Good-Bye Sengen - Chapter 3 Kiritani Kakeru And “Her”
“Well, then, it has been decided that the performance for the Seiran Festival for us, Class 3A, will be a play about Romeo and Juliet.
It has been two months since the start of the new school year.
As our class was discussing the Seiran Festival during LHR, one of the boys on the festival committee said to all his classmates inaudibly.
The Seiran Festival is a cultural festival, so to speak.
The third year students’ program for the Seiran Festival was designated to be a play, and they were free to choose what they wanted to put on, and we in Class A discussed our opinions and decided on “Romeo and Juliet” after a majority vote.
It was because it was the most famous work and would be easy for the audience to understand.
“Romeo and Juliet…”
Nanase, who was seated next to me, let out a slightly dissatisfied voice.
Naturally, she was wearing her favorite parka over her uniform blouse as usual.
“Does Nanase not like it?”
‘No. It’s not like that…”
“What is it then?”
I mean, the ending is so sad at the end of it.”
“Well, yeah, it is…”
“I’m not a big fan of tragic endings.”
Nanase folded her arms and appealed in a slightly stronger tone.
Looking at her, who usually enjoys every second of her life to the fullest, I felt that I could somehow understand why she didn’t like bad endings.
“Does Nanase like ‘Cinderella’?”
“Yes. Because it has a happy ending.”
“So that’s the only criteria for choosing a Nanase type play…”
Well, I prefer comedy over tragedy, too.
“So what role are you going to play, Kiritani?”
“Eh, you mean in the play?
“On the contrary, what else is there to do…?”
Nanase said in a slightly dumbfounded tone.
“I’m fine behind the scenes, as a props person or something.”
“What!? It’s the last Seiran Festival in high school and you’re okay with that!?”
Nanase reacted with surprise, but I hadn’t intended to play any role.
It was not that I don’t like acting or anything, but I prefer to make props behind the scenes.
…I explained it to her.
“If it’s something you like, it’s totally fine!”
Nanase gave me a thumbs-up and laughed.
I’m still working on it, but I’m still slowly trying to be myself and do what I want to do.
“So what does Nanase want to play as?”
“Juliet, of course!”
Nanase replied with a confident tone.
Her beautiful eyes were sparkling.
But you don’t really like Romeo and Juliet…”
“Yes, but I love the character Juliet.”
When I asked her, she replied in a very Nanase way.
There is no one else in the class who seems to be as interested in theater as Nanase, and I’m sure she’ll be playing the part.
“The next step is to decide on the cast, starting with Julie…”
“Yes! Yes, yes, yes!
While the festival committee was still talking, Nanase raised her hand to appeal.
That’s so like Nanase. Thanks to this, the festival committee members have a baffled look on their faces.
“Then, is there anyone else who wants to play the role of Juliet?”
The festival committee member asks all her classmates.
But there was no response.
In elementary school, a person who simply wanted to show off would play the leading role, but in high school, it would be hard to find someone who would be willing to play a leading role with many lines.
Unless they love acting like Nanase.
“So, Juliet will be played by Nanase…”
When the role of Juliet was almost decided to be Nanase’s, a sharp voice echoed in the classroom.
The voice belonged to Ayase
Could it be that she is going to poke Nanase again?
That’s what I was thinking.
“I want the role of Juliet too.”
My classmates were a little shocked by this unexpected comment.
It’s no wonder. The type of person like Ayased seemed to be the least interested in theater.
Can she act in the first place? Can she remember her lines before that?
“Ara, you want to play Juliet too?”
“Yes, I do. What do you have to say about that?
“No, I don’t have any problem with it.”
Nanase and Ayase exchanged such a conversation.
They were just having a normal conversation, but somehow the air in the classroom was tingling, and sparks seemed to be flying between them.
“I understand. Then, later on, let’s have Nanase and Ayase audition for the role of Juliet. Are you two okay with that?”
When the festival committee member asked, both of them nodded their heads.
“Saki-chan can handle the audition! Let’s kick Nanase to the curb!”
“Yeah! And Ayase looks better as Juliet than Nanase!”
Ayase was being encouraged by her cronies Takahashi and Suzuki.
The fact that she even mixes in a few bad words about Nanase is pretty niche.
“Yeah Ayase does fit with Juliet.”
“Akutsu, you’re being so annoying.”
Akutsu said with a laugh, Ayase replied with embarrassment.
Don’t bother showing off your lovey-dovey stuff in the classroom.
“Umm… Nanase, do your best.”
I tried to encourage Nanase in such a way.
