Good-Bye Sengen - Chapter 2 The Past
“Onii-chan, are you not going to school today?”
As I was lounging around in the living room, Momoka asked me with a raised eyebrow.
“Eh, yes. I can’t?”
“Of course not! How many days in a row do you think you’ve been absent!”
When I asked back, my sister scolded me so much.
It has been a week since I promised Nanase that I would help her practice her acting. I hadn’t been to school once. But that didn’t mean I didn’t want to go along with the practice.
I just didn’t have to go to school for the past week.
As proof, the calendar in my room is marked “day off” until today.
Whenever there is a “day off” written on the calendar, I will miss school no matter what.
This is my way of not wanting to go to school.
“You say that, but doesn’t Momoka have to go to school?”
“I’m off today for the school’s anniversary. It’s a proper day off.”
She made it sound like I’m taking a day off when I’m not. That’s rude.
At that moment, I suddenly heard the ringing of my phone.
I pulled it out of my pants pocket to check and saw that RINE had come from Nanase.
In fact, I had exchanged IDs with her when we talked about this and that at the old school building.
It was probably more accurate to say that I was forced to exchange…
“You’re not coming to school today?”
I promised her that I would only go with her to acting practice when I came to school, but I haven’t gone to school a single time since we made that deal.
It was no wonder she sent me this text. …Guh, I’m wondering how to respond to this message.
I don’t feel like going to school again today, so I’ll just go through with that.
If I return this and say I’m not going, I’m going to get in trouble.
“Onii-chan, are you listening to me?”
“Eh, I’m sorry. I didn’t hear anything.”
When I answered that, Momoka sighed. Don’t react like that. You’ll make me sad.
Just as I was thinking this, the intercom rang unexpectedly.
“? What is it this early in the morning?”
Momoka curiously moved to the front door.
Then, for some reason, Momoka immediately came back into the living room.
“Do you have a brother of any kind? Because…”
“Me? Who’s here?”
“It’s a girl.”
A girl? No way…
I hurried to the front door and saw a beautiful parka girl I knew standing there.
“Ah, good morning! Kiritani-kun!”
Nanase greeted me in the morning with a dazzling smile.
“Nanase!? What are you doing here!?”
“Since Kiritani-kun hasn’t come to school for any length of time, I’ve come to bring you in, as expected.”
Nanase puffed out her cheeks and looked angry.
“I-I’m sorry about that… But my home address? How did you find out?”
“I told the homeroom teacher that I was worried about Kiritani-kun, who’s not attending school, and she told me.”
Is it really okay for a teacher to reveal the address of a student’s house so easily? No, you shouldn’t.
“Come on, Kiritani-kun! Hurry up and go to school!”
“No, I was going to miss school today too…”
“Ehhh!? You’re not going again! You’re gonna lose credit!”
“I’ve got it all figured out, so no problem—Gufu!”
Suddenly, my mouth was sealed shut and I couldn’t speak.
I looked behind me and saw Momoka holding my mouth with her hand. I hurriedly pulled my sister’s hand away.
“W-What are you doing all of a sudden?”
“It’s because Onii-chan is being an idiot when such a cute girl is here to pick you up.”
Momoka said, and shifted her gaze to Nanase.
“Are you a friend of my brother’s by any chance?”
“Ah, yes. I’m Nanase Rena, a friend of Kiritani-kun.”
“I’m his younger sister, Momoka. My brother is going to prepare for school now, so could you please wait outside for a moment?”
“Oh! So you’re the sister I’ve heard so much about! I’ve heard about you from Kiritani-kun! I mean, you’re really cute!”
“What, eh, thank you very much… Hey Onii-chan. What did she mean?”
“I can’t be bothered to explain that…”
Momoka stuffed me with a glare. This was not a good look for a sister to give her brother.
Then I had no choice but to explain to Momoka that Nanase was in “The Maid’s Excellent Deduction” that we siblings went to see, and when we talked about it together, I told her that I had a younger sister.
“Nanase-san! Can I have your autograph?”
