Chapter 03 – True Friendship
— I’m not really fond of the word hate.
I hate the rain…
It brings back memories of that day.
On the day of mom and dad’s funeral, it was also raining.
It’s said that in Japan, around ten people die per day.
The statistics fluctuate every year, but still death always seemed to be close to me.
A Traffic Accident.
It happened a little while after I entered elementary school.
My parents became two of the ten.
Cars are convenient and familiar tools, but they’re also the closest danger.
That’s what I learned when I was little.
I was sad. It was painful. It was heart-breaking.
My chest hurt, as if my heart had been gouged out of it.
Even though I’m here, the people who should be with me are gone… that simple fact brought tears to my eyes.
And as I spaced out, as if my soul had been extracted from my body, the funeral ended. The talks immediately turned to if anyone wanted to take me in.
By that time, my tears had already gone dry. With distant eyes, I simply gazed at the ground.
A woman and a man said something to me, but those words never entered my ears.
Even as I child, I could understand that those words conveyed extreme kindness towards me, but even so, I could only give a weak response.
And eventually, those two ended up taking me in.
A cousin to my dad and mom, and a friend from their youth. A somewhat cold woman, and a gentle man.
They both thought well of me, and even when they were supposed to have work, they would wait every morning to say 『See you later』 when I left for school, and 『Welcome Home』 when I returned.
On the weekends and holidays, they would drag me off somewhere to play.
“I am a teacher of flowers. If it’s about flowers, I’m the most knowledgeable in the world.”
Perhaps she had noticed me hanging my head all the way when we went to an amusement park last week, but this time, she took me to a mountain with nice scenery in another prefecture.
Many types of flowers bloomed all around; a beautiful field of flowers.
But none of it entered my eyes…
I can’t show any reaction to the woman… even when I tried to, all that came out was the single phrase, 『I’m sorry…』, and yet to someone like that, she continued to kindly talk about flowers.
The man tried to cheer me up in a similar manner, but I couldn’t answer to his efforts.
The house… wasn’t my house. Even after moving to the two’s house, that didn’t change.
“Today I’ll cook. Food is something that always tastes better when made by a woman.”
The man would always do the cooking, but today the woman tried her hand at it.
Bluntly, it was terrible.
Without saying anything, I silently shoved the food into my mouth, and once the meal was over, I stayed seated in my chair staring out the window.
Of course, it’s not as if I actually saw anything out there. On the contrary, I didn’t want to see anything.
When morning came, the two saw me off, and I left for school.
“Good morning, Mizuki-kun.”
The teacher kindly called out to me, but my attitude didn’t change. I took my seat at my desk.
I wasn’t bullied, and the class children tried talking to me out of worry numerous times.
“Thank you… sorry…”
I couldn’t answer my peers either. I just spent the entire day staring out the window.
It’s not like I was actually thinking anything.
I didn’t want to think.
I didn’t want to forget mom and dad.
But little by little, as time passed, dad’s face and moms face drifted further and further away… I was sad.
That’s why I hated everyone.
I loathed them.
I never voiced it, but I was just enraged at everything around me.
Don’t pretend to be dad. Don’t try to be mom.
Don’t take my precious things away.
To those two, my teacher, and my peers, that was all I could think.
“Mizuki-kun, today we’re off, but do you have anywhere you want to go?”
“Then today, we’ll –”
When I quietly muttered, the woman was about to say something, but the man stopped her by shaking his head.
The two of them tried to offer words to cheer me up multiple times, but eventually they left the room I was in. They started discussing something.
Even as a child, I was aware I had done something wrong.
After that, the amount of times they would discuss together simply increased.
The time I spent alone increased with it, so I even felt thankful.
The next week.
It was Friday, and the next day would be off. On that day, I was speechless the moment I stepped into the house.
The entire building was filled with flowers.
At that moment, my heart was flooded with flowers.
I mean, from the yard to the entrance, the hallways and all the rooms, many flowers were hung up. It was just so breathtaking.
“How about that, Mizuki? I told you I was a super flower arrangement teacher, did I not?”
