Beginning of July, it’s the first summer since I started dating Shirakawa-san. There’s still no announcement for the end of the rainy season, however the temperature under this fine weather went above 35℃, so the air has completely become midsummer’s.
Nevertheless, the expression of Shirakawa-san walking next to me on the way to the station, in the middle of going home from school, was as cloudy as the sky in the rainy season.
“Aah…. tests are, like, tomorrow and It’s bad bad super bad!”
She crumpled her head with both hands and looked towards the sky with a despairing gaze.
“Baaad, super baddies mapo noodles~”1
“….Somehow that sounds delicious, doesn’t it?”
“Sheesh~! How about Ryuuto? Do you feel super confident?”
“Th-that’s not the case, but….”
The end of term tests would start tomorrow. The subjects for the first day were English grammar, optional science, and home economics.
“The only thing I can do now for English grammar is reviewing vocabulary, for chemistry too…. For home economic, I’m planning to do some memorization tonight, though”
“Aah, so Ryuuto chose chemistry~. I chose biology, but I seriously don’t get it to the MAX, it flew beyond over it’s ottawa now”
“…That’s Canada’s capital city, I think?”
“Ah, is that so?”
Shirakawa-san looked blankly for a moment, and then she slightly pouted her lips.
“Actually, is Ryuuto, maybe really smart? No matter how many times I review English grammar, it’s always a nightmare, but Ryuuto’s already perfect except for the vocabulary, right?”
“Eh, err, that’s not really….”
As I got more flustered because the bar was raised too high, Shirakawa-san’s fixedly staring at me with upturned eyes.
“….Wh-what is it?”
“Ryuuto, the scores for English grammar in midterm, what did you get?”
Right, If I remember correctly, I made a mistake on some important grammar and didn’t get the score I had expected…. Despite thinking about such, it wasn’t terrible enough to be kept hidden, so I had to answer.
“It’s seventy-eight or nine…. I think”
I remember how vexed I was that I didn’t hit the eighty mark.
However, Shirakawa-san’s eyes shined when she heard my confession.
“Eh, no way!”
For a moment, I thought “In which meaning?”, however when seeing the glitter in her eyes, it didn’t seem to be in a bad way.
“Ryuuto really is smart after all! I got thirty-five, you know~ I really tried my best, too~”
“I-is that so….”
Even then, that’s still higher than Ichi’s recently, but even if I bring that topic up, I guess Shirakawa-san’s response would only be a “huh?”.
“The scope for this time is really confusing, too, so I got a feeling it’s gonna be worse than midterm~…. ”
“How about vocabulary? There’ll certainly be ten questions about vocabulary, so even if you start memorizing what’ll be covered for the test now, I’m sure you’ll definitely pull off ten points”
“Eh, isn’t that impossible? I mean, wasn’t there at least a hundred words in the scope?”
“But, didn’t you already have some of them memorized? So just the one you don’t know….”
“Eh seriously!? I didn’t even know some of them~…. Ryuuto really is amazing….”
I intended to give advice, but it seemed to push her in the opposite direction. Shirakawa-san was dropping her shoulder with a depressed face.
“Before tests I’m always like, I should’ve studied harder and I’ll do better next time, don’t I. But, when the tests end and we start the next scope of the lessons, it’s the continuation from the previous one, so I’m still kinda lost from the start”
“If I’m like Ryuuto, properly piling up what I learned each time, I’ve a feeling even a test will feel like an extra study session….”
It’s not even like I tried to assert dominance in studying because I was a gloomy person, but I’ve completely taken away Shirakawa-san’s vigor.
Not that it’s an apology, but I wonder if there’s something I can do to help…. And when I was thinking that, I suddenly came up with an idea.
“Ah, then Shirakawa-san, if you’d like, do you want to study together from now?”
Today’s the day before the tests, so we’ve got to leave school early during the morning. At the moment, we were about to go somewhere for lunch, so I wondered if we could make it similar to that.
