＃ ＃ ＃
Today, I woke up at 8 AM. You can even say that I woke myself up.
After all, there is my long-awaited annual festival. There’s no way I’m not looking forward to it.
If we were talking about why I couldn’t wake up fast yesterday, but… Well, maybe, I just felt tired on weekends.
Now then. Even if I go this early, the event itself will start at ten o’clock, though.
I ate my breakfast leisurely, and changed my clothes.
＊ ＊ ＊
Following senpai’s instructions from yesterday, I headed towards Jimbocho station at 10 AM.
Since today is Sunday, the train itself isn’t crowded.
「Oh, you came. Morning.」
It is somewhat fresh to look at how senpai’s eyes are sparkling even though it is still morning. He always looks sleepy after all.
「Yes, good morning.」
「Then, let’s go now.」
Senpai ended our greeting just like that, and immediately started to walk towards the stairs that lead to the ground. Hurriedly, I chased after him.
I was the one who would always walk ahead, so this was also fresh… or not, huh. He also did this when we walked towards the school, since he reached the school back gate first before me.
But usually, we would be a little further apart, and also, we are in casual clothes rather than uniform. I think I can call this somewhat refreshing.
Even so, senpai completely doesn’t look at me. He doesn’t even turn his head at all.
Senpai walks two steps in front of me, his sparkling eyes nailed at the advertisement space in front of him.
There is some large text written there, showing「Jimbocho Book Festival, held for three days this year!」Today is the second day, huh.
Well, it’s fine. Yesterday he told me that he wouldn’t accompany me, and I came here fully understanding that. I don’t have high hopes anyway.
＊ ＊ ＊
When we left the underground station, the sunlight shone on us, making me feel dazzled.
According to the advertisement, it seems like the whole road will be full of pedestrians, and they will sell the books at the stalls. There is also「Cancelled in Rainy Weather」written there, since it will be a problem if the books become wet.
「It sure is great that it’s sunny, right?」
「I even thought of what I should do if the Japan Meteorological Agency was lying.」
Senpai kept looking ahead to the street as usual, but it seems like I managed to start a conversation to him.
After passing one block from the subway exit, we arrived at the book festival venue. There was a banner marking the entrance of the street, with a lot of wagons lined up in two rows in the middle of the road.
“It is 10 AM, marking the start of 27th Jimbocho Book Festival second day from now on!”
Looking at my smartphone, it’s certainly 10 o’clock now.
A sparse applause fills the street. Senpai who is standing in front of me diagonally is also clapping his hands.
“Even though this happens every year, this is surely heaven!”, muttered senpai, barely reaching my ears. He sure is very excited.
「Yosh. Should we go now?」
＃ ＃ ＃
Kouhai-chan came a little early, so we arrived exactly just in time for the second day.
Like the Comiket, the moment before the「festival」begins always makes everyone feel a unique tension and exhilaration, irresistible even for the visitor who come out of curiosity.
Most of the people here are the「book lovers」, both selling and buying books. It seems like there are also resellers, but I don’t care about those likes of people.
Anyway, that’s what makes this many groups of strangers have something in common. I feel excited knowing how everyone is creating that kind of air here.
My tension is rising.
My budget today is 10,000 yen. It means, I can buy ten books that cost 1,000 yen each.
There are a lot of discounts, so I should be able to buy quite a lot of books. The number of my books to read is increasing.
Now then, what kind of books will I find today?
It will be nice if I can find interesting ones.
Thinking of that, I mix with the crowds that are gathering at the nearby wagon.
「How much is this? …500 yen? So cheap, I will take this!」
「This book, please!」
「What is this, amazing! Here, 1,000 yen!」
As I thought, this place is really heaven.
Well then, next is, oh? Isn’t that from Hayakawa Publishing? When I am going to closer look while full expectations, someone grabs my left wrist from behind.
It’s Kouhai-chan, who is puffing her cheeks.
「What is it?」
「I feel like we will get lost at some point, so can I, hold your hand?」
It is surely crowded here.
Since she is not good at crowds, it will be bad if she is stranded alone.
