Waiting For The Club Activities To End (Part 1)

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As I walked down the corridor, wondering where to kill time until Hinagata’s club activities were over, I saw a familiar figure in the classroom.

I peeked inside and saw Sugiuchi sitting by the window, fiddling with the cell phone in his hand.

“What are you doing?”

“As you can see, I’m playing a game.”

“Do you want to play too?” He asked, but I shook my head in response.

“Look, what you’re doing at my desk.
Why don’t you just go home?”

“It’s my choice where I play my games, right?”

I walked over to the seat and plopped down.
I decided to stay here since I had nothing better to do.

“Hinagata-san, did she reject him?”

“How did you know?”

“Looking at your face, it’s quite apparent.”

…Was my expression so obvious?

But as the conversation proceeded, it became more and more difficult for me to talk while keeping my head straight. 

“I didn’t know there are still people confessing to Hinagata.”

“Of course there still are.
They fell in love with her even though they knew she had rejected a lot of people, you know?”

Despite Sugiuchi’s idiosyncrasy, he talks as if he actually knows something.

“I was wondering if—” he paused, “—people who assume they’re the only ones who can make it work are the ones who can confess to Hinagata.”

“There are people like that, aren’t there? It’s not like it’s a bad idea.
Maybe it’s easier to say something when you know 99% of the time it won’t work.”

“So it was because of the peace of mind that comes from knowing the outcome.”

“Yeah, yeah.
Exactly that.”

After seeing that person from the Soccer club, the feeling that, Did she just now come to seriously like that person? Well that feeling never came… But I can’t actually say….

If you’re a senior, you probably have had a lot of opportunities to see or hear rumors about Hinagata in the past year since starting high school.

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Since junior high school, Sugiuchi and I would often talk about what kind of girls will be in our senior class and what kind of girls will be entering the school as juniors.
We mostly talk about these things once April comes.

I think it’s in the nature of boys to look for girls that they are interested in.
I’m sure that the rest of the boys are also talking about this sort of thing.

“That senior, he seriously likes her, I guess.” Suguichi  whispered.

“There’s no such thing as, too late… or too early… in love….!”

“Your pauses annoys me,” he replied and chuckled as if he was waiting for my comment.

“Well, it doesn’t matter when you fall in love, does it?”

Yeah, I guess so, I thought in agreement.

“….Just now came to seriously like that person….?”

I repeat the words I thought after watching the confession scene.

“How many times are you going to say the same line, Tonomura? I’m tired of hearing it.”

“I’m not saying this to entertain you.
I mean, why are you playing games here?”

“Then where should I play?”

“Your room.”

“My efficiency won’t ever rise in there! My room is, in one way or another, the most inefficient place to be in.”

“How efficient is your gaming in the first place?”

In the quiet after-school atmosphere, I heard a few small clicks of a metal bat.

“So, what are you doing, Tonomura?”

“Killing time.”

“Well, then come with me.
I’ll be locking doors and windows anyways”

Sugiuchi then put his cell phone in his pocket and left the room.

“I saw you in class a while ago.”

Sugiuchi asked me to follow him, so I followed him to the first gymnasium, one of the two gymnasiums.
The boys and girls of the basketball team were practicing here today.

It was also the place where we had just done a shuttle run for our physical fitness test.

“Sugiuchi, what are you trying to find?”

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“It’s in the storage, wait a min—”

“Don’t be so coy.”

I gingerly opened the door to the gym and went inside.
I looked for Hinata, and found her diligently practicing.
She had her hair in a bun and was nimbly jumping and running.

“A beautiful girl, no matter what she’s doing, will make a perfect picture right.”

“That’s correct….”

I kept in tune with Sugiuchi’s polite tone.

I waited for Sugiuchi to enter the warehouse and he came out with two baseball gloves and a softball in his hand.

“Come along.”

He handed me a glove as if to force me to take it.
It was a left-handed glove that I could use.

“It’s a softball, but that’s okay.”

Hahaha, Sugiuchi laughs.

“If I say I don’t like it, will ya stop?”

“No.”

“I knew it.
─Let’s go.
We’ll get in the way of club activities.”

