After enjoying ourselves at the pool, Chinatsu-chan and I were on our way back home.
“Thanks for teaching me how to swim today.
Let’s go on a date next time to make it up to you.”
“You just want to go on a date with me, don’t you, Masa-kun”
“Don’t you want to go on a date with me, Chinatsu-chan”
“… I want to go on a date.”
I smoothly asked about her plans.
I was excellent at getting her to go on a date with me.
On the way home at dusk.
I headed for Chinatsu-chan’s house.
“I’ll see you off until you enter the house today.”
After the trouble with Osako last time, my concern was probably justified.
Chinatsu-chan nodded her head without a word of complaint.
“Anyway, next time we go to the pool, let’s have a match next time.
I’ve learned to swim, too.”
“Ara, you just learned to swim today, and you want to compete with me I am a pretty fast swimmer, you know.”
Chinatsu-chan was confidently puffing out her chest.
She also looked cute with a triumphant expression on her face.
It will be summer vacation soon.
We will be able to go to the pool again, and even if we don’t, there will be many summer events.
I would be able to enjoy summer with a girl, whom I had only admired for a long time, as my lover.
Until now, I could only realize this in my dreams.
I stopped, and Chinatsu-chan tilted her head.
Turning the corner ahead, we would soon be at Chinatsu-chan’s house.
This was the only place I could tell her.
My chest ached with nervousness.
Perhaps my nervousness showed, Chinatsu-chan’s cheeks turned red.
“To Chinatsu-chan… there’s something I have to say…”
“Yes…, what do you have to tell me”
As long as Matsuyuki knew, I couldn’t hide it anymore.
In front of Chinatsu-chan’s eyes, I lowered my head so much that it almost touched the ground.
“Hey, what happened all of a sudden, Masa-kun!”
“I… was actually there.”
“Eh, there… what are you talking about”
She wouldn’t understand if I told her this out of the blue.
It was too out of context.
So, I explained it in a way that she could understand.
“……That day at school, the day Chinatsu-chan was abused by Osako.
I was there too.”
Chinatsu-chan let out a puzzled voice.
I continued regardless.
“It was just a coincidence that I saw you.
But after that, I pretended I didn’t know that and approached you …….
I thought that if I comforted you,… you might turn to me,….”
I thought I would never have to say this.
Just as a kind male friend.
And I wanted her to think that I was treating her that way, as a man who had always had feelings for her.
At the last minute, I did something sly.
I could have saved her, but I didn’t.
Instead, I took a chance and overlooked her predicament and told her how I felt, even though I knew she was vulnerable.
Now my guilty conscience came out.
Matsuyuki pointed out to me that I had chosen a cowardly means and exposed myself.
“I’m really ….
The result was important.
But the process leading up to it was also important.
If you take bad steps, someone may be watching you do it.
At the very least, you are sure to be watched by yourself, the one who made the choice.
It becomes a thorn in your heart.
The silence felt very long.
I wondered what kind of face Chinatsu-chan was making right now.
With my head still down, I had no way to check her expression.
No, perhaps it would be better if I couldn’t see it.
What if Chinatsu-chan looked at me with disdain… Just imagining it filled me with fear.
“… Masa-kun, look up.”
If you don’t look up, I can’t even talk to you!”
I looked up and responded to the powerful voice.
I could not read any emotion from Chinatsu-chan’s expression.
An ambiguous expression that could be angry, sad, or even happy.
Masa-kun… do you love me”
“Of course I love you.
I’ve always loved you, Chinatsu-chan… really, it’s not a lie.”
I found myself thinking that my words were not convincing.
Still, now I had no choice but to put words on top of words.
If I didn’t tell her, she wouldn’t understand.
She muttered quietly.
I was about to say something, but she started to speak and I stopped there.
(A/N: Chako-san asked Akki Kotaro-san to draw a swimsuit illustration of Chinatsu.
Thank you so much! (nosebleed…)
T/N: Thank You SirGallicia for posting