“Yeah! I’m not going to lose to Saki~!”
She clenched both fists around her chest with maximum motivation.
I probably didn’t need to encourage her if she was so energetic.
“The next one is the role of Romeo…”
Then, as the festival committee proceeded, more and more roles were decided.
In the end, I didn’t run for any of the roles, but became a prop person.
I’ve attended the last two Seiran Festivals, but as I don’t have a lot of friends, I didn’t really enjoy it. Even when Shuuichi asked me to go around with him, I refused because I was afraid of his girlfriend.
…But this year, thanks to Nanase’s presence, I felt like I could enjoy the Seiran Festival for the first time.
Lunchtime. I was eating yakisoba bread from the store in an empty classroom in the old school building.
I still can’t have lunch in the classroom because I’m afraid of Akutsu because of the volunteer event.
By the way, about Nanase’s acting practice, I haven’t helped her practice at all since she told me she didn’t need my help anymore after I observed her rehearsal of “Yunagi”.
I don’t know why, but maybe I’m not very good at acting.
“Kiritani-kun, may I have a word?”
While I was thinking about many things, Nanase unexpectedly called out to me.
She was also having lunch with me here.
“Umm… I’d like to practice my lines for Juliet’s audition. Can you come with me to practice acting again?”
Nanase asked with a slightly anxious look on her face.
While we were deciding about the Seiran Festival play, the festival committee discussed and decided that Juliet’s audition would be held in three days and the lines for the audition were also decided.
The line to be used for the audition was, of course, the part “Ahh, Romeo…”.
It was such a famous line that most people know it, even if they don’t know what Romeo and Juliet is about.
“Sure. I’m a props person, so I don’t have any lines to learn.”
“Really! Thank you!”
Nanase thanked me happily.
“But do you really need to work that hard against Ayase? Nanase is a real actor, and I’m sure you can beat her in acting.”
Even if Ayase could act a little, she wouldn’t be able to compete with Nanase, who works in a theater company.
“I don’t think so. I don’t think I could beat Saki by a long shot.”
“Hmm, that’s a secret.”
When I asked, Nanase put a finger to her mouth and replied.
I was a little nervous because her gesture was a little seductive.
“I-I was surprised that Akutsu was nominated for the role of Romeo.”
As if to disguise the pounding of my heart, I changed the subject.
Actually, after Juliet, we had to decide on the role of Romeo, but Akutsu was the first candidate, and since there were no other candidates, it was decided that he would play Romeo.
“I thought Akutsu was the type of person who was least interested in theater…”
“I thought Akutsu-kun was going to run for the role of Romeo.”
“Because Saki ran for the role of Juliet.”
When I heard Nanase’s words, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
So, what does that mean?
“Because Akutsu-kun likes Saki.”
“That’s a lie.”
I took a deep breath, and Nanase laughed like a child who had succeeded in playing a prank.
It was the most surprising scoop I’ve had in a while. She’s such a weird liar.
“I don’t know if Akutsu-kun likes Saki, but he’s her childhood friend.”
“…Is that true? Or is that a lie as well?”
“This one is true.”
“? Then they really are childhood friends!”
I was just as surprised as I was before.
I had no idea that Akutsu and Ayase were childhood friends.
However, Akutsu and Ayase are always together, and I often see them talking to each other in a friendly manner, so I don’t think it’s too strange to say that they are childhood friends.
“So I think Akutsu-kun was worried about his childhood friend Saki, who ran for the role of Juliet, so he ran for the role of Romeo.”
I think Akutsu is an orator and a self-centered guy, but even last year when we were in the same class, I think there were many parts of him that treated only Ayase kindly.
So, what Nanase said makes sense.
“Speaking of which, how did Nanase know that Akutsu and Ayase were childhood friends? I’m sorry to say this, but I don’t get along with them very well.”
“T-That’s just…something I heard from someone else, or something.”
Nanase’s words were suddenly rushed as she replied.
She has an enthusiastic fan base, and she may have heard about it from one of them.
“Can I practice for my audition? All you have to do is say Romeo’s lines, Kiritani-kun.”
Nanase, who asked me to do so, had finished her own lunch before I knew it.
“Eh… O-Okay. Can we do it after I finish my lunch?”
“That’s totally fine!”
Nanase made an okay sign with her right hand, and I hurriedly stuffed the yakisoba bread into my mouth.
We didn’t have much time left for our lunch break, so I had to hurry.
“Kiritani-kun! You look like a squirrel, you’re so funny!”
Nanase burst into laughter when she saw me putting food into my cheeks.
