His back stood steady as I ran into it.
“Morning, Ryuuji!” I called out while running away. Then, later that day, I got chastised by my friends again for bumping into him daily at the school gate. If I like him, they said, I should just confess.”
I would have if I had confidence.
Then, when I started my second year of high school. My father passed away. He had been suffering from cancer, without telling me till the last moment. My mother had died long before I could remember. There was no one left I could rely on. My feet felt heavy, returning to school after the funeral. Nothing mattered when I was alone.
I saw Ryuuji at the school gate.
“Run into me,” he said, showing his back, “I want you to.”
We started dating soon after that.
When we graduated, he became my new family. We moved to the countryside after the wedding. There, we spent many years together. He got a job as a financial adviser to the town council, where he worked until his retirement. Our sons and a daughter grew up, and two of them had families of their own—my hair had turned white.
One day, I woke up. Ryuuji had left for a walk without me.
“Grandpa look grumpy these days,” said one of my grandchildren.
Knowing what had been on his mind, I rushed after him. Though he had kept it a secret, his doctor told me that his cancer had already reached a terminal stage. Soon, I would be all alone.
From a distance, I saw him at last. Those broad shoulders looked as I always remembered.
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