Chapter 4:

Lingering Emotions「Mitsuki」

Two Points

1Bookmark here

Feeling exhausted, I sat down on the warm, wooden bench. Wiping my sweaty face with a towel, I looked at the figures of my clubmates running in the sand.Bookmark here

I'm just not as good as I used to be anymore. Even an hour of practice makes me want to die. My throat felt dry, but I didn't have any water to hydrate myself.Bookmark here

An orange tint painted the large sand fields from the sunset above. I looked up and watched the descent of the sun as it slowly began to disappear.Bookmark here

I lost count, but I probably spent a good couple of minutes just staring off into the sky.Bookmark here

I should go wash my face.Bookmark here

With that plan in mind, I got ready to stand up.Bookmark here

That's when I felt a sudden cold in my shoulder. I spotted a shadow in the sand, prompting me to shift my gaze to the owner of it.Bookmark here

“Mitsuki-san, good work out there.”Bookmark here

It was one of my clubmates and good friend, Kanzaki Haruto.Bookmark here

“Oh, it's just you, Haruto-kun. You scared me there.”Bookmark here

He had a can of cola in both of his hands, one of them was pressed upon my shoulder.Bookmark here

“Also 'good work'? It really wasn't.”Bookmark here

“Compared to your prime, maybe not, but you're slowly recovering after your injury. Anyway, here.”Bookmark here

He urged me to take the can. I gratefully accepted it and sat back down.Bookmark here

“Thanks...”Bookmark here

I opened the can, then brought it to my lips and sipped.Bookmark here

“Have you been doing alright?” He asked me.Bookmark here

“What do you mean?”Bookmark here

I was lost about what he meant by that question.Bookmark here

“I mean, you know. After Taiyo moved out and all, are you doing okay?”Bookmark here

Ah, so that was what he was worried about that?Bookmark here

“Yeah. I've been okay so far.”Bookmark here

That was both right and wrong at the same time. Truthfully, ever since we were separated, I just couldn't sleep. However, apart from that and Taiyo-kun's absence, things weren't any different from before. I think. I don't know.Bookmark here

I just felt empty. Knowing that he wouldn't be here for us to walk home together from school. For him to visit our house every morning and walk to school. For us to eat lunch together. For him to cheer me on during practice.Bookmark here

Despite that, I'm not lonely.Bookmark here

My fingers gently brushed the ring that Taiyo-kun gave me.Bookmark here

“Is that so? If you're okay then, that's fine,” he said.Bookmark here

I gulped down the rest of my cola and got up.Bookmark here

“Leaving now? Don't wanna continue practice?”Bookmark here

“Nope. Even if I did, I don't think I'd be welcome.”Bookmark here

I lowered my face so as to not meet Haruto-kun's gaze.Bookmark here

“How so? Are you still worrying about that?”Bookmark here

I nodded slightly. I could hear Haruto-kun sigh in response.Bookmark here

“Weren't we over that already?”Bookmark here

“I don't think my senpais are, though… I mean, if it was me, I wouldn't either,” I said in a pained voice.Bookmark here

“Imagine if a first-year was chosen over you for the competition, that alone was embarrassing enough but to have that first-year, on the day of the regional competition, get injured and get last place… How would you feel?”Bookmark here

After having your chance be stolen from you by someone else, and that someone failing miserably in the end. If I were in their shoes, I would feel frustrated too…Bookmark here

“That wasn’t your fault Mitsuki.”Bookmark here

He tried to comfort me, but I couldn't accept his words. They just couldn't get through to me.Bookmark here

“I was overjoyed to know I was chosen, and I was similarly distraught when I made a fool of myself in front of so many people…”Bookmark here

“Mitsuki...”Bookmark here

“Sorry, Haruto-kun, for dampening the mood. This was months ago. I’m just an idiot for not knowing when to move on.”Bookmark here

I pursed my lips. I felt like my heart was about to crumble as I recalled those painful memories.Bookmark here

If only Taiyo-kun was here. If only he could wrap me in a warm embrace and whisper to my ear that it was going to be fine. Maybe, maybe it would’ve lessened the pain.Bookmark here

“Mitsuki. Do you still love track?”Bookmark here

Huh? What kind of question was that?Bookmark here

Confused, I looked straight at Haruto-kun. He had a serious expression as he asked that question.Bookmark here

There was only one answer I could give.Bookmark here

“Of course. I still love track a lot.”Bookmark here

“Will you continue track in High School?”Bookmark here

“I...”Bookmark here

I choked on my words. My confidence faltered, and I didn’t know what to say.Bookmark here

“Frankly… I’m not sure. I have to focus on studying too for college. I don’t know if I would have time for track.”Bookmark here

I have never considered that before. And now that I had to think about it, I was unsure.Bookmark here

“Mitsuki, please continue track.”Bookmark here

I know I couldn’t give a confident answer right now. It was probably useless to ponder over it now. There are still two years before that point.Bookmark here

“I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”Bookmark here

“I see. Do you want me to walk you home?”Bookmark here

“You don’t have to. I’ll be fine by myself.”Bookmark here

I’ve always relied on Taiyo-kun on most things. It was like I couldn’t live without him. I was just a selfish person. I want to move away from that and be more independent. This is the first step towards that goal.Bookmark here

“Got it. Take care.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, thanks.”Bookmark here

After a brief farewell, I went home for the day.Bookmark here

2Bookmark here

“I’m home...” I said as I closed the door behind me.Bookmark here

I removed my shoes and went upstairs.Bookmark here

“Welcome home, Mitsuki,” my mom said. I didn’t reply and headed straight to my room.Bookmark here

I swung the door open, went inside then slammed it shut. I laid my bag on the floor as I yawned.Bookmark here

My room wasn’t anything special. It was standard: A single bed, study desk, kotatsu, and a closet. Not many things apart from my stuffed animal collection.Bookmark here

I felt so weak that I could collapse in bed the first second I lay down.Bookmark here

Not even bothering to change my clothes, I fell into my comfy bed. My face was buried into the many pillows and stuffed animals I had.Bookmark here

I just wanted to sleep and rest.Bookmark here

If I closed my eyes, I was certain I’d fall asleep immediately. All those nights I couldn’t sleep, the effects are showing now. I feel like my sleep schedule has been turned upside down.Bookmark here

Then I remembered something.Bookmark here

I lazily got up and went to my desk.Bookmark here

A single envelope was there. It was the letter that Taiyo-kun sent me a couple days ago. That reminds me, I haven’t even begun writing a reply.Bookmark here

What should I even say? I didn’t know.Bookmark here

I was too busy thinking of the contents rather than actually writing it.Bookmark here

I sighed.Bookmark here

I’ll do it later.Bookmark here

That’s what I told myself. Bookmark here

That’s what I told myself for the last few days.Bookmark here

Just as I was about to head back to bed to take a nap.Bookmark here

I hesitated for a moment.Bookmark here

I don’t want to worry Taiyo-kun.Bookmark here

I have to stop being so selfish.Bookmark here

Turning around, I returned to my desk. I gripped the envelope in my hand. The remaining light from the sunset seeped inside the windows, causing the ring in my other hand to shimmer.Bookmark here

That’s when I decided to do it.Bookmark here

I sat in my chair and began to write my letter.Bookmark here

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