Shirakawa-san’s eyes opened wide and her face looked truly surprised.
“Yeah. Only if Shirakawa-san wants to, though. I don’t understand it perfectly either, but I believe I’ve got the general understanding of what’s covered so I think there’s maybe something I can teach you”
“Eh, you know, can studying be done together with others? I can’t teach Ryuuto anything, though”
“That’s totally fine. Look, it’s said often, right. You can’t teach others unless you really understand it. Also, I maybe find something I don’t understand myself when teaching Shirakawa-san”
Shirakawa-san muttered “So that’s also one way to look at it”, and looked up at me.
“I’m so happy. When I’m alone I can’t concentrate and somehow ends up getting my nails done. If together with Ryuuto, I feel like I can actually study!”
Her smiling face shined with anticipation and joy, completely like that of a child about to go on a field trip.
However, 30 minutes later.
Her expression already started to look dark.
“Haah~…. What’s this? It’s totally a stranger to me, though”
At the fast food restaurant in front of A Station (It’s another branch of the chain store I went to with Yamana-san previously) was Shirakawa-san sitting opposite me, and had a textbook opened while holding her head in her hands.
“What part you don’t understand?”
“All of it. Everything. Isn’t this sentence not making any sense? What even is this”
What Shirakawa-san pointed to was the following sentence.
He is the last man to tell a lie.
“That, huh. Firstly, do you understand the meaning of ‘tell a lie’?”
“Umm…. ‘Tell it to Rie’? Ah, I know. A phone call, right? Grandma also often says ‘If you need something just telephone me’, doesn’t she”
It’s worse than I thought.
“Then, do you understand the part before that?”
“‘He’s the last man’….?”
“That’s right. ‘tell a lie’ means ‘to lie’, so a direct translation would be ‘he’s the last person who would lie’”
“….What does that mean?”
“Let’s assume that everyone in the world turns into a liar. If the liars were to tell a lie in order starting from the one who lied the most, it means that he’ll be the last one to tell a lie”
“Aah, I see”
“Do you get the meaning? In other words, he’s an honest person…. And that’s what it means”
“Yep…. That’s Ryuuto, isn’t it”
Being told that by Shirakwa-san, I looked at her.
Then she smiled at me.
“If every man in the world were to cheat, I feel like Ryuuto won’t do it until the very end. And I, believe so”
After saying that, she dropped her gaze and smiled happily.
“Since I started dating, Ryuuto is the first person I’ve felt that way about”
I became embarrassed and started to scratch my chin for no reason.
Of course I’ve no intention to cheat on her at all, but if she believes me to that extent, it makes my ass itchy.2
“….So with that, do you understand this sentence now?”
“Then, let’s go to the next one”
It was then, when I wanted to move to the next one quickly because I felt embarrassed.
“Uh, wait a sec”
She told me that, then Shirakawa-san stood up, taking along her notebook and mechanical with her. Then she came over here, and sat next to me.
We had been sitting around a table for two, facing each other. Up until now, Shirakawa-san had been sitting on a chair type seat, and I was sitting on a bench type seat position against the wall. And the bench type seat stretched all the way to the next tables, so there’s certainly a room for two people to sit.
As I got flustered at the sudden closeness, Shirakawa-san grinned at me.
“This way is easier to read, right?”
It’s just like what Shirakawa-san had said. If we were sitting side by side, we didn’t have to be bothered laying the textbook sideways, and both of us didn’t have to peek at the textbook from the side.
“Ye-yeah. Then, let’s continue….”
I tried to hide my unrest and continue with the explanation, however.
At the same time when Shirakawa-san nodded her head, her hair swayed softly from a close distance, and a floral or fruity smell tickled my nose.
Or rather…. This is something I noticed a short while ago when looking to the side, though.
There were other pairs of man and woman sitting together at a table on the same row. I don’t know whether they’re a couple or just friends, but excluding us, all of them have the woman sitting on the wall side…. In other words, the woman’s sitting on the side we’re sitting right now.
