In the end, after failing to make her return home, I reluctantly agreed to study with her, in my room.
I pushed Kaede back in her room, who kept asking about my relation with Kirasaka repeatedly and went to my room, just to check if it was not dirty.
After I confirmed that there was no cleaning required particularly, I went back to living room to call Kirasaka who had been waiting in a different room.
“What are you looking at?”
Kirasaka, who was in the living room, picked a photograph from a certain place and was staring at it with great concentration.
“I was a little interested. Did you use to play soccer?”
“In our middle school, it was compulsory to participate in club activities, so I entered the soccer club, which I had been playing since former days.”
I answered her back, while preparing beverages and some sweets to be consumed during studying.
“Then, why are you not playing it in high school? Isn’t it the sports you were playing from long back?”
Before her eyes were a great number of trophies and certificates, aligned with the photographs.
During the nine years from primary school till middle school graduation, these were the mementos given for the championship and runner up wins during several events. My name was written alongside the team, with skillful brushstrokes.
“Among these, in how many tournaments, do you think I came out to play matches?”
To the abrupt question from my side, she displayed an action of thinking for a while and then answered.
I shook my head to that answer and pointed towards few trophies among the 20 and more, lined up together.
“Three times. In the nine years, only three times.”
“That few? Were you perhaps bad at it?”
“If I was that bad, I won’t have continued for nine years, right? Certainly I was not an amazing player but I had some skill.”
I bitterly smiled, hearing the frank impression of Kirasaka.
But unexpectedly it didn’t give me an unpleasant feeling, when she didn’t care for my feelings and instead expressed her thoughts honestly.
“The team of seniors, one year older than us, was very strong. At the time, I entered the middle school, most of the regular members were second years and even the ace player of my year, finally became a regular member in the third year. Most of the prizes here are left behind by those seniors. There were very few tournaments in the middle1 school, after all.”
I picked up the team photograph, taken at the retirement match during the third year and sat on the sofa.
Kirasaka also sat next to me and I began talking about the nostalgic memories of middle school, I have not recalled for a long time.
“Finally after the seniors retired and it was our time to become the main force of the team, I started getting more passionate about club activities than studies. Because everyone could not participate in the games, little by little, the main squad of players started becoming fixed. Only I was removed from the member position and instead a second year received it.”
I looked sideways to check at Kirasaka who didn’t interject any words during my story this time and continued with my story, as it is.
“I am still growing in height now but during the time of middle school, I was even smaller.
Because of that, the coach told me “I can’t put you out to play because you are not tall”… To be honest, I think I was better than the second year. In addition, there were players who were worse than me at other positions. “It is no good if there is not a left footed player there.” or “A person having quicker foot than you is better there” or something else was kept being said. By the time I noticed, among the third year students, only I was outside the bench.”
“It is a sport where victory or defeat is decided by limited number of people. I understand that there is no equality inside it. However, even while giving so much effort, having experience and even skill, I couldn’t win against those “special” people. After understanding that simple thing, suddenly my passion died. Well… This is the reason I don’t play soccer anymore.”
I rose from the sofa and put the photograph back to its earlier position. While carrying the beverage and sweets I prepared, I opened the door of the living room.
“Well, leaving the stories, we should start studying soon. Do you want do it in my room?”
“Yes, because in the first place, I came here for the purpose of studying in Shinra-kun’s room. Nevertheless, it was a very interesting story. Will you tell me a story about your past again?”
“If I feel like it.”
I gave an appropriate reply and waited for Kirasaka to stand up. Afterwards, I guided her towards my room.
Even though I say guided, it was only a 10 second walk till there.
Before entering the room, I conveyed the rules regarding studying to Kirasaka.
“Remember… There are two rules for studying in my room. You can’t tell about this to anyone else. And you can’t go rummaging through my room.”
“It is alright. I promise.”
Listening to her reply, I invited her to my room.
TV on the bed and a PC placed on a small table; it was a simple room.
While Kirasaka sat looking around restlessly, I brought out the teaching materials and put them on the table.
While Kirasaka was also spreading her supplementary materials on table, suddenly the familiar sound, ‘ping pong’ was heard within the house, informing that a guest had come.
“There is a visitor.. Is it not right to go out?”
“I think my sister will go and receive them, so it is alright.”
I could hear footsteps coming out from the next room, going towards the corridor. Entrusting the interaction with the visitor to Kaede, we started studying for the test.
I could hear the opening of entrance and dropped my gaze towards the problem set. While trying to study, I tried to figure out the visitor by listening…
“Shizuku-san! Good morning!”
The visitor Kaede greeted was, someone who had terrible relationship with Kirasaka Ren in front of me, Kanzaki Shizuku.Footnotes
1. The author originally mentioned primary school here, but it felt out of place in this paragraph so I changed it to middle school.