Chapter 10: Maika.

Kenichi and I were talking in front of his house when his phone rang.
“Hmm, it’s Aya.”

“In that case, see you later.
I’m going home.”

“Hold up! She asked me to hand the phone over to you,” I had tried to leave, but he stopped me and handed me his phone.
What could it be? I thought as I raised the phone up to my ear.

“Ah, Wada-kun, I’m glad you’re with Kenichi.
Please, I need you to visit Maika’s house!”

Come to think of it, Maika wasn’t in class today either… She’s been skipping school for quite some time.

“Erm, why me?” I asked back.

“Because you both have known each other since you were kids.
And you’re neighbors to boot, aren’t you? Please! I just need you to pay her a little visit and maybe have some small talk.”

Aya sounded desperate, but to be honest, I’m still nervous about seeing her again…

“Haah… Fine.
I’ll stop by on my way home.”

“Thank you very much.
I really appreciate it.”

She then ended the call before Kenichi could take over again.
I turned to him and said, “She hung up.
And she was desperately asking me to visit Maika…”

“I see… So, are you going?”

“Well, yeah.
I’ll buy some fruit on the way, too.”

“It all depends on how you feel man, but I think it’s necessary for you to have a heart-to-heart with her.
You both need it.”

“… Okay.
I’ll go for it then.”

On my way home, I dropped by Maika’s house.
I had even bought some fruit on the way as well.
Her mother was as welcoming as she’s ever been, and I was taken to her room without any hesitation.
As soon as her mother left the room, silence reigned for drawn-out moments.

“…How are you feeling?” I asked, and she finally looked up to see me.
Her eyes were swollen red from crying.
In turn, I felt calm while seeing her in such a sad state.

She hesitated time and time again before finally making up her mind.
After a few moments, she started to speak.

“My physical condition is fine.
It’s just my emotions flaring up a bit… Um, could you listen to me for a second?”

Thus, she told me everything since the time when her attitude took a turn for the worse with me.
I listened intently to her thoughts and feelings, trying not to interrupt her as she spilled her worries.
In the end, she apologized.

“I know it’s too late, but I’m sorry for everything I’ve done,” she said, but in hindsight, we were just old friends, nothing more than that.
So was it enough to warrant an apology?

I mean, treating someone you don’t like harshly is almost par for the course due to how common it is.
I was pissed when that happened, but if you saw something funny, wouldn’t you laugh too? No matter how messed up it was?

However, more than those things, I was surprised by something.
During her explanation, she told me how she realized she’s liked me all this time, and my heart didn’t waver for a second.

“Don’t mind it,” I answered.
“I messed up as well.
I had these selfish expectations, and as soon as they weren’t realized, I felt angry and betrayed all on my own.”

“But I’m the one at fault here…”

I accept your apology, and I’m sorry for my selfish attitude.
Can we just move past this now?”

I didn’t need her apology, but that wouldn’t make her feel better.
If accepting it does the trick, so be it.

“Um, are you sure? Isn’t it too easy?”

I guess it’s easy because I don’t care about this whole thing anymore.
Well, I can read the room enough not to say that.

“It’s fine.
There’s no point in living in the past.”

“… Got it, thank you very much… Although, I guess that means ‘we’re’ in the past now…” I heard her sad mutter, but I could do nothing about it.
She spoke the truth.

After hour-felt moments of awkward silence, I felt a sudden strength surge within her eyes.

“Can I ask you a question?”

“What is it?”

“Who was that girl you were walking with yesterday?”

Yesterday? Oh, did she perhaps see me walking with Risa?

“Ah, that was Risa.
You know, Kenichi’s sister.”

“Oh, that girl is her? She’s really cute now.”

I agree.
Not only does she look cute, but she has an adorable attitude to match.
As I thought about those things, my face inadvertently relaxed.
Maika noticed as much and her eyes tightened.

“I told you I liked you earlier, but you were easily swept away… Could I have any hopes?” She said, and I looked straight into her eyes.
I need to be as clear as humanly possible about this since it’s rude to take this whole situation lightly.

“To tell you the truth, I was planning to confess my feelings for you on your birthday,” I started, and her eyes shot wide open in response.
“But before I could even do that, you told me we were just friends, and for me to stop acting like your boyfriend.
You even said you’d never date me… That day, I was rejected before I could even say I liked you.”

“W, what then?”

“That’s what I meant when I said earlier I had these selfish expectations of you and felt betrayed all on my own.”

“That’s…” She was at a loss for words, but I had to keep going.

“I’ll be honest here.
I think of you as an old childhood friend, but not as how a man loves a woman.
Not anymore… And, as you saw it, I started dating Risa.
I’m sorry for being kinda heartless about it, but I can’t lie.”

“Is that… so… Ugh,” tears started to fall from her eyes.
“I’m sorry, I… I must’ve hurt you a lot.
If only I had been more honest, all of this wouldn’t have happened… But, but… I hate myself the most for feeling like some sorta tragic heroine…” She looked down.

I don’t know how to say these things due to my limited life experience, but I’m not going to lie or deceive.

“From now on, I’ll treat you as an old friend.
If you don’t want that, I’ll just keep my distance…”

“No, I want to be treated as a friend.
It would be too painful if you just cut me off like that…”

I’ll leave you alone now.
I’m going home since I have friends who are very worried about me.
I’ll see you around in school.”

See you…”

The talk we had turned out heavier than I’d expected, but I’m glad I was able to clear things out with Maika.
I felt bad for her, but I didn’t want to drag any possible misunderstanding out and cause unnecessary worry for Risa.

T/N: Very mature way to handle it.

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