The Girls Who Traumatized Me Volume 2 Chapter 2

Chapter Two: “The Search for the Lost and Everyday Life

I’m equipped with shock absorbers, but last week was tough.
I could have died without my fat reserves. Seriously.
Despite being a shut-in, I was invited to hang out with the normies, only to be spectacularly run over by a bicycle. I’m glad that it wasn’t a car. Was I lucky or unlucky? I have no idea.
It was negligence, so the cops and my sister insisted I file a claim, but we settled it out of court. She was half foreign and apparently unfamiliar with Japanese etiquette. Her parents came to apologize with her and she cried so much that I felt like the bad guy even though I wasn’t hurt. As long as she’s more careful in the future, that’s good enough for me.
Simply let it go without any repercussions is not the right thing either, so I got some compensation money. To apologize for missing my plans, I decided to treat my classmates to sushi and pizza deliveries at school. However, I got an earful from Disciplinary Head Sanjoji sensei when I ordered the delivery.
But she was also concerned about the accident, so she’s a nice teacher.
“You’re really something, huh!”
Hanging out with Artemis-senpai, who seems to be haunting the emergency stairwell due to her constant presence there, again today during lunch.
“What do you mean?”
“Hey, you know, the other day, in the club, didn’t you give the other kids a hard time?”
It rings a bell, but the question that pops into my head comes right out.
“Why is loner Artemis-senpai in the gym?”
“How many times do I have to say that I’m not a loner? Hmm? Look, I’m in the badminton club!”
“The bandwagon club, huh? Living a life of just jumping on the winning horse, what’s so interesting about that?”
“It’s the badminton club! Don’t arbitrarily put me in some weird club without permission!”
“The Yakisoba Bread Competition is something that only exists in the world of fiction, right? Actually, I’m not a big fan of it.”
Why do delinquents like yakisoba so much? They’re like carbohydrate-obsessed demons.
“So don’t ignore me! Then why did you buy it? And I’m not lying. I’m really at the badminton club.”
I laugh through my nose.
“What’s with the frivolous vibe?! Believe it! Believe it! Lately, just because of you, people think there’s something special about me. They treat me like a rare character or something when they see me.
I took coins out of my deformed frog-shaped purse and then clasped my hands.
“What are you doing?”
“I thought I’d try to get some blessings.”
“You don’t need to do that! The more you do this kind of thing, the more everyone copies it, and my character starts to spread in the wrong direction. Well, it’s not all bad. I’ve been having more conversations in class lately, and people have said that my impression has changed. Even underclassmen find it easier to talk to me now.”
“Is that why you’re always here?”
“No, it’s not that! It’s not that I hate it or anything…”
Artemis-senpai seemed embarrassed as she poked her finger.
“A rare character… a loner… running away… being liked… blessings…” T\N: metal slime
Then something clicked. It seemed that she wasn’t really a lingering spirit.
“Artemis-senpai, please give me experience points.”
“I’m going to give you a critical hit.”
“Uwah uwah uwah.”
Yukito Kokonoe died.
“Oh, Yukito. How unfortunate that you died.”
“I’m alive.”
With a dramatic gasp, I come back to life. Artemis-senpai’s expression clouds over.
“It must be hard for you though. Even some people around me who barely know you were bad-mouthing you and it left a bad impression.”
There was no way to help it after that spectacle, I guess. Not that I suffered any direct damage. Even less reason for upperclassmen like Stray Goddess-senpai to get involved with an annoying underclassman, at their own risk no less.
“Your reaction is the right one, senpai. Aren’t you the one who’s weird, Stray Goddess-senpai?”
“Gosh! And I’m on your side here. But it’s true, despite all the rumors about you, I’ve never heard you speak ill of anyone. I think that’s admirable.”
“I deeply respect you. Compared to me groveling in the lowest depths of humanity, I can only look up with longing. It’s the contemplation of the lowly.”
“If it weren’t for the unfunny self-deprecation, you’d be a good boy with a few quirks… Oh, right. By the way, Kokonoe-kun, are your parents coming to school soon?”
“Why would they, since I haven’t caused any trouble yet?”
Instead of the experience points I requested, Stray Goddess-senpai blindsided me with disturbing words that continued to echo in my mind.
” …… Class visit? “
Instead of experience points, the disturbing words that Artemis-senpai had unexpectedly thrown at him continued to echo in his mind.

