Before the Regular Test (Towa and Kenichi)
The regular test period is approaching.
Anyone who understands this inexplicable sense of urgency and nervousness will know what I mean.
I don’t care about any of that!
Some may say.
Certainly, unlike middle school students, high school students’ regular tests are meaningful only to the extent that they are related to retention and college recommendations, i.e., grades.
Therefore, there are probably not as many people who take them as seriously as they did in middle school.
Still, I am taking it seriously.
Well, I’ve come to take it seriously.
It would be more correct.
I moved my pen and reported to Kenichi about what had happened the other day when I had finished my studies.
“Hmm? Is there something you don’t understand?”
“I told Rin the other day.”
Kenichi’s eyes darted to a point and his mouth moved like a fish, flapping. Then he gave a vague smile and cowered his shoulders.
“Ahh …… haha! I know how this is going to play out, man. It’s that one anyway, right? You told them that you’re going to study with me today, or that you’re going to do your best from now on… That kind of chicken report, right～? “
“No, just my feelings.”
“Why the one-word questioning?”
Kenichi and I looked at each other as we froze again.
Kenichi blinked and rubbed his eyes.
He pinched his cheek and made a pulling gesture and muttered, “It hurts.”
Gradually, Kenichi’s face began to turn slightly red and he began to tremble.
A cry of joy that seemed to echo throughout the house.
He struck a gut-punch and bashed my back with more force than usual.
Is he… pleased?
It’s kind of … embarrassing.
I scratched my cheeks and coughed a little to quiet Kenichi’s festive mood.
“Kenichi, calm down. Don’t be so happy… It’s going to be hard to talk about after this, isn’t it?“
“No, no, no! How can I not be pleased with this!”
“That’s right~ You’re so blunt, Towa! Your brother is impressed by your growth!”
“Who’s my brother! Don’t slap me on the back, you know, … it’s stupid.”
The back aches because of the further beating.
But it wasn’t a bad pain, and the pain seemed to stir up some embarrassment.
Kenichi must have thought he had gone too far.
He closed one eye to wink and clasped his hands together in front of his face.
“Ha ha! I’m sorry, I’m sorry~!”
“People who apologize smirk too much, don’t they…?”
“I was grinning! Well, it was obvious to everyone that the distance between the two of you had suddenly shortened. No~ I’m really happy!”
Seeing Kenichi so pleased, I felt my face get so hot that steam was coming out of it.
Kenichi’s excitement made me blush as well.
I mean, Kenichi…
I think he’s too happy even though we haven’t even started dating yet.
You could call it joy…
Kenichi, ignoring my doubts, pushed my arm with his elbow as if to taunt me, “You’re gonna do it!”
“I like to say that it fits where it fits. So what kind of language did you use to confess?”
“That’s good! Don’t be so precious and tell me~!”
“I’m not going to tell you. It’s just the way it is.”
“Don’t be shy. Come on, just say it.”
“…Real. I said my feelings are real…”
“What’s with the … look in your eyes?”
“Oh no~. You’re surprisingly shy when you hear people talk like that. My face is hot too.
“Damn. Then don’t ask me…”
Kenichi fanned his face with the bottom of his shirt and beamed happily, “Achooo.”
I mean, I got carried away and talked about it… but it’s such an embarrassment to talk about these things…
I’ve seen guys in my class talking about such things, but I never thought I’d experience the day when I’d have to go through it too…
Well, in my case, I only talk to Kenichi.
He’s helped me a lot.
Rin helped me too, but I think I don’t return it to Kenichi as much as I should…
Suddenly, the image of Fuji-san appeared in my brain.
I’ll quit giving Kenichi gifts as a thank you.
Thinking about Fuji-san, no matter how I think about it, it will only cause trouble…
No, in Kenichi’s case, he has the troubling disposition to be happy if he can see Fuji-san’s cute figure.
I’ll have to think about it…
“What’s the matter~? You’ve got a big grin on your face all of a sudden.”
“It’s nothing. I mean, you’ve heard a lot of things from Fuji-san, haven’t you? You don’t need to hear it from me, do you?”
“No, I haven’t heard anything from Kotone. Besides, you want to hear about these things from her, don’t you?”
