Her Love Towards the Young Girl
Sometimes, I wonder if this is all just a dream.
I have Hinata, Tsubaki, and all these kind people around me. Every day is filled with happiness. I had believed that I would never be able to obtain it in my whole life. But, the unbelievable occurred… and it is now right there in my grasp. A dream—what should have been impossible—has really become a reality.
Once, I let the words slip out of my mouth. I asked Hinata if I was allowed to be happy. After all, I do not deserve all this happiness.
[What are you saying, Hiori? You have to be much, much happier, you know.]
She answered me with a gentle smile on her face.
I cannot believe her. Just how much does she need to brighten my life before she is satisfied?
…From the bottom of my heart, I am grateful to have met Sekiguchi Tsubaki, as well as Hayase Hinata.
I am really glad that I fell in love with her.
“Hey, Hiori-san, are you listening?”
“…I guess not.”
My thoughts that went elsewhere are pulled back to reality by the person in front of me. Rumi-chan looks at my baffled face and makes a wry smile. I try to mask my embarrassment by taking the nearby cup to my lips. Although it has not been long since the tea was poured, it has completely gone cold.
“Fufu, what were you thinking about? Ah, could it be about Nee-san?”
I am shaken up because her guess hits the bullseye. I wonder if she actually has the ability to read minds. However, I refute her while keeping my expression from changing to the best of my abilities, in order to prevent her from noticing my discomposure. Alas, she is unlike her dense elder sister. My words probably does not convince her in the slightest. As proof, she has been giggling since earlier.
“Nee-san is really blessed, isn’t she~ There’s such a beautiful person who’s thinking about her all the time.”
“……Like I said, it’s not what you think.”
I avert my eyes out of embarrassment. Although I am practically admitting her words, I cannot bear looking at her in the eye. My face feels feverish, too.
“Ahaha, you’re so cute, Hiori-san.”
Rumi-chan laughs as though to tease me. The way she laughs resembles her sister, and I cannot help staring at her because of it. They may not be related by blood anymore, but I suppose it does not change the fact that they are truly sisters.
(……Perhaps I have contracted a serious illness.)
Whenever I let my mind wander, I would end up thinking about her. It has been a few months since we started dating, but my fever has not abated to this day. I know better than to let love govern my emotions, and I feel ashamed of myself. I may have obtained a lover, but I am also a mother. I need to compose myself… but my feelings for her keep growing by the day. It is a really troubling matter.
“Haah~ even though Hiori-san is thinking about Nee-san so wholeheartedly, when it comes to the person in question…”
Rumi-chan puts her hand on her face and sighs in an exaggerated manner. She frowns, as though the smile she showed earlier was a lie.
“After you’ve finally started going out, Nee-san took a part-time job in just a few days, didn’t she?”
“Yes, she did.”
She did not consult me, nor did she mention it to me. It took me by surprise when she suddenly started a part-time job shortly after we started dating. However, since it was what she had decided for herself, I am not particularly against it.
“I mean, can you believe it? Normally, when two people in love other start dating, they would flirt to their heart’s content. But of all things, Nee-chan took a part-time job instead!”
“Flirt to their heart’s content…?”
“Hiori-san, the number of times you can see Nee-san has decreased because of it, right?”
It is as she says. Starting since Hinata had a part-time job, the times we can meet have decreased considerably. The times when she comes to visit are limited to when she is not at work. Not to mention that her breaks are generally on the weekdays. Because we end up having separate holidays, we have been meeting less frequently. Even though it is Sunday today, I have not seen Hinata all day.
“Don’t you feel lonely?”
In truth, it feels so lonely. I want to stay with her more. Although spending saccharine moments every day like a pair of lovebirds would be too much, all I hope is for her to stay with me.
However, I will never tell her that even if my mouth is torn apart.
“…Hiori-san, you’ve changed.”
“In the past, you’d never let your expression crumble no matter what happens, but… you look really lonely right now.”
Rumi-chan smiles to me, seemingly pleased about it. I did not intend to reveal my feelings, but I suppose it shows on my face. In the past, I would never give away my emotions to anyone. Have I changed… as she says?
“I think you don’t need to hold it in. You can ask Nee-san to spoil you more.”
“I… can’t do that.”
“Why? Nee-san must be feeling the same, too.”
Hinata is too kind.
She will grant anything I wish. She will gladly sacrifice herself if she needs to. She is stupid like that. That is why, I do not want to trouble her by asserting my selfish needs. It is not my wish to burden her. I want her to live for her own sake.
