The thirty first of August and the first of September.
It was a continuous transition to the next day and at the same time, there wasn’t a clear moment when the day had turned into the other.
The boundary between the ordinary and the extraordinary.
When the weekdays and weekends collide, the story of Hikigaya Hachiman wants to come to an end.1
Things like the end of vacation were so packed with bad energy2 that the world was well on its way towards the worst future.
With that being said, school would begin again starting today.
The street which I rode on with my bike for a while was as congested as it was two months ago and the closer I approached school, the noisier it became. Now that summer vacation was over, there’s probably a lot to talk about. Everyone leisurely walked to school accompanied by others.
Just by attending this high school for over a year now, I knew some faces. Well, I really only knew their faces, that’s all.
When I saw Tobe or came across Ebina-san, we didn’t greet each other nor did we talk to each other.
Whether it was a summer dream or not, the only time we had actually talked was during the special occasion, the summer camp. Ways to associate in school and outside of school to keep your distance existed.
Of course, I was well aware of those things.
That’s why, I stayed quiet like I always would whenever I came across anyone including Kawasaki.
If I had to act like those transparent guys and think it’s normal to tap the shoulders of people I wasn’t even on friendly terms with and ask, “Did you get a tan?” when I never knew what their skin color was in the first place, it’s probably more sincere to just not meet their gaze.
There were numerous others commuting to school quietly at the front entrance, though I wasn’t sure if they had the same thoughts as I did.
But as soon as they met with someone they knew, their faces lit up and became gleeful.
I think the biggest reason why people felt so happy from being talked to was because it fulfilled their desire to be acknowledged.
Being recognized as a person, being allowed to exist, and possessing the value of being talked to; they’d use these things to validate themselves and gloat with glee.
That’s why conversely, in the case where I approved of myself, I didn’t have to waste my time bothering with those things.
You could say that by being a loner and being isolated, you were establishing your true self.
I love myself for thinking of these things. I, boku-chan-sama3, am the best!
I fulfilled my own desire of acknowledgement by myself and tried self-producing my love. Getting an excessive amount could also lead to autotoxemia. Wasn’t I just the side giving out love at this point…? I see, so I was a god, after all.
As I thought about those worthless thoughts (they called it philosophy in the real world), I walked down the hallway.
The school building in which I already spent half of my high school life.
A sight I became used to seeing and a sight that I’d eventually forget.
But in that stained view, I discovered the standing figure of someone I surely wouldn’t forget.
In the space where the heat ascended with the rays of the sun pouring down on the glass stairs, there was an awe-inspiring atmosphere being emitted where no one from the surroundings could approach.
It was Yukinoshita Yukino.
When I took a step on the stairs, she noticed my presence and turned around. “Oh, it’s been a long time.”
“Yeah. Long time no see.”
I was already used to hearing words being told to me from above.
Yukinoshita climbed the stairs with the same pace as as if she was adjusting hers to mine. So our distance was maintained at two steps without changing.
Beyond the back that didn’t turn around, her voice called to me to which I answered with just the movement of my head.
After taking a few seconds to realize that my silence was my response, Yukinoshita continued. “…I heard you met nee-san.”
Even with the hustling of students to and fro, Yukinoshita’s voice still distinctly reached me.
“Yeah, by chance.”
What did my voice sound like? Did it reach her alright?
Before I could confirm that, the stairs came to an end and we exited into the hallway of the second year classes.
Turning left would lead to class J which Yukinoshita belonged to and turning right would lead to classes H to A.
At the splitting point where our distances shrunk, Yukinoshita stopped.
“—Are we jumping right back into club activities today?”
I overtook Yukinoshita and turned half of my body around.
She looked bewildered, unusual of her to stumble over her words. “Y-Yes… That’s the plan…”
“Roger that. I’ll see you later, then.”
I walked off before I finished.
I could feel Yukinoshita’s stare on my back. I realized that she had swallowed her breath after she was about to say something, but even so, I still couldn’t stop.
In every class I passed by, it was full of joyful reunions.
Class-F was no exception and no one noticed my entry into the class.
Great, what a relief. I wasn’t any different from how I usually am.
I like myself.
Not once did I ever hate myself.
My basic, but high specs; my decent face; and my pessimistic, but realistic thinking; I didn’t hate any single one of them.
But now, for the first time, I was on the verge of hating myself.
I arbitrarily placed my expectations on her, I arbitrarily forced my ideals on her, I arbitrarily acted as if I understood her, and I arbitrarily disappointed myself. Over and over again, I’d warn myself, yet I just wouldn’t learn.
——Even Yukinoshita Yukino tells lies.
For not being able to acknowledge something so obvious, I hate myself.