“──Hey, Arakawa, have you heard of ‘Mashima of Higashi Middle School’?”
The long rainy season in Kamimura ended, and it was a sweltering lunch break.
Tatsuki Iwasawa, the disciplinary committee member with adhesive bandages all over his face, casually spoke.
In his hand, of course, was his favorite carton of protein juice.
“Mashima of Higashi? What’s that? Something about Kengo?”
The one asking was Kawariku Arakawa, the disciplinary committee member who was having lunch with him, leaning against a desk.
His face also had several bandages.
When Arakawa replied, Iwasawa, while sipping on the straw stuck in the carton, said.
“Apparently, Mashima-kun was a troublesome delinquent in middle school.”
Arakawa, after a few seconds of freezing, eventually started shaking his shoulders and burst into laughter.
“──Ahahahahahahaha!! What’s that? That’s so funny───!”
Laughing loudly enough to make everyone in the class turn around.
“Why is your voice so loud, idiot…”
“H-hey! W-why can’t we ever hear such interesting things!? Even though we’re always with Kengo!”
“Actually, this rumor has been around for a while, and I’ve heard it often. According to what I’ve heard, Miyanoshita was put down in middle and high school…Maybe it’s because of that incident, he tried hard to spread the rumor in various places…”
Iwasawa made a serious expression, and Arakawa swallowed his saliva.
“…In the end, everyone just laughed, and it didn’t really spread. The rumor mostly stopped among people who don’t know much about Mashima.”
“Ah….….. I totally get that.”
Arakawa nodded vigorously to Iwasawa’s words.
“Anyway, rumors and Kengo don’t mix well.”
“True, all that fuss about the rumor disappeared in less than 75 days.”
“That’s right, there’s no one more straightforward than him.”
The two, covered in bandages, nodded at each other, and unexpectedly close friends at the same time realized something.
“…But, that rumor was true, huh?”
“Well… I wonder where it leaked from… Iwasawa, did you tell someone?”
“I didn’t! I didn’t tell anyone, so don’t get ready to fight! I’ve run out of bandages to buy!”
“If it’s not Iwasawa, then… who?”
“Maybe no one? Perhaps, we just didn’t understand because we’ve been too close to Mashima-kun. It might be more obvious from an outsider’s perspective.”
“No, it’s not.”
They casually ended the conversation and looked out the window.
Cumulus clouds floating in the clear blue sky looked down on them.
While looking at the thin contrail extending from the cumulus clouds, Iwasawa muttered.
“…Mashima-kun seems to like Takane-san… or so I’ve heard.”
■Chapter: Kengo Mashima■
Summer arrived in Kamimura City, even though it was a snowy region.
Trees flourished, and the chorus of cicadas reached its peak, and the seasonal limited-edition Maritozzo disappeared from the store shelves.
Recently, something called “Canelé”, a sweet resembling fried manju, seems to be popular.
Fried manju is perfect as a tea accompaniment, so Canelé is probably the same.
I’d like to try it someday. I looked down at the schoolyard from the landing, contemplating.
This place is dimly lit, smells musty, and is generally not suitable for meals… but it’s quiet.
The quietness lets me feel the changing seasons.
…When was it that I said something like that?
“…Wh-what is it?”
“…Please say something.”
Saki Takane, sitting next to me, said that while taking a bite of her pineapple fruit sandwich.
Even if she asks me to say something…
“…To-to… today we replaced the bulletin boards as part of the Discipline Committee’s activities. We’ll probably continue after school.”
“…Next week is the sports festival.”
“…And the week after that, well, it’s summer vacation.”
“! Yes! So…?”
“Well… even though it’s summer vacation, we must not forget the duties of students and behave with decorum.”
Takane Saki let out a deep, deep sigh, as if she were about to fall to the first floor.
…It seems like I’ve made another mistake.
“As Kaoru-san said, really…”
Having finished eating the fruit sandwich, Takane Saki patted her hands and handed me a book.
