Chapter 5: Confession
“You’re kidding right?”
I squeezed from my mouth.
Gotou-san silently shook her head.
“It’s the truth.”
“I mean, look-”
I aggressively continued.
“You said you had a boyfriend! That you had already been dating him for 5 years!”
She showed a heavy smile, then shook her head.
“That was a lie.”
My body grew limp as my energy dispersed. I leaned back into the chair for support.
“What do you mean by that?”
She liked me too, yet she had refused when I confessed.
I don’t understand.
Hearing my evident question, she showed a difficult expression and nodded her head repeatedly.
“I’m sorry. I’d like to think that I have a sharp sense of ‘intuition’.”
As she nodded, the waiter came over and placed a plate of meat we ordered a long time ago on the table. Speaking of which, the restaurant was bustling compared to when we Gotou-san and I had first arrived. It must’ve been packed right now. The waiters and waitresses had been coming and going from the back room at a hurried pace.
Taking my mind off Gotou-san, even if just for a brief moment, seemed to cool my head.
Gotou-san nonchalantly nudged the plate of meat towards me. It was clear what she was suggesting.
I wordlessly received the plate and, using the tongs, placed the meat on the charcoal brazier.
“I was overjoyed when you invited me to your house. So much so that I wanted to jump up and down to celebrate. But-”
She muttered as she watched the sizzling meat.
“I had an epiphany, that ‘today wasn’t the day.”
“‘Today wasn’t the day.’?”
“Yes. I had a feeling that even if I were to nod my head and follow you home, that it wouldn’t turn out well.”
I looked at her.
“Was that what your ‘intuition’ told you?”
“That’s right. That’s why I lied on the spur of the moment.”
“That you had a boyfriend.”
I sighed and put the tongs down.
Gotou-san, in truth, likes me and was overjoyed by my invitation. Yet, due to unknown reasons she thought that ‘Today isn’t the day’ and refused.
I scratched my head.
I don’t get it.
If we like each other, then what was the problem?
It wasn’t like we were getting married, was there a need for there to be a ‘specific time’ for this?
“Hm, so by that you mean that you would’ve accepted if it was your ‘lucky day’ or something like that?”
Hearing me ask that, Gotou-san burst into laughter.
“Ahaha, no that’s not quite right! It’s not like I’m pulling the lottery!”
“Then, what do you mean…? I don’t really understand.”
I murmured whilst flipping the meat.
She chuckled in response, but this is no laughing matter. I’m serious about this.
Nothing made me happier than her confessing affection for me, yet intertwined with my abnormally fast heartbeat was a sense of unease and discomfort.
“I’m a cautious woman.”
She said, staring at the charcoal brazier.
“I believe that meat tastes best when it’s thoroughly cooked.”
“But if you cook it too thoroughly it wouldn’t taste any good.”
“Eating it raw just because it tastes good might damage the stomach though.”
“Cook it enough times and you’ll develop and eye for it.”
Her shoulders jumped as I said that.
“Do I look that experienced to you?”
“Yeah… you sort of exude a sense of sensuality.” I said with astonishment.
Gotou-san placed a hand on her mouth.
“You do; all the time.”
Gotou-san merely giggled in response.
“The meat’s ready by the way.”
“Oh really? I’ll dig in then.”
She said as she delightfully picked up a slice of ox heart with her chopsticks.
She showed a hearty smile as she chewed on the meat.
I could only look away with a bitter smile. Come on, didn’t I just talk about this? I couldn’t help but feel a little annoyed.
“So from what I understood, you’re saying that even if you were to date me now, our relationship wouldn’t last long?”
“Hmm-… I guess so?”
“Then when will you be ready?”
I quickly pressed. I understood that the conversation wouldn’t proceed if I didn’t face it head on.
Gotou-san tilted her head slightly in response.
“Hrm…. I can’t really say.”
I loved her. I loved her undoubtedly as someone of the opposite gender.
However, the conversation thus far had brought me nothing but displeasure. She keeps making my heart jump, yet she’s given me nothing to show for it.
A part of me honestly thinks that she’s just messing around.
If you’re uninterested, just tell it to me straight.
“I don’t believe it.”
Hearing that, Gotou-san looked up towards me.
“You said that you love me, but I don’t believe it.”
“It’s true though, I’ve loved you all this time.”
“Aren’t you sure you’re not just teasing me?”
Upon hearing that, she looked down with a gloomy expression.
Then, she put down her chopsticks and faced me with a determined expression.
