I Want To Make Time Thief-chan’s Heart Pound, A Love Psychological Warfare with my Summer Vacation on the Line - Chapter 1
- I Want To Make Time Thief-chan’s Heart Pound, A Love Psychological Warfare with my Summer Vacation on the Line
- Chapter 1 - An Encounter with a Time Thief
An Encounter with a Time Thief
Phrases like, “I want a peaceful and uneventful life,” are only said by protagonists in works of fiction precisely because they are works of fiction. In my opinion, no one in real life would actually say something like that.
Humans are inherently creatures who always asked for what they didn’t have.
Characters in fictional worlds were always living extraordinary lives, which was why they wished for ordinary, unchanging lives. I, on the other hand, who lived a plain and monotonous life, was dying to live an extraordinary one. And so, just like any other day, I opened my light novel in the corner of my classroom and began reading it in the hope that these boring times would pass by quickly.
Opening my book allowed me to shut myself in my own world. Time quickly passed, leaving me behind as the voices of my teachers and fellow students turned into nothing but background noise. I looked up and realized that, before I knew it, class had ended and school was out. I bookmarked where I left off and closed my book as I headed home.
It was almost as if I fast-forwarded through the day.
Every single day in my life went by just like that, and today was no different. It was July 20th, the last day of the first semester in my first year of high school, and while the class was enveloped in a festive mood due to the upcoming summer vacation, I was quietly flipping through the pages of my paperback book all by myself.
I was what one would call a “loner.” However, I didn’t particularly have any problems with being friendless, especially since my school days felt like it went by in a flash. In fact, I believed that everyone was lonely, since no one was able to completely understand one another in the first place. I tried explaining this to Makoto once, but he scolded me and replied, “That’s just escapism! Hayate, you’re just trying to get others to accept you being a loner by weaving together a far-fetched argument!”
Makoto is a long-time friend of mine. We live right next to each other, so our families get along really well. We went to the same school from kindergarten all the way up until high school, and even now he was in the neighboring class. He is the only close friend I have. But since Makoto is on the soccer team, he has friends as plentiful as there are stars in the universe. So, sometimes I feel like I’m just another one of his many friends; another face in the crowd.
“Hayate, I’m sure you actually want to experience youth, don’t you? Since we’re high schoolers and all. Come on, just join the soccer club, man.”
“But what constitutes ‘youth’ in the first place? That’s my question. Is it youth when you join a club? Or is it youth when you have a hundred friends?”
“Having a hundred friends sounds like something from grade school! …Well, doesn’t youth typically refer to having a girlfriend or something?”
“Hah~ I hope a cute high school girl confesses to me~.”
“Why so passive? You have to make more friends before you even think of getting a girlfriend. Come on, join the soccer club.”
“Hah~ Human relationships are such a pain~.”
“I’m telling you, you’ve been a loner for your entire life: kindergarten, grade school, and middle school! Geez, you can’t even imagine how I feel every time you get left out of group divisions, and I have to be the one to pick you.”
“I’m not a loner, ‘cause I have you, don’t I?”
Yep, a perfect rebuttal.
That conversation happened just before our entrance ceremony in April. Having been silenced, Makoto never tried to invite me to the soccer club ever since.
I received my report card, filled with scores of 3’s, and even after the dismissal bell rang, I didn’t move from my seat. I had nothing to do if I just went home, and the AC in the classroom was still running, so I decided to kill some time here.
(TLN: The Japanese use a scoring system of 1-5, comparable to grading systems using letters like A-E. 1 is the lowest score possible, and 5 is the highest score possible.)
Not bothering with the students leaving the classroom, I continued flipping through the pages of my book─
Suddenly, I felt a poke on my cheek.
I wondered who on earth would bother with an isolated loner like myself. Having been dragged out of my own world, I looked up. There, I saw a pair of large, almond-shaped eyes staring back at me. We were so close to each other that I felt like I was practically breathing on her. A girl with a very well-defined face was looking straight at me. She poked my cheek with her fingertips again and softly giggled.
“You’re finally looking my way, Kashima-kun.”
Embarrassed, I let out a shameful shriek as I hurriedly stood up. With that, my chair fell over with a loud bang. Somehow, I ended up in a situation where we were the only two people in the classroom. Just me and her.
The girl also seemed to be surprised by my overreaction as she covered her mouth with both of her hands.
“Wawawa, did I surprise you? Sorry about that. You didn’t respond to me even after I’d called out to you a ton of times, so I got the urge to tease you…”
“I’m the one who should apologize. I always lose track of my surroundings when I’m in the middle of reading.”
My heart was beating furiously. Flustered, I hid my light novel behind my back.
The girl who spoke to me was the most beautiful girl in my class, Fujinomiya. She has already been scouted by countless major entertainment agencies, and she was so stylish to the point where one’s eyes would unconsciously follow her around. She had the highest grades in the entire school, and she was selected as a regular in the basketball club despite being a first year.
She had shiny and lustrous black hair like those one would see in shampoo commercials. Her almond-shaped eyes were decorated with long eyelashes, and everything about her, including even the bridge of her nose, was like a work of art. A segment of her hair was tied together with a fluffy ribbon, which was seemingly one of her trademarks.
She was the flawless, impeccable idol of the class. The embodiment of a cheery and extroverted person. Despite being in the same class as her, this was the first time I’d ever spoken to her, which put me at my wits’ end.
“Umm, so what do you need, Fujinomiya-san?”
Immediately, she puffed her cheeks out slightly and pouted. I got scared, wondering if I had said something strange or out of place.
“Don’t say that, geez~! We’re classmates, aren’t we? Just call me ‘Yuki’ like everyone else!”
“Okay?” Fujinomiya egged me on with a perfect smile on her face. Her full name was Fujinomiya Shirayuki, so that must be where ‘Yuki’ came from. Her friendly and lighthearted tone made me laugh lightly.