“You probably already know, but there’s a class visit coming up next month. Fill out the attendance form properly. No matter how embarrassing it is, don’t circle no attendance yourself, okay?”
Stray Goddess Senpai’s words were true. And the nail is quickly driven in.
“I have good news and bad news today.”
This prime candidate for the top three sentences I’d like to say in real life came unexpectedly from the gloomy SaYuuri-sensei.
“An esteemed visitor will be inspecting us soon, so be happy. The first year classes have been selected, and the selection is our class. Any guesses why? Do you know why, Kokonoe Yukito?”
“Because Sensei is intelligent and beautiful.”
The question melts away. Good, good.
“So with that said-“
“We are not finished.”
“But Sensei is empirically intelligent and beautiful.”
“You know how to flatter me.”
“Oh, I’m honored by your words. Anyway, what’s the good news?”
“Being selected for inspection.”
“Then what’s the bad news?”
“Being selected for inspection.”
“She’s got you there. So, having said that…”
“We’re not done yet! Thanks to someone, our class suddenly became the star class of the first year after the last test. Now I’m really busy… We’ve also had some troubles lately, but this is a chance to make up for it. I’m counting on you.”
“But Sensei, there’s nothing we can really do…”
Elizabeth’s position is reasonable. Just being told that there will be an inspection doesn’t require any preparation from us except mental readiness.
“It’s an important role. Whatever happens, watch this guy closely so he doesn’t cause any incidents.”
“I see.”
They nod convincingly. Elizabeth and Mineda look at me and nod as well. Handsome-kun nods as well. Shakado giggles to herself while secretly checking her pet reptiles on her smartphone, but of course I’m nodding too.
“Why do you look the most convinced?”
Amidst SaYuuri-sensei’s wry smile, only Suzurikawa clicks her tongue in annoyance.

“How is it with the high school class observations? Are your parents coming, Yukito?”
Handsome-kun asks worriedly during the break.
“Mom is probably too busy to come. Do parents usually come anyway?”
Looking back, Mom only came to my class observations twice in the past.
One time I was so worried about me making a fool of myself that I didn’t even look back, so I don’t remember it at all.
A few times, Mom’s sister Sekka-san came in Mom’s place, but by high school, I guess there’s less need for that.
“I guess you’re right. It’s common in middle school, but yeah, high school…”
Elizabeth naturally joins the conversation. The social skills of extroverts are amazing.
In situations like this, introverts secretly eavesdrop while pretending to sleep. My case was a special exception where it was too late to pretend, because the facial extroverts initiated.
“Damn it, Handsome-kun, I’m going to get you for this.”
“Huh, why so suddenly?”
“I heard that it’s more common with third years preparing for exams, but if no one but your own parents came when everyone else had family, it would be embarrassing, right?”
“Hmm. Eli-chi, apparently the attendance is higher for college prep schools.”
“Did you just use a dangerously cute nickname?”
Elizabeth shakes Mineda, who is looking for something on her smartphone.
“I think Mom’s coming.”
“Huh, Akane-san is?”
My back stiffens at Hinagi’s timid sentence. Just the other day, I made Akane san angry by carrying her bag when she was sick. Super embarrassing.
“She said she wanted to thank you.”
“So the thank-you visit is finally coming.”
I swallow hard. While it was for the best, the reality is that I hurt and slandered Hinagi. From a parent’s point of view, I must be someone who deserves to die. The rift only widened.
“Why? Mother also knows that you helped me.
“The more she knows, the more she must hate me.
I also broke Akane san’s ban on visiting her house. I have no excuse for that. Maybe she’d forgive me if I swallowed a thousand needles in front of her? But she might call an ambulance first.
I didn’t want to break the promise. I was determined that it was all in the past, that we would never have to meet again. Nevertheless, I interacted with Hinagi again.
So the responsibility for this mistake lies with me. I must humbly accept the scolding and punishment to come.
“It will be alright. Nothing like what Yukito imagines will happen. You know, as an apology, Mommy gave me movie tickets. Want to go together?”
“Is it a shark?”
“It’s not a shark.”
Dispelling my fear, Hinagi smiles gently, just like that day.

