Chapter 20:

How I Escaped from the Cinema

Cursed Lines

I was angry at Hamada for tricking me and angry at myself for being so easily trapped. I guess it was just the shock that prevented me from making things right, Konya disappeared suddenly, and I was dragged back to class. However, I knew that I needed some time to calm down because I didn't want to attack her unnecessarily. Once again I made a mistake because the situation later escalated only to my disadvantage.

That night I couldn't sleep or collect myself. Konya's desperate face flashed before my eyes. I wanted to text him and explain to him that I didn't know Hamada would consider it a date, or at least I didn't see it that way, and if he wanted me to cancel everything. But I thought it would be better to talk the next day at school. I believed that after this, everything would somehow work out, although I was never an optimist. But I was plagued by nightmares of a different kind than usual, it felt like this time it wasn't a curse but my feelings and guilt. I chased Konya in them, and when I managed to grab his hand, he broke away.

"You made your choice!" he screamed in a pained voice.

"I didn't choose anyone! And even if I had to, I would choose you without hesitation!"

Then he shook his head and started running again. I don't know how many times I repeated this scene, but when I woke up, I felt in the corners of my eyes that I had shed a few tears in my sleep. Mom noticed that I was in a bad mood the day before and prepared some of my favourite snacks and a nice message, also mentioning that I could always talk to her.

It gave me strength, I was almost sure that I would be able to undo everything with Hamada and talk honestly with Konya. My plans were one thing, but the reality was another. Tatsuo didn't show up at school at all, and my former crush had already told everyone that we were going on a film date in three days. Alice wasn't thrilled with the news and watched me more closely afterwards, but decided not to interfere. I went back to my old habit of eating lunch with Daisuke, who was slowly starting to recover from his heartbreak, though I was sure he wasn't over it yet. Some of the class looked at me in disbelief, and the rest didn't care until some major drama developed out of it.

"There is no sign of Konya, so you're back here," my friend cut me off, but after my sour face he refrained from further comments on this subject. "I see that at least you've had some success with our plan."

"I am not so sure," I muttered.

"Hamada looks happy, and you, on the contrary, nervous?" he asked worriedly.

"I was hoping to cancel it, but now that everyone knows, it's a pretty slim chance."

"I must admit that I didn't necessarily expect it to go this way."

"Me neither."

I looked over at Konya's empty desk, wondering where he was and why he hadn't replied to my texts since morning. I waited all day, and the next one, and another one, which was both Friday and my date. No one else in the class was worried about Konya's absence, they even looked quite content and relaxed about it. Although it's been three months since the beginning of this school year, and from what I've observed, he tried to be as careful as possible in class, they were still afraid of him and did not like his presence.

I wanted to see him, make sure he was okay, and then give him a good scolding for ignoring me. And I had absolutely no intention of intruding on him, three days is plenty of time to reply to the few texts I sent him right after I noticed he didn't come to school. I was also a little angry with him, what a problem to type these few words on the keyboard. I missed him, that's a freaking fact.

I walked down the hall, fiddling with my keychain, not caring too much about the fact that I didn't care about fulfilling my duties for a good few days. Even Alice didn't feel like pestering me about it anymore, as long as I helped her when she asked. She said I was an adult now, and it was my problem if I had to explain myself to our father. Well, it didn't look like he was going to intervene anyway.

"Sugiyama?" I heard the teacher's voice behind me and I turned to him.

"Yes, Goda-sensei?" The already-aged teacher came up to me and scratched his grey hair, wondering how to formulate the problem that bothered him. I wonder how long the poor man has left to retire.

"I've noticed that you're the only one who has a pretty good relation with Konya."

"You can say that we are friends," I added, surprised that this old man still has the will to observe his charges and not just count down the days to the desired rest.

"I spoke to his father, the poor fellow is ill, but he should be back at school on Monday."

I felt my legs give way under me and breathed a sigh of relief, so it's just a disease that by a strange coincidence appeared when he heard that I was going on a date with Hamada. There was no strange, mysterious thing behind it, but I was even angrier because I couldn't see any reason why he wouldn't just tell me.

"I was wondering if you'd like to visit him and take him notes and materials from the past few days. Konya always gets good grades, maybe he'll look at them, so he doesn't fall behind too much?" Goda-sensei asked.

"Sure, no problem." I nodded enthusiastically, at least I had an excuse to see him sooner.

"Come to the teachers' office after class, and we'll see what comes of it." The teacher smiled and told me to enjoy the rest of the break.

I returned to the last class in a much better mood, which did not go unnoticed by my friend. He asked why the sudden change and whether I just realized that I was going on a date with a girl I had liked for years, and she invited me on her own. I didn't answer and hoped he wouldn't guess that I wasn't looking forward to spending time with Hamada. Anyway, she insisted we go right after class, but I explained to her that our teacher had asked me to go to the teachers' office. She looked a little offended but said she'd wait for me in the hallway.

"Oh, Sugiyama you are here!" Goda-sensei exclaimed happily and handed me a bundle of papers with one of his addresses on it. I immediately put it in my pocket so as not to lose it.

"I called Konya's father to let him know that someone from his son's class would drop off his notes, he doesn't mind. I'm counting on you."

I intended to complete the task entrusted to me on the same day. The perfect plan was it to end the meeting with Hamada as soon as possible.

"What's that?" she asked as she watched me pack the supplies into my bag.

"Goda-sensei asked me to give it to Konya," I replied. "I'd like to take this to him today."

"I thought you were going to spend the rest of the day with me," she replied, offended. "Can't you just do it tomorrow?"

"No," I muttered briefly, telling myself how bad that was, but for the sake of it, I smiled and apologized to her for being harsh.

"I understand, I wouldn't be too thrilled if I had to go to him either."

I bit my tongue before I could say a bit too much and shoved my hands into my pockets, so she wouldn't see me clench my fists, furious at the scandalized tone in which she said her words.

Even if Hamada thought our meeting was a date, I didn't expect her to be so pushy. As soon as we left the school grounds, she took my arm and squeezed it so hard that I couldn't free myself. I sighed and took it as my punishment, especially since her touch burned unpleasantly compared to what it would feel like if it was Konya. I should have listened to what Hamada was saying, but I couldn't focus on her words, I felt like I wanted to get as far away from her as possible.

From the moment I agreed to go out, I was sure that whatever I felt for her was completely gone. I didn't even have to check it in any way, I just regretted being there.

We didn't spend much time together, but it reminded me of a nightmare whose worst scene happened when I bought her popcorn in the cinema. She decided to show her gratitude by kissing me on the cheek. It was too much for me, her lips touched my skin for only a second, but it was enough to make my chest hurt like hell as if it was punishment for committing the greatest crime. I moved away from Hamada, surprised by my reaction.

"Look, you're a wonderful girl, and you deserve better," I said, honestly thinking that. "I know I had a crush on you for many years, but there's nothing left of that. I'm sorry if suddenly a feeling appeared on your part, but I can't. I shouldn't have agreed to this date at all."

I said what was on my mind and left her shocked in the middle of the cinema with popcorn in her hands. I pulled out a piece of paper with the address on it, that's where I'm supposed to be.