She’s a good girl, huh, I thought. Although she was at the top of the class caste, she made no distinction and treated me, who was at the bottom of that caste, as an equal. She was definitely a good girl.
Shinomiya’s eyes turned somewhat serious. She tilted her head to the side slightly and said.
“Could you please come with me for a bit~?”
Her hair fluttered in the wind, and I could smell an incredibly sweet fragrance from it.
I followed Fujinomiya and left the classroom. For the record, I didn’t have any particular expectations, since my looks were average, my grades were mediocre, my ability at sports was trash, and my social disposition was that of a loner due to my ineptitude at socializing. On the other hand, she ticked every single one of those boxes. They say that God does not give two gifts, but that’s a downright lie. I’m sure that the person that she dates must have similar specs as hers. At the very least, I don’t fit that bill.
Taking into consideration my social standing, I wonder if I’ll be made to be some sort of baggage carrier or laborer. The reason why I didn’t decline her invitation despite the possibility of it being an errand was because the one who asked me was the most beautiful girl in my class. I’m sure that anyone would’ve been inclined to listen to the request of a cute girl, wouldn’t he or she?
Perhaps everyone wanted to start their summer vacation as soon as possible, since there wasn’t anyone else in the school building.
“Everyone’s already gone home, huh,” Fujinomiya softly smiled at me. “Uh-huh,” I couldn’t muster anything other than a vague, off-handed reply. I’m pretty nervous here, so please cut me some slack. It was just the two of us; me and the class idol, walking down a deserted hallway after school. That was enough for me to consider it a special moment.
“Thank god; it looks like the cafeteria is empty too.”
We had walked all the way to the end of the first floor. Right now, the time was close to noon, but since today was only a half-day, the cafeteria was deserted. There was a glass door on one side of the cafeteria, allowing sunlight to flow inside. Fujinomiya opened this door, and as soon as she did, the sound of crickets came blaring through the doorway, along with a surge of sweltering hot, humid air. “So hot,” I accidentally blurted my thoughts.
Located on the other side of the glass door was a backyard with a large lawn. Our high school’s plot of land was semicircular, and since the school itself was built in the shape of a rectangle, there was this extra space leftover. It was a bit of a secret place, popular with the students. The July sun was glistening outside asFujinomiya walked out onto the lawn. The black hair flowing down her back shone radiantly, which caused me to squint my eyes. Then, she suddenly turned around.
“Over here, Kashima-kun.”
“It may be a bit too late to ask, but what are we here for…?”
Fujinomiya beckoned me over, and I reluctantly stepped out into the sun; its scorching rays keenly felt on my skin.
“‘What,’ you ask? Maybe you haven’t heard of the legends about this place?”
Fujinomiya, basked in the sunlight, had a wholesome smile on her face.
“Couples who confess their love to each other under the large sakura tree in the garden will be together forever… Even though our high school is known as serious and prestigious, we still have romantic legends like this one.”
Huh, I thought. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of this. Perhaps Makoto has talked about it before, but it probably just went in my left ear and out the right. But…, I looked around the lawn.
“I don’t see any ‘large sakura tree’ though.”
The only thing I saw was next to Fujinomiya: a sakura tree sapling, which was even shorter than her. Its trunk was weak and frail, and a sign was planted on the grass that read, “Yoshino Cherry.”
“The large sakura tree from the legend was cut down last year because it was too old. So, they planted a new sakura tree in the same place. But even so, this place is still our high school’s number one confession spot.”
“Confession… spot, you say?”
“Yeah…” Fujinomiya nodded her head as she falteringly lowered her gaze. She was fidgeting around bashfully, making me extremely nervous. Wait a second. Obviously even someone like me would start to have some kind of hope if I were asked to come to a confession spot. My mind was spinning in circles where, on one hand, I had hopes along the lines of, “Could it be…?” On the other hand, reality told me, “There’s no way that’s possible.”
Fujinomiya fiddled with her trademark ribbon. Her fluffy and adorable ribbon fluttered in the summer draft.
“Kashima-kun, do you believe in legends and the like?”
“Err, I don’t really…”
“I see. You know, I myself like to believe in them. Because, wouldn’t it be wonderful if the legends were true?”
She gave me a divine smile, and I couldn’t help but gasp in awe.
The chirps of the cicadas grew distant. I saw Fujinomiya clenching her hands around her ample chest.
A gust of wind blew as her cheeks turned red─
Which brings us back to where we began.
“I like you. Please go out with me.”
It was the first time anyone had ever confessed to me in my entire life, and I was so baffled that I couldn’t offer any sort of response. I mean, sure, I’d told Makoto that I was hoping for some cute girl to confess to me, but I never thought that it’d actually happen, you know? What’s more, she’s the class idol!
I stood stock still as if my soul had been sucked out of me, and Fujimoniya blinked her eyes in confusion.
“Eh…? Did the suddenness of my confession surprise you or something…?”
“I see… I guess it would, huh. We’ve never spoken to each other until today, after all.”
She then slumped her shoulders heavily. Seeing her troubled look made me panic, and I knew I had to say something.
“Umm, why me?”
“…Do I really have to say…?”
“Well, I do want to know, so…”
There was a moment of silence. Eventually, I heard an extremely quiet voice.
“I think you’re really cool and mature in your mannerisms, like how you always read books in the classroom, or how you always look out into the distance all by yourself…”
“O-Okay, thank you! That’s enough!”
My body grew hot to the core as I hurriedly stopped her. I could also see steam rising from Fujinomiya and it seemed as if she would produce some sort of fwoosh sound effect at any moment.
But damn. Fujinomiya likes me? So these kinds of miracles do exist?
“The truth is, I’ve always wanted to talk to you, you know…? But you were always busy reading, so I thought it’d be rude of me to interrupt you, which is why I refrained from doing so…”
With her eyes downcast, Fujinomiya tried her best to weave her words together. Her eyes had teared up a bit, and I felt a twinge of guilt. Who on earth caused her to look like this? It was me.
