“……Somehow that was so like you guys.”
Takumi smiled wryly after listening to Keito’s story.
“Both of them are too kind. How foolish.”
“But isn’t that how we became friends? Setting aside the present, that is how it is in the past.”
“Shizuka would often hit you right, Ezaki? Because you were far less athletic than I was.”
“There is probably no one that can hold you back, Jun-nii.”
“I am sure Shizuka was looking forward to you becoming a baseball player………ah, sorry.”
Everyone remained silent for a brief moment, but Junichi talks about the past, as if he remembered it.
“Takamori was the first one invited Keito into our group after all”
Keito feigned ignorance.
“You don’t remember? I remembered it clearly. When I saw you for the first time, I hated your guts.”
Keito doesn’t remember being hated by Junichi.
“That is because you have a gloomy face. Plus you were a crybaby.”
“That probably happened, but that was unavoidable because I didn’t wanted to leave my familiar home in Tokyo and come to a foreign place.
“I asked Takamori why would you bring a guy like him here. What do you think she said next?”
” She said『This kid is from Tokyo. Isn’t that amazing? He came from a place that has the sea! 』. It was so stupid that I could still vividly remember it even after a decade.”
He certainly have the feeling of Shizuka randomly asking him about his impressions of the ocean at the beginning.
However, Keita had rarely been to the sea in Tokyo. Even if he had went, there were only muddy waters.
Instead, his maternal grandparents’ house in Tohoku is closer to the sea. Since he can go there and play in the summer, so it was memorable for him. At the same time, Shizuka’s eyes would sparkle whenever he talks about such stories.
“After that we started to play together. Once Keito have gotten used to living here, he also didn’t had a gloomy face anymore. He is still forever a crybaby though.”
“That girl was really, ridiculously kind, friendly person………..what a fool she was.”
Sarasa muttered so that no one could hear her.
The train travels through numerous tunnels as it runs in between the abundant shade of the dark green mountains.
The sunlight was still shining bright, to the point that the rays reflected from the leaves growing on the tress were dazzling even during the evening.
There are many other passengers inside the train such as people who bring their friends and family members for some sightseeing, but it is not crowded. The vigor and commotion were pleasant to their ears.
However, his back was starting to hurt from sitting down for a long period of time.
While standing up, doing some stretches and eating the sweets that he brought along, Keito tried to remember his conversation with Shizuka in order and muttering a few words.
Once in a while, their current circumstances can be associated with the classmates from middle school. If they heard a nostalgic name for the first time in a while, they would felt like they have returned back to their childhood.
“Oh, so Aikawa-kun is drawing paintings in the art club now.”
Sarasa said it in a surprising tone.
“Wait aren’t you in the same school, senpai? Didn’t you know?”
“Because I wasn’t interested in what he does after enrollment. Since you have been playing baseball for a long time I thought you would have continue though, Gotanda. Now that you mentioned it, have you drew anything?………..But why did you join the art club? Didn’t you join a different club during middle school?”
“Yeah, but that involves talking about Shi-chan.”
To be honest, it is not a very pleasant story. However, I was able to hear story about Shizuka that I didn’t know as well. Then I should do that too. Even if it is an agonizing story.
“When I was in the fifth grade, I did something a terrible thing to Shi-chan.”
When Keito began to talk,
The three of them nodded in agreement. Obviously they knew what happened back then.
After exchanging reckless remarks with her, I had noticeably meeting her lesser. It is more accurate to say that I was avoiding her.
Just like now, I am immature, foolish and shameless, but only by acting like that I would had been unaware on how to distance myself from her.
Before long Shizuka graduated and the chances of meeting her decreased increasingly.
A year had passed, even after Keito entered middle school, catching the sight of her in school became scarce due to the number of students from different grades.
In middle school, everyone was required to join a club.
He wasn’t good in sports. What interested him was shogi or drama club. He only knows how the pieces move for the former and practically have no experience for the latter, but it seemed somewhat interesting. Either of them have the prejudice of adequately slacking off.