As I was taken by the flowers, the woman said that.
As if her childish heart had been set aflame, she smiled playfully, and started bragging.
“Mizuki-kun, I thought it would be best if you got to know the two of us.”
With a kind and polite tone, the man addressed me.
“Both me and this man only know things about flowers. We don’t know any way of life that doesn’t pertain to them. It’s vexing, but I can’t do anything to cheer you up. I don’t know how. So I decided to teach you what makes me happy. You got it?”
I didn’t know the meaning of what she was saying.
Everything was a mess… but my expression changed from the one I had on before, and…
“Good, you nodded for the first time. It’ll get amazing from here on!”
Weakly, like a child being threatened, I nodded. And to me, the woman directed a bright smile.
And after that, it really did get amazing.
Every day when I came home, I would find flowers blooming brilliantly, stuck around everywhere like ornaments to decorate the place.
What’s more, those flowers were ones the man raised from scratch, and the woman arranged, apparently.
I thought that sounded silly, but whenever I got the least bit suspicious, the man would tell me just how he grew them, and the woman, just how she arranged them from start to finish.
Their feelings of just how important their own flowers were to them overflowed until the conversation ended.
And I lost to those feelings. Even though I couldn’t bring myself to listen to anything else, for some reason, that alone was able to enter my ears.
Even when I tried to forget, they would pile on more flower information one after the other like an endless waterfall.
I didn’t care for flowers in the slightest, but I was able to understand just how much these two loved them.
As well as the feelings they held towards me…
From then on, I tried not to think about it. If I understood, then I would start to forget.
My real mom, and my real dad.
So I resolved my heart to resist as much as possible.
I knew I could never win against the adults, but if it was just my heart, I couldn’t lose.
“I’m off… to play.”
“Oh!? Mizuki, you made a friend?”
“Then out with ye! It’s natural for children to be playing with their friends.”
I told a lie.
I’m really always alone at school, and even if they talk to me, I reject them.
But even so, the two had small drops of water in the corners of their eyes as they happily congratulated me.
I felt guilt.
They’re always putting me first, and they handle me kindly. And Yet, I told a lie.
Just that was enough to make my stomach hurt, as if needles were pricking at its insides.
I sat in the park, in a place hard to see, waiting for evening to come.
And that daily event repeated for weeks. For months.
By the time I noticed it, my thoughts towards the two of them were slowly starting to change.
A woman who gave a stern impression… In reality, she’s very kind, but an awkward person.
A kind man… He wasn’t analyzing people and putting up a front, he really was a kind person.
But I didn’t want to call the two my mom and dad.
If I did, I got the feeling that everything would change… it was a terrible feeling.
And so, even though I had noticed it, I locked those feelings in the depths of my heart.
By the time half a year had passed, my peers had given up on me, and formed their own teams.
As I did nothing but gaze out the window whenever there wasn’t a lesson, there was no helping it.
These days continued, even when the year changed, and even after I went up a grade, they stayed the same.
The season of blooming sakura.
Not limited to sakura, it was the season where various types of flowers formed buds.
It was also the season where the two’s flower around the house gave off the greatest radiance.
I was a grade higher, and some people I knew, and some I didn’t, became my classmates.
My teacher was the same person as before, and from what I’d heard later, he volunteered for it himself.
But I was the same. I treated my new classmates just as I always had.
“E? He doesn’t have parents?”
As I turned around, I saw a few boys looking in my direction and talking to one another.
Noticing me looking at them, their expressions turn regretful, and they quickly filter into the corridor.
It occasionally happened.
In most cases, they don’t even try to approach me.
In the first place, my heart wasn’t open to anyone, so that was natural.
But that child was different.
“Hey, what sort of feeling is it to not have parents?”
He really was a detestable child.
To be able to ask something like that without thinking about the other person’s feelings, I question his soul.
Naturally, I pretended to ignore him, and looked out the window.
“Oy, don’t go ignoring me.”
He said something like that, but it didn’t enter my ears.
No… I didn’t even want to try hearing his words.