“Then how can I get you to believe me?”
Her expressions and words came as a shock.
She had acted so frivolously until this moment. That the sudden change had caught me off guard.
However, I couldn’t afford to falter here.
Although my heart was thumping, I kept my calm the best I could.
It was time to play this card.
“Do it with me.”
I put my intent into unmistakable words.
Her eyebrows twitched for a brief moment and she quickly turned her gaze away.
Her face grew redder by the moment.
The silence seems to stretch on.
I gulped on my beer to take away from the awkwardness of the situation.
It appeared that she was hesitating. After a pause, she said in a soft voice.
“I’m a virgin… is that still okay?”
I choked on my beer.
The word ‘virgin’ vividly echoed through my mind.
With that, I also came to realize the impropriety of my question. It had been far too direct and lacking in decorum.
“Please forget what I just said.”
Gotou-san showed a look of astonishment.
“Do you dislike virgins …?”
“No no! That’s not what I meant by that!”
I shouted. It would be problematic if this spiraled into a misunderstanding.
“I felt that it was rude of me to ask such a question, so I wanted to withdraw it.”
“I see… but do you dislike virgins?”
She was oddly persistent about it. Was it really that important to her?
“No well, it’s just that you… I mean, it just seemed kind of ludicrous.”
“What do you mean by it?”
“Er, you know… you being a virgin and all.”
It was strangely embarrassing to say the word ‘virgin’ in front of a woman.
Plus, as I said, it just seemed unintuitive for a woman of such sensuality to not have had any experience at 28 years of age.
“It’s fine… I just never had the chance.”
She turned away in a huff, carrying a pout.
It appeared that what she said was the truth; one that also seemed to weigh on her mind.
“I’m really sorry about that. Please just forget about it.”
“There are no real takebacks on what has already been said.”
It was truly as she said.
I could only lower my head and accept it.
I slowly raised my head to glance at Gotou-san, only to find her facing the table with a flushed face.
“A-, Are you angry?”
“I’m not, but…”
She bashfully stirred in her seat before taking a fleeting glimpse at me.
“I really do love you.”
“Eh, ah, right…”
“So if you want to do it, uhm.”
“AAH! No, don’t worry about that!”
Understanding her intentions, I tried to stop her from going any further.
“Just ignore what I said, please.”
“But you want to don’t you?”
I really did.
I could only swallow the temptation.
I declared while weeping within.
Gosh I’m such an idiot. I only needed to give it a little push and the breasts that I’ve only seen in my dreams would be… god… I’m retarded aren’t I!?
I cursed internally before little out a light sigh.
I’d rather not coerce her any further. It’s bad for my heart.
Taking a moment to reorganize my thoughts and feelings, I calmly stated the status quo for our relationship from here on out.
“But I will not propose to you in the future.”
She grew wide-eyed at my declaration. I continued without paying her reaction any mind.
“You love me don’t you?”
“But now’s not the time, right?”
“Then propose to me when the time comes then.”
She loudly gulped. Perhaps such an assertive statement had been beyond the realm of her expectations.
Honestly, it felt good. I continued with this momentum.
“Regardless, you always act in a way that forces the other’s hand. I refuse to play by your rules any longer.”
“It wasn’t my intention though.”
“That just makes it even worse!”
Gotou-san puffed her cheeks.
“Y-, You don’t have to be so angry about it. You’re in love with me aren’t you?”
“Of course! That’s exactly why it’s irritating!”
Like her mysterious sensuality. Like the frequency in which she used her gaze to provoke reactions. Like how, when given a choice by her, there was only ever one option to choose from.
Anyhow, the way in which she ‘stirred’ others was an aspect of her that I found immensely difficult to deal with, yet bewitching.
“It’s really hard on me when you keep teasing me like this.”
“If you’re at all sincere, you’ve got to let me do things my way once in a while or it won’t be fair.”
I crudely grabbed my beer and took a large slurp.
Drops of beer trickled down the edges of my lips.
Then, I dropped the glass on the table with a thud.
“That’s all I have to say…”
I had poured everything directly from my mind to my mouth, finally saying what I needed to say. My affection had always been a factor in everything concerning her, which made it quite stressful. After all, affections came hand-in-hand with a difficulty in dealing with the subject of one’s affections. Every bit of affection came with an equal amount of torment; two sides of the same coin.
It was a slightly strangulating and entirely nerve-wracking experience.
Having finally released all my pent up feelings in the form of words, I could feel the knot in my chest loosening up.