In the spirit of reviewing the old to gain new wisdom, it’s time to take a fresh look at the seven school secrets.
Since the night patrol has long been abolished, there are no human anatomical models roaming the school late at night for anyone to notice. Rather, it is the person who witnesses it who is suspicious. Who are you?
The transition from traditional Japanese toilets to Western-style toilets has been in progress. But once that happens, you can’t reach out from the toilet anymore. Even the hardworking Ninomiya Kinjiro, now known as “Walk-and-Text Taro,” may inadvertently encourage risky behavior. Chasing someone in the hallway at a speed of 100 kilometers per hour, like Teke Teke, is out of the question. So, if Teke Teke is chasing, at what speed is the person running away? Probably, they’re not human either. Please, consider participating in the Olympics. Besides, the hallway isn’t that long. The speed setting is way too excessive.
So, out-of-place mysteries should be reimagined flexibly for modern times.
Therefore, I, mystery hunter Kokonoe Yukito, propose that this be added as one of the seven mysteries. [The shameless student council president sitting in the student council room].
“I’m glad you rely on me.”
I made a mistake. No stoppers here. Where did you go, Mikumo-senpai!?
If you don’t know the extent of high school classroom observation, ask someone who does, says the bush warbler. By the way, bush warblers apparently lay their eggs in the nests of Japanese nightingales and make up the difference by pushing the nightingale’s eggs out of the nest and onto the ground.
What cruel brood parasitism, true homewrecking, nay, homebirding in action.
That aside, I had come to the student council room to seek the wisdom of the seasoned third-years. However, the most essential, sensible, and healing presence, Mikumo senpai, was absent.
Here I was with my mortal enemy, the shameless student council president. Without the energizing presence of Mikumo senpai, I was on the verge of a crisis, much like a heroine enchanted by a hero.
“Yumi just went to the faculty lounge. She’ll be right back, I think, but since you’re already here, take it easy.”
“You suddenly lost your accent.”
“What do you mean?”
What is it? No, it’s …… No, no, no, no.
Best not to pry too deeply. The warm welcome is worrying, how long can I stay in this danger zone? Sensing danger, I promptly finish my business and make a quick exit.
“Let’s see… Our first year, it was about twenty percent, I think? Maybe more at academically rigorous schools.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah. Boys were probably more embarrassed, right? I’ll bet female participation was higher.”
Reliable Keido-senpai, as expected from the president. My rating for you has gone up!
So about twenty percent means it probably won’t be a problem if mom doesn’t come. I doubt there’ll be a sudden increase in attendance this year.
It would weigh on my conscience to impose on busy mom for the sake of her no-good son. Much less to ask the esteemed Sekka-san to make the trip in her place.
“By the way, why are you sitting on my lap?”
With the issue settled and my mood refreshed, I decide to ask about something that’s been bothering me. For some reason, the shameless president was sitting on my lap.
“I’ve been doing a little self-reflection and wondering if I got ahead of myself. Taking things slower, building our relationship more first, might make this kind of thing easier. So how about we start by shortening the distance between us by using names and nicknames? I suggest you call me Mutsuki-chan.”
“Way too fast, Mutsuki-chan.”
Ah crap, this person is no good after all. My rating plummets!
Calling the president by name feels like too high a bar. She’s my senior, and I’d appreciate it if she’d go easy on the nickname Mutsuki-chan. The student council president represents the head of this school. In my opinion, that deserves a respectful title, but it’s a bit annoying.
“Let’s start by reducing the physical distance.”
“This is heavy, so please step down?”
“How cold, isn’t this comfortable?”
“It is comfortable.
You might as well answer honestly. It is comfortable, nothing can change that.
“Are you so concerned about my bottom? Teehee. There’s no point in hiding it, it’s actually gotten quite big lately. Kokonoe Yukito, this is a secret, but it’s the childbearing type.”

