Part two of the after-story.
Completion status: 100% complete!
This is the true end of the Onani Master Kurosawa story. Thank you for reading!
1. CERO is the Computer Entertainment Rating Organization that rates games in Japan, much like the ESRB does, if you buy games from the U.S.
2. “megassa” is an expression that Tsuruya from the Haruhi series likes to use.
3. Forgot a line before “Sugawa…” added it in. The description is really odd of her legs, he literally says they’re “white like fresh eggs” 「新鮮な卵のように白い」 but that’s really weird, so I changed it to pale white… maybe “white as snow” is a better way to put it?
The second day of our trip, we planned to spend the day at Universal Studios Japan, and from morning until night we would enjoy ourselves completely.
Visiting this place is popular among students during school trips, and to me, it is a place with many deep memories. Of course, every one of the Order of the Black Knights has looked forward to this revisit. It wouldn’t be exaggerating to call this the centerpiece of our trip this time.
What’s the deal with this awkward atmosphere?
Ever since what happened last night, it looks like the gears that are Nagaoka and Takigawa don’t fit together well anymore; even Pizza-ta, who normally adopts an unassuming nature, seems to be bewildered by this strange turn of events taking place between those two. Kitahara has on her usual expression, in that I can’t tell what she’s thinking. Because I know everybody’s secrets, I have really have no idea how I should interact with Nagaoka, Takigawa, and Pizza-ta.
Prior to entering through the gate, there was an atmosphere around everyone as if we had all just watched a really boring movie together. That feeling continued for a while.
“Heeey, Seki-dono! Over there’s a billboard of that guy who’s famous on the internet, Spider-Man~”
“Hey, hey, Kitahara-san, there’s Snoopy! He’s so cute!”
“It-it’s a little hot… so, I’ll go eat some ice cream and take a break… ah, no, I’m gonna gain weight.”
Everyone behaved as if they were enjoying themselves, but as I thought, that happiness seemed hollow somehow. The more everyone forced themselves to be happy, the more we seemed to fall apart as a group. Since it was the middle of Golden Week, the park was teeming with people enjoying themselves. Why is it that we were the only ones behaving so awkwardly?
“…This is pretty awkward.”
“It certainly is.”
The only person whom I could let my guard down around was that sarcastic Kitahara. The fact that we both knew everyone else’s secrets was the only thing that we had in common.
While we ate lunch at a restaurant, thoughts swirled around in my head about what to do. Above all, what had to quickly change was the relationship between the leaders of our group, Nagaoka and Takigawa. With the both of them acting in this manner, there was no way that everyone’s engines would get fired up.
Be that as it may, the problem between these two is not something that can be resolved in just a day. That’s why things are still strained between them, even though it’s been a night since they’ve argued. Besides, this is not really something that I can intervene in.
And so, this is how things wound up. In the end, without having discovered a solution, we resumed visiting the attractions.
“Ah, look, the worker there is selling raincoats. It’d be bad if we got soaked to the skin again. Kitahara-san, let’s go buy some before we get on the Jurassic Park ride!”
Not only do you have to make things awkward, you’re going to steal away my greatest pleasure too…?! Please, have some mercy…!
My wish was not granted, and the hours passed by cruelly.
If we didn’t leave the park by 5:30, then we wouldn’t be able to catch the bullet train home. At 4:30, we decided on a meeting place, and went off in our own ways to visit the gift shops.
I was the first person to arrive at the designated meeting spot.
I don’t think that there are very many people who would be overjoyed to receive a souvenir from me. Most of the souvenirs inside this paper bag are for Sugawa. I couldn’t guess what would make her happy, so choosing stuff was pretty painful. For the time being, I just filled the shopping cart with things that a person could display in their room, or things that a family could eat, and time passed in a flash.
I wonder what I could give Sugawa to make her happy. I don’t feel that giving her a souvenir would be enough to return to her good graces, but that was the only thing that I could think of.
Discouraged, I sat down on a bench at the meeting spot and checked my Inbox again.
There was no reply to the e-mail I sent yesterday, nor to the one I sent today. This could very well be full-blown hate. Why the hell is it so easy to make people mad, and so difficult to make them smile? I don’t understand the theory behind love, and all I do is fail.
