Chapter 44 – The Calm Before the Storm
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My life had taken a turn recently. It had all begun with a completely random event. Before it happened, I hadn’t been expecting it at all. Something made me come across that peculiar girl—I was sure that if it hadn’t happened that day, I would have never gotten to make friends with her, or even talked to her.

I had always been a loner. Maybe I had some friends at some point… but I wouldn’t call them that. I didn’t know them well. They only talked to me at school, but not often. And usually, all they wanted from me is help when they needed it. True, friends should help each other, but I felt like I was just being used. They had never helped me… but I had never asked them to, so it might have been my own fault.

But suddenly, that girl appeared in my life. At first, we had been really hesitant about talking to each other. In fact, we still were, although not as much as before. I didn’t understand her. I found her behavior odd, but I didn’t hate it. Why was she acting like that? What caused her to start?

Of course, I wanted to know that. Why? Wasn’t it obvious? Not only was there human curiosity—that eyepatch of hers certainly awakened it—but I simply wanted to know something about her that other people didn’t. Because she was special to me, and I wanted her to find me special as well.

Apparently, she had no friends. It meant that I was her only friend. It wasn’t a good situation, because she didn’t know anyone to consult her problems that were concerning me. She couldn’t tell me, obviously. She had to deal with them on her own, which wasn’t always possible for her. She was quite weak, after all.

And having no friends was never a good thing, no matter how much you liked to be lonely.

Technically, we weren’t lonely anymore. But actually, we still were. There were numerous things we couldn’t talk about to each other, or rather, we were too afraid to. Coincidentally, my biggest trouble right now was something I could never possibly gather the courage to tell her about.

It concerned my feelings towards her. It took me way too long to consider her as my friend, and now, I was considering her as something more.

I liked being with her way more than ever before, but at the same moment, I became extremely timid by her side. Often, I found my thoughts drifting away to her, even when they shouldn’t, for example during class. It wasn’t rare that I imagined scenarios in my mind, where things went exactly the way I wanted. And I wanted them to become reality soon. And it wasn’t like they weren’t within my reach.

Because I imagined her as my girlfriend.

We had known each other for quite a while. As far as I was concerned, I was her only friend, and she was my only friend. Still, it didn’t mean that she shared my thoughts. Actually, it was an enormous risk—in case something went wrong, we could possibly lose contact with each other, and become lonely again.

Perhaps she would find friends in high school, but it wasn’t a given. After all, I had experienced it numerous times already—changing your environment didn’t mean that you automatically gained friends. You had to put an effort, which was something I doubted she would be able to do. That’s why I was afraid of losing her—who knew what would occur to her if she was left alone again?

But I didn’t know what she was thinking. She had always been unable to be read, and it had never been so frustrating as now. She could be thinking the same, it wasn’t impossible. But maybe she wasn’t.

Again, I had to confess first. I guess I don’t have to tell you how much courage it required. I didn’t have it, but let’s set this aside for now. Whether she would accept or not… let’s consider both scenarios.

In case she did, we both were satisfied and happy like never before. I would find a way to deal with it and maintain our relationship… I guess it wouldn’t be that difficult since I simply didn’t have anyone else to spend time with.

But more importantly, what if she refused? She could just say no and pretend that nothing ever happened. That way, we would stay friends, and nothing would change… actually, it would be quite traumatizing. But it still was the best result in case she refused.

She could also run away in embarrassment. It didn’t necessarily mean a refusal, but… when would we meet again? Our timidness reached immense levels, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we never got to talk to each other ever again. So basically, I would lose. Needless to say, this would make me depressed a lot. I was afraid that this could happen.

I doubted it would happen, but she could also refuse and decide to cut ties between us on the spot. It was pretty much the way the dream went… it reeked of fantasy. I guess I could be certain that it wouldn’t happen.

Nonetheless, it was just like a gamble. I could just give up and let things stay the way they currently were, but I could also take a risk and possibly gain a lot.

Was it worth it?

Well, I was basically considering love in a very similar way to money. I should be ashamed of it. In fact, I was doing it only in order to forget about the fact that I had to confess to her first, which was something pretty much impossible considering my anxiety.

On the other hand, if I listened only to my heart, the answer would be simple. It was saying, “Do it.”

What should I listen to? My mind that maybe sometimes made sense, but was burdened by anxiety, cowardice, and embarrassment? Or my heart, which was the proper embodiment of my feelings?

The answer was obvious. I decided. I was going to do it, no later than the school cultural festival.

“We’ll decide on our cultural festival stall today. Any suggestions?”

The cultural festival, just like sports festival, took place every year. And I didn’t care about it either, but unfortunately, I was always forced to take part in it. There was no mercy—since I wasn’t a member of any club, they had me put a lot of effort in our own class exhibition.

