I wanted to see her. I knew she was in high school, and there were only two in our town. I paid a visit to the other one, where I came across a track team. I spotted her drinking water in the seating area.
"Did you listen to Ray Kazami's new album?" Two girls were talking close by, as I approached Hashiri.
"Oh, which song do you like the most?" asked Hashiri.
The girls froze. Hashiri speaking to them seemed to come as a surprise. "You won't be interested," one of them said with an awkward laugh. "Please excuse us."
I noticed something then. Many people stood around, but they all kept their distance from her.
Hashiri saw me. She looked like she had seen a stranger in her house. She dragged me out of there to somewhere we could sit. "I’m sorry that you had to see that." Hashiri sounded more sad than angry. "It's always like that. It doesn’t matter whether I say something or don’t—I make people uncomfortable just by being nearby, I don't understand why myself."
When someone stood out the way Hashiri did, I suppose people could feel intimidated. I used to feel that way.
"I have been thinking a lot about what you said—that I should get a real friend," I finally said. "But ever since that meeting, all I have wanted was to see you again. Even though you don't think of me as a real friend."
Hashiri raised her eyes.
"So," I continued, "how about you rent me out? It will work out somehow since we both want the same thing. And I am sure I will do a good job, having learned from the best."
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