“Is that how it is?”
“Yeah, that’s the way it is. Suddenly, the wall is gone, so I’m curious~”
“Well, thanks to you…”
“I’m sure you have Wakamiya-san to thank for that, right? Well, the real work begins when you start dating, so it’s like you’re finally at the starting line.”
“You mean there are things that become visible after going out with someone…”
“That’s right! That’s what I’m talking about! This is where the trials begin.”
“I see. Well, me and Rin aren’t dating yet, so I haven’t even stood in that place yet.”
Kenichi froze and slowly turned his head around to look at me.
I think the edges of my mouth are twitching.
… Something, it seems I’ve given him the wrong idea.
I have to say it clearly here.
“I’m sorry I gave you the wrong idea. Anyway, Rin and I are not dating.”
When I told Kenichi that, he started trembling and banged on the desk and leaned forward.
“Haaaaaah!? You said that and you didn’t go out with her! Are you an idiot!? Are you stupid~!!!?”
Kenichi grabbed my shoulder and screamed.
He screamed so loudly that I covered my ears.
I guess he didn’t like that behavior.
Kenichi grabbed my arm and pulled my hand away from my ear.
“I don’t mind … Even if we don’t date, we could still get through to each other… Besides, there’s still something missing from our relationship.”
“… I know what you’re saying, but it’s like you’re in a chess game right now where you’ve got the king’s advantage and you’re sure to win, but you’ve just surrendered, right?”
“Really? That’s pretty good progress, in my opinion.”
“Kah! Don’t hit the brakes just before you’ve progressed that far… You’re so pathetic already, it makes me sick to my stomach! I mean, give it back! Give me back my excitement!”
“Oh, calm down! Shaking your body hurts, doesn’t it…”
I try to quiet Kenichi, who is becoming emotionally unstable.
After shaking my body a few times and looking uncomfortable, Kenichi finally let go of my hand and sighed loudly.
His shoulders slumped and he looks so depressed…
Sorry, I’m full of apologies.
When I tried to open my mouth to apologize, Kenichi stopped me and scratched his head roughly.
“Well, it can’t be helped! It’s something Towa and Wakamiya-san have decided, so it doesn’t matter what I say…”
“I’m sorry, Kenichi.”
“No need to apologize. Just…”
“Ah, I’m so frustrated!!”
Kenichi muttered in disapproval as he rested his chin on the table.
“But you know what…? I’m happy for now. I know it’s a bit of a long shot, but I’m glad Towa is moving forward.”
“Thank you for everything…”
“Stop it. Towa’s being so awestruck makes my back feel itchy.”
“Haha. Make yourself itchy.”
What a strange atmosphere…
I feel an itchiness I’ve never experienced before. Even I’m starting to get itchy.
When I was thinking about this, Kenichi dropped his gaze to his notebook and spoke to me.
“Have you gotten over your parents yet…?”
The moment he asked me that, my chest heaved in an unpleasant way.
Kenichi, who asked me about it, did not look at me.
It must be awkward.
Kenichi is the only one who has seen a scene of conflict between me and my parents…
I opened my mouth, trying to look as calm as possible.
“It would be a lie to say that I’m completely sure. But I’ve quit thinking about this and that. It’s just empty to complain about people who aren’t here.”
“And I am me.”
If someone had asked me this before, I would have ignored it.
But now…, I know I’m not alone.
Maybe I am becoming less hesitant to talk, to mention the subject.
When I think about that, I sincerely felt that people change.
When I looked at Kenichi, he smiled at me.
“No~, but you bonded wonderfully. ‘Girls in love are strong’.”
“That’s right. I still think about the fact that there was someone who was that straightforward. No matter how much I bent, she had the power to pull me back. It’s like she’s carrying me on her back.”
“But, Towa. Don’t forget that the vector of straightness is only possible when there is a guideline, okay?”
“Yeah…? What do you mean?”
“The goal is clear, and the support is there so you can keep going. If there is no road and no goal, there is no such thing as “straightforward”. It’s no different than wandering in the wilderness.”
“A clear goal… I think I know what you mean. It’s lonely and painful to just go on without a goal…”
“Yes, yes. Well, Wakamiya-san was always serious and disliked crookedness. She was sharp before, you know. Do you want to know …?”