You’re the reason I’m in this mess, so can you please stop laughing at me?
Three days later, the day of the audition arrived
Nanase and Ayase were competing for the role of Juliet.
The audition was slated to begin in the classroom after school.
As promised to Nanase, I went along with her practice during my lunch break.
Thanks to her, I think I’ve memorized all of Romeo’s lines.
That’s how much I said Romeo’s lines the past few days.
“Okay! I’m going to do my best today!”
Nanase, sitting next to me, was putting on her best effort.
“Nanse, umm… Good luck.”
“Thank you! Kiritani-kun has been accompanying me to practice, and I definitely need to be Juliet!”
Nanase smiled a little happily.
She was an actor who works in a theater company, so she had probably gone through a few auditions already. And at a pretty high pressure.
Compared to that, auditioning for a play at the school festival would probably be a piece of cake.
“Good luck, Saki.”
“Thank you, Atsushi.”
When I glanced at them, Ayase and Akutsu were talking to each other in a friendly manner.
When I observe them again, the distance between them fits those of childhood friends.
A beautiful boy and a beautiful girl, childhood friends. It’s like a manga setting.
While I was thinking about this, it seemed that the audition was ready.
“The audition for the role of Juliet will now begin.”
In front of the podium, a male student from the festival committee announced.
By the way, here are the rules of the audition: the candidates will take turns to act out the pre-designated lines in front of all their classmates.
After watching the performance, the classmates were asked to judge who was the best at acting, and in the end, a majority vote was taken to choose the one who was best suited to play Juliet.
This was the main process of the audition.
“So, which one of you will act first?”
The festival committee member asked the two candidates.
“Yes! I’ll do it!”
“I’ll do it!”
Nanase and Ayase’s hands went up almost simultaneously.
I was surprised. I knew Nanase would want to be the first to do it, but I didn’t expect Ayase to raise her hand like this.
I was surprised to see Ayase raise her hand like this.
“It’s unusual for you, Saki, to be motivated by something like this.”
Nanase said, and Ayase replied curtly.
I knew something was wrong.
Normally, whatever Nanase said, Ayase would respond quite emotionally. Or was I worrying too much?
“Since both of you seem to want to perform first, let’s play rock-paper-scissors to decide the order. Since it’s the fastest way.”
At the direction of the festival committee, the two of them played rock-paper-scissors.
Ayase won, so she would be the first to perform Juliet.
Nanase, by the way, looked very disappointed, even though she had just lost a rock-paper-scissors match.
“When you’re ready then, please start acting at your own pace.”
The festival committee member instructed as Ayase moved to the front of all her classmates.
All that was left was for her to begin her performance and then the audition would begin.
From the cronies of Ayase’s group — Takabashi and Suzuki shouted, “Good luck, Saki!” and “You can do it, Ayase!”
After that had all subsided, Ayase began to act.
“Ah, Romeo! Romeo! Where are you Romeo?”
The moment I heard her line, I was surprised.
I don’t know much about acting, so I can’t explain it specifically, but no matter how I thought about it, Ayase’s performance was not that of an amateur.
What the hell is going on?
Is Ayase an actor similar to Nanase?
“That’s quite something?”
“Ah, she’s quite good.”
The classmates beside me started whispering about it.
They seemed to be thinking the same thing as I was.
And after that, Ayase continued to perform in a way that you wouldn’t expect from an amateur.
“Then I’ll abandon the name Capulet for good!”
She said her lines to the end.
At that moment, Ayase was a little out of breath and sweat was glistening on her forehead.
“That was amazing, Saki-chan!
“I didn’t know Ayase could act!”
After the performance was over, her cronies were surprised but praised Ayase a lot.
In addition, her classmates also praised Ayase in the same way.
“Good job, Saki.”
“Atsushi, you’re being so loud.”
When Ayase returned to her seat, she and Akutsu exchanged a couple-like lines to one another.
Don’t flirt here please.
“You were good, Saki! I’ll have to try not to lose this one too!”
Nanase was all fired up, but she didn’t seem to be under pressure at all.
Maybe she isn’t that pressured.
It was true that Ayase’s acting was good, and she scared me quite a bit.
But compared to Nanase, I honestly thought she was not that good.
That wasn’t surprising.
Ayase may have learned how to act at some point, but Nanase is an active member of a theater company and is acting on a real stage.
There are not many people who can beat Nanase in acting… I’m wondering if it is really fine? You’re not actually missing the point of what I’ve been thinking, are you?
“Then next up is Nanase, please prepare.”
