Starting Over – Chapter 10

In autumn, in my second year of middle school, the night before the culture festival, as the classes were finishing up all their presentation preparations, I remembered that this day held great significance in my life .
We were implicitly allowed to stay at school until 9 PM that night, so everyone finished up early so we could have a blast .
It might have been a little after 6 PM . As I took in the breeze on the veranda outside, I watched my classmates making props and rehearsing a play in the classroom .
Suddenly, but not necessarily because anything had happened, I was filled with a feeling of happiness .
As I searched my mind for the cause, I realized it was that girl who would soon become irreplaceable .
I remembered that this was the day . It seemed that this was when I began to fall in love .
As ever, I didn’t know who that fateful girl was, but I gleamed that today would bring the impetus for falling in love with the one who would become my girlfriend .
Thus, I stuck around the classroom as late as I could that day to meet her . Just past nine, when I couldn’t bear to wait any longer, a classmate spoke up .
“Hey, can somebody take this to the gym?”
I intuitively accepted on the spot, and received a number of props . Among them was a red Santa hat .
I would’ve been willing to just take it by myself, but then from the corner of the room came a voice: “Wait, I’ll help you!”
I looked toward the owner of the voice . It was Tsugumi who came running up to me .
“As I thought,” I thought .
Sleepy eyes, long eyelashes, always thinking . As I said, I’d been searching for a girl with those characteristics, and found a few, but Tsugumi matched them most closely .
I had more or less nailed her as the one who would be my future girlfriend a while ago . And I found my guess to be spot on .
With my future girlfriend before me, I nearly danced down the hallway as I joked with Tsugumi, who had put on the Santa hat .
She smiled at the corner of her mouth, took some reindeer antlers from among the props we were carrying, and put them on me .
The lights were already off in the gym, so it was pitch black . After we put down the props behind the stage, Tsugumi looked at me and grinned mischievously .
“Hey, if we go back, we’ll just have to do more work . Let’s rest here a while . ”
I agreed, of course .
We ended up going home together that night . We both seemed sad to leave each other, so we talked for about an hour more on a park bench .
This is where the best parts of my life begin, I thought . I was dizzy with delight .
I would repeat everything the same as in my first life . So I thought .
Except, well… what happened in cherry blossom season, in my third year of middle school .
As in my first life, after school, when we were the only two in the classroom, I confessed to Tsugumi .
I was ready to delight, and for her to be delighted, and all of that .
But she just looked worried and said “Umm…”, faintly trying to smile .
A few days later, she ultimately turned me down . But perhaps the problem was that I was too cocky .
My confession, in my first life, was said very hastily and with much tension .
Perhaps my desperation managed to move her, and turned a confession that ordinarily would not have won her over into one that did .
The second time, I’d acted more like “Hey, you’ve been waiting, right? Figured I’d confess already . ” It wouldn’t be surprising if that left a bad taste with her .
I could think of any number of other causes, of course . But I had failed to make her my girlfriend . That was what mattered .

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