Fortunately, usually I didn’t have to stand there on the day of the festival itself—I only helped with preparations. Of course, I had to come to school and enjoy what other classes and clubs prepared. It was even fun, at times. Especially food.

Less than a month was left until the day, therefore we had to start preparing for it. Most people were looking forward to it, but I was actually afraid of it. It was because of a goal I had set. It was a pretty serious and difficult goal. It concerned that girl. I was going to say everything I had on mind to her… so basically confess.

Why did I choose that particular day? I thought that it was the best setup I could possibly get for now. After all, if I confessed to her on a normal day, on lunch break in our usual meeting place which was the small forest… it would be awkward, right? That way, it would be a little bit less awkward. Or at least I hoped so.

“Cosplay café!”

I heard someone throwing a suggestion. I had never seen something like that happening in our school. There were cafes, but they were… normal, I guess? The closest thing to a cosplay café would be an Italian café, because all staff had special outfits that I found somewhat cute. But there had been no maids acting like anime girls.

“Wrestling show!”

“Eating contest!”

“Haunted house!”

“Romeo and Juliet!”

And so, lots of ideas appeared and were written on the blackboard by the class representative. Again, I didn’t care about which one was chosen. I would have to work either way.

“Err… you know about our cultural festival?”

“Affirmative. I have acquired information about this event.”

Lunch break. As usual, I was spending my time in the cool and quiet grove. Sitting next to me while slowly biting at her food, there was the peculiar girl. Everything in my life had been revolving about her lately… and while I didn’t hate it, it made me feel uneasy.

She was cute, both in appearance and behavior. She always acted as if she wasn’t human, but apparently an alien, hence her odd speech. Moreover, there was a black eyepatch over her left eye. Even though I knew her for quite a long time, I had never seen what was under it.

And she knew nothing about my current trouble concerning her. Well, she did claim that she could read my mind… but we all knew that it wasn’t true. There was no way she would stay calm like that if she could.

“So, what did your class choose?” I asked her as I was curious. But she hesitated before answering me.

“A-A café.”

“Oh, I see”, I wondered, what was so embarrassing in that? It was a completely ordinary choice. “We’re do—”

“A maid café”, suddenly, she repeated, but she added a word.

Huh? That was surprising. To think this school would allow something like that… but it was nice, wasn’t it? Some people would definitely enjoy it. I only wondered how it managed to win the voting… unless they used a method that didn’t involve democracy to pick it.

“Oh, that’s great…”

But wait. In a maid café, there were waitresses acting in several adorable ways. They were girls, unless they decided to add butlers too. She wasn’t a member of any club, which meant that she could be thrown around freely by her class concerning their stall.

So, it wasn’t impossible that she would be a waitress here. Perhaps someone noticed her odd behavior and thought it would be a great idea to use it? If I were them, I would certainly make her a maid. Of course, from an objective standpoint.

“Are you going to work there…?”

“N-no! Me, working for humans? I cannot allow such humiliation. Kakaka”, her abrupt manner of speech indicated that there was something she didn’t want me to know. She was bad at hiding things in such situations.

Well, I guess I was going to try it out either way.

“My class picked a haunted house…”

“Be sure to make it actually scary. I would help you, but… I cannot be helping humans.”

Nice of her to say that, but I guess she wouldn’t be allowed to. Only my class could be involved in preparations.

“I see. Thanks. Err… you are going to be at school that day, right?”

“Affirmative. There is no reason why I would skip it, unless something unexpected happens. Although it shouldn’t.”

“I see…”

Aside from all the maid café and haunted house business, the day of cultural festival had a way more important meaning to me. It was so awkward thinking about it when she was next to me. I didn’t believe in her mind-reading powers, but I was afraid that they were actually real—so I tried to stop myself from thinking about it now.

“Then, see you later”, I proceeded to leave as the end of break was approaching. Actually, I was more like inconspicuously running away—mainly because of those thoughts.

“Farewell”, she replied in her usual, “cool” manner. The tone of her voice didn’t seem to be suspecting anything.

From then on, I stared working with my class on preparations. I was usually assigned to odd jobs since I was considered useless. She behaved just as usual… I mean, she still pretended to be an alien, but she spoke nothing out of the ordinary. She was enthusiastic and so on. Aside from that, there was a lot of nervousness. I was feeling stressed out every day, because that day was unavoidably drawing near.

The day everything between us would change. I would tell her about everything. Was it going to success, or fail as always? I couldn’t know without trying first.

I was thinking about details. When would I tell her? Probably in the evening, since it was when the mood was at its best. Also, it wouldn’t be that difficult to find an empty place then—it was absolutely a must. I also had to make sure that nobody but us knew about it—I didn’t want to be accidentally spotted by a classmate, even though I didn’t care about them, and graduation was really soon.

And so, that day finally came.