Retort-pack hamburgers and instant soup.
After eating potato chips out of my hand, Miyagi brought out dinner, which was just as tame as usual, and we ate it the same way we always do.
I was asked if I wanted to have dinner, but never asked if I wanted to stay the night.
So, after dinner, I went home.
There are certain words that Miyagi says and does not say to me.
If I dare to categorize them, most of the words Miyagi says to me are cold.
Thanks to that she was constantly in denial.
But I think that’s Miyagi, and I was fine with that.
——Until last month.
I stop copying the words on the blackboard and look at my watch.
Five minutes until lunchtime.
I write one alligator in my notebook and return my gaze to the blackboard.
It has been a few days since I last saw Miyagi and I am eager to hear what she has to say that she doesn’t usually say.
In September, in the afterglow of summer vacation, I thought the graduation ceremony was still a long way off.
In October, I was so busy with the cultural festival and midterm tests that I did not have time to think about the remaining time.
However, once November arrived, the graduation ceremony suddenly became very close to my heart.
In terms of the number of days, there is still some time before graduation, but there is a winter break in between, and more than half of the third semester is free to attend school.
Considering how little time I have left, I would like to hear what Miyagi would not say to me, although there are no words for this.
I have become very greedy because I have caught a cold and know that Miyagi can be kind to me too.
I grow a tissue on the back of the crocodile I wrote in my notebook.
Soon the chime rings and the teacher declares the end of class.
I puts away my textbook and notebook, heads to Umina’s seat, and taps her on the shoulder.
I’m going to go to the store, you go ahead and eat.」
I walk, with purse in hand, stitching my way through the rows of desks.
Just as I am about to leave the classroom, I hear Umina’s loud voice and stop.
「Hazuki! Buy me some strawberry juice.
I’ll give you the money later.」
「Buy me too.」
Mariko’s voice follows and I raise my hand to answer.
It’s not much of a purchase, so I take it lightly and walk out into the hallway before looking forward.
At the same time, my body bumps into something.
To put it bluntly, it’s carelessness up front.
I was not in a hurry, but I was not looking ahead.
Are you alright」
She reflectively apologize and look at them.
Then there was a familiar face.
「I’m sorry too.」
I know her face well because her name comes out of Miyagi’s mouth often and she is always with Miyagi.
But from Utsunomiya’s point of view, I am just a former classmate.
Since we are not close enough to speak to each other in a friendly manner, she spoke in a matter-of-fact manner.
「Are you okay」
Utsunomiya answers shortly and walks away.
Inside the school, it’s simple.
The hallway is straight, with a window on one side and a row of classrooms across from it.
There are certain places to walk to.
If it’s lunchtime, it’s either the restroom or purchasing.
And the course that Utsunomiya is walking is, for all intents and purposes, my destination.
「Uhm, I was in the same class as Sendai-san in the second year, Utsunomiya, remember」
Utsunomiya, who was walking silently a little ahead, stops and abruptly begins to introduce himself.
「Of course, I remember you.」
I have heard a lot about Utsunomiya from Miyagi.
I can’t say what I’ve heard, so I give her a safe answer and we start walking together.
Utsunomiya does not open her mouth even though I have spoken to her myself.
She keeps walking in silence.
I bumped into a former classmate, and although we may have introduced ourselves because we had the same destination and couldn’t afford not to say anything, I was more concerned about the silence.
But I don’t have anything to say either, so we walk quietly down the hallway together.
Since we are on our way to the same place, we can’t be distant from each other now.
I don’t like this blank, empty time.
With Miyagi, I don’t mind the silence, but with Utsunomiya, I don’t have much time to spare.
If I don’t know them at all, but if they know me, I want to talk to them about something.
However, there are only a few topics that Utsunomiya and I have in common, so the words I can say are self-evidently limited.
「So, Utsunomiya, where are you applying to college」
When I broach the subject like a student preparing for an entrance exam, the name of a university not far from my school of choice comes back to me.
「Eh, I’m out of state too.」
When asked where, I told her the name of the university, and then connected the limited topic of conversation with,「If I get accepted, maybe we’ll meet over there.」
「Well, Shiori, erm, Miyagi Shiori, who was in our class in the second year, is also applying to the same university as me——」
Utsunomiya’s words are unintentionally interrupted.
The words that came with the name I knew so well, without having to ask back, were unexpected and stopped me in my tracks.
Because Miyagi is supposed to be applying to a local university.