“Yes, Mashima-kun, I’ll give you this.”
“…What is this?”
“Read this and learn about how to talk with girls. It’s your homework.”
──Goodbye to timid and sickly love! A new generation of love strategies!
Be popular now! Super Love Psychology Course.
Concerned about that girl? To you who is interested in a girl…
Interested in a girl, to you…?
“? Is there something wrong?”
“…Is it really okay for me?”
“I… I can’t say clever things, and I’m a boring person… I just ate Maritozzo for the first time the other day, you know?”
The second time.
For the second time. Takane Saki stood up from and muttered softly.
“…There’s no one as interesting as you…”
“It’s nothing! Come on! I’ll show you how it’s done, so stand up!”
Takane Saki is unusually forceful today…?
“Come with me.”
Normally we would go downstairs, but…
For some reason, Takane Saki was slowly climbing the stairs.
“Hey, Takane Saki, where are you going? The door to the rooftop is locked, and there’s nothing there.”
“…Do you know about this rumor?”
“It’s a rumor.”
Takane Saki, in front of the thick door leading to the rooftop, stopped.
And then, she began to speak slowly.
“The rooftop door of Kamimura High School, it’s locked──”
There’s a strange sound of clattering coming from Takane Saki’s hands.
What’s going on? What is she doing?
“──But due to being neglected for many years, the lock has rusted and become unusable── that’s the rumor.”
Clank! A particularly loud sound echoed.
In the next moment, we were enveloped in blinding light, and a strong wind blew through.
“In other words, … as long as you don’t get caught, it’s fine.”
The door leading to the rooftop was open.
Against the backdrop of the clear blue sky, pure white cumulus clouds, houses, hospitals, stations, supermarkets, “Leo”, the middle school we attended,
And beyond that──the Sea of Japan spread endlessly.
From the rooftop of Kamimura High School, you could see everything in Kamimura at a glance.
“…Such a scene was spreading right behind that dim and musty place where we always had lunch.”
The overwhelming beauty of that scene, illuminated by the intense sunlight, left me speechless.
And as Takane Saki and I gazed at this scene together, she muttered softly.
“I used to hate Kamimura. It was suffocating, cramped, and I always remembered unpleasant things wherever I went. …But, from now on…”
Saying that, Takane Saki looks at me.
She smiles like a midsummer sunflower and says,
“──It seems like little by little, it will become all about good memories.”
…That smile is unfair.
Seemingly embarrassed halfway through, Takane Saki returned her gaze forward again…
“Y-Yes! With that in mind, is there anything you need to tell me!?”
Looking up at the clear blue sky, I began to speak slowly.
“The other day, for the first time in my life, I bought something other than plain Manjū. It was the La France one… surprisingly, it wasn’t bad.”
“Commercial TV can be a change of pace sometimes… I think.”
“…What I’m trying to say is…”
“Surely, if it weren’t for you, I would never have seen this scenery in my entire life. I’m really grateful.”
“──But a violation is a violation.”
“You intentionally trespassed onto the rooftop, which is prohibited by the school rules. Moreover, you did it in front of me, the Discipline Committee President!”
“Eh, w-wait, hold on…”
“Shared responsibility. Class 2-B, Takane Saki, and Kengo Mashima, report voluntarily to the homeroom teacher and submit a specified number of reflection essays. Also, report to the student council that the rooftop lock is broken.”
“Also, let’s go to the beach during the summer vacation… after all, we’re dating.”
Takane Saki let out a dumbfounded voice, but I… couldn’t look at Takane Saki’s face anymore. Blatantly turning my face away, she faced the back of my head.
…My face is hot.
…It feels like it’s flushed all the way to my ears.
…To my ears?
──Look at what kind of face Saki Saki is making behind me, and you’ll probably understand everything.
…Senami Yuka’s words at that time…
…Were about that.
“Hey, hey, Mashima-kun, could you turn this way for a moment?”