Fujinomiya sweetly twiddled her fingers together and said.
“Am I not allowed to become your girlfriend just because it was too sudden…?”
She glanced at me with upturned eyes.
I began to imagine. Me, going out with Fujinomiya. That means we’d go to movie theaters, look at clothes and other goods at shopping malls, sing at karaoke, and eat at family restaurants together, right? And on top of all that, don’t we have summer vacation coming up? We could watch fireworks together or head to the sea as we chatted and laughed together… Damn. That’s the definition of youth, ain’t it!
Fujinomiya going out with me was rapidly turning into reality. Thump, thump, my heart was beating painfully fast. Fujinomiya looked completely dejected as she continued fiddling with her ribbon.
“I see… I was hoping I’d be able to spend my summer vacation together with you, Kashima-kun… We would’ve done lots of fun things like going to festivals or the pool… I see, so I guess it’s a no, huh. It’s such a shame─”
“I’m not turning you down! Let’s go out!”
I declared so with as much vigor as I could muster. This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. If I let her go here, I’d surely regret this for the rest of my life. Surprised, Fujinomiya looked up at me. I tried my best to carefully select my words so as not to sound insincere.
“I-I was just surprised by the suddenness of it all. I don’t know anything about you, Fujinomiya, but I’m sure I’ll come to know you better as we go along, so…”
Her expression instantly lit up. It was like watching a wilted flower blooming in spring. I want to protect this smile. That was my heartfelt wish.
“Really?! Are you okay with me being your girlfriend?!”
“Yeah, if you’re okay with me─”
“Yay! I’m so glad…!”
Fujinomiya suddenly hugged me, and I felt as if I was going to get a heart attack. I felt something soft touching me! There was also this really nice smell, and looking at her up close reminded me once again that she was truly beautiful. Is this girl really my first girlfriend?! I’m so glad to be alive!
As my mind was soaring through the clouds, I saw something appear from my chest.
A bright red apple.
—An apple was floating in the air. I blinked for a moment, but it didn’t disappear. I reached out to touch it, but my hand cut through it like the apple was just air.
Was I hallucinating? Had I lost my mind in the excitement?
The red apple slowly rotated and automatically split vertically. It was divided into eight, no, sixteen equal parts. The flesh was a dazzling gold color, like that of a flower of some kind. Shimmering rainbow-colored particles flew from the combed open apple like pollen, causing me to stare at them in amazement.
A breath of air brushed against my ear.
“Thank you, Kashima-kun. Please take care of me.”
I wondered if it was the breath on my ear or the cold voice that sent the shivers down my spine.
Eh? When I looked down at Fujinomiya, I saw that my body had begun to fade.
No, seriously, it’s not a joke or a metaphor. I’m completely invisible from the waist down. What? What’s going on? I can feel my body, but I can’t see it. While I was thinking that, my body kept fading into nothingness.
When I raised my voice in a sense of danger and fear, my vision was painted white.
I’m glad the last thing I saw was Fujinomiya’s smile… No good. No good at all! Just when I thought my youth was about to begin, this happened! The moment I got a girlfriend, I died. What kind of absurd flag is that! Internally screaming, I opened my eyes.
Aeh? Am I alive?
The place was the same backyard as before.
Fujinomiya was gone, but the position I was standing in hadn’t changed. This is proven by the young sakura tree sapling right there.
But I had a strange feeling. It was the same scenery, but different from before. If you ask me what was different, I can’t answer, but what was different was different.
My phone vibrated in my pocket, startling me.
The moment I looked at my phone, I immediately knew what was wrong. What? I thought to myself. .
The current date read September 1st, and the time was 8 A.M. .
I’ll just tell you what happened!
On July 20th, at noon, in the backyard of my high school, my class idol Fujinomiya confessed her love to me, and when I said yes, I had a hallucination of a floating apple, and shortly after, my eyes went blank. The next thing I knew, I was alone in the backyard at 8 A.M. on September 1st, forty-two days and twenty hours after the confession.!
I know that what I’m talking about doesn’t make sense, but I didn’t know what happened to me either. That’s why I’m sorry. I couldn’t get to the phone during the summer break…
“Oh, no. This is awful. If I’m going to lie, I have to lie better than that! And he is going to get mad at me not just for that.”
I scratched my head and deleted the line I had started to type to Makoto, but I quickly deleted the entire message. Aaaaah, how did I get into this mess?
In the backyard of my high school, I was confused.
On my phone, there were incoming calls and unread lines for the space of forty-two days and twenty hours. Most of them were from Makoto. I could easily imagine his lightly bleached hair standing on end. I’m sure he’s very angry about being ignored for so long…
After looking through Makoto’s LINE, I googled the current date and time.
Wednesday, September 1, 2009…It’s the same as the date on my phone. It doesn’t seem that my phone is broken.
I looked at a news site and saw the reports of a fire that occurred on August 31 and a traffic accident that occurred during Obon. What the hell? Am I the only one who warped from July 20th to September 1st?
[TLN: Bon Festival = Obon.]
“If this is a dream, please wake up!”
Taking advantage of the fact that no one was looking, I tried to head-butt the glass door of the cafeteria. There was no way that such an incomprehensible phenomenon could have happened, but there was also the possibility that I was dreaming.
As a result, I just hit my forehead with a thud. The scene did not change at all. It wasn’t a dream, was it?
“I don’t understand…”
The bell rang as I blurted out. It was the school bell.
That’s right! September 1st is the day of the opening ceremony, isn’t it?
I hurried to my classroom before the whole school went to the gym. In the classroom, my tanned classmates were gathering in their usual friend groups and talking about their summer vacation.
I found my bag on my seat as usual. It had probably been there since July 20th. My report card and library books were still in it.
I looked for Fujinomiya, and there she was. She was part of a flashy group of girls.
