Tonari no Kimi de Atama ga Ippai - Chapter 1
C1: Do you like these kinds of things?
Library Committee Day
Ever since I entered high school, I think I’ve been doing less work as a library committee member. In elementary and junior high school, I was assigned the role of putting the books back on the shelves, but I no longer have to do that. My main activities now are to work at the counter, to make the monthly newsletter, and to carry out other projects.
I didn’t like the process of putting the books back. If anything, I wasn’t good at finding out where each book went. I still think it would be more meaningful to learn symbols in chemistry rather than learning the notations used for the labels on books. So, I guess it’s illogical for me to get so sentimental about it. In the 20 minutes after school, when people rarely came to the library, I could sit quietly at the counter and finish a book I had left unfinished, with some instrumental music playing in the background. And occasionally, when someone did come to the library, I only had to scan a barcode and click my mouse a few times. It’s become so much easier now. I wouldn’t be surprised if people sneered at me for having such an easy job.
My time was supposed to be peaceful and tranquil, so why did things turn out like this…
“You’ve been on the library committee since elementary school… You must really like books, huh.”
She was standing across the counter from me, probably reading my thoughts as she said that. It was annoying, day in and day out. Of course, she could hear my complaints right now as well. It was just too much to live with.
“I do like books, but the reason I chose to become a library committee member was because I like how spacious the library is.”
I should add that there aren’t any other candidates that want to be on the library committee because they don’t want to go all the way out to the library every day. Plus, I don’t want to be so childish as to fight over what committee I’m in.
“Aside from what you just added, you think that books are what occupy most of the space inside a library. You don’t just enjoy books as a work of literature, but also as a kind of object, huh.”
“That’s an interesting way of thinking.”
“Your train of thought is a lot more interesting than the vast majority of others.”
Her expressionless face and monotonous tone didn’t make her words sound like a compliment. In general, she can read the thoughts of anyone who is within a 2 meter radius around her, so she told me to stop thinking about illogical things. However since she continuously follows me around everywhere, isn’t she the one who has a screw loose in her head? In fact, I can’t help but think that she’s the one who’s inconveniencing me.
“Are you in love with me or something?”
“It’s because when I’m by your side, I can’t hear the thoughts of anyone else but you.”
“That’s ridiculous. That kind of ability sounds like one a light novel protagonist would have. It’s impossible for me to have an ability like that.”
“I don’t know anything about light novels so I won’t touch on that subject, but if you really think that I’m a nuisance, shouldn’t you be running away for dear life? Or perhaps try to chase me away from you”
What the hell is she planning to do to me for her to say something like, “run away for dear life”? Not just “run away”, but “run away for dear life”. Even ridiculous things should have their limits.
“I’m a gentleman, you know.”
“Your true thoughts?”
“You don’t want to get into trouble, and you don’t want to make any more enemies by doing something to me. I think that’s a great mindset to have.”
This is the worst. Not only did she read all of my thoughts, she even said them out loud. I couldn’t find any words to say, so I just let out a sigh instead.
“I’m sure that you of all people should know that it’s best not to make enemies, right?”
“Who on earth might you be talking about?”
“Well, pardon me~”
She laughed happily, though I wasn’t sure what she found funny. She usually had a sour and expressionless look on her face, but when she was with me, she smiled a lot more than usual, creating the misconception that she is in love with me And that’s not good.
She’s cute when she smiles. That’s right. Though neither am I a huge fan of her words and her ability nor am I willing to condone her actions, I don’t dislike her that much. Is it because she’s a beautiful girl?
“Thank you very much.”
She’d be happier if she didn’t involve herself with me.
“The desire to keep beautiful things the way they are is one that is never-changing and everlasting.”
“Is that how it is?”
“That’s how it is.”
With how beautiful her face is, I’m sure she’s been on the receiving end of plenty of resentful glares from girls, and I’m sure there are plenty of boys who’ve made her a target of their desire and lust.
“Just counting the number of people who have directly taken action against me, there are roughly 56 girls and 6 boys, I think.”
“Hold on. Isn’t the ratio of girls to boys here clearly strange?”
“During my second year in junior high, all of the girls in my class were my enemies.”
“Is this some sort of battle royale?”
If that was the case, then I’m sure she wouldn’t even be able to leave her seat peacefully. I felt grateful for having an ordinary face, which is proof that I felt so horrified I started thinking such miserable thoughts.
