Chapter 12 – Preparation and malaise (4)
Translator – Vodka
I wasn’t able to provide Kaede with a definite answer.
She had thrust the reality I was actively trying to ignore, at my face.
The three girls cooked dinner.
What followed dinner, were heated conversations. They got roused by trifling matters and participated in heated exchanges. I looked on from a bit of a distance.
That’s right……it shouldn’t have changed.
At a glance, it looked like everyone still maintained a suitable distance.
However, by no means, was it the same.
Shizuku laid bare her feelings but didn’t press for an answer.
Yuuto wasn’t able to give up, even though he had been rejected.
I haven’t been able to confront Shizuku’s feelings and give her an answer.
What is love? What is it like to like someone?
I still didn’t understand. Due to that, a slight discrepancy was born, and Kaede saw through it.
She had seen me more up-close than anybody else. So, she could discern the change.
That slight change that others wouldn’t be able to perceive.
She might have thought that we had a fight or something.
“……We aren’t fighting or anything, you know.”
I didn’t elaborate on the essence of the answer. The best I could do was squeeze out that ambiguous reply.
It wasn’t a question of discord or affinity among the members of this group. It was just that, in light of the present situation, it couldn’t be helped that it would take a while for things to return to normal.
So as not be noticed, I forced a smile quite uncharacteristic of me and stroked Kaede’s hair. That was how I staved off the dealing with the issue, for now.
“Well, Shinra, you be the group leader.”
The students were seated in a certain manner in the classroom. It was different from our usual seating order.
Of course, I too was there.
One classmate whom I had never talked to, one-sidedly appointed me as the group leader for the upcoming ‘work experience’ program, while another classmate whom I had never talked to either, cast his vote of confidence in my appointment.
“Shinra seems serious. I am fine with that too.”
“……I didn’t say I will do it yet, though?”
Just because I wouldn’t join in the usual bustle of the classroom, doesn’t mean that I was a serious person. Isn’t that evaluation a bit premature?
Well, I say that, but it applies to me too.
I couldn’t evaluate them either because I didn’t know their personalities or the kinds of people they associated with.
It wasn’t that I didn’t understand that first impressions determined, more often than not, how the other party would perceive you.
In a piece of paper handed to us, my name was being written down in the space allocated for the ‘group leader’.
I don’t remember having agreed though?
It would seem that she didn’t know the kanji for my name, so, she wrote it down in hiragana. However, the characters had a certain rotundity to them, quite characteristic of a female student.
[TN – Kanji and hiragana are Japanese scripts. Japanese names are written in ‘kanji’, and, kanjis have ‘hiragana’ readings. Knowing kanji characters for names is a particularly tough ordeal. Hiragana is the basic script]
Why do female students have such roundness to their characters?
Anyways, would you stop writing the hiragana characters so small?
It looked like she had confidence issues. Was it just me?
Until only a few minutes ago, they were grumbling in discontent about how they couldn’t pair up with the people they wanted to. It would seem that they accepted reality when the teacher-in-charge showed no signs of heeding to their complaints.
Although reluctant, I made some conversation with them. I sensed not a speck of seriousness in their voices.
Well, I wasn’t one to talk. I myself wasn’t motivated enough for this event.
I ended up having the position of the group leader forced upon me. Gradually, the topic of our conversation strayed from the issue at hand.
“Which reminds me, where are Ogiwara and the others going?”
“I wonder where~, I will ask later.”
He said “others”, but it would seem that the boys were referring to Shizuku, and the girls, Yuuto.
More interested in others than ourselves, are we?
Well, that was to be expected. After all, the only thing that they were looking forward to, in this event, was the possibility of being paired up with their desired partners.
I alone proceeded to confirm the schedule and the location for our ‘work experience’. I ran my eyes over the piece of paper that had been handed to us before.
Our group got assigned to the hotel in the neighbourhood of the nearest station.
Thankfully, it would seem like they didn’t intend for students to deal with customers. As per what was written in the paper, we would have to experience the other kinds of functions that hotel workers had to perform, such as cleaning the rooms, bathrooms etc.
For some reason, it felt like we got assigned to a really difficult category of occupation for this event. I grimaced at the thought of the upcoming days, but it couldn’t be helped.
“Shinra, you are close with those three, aren’t you?”
Suddenly, the female student hurled a question at me.