When instructed by the festival committee, Nanase moved in front of all her classmates, just like Ayase had done earlier.
“How can Nanase be acting?”
“How can the most troubled girl in school do that?”
Two of the cronies from Ayase’s group make fun of her without reservation.
They don’t know who Nanase really is, but they’re loud and boisterous.
It was then that my eyes suddenly met Nanase’s.
I raised my fist at her as a sign of “Nanase, hang in there.”
Then Nanase smiled back at me with a cute smile.
A moment later, my heart rate goes through the roof.
What the hell am I thinking at a time like this? Calm down, me.
“Now then, Nanase-san. Please start acting at your own pace.”
When the festival committee urged her, Nanase gave a small nod.
Then she took one deep breath, paused a bit, and then — she started.
“Aah, Romeo!! Romeo!! Where are you Romeo?”
As soon as Nanase uttered the line, the atmosphere in the classroom changed drastically.
I think the classmates were instantly drawn into her performance with just the first word.
That’s how attractive Nanase’s performance was.
“Tell your father that he is not your father and renounce your family name!! Or, if you don’t like that, at least swear that you love me!!”
Every word resonates in my heart.
I don’t know how to put it, but I felt like her performance was going directly to my heart.
“Then I will abandon the name of Capulet if I have to!”
Then Nanase spoke her last line.
The performance was over, but the classroom remained quiet.
No one was talking or moving.
It was as if Nanase’s performance had caused all of her classmates to freeze up under her spell.
“You’re doing it.”
Ayase was the first one to speak.
That was unexpected. I’m not sure if she thinks Nanase’s performance was better than hers.
“Well, I guess I’ll do better than Saki.”
“What is that way of talking? I’m really annoyed.”
Nanase said provocatively, and Ayase furrowed her brow a little angrily.
“I’m really impressed with her acting.”
“Seriously, I’m touched.”
The classmates leaked their impressions one after another.
Maybe this meant they all think Nanase’s acting was better than Ayase’s.
“You’re pretty good for a Nanase.”
“Yeah, she was pretty good.”
The Ayase group’s cronies and Nanase antagonists, Takabashi and Suzuki, also have a guilty look on their faces. The look on their faces was so funny that I almost laughed.
“So, Nanase san and Ayase san. We’ll have a majority vote to decide which of you is best suited to play Juliet.”
As Nanase returned to her seat, the festival committee member told all her classmates.
It was time to decide who would play Juliet.
“I’ll call out the names in order now, so everyone raise their hand when the name of the person you think is better is called.”
After the festival committee member explained, he broke off his speech there.
He then said the names of Ayase and Nanase in turn, and each of the classmates raised their hand when the name they thought was appropriate for the role of Juliet was called.
In my opinion, Nanase’s acting skills were far superior to Ayase’s.
…But to be honest, I had a vague idea that maybe it would end up like this.
And this time it came true.
—As a result of the majority vote, the role of Juliet was decided to be played by Ayase Saki.
“It’s been a while since I had lunch with Kakeru.”
Three days after the audition.
I was having lunch with Shuichi in the cafeteria.
“Usually I’m the one who turns you down when you invite me out.”
“I’m sure you’re being reserved for my girlfriend. It’s an unnecessary concern on my part.”
“What do you mean, “unnecessary”? I’m trying not to interfere with my friend’s love life in any way.”
“You don’t have to do that. I’m not going to break up with her. I’ve told you before. I’m the master of love.”
“Yeah, yeah. That’s great.”
“You don’t believe that at all, do you?”
While exchanging idle conversation, I proceeded to eat my lunch. By the way, today’s lunch was cheese curry. I only come here once in a while, but everything on the cafeteria menu is delicious.
“I heard that Nanase hasn’t been coming to school lately.”
Suddenly Shuichi spoke up.
“…Yeah, but you’re not even in the same class, so how do you know?”
“How could I not know? The most problematic girl in the school has suddenly been absent from school for several days.
As Shuichi said, Nanase has not come to school once since the day of the audition.
Her homeroom teacher said she was feeling sick, but I don’t know what the truth was.
Maybe she was so shocked that she failed the audition that she was absent.
By the way, the reason why Nanase failed the audition was, simply put, “conjecture”.
Nanase’s performance was better than Ayase’s, but Ayase had more power in the class and she was close to Akutsu, the leader of the boys.
In order to avoid being spotted by Ayase or Akutsu in the future, they chose Ayase.
In addition, the anti-Nanase students also tried to make Ayase play the role of Juliet.
Thanks to this, when it came to Nanase, only me and a few Nanase fans raised our hands.