“I like your face quite a bit, Hokuto-san.”
“You don’t have to pity me.”
“Why are you being so cold to me? That wasn’t just pity. Also, when I tell this story to others, it’s quite rare for me to get a reaction as weak as yours.”
“I’m just uninterested.”
At any rate, it was probably something along the lines of a girl at the center of the class who had her sights set on a boy, but this boy confessed to someone else instead, so she resented her for it. Girls at that age love anything and everything related to love, and they want to date other boys without putting much thought into it.
“For someone who says he’s not interested, your hypothesis was spot on. You’re completely right. That time was hell for me.”
“So you do want to talk about it after all.”
“Yeah, well… It’s the funniest story I can tell you.”
A funny story, huh.
“Can I continue?”
“I knew that she liked the boy at the time, so I turned him down. But despite that, I couldn’t believe it when I found trash inside my bag.”
“I guess the very fact that he liked you didn’t sit well with her.”
“I had nothing else going for me other than my looks. I’m certain that the other girl had a lot more to offer than me.”
Although she sounded strong and brave, she kept her eyes down, looking rather gloomy.
“It made me sad for her. Really sad.”
“Why? Wasn’t she the one who bullied you?”
“Because she’s helped me in the past.”
I couldn’t quite understand what she was thinking right now. That being said, however, I had one thing I wanted to say to her.
“And what would that be?”
“Don’t call that a funny story.”
The expression from her face disappeared.
“Did it cause you discomfort?”
“You yourself are telling the story in such a sad and painful tone, so how could you possibly call it a funny story?”
“…I’ll keep that in mind as I continue.”
Unlike her, I couldn’t read her emotions, and her expression didn’t tell me anything either. The only thing that I could think of was how beautiful her face was. I couldn’t help but sympathize with all those people who either had feelings of envy or affection for her. Of course, the feelings and the extent of it varied from person to person, but in general, humans liked beautiful things. Taken to its extreme, one might even become emotionally unstable, letting their emotions rule over them.
“If you say that humans like beautiful things, then me being right next to you would be a wonderful thing, wouldn’t it?”
“No way. I told you, didn’t I? I don’t want to make enemies out of everyone.”
The number of my friendships was already as small as it could get, so obviously, making enemies was out of the question.
“It’ll be okay. Please look over there.”
She directed her gaze to something behind me. When I turned around, I saw the teacher in charge looking at us worriedly. The teacher held a thick dictionary in their hand as if it were a shield, and I could tell that the teacher was terrified.
“I don’t even need to read the teacher’s thoughts to know what she’s thinking. ‘Kisaragi Nao is a person who can read the thoughts of others’. This fact is well-known throughout the school. Therefore, what people direct towards me is neither envy nor affection, but fear. It is unlikely that anyone would direct hostility towards you for talking to me, Hokuto-san.”
“I’ll be heading out. Please come and meet me as soon as you can. Well then, please excuse me.”
She didn’t seem to mind the fact that she was still being a nuisance, just as usual. She just bowed slightly and promptly left the room.
“Usami-kun. You can leave for today.”
The teacher curtly dismissed me with a trembling voice. She’d told me that she didn’t even need to read their thoughts to discern their feelings. She had a point; right now, I could tell what the teacher was trying to say in general. “I’m scared.” They were short, simple words, but at the same time, deeply heartrending. So, given that she can read everyone’s thoughts, how much had she suffered by the restrictive hands of those unwanted thoughts? Even though she didn’t want to hear them, she had no choice but to do so.
“I understand. Well then, please excuse me.”
I flung my awfully heavy backpack over my back and left the library. I found her standing right in front of the door. She then let out a small sigh of admiration.
“I didn’t expect you to come so obediently.”
“It has nothing to do with you. I just thought that it was about time for me to head home as well.”
“Is that so? Well, you turn right at the main gate on your way home, right? Would you like to walk part of the way together?”
“Even if I refused, I’m sure you’d follow me anyway. You’d probably use the ‘I can’t hear anyone else’s thoughts when I’m by your side’ reason.”
“Why do you sound so excited?”
Her lively voice echoed throughout the hallway.
First Encounter Day
She leaped in front and stood before me, blocking my way.
