A short walk from the school there is a coffee shop that makes a good cup of tea. The store has a rather relaxing and rustic atmosphere at the same time. Inside are shelves and counters full of literary works, perhaps it is the owner’s hobby.
I opened the door and entered the store, where Hayasaka-san was sitting in the back drinking tea happily. Hayasaka-san loves to drink tea. As she was holding the cup with both hands while blowing on it, she looked very tender.
Hayasaka-san cheerfully waves her hand in greeting when she sees me. I took a seat across from her and ordered a coffee.
I held out a plastic umbrella as I said:
-Hayasaka-san, you put this in front of the club room, didn’t you?
-I hope it has helped you.
-You didn’t have to.
-It’s nothing. If I can help Kirishima-kun, I will be happy to do so.
-You helped me the other day too, have you forgotten already?
During the break, some of the guys were making jokes regarding Hayasaka-san’s body. All of them related to the erotic. And the worst part was that they were talking so loudly, she could hear everything.
Before I knew it, I was kicking a trash can, and then arguing with the boys over such reprehensible behavior. After that, they all said in unison things like «Kirishima likes Hayasaka». And so it went for the whole break.
-After what you’ve done, it’s no wonder people talk about how much you like me.
-That is true.
-But it wouldn’t be good if Tachibana-san thought that way too.
-I had actually been asked if I was attracted to you.
-And what did you answer?
-I said I wasn’t in love with you. In other words, I lied, and it was a little painful.
-You did the right thing.
Hayasaka-san replied with a smile on her face.
-Although, you and Tachibana-san are in the research club, right?
Hayasaka-san said while fiddling with the teacup in her hand. The expression on her face is the same as always, but I can feel the sadness emanating from her.
-I’d like to hear more about the two of you. Have you gotten to know each other better?
-Are you sure?
I felt a little uncomfortable talking to Hayasaka-san about my relationship with Tachibana-san. But she smiled and gave me an unexpected answer.
-Yes, I want to hear it.
Tachibana-san goes to the club every day after school to practice the piano in the music room next door. And when she finishes, she goes to the club room and reads a foreign mystery novel.
Maybe it’s because I get nervous, or because Tachibana-san is very quiet, but we don’t usually talk much. The only topic we’ve had is about the piano she plays.
-What is your favorite song?
-You can hear her, can’t you? When she plays the piano next door.
-Well, what is your favorite song?
-Well… There’s one she’s been playing over and over again lately. «A Sigh»… By Liszt.
And so it is with everything we do. After Tachibana-san was finished with her novel, we chatted a bit, without the conversation transcending further.
-And does she have any skills?
-Ah, so she’s a word cheat.
Come to think of it, there was one day when we talked more than usual. It was after school and it was pouring rain.
Tachibana-san called, sitting across from me on the couch, and holds out a very particular notebook for which this club is very famous throughout the school.
-It is a manual on love, made by a former student of the Institute.
-Ah, yes, they say that love and mystery are the same thing.
-Yes, represented by the three elements: how, who and why.
How, who and why. With this book, you will learn how to make someone fall in love with you, and how to find out who is the one you like.
-But there are a lot of blank sheets.
-It’s probably because the ‘why’ in love is not a simple answer.
Why did you fall in love with that person? Of course, there are many answers: their appearance, personality, kindness or even their reliability.
-But even if you like someone because they are nice, if someone else were just as nice to you, you wouldn’t necessarily like them.
The person I fell in love with was only nice to me.
-And that’s what makes love and mystery similar.
Tachibana-san replied, «Why do you say it that way? Did you commit a crime and don’t want to say it?
-But love is different.
-You don’t need a reason to fall in love
-Besides, I think it is unreasonable to ask «why». Not only in love, but in everything.
It’s not fair for you to say that when I have a fierce urge to say those very words to you. I would like to ask Tachiaba-san, who is standing in front of me, «Why? Why did you join this club?».
But I didn’t want to ruin this delicate moment, so I didn’t say anything.
-Feelings come first, reasons come later.
– You don’t fall in love with someone because they are handsome or cool. You love someone because they are kind and understanding.
-So, what is it like to fall in love?
Tachibana-san asks me with a serious expression on her face.
-How can you say that when you are in a relationship?
It sounds like she’s never loved anyone before.
As she thought about it, she leaned forward and I couldn’t help but see through the collar of her shirt.
I think I’m about to look at her underwear. But before that could happen, Tachibana-san says something shocking.