Then Momoka asked a little excitedly.
She watches a lot of plays and movies, so she must be happy to see real actors.
“I’m only a part time actor, so I’d be embarrassed to sign an autograph, but if you want to shake my hand or something…”
“I’ll even shake your hand! Please!”
Nanase and Momoka squeezed each other’s hands.
Momoka was beaming, and I think I may have never seen my sister so happy.
“I’m very happy. And I’ll make sure my brother goes to school.”
“Really? Thank you, Imouto-san!”
“Wait a minute. I know you two are going off on your own tangent, but I’m definitely not going to school today—”
“Onii-chan. If you don’t go today, I’m going to sell your favorite game software.”
Momoka’s eyes were serious when she said that. My sister in this state could do it for real.
“…Okay. I’m going to school.”
“And so, Nanase-san, please don’t worry and wait a little bit.”
“Yes! Thank you very much!”
When Momoka said with a smile, Nanase bowed her head.
How the hell did this happen…
That’s how I ended up going to school for the first time in a week.
“I-I’m a maid yes, b-but I’m also good at deduction…”
Lunch break. As promised, I was at the old school building, accompanying Nanase to her acting practice.
Right now, we’re practicing for “The Maid’s Excellent Guess,” which Momoka and I saw, and I’m holding the script in one hand while being forced to say the lines of the main character, Setomiya Nana…
“Hey, Kiritani-kun. Are you up for this?”
Nanase folded her arms, looking a little angry.
“I can’t help it. I’m an amateur actor.”
“It’s not that you’re a bad actor or anything.”
“? Then what do you mean?”
“There’s a shame in your acting.”
“Of course you’re right. Because this role is supposed to be played by a woman.”
Setomiya Nana, as her name suggests, is a woman and a maid.
And yet she makes me, a man, say the lines of Setomiya Nana.
By the way, the story of “The Maid’s Excellent Deduction” is about two maids, Nana Setomiya, the main character, and Shibuno Eri, played by Nanase, who solve cases for their masters who are always involved in them.
Basically, Setomiya Nana makes the deductions, and Shibuno Eri supports her.
“It doesn’t matter about my performance in the first place. This is Nanase’s practice.”
“Well, that’s true right~.”
Nanase said, closing the script she was holding and placing it on a nearby desk.
“Nana-san! Something bad had happened!”
Nanase acts flustered with a panicked tone of voice. Shibuno Eri is a natural airhead, and that part of her personality comes through well in her dialogue and detailed movements.
“Kiritani-kun, you’re next.”
At Nanase’s urging, I shifted my gaze to the script and said my next line.
“W-What’s the matter, Eri-san? C-Could it be another incident?”
“That’s right~! It seems that the master has been involved in another incident~!”
I’ve only heard two lines, but Nanase played the innocent maid perfectly.
It’s as if there’s a completely different person there from the usual Nanase…
“Kiritani-kun, you forgot your line again.”
I was so engrossed in Nanase’s performance that I hurriedly said the next line when she pointed it out.
Then Nanase and I said our lines in turn.
In the midst of it all, I realized something.
Nanase was somehow very much alive when she was acting.
I felt that her usual dignity had been further enhanced, or rather, I felt that she was in an atmosphere of “Please look at me.”
She was the complete opposite of me, who usually spent my time slacking off and not attending school seriously, having nothing in particular I wanted to do and no dreams, she looked so sparkling to me.
“I should probably pause more for the line I just said, and say the line before that more forcefully.”
After the acting practice was over, Nanase held a script in her hand, writing something in it.
“What are you doing with that?”
“I’m writing down what kind of acting I should do for each line. I have another performance of ‘The Maid’s Amazing Deduction’ this coming weekend.”
The expression on Nanase’s face as she looked at the script while replying was serious.
So this is what it’s like to be someone who’s really trying to achieve their dreams…
When I thought about it, I had a weird feeling around my chest area.
“Kiritani-kun, what’s wrong?”
Nanase looked into my face and asked me as she thought I was acting strange.