[I had always thought that the expression, ‘white as snow’, referred to a dead person. However, the skin peeking out from her neat, fitting uniform made me realize otherwise. On the other hand, her black hair had a shiny, so-called ‘cuticle,’ hinting at a smooth and flowing texture. With how long her hair was, it seemed to be perfect for ‘fwoosh-ing’ in the wind, just like what the heroines in anime did. She stared straight at me with her large, bright, and creased eyelids, not a twinkle or glitter to be found in them. Her pink, beautiful lips opened to make way for a monotonous and emotionless voice. What’s more, she herself told me that she could read my thoughts. There’s no way that’s true. It must be that. Despite having the makings of a heroine, her lack of motivation would cause her to be removed from the heroine list. With that in mind, I guess the situation makes some sense. I don’t know the trends of the world nowadays, but I, at the very least, don’t find her to be to my liking. I’d preferably like her to look for someone else.]
(TLN: MC probably thinks that it’s a sales pitch for an up and coming idol, I guess?)
This was unbelievable. Since she could read my thoughts, I couldn’t even talk about these sickenings feelings directly to her face. It’s embarrassing. It was to the point that I wanted to just vanish from existence.
“It’s no big deal, don’t you think? Don’t worry if you still can’t accept it, okay?”
Despite my thoughts, she didn’t seem to care. With an unchanging expression, she looked towards me.
“It’s my bad. I’m sorry.”
“When you apologize like that, it’s actually quite embarrassing.”
“Even though you may be right, there’s nothing I can do about it.”
“By the way, what in the world is ‘fwoosh-ing’?”
“Sorry. And don’t worry about that, really.”
Even she would be offended if she saw me staring at her and commenting on her features using such vocabulary. It was a bad idea to be oblivious to her mind-reading abilities; I really shouldn’t exaggerate things in my thoughts.
“… If you cower like that, I feel very responsible for reading your thoughts…”
“I just provoked you. Please accept my humblest apologies.”
“Please don’t be so apologetic. More importantly, aren’t you scared at all?”
“I finally realized that my sickening thoughts were more frightening than anything else in the world. Mainly due to the fact someone was telling me about them.”
“No, I didn’t mean it like that. You know, I really can read people’s thoughts.”
I was aware of that. What she was saying was the unmistakable truth. However, when she asked me if I was scared of her, I couldn’t say that I was. In fact, I felt that she was pitiful.
“Are you implying that it’s rough for me?”
For a moment, she seemed to be at a loss for words. I guess that she didn’t expect such a response. Since the first thing that she had asked me was if I were afraid of her, she must’ve known other people were, indeed, scared of her. However, why would someone, who was feared by people for reading their thoughts, be revealing the truth to me?
“…Though, it is. Day in and day out, I can hear people’s endless thoughts in my brain, so to think it’s merely rough is an understatement!”
“You can still hear my thoughts right now, can’t you?”
“Yes. Though, if you’re thinking about how to escape from me, then my sincerest apologies. I plan on staying by your side for a while.”
Crap. It didn’t make any sense at all.
“Even though I asked you to look for someone else?”
“Though you did say that, there is no substitute for Hokuto-san. Within a two-meter radius of you: that’s where I’ll be from now on.”
She selfishly declared in a high-pitched voice. I thought I wanted to continue to believe it was a joke, but what followed was a question about what to do. It’s no good no matter what.
Though, I was curious about the distance.
“That distance is very specific. It’s hard to tell if that’s far or close…”
Above all, I felt like I hadn’t heard the word “radius” used like that in a long time.
Although she wasn’t exactly invading my personal space, she was standing in an area that would make me uncomfortable.
“In the first place, why me?”
“You figured out that my abilities aren’t fake.”
“You were the one who told me!?”
“The result is the same. Well then, take care of me in the future.”
“I-I guess I don’t want you to go off on your own.”
When I said that, her expression changed. The tips of her mouth rose a little.
“You want to go home early… to continue playing your little sister galge thing, right?”
(ED: A galge is a type of Japanese video game centered on interactions with attractive girls, according to Wikipedia.)
Her statement was so unexpected that I let out a strange squeal.
“Do you prefer a cheerful girl who is obedient to her brother? If that’s the case, then I certainly can’t be the heroine. My sincerest apologies. Still, can you please stay with me for a little while?”
She held out her hand to me with considerate words. However, she had spoken in a flat tone, and her eyes were filled with pressure as if telling me, “you know what will happen if you refuse, right?” I didn’t trust the ambiguous words “for a little while” either.
“By all means, please.”
“Yeah. Same here, I’ll be in your care.”
But, I had no choice but to reach out and accept her hand.
