Chapter 3 – Is That a Shooting Star?
Chapter 3: Part 1
It was November. The air had turned cold, making me sorely long for my kotatsu.
October was the school festival, and December was Christmas, but there really wasn’t anything worth mentioning going on in November. It was a slump of a month.
Well, granted, I was a zombie who loved just lazing around each day, so you could say that November was a wonderful month for me.
The after-school classrooms which were bustling with preparations for the Culture Festival in September now just seemed extremely quiet and lonely in comparison.
Looking around me, I gauged that everyone else in the classroom seemed a lot less energetic than usual too…
“Aiiikawa~~! I’m here to hang out!”
Nevermind. I lied.
A single girl stood there looking like an idiot. She had short hair and huge eyes, and her slender limbs were wrapped in a sailor’s uniform. She wasn’t very tall, and all in all came off as a bit of a brat. Her name was Yoshida Yuki. But everyone called her…
“Hey, Tomonori.” I lightly raised my hand.
“D-Don’t call me Tomonori! Come on, just call me Yuki! Just once, that’s all I want!”
“Ohh, Tomonori’s here?”
Another classmate of mine, Orito, had come back from the convenience store, and held out a plastic bag to me while stuffing his cheeks with meat buns.
He had spiky hair and wore glasses. There was absolutely nothing else worth noting about this ordinary high school student.
I was a zombie, so I tended to lose consciousness when I was exposed to sunlight. Because of that, I always ended up asking classmates to buy food for me at the convenience store, and then waited for nightfall in the classroom while eating, like some detective on a stakeout.
“Uwaah! Gyah! Come on!”
Tomonori lifted both her hands into the air and yelled out nonsense. It seemed she wasn’t happy about being called Tomonori by Orito as well.
“What’s wrong with her?”
Orito seemed rather confused as to why Tomonori was acting this way, so I offered him an explanation.
“Just call me Yuki once. Just once. That’s all I ask. Come on.”
“Hmm…” Orito seemed to lose interest in the conversation. He gave a final glance at Tomonori and then plopped himself down in his seat. But then, seeing Tomonori sulk, he seemed to hit on an idea and pushed his glasses mischievously up on his face.
He looked at Tomonori with a sparkling, majestic expression like the lead actor in a Takarazuka Revue show.
Shiver… At that moment, everyone in the classroom felt goosebumps rise on their flesh. T-To think that Orito could sound so disgustingly gentlemanly… my God, that was so gross.
“I love you… Yuki.”
And there’s the follow-through! Somehow, I was able to get through this without barfing, but…
Tomonori was shaking her head frantically. I really didn’t blame her for not being able to bear her name getting called like that.
“So, do you want us to call you that or not? Stop being so wishy-washy.”
Orito returned to his usual idiotic facial expression and tossed the rest of his meat bun into his mouth.
“Just say it normally! Say Yuki-chan, or Yuki-san, or whatever! Just say it normally!”
“Yuki.” Orito this time called Tomonori’s name out with his cheeks stuffed with meat bun and his face making him look like the Savior of Century’s End (1).
“Aghhhhhhhh!! Stop! Seriously, stop!”
“Should we make some ‘I Love Yu-ki’ t-shirts too?”
“I said stop! Who would want a t-shirt like that?!”
“Judy and Mary fans, maybe.” (2)
“Don’t bring Judy and Mary fans into this!”
“You can write all the words in English. Something like ‘I ❤ YUI.’”
“When did ‘Yuki’ turn into ‘Yui’?! You should get on the floor right now and beg for forgiveness!”
“I’m not great at English, so I can’t really tell the difference between ‘akiko’ and ‘aiko’ or between ‘hyde’ and ‘hide.’”
“That was all just romaji! You should get on the ground and crawl around the entire world apologizing!”
I was just sitting on the side listening to their little comedy routine, but when I realized there wasn’t really an end in sight, I cut in.
“You two sure are pretty energetic today. It’s already November, you know? Maybe you should quiet down a bit…”
“November… ah, right, Aikawa! You free tomorrow?!”
Tomonori seemed to remember something and clapped her hands together.
“Tomorrow? Well, other than school, I guess I’m free.”
“Could you come somewhere with me at night?!”
Tomonori’s eyes sparkled as she shouted that at me. Orito’s glasses glistened.
“A date, you say?! Hey, Tomonori! If you want a date, go with me-“
Orito loved girls so much that to him, there was probably nothing more exciting than being able to go out with one somewhere. I guess it didn’t even matter that this was a girl who was not only a huge tomboy, but also someone he saw every day.
His little handsome-guy act was nowhere to be found anymore. Orito just looked at Tomonori with expectation in his excited eyes while he fiddled with his spiky hair.
I just ignored Orito and turned towards Tomonori.
“Night, you say… where did you want to go?”
“It’s gonna be a bit far, but there’s a place where you can reaaaaaally see the night sky! Don’t you feel your heart fluttering just thinking about the starry sky? Don’t you?”
The minute Orito heard this would be a star-gazing expedition, I could almost see the air around him turning a dull, murky brown.
“Aikawa… this is it for me, I think. I’ll leave Tomonori to you.”
Well, Orito never seemed to be the kind of person who would like stargazing, so he probably wasn’t interested in a trip like this. If this were anybody else but Tomonori, he would’ve probably jumped at the opportunity to go though.
“Wow, you did a quick 180 there. Do you really hate stargazing that much?”
“What did I do to have to go and look at stars with Tomonori?! Go yourself!”
“Hey hey, I didn’t invite Orito at all! Aikawa, seriously! I’m begging you! This is the last thing I’ll ever ask you!”
Tomonori clapped her hands together lightly, almost as if she was preparing to do some alchemy. She shut her eyes tight, and then opened them a crack to gauge my reaction.
“Ahh, okay okay. A stargazing trip every once in a while isn’t a bad idea.”
“Ohh! Cool! Thanks so much, Aikawa!”
Tomonori really looked like a cute girl right then and there.
Yes, she looked like an innocent girl who had fallen in love with an older boy, and who had just received a favorable response to her brave confession. She seemed happy but a bit self-conscious.
… That’s exactly how she looked right now…
(1) Fist of the North Star reference.
(2) Lead singer’s name is “Yuki.”