Full Chapter Edit
(Friends, friends…they say it as if they are a religion.)
Sitting in McDonalds, beaten by a hit song being played inside, Chiriko stirred her strawberry milkshake with a straw.
The song praised friends, saying that no matter how time flies, friends would never change. At this situation, it was undoubtedly a song that got on her nerves.
Yet, Atsumu, sitting opposite of her, just drank hot coffee with a calm and indifferent face.
“Do you think he will really come?”
“I don’t know…”
Atsumu fiddled with his phone, looking at Tetsudo’s message.
They had diverted and weren’t the close friends they once were, yet Tetsudo clung to his neck from the back and forced him to exchange email addresses with him as well as Chiriko, as Tetsudo was exhilarated by having a phone at last.
The text and the context of Tetsudo’s message were totally irrelevant.
It was about Jinta's ability to see Meiko.
Meiko wanted Jinta, herself, and everyone from the Super Peace Busters to fulfil her wish.
She also said she wanted Jinta to explain everything to everyone, so she decided to let everyone gather at McDonalds in the afternoon.
“Is Yadomi even doing this for real?”
“I think so. When we saw him last time, didn’t he dash around, calling Menma, Menma?”
“That’s far from good. I feel that his personality, even his eyes, changed. But, to let us gather here…what is he scheming?”
“Let him do whatever he wants. Let’s hear what he has to say. He changed so much in just less than five years, don’t you think that's funny?”
“I don’t have such kinds of interest.”
“I think it’s very funny.”
Chiriko peeped at his black-hearted friend drinking coffee, and lightly squinted her eyes.
It was a playful tone, yet his eyes were dead serious. Only his mouth was smiling…how black-hearted. Right, from that day on, Chiriko had always been looking at Atsumu’s fake smiling face.
(If you couldn’t smile, it would be fine if you don’t.)
The door of the entrance opened. The staff said, with a small nasal sound and the tone of anime characters, ‘Welcome’.
(Ahah…There was another face devoid of smile.)
Naruko, who had entered the store, went to the table without even greeting them. When she went to pick something to eat, she felt her whole back grow extremely tense.
Having got her coke and fries, she grudgingly soothed her face and trudged to them.
With that being said softly, she found a seat beside Chiriko and sat on it.
“I didn’t even recognise you at first. You’ve changed quite a lot.”
With a fake smile on his face, Atsumu looked over at Naruko.
“What do you mean?”
"I mean literally.”
Naruko averted her eyes and looked around the restaurant. Her eyes was obviously searching for ‘him’.
“When did he stop going to school?”
“Why are you asking me?”
“Isn’t it normal to ask you? You guys study in the same high school.”
“Can’t you persuade him? After all, aren’t friends friends regardless of age?”
Looking at Atsumu smiling badly, Chiriko knew what he had been thinking—indeed, he had been very aware of the song the restaurant was playing.
At this time, Naruko was deep in thought while she drank her coke.
(What a displeasing guy.)
Five years were such a long and imaginable time. And having met these two people after five years, she felt they were the same as they look—as displeasing as the uniform of their school they were wearing. Nevertheless, she didn’t have a strong feeling of discomfort to idle around with them.
Compared to those friends she would always chat with, she didn’t have to pretend to be happy when she was with them.
Why was this? Only this point discomforted her.
(Yadomi…Would he really come?)
Naruko received Tetsudo’s message while she was strolling around with her new friends.
When she saw the message, she wanted to cry.
(Actually…there isn’t a need for me to be here.)
She took a piece of a french fry and threw it in her mouth.
Among McDonald’s french fries, there would always be a few abnormally delicious ‘french fries deity’. The surface was crispy, yet the inside was so soft it would melt apart, as if having the taste of the fried french fries of expensive and high-ranking French restaurants, though she hadn’t eaten them.
Most of the other french fries were dry, which was good, but that sensation of having a chance to eat the ‘french fries deity’ was beyond words. Should one be unfortunate, perhaps there wouldn’t be any one of them in a pack of fries.
The one Naruko randomly took was the ‘French fries deity’, but…
The Naruko today couldn’t enjoy its sensation. How rare it was for her to meet a ‘french fries deity’…
Silence swiftly engulfed the three who hadn’t seen each other for ages.
