Aika was seeing a dream.
It was around Winter when she had been ten years old.
“There’s someone we want you to meet,” her parents invited her. It had been the only time she had left the school.
A dream of memories lost.
I was bored.
Loitering at the party without anything to do.
My parents had gone to a room upstairs with some other adults because of an ‘urgent talk’ or something, and not even having met that person they wanted me to meet, they had left me alone.
Now that it had come to this, I was at a place with no children around, only adults I didn’t know.
Not knowing anything about ‘outside’ and as being here was a first, I was scared and didn’t even have the courage to get something to eat.
Some kind onee-sans and onii-sans came to talk to me, but just about everything scared me and I kept running away.
When I was staring at the grand Christmas tree, that had been set up in the lobby, absentmindedly——
“What are you doing?”
I met him.
I wasn’t scared as he was just about as old as I was.
And he was cool.
His going-out wardrobe, with a necktie even, suited him amazingly well. He looked really smart.
“I’ve been enchanted by the tree.”
I said kind of nervously.
“And how about you?”
“I’ve gotta kill some time, so I thought about going outside for a bit.”
“You want to take a stroll in the yard?”
Thereupon, he smiled proudly and broadly.
It had been an expression I saw for the first time in my life.
It felt… like a breeze.
“Not just that, the real outside. Getting out of here and go there.”
When I had come here, I had seen it from inside the car. But I had only seen it, that place as it had passed by the window.
As soon as I was asked, I nodded.
Then let’s go, the boy said and I stuck with him.
And he told me that he had come here several times, had found a secret spot where to escape through and had also done it before.
When he took my hand, it startled me a bit.
The park at night. Countless lights were lined up on the spacious lawn like candles and made it into a magical scenery. I passed through this scene while being lead by the hand.
A Fairy. I felt like I had been taken by a fairy like in the stories I had read.
And then I arrived ‘outside’.
The street was cramped with cars that connected rows of white and red lamps.
There were buildings that seemed to reach up to the heavens and the surrounding plazas were decorated with lights which were sparkling like blue jewels. I saw people who took a stroll or sat on benches.
It was completely different from my usual school. It felt like a dream.
The Christmas sparkling also seemed much more sparkly than at the party.
It might’ve been because I was with him.
My breath was white and floated up, disappearing before long. I had no coat and it was awfully cold.
“Can’t be helped…”
He immediately said and put the coat he had been wearing half forcibly onto me.
“T-Thank you very much…”
The coat’s warmth slowly soaked into my head and cheeks.
“Let’s go to the super.”
The place called ‘super’ had completely white illumination and consisted of countless things cramped into a room.
I thought that it was a storehouse. A standing onii-san was on lookout.
The boy headed to a bookshelf on the far side and started reading a massive book. He’s smart, I thought.
He looked at me with his eyes saying, ‘You’re not gonna read?’, so I tried to do the same. I wanted to know what kind of thing he was reading.
It was similar to a picture book. Numerous pictures and words lined up per page, scattered all over it, it couldn’t be read just like that.
Seeing me like that, he made a worried face for a moment and then said ‘Let’s buy some sweets’.
I knew he was taking my situation into account, I felt sorry. It made me sad that I wasn’t able to read what he read.
We went to another shelf and the ‘sweets’ the boy took in his hand were neither cookies nor cake. What might it be? It was being held in a particular sack.
He handed the man on duty something over and got the sweets put into a bag.
When I asked him what he had handed over to the man, the boy was surprised and replied, ‘It was the cash.’. When I asked him what cash was, he got even more surprised.
When I told him that it was the first time that I had gone outside the school, he seemed to find it rare.
We were sitting on a bench on the plaza from earlier.
This bar-something had a curious taste, a bit strong, but I hadn’t eaten anything on the party, so it was really good.
When I said it’s tasty, it seemed to make him happy.
It was awfully cold and after we had eaten, we didn’t do anything else, but it was fun for me to just be with him.
The onii-san and onee-san pairs around us were all having a good time talking with each other too. They really must feel the same, I thought.
And then I noticed something.
“…Everyone… talks nothing like me.”
“Normally, no one talks like you,” he said, “I don’t either, right?”
That was true indeed. In that case——
“I, too, want to live up to that.”
Thereupon, his face became somewhat amused and he said, “Then let’s practise”.
“Let’s try imitating that onee-san over there first.”
In a whisper, he pointed at the onee-san on the bench next to us.
…More like, aren’t ya treatin’ me just awfully?
“More… like…? Aren’t ya—— treatin’ me…”
HAA?! Hold it— What are you brabblin’, stupid!
“Haa. Hold it— What are you… babbling?”
I attempted several times after that. Even when he said, ‘How about we stop already?’, I didn’t. Because from all she had been wishing for this far, this was the strongest wish.
“Aika, you really believe all kinds of stuff, huh?”
“People do kee—— Everyone’s saying… that…?”
“If you overdo that, you’ll die, you know?”
“That was a lie.”
“…My teacher also says I’m too upfront.”
“Does ****** dislike people like me?”
“I don’t really dislike that.”
Directly after saying that, he sneezed grandly.
This day, it was even cold enough for it to possibly snow.
“I’m returning the coat!”
He put his arm around my shoulder.
I was startled.
I was startled and—— …happy about his gentleness.
The Christmas lights were glittering in the air of this freezing night and his body clinging close to me felt pleasantly warm—it had a warm feeling in his arms.
Somehow, I seemed to be about ready to cry even though I smiled.
It would be nice if this could last forever—— I thought.
She woke up.
Aika woke up from the dream.
Being in bed with her teary eyes wide open, she couldn’t move.
She knew who that boy was.
He was even quite close by.
“…………That was………… Kimito…………”