Chapter 1 – Crossroads of Life
“I am really, really sorry!”
Inside of a game arcade on the third floor of a shopping mall, at the rest corner set up right next to it.
While surrounded by vending machines, I bowed my head deeply.
On the bench in front of me was my five-year-old cousin, Shi-chan, aka Ayase Shiina, chugging down on a can of juice.
But make no mistake.
I am not making an all-out apology toward the little girl.
I was apologizing from the bottom of my heart to the woman with a troubled look on her face who was sitting next to Shi-chan.
“Well, it’s alright…… I was just protecting the lost Shi-chan.”
“B-But… because of that… I’m sorry it’s all my fault.
How should I apologize to you sensei?”
I’m sure you can guess what I mean by the word “Sensei.”
The person I was apologizing to was a teacher at my high school.
And, it also turns out that she was my homeroom teacher.
Her name is Yumi Sakuramiya.
She is rumored to be 30 years old this year or maybe not? But her looks are so glamorous that you would mistake her for someone in her early twenties.
Her loosely wavy dark brown falls to her waist, pale and firm skin, and she looks beautiful enough with just light makeup.
“……Minato, I will go take a refill.
Do you want some more as well?”
“Eh? You have already drunk it? well then ….”
I was distracted by the juice, but Shi-chan seemed to have already finished the 250ml can.
I then turned my attention to the nearby vending machine.
“Oh, it’s fine, Segawa-kun.
Shi-chan, what do you want to drink? You can choose what you like.”
“This one, they are good.”
“Okay, wait a minute.”
“Oh, no, it’s okay.
I can’t put any more burden on you sensei.”
“Don’t worry about it.
I have enough money.
“Oh, is that so….
I am sorry and thank you.”
When Sakuramiya-sensei comes back with a bottle of coke from the vending machine, she removes the cap and hands it to Shi-chan.
“Thank You, Yumi-nee.”
Shi-chan accepts the bottle with a big smile on her face and begins to sip on the bottle.
“Checking on Shi-chan who is concentrating on the coke, I turned my eyes again to Sakuramiya-sensei.”
“But it’s really my responsibility.
Because of my carelessness, I lost sight of Shi-chan.
I am disqualified to be Shi-chan’s guardian.”
“If you can reflect on it, I think that’s fine.
Just be careful from now on.”
I moved my head facing downwards and mumbled.
Sakuramiya-sensei protected Shi-chan when she got lost.
Usually it would be a scene to express gratitude rather than an apology.
Despite that, there was a reason why I kept apologizing.
“Certainly, I had plans to go to a marriage activity party today, but I wasn’t originally interested in it.
My parents were nagging me to get married and I felt like I had no choice but to go there.
So, as a result, I ended up skipping it, but I don’t regret it that much.
It was rather good.”
Yes, Sakuramiya-sensei seems to have a marriage activity party planned for today.
However, on her way there, she found Shi-chan, who was lost and canceled the party at the last minute to look for me, who was her guardian.
If it is a shopping mall, you might think that you should go to the lost center, but it seems that Shi-chan wandered on the street a little away from the shopping mall.
I thought if Sakuramiya-sensei didn’t protect her, no matter how strong my heart is, I would have lost it,
“That may be true, but…..
When I think about it, I feel like I might have changed your life.
I’ll do anything I can sensei, please let me take responsibility for my actions.
“Segawa-kun, you shouldn’t be so careless with something you can’t do, and I don’t think it’s that easy.”
“Umm…….What is it?”
The 5-year old little girl chugging on the drink silently actually made a very good argument.
“Shi-chan is right.
Well, you’ll be in big trouble if someone told you to take responsibility and get married, right? Don’t say things like taking responsibility so easily, Sagewa-kun.”
That’s right, I’m sorry.”
“So well, this story is already over.
You don’t have to blame yourself.
Shi-chan is safe, and it can’t be helped even if you think that it’s over.
“Is that so?”
I turned my head down and gave a small nod.
Sakuramiya Sensei would be in the middle of a marriage activity party by now if I would have acted as a guardian firmly without taking my eyes off Shi-chan for a moment.
If she would have met someone she came to like, she might have started dating him as a marriage partner.
The more I think about it, the more guilty I feel.
However, in contrast to me, Sakuramiya-sensei got up from the bench with a cheerful smile on her face.
“Well then, I’ll be going.
See you later.”
“Where can I meet you next time? Yumi-nee”
Shi-chan’s unexpected question choked up Sakuramiya-sensei’s voice.
The first time I saw him, she glanced at me and looked at me for help.
“I’m sure you’ll see her again soon if you go for a walk.
Sakuramiya-sensei’s hobby is to wander around various places.”
but that’s the kind of thing someone would do in the middle of the night.
Yumi-nee is very interesting.”
“B-But isn’t there a slight misunderstanding? And it feels a bit off in the way you say it.
Well, I’ll see you both later, Bye-bye.”
“Thank you very much again, Sensei.”
Sakuramiya-sensei waved her hand.
Shi-chan responded by waving her hand, and she returned back on her heels, looking satisfied.
I also bowed my head to express my sincere gratitude.
And now I was left alone with Shi-chan
“Well, let’s go home too.”
“But we still have plenty of time left.”
“Where did you learn those words…… Well, is there a place you want to go?”
“I want to go to the aquarium.”
“That’s something for another time, we don’t have enough time left for today.
“It can’t be helped, so instead of going to the aquarium I want to eat Crepes.”
“Crepes huh, Ok let’s go.”
I kept my composure while thinking about the money in my wallet.
It’s not easy to play with kids.
I thought about that as I looked at my wallet, which was getting lighter and lighter.
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