“He’s the worst! That insensitive four eyes stalker asshole!”
“Come on, Hina. Stop drinking already. If you drink any more than this, how are you gonna deal with your hangover tomorrow?”
“I-it’s fi-iine, tomorrow’s a Sunday and I have no plans…”
With her cheeks pressed on top of the table in the pub, Hina laughed giddily in front of her friend. Her right hand held a mug of beer while her left hand just hang slovenly.
In the private room of the pub, the two continued blabbering nonstop until late into the night. From recent updates in their lives and complaints about their companies to rumors among their mutual friends and even the latest entertainment gossips, they ceaselessly kept talking all night.
When they ran out of topics to discuss, Hina’s love life came into the conversation. Hina complained about Hasegawa as she downed alcohol one after another. As a result, she unwittingly ended up in that drunken stupor.
Her best friend, Yumi, patiently let her whine until she was satisfied. Without realizing, it was already 10 o’clock in the evening.
“By the way, why don’t you like that guy? He’s good-looking, excellent at his job, and he’s serious about you. There’s nothing bad to say about him! He may have some shortcomings but you can just turn a blind eye on them. Otherwise, you might end up a spinster and miss your chance to get married!”
Yumi expressed with a flabbergasted look on her face. While listening to her, Hina’s face contorted into displeasure.
“It’s not like marriage is the sole measure for happiness in life, you know! Being single for the rest of my life is certainly better than being with that kind of guy! But now that you mention it, I might really end up a spinster at this rate…”
“Oh come on, don’t say that.”
“Shut up, married woman-” As Hina was saying those words in a mumbled tone, Yumi gently jabbed her with her fist. The next moment, Hina fell back on the table.
Hina and Yumi are both turning 28 this year. It’s an age where marriage is a sensitive topic. About 60% of their friends are already running their own household including Yumi, who just got married last year to the man she’s been dating for seven years.
While gently stroking Hina’s back as she lay on the table, Yumi munched on the edamame with her other hand.
“Since he said he likes you, why don’t you just try dating him? And if it doesn’t turn out well, then just break up! It’s that simple!”
Yumi’s suggestion made Hina’s face openly curl into a frown. Honestly speaking, he’s not the type she didn’t want to date. But the problem is, once they date, they will certainly pick on each other’s shortcomings.
Besides, Hina can’t bring herself to love anyone right now. The reason being…
“You’re still not over your ex-boyfriend, aren’t you?”
Hina felt a shiver down her spine at Yumi’s spot-on remark. At the same time, she felt a knot in her stomach.
“There’s no way…”
“Whoa. I only said that as a joke. You’re really bad at lying…”
Hina’s words got stuck in her mouth. She turned her face away from Yumi and knitted her eyebrows.
“You better forget that pimp already!”
“Hide is not a pimp! He’s a band member! Don’t lump him who works hard to chase his dream with those good-for-nothing pimps!”
“Okay, okay. And then that band-member-who-works-hard-to-chase-his-dream dumped you because he ‘couldn’t see you as a woman anymore’, didn’t he?”
Hina buried her face on the table and wailed loud enough to be heard in the next room. Borrowing the power of liquor, her tears overflowed tremendously. Even though half a year has already passed since she broke up with her ex-boyfriend, she still hasn’t completely gotten over him.
“Sorry, sorry… But well, I’ve told you many times already, you have to get over him! And the secret to healing a broken heart is a new love, you know!”
“So I should date Hasegawa? I d-don’t want to!!!”
Hina wailed like a child just as the waiter came in to ask for their last order. The two ordered desserts and afterwards, separately went their ways.
After getting off the train, Hina walked on the promenade alongside the river. On the way, she seemed to have been hit by a bicycle and although the contents of her bag scattered all over, she managed to make it to her apartment safely.
She got on the elevator and pressed the number 5 as she languidly leaned against the wall. When she was in front of her door, she thrust her hand inside her bag to search for her key.
She frantically probed through the contents of her bag several times. But no matter how much she tried, she didn’t feel the key with her hands. Finally, she poured out everything in her bag and began searching. Then, she felt the blood drain from her face.
“What? It’s not here! It’s not here! Even my phone?!!”
“…What are you doing?”
Hearing the familiar calm voice, Hina instinctively raised her head. The owner of that voice looked down at her with damp eyes.
“What are you doing in front of someone else’s room?”
Hasegawa firmly held the key in his right hand. His facial expression remained the same but the atmosphere somehow tensed. Hina shifted her eyes back in front of her door.
“…Someone else’s room? But this is my room…”
“No. That’s yours next door. This is mine.”
“W-What?! N-next door?!”
She was taken aback that a shrill voice escaped her lips. In a low, deep tone, Hasegawa retorted. “Why do you look so surprised? Didn’t I tell you this morning? ‘From now on, we’ll be neighbors.’ Don’t tell me, you’ve forgotten already? You have such a poor memory. Let’s add another item in the improvement plan to help boost your memory skills.”
“No, no, no, no! When you said ‘neighbors’, I thought you meant figuratively. I didn’t think you meant it literally…”
“Oh, is that so? Anyway, putting that aside, let’s go back to the first question. What are you doing here?”
Hina’s eyes swam around randomly as she pondered over what to say. If she told him the truth, he’d definitely take her for a fool. In the office, she’s known as a capable woman. But considering the incident this morning, Hasegawa will surely label her as a useless woman once he knows.
However, Hasegawa peered at her as though he could read her thoughts and mockingly said. “It can’t be that you ‘lost your key somewhere’ and couldn’t enter your room, right?”
Hina felt cold sweat emerge from her body. Her face stiffened and she shifted her eyes away from Hasegawa. Seeing her reaction, Hasegawa nodded knowingly.
“Well… What about your phone?”
“I lost it together with the key…”
“How much cash do you have left in your wallet? How about your credit card?”
“I have 1500 yen remaining and my credit card is at home…”
Hasegawa fell silent and placed his hand over his mouth as if to ponder over something. After about ten seconds, he slowly raised his face and in a business-like tone, told Hina. “Well then, please choose. Will you wordlessly enter my room or sleep outside? Which do you prefer?”