She was taken aback for a brief moment, but she chuckled.
“Have you been waiting to say that?”
“And for five whole years?”
This time, she broke out into a fit of giggling.
“You must really love me a lot, Yoshida-kun.”
“That’s what I’ve been telling you this whole time…”
I’ve been left on the grill by you for a whole five years.
That would be too facetious a metaphor to put into words, so I hadn’t voiced it.
“Alright, then I’ll be the one to confess next time.”
“I don’t know how long it will take… but would you be willing to wait for me?”
I resisted the urge to immediately reply with a firm “yes”. I mustn’t allow myself to be led on by her yet again. Though I understood that she meant no harm, I had to ‘fight back’, or I wouldn’t stand a chance.
“I can’t say. You never know when a better person might come along.”
She puckered her lips at my reply.
“So is that the extent of your feelings for me?’
“Quite the opposite, actually.”
I said, taking a gulp from my beer.
“But meat that’s left on the grill too long will get burnt, if you know what I mean.”
I finally voiced the metaphor that had grown rancid from brewing in my mind.
She let out a resigned chuckle and shook her head.
“I’ll be careful not to let it sit for too long then.”
Saying that, she took a gulp of beer.
For a short while, as if to hide our mutual embarrassment, we each took a mouthful of the meat that had been cooling on our individual plates as well as several gulps of beer.
“That’s my answer.”
She calmly announced.
Now it’s your turn, her voice seemed to declare.
She had answered my questions clearly, so I felt that I should do the same.
“So, Gotou-san, what you want to know is-”
I wanted to confirm the premise.
“Whether or not I have a girlfriend, right?”
It was the logical conclusion I had come to after organizing the statements she’s made thus far.
She flinched hard, owing to the straightforwardness of my inquiry. Then, she shook her head and put down her chopsticks.
“…Would there any other reason why a person who has never refused to go on a business trip would suddenly have a change of heart?
“Well, I’m sure that there are other valid reasons….”
I couldn’t deny her outright. If I were in her position, I would have suspected the same.
It’s not that I regret working hard in the past, but I never imagined that it would backfire on me in this manner.
However, if the question was whether or not I had a girlfriend, I could answer with confidence. Looking her straight in the eye, I continued.
“I don’t have a girlfriend or anything like that. I haven’t had eyes for anyone else since I’ve started working.” I answered forthright.
She was left half-open, as though she was at a loss for words. She quickly turned her eyes away to avoid my gaze.
“I-, I see…”
Her gaze wandered across the table as she nodded in acceptance.
“I-, It doesn’t seem like you’re lying, since your eyes tend to swim about when you do.”
“Almost on par with the Olympians.”
“Sorry, could you repeat that?”
“Don’t worry, it wasn’t anything important.”
I had uttered what Asami said to me under my breath, but I hadn’t the courage to do it a second time. That aside, it seemed like I truly sucked at lying. I didn’t know that Gotou-san had taken note of that habit as well.
“Then, could you tell me why?”
No matter how much I tried to steer the conversation off-course, she refused to let go of the wheel.
“Why did you refuse?”
I gulped. Though I had already decided not to lie, I should choose my words to steer the conversation away from the storm. I could feel a knot forming in my stomach.
“It’s not that I have a girlfriend, but rather, there’s a minor staying with me at the moment.”
Her eyebrows raised at my confession.
“By that you mean?”
“Exactly as it means. I’m taking care of a child at the moment, so I can’t be away an extended period of time.”
“I understand that part, but what’s your relationship to this… child?”
“Just a friend of mine who lived near my parent’s place.”
I declared, focusing my nerves to suppress my wandering gaze. Gotou-san looked me straight in the eye and continued.
“… I see. So what is this friend of yours doing at your place?”
“Ran away from home and didn’t have anyone else to fallback on – is what I’ve been told.”
I wasn’t lying.
“A few months back.”
Hearing my answer, she nodded her head as if, strangely enough, convinced.
“I see, that makes sense… then just to confirm…”
My ears picked up on the sudden shift in her tone.
“Is this friend of yours a guy or a girl?”
Of course. The answer to this question would greatly influence the meaning of ‘living together’ after all. However, I understood that Gotou-san, by asking this question, had indicated that she had already discerned the greater picture.
“Don’t you already know the answer?”
Hearing my answer, she turned her face away and bit on her lower lip with frustration.
