I heard about this website where you can rent a friend. "No Sexual Service," the homepage proclaimed in giant letters. So, I called them.
That weekend, I decided that if the other person left after seeing me from a distance, I would respect that. However, when I arrived at the meeting spot, a girl approached me. She had arrived fifteen minutes early and wore trendy clothes—a skirt of proper length with a red jacket that looked good on her.
"Call me Hashiri," she said.
"Like a duck?" I blurted. The name sounded like an alias.
"I used to live in Kyoto when I was little," she said with a smile. "And yes, 'Hashiri' does mean duck. You know so much."
My cheeks warmed up.
I went window shopping for the first time with someone not from my family. Then, we went to a music store. Ray Kazami, my favorite artist, had just released a new album. The people at the shop allowed me to hear the first song for free.
"Is it good?" She asked.
I let her listen. Somehow, it felt strange—almost like having a real friend.
Hashiri stood like a stone statue, listening. At one point, she impressed me by not blinking even once in twenty seconds. Then, she took the album. "I'm going to buy this," she said. "You have good taste, Chisaki."
"Could you—" My voice made her pause, "—call me Chii? I want to be called by my nickname."
I swallowed. Hashiri had an unexpectedly deep tone.
"You should reserve that for a real friend."
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