends” — I wonder what Kisaragi-san planned on doing, saying things like that.
Teacher said that the job we had to prioritise was the “job of thinking,” but even Kisaragi-san, the genius, surely had to have at least one or two troubles.
They had to have times when they felt like they were being crushed by pain. Because no matter how smart they were, they were still human, after all.
But in times like those, was Kisaragi-san really okay all alone?
It was possible that because they were always so much smarter than those around them, they were uncomfortable about revealing all his insecurities.
Was that why Kisaragi-san said they didn’t need friends, and became isolated?
Kisaragi-san, who only ever received full marks on tests…Kisaragi-san who refused to go to school…Kisaragi-san who didn’t need friends…
…but that’s definitely a little too lonely and painful, you know. Kisaragi-san.
“…Sensei, is it okay if I ask you for advice on something?”
Teacher’s expression completely changed again.
“Advice? Of course, I don’t mind; what is it?”
“This might be impossible, but…would you mind putting my seat next to Kisaragi-san’s seat?”
I asked knowing it was impossible.
At that, the teacher seemed surprised — the hand that had been reaching for her coffee cup abruptly stopped, and she froze.
Somewhere in my heart, I believed it wasn’t impossible. Even I didn’t quite understand why I had asked something like that.
Right. By the time I had noticed, my mind had already been filled with thoughts about Kisaragi-san.
From what I had heard, Kisaragi-san was hard to understand, mysterious, and this was extremely fascinating to me.
From the fact that they were smart and said they didn’t need any friends, they sounded like the cool protagonist from a manga.
I wanted to meet and talk to Kisaragi-san. I wanted to know what kind of things they were thinking about.
My heart was filled to the brim with this sort of curiosity.
“…I appreciate your feelings, but that kid really is hard to change. You might experience some unpleasant things.”
It seemed that the teacher actually understood the meaning to my words.
She, who was able to fully understand but still be gentle, was truly an adult.
“That’s…true. They might not even be willing to talk to me. But…”
But, it wasn’t okay. Once I, who was a child, thought of something, resisting it was honestly something I couldn’t do.
“…I’m curious. About Kisaragi-san. That’s why, please.”
Looking closely, it had looked as if I wasn’t looking but at the same time was looking at her, but right now was different; this time I was looking straight into Teacher’s eyes.
For an instant, the teacher had a dazed expression, but that immediately softened into a smile.
“I see. Well, it’s something I should be thankful for. If you talk to Kisaragi, that kid might change. Right, I’ll try putting your seats together.”
Teacher’s immediate consent caused my curiosity to grow even more.
What kind of person was Kisaragi-san, I wondered. I had never met them before, but from their name, I was sure she was pretty, and maybe an intense person.
Her hair was probably really smooth and beautiful, and she probably had the demeanour of a ‘cool beauty,’ something like that. Aah, I really want to meet her soon.
“Ah, before I forget — it’s been bothering me for a while, but can I ask you something?”
“Something that’s been bothering you? Yes, what is it?”
“You’ve been saying Kisaragi‘-san’ for a while now but…Kisaragi’s male, you know?”
It had already been one week since I became a second year in middle school.
Just as usual, I hadn’t grown at all, and there were no signs of me maturing either.
Well, I didn’t really care much about the maturing side of things, but I had really hoped that I would grow taller.
Speaking of which, back in elementary school, I had tried hanging from horizontal bars in hopes that I would grow taller.
Right, right. If I remembered correctly, I had done it all the way till grade 6. I worked hard everyday after school until the sun set.
But that ended up being completely useless huh~ Though my arms did get stronger.
As I blankly thought about things like this, I suddenly felt a sharp pain on my forehead.
“You were daydreaming again, you know. I did say that thinking was an important job, but neglecting your studies isn’t okay.”
As she said that, the teacher blew on her sharp fingers that had been used to poke my forehead, as if she was a sniper in a movie.
