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Suki Kirai - Volume 1 - Chapter 8


During the summer of my second year in middle school, my mother passed away in a traffic accident.
Left behind, I stood still in front of her sleeping figure wearing a white cloth.
It was after the funeral had ended that that person–– my ‘father’ according to genetics and the family register, returned from his business trip.
Since it happened while the divorce was pending in court, it’s possible that he thought it was disappointing.

The only relief was that this worst man’s parents were good people. 
Instead of that person who went back overseas for a business trip, they let me stay with them until my middle school graduation.

I get the feeling that at that time, I was crying every day. 
Though I hoped my tears would dry up once and for all, they didn’t stop in the least……
So that at least I wouldn’t worry my grandparents more than necessary, I started visiting a certain place.

A small overpass, connecting the residential area and the park.
In the evening, people mostly don’t pass by there, so I feel at ease.
I unbearably liked absentmindedly gazing at the sunset by myself.

“…… A text? How rare, it’s from Kaito.”

Leaning against the railing on that day as well, I was looking down at the city with the summer’s scent still lingering even though it was September already.
My cell that I had put into my jeans rang, I skim through the message from my friend who’s older than me. 

[It’s been a while.
Next Sunday, I’m doing a concert at the cultural festival.
If it’s all right with you, come and watch.
You can hear something incredible.]

Kaito is three years older, our relation is that we were senpai-kouhai when we were in the Choral Club in elementary school. 
After he went on to Aisaka Academy, he belonged to the Light Music Club.
It’s not that we saw each other frequently, but he occasionally contacts me.

(Oddly enough, between me and Kaito, things like our wavelength and our preferences for music sure do match.)
For him to call it ‘incredible’, I wonder just what kind of concert this is. 
I suddenly got curious.

“Maybe I’ll go, to the cultural festival……”
“If it’s a cultural festival you’re looking for, how about the one at Aisaka Academy?”
(––Huh?)

A question flying at me talking to myself, I remember that I was really startled.
Cautiously turning around, an unknown girl was standing behind me before I knew it.
Wearing Aisaka Academy’s uniform, she was giving a friendly smile.

“I’m sorry for being so sudden. My name is Hatsune Miku, I’m a first-year at Aisaka Academy High School.”
“……Kagami Len, I’m a second-year at Houshou Middle.”
“Aah, just as I thought! So you’re Len-kun.”
“What do you mean, just as you thought…… Did you hear it from somebody?”
“Yeah, from Kaito-senpai. I’m a member of the Light Music Club, too.”

Saying that, Miku revealed that she moved in next door to me.
I was very confused from the weird order, but summing up what she said, this is how things went. 

During the summer break, she moved into the house beside mine that had been empty all along.
Forming a band together with Kaito, she’s performing the vocals for several songs at the cultural festival.
When practice ran late, Kaito was worried for his kouhai who wasn’t familiar with the area and accompanied her home. Realizing that she was right next door to me, they got lively for a while.

Since I was pretty shy at that time, after hearing Kaito’s name, I finally relaxed my shoulders. 
The same goes for Miku, it seems like she has a bit of an odd side to her, but she was unbelievably pleasant.
When we parted, I promised that ‘I’ll definitely go to the concert!’

This is something I noticed later, though.
It was ‘unusual’ that Miku, who had moved here during summer break, stands on stage at the cultural festival.

Aisaka Academy’s cultural festival is held during the second weekend of September, so there’s not much time for practice.
In those conditions, a transfer student, a first year at that, is holding the mike. 
Miku said ‘It’s only two or three songs’, but that’s not where the problem is.

By now, I plainly understand how significant an event it was.
And, how incredible Miku is.

In fact, just like Kaito said, her performance was incredible.
First of all, her voice is good. Her volume and singing range are impressive, too.
Above all, her expressiveness surpasses everyone else’s, and the way she applies a vibrato was beautiful, too.

Wow, if it’s the current me, ever so many words of praise come out.
But, even the second-year Kagami Len who knew practically nothing, clearly understood.

That surely, this is the kind of person they call a star.
Because the Miku underneath the spotlight looked like she was sparkling, as if she were a completely different person.

When the concert ended, I ran to where Haniwa was without hesitation.
Then, mustering my courage, I told Miku.

“I was moved by your song. Please make me your disciple!”

*****

About a year after my sudden proclamation to become her disciple.
When summer rolled around again, the distance between Miku and I had entirely shrunk.
So much that the people around us started asking ‘Are they siblings?’ because of it.

At that time, Miku turned me down at first by saying ‘Disciple!? Uh, it’s a bit impossible…..’
But, there was a continuation to her words.

“I’d be glad if we became friends.”

The hand she held out while she said that with a smile, was smaller than mine.
Remembering the hand of my late mother, I was moved to tears, but I tightly held them back……
Together with Miku’s kind feelings, I gratefully accepted it.

After we became friends, time passed by in a blink.
The two of us, we went on the first shrine visit of the New Year, we went to see the cherry blossoms.
Always, Miku was by my side.

Having fun every day, our difference in age a bit irritating, I always wanted to be together.
I think that my 14-year old self was always wrapped around in his own feelings.

But that can’t even be called an excuse. 
I didn’t notice it at all, that there was a something underneath Miku’s smile.