-All you have to do is tell me how you feel about Hayasaka-san.
I feel that time has stopped
-You like Hayasaka-san, don’t you?
-W-What are you talking about?
-Everyone was saying it today at lunchtime.
What a relief, he still doesn’t know about my secret relationship with Hayasaka-san. So I’m still out of danger.
-You were arguing with those boys because you were upset that they talked about her like that.
-It was simply an act of common sense.
-There is a difference between kindness and romantic feelings.
-So you’re not in love with Hayasaka-san?
-That is correct.
-But you’ve been in love before.
-If so, please tell me.
Tachibana-san approaches me. Her hair hangs beautifully in front of her.
-What does it feel like to like someone? What kind of feeling can you experience when you love someone?
Tachibana-san’s words and actions were those of a girl who had never been in love. I was perplexed and tried to respond.
-Most commonly, your heart is pounding.
Tachibana-san becomes a little thoughtful at my words.
-Have you ever been excited, Tachibana-san?
-I haven’t really been aware of it, but, well, maybe I have.
But she has a boyfriend. What do those words mean? When I couldn’t resist asking her about it, Tachibana-san opened the notebook of love and put it on the coffee table.
-President, let’s do this.
That’s the «How To» section of the Love Notes. How to make someone fall in love with you. In other words, it’s a page on how to seduce someone.
-The hundred ways to make your heart beat.
The name of the book makes it hard to believe that the author had an IQ of 180, and the content is typical of shoujo manga where the protagonist uses the Kabedon, aka the wall slam.
And that’s a kind of trick that I can’t use because I’m not handsome. I’m too embarrassed.
-I wish I felt more excited.
-Even if you say that….
Perhaps Tachibana-san has never been in love. If that is the case, it is possible that the relationship she has with her boyfriend is fake.
But even if it’s a fake relationship, in terms of public values, you shouldn’t do those things with someone who has a boyfriend. That’s why…
-It’s time for me to go home, it’s starting to rain.
Tachibana-san gets up from her seat, and prepares to leave.
-I feel like I’m asking for trouble.
-It’s okay, I don’t feel like you’re a bother.
-«President» , she sounded concerned.
So it’s my fault it stopped that way.
-I won’t ask you to do something like that again.
She left the club room with a sad expression on her face. I feel like I’ve hurt her, and my heart aches. I don’t know what to do, I guess I’ll just have to live with it.
I slapped my cheeks with both hands to get out of my sad state. I put one of my hands in my pocket and placed my foot on the wall to block Tachibana-san’s exit.
-W-Wait a minute!
Tachibana-san seemed surprised at my sudden attitude, because she reacted with an «Aah». It’s the first time I’ve seen such a bright expression coming from her.
When the heroine is about to leave, it is the MC’s duty to stop her by force. And the key to Ashidons is to keep your leg up while pressing it hard to the wall, all while keeping the tone of your voice and the gestures of your whole body in a violent and imposing manner.
That was what was written in the book.
-President, you are very energetic.
-You will stay until the rain has passed.
-It’s making me a little nervous.
-It’s okay, I just want you to stay here for a while.
I have always been aware of an image of the world that does not exist, and I am always trying to fit into it. That’s why I try to be original, at least in love.
-Then let’s do it.
-Yes, let’s do it.
And that’s how it happened.
First, it was decided that we’d do the basic kabedon. I had Tachibana-san stand in front of the wall. My height is just over 5’7″ and Tachibana-san’s is 5’6″. So naturally, my gaze was averted downward.
-Even if it’s a way to make you feel excited, I think it won’t be entirely useful if the act only depends on one person, and only one of us gets to enjoy it.
-On the other hand, it is possible for the president to get excited, isn’t it?
Oh, Tachibana-san, when you say such things, you make my world go round and round.
-Well, to clarify, what I’m going to do now is everything that is usually used in shoujo manga. I personally don’t think any girl would get excited about something like that.
-What if there were?
-Only a child would be excited about something like that.
-Okay… Here I come!
I put my hand against the wall next to Tachibana-san’s face. But all I hear is a sound generated by a soft object being struck by something solid, making me feel like an idiot. And Tachibana-san nods her head after what happened.
-It was pretty boring. Nothing compared to what you did with your foot.
But that wasn’t all, Tachibana-san continued talking.
-There’s one more thing missing, chairman. Say a great line while you’re at it.
-I could have done that, but the act of improvising made it all sudden, and at the same time embarrassing.
-I’m the one who feels embarrassed.