Although Fujinomiya is neat and tidy in appearance, she has a gorgeous aura that makes her stand out even when she is in a flashy group. Rather, the natural beauty of Fujinomiya stands out because her surroundings are so gorgeously decorated…but this is not the time to be observing. I really need to check something with Fujinomiya right now.
I’m really scared of extroverted girls, but I mustered up the courage to approach the group of girls.
“Hey hey, I just said hi to Saotome-senpai! He was so cool!” “Oh, um…”
“If you like him so much, why don’t you ask him out?” “Ah, I’m sorry.”
“No way! Because Saotome-senpai has never given an OK before!” “Um, I’m…!”
“He’s good looking, no doubt about it. He is tall, and he is a good basketball player.” “Can you guys listen…”
“In addition to that, he has a very good personality, so it is no wonder that he is popular.” “Dang it, why can’t you guys hear me…!”
“So, Yuki, you go to the same prep school as Saotome-senpai, right? I’ve seen him at the prep school before.” “Oh my god, why am I in this mess…”
“Actually, I bumped into him at a summer course and he bought me lunch.”
I shouted. The girls finally noticed me.
“I need to talk to you.”
The glares of the girls around her pierced me.
A cold sweat ran down my back. The girls stared at me with a “Who is this guy?” kind of look while Fujinomiya looked at me.
Eventually she smiles gently and says, “Okay,” though I knew the idol would smile like that at anyone. She was exactly like that.
I took Fujinomiya out onto the rooftop. I chose the rooftop because I thought no one would eavesdrop on us.
The cast-iron concrete reflected the morning sunlight. The sky, now in September, seemed somewhat distant, unlike when it was at the height of summer.
“So, what is it?”
Fujinomiya said with a good-natured smile on her face. The sound of her voice and her expression made me think, “Huh?” Doesn’t she have a slightly different demeanor than when she confessed her feelings to me…?
Fujinomiya fiddled with her ribbon absentmindedly.
“If you don’t go back for a while after calling me out, everyone in the class will start talking about you. I’d be happy if you could tell me what you need as soon as possible.”
That’s right, I thought. Fujinomiya is the class idol. She probably doesn’t want people around her to know that she’s having a relationship with me, the bottom of the class caste.
“Hey, I just want to make sure of one thing…we’re dating, right?”
Even though I was puzzled by Fujinomiya’s change, I made my main point straightforwardly.
Hallucinations, time travel, and other crazy stuff would have to wait. It was more important to know if she still was my girlfriend or not. It was right after she confessed to me that I had hallucinations. I wanted to believe that it was real that she confessed.
But as soon as I said “we’re dating, right,” Fujinomiya’s face stiffened.
“…Kashima-kun, do you still think of yourself as my boyfriend? We broke up, didn’t we?”
“W-we broke up…?”
“We talked about it yesterday, didn’t we? I thought Kashima-kun agreed to break up with me.”
“Eh, wait a minute. What was yesterday’s date?”
“Are you out of your mind? It’s the 31st of August, isn’t it?”
I was shocked when she said it as a matter of course. Was I spending August 31st with her? If so, did I just lose my memory…?
The air was awkward and I nodded off.
“…I’m sorry, I have no memory. I can’t remember anything after Fujinomiya confessed her love to me yesterday.”
“Hm, I see. That’s probably just psychogenic amnesia.”
Fujinomiya looked at me with pitiful eyes.
“You must have been really shocked when you broke up with me. They say that when you’re under a lot of stress, your brain erases the memory of the cause. Sorry, take care.”
“W-wait a second! There’s still something I need you to tell me!”
Fujinomiya shakes her ribbon and tries to leave the rooftop.
Before that, I hurriedly stopped her.
“I really don’t remember anything from when I was dating you, Fujinomiya! I want you to tell me what happened when we were together. We went on dates right…? We went out on a date, didn’t we? I mean, well, to what extent did Fujinomiya and I…”
I was asking a lot of questions out of a sense of idle anticipation, when Fujinomiya took one look at me. Her long, slit eyes narrowed quickly.
“—You shallow piece of trash.”
My brain ran into an error.
What, what did she just say…? I thought I saw a cold stare and heard an insult that was unfitting of a class idol…?
I blinked for a moment, and Fujinomiya returned to her usual soft expression on her face.
“We’ve only been dating for a little over a month, so I’m not sure what you’re expecting… We only held hands.”
I rubbed my eyes as she cutely blushed. Was that a hallucination or an auditory one? I’m not sure what’s reality anymore.
“S-So we went on dates all summer, right?”
“Only three times.”
I looked down at my arms, which were almost completely untanned.
The alarm bells are ringing.
“By the way, what happened on each of those three dates…?”
“The first one was a date in the city. We went to a movie theater, then went to a shopping mall to look at groceries and clothes, took a break at karaoke, had dinner at a family restaurant, and left.”
Wow, I wanted to do that. I mean, that’s exactly how I imagined our first date to be.
“The second time was the fireworks display. We laid out leisure chairs on the riverbank and watched them together. Kashima kept glancing at me in my yukata, instead of the fireworks.”
That’s right. It’s only natural that I would be more interested in Fujinomiya in her yukata than the fireworks, right?
“The third time was at the municipal pool. It was a hot day, so we decided to go to the pool.”
I furrowed my brow. Not noticing my expression, Fujinomiya continued.
“I was embarrassed to wear a swimsuit, but Kashima-kun was very happy to see me, you know? The two of us in the pool…”
I stuck my palm out.
Fujinomiya was puzzled. But I was no longer confused.
“Doubtful, Fujinomiya. I don’t go to pools.”
Her expression wavered as I spoke in a low voice.
“…What does that mean?”
“I’ll say this with shame. Due to the trauma of almost drowning in my childhood, I panic when I get into pools. I have always been absent from the school’s swimming unit because of this. Let me assure you. I don’t care if it’s the beach where you can enjoy playing with the sand without swimming, but there’s no way I’m going to the pool on a date!”
