While the darkening of the day dyed the residential area ultramarine, he pushed his bike towards the station.
Walking alongside him was a delicate girl. He didn’t know if it was her shampoo or her perfume, but anyways smelling the sweet scent from close by forcefully reminded him of her existence every second.
However, it’s good that he was successfully able to escort her back, but what do they talk about on the way. Not even one bit of good material is coming to mind due to the tension and uplifting feeling.
Eventually, unable to bear the silence, Kitaoka was the one who spoke first.
“You bought new glasses, didn’t you?”
Yasuki was perplexed. It’s been two years since he last got new glasses, he’s been using these ones for quite a while now.
Why’s she saying that he wondered, maybe she got him confused with some other glasses guy? He thought a little, but touching the frame brought the cause to mind.
“Ah, so that’s it. At school I use different ones.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“I always use these ones at home.”
Dark blue thick rimmed glasses. He bought them in his third year of middle school as a replacement for his broken ones, but now they’re primarily his house glasses.
With Yasuki’s words, she asked:
“Why don’t you use those ones at school?”
It’s the same situation as on the way back from the convenience store. Usually Kitaoka is curt, but when it’s one on one there’s no outright attitude. Noticing that, his speech came out smoother.
“The prescription is a little weak for these. Measuring out a liquid is fine, but trying to see the blackboard in class is a problem.”
He bought them when he was in middle school, but studying for tests and reading too many books caused his eyesight to drop. When he entered high school, he got a new pair to use for his new route to school. That’s why acquaintances from school aren’t familiar with him wearing these glasses.
Kitaoka looked at his face from the side, and voiced her dissatisfaction.
“Eh~, these ones are so much better though”
“Yeah, your usual ones really give away that you’re an otaku”
Yasuki was surprised at the frankness with which she said that and dropped his shoulders. Certainly, his school-use glasses have thin metal frames and big lenses so his vision isn’t blocked at all. The design is a bit old, but he can see better thanks to it, so he liked it…
“It seems like you’re misunderstanding, but I’m not an otaku”
“Is that so?”
“Unfortunately. Listening to what Katsuya says, I don’t understand any of it.”
‘Give away’ since she said that, it seems that she thinks he’s actually an otaku. He had to firmly deny that. If he was expected to understand the talks of enthusiasts he would be troubled.
To this, she tilted her head as if it was strange.
“Then, why are you together with Saitou-kun?”
“‘Why,’ you ask…”
Saitou is Katsuya’s family name.
But, do you need a reason to be friends, he’d have liked to point this out.
“Hmm… Because he’s a good guy?”
Girls may feel his appearance isn’t so good, but he says tons of interesting things. Still, no matter what is said he doesn’t get mad and just lets it roll off his back, and when Yasuki is sick he visits to bring the class notes. As a friend, rather than 100 points, he gets 120.
Just a moment after Yasuki’s answer, Kitaoka let out a laugh.
“I see~. He was a good guy~”
He didn’t know exactly what was so funny, but he couldn’t feel any sarcasm or the feeling of being made a fool of. He wanted to improve the girls’ opinion of Katsuya, he thought, but maybe that was asking for too much.
After laughing for a bit, Kitaoka changed the topic, with “That reminds me.”
“Yasuki is how you say your name, huh. Earlier I messed up and asked ‘Is Yasutaka-kun here?’”
“Ah, yeah, it happens a lot.”
He heard the exchange in the entrance earlier so he knew about it(though now that he thought about it, he could only hear his mom’s half).
When first seeing it, they’ll definitely say ‘Yasutaka’ so even though Kitaoka was in the same class as him for over a year, it couldn’t be helped that she was wrong. You could say she just held that little interest in him.
“The Kunyomi and Onyomi1 are strange aren’t they?”
“Even if you say that… please tell my parents instead. I can’t do anything about it.”
Frankly, he could only sigh and shrug. He knew it was a rude thing to say, but he felt it was pleasant that she didn’t sugar coat it.
“What was yours again?”
He knew, but he figured he’d ask anyway.
“It’s Ema, you know”
“…a nice and normal name, huh.”
Replying to her immediately, he thought that once again. It’s not too novel, but it’s also not an old name. Most likely, she rarely has people mistake the reading as well.
At Yasuki’s praise, Kitaoka nodded a little, as if it was her strong point.
“Yeah. It comes from a foreign actress”
Foreign actress… could it be-
“I’m telling you right now, it’s not ‘Emmanuel’s Wife2’”
His thoughts were seen through and he kept his mouth shut. Well, that is a role rather than an actress.
“Well, it’s similar to Emmanuel, but… it’s from Emmanuelle Béart3, a french actress. Anyways, she was cute in the old days.”
Even if she says she was cute, he’s never heard of her. Just how many actresses are there?
“Hmmm… I don’t know her”
“I know right. I never hear ‘Ah, I know that one’”
He peeked at Kitaoka as she exaggerated.
When she says that sort of thing, it seems like she has some foreign blood in her. ‘Humans are simple’ Yasuki thought.
Getting near the station, they stopped at a red light for a moment. Kitaoka took her smartphone out of her pocket and started typing out something.
