“And so, it goes like this, girls… Just last week, I met a handsome guy. He’s really cool, and we hit it off immediately! After exchanging messages on LIWE, he asked me out! He makes me feel so comfortable and relaxed. Ahh… I think I have fallen in love with him! Kyaah!”
I sip my juice box as I listen to my classmate, Hoshino-san, squealing while she shares her story with us.
I was having lunch in the school cafeteria with Minori and Tomoka when Hoshino-san and Sakoto-san joined us. I don’t mind having them around since they’re our classmates and Tomoka is pretty close to them.
Minori smiled at the flailing Hoshino-san. “My…~ That’s wonderful, Hoshino-san. Happy to hear you’re in love.”
“Thank you, Kamiwaki-san! Everything seems to be flowing smoothly right now. So… I guess this is love!” Hoshino-san’s eyes sparkle with joy.
“How can you tell it’s really love and not just a simple crush, Hoshino-san?” I casually asked. It always seems like people my age know everything about love. It’s so easy for them to get a feeling that they’re in love.
Next thing I knew... Minori and Tomoka were staring at me with their chopsticks hanging from their fingertips, while the others looked perplexed.
“What’s up?” My left brow shot up.
What exactly are these sorts of reactions?
“Yu-chin! Since when have you become interested in love?! It would be nice if you asked me first about it! I’m your wife, and I’d be more than happy to respond!” I couldn’t decide whether Tomoka was complaining or teasing me, so I ignored her.
“What’s with that question, Yuyo?” Minori asked with a baffled look.
“Is there anything wrong with it? I just wanted to know how Hoshino-san could be certain it is love if she just met the guy.” I replied to Minori. “Does that even qualify as love? In a psychological sense, isn’t love supposed to develop over time?” My eyes turned back to Hoshino-san.
“Ahh... Aha-ha! I’m sorry about Yuyo, girls. This girl is so levelheaded about things.” Minori said right away.
“Wait… What’s that for? I’m not trying to be mean in any way. It's just a question out of curiosity.” I protested.
Suddenly, I looked like a bad guy? As far as I can tell, there’s nothing wrong with what I’m asking.
Tomoka giggled as she shook her head. “But Yu-chin has a point, Minori-chan.”
“Yes, but you've got to read the room. She’s obliterating Hoshino-san’s spirit here!” Minori glared at us.
Is that what I’m really doing?
“O-oh! It’s okay, Kamiwaki-san. Actually, I don’t think Shibasaki-san has said anything wrong. If anything, I think she might be right. I was just overjoyed that I used a cliché to convey my excitement.” Hoshino-san smiled in embarrassment.
Uh-oh... Looks like I really spoiled Hoshino-san’s mood.
I feel terrible about this.
It’s just that I have a tendency to be bluntly honest by nature, and this occasionally catches people off guard, even when I don’t mean to.
“I apologize, Hoshino-san... It was not my intention to dampen your excitement. I’m just curious how you could say that. I’m really sorry.” I said with sincerity.
“Oh! You don’t have to worry about it, Shibasaki-san. At the very least, that gave me some insight into your personal feelings about love. Sincerity be damned, I never expected you to talk about love at all.” Hoshino-san smiled at me.
“. . . .”
Uhh...? I’m not sure what to make of that statement. It isn’t offensive, but it’s not a compliment either.
“Yeah, that’s exactly right. I can tell you don’t care about love, Shibasaki-san.” Sakoto-san echoed.
“You’re not entirely wrong. My interest lies solely in the way people perceive love and their behavioral patterns when they are in love. It’s precisely this aspect of love that interests me more than love itself.” I explained.
“Is that to say that you’re watching my behavior at the moment, Shibasaki-san?” Hoshino-san asked with bated breath. I can tell that Hoshino-san is a big fan of love talks.
“Uhh... I suppose?” I replied hesitantly.
This conversation is veering in the wrong direction for me.
“Assuming that Hoshino isn’t in love, would you say she simply has a crush on him, Shibasaki-san?” Sakoto-san suddenly asked.
Ugh! I knew it... And just like that, today’s lunchtime has sailed into the world of love.
How did we get into this again?
“. . . .”
I turned to Minori, hoping she would say something, but she just smiled at me. Even Tomoka is smiling from ear to ear.
Well… I suppose I set myself up to be in this spot right from the beginning. I should keep my mouth shut the next time this topic comes up.
Obviously, I don’t have in-depth knowledge of this area, so I’m not that confident about it.
“Ahhm.. I would say Hoshino-san is experiencing infatuation rather than love right now. That she’s smitten to the core. Though this is just my take on that thing, I’m not implying that it’s completely true.”
