Chapter 16: True Nature
“You’re a runaway?”
Asked Yuzuha-san after a brief moment of silence. There was an odd tone to her voice.
She wasn’t really prying or questioning me or anything like that. ‘I’m sort of curious, but you don’t really need to answer’, her voice seemed to imply.
“Well… something like that.”
Though, that was something that happened over half a year ago. This time, I had just run away from Yoshida-san’s home.
I had originally intended to turn back, but the carefree cracker munching lady next to me gave me a reason not to for the time being.
Why was this person loitering around in a place like this at this time? The question piqued my curiosity, but I think that it would be pointless to ponder about it.
“Running away, hrrrmc… mhgmhgmhg”
Yuzuha said with her mouth full of crackers. Swallowing with a big gulp, she continued.
“I guess there are times where you would want to run away… Back when I was still a high schooler I ran away a bunch of times.”
“Mhm, I see.”
“My mom and I never got along you see, so I ended up running away a lot after we fights.”
Yuzuha said with a nostalgic smiled. Then, she turned her gaze sideways towards me.”
“So why did you run away, Sayu-chan?’
The question left me at a loss for words. Why did I decide to not go back to Yoshida-san’s home? I wasn’t able to put my answer into clear words.
Seeing that I couldn’t find it in myself to speak, Yuzuha turned her gaze away from me and opened and took a breath like a pitcher readying to throw.
“You know, fighting with family… getting tired of going through the motions in a happy household… there’s a lot of reasons.”
My reason was definitely neither of those.
That said, the words ‘happy household’ seemed to speak to me.
“Did you get along with your family? Were they good to you?” Yuzuha-san asked.
He wasn’t my parent, but I should answer with him in mind. After all, she was asking for the reason why I was here.
“We get along great… at least I think we do. They’re unbelievably kind too.”
Yuzuha took a glance at me and muttered ‘I see’, as if to show that she was paying attention.
“You ran away despite that?
Her voice suggest that she meant to confirm my decision, rather than question it.
It’s strange. I had been so wary of her until a few moments ago. To be honest, the scene of her holding Yoshida-san in her arms still made me feel queasy.
Despite that, during the course of this conversation, I got the feeling that I could pour my heart out to her.
“I don’t believe… that there could be unconditional kindness.”
Yuzuha-san’s shoulders jumped hearing what I said. She turned to gaze directly at me, tilted her head slightly, and waited for me to continue.
“There is always a reason, no matter how insignificant… for anyone to show kindness to another.”
“I think so as well.” Yuzuha-san agreed with a slight nod.
“At home… there is someone who’s been incredibly kind to me, but no matter how much I think about it just can’t figure out why. Why are they treating me like this?”
The words seemed to fly out of my chest. My thoughts were being translated to words so smoothly that even I was surprised. Why was I saying all this to someone I had just met? Not to mention, this girl should’ve been a nuisance to me, so why was I telling her all this? The thought whirled through my mind, but I didn’t stop.
“Just the thought that there’ll be one day where I would become unnecessary burden… that I would be thrown to the wayside makes me restless.”
“So you ran away?”
Seeing me nod in response, Yuzuha-san sighed.
“…Well, it’s not like I don’t understand how you feel.”
She swung her legs back and worth as she continued.
“I also think that there’s no such thing as unconditional kindness… but sometimes, I can’t help but think that there are people out there that might convince me otherwise.”
She had seemed uninvested at first, but now I could feel some passion behind her words.
“It didn’t matter how much I thought about why they were being so kind, in the end, I couldn’t figure it out. Yet, despite knowing that, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”
Saying that, the girl let out a wry chuckle.
“And by the time I realized it, I was entranced.”
Ah, so that’s who she was talking about. Looking at her profile, there was no way I wouldn’t understand.
That she was talking about Yoshida-san, and that she had surely fallen for him.
Although we both spoke in vague terms, we were talking about the same person. Though, I was the only one who realized that.
“Fear is quite a troublesome thing to deal with isn’t it? It can make people do what they otherwise wouldn’t, but also stop them right in their tracks.”
Yuzuha-san suddenly stated. In one smooth motion, she raised her gaze from the ground and turned her head to peer directly into my eyes.
“I heard this quote from a movie sometime ago, and when I did, I remember going ‘I see’.”
Still locking her gaze to mine, she continued.
“Sayu-chan, I think that you’ve been possessed by your fears and become unable to take action.”
Hearing her put it into words, I couldn’t help but agree. I was afraid; afraid of being a bother to him, afraid of being one day be rejected by him, afraid that when that time comes, I would lose my place to belong.
“But if you let your fear stop you from doing what you need to do, nothing will ever change. You’ll wallow in fear forever and ever.”
She suddenly propped herself upright from the bench and stretched.
“If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be better to do something?”