Scene Transition


“Too much information!”
She unloaded an unexpected secret. What am I supposed to do with this knowledge?
“No need to be shy about it. I thought you’d be happier to know. Ah, yes, I understand. In the future, the far future, that is. I have foresight, you see.”
“Is that really the future?”
As student council president, she must see a different world than an uneducated fool like me.
“How about you tell me some secrets? Well, from what I know of you, I can’t imagine that you would do something like that without a reason. Can you tell me? What was it all about? It was completely incomprehensible. Before I knew it, you were the only one being slandered. I swear I won’t let it be like you’re the bad guy. Kokonoe Yukito, what is the truth?”
The President gradually got a serious expression on his face, stood up from his chair, and turned to me.
There’s no need to tell the truth now. Only what is visible counts.
“I’m just a scumbag.”
“That’s not true! You’re… still trying to help someone…”
“Mutsuki-chan, sorry to keep you waiting. –Waiting, Kokonoe-kun?”
“Mikumo senpai, HIPBOSS is here!”
“Please spare me from being called ‘Director of the Northern Lands.'”

I deeply respect my mother. My reverence for her is incomparable.
Reflection alone is something even monkeys can do, but what about reverence?
Orangutans are called the wise men of the forest, but chimpanzees can be unexpectedly violent, I hear. As long as there is a leader of the pack, the animal world may actually be harsher about such things. But consider this.
The apartment we live in was bought by Mom. I didn’t pay a penny for it. From the point of view of just being allowed to live there, I should at least pay rent. I don’t even pay my school fees, and my food is paid for by Mom. Nevertheless, she gives me an allowance. I refused, but she insisted that I needed it.
This merciful spirit is now worthy of being called a saint. Just so you know, Mom’s name is Ouka, not Maria. Just to be clear.
This happened a while ago. When I started school as a loner outcast with no friends, a smartphone with an empty contact list was an unnecessary luxury for me.
So I came up with the [Kokonoe Yukito Unneeded Smartphone Theory].
To test whether they were really unnecessary, I tried an experiment by going without one for a while. The results – the only exchanges I had during the trial period were minimal ones with the refreshing Ikemen and Himiya-san. With these results, I came home one night and explained to Mom how unnecessary smartphones were for me, but far from being pleased, she cried. How strange. That wasn’t supposed to happen.
Mom pays the smartphone bills, too. I just thought that such wasteful spending was unnecessary for me, but my plan backfired.
I have a reputation for somehow always making Mom cry, but if there was a contest to make Mom cry the fastest, I could win it hands down.
After I made her sob, Mom wouldn’t leave me alone, and we ended up sleeping together in her bedroom late into the night. I was too nervous to sleep a wink, but Mom was out like a light. It’s incomprehensible…
I keep thinking, do I really have that much value? Frankly speaking, I’m just freeloading off Mom. I have no value worthy of Mom’s investment in me.
I intend to repay the investment amount in full in the future, but even so, living lazily from day to day, the very fact that I have no value seems to be proven by her allowing me to remain like this, which makes me feel guilty somehow. I must not live pretentiously. I am determined to be cautious.
The universal common sense of this world is grace and service.
But I only receive grace and do not give service. There is no mutual benefit. I’m just a one-way sucker for their kindness.
–That’s why I wonder, is it okay for me to be here?