“…Oops, it seems that I made a mistake. It’s not the pool that I went to with Kashima-kun, it was the beach.”
My face contorted as I looked at Fujinomiya, who said it so matter-of-factly.
“Hey, Fujinomiya. I’ve already been deceived . Stop lying about having a date with me. It’s also a lie that you said goodbye to me on August 31st. For all I know, I didn’t spend August 31st with you!”
The un-tanned arms, the pile of incoming calls on the phone, and the obvious deception from Fujinomiya. There is enough evidence!
Fujinomiya put her hand on her cheek and tilted her head. Don’t think you can deceive me by acting all cute and innocent.
“I don’t understand what you mean. I think Kashima-kun probably got a shock from me yesterday, causing him to lose all of his summer memories. That’s probably what happened.”
“No, that’s not what happened. I don’t have amnesia. I just jumped from July 20th to September 1st. That’s right, a time-leap! A time-leap! I’m not going to be fooled by anything you say!”
“You read too much fiction. I don’t think you should tell anyone else about your ‘time-leap’. Everyone in class will look at you as if you’re crazy.”
“That’s none of your business! As a matter of fact, why are you assuming that? Why are you so insistent that I have amnesia? It’s like you stole away my time or something.”
“The one who would get in trouble for saying unrealistic things would be Kashima-kun, right? If you just say you had amnesia, everyone would be convinced and sympathize with you. So why don’t we just pretend that’s the case?”
Fujinomiya tried to avoid the topic.
“Wait a minute. Don’t settle this on your own. I’m not done talking to you!”
I stretched out my arms, determined not to let her escape. The palm of my hand struck the wall with a bang, making it an unintentional kabedon.
[TLN: Kabedon is the action of slamming against a wall like what happens in anime, google it.]
Fujinomiya, who was blocked by me, looked up.
A man and a woman are alone together on a rooftop in a kabedon. It’s the kind of situation where a budding romance begins to bloom.
Trapped in my thoughts, I noticed that Fujinomiya had an evil yet mischievous smile.
“So, Kashima-kun, why don’t you give it a try?”
“Give it a try…?”
“I told you; when people are shocked, they easily lose their memories.”
Fujinomiya puts her arms around my neck. Wait a minute. This position isn’t good for me! Fujinomiya’s face is too close to mine. Am I allowed to hug her back?
I could see my reflection in her big eyes.
Fujinomiya whispered sweetly.
“This is special and will only happen once.”
“Yes, I’m embarrassed. Close your eyes.”
I closed my eyes obediently, My hands were already on her waist.
I could hear students making noise in the hallway in the distance. The nice smell of her shampoo was faintly in the air. I feel her breath on my lips.
Is this reality? I’m going to be kissing Fujinomiya on the rooftop? Is this really happening?
I felt like my mind was about to explode with all the impossible things happening. The thoughts relating to the time-leap and amnesia completely left my mind as I waited for the moment to come.
No matter how long it took, the time never came. Eventually, Fujinomiya’s touch disappeared from my hands.
When I opened my eyes, I saw a crimson apple.
Again! The apple from my hallucinations was crackling, releasing sparkling particles. On the other side, Fujinomiya was chuckling as my body slowly disappeared.
“So long, Kashima-kun. Forget about me.”
Fujinomiya said happily, and put her hand on the door of the rooftop. There was nothing I could do to stop her.
I couldn’t withstand the pressure and was swallowed by the blinding white light.
I opened my eyelids and immediately checked the date and time on my phone.
It read September 2nd, 8 A.M..
* * *
I see, I see. I was so shocked about the fact that she was about to kiss me that I lost my memory for another day. …I’M NOT STUPID!
On the morning of September 2nd, I left the rooftop and ran through the school building, which was on a normal schedule.
I already know the answer. I had already finished the calculations in my head when I was swallowed by the light. All I have to do now is confirm with Fujinomiya.
I opened the classroom door with a slam. A few of my classmates looked towards the door to see what’s going on, but as soon as they saw that it was me, they lost interest and returned back to what they were doing.
I approached Fujinomiya without any delay. As usual, she looks like a flashy girl, but I didn’t hesitate.
“Yesterday I saw Saotome-senpai getting hit on by another third year senpai in the backyard.” “Hey, Fujinomiya.”
“Seriously? And what happened to her!?” “I know you can hear me!”
“The usual pattern. He ran off crying.” “’If you’re going to be like that, I have my own methods.”
“Wow, I can’t believe the first casualty of the second semester is already here…”
“Fujinomiya, you’re ignoring your ex-boyfriend.”
I heard the sound of a desk toppling over. It was Fujinomiya who had knocked it over.
She picked up the textbooks scattered on the floor. The girls around her were helping her stand up, helping her get her books, and worriedly saying, “Yuki, are you okay?”
My shout was completely overshadowed by Fujinomiya knocking over the desk.
After fixing her desk and organizing her textbooks, Fujinomiya said, “I’m going to the bathroom,” and left the classroom. As she did so, she threw me a meaningful glance.
It seems that she doesn’t want our classmates to know about her relationship with me.
I thought about that as I chased after her fluffy ribbon.
I followed Fujinomiya to the rooftop, looking to confront her again.
I’ve been talking a whole lot with Fujinomiya this one day. The date on the calendar has flown by, from July 20th, to September 1st, and now September 2nd. However, to me, it still feels like it’s July 20th, the beginning of summer vacation.
However, there was cloudy weather today, on September 2nd, and the heat and humidity in the air was mild, leaving no traces left of summer.
Fujinomiya sighed faintly.
“I told you to forget about me yesterday. Is it possible that Kashima-kun is the type of guy who won’t let someone leave him once she’s gone out with him?”
“Don’t be silly. You confessed to me and I gave the OK, but I’m not going out with you. It’s like I got scammed.”
“That’s terrible. It’s true that we didn’t last long, but I think a scam is a bit of an exaggeration.”