They must understand that this is just my personal viewpoint. Regardless of how this is interpreted, I do not wish to sway their views about this matter.
I went on. “Besides, I think it takes time for love to build up before it becomes a real deal. Trust, and a thorough understanding of the other person’s nature, passions, actions, and core values are essential elements of love. One can feel infatuation towards someone based purely on a physical attraction at first sight. However, at that point, there is no way to fully know, trust, and understand that person right from the get-go. So, there’s that…” And I’m pretty sure I just gave an entire speech out of thin air.
I’m a little embarrassed about it.
“Whoa…!” Sakoto-san and Hoshino-san said in unison.
“That’s so cool of you, Shibasaki-san!” Sakoto-san’s eyes are the ones that are gleaming at the moment.
That’s just a straightforward and logical truth about love, nothing out of the usual about it.
“Who are you?!” Tomoka turned to me.
“What…” I stared blankly back at her. She’s pouting as if she’s upset by something. Oh… I can see where she’s going with this. “Cut it out. I’m not possessed or anything of the sort.”
“But, Yu-chin, you were talking about love! Are you someone in disguise?!” Tomoka grouched.
This made Minori laugh. “Yuyo is well versed in everything she does, and even though she’s not much into love, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t know anything about it. It’s not something she’s interested in simply because, from a logical standpoint, she finds love and romance too common or simplistic.”
I nodded smugly.
Minori, thank you for your insightful words! This is what I would expect from a friend like you.
Her explanation was spot on.
“Yeah… Minori is right on the mark. Beyond that, love itself is also a commitment. That means you have to commit to each other to make it work. I don’t think I’ve ever had the time or energy to devote myself to that degree of dedication. So, this isn’t really an option for me.” I added.
“Ooh…! I understand your perspective, Shibasaki-san. As a way of looking at it, you also treat love as an extra responsibility.” Hoshino-san commented.
“Well, yes. You got it right, Hoshino-san.” I replied.
“But, Yuyo, you’ve got to remember that love has a way of taking people completely by surprise. It doesn’t follow a schedule, does it? It usually hits when we least expect it. You’ll never know when something like that might happen to you.” Minori countered with a sly smile.
Ah-re? What’s this?
Why have you shifted to the other side of the boat? Are you looking for a debate now, Minori-chan?
“I don’t know about that... However, for that thing to work, two people must work together equally. It’s not a one-way street for me merely because I could never imagine experiencing unrequited love myself. Thus, as long as I don’t get involved with anyone who has this level of interest in me, it will never happen, right?” I can’t lose in this discussion despite not knowing much about this. I have a limited amount of information to work with, but I can at least take things rationally.
“That’s an interesting point, but what if you develop a romantic interest in someone you’re already close to?”
“Hold on... What?! Just like who? I don’t even have any close male friends.”
Minori just smiled at me, but I got the feeling there’s more to her smile than meets the eye. It was obvious!
I wonder what it’s all about.
Someone I’m already close to, eh…?
Guuhh.. Don’t tell me she’s referring to Ezaki-san as well. Obviously, he’s the only guy I’m comfortable with.
Our discussion was abruptly cut short by Sakoto-san’s laughter.
“So… This is what it’s like to hang out with intelligent people, huh? Just listening to you feels like I’m learning something.” Sakoto-san smiles at us amusingly. She then turned to Tomoka. “Oh… Tomoka, you don’t count since we often hang out with you.”
“I know that, you jerk! Just what kind of thinking do you have of me?!” Tomoka hissed at Sakoto-san.
A part of me laughed. Being around these girls isn’t that bad after all. We just turned our lunch break into a love conversation when I least expected it.
I wonder if, just like Hoshino-san, Kyashii thinks she loves Ezaki-san or if she realizes that it's just a crush.
Thinking about it, she never talks to me about her crushes. Even though we're best friends, she rarely talks about love.
Is it because she knows I’m not interested? Does she really take my preferences into account? Still, if both Minori and Tomoka can talk about love with me whenever they wish, why not her as well?
Hmm… It could be that Kyashii feels uncomfortable talking to me about it, right?
I'm a bit disappointed about that. I'm hoping I can get her to trust me with her love life so I can support her even if –
No… Hold it!
Again, what's up with that even if thing?
I've already decided to support her in her love life. There can't be anything in between.
Haah… I can't keep on like this for long.
Come on, Yuyo! Get used to the thought that Kyashii could date someone else at any time.
You two will not spend the rest of your lives together as best friends.