I’m sorry. The reunion, it shouldn’t be that late.
“It’s been a while. Have fun.”
Mom has a high school reunion next week, it seems. Ohh. I wonder if I’ll ever go to a reunion…just kidding. No way. That’ll never happen. In fact, I probably won’t even be contacted. More likely I’ll find out after the fact. But better that than being reported missing and presumed dead, which is the most likely outcome.
“If you need anything, let me know. I’ll get it ready.”
“Leave it to Yukito.”
Ah, completely passed the buck to me. Come on, for a girl your age, that’s fine, isn’t it, Kokonoe Yuuri! I mutter cynically in my heart, and Big Sister’s eyes open wide. Yuck! I always wonder how she reads my mind! Does she pick up radio waves or something?
“What’s wrong? Did a bug bite you?”
“No, just some weird vibrations.”
I wave my hands around, but of course nothing is visible.
“I know, we have days off this week, anywhere you want to go? Let’s go out together.”
“Don’t push yourself. Make sure you rest properly on your days off.”
“I see… How’s school? Any problems?”
“I don’t think so. Thanks for the food. I’m going to take a bath.”
Dinner with just the three of us is always quiet. As the only male, I’d probably just be in the way of Mom and Sister’s girl talk, so I quickly clear the table and make myself scarce.
I must be worrying my tired mother. Enjoy your reunion,
I’ll be fine on my own days off, so please just relax and get your energy back. That much isn’t even servitude, but it’s all I can do within my means.
That’s probably what Mom wants, too.

“You get what you deserve.”
Unable to respond to my beloved daughter’s icy words. I tried to call out to my departing son, but the words vanished formlessly like mist. Alone at the darkened table, my gaze wanders, searching for his form.
Lately my daughter has been in a good mood. Unlike me, her relationship with him has improved slightly. I look at my daughter with envy and resentment.
To overcome such a rift, such an estrangement. I thought it was hopeless.
But somehow she did it. Though it may not have been Yuuri’s effort alone.
Still, it’s a faint hope before me that makes me want to cling to it.
I am trying to increase our conversations, but it is hard to say there is much progress. He answers when I talk to him. But that’s it. He doesn’t come and talk to me himself. No matter what the subject, no matter how trivial, I want to hear it from him.
No, that’s wrong. Why am I shifting the blame? I scold my foolish self, biting my lip. There was a time when he was serious about telling me all kinds of things.
But I didn’t listen. I brushed him off, didn’t take him seriously, kept stomping on him, saying I was busy. Blindly believing that there would be another chance.
Only much later did I realize that those chances were long gone.
“It seems that first years have a parent-teacher conference coming up. Knowing him, he might talk to Sekka-san about it. With the low attendance, he probably won’t even tell Mom. Not that he’d want you to come anyway.”
“…I see, it’s that time already.”
This tone stabs me in the chest. Parents visiting day. How many times did I get to go back to elementary school? But I only went twice. I want to see him more, get to know him better at school. But despite this lip service…
He’s in high school now. With that in mind, the deadline is approaching. I can’t waste another moment. I’m out of time.
“It doesn’t matter. He wouldn’t be interested anyway. so why don’t you just hang out with your guy colleagues?”
“Stop it. I’m not like that!”
I argue against Yuuri’s mocking words, but I brought this on myself.
My younger sister Sekka told me. “Big sister, I won’t let him participate again.” And also from my son. “You don’t have to come anymore.” I should have apologized earlier. We should have talked about it. Faced it properly. But to fear it, to run from it, to avoid it…
Now my shallow words cannot reach my children.
“I will risk everything to get him back. It’s not half-hearted like Mom’s feelings. So don’t interfere.”
I, the mother, was overwhelmed by the fiery passion. The surging will washes over me like a muddy torrent, and I shudder at her determination. I waver, tempted to back down.
This girl will not hesitate when it comes to Yukito. She won’t refrain from getting her hands dirty, even if it means turning the world into her enemy, even if it means ignoring ethical constraints.
“You’re a very bad, wonderful big sister.”
“I don’t know about that.”
Yuuri gets up from her seat, starts clearing dishes, and returns to her room. I’m paralyzed. I can’t even blink. The tension eases and I sigh. The intensity of youth. I could never hope to match it.
I ask myself, because I can’t accept it. I can’t accept that my feelings, my emotions, my determination are in any way inferior to Yuuri’s. There is no way I am inferior.
Because I’m his mother. Because I love my son the most.
“What should I do…”
I cover my face with both hands and sob.
There was no time left. The time I can live with my son as his mother isn’t much longer.
As soon as he graduates from high school, Yukito will leave this house immediately. No, even at this very moment, if I told him to leave, he would probably act as if he’d been waiting for it. He’s always prepared for that.
“I wonder if I should ask about parenting problems at the reunion.” At that thought, I immediately fall back into self-loathing. There is no way I can talk about it. My friends would surely condemn me as the one to blame.
I’m disgusted with my useless self. I thought I was handling it better, happy to have more time at home and to face my son.
But for me, who hadn’t done anything, it was too little, too late.
I can’t reach him. Yuuri may have barely reached him, but I can’t even find a foothold, left smoldering. I’m very different from Yuuri.
Since the day Yuuri almost killed Yukito, she hasn’t run away from it, she has faced her sin all the time. Days of unimaginable pain that no one else can understand.
When he’s not at home, Yuuri often sits alone in her room, burning the scene into her eyes. So that she will never forget what she did.
Yuuri’s determination torments me. To mock me like that must be to test me. –To test my resolve as his mother.
Powerless, I lift the cup to take a sip. I’ve been left alone. The children are not with me. This is what I’ve done. It’s foolish to expect an ideal, cozy family scene.
“Hey, what should I do, Yukito?”
I appeal to my beloved absent son.
Only the sound of my sobbing echoes in the living room.

