Ch 1 Broken heart one week before Christmas

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The white breath I let out dissolves into the air.

With Christmas coming up next week, my childhood friend Karen Aizawa called me to the riverside in my neighbourhood.

Sitting on a gentle slope, I suddenly looked next to her.

“So, what did you want to talk about?”

Karen, who was sitting on the ground in the same way as I was, staring up at the blue sky in a daze, was startled by my call and began to fidget with her cheeks, looking embarrassed in some way.

“… I’m kind of embarrassed to report this to Haru-kun again.”

She glances at me and then quickly looks away.

Hearing her voice, filled with shame, yet bouncing with joy, I secretly sigh that I knew that was the story.

She is unaware of the cruelty of telling this report to me, of all people.

Because she is insensitive.
She is insensitive, but kind.

She is trying to tell me with the best intentions from the bottom of her heart, not to hide anything from me, whom she has known since kindergarten.

She has waist-length wet-feather black hair and a well-defined bridge of her nose.
I had already heard that Karen Aizawa, who is famous for being one of the prettiest girls in the school, had a boyfriend.

“Um, you know…”

Karen, who had no idea that this was the case, opened her mouth with an expression she had never shown me before.

“Ah! I’m going out with Saijo-kun.”

“—-“

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Saijo-kun is Toru Saijo, the ace of the Yodogishi High School soccer team that we are attending this year.

As his title “ace” suggests, he is one of the best players in the prefecture, and already wears the ace number “10” on his back in his second year.

In addition, he has a model-like style and face.
He has countless female fans.

There is no way I can win…

If there is such a difference, perhaps I will give up once and for all.

“……”

I lifted my gaze, which had once been downcast, to look at Karen, and she was staring at me with a face like a bright red apple.

She seemed to be waiting for me to say something.
She was waiting to hear what her childhood friend, Haruto Kanda, had to say.

… Don’t even think about me.

For a moment, I felt something flare up in my chest, but I almost swallowed it.

Since Karen conveyed her good intentions to me, I must also return the good intentions.

I must never hurt her with my selfish feelings.

So, I opened my mouth to offer my blessing.

“–Ah.”

A muffled, inarticulate voice spills out.

It was a pitiful voice that could have been snatched away by the winter winds in a single breath.

“…”

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I closed my mouth once.

Don’t dwell on this forever!

I livened myself up and opened my mouth again, this time slowly.

“Congratulations, Karen.
Saijo-senpai is the ace of the soccer team, isn’t he? 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.”

“Yes!”

A big smile bloomed.

Christmas.
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.
Sorry?”

“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.

Soon.
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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