Living for 16 years without encountering anything bad, without any regrets or confusion and without any hardships is what some would call ignorant and others a blessing.
My family is close, and we spend our days laughing and sometimes have disputes. My younger sister is cute and loves it when I spoil her, although she can be stubborn sometimes. My big brother goes to a famous University and helps me with my studies when he has time.
I have a small group of friends at school that I get along with. Though, there is only one I've known since I was little. We're childhood friends, and even our family is close to each other. And most importantly, I have a girlfriend who I've been together with for two years. My classmates all say we make a good couple, though I don't really get it. What makes a good or a bad couple? All I know is that she's someone special to me.
All in all, you can say that my life so far has been uneventful and peaceful, with no complications or confusion…at least, it was until now.
With my head tilted back, staring in a daze at the bright, bright sun, I found myself sitting on the bench at the park filled with people near my school. For the past week, without my family noticing, I didn't attend school. It was my first time skipping.
Strange. Too strange. Shouldn't my teacher have notified my parents about my absence by now? I closed my eyes since the sun was making it painful to keep them open and sighed.
"Hey Kou, what's with the sigh on such a beautiful day?"
Suddenly the voice of a man came from next to me. Startled, I jumped up to see a person had come to sit next to me on the bench while I was deep in thought. He stood out from the crowd, as he was dressed in silky bright red clothes.
"W-who are you, old man?"
"Old man?! Do I look old to you?!"
I blinked my eyes, sat down and sighed again, ignoring him.
"Say, I've been seeing you around here the past few days looking all gloomy. Shouldn't you be in school?"
I glared at him. "What about you, old man? Shouldn't you be at work?"
He kicked my leg angrily, probably in protest that I called him old again. "Don't worry, I am properly working."
"I'm against violence!"
He kicked me again.
"Anyways, why the long face? On such a sunny day, where the birds are singing in joy, and laughter fills the air, why aren't you enjoying it and instead have an expression that says it's the end of the world? Come, come, tell me what's on your mind!"
I looked him up and down, with doubt on my face.
"Hey, hey, hey! Just because I'm so good looking and nicely dressed, doesn't mean I'm suspicious!"
Good looking? Dressed nicely? I admit that he somewhat has handsome features, but his clothes obviously look as if he works as either a host or with the yakuza.
He cleared his throat. "I have a job, I'm older than you, and have many experiences with girls. Therefore, I believe I'm qualified to help a youngster out."
Well, why not? Maybe I'd feel better talking about it to someone who doesn't know me. "Have you ever been betrayed by people you care about?" With my head hanging down and my hands entwined, I asked him in a low voice, waiting for his answer.
"Hmm…it depends on what you mean by betray?"
"Huh? Isn't it obvious?"
He smiled. "Betrayal is defined differently for each person depending on where that person draws the line. Betrayal for one person might be something ridiculous for another."
"I don't really understand, but what I experienced I think anyone would get hurt."
"Lay it on me then."
"…Two weeks ago, someone sent me a picture of my girlfriend kissing my childhood friend. I couldn't believe it, so I followed them after school and found out that it's true! And it seems they have been doing this for a while now."
After a minute passed and he still didn't say anything I glanced at him to find that he had covered his mouth and was trying hard to suppress his laughter. When I saw that I blushed and stood up, intending to leave. He quickly grabbed my arm. "S-sorry, it's just that when I saw your expression that looked as if you wanted to die, I thought it was something serious."
"Even though it might seem silly to you, it's a life or death situation for me! We've been together for two years, you know?! I really love her…I even thought we might get m-married one day. And out of all people, why with my childhood friend?!" I yelled at the top of my lung.
Startled at my outburst, the people passing by stopped walking. I sat back down, embarrassed and they continued walking.
The man next to me grinned. "Brat, you're still too early to think about marriage." When I wanted to yell at him again, he held up his hand, and there were three 100-yen coins on his palm. "You see that vending machine over there?" He pointed to the area across from where we were sitting.