Soaking in the bathtub, I let my thoughts wander aimlessly.
Nee san, Hinagi, and Shiori taught me by experience that I’m wrong. So I decided to make different decisions than before. But that doesn’t solve everything.
I was wrong. When did I become wrong? What exactly was I wrong about? Even if I realize that I’m wrong, without understanding what I was wrong about, there’s no solution.
Like this, I probably won’t be able to respond to anyone’s feelings forever.
The plump baby duck float stares at me intently with innocent eyes. When I get out of the bath, after a quick stretch, all I have to do is study and then sleep.
Walking through the living room after drying my hair, I find a pair of shorts Big Sister would wear lying on the floor. I pick them up and put them in the laundry basket.
Outside my room, I find a tank top Big Sister would wear on the floor. I pick it up and put it back in the laundry basket.
Upon entering my room again, I find women’s underwear next to the bed. Whether Big Sister would wear them or not, I don’t know. I mean, it’s not like I’ve seen it that much.
I go to pick them up and put them in the laundry basket, but the bed is suspiciously lumpy. Someone is obviously hiding there.
“Don’t tell me…a thief? No…a burglar?”
The tension suddenly rises, but a wry smile breaks out on my face. Looking around the room again, there’s really nothing of value here. Plain white walls, somehow empty and desolate. In the middle of the desolate room there are only my few personal items and hardly any furniture.
Calling it minimalist sounds nice, but in reality it’s nothing so great.
I’m only allowed to live in this room because of my mother’s great kindness. If I’m asked to leave, or I should get out and I’d leave right now.
In other words, this place is like a hotel room for me. Without leaving a trace. I make my preparations and have no room to leave unnecessary things.
I’m always tidy and careful not to make a mess or get dirty.
If I can just study, then this room is enough. I’ve vowed in my heart not to cause any trouble, at least academically. Keeping my grades up is my top priority, no matter what. I must not add to Mom’s stress.
Think about it. If, on top of all the trouble I’ve already caused my family, If I was lazily playing games in my room instead of studying, how do you think she would feel? It would certainly be extremely unpleasant. I don’t want her to feel that way. Just to be allowed to live together, and to be given this room, I can only feel grateful.
How tolerant and kind is the Kokonoe family? I really should pray twice a day in front of Mother’s bedroom. Thank you, thank you.
So there is nothing in this room. I didn’t leave anything of value for burglars to steal. My apologies to the culprit who is now hiding, but please give up.
I’m going around in circles looking for where and when I’m wrong, not even knowing if the truth is like that.
“Hello, Mr. Burglar, there’s nothing here you want.”
He might get angry. I speak carefully to avoid irritation.
With a rustle, the culprit poked his head out of the sheets.
“It’s you that I want!”
“Motherrrr! There’s A naked, naughty child here! Kyaaaaa!”
Leaving the intruder making statements like the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, I flee the room. It kind of looks like Big Sister, but that must be my imagination, right?
As I flee, I also put the underwear in the laundry basket. Let’s clean up the discarded clothes.