Facing the gradually clouding sky, I sighed.
As I did, I heard a familiar, lovely voice in front of me.
“What’s troubling you, Literature Boy?”
She grinned at me while grasping a large paper bag that her hands could barely encircle.
Takigawa took a seat next to me, and muttered “Haa~ I’m tired.” She then put her feet onto her large burden with a thud.
“I bought something for all my friends, so it ended up being tons of stuff. I’ll have them mailed later.”
“Where’s Nagaoka? Wasn’t he with you?”
“Yeah. I wanted to think something over, so I ditched him and came here first.”
Even though we’ve been together for two days, it feels like it’s been a while since it’s been just the two of us talking together. Normally, because she’s always with Nagaoka, we don’t have very many chances to talk face to face. Somehow, this feels pretty nostalgic.
“Is it Nagaoka you’re thinking about?”
As I asked, Takigawa appeared surprised, and said, “How did you know?”
“I could tell just by looking.”
“Looks like the secret’s out, huh?”
“That was a good time to reveal it anyways.”
After I said that, Takigawa added, “I guess I’m no match for you,” and laughed in an embarrassed manner.
Nagaoka and Takigawa are the type of people who aren’t good at lying or hiding things from other people. That’s why, regardless of what the details are, when something happened between the two of them, it’s pretty easy for outsiders to figure it out. Because of that, when I would approach them on the next day as if to rate them like CERO, in contrast to how happy they looked, I was the one whose heart would sink.
However, because of these two, I can laugh with and connect to other people. Because they are this clumsy pair that can’t just brush things aside, they are precious to me.
“Kurosawa-kun, what’s troubling you? It looked like you were sighing.”
”Does it look like something’s troubling me?”
“Seems that way. It’s about Sugawa-san, right? It’s a good time to reveal it anyways~”
“Looks like I’m no match for you.”
A smile crept out spontaneously. That melancholy mood from earlier is no longer of any concern to me.
Naturally, what resulted was that I told Takigawa about the quarrel that had taken place between Sugawa and me. How I had not told Sugawa about our trip this time until just before I left. How that had offended her. How I haven’t heard back from her. I confessed everything.
Rather than a serious discussion about love, it felt as if we were having a pleasant chat at a café. The way my true feelings came smoothly out of my mouth was almost as if I were reading them aloud from a book.
After I had finished, Takigawa thought about it for a while, put on a meek face, and said flatly:
“That was your fault, Kurosawa-kun.”
I hadn’t expected her to sympathize with me or anything, but having it asserted so clearly to me was kind of shocking in its own way.
“That’s right. This trip may not have had anything to do with Sugawa-san, but you’ve got to tell her about important things like this beforehand. And not just the night before!”
Well, it looks like I’ve come to realize the error of my ways. Even so, I have a feeling that Sugawa’s anger is somehow different than usual. Nonetheless, although Takigawa told me that “She’s just sulking,” perhaps not receiving a single reply to my e-mails was the result of her just being childish, or maybe she was just doing it on purpose…
“It’s surely just jealousy. I think she’s probably frustrated because Kurosawa-kun is on such good terms with us, and it looks like she’s being left out.”
Whenever I talked about Takigawa and the rest of them to Sugawa, she would always put on a bored looking face and only give indifferent replies like “Uh-huh,” and “Really.” It wasn’t that she didn’t have any interest in my friends, but rather that she couldn’t really break through her shell and show me her lonely side. That’s why on the morning of the day of the trip, she did something crazy like calling me and saying “Take me with you-!”
For me, if I saw Sugawa getting friendly with other guys and chatting it up, I would feel terrible. My chest would probably start to ache, and I’d feel like she was suddenly going farther and farther away from me.
I really didn’t realize human relationships were so simple until it was pointed out to me. Even after reading all those books, and becoming able make it to the third round for a newcomer’s literature prize, not knowing how human relationships work really shows how much of a newbie I am and how much experience I still lack.
“Ah, geez. If it’s like this, then no matter how much time passes, I won’t even be able to hold hands, much less even get a kiss…”
“Uh, I’m not sure if those are related to the matter at hand…”
Leave it to Takigawa to get us out of this uncomfortable situation with her bitter smile and those words.
