V1 Chapter 68 | My Feelings That I’ve Noticed

Our part-time job is over and we arrive at our usual station together.

We exit the ticket gate and walk side by side on our way home.

The street lights are beginning to turn on and there are a good number of people passing by in the shopping arcade, but everyone seems to have their own agenda.

We didn’t get any strange stares or calls when we walked side by side.

I thought it was a quirky thing to do on the train, but Himekawa has been holding my hand ever since then.

Even after we got off the train and walked straight out of the ticket gate, this continued all the way.

“Hey, hey, Ah, Anri? How long are you going to hold my hand?”

Himekawa looks at me silently.

Her smile is gentle and makes me feel like I’m not good enough to ask that.

“…Until we get home.”

So, we are going to cut through the shopping arcade in this state, right?

If we were to be unlucky enough to be seen by a grocer or someone, we would be the talk of the town the next day.

In a sense, it would become the top news in the shopping arcade and be proudly featured on its cover.

And I’m sure Mom will hear about it too. 

“W, why don’t we go home on the back roads instead of the shopping street?”

“The back roads are less crowded and darker than the shopping street, but is that okay?”

…Neither of those are good choices, aren’t they?

Apparently, letting go is not an option.

Either go through the shopping street or take the dimly lit back road.

Two choices. Okay, let’s take the back road rather than start a rumor.

“Anri, take the back road. We’ll take the back road home.”

Himekawa nodded silently, and I took her by the hand and we headed for a back road.

Compared to the shopping street, there are fewer streetlights and fewer passersby.

If I could make it home without seeing anyone, I would have accomplished my mission.

After walking for a while, Himekawa, who had been holding my hand normally, changed the way she was holding my hand.

It was what is commonly referred to as the “lover’s connection”. That one where you intertwine your fingers with each other.

“…….”

When I turned my eyes toward Himekawa, she was walking while looking at the ground.

The sky is reddish and the sky in the distance is dyed bright red.

Just like that, Himekawa’s face is also red. Even in the dim light of this road, it is noticeable.

I thought it would be better not to talk to her, so I closed my mouth.

I’m not sure if Himekawa is anxious because of all the things that have happened recently. I wonder if it’s okay to stay like this for a little while longer. ……

We walk slowly until the sky loses its reddish hue and the stars begin to shine.

We walk more slowly than usual as if we feel the time is too short.




When I get home, a nice smell is wafting up to the front door.

My mother must be preparing dinner.

“I’m home.”

I was the only one to speak out cheerfully, but Himekawa remained silent.

My hand is finally released from Himekawa’s as I enter the front door.

This is probably the longest time I have held hands with Himekawa in my life. I have never held hands for such a long time.

…I came home holding hands with Himekawa. I came home holding hands.

Holding hands for a long time. There is still a faint warmth in my hands…

When I looked back, I suddenly felt embarrassed.

This is bad. It’s showing on my face, okay calm down.

My mom has good instincts, so there’s a good chance she’ll notice.

Let’s be cool. Be cool, just like you always are.

Write the word “person” three times in the palm of your hand and swallow! Okay, you can do it!

You see, the character for “person” means, “helping each other out!”

Why is my homeroom teacher’s line here? Phew, thanks sensei.

I feel a little calmer now.

As I was taking off my shoes at the entrance, my mom came running from the kitchen.

“Welcome home. Do you want to eat? Do you want to take a bath? Or do you want to go to bed?”

No, no, no, no high school student would go to bed at this hour.

What’s wrong with that statement in the first place?

“I’m not going to bed. Anyway, I’m hungry.”

“Okay, well, I guess we’ll have dinner first. What’s wrong, Anri-chan? Do you have a fever?”

“I don’t have a fever. I’m not sick. It’s just that my chest is…”

Himekawa is holding her own chest a little painfully.

“Are you all right? Are you in pain? Do you want to go to the hospital?”

“I’m fine! I won’t go to the hospital, because I won’t get better even if I do…”

Mom put her own forehead on Himekawa’s forehead and her hand on Himekawa’s chest.

Seeing this, I thought that if Himekawa’s mother were here, perhaps she would be just as worried.

“You don’t seem to have a fever. Do you want to get some rest?”

“Yes… I’ll rest a little after I change my clothes.”

Himekawa went up the stairs and returned to her room.

Maybe she’s a bit dizzy.

Is she tired? I’m a little worried.

I saw Himekawa off at the bottom of the stairs and changed into something more casual.

“Tsukasa. Did something happen to Anri-chan today? She looks very different from this morning.”

I have an idea. Numerous of them, too. Is it that or this?

But I can’t tell my mom as it is.

“Maybe she’s just tired from her part-time job. And since I’m injured, I think Himekawa’s burden has increased a little.”

“You have to be more independent. If you do that, Anri-chan will run away, won’t she?”

Himekawa will run away? Are you saying that she’s going to leave this boarding house?

That’s not good. That’s bad in many ways.

“I’m sorry. I’ll be fine tomorrow. Probably…”

After a while, Himekawa comes to the living room after changing her clothes.

Unlike before, her complexion is the same as usual and she seems to be in good health.

“Anri, are you all right? If you’re not feeling well, why don’t you rest early today?

“I’m sorry for worrying you. I’m fine now.”

Himekawa replies with a smile.

“Hmmm… that’s how it is. Okay, let’s have dinner, shall we? Would you like to prepare it with me, Anri?”

“Yes, I’ll help you. I’m hungry.”

He looks a lot better than he did earlier. I leave them alone and watch them from a distance on the couch.

Eating a meal with the three of us is noisier than usual, but I find it comfortable.

When I was alone, I thought it was fine.

I spend a lot of time alone at school, and I’m fine with that.

I spent a lot of time alone at all times, and I thought that was normal.

But then, I spend time with Himekawa, preparing meals, and going out with her.

At this moment, I become aware that feelings are growing inside me that I have never felt before.

I had been aware of it for some time, but I had kept it bottled up inside of me and put it off.

But now I am aware. There is no going back.

I—

I want to have dinner with Himekawa.

I want to study with Himekawa.

I want to go to school with Himekawa.

I want to go shopping with Himekawa.

I want to spend time with Himekawa.

And— 

I want to spend time with Himekawa and walk the same path side by side.

This is how I really feel right now. But I can’t put it into words.

What does Himekawa think about me? Am I just a caretaker? A classmate? Or a convenient friend? 

Himekawa just happens to be here for a reason. She’s not here for me. She is here for herself.

If I tell her how I feel and she rejects me, I will not be able to spend time with her the same way as before.

And Himekawa would also probably leave the boarding house. There is no benefit for either of us.

I can’t let Himekawa go out on the street because of my selfishness.

For now, I’ll keep it to myself.

Until one day I can have a chance to tell Himekawa about it.


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