“That’s right, do you want me to call you ‘Onii-chan’ to thank you?”
“Oh, my. That’s too bad.”
Her soft, coaxing voice resembled my favorite video game character; however, the mismatch between her face and voice sent my mind into a state of confusion.
Cursed Notebook Day
“I’ve got the cursed notebook.”
I had no response to the suddenness of her statement. Even if she told me that she had obtained the cursed notebook, there was nothing else I could say, except for maybe a simple, “I see.” I didn’t think she would lie, but I had a vague feeling that she would be the type to say something like that out of the blue. Now that it had actually happened, I couldn’t hide my bewilderment.
Though the way she puffed out her cheeks in discontent was quite cute, there was probably something more than that.
“Your whole existence is a fantasy, you know?”
“Neither I nor this notebook is a fantasy. Look. It’s just a notebook.”
As she spoke, she placed a notebook from a common manufacturer. At least, I thought it was common because I used it too.
“…Do I touch it?”
I picked it up and checked it out, but there were no names or subjects written on the front or back cover. However, there seemed to be a gray blotch on the white sheets that could be seen from the top, indicating that it had been used. At a glance, it was hard to believe that this thing was cursed.
“What part of this is cursed?”
“Try opening it.”
I did as I was told and opened the notebook. Immediately, I froze. Inside, in graphite letters so thick that I wondered how many B pencils had been used, there was a name written in endless lines. I screamed and threw the notebook away from myself. It fell to the floor, and she carefully picked it up.
“What the hell is that?”
My hands were shaking. I felt more terrified than ever before.
“I told you, didn’t I? This is a cursed notebook.”
“No, I know that, but…”
“Please be careful with it. We’ll return it later as a lost item.”
“Well, aren’t you a brave one?”
I couldn’t even begin to imagine what the owner of this notebook would do to those who he or she knew saw the contents.
“First of all, do you know whose notebook this is?”
“Yes. There is someone in my class who obsessively thinks about the person written in this notebook, so she must be the owner.”
“If you know whose it is, why don’t you just put it on her desk or something?”
“If a notebook with no name written on it were to be returned to me, I think she would decide that I, who can read thoughts, returned it by reading her thoughts. If she’s going to know about it anyway, wouldn’t it be safer to give it to her directly?”
Is that really how it is?
“That’s how it is, maybe.”
Considering that she said “her”, I presumed that the owner was a girl. I wish I’d been kept in the dark about it.
“For that matter, why did you show it to me? Was it to scare me?”
“No, I did not expect Hokuto-san to be that frightened. I apologize for that.”
Seeing her dejected look, it seemed that she really didn’t expect this,
“…You don’t have to look so apologetic. Just tell me what happened if you can.”
As soon as I said that, she looked up.
“I can tell you what happened, but this is just a piecing together of what I’ve heard. Since there will be parts that aren’t true, are you sure you want to listen?”
I wanted to know the scary stuff before I got to the end and found out that it’s actually not scary at all. Now that I knew half the story, I was hesitant to back out.
“So first of all, why did you show this to me?”
“I wanted to share it because I was afraid I would be cursed to be alone!”
It was a terrible reason.
“What if I’m cursed too?”
“I don’t know the principles behind the curse, but I’m sure that if we see it together, we’ll both only be half cursed.”
“I-It definitely does not work like that…!”
While I was worrying about the curse, she pretended to think about something else. I glanced over at her. I’m sure she’s denying it in her mind, saying, “I’m not pretending.” I wasn’t afraid of her glaring at me anymore. After a sigh, she opened her mouth.
“I don’t think a curse can be placed on you. If someone is cursed, it will only be placed on the person whose name is written in this notebook. I’m sure you’ll be okay. Now, do you have any more questions?”
Whether it was okay or not, there was no way to fight the curse. I had no choice but to think about my next course of action.
“You knew the circumstances of the owner of this notebook in the first place by reading her thoughts, didn’t you? Then, why did you pick it up?”
“If a notebook had fallen in the hallway, anyone would pick it up to check and see whose it is.”
“To check whose it is?”
“Some people write their names on the back of the cover.”
I can’t think of such a person, but if she assures me, then I guess it does exist. Though, ever since she had shown me this notebook, she had been telling me things that I couldn’t comprehend.
“So, back to the main topic. Under what circumstances was this notebook made?”
“This was the result of an attack directed at the notebook, instead of at her love rival.”
“Why go for the notebook, of all things?”
