Hey, sorry for the delay in getting this one out. I had meant to post this back in December, but a ton of IRL stuff has come up, and so it got put on the backburner. See Toasty Updates for a little more detail in that.
Thanks for your patience!
I, Oshio Souta, “cafe tutuji”’s employee—though I don’t get paid—was a high school student before.
I am an employee on the weekends, however, naturally, if I have a rest day free, I have an obligation to help.
……even if I had a bad sleep, even if my physical health was the worst.
Then, even during the lunch break’s hustle and bustle, I end up dozing off alone.
「Look, it’s an akabeko」
When I am in the middle of dozing off, the idioitic laughter of my close friend, Misono Ren, becomes audible, and I suddenly wake up.
It seems before I knew it, I was nodding off.
「……hm, Ren? The next class……」
「Ooooi, are you still half asleep, it’s still lunch break.」
Ren, who was saying that, moving a desk to sit face to face with me, bites into the croquette bread he bought from the school store.
……somehow the memory of dozens of minutes are fuzzy. It was a wonderful time, dozing off, it seems.
「You’re sleepy again, you know.」
「No, it’s only a little…… it’s really tough…..」
「Wake up, wake up, why do I have to eat while looking at a guy’s sleeping face?」
Incidentally, when I tried to pretend I was taking a nap again, my shoulder was violently shook, forcibly waking me up.
As for being unreasonably woken up, I agreed with it, but I am a little irate.
「Forgive me, it’s because I didn’t get enough sleep…..」
「A lack of sleep? Is there something that’s keeping you up?」
I was in high spirits as after a long time I was able to talk with the girl I liked, so until dawn I was unable to sleep.
I can’t say something like that, huh?
Particularly with the person in front of me, a guy who walks around as the personification of everyday talk.
「……not especially, I was only watching I-TUBE.」
「Wahahahaha! That’s really dumb, isn’t it! Wahahaha!」
There’s the idiotic laughter.
I don’t want to be told that by only you.
……in other words, you always send me weird I-TUBE video links late at night over mine, and yet you’re a person who can say that.
While thinking those kinds of thoughts, when I’m scowling with hazy eyes at the guy laughing idiotically…….
「Hey, Souta, should I teach you something to wake you up?」
「……if it’s I-TUBE, it’s enough.」
「It’s not that.」
「I don’t want a drama story or a bikini story either」
「Leaving that aside, wake up.」
「What is it, then」
「Over there, try to look.」
While knitting my eyebrows, with a sidelong glance I look over there.
There…… as he said, my sleepiness is instantly blown away.
Why is that—in that window near where we’re sitting, the reality on the opposite side is a standing Sato-san, and with the fierce power of observation, is motionlessly glaring right this way.
That is to say, her laser like temper in her gaze could even cause flies to drop dead.
「!?」 The moment I turn to look at her face, my heart almost stops.
After I become confused like that is interesting it seems, as Ren’s mouth warps into a crooked, demon-like smile.
「……are you awake now?」
I immediately looked in Ren’s direction, and spoke with a muffled voice.
「Si, since when!? Sato-san, since when was Sato-san there!?」
「Around ten minutes have passed? She isn’t moving one millimeter.」
I, for ten minutes, while having the experience of that bloodthirsty gaze being thrown on me, was carelessly nodding off!?
Then, Sato-san, for what reason is she……
「Souta, what did you do that made Sato-san dislike you?」
Ren smirks while saying that.
At that moment, I felt my whole body going pale.
「……Eh? What did……?」
「No, after all, that’s getting angry, and such a thing like making Salt-God Sato-san mad, it’s considerably bad, isn’t it?」
「That’s a lie……」
My face turns pale.
If I represent my state of mind with one expression, it feels like the end of the world.
「……Sato-san, was already really in that mood, so everyone is nervous, when did something happen……」
Ren’s voice can be heard from a terrible distance. I was perfectly absent minded.
……As expected, I had behaved in a disgusting way yesterday, didn’t I……
That’s it, isn’t it, bringing a girl who I had almost never spoke with before to my room, guiding her by the hand…… it can’t be helped that she thinks I’m an animal……
「……huh? Oi, Souta, Sato-san is coming this way…… wait……!」
From heaven to hell, is that what this is?
Talking with the girl I like, I, who was in high spirits from talking last night, seem to be an idiot…….
「……uta, Souta……! Oi……!」
Ah, I want to vanish, I want to vanish.
Certainly, when I think again, the me from yesterday was disgusting.
I have no choice but die, die, or die…..
At that time I was sinking in into despair, in the middle of the classroom a girl’s voice echoed.
When I come to my senses and raise my head, before I know it, immediately next to me, Sato-san is looking down at me.
In the center of the classroom that had fallen silent, Sato-san isn’t looking at anything else at all, that is to say, she is looking back only at me.
Her thin shoulders are quickering, while her face blushes red like an apple, she—
「Ma, mamama, MINE IDs, should we exchange them!?」
While turning over a piece of paper, she said that.
Those words took me completely by surprise.
Then, taking those words, for everyone in the class, both of their eyes widened to become spheres and were surprised, however, to tell you the truth the most surprised was me. The thought of being too surprised made me accidentally come to a standstill.
At that reply, Sato-san said, 「Th, that’s not it!」 as her hand gestures added up while starting her explanation.
「I, I don’t especially want to talk over MINE with Oshio-kun…… no! Sorry, that was a lie! I really want to talk over MINE…… not!」
「L, look! I remember that photograph you didn’t send! Th, that’s it, you know, that photograph! You remember, right—」
I don’t understand, but calm down.
I thought about saying that to her, but Sato-san, who appears to have steam rising from her face like a locomotive chugging along, has absolutely no signs of stopping—
「—Last night! At Oshio-kun’s house, the photo taken with the two of us!」
I felt the mood of the classroom freeze.
……At this state of emergency, Sato-san does seem to be noticing.
Rather, with the appearance of 「Finally I was able to say it」, she patted her chest in relief at the end result.
In order to wish for help, I look at Ren.
Ren, as he blankly opens his mouth, stares at me, and says only one word.
—This guy is in the close friend position and yet because of his idiot-like nature and inability to be effective, I dislike him.
Taking advantage of Sato-san’s speech, simultaneously focusing this way, my classmates’ gazes were piercing through me.
Unmindful of whether or not it seems I’m going to cry, more and more my classmates start to cause a commotion.
「MINE, she said, Sato-san also uses MINE? That’s unexpected…… or rather, why towards Oshio-kun…..」
「How should I put it, those two, were they close? I’ve never seen Sato-san talking with someone, but……」
「Did she say a selfie? At his house? That’s already……」
「……They’re going out, right, those two?」
Sato-san seems to be busy gushing out steam, so those voices aren’t able to be heard, but I firmly heard them, and at that moment, kaaaa, my face suddenly starts to turn red.
As one would expect of this…… I can’t take it!
「—Sa, Sato-san! Are you thirsty!?」
I stood up from my seat, putting on a forced voice.
However, on the other side, Sato-san, like a small animal, with a cute seeming gesture tilted her head……
「……Eh? I’m not particular thirsty? More importantly, MINE……?」
「Yes, but I’m thirsty! Let’s go buy a bit of juice!」
I overbearingly pulled Sato-san, who didn’t understand my aims, and ran away from the classroom.
Everyone’s gazes poking into my back is embarrassing but it’s just not possible.
