With a rattling noise, the roller coaster was slowly reaching the peak. The steep slope seemed to give the illusion that the approaching height was suddenly cut on top. The moment she felt like floating as the sight of the small buildings and blue sky danced before her eyes, Hina felt a tug in her body. With the ferocious wind hitting her cheeks, she instinctively darted her eyes to the direction of the movement and saw that it was Hasegawa beside her, whose usual sour expression now turned pale in fright.
“Hasegawa, are you all right?”
Hasegawa was slumped on the bench. Hina passed him a bottle of water. He took it and downed it one go.
His voice was characteristically weaker. While sitting beside Hasegawa, Hina looked towards the roller coaster where Mei and Yuma went back to for a second ride. But their backs were no longer in her line of sight as they left in a flash.
“I’m so pathetic, aren’t I?”
Regaining a bit of his composure, Hasegawa slowly raised his head. Seeing his face, Hina gave him a faint smile.
“Well, everyone has a weakness. It was interesting to see Hasegawa’s face like that.”
“It’s unsightly, wasn’t it…”
With a mischievous look, Hina smiled at Hasegawa. Seeing her smile, the corner of Hasegawa’s lips perked up a little.
“I thought roller coasters were meant to scare kids, but I didn’t realize it had such a destructive power.”
“Right? Just like the first time you rode it…”
“It is my first time, you know! Speaking of which, it is also my first time in an amusement park.”
Hina’s eyes opened in shock at Hasegawa’s revelation. He always gave the impression that he knows everything so hearing that he didn’t know something so common to most people surprised her.
Unaware of Hina’s facial reaction, Hasegawa continued to talk as he gazed in the distance.
“He passed away already but my father was a strict person. He believed that students should focus on studying and so he rarely took me out to play. In fact, I have never been to the playground near our house.”
“Is that so…”
There was no hint of sorrow in his expression. It was like he was only narrating a nostalgic tale from one’s childhood.
“Frankly, I also thought that amusement parks were meant for kids to play at. But now I think it’s a place that blurs the boundaries of age. At first, I was skeptical that we have to go such a childish place for our date, but it turned out to be a really good experience. I have Ms. Katsuragi to thank for planning this…”
After saying so, he shook the drink in his hand. Hina looked at him from her periphery.
“Did you have fun at the amusement park?”
“It…wasn’t fun. The haunted house we went to earlier was filled with scary things I couldn’t fathom, and even though it’s winter, we had nothing to cover ourselves from the splash of water during that torrential slide. And worst of all, that ride that tests a person’s limit… It’s nothing but bothersome.”
Hina let out a wry smile as Hasegawa rattled on his complaints. Hasegawa and the amusement park certainly doesn’t mix together.
“But since you’re here, I can say it’s also fun.” Hasegawa added with a beaming smile. Hina’s cheeks slightly reddened and she could only mutter an unintelligible reply before turning to her side to hide her blushing face.
Without saying another word, the two silently watched the crowd.
Even though their fingers were closed enough to touch, Hasegawa didn’t hold her hands nor put his hands on her shoulders. There was something comfortable in that distance.
They went around and tried more attractions. Just when Hina was finally having fun, Mei suggested something unexpected.
“Well then, I hope both of you will enjoy your time together from now on! We’ll leave you guys and have fun by ourselves!”
Mei smiled and took Yuma’s hand. Yuma’s cheeks dyed red in anxiety. However, Yuma wasn’t the only fidgety one.
“Wait, Mei!” Hina cried out but with a mischievous smile on her face, Mei whispered.
“Enjoy your lovey-dovey date, okay?”
Straightening her back, Mei’s smile grew wider.
“Tell me what happens later okay? Rest assured I won’t say a word to anyone else!”
Mei grabbed Yuma’s hand and lightly dragged him away. Hina stared at them until they disappeared into the crowd.
“Completely tricked, aren’t we…”
Hasegawa said, with arms crossed, as if voicing out Hina’s inner feelings. He heaved a sigh and returned his gaze to the crowd.
“What do we do from now on?”
Hina asked as she peered at Hasegawa beside her. After thinking for a while, Hasegawa gave the safest suggestion, “Why don’t we go home?” Hina was a bit surprised but soon after her face was filled with relief.
The sunset dyed the sky in beautiful colors. It will probably be nightfall by the time they reach home.
As the two were leaving the gates of the amusement park, they started to walk faster as if trying to run away from that bustle.
Along the promenade on their way home, the two walked together while keeping a certain distance. They couldn’t be mistaken as lovers, but it was also a little strange for friends. The two silently continued walking.
When they were about to reach the train station, Hasegawa suddenly grabbed Hina’s arm. She had almost stepped on the foot bellows without realizing.
“Can we continue walking home until the next station?”
“You can refuse if you don’t want to. I won’t force you.”
Furrowing her brows, Hina nodded unwittingly.