…I wonder if Ayase has been running for the role of Juliet in anticipation of this happening.
“Kakeru, aren’t you worried about Nanase?”
“What’s wrong with you all of a sudden?”
“I mean Kakeru is close to Nanase, right?”
Shuichi asked me, and I was at a loss as to how to answer.
Am I close with Nanase? I feel like I’m just being pushed around by Nanase a lot.
“…It’s not like that.”
“I’m not going to lie to you. Sometimes when I go to Kakeru’s classroom, I see you two talking like you’re friends.”
“Why did you come to my classroom? Also why didn’t you speak up?”
“Are you stupid? I’m not insensitive enough to talk to my best friend when he’s chatting with a girl.”
“You’re talking crazy. Don’t be weird.”
What is this handsome guy trying to say?
“Kakeru, you’ve been coming to school a lot lately.”
“…Yeah, I guess so.”
“It’s because of Nanase, isn’t it?”
Shuichi asked with a serious expression.
“…Yes, I think so. I think it’s because of Nanase.”
“I knew it.”
Shuichi grinned, happy that he had won this conversation.
“How do you know all this? Are you an esper?”
“Of course not. I just thought that Nanase and I are the only ones in this school who could get Kakeru to come to school.”
“…Well, maybe you’re right.”
However, Nanase did not force me to come to school.
In fact, she told me that it was not a big problem.
That’s probably why I’ve been able to go to school of my own free will, regardless of my credits.
“So, I ask again, aren’t you worried about Nanase?”
I was at a loss for words as to how to answer.
I’m worried about Nanase.
I know it’s unlikely, but the thought of her not wanting to go to school like I did is running through my head.
“To be honest, I’m worried about Nanase, but what should I do?”
“It’s better to visit her or something.”
“Visit her huh…”
If I do that, I’ll have to go to Nanase’s house…
I mean, a guy who’s not her boyfriend visiting her at home alone, is that okay?
…Well, Nanase has pushed me around a lot, but she’s also helped me a lot.
I used to hate school, but after meeting Nanase, I don’t hate it as much anymore. As Shuichi said, I’m sure I was enjoying my time with Nanase, even though I thought it was a hassle.
So I’m very grateful to Nanase.
“I should at least go visit first.”
“Oh, you’re going now?”
“Yeah. I’ll try to get there after school today.”
“Oh, good luck…Oh, but don’t do anything weird if Nanase looks sick.”
“I’m not going to do that…”
When I replied in disgust, Shuichi smiled.
So after school today, I decided to go visit Nanase.
“I’ve really come here…”
I had finished my afternoon classes and finally arrived after school. I was standing in front of Nanase’s house.
The address was given to me by my homeroom teacher. I told my homeroom teacher that “I was worried about Nanase, who has been absent lately,” as if Nanase had done so when she asked for my address before.
I was actually thinking about what to do if Nanase’s family was rich or something, but her house was a normal size house, so that was not likely.
I swallowed my spit and pressed the intercom.
Immediately after the intercom rang, a person answered.
“Yes, who is this?”
Um, I’m Nanase-san…I’m Rena-san’s classmate, Kiritani. She’s been absent lately, so I wanted to pay her a visit.”
I was in the middle of talking when those words came back to me.
Hmm? When I listen carefully, this voice is quite familiar.
“Could it be Nanase?”
“Yes, but why are you…?”
“Well, it’s more like a… sympathy thing, isn’t it?”
I was told by my homeroom teacher that she was not feeling well, but I didn’t know if she actually was or not, so I answered vaguely.
I wondered if she would ask me to go home…
While I was having such anxiety.
“You’ve come to visit me! Please wait a minute.”
Nanase replied in a cheerful tone and once the intercom was turned off.
It seemed that I wouldn’t have to leave right after I arrived.
Soon after, the front door opened with a bang.
“Long time no see! Kiritani-kun!”
Nanase, who greeted me, was obviously wearing loungewear.
It had a cute design, and the fresh, different look made my heart race.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen you… but it’s only been about three days.”
“Thank you. You can come inside if you want.”
“Eh, y-yes… pardon my intrusion.”
Invited by Nanase, I entered her house with a sense of reserve.
This is the first time I’ve been in a girl’s house since I was in elementary school.
…I’m starting to get nervous again.
“Please, sit wherever you like.”
I walked into Nanase’s house and she led me straight upstairs to her room.
It seemed that Nanase was the only one in the house as her parents were away working.
“I was surprised. Though, it’s even more surprising that Kiritani-kun is visiting me.