I hurriedly push through the hallway, turn the corner at the central staircase, and continue straight ahead into the long passageway to a separate building.
Then, estimating that there’s completely no people here, I let out a deep sigh.
Still, my heart is beating fast.
I’m so embarrassed that I’m about to die, that’s the feeling I have. What kind of excuse should I make towards Ren later……
From behind, a delicate voice that sounds like it could vanish at any moment is heard.
When I unintentionally try to look back……
I unintentionally screamed.
Because, Sato-san was redder than had ever been recorded until now and her shoulders are trembling!
Wh, what’s wrong with this!?
Perhaps at this stage I realized I made a mistake!?
In the beginning I thought that, but it seems like I’m wrong
With one finger of one of her hands, she points to the other, and whispers.
「That, the hand….」
Moving my gaze downward, there I finally realized it.
My right hand, is tightly holding onto the blushing Sato-san’s left hand—
「!? Ah, s, sorry!」
At that moment I separate our hands.
Sato-san, as if she had a fever, was staring into the palm of her hand.
Uu……. although I was too absorbed in it, as expected, suddenly holding her hand is disgusting, isn’t it……!?
Ahh, dammit, were my hands sweaty!?
What in the world is this kind of thing?
The fact of Sato-san who was blushing that much, before my eyes turned blue and white, and this time with a face that seemed like it would burst into tears, hung her head down.
At this suddenly change, I was only bewildered.
「Eh, wait, Sato-san, what’s wrong……?」
Even though I ask, somehow or another, although she restrains her tears she seems to be at her limit, only making a noise like a cat.
……do you think holding her hand against her will was so disagreeable to the degree she would cry?
In the hallway where no one is there, when I continue to wait for her to continue her words while feeling anxious, Sato-san’s trembling voice spills out.
「……I’m sorry, Oshio-kun…… as expected, something like suddenly asking to exchange MINE is unpleasant, isn’t it……」
「N, no! Something like that isn’t unpleasant at all!」
Towards Sato-san who started to look at me with upturned eyes, with some kind of gesture, I appeal with 「I don’t think there’s even a millionth or billionth of that kind of thing.」
「……But, Oshio-kun, for exchanging MINE, because if I say it and you really turn away…… you wanted to indirectly refuse, didn’t you……」
I see, she understands that kind of method……
「No, that, um, it’s just that exchanging MINE in front of everyone is embarrassing……」
「……? But, hasn’t everyone in the class exchanged MINE with each other……?」
Once more I groan.
Sato-san is a little unable to read the room, or perhaps I should say, she has the feeling of being bad at communication……
「—it isn’t disagreeable, you know, rather, I’m happy.」
Sato-san suggesting we exchange contact addresses honestly made me happy, with real intention.
That is, already, I’ve decided I’m so happy I could ascend to the heavens.
Sato-san, like a puppy that was rained on, asks a question with an uneasy facial expression.
No matter how many times I’m asked, the answer will be the same.
「Really. Let’s exchange them.」
I take my smartphone out of my pocket.
Then she, like a flower completely opening up, has a smile bloom on her face.
Innocently, much like a child, she nodded her head.
Exposed to that smiling face, in me, too many misunderstandings started to sprout.
……Ah, how much of a kid am I?
Just some time ago, Sato-san was saying it, wasn’t she, that it was for the sake of sending the photo taken yesterday.
These days, if it’s high school girls, generally they all exchange MINE. Besides, Sato-san wanted to make friends. I can only be happy that I was the first selected.
Therefore, I shouldn’t make shameful misunderstandings.
—by chance, Sato-san might like me, or something like that, that kind of misunderstanding—
「……this is my ID, can I register it?」
「It’s all right!」
With or without knowledge of my state of mind, Sato-san hummed like a spoiled child, and while zealously looking at my smartphone display, began to use my phone.
When I was watching that girl, my chest tightened, but so she wouldn’t realize it I didn’t stop smiling.
……She, Salt-God Sato-san, now little by little is trying to change with her own wishes.
It’s hard to make a fresh start, if she makes an effort, she’ll make friends.
I’m only a foothold, a start to make friends, nothing more but nothing less.
If here, I reveal my favor towards her—she certainly will be very troubled. Therefore…
My smartphone made an idiotic sound, and I became aware of Sato-san’s friend request.
「……I did it!」
Sato-san seems to really happily report it.
I look up towards that girl, and smile at her like a friend.
……right now is still unreasonable, isn’t it.
Touching that beautiful hair, supporting that fragile body, and looking at that smiling face that’s like a sunflower.
—but, it’s bad, though I haven’t even given up on you by one millimeter.
That’s right, can you bear giving up on the first love of your life, you shouldn’t make light of high school boys.
Someday, I will certainly show you something to make you aware of me, and show you something that will make you turn towards me.
However, as expected for now, we’ll start as friends.
「Please take care of me, Sato-san.」
Saying that, I add her to my MINE friends.
Afterwards, there’s a pause, pikon, an idiotic sound plays, and my smartphone receives a MINE message. From Sato Koharu, you have a new message.
While having a curious feeling, I open up the MINE chat screen.
There, with a cute Pommeranian icon—I think it’s Sato-san’s pet dog—there was a speech bubble stretched across the screen. After school, do you want to go to drink tapioca milk tea together?
Furthermore, after I finish reading the message, successive chibi stamps of a Pommeranian covering its face in embarrassment are sent.
I looked at the originator of this message that was sent.
As for Sato-san—just like the Pommeranian stamp, hid her reddened face with her smartphone.
……in front of that kind of cute animal, as expected, just how long can I continue to be friends?
Afterwards, we return to the classroom, and how much attention we draw from everyone, purposely I don’t talk about it.
……or perhaps I should say I don’t want to remember it.
Spelling it out, that sort of thing is so embarrassing I only want to die, with no one understanding.
However, I should be prepared to say this much.
The time I returned to my seat, seeming to be done eating his croquette, Misono Ren, struck my shoulder and strongly held me down, 「You did it, didn’t you」, and only saying that, changed places and went back to his seat.
This guy is an idiot and feels like he doesn’t do his work, but certainly is my friend.
—well, with that sort of thing, the boring classes finish, and then after school, the long awaited time after school.
Sato-san and I, while exposed to a concentrated fire of gazes, hurriedly slipped out of the classroom—and then, we arrived.
「Still, it’s an amazingly long line……」
It doesn’t even stop in the store, I see it goes up to the sidewalk, like a large snake, and I accidentally let out a voice of admiration.
I was always looking at it from a distance, but it would be…… impossible to know the day I would join something like this myself.
The name of the shop is Tea Pearl.
Day after day a line is made, in this city it’s the only tapioca milk tea specialty shop.
「O, oshio-kun!? It’s tapioca milk tea! Um! It’s common talk! It’s very attractive……!」
「Sato-san, calm down.」
She, completely excited about the line in front of her, while her eyes sparkled, she repeatedly pointed at it like a spoiled child.
……it’s completely like bringing a kid to a toy shop.
「……but is it fine to line up?」
「It’s fine! If we came this far, we can’t go back!」
Not changing, like a kettle, Sato-san continued to make noise.
However, in the middle I realized something, exactly when we stopped moving.
「……Ah, sorry…… going with Oshio-kun in this line is bad, isn’t it……」
While saying that by herself, Sato-san is openly downhearted.
……she’s honest in a strange place.
I let out a sigh, and suddenly turned on my heel.