“Let’s just be glad that she didn’t turn on the person she was jealous of. Does this kind of thing fall under the category of yandere? Or is it menhera?”
[TLN: Menhera, mentally ill.]
“I’m not an expert in that kind of thing.”
“Is that so? I’m not either, so it shall remain a mystery.”
I would rather leave that as a mystery.
“But, jealousy, huh…”
Indeed, I was scared, but I was also disappointed by how simple the story was. Since she had dragged it out for so long, I was expecting a more complicated story.
“It’s not a TV drama, so it doesn’t have such a complicated root cause. Though, even if it is a drama, things can be quite simple if one knows the whole story.”
Just as she gave me a faint smile, I heard the door of the classroom open. I looked over and saw a shocked girl looking at us with a look of despair in her eyes. She scurried over to me and grabbed the notebook from the desk.
“Did you see…?”
That voice, which seemed to sink into my soul, sent a chill up my spine. I was unsure of a response. At this point, it may as well have been proven that I had already seen it, so I pondered if I should tell her honestly.
“We saw it. I’m sorry.”
While I was busy coming up with excuses in my head, Kisaragi honestly confessed with a lowered head.
Likewise, I bowed my head.
“I see. Then, don’t tell anyone about it.”
She said softly and left the classroom without any further complications. I looked up and made eye contact with Kisaragi. I couldn’t help but sigh.
“…I can’t possibly tell anyone, can I?”
But she was different, staring into the air with a faraway gaze. Now, when did she have such a side to her?
“That’s strange. I couldn’t sense her when she approached us.”
“Yeah, indeed. Good to know.”
“Yes, very much so!”
Mandarin Orange Day
A high school girl in front of me was peeling a mandarin orange in a classroom. Since she was peeling them very neatly, I thought that maybe she ate them on a regular basis.
“I never thought I’d get complimented on my peeling skills. Would you like some, Hokuto-san?”
She gestured to the top of her desk with her eyes. There were 3 mandarin oranges resting on top of it.
“No thanks, I’m good.”
She brought a couple of mandarin oranges in her mouth, seemingly disinterested. Then, a slight smile appeared on her face, suggesting that it was delicious.
“Is it showing?”
“Yeah, it is.”
“Perhaps it’s because these mandarins are indeed tasty.”
As I was saying that, another bunch of mandarins disappeared into her mouth.
“I have never seen anyone bring a can of mandarin oranges with their skin still on. Let alone store it in a container.”
“Really? I once saw a man who said that mandarin oranges were his lunch everyday.”
“Why would he say that?”
“Maybe all they had at home was mandarin oranges.”
“That’s a tough life.”
“Yeah, that’s right. Though, I’m not sure if that really was the case.”
With that said, she ate the last bunch of mandarins in her mouth, her smile still lingering.
“By the way.”
“What is it?”
When she reached for the second mandarin, I changed the subject. I had been wondering about this topic for quite a while now.
“When you read someone else’s thoughts, does it go through your ear like you’re hearing the person speak right in front of you? Or does it directly go into your brain?”
As she peeled the remaining oranges, she seemed to have been thinking about the answer. After she finished peeling some, she popped a couple into her mouth. She picked up another, and spoke.
“I’d say it’s closer to going directly into the brain.”
“Yes, it’s hard to convey the feeling since I’m already used to it and think ‘That’s how it is.’ But that’s as close to a description as I can give to you.”
“It’s like I’m asking you to explain how to breathe then.”
“I mean, it’s so obvious it’s hard to explain directly.”
“Ah, I suppose so. For me, it’s on the same level as breathing. But unlike breathing, if you try to explain it to someone, they wouldn’t understand it.”
That’s reasonable. I had asked her out of curiosity, but now that it was answered, silence fell upon us immediately after. The silence allowed me to think more about her second ability.
“I thought about this while I was listening.”
“Doesn’t this mean that you can cheat on tests all the time?”
She narrowed her eyes as if to say “You noticed?” A dark expression creeped onto her face.
“Fufu, you noticed that~?”
She had a mischievous tone of voice, albeit vague. That expression on her face, which she probably doesn’t show much to other people, made me involuntarily tense up. There’s no doubt that she had a musical tone at the end of that sentence. I guess it looks like that because she’s essentially confessing to cheating right now, which I thought was something she would never reveal.
“Well, you can’t just pass a test without studying at all. If you don’t understand the question, you won’t know which is the answer for the question just by reading someone else’s thoughts.”