At the same time, the distance between her beautiful face and me decreased dramatically.
“No, it’s nothing.”
“Are you sure? I hope so then.”
When I turned my head away and replied, Nanase looked a little worried, but returned her attention to the script.
“Well, my next line is…”
Nanase was writing more and more in the script. She was very quiet, and it was a little strange to see her, who was usually so noisy, become that way.
Nanase was absorbed in her work, not paying attention to me.
At this time, Nanase is definitely heading straight for her dream. I wonder if this is what she was talking about before, that having a dream always allows you to be who you are.
And I kept looking at her like that—
I was surprised at the words that escaped my mouth.
Apparently, Nanase hadn’t heard me as she was still concentrating on writing the script.
I wondered if what I had just said had been influenced by the atmosphere of the place. Or was it—
I thought about it for a while, but in the end I couldn’t come to a conclusion at that time, and my lunch break came to an end.
There was a break between classes. The next class was not held in our classroom, so I was walking down the hallway when I ran into Shuuichi. He was waving at me with his usual refreshing smile.
“Shuuichi, I feel like it’s been a long time.”
“That’s because you’ve been absent from school a lot lately. You’ll lose credits if you’re not careful.”
“I’m doing the math, so I’m fine. I was able to advance in both my freshman and sophomore years. I have a good track record.”
“Don’t brag about that.”
Shuuichi replied with a wry smile on his face.
“So, when did you and Nanase become friends?”
“What, out of the blue?”
“Because there’s a rumor going around… that you two are dating or something.”
“…Haaa? How did it even get to that?”
“I heard that you two were seen going somewhere alone at lunchtime today. And from Nanase’s fans, no less.”
It was probably at that time when I went to the old school building. I hadn’t thought about that because people don’t come to that area, but maybe I should have been more careful.
“But it seems that the fans have come to the conclusion that there is no way that such a dark and inscrutable person could be Nanase’s boyfriend.”
“What the hell is that? That’s so rude.”
Well, I’m glad they didn’t get the wrong idea…
“So, what’s the actual story?”
“Me and Nanase? How can there be anything?”
“Don’t grin and ask.”
What is wrong with you, you ikemen?
“Sorry sorry. This is the first time I’ve heard of you having an affair, even none in middle school. But I didn’t expect it to be with that Nanase…”
“I told you there’s nothing to it. Anyone who says that should be dumped by their girlfriend.”
“Hey, hey, don’t be so scary. …But well, even if it’s not Nanase, when you fall in love with someone, talk to me, okay? I’m the master of love, and I’ll give you some pointers.”
At this rate, it seemed like Shuuichi was going to talk forever, so I just brushed him off.
Me, falling in love with someone, huh.
I don’t have a reason for that, but it’s probably not true.
I can’t even imagine myself falling in love with someone…
With that in mind, I left Shuuichi and headed to the classroom for my next class.
For the next few days. Every day that I went to school, I went to the old school building during my lunch break to accompany Nanase in her acting practice. As usual, Nanase would say her lines and write them in the script, desperately trying to improve her acting.
I honestly thought her effort was amazing, and I wanted her dream to come true if possible.
But looking at her, so focused on her dream, I felt as if she was denying my current way of life, which left me with indescribable feelings.
“When I get home today, I’ll be playing games or reading manga.”
After school. I was walking alone in the hallway, trying to get home as quickly as possible.
Then I hear a cute voice from behind me with the sound of hurried footsteps.
“Hold on! Kiritani-kun!”
I turned around and saw Nanase running towards me.
“What are you in such a hurry for?”
“…Haaa, Kiritani-kun… Haa, you’re leaving class too early…”
When she caught up with me, Nanase’s hands were on her knees, coughing.
I don’t know what to say…
“Umm… Today is actually my theater company’s rehearsal, would you like to come watch?”
Nanase said this to me after catching her breath.
“Rehearsal? Why would I do that?”
“Don’t worry! It’s gonna be fun!”
“It’s not that I’m worried about it not being fun…”
When Nanase gave me a thumbs up, I put my hand on my forehead in dismay and replied.