「Let’s quickly line up, since I’m thirsty.」
Then, I face towards the end of the line, and start walking.
Sato-san stared in wonder with temporarily surprised eyes, and then became confused and followed me from behind.
「O, Oshio-kun, is it fine!? It’s a fairly long line!?」
「The thing you said to me a little while ago. It’s fine, if we came this far, we can’t go back, right?」
「I said that I want to go and drink, you know, for tapioca milk tea. Besides—it’s for Sato-san’s sake, so」
Patapatapata, went the sound of two sets of footsteps overlapping, but suddenly it became one.
When I think it’s strange and look over my shoulder, a little behind me, Sato-san is showing an openmouthed facial expression.
「……? What’s wrong?」
「Eh, you said, um, just now, Osho-kun, for my sake……」
「Yes, I said that, but」
「Eh, you said, you said that, that is to say……」
Her voice trembles, and her cheeks turn red.
Not understanding the meaning of that reaction, I answered.
「Yes, for the sake of Sato-san becoming a Minstagramer, it’s necessary, I understand that, so of course I’ll cooperate.」
This time, we end up exchanging glances at each other’s idiotic face.
「Eh? Sato-san, you wanted to upload tapioca milk tea to Minsta, didn’t you?」
Like a squirrel, Sato-san tilts her head.
「So, making use of a photo of the recent topic of tapioca milk tea, and uploading it to your Minsta account, that’s your strategy, right?」
What is it, that 「I just remembered」 kind of 「Ah」.
At least I, with that kind of awareness, came here.
However, Sato-san, whose whole body stiffened, as soon as she heard my words, dejectly withered, and while finally becoming disappointed……
「Yes, that’s right……」
Sato-san, with the lowest voice in all of history, affirms that.
Why does her facial expression have a feeling of becoming that exhausted?
But, well, there are things on her mind, but if she says so, then it’s the case.
Ahh, thank goodness, I was about to make such a happy misunderstanding of 「Sato-san genuinely invited me on an afterschool date」.
This is, after all, a link in Sato-san’s Minstagramer plan.
I shouldn’t be happy, I shouldn’t be happy.
「Then, first of all, let’s line up, Sato-san.」
「Line up, huh……」
Sato-san, that energy until just a bit ago, where in the world did it go……?
Anyways, with Sato-san who for some reason had an air of being dejected, the two of us lined up at the end of the line but……
「It is hot, right……」
Although it’s the time of coming home after school, the season is summer.
The sun is still high up, but it reflects off the asphalt, slowly baking the line.
With the line for buying a cold drink exposed to the heat, that is to say, somehow there’s the feeling of mixing up priorities.
Of course, it’s impossible to quit, we can’t go, but…… one question comes to mind.
—I will confirm it again, tapioca milk tea is popular with high schools in addition to being sweet.
The other day, adding up the talk from TV and SNS, it’s no exaggeration to say it’s the most talked about drink right now.
Therefore, this line for tapioca milk tea, because it’s made up of 90% high school girls, in other words, what do I want to say……
「—Noooo, it’s seriously hot, you know, my brain is meeelting—」
「Heey, look, I’m soaked」
「Ahaha, you’re like a waterfall.」
Ahead of Sato-san and I are a trio of high school girls, flapping their skirts in place of a handheld fan, and from the collar of their shirts, their sweaty chests are peeking out.
That sort of thing, in front of my eyes, accidentally happened.
When I’m troubled about where to look, suddenly Sato-san addresses me by name.
「Yes? What’s wrong?」
When I turn my head around, at Sato-san’s upturned eyes are fixedly glaring at me while…….
「I only called out to you」
「……only, you say, it’s your facial expression, but, what’s wrong?」
「That’s right, let’s have a starting competition.」 [T/N: Literally “let’s have a stare-down game”]
「Are you serious?」
I thought that for a long time, she is a girl I don’t understand, but only this time I seriously don’t understand the meaning.
Then, for that kind of person who was furrowing her eyebrows while proposing a staring competition, I saw them for the first time.
「It’s because I’m strong at staring competitions.」
「First of all, this is the first time I’ve seen a high school girl doing a staring competition, but……」
「Ahh, already…… um, you’re close, you’re close!」
There’s no helping making a strange facial expression with my whole body.
In contrast with this, the answer of this staring contest warrior Sato-san……
What in the world is she intending, while furrowing her eyebrows, with upturned eyes continuing to be glaring at me. It’s a mood of saying 「I won’t miss any of your actions」.
……What is this?
Perhaps, she’s started a game that’s different than the staring competition I know?
The time one person starts alone is a little embarrassing.
Suddenly, one of the high school girls in the trio in front of us……
「Ahaha, Miiko’s bra is transparent!」
—Man is a sad creature.
If you suppose this is the first meeting with someone else or you’re next to your first love, your instincts are impressed on you.
I, practically by reflex, gave a sideways glance at the three high school girls.
「—That’s not allowed!!!!」
Together with an angry voice, Sato-san’s lightning bolt-like right hand was swung, and struck the base of my nose. It hurts, surprisingly, it hurts.
「O, oooo…… Sato-san, what is it……!?」
When I ask while my eyes tear up, Sato-san, with her shoulders trembling, says,
」It’s not allowed!! That’s what it is!!!!」
I don’t understand is no good, but she appeared to be very angry……
With this and that, we were roasted by the sun while waiting for thirty minutes.
More or less, there was trouble—if you properly write it down, Sato-san’s eccentric behavior—although Sato-san and I finally fulfilled that which we had come to obtain.
「Sorry for the wait! Ah, it’s cold milk tea with black tapioca pearls and milk foam topping!」
With a customer service smile, the young woman employee repeated the order like a spell, and handed them over one by one to Sato-san and I.
There’s the milk tea that fills the transparent cup, and in addition, light milk foam that softly is on top like a cloud.
Then, with the bottom of the cup is a little feeling of transparency, as the beige of the milk tea contrasts with the black pearls, but for this drink, both parts are the focus of sweetness.
—that is tapioca.
Sato-san, who received her milk tea, especially at the tapioca that is black and completely round like eyes, softly breathes out a Hooooooo.
……It seems like she is deeply moved.
「Oshio-kun, this is tapioca milk tea……!」
At her slightly childish behavior, I unconsciously smile.
Everyone in the class doesn’t know, it seems.
Salt-God Sato-san, who only keeps a composed expression in the classroom, with only tapioca milk tea, in this way has sparkles in her eyes.
When I think about that, I feel just a little sense of superiority.
「O, Oshio-kun! This, this! How do you take a photo of this!?」
Sato-san, with an appearance of being completely excited, if she waits a little longer in that place, there’s a feeling of seeming to hop up and down in place coming out.
……In that case I’ll try to look, and while I think about such things, but given that I felt guilty about being mean to her now, at once I begin an academic lecture on how to take pictures of tapioca milk tea.
Well, it isn’t something so great as to call it an academic lecture.
「Even so, the safest way is the method with a signboard at the back.」
「A signboard at the back?」
「Yep, try to look.」
I prompt Sato-san to look at her surroundings.
If you look, the high school girls who bought milk tea before, all of them look up at the visibly arranged Tea Pearl signboard, raise their cups high, and then with their other hand, are taking pictures.
Because they’re protruding a bit off the opposite end of the sidewalk, they caught the sight of the appearance of an older man who is telling them to be careful.