Kenichi chuckled as he said that.
The expression on his face somehow seemed to say ‘it was tough’ rather than nostalgic for the past.
The old Rin…
I don’t know what the old Rin was like.
But the fact that Kenichi describes her as ‘sharp’ means that she probably wasn’t like she is now.
But I don’t want to know.
“Rin is everything to me now, more than the past that’s over. I don’t care about the past.”
“Haha. I thought Towa would say that~”
“Don’t poke me on the cheeks. I mean, I don’t like it when guys poke me on the cheek.”
“Well, I guess Wakamiya-san is fine.”
“Yeah… well… I don’t mind.”
“I’m in love with you~”, he said teasingly.
Then Kenichi, who had adjusted his posture just a little, turned his eyes on me with an unprecedented seriousness.
“Towa. You should realize that you are supporting Wakamiya more than you think, okay? If you don’t have confidence, you should build it up. If you want to be on the same level as her, you have to make a bloody effort.”
“Most people give up because of their natural ability. They would look down on themselves and turn away from the world with one word: “She’s so great.” But you are different, aren’t you?”
I nodded, as if to confirm my resolve.
“I’ll be myself and try to be unrefined.”
“I don’t want to say something irresponsible. Efforts will be rewarded. The difference is the time it takes to be rewarded, and whether or not you give up, you know?”
I tried, but it didn’t work out.
But when you decide ‘it didn’t work,’ that’s when people are done.
This depends on how you look at it, but my past efforts were not in vain.
At the time, I was unfaithful because my parents did not approve of me, but I would never have met Rin without that effort.
I learned firsthand that if you keep working at something, it can turn out to be something else, and that it can lead to something else.
I learned that firsthand.
That’s why I can work hard again.
I clenched my fists on my knees, determined once again.
“Well, there really are geniuses when it comes to saying cool stuff.”
“Oh, come on. I was just saying nice things about you, but now you’ve lost your dignity.”
“Hahaha. Well, I guess so!”
“But there are geniuses, but no one is perfect, right? There are only people who are superior in terms of the values of the people who describe them.”
“That’s right~… Certainly, Rin feels that way too.”
A person is expected to be perfect because he or she appears to be perfect, and is forced to live up to an ideal – someone who lives in a different world.
A girl who has been labeled in this way that she does not want to be.
In fact, she has a fragile side appropriate to her age.
She has a need to be spoiled.
She is also selfish – Rin is that kind of girl.
But people don’t see that part of her.
They don’t even try to notice it.
They only had a love for the beauty of her form.
But I am different.
I can say that I like her, including that part of her.
I noticed it and was overly fond of it.
So in order to be with her, and to be with her who is highly regarded by those around her – I have to keep trying.
And I have to change myself from being at the bottom of the pile and overturn the reputation surrounding me.
“Are you going to come back from now on?”
“Oh. Of course.”
“Well, a journey of a thousand miles is better than a single step. As Towa asked me, I will spare no effort to help you.”
“Thank you, Kenichi. You’re a good guy.”
“Haha. I’m a perfect handsome man!”
“Don’t say it yourself…”
I sighed at Kenichi’s smirk.
“And Towa, you don’t have to be … weirdly self-conscious when you say you’re going to change, okay?”
“Well… Today’s Kenichi is always denying something.”
“It’s okay… sometimes. Well, you know, doing good things for others or trying to make a good impression… in other words, it’s all about you in the end. It’s just uncomfortable for the people around you, and it makes you look arrogant.”
“I think what Towa needs to change is the part about “holding himself in and not saying it.”
“You hold too much in yourself, you know. It’s true that patience is a virtue. It’s actually a microtoxin, you know? It gradually eats away at you and numbs your senses.”
“… Patience is poison.”
“Yeah. If you want to change, you should go ahead and do it without holding back. There is no need for you to hold back, and there are people who can see your efforts.”
Yes, that’s right…
When Kenichi said this to me, I felt something that had been stuck in my chest disappear.
“So don’t hesitate to do your best, my best friend! You’re my best friend!”
“…Leave it to me, bad friend.”
Kenichi smiled a refreshing smile and lightly poked me in the chest.