I’m surprised she’d say that, since most of the time her face is completely expressionless.
-Well, okay, I’m going to do it again. But don’t make fun of it.
Again. I slam my hand against the wall with great force as I say;
-Look only at me.
I put aside my embarrassment. And Tachibana-san nodded with a fine expression of excitement.
-Okay. Let’s do the Hijidon.
I seem to have done well.
-Try to change your lines every time we do it. A little effort doesn’t hurt.
Tachibana-san is very picky about these things. Maybe she’s secretly an artist.
Next, I leaned my elbow against the wall. This technique is somewhat similar to kabedon. But unlike kabedon, the distance between us is narrower than it is when using my hand.
-I won’t let you go tonight.
She looked me straight in the eyes, and did not flinch in any way. Up close, Tachibana-san’s eyes were as transparent as glass, and her beauty was unreal.
-Did it excite you?
Suddenly, she pulled my tie. Our faces came closer until we were face to face. Her long eyelashes, her beautiful white cheeks. Everything about her was perfect.
-Hey, are you excited?
Tachibana-san asked me. I’m so excited that it’s hard for me to answer, but even if he hadn’t done this to me, I would still be excited. Since, Tachibana-san is my favorite person in the whole world.
-Tachibana-san… W-Why the Nekukui?
-It was written in the notebook.
Nekukui is a technique in which a girl pulls a boy’s tie, making them face each other.
-Tachibana-san is quite an attractive person.
And just like that, we both performed the techniques of the love notebook one after the other. We also made use of the headphones together. We each took one side and were together listening to the same songs. Of course, all this was without physical contact.
It is a well-known fact that Tachibana-san does not touch men. When she comes across someone between the desks, she turns her slender body upright to avoid hitting him, and when a male teacher tries to put his hand on her shoulder, she puts the tip of her mechanical pencil on her shoulder to control him.
I lay down on the couch being exhausted from all the tests he gave my heart in making it beat faster. And right away, Tachibana-san came to me and came to my side.
-Finally, a man who can lean on me.
Katazun, a situation where a man puts his head on a woman’s shoulder. It is said that the weakness and gentleness of the man is emotional.
-Are you sure?
I sat back down shallowly and rested my head on Tachibana-san’s shoulder.
I can feel her thin body. I wish I could say something about it, but I feel like I would ruin it.
The sound of the rain outside the window is soothing. Suddenly, Tachibana-san touches my head with her other hand, as if she wants to caress me.
I’d like to know what you mean by that, so I’m going to ask you. Despite everything, I was the only one who was nervous. While Tachibana-san was still expressionless as usual.
-What’s going on?
She had a puzzled look on her face as she asked. Tachibana-san really seemed to be doing this out of pure curiosity.
-It’s time for me to go home.
Without saying a word, we turned away from each other and thus concluded the club activities. I got ready to go home and left the club room.
As I opened the door, I heard a bang, as if something had fallen. It was a plastic umbrella.
It looks like someone was here. It wasn’t long since they’d left.
-Tachibana-san, do you have an umbrella?
I said as I took the plastic umbrella. Tachibana-san looked inside her bag, and after a short pause replied.
-I don’t have any.
-I’m glad the umbrella came in handy.
Hayasaka-san looks at the umbrella while saying those words.
-And, you both used the same umbrella, right?
Why are you so curious? I can’t even tell Hayasaka-san half of what had happened between me and Tachibana-san.
She may have passed in front of the club room out of mere curiosity, and seeing that it was raining, and I had Tachibana-san’s company, she thought it was a good idea to leave the umbrella in front of the club room.
So I just told her that we had returned home together using the umbrella. I didn’t mention anything about the kabedon or about me resting my head on her shoulder.
If I tell her that I get along well with Tachibana-san, Hayasaka-san might get hurt. Although I think I’m being conceited in thinking this way.
-And how did it go?
-It was a little awkward. It was hard to walk close without touching each others shoulders.
-It was not necessary for you to leave me the umbrella.
I know it is difficult for her to help me with Tachibana-san.
-No problem. Kirishima-kun is always helping me, so, for once, I wanted to do the same with you. By the way… Are you still watching Tachibana-san’s boyfriend’s social media?
-Yes, it has become a habit.
Hayasaka-san knows about this strange habit of mine. And it’s not something I told him, in fact, that’s how our relationship started.
It was in May, two months ago, when I had not even had a conversation with Hayasaka-san.