「In that way, the signboard of the store and the cup are in the same frame, you see, for tapioca milk tea, compared to where you got it from, isn’t as important.」
Sato-san is looking towards me with sparkling respect in her eyes.
Well, after all, I only maintain the cafe’s publicity account, so there is never a time where I upload tapioca milk tea pictures myself, however even so, if you are mundanely experienced with Minsta, that level of information naturally comes to circulates.
「Because it’s not a particularly difficult composition, it’s intended for beginners, and so you don’t bump into too many people while looking at your smartphone, you should be careful.」
「Yes! I understand! Let’s take a picture!」
Acting like a spoiled child, with a jog, Sato-san is running to the place where pictures seem to be taken with the signboard.
While I look at her behavior that is like a small animal, I taste my drink from the straw.
「……Ah, it’s delicious.」
This flavor is why many high school girls have been absorbed in it.
One might say that the tapioca conveys a pleasant elasticity, neither too hard nor too soft, but it’s a better sweet and moderate milk tea than I thought.
This fragrance, certainly they are using good tea leaves, I think.
Next time, should I try to personally make it….. if it goes smoothly, my father will ask to add it to the menu, huh……
When I was thinking such things, Sato-san came running up to me like a penguin,
「It took it! Look, Oshio-kun!」
「……that’s rather quick.」
Already, at this point in time, I’m somewhat anxious.
However, Sato-san puffs her chest up with pride, full of self-confidence, and presents her smartphone.
Now then, when I think about it, sure enough….
Genuinely, it was unskilled.
The reason is the place she took it from, because of the setting sun, the tapioca milk tea practically is replaced with light.
Additionally, the essential point of tapioca milk tea isn’t there.
Somehow, with her white and slim appearance, with her tension or something else, her shaking arm is the focus of the picture.
With just about only light, her arm holding the changed tapioca milk tea cup up high towards the sky……
「……A Western poster?」
「Ehehe, if you praise me like that, I’ll get embarrassed, you know, Oshio-kun!」
I’m not praising her at all, but……
「No…… yes, this doesn’t look rather nice….」
……it looks that complete opposite, I thought.
Then, I racked my brains on how I can explain it……
「—O——! Amazing, Miiko! As expected of large boobs!」
「Q, quickly take it! Take the video! It’s really tough! After this, my boobs are going to be cold!」
「Ahahahaha! Seriously, that’s great!」
From Tea Pearl, at the corner a little away from us, there is a group who is getting excited for some reason or another.
When I unintentionally look that way, one of the three high school girls who a little while ago were ahead of us, using the tapioca milk tea, is doing that thing that’s talked about, isn’t she?
「Uwa, there’s a person who can seriously do it……」
「A person who can do the so called Tapioca Challenge, Sato-san.」
—the Tapioca Challenge.
In addition to the boom of tapioca milk tea, from SNS, a strange trail was produced.
That is, putting a cup on top of a girl’s chest, and drinking from the straw without using her hands, it really is a vulgar game.
Based on that special characteristic, appropriately only girls with a large chest are able to do that, but…….
Naturally that sort of voice leaked out.
Men also walking down the road unconsciously double-taked at that.
That behavior is bad, among other things, and rather than their surface impressions, their line of sight is accidentally pulled in.
That’s already a kind of acrobatics……
But, realizing the natural truth of 「Excessively staring at a woman’s chest is bad」, I turned towards Sato-san.
「Ahh, sorry, Sato-san, well, your recent photo I can say…… al, though……?」
What is it, I wonder, as Sato-san’s appearance is strange.
Swelling her cheeks so they’re spherical, with a facial expression that wants to say something, she’s glaring with upturned eyes.
When I’m bewildered at this mysterious erply, Sato-san, with a voice that feels like it’s muffled,
「……does Oshio-kun like large breasts?」
After I think a little about that question’s intentions, my whole body suddenly went pale.
……impossible, did she consider me filthy because I stared at a girl’s chest so much!?
「S, sorry, it was only a rumor I heard about, but because I didn’t think that there was a person who could really do it exists, just now……」
Ahh, how shortsighted of me!
That is, being next to a guy exposing that kind of lewdness, even Sato-san would decide it was disagreeable!
Although I absolutely didn’t want her to hate me…… it’s over……
I was about to be filled with that feeling of despair, and at that time.
「……I can also do it.」
As for what jumped out from Sato-san’s mouth, surprisingly it isn’t words of disdain, it was those words.
「I can do it. The Tapioca Challenge……」
「Eh, that’s, wait a moment……」
That’s a little unreasonable, isn’t it…… I was about to say, but in a hurry I kept my mouth shut.
What an idiot!
There’s a limit to how much sensitivity you lack!
However, as for the problem of reality, for Sato-san, it’s likely that the Tapioca Challenge is impossible.
That is, because of how much Sato-san’s chest swells out, compared to the average it’s a little bigger, perhaps, but…… as one would expect……
Even if I thought about it up to here, realizing I’m staring at the chest of my first love, I got embarrassed.
「I can do it! I will do it! It will look nice!」
Because Sato-san for some reason became seriously, already I can’t understand what’s what.
「Wa, wait, Sato-san……!」
First of all, I try to stop her, but at that time I’m already too late.
Sato-san, in order to do the Tapioca Challenge, bends her chest greatly, then on top of those risen mounds, puts her cup there.
For an instant, a vision of Sato-san becoming teary-eyed after her white shirt became wet crossed my mind.
An unconscious voice of admiration leaked out.
She didn’t fall. The cup, while still unsteady, certainly was fixed on top of Sato-san’s chest.
Sato-san is unexpectedly light, isn’t she……!?
「H, how, Oshio-kun……!?」
Because a squeezed out voice seeming distressed could be heart, when I look up, although Sato-san’s voice shakes with this unreasonable position, it’s like she’s down on me with a self satisfied look.
Amazing, this is really amazing!
Even I forget my ulterior motive, and at the time I tried to genuinely applaud—however, I realize what is there.
On the other side in a big way, is the white shirt on top of a girl’s chest. The drops of water of the cup condensed there are soaked in, and in various places are transparent.
The next moment I thought 「Ah」, one of the office workers walking down the road looked tried to over his shoulders—
I almost reflexively raise my voice.
Sato-san is surprised at this, but I turned up behind her to counter her balance being destroyed. I become confused and bend forwards, and stop her at that time with extended arms which catch her fragile body, my inner thoughts pure white.
While exposed to the setting sun, slowly I begin to understand the current state while the ice melts.
I, right now, am carrying Sato-san.
Assembled in that stance with each other, we stared at each other in silence.
Her face is close, and I can feel her heat from her white shirt.
Sato-san, her back, is slender……
「……I should say that to you.」
Surrounding us at a distance, one of the three high school girls who was staring at us could be heard mumbling 「…….oh, it’s her boyfriend, I guess」.
It’s so embarrassing, that I’m about to die.
In the red sunset, two people sit on a bench in front of Tea Pearl, sipping their respective milk tea. [T/N: And we are BACK to where I was when I first started translating!]
In only silence, they spent their time, little by little, little by little, drinking milk tea.
The visibly decreasing milk tea, for Sato-san and I, is the currently existing time limit.
……and then, shortly after it runs out.
Sato-san and I’s straws, at the same time, make the sound of only air being in it.
I can’t look Sato-san right in the eyes.
Not until now, this was a kind of awkward time, wasn’t it……
For Sato-san, it must be awkward as well, and she stirs the straw, tampering with the ice inside the cup.
