In the end, I made my way to the stern on the fifth floor where there were fewer people to have lunch. This is where I spoke with Himeno last night, and I’ve already confirmed that it’s a place that people rarely go to.
For the next few minutes, forgetting my original goal in coming here, I just stared at the rough waves created by the ship’s movement.
At that moment, an unexpected person approached.
“Are you going to eat lunch all on your own in a place like this?”
“Sakayanagi huh? You just here by coincidence?”
She should have been on the same floor as Nanase until just a moment ago.
“It was a coincidence. Or so I would like to say, but I’ve been chasing after you, Ayanokouji-kun.”
She chased after me? But Sakayanagi’s legs were so bad that she shouldn’t have been able to keep up with my walking speed.
That being said, there was no indication that she had someone follow me ahead of time.
“It’s a simple deduction. You showed up on the deck by the bow earlier to have lunch, but gave up when you saw how crowded it was, right? With the snacks in your hands and the fact that you were looking for a view of the ocean, it wasn’t too difficult to predict where you would go to eat next.”
So she’s saying that she completely read my behaviour patterns and therefore arrived here.
“So even you want to eat with a nice view, Ayanokouji-kun.”
“Unlike the one by the bow, I can’t exactly say the view here is first class, but it’s not every day you get to see the ocean like this.”
There is no guarantee that there will be another uninhabited island exam this time next year.
There are other events planned for our second year, including a school trip, but I don’t know the details yet.
This may well be the last time I’ll ever be able to see the ocean.
“I’m sure you will experience many more sights that you have never seen before, just like this ocean. In that sense, I think you made the correct decision in choosing to come to this school, Ayanokouji-kun.”
“Yes that’s right, I think so too. However, I did actually see the ocean once before entering this school .”
Sakayangi unexpectedly looked a little surprised. No, it’s not unreasonable that she’s surprised. In truth, I didn’t leave the facility even once until I was 14 years old, when I should’ve been a 3rd year middle school student.
If she knew a rough outline of what the White Room is like, it would be common knowledge.
I’d only seen that view once. When I was transferred out of the facility, I had a chance to go outside for a little while. I’ve never been in direct contact with seawater, but I have walked along a path with a view of the ocean.
However, the first time I saw the ocean, I didn’t think anything of it.
I was just walking around in the outside world, completely emotionless.
“Have you heard of ‘Beneath the Wheel’?”
“It’s a novel by Hermann Hesse, right?”
Of all the novels he wrote, this is the one that's most well known in Japan.
“The protagonist of that story, Hans, was a genius blessed with incredible talent. He goes to an elite school and is expected to have a bright future in higher education. However, after living only in the academic world, he begins to have doubts, and then, in trying to live up to expectations, he fell short and declined.”
The protagonist Hans Giebenrath’s end is tragic, and he ends up falling into a river and dying.
“What does that matter?”
“I don’t think he was a genius. Because a true genius would never fail. Not to mention, to choose death at the end of it all would be the height of stupidity.”
Sakayanagi seems to have interpreted the death as a suicide, rather than an accident.
“I once said ‘People learn of warmth when they touch each other, and that’s a very precious thing. The warmth of another human is by no means a bad thing.’ Do you remember?”
“You did say something like that.”
It was at the end of the 3rd semester of our 1st year, just after the special exam.
“Hesse, the one who wrote Beneath the Wheel, had the same problems as Hans, the protagonist, and was frustrated. However, he said that it was his family’s presence that allowed him to look forward and not take his own life.”
The author, Hesse, and the book’s protagonist, Hans, seemed to have very similar backgrounds.
It can be seen that the story was a projection of his own struggles.
As Sakayanagi gazed out to the sea, a strong gust of wind blew for a moment.
Her hat floated up in the blink of an eye. Seeing that, I immediately thrust out my hand and caught it.
“Oof...that was close.”
If my reaction in reaching out had been even slightly delayed, the hat would have flown off into the ocean.
“Thank you very much.”
“It’s dangerous to wear it on the deck, you know.”
“Fufu, that’s true isn’t it. However, this is my trademark.”
Sakayanagi held her hat in her hands and hugged it close to her chest as if it were something precious to her.
“Just now, I suddenly remembered something a little nostalgic.”
“No, it’s not a big deal. It’s just that I also have a few memories of the sea.”
Even though it looks the same to everyone, each of us have different memories of the sea.
“By the way, you never told me why you chased after me.”
“Would it bother you if I chased after you without a reason?”
I was wondering how she would respond, but she said something I hadn’t thought of.
“You don’t have a reason?”
“I just wanted to talk to you, Ayanokouji-kun. I could have tried to talk to you back there, but you wouldn’t want others to see you talking to me, right?”
I was grateful for her consideration.
However, I’m not a very good talker, so I don’t have anything in particular to say to Sakayanagi.
“Do you mind if I just chat idly about one thing?”
“Sure. Can I eat while I listen?”
“Please do, don’t mind me. Just listen to what I have to say and that will be enough.”
I took the rice ball out of the bag and peeled off the wrapping by hand.
“Last night, Ichinose came to see me.”
Recalling the events of yesterday, Sakayanagi spoke up as she looked back.