On Saturday, Keito only told his family that he will be visiting his grandfather’s place to have fun with his friends for the first time in a while.
The bus have been crowded earlier on because it was the first morning of summer vacation. Since he was unable to secure a seat for Shizuka, both of them stood together.
By making an opening successfully, he then held out both of his hands to grab to the strap, as if to protect Shizuka.
Her fair skin was becoming increasingly transparent. Her faint pink colored lips seemed like it would tear if one touches it.
They remained in that posture until the train station. Once people started to got off the bus, Keito followed them right away.
Somiya station is at the heart of the city where transportation is key. The meeting place was in front of the coffee shop at the northern enterance.
When he checked his watch, he realized he just barely made it and both Takumi and Junichi have already arrived.
“You are the one who arranged all of this so don’t be late.”
The first thing that came out of Junichi’s mouth was grumble.
“Sorry. It took longer than I expected. Thanks for coming, Jun-nii.”
“Just like I said yesterday………when was the last time I gotten up so early?”
“Also, Irifune-senpai should be coming.”
“She is coming?”
“She is coming too?”
Takumi and Junichi raised their voice in amazement.
“I have never seen her in years.”
“I am extremely terrified right now so you should be careful too, Jun-nii.”
“She has been like that since middle school.”
“You know I can hear you both right?”
Sarasa stood there wearing her respectable high school uniform. As expected from the vice president.
“Yo, it has been a while.”
“Am I really that scary, Gotanda?”
“Like wearing an armor.”
“You would look good wearing a Japanese one instead of a western version. The one with a mask.”
“Ezaki, we haven’t seen each other for a long time and that is the first thing you say right after we met?………….You gotten fat. Wait, is that the smell of cigarette?”
“I haven’t smoke in the last few days…………Might be the smell on the clothes.”
“I can’t believe this! Aikawa, I am going home.”
She really took her luggage and tried to leave immediately.
However, she saw Utaha’s figure over there.
“Thank you for waiting everyone. My sincere apologies for arriving late.”
Sarasa stood still as if she missed her timing.
“Gotanda-san and Ezaki-san, I believe we met a few days ago. Once again, please take care of me.”
She turned to Sarasa and said: “And you are…….”
“Irifune-san right? Nice to meet you, my name is Umegae Utaha. This time, allow me to accompany you on your trip. Although I may be imperfect but I greatly appreciate your cooperation.”
“Y-You are too kind. Likewise, please to meet you.”
Since Sarasa has exchanged greetings with her, it seems she is unable to say that she is leaving.
Thus, the gang of five: Keito, Junichi, Takumi, Sarasa, Utaha begin their journey to the north because of Shizuka.
It will take about half a day to reach their destination by train via Tokyo. Keito have arranged with his grandfather to pick them up with his car once they reached the train station.
The ocean liner that had left from the Narumi harbour had been terminated because of that accident. At the very least, he felt that they wouldn’t be using that transport this time.
The train operating on during the holidays was crowded as expected. They have no choice but to sit at random seats until they reach Tokyo, Keito is doing his best to not lost sight of Shizuka.
Takumi and Junichi will occasionally talk to each other about something, Sarasa was reading an reference book and Utaha had her eyes on a paperback book. After having a late lunch and changing train to the Tohoku line, he has finally secured seats for everyone.
For Shizuka it looks like an open seat to strangers. Keito left the window open at the back seat so that no one would sit.
“Is Shizuka really there?”
Sarasa threw that question at the empty seat opposite Keito. It is only natural that she is half-convinced.
“Can you see it, Umegae-san?”
Utaha explained to her as someone similar to Keito who is able to see lost words.
After listening a short reply from Utaha, Sarasa then starred at the seat in front of her for a while.
Keito directed his gaze towards Sarasa, however her eyes didn’t captured Shizuka’s appearance but projected her lost words.
“What are we going to do after this? Don’t tell me we are going to peacefully let the time pass until we reached your grandfather’s house?”
Sarasa questioned while her reference book is still open.
“I want to hear about Shizuka from everyone. Either the things I knew or I don’t know about her. I am sure there is a hint in drawing out her words.”
“I get the feeling that bringing up the past is pointless but………oh well.”
Do you know the location of her parents or her grave?”
“No, I still don’t know about either of them.”
“If we could at least know the location of her grave.”
“Since she has been treated as a missing person, I don’t know there is even a grave for her in the first the place.”
Under the Family Registration Law there is the part 『Declared dead without identification of a body』which applies for water related accident so she would probably be treated as officially dead. That is if the parents had being notified though.”
Sarasa pointed that out. It seems there is nothing they can do if they can’t find the whereabouts of her parents after all.
“What are you doing now, Ezaki? From the looks of it, you don’t seem to be playing baseball anymore.”
“Well, it is a long story.”
“Hmmm, what had happened to that only gifted baseball player Ezaki?”
“Who are you calling only gifted………I could say the same to you Irifune. You have completely become a swotting person, even though you look like a guy since you were a child.”
“Isn’t that obvious? We can’t always remained as a kid.”
“Then it is probably the same for me as well. I can’t always be that naive baseball playing boy who dreams.”
As if to interrupt Junichi,
“Speaking of baseball, something like this happened right?”
Keito talks about his memories first.
On that day, they were playing baseball at the park near Junichi’s house as usual.
Even though it was baseball, they were only throwing rubber ball and hitting it with a plastic bat. The rest of the members were running after the flying ball. They would repeat in an orderly manner. That is about it.
Junichi had a flair for baseball since that time. When Shizuka was the pitcher and Junichi was the batter, he would caught the ball thrown by Shizuka at the center of the bat. Contrary to the light sound it produced, the ball form a vigorously arc and flew to the grass at edge of the park.
When Junichi shouted with glee:『It is a homerun』, Shizuka was in high spirit saying: 『You are amazing, Jun-kun! I am sure you can be a famous baseball player』 despite being struck.
However, there was also a brief moment. After that no matter how long they searched, they couldn’t find the ball.
『Sorry, sorry, I am sorry, Kei-kun.』
Shizuka apologized numerous times. Keito was the one who brought the ball for that day. She probably feel responsible because she is the one who threw the ball.
In the end, they dispersed without ever finding the ball and Shizuka would search the park countless times after that. Keito would accompany her and looked for the ball too.
At that time, he was always losing something. After all this time there are things he can’t remember and even if it is about trifling stuffs, the fact that he lost something, that feeling of losing something will never fade away.
That ball from that time is one of them.
About a month or later, Shizuka finally retrieve the ball from the grass that she has searched in several times.
『I found it, I found it! Kei-kun, I found it!』
With small leaves stuck on it, she jumped cheerfully.
『What a relief. I really felt bad for losing your ball, I couldn’t find it at all, but I am glad, really glad.』
When he saw Shizuka crying tears of joy, he couldn’t tell her that ball was different from the one he lost. It probably belongs to someone else who had recently loss their ball.
『Thanks. It is all thanks to you, Shi-chan. I can’t thank you enough.』
Smile and accept it. The first priority is to release Shizuka of her guilt.
『Will you play with me again?』
『”Again?” Didn’t we play together yesterday?』
『Because……..I was scared that Kei-kun was angry.』
『I am not angry at all.』
Upon hearing Keito’s reply, Shizuka finally seemed to have a peace of mind.
After receiving the ball from Shizuka, he then secretly returned the ball to it’s original location. For someone who might be troubled just like Shizuka.