During the whole lesson, Tsurumi’s mind was unable to concentrate. Her thoughts keep reeling back to the scene at the rooftop with Mogami. And how he had confessed to her.
Did that really happen, she thought, glancing tentatively at Mogami’s back from her seat. He was standing up to reliably answer one of the teacher’s questions, looking as calmly and resolutely as if nothing had occurred.
Perhaps it was only Tsuruko who was making a big deal out of it. She wondered if she was excited at all, and decided that she was. She had never been confessed to like this. And the experience was...enlightening. Refreshing.
She thought it must have taken a momentous amount of courage to stand in front of the person and you like and confess like that. She had thought he was a bit like her, nerdy and on the serious side, but turned out he wasn’t. Mogami-kun was incredibly brave. He had done something that she had never managed to do.
How should she reply? She had told him she needed time to consider, and Mogami had generously said he would not rush her. He had said she had never let anyone pressure her, but now Tsuruko was certainly feeling it. The pressure to give Mogami a clear-cut answer. It would be cruel to delay the reply too long.
Now she was really overthinking it. Mogami had only confessed to her during recess and she was already thinking this far. Was it normal, she wondered. Or was it simply because she was inexperienced with these matters? She had never thought of herself as an object of someone’s affections before.
For once, she was glad that she wasn’t seeing Yukiatsu around so often lately. Seeing him now would mess up her feelings. It would only serve to make her more confused.
The bell rang. And for the first time its sound was mingled with Tsurumi’s sigh of relief. All she had to do now was head home, where she would be able to think clearly and without any disturbances. Nothing sounded more appealing to her at the moment.
But her wish wasn’t to be granted. If there was one thing to be known about life, you are never where you truly want to be.
Right as she was stepping out of the classroom, her wrist was forcefully grabbed by Yukiatsu. His grip on her tightened, as she was forced to turn back and face him. She was going to ask what he was doing, until she saw the angry look in his eyes.
“Tsurumi, come with me.”
Before she could give a proper reply, she was dragged out of the classroom. She protested and tried to wriggle her arm free, but his hand only tightened on her wrist until it almost hurt.
When they were outside, Yukiatsu pushed her against the wall. His arms blocked her sides, preventing any way she could escape.
She found herself staring quizzically and angrily into the greenish brown eyes of her childhood friend, who seemed equally urgent in turn.
“What were you and Mogami talking about?”
Tsuruko blinked. “You followed us?” She asked, giving him her most piercing glare. She had found out everything, again. With the least possible words needed, she had seen through him.
“Just answer me already!”
“What’s wrong with you?” Tsuruko said, beginning to feel annoyed. “Let me go.”
“Did he confess to you?” Yukiatsu continued, unwavering. Tsuruko knew instantly he would not back down until he got what he wanted, an answer from her.
“It’s none of your business if it is, isn’t it?” She said sourly. He must have thought that this day would never come, where Tsuruko would be confessed to and their relationship climbed to a whole new level of tense.
“And what did you tell him?” He asked, lowering his voice.
“I don’t have to tell you, It’s nothing vulgar, so I don’t see why you should care, Matsuyuki-kun. ” She said coldly.
Yukiatsu cursed, leaning back so Tsuruko would no longer be trapped between him and the wall. She stared at him pitifully.
“Honestly, I was surprised too at first. But it seems Mogami-kun was being sincere.” She met his eyes and said somberly. “You should be happy for your childhood friend. Someone just asked me out, and Mogami-kun is not a bad deal.”
“You don’t like him, Tsurumi.” Yukiatsu said instantly, as if it was taken for a fact.
Tsuruko’s mouth tightened. Who was he, suddenly an expert on who she did or did not like, after being blind to her feelings for all these years. “He treats me well.”
Yukiatsu’s fists clenched at his sides. “Will you fall in love with anyone who’s just the least bit nice to you?”
Tsurumi crossed her arms, closing her eyes. Her features schooled into a stony expression. Her whole being emanated a cold, chilly feeling that ran along everyone’s spine. It’s as if she was encased in ice.
When she turned her gaze on him, Matsuyuki was startled to see they were a pool of cool, frosty green. It was, truth be told, a frightening look.
“彼が好き.” She declared.
Yukiatsu flinched. “What?”
“Kare ga tsuki. I like him.” She repeated. “I already gave him my answer. We’re going out now. This is important for the both of us. So don’t get in our way, Yukiatsu.”
Suddenly, Yukiatsu was slamming his arm against the wall above Tsuruko, his left seized her lower arm. She almost took a step back, but her back was pressed against the wall. Yukiatsu’s body was suddenly so close. “Don’t say you like him.” He whispered in her ear. “Don’t ever say you like him.”
“Why...What’s with that confident attitude?” She asked, voice trembling. Yukiatsu’s eyes were staring down at hers, to which she glared defiantly back, despite her pierced heart.
He bent down so his lips was level with her ears. His whisper came out fierce and commanding. “Because I’m the one you love.”
Don’t say it like you know my heart! If you did, you wouldn’t have caused me so much pain since the day we met!
Tsurumi wished she could back away. Instead, she found her fist clenching by her side and anger surging through her body. “How arrogant. Do you feel insecure? Threatened that I won’t be there to be the perpetually caring friend? The only person you can vent your frustrations on?” She said bitterly, resentfully. As if the darkest spirits in her hadn’t yet left. “It elevates your self-importance, doesn’t it, knowing that I can’t abandon you? That I loved you?” Tsuruko’s verdict came out vicious and harsh. “Hmph, how despicable.”
“Tsurumi!” He yelled, giving her a sharp and painful look. She knew that not all of what she’d said was true. She knew her words must have hurt him, wounded him in some way. But she liked to think that her words hit true.
Yes, enough with her only being hurt by him. Enough with all the silent compassion. Enough with living her life like his shadow. Once, as long as lifetime ago, Tsuruko had believed that all she wanted was to be by Yukiatsu’s side. Now she doubted. She doubted if she could continue with it anymore.
This is partly why she accepted Mogami’s confession. Never mind Yukiatsu had plenty of girlfriends before, this was her chance at forgetting him and having a normal life again.
“Farewell, Yukiatsu. Don’t worry, we’re still friends.”
With that, Tsuruko used her hands to push him back and tore herself away. Despite her delicate appearance, Tsuruko was surprisingly and physically strong.
Yukiatsu watched as her figure disappeared around the building once more. This was the second time he had let her go like that. Half of his being suddenly felt very empty at the sight of her retreating so. The other half, it lamented the fact that he had, once again, let the girl he liked slipped through his grasp.
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