“Ehhhh~ what’s the problem then?”
“There are so many problems. In the first place, I don’t understand why I have to go to Nanase’s rehearsals.”
“Then how can I get you to come watch me practice? Even though this beautiful girl is inviting you…”
“Don’t call yourself beautiful.”
Also, if I’m going to be asked out by a beautiful girl, I want a date or something.
“You guys look like you’re having a great time.”
Suddenly, a sharp voice reached my ears.
I looked over and saw Ayase and her cronies, the girls Takahashi and Tachibana.
“Saki, I’m having an important conversation. Can you not interrupt me at a time like this?”
“We didn’t have anything important to talk about, though.”
When I said it, Nanase gave me a stare. No, no, no, it’s the truth.
“Maybe Rena is dating that gutless guy?”
Ayase asked in a mocking tone.
She was trying to use me as an excuse to make fun of Nanase.
“Eh~ really? Nanase has a bad taste~”
Takahashi followed up with Ayase’s words, and Tachibana seemed at a loss as to what to say.
“What are you talking about like a junior high school student? You’re so lame.”
Nanase shrugged her shoulders and said in a tone of heartfelt dismay.
As usual, this Nanase has a ridiculous attitude towards the leader of the girls.
I’ll never be able to copy that.
Thanks to this, Ayase was biting her lip in frustration at Nanase’s overly straightforward words.
“More importantly, Saki, you haven’t done anything terrible to Tachibana-san, have you?”
This time, Nanase asked.
It was my first day of school for the new term when Nanase rescued Tachibana, who was about to be turned into a victim.
Since then, Nanase has been taking care to make sure that Tachibana doesn’t go through the same thing, and thanks to that, at least as far as I can see, Tachibana hasn’t been treated badly.
“It had nothing to do with Rena.”
“Could it be that you…”
At Ayase’s comment, Nanase narrowed her eyes and glared hard at her.
I was starting to have a feeling there’s going to be a catfight…
“N-Nanase-san, I’m fine.”
Then, as if sensing the dangerous atmosphere, Tachibana intervened between them.
“Y-Yeah. Saki-chan isn’t such a horrible person to begin with…”
No way, I thought, but somehow Tachibana’s words didn’t sound like a lie.
If she really isn’t not that bad of a person… no, I still don’t think so.
“Ah, Saki-chan! We have to get out of school soon, the new coffee shop in front of the station will be crowded!”
When Tachibana suddenly said, Aya checked the time on her phone.
“Uwa, you’re serious! We’ve got to get going!”
Ayase and the others then left the place in an impatient manner.
“You got a little tangled up first and said something weird. You should apologize a little.”
“Shut up. We have our own plans.”
After replying to that, Ayase left with the other two.
“What’s with that attitude? She’s still the same.”
Even as I replied, I felt a little uncomfortable.
Why does Ayase keep pestering Nanase like this? Isn’t she a bit too persistent to be just an antagonist? …Maybe I’m thinking too much.
“Kiritani-kun? You seem a little spaced out. What’s wrong?”
As I was thinking about this, Nanase asked me curiously.
“It’s nothing. I was just thinking about something.”
“I see. …I thought you were about to come watch my theater company rehearse.”
“I told you, I’m not going.”
“Ah goodness, you haven’t given up on that yet.”
Nanase puffed out her cheeks as she said this.
Which one of us won’t give up? You’re trying to force me to come watch you practice.
I would never go to her rehearsal.
“How did this happen…?”
After muttering to myself, I sighed heavily.
Because right now I’m at the rehearsal space of the theater company Nanase belongs to — “Yunagi”.
The location of the rehearsal space was a theater hall near the school’s nearest station.
This is the same place where Momoka and I saw “The Maid’s Excellent Deduction” before.
By the way, the reason why I had to come here was because Nanase followed me all the way down to the school and eventually bowed down to me repeatedly in the middle of a city full of people.
I don’t know why Nanase was so desperate, but I couldn’t say no to her after all that, so I reluctantly agreed to observe the rehearsal.
