It is a little too soon to call it the season of cherry blossoms, when a boy's feelings are instantly shattered. What has happened is irreversible, no matter how much one wishes, it is impossible for humans to turn back time.
However, I want to go back if I can go back. If I could, I'd like to go back to five minutes ago──no, I'd like to go back to last night, the time when I was smilingly writing a love letter on my study desk, wholeheartedly exerting all the strength in my right hand. Yes, I was in a state of bliss, unable to control myself.
However, there was nothing else I could do. Still vividly remembered in my mind, the day I entered the school, I saw her in front of me and felt what is called love at first sight. Just like now, watching her walk gracefully down the cherry blossom path, her beautiful black hair waving in the spring breeze, stole my eyes and heart.
That was my first encounter with her. It didn't take me long to realize that this was my first love. On the contrary, although it meant a lot to me, to her it was just something ordinary. Why didn't I realize this before?
"Like I said before, it's not that I don't like Ouji-kun or anything, anyway. Honestly, I'm not thinking of dating anyone right now. Anyway, I can't reciprocate your feelings yet, sorry about that."
She-- Himegi Touka looked at me with an apologetic gaze, then bowed her head with a clear voice apologizing.
"Ah, please raise your head. I also apologize...umm, for this sudden thing."
Even now, I was only thinking of myself. How clueless I was and feeling really pitiful.
"...I realize, though, that it's not funny to hear such an answer from me, but please don't be discouraged. In that case, I have something to do, so I'll excuse myself now," she said.
Her figure, bathed in the orange light of dusk that was faintly coming in through the window. Ah, I knew she was beautiful.
"Oh, I apologize for suddenly calling you, when you yourself have business to do. Please forgive me and don't worry about it, Himegi-san. I'm also trying not to think about it too much...."
"Okay, well, see you next week," while bowing politely, she left this empty classroom.
"See you next week, huh...," I muttered.
Would I be able to stay when I met her next week? Of course, there would be an awkward feeling in front of her. Thinking about it, made me feel like banging my head against the wall repeatedly.
"Ah... I want to go back to yesterday."
Being in the same class as her, being carried away by the feeling of happiness, being overwhelmed by nervousness and thoughtlessly writing a love letter, then calling her to an empty classroom after school, and getting rejected in just ten seconds is a fact that can never be turned back, no matter how hard I try. Come to think of it, what part of it made me believe that I would be accepted?
Himegi Touka was someone unreachable. She has long, silky black hair and a pretty face. She was tall for a girl and had slender legs. Her large breasts would probably make my mother and childhood friends jealous. Not to mention, her waist and hips were toned, making her style at least model-grade. At the same time, her personality is not bad, and it is combined with the athleticism of her body. In other words, it wouldn't be wrong to call her the school's number one beautiful girl and madonna.
"...How could I think that there is a chance of dating such a girl?"
Am I an idiot? Seriously, am I that stupid?
I have to go home. Besides, I don't want anyone to see me like this right now.
Just as I thought that and tried to reach out my hand towards the door, there came a familiar voice from the direction of the other door, "Well, that was a nice refusal, Poor Prince."
As I turned around, the figure was my childhood friend, Chikada Kanako, who looked like a middle schooler, looking at me with a wry smile on her face.
"You saw everything?"
It's about cleaning, though. The newspaper club is in charge of cleaning this classroom. “Hakuma, you should be thanking me, you know. I knew you'd get angry if they saw you, so I sent them home on my orders," she explained.
I was touched by my childhood friend's kindness.
Was she this kind? All this time I had been swearing about her in my heart, calling her a child or a girl with small breasts, I'm sorry.
"Well, because of that, I can take interesting videos exclusively, so it's not a problem..."
Kanako also took out a smartphone from her pocket and pointed the screen at me with a satisfied expression on her face. It was a video where a brown-haired boy with his bright red face, was trying his best to confess his feelings to a black-haired girl with a pitiful expression.
"But, this is the first time I know that you like Himegi-san."
"Isn't that okay? I mean, don't record it without permission──"
"I don't think that it's not allowed. So, Poor Prince, what do you like about Himegi-san?"
"She doesn't laugh at my dreams."
In the class introduction last time, I said that I wanted to become a professional magician and perform magic tricks for free in Las Vegas and to children who had never seen magic before. At that time, many students laughed at my dream, but she was the only one who listened to my words seriously. That's why I wanted to tell Himegi-san how I felt “I think it was love at first sight...".
