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The interior of the secret base was gradually dyed red by the setting sun.


Hisakawa’s snoring sound dominated the void around him, unlike Menma. His snoring sounds were like a tyrant.


It was an inexplicable scene.


There was I, who couldn’t go back home, Tsurumi, who didn’t leave for any reason, and Hisakawa, who basically didn’t sleep last night and was now sleeping like dead meat plainly in front of his guests.


But, time wasn’t that hard to endure when I was with them.


Tsurumi was now reading a novel. I was playing Hisakawa’s boring games, and with a blink of an eye, few hours had already passed.


It was like the old days.


When we were small, a day’s time pass like flying, so short it was scary. However, when I idled away time at home, time felt like really slow, so slow I felt impotent in enduring through it.


Nevertheless, when Menma came, the stuck time seemed to move again…


At this moment, Tsurumi raised her head.


“He has come.”


“Eh…”


Scuffing walking sounds were heard. Then, the door was open.


“Good evening.”


The one entering in was Anjo; Tsurumi’s face suddenly grieved. Before I could think over what her expression meant…


“…Kuh!”


I must have showed the most dumb and shocked expression.


“Menma?!”


“Jintan. It’s been ages I’ve seen you…yeah, maybe not that long. This time it’s only about half a day!”


Holding Anjo’s hand, Menma looked around.


Hisakawa, who was still curled up in the blanket like the daytime, also lifted his head hazily.


“Oh…mmm? Jintan? Did you say Menma just now?”


“Menma…she’s there?!”


Oh crap.


I couldn’t help but shout, for Anjo and Menma’s sudden arrival was completely out of my expectation.


Indeed, Hisakawa and Tsurumi’s face tensed, but Anjo didn’t; she said, “She’s really here.”


She showed some puzzlment…a miraculous expression with even some embarrassment within. Then with this expression, she looked at her right hand that Menma was holding.


“Is it here? It feels a bit heavy.”


“Heheh. You’re right!!”


How should I take this situation? There was no way I could make it up in my mind.


“You guys! Why would you come along together?”


“Umm…we just came across each other in a coincidence.”


“You came across each other? Didn’t you say you couldn’t see Menma?


“Yeah…though I couldn’t see her…”


Menm now ran to me with joyful stepping sounds.


“Anjo came to Jintan’s house!”


“Eh!”


“Then she just stood at the door! She came to find Jintan and Menma!”


Anjo? Had she been still worried of the episode this morning?


When I lifted my head in surprise, I found out that everyone stared at me with a look of surprise that was different from mine.


“Hey. What did Menma say?”


“Ah…it’s…”


“Waaa. Menma has this at home too!”


Menma didn’t understand any part of the atmosphere around here and made a fuss over the coffee brewer Tsurumi had brought.


“…she said she has this coffee brewer at her home too.”


“Haaaaa?!”


They were stupefied by what I had said.


Three of them all opened their mouths slightly, showing the same expression. This wasn’t that weird. After all, we left without making a deep remark about it last night. This should be the first, formal interaction they had, though the topic was about a coffee brewer.


“When you’ve finished boiling coffee with this thing, it will make a poppy sound. Poppy!”


“She said it will make a poppy sound when the cofee is boiled.”


“Poppy…”


It was an abnormally jittery line I had said, making me almost embarrassed while I said it. Anjo lightly said, “it really feels like something Menma would say.”


“Eh…”


As if this line was an opportunity, Hisakawa stood up abruptly.


“Right. Let’s let Menma have some of this!”


“Hisakawa!”


He poured some coffee into the mug and raised it to mid-air.


“Hey. Jintan. Is Menma here? Here? Or is she there? Please drink!”


“Hisakawa, you!”


“…let Menma have some?”


Menma blankly looked at the mug moving back and forth in front of her, as if incredulous.


Then, Tsurumi commenced, “Menma doesn’t like to drink bitter stuff.”


“Tsurumi?!”


“Yes. This is the same as that time Let’s give Menma some more milk then,” Anjo continued what Tsurumi had said.


“Anaru!”