“Well, although it’s not my intention to meddle too much in a private matter between the two of you… Still, I think it’s bad for you to keep these things to yourself.”
“If there’s something you want to say, you need to properly put in in your words or actions. Otherwise, you’ll end up regretting it, you know?”
This is how I have always behaved. No matter how much I want to convey my feelings, in the end, I would regret not saying it. I kept the words hidden, and there were times when it led to something irreversible. Regardless of how many times I have experienced it, I would repeat the same mistake all over again.
“Yup, it’s really scary, and difficult to be honest with your feelings… But, I’m sure Nee-san will accept it. Believe in her.”
How mysterious. Listening to her words makes me calm. Rumi-chan had supported me, she stayed by my side when I was mourning Tsubaki’s death. Truly, I cannot thank her enough.
“But you know, Rumi-chan. Although it feels a little lonely not being able to meet her…… even so, I already feel content.”
I managed to reconcile with my daughter after not seeing eye to eye for years. I met my precious other again, whom I had lost before. I was able to convey my feelings to her, and she accepted them. Furthermore, I am surrounded by all these warmhearted people who would watch over me, and help.
I feel happy every day.
So happy that it feels wasted on me.
“…Hiori-san, you and Nee-san are really awkward with each other.”
“I suppose you’re right.”
Hearing my answer, Rumi-chan holds her elbows on the table and rests her chin on her hands. Every now and then, I consult her about things that I cannot say to Hinata, and she would give me various advice. I have practically no one I can call friends, so she is one of the only few people that I trust.
“But, at this rate, your relationship won’t be able to progress at all… Or has it?”
“……What do you mean?”
“I mean, have you done anything couple-like?”
“Knowing Nee-san, it would be difficult for you to flirt with each other– Hiori-san, your face is getting red… Wait, could it be?”
She ends up finding out, especially because I seem to have become more upfront with my feelings. I have wanted to regain my expressionless self before, but not as much as I do today.
“Hmm~? Is it really what I think it is~?”
Rumi-chan bends her body forward eagerly and brings her face close to mine. She can leer at me with those glittering eyes, but there is simply no way that I will tell her about ‘that time’. While I am stumbling over my words, I end up recalling about what happened, and my face becomes even hotter.
“Fufu, here I thought that both of you were late bloomers. I’m relieved to know that you’ve done something together at least.”
It is so embarrassing that I feel like dying. I want to run away here right this instant. I cannot look at Rumi-chan directly, so I try to feign composure by drinking the cooled tea in one go.
“Although I really want to hear about the details…”
“I know that Hiori-san will never tell me even if I ask… so I won’t. Please stop glaring at me like that.”
“…I’m not glaring or anything.”
It’s simply the way I hide my embarrassment. It appears that she does not intend to continue this topic, as she blatantly starts talking about something else.
“Come to think of it, Nee-san has been getting taller, hasn’t she? Even though she told me before that she might have stopped growing.”
Hinata’s height is now around the same as Rumi-chan, and a tad bit shorter than mine. She was only as tall as the average high school girls on the day I reunited with her, but she has grown much taller since. The person in question had wanted to become taller, so she must be thrilled about it.
“Tsubaki-chan has grown quite big, too. Like her chest, and you know… her chest.”
“…It seems to be weighing on her mind, though. She said that having big breasts was embarrassing for her, and she didn’t like it.”
“That makes me envious. If only I can have a bit more for myself……”
“Rumi-chan, you already have a decent pair, don’t you?”
Her breasts are not that big, but they are by no means small, either. Perhaps it would be correct to say that she has the average size, which should be sufficient for girls. From the perspective of someone who has much to be desired when it comes to breasts, it would sound like luxury needs on her part.
“They’re not as big as yours, though, Hiori-san. Hmm, I wonder if it’s the genes… Mom has the average size, and so did Nee-san in the past.”
Says Rumi-chan as she taps on her own chest. Even though I believe that she has the ideal size when it comes to her breasts, I decide to remain silent because it would only sound like a sarcasm coming from me.
“Still… Tsubaki-chan has really grown, hasn’t she? She was only a small child just the other day.”
“Yes, she has.”
Watching my daughter grow up makes me happy, and lonely at the same time. The child Tsubaki has gotten so big, and she is going to be a third year high school student soon. Time really flies. The period when she can remain a child is going to be over. In this short moment until the day she leaves my side, I wonder if there is something which I can give her as her parent.
“Many things happened, but time really flies, doesn’t it?”