Is there perhaps, that kind of unspoken rule in the world? So the woman on the wall side? No, is the bench seat priority for the woman….? I don’t know, but I’m suddenly feeling somewhat uncomfortable.
“Umm…. so, therefore….”
I tried to focus back on the English grammar, but when I cast down my gaze, the white thighs peeking out of Shirakawa-san’s skirt, who was sitting next to me now, attracted my gaze.
I want to touch it…. But, if I suddenly do that with this personality of mine, I’d be a pervert.
We’re studying, don’t get horny. Endure it, me!
“What’s wrong, Ryuuto?”
“Eh!? No, umm, in other words, you see….”
Finally, despite the fact of Shirakawa-san asking me with “Eh, What do you mean?” and me replying back that happened for about three times, I somehow managed to finish the explanation for that page.
“….Aah, so that’s what that was all about”
After Shirakawa-san was done with the listening, her face looked a bit more refreshed compared to from a while ago.
“I thought you’re gonna explain something much more difficult to me. It’s surprisingly easy, isn’t it”
“That’s right. The longer the sentence, the more difficult it appears, but after all, it’s just words with increased numbers of adjectives and prepositions”
“Ah, let’s see, like the describing of place of in or at, yeah”
The fact that she didn’t seem to really get that part was so clear to see it’s cute.
“But I’m glad! With this I can see a bit of hope now! Thanks, Ryuuto”
After saying that, Shirakawa-san stood up.
“Let’s go get some burgers! When you feel relieved your belly gets empty”
“I guess so”
Even though we had set up the textbook just with the intention of grabbing the seat, I was worried about how Shirakawa-san fared in her study then we started studying, so we excitedly headed for the cashier downstairs.
Thus, we obtained our lunch and then it was when we returned to the seat.
I called out to Shirakawa-san who was about to sit on her original chair seat.
Stopping the hands that were about to put down the tray, she then looked at me. Those big eyes of hers were so dazzlingly adorable, I unconsciously looked down.
“Umm, if you’d like, you can sit there….”
When I spoke while pointing at the bench seat further in, Shirakawa-san tilted her head with an “Eh?”.
“Well, you see….”
I wasn’t sure how to explain this to her, so I hesitatingly told her.
“I.. am not used to doing things together with a girl…. So I’m sorry if I missed any things. I realized that.. it’s maybe a better seat. If that’s the case, then, I’d like Shirakawa-san to sit there….”
Shirakawa-san’s cheeks suddenly turned red.
“I-I don’t particularly mind either way….”
While saying this, Shirakawa-san placed the tray on the deeper part and sat down on the bench seat.
With blushed cheeks, Shirakawa-san looked up at me and smiled.
“I’m sorry, that I couldn’t be smart about it….”
Shirakawa-san shook her head while still smiling.
“I’m so much happier.. than being formally escorted. I.. love that part about Ryuuto”
My heart skipped a beat, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.
Shirakawa-san smiled embarrassingly.
“C’mon, Ryuuto sit too”
And then as if to hide her embarrassment, she unnaturally made her voice sound livelier.
“After eating we’re gonna sit side by side again anyway, right!”
“Isn’t it? Aren’t you gonna help me study?”
Being looked at with upturned eyes, the pounding of my heart became more furious instead of settling down.
I can’t believe I can study for tests together with such a cute girlfriend…. No kidding, I thought I’m the luckiest guy in the world.
Tests would start tomorrow, and the study group with Shirakawa would also continue after school during the tests period.
Perhaps the neighboring high schools also had tests coming up, and the usual fast food restaurant was crowded every day with high school students studying.
On the third day of study group, it was after eating lunch and a little bit of studying. We decided to take a break. We returned back to sit face to face and were drinking our milkshake.
“….You know, there’s many high school students couple studying together, isn’t there”
Looking around at the surroundings, Shirakawa-san casually spoke.
