After parting ways with Hirose, I sat down on the bench next to the store and drank the can of coffee that had gone cold before finally returning to class. There was nothing to do in the 6th period, the LHR(long homeroom). I apologized to Shinozaki for what happened during the lunch break and went straight to studying.
After school, I was scolded for being lazy and skipping almost half of the class and my punishment will befall me tomorrow. Punishment, scary. What is she going to make me do? Is she going to put me in a club that solves students’ problems?
It was a day where I used several times more energy than usual. I sat down for dinner while thinking back on all that happened this day.
「Oniichan, you look tired.」
After drinking some miso and trying some stir fry vegetables, Yuna asked me.
「Ah, things happened at school.」
「Fuhn? What happened?」
She seems curious. Maa, she’s probably curious to know what high school life was like since she’s a student preparing for the high school entrance exam. If nothing happens, she’ll be a high schooler next year. I told her what happened today while comparing it to my usual school life.
「Oniichan’s high school life doesn’t sound fun. Also, I’m sorry about the lunch. 3rd-year students like me are being served lunch at school. I thought the one on the desk was oniichan’s.」
「Is that so? Then, okay. It means I don’t have to prepare your lunch tomorrow.」
No, I’m really glad. It means she doesn’t dislike it or she doesn’t say it tastes bad. If she says it doesn’t taste good, I’ll feel bad making her eat the dinner I cook and we’ll have to eat out every night.
「I only speak when necessary. The food that oniichan makes tastes good.」
「Okay, thank you.」
I’m so happy. I have to do my best in cooking dinner starting tomorrow. Should I mark this as Yuna Memorial Day or something? No, I shouldn’t just add a holiday.
「But I’m relieved. It’s not like the end of last year’s summer vacation. If it was like last year, oniichan would hardly be able to sleep and would faint again.」
「Last year is….maa, I’m not going to get involved in that kind of thing again. I have learned.」
She said “I see” and continued to eat and after that “thanks for the food” and lowered the tableware.
「Is there anything you want to drink?」
「Café au lait. When you’re done, let’s talk about that Hirose-san while drinking.」
I said “yes yes” and boiled some water. I washed the dishes while waiting for the water to boil. I tried to summarize what I know about Hirose and nothing important came out.
「So, what kind of person is Hirose-san?」
When I returned to the table after brewing coffee and café au lait, Yuna immediately asked me.
「I don’t know much. She’s someone from the top caste of the class. She’s always with that scary Ashi-san.」
Yuna was nodding saying “yeah yeah” while drinking the café au lait. But when I didn’t continue, she blinked a few times and opened her eyes wide.
「Is that it?」
「Yeah, that’s it. Seriously, we’re just classmates.」
“No, I think you should know a little more than that since she’s your classmate” said Yuna while groaning. She also said “Oniichan thinks that classmates who you are not getting involved with are just strangers.”. Well, Shinozaki is not the type of person who likes to pick up rumors so I don’t have any information source.
Yuna looked at me again as if she had finished what she wanted to say.
「Do you have the contact information of Hirose-san? I want to speak with her.」
I said “sorry” while opening the contact of my cell phone and handing it over to her. There are only five items on my contact list: Father, mother, Yuna, bookstore, Shinozaki. Yuna reacted as if she couldn’t believe what she had just seen.
「Hey oniichan, no matter how much I look, there are no other contacts. Is there a bug on your contact app?」
「My cellphone is fine. That’s my circle of friends.」
Maybe I’m a human with a bug. Maa, when an infectious disease is prevalent, people who have little contact with others will have a higher survival rate. People like me are necessary to ensure the survival of humanity.
「Who is this Shinozaki guy who you have contact information?」
「He’s a disappointingly handsome guy who I’ve been with since I was in third grade. The only reason I exchanged contact information with him is because I needed him due to an incident last year. I don’t usually contact him.」
I don’t use it at the level that I think it’s okay to erase it. It’s not good if Yuna gets interested in Shinozaki. If the day comes when that thing calls me oniisan, I’ll have Ashi-san kill him.
「There’s nothing to harvest. I was curious because there’s someone who confessed to oniichan even if it’s a punishment game.」
「No, it’s just that I’m a harmless-looking, accessible person that can be easily found in the corner of the classroom.」
I’m starting to feel empty when I say that to myself. Well, it’s true though.
「I’m not sure about that. If you are someone in the top caste, you have to protect your position and pride by confessing to a good-looking guy. In that case, it’s okay even if you fail. It’s a better choice compared to a gloomy loner like oniichan.」
It’s true but could you at least say it in a better way? It’s true that in the classroom, I can be classified as a gloomy loner. Ah, but I’m talking with Shinozaki so I’m technically not a loner, right?
「Then, isn’t that why it was called a punishment game? It’s almost the golden week so think about it first.」
「It’s just a little over 1 week until golden week. Poor oniichan will be bored for almost two weeks.」
「Yes yes, don’t feel sorry for me. Go and take a bath and study for your exam.」
Yuna left with her cheeks puffed out. She’s muttering “I’m sure it’s not as simple as that.” while leaving. That line got stuck in my head like a small fish bone stuck in my throat.