“Indeed. Rumi-chan, you have grown so mature yourself, while I must be getting on in years.”
“Ahaha, I feel a bit embarrassed to hear that. But Hiori-san, your beauty hasn’t changed at all. I think I’m jealous.”
“You know that’s not true.”
“Well~ you know what they say about a woman in love~”
She breaks into another mischievous grin. She often teases me like this recently. Although I am at a loss at what I can do about it, surprisingly, I find myself not minding it that much. I wonder… if this is what ‘talking about my love’ means. If it is true, then how embarrassing it would be to continue this conversation.
I believed my daughter was in the middle of her studies. However, she turns up behind the door to the living room, peeking from the slight opening. She timidly enters the room after looking inside for a short while.
“I’m out of erasers, so I’ll be heading out to buy some. Ah, I will be shopping for dinner while I’m at it.”
“Is that so? Tell me if it’s going to be too much to carry by yourself. I’ll accompany you if you want.”
“Mm-mm, I’m okay. I’m not going to buy that much today.”
I cannot find the time to do housework because I am usually busy working. Tsubaki does pretty much everything in my stead. I would love to help during my rest days at least, but it seems to be increasing Tsubaki’s work even more. Perhaps it is because I am not accustomed to doing house chores.
“Aww~ Tsubaki-chan is always such a good girl… Onee-san is so happy to see that you’ve grown so mature, yup.”
“R-Rumi-san, what are you saying all of a sudden? Were you drinking?”
“S-so cruel! Tsubaki-chan, you’re starting to become a bit like your Mom recently… in terms of personality.”
“And what do you mean by that?”
“Nope, nothing at all.”
Rumi-chan looks uncomfortable under my stare, as she averts her eyes and looks away to the distance.
Then, it seems as though she has just remembered something. She takes out her cell phone from her pocket and looks at the display. Was it actually a mail? Although, her expression swiftly turns overcast. Tsubaki and I exchange glances and we wait for Rumi-chan to finish reading through it.
“Sheesh, that girl…”
She flips her cell phone shut before heaving a sigh.
“……Saki-chan ran away.”
“She’s supposed to be studying until a while later, but she sneaked away to play somewhere. That’s what Emiko-san told me in the mail.”
“That… sounds to be quite the trouble.”
She will be taking the high school entrance exam in the near future. I believe she is applying where Tsubaki and Hinata are attending. It seems that she is giving an extra effort to study this year, although it makes me wonder if she is going to be fine. Speaking of which, I heard from Hinata that her grades are barely making it, which is a source of her worries.
“I look away for one second, and here’s what she does… Geez.”
“A-ahaha… It does sound like what Saki-chan would do.”
As a matter of fact, Rumi-chan came to visit after she finished tutoring at the Hayase’s. She is truly enthusiastic with her profession to take care of a student who is preparing for an examination on top of having to do her own job.
“Tsubaki-chan, you said you’re going shopping, right? Can I go with you? I’ll search for Saki-chan along the way.”
“I don’t mind.”
“Well then, Hiori-san, I’ll be leaving for today.”
“Yes, do your worst.”
She gets up from her seat and clenches her fists in eagerness. I suppose it is just a matter of time until that child gets caught. Although I feel sorry for her, there is simply no other way around it. I understand the desire to go out and play after doing nothing but study, but she needs to bear with it if she wants to pass the upcoming exam.
“I’ll quickly bring her home and make her do the latest workbook as her punishment!”
“…Don’t be too harsh on her, all right?”
I have always been thinking that Rumi-chan always deals with Hinata’s little sister spontaneously. How do I put it, it is as though I can see the glint in her eyes. They always quarrel whenever they meet, but I am certain that it is by no means because they are in bad terms. Yes, perhaps it is because they get along so well that they keep bickering with each other. It is endearing when I think about it that way.
“See you, Hiori-san. Be good with Nee-san, okay?”
“I’m heading out, Mom.”
“Ah, wait a moment.”
I open one of the drawers to retrieve a hand knit scarf, and I wrap it around Tsubaki’s neck. This is the scarf that I knitted for Tsubaki, my first handiwork after a series of trials and errors. I had finished it a while ago, but I have completely forgotten to give it to her… In addition, I am planning to knit another one with a different color as a present for Hinata.
“Wow… thank you very much! Ehehe.”
She buries her face in the scarf, looking happy to receive it. I am relieved to see that my present has pleased her.
“Good for you, Tsubaki-chan.”
“Be careful on your away.”