That day, their brains came back to their senses.
“Jintan…Do you like Menma?”
“Tell the truth. Super Peace Busters should not hide things from each other.”
“Who would like such an ugly girl!”
After so many times of trying to remember that memory, some diversion had occurred. That diversion would change according to the view of different people.
Nevertheless, the soft smile Meiko had on her face after being called by Jinta an ‘ugly girl’ was almost the same in all three of their memories.
They hadn’t forgotten that scene through all these five years.
Should they be careless, this scene would rush into their hearts.
When they thought of it, they would feel like suffocating, and some part of their body would feel cramped and folded into a ball.
So they tried not to touch that memory…but why…
Why did he have to deliberately pull out that memory and the pain it caused?
Following the opening sound of the automatic door was a loud greeting. Everyone could tell who he was instantly—and also the person standing beside Tetsudo…
The three of them looked at him reluctantly. They raised their heads slowly out of hesitation.
This was something that differed among them.
I entered the store with my flip-flops. I could see that the Super Peace Busters were already waiting for me at a corner in the restaurant.
Yesterday I saw Atsumu, who I hadn't seen for a long time. He was sitting opposite to Anjo and Tsurumi. They didn't seem to have talked much.
“Ohyo ohyo. Ohyooo!” Tetsudo greeted them without paying any heed to the atmosphere. The people inside slightly lifted their heads.
“I still have work to do after this,” Anjo said, displeased greatly.
Completely the opposite, Matsuyuki looked in a very good mood.
He said with a smile, “I heard you’re looking for Menma? She appeared in front of you, but she’s lost again?”
“Ah…” I couldn’t say a word back.
Tsurumi glared at Matsuyuki, tilting her eyes. Anjo was playing around with something that was decorating her nails…indeed, this scene utterly deviated from what Tetsudo said about everyone being serious for love.
“Oh, Anaru, you bought some fries?”
Anjo, with a bored face, vibrantly lifted her head for the first time.
“Don’t call me like that!”
“Why? Anaru is Anaru!”
Tetsudo’s speech was coherent to Menma’s opinion.
“We haven’t seen each other for such a long time. Give me some fries. I want the salty one!”
Neglecting Tetsudo’s idiotic speech, Matsuyuki slightly tilted his body to the table.
“Let’s get back to business…Yadomi, did Menma said she wanted to fulfil a wish?”
“Stop speaking, Matsuyuki. You’re being too black-hearted.”
“Why should I? I’ll also be helping. I will also help fulfil Menma’s wish. If I do that, maybe Menma would go back to your side?”
I suddenly realized something.
Although Matsuyuki used a swift tone from head to toe, there was no smile in his eyes. It was just a dead stare, prying onto how I would react.
“No, no…I’ve said that already. That was just my hallucination…so…”
“So, I’ve said I wanted to help. Please don’t mind.”
Why would I mind? These were the ravings of a shut-in. Why should you be so serious when speaking to me?
There wasn’t even time to conclude an answer.
“Oh yeah! Then let us first find out Menma’s wish!”
Tetsudo and Matsuyuki then started a meaningless and wavering discussion. “Menma wants to get yo’s signature…she didn’t get Bobobo’s special purse…she also wants to capture Dialga in Nokemon...oh, this may be it. How nice it was to remember these things. I started to think I could get motivated.
Nevertheless, the only ones motivated were the boys. Anjo stopped playing with her nails and used her teeth to bite lightly on them instead. When she was small, she had this kind of habit—she wouldn’t care how much nail polish she would swallow when she was in a bad mood. Tsurumi only drooped her head, starting at the table.
And I…only slightly opening my mouth, I can only, quite defeated, watch Matsuyuki and Tetsudo slowly coming to a conclusion of ‘Menma’s wish’.
“So we’re going to let Nadomi play Nokemon!”
“Tsk!...” Suddenly being called, I lost my defense. And when they saw my blatant embarrassment…
“Is it too scary for you to get out of your home?”
Matsuyuki showed me a smile with an obvious malicious intent.
That cool, high, and erect nose…let me forget my impatience and anger. I could only think in my heart what a handsome guy he was.
“Anjo, you work in a game shop, right? Could you cheaply sell us that Nokemon game…it should be the diamond version.”