My phone had fallen on the station platform. Hayasaka-san, who was nearby, picked it up and handed it to me. And at that moment, he saw the screen of my phone showing the image of Tachibana-san.
-Kirishima-kun, do you like Tachibana-san?
To which I nodded at those words. Surely she had already noticed that my gaze was always on Tachibana-san.
-And I like you too.
I said that to hide my embarrassment at finding out who the person I love was.
-Why are you looking at me like that?
When I asked such a question, Hayasaka-san’s face turned red and she answered jokingly.
-Because, I like you too, Kirishima-kun.
And that’s how our relationship began.
As I was reflecting on it. The waiter noticed that my cup was empty, and I went back to order another coffee.
-I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to keep doing that, Kirishima-kun.
-Doesn’t it bother you to always be looking at a picture where Tachibana-san and her boyfriend are getting along?
-Yes, that makes it very painful.
-Exactly. It’s bad for your health.
-But, the more I suffer, the more real my feelings for Tachibana-san become.
-Kirishima-kun, I only want the best for you.
-I know. Thank you, Hayasaka-san, but I’m fine.
I picked up my phone as I said those words. I kind of know what’s going on.
I opened the social network page, and saw a selfie of Tachibana-san’s boyfriend doing the Kabedon.
I see… So she was just practicing with me and then doing it with her boyfriend. It’s normal for her to want to feel that kind of thing with her boyfriend.
-Kirishima-kun, are you okay?
-Yeah, I’m fine. Just, I’m seeing something interesting.
-You can’t tell me you’re okay with that look on your face.
Hayasaka-san stepped on my foot with those words.
-Can I be honest with you?
-I really like it when Kirishima-kun is depressed about Tachibana-san.
-Hayasaka-san, you’re a little twisted, aren’t you?
-Yes. There is a part of me that wants to support you, Kirishima-kun. But there’s also a part of me that’s jealous of Tachibana-san. That’s why I’m glad when you’re depressed.
She paused slightly and then continued speaking.
-And when I saw her profile, I felt a little relieved. I knew that I could still be Kirishima-kun’s girlfriend.
-Well, I honestly doubt anything will happen between me and Tachibana-san at the moment.
-Still no chance?
-Yes. Tachibana-san doesn’t seem to be interested in me.
-I’m sorry, I thought the umbrella would be a good idea. I feel like a bad girl.
-That sounds great.
That’s us. We both love each other so much that we want to support each other’s love, but we also want to make sure they don’t leave us.
-Let’s not think too much about that. Let’s focus on our weekend plans.
That was the purpose of our meeting. In the quiet of the restaurant, over the sound of coffee being served, we discussed what we were going to do over the weekend.
The only time we could fit it in was on a Saturday morning, so we decided to go out together. In the afternoon, Hayasaka-san had an appointment with her senpai.
-Don’t you like the idea, Kirishima-kun?
-Y’knoe, since I’m going to leave you and go with my senpai.
-Ah, it’s okay, no problem.
-Kirishima-kun, I don’t like that you are almost not jealous of me. Is it because I know that you are in love with Tachibana-san? You don’t even know who I’m in love with.
-Well, I guess there’s some truth to that.
The person Hayasaka-san is in love with goes to a different school, so I hardly see him.
-But Kirishima-kun, it’s okay to feel jealous from time to time.
-I will do it next time.
-Eeeh… Well, okay.
After making plans for the weekend, we left the store and walked home holding hands.
Hayasaka-san was enjoying the feel of my hands in different ways of gripping.
-I like to touch Kirishima-kun.
-Do you not think this is too excessive?
-No, it’s not, I still have to keep experimenting.
-You should restrain yourself.
-Hmm? Do you want me to do this?
After those words, the next thing I felt was Hayasaka-san hugging me.
-Hayasaka-san, this is not good. It doesn’t matter if we are far from school….
-Hey, Kirishima-kun. I wish you could come to my house again.
-Are you listening to me?
-I feel that the more I touch you, the more I know you.
-For some chimpanzees, skin-to-skin contact is the only way to avoid conflict…
Hayasaka-san’s eyes light up after those words. I think I said too much.
-Then let’s have a lot of skin-to-skin contact. Let’s eliminate all our conflicts!
Hayasaka-san said, as she walked beside me and pressed her face against mine and kept hugging me tightly.
The sun was setting and the air smelled like a summer night. For some reason, my heart was beating fast.
Summer is the time of festivals around the city, and fireworks shows, so perhaps we subconsciously expect something fun to happen.
