Rei-san took my hand and looked up at me.
“Hey, let’s go. Haruto-kun?”
We had originally gone out to go to the aquarium in the next town over.
Of course I wanted to go there too, but I was worried about Kotone’s threats.
I wondered if it would be all right.
I shook off my unnecessary thoughts.
I knew that neither Kotone nor the delinquents ordered by Kotone would try anything in the middle of the day on the main street of this town, where they knew many people, nor in the neighboring town in the big city.
I nodded and squeezed Rei-san’s hand back.
We walked to the station and took the JR train to the next town.
We sat next to each other on the train.
Rei-san hesitated for a moment, then shyly leaned over and rested her cheek on my shoulder.
Rei-san and I must have looked like a couple as she leaned closer to me, and I blushed a little.
I was concerned about the eyes of those around me, but I was more happy to be with Rei-san.
We got off at the JR station, transferred to the city subway, and then got off at the station where the aquarium was located.
This was the location of a big city port, famous for its automobile industry.
In addition to the aquarium, there is an amusement park, a retired Antarctic research ship floating as a museum, and many other things.
As soon as we got off the train, Rei-san’s eyes lit up and she pointed at something.
“Haruto-kun! Let’s ride that!”
I stammered, and she tilted her head.
I don’t dislike heights, but heights are not my favorite place to be.
I am somewhat afraid of heights.
I was about to say that, but then I reconsidered.
Rei had said that she wanted to ride, but I didn’t want to deny her that much.
After all, I had told Rei-san that she could do as she wished.
Besides, compared to when I was a little, I was only a little scared, and I should be able to keep it from showing on my face.
I smiled and said, “Okay.”
Rei-san smiled happily.
We bought our tickets and got on the Ferris wheel without waiting too long in line.
“We didn’t have to wait long at all.”
Sitting across from me, Rei-san was somewhat nervous.
She stared at the floor of the Ferris wheel, then looked up at the ceiling, and then back down at me.
The Ferris wheel gradually rises in height, and the entire port comes into view.
Below us were thousands of cars waiting to be exported, and beyond them, tankers were driving leisurely on the sea.
It is daytime, so there is no beautiful night view, but it is quite spectacular.
I was not afraid of heights, but I had gotten over my fear before I knew it.
I said, “You can see the Antarctic research ship over there”, and pointed at it, but Rei-san did not respond.
When I looked at Rei-san, her face was very pale and her blue eyes were slightly moist.
I was surprised, but then I thought of the reason.
“Perhaps you are afraid of heights?”
Rei-san nodded deeply.
If so, why did she suggest we ride the Ferris wheel?
“Because I think … riding the Ferris wheel alone together is … very loverly.”
Rei-san said brokenly with a blue face.
I understood her motive, but there was no need to be so unreasonable.
What should I do?
The Ferris wheel had not yet reached the top, and it would still take some time to get off.
But Rei-san was breathing painfully and sweating coldly.
I had to do something to help her.
The Ferris wheel’s basket shook lightly as I gently stood up, and Rei shivered as if frightened.
I shouldn’t have done that.
I scared Rei-san.
I sat right next to Rei-san and spoke to her at a slow speed.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, … I’m fine.”
She didn’t look okay at all.
Rei-san looked at me with teary eyes.
I was lost, and then I put my hand on Rei-san’s trembling hand.
Rei-san lets out a small exhale.
Her trembling stopped a little bit.
“Haruto-kun’s hand… warm.”
“Have you calmed down a bit?”
“Yes, ummm. I have a … better way to calm down.
“If Haruto-kun hugged me, I would feel more at ease.”
I don’t hold anything back and touch Rei-san’s shoulders.
If I could avoid scaring Rei-san with this kind of thing, it would be a small price to pay.
I hugged Rei-san without caring if she was ticklish or not.
I felt her soft touch and warmth, and she stopped shaking.
She nuzzled her face against my chest and murmured softly,
“I think I’m okay now.”
“… It’s beautiful.”
“I was thinking how beautiful the ocean is.”
“You don’t mind looking out?”
“If you just look into the distance, it doesn’t feel like you’re on high ground.”
That might be true, if you ask me.
I understand, because I too was afraid of heights, but fear comes from close by and is never far away.
“If Haruto-kun is here, I don’t think I’ll be scared at all.”