He (obviously) couldn’t see the contents, but his eyes couldn’t keep up with the speed of her fingers.
When it seemed like she got to a stopping point, she looked over towards him. It appears that she noticed his gaze.
“Nothing, I just thought you were typing fast.”
As he answered honestly, the traffic light turned green.
After crossing, she put the phone back in her pocket and asked.
“That’s right, when I came, I looked at the register of names that I got during first year, but the Iijima house number wasn’t written there. What about your cell phone?”
Hearing that, Yasuki remembered about the existence of the registry. For the protection of personal information and stuff, it’s not the same as what’s used by the school. Around the time when he was in first year, at the beginning of the year, they called it ‘all-class self-volunteered,’ and distributed a survey that asked for address, home phone number, and middle school among other things.
After that, everyone received a booklet with the answers to everyone’s surveys printed in it. Yasuki didn’t feel a need for it and got rid of it when he cleaned up on new years, but it looks like Kitaoka relied on the address in it to get to his house.
To her question, he answered bluntly.
“I don’t have a cellphone.”
“Eh? For real?”
She reacted just like he thought. One could say that almost all high school students own a smartphone recently, so her surprise is understandable.
“Why don’t you have one? Everyone has one, you know?”
Kitaoka opened her eyes wide, and talked with a large volume. It seems it was pretty surprising.
Yasuki breathed a sigh before answering.
“When I was about to enter high school, my parents asked whether I would rather get a smartphone or computer, and I chose a computer.”
“But it’s inconvenient if you aren’t carrying one, isn’t it. Can’t you ask them to shop around?TL1”
“I could. But somehow or another it becomes a thing.TL2”
Basically because he goes between his house, school, and prep school every day, he doesn’t have any errands that he needs to do as soon as possible. “If it’s not in stock it’ll be a problem” some may say, but that’s fine as long as you’re not too slow. He already memorized the numbers of some of his parents close friends, so he was told to call them if something happened. Besides, it wasn’t that long ago when people lived their lives without them, so it’s not like you’ll die if you don’t have one.
Kitaoka looked into his face curiously, “Oh” she leaked a breath that sounded amazed and admiring.
“A computer, huh… Do you need one of those? What do you do with it?”
“‘What’, you say… Well, you can make programs with it. A smartphone probably doesn’t really do that.”
“Program? You can write one yourself?”
“Well… if it’s a simple one”
Around the time he was in middle school, the library had an Introductory Java4 book. He tried to write a program on the school computer and it was unexpectedly interesting. That’s why when he was asked whether he wanted a smartphone or a computer, he chose the computer.
Kitaoka let out a dry laugh in a high voice.
“So you’re an otaku after all”
“…I don’t think so though”
“No, you’re otaku enough. Take it from me”
…is it like that? It seems like no matter what, ‘Iijima = otaku’ is what Kitaoka will say. He feels like her definition of an otaku and his own must be different.
‘Maybe I shouldn’t have said that,’ he regretted a little, but he can’t help what already happened. Close to giving up, he tightened his grip on the bike’s handlebars.
They were approaching the roundabout in front of the station. It was almost time to part with Kitaoka.
“But, you know, it’d be good if you had a smartphone though. The family plans are really good.”
Again with this topic… Even though it shouldn’t have any effect on her whether he has one or not…
“Could you possibly be working for a cellphone company?” He was getting a little tired.
“To say so, you must be pretty stubborn about me not having oneTL3, huh. …Well, I’ll get one when I go to university though.”
“Hmm. Rather than being stubborn, it’s more like you’re just a contrarian, huh.”
“Say whatever you want. It’s not like I’m attractive like you, so I don’t really need one right now”
Kitaoka’s tone suddenly changed. Did he say something bad?
Concerned, he looked at her face when she turned away. Under the orange streetlights, she was scowling at the ground with an awkward face.
“Don’t worry about it”
He didn’t see much, but… He didn’t want to keep poking a it. They were just in front of the station, so there was no more need for conversation.
Kitaoka took her wallet out of her purse and stopped in front of the ticket gate.
“Well, be careful on the way home.”
“Alright. See you”
She laughed a little and waved her hand. Her chestnut hair and white limbs got further away. The retreating figure of the girl disappeared as she descended the stairs to the platform from the ticket gate. In the mass of people on their way home, she drew the eyes like a light. He couldn’t look away.
…that time felt unbelievable. The female classmate who was like an antithesis to him suddenly showed up at his door like an old friend and talked with him on the way back.
He’s sure that the next time they meet at school, she’ll probably act like nothing ever happened. He understood that, but he couldn’t stop the seed that was sprouting in his chest.
 : Kunyomi and Onyomi are the two types of ways to read a Kanji character. The native Japanese and the Chinese ways respectively. There are multiple of each type for most characters. Part of this was seen when Uchida called him Meshi-chan.
 : From an old soft-core porn movie called Emmanuelle, apparently. Wikipedia link contains image of cover, which is NSFW
 : Pretty much explained in the text, but I figured I’d put the Wikipedia article anyways: Emmanuelle Béart