“Well, how should I say this? You’ve gotta really treasure the person that you’re with.”
Takigawa stood straight up as if she had made up her mind on something, stretched, and murmured as if talking to herself, “…I’ve got to, as well.”
Her gaze was fixed on Nagaoka and the others, who were coming toward us carrying paper bags full of souvenirs. I’m a little reluctant to call it quits, but it looks like our conversation is coming to an end here.
However, I’ve got to say one last thanks for having listened to my story.
“What is it?”
The Takigawa that turned to face me had on a smile that was filled with a certain mystique, as if it could somehow appear in a painting. As I thought, putting on a serious face suited me more than it did her.
“Thanks for listening. You try your best, too.”
In the end, that’s all I could say.
Even knowing the circumstances surrounding Nagaoka and Takigawa, I couldn’t work out a solution.
However, given enough time, I’m sure that she will be able to work out a compromise. Besides, her partner is Nagaoka. He’ll definitely work things out better than a third party like me who lets his imagination run wild. The terms “conflict” and “confrontation” really just don’t go well with those two.
That single word response was more than enough to convince me.
We wrapped up our trip by taking a commemorative photo.
Five people, standing in a line, inside the amusement park grounds. A building in the background displayed the words “Universal Studios Japan”.
This composition looks pretty familiar, doesn’t it?
To tell the truth, the reason why we planned the trip was to take this picture.
——Ever since that day as a third year middle school student, it’s been my dream.
On the bullet train home, I tried calling Sugawa from a dimly lit linking room of the train.
After some breathless moments of listening to the ring tone, the voicemail service kicked in.
I wonder where Sugawa is right now, and what she’s doing. I wonder what she thinks of me. Once I started worrying, this unease hasn’t stopped. I had no idea that not knowing her schedule well and having our communication cut off would be so painful for me. From now on, I’m going to properly tell her about all my matters, regardless of how trivial they may be.
“Uh… Hello, it’s Kurosawa. Right now, I’m on the bullet train; I think I’ll be back around 8:30. I haven’t eaten dinner yet. If it’s all right with you, let’s go somewhere together and eat. I’ll be awaiting your reply.”
Before I had even had time to think, I had said such a thing into the voicemail service. It didn’t go as smoothly as I had liked it to, but I had done all I could.
I put my cell phone back into the pocket of my pants, and returned to where everyone was sitting.
I sat facing the third row of seats, where everyone was nodding off and snoring. Everyone had enjoyed themselves to the point of exhaustion and fallen asleep, just like on the school trip.
All except Kitahara, who remained awake, just like last time.
Although she stared out the window at the passing scenery as if she weren’t talking to me, I didn’t do likewise.
“What is it?”
“Do you know Pizza-ta’s cell phone e-mail address?”
Kitahara shook her head from side to side as if she were annoyed.
I know already that you don’t like Pizza-ta or anything. I didn’t say it with that kind of intention in mind.
“Well then, I’ll send you Pizza-ta’s address right now.”
As I started to fiddle with my cell phone, Kitahara asked in a hesitant voice:
“…Why are you doing that?”
“It’s all right if you don’t like him. Just keep in touch with him every once in a while.”
That’s my only request.
It’s unexpectedly hard to deal with being separated from an important person to you.
Even just not being in contact for one or two days was enough to make me uneasy. Not to mention the anguish of living in a city far away from that important person must be a hundred to two hundred times worse.
It’s probably just me being meddlesome, but I don’t want Pizza-ta to have to go through those kind of feelings.
“…Well, if it’s only once in a while…”
I checked to make sure that Kitahara had received the e-mail, and then gently closed my eyes.
Oh, man. Was being filled with anxiety the result of not sleeping well…? My sense of consciousness is about to reach its limit.
“W-well then, this is where I take off. Bye bye.”
After returning to our hometown, we were all headed back to our respective homes. After walking together with everyone for a little while, the first one to say goodbye was Pizza-ta. It was the same as usual; he gave us a slight bow, and then turned his back on us.
Everyone waved their hands to send Pizza-ta off as he melted into the night.
