Ever since my epic failure of a confession, Saionji-san has become much kinder to me. I’d say she’s back to her former character, Hiria-chan. No, it was more than that.
"Good morning, Souji-kun! You look great today too!"
"Souji-kun, let’s have lunch! Trade me the greatest rice ball you promised me! I love onigiri! Onigiri… What’s in it? I want to see it."
"Souji-kun! Let’s go home! Oh, is that a test paper? Wow, that’s great! Amazing! You did a great job! Your handwriting is so cool! Oh, by the way, that letter you gave me when my phone broke, with the avant-garde picture of a beef bowl on the end, was awesome."
"Souji-kun, did you stumble when a girl spoke to you earlier? It was really nice! The way you staggered was great!"
She’s kind to me in a way that makes me feel like an idiot.
Because she’s like that, we’ve become the official couple in our class.
And because I can’t respond well, it’s almost as if she likes me more and is chasing me. I feel very bad about this, but I don’t see any signs of improvement in myself. However, Saionji-san didn’t seem to be too bothered by it.
When I went to return the game console that I had borrowed from Yabusaka, he came out with a very sour look on his face.
"Thanks for this."
"What’s with the sour look on your face?"
"…hey, Souji. What number are you?"
"Eh? What are you talking about?"
"I mean… something like her 89th boyfriend?"
"Do you still believe that…?"
"What’s with that calm attitude? You are pissing me off."
It’s not about being calm or anything, but that information is outdated… I’m sure Yabusaka is the only one who believes in such urban legend-like information, but probably because it’s hard to look at the truth.
"I mean popular women definitely won’t like someone like you!"
"There are many kinds of popular women."
The popular girl, Saionji-san, came to us from across the hallway. Yabusaka quickly rushed over to talk to her.
"Saionji-san! What number is this guy? How many hundreds of boyfriends do you have?"
"You’re an idiot. Even if she had them, why would she tell you that…?"
"Shut up! Giving such a calm tsukkomi, even though you are just Souji. When you’re as good as I am, you can tell a lot from how the other person reacts."
"Saionji-san, I’m sorry. You can ignore him."
Saionji-san held up three fingers with a serious face towards Yabusaka.
"There are three spots available in all."
"All three are all filled with Souji-kun."
Saionji-san said that with an extremely cute smile, and Yabusaka went flying even though he hadn’t been hit.
"…goajiyaagaaieanugeo re yo—ō̄̄̄i!"
Yabusaka cried out, thinking he was being boasted to. I was curious about who the third me was. Nekura, Sakura, and who else? Yabusaka was crying and screaming at a distance.
Saotome-san came out of the classroom and slapped Yabusaka with her indoor shoes.
"Shut up, garbage man. Speak Japanese."
"Nokansago ~tsua ~tsu, ada–tsu!"
Additional slaps and flying again.
"M-my…heart and body are already torn up."
A man who breaks down both physically and mentally when his friend gets a girlfriend – Yabusaka Toru.
Saionji-san doesn’t have any expectations of me.
She knows me very well as a Nekura-kun. And for some reason, she loves me for my pathetic side, not my public image.
So while I was nervous about the girl I liked, I didn’t have to stress about having to dress up.
Even so, there are times when I feel like I’ve done something wrong, but she’s always so happy when I do that that I just shrug it off as a special hobby of a high school girl who likes gorilla notepads and Shigaraki-yaki raccoon dogs.
Now that I’m talking to Saionji-san properly, I don’t talk to Warako-chan as much.
The imaginary friend I had at a reasonable age, Warako-chan, was a symbol of a creature I didn’t know called "girl," and was easily overwritten by the information, body heat, and breath of a real girl.
Everything I didn’t know, everything I wanted to know, everything I didn’t understand, everything I was ashamed of, I could ask her directly. I don’t need information about other girls anyway.
The more you get to know a person, the more your "norm" is slowly being updated.
I don’t consider women to be overly sacred anymore, and I think I’m gaining a sense of love for them as people. I’m already losing the feeling I had before.
After a long time from now, I may even forget about my youthful days when I was only concerned about being popular or not, and become what we call an adult.
I’ll eventually forget…
That vague feeling I had when I thought girls didn’t puke.
The excitement of the moment when I held the hand of the girl I loved for the first time.
The sweltering air in the playset on that summer day with that girl whose face and name I didn’t know.
I’m forgetting more and more.
Someday, I’ll probably forget all about the "girl" who was not a "human" but an incomprehensible creature, and the Warako-chan who symbolized her.
At dawn, in shallow sleep, I heard a voice at my bedside.
Warako-chan, who was sitting crisply on my pillow, woke me up.
What’s wrong? At this early hour.?
"Warako is gonna go now."
Where are you going?
"Ikemen Island." (TN: Ikemen: handsome)
I’ve never heard of this place…
"There are a lot of ikemen in this place, and it’s full of them."
"So Warako will go there and be happy."
In the midst of my wavering and muddled consciousness, I woke up and looked up.
Of course, Warako-chan was not at my bedside. There was only the soft morning sun shining quietly.
I stared at the empty white pillow.
I hope you have fun at Ikemen Island.
TN: Double chapters…