"In the end, it's all about your looks, bye!"
"I won't deny it," she replied shortly.
"So, what if we can't determine someone's gender based on their appearance?" I replied irritably.
I hated it when others made fun of my name and appearance. So, I had decided not to tolerate anyone breaking this taboo, even if it was my childhood friend.
"Okay, the title of the next session is “The Poor Prince-Broken to Pieces” or “The Poor Prince for His Reckless Confession!”. Which one do you like better?"
"Alright, Kanako-san. Which would you prefer, being strangled by me like this, or jumping off the fifth floor with your little body?"
Personally, I wanted to inflict all kinds of suffering as much as possible. Damn it, I'm ashamed for having thought that she was a good person, even for a moment.
"But more importantly, I need help."
"...As usual, you don't listen to what I say."
"Here", from her skirt pocket, she took out a piece of paper the size of a business card and placed it on the table.
"Hm? A ticket for the fortune telling service?" I asked.
"Yes, free fortune-telling tickets. A gift for Hakuma."
“Kanako-san gave me a gift? What's your purpose?" I said suspiciously.
I immediately understood because I had known this person for a long time. Kanako was planning to make me do something. By the way, I'm not interested in fortune-telling at all, so this was a gift that frankly didn't make me happy.
"Lately, among the female students, there is a fortune teller who is famous for the accuracy of her predictions."
"A good fortune teller, huh? Well, it's better than no luck, right?" I said as I picked up the free fortune-telling session ticket on the table and handed it back to Kanako.
"Since you're the vice president of the magic trick research club, you should know whether a fortune teller's mysterious powers are real or just a trick, right? So, that's why I asked Hakuma to investigate. Oh, by the way, the ticket is only valid until today, so do it today as well."
"Why did you assume that I would investigate it right away?"
"I have to clean up this empty classroom now. Then it makes sense for you to investigate it in my stead."
Without a trace of guilt, these words made my head spin. I wondered what kind of education I had received to understand such nonsensical logic.
"In that case, let me do the cleaning. You can go and meet the seer."
"Unfortunately, I have a karaoke date with my boyfriend when I finish cleaning. So, I don't have time to go see a fortune teller,"
That's what she said. In other words, she weighed the date with her boyfriend against the club activities and chose the date with her boyfriend.
"Look, Kanako, think back to last year. You who had just joined the newspaper club with great excitement, saying that you were excited for everyone. But now, you've skipped your club activities and gone on a date with your boyfriend. Aah, how sad! I'm so sad to think that this is my childhood friend."
"This boyfriend of mine has the still sealed action figure that Hakuma wanted, you know. If you go there today──"
"I'll go! Please let me investigate."
If there was such a reward, you should have told me from the beginning. If I can get the action figure I've been craving, I'm not only willing to go to a fortune teller, I'm even willing to go to a cult facility.
"As usual, you're still greedy for those things. As a childhood friend, I feel very ashamed of you."
"Just say what you like. But don't break that promise."
"I know. Just make sure you do enough research for a story."
"Yes, maam! I'll find out if the fortune teller is a fraud or genuine."
"Alright, I'll wait for you on that."
"Then, I'll go see the fortune teller."
I put the free fortune-telling ticket in my pocket and heard a voice as I was about to leave the empty classroom──
"Is it already safe to enter now?"
A boy entered the empty classroom from the corridor. His name was Harukawa Takashi, a handsome boy who was a member of the soccer club and just like me, was in the 3rd class in second year. Although it had only been a few days since we moved up to second year, he was already treated like a leader in our class. Of course, he was academically smart, athletic and handsome, so it was only natural. Anyway, he had a girlfriend, and she was──
"Sorry~, I love you, Takaki-kyun~"
Harukawa-kun's girlfriend hugged him while making seductive noises.
I don't intend to complain, but this is a strange pairing for me. I also never thought that my childhood friend would get a boyfriend with such high specifications.
Besides, I've known Kanako since elementary school, but it never occurred to me that she could produce such seductive sounds from her mouth. What should I do, record it, and play it loudly when they break up?
"Sorry, dear Takaki-kyun, for keeping you waiting outside."
"It's okay, really."
Let's get out of here before they enter their own world. It's bad for my mental health to be here any longer. What's even sadder is that on the day I was rejected, I had to witness an intimate scene between two lovers. Apparently, being rejected by Himegi-san is more damaging than I imagined.