“I’m gonna part ways with you guys here. These past two days were MEGASSA fun~! Until the next time we play again!”
“Well then, I’ll take my leave here as well. Kurosawa-dono, Kitahara-dono, thank you very much for these last two days~”
The Order of the Black Knights’ member count decreased again, as Takigawa and Nagaoka left. As they departed, I swore an oath to myself that I would see them again soon. We live in the same town. I can see them anytime I want to.
However, one day, everybody will go off in their own separate ways.
Pizza-ta is moving to Kyoto next year. Speaking of the future, it’s not that far away. The year after next, Takigawa is going to graduate high school, and she said she’s going to move to another prefecture. One year, two years; they all pass by in the blink of an eye.
There’s no guarantee that I’ll be with Nagaoka and Kitahara forever, either. The day will probably come when we’ll have to say to each other, “We’ll meet again.”
There will probably be a day when I feel a great deal more sadness as I wave my hand to send them off.
On the ferris wheel, where Pizza-ta boldly confessed to Kitahara.
The out of character quarrel between Takigawa and Nagaoka over such an important matter.
——Both of these situations aren’t just somebody else’s problems.
“It’s gonna be pretty lonely…”
I suddenly murmured that to Kitahara, who was walking slowly beside me. Unexpectedly, she was the last one to remain with me on the way home.
I felt a curious sense of nostalgia. I remembered that half a year ago, we had walked the streets at night in a similar manner, with me pushing a bicycle.
“Why are you going to be lonely? …That’s ridiculous, Kurosawa-kun.”
Seeing Kitahara incline her head in thought, which made her look so much like a squirrel, I involuntarily burst out in laughter.
——Kitahara really hasn’t changed, has she. Although her personality is a bit twisted, and she’s prone to using abusive language more than normal people, she’s showed me a really girlish side of her.
“Ah, it’s nothing. See ya later.”
“Okay. Bye bye.”
I had to wave my hand in farewell here, as well.
At last, I was alone.
As I walked this road at night wallowing in sentimentalism, the route back home seemed even longer than usual. My head and shoulders were becoming weary from the bag that hung off my shoulder and the weight of the paper bag holding all the souvenirs that I was carrying in my hands. This short, two days + one night trip had ended up stressing my body even down to the bone.
But even stronger than the tiredness was my sense of loneliness.
These happy times will come to an end someday. A dream like today, in which we were all able to line up and take a picture together, will not be possible in the future. That fact made me feel even more lonely than usual.
The members of The Order of the Black Knights had become true, irreplaceable friends to a loser like me. I didn’t even want to think of becoming separated from them.
In the end, I didn’t receive a reply to the message I left on Sugawa’s voicemail service. At first I thought nothing of it, but before I knew it, my un-ringing phone had become pretty heart-wrenching.
I’m really such a loser…
As I pondered that while walking along, something entered my field of vision and called out, which brought me to a halt.
“In just two days, your face has become pretty damn pathetic, hasn’t it? You masturbating son of a bitch!”
Relieved, I turned around. It wasn’t just that I missed it. It was the harsh voice I had been waiting and waiting for. On top of a fence that separated the park from the road, this girl, swinging her pale white legs back and forth sensually was…
“The hell are you walking all slowly for?! You idiot, you’re freaking slow. I thought I was going to have to wait forever!”
I’ve missed that blunt manner so much. I somehow felt happy, and like my heart was about to collapse. The boatload of questions I wanted to ask her, like about why she was here, all flew out the window the moment I saw her.
In the middle of that dimly lit street, Sugawa was illuminated by a streetlight, and it seemed to my eyes like it was a hole cut out of the surrounding darkness.
Sugawa hopped off the fence she was sitting on, with her hands stuck in the pockets of her jacket; a small smile appeared on her mouth.
Because Sugawa said that she was hungry, we proceeded to go eat dinner. After some discussion, we decided on a ramen cart nearby. Or rather, it was her persistently repeating “The cart is fine, the cart is fine” and pushing me. It always turns out like this. Even if I had invited her to a restaurant with a nice atmosphere, she’d probably be too embarrassed to say anything. That’s also pretty typical of her.