With permission, I was allowed to observe from the front row.
“Nana-san! Something bad has happened!”
Nanase is acting as Shibuno Eri, the supporting maid and natural maid character in “The Maid’s Excellent Deduction”, on the stage with other performers. This was the scene we had just rehearsed.
She sounded and acted just as foolish as she did in practice, but she was still very good.
“What’s the matter, Eri-san? Could it be another incident?”
The women who played the main character’s maid, Setomiya, perform with a beautiful voice.
She was also an actor, so her acting was as good as one would expect. Naturally, her level of performance was different from that of an amateur.
“That’s right~! It seems that the master has been involved in another incident~!”
Next was Nanase’s line again. She played the role of Shibuno Eri very well without any change.
Even after seeing the performance of the person who played Setomiya Nana, I still think Nanase’s acting is on par with the other performers… I’m not an expert in acting, so I wasn’t confident if that was right however.
But seeing Nanase’s performance on stage like this, I realized once again that she is an actor.
The rehearsal continued, and Nanase continued acting.
Maybe it was just my imagination, but I felt like she was doing better than when I saw her perform with Momoka.
It was probably the result of her lunch break where she wrote notes on her script.
And she seemed to be having a lot of fun acting it out.
“This is what I like to do,” that’s what she seemed to be conveying.
When I saw her acting, I couldn’t help but say those words again.
But honestly, I just thought it was cool.
Usually, Nanase doesn’t think about others, doesn’t care about the atmosphere of the place, and does what she wants to do and says what she wants to say without hesitation.
Maybe that’s what attracted me to her, because I feel like that part of her acting is affected by it.
“How is it? Are you enjoying yourself?”
When I looked toward the voice, I saw a beautiful woman in her thirties approaching me.
She then took a seat next to me.
“H-Hello. I’m Kiritani Kakeru, Nanase’s classmate. Umm…”
“Hasukawa Minmei. I’m the playwright and head of this company.”
“L-Leader of the group? Y-Thank you for allowing me to observe!”
“No, no, as Rena’s friend you’re more than welcome.”
The leader of the group gave me a beautiful, mature smile. She was beautiful, yet so different from Nanase.
“Umm… Could I ask one thing?”
“Umm… What is Nanase usually like here?”
“Rena? She’s the youngest of the group, and she’s very loved by everyone.”
“…Is that so?”
Surprising. I heard that Nanase is well-liked.
“But, you know…”
The leader said, and after a short pause.
“A little cocky, don’t you think?”
She smiled and mouthed the words.
It’s strange. I’m sure she has the same smile as before, but now it’s really scary.
Nanase, what the hell did you do to the leader?
“There are a lot of other specifices but I think the cocky one is disobeying me.”
“Disobey? Even against you too?”
The leader gave a small nod.
Sure, Nanase could do it, but would she really?
This is not at school, so it’s possible that the leader is joking…
“Minmei-san! May I have a moment?”
In the middle of the rehearsal, Nanase raised her hand from the stage and called for the leader.
“Ara, that was fast.”
I was surprised, and the leader of the group giggled.
Then Nanase came down from the stage, opened the script and came close to the leader.
“Rena, what’s wrong?”
“In this scene here, can I use the stage more widely when I’m acting?”
The leader looked at the script Nanase was showing her with a serious expression.
So even the opinion of a single member of the group can be taken seriously.
“Not if you use it extensively, because that would make your role too obvious.”
And the leader denied Nanase’s opinion. Normally, this would be the end of the discussion.
However, Nanase was different.
“I don’t think my role would be so obvious here.”
“No, that’s not true. Because this is where Setomiya Nana is showing off her deductions. Nana is the one who needs to stand out the most in this scene.”
“But even my character, Shibuno Eri, is supporting Nana during her deduction.”
“Still, I want Nana to stand out as the star here. So I reject your opinion.”
“No no no…”
Even though the leader denied it again, Nanase still didn’t seem convinced.
In a way, it was amazing that she could express her opinion so frankly to the most important person in the group.