“I-I’m so sorry! Uhhh…”
Flustered, I picked up my pen again and averted my line of sight towards the printouts that had been put together with a paperclip.
However, the moment I looked at the maths and English spread all over the paper, I couldn’t feel anything but sleepiness.
“I-is this hypnotism…?”
At this, Teacher looked as if she had given up.
Even I was disappointed at how pathetic I was.
Aah, why was I so dumb? It was sort of embarrassing to think that though Dad and Mum were both smart, I wasn’t at all.
But I was studying just like everyone else, and I never skipped revision sessions…
“Hmm if that’s the case, maybe there’s something wrong with the way I’m teaching.”
That wasn’t true at all…wait, had I said all that out loud?“
“Yeah, it was pretty loud too. Pay more attention.”
I was so embarrassed, I could only reply quietly with “yes” and quickly looked back at my papers.
Every year, the second years had to take a small test to assess their knowledge in their first lesson.
Of course, this year wasn’t an exception, but the scores I received were truly terrible. I had done especially badly in Maths; the score was a one digit number.
Because of that, I had been given extra work, but alone in the classroom, I had already been staring at the questions on the printouts for the past three hours.
Even the it was nearly the time for the school to close, I just couldn’t seem to make any progress on my work.
“I was curious so I came to check on you, but…how slow can you be.”
“I-I know. It’s fine. I’ll get it done somehow, so…”
“Even if you say that, time’s not gonna stop for you. I have work to do now so I’ll have to leave too.”
The teacher glanced at her watch.
That’s right. Thinking about it, Teacher had gone out of her way and stayed here for me. I had caused her trouble.
“Geez, if you make a face like that, I won’t be able to help it, will I. For now, I’ll give you until tomorrow morning, go home and try to finish it.”
Aah, I’m pathetic.
Truthfully, if I went home, Dad would’ve been there too, and he might’ve helped me with the work.
But if the first things I brought home in my second year of middle school were these terrible grades, Dad would’ve been extremely disappointed in me, right?
Just imagining how my dad would look at that moment caused a sharp pain in my stomach.
“…by the way, how are you getting on with Kisaragi. Are you doing well?”
Just then, at the teacher’s sudden question, my heart that had been slowly sinking plunged downwards.
On the day of the opening ceremony, the teacher had listened to my selfish request, and moved my seat next to Kisaragi Shintaro-kun’s for me.
Usually, the seating plan was arranged based on height and vision, so I think it would’ve looked strange to everyone else.
I was surprised to hear that he was a male, but still, I wanted to know what the Kisaragi Shintaro-kun I had learned of thought about.
I wanted to talk to him, and become his friend.
“I’m sorry. The truth is, I haven’t been able to talk to him even once yet.”
I had tried saying “Good morning” to him once, but Shintaro-kun had completely ignored me, as if he was looking deep into a magic mirror. He wouldn’t even glance at me.
Most probably, since the day after the opening ceremony, Shintaro-kun hadn’t look towards me even once.
“I’ve tried approaching him and talking to him many times, but Kisaragi-kun won seem to notice me at all…”
Once I realised my words didn’t reach him, I became extremely cowardly.
I was scared that if I tried to talk to him again, he would just continue to ignore me.
Each and every day, I imagined myself speaking to Shintaro-kun in my head, but I couldn’t actually do anything in real life.
“I see…well, don’t push yourself too hard. It’s not something you should be trying that hard on.”
Though the teacher’s words were kind, I felt so bitter and frustrated, I couldn’t say anything in return.
Aah, this was bad. I could feel my eyes stinging. I had to say something, anything.
“I-it’s okay. Uh…I’ll work hard on these papers too, so please don’t worry.”
I tried my best to smile as I said this. The teacher sighed quietly, as if she knew everything I was really feeling in my heart.
“Got it. Then, I’ll be leaving now. Good luck on that, okay?”