It seemed that she wasn’t really waiting in the park with the intent to surprise me. Sugawa explained, “Even if other people were coming to pick you up, I was just bored.” Even so, it would have been nice if she could have at least sent me an e-mail.
As we sat together at the plain counter of the cart waiting for our ramen order to be finished, we talked together while being immersed in steam.
“I’m sorry, it was my fault. From now on, I’ll tell you about important things beforehand.”
“Nah, I was being childish. I’m not mad anymore.”
Sugawa continued on by saying that, turning her eyes away from me, and staring down at the wooden grain of the table.
“I g-guess it looks like I was sulking a bit. But… well… umm… err, I guess I overdid it a little.”
Amazing. It looks like Takigawa hit the bulls-eye with her prediction. In contrast to how they appear, it looks like they can both connect on this issue since they’re both girls, after all.
“B-but more importantly!”
With a faint blush appearing on her face, Sugawa changed the topic of conversation. She asked me how my trip was. Putting it honestly, “A lot of stuff happened, but it was fun,” was how it turned out.
“Ah, right. I bought a whole ton of souvenirs.”
“…what, I didn’t ask you about that!”
“All the stuff inside this paper bag is for you.”
Saying thus, I handed the bag over to Sugawa right then. A stuffed animal, candies, and all kinds of stuff made the paper bag bulge in strange places. That was the result of all my labors. It’d be nice if she accepted it happily.
Opening the bag and looking inside, Sugawa frowned.
“Uwah, what the hell is this poorly made stuffed animal?! Freakin’ gross! And of all things, you had to get ET?! What kind of sense do you have… this isn’t supposed to be a mystery grab bag, you know. You totally bought too much!”
What severe criticism. I knew it was coming, but my chest still hurt a little bit.
With that one word, everything became all right.
After the conversation about souvenirs, we both ate ramen. As the conversation become more lively, before I knew it, my ramen had become soggy. However, this ramen that I was able to eat together with Sugawa was more delicious than any gourmet food you could get in Osaka.
The two of us continued on the road towards home.
Before I knew it, I wasn’t able to feel the tiredness in my shoulders. Maybe it’s because I have a full stomach and my strength has returned… nah, I can’t say something stupid like that. It’s all because of the girl walking next to me.
After resolving our prior argument and talking about souvenirs, we both became somewhat taciturn. I silently walked in the wrong direction. Sugawa smoked a cigarette in a bored manner, as usual.
Along the way, I brought up something that I had thought about during our conversation at the cart.
“Let’s go on a trip during summer vacation.”
“Eh? T-the two of us?”
Sugawa’s voice raised and sounded a bit out of control. I don’t think you need to be THAT surprised.
Treasuring the person that you’re with… that’s what Takigawa had said to me, right? It was just as she had said. After this, I’m not sure what will happen between me and Sugawa.
That’s why I’ve got to make this chance now.
That dream Takigawa drew in middle school finally came true two years later. I’ve got to think of Sugawa in the same way; in that “someday” we can make that kind of memory.
What I learned from this trip was that one day everybody will live apart from each other; something like that may not be possible again. This time we were lucky, and able to take the picture, but if someone splits off, we will never be able to recreate that scene from the dream. Someday, that time will come.
Now might be the only moment that we can realize our adolescent dreams in this way. The day will come when memories that we’ve built up during our childhood will one day turn into dust and blow away in the wind.
But you see, Sugawa. I want to take you out with me into the world after we’ve become adults.
I want to make memories together with you continuing onward from our adolescent years.
When I just think of the concept of “someday”… I know that whatever the future holds, we can continue on together.
“Let’s make some good memories. Until then, save up some money, okay?”
“A-all right… wait, I haven’t even given you a response yet! Don’t just decide things like that on your own!”
I got lightly kicked in the lower leg. She’s violent as ever.
After that, we both took out our hands, and held hands on the way back.
Five months of perseverance. This was the first time I had held Sugawa’s hand; it was small, and soft.
“So this is how a girl’s hand feels.”
“Shut up…shut up and walk!”
Being a little embarrassed, our conversation had died down to an even greater extent than earlier. But thanks to this, my number of great memories increased.
These memories will surely continue on into the future.