I would never be able to do that.
After a few more exchanges, Nanase finally listened to the leader’s words. After that, the practice resumed.
“Yes, it is. But she’s like that at school.”
“Really? That must be rough…”
The leader gave a wry smile. That’s right. It was rough…
“But as a screenplay writer, it’s nice to have someone like Rena to give me feedback. When you’re alone, your vision becomes too narrow.”
“I see. So Nanase didn’t cause that much trouble for the leader.”
“Well, yes. I can tell that Rena is working very hard on her performance.”
I know that Nanase is serious about acting. After all, her dream is to be a Hollywood actress.
“And Rena is very lively when she’s acting. That’s what I like about her.”
“Yeah, I think I know what you mean.”
After agreeing with the leader’s words, I shifted my gaze to Nanase, who was practicing.
As usual, she seemed to be having fun with her performance.
And seeing her like this, I had mixed feelings.
Nanase is always acting as herself, without being influenced by anyone else, and is living her life in a straight line toward her dreams.
On the other hand, I don’t go to school much, I don’t have any goals, and even when it’s important, I just go along with the flow of the atmosphere and spend my days sluggishly.
At this moment, I thought.
—Is it fine for me to continue on like this?
“Here you go! This one’s on me!”
After the rehearsal was over, Nanase and I went to a family restaurant near the theater hall.
I was going to go home early, but Nanase insisted on buying me a meal as an apology for forcing me to come and observe the rehearsal, so I followed her.
This morning, I was told that my parents would be working late today, so there would be no dinner when I got home anyway.
At times like this, Momoka goes out to eat with her friends, so I’ll have to take Nanase’s offer.
“I’ll get the cheeseburger set.”
“I think I’ll have an omelet rice then!”
After we both decided what we wanted to order from the menu, Nanase stopped the waiter and ordered for both of us. She was wearing her trademark white hoodie even in this situation.
“So how’d it go?”
“How did what go?”
“The rehearsal. Did you notice anything?”
“Should I have noticed something?”
When I asked her back, Nanase nodded.
Is she asking me about her acting?
“I think Nanase’s acting was very good.”
“What, t-thank you…”
As if caught off guard, Nanase’s cheeks flushed and she spoke back.
“But it’s not… It’s not about that.”
What do you mean? That’s the first time I’ve ever had someone complain about me complimenting someone.
“I’m sorry about that… Did you have anything else in mind?”
Nanase asked with a serious expression.
Apparently she wasn’t joking, but if she’s asking me what else…
“Ah, it’s Kiritani!”
Suddenly, I heard my name called. It was a boy’s voice.
When I turned around, there were three male students wearing different uniforms than us.
They looked gangly and their uniforms were worn in a bad way. And they were familiar to me.
“Long time no see, Kiritani.”
“You’re with a girl.”
“And she’s cute. That’s funny.”
As the boys approached our seats, they started talking to each other like that.
“I-It’s been a long time, everyone.”
I responded with a tight smile, at a loss for words.
“Does Kiritani-kun know these people?”
“Eh, u-umm, well…”
I gave a half-hearted response to Nanase’s question in a desperate attempt to answer.
Then, instead, a male student standing in the middle of the three of them answered clearly.
“We were in the same junior high school as Kiritani. Right.”
That’s right. All three of them are from the same junior high school as me, and they are friends of mine.
I remember the names. Itou, Sugawara, Yamaguchi. The one who just answered for me was Ito.
“Hey, Kiritani. Can we take a seat here too?”
“All right? And buy me a drink, will you? We’ve been running low on cash lately.”
Ito doesn’t hesitate to order a variety of things.
“Ah, a treat…”
“Hey, come on.”
Ito struck an apologetic pose, but most people could tell that this was just a formality.
Normally, I would have said no, but I couldn’t bring myself to say no.
I don’t know what they will do to me if I refuse.
“Don’t you think it’s rude to have your old classmate buy you a drink when you haven’t seen him in a while?”
Nanase said in a sharp tone of voice.
