The sun was as bright as ever as it made its way inside the windows of each household, similar to how an alarm clock would wake the person who set it up. A month has passed by since school started, and much to Hitoshi’s dismay, he never really made any progress with Kazumi.
‘A month has already passed, yet I can’t even greet her normally.’
During the first week, boys were pretty much staring at him and Kazumi, envious that he’s seated beside her. A few more weeks added, and it gradually stopped and everyone just focused on themselves. She is being greeted by everyone, so it shouldn’t be a big deal if he does the same thing. However, a coward as he is, he couldn’t gather the courage to do it.
‘If I can’t even greet her, how will I even be able to converse with her?’
It’s bad for his heart. The nervousness, anxiety, and insecurity that fills him up whenever he thinks about what to talk about with her. Simply put, he’s overthinking about it.
‘I wonder if I’ll see her on the train today again.’
Kazumi and Hitoshi live in different districts, with him being a district farther than Kazumi’s. Since both of it are in the same path towards the district where TK Academy is at, it means that there’s a chance that they might end up on the same train (albeit also different train cars).
The chance of them being on the same train car is really slim, but being on the same train? Now that’s actually plausible. And then, he can walk with her towards school.
That’s what he keeps daydreaming about. But even with those thoughts, he still doubts that if it ever happens, will he actually walk with her towards school? After all, he doesn’t know what she thinks of him. He’s insecure about what impression she has of him.
‘Does she even remember me from that time?’
He was thinking if there was a chance that Kazumi remembered him not simply as a classmate, but as the person she helped during the entrance ceremony.
Given that they have only conversed once, not to mention that it was on the way to school during the entrance ceremony, to say that you remember ‘this’ person means that the person had a significant impact towards you. Much like how Hitoshi got attracted to Kazumi just like that. Even if they only conversed once, just seeing her made his feelings for her grow even stronger.
Over the course of the month, multiple boys have already confessed to Kazumi. That’s what also happened last year, but given her skyrocketing popularity, a lot of boys seem to be coming out and confessing to her this time with the hopes that she’ll go out with one of them on a date, even if it’s only just that. That’s how desperate they are, but it’s not the ‘bad’ kind of desperation. After all, who wouldn’t be desperate to go out with the person they like?
He muttered her name, curious about what she might be thinking right now.
“Ah, what am I even doing… I should get ready as well.”
Just like the usual routine, he’d take the train on the way to school, and he’d scout the seats to see if Kazumi was there. Kazumi and Haruka were always together on their way to school given how they live so close to each other, so it’ll be a really easy job to find the two of them in a train car.
‘Not here, I guess.’
However, it looks like this day is not one of them where he’ll be able to see her. She could be on a different train car, and if so, the same question will ensue. Will he be able to walk with her towards the classroom? Haruka is there, so it’ll help lessen people’s suspicions and sudden thoughts than if only Hitoshi and Kazumi walked together.
He laments himself over his lack of courage. He’s been stuck on this loop for this whole month. Over this month as well, they were on the same train for around 10 times already. However, Hitoshi only knew that it was ‘5 times’ because of how aside from them being on different train cars, he wasn’t able to spot Kazumi with the multitudes of people walking with each other on the way to school, despite always keeping an eye up.
The train stopped, and a lot of people got down. Adults who were on their way to work, students from other schools, and the students of TK Academy. The moment he unboarded, he took a quick glance over the other train cars to see if a girl with long purple hair would be present. That might be Kazumi.
However, he didn’t see anyone like that. He then went on to school, checking his surroundings to see if Kazumi and Haruka might be there.
He walked dejectedly towards the classroom, but somehow got back to his usual mood when he saw Kazumi present already. Then, nervousness struck him again. It was a mix of emotions every now and then.
‘Can I greet her? No, will I be able to greet her?’
‘It’s just a simple “Good morning, Hironaka-san.”’
Yet, he always questioned his courage over doing a simple action.
However, if he doesn’t start now, then by the time he gathered his courage, it might be too late. It’s not a half-hearted greeting anyways, it’s just that he’s anxious of how she’ll respond.
‘Nothing will begin if I don’t act upon it.’
“G-good morning, Hironaka-san!”
Surprisingly, he was able to do it. As he approached his seat, he gave this simple greeting towards Kazumi. His face obviously showed that he was embarrassed, but only the people around would be able to notice that. Not that there was anyone who noticed him, except Akio who noticed this unusual action of Hitoshi. Akio showed a light grin, then continued on with the book he was reading. The other students were just talking with their friends, so it didn’t really garner much attention until the person greeted back.