"Alright, I'll leave now. You two can relax" waving goodbye to Kanako and her boyfriend, whose eyes were forming heart signs, I got ready to leave.
"Oh, Ouji-kun, sorry, okay..." she said.
"Don't worry about it. Kanako, just send me the fortune teller's info via LINE."
"Alright. But, if you don't do it well, then it won't be free."
"I'll do my best."
A very different attitude. Well, of course, I would feel heartburn if she spoke to me in that cute voice, so I didn't mind at all.
“Kanako?" I called.
"You better not make trouble with a magician."
Then, I left the empty classroom and as soon as I left, I heard Kanako's panicked voice coming from inside the classroom.
"Huh? Huh? Since when have my legs been tied with rope?"
I had decided that I would never let anyone make fun of my name and appearance. Therefore, anyone who breaks this rule will pay the price.
Kanako's angry shout echoed throughout the school.
"So that's the rumored fortune teller huh ...."
Relying on the text message sent by Kanako, I went to the fortune teller's place that people said. It was a dimly lit space between the buildings near the station. In that place, she set up chairs and tables, conducting her business simply. Her customers looked like a couple of college students, and the fortune teller seemed to be observing their palms. There was a conversation that sounded pleasant. I don't know if the fortune teller really had magical powers or not, but she seemed to have an extraordinary speaking ability.
Since she was famous, I was prepared to wait in line, but luck was on my side. To be honest, had there been a queue of more than ten people, I intended to go home. So, I watched them from a considerable distance. Paying attention to the fortune teller's every move, looking for any strange movements.
According to the text message Kanako sent, there was an incident like,
'I was advised to take my mother to the hospital, and after being taken, it turned out that she was really sick and was saved after surgery.'
'She correctly guessed that my sister's boyfriend was an imposter.'
'He managed to find the lost dog.
'She knows secrets that I've never told anyone.'
Well, if all this is true and she managed to guess everything, then she really is a great clairvoyant. By the way, her last messages were 'Die there, idiot!" and "Damn Ouji!". From her messages, it seems like she was having a hard time untangling the rope.
You see, I basically think of fortune tellers as a bunch of liars. However, if the person being predicted is satisfied with it, I don't think there's anything wrong with it. If spending a few thousand yen can make others happy, or help them deal with themselves, then that's a good thing, and they're contributing to society. Of course, the business of scam fortune tellers selling expensive vases, prayer beads or purses is something that cannot be tolerated.
While I was thinking about this, the previous customer's fortune-telling session had already ended. The two girls seemed satisfied with their fortune-telling results, and headed towards the station with refreshing expressions. I slowly sat down on an empty folding chair and offered her a free ticket for fortune telling.
"Excuse me, I heard you can tell my fortune for free with this ticket ...."
"Yes, just once, I'll read your fortune for free," the female fortune teller nodded and accepted my free ticket. If I had to pay a penny, then I would have just left.
"This is your first time getting a fortune-telling, right?"
"Huh? Ah, yes."
Come to think of it, this was my first time doing a real fortune-telling session. I also paid attention to the fortune teller. She wore a black dressing gown over her head and her face was hidden by a black face veil, so the only real face I could see was around her eyes. However, I could predict from her eyes and voice. This fortune teller was about seventy years old. Well, she was just like a fortune teller I imagined.
"Are you alright?"
"No, I just feel a little nervous about your mysterious aura, Obaa-san."
"No need to feel nervous."
"If I may know, what kind of divination can you do?"
"Crystals, tarot, palmistry, horoscopes, feng shui, I have mastered all kinds of divination."
"What kind of divination do you recommend?"
"Then, I will tell you the most accurate divination. Please tell me your name."
"Harukawa Takashi," I replied.
I lied. There were two reasons why I lied, the first was to see if the old lady could detect false information, so I deliberately gave her a fake name. The second reason was that I didn't want to give personal information to someone I had just met. So I gave her the names of my classmates, though I didn't feel the slightest regret about it.
"You're not confident in your name, are you?"
"That's the reason why you won't tell me your name. Don't lie! Tell me your real name."
H-How, how is it possible? M-My lie was exposed. Frankly speaking, the old lady was right. I just didn't want to tell her my real name, so I faked it with Kanako's boyfriend's name.
However, why would I feel embarrassed just by saying my name? No, I know. I know that my name is what people call a glittering name. In fact, even this name has one or two advantages. It's a name that once heard, others will never forget. A few weeks ago, during my self-introduction, my name made everyone laugh.
