Instead of a ‘Thank You’
When they returned from the training camp, summer vacation truly began. Basically, from now on studying for tests would be critical.
Yasuki took classes at a prep school in the morning and in the afternoon he studied in a self study room until it got dark, and he repeated this daily. At home he couldn’t help but think about unrelated things, but the atmosphere around a self study room that made you feel like you had to study gave him motivation.
On the day that it became August too, Yasuki spent the day mostly at the preparatory school and went home afterwards in the evenings. After that, he took a showerTL1 and began polishing rice in the kitchen.
To tell the truth, he wondered why a student studying for exams should be doing household choresTL2. However, his parents’ policy was ‘If he’s not made to do housework, he’ll become a child who can’t do anything in the future,’ which he could agree with. That’s why every day he never failed to polish the rice and fold the laundry, as well as sweep the club room1.
When he was rubbing the rice together with the palm of his hand, a ‘pin pon’ sung out from the entranceway. It seems someone’s here in the evening.
His mother, who it seems was in the living room, answered with a “Coming.” After the sound of the door opening, “Eh?” his mother gave a surprised reaction.
(Who is it?)
The other person’s voice was quiet, so what they said didn’t reach him. Whatever, it’s fine. His mother is a normal lady, but she’s aware enough not to fall for scammers or solicitors. If the other person is that kind of person, after being refused enough they should give up and leave. While thinking that, he changed the water.
While tightening the squeaky tap closed, he heard a couple words from the entranceway.
“Yasutaka… Oh, oh, you mean Yasuki”
Somehow, it seems the one they came to see was him. He couldn’t think of anyone it could be, but he quickly washed the rice from his hands.
“Yasukiii, a friend from school is here”
While he was measuring out the water, his mother called him in a loud voice. He already knew that. They lived in a house, but it wasn’t big; even if she didn’t yell he’d be able to hear.
He put the rice and water in the rice cooker and set it, and went towards the entrance to switch out with his mother. When he saw the face of the person on the other side of the half-open door, he was surprised enough for his heart to come out of his mouth.
As he said her name in a low voice, Kitaoka Ema, without smiling, lightly greeted him.
Kitaoka was wearing a thin LINE2 t-shirt, denim short pants, and thong sandals in a casual-type outfit. It was like this at the training camp too, but when she’s not wearing her uniform, she’s really fit and womanly; she looks really adult.
Kitaoka awkwardly grimaced as Yasuki continued the silence. That’s bad, he just stared at her.
Looking down, she held out the cloth shopping bag in her right hand to him.
In the bag he received were the sneakers he had lent her. Not knowing how to respond to being stared at, Kitaoka added in a small voice:
“I washed them, so you don’t have to worry about that”
…he wasn’t really worried about that though. It would have been fine to return it as is, actually.
“Anytime would have been fine. I have other shoes.”
If he remembered right, her house should be in the next town close to the school. That’s separated from here by 4 stations. To come all the way out here for that kind of thing, as he thought about it, she made his mouth warp more and more dubiouslyTL3.
“But it’d be a problem at home”
He felt like his pretension was negated. It seems like her circumstances meant that coming here to return them isn’t inconvenient.
However, the fact that she came from far away for this hasn’t changed. Saying “Sorry for causing you trouble” with an indifference that sounded like sarcasm, she held out a small paper bag as well.
“That, and this too”
Apparently this paper bag was also brought for him. Is the bag from a general store somewhere? The logo and design were both cute.
“Eh, This is for me?”
Kitaoka silently nodded. Inside were checkerboard patterned cookies. Are they freshly baked? A faint buttery smell was wafting out.
“When it’s this kind, they’re cheap to make by yourself. I had leftover ingredients too. And also…”
She quickly said something like an excuse and kept talking. “I’m grateful, but this isn’t something that great” was stuck at the end.
But receiving handmade sweets from a girl was a new experience for him. On the contrary, he thought that even if they were from leftovers, he was honestly thankful.
“Ah, no. Thanks”
He answered shortly.
While he was pretending to be composed, as he was considerable happy on the inside, she took a step back and said, in a small voice that it seemed like he couldn’t catch:
“…That time at the training camp, you really saved me.”
“Ah… Well, I just lent you my shoes.”
He never heard the words ‘Thank You,’ but somehow the feeling was conveyed. She has times when she’s cute too, huh? He thoughtTL4.
To the back that had turn around with a ‘well then’, he hurriedly called out.
She turned her head, with her hair swaying in the waning light. Surely it’s because she’s different than the usual Kitaoka that he also felt strange. ‘That’s not like me’, he thought as his mouth moved on it’s own.
“What way did you take to get here?”
“Eh… I went to ÆON3 from the station and followed the highway…”
“…there’s a shortcut. I’ve also got things to do by the station, so wait a minute”
It’s getting dark so taking a different route would be bad.
But saying straightforwardly ‘I’ll take you there’ would probably get him rejected. Following that prediction, Kitaoka nodded with an ambiguous face.
He grabbed his wallet and bicycle key, put his shoes on in the entranceway, and left. Kitaoka looked at the shrubs while waiting outside the gate for Yasuki.