This ch from Aika Natsukawa POV
72. The Goddess Remembers
“Natsukawa-san, and Sasaki-kun, could I ask you two to be a guide in the soon Trial Visit?”
Right after summer holidays started, during my activities for the culture festival execution committee. Sasaki-kun and I headed towards the north building, when our homeroom teacher Ootsuki-sensei lowered her head towards us. Because of this unfamiliar choice of words, I couldn’t help but return a baffled question.
“6th of August. On that day, we have all the third-years come to school. And at the same time, middle school students from several schools will be visiting our school. So, I was hoping that I could task you two with showing a group of them around.”
“Huh, that’s new to me. But, why me and Natsukawa? We’ve barely been attending this school for four months……”
Hearing Sasaki-kun’s reasonable words, I nodded along. After all, I felt like the third-years would be a better fit to show the potential new first-years around. Asking some newbies like us doesn’t make much sense. And surely, he must have the same thought as me.
“About that. I can’t really say it out loud, but……This school is requesting the most good-looking students for that duty, since it’ll be good for advertisement. And, when I showed them the pictures of the first years in the staff meeting, both of your names came up in the conversation.”
“Good, good-looking, is it?”
I couldn’t hide my surprise considering I never expected our school to uphold such a practice. I couldn’t really judge myself regarding my appearance, but I did feel happy being praised as ‘good-looking’. However, hearing that the school was ‘talking about my appearance’ didn’t feel too comfortable all the same, creepy even.
“I know that you’re part of the culture festival execution committee, so you’ll be at school often anyway. I get that you’re busy, but please! Can’t you help me out there?”
At her clap and plead, Sasaki-kun and I exchanged glances.
Leaving aside the evaluation criteria for it, I did feel proud to be asked to show around the potential next first-years. That being said, I could also see myself unable to speak because of the tension.
“Natsukawa, how about we agree to that? We might get the next first-years to know our face earlier, you know?”
Sasaki-kun was rather positive about it. Since I wasn’t given much time to think about it, I just went with the flow and agreed. Only to regret that careless decision not long after. But, I myself felt like being more positive myself.
“Really!? Thank you so much, you two! Then, I’ll let Matsumoto-sensei know!”
“Yes! Tell us if you have more information!”
“Leave it to me!”
The conversation moved faster than I could keep up, with Ootsuki-sensei already dashing away. And with that, I was given the duty of showing around the middle schoolers on the day of the Trial Visit. I was showing myself a wry smile, but realized that I would be here at school two times a week anyway, so as to not get myself overwhelmed by tension, I decided to not think much about it for now.
“Culture festival, trial visit, and my own club──It sure has gotten busy lately.”
“Yeah…… you’re right.”
Whenever we were working with the execution committee, Sasaki-kun would always come to talk to me. It was true that he visited my home before, but I didn’t think we were close enough for us to constantly talk like that. And perhaps he understood that too, he was being considerate of me.
So, after giving a vague comment, we returned to the committee meeting room. I did feel bad for Sasaki-kun, but there were many times I just couldn’t get motivated for work. That being said, of course, I wouldn’t just let Sasaki-kun do all the work. But still, I couldn’t help but feel bad for not having anything in my head to continue the talk.
“───This year’s culture festival slogan is [Brand New World ~Onwards to A New Age~]. That’s why, I’d like to bring something new and fresh to this culture festival.”
Most of the committee members must have been decided by rock paper scissors in their respective classes, but maybe because this was more of a high-level school, they were taking the preparations seriously. Maybe because last year’s theme was ‘Legends’, they were trying out a new direction this year.
“As for the first-years, you must know because you probably came here last year, but the scale is actually quite big. There’s a fact that we have many supporters, so we have to answer their expectations. But, to be honest, the entire town may be involved in this event, so we need to put our all into this.”
Maybe it was because the school encouraged students’ initiative, but the president of the culture festival execution committee, Hasegawa-senpai, was very talented. He properly pulled us first-years along, and I could feel that he was definitely trying to make this culture festival a success.
“During this summer holidays, we need to make clear how much budget it would cost us before the real preparations begin. The local managers, graduates, citizens──depending on their support this year, the scale will be adjusted. In other words, we need to make clear the number of supporters. We should be able to figure out the rough number by looking at the name register of last year’s supporters.”
“Then, the third-years should probably look for new supporters. As to start the negotiation, we need to hang out advertisements for requests at the governmental office or the public halls.”
“But, the existing backers we have should be enough for our culture festival. And, I think it’s better that we instead put more focus on hearing those backers we already had, and made sure that they stayed with us.”
“Then, we split up the third-years, and one half goes to take care of the existing backers together with the second-years. As for the first-years, right, let’s have you do this year’s supporter name registers and the expected budget calculation.”
With the third-years as the center, there was a rapid exchange of opinions, and just like that, the role of the first-years was decided. The topic was new to us first-years, leading us to tilt our heads in confusion. However, with all these Senpais, and how reliable they sounded, I was sure that everything would be fine.
In our first meeting, we decided on the slogan, the second meeting was devoted to the outline, and this time the actual contents of our work were decided. To be perfectly honest, we had pretty much been only sitting around. To a level where I was worried if everything would really end up okay.
And, while spacing out pretty much the entire time, my ‘Today’ ended.
“So, um… Natsukawa, how about you come check out the soccer club for a change of pace?”
“Well, I mean, it seemed like, you were spacing out a lot.”
It seemed like Sasaki-kun was being considerate of me again.
It might be a good change of pace, but I also don’t want to get in the way of their practice. Not to mention that I don’t even have that much time myself…
“Thanks. But, I need to take care of Airi……”
“I-I see. Well, can’t be helped then. Sorry, to suddenly invite you like that.”
“No, it’s fine.”
Sasaki-kun, he’s good at playing soccer, athletic in general, and even knows how to be considerate. I think he’s pretty amazing. I can understand why many girls in our class think of him as cool, and handsome. Now that he even went as far as to invite me to his club, I actually feel kind of bad…
Once 3 pm rolled around, most students headed to their club, perhaps that was the reason I was all alone at the front of the school building. When I heard all the distant voices from the students, I oddly enough found myself thinking ‘Why did I leave before everybody else?’ and felt a sense of alienation… almost like I was the unusual one.
Met with these negative feelings, I felt like something was off. It was, almost like I was denying my usual life. Even though I knew, my beloved younger sister was waiting at home.
Taking care of Airi had been part of my daily routine. Although helping with the culture festival execution committee was a given, and I could feel its worth, I honestly wouldn’t know if I was having fun or not. Just like that, ten days or so passed, and what sprung up within me was a feeling that was hard to forgive.
If I were to accept this (feeling), I’d just feel bad towards Airi.
This gloomy and uncertain feeling… I feel like I had this before. It’s like a deja-vu I can’t put into words. I just suddenly feel like I can’t forgive myself, and I feel like I have to hold back, as if I’m warning myself. I wonder what it is.
So far……──Wataru was with me. Last year, and the year before that, Wataru was by my side, and everytime he appeared in front of me, I’d give an amazed ‘Again?’, but though overwhelmed by his ability to take action, I found myself having him carry my shoppings halfway to my house. I remember that. At home, Mom and Airi would be there, and Dad would arrive home later with some souvenirs……
Ahh, that’s why I didn’t feel bored. Back then, there was never a moment where I was truly alone. If I had nothing to do, Wataru or other classmates would take me off somewhere, and I was feeling rather fulfilled thanks to that. I remember that.
So then── this frustration, irritation feeling, what is this? Why do I, feel ‘nostalgia’ with these tangled emotions?
TN: Join my discord channel if you want.