After looking around the shogi club, he headed towards the gym where the drama club held their activities.
There a dozen members of boys and girls in total practicing on stage. Among them, he recognized a familiar face. It was Shzuka. Instinctively, he tried to leave the area.
However, Shizuka reacted faster by calling out to him on stage.
『Hmm? Kei……..Aikawa-kun!? So you came to see me!』
Her voice sounded cheerful without animosity.
『Y-Yeah. It has been a while, Takamori senpai.』
During their exchange, the other members and visitors directed their gaze towards Keito all at once.
『Well, I will be leaving first.』
『Hold on, why don’t you take a closer look?』
『Because there are other places that I wanted to see.』
『Till next time then. Don’t forget.』
In the end, he felt the area and was heading home.
It wasn’t because he was feeling guilty for telling a lie, but Keito went to the gym to observe once more.
It seemed that Shizuka wasn’t the star of the show but working behind the scene, moving here and there in a hurry.
Compared to her frequently sitting on her desk and reading books when it was already recess in elementary school, it was a little uncomfortable.
The drama club are for the sports-oriented. That was the latter which to say and know about the amount of strength being used.
『Takamori, go and put these away.』
『Too slow, Takamori!』
That was probably a third grader, mercilessly issuing instructions to the juniors.
Shizuka wasn’t good at excising nor nimble in the first place. Watching her hastily moving around on stage wasn’t very pleasant.
Noticing that Keito had come, Shizuka showed him a smile while on stage.
Therefore if he tries and leave a second time, it would leave behind a bad aftertaste this time as if it was abandoned.
Keito was waiting for Shizuka to come down.
Her club activities were finally over. Shizuka and several other people were busying tidying up the place but when that was also done, She rush over to Keito as she ran out of breath.
『S-S-Sorry for the wait.』
『It is nothing really…..although it looks like you got your hands full.』
There wasn’t anyone nearby so his tone unconsciously went back to the old days.
『Kei-kun…..ah, Aikawa-kun, do you wish to join the drama club?』
『I just came for the tour, haven’t decided. More importantly, I didn’t knew you are in the drama club, Takamori-senpai』
『I really wanted to join the literature club, but I didn’t. I thought drama would be similar since both have the same production but it is quite difficult. However, I would like to study about screenplay one day.』
Shizuka showed a slightly exhausted smile.
『There was a writer who said:《The living world is a dream. The nocturnal dream is reality*》. This world is a dream and the dream you have at night is the truth. I think that is right too.
It’s often said that you can’t run away, but I don’t think so. It is too painful to not even have a place to escape. From reading books to watching a play, by occasionally taking a glimpse of the fictional world, it will make you persevere once again, even if there is something terrible that happened in reality.』
『Nevertheless, I receive suppose from the『book of charms』when it gets a little tough. I am sure there is someone out there who loves me. Besides I don’t have any surpassing capabilities.』
『A book of charms?』
『Yeah, that is a secret.』
After making an embarrassed face as if she was busted,
『Hey, Kei-kun……ah Aikawa-kun, you are good at drawing right?』
『Drawing? Yeah, well.』
I am aware that I am better at copy drawing than most people.
『Kei-k………ah Aikawa-kun, didn’t you sketch a picture of a Japanese Giant Salamander at Soumiya Park when you were in elementary school? Your drawings were really good』
『You can just call me Kei-kun. I will address you as Shi-chan too.』
Shizuka sweetly smiled.
I mainly draw what I saw. Anyone could do that.
『I can’t do it!』
He denied it head on.
『Like I said, the art club is a good idea.』
Shizuka tried to probe around a little,
『If you like, why don’t you join the drama club? Whether it is the backdrop or stage setting, I am sure that Kei-kun’s drawings will be helpful though.』
『I will think about it.』
However, the answer in his heart was clear.
His affections for Shizuka have not fade away. However, club activities seemed to be more zealous and troublesome than he had imagined. He can always see Shizuka again whenever he wants. That was what he thought.
