Ch 10 Force like a typhoon
On New Year’s Eve, after a late cleanup, all that was left to do was to pass the year.
I woke up in the late afternoon and opened the curtains in my room, when my phone, which was on my study desk, beeped.
I walked over to the screen and saw a message from Karen.
“Message from Ageha: ‘Meet at park in the neighbourhood at 23:30 this evening.'”
On Christmas Eve, I had promised to go to Hatsumode with Ageha.
Since Ageha is still in her third year of junior high school and does not have a smartphone, it means that Karen contacted me on her behalf.
The three of us had been going to Hatsumode together every year, but this time Karen was going with her boyfriend, Saijo-kun.
Feeling ennui from waking up from sleep, I tapped my phone and responded, “Roger that.”
I put my phone in my sweatshirt pocket and left the room, biting back a sore throat.
My dad is probably at work on New Year’s Eve, and my mom is out at a town meeting.
I walked down the quiet hallway into the kitchen, poured myself a glass of water and slurped it down in one gulp.
As I do so, the phone in my pocket shudders with a familiar ringtone.
I took it out, wondering who was calling, and saw the word “Karen” on the screen.
I hesitate for a moment and then press the call button.
Then a slightly stunned voice came from the other end of the phone.
“Haru-kun? Did you just wake up, by any chance?”
“Yeah, well. I’m going to be up late tonight anyway, so I thought I’d try to get some sleep.”
It is a lie.
Since the start of winter break, I have been basically lazy, which has thrown me out of rhythm with my life.
Karen, who has known me since I was a child, must have seen through that, because I heard a small sigh over the speakers.
I can’t help but notice how perceptive Karen and Ageha are.
“So, what happened?”
“Hmm, yah, I don’t have anything for you…”
I was caught off guard by her rather brusque mannerisms.
As I poured water into the glass again and waited for Karen to speak, she cut in, “You know…”
“Today…? Oh, you mean Hatsumode? That’s all right, Like I said before, I don’t have any hobbies of getting in your way.”
She must be feeling sorry that she can’t go this time because she has been going with me every year.
I tried to smile back at her in a cheerful tone.
Then, Karen denied it, saying, “No, that’s not it.”
“About the Ageha, it was Ageha who suggested you go on a Hatsumode, wasn’t it? And at Christmas.”
“That’s right. What about it?”
“You see, she forced us to follow her when we went out somewhere, right? So I thought she might be giving Haru-kun trouble this time, too.”
“Aunt told me something similar. Do I look that involved?”
Or perhaps it is called being “stuck up one’s own ass.”
It is not that I am unaware of it.
“Don’t worry, it’s not a nuisance. And if you want to call it forced, Karen has been like that for a long time.”
“When Ageha invited me to go out with her, Karen came along, too, didn’t she? Both sister are alike, just like each other.”
“Was I so…?”
Through the phone, I could see that Karen tilted her head slightly.
I couldn’t help but chuckle at Karen’s annoyed voice tone as she cooed and groaned.
I don’t think Karen remembers it, but I vividly remember being caught between the two of them.
Whenever I tried to go out alone with Karen, Ageha would try to get in between me and Karen, and whenever I tried to go out alone with Ageha, Karen would try to go with me.
I wasn’t really unhappy about it, so I didn’t mind.
As I wondered if she had called me all the way to the phone just to talk about this, I heard a voice other than Karen’s on the other end of the speaker.
“Hey, sis, who are you on the phone with?”
“Oh, Haru-kun! Sis, give over for a second.”
There was some kind of buzz on the other end of the phone.
I took the phone slightly away from my ear and waited, “Haru-kun!” and the cheerful voice of Ageha jumped into the room.
Even without looking at her face, I could tell she had a big smile on her face.
She took a deep breath and said in a buoyant tone.
“You remember our appointment today, don’t you?”
Of course I remember. When I woke up, I received a message from Karen.”
“It’s the park, at 11:30 p.m.!”
I could feel my own mouth relax.
It was a little funny to see Ageha excited like a child going on a field trip.
“Ageha, are you done yet?”
“Oh, sis, just a little more to go. You know, Haru-kun. You should look forward to today. See you later!”
I was about to ask her what she meant when the call was cut off with a clunk.
Overwhelmed by the typhoon-like force, I stared at the screen of my phone for a while and let out a small exhale.
…I thought about it, and I wondered if it was just the two of us going to Hatsumode today.
I felt somewhat embarrassed when I became aware of this, and I poured the water I had poured into my mouth in one gulp.
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