After seeing them off, I return to the living room alone. I bring the empty cups to the kitchen and wash them before returning to the sofa to relax. The place has suddenly turned quiet, and I only sit there in a daze.
Just as I start to ponder about my next course of action, I can hear the front door opening. I get up from the sofa, assuming that it is either Tsubaki or Rumi-chan, who comes back because one of them forgets something.
The voice that I hear from the entrance is, in fact, the voice of the person that I want to meet the most right now. My chest heats up from inside just from hearing that voice. My body acts before my thought can follow, carrying me to the entryway in quick steps. There, I see Hinata, who is in the midst of removing her shoes. Noticing my appearance, she shows a broad smile and calls my name cheerfully.
“Hinata… aren’t you working today?”
“Yup, I did. My shift ended earlier than usual, so here I am.”
After Hinata finishes taking off her shoes, we head to the living room together. Then, she sprawls on the sofa as soon as she reaches it.
…No matter how I see it, she is obviously tired. Knowing her, she must be forcing herself to come here, even though she is worn out. I am glad that I could see her, but not if she strains herself like this.
“Hinata, aren’t you tired? …You didn’t have to force yourself to come. I’m doing all right.”
I am not doing all right in the least. However, the words that come out from my mouth are the exact opposite of my true feelings. I wonder why I cannot be honest with myself. Even though I want her to stay by my side more, why am I unable to tell her clearly? It feels so vexing that I might start crying from self-hatred.
Hinata quietly draws near and grasps my hand. Her hand feels soft, warm, and pleasant to the touch. The slight warmth from her hand spreads to my whole body.
“Hiori, you know what? I’m not forcing myself. I’m here because I want to meet you.”
Then, she places her other hand on my head. Until a few months ago, she would have to overreach herself to do that, but she is now able to do it easily. My heart jolts from experiencing her growth firsthand.
“You don’t want to meet me, Hiori?”
“That’s… not true.”
A gentle smile sprouts on her face, as though to show that my answer relieves her from the bottom of her heart.
I love her smile. It is so dazzling… like the sun. Watching it soothes me. It gives me a peace of mind. How many times have her smile healed me, saved me?
I raise my head when she calls my name. She is looking at me with a serious expression, which is unusual for her.
“If there’s something you want to say, then say it without keeping it to yourself. I’m stupid and thickheaded, so I won’t understand if you don’t say anything. Hiori, I don’t want you to be hurt without me knowing. It’d be hard for me to accept.”
I feel her grip on my hand become just a bit tighter.
“You’re spoiling me. You let me do what I want, and you agree to it. Before, I would restrain myself, thinking that I didn’t want to trouble you. But Hiori, you told me that it’s okay for me to act pampered. Thanks to that, I get to do the things I want without having to worry about it. I get to understand the importance of relying on someone else.”
She uses her other hand to brush my hair gently. Perhaps she likes fiddling with my hair, she would touch it when she has the chance. Having my hair caressed like this feels ticklish, but I do not hate this sensation. Actually, I quite love it.
“That’s why, Hiori, if anything bothers you, don’t hold it in. You don’t need to reserve yourself around me… Rather, I think I want you to rely on me more than anything.”
She gently brings me to her embrace, so I bury my face on her shoulder. I inhale her sweet fragrance, and it calms me down. Even if I turn the whole world upside down, I will never find someone else who can sprout these feelings within me like she can.
——I do not want to lose this warmth a second time.
“What is it?”
As I grasp her clothes, I can feel my hand trembling slightly.
“Actually… I feel lonely.”
“I want you to stay by my side.”
My voice is hoarse.
It is terrifying to convey what I really feel. But, even so… I want you to know, that this is how much I love you.
“…I’m sorry that I can’t meet you so often, Hiori. But, I’m glad to know that you also feel lonely like me. You always seem like you’re doing completely fine by yourself, so I thought that I was the only the only who felt this way… you know?”
Her tight embrace brings warmth to both my body and soul. The anxiety and loneliness that I was feeling are no longer there to be found.
“Let’s speak out what we really feel without holding back. I’m sure that all the anxiety will be gone, and we can get a common ground like that.”
“…Yes, I suppose you’re right. I will give it my utmost effort.”
We release from our hug and gaze at each other. I slowly close my eyes, and I can feel a warm, supple sensation on my lips. And another, but this time longer, and deeper than the one before. Not just once or twice, we hold entwine our fingers as we kiss each other again and again from different angles.