Without saying anymore, Teacher waved her hand and turned away.
As she left the room, her footsteps got softer, and softer.
Once I had confirmed that I was alone, I lay my head on the table.
The tears that spilled from my eyes fell onto the sleeves of my uniform.
I was cowardly, and a scaredy-cat, and I cried as soon as I was troubled…I was the worst. I was the most uncool person ever, and I couldn’t speak to Shintaro-kun at all; what was I even trying to do?
What if I stayed like this forever, never becoming an adult, or any smarter, forever a coward?
I didn’t want something like that to happen. What could I possibly do to change, I wondered…
I wondered if Shintaro-kun would know. Since Shintaro-kun got 100% for the last test too. He really was amazing huh~ Surely something like my troubles could be easily solved by him…
Aah, so that’s why.
At that time, I hadn’t quite understood why I wanted to talk to Shintaro-kun, but that was surely it.
…it’s because I had wanted Shintaro-kun to change me.
Hm? Where was I?
Why had I been…asleep…?
I flew up from where I was and looked around — the sun had set long ago, and the classroom almost looked nothing like it had been when I first entered, dyed in pitch blackness.
“W-w-w-what do I do?! Aaaaah, why did I fall asleep…!”
Was this because of spring too…as I thought this, I furiously stood up.
I shook my head to clear my mind that was still half-asleep and shoved my papers into my bag.
“A-anyway, I have to hurry up and go home!”
The instant I spotted the door to the classroom and rushed towards it, my bag bumped into a chair, and made a loud noise.
Though it was something I did myself, in the darkness, I shuddered.
“Uu, seriously, what am I even doing…yep, I’ve got to calm down and get home.”
I took a deep breath, and continued to walk towards the exit with my eye on the door.
It was so dark, since it was a classroom, running wasn’t a good idea, was it? Yep. Slowly, slowly…
I slowly shuffled towards the door, and reached my hand out towards it. I sighed in relief, and opened the door.
Yep, everything’s okay now that I’m here…
The second I opened the door, I suddenly heard a piercing scream.
At such a loud noise, even I couldn’t help but scream.
Flustered, I looked towards where the sound came from, and saw a terrified boy, shrinking in fear.
“Hiiiiiie! I’m sorry, I’m sorry! P-please spare me my life…!”
Eh? Why was Shintaro-kun pleading for his life?
Before my eyes, his teeth chattering, trembling, was seemingly Kisaragi Shintaro-kun.
At our sudden encounter, my heart that had been pounding in shock now began to beat even harder for a different reason.
Why was Shintaro-kun in school at a time like this? Speaking of which, this was my first time ever hearing his voice properly. It was unexpectedly low.
No wait, more important…this was a chance, wasn’t it?
“…h-huh? Shintaro…-kun? It really is you! You’re Kisaragi Shintaro-kun, right?”
I tried to sound as composed as I possibly could, and spoke, smiling with all my might.
This was…probably good enough to receive at least a pass.
Shintaro-kun, in fear, lifted his face and looked towards me.
…ah, he finally looked at me.
“It’s me! Tateyama Ayano, I’m in the same class and I sit next to you! …well, even if I say that, we haven’t actually properly spoken to each other before…”
This was the self-introduction I had rehearsed in my mind so many times.
W-was it too rushed, I wonder…no, it was probably fine. It should’ve flowed naturally.
“Tateyama…? Aah! The one that always gets marks below the passing mark.”
“T-that’s the only impression you have of me?”
At Shintaro-kun’s unexpected answer, I spoke without thinking.
…ah, but he actually knew who I was. Just that kind of made me feel like I was saved.
But still, saying that I “always” got them was crossing the line. In the last test we did, there was one subject I passed in…
“Was I wrong?”
It seemed that Shintaro-kun, now relieved, had stopped trembling and, at some point, regained his usual cold attitude.
“N-no, you were right. More importantly, why are you here so late? It’s pitch black outside, you know?”
