“Why am I the only one alive?”

This was a few days after the accident.

In the living room, where all the furniture had been removed, Riku-chan muttered a simple question.

———Why am I the only one alive?

These words contained everything that Riku-chan was now saying.

He didn’t raise his voice, didn’t cry, nor grieve.

He just stared blankly at the empty sky.

I think he must have forgotten that I was standing next to him.

Riku-chan standing in the center of the empty living room, his face drained of all emotion.

“Riku-chan, let’s go? Your grandmothers are waiting for you, okay?”

“………”

“Riku-chan……”

He didn’t even turn his head to look at me.

…I can’t afford that.

What can I do for Riku-chan?

This is my own opinion, but I consider childhood friends to be the next closest connection after family.

Especially us.

The reason we met was that our houses were next to each other.

We were always together since we were small.

We went to each other’s houses, took baths together, and slept in the same bed holding hands……

We are childhood friends.

This relationship is a bond that is more solid than that of relatives, friends, or future lovers.

That is a childhood friend.

We have grown up together since we were small.

It is natural that we have always been together.

So if Riku-chan is sad, I am sad too.

I want to be there for you no matter what.

“Riku-chan.”

“……”

“I can’t say that I can take the place of your family.
But you know, we are childhood friends, that’s why……we can be close to each other like family.“

“Haruno…?”

He sounded as if he was about to disappear, but Riku-chan slowly moved his head to look at me.

“I’ll be there for you no matter what.
Just like before, no matter what happens, I will be there for you as your childhood friend.”

“…….“

“We’ve been together since we were little, as childhood friends, so we should be able to accept everything from each other.”

I look into Riku-chan’s empty eyes that reflect nothing, and I tell him the words with all my heart.

“”

“Because we’ve known each other since we were kids……Next to family, it’s the longest relationship we’ve had.”

“……”

“You don’t have to hold anything back from me, Riku-chan.
You can cry when you are in pain, and you can tell me when you want to be pampered.
I, your childhood friend, will accept everything.”

I think that a childhood friend is a very pure relationship that is not affected by the opposite sex, age, personality, or any of those things.

It’s the same with family, no?

No matter what kind of personality your father or your mother has, the essence of the feelings you have for your immediate family will never change.

That’s why I want to do everything I can for my childhood friend, Riku-chan.

It doesn’t matter to me what kind of personality Riku-chan had, and it doesn’t matter if he was a boy or a girl.

Childhood friends, childhood friends……

I want to be near my precious childhood friend.

But I was wrong about that———

My desire to be by Riku-chan’s side was not because we are childhood friends, but——

Because of my own feelings.

 

 

I follow them and get on the train.

After walking a certain distance from the two of them who got a few stops away, we arrived at an old two-story wooden apartment building.

“…eh?”

I let out an uncharacteristically dumb voice as I witnessed the two of them enter the same room.

I couldn’t move a step from the vicinity of the telephone pole, and my legs were numb and frozen.

I got a quizzical look from an old lady that was walking past me, but I didn’t care about that.

“……”

After a few moments, I went to check the mailbox of the apartment.

“203 Hoshimiya” was written on it.
I suddenly remembered.

——Ayana-chan, you live alone, right?

Ayana-chan stands out in the classroom.
Even without being aware of it, I had heard a conversation between Ayana-chan and Kana-chan, and I heard that they both lived alone.
But that’s not what’s important right now.

“Riku-chan and Ayana-chan…so they are dating.”

I muttered in a stunned, powerless voice.

But…Maybe he just stopped by.

Believing in such a fleeting possibility, I continue to wait for Riku-chan to come out until the sun sets.

The next thing I knew, the area was filled with darkness.

And, of course, the time is now 9:00 pm.

I stood under a streetlight with a burn-out bulb and patiently waited for Ayana’s room to be opened.
But there was no sign of it opening at all.

On my phone, I received a call from my mother, who was worried about me.
I didn’t have time to reply and continued to stare at the apartment in dismay.

“Hey, Riku-chan…Are you staying at Ayana-chan’s house?”

I asked Riku-chan, who was supposed to be in Ayana-chan’s room.

“It’s this time of the night and you are alone…? What are you two doing together right now?”

———You just told me that you love me.

The next moment, my vision blurs.

Something hot focused on my eyes and it spilled down on my cheeks with a hollowness.

Tears were overflowing———

“Huh? Why…tears?”

I wiped the tears with my hand.

Tear after tear came one after another, no matter how many times I wiped them away.

“………!”

The presence that was by my side became hazy.

A sense of loss.

A hole in my chest.

He was always there for me and I took it for granted.

Such existence has gone to a woman other than me———

“Ah, ahh…no……no!”

I was going to be able to congratulate Riku-chan if he got a girlfriend.

No———That’s wrong.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that he would never get a girlfriend.

Because Riku-chan was very attached to me.

It was natural for him to be by my side.

He didn’t even talk to any of the girls except me.

We’ve known each other since childhood, so we’ll always be together……

I didn’t think anything of it because I subconsciously assumed so.

We’re childhood friends, so we’ll be together———That’s not it.

I, myself, wanted to be with Riku-chan.

When I first saw him befriending the opposite sex other than myself, I finally became aware of it.

I want to be the only one who is special to him.

“I…love Riku-chan…”

I’ve been taking it too much for granted that the person I care about was by my side.

What, I guess I was mistaken.

It doesn’t matter if we’ve known each other since childhood or not.

I felt safe and accustomed to having Riku-chan by my side.

I can’t believe that I finally realize how I feel after he leaves me……

It’s natural to be annoyed at those two.

The guy I love is befriending a girl who isn’t me……!

“It’s already…too late……Even if I realize it now…it’s too late…!”

I sink into regret.

However, this feeling soon turns into anger.

“Riku-chan…isn’t it funny? You started dating Ayana-chan right after you told me you liked me…? Isn’t it too soon…? Y, you could have…waited a little longer! Then I…would have noticed…!”

As I let out a mixture of regret and anger, I suddenly remembered our exchange this morning.
Riku-chan looked like he was about to cry like a little child when he was yelled at by me.
What does that mean…?

“…Do you…still like me?”

I look up and stare at Ayana-chan’s room.

“…Is it not too late…?”

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