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 34
Around the crowd of people, there were a number of unusual things.
A relatively huge video camera, a microphone to collect the actors’ voices, and two large vans loaded with other equipment.
In the area of the said equipment― a pair of men and women were acting out a friendly scene.
No matter how you look at it, they were filming some kind of a drama or something.
“Aren’t they filming ‘Ten Years of Solitude’?”
“Oh man, it’s Mao Takura, she looks so young. No matter how you look at her, it doesn’t look like she’s in her late twenties.”
“I heard her personal life is pretty messed up too.”
“But that one’s forgiven. She was deceived.”
She was an elegant actress.
She’s almost the same age as Hayato’s parents, and yet her beauty and sex appeal doesn’t show any signs of that.
The people around them said various kinds of interests about her: envy, admiration, astonishment, and jealousy. They were not all praises.
However, there was a sense of presence that made it understandable that it would attract so much attention.
(Hmm? I’m pretty sure that was…)
It was the actress from the drama that Himeko had been watching before she’d left home this morning.
It was so popular that it was even recommended by his classmates.
He was convinced that she was indeed that attractive just like everyone else’s reaction, but for some reason, he felt a strange sense of some sort, like a déjà vu.
Also, Haruki’s appearance was unusual when she saw the actress.
Her face looked pale, and she was desperately biting her lips.
Her shoulders were also shaking as if she was trying to hold something back, and her nails were digging into Hayato’s hands, causing them to bleed a bit.
The expression on her face was clearly not normal. The mixture of her emotions is on the verge of breaking down. But Hayato doesn’t know why she’s like this at the moment.
Then, as if she couldn’t take it anymore, she let go of Hayato’s hand and turned on her heel.
She turned her face down, clicked her mules on the ground, and walked fast with her shoulders and elbows hunched. Hayato chased after Haruki with a troubled look on his face.
From another person’s perspective, it looked like Hayato was desperately chasing after her for making her angry.
But to Hayato, it looked like she was trying to hold back her tears.
He doesn’t know what he’ll say to her.
But that doesn’t mean he would just leave her alone.
―She was being stubborn.
That was the Haruki that Hayato saw right now.
Mimicry, a good child, acting, an only child, a living room with no sense of life. Tons of information flashed in Hayato’s mind.
Something seems to be connecting them together, but yet it doesn’t because there’s something crucial that’s missing.
Still, there’s one thing that was certain.
(I can’t leave Haruki alone right now…!!)
He chased after Haruki, who was about to disappear in the crowd, trying desperately not to lose sight of her.
There’s a distance that can be reached by just reaching out. But there’s also a distance that separates them apart. It makes him feel a little frustrated.
In a spur of the moment.
Hayato took Haruki’s hand when she tripped over her foot and saved her.
Haruki turned an indescribable face and gently looked away.
They both don’t know what to say to each other.
This was just a coincidence.
But Hayato knew that he shouldn’t ever let go of her hand again.
“…If we walk along the tracks here, will we be able to reach home?”
“Hmm, how about it? I’m not sure.”
“Well then, let’s find out.”
A big city. With the main road running next to a private railway line.
Unlike the countryside roads, many structures line up like a lush white clover. They both walked along the endless road.
The awkward air from earlier still lingered.
Haruki’s face was one of stifled emotion.
Hayato was pulling the hand of such a childhood friend.
From the other perspective, they look like two people who just made up after a fight. It’s a wonderful sight that you don’t see too often.
However, Hayato felt something terribly nostalgic about this situation.
(…Wasn’t this how it was when we first met before?)
It was too long ago that he doesn’t even know when it was anymore. He was just starting to remember it.
Back then, Haruki was a child who never smiled.
She usually doesn’t mingle with anyone else. She mostly holds her knees and makes an expressionless face.
It’s hard, it’s painful, it hurts, she hates that. She forces herself to push those feelings down and yet, it feels like she’s waiting for something, selfishly despairing― and yet, she’s still stubborn and determined.
Hayato didn’t like to see Haruki like that, and so, he pulled her away and got her from her grip.
Yes, Haruki right now looks like that kind of Haruki… it was seemingly visible.
They’re well aware that things are different than they used to be.
But no matter how much they don’t like this situation, neither of them is backing out from it.
In the end, they realized that nothing had changed. They finally noticed.
“Hayato, you’ve always been pushy, aren’t you?”
Haruki’s voice was tinged with nostalgia as she muttered to herself.
“What about it?”
“It’s big and craggy.”
“Well, I used to help out in the fields after all.”
“And I used to be taller than you.”
“I don’t remember.”
“But I remember it though.”
Haruki put a lot of effort in holding the hand she held tightly.
“It was like this when we first met.”
Haruki smiled weakly. It was so fragile that it could have been blown away by the wind. Even though her heart has been crying for a long time, she won’t even cry, even if she had to.
Hayato couldn’t find any words to say to Haruki and could only grit his teeth. He wanted to tell her that he’s here for her, so he squeezed her hand back.
Then, Haruki lined up next to Hayato and started walking again.
This time, instead of Hayato pulling her hand, he walked shoulder to shoulder with Haruki, who moved her legs out of her own volition, just like in the past.
But no matter what they do, it will never be the same.
If they line up together, there will be a one-head difference in height.
The hands they were holding went around.
The dress she’s wearing is a stylish white summer dress that can never be covered in mud.
It was something that had changed in the seven years that had separated Hayato and Haruki.
Even so, the hands they held together, unchanged from that time, conveyed the trust that there was indeed something that remained unchanged.
That’s why Haruki called out Hayato’s name.
“Just one little complaint, if you don’t mind.”
“I live in that house all by myself.”
It was disguised as an extension of their casual conversation. Trying to play it off the same as always.
Suddenly, a friendly-looking father and son walked up in front of them.
Hand in hand, and an eco-bag on the free side.
When Haruki saw this, she stopped in her tracks. Her expression becomes cloudy.
The voice she squeezed out couldn’t hide the trembling that she felt.
“I’ll be a good girl and wait.”
It was a simple sentence that contained many different feelings.
Those were the words Haruki could say at best right now.
The sound of a car’s engine drowned out the words as she finally managed to say something on her mind.
The early summer sun was slanting to the west, casting the shadows of buildings on the two of them.
※We are now in the middle of the 1st chapter.