58-Examination and Winter Sky...

'This time next year, I'm probably going to die from studying for exams.'
'No, I don't like it.

The season has arrived when our breath becomes whiter and whiter and our fingertips prickle.
I used to put on gloves and have snowball fights with my sister outside, but we don't do it anymore. One of the reasons may be that I threw snowballs at her like a machine gun and made her cry. Those days were fun and innocent. I could spend my days without any worries.
As I grew up, I became fascinated by the charms of scientific civilization and stopped going outside, which is a characteristic of modern children.
So, my sister and I, modern people, are warming ourselves in the kotatsu, feeling the benefits of science. It is the winter of my sophomore year of high school and junior year of high school. I'm going to take the entrance examination next year, and my sister is going to take it this year.

'Wait a minute, maybe your brother has realized something terrible.
'What the hell?

She rests her chin on the table and sleepily replies.

'You've never seen my sister studying for an exam ......!
''I bet...''

I had no idea that my sister had such a lickspittle attitude toward entrance exams. I was so proud to hear that she was good at something. Ugin, you should apologize to all the students in the country.

'I've already been recommended...'
'What? A recommendation?''
'You didn't know, brother? We had such a great time as a family.'
'Were you there, me?
'Maybe you were watching TV in a daze, licking your tomato juice like usual. That's so sad. I'm so lonely.
'Oh my God,...... you didn't think it had already been decided,......, I mean, you were involved in club activities until recently! Isn't it funny now that I think about it, that I was still doing it in the fall of my junior year? I don't tolerate bribes.'
'I was taking care of the juniors because it was like I had already been recommended.'

Oh...... can afford to have a recommendation group...... I remember when I took the high school entrance exam, there was a recommendation group. I only remember hating them. They spent the winter with a clear face while we were almost crushed by the pressure. Thanks to their hard work, I got into a good high school, but looking back on it, I feel angry. It makes my blood boil.

What high school?
'I'm not like you, brother. Mikawa High School.
'Hmm. We can celebrate New Year's in peace.
'You looked like you were going to die. The huge cans of tomato juice on the floor were really gross. I really thought he was sick.
'The examinations, especially the written ones, are life-destroying. You don't know that. Do you understand? That state of mind that makes all students look like geniuses. I thought it was a kind of psychological warfare. That's why at the Center Exam, I show off a lot of red books and drown everyone around me in fear. By the way, the high school entrance exam shortened my life span by two years. I'm going to shorten it by eight years for the center exam.

It's really depressing to have to fight again for an exam that I never want to take again. How much easier it would be if I could just melt in the heat of the kotatsu and evaporate.
I've never been so jealous of my sister who meditates like a comforting cat. Oh, I hate exams.

So, how are things lately?
'Already. You know what I'm talking about. What's going on with you and Alina?
There's nothing here. If I may say so, the idea you gave me, 'Operation Helping Hands in Club Activities,' was recently completed.
'Wow. Surprisingly, you've continued. So, how's your love life going?
'No, I don't.'
No way. You're an alien without feelings.

I have feelings for Alina. But I know the answer when I tell it to her. And because of the nature of my relationship with Alina, I shouldn't tell her.

To help her.

This is the one thing that connects me to Alina. If we go beyond this relationship, it will be because of my ego. It would not have been a source of relief for Alina's suffering.

I don't know if I will regret this, okay?
'Humans are made to regret. It's because they have unlimited desire.
'You don't have to be so formal, just say one word. If I were to say it like you do, I'd say 'love transcends theory'.
'Wow, Ugin-chan, you're a chuunibyou!
'I want to punch you in the face, that stupid face.

My sister threw a mandarin orange at me with a stern look in her eye, and it landed with a strike to my face.

Aki is probably in the middle of studying for the center exam, and I've stopped talking to her recently because I thought it would put too much pressure on her if I cheered her up badly.
Aki is a good senior who fits well with me, so I sometimes want to chat with her. But I miss her very much because she will be gone from this high school in a few months. It's not that I won't be able to see them anymore, but I feel like there will be a big gap between us when we lose our common status as high school students. I won't be able to enter into the world of seniors. I still miss them.

It seems that winter cools the hearts of people. The enthusiasm of the school festival has vanished into the distance.

On the way to school, snow started to fall. There was no wind, so it fell gently and vertically. By the time I get to school, my shoulders and head will be white.
I tuck my face into my scarf and breathe out to keep warm. Oh, I hate winter. It kills me. The tip of my nose hurts.

As I was muttering this complaint in my head, I was patted on the head from behind.
When I turned around, I saw that it was Arina Hiba.

Oh, it's terrible to ignore the quintessence. I paid you because you were about to have a brain freeze as big as walnut.
'What's packed in there besides those walnuts?'
'It's hollow.
'You've got a head that could make a nice sound if you hit it, my head.

Alina also looked cold and blushed with the tip of her nose and cheeks. It was so cute. Alina is always so tense, but sometimes she shows us her innocent face like a little girl, which makes our heart beat faster. Please don't do that. I thought she was a tsundere too. Forgive me for sounding like an old man.
She seems to be fighting the cold with a scarf around her neck. Then I noticed Alina's legs.

'Black tights, cloaked in winter, black pearls.
'Terrible haiku'.
'High school girls like black tights. I like them too.'
'It's so gross, you'll die a million times.'

We go to school shoulder to shoulder in that kind of tension. We're silent. I don't know about Alina, but it was awkward. I try to think of something to say. But I can't think of anything to say. If I'm going my usual pace, I can crack a joke right away, but I'm too nervous to talk. Nervous about what?
You don't even have to ask yourself that. I glance to the side. Alina's profile. Her well-defined features. I was struck by her pink cheeks, which were slightly tinted. Her long eyelashes were so delicate and beautiful.
Her mouth moved and I came to myself.

I turned back to myself. 'Didn't I spy on your friend before?
'Oh, yeah. ......'
'How was it? How did you two do?
'He said he was saved. Makoto said to you, 'Thank you so much. I'm sorry I bothered you.
'Oh, that's boring. If you had taken a picture in selfie mode, it would have been an interesting turn of events.
'That inadvertent cruelty.'

Well, after leaving the all-you-can-eat sweets store, Alina and Shirana left me behind. I remember standing there by myself. I never asked what happened to them. And I don't intend to.
I walked through the school gate and flapped my uniform to remove the snow before entering the school building. He throws his shoes into the shoe box. At the same time, my phone vibrates, and I pull it out of my pocket and open the screen.

What? A spy photo?
'Idiot. I'm a gentleman. The photo gallery is all from the British Museum (big lie).'

It was a message from Hakuna. I open it, wondering what is going on so early in the morning. And my sleepiness was gone in an instant.

You look like a frozen Ice Age mammoth. What's wrong?

I stiffen. Alina leaned closer and looked at my phone.

'What? You're saying this is--'

Alina was genuinely upset. I went beyond plain and stopped thinking. I reached a state of selflessness that almost made me feel like Buddha.

I really like comets. Will you meet me after school today? I really like comets.

That one short sentence was unmistakably a message from Shirana Namiki.