A Neat and Pretty Girl at My New School Was a Childhood Friend Whom I Used to Think That She Was a Boy and Played With Her (WN) - Chapter 14
Chapter 14. Hayato, you jerk!!
One day after school, I was in a nearby supermarket.
In there, I heard a voice that sounded familiar, which I had been getting used to hearing lately.
What came out of my mouth was an unpleasant reply.
Of course, I was exposing a side of me that I didn’t want to be seen.
I was hunched over in one of the corners selling stationery and toys, looking around absentmindedly.
[Buying a toy?]
[Ah, no. I mean, this is…]
It was already a sight to behold if examined carefully.
I put each item in my hand and shook it to see if I could find what I was looking for, or pressed my finger on top of the box to see if I could find anything.
And it’s not even Haruki who misses such interesting things. Her face made a nice smile, like a child who has found an interesting toy. It was me who panicked.
[Hey, what a coincidence! It’s rare for me to run into you outside of school, or maybe you’re on your way home from school in your uniform?]
[Hmmm, dinosaur fossils and mineral gemstones… Oh, Hayato likes to collect unusual rocks and stones?]
[Oh yeah, I was in the middle of shopping! I’m supposed to buy something and get home…]
[I made a diorama of a Showa-era candy store.]
[Yeah, really. Look at this.]
And then Haruki showed me the screen of her phone.
On the screen was a small wooden shack that looked like a store, with a Coke sign, vending machines, gacha machines, an ice cream freezer, and even an insect net.
It was a true Showa retro picture of a candy store.
[This is Murao’s grandmother’s store!]
[Yeah, I made it while I was still remembering how it looks.]
[It’s amazing, even the ground and the wood… How did you do it?]
[You can buy those from the 100-yen store. You can find everything from boards, stone powder, color powder, to tools like glue, tape, and brushes.]
[Wow, the 100-yen store! I didn’t know they really existed, or that it wasn’t an urban legend.]
[Even though there’s one in front of the station?!]
[Ah well, I mean, yeah… But you can really make these things with plastic toys, huh…]
[I wanted an ice cream freezer, but all I got was a bunch of benches, and I wondered what the odds were…]
The highlight of her eyes fades along with a sigh, and she has a vacant expression. But her mouth is in the shape of a smile. This is clearly not an ordinary view.
I instinctively had a vision of myself being dragged down the rabbit hole. I felt a chill run down my spine. I gently put the toy back on its shelf. (T/N: Rabbit hole as in getting hooked past the point of no return)
[What’s wrong? Aren’t you going to buy it? Isn’t this country festival/food stall series really tempting?]
[Alright, alright, shopping! Let’s go back to shopping, Haruki!]
[Ah, A shogun toy!]
I forcefully pushed Haruki, the rabbit hole dweller, away from the toy section.
The toy section is a rabbit hole; I made a deep mental note of that.
Afterwards, we finished our shopping quickly and left the store. Somehow, we were even more tired than usual.
[Huh, that was a close one, I almost fell down a new rabbit hole.]
[Moderation is key. Hmm?]
My bags are not very large.
Aside from the chicken, konjak, and burdock that I needed for tonight chikuzen-ni, there was only the salmon fillet that I needed for the main course. It was enough for even a small child.
Haruki, on the other hand, had bought so much that her hands were full. She fidgeted with her bags several times and looked like she was having trouble walking.
So it was natural of me to lend her a hand.
[Here, give me that, it’s pretty heavy.]
[Hm? You can bring the rest yourself, right?]
[Eh… Ah, yes.]
[I’m freezing here, let’s start moving.]
I half-heartedly, but in a natural way, took Haruki’s luggage and urged her to go home.
Haruki was both surprised and terribly confused.
(There have been people who have tried to help me with my luggage at school. However, there was always an ulterior motive or calculation. I’ve never had anyone treat me like Hayato today. He just reached out to me because I’m in trouble.) (T/N: This is Haruki speaking)
But in fact, Hayato didn’t have such a way of thinking.
If he were to overlook someone in need of luggage help like Haruki in Tsukinose, he’d immediately become gossip that would be spread throughout the entire village. That’s the scary thing about the countryside. It’s just a habit.
But for Haruki, this was not the case.
It’s the first time she experienced this, and her chest filled with a mixture of surprise, joy, confusion, and doubt. All the emotions made her conscious of Hayato.., and no matter what she does, it makes her conscious of Hayato.
[Hey, do you always buy this much?]
[Yeah, uhm… I buy a lot of stuff at once.]
But that’s where the conversation ends.
We stand shoulder to shoulder in silence, just as we did in the past. I occasionally glance at Hayato’s face, which is now separated by only one head from mine.
However, Hayato just walks without paying attention to me. The same as usual, I even felt like hating him.
I wanted to say something to Hayato, but I felt like I could just leave it at that. I walked down the road at dusk with such feelings. All I could hear was the sound of our footsteps. But it’s strangely uncomfortable.
(Well, it’s Hayato after all)
I arrived at my house, which wasn’t lit.
For the past 7 years, there has been no one to greet me… it’s a dark house. It was strange to return here with Hayato.
[Here we are. Where do you want me to put it?]
[I’ll unlock the door, you can leave it in front of the door.]
[Okay, well then. I’m leaving.]
[Ah, never mind. Well…]
It was a spur-of-a-moment comment. It wasn’t a conscious word.
However, because of this, my feelings were mixed up, which made me upset for a bit.
[Number! Yes! Give me your phone number or something! We haven’t exchanged contact information yet, right?]
[Ah, right… Sorry.]
I tried to hide my worry, but the words that came back to me made my head spin.
I hadn’t expected to be rejected. My head began to refuse to comprehend the situation, and the loneliness that had been locked away in the back of my mind came out. My heart racked as if it was going to burst.
I had the illusion that something important was slipping away.
[I actually don’t have a smartphone…]
[Hayato, you jerk!!!]
The scream that came from relief was extremely loud.