“Why does it have to be me?”
“Tsurumi and I will be responsible on checking the internet transactions to see if there is Bobobo’s special purse. Tetsudo…you will be responsible for getting yo’s signature. Remember to be quick.”
“Eheh. Why is it me?”
“”You’re deciding things yourself,” Tsurumi reproached. But Matsuyuki only said playfully, “it’s decided.”
Then his thin lips bent into a new moon.
“Super Peace Busters are formed once again.”
And under Tetsudo’s strong request, we were forced to exchange our email addresses.
Save Tetsudo and I, everybody's email address had changed.
Then I had to go and fetch the game.
“Bother. Why do I have to…Ahah, this isn’t it either.”
In the storage room of the Chuuko game store, I was staring at Anjo who was looking for the Nokemon game.
Eh, she was so big. She had really grown a lot.
She was wearing a super-short skirt, so if anything were done to her, it was her own fault for wearing that outfit, I thought. However, when this woman speaks, anyone’s mood to masturbate would be gone…
Anjo, who retrieved the Nokemon game with much difficulty, carefully and attentively put the game card in the plastic bag, and handed it to me.
“Here. Four thousand and eight-hundred yen.”
“Four thousand…isn’t this the same as the market price?”
“This is a game made five years ago. It has been appreciated for years.”
Feeling helpless, I payed and grudgingly stretched my hand to receive the plastic bag…but Anjo didn’t loosen her grip, glaring at me.
“What are you scheming?”
“Pulling a prank with a deceased person. You suck.”
Bam, Anjo loosened the bag. The Nokemon game abruptly threw to my side, and Anjo turned away and left, striding away.
Pulling a prank with a deceased person?
When my senses came back to me, I had already cried out at Anjo’s back.
“You say I’m pulling a prank with Menma? Don’t be ridiculous!”
Even I was freaked out by my own angry howl. Anjo stopped walking, and violently turned her body around as if she wanted to dash to me.
“The one being ridiculous is you, who can always carelessly say the name of a deceased person…”
“Don’t say she’s a deceased person!”
“It’s all because of me!” Anjo cried out loudly this time, her eyes welled with tears before I had noticed.
“It’s all because of those words I said…that she would!”
Anjo lifted the back of her hand to wipe her tears. Some black colour from the mascara on her thick and distinct eyelashes smeared out.
“So Menma would…become…a deceased person.”
I was speechless.
It wasn’t your fault... It was mine…I wanted to answer this originally. However, when Anjo and I had the same thought, allowing Anjo’s feelings to rush into mine in these years, making me unable to act under this doubled heaviness.
Anjo was leaving, the bad-quality high-heeled shoes making squeaking sounds. While I listened in the silence, I thought, perhaps…if Menma didn’t come to my place but Anjo’s, it was also appropriate and right.
There were only the dim flashes of the screen of the video game in the darkness.
There were croaking sounds of the frogs outside the window. In synch with these croaking sounds, I pressed on the buttons mechanically like a machine.
What the hell am I doing—playing Nokemon.
The adorable enemies had round, watery eyes. I attacked them repeatedly to weaken them as much as possible, and then I threw a Nokemon ball at them to catch them as my companion.
What feelings do they have?
Having been punched the hell out of them for no reason, and now enticed to become friends by sweet words, and also having to be trapped in a dark, small place.
Stuffed in a backpack, brought everywhere, and having to go outside and fight when someone suddenly says, ‘go!’…Would they really take these inhumane players as true companions or friends? I was uncertain.
Besides, what are friends actually?
At that time, everyone in the Super Peace Busters were certainly friends.
We cried out nicknames at each other, played till the sun set—we were certainly friends according to the conventions.
I was the captain, and everyone followed me.
Everyone would gladly accept any suggestion I made…but in fact, perhaps they hated this; they hated listening to my orders.
Anjo too…she cried today because she thought of Menma. She really wanted to apologize to Menma.
However, Menma only appeared in front of me.
Perhaps I was the only one, at that time, to have the sense of belonging as a leader—maybe this was the reason.
On the game screen, Pikachu hit the enemy with a thunderbolt. The enemy twitched as it was electrified. What a super effect that was.
With some hesitation, I threw out a Nokemon ball and easily caught the enemy.