Chapter 23: A Promise to Rumi (Part 2)
Rumi kept staring at my forehead with a sad face.
I searched thoroughly in my memories, trying to find a topic that would somehow be enjoyable for her.
“But still, I miss it.
We used to play together a lot, like playing in the river… but I don’t think Rumi remembers that anymore.”
Hearing what I said, Rumi suddenly stood up and opened the safe that was under her study desk.
From it, she pulled out a large container of rice cracker cans, which did not fit in this fashionable room.
I wondered if she had finally realized that a fancy tea cake was not suitable for me.
Rumi put it on the table.
On the lid was written ‘Treasures’ in cute but childish characters.
But when she opened the lid, the contents were a jumble of junk.
Do you remember this?”
The thing that Rumi took out from the inside was a little doll.
“Ah, the prize I won in the ring toss at the fair before I went to elementary school.”
“I was crying because I wanted it so badly, so you tried to get it for me by playing the ring toss until you ran out of your own pocket money.”
“That happened too~ Rumi remembers it well, I see.”
Placing the doll carefully on the table, Rumi reached into the junk again.
“Do you remember this?”
The next thing she took out was a gold medal made of cardboard and origami.
It had a string attached to it so that it could be hung around the neck.
In it, ‘Good Luck De Award’ was written in dirty letters.(E/N: Dirty letter, maybe bad handwriting or just stained?)
“That’s the medal I made for Rumi after she came last in the field day run.”
“I still wear it sometimes and look at it in the mirror.
On special occasions when I’ve worked hard.”
“Haha, such an ugly medal.
It’s embarrassing seeing it now.”
“… To me it shines brighter than any necklace.”
Box of Marbles, menko, beigoma, super ball, ramune candy…
After that, Rumi continued to take out individual objects that, to other people, looked like junk, but for us it was about memories that only we could understand.
It was like I was back in those days when we used to have fun together and I was naturally smiling from the bottom of my heart while talking to Rumi.
And as we were like this—
Tears unexpectedly spilled from Rumi’s eyes.
“W-what’s wrong? Did I do something wrong again?”
Immediately the words came out of my mouth like a lousy comic book hero.
Rumi wiped her tears and got down on her knees next to me as I was sitting.
“I, I’ve had so much fun with you, you helped me so much, and yet! And yet I…”
Rumi, with her head on the floor, her voice shaking with tears, continued,
“Ruka, I felt embarrassed to be with you! You didn’t do anything wrong! I got together with everyone else, talked bad about you, and made you feel lonely!”
I listened to Rumi’s confession.
“Actually, I tried to apologize so many times! I wanted to be friends with you like we used to be! I don’t expect you to forgive me now, but I still had to say something!”
“So that’s why you’ve been over to our grandparents’ house so many times.”
“But! There’s nothing I could say to Ruka except bad words.
Even today… that… I’m still not sure what I’m supposed to do… except to take the same attitude that everyone else takes in a moment of… urgency.”
“Rumi, I understand.”
I stopped Rumi’s confession before any further misunderstandings occurred.
“As the hypertrophy got worse, my face and body became uglier and uglier.
My childhood friends who used to play with me, even Rumi’s father, mother and sister who used to take care of me, all thought I was weird and criticized me and kept their distance.”
Rumi was still listening to me with her head on the floor, not wanting to look up.
“ — There’s no way such a young girl as you, Rumi, can live in such a situation without being in tune with her surroundings, right? That’s why I was relieved when Rumi joined with the people around her and distanced herself from me.
Because I know, Rumi isn’t as tough as Saika.”
“B-but! I hurt you, Ruka!”
“Rumi, now that you’ve told me about this, I’m more than happy for the amount you have hurt me.
In fact, it’s a plus point for me.”
“It’s not right for you to forgive me!”
“Why is it Rumi’s decision? I forgive you.
My wish is that I want to be friends with Rumi again like we used to be, just when it’s just the two of us like today.”
Rumi was taken aback when I said that.
Then she let out a long, swooning sigh.
“Haah~, I really can’t compete with you.
Every time we meet at our grandparents’ house, you always cook a delicious meal for me, but if you’d have poisoned me in revenge, it would’ve been a little easier to bear for my heart.”
“Well, after eating the food I make, I always hear Rumi say in a quiet voice, ‘It was delicious…’ That’s what I was striving for, you know.”
“Really, though, it doesn’t make me feel any better.
I suppose there’s nothing I can do against Ruka.”
Hearing my wish, Rumi returned to her old tone.
But I thought surely a little bit of payback might be nice, and I came up with one mean thing to try.
“Oh yeah, Rumi, remember this?”
I said and pulled out a small toy ring I had in my purse.
The moment Rumi saw it, her face turned bright red.
“Hey! Why are you carrying that around?”
“It’s a treasure to me.
I use it as a good luck charm.”
This was the ring Rumi gave me when I was in first grade.
“Please marry Rumi!”
At the time, I happily accepted Rumi’s proposal, which I didn’t really understand the meaning of, as she offered me a toy ring she had bought from a store.
“That was a long time ago! There is no way I’m still in love with Ruka now.”
“Hahaha, I know, I know.
I’ve already given up on the idea that I can’t do something like that in my youth.”
“Ah! That’s not what I meant! You see, Ruka is like a friend to me! It wouldn’t be a good thing to make you aware of me and make things awkward, would it?”
Rumi said so out of concern, but I know that no one in their right mind would see a fatty like me as a man.
“ —But… Yeah! I can at least allow you to go on a date with me when you get back from the States!”
“Haha, if I can walk with such a beautiful girl again, I’d rather get down on my knees myself.”
“Fufufu, isn’t that right? So, get well soon and come home! I’ll be waiting for you!”
Rumi’s expression when she said that was the same smile I wanted to protect when I was a child―
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