Chapter 6:

A Smile Like That (Part 1)

Unconsciously Interested

PART FIVEBookmark here

“It's a pleasure to meet you all. Please look after me...”Bookmark here

You’ve got to be kidding, right? Bookmark here

Of all the students who expressed interest in joining, why is she one of them again?Bookmark here

“. . . .” Bookmark here

Sigh… Bookmark here

Oh well, forget it. Bookmark here

There’s nothing wrong with her. It’s just that I don’t feel that comfortable around her. Bookmark here

“-Yo! Hey, Yuyo!” I lost my train of thought when Minori patted my shoulder.Bookmark here

“Huh? What?”Bookmark here

Minori furrowed her brows as she looked at me. “I was asking if you had anything to say to Takashi-san.”Bookmark here

“Oh! Yeah… No, nothing noteworthy,” I replied. Then I turned to Laughing-san. “Welcome to the student council, Laugh– err… Takashi-san!” Bookmark here

Oh, my goodness! I almost called her Laughing-san out loud! That name has become ingrained in my mind.Bookmark here

I guess she didn’t notice, righ–? Bookmark here

Ah-re? Laughing-san smiles at me with an amusing expression on her face. She noticed it, then! Bookmark here

Anyway… Let’s not linger too much on this. Bookmark here

It’s just embarrassing for me to call someone else other than their name, and worse, we are not even friends. Even though she recently gifted me with gummy candies days ago, I still think of her as a stranger.Bookmark here

“Thank you, Shibasaki-senpai.” Takashi-san said with a sweet smile. Bookmark here

I simply nodded in response.Bookmark here

Yeah, that’s right. She’s not Laughing-san, but Takashi-san. I need to correct my brain on how to address her properly.Bookmark here

“Well, Takashi-san, thank you for joining the student council. I want to welcome you here. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions.” Minori said.Bookmark here

“Thank you, Kamiwaki-senpai. Serving the student council is definitely something I will enjoy.”Bookmark here

“I am delighted to hear that. It will be a great pleasure to work with you.” Minori smiled warmly at Takashi-san. Bookmark here

These two certainly get along.Bookmark here

I then turned my attention back to the laptop I was using for student council work, and started working on a couple of documents about upcoming class trips next month. I need to get my task done so that I can leave early. I have to go the convenience store to pick up groceries and my food for dinner.Bookmark here

From the corner of my eyes, I can see Takashi-san looking my way. I disregard it and continue to work. Bookmark here

This underclassman still makes me uncomfortable. It may have something to do with how we first met or her way of speaking or looking at me? Bookmark here

Although I am uneasy around her, she seems to be a good-natured person. Bookmark here

I can’t quite get used to her yet, but maybe one day, I’ll get over my initial apprehensions and start to feel comfortable around her.

Bookmark here

“Thanks for the hard work. I’ll be taking my leave now.” I walked to the door as I waved my right hand to Minori and other student council members.Bookmark here

“Do you have literature club today?” Minori asked.Bookmark here

“Hmm? None, only on Tuesday and Thursday. Why?” Bookmark here

“It seems like you’re in a hurry today.” Minori looked at me inquisitively. She sure has a keen eye for detail. Bookmark here

“I just need to get some groceries, you know,” I replied. I have to leave early since shopping for things at the convenience store always takes me a while.Bookmark here

“Oh, I see...”Bookmark here

“Well then, have a great day. I’m out. See you later, guys.” I said as I opened the door.Bookmark here

“See you, Yuyo.”Bookmark here

“See you later, Shibasaki-san.”Bookmark here

I grabbed my phone from my uniform jacket to check my shopping list. Bookmark here

As I scrolled my phone, I noticed Kyashii had left me a message on LIWE. Bookmark here

Hmm, I wonder what is it about?Bookmark here

Yuyo, what time do you come out of the student council?” Kyashii asked. Based on the time stamp, her message was sent 30 minutes ago. Bookmark here