Being the twisted and broken person that I was, I found it difficult to meet her honest and unwavering gaze. There was more to her than meets the eye, but she was a straightforward person nonetheless.
She had managed to put her thoughts into actions; the result was probably that hug.
“Well, there are some things that won’t change just because you act…”
Yuzuha-san showed a somewhat self-loathing smile and reseated herself on the bench.
“By that do you mean the person you were talking about just now?” I asked despite knowing full well.
She nodded in reply as her gaze dropped to the floor.
“Mhm. I tried my best to appeal to him, but it didn’t seem like he noticed at all. Maybe my ways just aren’t applicable to him.”
Though, I was sure that that wasn’t the case. She had managed to draw an expression out of him that even I hadn’t yet seen before. That was an expression that I’m sure he only showed to ‘women’.
However, I didn’t voice this knowledge. I couldn’t just say that I had been peeping all along.
“That said though, it’s better than doing nothing at all. At the very least, it’s better than lounging around waiting for the future to come, then coming to regret having not done anything after the fact…”
The tone of her voice was a bit heavier than before, as if she were flinging her words to the floor.
“There’s something to be gained from trying everything and learning that it was all for naught.”
Her words didn’t seem to be directed at me anymore. She was saying all this to sort through her feelings.
Even so, what she said strangely resonated with me. My heartbeat got louder.
Since half a year ago… No, since long before that, all I’ve been doing is running away. I ran and ran and ran, away from my fears, not knowing how far it would take me. I schemed and tricked to continue this life of doing ‘nothing in particular’. Although it worked out, I was unable to find any answers.
Compared to someone like me, the girl before me was forthcoming, tenacious and beautiful.
“I don’t think it was pointless.”
The words naturally flowed from my mouth. Yuzuha looked at me with surprise.
“It would be irresponsible for me to say that everything will go well… but even so… I’m sure that your honest feelings… will cause that person to change.” I said, picking my words carefully.
Yuzuha’s gaze seemed to waver.
Then, she avoided my gaze altogether and scratched the tip of her nose embarrassedly.
She said as her lips tightened. After a brief pause–
“Thanks a lot.” She said in a soft, humming tone.”
Silence flowed between us. Though, it was not a off-putting silence, but rather a strangely calming one.
Moments earlier, I felt the crushing weight of sadness in my chest, but that was now replaced by a warm calm sensation. I really was a helpless naïve child, wasn’t I?
“Sayu-chan, I don’t know who it is that you don’t want to dislike you; your family, your lover, or perhaps someone else entirely…”
Yuzuha said as she stood up from the bench and leisurely walked towards the bench I was sitting at. Then, she took a seat right beside me.
“But if you want to be involved with them from here on out, if you want yourself to feel needed by them, then there’s something you have to do first.”
Saying that, Yuzuha-san brought my hands between hers. My hands had gotten cold after being exposed to the chilly nighttime winds, but her hands were rather warm. Feeling a little embarrassed, I asked back.
“Something I have to do…”
“You need to lay your true nature bare.”
“My true nature…?”
“That’s right. ‘This is who I am. This is a part of me. Knowing that would you still be with me?’ That sort of thing.”
Saying that, she suddenly let go of my hands, causing the chilly sensation to return.
“I don’t believe that there’s anyone out there that hides nothing, but it would be hard to tell someone to accept you as you are while hiding everything there is to hide.”
“…You have a point.” I replied whilst thinking about Yoshida-san.
I could feel that he purposely avoided asking about my background; and that I had let it be for my own benefit.
But the present situation was as Yuzuha-san had stated. It was honestly naïve and self-serving for me to think that he would accept me as I was while I hid everything from him.
“Not to mention… The really kind person you were talking about has been unconditionally kind to you since you’ve known them, right?”
“…Mhm, to be point that it scares me.”
“Then won’t it be right to assume that they’ll continue to stay that way regardless?”
Upon hearing what she said, I came to a sudden realization.
“If they’ve been unconditionally kind to you, Sayu-chan, then I think that means that they really have faith in you. So, won’t you try to have faith in them… if only just a little bit more?”
What she said was right.
Has he betrayed even once? Though we haven’t been living together for all that long, I don’t think that he’s ever disregarded me.
“I think… you’re right.”
I let myself get trapped in my thoughts, creating the very fears that I ran away from.
I’m really foolish, aren’t I?
“…Ready to go back?”
Yuzuha-san said with a gentle smile as she looked me straight in the eye.
She didn’t force the matter. It was merely a well-intentioned question.
Well, there wasn’t really meaning in sitting around any longer. Plus, Yoshida-san might be getting worried around now.
“Mhm… I’ll-” Translated by yuNS
-head back. www. crimsonmagic .me
So I meant to say, but the rapid clattering of feet against the nearby pavement drew our attention away.
The noise was accompanied by the person that had appeared in my mind moments earlier.