“Shouldn’t you be rather good at memorizing things?”
“Yes, I am. The person sitting in front of me is very good at memorizing things, so that helps me out a ton.”
The smile on her face became wider than when she was eating the mandarin oranges earlier. Are you sure that’s fine?
“Ah, I’m good at games, too. Though I haven’t been playing anything recently. Would you like to play ‘Old Maid’ with me?”
I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw Kisaragi pull out a deck of cards from her bag.
“The conditions for this are too bad for me.”
There was no way I could win against her in Old Maid. Reading thoughts is probably a much better move than figuring out your opponent’s cards in a versus game. After all, no matter what I do, she would be aware of the Joker’s position at all times.
If I think about it, there are probably a plethora of other things she could use her abilities for. That made me feel a little envious. If she used it well, her life could be quite advantageous.
“No matter the reason, you really shouldn’t want this ability.”
She laughed out loud, chuckling. It sounded like she was having fun, but there was a hint of disappointment in her voice. It was then I realized that she didn’t actually want her ability.
I was ashamed of my thoughtlessness.
Mandarin Jelly Day
I handed her a bag of Mandarin Jelly. Her suspicious gaze seemed to ask me, “Why?”
“If you don’t want it, you can just throw it away.”
The moment she saw what was inside, she shook her head. Since she had a happy expression on her face, it seemed that she would probably accept it.
“Thank you. I like most things with mandarins in them. I’m happy.”
“I see. Good for you then.”
She immediately opened the lid and ate the mandarin jelly in enjoyment. I can only thank the convenience store for putting the mandarin jelly in an easy-to-see spot.
“So, how about we go to a cafe that sells mandarin cake later?”
When I said that jokingly, her hand stopped moving and her eyes widened in surprise. Is it really that surprising to hear?
“Are you really sure about that? Though, I’m sure I’ll be able to relax and enjoy being out with you.”
“Wait, no, isn’t that bad for you?”
“I can be in the city and not hear people. It’s so wonderful.”
She continues talking with a serious expression on her face.
“Ah, If we’re going out, I’d like to see a movie while we’re at it. I wonder, what’s airing right now? Do you have any movies you want to see specifically, Hokuto-san?”
She seemed to have been really excited about it. I didn’t even know a place that sold mandarin cake; I had just said it out randomly. But well, seeing her look like that made me feel obligated to check it out with her.
“Well then, let’s go to a cafe and watch a movie then.”
“Yes, let’s go after the next test. Ah, you don’t need to worry about the money.”
“I’m not so broke as to need to have a girl treat me to a drink.”
“I see. I’m glad.”
“So, can I ask you something?’
“Yes, what is it?”
“Are you sure that I can block out your abilities?”
“Didn’t I explain that to you at the beginning?”
Now that I think of it, I feel like I’ve been told that before.
“I’ll let it slide this time.”
It probably wouldn’t slide the next time I did this.
“That’s right. It’s a good opportunity. Let’s talk about it in detail.”
She seemed to feel better. She put the container of jelly on the edge of the desk, took out a piece of loose-leaf paper and a pen, and started to write something down. She was probably going to give me an explanation now.
“My ability, although I usually claim to be able to read other people’s minds, is essentially an unintentional understanding of what other people are thinking. That’s right, when you’re in a family restaurant, you can hear what people are saying even if you’re not trying to listen to them consciously. It’s just like that. And it’s mainly about very private topics. After all, things that are at the stage of thinking right before you speak and talk out loud are flowing in.”
“So if I were to compare it to a galge, it would be like being able to see all the possible choices, including the very obvious correct ones.”
“That’s right. That’s a good comparison. I award you a Hanamaru for that.”
[TLN: A hanamaru is a encircled flower seal (equiv. of a gold star awarded to children for good work at school)]
It’s been quite a while since I’ve gotten a hanamaru. I believed that the last time I got one was probably when I was in elementary school.
“So, do you remember earlier when I said that the feeling of it is closer to it going directly to the brain?”
“Yeah, I remember that.”
“And so, once I’m in a 2 meter radius of you. I can’t hear anything but your thoughts. This is a proven fact verified by me.”
“I know that much.”
Is there more to it than that?
“So that means that Hokuto-san’s distance is 2 meters.”
“The distance where I can hear thoughts depends on the person themself.”
“That’s news to me.”
It sounds pretty important.
