Ch 11 New Year’s Eve meeting
It is 23:15, fifteen minutes earlier than the appointed time.
I came to the neighborhood park where the three of us used to play together when we were in elementary school and sat down gently on the swing.
It was… cold.
I should have come out a little later.
But I also felt bad about making Ageha wait in this cold weather.
I looked up at the night sky and let out a white breath.
This town, which used to have many fields, has been reclaimed and houses and condominiums have increased rapidly.
Perhaps that is why the night sky looks a little dull.
“The year is almost over.”
I was kind of sad and mumbled something like that.
It seemed like a long time, but it was short.
I am sure that time will pass in the same way in the future.
I wonder if someday in the distant future, I will think of the past that has passed and wish to return to it.
On… New Year’s Eve, I find myself thinking more than I should about the passage of time, which I am usually unaware of.
I inhaled deeply and exhaled loudly.
The cold air filled my lungs and cooled my head.
On New Year’s Eve, a man alone on a swing in the park, looking up at the sky, looks quite suspicious from the side.
Suddenly, such a thought passed through my mind, but something soft covered both of my eyes as if to make me abandon the thought.
A sweet voice whispered in my ear, almost sounding like it had a musical note at the end.
Slender white fingers covered my eyes.
“Well, that reaction isn’t interesting. Surprise me more.”
“No. I wouldn’t be surprised. I only promised Ageha today.”
If Karen had been here, She might have been torn between the two of them.
When I said that, for some reason, she mumbled happily, “I see,” and gently pulled her hand away.
I looked back at her and involuntarily froze, thinking that her childishness had not changed since the old days.
The bewilderment that spilled out was probably due to the fact that the atmosphere was completely different from that of the normal Ageha.
She is dressed in a light pink kimono, and her twin-tailed hair, which usually gives off a childish look, is tucked at the nape of her neck, giving off a matured kind of vibe.
As I stared at her for a while, she hugged her haori tightly and said, “Hey, what’s…?” She asked me, looking me up and down.
“No, I was surprised to see you wearing a kimono… maybe this is what you were talking about on the phone when you said to look forward to it?”
“Yeah. I don’t have my sister here today, so I don’t have anything to compare it to…”
As I looked quizzically at her, she nodded shyly and then mumbled, rolling her words around in her mouth. She looked up with a huff and spun around lightly on the spot, plucking at the sleeves of her kimono.
… How, you may ask.
She is more mature than usual, which is fresh and… cute.
My face is hot.
I felt as if I would seem oddly conscious if I remained silent, so I calmed myself down once and opened my mouth.
“I think it looks good on you. Yeah, I think it looks great on you.”
My voice rose slightly.
“I see. Ehehe…”
But it seems that Ageha was oblivious to this.
Her mouth loosened happily, and she fiddled with her hair and let her gaze wander.
Then, Ageha’s eyes caught a spot and stopped.
Blindingly staring for a moment, she turned her head down, her mouth relaxed.
“That, you’re wearing it.”
I knew without asking what.
It was a hand-knitted scarf that I got from Ageha on Christmas Day.
Today, I wrapped it around my neck.
I guess the person who gave the gift would be happier if he or she uses it.
Especially if it is handmade.
… and I like it a lot myself.
“I’m sure you made it, It was a little surprising.”
“What do you mean?”
“I thought you weren’t good at this kind of thing.”
“… I can do it very well. I put a lot of love into it.”
“… Um, yeah. Thank you.”
Why is it that Ageha says very embarrassing words so plainly?
I wish she would think about herself.
I gently lifted up my scarf and covered my mouth as I stared at her, red to the ears and down on her face.
A strange air flows through the air.
I felt a little restless, so I tried to distract myself by looking again at the way she was dressed.
She usually gives the impression of being active, but when she is wearing a kimono like this, she looks demure.
Her neck, which is usually hidden by her hair, is rather glamorous.
… no-no. It’s counterproductive.
On the contrary, I become conscious.
It is earlier than the scheduled time, but it is time to leave.
I was about to step out when I realized it.
“I see you’re wearing that kind of Ageha, too.”
The pink mitten gloves I gave her on the same Christmas day.
I was too late to notice because of the color of her kimono, but she was wearing those gloves.
When I pointed them out, she lifted her hands and giggled.
“It’s very warm. And the bunny ears are cute, too… but…”
With a smile that turned to one of disappointment, Ageha quietly removed the glove from her left hand.
As I stared at her gesture in wonder, she stuck out her left hand and said,
“I’m a little frustrated that it’s easier to hold hands without gloves on.”
When she said this to me with a silly smile, I involuntarily fell silent.
I tried to remain calm as I took her hand.
“Let’s go… then.”
With an innocent smile on her face, she squeezed my hand back.
We left the park and continued on our way to the station.
Suddenly, I looked next to her and saw that she was blushing bright red.
I felt my face heat up…
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