Even when he is awake, his conscious does not immediately become clear. Under an unfamiliar celling different than his, Keito recalled coming to his grandparents’ house.
Junichi and Takumi who slept in the same room as him were stirring restlessly and starting to wake up. Looks like Shizuka has been at that corner the whole night. In the morning, she is sitting in the same position.
After he washed his face and gathered for breakfast, Utaha and Sarasa were also seated. Vegetables and fishes that were brought at the morning market were placed on the dining table.
As soon as they finish eating and completed their preparation, all of them headed to the beach. It is about twenty minutes on foot.
Setting aside the topic of children’s feet, it doesn’t cause him much suffering now.
“Be careful. You can play in the water but swimming is not allowed.”
There is a spot near to the sea where it will suddenly became a gulf and it is not suitable for swimming. When he was a child, he could only go there if he was accompanied by his parents.
Afterwards, following behind Keito’s grandfather who was continuing to be cautious about this and that, Keito and the rest started walking towards destination.
“The smell of current sure is strong.”
“It smells like the beach, even though it smells bad it makes you smell it by mistake.”
“It feels like the sole of one foot or the dirt under one’s fingernails, really makes you bring your nose closer.”
“Maybe we are getting close?”
“All of your conversation really gives me a headache sometime.”
Looking at Sarasa’s dumbfounded face was also kind of pleasant.
“I see that everyone is on good terms.”
“Really?…..No, you are right.”
Keito remembers the feeling of anxiety which is similar to not crossing a dangerous thread yet.
Before, he couldn’t imagine Junichi or Sarasa, no, even Takumi would join in. This was a fine thread linked by Shizuka. With a little burden, it would probably snap immediately.
He can’t imagine what would happen by the end of this summer.
Right now, he just needs to do what he can.
The sun is strong since morning. It was inevitable to complain even though it was so cooling last might.
As they continuing walking and sweating, they replenished themselves with water that they brought along while advancing.
The route get narrower as they approach the beach. They walked in a single file along the edge of a narrow street where cars can finally pass by.
Keito was dead last, paying extra attention to Shizuka who was walking behind as they progressed forward.
“Do you remember this area? When the last we came here? I don’t remember it surprisingly.”
“Your memory is surprisingly good, Gotanda. I thought you were just a idiot.”
“Is that a compliment?”
Everyone laughed wryly towards Sarasa’s sarcasm.
They could immediately see the windbreaks* on the other side of the breakwater* at the edge of their vision.
Everyone naturally increased their pace. Keito too pulled Shizuka’s hand and hurried.
As they crossed the pedestrian crossing to the other side of the road and climbing the stairs on the levee, they could see the sea when they stood at the top.
The temperate sea level just before summer is sparkling and twinkling due to it been struck by sunlight.
Covered by the gritty sand, various stones are rolling and filling the beach nearby. Turning around, they could see the townscape they have visited so far.
The lighthouse which was erected at a distance seemed somewhat lonely under the sunlight.
That was from Utaha, who let out a breathe of admiration.
She was probably surprised at the scenery which was just like the painting left behind by Mari.
Even Keito who is actually seen this landscape also felt the same.
The passenger boat which caused fire incident was also heading towards the local port. After spending a night inside the vessel, they planned to enter the harbour.
The people that got rescued entered that port. Keito and Takumi were among those people. And the things that were washed away by the ocean, were drifted to this beach because of the tide, along with a portion of the corpse.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t any clue regarding Shizuka. Her parents might have came this place numerous times.
Descending from the stairs on the opposite side, they tread on the grit as they walked towards the sea. However, when they stopped in the middle of the beach as a pleasant breeze was blowing, Keito suddenly can’t move his legs any further. Looks like it is same for the rest as well.
“What are you going to do now, Aikawa?”
Sarasa’s complexion is a little poor. Perhaps she recalled about the accident once again. She carrying a small bag that he saw the other day. She probably unconsciously hugging it.
Keito asked about Shizuka’s situation.
Even when they came all the way out here, nothing particularly changed. It would be a lie to say that they were not expecting for a dramatic change, but it doesn’t seemed to go smoothly.
“Shi-chan is still missing. Even if she is legally certified as dead, Shi-chan is still resting somewhere in this ocean. We can finally go and fetch her.”
Keito said it with determination and started walking.
“Do you remember what happened when we came seven years ago?”
Takumi and the rest follow behind him as he walked, then Keito inquired.
“Seven years ago………..not the accident but before that, when we came here and play huh….what are you referring to? It is too vague.”
“The day when we caught a fish.”
He moved step by step closer to the sea while he talked.
“It was a small fish that we scooped up with our hands at that time. I don’t remember who caught it but I think it was Junichi or Takumi. I was probably the one that said we should keep the fish.”
That was the innocent frolicking of their childhood.
He then improvise by making a cage with the surrounding rocks on the spot. When he released it there, an unfamiliar small fish began to swim around the edges of the confined cage.
The one who was overjoyed it was a aquarium was Shizuka.
『Let’s catch some more.』
Wanting to see Shizuka’s smile, Keito went and tried to catch more that were swimming nearby. However, every one of them escaped from his fingers. Did the first one knew the rudiments of humans well enough? Or was his technique bad?
He thought it was uncool to ask for help from Takumi and Junichi, so he fought hard for a while but to no avail.
While Keito and Shizuka were involved with the extempore aquarium, Takumi and the rest were started playing something else on the foreshore.
Keito was watching the glittering fish swimming for some time alongside Shizuka as the sun’s rays shined on their backs.
He thought he would never get bored of it but, Keito’s mother who accompanied him called them for lunch and after finish eating, Keito and Shizuka went and joined the rest.
Eventually the sky became dark and they were preparing to return back. They were planning to return the next morning so he would not be visiting his grandparents for a while.
It was great that he invited everyone. Keito thought that they should come back again.
Just before they returned, Shizuka slightly raised her voice with a 『ah』.
She then started to run towards the water’s edge. Keito followed behind him in a panic.
Shizuka squatted down and looked into the stone wall aquarium that he made before noon as her shoulders shook and cried.
『I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry. If only I had let you go sooner.』
The appearance of the girl apologizing was overlapped with the one when she lost the ball the other day.
The small fish was floating on the surface of the water while showing its white belly.
『It is not your fault, Shi-chan……….maybe it was weak when I caught it.』
That was probably why that fish can be caught by a child.
However, that comfort didn’t helped at all. Shizuka wasn’t answering.
『I am so sorry.』
Keito grabbed Shizuka’s hand who was crouching and crying and hurried back as it was getting dark. 『I shouldn’t have place it there………sorry.』
Even he became depressed as well.
The tears flowing down his face wasn’t just because he was affected by Shizuka
Losing something is just, is just lamentable.
『Are you crying too, Kei-kun?』
『Yeah………….Since the tears are connected to the sea, the least I can do is cry for the fish that wasn’t able to return. 』
Thus, the both of them left the beach in tears.
TL: Breakwaters are structures constructed near the coasts as part of coastal management or to protect an anchorage from the effects of both weather and longshore drift.
TL: A windbreak (shelterbelt) is a planting usually made up of one or more rows of trees or shrubs planted in such a manner as to provide shelter from the wind and to protect soil from erosion. They are commonly planted in hedgerows around the edges of fields on farms.