Which is worse. I’m not saying it’s a scam because of the short time we’ve been together. Don’t change the subject. That’s what you’re just trying to do, aren’t you? Anyway, let me tell you what I want in a nutshell.”
I brushed off my long bangs and looked at Fujinomiya.
She is the class idol and a perfect, beautiful girl. However, I pressured her to reveal her true nature and identity. .
“Give me back my summer vacation, Fujinomiya.”
The bell rang, signaling the start of morning homeroom. The chime echoed through the school, carried by the early autumn breeze, and heard on the rooftop.
But neither Fujinomiya nor I moved.
As our gazes intertwined, we both searched the other.
“At first, I simply assumed that only my time had jumped from July 20th to September 1st. That’s the only possibility I could think of. You insisted on the theory of amnesia, which isn’t provable. If I had amnesia, it would neither explain why I ignored all of my best friend Makoto’s calls during summer vacation, nor would it explain why I haven’t gotten a tan.”
What is it about shock that makes one lose his or her memory? How can I lose my memory just because I was about to kiss her?
“However, there’s something else that’s strange about your theory. Both times, these phenomena only happened when I was with Fujinomiya. Since you were persistent that I got amnesia, it made me conclude you were involved with my time-leap. But even if you intentionally caused the phenomena, what benefit could you get from it?”
Immediately after she confessed, we jumped in time And, when we met again, she just pretended you’ve broken up. I couldn’t understand her intention at all.
I tapped my temple.
“It could be that you’re actually a seer, and you saw me, the guy you love, dying during summer vacation, so you jumped back in time to save me. But, there’s neither a reason for me to jump back in time with you nor a reason for us to break up.”
“You say interesting things, Kashima-kun. It’s almost as if you’ve been reading novels in the classroom all day.”
“Yeah, I’m aware of that, even if you don’t explicitly say so. I’m not the protagonist of a romance novel that’s popular with girls anyway. Therefore, the reason you made me do a time-leap is because it was beneficial to you in some way, not because you cared about me. I have a reason in mind already.”
“Fu…I want to hear this ‘reason’ you came up with, Kashima-kun.”
Fujinomiya looked at me with a soft, but impeccable smile on his face. Nothing in her expression suggested that she thought she was getting cornered.
“I time-leapt through my summer vacation; it’s almost as if that time was just lost. What do you get out of me losing time? When I thought about it logically, I could only think of one thing.”
The rooftop fell silent.
I took a deep breath and gave the answer I came up with.
“My time was stolen. My time was stolen by you. You wanted me to think I had amnesia to hide what you did, didn’t you? Forty-two days and 20 hours. No, make that forty three days and twenty hours, including the one you just stole. I was just an easy target for you, huh?”
A gust of wind blew past us. Fujinomiya’s long hair danced in the sky. I shut my eyes at the cloud of dust the wind blew at me.
The wind ruffled her black hair and untied her lovely ribbon, which was tied to a tuft of her hair.
I heard a sly chuckle.
It took me a moment to realize it was Fujinomiya’s voice. The way she had just chuckled was much too different from her normal voice.
When she opened my eyelids, I was stunned.
With her trademark ribbon gone and her long, straight hair blowing in the wind, Fujinomiya had a dark aura surrounding her. Too evil. Too irreverent. The fierce smile on her face could overwhelm all who saw it.
Clap, clap. Empty applause echoed across the rooftop. Fujinomiya was clapping her hands.
“Good guess, Kashima-kun. I didn’t expect you to expose me as a thief.”
A glossy, mature voice called out to me.
This person, she was a wolf in sheep’s clothing…!
Her facial expressions, her gestures, even her voice. Everything was completely different from what she had been. There was no trace left of the friendly, charming idol .
Fujinomiya let her hand drop to her side and gave me a look like a snake that has found its prey.
“I guess I underestimated you a little too much due to the fact that you had all 3s on your report card. I wonder, what I should do with you now?”
I gulped and swallowed my saliva. My knees were shaking, but I was still trying hard not to let her get to me.
“How do you even know about my report card…”
“Obviously, I saw it in your bag.”
“You thief. After I disappeared on July 20th, what else did you steal from me?”
“Don’t get me wrong. I am a time thief. All I steal is time.”
After revealing her true identity, Fujinomiya flutters her jet-black hair and closes the distance between us.
“I can’t take it anymore! I can’t let you steal any more of my time!”
I jumped back in a panic.
I don’t know how she stole my time, but it seems that the two times I was victimized was when I was in close proximity with Fujinomiya. It’s not safe to be so close to her.
Fujinomiya stopped when she saw my alarmed look. She placed her index finger to her red lips.
“So, Kashima-kun, what are you going to do now since you found out who I am?”
What am I going to do? I twisted my head, not knowing what to think.
“Are you going to make some kind of deal with me on the condition that I don’t tell people who you are? That sounds like the kind of thing a vile piece of trash would think of.”
The curse on September 1st neither was a hallucination nor was it an auditory hallucination.
“What is it? Are you trying to tell me you’re not? Are you not a piece of trash who tried to go out with me for ulterior motives yourself?”
I clenched my fists at Fujinomiya’s retort and her sly smile. I’m not kidding. If I’m going to make a deal, I’m going to have to be more selective with my conditions.
“I just want you to give me back what you stole without ever stealing time from me again, that’s all.”
“That’s a very one-sided and trashy deal. I decline.”
“Hah?!” I stared at Fujinomiya.
“Did you just refuse my deal of returning my summer vacation?!”
“Yes, I did. Did you really think I would accept the deal just because you found out about my true identity?”
I was taken aback by her brazen reply. It was as if she was a thief and a brute.
“And I was wondering, did you even need your summer vacation anyways?”
She’s starting to sprout some crazy shit, this prick.
“Of course I need it. Where did you get the idea that I’m the only one who doesn’t need a summer vacation?”
“Well, you’re claiming that your summer vacation was necessary. Then what did you have planned for it?”
I raised a brow.