“Yoshida-kun… I know you don’t need me to tell you this… but the difference between what you’re doing and performing a crime. To think that you of all people would do this…”
“Just to make sure, you haven’t done anything to her have you?”
Her voice was incredibly stern. She always carried a gentle smile, but the expression she bore now was anything but that; it was grave and serious.
“Absolutely not, I’ve done nothing of the sort. I would lay my hands on anyone but the woman I love.”
I answered with concision. She stared at me for a few seconds before closing her eyes with a loud sigh.
After taking a sip from her glass, she stared into it as if pondering hard. Then, she then shut her eyes. Only after exhaling deeply did she continue to speak.
“What is it?”
She turned her gaze back up towards me.
“I still think that this doesn’t make any sense.”
“You said that you loved me, didn’t you?”
“Yup, I’m serious about that.”
“I understand that, but-“
She scrunched her eyebrows, removed her gaze from me, took a deep breath, and returned her gaze. It was clear from her expression that she was dissatisfied.”
“You say that, but then you go and live together with another woman. It’s hard to stomach, really.”
“Woman? She’s just a kid. Nothing’s going to happen between us.”
“You’re missing the point, Yoshida-kun.”
She stated aggressively.
“I know that you’re a gentleman, especially in terms of how you treat women. Trust me, I can tell by your attitude that that girl is definitely not a romantic interest.”
“Then what are you trying to-”
“People’s values are fickle. They can change in a passing moment.”
She said, cutting me off.
“You might be able to say that with confidence now, but what about tomorrow, the day after that? In the timeframe where I commute back home, aren’t you face-to-face with her? You never know when your feelings toward that girl would change.”
“I mean, she’s already out of the question just by the fact that she’s still in high school.”
“For now, that is. Plus, aren’t there a lot of high schoolers that act mature nowadays? You never know when you’ll find yourself noticing her charms.”
“Not to mention, even if you don’t have feelings, can you say the same for her? What if she falls in love with you and decides to take things into her own hands? Would you be able to refuse then? Or would you decide to go with the…”
I finally raised my voice. Gotou-san jumped in her seat and came to a halt.
I continued in a reproving and slow manner.
“Believe me, that wouldn’t happen.”
“…Really? Can you swear on that?”
“I swear. Would you like a pinky promise to go with that?”
I said as I outstretched my right pinky finger. Gotou-san stared on in bafflement before breaking into giggles.
“No thanks, I’d rather not be treated like a child.”
“I don’t think I was though…”
“Mm… Sorry about that. I think I got a little emotional.”
Gotou-san lightly bowed her head. She then picked up a small slice of meat on her plate with her chopsticks and placed it into her mouth. After chewing thoroughly, she exhaled through her nose.
“That’s good to hear.”
She cast her gaze downward like a sulking child and solemnly stuffed her mouth with food for the next few minutes. I remained quiet throughout, only taking small sips from my beer on occasion. I took a glance at my wristwatch, which showed that it was 8 o’clock. Sayu should be done with dinner around now.
Turning my gaze towards the source, I found facing a Gotou-san who was uncharacteristically, if not unimaginably, lacking in confidence.
“…You wouldn’t be taken away by a young girl would you?”
She asked with a somewhat upturned gaze.
I could feel goosebumps rising across my skin.
It was an expression I hadn’t seen before; and I had been the one to bring it out. I was overcome with both joy and a sense of euphoria not far departed from a sense of superiority.
In short, it excited me.
I glanced away from her as I continued.
“It’s been five whole years. What could come between these five years and a woman that’s already confessed to me?”
She blushed and turned away.
A queer mood began to settle in. As if to disperse this, Gotou-san loudly cleared her throat.
Returning my gaze to her, I found her usual self facing me with a gentle smile and an air of self-assurance.
“Since you’re willing to run your mouth this far…”
She tilted her head slightly and curled her lips into a smirk.
“Let’s go meet this girl.”
My mind came to a screeching halt.
“Uhh, about that….”
As cold sweat rose from my skin, she gave the final push.
“I’m saying I want to go over to your place.”
“No, that’s not…”
“You have nothing to hide, right?”
“Yeah, but wouldn’t be really, you know, awkward?”
“Why would it?”
I could find the words to answer her simple question.
“Why… you ask…”
“Is it harder to invite me to your place than it would be to invite some high school girl?”
I had no way of fighting back.
Seeing my reaction, Gotou-san nodded with satisfaction.
“Then let’s be off then.”
I didn’t reply.
Though, that was no different than giving my approval.