“Some people have thoughts that can be heard from fifty or even a hundred meters away, while others, like Hokuto-san, can only be heard from almost zero distance away.”
“Oh, so that’s how it works.”
“Yes, though I don’t know the exact criteria myself.”
Logical. There was no way to be sure, because after all, no one but her could tell. However, I had thought that everyone’s distance is always two meters. It seems like it’s much noisier in her mind than I had imagined previously.
I just wish that my distance was a little wider than two meters.
“I’m used to it by now. Besides, there are some good things about the distance being two meters.”
“Sorry, it’s a secret.”
Looking at her, who had a finger over her mouth, I knew that she wouldn’t tell me about it. I stopped prying further into it.
“That’s all I have to say.”
“Oh, so that’s all?”
Even though she had started enthusiastically, the explanation turned out to be simple. In the end, she barely used the loose-leaf paper or the pen to explain.
“By the way, about that outing.”
“I really do want to go.”
Oh, so that’s what she was using those for. The loose-leaf paper was already filled with her writing, as she had begun writing on it as we were talking. Isn’t she looking forward to it a bit too much?
“Wherever you want to go is fine. We can combine our ideas into one schedule.”
“How thoughtful of you! Then let’s decide on the details after the test.”
Seeing the sincere smile on her face, I felt much happier than her earlier expression. So, naturally, I began to look forward to it as well.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
“Yes, me too.”
When I got home, I confirmed that there was no one else at home. I started playing songs using my music player and connected it to the smartphone radio app. Finally, I turned on the TV. I thought I should increase the sound, but it quickly got annoying. Within five minutes, my head began screaming at me. She had been hearing this sort of noise, almost day and night, whether she likes it or not. If it were me, I probably wouldn’t be able to bear it. She seemed composed, but was that the way she’s acting it out to be? Or else, since some day, has she become numb to the feeling? Either way, I didn’t understand it.
It’s not that I want to understand. Even so, now that I know so much, I feel like I can’t pull away from her. Well. I hope it doesn’t turn out badly.
What will be, will be.
Perfect Reading Day
It was library duty day. Since the librarian was away at a staff meeting, I had to spend a longer time on duty than usual. Though, there were no visitors, as expected. In other words, it was a perfect reading day.
“Do you have any books you recommend?”
It was supposed to be a good day for reading.
Hearing the abrupt voice, I looked away from the string of characters. Sure enough, there she was, standing in front of me. As reluctant as I was, the reluctancy mainly due to the contents of the book I was reading, I left my seat because of her expectant gaze. It’s said that one gets tired of a beauty in three days, but I still seemed to be enchanted by her beauty.
At any rate, I think it was good to have an interest in books. In this day and age, where avid readers were considered a minority, just having the intention to read was wonderful.
“Thank you very much.”
“So, Kisaragi-san, how often do you read books?”
“Almost never. I just read the textbooks.”
Practically zero, then.
“What kind of stories do you like?”
“I don’t especially like any.”
“Then, do you have any that you’re not very good at?”
“I don’t have anything like that either. Though if I must say, I’m not very good at classic literature in general.”
“I don’t think I would just recommend classic literature out of the blue.”
People who like it must really like it. However, I wasn’t very good at it either; the only time I got to read it was when I’m studying.
“Is that book interesting?”
Suddenly, her gaze fell on the book I was holding. I lifted the simple cover in front of me so that she could also see it.
“I’m only halfway in, but it’s quite interesting.”
“Oh, what kind of story is it?”
“It’s about a female serial killer who moves into the home of an ordinary man. The killer’s outfit is interesting.”
I flipped through the pages and opened the illustration of the scene of the killer’s first appearance.
“A coat, a winter gym uniform, a mask, and bobbed hair. Totally suspicious.”
“She’s a murderer, though, so it might be a little more than just suspicious.”
It was faint but she did have a slight smile on her face, maybe because she had gotten a grip of something.
The book itself was thin and the content was not difficult. I was pretty sure there was another copy of this book on one of the shelves. I searched for the book from the shelf and handed it to her.
“How is it?”
She flipped through the pages to check the contents, then nodded.
“Yes, I’ll take this one.”
I was relieved to hear her say that. If I had to talk more about the book, I would probably have been overly passionate about it. It’s a bad saga of being an otaku.
“I’m curious. Please talk about it with me next time.”
“I’ll definitely be absorbed in reading, so no.”
“You won’t be.”
“I don’t know about that.”