Her face…… I can’t look at it.
It’s obviously unnatural, as only her face is looking away.
I’m certainly, completely, hated.
As for my body strangely going cold, surely it isn’t only the milk tea I was drinking.
……I can’t help being effeminate.
Although I already understand that I’m disliked, I can’t speak.
I don’t want to be hated any more than this, that kind of miserable feeling is a cap in my throat, and those words won’t come out.
It’s only a few words,
「Sato-san, for just a bit ago, I’m sorry.」
I resolve myself, and from my stiffened throat, somehow or another, come up with the words.
However, the words that only made it up to my throat are gulped down.
That is, because I saw Sato-san’s shoulders trembling little by little.
I call her name, and with a jump, Sato-san’s body stiffens.
Eh, Sato-san, is crying……
「……I’m sorry, really…… I’m sorry, you know, Oshio-kun……」
What Sato-san, with a trembling voice, fraily put together, for some reason, were words of an apology.
「I…… as expected, it’s no good….. even what I was doing ended up being a failure……」
Her slender feebly following the straw, the ice in the cup went kashiri.
「It’s no good, isn’t it, I…… even with Oshio-kun especially helping, I can’t do the same thing as everyone else…… this tapioca milk tea, after all, although I haven’t taken a single proper photo, I drank it all……」
Her finger following the straw is trembling.
Her head is slightly hung down.
And then at the time that, from her big pupils, those drops are seemingly about to fall—
Rather than think about it, I move my body, and in one go, I shorten the distance between the two of us, coming close to Sato-san’s shoulder.
「Um, wait, Oshio-kun, now is……」
Sato-san tries to cover her face.
I take that hand of hers, and lift the emptied tapioca milk tea cup up high.
Towards the perplexed girl, already taking her hand as I pleased, I make her hold onto her smartphone.
My smartphone made an idiotic sound, and cut out a snippet that scene. [T/N: Literally “cut out that scene” but I added a bit to make it more apparent.]
「……I said it just a bit ago, right, it isn’t the tapioca milk tea itself, but where it’s from, that’s important.」
Sato-san looks into the display of her smartphone and suddenly takes a breath.
There—with the Tea Pearl signboard at the back, the evening sun glitters through the ice, harmonizing with the emptied cup.
In a dreamy state of mind, Sato-san mumbles.
At that kind of innocent-like reaction from her, I let out a laugh.
「Saying something like that it’s hopeless for you is no good, you know, and if it’s people who like Sato-san, I’m certain that they’re there.」
「There are, absolutely, there’s lots.」
At least, here, there’s one.
「There aren’t many, you know…… I’m only……」
After Sato-san goes as far as to say that, with some kind of bitter-seeming expression, she stopped talking.
In the silence, only the sound of friendly chats of high school girls could be heard, feeling unpleasantly distant.
Then, after the short silence, Sato-san slowly opens her mouth.
「……This time on Saturday.」
「This time, on Saturday……」
She repeats herself and takes a breath.
When she turns to face me,
「—T, this time next Saturday, I’m thinking of going to eat rolled ice cream! If it’s fine, would Oshio-kun accompany me, I wonder!」
Speaking fast, she keeps on talking as if to say it’s embarrassing, isn’t it, or thinking she might be rejected, and then turns her head away.
That’s the limit she can’t think about of something that can be suitable for friends, an earnest wish.
She’s anxious, I think, she’s hopeless, I think, as her frail shoulders tremble little by little.
When I see that kind of situation, my chest tightens, and then—
「……I’m sorry, that day, I have an errand to do.」
At that time, what kind of facial expression was Sato-san making, I don’t know.
But, one thing I was certain of…… her shoulders already weren’t shaking as much. 「T/N: Literally “shoulders weren’t already shaking”, but changed for some clarity.」
「B, but don’t worry, Sato-san can already take a photo like this, so even without my help, certainly……」
Stopping would have been better, and although in my head I understand that, my mouth was piling up convenient words.
Then, Sato-san suddenly lifts her face, and fraily smiles back—
「……no, thank you for this, it was a little too sudden, right?」
At the time I saw her smile dyed in evening colors, I memorized the feeling that’s like my chest being crushed by pressure.
Without knowing my state of mind, Sato-san stands up from the bench, and then says.
「—thank you for today, Oshio-kun. Then, let’s go home.」
With the evening sun, she looks back over her shoulder at me.
That kind of thing is terribly beautiful, terribly fleeting, and then…… and somehow seemed sad.
The instant it turned five o’clock, I finally finished all of the business of the cafe today.
「Right, I finished tidying up…… dad, is there any black tea?」
I remove my apron while asking, but there isn’t a reply returned.
When I curiously think on it and try to look in the direction of the kitchen, my father, with his abdominal muscles, is emphasizing his toughened lower half of his body.
Is there, is there a meaning to this?
Well, it’s fine, first of all it’s also part of his preparation.
I started to pour tea for myself.
—it’s been five days since that day I went with Sato-san to Tea Pearl.
Since then, Sato-san and I haven’t even once exchanged words.
As if the fiasco with MINE that day was a complete lie, in school Sato-san behaved similarly to the Salt-God Sato-san of before.
A flower on a peak that no one’s hand can reach…… I’m also not an exception.
How that came to be I don’t understand.
But I’m certain that was our final conversation.
—T, this time next Saturday, I’m thinking of going to eat rolled ice cream!
If it’s fine, would Oshio-kun accompany me, I wonder!
The words she frantically spit out are recalled in my mind.
What kind of reply was the right one to make, I wonder.
……No, in the first place, something like the right answer didn’t exist, possibly.
Particularly, even if she’s alone, it doesn’t mean she won’t be able to take pictures.
When Sato-san changed at my rejection of her invitation, thinking about that itself, isn’t it greatly conceited of me?
While certainly behaving the same as before at school, Salt-God Sato-san, on the weekends, could continue to take pictures at stylish restaurants.
Because of her taste in photos, with her first time, it’s trouble, but it’s expected that if she practices several times at home, little by little she’ll improve.
Then, sooner or later those photographs will be uploaded to Minsta, and the classmates who saw them will change their perception of Salt-God Sato-san, and she’ll also be able to make friends……
You see, there’s no problem.
……and as for having a problem, it’s only me.
During the time I steam the tea leaves, I think.
Sato-san is cute.
Her looks, naturally, and her occasional smile, her unexpected childishness, small gestures, and so forth, to the degree that I notice, if I notice, she’s made me realize her charm. If the dishonorable title of Salt-God Sato-san disappears, because she can certainly make many friends, she’ll be extremely popular, I think. For example, the ikemen from the Soccer Club or Basketball Club would confess to her……
……while imagining it by myself, my chest becomes painful.
I’m an idiot.
I think such things while I take my smartphone out from my pocket, and start up the Minsta app, and open that page I’ve seen hundreds of times.
—that is, registered that night of that day, Sato Koharu’s Minsta account.
She has 0 followers, and 0 photos uploaded.
She doesn’t even have a profile picture, it’s a brand new account.
……She certainly didn’t know, I think.
Minsta has a MINE link function, for when you made an account, automatically your MINE friends get notifications.
Today, also, the number of uploaded photos isn’t moving from 0.
Because of being so effeminate, unconsciously a dry laugh escaped from me.
Impossible, that there aren’t any photos taken and being relieved at that……
It can’t be helped, it can’t be helped.