Now that she mentioned it, there’s also a guy and a girl in a uniform diagonally across from us silently running their pens on their notebooks across the table. I’m.. weak at making eye contact with strangers, so I couldn’t look around that much, but Shirakawa-san perhaps has found several more pairs.
“It’s really amazing. For me, studying with my boyfriend is…. really original? Even though it’s like that”
Probably, she meant to say “fresh”, And I thought of that in the corner of my head, and pondered about the meaning of Shirakawa-san’s words.
I remembered how she was when I told her “let’s study together” before the tests.
──Eh, you know, can studying be done together with others?
I wonder if it’s her first time. This kind of date(?).
….I wonder if.. she didn’t do that with her ex-boyfriend.
If that’s the case, why didn’t they.
It somehow seemed like a good time to ask her, so I opened my mouth.
“Did your previous boyfriend….s, not ever help you study?”
If I remember correctly, there’s even a rumor of her ex-boyfriend being a university student. Aside from my indescribable feelings towards her ex-boyfriend, I was genuinely curious.
At the beginning, I hated the thought of thinking about her ex-boyfriend, even if just a little…. but perhaps, is a little confidence starting to sprout inside me?
The confidence as Shirakawa-san’s boyfriend.
Shirakawa-san looked over here with a surprised face. When she met with my eyes, she timidly shook her head.
“….No one did. Things like my grades, they didn’t seem to be very interested in it…. And I was even told something like ‘Even if they can’t study, girls benefit from being cute, don’t they’”
How Shirakawa-san felt when saying that was made apparent from how tightly she pursed her lips.
Seeing her like that rekindled my anger towards her ex-boyfriend.
It’s not like Shirakawa-san..thinks that it’s fine even if she can’t study. It’s already obvious from the fact that she’s studying for the tests together with me like this. And yet, to say such a thing to her. It’s too inconsiderate.
With a smile, Shirakawa-san stared at me, who fell silent thinking that.
“Ryuuto is the first time, you know. The first person who’s ever wanted to do anything for me”
Her eyes slightly narrowed, trembling. And her cheeks shone rosy-colored.
“That’s why, I’m also getting lots of first time feelings”
When my chest was overflowing with feelings and I wasn’t able to say anything, Shirakawa-san’s smile was mixed with bashfulness.
“…. Ok, let’s go study again”
She’s fanning her face with both hands and touching her hair. It’s the gesture when she’s embarrassed.
I will never hurt such a lovely girlfriend.
At this time when I made such a vow, I still wasn’t able to foresee the upcoming summer events full of turbulence.
The end of term tests proceeded quietly.
On the fourth day of the tests, we got back the English grammar test from the first day in the homeroom before going home.
“Waa, look, look, Ryuuto!”
After getting back her answer sheet, Shirakawa-san came straight to my seat.
So what kind of wonderful score it’d…. And as I thought that and looked at it, I frowned at the number “42” written next to the name field.
Shirakawa-san looked at me with a face screaming “How’s that? How’s that”, so I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction to give.
“Isn’t it amazing? I even thought it’d go down from last time, but it went up! It’s because of Ryuuto’s help, so thanks!”
“Aah, well, I didn’t do something that big….”
“How’s Ryuuto’s scores? Let me see”
When I was told to show my answer by Shirakawa-san, her big eyes opened wide.
“Amaaaziing! Is Ryuuto a god!?”
“No, no, no….!”
Her reaction was like she’s been shown an answer sheet with a perfect score, however since it’s 87 points, it’d be embarrassing if my classmates notice it.
“I’m happy for you, Shirakawa-san. It’s higher than last time”
When I forcefully brought back the topic, Shirakawa-san nodded with a smile.
“Yep! Thank you, Ryuuto!”
Then she returned back to her seat. It was then, when I was about to put away my test sheet while saying good good grief.
I heard a voice from the seat next to me. When I looked over there, I saw Kurose-san looking at me.
