TN : Another Aika Natsukawa POV
73. The Goddess Recalls
When Airi was born, I was still in grade school.
My younger sister. She possessed the cuteness of an angel, and I still could remember vividly how I really treasured her. At the same time, I made up my mind to become a proper and reliable older sister. Thanks to that, Mom and Dad showered me with praise and hug, as we spent fulfilling days in a new home.
Around the same time as I graduated from grade school, Dad was attempting to copy a co-worker who successfully changed his profession, but failed. Unable to get back into his former job as he resigned with a big smile… for a while, he pretty much went around searching for a job. One and a half years later, he somehow managed to get on track better than his former job, but the time until then was pretty rough as we just settled in a new house after all.
Around one year after giving birth to Airi, Mom started working part-time as well. Feeling worried about her constitution, I offered to help with the housework, and so, I started to take care of myself. Well, it could be said that the situation forced me to do so.
I got up early in the morning to start the laundry, and prepared the lunch boxes in the meantime. After drying up the laundry in the garden, I would prepare myself and head to middle school. Upon returning home, I would ask Mom about dinner, go out shopping for the ingredients, and have her make it while I took care of Airi.
As I was dealing with my physical growth, my adolescence just inflicted more uncertainty and fear into me. Being forced to deal with both of those, I went on with my days, sometimes feeling tired of everything.
Such daily life eventually dried me up. ‘Showing my frowning expression to the innocent Airi is one of my greatest sins up to this day. That’s why, in order to make up for that time, as her older sister, now, from now on, I will offer her all the love I have’──that was what I swore when I regained peace.
What was hard for me was knowing the difference to my surroundings. Other girls were acting like real girls their age, playing and having fun in a new place, looking into trends and popular fashion, and talking about dramas or idols in high spirits. While feeling jealous of them, I even became unable to understand the people around me from time to time, and while declining any sort of invitation, my busy life continued day after day.
‘Aahh, this isn’t how things are supposed to be’, was what I thought in the first term of my second year in middle school. I was always in the corner of the classroom… wondering why it was always me who would be left with this boring life, probably I was entering the rebellious phase of adolescence.
Anyways, I reached my limit.
『”Excuse me! Thank you very much for helping me yesterday!”』
And that was when Wataru appeared.
In the rainy season, he slipped on the vinyl floor because of the summer moisture. That day, I couldn’t finish my lunch box in time, so I decided to grab something to eat from the cafeteria.
There, in the middle of the cafeteria, I spotted a boy whose tray had flipped upside down. ‘Can’t be helped, after all the floor is slippery, surely it could have happened to anybody’, or so I thought.
At the same time, the boy was just staring at his surroundings, his face distorted in pain as he sat on the floor. I could still remember how everybody tried their hardest not to look for about 5 seconds or so. Seeing his eyes overflowing with void and absolute despair…… I couldn’t help but sympathize with him.
Almost subconsciously, I grabbed the tray, and started picking up the food and tableware scattered on the floor. ‘This must be rough for you, and you don’t even want this, right’—I didn’t say it out loud, but these words were what I tried to convey with my gaze.
Soon after, the lady from the cafeteria came running with cleaning utensils, and the three of us cleaned up the mess until no trace of it was left anymore. And the matter ended with no commotion.
『”Natsukawa Aika-san. I fell in love with your kindness. Please, won’t you go out with me?”』
Three days later. The boy called me to the unpopular back of the school like we were inside some drama or manga, and confessed to me. Back then, it honestly passed by me, at best it sounded like someone else’s matter.
With how busy I was, I never saw myself dating anybody. Of course, that was the reason I used to reject him. But, that was only the beginning of his──Wataru’s fierce approaches.
『”That was the first time somebody ever sincerely faced me.”』
Being told something along those lines, Wataru started to come to my side day after day. On top of me resenting my daily life, an annoying existence joined in, surely, at some point, I must have unconsciously thrown some pretty harsh words at him. At the same time, my frustration── and things that were embarrassing to me, Wataru learned them all.
