Volume 2, Chapter 9: Coincidence
I was on my way to the 24-hour supermarket in front of the train station when I unexpectedly ran into someone I knew. We stood in front of each other with our mouths open like idiots and then pointed at each other at the same time.
“What are you doing here?”
Mishima was standing in the street at night, dressed in a tailor’s suit.
“Ah… I went to see a movie.”
“You just got off work and went straight to see a movie. You sure have a lot of energy left in you.”
The fact that she was still in her suit meant that she hadn’t gone home yet. To my surprise, Mishima nodded while showing an ambiguous smile on her face.
“There’s something I really wanted to see.”
“What’s it called?”
“Ah… hmm… the movie’s called Song of Hydrangea1.”
“Oh, you mean the one with the huge poster in front of the station?”
Every morning, I see a huge poster on my way to the train station. If I remember correctly, the leading lady was one of Hashimoto’s favorite actresses. When that guy talked to me about that movie, he told me over and over again “You should definitely go see it” but I couldn’t remember the details because every time he told me about it, I didn’t really pay him any attention.
“Was it good?”
“Well, yeah… it made me cry.”
As I received such a vague response from Mishima, I noticed that her eyes were a little red. It really was a movie that made her cry.
“So it seems.”
My attention reverted from the movie to the fact that she was here.
“Why are you here? You’re in the opposite direction from the train station.”
I could tell that Mishima had come to the station to watch a movie, but it felt strange to see her on this road leading away from the station. Even though she was walking in this direction, there wasn’t any particular store that she could stop by. It was just a residential area. Mishima responded to my question by scratching her cheek with her index finger.
“I was in the mood for a little walk. Come to think of it, this is the neighborhood where you live, Yoshida-senpai.”
“What kind of explanation is that?”
“Anyway, what are you doing out here Yoshida-senpai?”
I couldn’t tell her that Gotou-san was at my house.
I came to buy some ingredients for breakfast, but I couldn’t help but notice the way Sayu was acting when she asked me. I got the feeling that she was trying to get rid of me or something. However, it was hard to imagine that Sayu would actively want to be alone with Gotou-san, and also there is a possibility that I’m reading too much into it.
“I’m going to buy some ingredients for breakfast.”
“Yoshida-senpai makes his own breakfast huh? That’s a little unexpected.”
“I don’t make it, Sayu does.”
When I answered, Mishima’s body shook. She then looked at me with a slightly puzzled expression.
“Huh? Sayu-chan’s at your home right now?”
“What? Of course, she is. She has no other place to stay, so…”
Mishima answered me briefly, with an ambiguous implication.
“Can I go with you?”
“I don’t mind, but do you even like going shopping?”
“I’m curious to know what Yoshida-senpai eats.”
Showing a firm smile, Mishima followed me as if it were expected. Mishima, with a tight smile on her face, nodded at me as she should have. Even when I was buying nira, eggs, and miso at the grocery store, Mishima would ask me questions about this and that.
“It’s for Niratama2 right?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
“Do you often prepare Niratama?”
“No, I don’t think it was that often.”
“If you’re eating nira in the morning, your mouth’s going to smell a little bad.”
“That’s to be expected, so I’ll brush my teeth before I leave.”
When I said that, Mishima laughed. Then she pointed to the basket that I’m holding.
“Actually, would that be enough?”
“There are only four eggs in there.”
“That’s right… they have a discount and since it’s only for two people, I don’t have to buy many.”
With that said, I remembered that I seemed to have run out of beer. I took some beer cans that were piled up from the liquor section, and they were suddenly seized by Mishima.
“Hey, what’s going on?!”
“Let me ask you something.”
I glared at Mishima as disapproval for confiscating my beer, but I was so surprised by the seriousness of her face that it made me lose my annoyance. Mishima looked me in the eye and spoke.
“If I ask you to let me stay at your place tonight, would you let me?”
For a moment my mouth was open, but what she said was so out of the blue that it made me sigh deeply.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Exactly what I mean.”
“Why should I let a woman who’s not my lover stay over for the night?”
“But Sayu-chan isn’t your lover.”
“I told you, I’m just trying to protect her.”
“Then, what about Gotou-san?”
I was speechless. Mishima frowned a little and spoke again.
“What does Gotou-san have to do with this?”
Mishima frowned in a way that was neither angry nor sad and then lashed out at me.
“Why would you deceive me like that?”
“What are you talking about?”
“You are! Gotou-san’s at your place right now!”
I blinked my eyes when Mishima said that with a strong tone.
“Hey, how do you know that…”
Mishima choked on my words, then dropped her gaze to the floor.
“I voluntarily worked overtime today, which is rare for me. I was hoping that you might praise me for that tomorrow, Yoshida-senpai.”
Mishima made no eye contact with me but continued to speak slowly.