What was she up to?Bookmark here

I typed my response. “I just got out. I’m heading home. What’s up?” And send.Bookmark here

Now then, let me get back to my checklist since I don’t expect Kyashii to respond right away. It’s unlikely that she’ll reply immediately anyway.Bookmark here

Ring-! Ring-! Bookmark here

Yeah, right! On the contrary, she’s the type to call right away. Bookmark here

“Yuyo! Where are you?!” Kyashii asked as soon as I picked up the call. Bookmark here

“Uhh… I’m still on my way out of the school grounds. Where’s the fire?”Bookmark here

“What?! What fire?’Bookmark here

“Well… You sound as if you’re in a life-or-death situation. So, what is it?”Bookmark here

“Hmmph… Anyway, I was wondering if you were going home right away? Let’s meet up right now. I’m still here in the shopping district.”Bookmark here

“Huh? Class ended 45 minutes ago, yet you’re still not home? It doesn’t seem like you’re doing any shopping, does it?”Bookmark here

“Haha… You knew? Yeah, I happened to run into one of my middle school classmates who invited me for a snack. I called home to let them know I would be late.”Bookmark here

“Ah… I see.” She must be close friends with that former classmate.Bookmark here

“So?”Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

“Let’s meet. I’ll wait for you here. Could we hang out a little, please?” Bookmark here

My first thought was to decline her invitation since I still had grocery shopping to do and I’d just spent the weekend with her. Bookmark here

However, if I meet her in the shopping district, I can also buy groceries there after we hang out. In a sense, this is killing two birds with one stone, isn’t it? Bookmark here

Yeah… Let’s just put it that way since I find it quite difficult to say no to this pushy friend of mine. Bookmark here

“Alright. I’ll just do my grocery shopping there. Where exactly are you? I’m on my way there.”

Bookmark here

Uh-oh... Am I lost?Bookmark here

I’m unfamiliar with the café that Kyashii has mentioned, so I went online to check the map. However, I’m having trouble finding it since, umm... I have a terrible sense of direction!Bookmark here

It took me five minutes to check the signages, but there was still no luck. Bookmark here

Jeez! Where the heck is that café?! Is it invisible or something?Bookmark here

Okay… I’m done with this. I’m really lost—the dread! Even worse, this place is too crowded, making me feel ill at ease! Bookmark here

Sigh…! Bookmark here

I’ll just send message to Kyashii, then.Bookmark here

I think I’m lost. I’m in front of the yyy teashop. Could you please just come over here?” And send. Bookmark here

Ding! Bookmark here

Quite a fast one there. Kyashii replied with a sticker.Bookmark here

I stood there for a few minutes, randomly looking both ways to see if Kyashii was within my sight. Not long after, I caught a glimpse of her talking to a guy. Bookmark here

Hmm… that's the classmate, huh? It seems like they’re pretty close to each other. I had trouble recognizing faces from a distance, so I couldn't figure out what he actually looked like. Bookmark here

In fact, it’s Kyashii's familiar features or perhaps her presence alone enables me to identify her at a distance.Bookmark here

Kyashii rushed towards me after they parted ways. She seems to be happy after talking to that guy. Bookmark here

“Yuyo… Sorry, did I keep you waiting for too long?” Kyashii's smile is radiant as she holds my arm tight. She always clings to my arm as if it were a natural reflex. Bookmark here

“I thought you were meeting with a former girl classmate. I didn't expect it to be a guy.” I replied despite myself not paying attention to her remarks.Bookmark here

“Hmm? Yeah. What’s wrong? You look bothered,” she’s still smiling brightly.Bookmark here

Huh…? Am I? Bookmark here

I didn’t realize I was, but I felt odd nonetheless. It was as if I had lost an immense amount of energy. Bookmark here

I wonder if it’s because the crowd has become overwhelming for me. I usually feel anxious and unbalanced in crowded, noisy places, so I tend to steer clear of them if at all possible.Bookmark here