“Using ‘surprising’ is rude. I would at least worry if one of my classmates was absent from school.”
“Maybe you worry now, but in the past, you wouldn’t have bothered to visit your classmate, would you?”
“Ugh… Well, I can’t deny it.”
In the past, I would have been in my room playing video games or reading manga.
“I heard from my homeroom teacher that Nanase was absent from school because she was really sick? Or was it the result of the audition that…”
“Well, I guess both.”
Nanase thought about it for a while and then continued.
“I actually got a little sick after the audition, so I took some time off just in case. I have another performance with the troupe on my next day off.”
“Eh, you’re okay?”
“Yeah. I’m feeling much better now, so I’ll be fine.”
Nanase smiled to reassure me.
As far as I could see, she really seemed to be fine. I’m glad.
“But when you said both of them earlier, you also meant the audition.”
Nanase shook her head in response to my words.
“I was confident, so I guess I was a little shocked when I failed.”
Nanase turned over with a slightly pained expression on her face.
I never thought Nanase would be depressed before, but she could be like this sometimes.
“But that’s not to say that Nanase’s acting was bad, it’s just that… everyone was so scared about Ayase…”
I try to tell her that she didn’t lose to Ayase because of her ability.
Because that might make Nanase feel a little better.
“Thank you. I knew what you were going to say, Kiritani-kun.”
When I heard Nanase’s words, I was momentarily at a loss for a response.
“And I half knew before I took the audition that I might fail like this.”
“Huh! Then why did you audition for it?”
If you knew you were going to fail for some unreasonable reason, you didn’t have to go through with it…
“Of course it’s because I really wanted to play Juliet.”
“But you knew you wouldn’t make it through the audition, didn’t you?”
“Yes. I thought if I was going to be a Hollywood actress in the future, I couldn’t afford to lose an audition for a school festival play! …Well, I failed in the end.”
Nanase gave a small, embarrassed chuckle.
But she went on to say.
“And I always want to be me. I always audition for the roles I want to play even if I know I won’t get them.”
Nanase seemed to be enjoying herself when she said that.
Be yourself, be you. That’s what she always says when she’s talking about something important.
I had a question for her.
“Why does Nanase try so hard to be herself?”
No matter what, Nanase always does what she wants to do and what she thinks is right.
For example, she wears a parka to school without worrying about breaking the school rules, and she says what she wants to say to Ayase and Akutsu without fear.
I envy her, and to be honest, I admire her.
…But I don’t know why Nanase is trying to be herself.
Nanase looked a little troubled and turned over.
“Ummm… if it’s something you don’t want to talk about that much, you don’t have to.”
“It’s not like that. I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this for a while.”
“Yeah. Well, it’s not easy to talk about.”
Nanase was smiling, but I wonder if she is really okay.
I was worried, but Nanase took a breath to calm herself down.
And then she started.
“I used to be just like Kiritani-kun.”
When I heard Nanase’s words, I didn’t know how to react for a moment.
“Uh… What do you mean?”
“In other words, in the past, I didn’t go to school as much as… or even less than you, Kiritani-kun.”
I was astonished by Nanase’s statement.
“Is that true…?”
“It’s true. And unlike Kiritani-kun, who came to school at least a little, I didn’t go to school at all. I was a complete truant.”
“Nanase not going to school…”
I couldn’t speak because of the unexpected revelation.
I couldn’t imagine that Nanase had ever been truant before. I couldn’t imagine it at all.
“Umm, why did Nanase stop going to school?”
When I asked in a reserved manner, Nanase paused for a moment before speaking.
“…You said before that it was hard for you to go to school in junior high because you had to adjust to the atmosphere around you. I felt the same way.”
Then Nanase talked about her past.
When Nanase was in junior high school, she was the complete opposite of what she was now.
What she wanted to do was secondary to what other people wanted to do, she always cared about the people around her, she gave priority to what her friends wanted to do, and if someone asked her to do something she didn’t like, she couldn’t say no…
Then, one day in the second year of junior high school, Nanase got fed up with herself and her relationships with others and stopped going to school completely.
After she stopped going to school, she stayed indoors like me, playing video games and watching TV all day long.
Nanase said that at the time, she thought she would never go to school again.
“…So that’s what happened to you.”
“Yes, that’s why I used to be just like you.”
Nanase was smiling, but her smile was somewhat sad.
Maybe she was remembering the old days as she talked.
‘But then, how did Nanase become the kind of person who… stands up for herself at all times?”
“It all started with a movie.”
Nanase answered my question immediately.