In retrospect, he wished he had listen to Shizuka more seriously.
If he had responsed to Shizuka’s words with a nod, would something have changed?
I don’t know about that. There was no point in choosing a past that was never been selected.
He later learned that the quote that Shizuka talked about: 『The living world is a dream. The nocturnal dream is reality』was favoured by Edogawa Ranpo who was famous for Akechi Kogoro and The Fiend with Twenty Faces* which was written on a colored paper.
Ranpo only knew about detective stories for children, but he mainly wrote novels targeted for adults. The stories like 『The Caterpillar』and 『The Air Raid Shelter』that I read when I was a highschool student make my heart throb by it’s obscenity.
《The living world is a dream. The nocturnal dream is reality》
When he was in middle school he didn’t understand the meaning but it is a phrase that remains in Keito’s speech to this day only after Shizuka had passed.
Now that he knew about the existence of lost words, that feelings have became more intense.
On the other hand, he ultimately didn’t get the opportunity to know about the 『book of charms』that she talked about. Was it just a prank played by a childish girl in middle school?
“Keito, you joined the shogi club right?”
“Yeah, the idea of an art club didn’t come into mind at that time…….In the end I became a ghost member in shogi club as well though.”
I felt sorry for the other members. I was a half-hearted person.
Afterwards, Shi-chan asked me if I was doing my best in my club and I unintentionally answered “yes”.
In the end, I wasn’t being honest with her.
“That is why…….after that accident, after entering high school, I put Shi-chan’s words into practise. Once I joined the art club, I realized it was profound and fun. Although I didn’t make any improvement.”
Shizuka’s words have formed a part of me as a member of the art club. There is no mistaking about it.
However, that goes hand in hand with remose.
“A book of charms…….”
Sarasa muttered with a quivering tone after listening to Keito.
“Do you know anything about it?”
“N-No, not really.”
She shook her head as hard as she could in denial.
“By the way, there is something I want to ask you senpai.”
There was something he wanted to confirm with Sarasa regarding just before that accident happened. Before Shizuka appeared on deck, Sarasa, who was sharing the same room as her, was the last person Shizuka had met with the exception of Keito.
Did she anything strange about Shizuka? What did they talked about? No, it doesn’t have to be that ceremonious. The thing he want to know is Sarasa’s perspective of Shizuka.
“I don’t remember it well.”
However, Sarasa gave him an immediate reply coldly.
“Anything is fine.”
“I can’t remember because of the confusion of the accident.”
This time a shred of apology was shown through. With that being said, further questioning would be meaningless.
Without the outcome that Keito is looking forward to, there wasn’t much conversation to continue from there. Originally in the group, the four of them have alienated from each other for a very long time and have no contact with Utaha with the exception of Keito.
The train were ridden by five people while the cabin routinely shook voluntarily.
Only Utaha and Keito can see her but Shizuka’s lost words was sitting beside him all this time.
They had been talking about myself but maybe I can’t understand it and stood still without moving much.
I will fulfill her last wish by hook or by crook.
I want to bring out the 『words』that she wanted to convey to 『someone』.
Coming to this point, I believe that this members and that sea have a connection.
I have my doubts but now I have to believe that I am not wrong.
*《現世は夢、夜の夢こそ真実まこと》a quote by Taro Hirai (平井 太郎) better known as by Edogawa Ranpo (江戸川 乱歩) was a Japanese author and critic who played a major role in the development of Japanese mystery fiction. Many of his novels involve the detective hero Kogoro Akechi, who in later books was the leader of a group of boy detectives known as the “Boy Detectives Club” (少年探偵団, Shōnen tantei dan). TL: I can’t find where the quote is from but apparently he would always write that when someone ask him for his signature.
* The Fiend with Twenty Faces (怪人二十面相) is a fictional character who serves as a recurring antagonist for Kogoro Akechi in Edogawa Rampo’s mystery fiction. A gentleman thief and master of disguise, he is considered Akechi’s archenemy or most famous adversary.