Episode 60: Stuffed Animals Don’t Suit Me
A lot of other passengers left the train car at Honoka and Yuzuriha’s station, so Ranko and I were able to find a large enough empty space that we could sit down next to each other. Now. There isn’t that much time before my station rolls up too. Best to quickly get to the point.
She cocked her head and met my gaze when I called her name.
“Today’s your birthday right?”
“…….how do you know that?”
The surprise caused her eyebrows to shoot up, but she immediately fixed her mask and adopted a calm attitude. I’ve thrown her off her game. She never thought someone would bring up trying to celebrate with her.
“The same way I knew Saki’s birthday. We exchanged contacts before right? I noticed it when I saw your profile.”
“Oh…..did I put that much detail in my profile……?”
“It’s nothing to be worried about. And I got to learn when your birthday is as a result.”
“No, I need to be careful of getting my personal information leaked…..”
A strange thing to worry about……but considering our age and her maturity, maybe we are at the point where we should start worrying about that kind of thing.
“But aren’t you happy I know?”
“……Why would I be? It’s not like you can do anything with that information. And it’d be too embarrassing for an adult such as myself to have a birthday party at my age.”
“Give me a second”
Letting Ranko ramble on, I swung my backpack up onto my lap, unzipped the front, and pulled out the package I had inside.
You could see the face as soon as I opened the bag but pulling it out completely showed off the neat little bow I tied around it. It was like a super fluffy, tawny pillow…..
“Did you buy…..another stuffed animal…..?”
“Yeah. Cute, isn’t it?”
It was a stuffed animal shaped like some kind of capybara character. I pushed it into her hands.
“I got it as a gift for you Ranko”
Her eyes had stayed shot open this time around. I figured there was a chance she might try to put it away, but despite my worries, she actually obediently accepted it from me.
“This, celebrating Saki’s birthday would have been more than enough though…..did the others help you pick it out?”
“No? It seemed like you wouldn’t be too keen over having a big celebration with everyone, so I didn’t tell the others. I figured you would say you were too old for it.”
“O-Of course…..but, this doesn’t suit me…..”
She turned her face away from me, but she’s still hugging the stuffed animal close to her chest. Hmm, a cool beauty coupled with a cute stuffed animal……is also cute.
“You’re not being honest~. You wanted this one right?”
“W-Why do you say that?”
She’s getting annoyed because her adult mask is falling apart. Oh god, I can’t stop myself from smiling…..she’s too cute…..
“Because you spent an awfully long time checking out this particular stuffed animal in the store. Plus the several sideways glances back towards it when we were leaving. You’re easier to understand than you think.”
That made her frown. But those eyes of hers soon fell sullen as she shyly looked at her wriggling feet. She’s so incredibly cute.
“Because…..I’m an adult. A cute stuffed animal like this doesn’t look good when paired with me.”
“I think it suits you quite well though? Ranko is cute.”
Now her face’s flushed over. There’s a tinge of anger bleeding in her expression as well, but that’s cute in its own way. I’m a bit of a bully.
“Now now, no need to get angry. I know it’s kind of a small one, but I wanted you to have it. This one is from my favorite series, and……I thought it’d be nice to have us match.”
“Yeah? I know it doesn’t suit me, but I’m always hugging it when I go to sleep. You can think of me whenever you hug it from now on.”
“What are you going on about…..?”
“Fufu. We can keep it a secret between just the two of us.”
I put my finger in front of my lips and emphasized the word ‘secret’. I tried making it sound like a joke, but the effect was a lot stronger than I thought and her head whipped away from me. We haven’t know each other for that long, so this kind of joke might’ve been a bit too much. Unless…..
“Thanks for coming today even though you said it’d be difficult to make it. You’ll be going out with your family when you get home right?”
“Well……but, we finished our shopping early, so it did not cause any problems.”
“Oh? That’s great to hear. Thanks Ranko, I had fun today.”
“That would be more due to Honoka than me.”
“It’s not about amount or anything of the like. I just like being with you.”
I flashed my teeth in a carefree smile. It is the truth that I had fun, so this is something I can naturally do.
“Quit joking……. I’m….boring and……”
She eventually squeaked out a reply, but her face was hidden behind her long hair, preventing me from seeing the expression she was making.
“Ehehe. I had fun heading home with you too. Bye bye~”
I gave her a backwards wave while passing through the train door that had just arrived at my station. And the sight of Ranko lonely waving her hand as I left was burned into the back of my eyelids the entire way home.