“Forty-two days and twenty hours. What were you going to do with that time? Tell me about your summer vacation plans.”
I faltered at the taunting look in her eyes.
I didn’t have any plans.
Maybe it’s normal. If one is a member of a club, he or she may have summer activities and training camps; if one is a student at a cram school, her or she may have summer classes. Some may go to the countryside with their parents for Obon. It’s a long summer vacation. Aren’t high school students supposed to have one or two plans to go out with their friends?
[TLN: Obon is a festival to honor the spirits of the ancestors.]
However, it was difficult to answer her.
I had no plans with anyone. No club activities, no prep school, no nothing. I couldn’t think of any plans for the summer vacation, or anything I could do during the summer vacation.
“From the looks of it, your summer vacation must’ve been packed with things you really wanted to do, right? If Kashima-kun blamed me for not being able to do something when he had so many plans, I might feel guilty and want to return his summer vacation.”
“…I was planning to do my school homework.”
“Why’s that the first thing that comes up?”
“…I would’ve gone out to hang out with Makoto, maybe…”
“‘Maybe’ means you didn’t have any promises, right? Do you think you can appeal to my conscience with something so uncertain and vague?”
“My social game login bonuses──!”
“You’re becoming desperate.”
As I had nothing else to say, Fujinomiya snorted at me. She spread her hands in a theatrical gesture.
“That’s what I thought. No great plans, no programs, no goals. Kashima-kun, even if you had a summer vacation, it would have been useless. You would’ve just wasted forty-two days and twenty hours doing nothing. If that’s the case, don’t you think it would be the same if I stole it from you?”
I looked down.
I wanted to refute her. However, Fujinomiya’s opinion had already convinced part of me.
Anyways, I probably wouldn’t have spent my summer vacation in a good way; it would’ve just come and gone. It would’ve been the same as when I aimlessly waste my time in school. .
“I’ll take the silence as an affirmation. Thank you for the summer vacation, Kashima-kun. I’ll just say thank you.”
Fujinomiya tried to leave the rooftop gallantly.
“Wha— wait up! I won’t just let you have my summer vacation like that. If you don’t return it, I’ll expose your true character to the entire class!”
Fujinomiya stopped moving immediately, its randomness surprising me. It worked! Or so I thought, because when I turned around, Fujinomiya was smiling with 30% more black aura. Huh? Did I stir things up in a bad way?
“Kashima-kun, you say you’re going to expose this to everyone, but who on earth are you going to tell? I can’t think of any of my classmates who talk to Kashima-kun, can you?”
T-That’s right, isn’t it. Although I already knew that too.
Fujinomiya steadily approached me with a faint smile on her face. I slowly backed up.
“I’ll just pretend to be innocent, of course. If Kashima-kun claimed that I was a time thief, who would my classmates believe? Kashima-kun, who always keeps to himself? Or would it be me, who has a good relationship with everyone?”
“No, it’s troubling if you compare it like that.”
“And anyways, who would even take such a ridiculous idea of me being a time thief seriously? Don’t you think it will just be dismissed as a delusion created by Kashima-kun’s pathetic mind?
“Isn’t there some kind of victim’s group…? If there was a group for victims who had their time stolen by Fujinomiya, I wouldn’t hesitate to join.”
“That’s too bad. You’re the first classmate I’ve stolen time from. Kashima-kun, aren’t you happy to be my first time?”
“Haha, I wish I could have been your first time for something different.”
The fence on the roof hit my back.
Fujinomiya is only a few steps away from me. This is bad. I’m cornered.
What should I do? Should I scream, “Don’t come closerrr──!” and wave my hands around? It was around then when I began to panic and lose my mind.
“…Really? I was wondering if Kashima-kun would be okay with that…”
A sweet voice came out hesitantly.
“Eh?” I said and looked at Fujinomiya.
There she was, truly the idol of the class.
She is a beautiful girl with a charming personality that everyone will be captivated by at first sight. There was no black aura to be found anywhere. Before I knew it, her fluffy ribbon was tied and the sunlight shining through the clouds illuminated her like a spotlight.
Fujinomiya said, her eyelashes twitching uneasily.
“I heard that the first time is really scary, so I wonder if Kashima-kun would be gentle with me.”
That’s right. Fujinomiya is a girl, too. When I saw the way she looked, it made me want to protect her, so of course my mind went there.
“Hey, is it fine…?”
Before I knew it, the distance between Fujinomiya and I had disappeared. The toes of our shoes touched each other.
“ ‘Fine’, what do you──”
“I’ll give my first time to you, Kashima-kun.”
──Have I ever heard a sweeter line of dialogue in my life?
Her hand reached for my necktie. My head is completely boiling. I can’t move at all.
The necktie was untied almost too quickly.
Fujinomiya’s cheeks were bright red even though she had taken the proactive step. Stealing a glance at my shirt, she was clearly embarrassed and confused. She seems to be having trouble deciding what to do after this. Isn’t she a little too cute?
Eventually, Fujinomiya breathed in as if she had made up her mind, and this time she ran her fingers over her own chest.
With a click, the second button──
“W-w-w-w-wait, hold on!”
As I regained a part of my rationality, I hastily turned my head away. Once her button was undone and I looked back to her, there would be no turning back. I mobilized all my self-control to keep my face turned to the side.
Then, she placed her hand gently on my chest.
“Hey, Kashima-kun… a woman is trying to be courageous, you know? Isn’t it cruel to not respond?”
Fujinomiya spoke in a sulky voice.
The sweet temptation almost melted my rationality. My breathing became ragged.
“B-but, it’s bad to do it here…”
“It’s fine, it’s fine, nobody’s coming anyways. But right now, I want you to look at me.”
Those words were like a magic spell. As my reasoning was destroyed, I softly glanced sideways at her.
Then, I saw the aforementioned apple.
Aaaaa fuck, I knew it! I knew it but still, why, aaaaaa…!
It was too late to even stamp my feet in frustration. All I could do was grind my teeth together.
