「Here you go」
I hand the soda I bought from the vending machine over to Shirota.
Sitting on the bench, Shirota smiles as she grabs the PET bottle.
I sat next to her.
Draining the tea in the PET bottle, I drank a mouthful.
A small walk away from the bus stop, there was a small plaza with a lawn.
There was a bench placed there in order to rest on.
Since it was quite hot today, there weren’t very many people.
However, because it’s a place kids could play at, it’s probably crowded during holidays.
There was a billboard posted up with notices and events on it and a performer we didn’t know turned towards us with a weird smile.
「So? You have something you want to say, right?」
Shirota looks at the sky as if dodging the question.
It was clear skies. There wasn’t a cloud in sight and the sun sat at the top of the sky.
I was different from Shirota who was used to being outside. I’ll end up melting in the direct sunlight.
Shirota opens her PET bottle.
*Bushu*, the carbonated drink let out a short noise.
「I thought about finishing what I started earlier」
「Ah, the thing you were saying at the station?」
Swinging her feet, Shirota took a sip of her drink.
We have an hour. I’m fine with her using as much time as she needs.
However, we won’t have as much time for anything else we’d want to do.
「Okutani, you’re going out with those two right?」
I somehow kind of get what Shirota is trying to say.
In other words, Shirota wants to properly be in a relationship with me.
I feel I can’t let Shirota say it to me herself though.
As a man, I should be the one to say it.
「Then, you know, I-」
I interrupted her.
She looks at me with a surprised expression.
And then she frowned feeling suspicious.
With more silence in between us, I need to summon some courage.
I pushed away as much of my thoughts as possible and words came rushing out.
「I also like you」
Shirota immediately guessed my aim.
Her drawn together eyebrows were now in a shape that made her look worried.
She seemed troubled but her expression also somehow seemed embarrassed.
「That’s why, I also want to go out with you. I want to be your boyfriend」
Shirota was hesitating on how she should reply to such a sudden confession.
Without minding, I tell her everything.
「You already know this but I am going out with Mia and Mikoto」
「It’s far from normal. But, the both of them agreed on it, like that they came to be on good terms…how is it? Would you also want to go out with me?」
「I can’t believe it…」
And so cutting it off there, Shirota turned away from me.
Her gaze was looking at the broadleaf tree planted nearby. It was a plant where it would have green leaves whether it were summer or winter.
「I didn’t think it would be said to me first」
Shirota smiled as if she relaxed.
「What’s with that?」
Shirota smiles by just raising the corners of her mouth.
She continues talking with a serious look in her eye.
「Mia said you probably wouldn’t say it yourself so it’d be a headache」
「…That’s cause Mia’s evaluation of me isn’t quite high」
I said that intending for it to be a joke.
It seems she understood it was a joke. She gave an exaggerated nod.
「I think so too…I thought you would try saying you would want to keep your relationships vague」
「Well, it’s impossible for me to not grow up…」
There wasn’t any need for the words after.
「Yeah…I’ve also become their companion」
In the first place, Shirota told me earlier she didn’t want to fuss about monopolizing me.
That confession was like a so-called ceremony.
I am also aware of the ceremony to take responsibility of Shirota.
There was a bit of silence between us both.
I also look away from Shirota and look at the tree.
There was no wind. The situation felt as if time had stopped.
However, quite a bit of sweat was running down my neck.
「What are we gonna do?」
Shirota suddenly breaks the silence.
「Since you showed your manly side, we ended up finishing our business early」
Looking at the time, 15 minutes have yet to pass.
「I guess I’ll call them and we’ll meet up?」
When I get up from the bench, Shirota grabbed the hem of my shirt.
Losing my balance, I sit back down on the bench.
「Let’s try using the full hour…」
The sporty girl wearing a hat showed her white teeth.
「It’s been so long too」
「It’s fine but it’s hot here so I want to go inside」
「Did you possibly want to hurry up and finish this because it’s hot?」
「Well there was that too…」
I exchange jokes together with Shirota like this.
Going from friends to boyfriend and girlfriend isn’t too bad.
I fell in love with Mia.
Unless I overreach myself I can’t stand next to her.
Mikoto became my lover after being my childhood friend.
I felt safe enough to tell her everything.
So, my relationship with Shirota is like extending friendship into a relationship.
There’s no tension and we can just have fun together.
「Is there some place you want to see?」
I asked as I take a pamphlet from a rack nearby.
After thinking for a bit, she points at it.
「I wanna go here」
「…Eh? An arcade?」
「It’s not that it’s no good but…What do you want to do when we get there?」
Listening to that, I was already standing up from the bench.
I put the pamphlet in my back pocket and start walking.
In a fluster, Shirota starts catching up from behind me and muttered.
「Let’s go to a photo booth」
「Do you often go to photo booths?」
Shirota pouts at my words like they were vexing.
「Is that bad?」
「No, just unexpected」
「I’ve done it quite a bit…Together with Fukiko」
「With Eda? A photo booth?」
「She dislikes them though」
As you would think.
I understand at least doing it with Shirota.
It was unexpected but it didn’t feel all that out of place.
However, doing a photo booth with Eda seems way too distant.
「Have you taken any with Kurusu-san?」
「What about Mikoto-chan」
The inside of the building was refreshing.
Because I was covered in sweat, it was a bit cold.
There were lots of stores lined up and there were more people than I thought going down the wide passage.
The center became an atrium installed with criss-crossing escalators.
It seems the floors are all different themes. It’s interesting just looking at it.
Getting on the escalators, Shirota showed me a carefree smile.
「Then I’ll be the first one you’ll do a picture booth with」
「That’s wrong, you know? I’ve done it before」
「Eh? With who?」
「It was with someone named Ogiwara. We were good friends back in middle school. They ended up moving though」
When we got to the floor with the arcade, Shirota suddenly asks in a loud voice.
「Then what about a kissing picture? Did you do that with that Ogiwara person?」
「Ogiwara was a guy. We didn’t」
Shirota smiles seeming happy.
「Then let’s take a kissing picture!」
「It’ll be my first kissing picture」
Shirota entered the arcade in a jog.