Actually, I want to immerse myself in the book festival, but…
「It can’t be helped then.」
「Thank you very much.」
＃ ＃ ＃
「…It’s hard to read.」
I noticed a problem in this position at the next wagon.
Since my left hand is occupied, I can only use my right hand.
It is very difficult to dig up the book title that interest me from the wagon and check the contents using only one of my hands. It’s around 8/10 difficulty level.
Besides, it’s not like it is impossible, but I will damage the book. Although the book is in 50% or even 70% discount, it is also something people sell. I don’t want to become an improper reader who doesn’t treat books well.
「Is it no good after all?」
「It’s a little bit of a hindrance.」
There are people who are selecting the books in front of the wagon. We’ll disturb them if we talk too much.
「Nn, it is a little hard having my hand occupied. That’s why…」
Before I could tell her to hold on my bag, Kouhai-chan cut my words.
「Then, how about linking arms?」
Kouhai-chan moved beside me and turned her right hand under my armpit, in addition to her left hand. She is completely wrapping my arm.
What she is basically doing is what couples usually do, linking her arms with mine.
「There won’t be a problem now, right?」
My hands are certainly free to move like this.
It’s not like there’s no problem with this position. Her breast is currently pressing against the upper side of my left arm.
But my original goal of freeing my arms and keeping us from getting seperated from each other has been achieved.
「Are you alright with this?」
「It’s fine. I’m doing this with senpai after all.」
I couldn’t bring myself to ask her whether she meant that it is alright for me to touch her chest, or being misunderstood as a couple.
Let me add that it is difficult to concentrate on choosing the books, as I keep getting conscious of my arms, making me a little distracted.
＊ ＊ ＊
We went around the streets where wagons lined up with both of our arms linking with each other.
I was a little embarrassed, but there was no other choice since I didn’t want to get seperated. Yeah.
Senpai also bought enough books, so we decided to have a late lunch. We went to a nearby family restaurant.
As soon as I sat down, I finally realized how tired I had gotten.
The sofa cushion felt really good.
「I’m tired because senpai is doing this and that in this and that kind of place.」
「Your words! Doesn’t that just sound different!」
「You can’t just laugh it off.」
We ordered our lunch, and went to the drink bar.
After taking our drinks back to our seats, I sighed in relief.
「Senpai, why do you like books?」
Senpai took a sip from his orange juice. When we were at the drink bar, he said that「I want something sweet.」
「Even if you ask me why, I can just answer because it is interesting.」
Nn, if that’s the case, how about this?
「It’s like senpai has a reason why you like reading books after all.」
「I don’t really have that kind of definite reason. Especially the one like『This is the turning point of my life!』」
「Ehh, how boring.」
「Oi, oi. Don’t pick on other people’s life. But maybe it’s because of this.」
Senpai who is sitting across from me took another sip of his orange juice.
「Both of my parents read a lot of books since they love reading, and I’m also an only child. I have to stay in contact with books even when I’m home, so of course I’ll naturally start to read them.」
I drank a gulp out of my Calpis.
「Ah, right. Yesterday, I forgot to ask you a question, right?」
「There’s no carry-over, you know?」
「I know. That’s why, I won’t let it go to waste. Here it comes my『today’s question』.」
The question that came out of senpai’s mouth is surprisingly frank.
「Today, why did you want to go together with me?」
「Why, you ask…」
Isn’t that decided already?
「It’s because, I like.」
「I see 」
After that, senpai went completely silent.
I didn’t specify what I like「like」, though.
It might be the same「like」on books as senpai, or it might be the「like」on this Jimbocho place itself, or it might be「like」being able to spend holiday with senpai, or it might be――
There are a lot of possibilities, but senpai doesn’t inquire more after that.
「Thank you for the wait. Here is your rice omelet.」
The waitress came to us, and the stopped time started to move again.
「Is this what you ordered?」
「Then please take your time.」
We exchange looks, and decided to dig into our food for now.
「Thanks for the food.」
「Thank you for the food.」
I think, we don’t have to rush it.
I want to know more about senpai, little by little.
What I really felt, was really just that.
The things I knew about my senpai㊾
It seems like he loves reading books ever since he was still a child.