But this is something I noticed only now that I think about. 
Miku was never bothered about what time she got home at, and the topic of parents didn’t come up either. 
I was excessively self-conscious, I thought beyond doubt that she was being considerate about it.
I figured she might’ve heard something from Kaito, and if that was Miku’s intention, she decided to spoil me.

The truth is, I should’ve used my head just a little.
If I had done so, something might have changed.

As for opportunities, there must have been a lot.
For example, the last summer festival of middle school. 

That day, Miku looked down whenever the conversation happened to break off.
When she raised her head like she had finally made up her mind about something, she just asked ‘Where should we go next?’
Getting a bad sort of feeling, I lead Miku about in her yukata.

“Len-kun, where are we going in such a hurry?”
“If we walk around at a snail’s pace, we can’t see all stalls.”
“Ahaha! You’re surprisingly gluttonous, huh.”

That’s rich, coming from someone who doesn’t know how I feel.
Thinking like that, I became a little tense.

I was anxious if Miku would say something about it or not.
I couldn’t stomach the lowlifes who called out to her without reserve either. 
Standing beside her, I must’ve looked like nothing more than her little brother.
After it became painfully obvious that that’s how the people around us looked at me, I got unnecessarily irritated.

“……Hey, Miku.”
“Yeah yeah, what do you want this time?”
“……I didn’t say anything yet.”
“I know without you saying so, you know. You’re looking at the stall with sparkling eyes.”

Pulled along by Miku who was giggling, I gave a forced laugh, too.
No matter how much I tried looking tough, I easily end up falling apart in front of her.

While thinking that it can’t be helped, that I’m no match for her, I pointed at the jewels that were lined up in a cramped manner.
Of course they’re not real, they’re just toys.
But still, I thought ‘This is it!’

“Miku, let’s get matching ones.”
“Eh? This one……?”
“It’s, no good? Um, if you hate the idea so much, I’m not gonna force you or anything……”
“No! That’s not it. It’s just that, you could say I was a little surprised.”
“Ah, got it. You were treating me like a child again, weren’t you?”
“Well, I guess you could put it like that.”

Certainly, it would be surprising if a child like me started talking about rings and the like.
Thinking back on it calmly, it was an understandable answer.

But at that time I was dissatisfied after all.
It was frustrating that she didn’t notice the feelings that I had put into the toy rings.
Even if they were fake, they were real to me.

On the other hand, it’s also a fact that I had no confidence. 
Somewhere in my head, I calculated that she might not turn it down if it was an imitation.

Child      and        adult.
Wanting her to realize it, wanting to stay this way.

While the scales gently swayed from one side to the other, I thought about if my feelings would collapse one day.
Intending to grow up like that, I only thought of myself all the time after all.

I thought that that’s why I got punished.

*****

The day before the middle school graduation ceremony, Miku called me out after sunset. 
The place was the usual overpass.

Somewhere in my head, an alarm sounded.
But pretending not to hear it, I headed there with the score in my hand.
Wanting Miku to give me a final test, I think that’s what I kept telling myself.

Singing in the chorus at ceremony, I was put in charge of a solo part.
Miku didn’t make me her disciple, but she helped me with practicing the song. 
That’s why this solo part was something that we gained together.

My grandparents and Miku coming that day, I felt that I wanted to show off my good side. 
I remember desperately practicing for it.

But, even so, why……
I wonder why it’s always the bad feelings that hit the mark.
What she told me were genuine words of farewell.

“……Just now, what……?”
“I’m going to Tokyo. To become a pro.”
(That’s……I didn’t hear anything about that……)
The shock running through my body, I couldn’t speak.
Just by my dried lips slightly wavering, a squeak leaves my throat.

“Someone from a music office came to the concert and I got scouted.”
In contrast to how I kept shaking, Miku was endlessly calm.
Until the very end, words like ‘I’m hesitating’ or ‘plan’ didn’t come from her.

(Miku, you’re serious about this……)
There was no doubt that her decision was solid, I looked down with feelings similar to despair.

“When are you leaving?”
“Tomorrow.”

The moment I heard those words, my breath stopped.
To the point that my vision turning dark, even standing was weird.

(……Miku, you’re not wearing the ring anymore……)

It wasn’t even necessary for me to ask what that meant.
Realizing that there’s really nothing to be done anymore, I suddenly cast my eyes down.

Looking up at the sky after that, as the sunset is vigorously dying it, I repeatedly take deep breaths.
Inside my messed-up head, memories of Miku and I rose up……

I forced a smile onto my face.

“Hey, Miku.”
The name I’ve called her so many times, like I do every day.  
And yet, it’s so……
Until today, I didn’t know that just saying it could shake my heart so much.

“Smile.”
Saying that, I stroked Miku’s head.
The color gradually returns to her face, from which her emotions had disappeared. 
Fixedly staring at me like she wanted to say something, I noticed that something was flowing down my cheeks.

“So it ends with this, I won’t cry.”

Unexpectedly, Miku began singing a capella.
Her pure soprano melts into the clear air.
Melting within me as well while I cry and keep breathing, it soaked in.

“Magic for the crybaby
Magic to stop the tears
Make the same face as me         Let’s smile”

Miku casting magic on me, I was able to send her off with a smile.

That year, since the peach blossoms bloomed late, twenty percent of them should have bloomed for the day of the ceremony. 
But the day before, the peaches all bloomed at once.
–– As if to celebrate her departure.


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