e? Well, I’m proud to hear that my childhood friend has won the hearts of the girls.”

“Mooo, Haru-kun’s overreacting!”

Laughing, Karen lightly tapped me on the shoulder.

It hurt like hell.

‘Well, I’ll have to cook sekihan (red rice) today.
Have you told your aunt yet?”

“Mother? No, not yet.
It’s kind of embarrassing, and I thought Haru-kun would be the first to tell you.
I’m going to tell her when I get back.
What’s sekihan? It’s old-fashioned nowadays.”

“Well, I’m just kidding about the red rice.
As a childhood friend, I’d like to celebrate at least a little.
Is there anything you want?”

“I’m not sure what I want to do.
I’m embarrassed… Oh, that’s right.
It’s Christmas, and this year, Saijo-kun and I are going to have, well… a date.”

“I know without being told.
Have fun.”


A big smile bloomed.

Every year, I spent the holiday party with Karen and her sister,Ageha.

But that won’t be happening this year.

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Of course not.
She has a boyfriend.

:I’m not sure if we should go to and from school together.
I don’t want to do anything that might be misunderstood.”

“I’m not sure.

“Why are you apologizing? Unfortunately, I have no taste for interrupting couples.”

I smile back at Karen, who peeks at me apologetically.

I wonder if I am laughing well now.

Karen let out a relieved breath.

It seems that… I was able to laugh well.

“Ah, it feels so good to be able to talk to Haru-kun! Thank you, for coming in the cold.”

Karen smiled pleasantly with her hands outstretched in satisfaction, then slowly stood up.

After looking up at Karen, I turned my attention to the river flowing in front of me.

“I’m going to stay here and relax a little longer.
You should report to your aunt soon, Karen.
I’m sure she’ll be pleased.”

“Ah? Okay, I’ll go home first.”

Waving bye-bye, Karen runs up the slope with light steps.

After her back was out of sight, I looked up at the sky.

The sky, which had been clear until a few minutes ago, was now covered with gray clouds.

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It must be windy today, I thought as I watched the movement of the clouds.

Fluttering, pure white snowflakes were falling from the sky.

So slowly that I could follow it with my eyes.

It gently fell on my cheek as I gazed up at the sky, and then melted away in my body heat.

“… Huh?”

Then, something rolled down my cheek.

When I touched my hand, there was a single drop.

I looked up at the sky again, wondering if the snow was that big.

Droplets drip down my cheeks.

The tops of my eyes are burning.

The dust in the air must have gotten into my eyes.

“Kuh, kuh…”

Something races up to my throat and I bite down hard.

I hug my knees and bury my face between them.

A drop of water drips on the ground.

I couldn’t fool myself any longer.

–My first love was easily shattered.

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