“I’m fine. So, where to?” I asked Kyashii with a reassuring smile. Considering how uneasy I feel right now, I should stay away from the crowd for the time being.Bookmark here

“Are you not planning to stop by the grocery store? I’ll tag along.”Bookmark here

“Wait, you invited me here just to go to the grocery store?”Bookmark here

“Eeh…? Could it be that you really want to hang out with me after all?” Her smile grows wider.Bookmark here

“Your mood seems awfully happy. Has anything good happened between you and your friend?”Bookmark here

“Huh…? None at all! Let’s just say I’m happy that we’re hanging out again. We should do this often, Yuyo!”Bookmark here

“You mean hanging out in busy places like this?”Bookmark here

She pouted and whispered something that I didn’t catch since it was a little lively around us. Bookmark here

“Fine! We’ll go to a peaceful place next time,” she said.Bookmark here

I couldn’t help but crack a smile. She’s so into hanging out these days. Bookmark here

“Sure. Yeah… alright.” I replied.Bookmark here

“Really?! Do you really mean it?”Bookmark here

I stared at her. “Yes, Mikami-san. I just agreed, didn’t I?”Bookmark here

“Hmp! Your word is your bond! Make sure you keep it!” Bookmark here

I don’t seem to have her trust with regards to hanging out, do I?Bookmark here

I chuckled. “Of course. Anyway, I’m hungry. Do you know of a less packed café where we can eat? Ahh… Wait, would you be able to eat more?”Bookmark here

“I’d love to! I’m still starving!”Bookmark here

“Have you not eaten enough while you were with your former classmate?”Bookmark here

“Since I was planning to invite you to hang out later on, I just had a small slice of cake.”

“You’re quite confident I’ll say yes, huh?”Bookmark here

“Uh-hum?! It turns out you can’t seem to resist me most of the time!” Bookmark here

Oh my! Look at that smug look on her face. I simply laughed as it’s hard to argue with that. It’s almost like that’s an established fact.Bookmark here

“You’ve got a strong sense of vanity, just in case you’re not aware of it.”Bookmark here

She sneered at me for a moment, then smiled. Bookmark here

There’s something soothing about her smile. It’s as if seeing Kyashii smile is enough to make me feel more at ease. That’s something I noticed last time. Bookmark here

Well, we really are best friends after all. Bookmark here

Such a thought gives me comfort, and I can't help smiling when I think about it. Bookmark here

“What?” Kyashii asked.Bookmark here

“What?” I asked back.Bookmark here

“You’re smiling out of nowhere. What’s up with that?”Bookmark here

“Oh… nothing. I’m just thinking about how good it makes me feel when I see your smile.” I casually replied.Bookmark here

I feel Kyashii’s grip tighten around my arm within an instant. My eyes darted to her, wondering what was going on.Bookmark here

I saw her face is a little red, and she has her hand covering her mouth. Bookmark here

Huh…!? What’s going on with her?! Is she feeling sick all of a sudden? Bookmark here

“What’s wrong?! Do you feel sick?! Would you like to take a short break?” I frantically asked.Bookmark here

“A-Ahh… No! No. I’m fine!” Her face is still beet red.Bookmark here

“Are you sure? Your face looks really red!” My palm touched her forehead to feel her temperature. She doesn’t seem to be feverish. “Don’t cover your mouth so you can breathe properly! You already look like a boiled octopus.” I pulled her hand away from her mouth.Bookmark here

“Oc-Octopus?!” Bookmark here

“Yeah, octopus!” I reiterated. “Take a deep breath. What’s wrong with you? My stomach is in knots because of you!” I narrowed my eyes at her.Bookmark here

“I’m fine… Thanks. Don’t worry.”Bookmark here

“Oh, good. Then, let’s go to this café. Thanks to you, I’m getting even more hungry.”Bookmark here

“Well, I’m sorry!” she pouted.Bookmark here

I simply smirked at her as I opened the café door and motioned for her to enter first.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.