Chapter 6 Wavering Heart

“T-Tadao…?”

The hands felt warm and safe. I had a feeling that it was him and not a bystander – but I couldn’t be sure. Because of my stupid reverie, I got caught up in this situation with me being the victim and pretty much anyone being the attacker.

“Please, if it’s you Tadao…” I said in a wobbly voice.

“And if it’s not?”

The hands loosened and I turned round immediately to see Matsuoka Seita grinning at me.

“Matsuoka-san…”

He chuckled. “C’mon, let’s catch up with the rest!” He pulled my loosely fitting dress and made me run in heels. Seriously, I may have worn heels nearly every day but I couldn’t run in them!

“Risa, wait.”

I turned around again and saw Tadao. Oh this confused me so much.

“Tadao-san?”

“Why are you calling me that?!” he raged. I felt extremely vulnerable, as if he was going to hit me. Then Seita rushed in front of me to protect any blows. “Get out the way, Seita. I want to talk to Risa – oh sorry, I meant Tachibana-san.”

Seita didn’t budge, but I felt a powerful aura coming from him. “I won’t let you hurt a girl, Tadao. Especially not a beautiful one!”

“She’s not beautiful! She’s ugly. That pretty face is fake – she is fake and I don’t know why anyone would want to be–“

“Tadao-san, please could you stop?” I asked quietly. I didn’t look anyone in the eye but instead at the patterns on Seita’s cardigan. The wind blew past me silently, almost forcing a tear to leave my eye. “Please stop.”

Seita turned round precariously to look at my face. By then, waterfalls were streaming down my cheeks. He jolted and hurriedly bent down to eye level. “Risa? Risa, Tadao isn’t that bad, is he? C’mon, we should go to a shop toilet and clear up your face! Tadao, I can’t believe you made a girl cry…”

The thing is, it wasn’t his fault at all. It was mine. It was my own regret and repentance. Everything was a blur as I was led into a supermarket and taken to the crowded women’s loos. “Ah, this is terrible. Well, why don’t you let me sort you out?”

I had to nod, due to my perpetual tears. We stood outside the loos where there was a queue full of middle-aged ladies and a few elderly on the sofas. I searched for my make-up bag and gave it to him. He carefully removed my runny make-up and slowly applied some more. “You have really nice skin, Risa,” he would say every now and again. I had to stop him from touching my nose in case it fell off again, or got dislodged. Beru-chin wasn’t here to rescue it anyway, so I had to be responsible for anything and everything that might reveal my surgery.

“All done. Come on, let’s get back to the gang, I know where they’ll be.”

Still in a daze, I followed through the supermarket and outside into the cool. It was actually getting a little chilly, and there would possibly be rain later. Unexpectedly, Tadao was standing outside the main door to the supermarket. I was slightly perturbed by this – I didn’t know whether to be nice about everything and forget what had just happened, or completely ignore Tadao. I decided on the latter, and stood close to Seita as we walked to the mall where everyone else would be.

“Sorry about that, Tachibana-san. It seems I’ve mistaken you for someone else.” Ohh, what was this?? “The Risa I knew didn’t cry when their friend gave them proper advice.” Yep. Of course he wasn’t going to drop it.

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