“Ha? What are you saying out of the blue?”
“What are you talking about? That’s my line. Kiritani-kun doesn’t like you no matter how you look at it. You’re no better than a monkey if you don’t notice that.”
“Hey! Don’t get carried away just because you look cute!”
Itou said, glaring at Nanase, and the other two followed suit.
“Don’t talk to us like that.”
“Just because you’re a girl doesn’t mean we would show mercy, okay?”
The three of them are intimidating.
A normal person would have been too scared to speak.
However, Nanase wasn’t intimidated whatsoever, and instead glared back at the three of them.
“You should try to be careful with girls, alright? If you’re not careful, you’ll be in big trouble.”
“Big trouble? That’s funny.”
“We will try~”
“I wonder what’s going to happen to me~”
That’s how Ito and the others laughed and made fun of her.
To them, Nanase pulled out her phone from the pocket of the parka she was wearing.
“For example, the police could come here.”
She said this as she pointed the screen of her phone at Itou and the others.
She wasn’t joking at all, the number “110” was displayed on the screen.
Wait, wait!? Isn’t that a bad idea!?
“Seriously, this girl!? She’s out of her mind!?”
“Are you insane!?”
Sugawara and Yamaguchi flinched at Nanase’s outrageous behavior.
“This person’s bad you… You guys, let’s get a move on before we get involved in it.”
Itou instructed, his face turning pale, and all three of them left the restaurant without taking a seat.
Seeing the back of the three of them, I felt a sense of relief in my chest.
“…did you really call 110?”
“Yeah, I did.”
Nanase taps her head adorably like a teehee-up character.
This is not the time to be fooling around.
“But I made sure to turn it off before it went through, okay?”
“But it won’t work. I mean, they’ll definitely call you right back.”
Just as I said that, Nanase received a call on her phone. As expected, it was from the police.
“Kiritani-kun, what should I do?”
“I don’t know…”
As expected, even Nanase was scared of the police.
To be honest, I was pretty scared too.
But she did it to help me after all…
“I don’t have a choice. I’ll explain.”
“I take the phone from Nanase’s hand.”
“That’s my line. Thanks… for the help earlier.”
Then I picked up the phone and told the police what had happened.
Naturally, I was scolded very badly.
“Ah, I’m in so much trouble…”
After receiving a lengthy lecture from the police, we finished our meal at a diner. After that, we left the restaurant, and were now walking side by side in the city. When we looked up, the sky was completely dark.
“I’m sorry, Kiritani-kun.”
“You don’t have to apologize. Nanase saved me earlier.”
Even so, Nanase looked apologetic.
She shouldn’t have bothered…
“Hey, were those people who were just here Kiritani-kun’s friends?”
“Well, at least they were friends from junior high…”
When I was in junior high school, I spent my days with Itou and his friends.
I also talked and hung out with Shuuichi, but I mainly spent my days with them.
“To tell you the truth, when I was in junior high school, I was in a group of those guys, and they treated me like they just did, and I honestly felt suffocated.”
In junior high school, I was the type of person who just went with the flow.
Thanks to this, my position in Itoi’s group was the weakest, and to put it simply, I was like the Tachibana of Ayase’s group.
I couldn’t even tell him where I wanted to go when we went out, and I couldn’t say no to anything he asked me to do.
“That’s how it was…”
When I explained, Nanase turned her face down in sadness.
“Yeah, yeah. That’s why I didn’t enjoy going to junior school at all.”
The only time I had fun was when I was talking to Shuuichi.
He and I happened to be in the same room at an overnight training program, and as we talked, we strangely hit it off and became friends.
“Could that be the reason why Kiritani-kun doesn’t come to school much now?”
“…Well, I guess so.”
I didn’t want to join a group like I did in junior high school and be forced to fit in with other people or do things I didn’t like, so in high school I tried to stay away from school as much as possible.
But when I’m at school, I still have to adjust to the atmosphere.
“But lately I’ve been thinking about something else.”
“? What do you mean?”
Nanase tilted her head at my words.
