Volume 2, Chapter 12: Collapse
When I entered the store from the back door, there was pure darkness. The manager and Asami usually don’t turn the lights off, so it’s rarely that dark here.
I took my uniform out of my bag and began to change quickly.
It was clear from the schedule that the manager was working at night and that Asami should already be at the store.
I don’t think that three people is enough for a busy shop near the station, but for our little store, it was the right amount. The manager even said that four people would be too much. That being said, today I’ll work with someone I’ve never met before.
The light probably wasn’t on because this someone turned it off. Frankly, I’m a bit nervous. Looking at the schedule again, I searched for the name of this person, and then I found it.
A strange feeling… I’d rather say familiar… I felt like I’ve seen or heard this name before.
“Maybe it sounds like the name of some celebrity?”
Nothing came to mind, but somehow the feeling that I knew him didn’t disappear.
I stared anxiously at the board when suddenly the door opened and a guy’s face appeared.
“Whoa! You scared me… So you’ve already come.”
“Ah, yeah… Nice to meet you, I’ll wor…”
I began to bow, introducing myself, looked into the eyes of a guy in a working uniform, and then… I was speechless… Yes. I remembered. Remembered this familiar feeling.
The guy in front of me also blinked his eyes several times and screamed.
“Miyuki-chan? It’s you, Miyuki-chan!!!”
“No, you must…”
“Why are you here?! Long time no see. I remember you!”
“You’re wrong… You mistook me for someone.”
However, he wasn’t wrong. Because of that, my voice trembled.
“Wrong?! I will never forget the woman I’ve been with.”
I was covered in goosebumps.
Right. Kyouya Yaguchi. A person who I stayed with for a few days when I was in Ibaraki. He looked at me with a soft expression as if he was trying to appear kind.
But that was just an illusion. The guy in front of me was an unpleasant person who could nimbly date several women, and who I wanted to forget. I remembered how disgusted I was when I found out that he was simultaneously dating seven women.
“Wait, Miyuki-chan… I haven’t seen your name on the schedule.”
“Yes, I’m saying that I’m not…”
Miyuki is not a real name. That’s how I was introducing myself to them and he remembered.
However, since I introduced myself as Miyuki, I couldn’t use my real name. Finding myself in a difficult situation, I was just staring at the floor, and then Asami appeared behind Yaguchi-san.
“How long are ya planning to stand here, Yaguchi?! And you, Sayu-chaso, if ya don’t check-in, the manager will think you’re late… What are ya even doin’?”
With beaming eyes, Yaguchi-san turned to Asami.
“Asami-chan! I know! I know her!”
“Eh? Where from?”
“This is Miyuki-chan! She was staying at my place sometime before…”
I almost yelled for Yaguchi-san to shut up. He and Asami were startled.
My body was shaking. My heart was beating wildly. My breathing quickened.
“He… he mistook me… I’m Sayu Ogiwara.”
I said in a trembling voice. But Yaguchi-san tilted his head suspiciously.
“Nah… When I last saw you, you were definitely Miyuki-chan… You know, it hurts to hear that I mistook you for someone…”
Yaguchi-san didn’t finish speaking when Asami, who was standing next to him, kicked him mercilessly in the shin.
“Why so violent all of a sudden?!”
“Sayu-chaso told ya already. Or are ya deaf?”
Asami said in a cold tone and grabbed Yaguchi-san by the shoulder.
“Also, you’re slackin’ off for too long. A li’l more and the manager will fire you.”
“Hey, hey! I just wanted to talk to the new girl. We’re not busy right now anyway.”
“Shut up and go already!”
Asami, holding Yaguchi-san’s shoulder, forcibly pushed him out of the office and into the store. Then she closed the door.
Sighing, she looked at me. She shot me a puzzled look that was literally screaming, “What was that?” and I shuddered in response.
“Um… Well… Asami, I…”
I don’t know if I wanted to make an excuse or just tell the truth. I simply tried to break the silence. My heart was beating wildly. I was out of breath.
I raised my head and looked at Asami. She shook her head.
“It’s okay, you don’t have to say anything.”
I was speechless, I was just staring at Asami, while she continued with seriousness.
“If you want to explain everything, I’ll listen. But it doesn’t look like you’re ready for it yet. And yeah, you’re all pale right now.”
She patted me on the shoulder and pointed to a folding chair. I sat down. Asami bent down and took my hand.
“If you don’t want to tell anything, then you don’t have to. And if you do want to tell me something, Sayu-chaso, then I’ll listen to you… Okay?”
My face was burning and tears gathered in my eyes. Since moving to Tokyo, I sure have cried a lot.
Seeing me like this, Asami smiled in amazement and slapped me on the shoulder again.
“Calm down a little. I’ll check-in for ya. But only for today!”
“I’ll go and punch Yaguchi one more time, so don’t worry about it.”
She smiled, flashing her teeth, and left the room. When she left, the tears, which I somehow held back, flooded my eyes.
Why is Yaguchi-san here? The probability of him moving somewhere nearby and working at the same job is extremely low. Such a terrible reunion, like he was stalking me.
Moreover, Asami overheard our conversation. She is a kind and good girl, so she’s probably worried about me, but perhaps she understood more from the conversation than I thought. Her kindness always helped me out, but at the same time laid down a heavy burden.
After running away from home, I thought for the first time that I had found a friend with whom I could talk to on an equal footing, carefree, getting away from my problems. But now, Asami is worrying…
And even though after some time, the tears stopped, the pain didn’t go away.
I looked at the clock on the wall: ten minutes had passed since the start of my shift. Asami checked-in for me, but I felt guilty for slacking off.
What to do with Yaguchi-san? And what to do with Asami? But most importantly…
Yoshida-san’s face suddenly came to mind.
