The First Time I Saw that Face of my Childhood Friend
Before the entrance exam, the boys, myself included, invited the girls’ group, Suzuka included, to go together for the graduation trip.
As a result, it was decided that all 8 of us, boys and girls, would go together on the trip.
And of course, it goes without saying that… We each lied to our parents saying it was a boys-only, or girls-only, trip.
From a parent’s perspective, high schoolers are still children.
No way they’ll smile and give you a thumbs up if you tell them you’re going on a trip that had both boys and girls.
“Those that have already finished their entrance exams, care to help us by deciding where we’ll go, or at least by giving us some proposals?”
Our friend, Katou, spoke as such.
Katou hasn’t yet been accepted into his first choice of university and is in the midst of taking more exams for it.
They topped it off with, ‘Those of you that were accepted into your first choices of university based on the National Test have nothing to do anymore, right?’.
And, speaking about ‘those that have already finished their exams’…
It was only Suzuka and me.
All the others are still studying like crazy.
Decide where we’ll go, or at least some candidates, for the graduation trip, they said.
With that responsibility in mind, after school was over for Suzuka and I, we both stopped for a moment at my house, changed from our school uniform to casual clothes, and then headed out for the travel agencies in the shopping district.
Planning a trip from the ground up is a Herculean task.
That’s why, for the time being, we decided to go to a travel agency and see if they happened to have a nice travel plan.
“For now, how about we bring back a lot of pamphlets?”
“Let’s do that.”
As we move, no sooner we see a pamphlet lying around, we take it.
Once we had taken almost all of them and started to think of going back,
“Should we take this one back too?”
“You’re right… We need to think about that too.”
The object to which Suzuka was referring when saying ‘this one’.
That was not a graduation trip pamphlet, but one whose contents were a plan for a newlyweds’ honeymoon.
Our exams are now finished, we go back to the honeymoon trip mentioned before them.
Where will we go? When will we go?
Because others were being extraordinarily noisy about it, we didn’t have the choice of not going on one.
“We have more than enough with this amount, for sure. Next is maybe searching on the internet?”
“In that case… How about if…”
I tried to say it, yet I was unable to express it.
As for the content of what I was trying to tell Suzuka.
It’s part of the reason why I had us change into casual clothes and then go out into the city.
“What is it?”
“You! Wipe that grin off your face! You clearly already know what I’m trying to say, and you’ll still make me say it? Are you a demon?”
“Ee~h, I don’t have the SLIGHTEST idea of what you want to tell me, Yuuki”
“And now you’re playing dumb! Come on, let’s go and look for wedding rings.”
“Yes, let’s go!”
The reason why we went through the trouble of changing our school uniforms for casual clothes before coming to the travel agency.
That reason is that we also had the plan of coming to look for our wedding rings.
It would indeed be a very weird course of action to go looking for rings while donning our school uniforms.
A few minutes later.
The aura of high society exuding from the jewelry shop makes us hesitate about entering.
As soon as we timidly entered the shop, an employee came over to us.
“Welcome, dear customers. May I inquire as to what kind of goods you are in search of today?
What a polite sales clerk.
In these kinds of stores, more than looking around by ourselves, asking the employees would be a safer choice.
More on point, I didn’t have an inkling of an idea of what to look for in a ring.
“We’re looking for w-wedding rings”
“Understood. I shall take you to them. Please follow me.”
We were led to the section where they have them.
The clerk kindly explains to us many things concerning wedding rings.
And now, Suzuka was trying on one that was to her liking.
Sheepishly, she showed me her hand while wearing the ring.
Despite this being nothing more than a ‘trial marriage’, being able to wear a wedding ring seemed to make her happy.
Seeing the happy look on my wife’s face, I too can’t help but smile since a while back.
“It suits you”
“Then, should we go for this one? Ah, but that one looks promising too. Yuuki, which do you prefer?”
“Me? Let me think… Excuse me, Mister Clerk. Could we try this one too?”
A wedding ring is something that not only Suzuka, but I too will wear.
Hence, I decided not to leave the whole responsibility to Suzuka, instead taking my time to choose with care.
“Certainly. Please give me a moment, sir.”
After visiting more than a few other jewelry shops, Suzuka and I were finally able to choose our wedding rings.
We do not have a credit card yet.
As such, we paid in full in cash.
For the two of us, who got married on a whim, the wedding rings are mainly to fool our parents.
We originally planned to each pay half the price of the wedding rings, but…
In the short time when the store clerk went to the back of the shop, I told Suzuka.
“I’ll pay it all.”
“They’re our first wedding rings, and it’s not like I’m lacking in money. Will you let me show off a bit?”
“…Are you sure it’s ok? Remember, we ARE a couple that got married on the spur of the moment.”
“Of course it’s ok. Rather, I won’t feel good with myself unless I, in this place and time, pay the full amount.”
“That so? Thank you.”
I payed with the large sum of money I withdrew from the back.
There’s just no way I could take it all back with me on the very day I withdrew it.
At a later date, when our rings engraved with our names and date we married are completed, we will come to pick them up.
At last, we left the jewelry shop.
Having left the jewelry shop, I spoke to Suzuka, who was walking by my side.
“It’s my first time using that big of a sum of money.”
“How was it? Using so much money and buying wedding rings.”
“I’ll be honest. It wasn’t a bad feeling. How do I say this? The moment you came over to me looking so happy to show me the ring, I simply thought, ‘If it’s for the sake of this smile, then there’s no problem’”
The smile of my childhood friend.
Frankly, I was already tired of seeing it.
However, the smile that Suzuka showed to me today was completely different to the one she always has.
Bashful, yet happy; her eyes shining like two precious gems.
Regardless of the fact that we knew each other for around 15 years, it was my first time seeing that expression of hers.
“… You know, Yuuki? I, I have begun to think this isn’t so bad”
“Married life. I mean, we were supposedly only buying the wedding rings to deceive our parents, right? So, we both decided to each pay half the price. And yet, you didn’t let me pay anything. It made me realize deep inside, ‘Ah, he’s taking real good care of me’”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, it did.”
Suzuka came closer to me.
She then grabbed my hands, and as she pulled me towards her, she says.
“I, I may be happier than I thought about marrying you, Yuuki! Well, we still have time, so let’s go and play for a bit somewhere!”
The hand that was pulled so suddenly.
The words spoken so candidly.
This was the moment I, for the first time, started to see my childhood friend Suzuka as a woman.
That said, it’s still too soon to jump to conclusions.
After all, it was just a little while back that we got carried away and ended up making the mistake of getting married.