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Three days, three months… Same thing, right? Ahahaha!
People keep leaving my company, so it’s been a bit hectic. Actually two more senior staff are leaving next week, but I’m sure it’ll be fine.
Next chapter is half-done. Tilea is on the way.
No sooner had I arrived at cram school did I start handing out my souvenirs.
In Rome I had bought some notebooks, bookmarks, and pens with interesting, flashy designs, which were being met with a positive reaction. Good job, me.
“Oh, is this box chocolate? The package is so stylish~” Moriyama-san gushed.
“There is a chocolatier that is enjoying some popularity in Paris at the moment but I do not believe they have arrived at our shores yet,” I explained. “The concept behind these chocolates was ‘chocolate that complements wine’. The taste is admittedly a little mature but I have become quite fond of them, of late. If it pleases you then please give them a try.”
“Oh wow. That sounds amazing. Maybe I’ll open it now and try just one.”
“Good idea. Wow, this is delicious! It’s a little bitter, but there’s a faint sweetness to it.”
“That’s Kisshouin-san for you. Even her souvenirs are something else.”
“Uhuhu, I am glad that you like them,” I laughed.
I could feel their comments arouse my sense of self-esteem.
And just now Moriyama-san said the word ‘stylish’, didn’t she?
Nuhoho, you can keep using that word if you want, you know?
“Oh, this is pretty good.”
Kitazawa-kun just gobbled one down like it was a dollar store chocolate!
The stylish chocolate from a famous chocolatier in Paris, not even available yet in the Japanese market, and that I chose after many painstaking rounds of elimination and…! Well, whatever. Have your fill.
“Going to Europe for your class trip though. That’s Zui’ran for you~” said one of the girls.
“My school went to Hagi and Tsuwano. Hagi and Tsuwano! Well, not that they’re bad places or anything but aren’t they a bit too austere for a fun class trip? I wasn’t asking for a trip overseas or anything, but couldn’t we have at least left Honshuu?” grumbled the other.
“My school gave us a choice between Kyushu or Hokkaido, so I went with the latter. Great fun. The food was great too,” one of the boys chimed in.
“I picked Kyushu.”
“Oh yeah. Come to think of it, you gave me some karukan.”
And so we chatted about our respective class trips as we snacked on the souvenirs I brought.
“You always get a few who go completely nuts on class trips. Especially amongst the boys.”
“I guess I’d count. We broke the curfew, tried to sneak out of our lodgings, got seen, and then got chased down…”
“The most that happened to us was getting scolded by our class rep because we kept being late for roll call, but I’d hope that it isn’t too big a deal.”
These other schools had it rough… I was really feeling for my fellow class reps.
The members of my class were all diligent and cooperative, so almost everyone was on time when it was time to meet up.
For some reason Satomi-kun thanked me and said it was all because of me though.
Once all of the snacks were gone, the boys started talking about the cram school lessons, so it was time for me to do my research.
I turned to Moriyama-san and Sakaki-san. Frank advice from two actual schoolgirls would prove invaluable.
“Say, where would the two of you go for dates?” I ventured.
“Eh? Are you going on a date, Kisshouin-san? Ooh, tell us, did you get a boyfriend?”
“No, no. But the topic came up in conversation today and… Well, Moriyama-san, you told me that you had a boyfriend, so I wondered where you two went on your dates.”
The two of them fell into thought.
“I guess I’d have to recommend amusement parks. It’s expensive so you can’t go all the time, but it’s fun and it’s exciting!”
“Yeah, can’t go wrong with amusement parks. Roller coasters, haunted houses, and then a Ferris wheel at the end of the day.”
“Yep, that last one is a must. The view from up there is beautiful at night.”
“I love Ferris wheels. Sometimes I’ll pop in just for the Ferris wheel.”
“I know what you mean~”
“Ferris wheels…” I muttered to myself.
…I mean, when you think of Ferris wheels you think of couples k-kissing when their car reached the top, right?
Kyaaa! Oh no!
That’s impossible for me-!
How was I ever supposed to invite somebody onto a Ferris wheel!?
I-I mean, it’s basically asking for…
We’re all just still high schoolers, you know!?
But if one day my own love invited me for a ride on a Ferris wheel…
Uhyaaaaah! What would I do!?
“Your eyes are kind of scaring me, Kisshouin-san. Is everything okay?”
“Eh!? Oh my. Apologies, lately my eyes have been a little dry.”
No good, no good. The stimulation was so great that I forgot to blink.
While I was applying eye-drops, the two of them continued their date talk.
“I suppose we go to the movies once in a while. And my boyfriend loves sports so we’ll play basketball at the part, or badminton or something.”
“The park is nice, and easy on the purse,” agreed Sasaki-san. “I’ve been on a date to a garden too. Got to feed the fish.”
“Are you guys senior citizens?” Moriyama-san joked. “But hmm, I guess a lot of the time we just walk home together after school and talk. I guess that counts too?”
What are you saying, Moriyama-san!? Of course that’s a date! It’s exactly the sort of date I’ve always fantasised about!
