Our training camp passed very quickly with a bunch of people with nothing to do messing around, it was mostly me taking them around to different places. In between Utusukushi-chan would also regularly come looking for me after school, and I of course was very happy to walk with her down streets we’re both very familiar with, looking for the memory footprints we left behind together.
In the turn of an eye only the last day remained. This day Kamina Eno surprisingly made a request. She wanted to go see her grandfather, Ando-sensei. Where Ando-sensei lives is around the location my family lived before we moved. It’s a relatively long distance from here.
Even though Kamina Eno made this request, she doesn’t know where Ando-sensei’s home is. Thus the task of taking her to see Ando-sensei fell upon me. So at the night of this day, me and Kamina Eno set foot on the journey towards the home of her grandfather, Ando-sensei, but the mode of transportation is…
「Senpai, even though I don’t know where you got this bicycle from, I think it was already banned a long time ago to carry another person on a bike?」
「So what, it’s not like this place has anyone who will care about this, right?」
「Senpai… I’ve already said this isn’t some backwater place, and even if it was, Japan’s laws would still take effect.」
「Don’t worry about this sort of unimportant thing, bring out your boldness as a lolicon!」
「What is this so-called boldness of a lolicon? It’s the boldness you’re talking about that’s dangerous isn’t it? That so many lolicons would commit crimes is because of this boldness of yours, right?」
「If you have the time to shoot off tsukkomis here it would be better for you to go there earlier.」
I finally understand that objecting now is useless, I can only choose to let Kamina Eno sit on the back seat of this old style bicycle.
I won’t ask her “Are you good”, this is completely pointless, I can only directly tell her to sit tight.
「After I get on remember to hold onto me.」
I get onto the seat and then step hard on the pedal. The bicycle starts moving steadily.
「Hurry up and go find pok*mon!」
「Akiha-senpai, no matter what shouldn’t you be saying go find One Piece?」
I gradually move further away, wonder if Akiha-senpai heard my tsukkomi. Kamina Eno sits quietly behind me, her hand grabbing my shirt. She’s not holding on very tightly so it looks like sitting at the back is very safe.
At this time the sky has already gradually darkened, dusk is about to be swallowed by the dark night.
The street lamps by the two sides of the street have already lit up, this ensures the safety of bicycling. After riding for a very long distance I suddenly feel Kamina Eno sticking to my back behind me. The soft touch stimulates my heart, if it was under normal circumstances maybe I could have a good feel of it, but right now I’m riding a bike.
「Hey, don’t sleep! If you fall asleep you might fall off the bike!」
「No matter how sleepy you are you can’t fall asleep on the back seat of the bike!」
「Listen to me!」
I slowly stop the bicycle, Kamina Eno is leaning against my back and about to fall. After approximately estimating the distance I discover that we’re basically about to arrive at our destination. I decide to first stop and leave the bicycle around here and carry sleepy Kamina Eno over to Ando-sensei’s home.
It’s difficult for me to carry Kamina Eno who has a tall figure, but she is sleeping very peacefully on my back. Traversing the streets illuminated by the street lamps, not long later I arrive at Ando-sensei’s home. This place is also my childhood art studio.
「Hey, hey, we’re here, don’t sleep anymore.」
Slowly putting down Kamina Eno, I shake her body. Only after shaking for a long while does she wake up.
「No matter how sleepy you are you’ve got to go in! After all we’ve already arrive at the destination, you go in by yourself then, I won’t be going in.」
「Are you going to be sleeping here at Ando-sensei’s place tonight?」
「Sleep… Don’t sleep?」
「Forget it… Just sleep here for a night, I’ll come pick you up tomorrow morning, okay? Say okay.」
After watching Kamina Eno enter the house, I’m about to go back to retrieve the bicycle and return to the inn. At this time I notice the starry sky above my head, the scattered stars are bright and dazzling. This place is very close to that park, I suddenly want to go see that park.
Traversing the crisscrossing streets, my vision opens up. It was precisely here that the childhood me holding a drawing pencil and blank paper saw that figure.
Right now the night wind is whispering and the bright moon hangs in the middle of the sky, the sound of flapping leaves rustle in the air.
And just like that night, her head is slightly raised, dots of starlight are reflected in her clear pupils.
I mutter in a daze, even though my voice is very soft she still hears it.
「I was betting…」
Her cold voice is as though it travelled from across time, bringing up the emotions I’ve suppressed for so many years.