My voice seemed to be louder than I thought it would be, and Utsunomiya looked surprised next to me.
I thought Miyagi had a pretty good record.」
I know it was rude, but I couldn’t think of anything else to say that would disguise the air of subtlety, so I had no choice.
「She seems to be a serious student lately.」
Perhaps Utsunomiya mentioned Miyagi just to crush the silence.
She was only surprised because I reacted to it more than I expected.
If I just let it slide and didn’t mention Miyagi any further, it would end up being just a casual chat until I went to purchase.
I move my halted feet.
As I take a step down the hallway, my mouth moves of its own accord to match my feet.
「About Miyagi, is she really going to take it there」
「I don’t know if it’s true or not because she said it out of the blue.
She said she wanted to take it.」
「…Erm, Sendai-san, are you friends with Shiori」
What should have been a casual chat turns into a low voice as if asking how Utsunomiya is doing.
I looked at her face and saw that she was a little tense, perhaps because she was nervous.
Perhaps this is what she wanted to hear when she spoke to me.
I smiled and asked back.
「Like when you bumped into Shiori in the hallway before.
Also, when we pass each other in the hallway, Sendai-san sometimes seems to be looking at Shiori.
And you had called Shiori, so it was kind of like…」
I think she’s perceptive and she’s watching very closely.
I don’t remember staring at Miyagi, but I do look at her when we pass each other and our eyes sometimes meet.
Even though I promised not to get involved at school, my body reacts regardless of my intentions because I am deeply involved outside of school.
「We’re not friends.
And the only reason I called her before was because the teacher told me to go get Miyagi.」
I told her without cracking a smile and walk a little faster.
「…It’s just my imagination, I guess」
Utsunomiya said to herself,「I’ll go ahead and buy some juice,」and headed for the vending machine.
Not being close enough to her to go to the vending machine with her, I bought a sandwich first.
Then, when I bought juice for Umina and the others and returned to the classroom, they were talking about their boyfriends.
Lunch with Umina and the other students during lunch break was enjoyable in its own way.
I was saddened to think that in a few months I would no longer be able to listen to their meaningless chatter.
But today I feel neither joy nor loneliness as their conversation just slips right by.
I just sort of chime in and nibble on my sandwich.
I have not heard of Miyagi accepting out-of-prefecture universities.
I have thought about a nearby university if the same university is not possible.
But I didn’t tell her because she would probably end up coldly refusing.
And yet, before I knew it, Miyagi was at the same university as Utsunomiya—— I had decided to take a college not too far from the one she was taking.
No, I haven’t decided yet.
It’s an uncertain story that she might receive.
But judging from Miyagi’s diligent study after the test, Utsunomiya’s story seems to be true.
If so, the fact that Miyagi did not tell me the true story means that he did not want me to know, and that her purpose for going to that university was not mine but something else.
I wish she had a good reason for choosing a university outside of the prefecture, but I am more comfortable with the reason that she wants to go to the same university as Utsunomiya.
Well, there’s nothing else to do.
Miyagi and I are not the kind of people who pledge to go to the same college, and even if that is not possible, promise to go to a nearby college and remain friends forever.
Miyagi has made it clear that the current relationship is only until graduation, and she won’t even let me kiss her.
She won’t even think about not wanting to leave me after graduation.
If there is anyone in Miyagi that she would not want to leave, it is Utsunomiya.
There is nothing strange about choosing Utsunomiya over me, a mere former classmate, not even a friend.
Yes, it’s not crazy.
But not interesting.
Miyagi and Utsunomiya should be friends and nothing more.
I have no intention of doubting that.
Although Miyagi and I are not friends, I am close to Utsunomiya in other ways.
Still, Miyagi chooses Utsunomiya, who is just a friend.
This fact makes me sick to my stomach, if not disgusted.
This sandwich is not very tasty.
My taste buds have gone crazy to think that the food that Miyagi makes, or more accurately, that Miyagi just heats up, tastes better than the food that I serve, which seems to be bad for me.
I swallow the dry bread with a gulp and drink the milk tea I bought.
My phone buzzes in my pocket.
I looked at the screen and saw the usual message from Miyagi.
I would like to talk to her somewhere that is not her house.
I send a different message to Miyagi than usual.
『Come to the music prep room after school.
I’ll be waiting for you.』
The reply did not come until after all the classes were over.
No wonder, because I knew Miyagi would not reply to me anyway.
So I headed to the music prep room as I was supposed to do.