Chapter 22:

How I Fell in Love, so Did I

Cursed Lines

It was the last day of July, and the weather was exceptionally kind, providing pleasant warmth, not suffocating heat. Sugiyama Mizuki and Sonoda Riko were sitting on a bench in the playground, talking and glancing from time to time at their sons, whose energy seemed to be inexhaustible for the moment. Little Maiko slept peacefully in the pram, finally enjoying the undisturbed peace when her brother and his friend could only create chaos around them.

The women noticed a man with a child standing for a long time at the entrance to the children's kingdom. They watched them for a while, especially since the boy was wearing a strange costume and both thought it was far too warm for this time of year. The father crouched down and encouraged his son to try to play with other children. Then he got up, not knowing what to do with himself. Riko, when she made eye contact with him, signalled him to come over to them. Mizuki looked at her friend but did not question her decision, apparently, the stranger seemed intriguing enough to explore his secret. They greeted and introduced themselves.

"We recently moved here," Konya Akio said and sighed heavily as he sat down next to the women. "My son, Tatsuo has a birthday today, and he insisted that he wants to be a knight today, and I promised him that we would go to the playground. I'm afraid he won't find friends here. And what is this adorable creature?" He melted with delight over Maiko.

"My little girl," Riko said proudly.

"How old is Tatsuo?" Mizuki asked.

"He turned five today," Akio replied, watching Tatsuo play near other children, but not with them.

"Just like our boys!" announced happily the mother of two urchins with joy. "My elder son Daisuke, and Mizuki's son Kiyoshi."

She just pointed her hand at the boys, so all three eyes turned to them. Kiyoshi tried to climb the structures behind Daisuke, who was a bit more agile than him. Suddenly, however, he lost his balance and would fall from a tiny height, which would most likely end up with a sore butt, but Tatsuo's quick reaction saved him even from that. The adults looked at each other and laughed.

"Truly an outfit corresponding to the character," laughed Riko. "Maybe I should wake Maiko up, so she can keep an eye on him in the future." She nudged her friend, who just rolled her eyes and smiled.

Meanwhile, Kiyoshi was furiously staring at Konya, who didn't know what he had done to deserve this and looked at him with sadness in his eyes.

"You didn't have to help me," the rescued boy announced, ashamed. "I wouldn't be hurt much."

"But I'm a knight, I have to help the weaker ones!" Tatsuo defended himself, offended.

"I'm not weak, I don't need help!"

"Today at least you will return home without any wound," laughed his friend, descending to the ground. He eyed the newcomer with interest. "So you're a knight?" Konya nodded. "There are a lot of knights in the games, you will be the mascot of my arcade place. I'm Daisuke," he introduced himself. "And the whiner who can't even thank you is Kiyoshi."

"Tatsuo," replied the young knight and smiled.

Kiyoshi, who he had saved, suddenly felt remorse when he saw this gesture, apologized, and thanked him. He felt bad that he had hurt someone who had helped him, and now he didn't quite know what to do. The situation was saved by Daisuke, who suggested having fun together. When it was time to part ways, the three of them vehemently protested but gladly agreed when Akio offered to take a memory photo of them since it was Tatsuo's birthday that day.

They all went home happy, glad that a new friendship had been made. Although Kiyoshi and Daisuke regretted a little that they probably wouldn't see their new playmate very often, they were surprised to find out that Tatsuo later joined their kindergarten group.

Particularly important in their relationship was the day when, with the help of their parents, they had to prepare some interesting facts about a selected food product. Daisuke chose an apple, Tatsuo a chilli pepper because it was spicy, and Kiyoshi chose green olives, his mother's favourite delicacy, which he did not like.

Konya already showed his talent for disseminating information, he even prepared a short performance, for which everyone rewarded him with thunderous applause, and then wanted to enlist him in their group. Daisuke had already seen in his mind's eye how he was attracting a lot of customers to his business, and Kiyoshi suddenly felt jealous because until now they had him all to themselves. He also couldn't understand why looking at Tatsuo and listening to him his heart beat faster, he couldn't take his eyes off him and wanted him to talk only to him.

He didn't know that Konya particularly cared about his opinion and how proud he remembered the moment when he saved him, often thinking about him. In addition, he tried not to let anyone notice that he was watching him carefully whenever he had the opportunity, especially when they were doing something in art class. However, Tatsuo couldn't muster up the courage to tell him directly that he was enchanted by his talent. He wondered why, seeing Kiyoshi, he immediately wanted to smile and be close to him all the time, sometimes wishing that Daisuke wasn't also accompanying them.

Kiyoshi didn't notice that day that his mother had added some olives to his bento, looked at them reluctantly, and put them aside. This interested his friends. Daisuke, remembering that aunt Mizuki had given him such a strange green ball before, it was not a pleasant experience, so he grimaced and asked to keep it away from him. Tatsuo, in turn, grabbed one and stared at it for a long moment.

"Kiyoshi, you have the same eye colour as this olive," he said, and ate it, making displeased faces and sticking out the end of the tongue. "How bad." Their eyes met, and after a while Konya smiled for the first time in a specific way, intended only for him. "I don't think you're like that, nice on the outside but bad on the inside."

Kiyoshi felt his cheeks turn red, and not from anger, and his heart pounded painfully hard in his chest. But he pursed his lips and mumbled that he hadn't forced anyone to eat. Neither he nor Tatsuo was aware that they had already fallen in love with each other, and then they pushed it out of their minds.