Luckily, it seems like I can quit my part time job without any issues.
After my shift ended, I was sitting on a bench near the local train station while thinking about these things. Because it was the owner, I thought he would say, “Please don’t quit”, but his response ended up being unexpectedly light. Somehow, it felt like he was uninterested…
More importantly, Kenji and Echizen were on a date. I don’t know why they came to Mon Pet Kuwa, but from how I saw it, I couldn’t quite see them acting like a couple. Well, Echizen probably didn’t see it as anything other than going out with a friend.
Still, for Kenji, it was probably a lot of progress. He’s never been able to do something like this with her before after all, and besides, Echizen didn’t seem too opposed to being around him. Normally, no one would meet up alone with someone they hate on the weekends afterall. In other words, Echizen’s impression of Kenji doesn’t look bad. Yeah, isn’t that good? If it keeps progressing like this, I wonder if the day whether I’ll see the two of them together will come.
… That sounds good. It seems to progress smoothly, and Kenji seems to be having fun. I’m quite jealous. I unconsciously ended up thinking that. It was undoubtedly my true thoughts. Today’s Kenji seemed especially bright to look at. Being with the person he liked seemed to make him so happy that it even made me smile a bit. On the other hand, I…
Really, what am I doing…?
We broke up, but part of me still holds onto her. At school, I end up looking at Mamiko all the time. To be honest, I’m still completely in love with her. Perhaps it’s at the point where I won’t ever like someone else the same way. If we were to go out again, I’ll really, really cherish it…
I don’t know how many times this feeling of regret has resurfaced already, even though thinking about it is completely useless… As I was thinking about my feelings, the two-car train slipped into the station. I get onto the train and sit down in an empty seat.
Then, twenty minutes of being shaken by the train, I arrived at my destination. I got off at the stop just before the station closest to my house, but today this wasn’t a mistake. Today, I have a meeting with Itou-san about my manga. Even though my storyboard is basically done, this meeting is just for one last check. Ah, afterwards, she’ll also show me some drawings from other artists.
After leaving the station, I passed by my father’s workplace and headed for the family restaurant where we usually have our meetings. Even though there was still time before the meeting, Itou-san was already in a seat, still looking fine just like usual. Well, she looks a little more energetic than usual.
“Long time no see, Yoshiki-kun.”
“Yeah. Somehow, you seem more energetic than usual…?”
“Really? Well, you see? Earlier, I saw a really cute child here.”
“A cute child…?”
“That’s right. She was really really cute. Her seat is a little bit far so you can’t really see her right now, but I really want to see her again one more time.”
“… So even women will feel happy after seeing a cute girl.”
“Of course. Somehow, it’s really exciting.”
“Haa, I see.”
To be honest, I’m a little taken aback by her. My friends around me often have images of a beautiful idol or a celebrity, but I’m not like that. I do think they’re cute or pretty, but I don’t have the time to spend to look at something like that. Well, there was a time where I was looking for more than 2 hours at a picture that Mamiko and I took together though…
“Anyways, let’s leave that for now, can you show me what you redrew?”
“Y-yes, This is it.”
I was a little puzzled by Itou-san who had suddenly switched into work mode, but I handed her the storyboard that I had redrawn in the past few days. She tore through the reading with her usual fast pace, and she showed a satisfied expression. Seeing that, I let out a sigh of relief as she only shows this expression when she’s satisfied with my work.
“Seems good. Then, I’ll hand it to an artist for them to see. I’m thinking of having them work on it. Is that alright?”
While saying that, Itou-san handed me a sheet of manuscript paper. There was a picture from the manga that I was currently making right now. The image seemed to breathe life into the character that I had created. It wasn’t the same inorganic looking characters that I drew on my storyboard, rather this picture felt like it had its own soul poured into it.
Itou-san added that “It wasn’t very good”, but to an amateur like me it was pretty good. I was moved to the point where I thought this was the only person I would work with.
“It’s completely alright! It’s really well done!”
“If you’ve taken a liking to it, then that’s good. Then, I’ll hand over the storyboard to Yamauchi-kun later. I’ll show it to you again when he’s done with the manuscript.”
I try to answer calmly, but I can’t help being excited when I think about how the manuscript is going to be worked on.
“Alright, then let’s end it here for today. I’m going to be leaving now, but are you going to stay for a bit?”
“No, I’ll also leave.”
“Then, let’s go.”
And, with our somewhat short meeting now done, Itou-san and I exited the restaurant.
“Ah, that girl.”
As soon as we stepped outside, Itou-san spoke in a happy voice. At the end of her line of sight was a girl standing alone in the parking lot of the family restaurant. She was an all too familiar girl with long black hair.
That’s right, it was my ex-girlfriend Mamiko. Why, why is she here…?
“Eh? Do you know that girl? That sounds nice…”
“No, wait, is that the girl that you said earlier was cute?”
“That’s right. Isn’t she cute?”
She’s cute. Really really really cute. Nono, more importantly, if I’m seen in this situation it might be bad. Seen from an outsider’s perspective, this sight could only be seen as a date. It wouldn’t be weird if Mamiko comes up with another misunderstanding.
Thinking that, in order to somehow make sure that Mamiko doesn’t notice us, I tried to forcefully drag Itou-san away. However, things didn’t go that well…
I should have gotten used to her voice but it seemed somewhat unfamiliar. Still, it was undoubtedly Mamiko’s voice and I was not able to force myself to ignore it either.
When I replied, I noticed it. I was trying to forcibly pull Itou-san away. In other words, I was now holding onto her hand. Seeing this, it can’t be helped that someone would think we were lovers. I quickly released Itou-san’s hand, but it was already too late. Mamiko faced her face downwards as she walked in the opposite direction of me with unenergetic footsteps.
I need to correct this now, or else. Even though I wasn’t her boyfriend, I was driven by a sense of urgency as I chased after Mamiko and grabbed her wrist.
“Umm, you might not believe me, but the two of us don’t have that kind of relationship.”
“… And? What is it? I-it’s not like we’re…”
“That’s true, but I don’t want to be misunderstood.”
“… I understand.”
She spoke as if she was sulking, but I couldn’t tell since she didn’t face this way. Still, understanding that Mamiko believed me, I was a little relieved as I let go of her hand. But at that moment, this time Mamiko grabbed my hand. She had now turned around to face me straight on.
I stiffened from the sudden turn of events. Then, Mamiko, realizing her actions, panicked as she let go of my hand.
“T-then, I’ll be leaving now. Sorry about earlier.”
Then after quickly saying some parting words, Mamiko quickly walks off somewhere. Her expression from just now surfaced within my mind. Slight drops appearing at the corner of her eyes, both slightly red as she looked very sad. Did Mamiko make that expression because I was with another woman?
That’s probably a little bit too self-centered…
But still, anything else is…
More so, when she held my hand she seemed to have traces of regret. Still feeling the warmth Mamiko had left in my hand, I once again made my determination.
I will confess to Mamiko.
And once again, I will stand equally beside her.