No one…there was no one here that denied Menma’s presence.


Yes, at this place…


“Name.”


Menma had her name.


I was unwilling to let them take Menma as a spirit or whatnot.


But, I had too many groundless fears.


She was neither a spirit, nor a hallucination, nor the wild beast of summer. Menma was Menma. At this place, Menma truly had her own name.


Though they couldn’t see her, they still…


“Ah!”


Menma’s eyes flashed with tears.


“Everyone…I love everyone!!”


Shouting, Menma embraced Hisakawa’s waist.


“Mmm? Ah, ahah…what’s the matter?”


I couldn’t help laughing.


“Menma is now embracing you.”


“Eh? Men-Menma!!”


“Ahaha!”


“It’s been ages since we have had this joyful time. Hey, Menma…are you holdong my stomach? You will make me want to pee, hey!”


Hisakawa turned around in circles happily, Menma following him spinning while laughing.


“Poppo, go to pee! Menma wants to go too!”


“Menma said she wants to go to pee with you.”


“Ohoh. Menma, you can’t peek! This stimulation is too big for kids!”


“Eheheh…”


As they talked, Hisakawa and Menma had left the secret base through the door.


“Peeing together…this lacks the needed nervousness…”


Anjo murmured in surprise. I also felt hugely impotent, lying flat on the spot.


“Yadomi?”


What a happy look.


“It’s great,” I murmured consciouslessly.


Tsurumi looked at me with the corner of her eyes, “I’ve also said I didn’t truly believe it.”


“Ah! Yes.”


“But…”


Tsurumi stared frontwards.


As if foreseeing something to come, she just stared plainly frontwards…


“If I don’t believe in it, I couldn’t advance.”


“Eh…?”


At this moment…Boom!


“Wuaghhh!!!!”


“Yaaaaaaa!!”


The door was violently pushed open; Hisakawa and Menma rushed in in a speed that caused them to almost fall down.


“Hisakawa. Your flyers open.”


“Oh! Sorry…no! I saw it. I saw it!!”


“Heh? Saw what…?”


“Menma!!”


“Haaaaaaa?!”


I was dashing in the summer night.


In this dying heat, there was only the songs of early autumn sang in chorus by those insects.


Ahah. Why was I always running? I had run in these woods yesterday night already.


When I was small, I would always run in these woods.


“Haah…Haah!”


I messed up my breathing pattern—seems like my body conditions had deterioated greatly.


Hisakawa had been long running before me. Tsurumi and Anjo ran in different directions from me. And when I was mindful of where Menma was, she was gone already.


I didn’t believe that there was another Menma.


I thought it might be possible when Hisakawa said he had seen Menma previously, for Menma was my hallucination, and it was normal for others to see similar hallucinations.


However, I couldn’t believe it now. This was because Menma, though a cry baby and her thinking drifts off a bit, she would always care for the feelings of others. Every part of her constituted to Menma’s complete facet.


If she were to be taken as a spirit, I would rather let her be my hallucination forever—this thought vanished from me unknowingly. Menma was Menma. Menma could only be Menma.


But, he told me there was another Menma. A strange sense of foreboding started to thrash in my heart.


If there really was another Menma.


This Menma weren’t with anybody; she was alone.


Then, I would want to find her.


I want to confirm this; I want to call her name; even if I couldn’t see her, I wanted to understand her.


Menma couldn’t experience the feeling as a secluse. If this feeling were to be experienced by another Menma, this would be too arduous for her…


“Wuaaaaaa!!”


Hearing Hisakawa’s shouts, I lifted my head abruptly.


The trees and the buzzing sounds of insects messed up my sense of distance. At this time did I find out that not only Hisakawa but also Tusurmi, Anjo, and Menma was closer than I had thought.


“I found her. She’s Menma!”


“Eh?!”


I looked at the direction Hisakawa was pointing to.


“!!”


At the farthest tip of my view, there was a white shadow flying through the crevices between trees. The dress that was lifted by the night wind belonged to…


“…Menma?!”

Previous: Chapter 14 - Call My Name Next: Chapter 16 - Punishment

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