Kurose-san….. She’s Shirakawa-san’s twin younger sister, and someone I confessed to and got rejected by when I was in the first year of middle school.
Because of their parent’s divroce, she’s taken in by their mother and she had grudge towards Shirakawa-san for taking away her father. When she first transferred into this school, she was spreading bad rumors about Shirakawa-san.
Since that incident, I’ve rarely talked to Kurose-san. Although we at least greeted each other every morning, Kurose-san was always fidgety, so I was taking that into consideration, too. It’s natural for her to be feeling awkward with me for talking about something concerning her life history.
“What is it?”
So, when I replied back while thinking that it’s unexpected for her to start talking to me, Kurose-san timidly opened her mouth. Her cheeks looked slightly red.
“Kashima-kun, you’re really smart, aren’t you”
“Your score, I saw it. Are you good at English?”
Maybe it’s because the give and take with Shirakawa-san. It’s not like I intended to show off, so I felt embarrassed. This time I put the folded test paper into my bag.
“Not really…. I think I’m not bad at it, though”
“That’s nice. I’m slightly bad at it, you see. I’m also worried about tomorrow’s English conversation”
Kurose-san frowned her brows deeply, and the corners of her mouth rose. Then, she started to talk somewhat shly.
“Say…. if it’s fine with you, could you help me study?”
As I was puzzled, Kurose-san started to talk in a fluster.
“Ah…. what Kashima-kun was mad about the other day, it’s my fault and I’m reflecting on it. I should say, I felt grateful to Kashima-kun for scolding me properly…. Anyway, I don’t have any ill feelings towards you”
“….I-is that so”
In that case it’s good then, however….
I still have ill feelings towards Kurose-san for giving Shirakawa-san a hard time. Shirakawa-san herself doesn’t seem to mind it anymore, and I guess it’d surely be better if I forgive her for her sake…. and Kurose-san is Shirakawa-san’s younger sister.
As I was pondering such due to complicated emotions, Kurose-san spoke with downcast eyes.
“I.. still haven’t got used to this school yet…. My friends are also few…. If Kashima-kun could teach me, I’d be happy”
Even so, why me of all people? Won’t it be awkward? That’s what I think, but after that incident, it’s the truth that Kurose-san is treated like a growing tumor by our classmates.
Some kind-hearted girls and guys, who are just after her face, still talk to her. However, there’s certainly no sign of her hanging out with any particular close friends.
Although she’s reaping what she sowed, I feel a bit of pity for her. However….
“I’m sorry. I’ve already promised with Shirakawa-san to study together during tests”
When I declined it, Kurose-san hung her head and pursed her lips.
“….I see. I understand”
The tone of voice she let out was calm, so I felt relieved.
Then, Kuruse-san immediately raised her face and looked at me again.
“Then, how about summer vacation? I’m also not good at math, so maybe I could ask you if there’s something I don’t get about the homework ….”
Hearing this, I looked to the rear with a glance.
“If it’s math, Ichi is more…. Ijichi-kun is better at it than me. Should I introduce you to him?”
Even if his overall score in midterm was utterly wrecked, only in math he got a high score, so I think he’s surely strong at it.
However, perhaps that my kindness wasn’t transmitted, Kurose-san’s expression stiffened immediately.
As soon as she replied with a stiff voice, she immediately lifted up her eyes again.
“Th-then…. Can I ask at least for a LINE ID?”
“Eh, Ichi’s LINE?”
“No! I mean Kashima-kun’s!”
Being replied back angrily, I got bewildered by the unreasonableness.
“Su-sure…. But there won’t be any contact from me, alright?”
I remembered Shirakawa-san’s subtle reaction when she saw the LINE message I got from Yamana-san. Having sworn not to make Shirakawa-san feel worried, I’d like to refrain from contacting other girls as much as possible.
“….That’s fine. It’s because I want to get in contact with you”
Kurose-san replied with a dark expression, and I shrinked back.
She doesn’t have friends to that extent, huh…. It went beyond pitiful, I felt a little worried.