H-Holding hands is a must, I think. Right, bashfully holding hands while walking along in their high school uniforms…
Kyaaaah! How nice, how nice! How very dreamy.
I long to try it too. Aaah, but it’s me we’re talking about. What if I got too nervous and my hands got sweaty!?
If your girlfriend’s hand was dripping with sweat you’d be grossed out, right!?
What should I do then? Flap my hands dry first?
Use acupoints to disable my sense of nervousness?
Who knew that holding hands could be such a challenge!?
But as long as I can get over this hurdle, what awaits me is holding hands, being with the person I like in our school uniforms, Ferris wheels… Ferris wheels!?
In our uniforms after school on a Ferris wheel!?
“Kisshouin-san, your eyes are kind of acting up again…”
“Eh!? Ah, my apologies. Please do not mind me and continue.”
“I think you should see an eye doctor…”
Oh no, not good. Apparently the stimulation was too much for me again. I used some more eye-drops as Moriyama-san continued.
“There’s also karaoke, arcades, and studying together in a family restaurant, I guess. But we do all those with friends too.”
“Eh-, with male friends?” faltered Sasaki-san.
“Obviously not when it’s just the two of us. But like, don’t you go with your class to have fun after exams are done?”
“Ahh~ Yeah, okay. Like after school we’ll see who’s interested in coming, and then go to a bowling alley or for some karaoke. The other day I was paired up with this guy who was crazy good at bowling, and we beat the rest of our class. That was fun~”
“Yeah. We go bowling a lot, actually. In April my class talked up this ‘get together’ but in the end we just went bowling.”
“And made the pair with the worst score pay for everyone’s drinks?” Sakaki-san said knowing.
“Exactly! And when it’s time to choose your partner, there’s always one person who rushes to cut up name tags to pick out of a box.”
“In my class the girls like to cheat to get paired up with the guys they like. Sometimes it even goes pretty well for them.”
What the-!? Is this the kind of fun that other co-ed schools were getting up to!?
I stared transfixed as the two of them talked about these events like they happened to everybody.
Going out to have fun after a test!? This is the first I’m hearing of it!
Why doesn’t my school do this? Is it because of our culture?
Oh my god. In all my years at Zui’ran, not once had I enjoyed any benefits of “co-education”.
I may as well have been attending a girls school.
“Where do you go with your Zui’ran boys?” I was suddenly asked.
The one thing I hoped they’d never ask me…! Am I a joke to you!?
And since Tagaki-kun went to this cram school I could even be caught out for lying.
But then was I supposed to let them know that I lived in the Forever Alone Village? As the Village Head no less!?
Was I supposed to let them know that far from a boyfriend, I basically had no male friends at all!?
That I was basically attending a girls school!?
“…Hmmm~ Come to think of it, everybody tends to have arrangements or extracurricular education, so it does not happen all too often. I suppose sometimes we meet up at a friend’s house and play games (the birthday party with all the primary school kids), or go out to eat (Mao-chan & Yuuri-kun). On some weekends we might head out to an aquarium or some shopping (Mao-chan, Yuuri-kun). Oh, come to think of it, this one boy wanted me to go shopping (at a supermarket) with him, but I had cram school so I had to turn him down.”
“Huh, so that’s what Zui’ran is like~”
I didn’t lie.
They were all Zui’ran students. It’s just that some of them might be primary schoolers, or some of them may have graduated.
I just embellished the truth a little. I didn’t lie.
To avoid looking them in the eyes, I began flipping through my textbook.
“I guess that makes sense,” she continued. “There’s no way the boys from Zui’ran would go to an arcade or to karaoke, right?”
“Hmmm~ I could not say. While my group of friends do not, I could not speak for the others. But one of the friends I mentioned earlier (Yukino-kun) is a big fan of video games, so we play them at his house (during the birthday party). I am not very good at them, so I tend to just sit by and watch.”
All I did was replace some past tense with some present tense. There could be a second birthday party. I didn’t lie.
“Then where did you go with them during your class trip?”
“Hmmm. I spent most of my class trip with my girl friends. When I had some time though, I did take up a few of their invitations. Shopping in Paris for one thing, or when we had tiramisu in Rome.”
And so I used some of the rumours about me for good.
“Ehh~? Kisshouin-san, you rarely talk about boys but you’ve actually got so many guy friends!?”
Plus, two of those guy friends I mentioned just now were in primary school…
Lies. Exaggeration. Misleading comments.
The words floated through my head…
No, no… I didn’t lie but… Geez, I honestly felt like crying right now. My eyes were starting to sting.
I only had a year left until having a date in uniform was no longer possible, so what on earth was I doing…?
Before I left, I had stealthily handed something to Umewaka-kun alone. It was the brush and accessories for Beatrice.
Later that night I got a thank you message.
‘Thank you, Reika-tan! It looks like I’m a Parisian too, now!
Then I received a more “serious” message from Umewaka-kun himself.
‘Lately there’s been this male dog hanging around Beatrice when I’ve been taking her out for walks.
It makes me so angry.
And the worst thing is that Beatrice doesn’t seem displeased by the attention!’
The dog lover might be joining my village quite soon. I should prepare him a nice spot of land with a lot of sun.