“When I left the office after working on one program, I saw you and Gotou-san coming out of a yakiniku place in front of the station. It made me curious. I was wondering which station you were getting off at and it’s actually the station closest to your home.”
Mishima said that and then glanced at me.
“Um… sorry for following you. I deeply apologize.”
“Ah, it doesn’t matter, well…”
Only vague words came out. Instead of anger, what I felt was more like an annoyance.
“Then, on impulse, I got off at the station too. When I followed you and saw you walking towards your residential area, that’s when I realized, “Oh, they’re going home…” Somehow… I felt so helpless… So I went to the movie theater and watched the movie I wanted to see, but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around what had happened.”
Mishima began to tear up more and more as she continued to speak, and I was just confused. Mishima didn’t seem to want to cry at all, so she put some effort into her eyebrows and made a show of trying to hold back her tears. After a short pause, she continued.
“I couldn’t just go home that’s why I was wandering around aimlessly when suddenly, I bumped into you… So I thought of asking you about your relationship with Gotou-san.”
“But you’re so bent on trying to hide the fact that it made me furious…”
Mishima stopped talking, and with the nasal drip running from her nose, she put the beers she had seized back into the basket.
“Let’s finish shopping and then leave.”
“Oh, yeah… That’s what I’ve been thinking all along.”
“Don’t sweat the details.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mishima as she walked hurriedly towards the cash register. I added a few more cans of beer and then went after her.
I was standing in a small space in front of the supermarket with a plastic bag, which was heavier than I expected, and Mishima, who was slightly unhappy and sucking on a pack of soy milk. A few moments had passed since we had finished shopping and walked out, but Mishima remained silent.
I had no idea why this was happening, but it’s not a situation where I can just say “Well, I’m going home,” and I was just standing there without a place to go.
“So that’s how it is.”
Mishima spoke suddenly.
“I was so sure that Sayu-chan wasn’t home, that’s why I thought you’d taken the opportunity to bring Gotou-san home.”
“That’s impossible since there isn’t a moment when Sayu isn’t home.”
“Though I don’t really know why, in any case, that’s what occurred to me.”
Mishima said and once again sipped her pack of soy milk. After gulping it down, she looked at me sideways.
“You know, did you really think I would invite the woman I like over when there’s a high school girl home?”
“So, that means Sayu-chan and Gotou-san are keeping each other company right now?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“I don’t really get it…”
Mishima muttered, then shook the pack of soy milk she had in her hand. Apparently, she had already drunk it all.
“Just to confirm, you still like Gotou-san, right?
“Huh? Oh, that’s…”
Mishima suddenly asked me that question, and I was confused and stammered. There was no point in trying to hint at what she already knew.
“Well, I mean… I can’t just give up that easily.”
I refrained from saying anything to Mishima because I didn’t think it was necessary at this point to tell her that our feelings were mutual.
“If that’s the case, what you’re doing isn’t right, Yoshida-senpai.”
I bowed my head to Mishima’s words. When she saw me, Mishima frowned and shrugged her shoulders.
“I don’t know the exact details, but usually, when you bring the woman you like home, you wouldn’t just leave a high school girl that’s been staying with you alone with her.”
Before I could explain that it was Gotou-san who wanted to meet with her, Mishima continued talking.
“If you’ve really fallen in love with the woman you’ve always liked, then isn’t love powerful enough to make you ignore everything else? The woman you’ve been in love with for a long time is at your home. The presence of a high school girl will hinder your chance to advance the relationship in many ways.”
“That’s probably true, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to kick her out.”
When I said that, Mishima shook her head.
“Normally… you’d kick her out.”
The words were uttered in a chilling tone that I had never heard from her before.
“A high school girl with unknown origins or the woman you’ve fallen for? You don’t even have to think about who’s more important.”
I said that, trying to cut off Mishima. She glared at me with frustration evident on her face.
“What exactly are you trying to say? Why are you bad-mouthing Sayu all of a sudden?”
“It’s not like I’m trying to speak badly of Sayu-chan. She’s a good girl.”
“But you said something about how it would be better to get rid of her!”
“I didn’t say you should get rid of her!”
Mishima shook her head and looked me in the eye.
“In the end, what are your priorities, Yoshida-senpai?’
When I tilted my head, Mishima sighed and nodded.
“That’s right. There’s Gotou-san, who you’ve always thought of, then there’s Sayu-chan, who you brought home a while back. And as the situation stands, Gotou-san’s coming over to your home.”
“If I really wanted to develop a romantic relationship with Gotou-san, I’d do my absolute best to keep Sayu-chan’s existence a secret from her. ‘I want to go out with you, but I’m staying together with a high school girl who isn’t family.’ That just sounds completely ridiculous, don’t you think?”
“Look, as I was saying—”
As expected, I couldn’t keep quiet and interrupted her.
“That doesn’t mean I can simply get rid of Sayu. If I did, it would mean that I have kicked her out if I started dating Gotou-san, wouldn’t it?”