As I asked that, a slightly tired expression appeared on Shintaro-kun’s face.
“That’s my line. Why are you in the classroom at this time? The lights aren’t even on.”
I couldn’t deny his words.
I, who had come out of a completely dark classroom, was way more suspicious.
What was I going to do…yep. I didn’t want to cause a misunderstanding through making a weird excuse, so I guess I could only be honest and tell the truth.
“W-well, about that~…my scores on the last test were apparently really bad, so the teacher gave me some extra work…”
“It must be tough for you, isn’t it~” Though I didn’t expect a reply anything like that, Shintaro-kun really was, as usual, strict and blunt.
Being asked something like “And then?” caused me to be a little embarrassed, but I had no choice but to elaborate…right.
“I stayed behind to work, but I fell asleep…and I haven’t finished the work at all! A-ahaha…”
Ah, that. It probably would’ve been better if I hadn’t said that.
As I felt Shintaro-kun’s cold, hard gaze on me, I stiffened while laughing in embarrassment.
“…what was the point in staying behind then?”
He was completely right. Aah, what was I even doing?
“That’s..true, there was no meaning to it. W-what do I do…if I don’t hand it in tomorrow morning, Sensei’s going to get angry at me…”
The words slipped out of my mouth. Maybe, on a whim, he was going to help me…
But even if I had expectations like this, Shintaro’s expression, as expected, was not a gentle one that looked as if he was going to offer to help me.
Ah, Shintaro-kun was nervously looking down the corridor. He probably wanted to go home.
That’s right. Surely he just came to get something he left behind.
Sorry that I bothered you. That’s right, I had to get home as soon as possible too…
“…hah? What is it?”
“S-Shintaro-kun’s really really smart, right? Just recently, in the test the other day, you got full marks…”
What was I even saying?
I felt bad for getting in his way and stopping him. It was late too, Shintaro-kun probably wanted to get home soon…
“…don’t just look at people’s test scores without their permission.”
“Eh?! Ah, I’m sorry…! Um…uh…”
See, Shintaro-kun’s angry. I shouldn’t have said something like that, it was only going to bother him.
Yep. I understood. I completely understood.
I understood, but…!
“What is it, spit it out.”
“Eh…‘will you tutor me for a bit~’…something like that.”
…I had to keep going.
I had just managed to say something to him, I didn’t want it to just end here.
I wanted to talk to him more, I wanted to know more about Shintaro-kun…!
“I-it’s just for today…! Just a little bit will be enough, so…!”
“Right now?! Why should I have to do something like that…”
“Please just…! I-I’m begging you!”
“You…even if you beg me…”
I’m sorry, Shintaro-kun. Right now, I’m know being extremely selfish.
I’m sure that to Shintaro-kun, I was a huge bother.
But, I had to change here, or else it felt as if I was going to just end up watching Shintaro-kun from afar forever.
That’s why, will you listen to my selfish request?
From now on, I’ll go along with all of Shintaro’s requests, so…!
“Aaaaaah, geez! Fine, I get it! It’s just for today, okay.”
At Shintaro-kun’s words, I froze for a moment in shock.
The meaning of his words spread like warmth within my body.
I’m truly glad it was dark.
Because if it had been bright, he would’ve seen my tears.
“Didn’t you hear me? I said, I’ll teach you. Come on — hurry up, finish this, and go home.”
Shintaro-kun bluntly said this, walked by me, and entered the classroom.
I was so happy, I felt like jumping up and down, but figured that was probably a bad idea, and stopped myself.
Now, were we finally going to be able to become friends?
Was my pounding chest going to be able to stand this?
No, I was going to be fine. Dad once said, “A pounding chest is the proof of justice,” so I was definitely going to be fine.
In the pitch black classroom that was still echoing with Shintaro-kun’s sigh, I quickly wiped my tears away and with a “click!”, I switched on the classroom lights.