“Nanase, you never bend yourself at any time, you are always yourself without being influenced by anyone, right? Seeing you like that, I started to wonder if it’s okay for me to stay like this.”
I go to school half-heartedly, obeying powerful people like Akutsu and Ayase without saying anything, and on the days I don’t go to school, I just play games and read manga.
Looking at Nanase, I felt like I couldn’t go on like this, and on the contrary, before I knew it, I began to envy her.
After I spoke, Nanase’s beautiful eyes widened as if she was a little surprised.
“Umm… I don’t think it matters that you don’t go to school much. The important thing is that you are still able to be yourself and do what you want to do at this very moment.”
“What do I want to do?”
When I asked her back, Nanase nodded her head.
“Yes, as you know, I do what I want to do at all times. And you know what, I’m really enjoying this type of life!”
Nanase smiled as she said this.
Thinking back, she certainly seemed to be enjoying herself at all times.
“So, why don’t you spend your time thinking about what you want to do? It will make every day more fun!”
“What I want to do… huh?”
I’ve been so busy trying to fit in with others that I’ve never really thought about it seriously.
But if it can make my current half-baked life a little better…
“I understand. Honestly, I don’t know if I can do it right away, but I’ll try to do what Nanase said.”
I replied, feeling a little embarrassed.
“…Nanase, thank you.”
“Fufu, you’re welcome.”
Nanase smiled back at me.
There have been times when I’ve felt some tug within me, but I’ve never thought that deeply about it.
But thanks to Nanase, who tries to stay true to herself no matter what, I may be able to change myself little by little.
The next morning. When I woke up, I checked the calendar in my room.
By the way, yesterday, Nanase and I had a brief conversation after that and then parted ways.
…So I checked my calendar, and at a glance I could see it was the day I was allowed to take a day off. That meant that today was a good day to take a break from school.
“…What should I do?”
Last night, Nanase said that it doesn’t matter if I don’t go to school much, and it was important to always be myself and do what I want to do.
But if she’s asking me if I can stay home and be myself…
“I’m gonna go get ready.”
After muttering, I started to get ready for school.
I packed my textbooks in my bag and changed into my uniform.
I crossed out the word “day off” from the calendar and left the room.
At that time, I was feeling a little excited.
“Kiritani-kun, you knew exactly what you were doing.”
It was the morning after he and I talked about various things.
I muttered to myself as I looked in the mirror of my bathroom sink at home, adjusting my hair style and uniform.
“So I guess my efforts weren’t in vain.”
In the past few days, during acting practice at school and last night’s rehearsal for the theater company, I let Kiritani-kun see me at my most authentic self.
I was hoping that it would have some positive effect on him, because he looked like “her”.
Honestly, if Kiritani-kun didn’t think anything of it, I would have had to let it slide, but he told me that he wasn’t sure if he was okay with his current situation.
Kiritani-kun is trying to change.
“I’m sure he won’t suddenly change, but I can’t wait to see the new Kiritani-kun from today!”
What if he started wearing a parka like I do?
…No, that could be cute and funny!
If he wants, I’ve got a spare hoodie, and I can get Kiritani-kun to wear a matching one with me!
But I thought, “Kiritani-kun, you’re not going to miss school, are you?”
He’s the one who’s going to skip school after talking with me yesterday…
“But I made some progress. I’m glad I could be of some help to you, Kiritani-kun.”
I let the words slip out as if relieved. This is what I said directly to him, but it doesn’t matter that much if he comes and goes from school.
It’s more important that he’s living his life as he should.
…But I guess this takes away some of the worry that Kiritani-kun will turn out to be like “her”.
“Kiritani-kun, I wonder if you’ll come to school today.”
When I looked in the mirror, muttering something, I saw that I was smiling a little.
“Well, that’s it, isn’t it? That’s the face that wants Kiritani-kun to come to school.”
I said to myself in the mirror in a detective way, but of course I was right because it was my own feelings.
At that moment, it occurred to me.
Maybe now that I know Kiritani-kun, my life will be more fun than before!