「Betting whether or not you would come here tonight.」
She slowly approaches me, the glow of the moon shines on her pure white face, making her beautiful and enchanting.
「If you didn’t come, we wouldn’t cross paths again in the future, but you came.」
I don’t know how to describe my current feelings. If a heart as still as water describes calm, then right now my heart is like boiling water.
「Could it be that you still remember me…」
「That sketch is very pretty.」
「Is that so.」
Me and her both fall into silence, I absolutely couldn’t have thought that my sudden whim tonight would actually let me see her.
「After I knew your training camp location, I thought for a few days and returned to this place, just this one night.」
「Didn’t you say that night that to you, I was just like a shooting star?」
「I once thought so.」
「I don’t understand.」
Right there is a voice in my heart constantly shouting to me, “Add colour to the sketch for her”, but I can’t say it.
「I’ve always remembered you, because to me you were also a shooting star, but where you fell was in my heart.」
「It’s very rare for me to do something of unknown significance like today.」
The impression she’s given me has always been rational.
「I’ve also never thought of what to do when meeting you again.」
「Maybe you don’t need to think too much, after all it was just a chance encounter in childhood.」
Yoruhisa Shikuyuki’s voice starts becoming firm.
「Is that so, I once thought I liked you.」
「Your feelings to me definitely wouldn’t be love.」
Only towards this matter is her attitude very resolute.
「Because I am also in that sketch, to you I’m just a part of a beautiful scenery, not a special, independent existence.」
So is that how it is… She is indeed also drawn in the sketch I drew, my impression of her has also always stayed at “The girl under the starry sky”. Because to me, the starry sky and her are both scenery?
「Your appearance changed me.」
「Why do you say so?」
「I became a lolicon.」
It isn’t something that I would be mocked for. I truthfully tell her about my change, this is a change that was made because of her.
「You really did say a very amazing thing, it’s because of me?」
「I’ve always been unable to forget your beauty under the starry sky that night.」
「So for you, will the current me disappoint you?」
「Yes, because the you of right now is no longer the you of the past. My impression of you has always remained in the past.」
She softly arranges her black hair that was ruffled by the night wind.
「So your “Loliconism” was born from being unable to forget the me of the past?」
「You are the cause.」
I shamelessly push all of the blame to her as though shirking responsibility.
「I understand, I will take responsibility.」
Facing my unreasonable behaviour, she does not care.
「I will do my best to help you get together with Hatsuyuki, the me of the past in your heart is very similar to her right.」
「Just looking at appearances, yes.」
「Regardless of for her or for you, going out with her is meaningful, is it not?」
「If that’s how you think.」
Slowly what I say no longer passes through my mind, the voice produced from air passing through the vibrating vocal cords, with their sound determined by the curve of the tongue mechanically produces insincere words using this sort of process as though on an assembly line.
「I’m leaving now, let’s treat today as putting an end to our chance encounter in the past, is that okay?」
I absolutely can’t say okay, this definitely isn’t the best ending.
I slowly take back control of my mind and smash to pieces the factory producing meaningless words.
「I feel like I should make one think clear.」
I don’t directly respond to her.
「I am a lolicon, you are also indeed the cause, but… All you brought to me was endless confusion.」
This is a line of unknown significance to her, but she still silently listens to me speak.
「After you left that night, every time I thought of you I would feel confused. I clearly like the you under that night sky, but when I think of you what I feel even more is confusion. Your appearance was without warning, your departure severed hope, what you gave to me only remained uncertainty.