I met up at in front of the station with Hinagi. The movie we’re going to see is a crime thriller about a boy detective with an adult brain transplanted by brain modification, who eradicates criminals and takes revenge on the organization in the crime-ridden crazy city,
According to the advance information it is a problematic movie full of spectacular explosion and splatter scenes – sounds like a controversial work, but why oh why did Akane choose this one! I can only call it a nice decision! Looks super interesting!
“Sorry to keep you waiting. Glad I found you quickly.”
“You’ve got the wrong person, I don’t know any 2D beauties….. Hinagin?”
“Don’t surprise me in some crazy new way!”
I was so shocked my eyes popped out, pop! (Metaphorically speaking)
“Danger, danger. For a second, I thought a beauty had jumped out of the 2D world.”
“You’re overpraising me!”
“Hey, how cute are you going to get before you’re satisfied? I’ll throw red super chat at you.”
“Even if you say that…”
Slightly jumping dimensions, huh? What is this supreme beauty, Hinagi.
Hinagi, totally unfair! Right, everyone!? Yukito B~F “Yeah totally”
She’s a few minutes earlier than our meeting time. Come to think of it, it has been a while since I saw her in casual clothes. Her taste hasn’t changed much, but the impression is different.
More mature clothes than in middle school.
“I tried my best. Does it…suit me?”
“Turn around.”
“Ehh!? L-Like this?”
Her skirt flips up. The iconic scene from Idol Lives.
Why do I know this? Because Mom and Big Sister are buying new clothes and won’t stop pestering me to call them cute at their fashion shows at home. Are you kids or something?
“Kneel before me, Hideyoshi. My vocabulary is dead, so I’ll just say cute.”
“Oh, thank you. That’s right, you’ve been complimenting me for a long time. But I could never be honest… How stupid of me.”
Hinagi’s eyes moisten as she bows her head sadly.
“…You really have changed.”
The innocent times, few years ago, you were harsh. And now, sincere and tearful.
“Then I am glad. The me of before is surely unforgivable. Now, shall we… hold hands?”
“It’s like a date.”
“It is a date. I always wanted to do this.”
Without hesitation or embarrassment. She grips my hand tightly, then slowly turns it palm up toward me. I hesitantly take her hand.
“What I wanted was right in front of me, but I didn’t realize it. It was there when I reached out. You were always by my side and yet still. Sorry for being so late.”
As if to convince herself, Hinagi chooses her words carefully. It’s like confirming to never make this mistake again, confirming while moving forward.
I still can’t remember the feelings I secretly harbored when I wanted to confess my love for Hinagi back then. Until I find those feelings, those lost feelings, I won’t be able to respond to anyone’s feelings.
That would be cruel. Everyone who’s shared their feelings with me must have been very brave. No matter how I respond, I should have feelings to match theirs.
Knowing that it was hopeless, unattainable, I stopped looking for it.
A piercing headache divided me.
How should I respond to such a girl?