Making an excuse in that manner while making black tea, when I go towards my father who is waiting underneath at a seat under the terrace—「Your muscles are crying, you know.」
My father sitting profoundly on a garden seat, because he said something too ambiguous,
Unconsciously, I made a plain reply.
What is this muscle daruma saying……
「……my muscles are what?」
「Your muscles are crying, is what I said.」
「I don’t understand the meaning even more.」
With truly elegant movements, my father moves the teacup to his mouth.
……Oi, answer without drinking.
「Souta, I, for Sakiko…… after your mother died, with one man’s labor, I came to protect this cafe tututji and Souta. Both that your mother left behind, they’re irreplaceable, valuable things.」
「That’s…… I’m truly thankful, but why this talk now?」
「There’s nothing I don’t know about this cafe and Souta.」
「—Souta, for the sake of me and cafe tutuji, are you about to give up on the girl you like?」
I tightly shut my mouth. However, that reply above anything else was an affirmation.
「…..what’s wrong with that.」
「Fufu, if I look at your face, I understand, as I, until now, I’ve been looking at Souta’s face next to pancakes.」
Put your son first, there.
「……there’s no helping it.」
In any case, even if I smooth it over with my father, it’s pointless. Here and there, I started to talk.
「……It would be good if cafe tutuji hires someone. But, that doesn’t mean there’s enough margin to hire someone, I knew about that much.」
I, after all, from when I was born, the whole time I was raised in this cafe tutuji.
Even if I didn’t see the concrete numbers, as for the circumstances around it, somehow or another I understood.
「Father doesn’t say, but for example, if on the weekend I went on a date with a girl who has been on my mind…… father will be troubled, so understanding that much……」
—the reason I rejected Sato-san’s invitation, that was it. Even employing someone part time at cafe tutuji, the leeway isn’t there.
For this reason, on extremely busy weekends, if I leave here, my father will be left all alone, and the store won’t function well.
Because it felt awkward to do something like blame my father, I hid that reason from Sato-san. but……
「Only this can’t be helped, cafe tutuji is an important place to me. Thanks to the great efforts of advertising on Minsta, although now we’re on track, I can’t do that sort of thing……」
This isn’t a lie, this is my true intention.
Of course I like Sato-san. But, about the same, I like this place.
While rolling black tea around in his mouth, my father quietly listened to my story.
Then, when he swallows the black tea, he relaxedly opens his mouth—
「……that is, when I was in university, the time I was in the sweets research society……」
「Eh, you’re suddenly starting to say that」
「Be quiet, and listen!」
Because I was sharply told, reluctantly I take a stance of listening closely.
My father coughs once to clear his throat, and resumes his story.
「The four people that made up the Sweets Research Society were a small association of like minded people, right. Doing an extremely peaceful action, in those days we were prisoners of calories.」
……what an amazing club.
I’m driven by an impulse of wanting to make a retort, but because my father is in a rare Serious Mode, I stay silent.
「—however, your father, around the time he was a third year, a turning point arrived, when a person called Muscle Lord who was banished from the American Football Circle, wished to enter into our club.」
「I’m worried about that nickname, but…… they were banished from the Circle? Why?」
「Secretly, she seemed to serve them protein in the member’s drinks.」
「Muscle Lord, in accordance to that title, was enthralled with muscles…… for the sake of her bizarre attachment with muscles, she had fallen to the muscle side.」
Just where is the muscle side, and from where can you get through to it?
「Muscle Lord, who with that extreme ideology, from the American Football Circle who hated excessively showing muscle, was banished, and with our comparatively peaceful association, she took refuge.」
「……what happened with father and his friends?」
「We accepted them. If you eat the same pancakes, you’re already something like siblings.」
Don’t say it like it’s eating from the same pot of rice, it’s disgusting.
「……Then? What happened to this muscle person?」
He listens to that question, and my father widely smiles,
「They put protein in our pancakes……」
「This person is already a psychopath.」
At last, I accidentally put my tsukkomi into words.
Already, this can’t be helped.
「From there, due to the protein overdose, we ended up becoming fat, and for the sake of going on a diet, also went on a severe muscle training program, and when we noticed it, according to Muscle Lord’s intentions, every members’ body……」
「……Eh, those muscles, they have that kind of joke history……」
I learned something I didn’t need to.
「Then, with us who got mad at being deceived, Muscle Lord fought…… well, with one thing or another, with came together and eventually reconciled, but……」
「That one way or another is the most important, I think.」
「No, for important things, with the middle of that strife, we became aware of the good qualities of muscles, and again corrected Muscle Lord’s conduct, they didn’t force unwanted muscles onto people.」
「Ahh…… Muscle Psychopath-san, they regained their heart……」
「Well, they’re Souta’s mother.」
「My mother is Muscle Lord!!?」
I freeze up for a moment at something that is too devastating.
Eh, wait…… that’s a lie, right!?
My mother who is only gently smiling in her portrait, is Muscle Lord!?
「Uh-oh, I derailed the conversation, didn’t I…… Um, what was it?」
「The disagreeable derailment and everything else, it’s too devastating that I can’t remember what we were talking about……」
「Ah, that’s right, Souta’s muscles are crying.」
When I tilt my head, my father looks at me, and gently smiles……
「—Souta, muscles, only after they hurt, they grow, like your mother and father.」
Up until now, different from the quiet way I listened to the story, I stare back at my father.
「When people come into contact with other people, they hurt each other, and it’s painful, but muscles gratefully accept it, and the growth after this is happy, right? So, if we assume your muscles are crying, it’s the time you lost the chance to get hurt.」
……I see, he wanted me to take something away from that kind of story.
But, even if he says that kind of thing……
「It can’t be helped, right, the real problem—」
「—It can be helped!」 [T/N: Literally “It can’t can’t be helped”]
My father sharply rebukes me, and then snaps his fingers.
When I think about what in the world is it—suddenly, several of the garden thickets are noisy, and from them, unexpectedly, three strange muscular darumas appear.
At that strange situation, I end up unconsciously leaning back.
「Dowaah!? What, what, what!? Suspicious people!?」
「These aren’t suspicious people! They’re members of your father’s society!」
「Eh!? That’s impossible……!」
「It is! It’s everyone from the Sweets Research Society!」
「That foolish talk a little earlier was foreshadowing!?」
When I shout, they all nod, and each takes a pose, appealing with their muscles.
No, already, what kind of situation is this!?
I shouldn’t understand, but—!
「……To be honest, I requested it from them, only on weekends, to help out in our house’s cafe.」
「Eh…… wh, why……!?」
When I ask for more answers at the continuation of new truths, my father looks my way and gently smiles,
「—that is, I’ve decided, because I want to do something for Souta, and if I if I snatched away something like the chance to get hurt from my child who wants to get hurt, it would disqualify me as a father. No, rather—」
After going as far as to say that, my father gets up from his chair.
And then, bowing to his son, says.
「—Thank you for everything up until now, it’s thanks to Souta that we managed one way or another. So, after, entrust it to your father, and Souta should do as he wants.」
Those words of thanks were thoroughly straightforward.
For me, at that time, something heavily weighed on my shoulders, but I feel like it evaporated like smoke.
Then—certainly, God is watching, I think.
The smartphone in my pocket shakes.
When I take it into my hands, on the smartphone display, there’s a system message from MINE—Sato Koharu-san posted her first photo on Minsta.
—I prepare myself.