“Good morning, Iwasaki-kun.”
Hearing her soft and sweet voice, even the rest of the class couldn’t help but stare at Kazumi right away, particularly the boys, since they can’t even approach her. Well, it’s not like she has an intimidating aura or anything, it’s just that, no one knows how her mind works. So, like Hitoshi, they’re also afraid of creating a bad impression of themselves towards Kazumi.
‘Ahh… What is this?!’
Hitoshi both felt happy and hurt at the same time. Happy because she responded with a smile, but hurt because he wanted to converse more with her, yet he can’t.
Classes was about to start anyway, so even if he had a topic to talk with her about, it won’t last long. Best to save it for later.
Hitoshi and Akio are part of the Art Club, while Toshio is part of the Basketball Club. During lunchtime, since the other Art Club members eat their lunch somewhere else, Hitoshi’s group decided to eat here. Yano Haruka is also part of the Art Club, but she and Kazumi usually eat their lunch at the rooftop for a different atmosphere. Sometimes, they’ll eat at the Literature clubroom, in which Kazumi is a part of.
That’s why for them to be in the Art clubroom, that’s really unexpected not just for Hitoshi, but for the remaining two as well. Since they’re used to eating only with the three of them, with the addition of Kazumi and Haruka, barriers are needed to be overcome before this circle will truly function.
“Oh, you’re finally here.”
‘Haruka was the one who spoke as Toshio opened the door for us.’
The clubroom was full of the canvas and paint that weren’t completely tidied up yet, but the only people in there were these two, Haruka and Kazumi. With the addition of Hitoshi and the others, there are now five of them.
Toshio put on a surprised face, while Akio had his stoic expression as always. Hitoshi meanwhile---
‘W-what is this?! Why are they here? Don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying they shouldn’t be here. In fact, this makes me happy and all, but I just can’t understand why they decided to eat here suddenly. Yano-san is part of the club, so probably they decided to just eat here for now. Yes, that is the simpliest and most logical reason for it.’
Hitoshi’s thoughts were in a scramble, and the nervousness he had earlier morning had returned again. With each of these moments, his feelings grow even stronger, and so does his insecurity about himself.
Hironaka Kazumi is a really popular person, but she doesn’t have a lot of friends. She’s actually a sociable person who is able to talk with anyone, but at the end of the day, her only real friend that one can name would be Yano Haruka.
“What a surprise to see you two eating here.”, Toshio replied back with a lighthearted tone.
“Yeah, it must seem so. Kazumin said she wanted to eat here for now, so we went here. It’d be rude to start eating right away since we know the three of you eat here all the time, so we just waited.”
“Ah, thanks. Sorry for letting you wait.”
“No, no. We simply barged in here, so it’d be rude not to wait for you guys.”
Haruka and Toshio exchanged words as the three of us went on to get a seat.
‘What do I do?! Hironaka-san is actually eating lunch with us!’
Hitoshi seemed calm and collected on the outside, yet his thoughts were in a disarray as to how he’ll be able to use this opportunity to talk with Kazumi. Unlike in the classroom where there are a lot of people, there are only five of them here. It should be easier, then. That’s what Hitoshi is thinking. Haruka and Toshio were already friends since last year, while the rest were simply a part of the circle. Akio didn’t talk much since he only enters the conversation if he wants to speak, Hitoshi felt hesitant to speak with Kazumi’s presence, while Kazumi didn’t know what to say either. That’s why despite the fact that this circle was already formed last year, it had never truly functioned as how one would expect it to. Unless the barriers have been surpassed, this loop will simply continue.
“So, how do you think you did on the monthly exam, Yano-san?”
It was Toshio who initiated the conversation.
Exploring her thoughts, Haruka placed a finger over her chin.
“I think I did well, though I could say that it’s just as usual.”
“Yeah, that’s true. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to do even better by this month. I really need the blessings of the intelligent students here. I wonder who those are?”
Toshio had a sarcastic tone, but he was actually making the other three speak for themselves. After all, part of those ‘intelligent students’ that he’s referring to would be the other three who haven’t spoken yet.
While Kazumi finished first in most exams, the other student who’d top her sometimes and is usually at the second place when she’s Top 1 would be Hitoshi himself.