The moment I saw what he brought, I thought we could play catch.
When I looked inside again, Hinagata noticed me and gave a small wave from the side of her waist.

I responded by raising my hand just to bail.

As my steps weakened, I was pushed backwards.

“Adolescence!! Let’s go already!”

“Don’t lose your temper so suddenly.”

“You’re the one who’s interfering with the club activities the most!”

We didn’t have a specific place in mind.
After seeing what was going on from outside, we decided to use a corner of the ground, so we changed our shoes and walked to a place where we wouldn’t disturb them.

After putting down my bag and taking off my jacket.
I put my hands on a dead leaf-colored, dusty-smelling glove that I couldn’t even tell what the original color was.

Sugiuchi had played baseball in elementary school and junior high school, but quit altogether when he entered high school.

The softball went back and forth between Sugiuchi and me, who were a little apart.

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We never threw the ball out of bounds, and we never missed catching the ball.

“You’re surprisingly good at throwing.”

“I am.”

“Does it hurt? Shoulder? Or elbow?”

“Shoulder.
It’s only light at this distance, so I’m okay with this.”

Even after listening to the whole argument, Sugiuchi just reacted with a  fuun, as if he didn’t care.

“Oh, wait a minute.
Didn’t you win the school inter-class ball-game competition​ this year…?”

After I remembered that, my heart suddenly started to throb.

Last year’s ball games were soccer, baseball, basketball, and volleyball, and if it’s the same as last year, those who are in those clubs will have to participate in another ball game.

“With you and me together, I don’t think we can lose…!”

“Are you into some kind of shonen manga lately?”

“Ehh, How did you know? Are you a detective?”

Don’t look so shocked.
You’re so easy to read.

“You don’t have to quit the club… do you? Even if you can’t pitch, hitting is probably not a problem.
When I first heard about it, I wondered why.”

“Sugiuchi, you’re throwing a boomerang.”

“I’m making my high school life debut, you know.
I’m going to quit being a baseball boy and live a high spirited high school life.”

“You thought that was your debut?”

“Shut up.
It’s because I care about you.”

Kusukusu, Oi don’t laugh! and he threw  a fastball at me.

When I caught it, it made a nice cracking sound.

“…Sugiuchi, maybe you were waiting for someone?”

“Huh? What? I don’t know what you mean.”

Don’t be upset in an easy-to-understand manner, this guy.

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“Tell me.
I’m not going to tell anyone about it.
There’s no such thing as too late or too early in love, right?”

I threw the ball fluently, and Sugiuchi caught it with a snap.
The left-hander, who used to have a mid-130 kilometer pitching speed, was now doing the best he could.

Sugiuchi turned the ball in his hand, looking at the stitching, and said softly—

“What do you think of U….
Uchi—.”

“Uchinokura-san?”

Instead of a reply, a ball came towards me.

“It’s not like that! Just a little bit, Just a little bit.”

You’re not saying anything concrete.

“It’s okay.”

“I-is that so?”

So you are waiting for Women’s Basketball.

What, aren’t you and me the same.

“You’re waiting for Hinagata-san anyway.”

“What do you mean, ‘anyway’? It’s just that we’re going back in the same direction.
Do you want me to ask Hinagata about Uchinokura-san? I won’t mention your name.” 

Well even if I don’t, she’ll know.

“Well, I’ll tell her if she asks.”

“You aren’t honest.”

“Shut up!”

Perhaps due to his exertions, Sugiuchi threw the ball out of bounds, and it rolled towards the track and field club where they were practicing.

A member of the track team noticed it and threw it back to him.
Don’t forget to say, “Thank you!” and “I’m sorry”.

I asked Sugiuchi what was bothering him.

“Did you have anything to do with Uchinokura-san when you were in middle school?”

Me, Hinagata, Sugiuchi, and Uchinokura-san are all from the same middle school.

“I don’t know.
That’s why I think that people fall in love with people when… they fall in love with them.
The length of the relationship probably has nothing to do with it.”

Maybe it was because he didn’t say it in a mocking way, but I found his mumbled words a bit convincing.

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