「……Father! I’m going to borrow the bike for a bit!」
The minute I say that, still in my work clothes, I jump on the ladies bicycle stopped in front of the store, and quickly pedal. I pull away from cafe tutuji, and go towards her—
「—Do your best, Souta! Your father will always help you!」
At my father’s encouragement that can be heard distantly behind me, only the light of the setting sun is visible, but I don’t look back. [T/N: Literally “evening sun spreads”, as I imagine the author is conveying the sun’s light is visible ahead of him, as he isn’t looking back.]
In our town, recently it’s the only specialty store where you can get rolled ice cream.
In the first place, for rolled ice cream, on top of a chilled iron plate liquid cream is spread, then with a spatula is scraped off and rolled up, and then is arranged in a cup.
Naturally the process of making rolled ice cream is also completely like being able to decorate a tulip flower, but it looks very attractive.
It’s a fancy sweet very popular with those kinds of high school girls…… so says the internet articles I saw.
「Then, let’s… do this.」
I, who completely hesitated, finally uploaded a photo of rolled ice cream to Minsta, let out a deep sigh of 「Haaaa~~~~~……」
Finally, finally I did it.
Suddenly tiredness descends on me. It’s impossible, it was only uploading one photo to the internet, but this nervousness was……
……which kind of replies would I get, I wonder.
Was I able to take attractive photos?
What about comments?
High school girls, are they able to properly do this?
A feeling similar to regret swirls in my head.
In the first place, because I have zero followers, even thinking I would get replies feels like a mistake……
「As expected, Oshio-kun is amazing, huh……」
Naturally, those kinds of words ended up leaving my mouth.
—amazing, Oshio-kun is amazing.
Although I’m worried to this extent about having 0 followers, Oshio-kun has to deal with 5,000, uploading stylish photos every day. That is, in other words, to the expectations of 5,000 strangers, Oshio-kun continues to meet them.
5,000…… it wasn’t in her imagination, but for their classmates, they had at most 40.
Oshio-kun really is amazing……
Realizing I was naturally trying to open the official Minstagram page of cafe tutuji, I blushed.
I turned off my smartphone in a panic.
Even though I came alone to eat ice cream, in my head there is only Oshio-kun!
Besides, even if it’s cafe tutuji’s official account, how many times have I accessed it!
Haven’t I looked at it a million times!?
……perhaps, for stalkers, in this way, they’re born, aren’t they, falling into this kind of self-loathing.
「Let’s, let’s eat the ice cream……」
That, to the end, ice cream is the main part.
With the plastic spoon, I scoop the ice cream, and bring it to my mouth.
……it’s delicious, I think. Yes, maybe, it’s delicious.
But…… what is it?
I myself, don’t feel it’s that delicious.
It melts on top of my tongue, and it’s different from discount ice cream from the supermarket, but I don’t understand. Although it’s round……
Suddenly, I look at my surroundings.
The young high school girls at the sparse tables, while laughing together and saying it’s delicious, it’s delicious, were pecking at their ice cream.
……it ends up not being delicious to my tongue, I think.
Another mouthful, and as expected it isn’t delicious.
This kind of thing, although up until now it’s only been one time.
In any case, because I won’t leave behind that much, half-compulsorily I shave away at the ice cream with my spoon, repeatedly putting it in my mouth. Rather than eating, it feels like processing.
With a feeling of something like a robot, when I put the ice cream in my mouth, as expected I end up thinking of him.
—Oshio-kun, he really is kind.
Then, I ended up completely dependent on his kindness.
Oshio-kun, always, was kind.
Someone like me who is troubled, he can’t leave alone, he’s that kind of person, I think.
That, certainly on that day of the high school entrance exam, from when he gave me a bead of konpeito, nothing has changed. Even saving me at cafe tutuji, even taking me to his room and teaching me how to take photos, even going together with me to drink tapioca milk tea, all of it is his kindness.
Never, does it mean I was anything special, as it’s expected he’s kind to anyone.
Although that should be obvious……
I rethink about that day.
With Oshio-kun, the two of us drank tapioca milk tea that day.
I, who deep down, ended up misunderstanding Oshio-kun’s kindness, ended up sending out that final speech.
—T, this time next Saturday, I’m thinking of going to eat rolled ice cream! If it’s fine, would Oshio-kun accompany me, I wonder!
I accidentally invited Oshio-kun on a date.
Regarding this, Oshio-kun, with a troubled face, answered.
—……I’m sorry, that day, I have an errand to do.
If it’s only that much, it’s completely disappointing, I thought, however, I still received the meaning of those words, possibly.
But, he continued to worry about me.
—B, but don’t worry, Sato-san can already take a photo like this, so even without my help, certainly……
If this much is said to me, even me, who is unfamiliar with love affairs, all the same can guess.
For me—I crossed the line of being friends with Oshio-kun, and then was rejected by that kind guy.
Shyakushyaku, goes my ice cream as I shave away at it.
The rolled ice cream that originally looked attractive, rapidly is becoming messily soggy.
……In the first place, why did I want to become a Minstagrammer?
For the purpose of making friends…… that is there, of course, however, I have a feeling it isn’t the end goal.
Because, for not having friends, I’m not troubled to that extent.
If that’s the case, what was it?
I think about it only a little, and then, immediately remembered.
That’s it—I want to get a little closer to Oshio-kun.
The cool, kind to anyone, for the sake of getting a little closer that sort of Oshio-kun, I intended to become like other high school girls, and started on this kind of idiocy.
If I don’t have friends, I won’t have charm. Even for that gloomy me, if I become a sparkling Minstagrammer, I thought we can stand on the same stage…….
But, it was short-sighted.
For Oshio-kun, from a long time ago, to me he was a flower out of my reach.
Then, finally, the extent of what I can see became nothing.
「……Ah, I see.」
While eating the awfully salty ice cream, I came to understand it all.
That is, although it’s round, it isn’t delicious at all.
Oshio-kun was also saying that, wasn’t he, the most important part of tapioca milk tea wasn’t the milk tea itself.
For me, it wasn’t particularly about eating pancakes, drinking tapioca milk tea, or shaving away at ice cream.
I only wanted to be in the same frame as Oshio-kun—
The emotions ceaselessly overflow, and not able to stand it anymore, I turn my head down.
My whole body is wrapped in a strange feeling, and I feel like I’m going to throw up.
The chatting of the high school girls is so distant it’s as if it can be heard from another dimension.
Then, in the whole world, just one person, me, felt alone.
I have a memory about this feeling.
But, in these depths, the feeling of crushing pressure, doesn’t mean it matches that day.
My first love of my life, just now, has fallen apart—
As if wishing for him to save me, his name comes out of my mouth.
That amounted to a signal, and when the dam inside me burst open, at that time—
Completely covering me, a jacket was given to me.
My vision suddenly halved, the emotions that were about to overflow are drawn back in.
Eh, what, what is……?
「—it’s bad if your body gets cold, so use this.」
A voice that can be heard suddenly from above, one I saw even in my dreams, that voice.
I, at that time, honestly thought it was a hallucination of my heart stopping. The boy dressed in cafe tutuji’s uniform, when he sat down in the seat facing mine, placed his own share of rolled ice cream on the table.
With the top half of my vision being blocked by the jacket, I can’t see the face, but, I know.
With that kind voice, when I see those beautiful fingers, I know.
As soon as he sits at the table, with the plastic spoon he scoops the ice cream, and puts a spoonful in his mouth.