I nodded, confused.
"I want you to take this change and buy something with it. Make sure you use all of it."
"What for?" I stared at him dumbfounded. Weren't we talking about something important? And now he wants me to buy something from the vending machine?
"Just go!" He waved at me.
I sighed again. I can't believe I trusted someone like him. Whatever. I'll just do what he says, get it over with and leave.
I tried putting in the change again, but the vending machine rejected it and gave it back to me. Thinking that maybe something was wrong with it, I tried the two other vending machines only to have it do the same thing.
"Maybe something is wrong with all three of them?" That's what I thought until another person next to me successfully bought something. I tried again after that person, but it still didn't work. Frowning, I went back to the bench. "For some reason, I can't buy anything."
The flashy man smiled and picked up one of the 100-yen and handed it to me. "Look at it closely," he said.
I frowned harder. "What are you ta…" I stopped talking when I noticed that there was something weird about the 100-yen. "T-this is fake!"
"You see when I handed you the change you didn't immediately realize that one of the coins is different from the rest." He handed me the other two 100-yen coins. "But if you had stopped to look at it for even one second, you would have realized the truth."
"Exactly where are you going with this?"
"Have you talked with your girlfriend? What about with your childhood friend? Instead of sneaking around and blaming others, maybe you should confront them?"
"Something like that, I already know without you saying it," I mumbled. "But it's not that easy!"
The flashy man stood up and pointed at the change in my hands. "There are things we overlook without realizing it. We then end up later regretting that we didn't take a closer look and that maybe if we had, things wouldn't have ended up so complicated. Yes, it's not that easy…but that depends on if you want to know the answer or not."
The flashy man stretched his arms and smiled. "I hope that when we meet next time, you have an answer."
After he left, I sat there for another hour and thought about what he said. It took another hour for me to make a decision. I looked at my cell phone and realized that not only would they meet today, but they should already be there.
I found myself running before I knew it and finally made it to their meeting place. It was at the family restaurant that took about half an hour to get to from school. I saw them both sitting inside, eating, laughing and holding hands. I clenched my fists and tapped on the window. They raised their heads and looked straight at me.
After clearing things up on that day, I started going to school again.
I took my time to go buy something to eat during lunchtime. When on my way there I heard the voice of someone familiar talking to two other students who I didn't see the face of. When I realized who it was, I couldn't help but laugh. When they finished talking, I went up to the familiar voice.
"Is this what you meant by sometimes overlooking things teacher?"
"I'm not a teacher, but rather the counselor. It's amazing that you don't know the face of your school counselor. I guess I should be happy about it since it means you didn't have anything bothering you until now." The flashy man (though he was dressed nicely now) raised his eyebrows. "Do you remember the first thing I said to you when we met?"
I thought back to it, and my mouth twitched when I remembered.
"Hey Kou, what's with the sigh on such a beautiful day?"
He had called me by my name!
He grinned. "So, what about it Kou? Do you have an answer for me?"
"Yeah, but you already knew, right?" I sighed again. Exactly how many times have I sighed since I met this person?
"That's right. But it's my responsibility to keep my student's privacy confidential. I can't reveal it without their permission even if you know each other."
"I see, I understand. And the reason why the school didn't call my parents is you?"
He patted my arm. "I told you that I was properly working, didn't I?" When he moved out the way and left, I realized the two students he was talking to earlier was my friend and girlfriend…ex-girlfriend now.
On that day when I confronted them, I was scared but felt relieved. When I had found out the truth about their relationship, everything came crashing down. I thought that I would never get rid of that feeling. Although I knew our relationship couldn't return to how things were, I was okay with it, because I learned something that I would have regretted not knowing. That's why I'll wish them the best.
She had looked at me with shock and tears in her eyes. And his expression changed from surprise to guilt. But you see, when I saw this, for some reason the twist in my heart untangled. I knew that confronting them was the right thing to. Not only for me but for them too.