「But I still couldn’t help thinking about you, I don’t understand what kind of person you are, so all I had left was the memory of your appearance. I wanted to search for existences similar to you, wanted to make up for the confusion you brought to me through them.」
「Luckily I encountered existences who have the same appearance as you. Different from you is that I have the chance to explore their inner self, their thoughts are mysterious but worth longing for. Their emotions easily tug at my heartstrings, their every smile and frown, their every movement makes me deeply captivated!」
「So I became a lolicon! A lolicon who felt confused because of you and ultimately obtained salvation, finding my faith!」
「Maybe I do care a lot about your little sister Yoruhisa Hatsuyuki, and I also initially noticed her because I saw your shadow in her. But if I like her, the reason is definitely not because I want her to become your replacement. She is an independent existence, absolutely not your shadow. Yoruhisa Shikuyuki, you are the snow and ice that befell too early before midwinter, you took away my freedom too early, making me live my days in confusion while constantly thinking of you. While your little sister Yoruhisa Hatsuyuki, she is that first snow that should appear in the middle of the cold winter. Her appearance symbolizes the beginning, maybe I will be able to let everything restart because of her, walking out of the cage called “Yoruhisa Shikuyuki” because of her and not searching for your shadow in her.」
「I am a lolicon, I like little lolis who can heal me. I will cherish and protect them with my all, because I love them. Not the feeling of love towards you who briefly appeared, but the “love” of being willing to devote all of my feelings. These are the thoughts in the heart of a lolicon called “Aoba Oku”, do you understand!?」
My throat starts feeling dry due to saying too much and lacking water, but I feel very relaxed. I’ve already said everything that I need to say to this person who had always left a shadow in my heart.
Yoruhisa Shikuyuki slightly opens her pink lips but doesn’t speak. Her eyes are filled with confusion, my words make her fall into deep thought.
Is this her answer after thinking for so long?
「I don’t need your apology, this is just me acting on my own and getting lost in confusion because of you, it has nothing to do with you. Maybe I even need to thank you, it’s precisely because of you that I could find an existence truly worthy of my love.」
「Is that so? Then have you ever thought that I have also always been thinking about the starry sky that night, thinking of the words we exchanged, thinking of the serious expression on your face when drawing.」
This times it’s my turn to not know what to say. Yoruhisa Shikuyuki slowly tells me her feelings.
「I didn’t want our paths to intersect gain, didn’t want to think of you again. But the more I didn’t want, the deeper I got caught up within. I would regret, regret parting ways without even telling you my name. I would also be thankful, thankful I once met you who would work hard so draw for me.」
「I’m just a completely normal girl, even more so after I lost my parents. I would feel scared. When we were young, me and Hatsuyuki were both raised by our maternal grandmother in Kandatsu. When Hatsuyuki went to elementary school we returned to our home in Tokyo. That year I was in the fourth grade, grandmother died of sickness. The grandmother who had watched me grow up, my most beloved grandmother would leave me. Her departure would make me sorrowful, make me pained. I’m just a normal girl, I’m scared of the sadness brought about when saying farewell to the people I care about.」
「That night, when I came out of grandmother’s mourning hall for a walk I met you. I couldn’t have not cared about what you did for me, but I was afraid of coming in contact with you, because I wasn’t a person who belonged to this land. I firmly believed we wouldn’t meet again, so I wasn’t willing to tell you my name. I thought in my heart that if it was like this, I wouldn’t feel sad about parting ways, because it was just the farewell of two strangers with brief contact.」
I’ve never before seen this sort of lonely and helpless expression on Yoruhisa Shikuyuki’s face. The cold expression this girl has always maintained was shred apart by me.
「I also don’t need your apology, this is also the consequence wrought by my self-assertion. Not only does it affect me, it has also affected you.」
So this was all our own sins.
「Yoruhisa Shikuyuki, forget everything in the past, let’s settle things today. Only doing so after knowing the other person’s true thoughts does it have meaning.」
「That’s also what I was thinking, I brought the drawing over.」
Yoruhisa Shikuyuki takes out the folded sketch, on the drawing is only a black and white starry sky and a girl. I walk up to her and twist a corner of the drawing, she twists the other corner and we pull in opposite directions. With the light sound released from the wood fibres of the paper being ripped, the girl and the starry sky fall to pieces.
We rip the entire drawing into countless pieces and throw them in the air. The scraps of paper drift away with the night wind.
「I will help you cure your sister’s androphobia, but it’s not for you.」
「It’s because the lolicon Aoba Oku likes Hatsuyuki, is this the reason.」
I raise my head looking at that boundless, dazzling starry sky.
「I am a lolicon, I will devote my everything for lolis, they are my faith.」
Taking in the beautiful scenery before me, I then look at that stunningly beautiful girl, looking at her deep eyes.
「Aoba Oku, is no longer a lolicon because of Yoruhisa Shikuyuki, but a lolicon due to love from the bottom of his heart towards little lolis.」
「Aoba Oku, is no longer a lolicon because of me, but because of love.」
The girl dwells on my words while I turn around leaving this park. This time it’s me leaving without saying goodbye.
Accompanying me is only the night wind and the stars.