This chapter is from Konya's POV.
I couldn't gather my thoughts after what happened on the penultimate day of school. First, I was lucky enough to find Kiyoshi alone in the studio again, and then this unexpected invitation for ice cream. I tried to antagonize him a couple of times, but he reacted differently than most people. He didn't show if something hurt him, instead, he mostly talked back. That itself was unlike Cupids, but he didn't care about fulfilling his duties.
My father snapped me out of my thoughts, calling me to come to the living room.
"Tatsuo, look what I found," he announced cheerfully and pointed to the dusty cardboard box. "I promised a friend I'd come over to help him clean the garage, so I'll be getting ready. Check it out if you can."
As always, he was overjoyed that someone was counting on him, and I kept wondering how such a kind, calm man could fall into my mother's trap. I would suspect that she would be attracted to all sorts of criminals sooner. But I never regretted she chose this man, my father was ordinary but special to me.
So I bit my tongue so as not to say anything that would upset him. The bar on the keychain wasn't even one percent full, so it was harder to hold back. I smiled at him and wished him a nice day, silently asking him to leave.
My only regret was that I could not protect him from this and that my immediate family was not excluded from my power and duty. I had almost forgotten what it felt like until I started spending time with Kiyoshi, I missed the feeling of freedom as well as my name. None of my peers had addressed me that way since it all started. Even though they hung around, they wanted to be included in my circle of friends, but no one dared to actually approach me.
I didn't think Kiyoshi would agree to my request. Years later, my name sounded a bit strange in someone else's mouth, but it instantly made my heart beat faster with happiness. However, I thought it would be the first and last time, but it echoed again and again. It hurt the same every time because it felt like it is the last time before he hated me, as he should. But I wanted to experience it for as long as possible.
I wondered why Kiyoshi was being nice to me, I didn't think there was any trick behind it. Maybe he sensed how pathetic I was myself, clinging to him like a wounded dog craving just a little sincere attention.
In the meantime, I was looking through the box, which my father asked me to do. The contents were a mix of everything from kindergarten memorabilia to random magazines and odd figurines. I started sorting into two basic groups, what I considered rubbish and everything else that my father should also look through. I found some photos, one in particular caught my attention. It showed me and two other children on a playground, their faces seemed familiar to me, but I couldn't put them to any particular person. I turned it over and saw that it was signed "Tatsuo's first friends".
I wondered how I could make friends when I was the weird kid running around the playground in the sweltering heat in a knight's suit. I guess I was obsessed with medieval Europe at the time and wanted to live in a castle. This in turn brought back more memories of my dreams that I had to give up.
Poor students would be exposed to my mercy every day because my responsibilities and skills will not disappear overnight. I knew that compulsion would always win, and I couldn't put anyone at risk. The minimum still seemed too much of a burden to me, but I had to do it.
I pulled myself together, hung that one picture on the board above my desk, and packed up a few small items I was restoring for an antique shop.
On the way, I had to get to work. I've offended some people, hurt a few more, and made life miserable for others. The bar was only half full. I even helped broke up a couple who were arguing in the middle of a park I was walking through. They accused each other of betrayal, but according to the information provided to me by my ability, only she felt guilty. So I gladly confirmed the young man's suspicions, and with each word I said, I saw her face become more and more angry. Sometimes I didn't regret it, the truth would come out anyway, and the sooner they parted, the better for them. At least they relieved me of a painful duty.
The owner of the antique shop, although we had been cooperating for several years, still referred to me as a young man and I wondered if it would ever change. I put in front of him everything he asked me to fix. He looked at it with an expert eye and nodded appreciatively.
"You have a knack for it," he said with a smile. "I'm glad you made it with that jewellery box, I already have a buyer for it."
Usually, his words cheered me up and simply made me proud, but I was still in a bad mood after thinking about it this morning.
"What are you worried about, young man?" the old man asked with concern, then glanced at the calendar. "Ah, you're probably afraid you won't be in the same class with your friends again. Don't worry, it's not a problem if you will work on your friendship."
"As it is, I'm more worried about who I won't be lucky enough to run into, and I'd love to," I replied sadly.
"So that's the point," the old man laughed and winked at me. "Wait a moment."
He ran to the back of the store, all I could hear was the sound of small objects falling on the desk, and I wondered what he had gone there looking for. He returned after a while and handed me a small lucky charm, which I gratefully accepted. That gesture must have meant a lot to him.
"It did a lot of good to me and my late wife, and I hope it does for you too. I believe it still has some power in it."
All the way back, I clutched the magic item in my hand and silently asked him to help me a bit. I was just passing through the intersection where we parted then, and I felt a gentle smile involuntarily bloom on my face. I had to keep telling myself to enjoy it while I had time.
However, after the weekend, I stared at the board with the names assigned to a given class for the next year. I only cared about one name, everything else didn't matter. When I saw it, I felt my heart beating faster and faster, he will be so close. I didn't know what would come of it, for now, I just wanted to enjoy it.