They make my chest hollower. There isn’t a single good thing about it.
“Wanna go home together?”
“Just go with your group…”
“Hey, my house is close to yours, so you are my group. And wait, yesterday, and the day before, we went together, right?”
It seems this kid’s house is in the same direction as me, and he greets me daily.
“You see, mom yelled at me for putting maple syrup and honey on my hotcake all at once, you know? So this time I’m putting chocolate, maple, and honey, so I’ll be fine, right?”
The boy kept talking to me every day without tiring of it.
I’m not sure what his problem is, but he kept talking about various things.
From what I hear, this boy has an extreme sweet-tooth. Whenever he opens his mouth, he talks about sweets, and he always competes in the lunch line whenever something sweet is being served.
I… don’t really care whether the food is good or bad, so…
“Hey, Mizuki, what do you like?”
“You’ve got to have at least one thing, right? Hey? You’re always like that, it looks boring.”
Bulls eye… I wonder if that’s what it was.
Since dad and mom died, every day had been hard, painful, and sad.
But more so that all else, everything just seemed so damn boring.
Those words, coming from the boy I hated, made me mad for the first time since my parents died.
“I hate it! I hate everyone!”
The boy was shocked, and I ran to get away from the place.
After that, it seems the boy’s been making a complicated expression.
Of course, the amount of times he talks to me has decreased, and he seems to be immersed in thought whenever he isn’t eating sweets.
It’s finally quiet. That’s what I thought.
The morning after I was hit with that feeling of relief, I saw my hated rain falling outside.
I didn’t like going to school on days like this, but I don’t know what those two will say if I don’t.
It seems they considered alternatives, but I have to commute a long way every day.
That day, the boy left earlier, so his absence made things really quiet.
I got to school, and entered the classroom, but when I got to my own desk, I tilted my head.
— Yellow flowers in a vase had been left at on my seat.
When the sight of those flowers entered my eyes, I felt like something I had been storing up suddenly burst out.
Ever since my parents died, no matter how much I wanted to cry, I never cried.
No matter what I did, all that was there was nothingness, and I was merely sad without meaning.
Despite that, I started bawling.
Even though my classmates were in the room, I cried without hesitation before everyone’s eyes.
“Whoever did this, raise your hand!”
Noticing the sudden situation, the teacher asked this in homeroom with a red face.
And someone raised their hand… that boy.
The boy already had a large bump on the back of his head. I’m reluctant to imagine what led him to be in that state.
“Why did you do something like that!?”
The boy who remained silent, and the harshly scolding teacher.
I couldn’t tell why he was mad at that boy.
I mean, we’re still in the lower levels of Elementary School, so I’m pretty sure we’re not supposed to know what the act of placing flowers on someone’s desk is supposed to signify.
(TL: It’s pretty much a mocking way of showing respect for the dead. In other words, they’re telling you to go die.)
That’s why, I stood in front of the boy, and said this.
“No! Tsukishiro-kun didn’t mean anything bad!”
Since I, who was always moping about, raised my voice to such a level, both the teacher and the boy were surprised.
“It’s because he is, Tsukishiro-kun is… my friend!”
The yellow flowers… Geranium.
In the language of flowers: 「Comfort」, 「True Friendship」, 「Determination」, 「Wishes of Happiness」.
They bloom from April to November, and they’re a pretty flower of African origin.
He, Tsukishiro Yuuji learned that my house was a flower shop, and even tried to learn the language of flowers, of which he had absolutely no interest.
In order for me to have noticed, Mother and Father would have had to teach me all about flowers, and he would have had to have been truly worried about me.
Father, Mother, it isn’t just him.
I was saved by many people, and now I’m here. I took in a large amount of kindness.
And for having trampled upon all of their feelings, I began to hate myself.
And so I’m not fond of the word hate.
It denies something. A person. A object. A feeling. It’s a word that tramples over them all.
I like rainy days.
They signify the day when I realized my Mother and Father, and my best friend reaching their hands out to grasp mine.
To me, they are, reality is– Something that can’t be cast away… a precious treasure.