“Thanks for going out with me. It was fun!”
“What are you going to do now?”
“Um, do we have…more time?”
I check my watch after leaving the crowded theater. It’s after 3pm.
With the summer solstice approaching, there’s still plenty of daylight. No special plans. Too early to go home. And something was bothering me.
“Please…just a little longer together with you.”
“I don’t mind, but…”
Her changing expressions don’t bore me.
But has Hinagi noticed that her face occasionally becomes cloudy?
“You don’t like it…sorry. Still, I…”
“What are you afraid of? Come on.”
I looked around and spotted my target, forcibly pulling her hand.
“Huh? Wait, where are we going Yukito?”
“Punishment time.”
“At this hour? And outside too, can’t we do it after dark, instead?”
“What are you talking about? Look.”
After walking a few meters, the seasonal spectacle was in full bloom.
“Aren’t they pretty?”
“Yes, but… what about them?”
I squeeze Hinagi’s cheeks between my hands, kneading them.
“Stop it! Can oo eeh!?”
“Take a good look?”
Hinagi’s soft cheeks are squishy. I take notes.
I remove my hands from her chubby cheeks and return to the hydrangeas.
Hydrangeas change color through the pigment anthocyanin. The lovely blue ones now will probably soon change to another color.
“The meaning of the hydrangea is [Pride] [Infidelity] [Aloofness]. Fits me perfectly, right?”
Hinagi says with a dark, self-deprecating laugh. While they can have negative connotations, hydrangeas’ meanings vary by color, with many representing deep affection.
“No one says that about you. I heard a story like this. A man struggling with debt suddenly had his world opened up, and he vividly felt the seasons when he was done paying it all back.”
“Hinagi, don’t narrow your vision. Take a deep breath and look around you. Beautiful things abound. Who knows when or where you’ll come across something beautiful. See, look over there. That couple is kissing in the middle of the day.
“Don’t point!”
Today, Hinagi’s eyes kept wandering in my direction. Even while watching the movie, she was preoccupied with me. Consuming it rather than alleviating her discomfort.
At this rate, she might miss something else important.
“You’re in high school now. Enjoy yourself more.”
“I can’t… Because if I hadn’t made that request… No. If I hadn’t chased after Yukito, if we hadn’t reunited, I wouldn’t have ruined Yukito’s life!”
Finally, I understand what’s bothering her. She can’t stand my current situation. She regrets being the cause.
“I’m not particularly bothered, though.”
The meddlesome side of this childhood friend hasn’t changed a bit since we were little.
“Then if I’m ever in trouble, you must help me.”
“Me… help Yukito? Yes, yes, yes! Absolutely, absolutely, I’ll do something! I’ll help you. If something’s bothering you, talk to me, no matter what!”
We’re close enough to feel each other’s breath.
“So – thank you.”
I gently wipe away Hinagi’s tears. Pink hydrangea means [vivacious woman].
A gloomy face doesn’t suit her.
“But let me correct you on one thing. I have met someone wonderful. It was a long, long time ago when I was still young. No matter what happens, that won’t change.”
I don’t ask the obvious question of who it was. I hope the day will come when I will remember my discarded feelings, my lost emotions.

“Let’s split it, it’s before dinner.”
It was after 6 pm. If I keep Hinagi out too long, Akane will scold me again. I have to avoid increasing the tension of her anger…
A winter specialty is now available all year round. I cut the baked sweet potato I bought in half and give it to Hinagi.
“Thank you. It feels kind of strange. Baked yam this time of year.”
“Don’t lose your sense of season and romance.”
“Well, but… it’s delicious.”
Seeing Hinagi happily eating the baked sweet potato, I realized my terrible mistake. What an idiot I am. Baked yam for a girl? My lack of tact knows no bounds. I have no right to complain if she’s disappointed.
Oh no! What have I done! Kokonoe Yukito, biggest oversight!
“S-S-Sorry! H-H-Hinagin!”
“W-What’s wrong Yukito!?”
Unable to hide my excitement, Hinagi could not either.
“Don’t worry. Even if your farts stink, I don’t care a bit…”
“Won’t happen!”
She slaps me on the head.
“Obviously not. Look, idols never going to the bathroom is just an urban legend, all right?”
“That’s not what I’m saying! I’m saying they don’t!”
“It’s just a physiological phenomenon, nothing to be ashamed of. Go ahead and let it rip as hard as you can. Come on, don’t hold back.”
“Stop calling me a stinky character! That’s slander!”
“Low protein means less odor is the feature.”
“Oh, that’s reassuring – not! No way!”
“High fiber, so it’s healthy. Rich in vitamins too.”
“So what, you want to sniff? You want to sniff my farts!? Right!?”
“What? Say it so much, then I’ll do it! Go ahead and sniff! Here!”
“At the risk of sounding like an old lady, you might want to keep this fetish hidden.”
“Your fault! Really…idiot. But…I love you so much.”
The tension breaks and she laughs unreservedly.
Laughing her fill, the cloud in her expression is gone.

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