Hayasaka-san trusts me unconditionally. And yet, in my conversation with Hayasaka-san…. I lied to her.
The first lie comes when I told her that I don’t know who her senpai is. In fact, I know him, and we get along very well.
And the second, it was regarding Tachibana-san. I told her that things were not going well between the two of them. But the reality is different.
-Tachibana-san, do you have an umbrella?
-No, I don’t.
After a few moments of looking at each other in the rain-swept road, I decided to take the first step.
-Do you want to go to the station with me?
Tachibana-san nods silently. We walk together, sharing the plastic umbrella as if it were second nature. I am surprised by her quite natural expression standing next to me.
-You don’t have to be so far away from me.
Tachibana-san lifts the edge of the umbrella with her fingers.
-President, your shoulder is getting wet.
If she says so, I guess it’s okay. I moved to the center of the umbrella to be more protected from the rain. As I walked beside her, our shoulders collided.
I guess Tachibana-san is a girl who has never really been in love. So being so close to each other, it doesn’t represent anything strong for her.
But things are different, she feels more like a love interest, and is learning to feel various emotions. She seems to be a more sensitive girl than I am, and I am sure she will be more open soon.
I wonder what kind of girl I’ll see when that happens.
-We have done a lot of things today.
-Yes, it was very exciting.
-Yes, President, not bad, you made this little girl excited.
I can smell the fresh fragrance of Tachibana-san beside me. And on the other hand, I’m sweating. Being under an umbrella next to her makes me feel uncomfortable and I try to move away a little. But before that happened, Tachibana-san tugged on my shirt sleeve.
-You’re going to get wet.
It’s like she was telling me to stay close. So I decided to walk that same distance.
It’s not just our shoulders that collide. Tachibana-san’s sleeves brush against my arm, as does her long hair.
My attention is focused on that. Tachibana-san was as carefree as ever.
When we arrived at the station, we got separated as we entered the ticket office because we were going in opposite directions.
Tachibana-san waved her hand at me. Her movements were quite natural, as was her cheerful expression.
It’s nice to see a girl who doesn’t usually smile. Tachibana-san turned around and said;
-President, want know something?
-What is it?
-I think I can be a good girl.
-I was worried about you.
Maki, the student council president, said. It was lunchtime and I was in the club room studying for my final exam when he walked in.
-Kirishima-kun, you’re crazy.
-Because you keep looking at Tachibana’s boyfriend’s social network.
-I’m surprised you’re taking it so well.
I’m not the only one looking at that guy’s profile. The kabedon photo he took with Tachibana-san was very damaging to many of her suitors.
Now, their mentaly struck corpses lie everywhere in the school building.
-I see that some still refuse to accept the truth.
-They are stubborn, they still think they have a chance with her.
-Was there ever any hope?
-Tachibana-san doesn’t like to be touched, does she? And it looks like her boyfriend hasn’t done it yet.
Today, when her boyfriend reached out to stop her in the hallway, she ducked and dodged him splendidly. It seems that many people have seen that scene.
-Yet they still have a long way to go just to be her boyfriend.
As we were talking, we heard footsteps approaching the club.
The door opens and Tachibana-san enters. She was carrying her study material in her hand. Lately she comes to this place at lunchtime.
-Well, I have to go.
Maki left the club room, and I was left alone with Tachibana-san.
-What were they talking about?
Tachibana-san sits on the sofa and unfolds her textbook and notebook. She seems to be trying very hard.
She is a girl who is good at music and art, but not so great at other subjects. Chemistry, world history and mathematics to be more precise.
I came to think that she was a pretty good all-around girl because of her cold expression and meticulous thoughts, but the reality was different. She is quite different from Hayasaka-san, who always scores above average in all subjects.
After a few moments of reading her book, she began to grumble. She had become bored with studying and sat down on the couch, only to fall asleep.
Even in her sleep, she looks like a rather elegant and unattainable girl. But no matter how much I look at her and think about her, I will never be able to decipher what she thinks and feels.
I fiddled with my phone and went back to looking at Tachibana-san’s boyfriend’s social media.
There were all kinds of pictures with her. And no matter how many you saw, there was not one in which he had body-to-body contact with her.
Many questions invaded my mind about it. Why wasn’t there any photo where they are touching each other?
Doesn’t she like it even if her boyfriend is doing it?
When she opened her bag in front of the club room the other day, there was a folding umbrella in it. So why did she hide the fact that she had one?
But in the end, I couldn’t ask her anything, and I just watched her sleeping face.