Sorry this always takes so long. I can only translate during work, and with a three day weekend inbetween, things can sometimes be prolonged. I promise that my own computer will get fixed soon. Eventually.
Episode 69: The Other Side of the Curtain
It already feels like us cobbling together a pot of curry and scrambling to clean everything up afterwards is something that happened in the far off past. We’re all feeling that comfortable sense of exhaustion now. The club room after school had settled with a calm atmosphere that gave a nice moment to rest.
Although on the other hand, that incident with Honoka trying to feed me that Hi-Chew mouth to mouth is still fresh in my mind. Did she start liking me without me noticing? It’s hard to tell since she’s been a flirtatious girl since the day we first met, but I’d be happy if she really had come to see me that way.
It had become normal for us to play some music while we’re in the clubroom, so today Honoka had some rock she liked going over the speakers. Thanks to the constant melody line flowing in one ear and out the other, it feels neither sleepy nor awkward in here. It’s probably because Honoka has been choosing nothing but easy to listen to songs with bright tempos. This might be her trying to keep things from getting awkward with me. Or maybe she just cares about the space shared by our fellow members.
Ranko is on the library committee, so she is the only one absent at the moment. Honoka and Yuzuriha are on the computer looking over all the photos we’ve taken over the last week. Weirdly enough, the photos we’ve been taking inside the school have been steadily accumulating.
I did my best teaching them some specialized software I had never used before off of instinct alone, but Yuzuriha somehow managed to understand it. When I came back from the bathroom, she was arranging all the photos she took alongside Honoka.
While those two were absorbed in what they were doing, Saki was sitting by the window a ways away–looking towards the fading light of the setting sun and the far off clouds which were blurring together in the darkened sky. Listlessness? Sentimental? It’s unfair that no matter how gloomy their expression, a beautiful girl is still beautiful.
She didn’t sound so good…..lethargic maybe? I thought she might be feeling jealous over what happened when we made curry together, but maybe this is something else? Possibly over what happened with Honoka……?
However whether she’s angry or not, I’d like to perform some follow up here. I stood next to her, also looking out the window and exposing myself to the evening air.
“The wind feels nice”
Like I thought, her delayed response felt cold. But when she looked at me, her gaze was hazy, and it felt like there was something on her mind. She couldn’t focus on me. I looked her over once.
“Speaking of which, your ponytail is untied.”
When I quietly murmured, “Ponytail Saki was so cute,” she responded with a shy, “R-Really,” as if she hadn’t expected me to say that.
“You’ve been changing your hairstyle little by little right? They’ve all suited you well and made you look cute.”
“Of course I did. Because they’ve all been so cute.”
“R-Right, because I’m cute”
I touched Saki’s hand and looked into her eyes. I smiled while tilting my head to the side, but maybe because she’s feeling shy, her cheeks flushed red and her head turned away. Usually she would try to act more lovey dovey with me, but this is pretty great too. It’s fresh and cute.
I’m not sure if she is sulking because I’ve been flirting with other girls or if she is just feeling lethargic. However the fact she gets so shy whenever she’s praised is one of her charms.
We were bathed in a spring breeze. My heart did a small flip as she struggled to hold her hair down in the wind.
But, this isn’t enough. I need to come up with a topic that will draw her attention completely on me.
“Thanks for today”
“Mm…….Hm~? What for?”
Saki quickly turned her gaze back towards me when I suddenly switched our topic of conversation. Yet the slight tinge of redness in her cheeks should serve as proof of her continued hyper-awareness of me.
“For you quick cooking skills. We would’ve never finished without your help.”
“Oh that. If it’s Yuriha-chan, then…..”
“Yet you were good with the knife and always careful. You’re a good cook. I’m happy I could be in your group.”
“…..Do you, really think that?”
Saki’s gaze intensified as if she were looking to the very depths of my eyes. Hm? Was that a, throwaway remark…..?
“Of course. I love being with you…. It’d be great to have you as a wife”
“Geez! Stop with the jokes~”
She slapped my shoulder to hide her embarrassment. Ah~, this is the atmosphere I’m aiming for.
“Fufu, more than a wife, Saki’s like a princess. Which would make me a prince.”
“R-Right. Then do your job properly prince!”
Thinking she was playing at being haughty or tsundere, I stretched out my hand and lightly raised Saki’s chin with my finger.
I stared directly into Saki’s wide-open eyes. When I slowly stroked her lips with my thumb and brought her face closer to mine, she turned so red I’m surprised steam didn’t shoot out of her ears. That kind of straightforward reaction is also irresistable.
“Ah, Saki really is adorable after all.”
The grand finale of the current song’s melody came to pass just then. A quiet space formed where the only thing you could hear was our heartbeats and Saki’s breathing. The red of the evening sun came in with the spring breeze, and we were wrapped in a warm orange color.
“But it’s hopeless. I am not qualified to steal away these beautiful lips.”
Pretending to act like a pompous prince, I pulled back my hand and returned to my usual demeanor.
“W-Wow~! My heart was beating like crazy~!”
“Was it good enough for you?”
“W-Well, I suppose it was good enough as a performance, but…..”
Saki’s bangs hid the majority of her face from me as she continued to mumble her “Uh’s” and “Um’s”. It is obvious she isn’t satisfied with seeing how disordered she is. But that’s fine. I want her to want me more. I’m teasing you, not the other way around.
“Earth to Saki-himesama”
I peered into her face through the silver veil of hair blocking her expression. But since it seemed like she was purposefully trying to hide herself from me, I decided to give up on that approach and instead brushed my fingernail across her cheek and down her neck. “Hya!” I got a high-pitched squeak in return. Good, it seems like her mind is focused on me. And while I thought my favourability with her was taking a hit, it feels like I’m still in good standing with her. I’ll leave things as they are for today though and save anything more for later.
Then, just as I was thinking this was the perfect moment to pull away, I heard the door open behind me.
“Everyone. If you don’t head home soon, are you looking to get kicked out instead?”
“Woah!? When did it get this late—!?”
Ranko’s words and Honoka’s loud voice made me jump. Not good. I completely forgot Honoka and Yuzuriha were sitting right behind us. Ranko finished her committee work and was looking at all of us like, “What are you doing,” but Yuzuriha was so focused on the computer screen she didn’t seem to care about anything else. Okay, it doesn’t look like anyone was paying too much attention to us.
“Wait a minute”
I gave Ranko a short response before turning around. I stuck my head out the window again and took a deep breath.
“I want to get one last taste of this wind.”
I tried giving Saki one last look by putting my head outside along with her.
It was then,
A stronger breeze blew through the school building, and the slightly shifting curtains next to us wrapped around our backs. Almost as if on cue, the thick clouds covering the sun parted ways, allowing a strong light to flow into my eyes.
That sucks. I wasn’t being careful and ended up looking directly into the sun. The pain forced me to squeeze my eyes closed.
It was at that moment my face twisted and warped around.
A soft warmth touched my lips followed by a bitter, piercing pain. While I was robbed of my sight, that momentary event sweetly seared itself into my mind.
There is a feeling of separation, but even when my cracked voice called out, I didn’t get any kind of response back. Even when I blindly hold out my hand, the only thing I touch is air. As the pain in my eyes passed, I slowly opened my eyes and dispersed away the blurry darkness. But the only thing I found in front of me was the lingering scent of shampoo…..
It tasted like peach although only faintly.