『”──Natsukawa-san, could you help me with this problem?”』
『”──Hey, can I call you by your name? Please, let me call you by your name!”』
『”──Aika, I’ll hold your stuff, so let’s go together”』
The boy, ‘Wataru Sajou’, was always clinging to me. He started appearing during my shopping trips after school, almost like a stalker, but doing it openly. This fierce attack ironically made us kind of popular among students of our school year, and so, everyone knew of my name.
『”Natsukawa-san, you’re being followed by this weird boy, right? Must be hard for you.”』
『”Natsukawa-san is really cute after all~, can’t be helped then! We’ll protect you!”』
I didn’t know what kind of sympathy drove them to that, but when I noticed, people started to talk to me from time to time. At first, they were worried about Wataru following me, but then they would even talk to me between classes.
One day, when Mom was taking time off work, I went to hang out with my classmates for the first time. Wataru apparently heard of that and brought some boys along, troubling the girls. It was a lot of ruckus and chaos, but fun… it was, really fun.
For a short period of time when we became examinees for our high school exams, Wataru started to not talk to me as much, which allowed me to focus on my studies. Together with my other girl classmates, we would study a lot, and I was aiming to get into the high-level Kouetsu High School, because the school expenses were fairly cheap there. These days were hard, but at least they weren’t as boring as my previous days.
‘So that I won’t burden my family’… perhaps that hope of mine was heard and my effort paid off, I managed to pass the entrance exams for Kouetsu High. What surprised me was Wataru, waiting for me on the announcement day with a big smile on his face.
He was fairly docile as of late, so I gave a nonchalant word. I still could remember saying ‘Ahh, so we’re at the same school. Great job at passing.’ to him. But honestly, I must have been relieved to know someone at that new school.
After that, despite being surrounded by many people, he blurted out something unbelievable.
『”I wanted to attend the same school as Aika after all!”』
In a hurry, I pulled him to an empty location, and gave him quite an earful. Oddly enough, he begged me to call him by his given name, and I could still remember reluctantly accepting it.
After the entrance ceremony at high school, Wataru once again confessed his feelings to me. At that time, I already forgot how many times he threw these same words at me. After all, I had heard them countless times in middle school already.
Although my boorish and worthless days had finally ended, I didn’t have the desire to ‘go out with anybody’. Not to mention that I really started to think of Wataru as a nuisance. Though, I doubt that telling him to give it a rest reached his ears anymore.
Once high school began, Wataru was yet again following me around. Because it was such a straight-forward approach, those around me were quite shocked. One of them was a girl called ‘Kei Ashida’.
『”Natsukawa-san sure is popular~”』
『”T-That guy is just stalking me……”』
I was trying to show my disgust with that reaction, but Kei just laughing, and from then, she started talking to me. Probably, she was the first friend I introduced to Airi. She was very reliable. And just like her, many other people started talking to me solely because Wataru was clinging to me, the same as what happened in middle school.
‘Though it’s different from what I anticipated, I’m different from back in middle school’… With these hopes and aspirations, my high school life started. And perhaps, the hardship I endured until now wasn’t for nothing, since this time, my days passed by rather fulfilled. Though joining a club might be difficult, as I had family matters, I could sometimes hang out with my girl classmates.
At that time, surely I must have felt fulfilled, and satisfied.
『“───my bad, I’m sorry, Natsukawa.”』
But then, it happened so abruptly, I couldn’t follow at all.
What was he talking about? Really, I couldn’t understand. He just selfishly clung to me, always approaching me, and yet suddenly left me alone without me asking. With that as the trigger, he started to stay a bit more distanced. Right after, I wasn’t really shocked at all, and instead was relieved and happy to be free, thinking ‘Now I finally get to enjoy a peaceful student life’…
That should be the story.
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