“I always find it interesting to hear Hokuto-san’s thoughts, so I think it will be okay.”
She gave me a thumbs up to show that there was no problem with it. However, since I had a problem with it, I decided to intentionally ignore her.”
“…Ah, do you have your student ID?”
“I do, but why?”
As I walked back to the counter, I took the student ID from her.
“You need it to loan out a book. Lend it to me for a bit.”
Though I could see a slightly younger picture of her on the card, I had to try to ignore it. I scanned the barcode on my student ID and looked up her lending data. After that, I read the barcode on the book aloud and finally handed it to her.
“I didn’t know there was this sort of use for this barcode.”
I was speechless to hear the words she muttered as she stared curiously at the returned student ID card with interest. That was a lie.
“But it was explained during the first library visit after the enrollment.”
“I don’t remember that.”
“…How many students are like that?”
“There’s a lot of them, don’t you think?”
Almost overcome with an inexplicable sadness, I suddenly had an idea to make the most of this sad situation.
“If people knew that the library used barcodes like that, wouldn’t more of them come to the library?”
“I think it would just end with something like, ‘Oh~ wow~.’ “
I couldn’t help but laugh as she hit the nail on the head with her high-pitched, emotionless voice, a voice she would never normally talk in. The thin layer of sadness that had almost enveloped me earlier had now completed engulfed me. She went back to her classroom, satisfied.
As usual, no one came to the library.
It was a perfect reading day.
In My Room
I leave my assignments on top of my desk and organize them by getting rid of some unnecessary things. That’s where I’m going to put the book that Hokuto-san himself recommended to me. I slowly take the book out of my bag and slowly, gently place it down, almost as if I were handling a piece of porcelain.
Now that it is on my desk, I take a deep breath to calm my rapidly beating heart.
The title of the book is ‘One Sun Ahead is Darkness.’ I guess the title comes from a proverb referring to the unpredictable future. With just a simple cover, an illustration of a killer, and a vague description from him, it is hard to imagine what the story is about.
Why did Hokuto-san pick up this book, read it, and what did he think of it? And what will I be thinking when I finish reading it? Instead of the contents of the book, these are the thoughts that keep coming to my mind. Will I be able to picture the same scene in the same way as he did? I wondered if I would be able to have enough thoughts to discuss with him. Not only because of the environment, but also because of my overwhelmingly small amount of reading, I may not be able to come up with anything. I am afraid of that, which is why I haven’t opened the book yet.
He said, “Just the intention to read it is wonderful.” And then, he smiled faintly at my decision to read it.
I think that it would be unbearably dreadful if I cannot meet his expectations.
I know that he probably wouldn’t mind if I do not have any thoughts, but even so, I opened the cover because I want him to think well of me. I think many times, and each time, my conclusion tells me to read. I grabbed both ends of the book to read it; however, it is impossible to turn the page from there.
Finally, tomorrow was the day I was supposed to return the book. If I don’t read it now, it will be a nuisance for the next reader. I really don’t want that to happen.
I made up my mind and opened the book. I flipped to the page with the title, skimmed the table of contents, and turned my attention to the text.
The text mainly consisted of a conversation between an Onee-san dressed like the illustration I was shown, who claimed to be a serial killer, and the young man who was the owner of the room she stayed in. As Hokuto-san says, it is indeed easy to read. The conversations between two people, who would normally have no contact with each other in their normal lives, sometimes make me involuntarily chuckle.
However, as I was reading, I began to think that maybe Hokuto-san also likes the Onee-san type. However, the woman in the illustration looks rather young, so it can also be possible that he prefers a girl who is strong for her age.
No, it’s also possible that he can only show his love for such two-dimensional women in the first place. I don’t understand that feeling, but I do know that there are people who have that kind of taste and preference. It doesn’t mean that Hokuto-san is not like that.
If that were the case, what about me?
Is he still not interested in me, his classmate?
Once I start to think about it, my mind begins to spin. The contents of the book stop entering my mind. Sadly, I have to renew this book and read it again after I have calmed down.
(ED: Hey guys, it’s one of the editors here, ucali. We’ve decided to drop this series due to how hard it is for our TLs to translate it. So, if you’re interested in picking it up, do not hesitate to drop by the discord server and say so. We do have the raw, so….)
This one is really good !
Sigh…… Another good novel abandoned !
At least i will say thank you for introducing this novel
Thank you !
it seems promising, its a shame ….