Bizarre Love Triangle – III


“So, Io, what reason could you have for calling me up on a Sunday?”
“I passed the test on my first try. It was a good grade, too. The teacher complimented me on it. So, I wanna treat you to something as thanks. Whatever you want.”
“I don’t need thanks.”
“Well, I need to thank you.”
“Don’t waste the allowance your parents give you like that.”
“I have money from my spring break job.”
“The job that made you fumble the proficiency test? Really, you should have weighed out the amount of money that would go into course fees versus the amount you could earn from a part-time job, from a cost-effectiveness perspective—”
“No lectures today. Just shut up and let me buy you something.”
“Fine. All right, let’s go to the Goodies at Minami-Suetsugu.”
“As if. Don’t you know any trendy cafés?”
“I really only eat at diners, lunch vendors, and convenience stores.”
“What, does your giant brain only activate when you’re studying?  Man, I was stupid thinking I’d get you to take me to some pretty little girly place.”
“You’re a girl, technically. You take me.”
“Nah, I don’t know that stuff. I’m not like the girls he runs around with…”
“…”
“We’re both complete failures at being romantic, huh.”
“You don’t need that in high school, though, do you?”
“I dunno…”

The two of them headed to Onjuku then, and did some window-shopping, which was unusual for both of them. Carrying on an affable conversation of the sort that happens between two people who haven’t found much in common yet, they stayed together until dinner.

Then, at eight p.m., on the yellow train platform at Onjuku Station…

 

“Thanks for today, Io.”
“You could’ve picked somewhere more expensive, y’know.”
“No, that was fine. By the way, for a fairly average-sized girl, you eat quite a lot.”
“Don’t underestimate teenage girls who play sports. You just eat like a bird.”
“Well… Since middle school, I’ve never found eating especially enjoyable. I don’t have much interest in food. But today’s was fun. Very tasty.”
“Do you not like what your mom makes? Maybe your tastes have changed now that you’ve hit your growth spurt. You should talk to her about it.”
“My mother, she’s, er, busy. She isn’t usually around for dinner. Some days she doesn’t come home at all… So, generally, I just buy lunch boxes to eat alone. It’s just me and my mother, my father isn’t around.”
“Oh, okay… Shoot, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it. My dad hasn’t passed away or anything. He pays for my school expenses and child support. He even bought my apartment. My mom makes a high salary as a specialist in her field, so we don’t struggle in life at all. We just don’t see each other very much. It’s… comfortable that way, I guess. I’m used to it now.”
“Oh…”
“Yeah.”
“Say, Haruki, as a friend, there’s another favor I’d like to ask you for. Can I tell you something?”

 

***

 

“Whoa, whoa, are you serious? Right here?!”
“Can you quiet down a little bit, Mika-chan?”
“Ugh, come on. Wait, who’s that over there? That looks like our class rep and Mizusawa. Ooh, what could they be—”
“Do you know what ‘be quiet’ means?”

 

***

 

The wind swept from Haruki and Io to a couple hiding in the shadow of a pillar.

 

“I mean, you’ve seen what kind of girl I am. Even when I was in middle school, sure, the younger girls on the team liked me, but I only had one friend I could really hang out and talk with. I was hoping I might be able to make some new friends once I got to Houjou, but it’s not going so well.”
“Oh, I’m the same. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
“The thing is, I feel comfortable talking to you. Honestly, it’s… nice.”
“Oh… Yeah, sure…”
“So, what I wanted to ask you is…”

 

The wind’s course grew slightly complicated.

 

“Lately, … … …I like… …”

 

“Huh? I just heard her say ‘I like’…”

 

“… …Now… … …a girl…  … . I… … … …see? And I just blow up, and… …happens. But… …with… … . I love it, and I want to keep on… …”
“And I’m… … preferable to him?”
“Keep it… …secret… …from him. I don’t… …want him to… …uncomfortable… That’s why I need you, Haruki…”
“All right, you’ve got me.”


1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9