Should I tell him?
There were a lot of thoughts in my head, but now I have to work. I took a deep breath and slapped my cheeks.
Slightly calmed down, I opened the door and went into the store.
“Thank you for your hard work! Be careful on the way back.”
“Yes, you too. Good luck with another two hours, Asami!”
“Thank you. Bye!”
My shift ended, Asami smiled and waved at me. I waved back, and she headed back to the shelves. I walked into the office and sighed.
I don’t know what Asami did, but Yaguchi-san didn’t talk about my past anymore. And when I had difficulties, he would explain everything to me. Asami also worked and chatted as always, as if she had forgotten what happened. She didn’t even try to bring it up.
Although seeing how upset I was, it was simply impossible to remain indifferent, so sometimes the atmosphere was a little awkward. Asami behaved too naturally, which even seemed abnormal.
Despite how the day began, the shift ended without any problems.
Yaguchi-san behaved well when he helped me with my work, so I thought he wouldn’t talk about my past anymore. Also, it was somehow strange seeing him working, since I only saw him at home before.
Perhaps, there was no reason to worry. At least that’s what I thought.
After I changed, I went out through the back door of the store. And the moment I opened the door, I saw a man standing at the telephone pole.
“Good work today!”
“You too… Good work.”
Yaguchi-san was doing something on his smartphone.
“You know, I was waiting for you.”
“What do you want?”
Just a few moments ago, I was positive, but now everything changed.
Yaguchi-san’s shift ended three hours ago and yet, he was standing here. I don’t know whether he was waiting for me here all this time, or he just came back at the end of my shift. Either way, the situation was terrible.
Seeing my wariness, he smiled.
“Hey, don’t be so scared. Weren’t we close… physically close.”
“Don’t put it like that.”
“… It’s weird, Miyuki-chan. I don’t recall you being defiant at all.”
Hearing this, my chest started to hurt.
Yes. When I was at his house, I was already used to “that kind of thing”, so I didn’t resist. I even practiced showing my satisfaction.
Yaguchi-san didn’t look bad. Rather, I’d say he looked handsome and he had an excellent figure. So at that time, I remember thinking, “I’m glad that he isn’t one of those with who I feel completely uncomfortable.”
“I was surprised to meet you here.”
Yaguchi-san said, smiling.
“Are you staying with someone again?”
I remained silent. He smiled and nodded.
“I see. Still on the run. Pretty bold.”
“Yes… May I go now?”
“That was rude. We haven’t finished yet.”
“I have nothing to say to you.”
I replied and walked past Yaguchi-san. I wanted to run away from here… No, from him.
Yaguchi-san grabbed my hand. Surprisingly, he was quite strong.
“I wonder where you live.”
I repeated with irritation. Smiling softly, he continued.
“I just want to go to this place… A place where Miyuki-chan lives. Anyway, you live with a guy, so there is probably no one in there right now.”
“What’s the point of going to my place?”
“I’ll just come in! Then we’ll talk. We haven’t seen each other for a long time.”
While saying this, Yaguchi-san smiled like a child and it was creepy. Bringing him home wasn’t a good idea.
“No! I won’t bring anyone over without permission from the owner.”
“Well, why don’t you get it then? I won’t do anything bad.”
Yaguchi-san’s answer startled me.
Is he really not going to do anything, simply a visit? If so, I didn’t understand his intentions. There was nothing between us which we could talk about.
I shook my head and spoke confidently.
“Still no. I’m going home… Sorry.”
I snatched my hand away and quickly started walking. Yaguchi-san with a smile on his face said something.
“If you allow me to go with you, I won’t tell anything about your past to Asami-chan and the manager, Miyuki-chan.”
My heart skipped a beat.
He threatened me. Classic… I understood that I shouldn’t be led by it, but his words were enough to make me feel pain in my heart.
“And what will you do, if I don’t agree?”
I asked. Yaguchi-san grinned at me.
“You probably already know that by yourself.”
I was speechless.
He’ll tell the manager about us. And ruin the peaceful life that I finally got. Perhaps Asami will begin to despise me if she finds out that I was giving my body to unknown men. And the manager, if he finds out who I am, can simply hand me over to the police. Then the police will be bothering Yoshida-san. I don’t want that. I don’t want to cause him even more trouble. He already did a lot… So much that I don’t think I would ever be able to repay him.
I clenched my fist and took a deep breath.
“… Are you really just going to visit?”
Yaguchi-san’s face lit up with joy and he nodded.
“Yes, that’s right! We’ll just chat!”
“Then, I’ll ask the owner.”
“Ok. By the way, I don’t want to bother him, so I’ll leave before he comes back.”
While saying this, Yaguchi-san looked at his phone screen., It looked like he was checking the time.
“Then not for long…”
“But be sure to keep your promise.”
“Of course I will.”
Yaguchi-san smiled happily. Such an innocent smile might’ve seemed cute, but to me, this smile looked insane and not good at all.
I took out my phone, opened the messaging app. I started typing to Yoshida-san and then I was unsure.
What should I write to him so that he doesn’t worry?
The first thing that came to my mind was to tell him that I’ll bring Asami home, but it would be a lie. If I was going to lie, then why bother writing him anything at all.
Then it would be more correct to write “senpai from work.”
Racking my brain, I typed the text and sent it:
『 I invited home a senpai from work. But he’ll leave before your return. So don’t worry. 』
Yoshida-san might get worried about what I wrote to him, that’s why I added the last sentence.
Sighing, I put my phone back in my bag and turned to Yaguchi-san.
“I told him. Let’s go.”
“That was fast. By the way, I’m looking forward to it.”
He came up to me and asked.
“Shall we hold hands?”
As we walked home, he was in high spirits, but I was full of unpleasant feelings.
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