Hearing the cry, my shoulders reflexively jumped.
Yoshida-san, still wearing his work suit, jogged towards us upon spotting me. He was dripping with sweat all around.
“…The heck are you doing here?”
“You left your phone behind as well, so I got worried…”
Out of breath, Yoshida-san turned to look at the person beside me and suddenly froze.
“…Didn’t you go back already, Mishima?”
“I could say the same for you, senpai…”
Yuzuha-san, her expression not hiding her bewilderment in the slightest, turned her gaze back and forth between Yoshida-san and I.
“Uhm… about this…”
Yuzuha-san ridigly smiled and proceeded to ask.
“Is she your daughter?
“Like hell she is!”
“Oh of course, ahaha.”
Yoshida-san too, bewilderedly turned his gaze back and forth between Yuzuha-san and I, but his eyes soon shot a glare towards me.
“I sure hope you have an acceptable explanation for this.”
An acceptable explanation.
Hearing him say that made me feel a little strange. Was it because he had noticed that I was gone and had been flustered about it?
Wouldn’t someone normally be more at ease instead when I was gone?
Following that train of thought, what Yuzuha-san had said to earlier came to mind.
‘So, won’t you try to have faith in them… if only just a little bit more?’
Despite how he’s treated me thus far, I’m still unable to put my trust in him due to the fear that’s nested inside me.
I think it’s about time to face it once and for all.
“I’m not sure if you’ll be able to accept it… but I promise to explain everything.”
Hearing my response, Yoshida-san finally loosened his scrunched eyebrows and let out a sigh. Seeing the sweat trickle from his cheek to his chin made me feel a little happy, but also rather apologetic.
“Uhm, senpai, hello.”
Yuzuha-san stood up and wave her hand in front of his face.
“What do you want.”
“What do you mean by ‘what do you want’? Isn’t she a high-school girl?”
“What about it?”
“What do you mean by ‘what about it’? Aren’t you two living together?”
She grew increasingly restless with each passing moment, scratching her hair noisily.
“So the reason you’ve been going home early is…”
She murmured. After a brief moment, she loudly clicked her tongue.
“AHHH, I don’t get it!!”
She plopped herself on the bench and raised her legs off the floor.
“So we were talking about the same person… Haha, that’s sort of interesting I guess.” She uttered with a slackened smile.
She turned to look and me.
“By the way, that’s a secret, okay?”
“Ah… Yes, of course.”
Seeing me nod in reply, Yoshida-san looked at us with suspicion.
“By that you mean…?”
“…Didn’t you hear that it’s a secret?” I declared.
Yoshida-san hurriedly glanced at both Yuzuha-san and I, before dropping his shoudlers in resignation.
We jumped in surprise at Yuzuha’s sudden shout.”
“What is it?”
“…I sure hope you have an acceptable explanation for this.”
Yuzuha-san mimicked Yoshida-san’s earlier statement word for word, but with a far more menacing tone.
Yoshida-san smiled awkwardly and lightly nodded.
“Alright, I’ll explain everything to you sometime.”
Yuzuha-san stared at him for a brief moment, before letting out a sigh. Then, she stood up from the bench with a cheerful smile.
“Well, you know what they say about ‘poking your head into other family’s business’, so I’ll get going.”
“Why were you even here in the first place, anyway?’
“And that is none of your business now is it senpai?
Yuzuha-san mischievously stuck her tongue out and picked up her bag.
“Or maybe your heart skipped a beat meeting me at a place like this?”
“Not rea-… Hey ow!”
After hitting Yoshida-san with her bag, she began to giggle.
“Well, catch you later, Sayu-chan.”
“Ah… see you.”
As I returned her wave with a light bow, Yuzuha-san turned her eyes towards Yoshida-san.
“Also, I’ll be looking forward to that ‘acceptable explanation’ of yours, Yoshida-senpai.”
“I got it.” He said as he averted his gaze embarrassedly.
With all that done, Yuzuha-san returned down the steps from which she came.
I’m not sure how to put it, but she’s a cool person.
I’m sure that she understands what within herself is truly important.
Yoshida-san’s sudden shout snapped me out of my thoughts and caused Yuzuha-san to turn back in surprise.
“Be safe on your way home!”
In response, Yuzuha-san broke into a fit of giggling, before shouting in return.
Hearing that, even I couldn’t help but chuckle.
Yoshida-san awkwardly scratched the back of his head and waved his finger towards Yuzuha-san with a ‘shh’ gesture.
Finally seeing her off, Yoshida-san glanced sideways towards me.
“Let’s go back.”
Thought it had been a nonchalant statement, my chest felt like it was going to burst for some reason.
Holding back the tears that seemed like it would burst out any moment, I nodded in response.
He let out a brief sigh. Then, giving me a light pat on the back, he walked ahead.
Yoshida-san’s back seemed so big in that moment.