“Yes, that movie gave me a lot of courage.”
After that, Nanase told me about the movie that changed her.
Her father seemed to enjoy watching movies, and Nanase, who was not attending school at the time, decided to watch one from his movie collection to pass the time.
The main character of the movie was a woman who aspires to be a novelist and had a fiancé. The woman was poor and her fiancé was rich. Of course, her family and relatives insisted that she marry her fiancé.
But one day, when the fiancé proposed to the woman, she refused.
She turned him down, saying that she had no intention of getting married because she had her own dreams.
The people around her were vehemently opposed to the idea, but in the end, the woman didn’t marry her fiancé, but went on to become a novelist.
After a few years, she became a successful novelist, became wealthy, and was able to live with her poor family in her own house.
“I honestly thought it was cool to see her choose her own dream, even if it meant giving up the happiness that was promised to her. I adored her.””
Nanase looked very happy.
She must be remembering the first time she saw the movie.
“…So you wanted to be like the woman in that movie who wanted to be a novelist, and you started trying to be yourself all the time, like now?”
“Yes! That movie also made me want to be a Hollywood actress! It was a Western movie and many famous Hollywood actresses were in it!”
Nanase’s eyes were sparkling as she said this.
I’m sure she had this look in her eyes when she saw the movie she just told me about.
“I guess I’m a little tired of talking.”
After a break in the conversation, Nanase stretched her back.
At that moment, her clothes shifted a little, and her stomach almost showed.
“Kiritani-kun, if you look at my belly button, you will be fined.”
“Wait, wait. I didn’t look at Nanase’s belly button.”
“That’s a lie — I swear you were just looking at it. By the way, if you look at my belly button, you will be fined 10,000 yen.”
“It’s expensive, but it’s not so bad that you can’t afford it.”
When I replied, Nanase chuckled.
Stop poking fun at others in such a fun way.
When I was thinking about it, I suddenly remembered something.
“Is it possible that the reason Nanase was so eager to talk to me in the beginning was because you used to be just like me?”
“Yes, I was worried that you might become like the old me.”
Nanase answered my question clearly.
I was wondering at the time why the most problematic kid in the school would care about this half-truant like me, but now it finally makes sense.
“Thank you, Kiritani-kun. I feel much better now that you’ve come to visit me.”
“Um… Y-Yeah. I’m glad to hear that.”
Because of my surprise at Nanase’s sudden words, I had a hard time speaking.
Please don’t say thank you all of a sudden. I don’t know how to respond.
“I’ve been put in charge of props for the play, but I’m going to do my best! I’m going to make a lot of props with Kiritani-kun!”
“You don’t have to make a lot of props, but…yeah, let’s do our best.”
When I said that, Nanase raised her fist in the air, full of motivation.
I feel like she is planning to make a hundred props, but I wonder if I’ll be okay.
“But I envy Saki~, she can play Juliet.”
“Did you really want to play the leading role?”
“Of course. It’s the most prominent role and I have a lot of lines and can act a lot.
Nanase muttered, “How nice~ How nice~.”
She looked fine, but she was probably still reeling from the audition.
But why did Ayase run for the role of Juliet? It doesn’t seem like she genuinely wanted to play the lead role…”
Is it still to harass Nanase?
For that matter, her acting didn’t seem amateurish, and there were many things that stuck out.
“I think Saki simply wanted to win me over.”
“? What do you mean by that?”
“Well, she used to be a famous child actress.”
I had no idea that Ayase was a child actress…
But this made sense why she was able to act in the audition.
“She was popular when she first started out, but as she grew older, the other kids started to overtake her in terms of ability, and eventually she lost all her work.”
“…I see. It’s a tough world.”
But even so, Ayase didn’t give up on her dream of becoming an actor and went on to audition for a number of roles.
…But unfortunately, she didn’t get any auditions.
And then, in a last ditch effort, Saki auditioned for a role in Yunagi.
“…! The ‘Yunagi’ that Nanase is a part of now…?”
Nanase gave a small nod.
Yes. On the same day that Saki had her audition, I also had an audition with her. Saki didn’t pass, and I did.”
Since then, Ayase quit acting, Nanase said.
So, Ayase must have been so upset about that audition when she ran for the role of Juliet. And the reason why she was always poking at Nanase must have been because of the audition.
“I didn’t know we were going to the same high school at the time of the audition. I was surprised when I saw her for the first time in the school, and she was surprised too.”
“So Nanase started to be messed around with by Ayase?”
“The usual kind of teasing? I’m totally fine with that.”