Mishima suddenly screamed and stomped the ground with her shoes. It was the first time I had ever heard her raise her voice like that, so I was a little taken aback. Mishima quickly opened her mouth and bowed her head, as if she had just realized something.
Mishima lowered her gaze to the ground, then continued speaking.
“I’m just… I’m saying that would be the normal thing to do.”
“So that’s what you’re saying.”
“It’s about deciding whether to throw Sayu out or not. If you really like Gotou-san, then you should make it your priority to date her.”
“No, I understand. I really do.”
Mishima looked back at me and then smiled. It was obviously a forced smile and I could feel the pain behind it.
“Yoshida-senpai, I know that you’re not the type of person capable of doing that. But… at the same time, I can’t help thinking…”
Mishima paused for a moment, sighed deeply, and then continued.
“That’s no longer something you can call love, right?”
“It’s about your feelings for Gotou-san. I think you might be confusing pure admiration with feelings of love.”
“No, that’s not—”
“And that perhaps…”
Mishima interrupted me and then looked at me sideways.
“Your feelings for Sayu-chan are turning into love.”
Our glances met. Mishima’s eyes seemed to be filled with some kind of unstable emotional turmoil.
“Is that so?”
We remained still for a few seconds, then Mishima looked away.
“If that’s the case, you’re too nice of a person, Yoshida-senpai.”
Mishima scratched her head.
“If you’re too nice, you won’t be able to get what you really want.”
Mishima continued to throw out her opinions.
“…Sayu-chan won’t be staying at your place forever, you know?”
I wanted to say something back, but I couldn’t think of anything at all. As I was speechless, Mishima looked up and clumsily put on a smiling face.
“I’ve been such a bad girl today!”
“No, not really.”
“I’m sorry! If I stay with you any longer, I’m afraid I’ll say something unnecessary, so I’m going to leave now.”
“O-oh… I see. I’ll walk you to the station.”
“No, thanks! Go home as quickly as possible, Yoshida-senpai. I’m sure they’re both waiting for you.”
“You’re the one who held me back.”
Being quick to make light of these things, somehow it made me feel like I was a little child.
“Well then, thank you for your time!”
Mishima turned on her heels and walked quickly to the station. As I watched her walk away, I thought of Mishima’s smile from a few minutes ago. It was an awkward, fake smile that seemed to be masking her true feelings. Compared to that, the smile that Sayu had put on when she first came to my place was better.
Mishima had a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and was probably trying to tell me something that I don’t yet understand. Though, I think I still have not accurately grasped whatever that was. I sighed and started to walk back home.
It’s about your feelings for Gotou-san. I think you might be confusing pure admiration with feelings of love.
Mishima’s words resonated in my head. That can’t be true. I think it’s safe to say that I’m still in love with Gotou-san. There was no one else who could make my heart beat so fast, and no one else who had any great meaning to me.
Your feelings for Sayu-chan are turning into love.
That’s the one thing that’s never going to happen. I just want to protect her from the unreasonable conditions she has been subjected to. I wanted to help her get back on the right track. I don’t have the slightest desire to do anything with Sayu as a woman. However, Mishima’s words made me realize something.
I simply wanted to offer Sayu a refuge until she comes to terms with her past and her feelings about it. However, exactly how long would that take? A month? Maybe half a year? It could be a year from now or several years for that matter. Or, maybe it’ll be tomorrow. When I thought about it, I was stunned. I couldn’t imagine my life without Sayu anymore.
I placed my hand over my mouth. Mishima was right. Perhaps it would be difficult to have a relationship with Gotou-san while Sayu is at home.
When I told Gotou-san about Sayu, she told me, “I can’t comprehend it. You said you liked me, didn’t you? But while you say that, you also said that you’re living with a girl I know nothing of, and that sickens me.” Even if she could come to terms with that, as long as Sayu is around, I would never be able to invite Gotou-san home and do things that lovers typically do.
If that’s the case, when is the time that I will be able to be with Gotou-san? And where would Sayu be? What would she be doing by then? When I thought about those two things, my mind went blank. Nothing comes to mind.
“…This is troubling.”
I found myself overwhelmed by it. And without any progress in my thoughts, I arrived at home.
I stood in front of the door and took a deep breath. On the other side of this door are Sayu and Gotou-san. I knew I couldn’t just walk in with a somewhat hazy expression on my face.
With one hand, I gave myself a slight slap on the cheek and said “Alright!” to motivate myself. I inserted the key and turned it. I felt strangely nervous, even though I was only going home.
 A movie based on a 1962 Japanese novel of the same name. There’s not much information about it.
 Niratama (ニラ玉) literally means “garlic chive eggs” in Japanese and is a dish of Chinese origin that’s been adapted using Japanese ingredients. Flavorful and nutritionally dense, it’s become a staple of home cooking in Japan, and it’s eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
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