Beyond the apple, Fujinomiya had a black smile on her face. The second button was still fastened, so I couldn’t see her bosom.
‘Got you!’ Fujinomiya’s sneer seemed to say.
She pursed her red lips at me, who was literally helpless with most of my body faded.
“Kashima-kun, you’re the first person to have his time stolen three times.”
After a few evil, playful whispers, I lost my head──
I didn’t want that kind of first time.
I opened my eyelids and was surprised to find my surroundings completely dark. By noticing the texture of the fence against my back, I knew I was on the rooftop of my high school.
She’s a time thief. She can only steal time, she can’t transfer me to different locations.
I pull out my phone. The date and time read September 3rd, 1 A.M..
“1 am in the morning…”
I was weary. This is the worst. Even the last train wasn’t running anymore.
I sighed with my shoulders slumped, and I headed for the rooftop exit. As I reached for the doorknob, I noticed that it was far too hard to turn. .
I can’t turn the knob. It’s locked. Shivering, I was dumbfounded when I tried to open the door but it didn’t as it normally should.
…That’s right, I’ll call Makoto! He’ll definitely come over to help me if I tell him about my situation!
I hurriedly turned on my phone. I made a call to Makoto. The phone rang a few times, and then the ringtone was suddenly cut off.
“Ah, Makoto!? I know it’s bad, calling at this hour. I’m sorry I’ve been ignoring your calls. Actually, I’m on the roof of the school right now so──”
The other end of the phone was dead silent, and I looked at my phone. It was turned off.
For real!? I try to turn on my phone, what the hell do you mean there’s no battery in this time of emergency!?
I’m done for…
When I leaped from July to September, my phone still had battery left. Apparently, during my time that was stolen, no battery was consumed. But it seems to have reached its limit.
I threw away my phone, which had become a useless plate, and sat down on the unpaved concrete. I rested my back against the cool wall.
I was lucky it wasn’t winter. Even if I stayed outdoors all night, I wouldn’t die.
As my exhaustion started to kick in, I stared into the distance.
I could see the lights of the residential area, one by one. As if to fill the silence of midnight, the sounds of insects, similar to cicadas, were chirping. A warm yet depressing breeze swayed my grizzled bangs.
“Even if I had a summer vacation, it would be useless, she said…”
I thought back to what Fujinomiya had said to me.
I knew that in my head. The words she said comprised a sound argument.
I closed my eyes, wondering why I didn’t want to give up just yet.
“I didn’t expect you to be such a clingy piece of trash.”
September 3rd, a little after 8 a.m. Fujinomiya had a look of displeasure on her face.
She seemed to have stopped wearing the mask of an idol in front of me, which meant that her black aura was on full display from the start. Her straight black hair, unbound by ribbons, was spread out, giving her a very intimidating look.
Despite my countless failures, I was on the rooftop again, confronting Fujinomiya.
Today, I ambushed her at the shoe racks. Thanks to the teacher who came first thing in the morning and unlocked the door, I was able to escape from the roof, but I thought it would be too much trouble to go home at once, so I decided to wait for Fujinomiya to come to school. Ugh, my body hurts. I want to take a bath. And more than anything, I’m hungry.
“I didn’t expect Kashima-kun, who seems to be merely a mass of apathy, to be so persistent. I thought you’d be more indifferent and surrendered yourself.”
Fujinomiya shrugged her shoulders exaggeratedly and shook her head. What is with her talking like she knows me?
I felt uncomfortable, but my retort came first.
“You’ve stolen forty-three days and twenty hours… When you add in the seventeen hours that were stolen yesterday, you’ve already stolen forty-three days and thirty seven hours. You didn’t just steal one day; you stole my whole summer vacation! I can’t possibly just give that up.”
“But you can’t even make the most of the time you have, can you?”
“How can you just decide that? Are you a time traveler from the future?”
Perhaps it was an unexpected counterattack, but Fujinomiya faltered.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. A youthful event that would dramatically change my boring life.”
Youth. What an enchanting word.
I don’t know what exactly it means. But I’m sure that if I experienced it, I would have a fun and sparkling school life every day.
That’s why I go to school every day, even though I think it’s boring.
Today, something would happen. Maybe I would encounter something that I can call youth. Even though I was always sitting alone in my seat with a book open, I was hoping for the same thing in my heart.
It was the same with summer vacation.
Nothing happened during the first semester, but I’m sure something will happen during the summer break. I mean, I’m a high school student. In this world, high school students are supposed to be at the height of their youth, right?! Isn’t it the case that when you become a high school student, you automatically encounter youthful events!?
I clenched my fists and spat out my thoughts.
“It’s my first summer break as a high school student, so if nothing happened, wouldn’t it be strange!? I didn’t have any plans on the day of the closing ceremony, so what? How can you be so sure that no events will occur during the forty-two days? I was deprived of the opportunity to encounter youthful events by you!”
That’s why I couldn’t give up.
There was no guarantee that I was going to have a youthful summer vacation. However, there was no guarantee that I wouldn’t either. The possibility wasn’t zero. For this reason, I didn’t want to just skip over my summer vacation.
Fujinomiya listened to my outcries with scrutiny in her eyes. I ruffled my overgrown hair. I was beginning to feel embarrassed now that I had revealed my innermost thoughts to her.
“And besides, no matter how much time I waste, that’s no reason for you to steal my time. Am I right?”
Hiding my embarrassment, I continued speaking quickly.
“My time is my own. You have no right to steal it. It’s unreasonable for you to steal from me.”
Fujinomiya put her hand on her chin as she muttered, “Unreasonable…” softly.
“Well, I hate unreasonableness.”
For a moment, the shadows around her eyes were gone. I caught it for a slight moment, but Fujinomiya didn’t allow me to pursue further, and so her jet black eyes lit back up with a strong glow.
“If that’s the case, Kashima-kun, play a game with me. With your summer vacation on the line.”