As I registered her as a friend on my phone under my desk, hiding it from the teacher, Kurose-san muttered so and her cheeks blushed slightly.
Yeah, she really is cute….
The one I love now is Shirakawa-san, but seeing Kurose-san like this makes me remember how I felt at the time when I had feelings for her.
But that’s over now, and while feeling a little bit of loneliness, I locked my phone that stored her contact address.
In the morning of the end of term tests’ final day, the end of the rainy season was announced by the meteorological agency.
“Hooray, it’s summer vacation!“
On the way back home together, Shirakawa-san’s face truly looked refreshed for the first time in a while.
“But still, it’s hot! I think I’m melting~”
Looking up at the midsummer’s clear sky at noon with white clouds drifting by, Shirakawa-san let out a “Yikes” and stuck out her tongue.
She’s fanning the wind using her hands to her chest with an almost-visible-cleavage, so I felt flustered because my gaze subconsciously fell over there.
“I really wanna go to the sea~ to the sea! Above ground is a no-no”
“Huh, so going under the sea? Diving?”
“Nnnn, just on the beach~. Isn’t it refreshing to get into the sea occasionally”
If that’s the case, isn’t the beach “above ground”?, and that’s what I thought, but since I was unwilling to be thought of as a nitpicking guy, I kept silent.
Then Shirakawa-san looked into my eyes.
“Hey, hey, do you remember what kind of day is tomorrow?”
What day is it again…. and as I pondered so, Shirakawa-san let out a “Sheesh” and pouted her lips.
“One month! It’s the one-month anniversary since we started dating”
Now that she mentioned it, it was around this time last month when I confessed to her.
When I’m with Shirakawa-san everyday feels fresh and exciting, so it feels like a considerable amount of time has already passed, but it’s only been a month, huh.
“Heey, why don’t we go to the sea for our one-month anniversary? The rainy season is also over”
“Eh? Yeah…. That’s fine by me”
Though I said that, the only experience I had of swimming on the sea was when I was in elementary school, and when my parents brought me along there once a year.
“Hooraay! So tomorrow, okay!”
Moreover, it’s tomorrow. I don’t have time to do preliminary inspection.
Wait a minute, the sea!?
Are you telling me I’m going to see Shirakawa-san in a swimsuit!?
I can spend the whole day with Shirakawa-san in a.. bikini….!? In the middle of getting too absorbed in enjoying herself, then the things that are about to burst slipping out…. is expected, I think that’s not going to happen but, crap. I can’t stop this wild delusion!
“….What’s wrong, Ryuuto? Spacing out like that”
“It-it’s okay! Everything’s fine”
This is no good. If I’m walking here while hunched forward in delusion, Shirakawa-san would instantly know.
“Y-you’re really looking forward to it, huh. The sea”
“Yep! I’m so looking forward to it!”
Thus, it’s decided that tomorrow we’d go for a date to the sea for our one-month anniversary.
^1. Original Japanese: “えーん、やばたにえんのマーボー春雨〜”. やばたにえん = “Yabatanien” is anonther word of saying “yaba” aka “bad/crap”, I guess?. And it’s like a slang word for the youngsters. It’s a combination of the word “yabatan (bad)” used by young people with the words “Nagatanien”, a company famous for its seasoning for rice soup(aka Ochazuke) and topping for rice (aka furikake). The overlapping sounds of “tan” and “tani” were fused together to form “Yabatanien”. Technically it should be “Yabatanien’s Mapo Noddles~”. I guess with this you can somehow get the gist why using Yabatanien as, like, manufacturer/producer or something. Why Mapo Noodles so suddenly? don’t ask me. And I can’t really come up with Mapo Noodles’ name that sounds delicious but with the word “bad” attached in it. So I went with “Supper baddies mapo noodles”
^2. I believe this is another way of saying it makes you feel restless and/or uncomfortable. But since it’s a rare chance to use the word “ass”, I’ll leave it like this.