Here, I finally raise my head, and then—I saw him.
Holding a spoon in his mouth, somehow it was teasing and roguish, however kind.
「Ah, I ate it before taking a picture…… well, it’s fine, it’s not very taste, is this?」
—Oshio-kun says that, smiling like always at me.
It’s only a little, but I become awfully high spirited.
Without hesitation, I tightly grip the jacket, and furthermore strongly hold it over my head.
This kind of face, I don’t want Oshio-kun to see it.
「Ha…… haha, Oshio-kun, how did you know I was here……?」
I squeezed out a trembling voice. Even if it’s a little unprepared, again, I self-detonated.
「……moreover, didn’t you have an errand today……?」
After I say that, I’m fed up at my own terrible personality.
But, otherwise, again I would misunderstand.
It’s decided, isn’t it, Oshio-kun felt sympathy for the gloomy high school girl like me who is eating ice cream by herself—
「—yep, but, since by all means I wanted to eat ice cream with Sato-san, I ended up finishing earlier, that kind of errand.」
I unconsciously raised my head.
There, Oshio-kun covers his mouth with his hand, and with a facial expression I somehow didn’t see just now, his gaze is falling a bit downwards.
Oshio-kun, your face is red……
「……Sorry, now, somehow, it felt like there was a lover’s quarrel.」
At that abrupt surprise attack, my face felt like it became aflame, and I draw back into the shell of the jacket, and once more drop my gaze to the table.
How, was it? High school girls can’t vocalize that sort of thing.
「I…… is that so…… ahaha」
Ahaha, that isn’t it. Already, somehow I don’t even understand this kind of correction to that reality.
I can’t look at Oshio-kun’s face.
Pathetically looking down at the emptied cup of ice cream, I was becoming certain—at that time.
Overhead, again and again, several deep breaths can be heard, and immediately after that, something slides into my field of vision.
It’s Oshio-kun’s smartphone.
On that display, my photos uploaded to Minsta are shown.
Oshio-kunb knows my Minsta account, but furthermore, I was surprised that from when it was uploaded only thirty minutes had passed.
Somehow I was in a daze to the point that I forgot about the feeling of time.
「……how did I know you were here, well, first, in this Sakuraniba, there aren’t a lot of rolled ice cream shops, right, and in addition, if there’s mint accompanying the ice cream, even if there isn’t the tag, there’s no choice but aytim 9.」
Oshio-kun is something like a detective, pointing out the list of tags I set.
When I look, I certainly forgot to tag the name of the store.
Although Oshio-kun taught me how important it is to tag where you’re eating, it was an elementary mistake. I’m terrible.
On that point……
「……as expected, Oshio is amazing.」
While I gaze at Oshio-kun’s smartphone, I mumble self-deprecatingly.
It’s no good, the emotions are already overflowing.
「He’s not only a stylish cafe employee, has more knowledge than me, and is better at taking pictures…… haha, I, I’ll lose self-confidence.」
That’s a lie. The truth is, from a long time ago, such things like my self-confidence had become smashed up.
I come to understand, with the degree that I am aware of Oshio-kun, that he isn’t in a place my hands can reach.
「……this kind of terrible upload to Minsta, for something like wanting to become a Minstagrammer, I, I got a little too carried away, don’t you think…… haha, it would be better to delete it, right……」
With a trembling voice, I talk.
Then, replying affirmatively, Oshio-kun—
「Yes, it was bad.「
At how I clearly said too much, I tightly kept my mouth closed.
……I knew, it was evident, wasn’t it?
「First of all, it’s taken from too high up, and although the logo of aytime 9 is shown on the side of the cup, it isn’t properly reflected, and after that, the filter is strange.」
……I knew, I knew, and yet.
And yet, as expected, having it directly said to me by Oshio-kun’s mouth is sad……
The corners of my eyes became hot, and at the time I thought a drop would spill over—
「But, it’s much better than me.」
Oshio-kun’s slender finger taps the top of the display, and completely changes the smartphone’s display.
Then, seeing what is projected there, my breath is suddenly taken away.
—reflected there, is cafe tutuji’s pancake.
But, how should I put it…… if you compare to what is put on the official Minsta account……
「It’s bad, right? This is the first picture I took of a pancake.」
Because Oshio-kun forces a smile while saying that, I unconsciously burst out of the jacket’s shell, lifting my head.
「This…… is Oshio-kun’s!?」
「B, but on cafe tutuji’s official account, this kind of photo……」
I let something slip.
With this, I seem to be a disagreeable person who is checking every photo uploaded to cafe tutuji’s official account……!
However, fortunately Oshio-kun doesn’t particularly mind my statement,
「Yep, because I was embarrassed at it being too terrible, I didn’t upload it…… look at this.」
Saying that, Oshio-kun scrolls through the photo folder.
I was surprised.
From one end to the other on the screen, are innumerable photos of pancakes, lined up in a row.
「This is a pancake that I took the picture from too right above it so it became a Hinomaru composition, this is a pancake that backlighting, and then this…… uwaah, because I spent to much time, the butter completely melted, it’s terrible, huh?」
「Wa……wait! Oshio-kun, how many photos are there!?」
「When I first uploaded a picture to Minsta, around a thousand, I think?」
That, now, easily exceed twice the number of the photos cafe tutuji uploaded to Minsta.
Because I had uploaded only one photo, Oshio-kun, that sort of thing—
「I wanted to help my dad a little, so I started doing Minsta without taking it seriously, but, it was bad, and when I tried to do it, everyone was better at taking pictures, and at the beginning when I would upload a photo for a moment my hands would become sweaty and stop. How many times did I hesitate and delete it, I wonder.」
「……I, surely, thought that Oshio-kun could do this sort of thing smoothly……」
「Haha, that’s decided unreasonably. Even with unreasonable diligence, I was nervous. But—」
Oshio-kun’s finger taps on top of the smartphone, and once more displays the photo I uploaded to Minsta.
「—I and Sato-san uploaded. On that point, we’re already Minstagrammers, you know?」
He, saying that, happily smiled.
Seeing that smile, I…… ahh, I’m such an idiot.
「Incidentally, Sato-san, it seems that recently, in the neighboring town, there’s a store where you can get shaved ice that’s popular on Minsta, but next week, do you want to go together? Because this time, we weren’t able to eat rolled ice cream together, I want to apologize.」
It’s painful in my chest, and my body naturally trembles.
「But…… I, I’m bad at taking photos……」
「I’ll teach you.」
「I can’t talk about interesting things, and I don’t have friends……」
「I also can’t talk about those kinds of interesting things.」
「I’m not at all like a high school girl, but…… even so.」
I lift my head and look at Oshio-kun.
「Even so…… will you go together with me……?」
In contrast with Oshio-kun, I shyly ask.
「—I want to go together with Sato-san.」
That smile, it’s foul play.
I hide my face that can’t endure it. My face right now, I didn’t want him to see it.
I’m an idiot, I really am an idiot.
—no way, with my first love, I’ll fall in love again.
So remember how I said Chapter 1 hit 20 pages when it was translated? This chapter hit 42 pages post-translation. You can see why they take forever to fully translate, my goodness.
Not to much else to say, I think once I’m able to translate the next chapter, it should bring us back roughly to where we were before the WN got taken down, as the next chapter is called “To Me, Sato-san Is”, which matches up with the last chapter we had.
As always, though, please make sure to go and buy the original, even if you can’t read it, to support the original author!