Nanase puffed out her chest and bragged.
It was true that she always seems to be fine even when she gets into trouble with Ayase, and if anything, Nanase even turns the tables on Ayase.
But with things like this happening, will she really be okay?
“Why are you so worried? I’m not weak enough to be worried about by someone like Kiritani-kun.”
“You mean to say that I’m a weak person?”
At my words, Nanase smiled back at me.
What a cheeky girl…
But if she can do this, she must be okay.
I shouldn’t have worried about her.
“…Well, I guess I’ll be leaving soon. I shouldn’t want to stay here too long.”
“You don’t have to worry about it. You can stay here if you want, okay?”
“D-Don’t be stupid! I’m not staying here!
“Ahaha, your face is getting red~”
Nanase laughed teasingly.
I’m being made fun of completely….
“Anyway, I’m leaving now.”
“Yeah, thank you so much for today! Good luck with the Seiran Festival!”
“Yea yea I know.”
I stood up and headed straight for the door.
She would be back at school tomorrow or the day after at this rate.
As I put my hand on the doorknob, I heard what sounded like a small sigh from behind me.
When I turned around, Nanase was holding something in her hand and staring at it sadly.
It was a script for “Romeo and Juliet”.
This was the last year of the Seiran Festival for us third graders.
That’s why Nanase wanted to play the leading role even more than I thought she would.
“Huh? You’re not going home, Kiritani-kun?
Nanase wondered when she saw me not moving from near the door.
What should I do? I wondered if there was any way I could cheer her up.
It’s hard for me to come up with a way to cheer her up when I haven’t had much contact with the opposite sex since elementary school…!
“U-Um, Nanase, are you going to go around the Seiran Festival with anyone?”
“Uh, I go around by myself every year.”
“I’m free to go wherever I want. …But I don’t want Kiritani-kun to be shocked by me. I bet you’ve never been around the Seiran Festival properly anyway, have you?
“Ugh… well, it’s as you say.”
It was not just that I haven’t been around, it was that I’ve gone home on my own when class was over.
“U-Um… if you would like to…”
“? Kiritani-kun, you’re sweating like crazy.”
“You don’t need to worry about that right now.”
Right when we were talking rather seriously, this girl…
“Nanase, would you like to go…around the Seiran Festival with me?”
For the first time in my life, I asked someone of the opposite sex to go to a cultural festival, my heart pounding like never before.
Then Nanase’s eyes fluttered.
What’s with that reaction… I thought that, but then Nanase suddenly started laughing.
“Hey, hey! Why are you laughing?”
“Well, I never thought that Kiritani-kun would ask me out like that.”
“I don’t get it at all…”
I was nervous to ask her out, but she laughed at me… She’s too much, this girl.
“Sure! Let’s go around the Seiran Festival together!””
“What? Are you sure?”
“Of course! There’s no reason to refuse!”
I felt a little happy when Nanase told me that.
I’ll try to make the Seiran Festival so much fun that Nanase will forget that she can’t play Juliet anymore. I don’t know if I can do it or not, but I’m going to try…
“I think Kiritani-kun has made me look forward to the Seiran Festival even more.”
“I’m glad to hear that. I’m going home this time.”
“Yes, thank you. See you later.”
Nanase waved her hand adorably.
“See you later, Nanase.”
I waved back and walked out of her room.
At that moment, Nanase giggled and smiled happily.
After Kiritani-kun left the room.
I remembered that he had invited me to the Seiran Festival and I laughed again.
But it wasn’t like I was making fun of him or anything.
If it had been Kiritani-kun when we first got to know each other, I’m sure he would have been too bothered to ask me to go around the Seiran Festival with him.
But just now, I think he was worried about me, so he asked me to go around with him.
In short, Kiritani-kun is slowly and surely changing for the better.
I was very happy about that.
“I wonder if I’ll ever be like the old me again.”
When I first met him, Kiritani-kun was very similar to “her”, or rather, me when I was a truant in the past.
I’ve been worried about him, and I’ve been trying to keep him from somehow becoming like the past me, but I don’t think that’s necessary anymore. …I’m sure Kiritani-kun will be fine.
“I’m looking forward to the Seiran Festival!”
As I muttered this, I imagined the Seiran Festival that I would be going around with Kiritani-kun.
I want to see the other grades and students’ presentations, visit the food stalls, and other places I want to visit with Kiritani-kun.
I’m probably smiling right now.
Up until now I’ve been able to enjoy the Seiran Festival on my own, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it even more going around with Kiritani-kun!
Yeah, it’s definitely going to be fun!