State their names, will you? Saying “three” doesn’t help identify them.
Well, probably those three anyway……
“Kanzaki-san, Ogiwara, and Kirasaka-san! In particular, you are childhood friends with Kanzaki-san, aren’t you?”
Leaning forward, the male student raised his voice.
“Well, that’s how it is……everybody has a childhood friend or two, don’t they?” (MC)
[TN – no bitch, they don’t, I don’t have a Shizuku, so die]
It was just that, apart from those three, I didn’t have anyone to talk to in this classroom.
Better said, I didn’t have anyone else to talk to in my entire school year.
Heck, if I splurged a bit, I could even say that there wasn’t anyone in the entire school.
No, wait. Since I had recently started talking to people from the student council, I was probably making progress.
The expressions of the two before me changed to one of displeasure. Were they perhaps dissatisfied with a certain aspect of my answer?
I liked it when they were an easy read.
There were too many people around me who had their barriers up, not letting their emotions show on their faces. So, I am saved by these two before me.
“True that there are childhood friends, but that level is just, you know~”
“That’s right, saying that she is a childhood friend, or that you went to the same middle school so casually……be careful of what you say, you know?”
“……From here on out, I will be careful.”
It was fine to enshrine them in a high place in their hearts, but what the hell was with this pushing their value onto others?
For me, they were like any other student.
They were just a bit more connected than me. They had better looks and marks. That’s all.
One of them was even from an exceptionally rich background.
What the……? No way they were like any other student.
Should I be feeling grateful for my acquaintanceship with them?
Tomorrow onwards, let’s use polite speech with them. I should work on assuming the correct behaviour.
[TN – In Japanese, they have polite speech, known as ‘Keigo’, basically speaking politely and with respect for the other party. While in English, the line is blurry, more often than not, I think, it’s quite easily determinable in Japanese]
I glanced at the two before me with cold eyes.
They were getting all excited by themselves. It was probably because of that that I was suddenly hit with an urge to get away from them, as soon as possible. However, they came up with another topic. They continued.
“That’s right! Tell us about them!”
“That’s good! Nice idea!”
What is a nice idea? Doing as you please……
They wanted to know about their birthday, favourite food, old recollections, preferences etc.
Although they said ‘preferences’, what they wanted to know, in particular, was their preferences regarding the opposite gender.
They had even brought out their memo-pads, intending to jot down the information. Looking at them acting with so much vigour, I put some distance between us.
When I took my eyes off the paper laid on the table and looked at the two before me, I was met with their fiercely shining gazes.
“……If you want to know, you should ask the person in question.”
These were personal information.
Recently, I had been rather strict when dealing with personal information.
I just decided in my heart, that from here on out, I would be careful about these things.
That was why I couldn’t furnish answers to their questions.
When I issued the short reply, their expressions distorted, all that interest evaporating into thin air.
“Come on, it isn’t something you need to hide, is it now?”
“We won’t tell anybody~ so please, tell us.”
Saying it like that……I don’t think you guys can pull off sounding more untrustworthy than this.
I maintained my silence since before they had asked their questions, to which they showed a bitter expression.
Isn’t this quite the coincidence? I too feel like I could come to hate the two of you.
I am even having thoughts about how I don’t want to talk to you guys ever again.
Recently, I had not been associating with many students around me. It was probably because of that, but it has been quite a while since I felt like this.
It has been a while since I had to confront people whose intentions of wanting to get close to Yuuto or Shizuku through me, were clear as day.
For years, I had had these kinds of conversations with many people. I thought I had gotten used to it already.
Since it has been a while, it felt somewhat different too.
I looked to my side, and my gaze fell upon the two who were being surrounded by our classmates, Yuuto and Shizuku. I inadvertently let out a sigh.
I reaffirmed that they were always going to be the centre of attention, and even though I was so aware, I had continued to remain by their side. And because of that, there was a large number of troublesome affairs.
How did the likes of me get involved with the likes of them? Where did it go wrong?
When I retracted my gaze and looked elsewhere, Kirasaka entered my field of vision.
Sat by the windowsill, she was looking outside, seemingly bored.
Once in a while, she would move her mouth to perform conversational tasks with the students of her group, but since she refrained from anything beyond the basic engagement, the air around her group seemed to become heavier by the moment.
……Best of luck.
I could only wish the students who had to be in a group with her, good luck.