Chapter 6: Part 3
And so, the curtain fell on our Hyakunin Isshu tournament.
Tomonori ended up with the win. Hiramatsu had probably planned to push Tomonori to victory from the very start.
Tomonori happily accepted the ballpoint pen grand prize and was showered by applause from the other students.
Ultimately, I wasn’t able to talk with Anderson-kun at all and just ended up hobbling back towards my own classroom. Right now, I was passing the hallway that connected the gym to the rest of the school.
The rain… still showed no signs of letting up.
Exactly how long was this rain planning to continue? Stupid, annoying rain…
Suddenly, I noticed a single girl looking up at the rain.
Her eyes were tinged with sadness as she looked up at the depressingly cloudy sky.
“Something wrong, Hiramatsu?”
I called out to that girl.
Hiramatsu had adjusted her school uniform and was back to her normal, proper self. She responded in a kind voice. “Aikawa-kun… thank you for a fun tournament.”
“Why exactly did you let Tomonori win? I’m sure you could’ve won with a huge comeback victory if you actually tried.”
“She… really wanted to win… it was like seeing someone’s dreams come true… she was so cute… so I couldn’t help it.”
Dreams come true? Hmm… well, during lunch break Tomonori had mentioned that she had a dream about becoming a hero wielding a fountain pen. I see. The dream Tomonori had seen had been her own future. Well, she also worked hard to make that future become reality. It was all very much like her, to be honest.
“Well, she’s definitely an idiot who’s always running around like a headless chicken. So I admit, sometimes I want to help her out too.”
“Fufu… I… think I agree.”
“But, this was a first.”
“The first time I beat you to the punch. You know, in the finals.”
Hiramatsu looked at the floor and shook her head.
“No… it’s the second time…”
“Hm? Nah, that’s impossible. There’s no way I would’ve ever gotten the jump on such a smart person before.”
“It was… a rainy day just like this…”
Hiramatsu once again looked up at the sky with sad eyes.
“It was… the day I met Aikawa-kun…”
The day we met? Hmm… we were classmates though, so of course we saw each other all the time.
“We were in fifth grade… and I… I found an abandoned puppy on the way home from school.”
Her words began to trigger a hazy image in the back of my head.
It was that dream again… that vague, annoying dream I had seen right before the lunch break.
I suddenly remembered that next to the boy in the dream was an abandoned puppy in a faded cardboard box.
I see. That boy had actually been a girl… it was Hiramatsu.
“We… weren’t allowed to have dogs in my house… but I wanted… I wanted to at least lend it an umbrella…”
I see. In that dream, Hiramatsu had already lent the puppy her umbrella and was getting wet from the rain.
Ahh, I felt so much better now after having cleared that dream up.
“But I… didn’t want to get wet… so I ended up going home.”
Hm? Wait, I thought in the dream Hiramatsu had given the puppy her umbrella, and then I came and lent her my umbrella. Was that wrong?
“But… I was worried about the puppy… so I wanted to at least move him somewhere… and then go home and bring back another umbrella… but when I came back Aikawa-kun was there…”
Those words dispelled the remaining mist in the dream.
Yes. That boy… it had been me. I was the boy who was standing there.
But, had something like that really happened? I couldn’t remember at all.
“Aikawa-kun… he didn’t mind getting wet, but gave the puppy his umbrella… and I thought… this was a really amazing person…”
“Sorry, but I can’t really remember any of this… did something like that really happen?”
“Aikawa-kun… is very kind… so he must have done a lot of things like that… maybe that’s why he can’t remember…”
I wonder. Her story really didn’t ring a bell though… I wracked my brains trying to remember, but the only thing that came to mind was the dream I had just had.
“So… today is the second time… Aikawa-kun has beaten me…”
“Did Hiramatsu lend me her umbrella back then?”
I see. If that boy had been me, and if that was the place I had met Hiramatsu…
“Yes…” Hiramatsu nodded. And then, she continued.
“I… ever since that day… I’ve always been watching Aikawa-kun…”
Hiramatsu always had a bit of trouble looking people in the eyes while she talked. Her cheeks flushed slightly, and her words cut off for a little bit.
But then… she looked me straight in the eye and spoke.
“I… always wanted… to be more like Aikawa-kun…”
I felt my heart starting to beat out my chest. I felt elated and slightly embarrassed as happiness ran through my entire body.
“I wanted… to be like Aikawa-kun… and try to do things for others…”
Even despite all her words, I still couldn’t remember anything. What did I say to her back then? What did I do afterwards? Did I make sure to return Hiramatsu’s umbrella to her?
Hiramatsu seemed to sense what I was thinking.
“I… have a lot of confidence in my memory… you know?”
And then, for the first time in my life, I saw Hiramatsu giving me a full-toothed, bright smile.
No, wait, the girl in my dream had done the same.
So… I guess this was the second time.