I break away slightly since I am running out of breath, but she ends up bumping her forehead against mine. Both of us are blushing, and we giggle at each other. I can feel her nervousness from our linked hands, and it relieves me because similarly, she understands that I am just as nervous… Perhaps, both of us really are awkward like that.
“I’m fine with us meeting once in a while like this, so… Hinata, do your best and follow through what you want to do until the end.”
“Won’t you get lonely?”
“Nope, I won’t get lonely at all… as if.”
Relying on someone is entirely different from being dependent. Instead of depending on her one-sidedly, I want us to stand next to each other. I want to support her, like how she supports me.
I want to be the person who truly understands her. I want both of us to walk the path of happiness, along with all the people in our surroundings. I would have never thought about it this way in the past, but I do not want to lie to myself anymore.
When I lean in close to her, she gently pushes me down to the sofa.
Normally, she acts indifferently to everything, but a certain mood would make her become really assertive. While I do not find her pass disagreeable, as much as I regret it, I decide to lightly push Hinata away.
“W-we can’t. I don’t know when Tsubaki might come home.”
“Ah, I see.”
She understandingly puts some distance between us and sits upright on the sofa. Although, the fact that she backs away so easily makes me feel sad for some reason. Would it hurt if she acts reluctant about it, even a bit?
(But, I would be hard pressed to refuse if it really comes to that.)
On the other hand, she only acts this aggressive on rare occasions, which makes today feel like a waste. In fact, I wonder when the next opportunity will come… Although, this thinking process is similar to the signs of sexual frustration. How embarrassing.
“Ah, right. Mom said that you should come over once in a while.”
“…………I’ll think about it.”
“You’re not good around my Mom, after all.”
True, I find it difficult to deal with her. It does not mean that I hate her, though. In truth, I am impressed to witness her inexhaustible cheerfulness. Furthermore, she has more energy than the average people, and is thoughtful, even to the smallest hints. Those are the traits that I hold in respect.
However… every time we meet, she would drag me into her high pace. As a person who lacks the social disposition for it, I do not have the slightest idea how to cope with her. Still, I believe that I should be able to talk normally with a person as kind as her.
“But, isn’t your sister in a difficult period right now? I heard that she ran away from home earlier, and Rumi-chan went out to search.”
“Aah… so she did it again… Well, Saki will be fine since she has Rumi to look out for her. Saki is, in her own way, a tenacious girl who hates to lose.”
A gentle, ‘elder sister’ smile shows on her face. She may be worried about her sisters, but she also places her trust in them.
“What about you, Hinata? Aren’t the college exams coming next year? Are you studying properly?”
“I’ll be fine. My grades and academics are all in the clear, and I might get some recommendations, too.”
“That’s good and all… but have you decided on where you will go?”
“I haven’t thought of the details yet, but I’ve decided on the path that I’ll take.”
There is no hesitation in her words. I can feel her composure clearly. It appears that she has decided on her future career. In that case, I am sure that she will do just fine.
Our talk is cut short. Even though there are mountains of things and topics that I want to share with her, I cannot seem to put them into words. Usually, Hinata would bring up a topic to help this poor talker to fit into the conversation, but…
Thinking that she has become strangely quiet, I find Hinata sleeping next to me with a tired look on her face. As I thought… she must be tired. I try to shake her shoulder, but she is not waking up at all. She will end up catching a cold if she sleeps in a place like this. I must do something about it.
As much as I want to let her sleep on the bed, it will take a Herculean effort for me to carry someone who is almost the same height as me. As powerless as I am, even fixing her sleeping posture on the sofa proves to be impossible. Covering her with a blanket is about the only thing that I can do to prevent her from catching a cold. However, just when I am about to go and fetch the blanket, Hinata leans against me, preventing me from moving. As her head leans on my shoulder, I can only remain still, watching her sleeping peacefully.
“There’s no helping it.”
Tsubaki will arrive home before long, so it is all right to let her sleep for a while longer. I gently sweep her bangs to the side, and I gaze at her sleeping face.
“Fufu… this reminds me of the old times.”
She would come to visit, only to take a nap instead. A really thoughtless girl she was. She would always use my shoulder in place of a pillow, sleeping as though it felt so comfortable. Even though she was supposed to be the older one, I had always thought of her to be unreliable, simple-minded, and childish. However, she had always been much, much more mature than me. She is kind, always giving it her all… and she is incredibly good-natured, putting others before herself.
“Thank you, Hinata.”
Thank you for protecting Tsubaki, and me. Thank you very much for teaching me that life is priceless.
Please stay with me, and smile… always.