Even so, if anyone asks if I like it, then I would wholeheartedly answer ‘NO’, and in the future I hope to change my name or become an adopted child somewhere.
Could it be because of this name that Himegi-san rejected me today?
"That's a good name."
"Do you seriously think so?"
"Yes, it's the perfect name for you."
"Personally, I think it's an unacceptable name, even for a very handsome man."
"I like it," she said. The old woman's red eyes did not show the slightest doubt. There was no hint of hypocrisy in her praise of my name.
"I don't feel bad when someone as old as Obaa-san compliments me."
"Oh, so you want to marry me?"
"Before that, you have to get a divorce first."
I noticed the ring finger of the old lady's left hand. There was a ring glittering on her finger. The sparkle was a sign that she loved someone and that someone loved her.
"You’re good, you observed it well. Now, let's start with the surname."
The old woman took out a black permanent marker and scratched the pen on a blank piece of paper.
I was honestly surprised. I tried to put on my poker face as much as possible, but I couldn't help but feel uneasy. The old lady wrote down my name. Yes, she wrote '王寺白馬/Ouji Hakuma' in beautiful handwriting on a white sheet of paper. In fact, I only told her my name verbally. In other words, I didn't tell her what kind of letter characters to write. This fortune teller, however, had no trouble at all writing my name in kanji.
If my name were "やまだたろう/Yamada Tarou," I think everyone would be able to easily write "Yamada Tarou/山田太郎" without hesitation.
However, my surname and first name are not the type of names that can be easily converted into kanji.
"Is there something strange?"
"And now, I'll tell your horoscope too. Your birthday is November 17th, right? In that case, your constellation is Scorpio."
I thought back to the past few minutes. As I imagined, I didn't remember telling the old lady about my birthday. For your information, my birthday was indeed on November 17, so there was nothing wrong with the old lady's statement. Not only did she write down the kanji of my name, but she even guessed the day of my birth.
"How did you know my birthday?"
I didn't want to believe her, but was this fortune teller, for real? Did she really have magical powers? As my head almost froze, the old woman told me, "I can see everything. Your past, as well as your future."
"Nonsense. There must be some trick to it," I replied incredulously.
For example, if she conspired with Kanako and my old friends to deceive me, then everything she had done so far made sense.
"It seems like you suspect your childhood friends, but that's wrong. I can actually see your past and future."
"The future, huh? Then, tell me what dinner the Ouji family will be having today?"
In the morning, before I left the door, my mother told me today's dinner would be meat and potatoes. In other words, barring any unforeseen circumstances, there would be meat and potatoes on the table at the Ouji house today. Now, let's see what menu will come out of this old lady's mouth.
"Sushi delivery from Sushimaru in the shopping center. Special Nigiri menu, for four people," the fortune teller said clearly and confidently.
"Your words sound strange. We don't order sushi delivery unless it's something special. And what's more, a special menu?!"
Even when I passed my high school entrance exams this time, the sushi we ordered was the usual nigiri menu. There was no way my stingy mom would order the best selection of sushi on a mediocre day. It's sad to say, but with our financial strength, the day we ordered the best sushi set would be when I got married or got a job.
"Believe it or not, it's up to you. And one more thing, I have a prediction for the future."
"One more thing?"
"Yes, I can see it. I see a future where you will meet your destined person in the span of one hour and eight minutes, and you will be surprised, 'Hah-hah-hah'."
"Yes? In an hour and eight minutes later, I'll be surprised and say 'Hah-hah-hah'?"
What kind of situation would that be? I didn't understand the prophecy, but I was sure of one thing. This old woman was a liar who was even worse than a liar. I let out a long sigh and got up from my chair. On the other hand, she squeezed my hand with both of hers and stopped me.
"Wh-What's wrong?" I asked.
"I have something amazing for you," she said, and showed me her left palm, which had a ring on it.
"...... nothing ......"
"Take a good look."
The old woman squeezed my hand tighter and twisted it into a fist.
"From this empty hand, something interesting will come out. From nothing, something extraordinary emerges...."
No matter how I look at it... this is ....
With a powerful shout, a talisman that seemed to be the result of handmade, emerged from the empty palm.
"How? Out of nowhere, that talisman appeared."
His face was covered so I couldn't see him clearly, but underneath his robes he must have felt very satisfied about what he had done.
"Wow. That's amazing. Really, that's a mysterious power!"
I clapped my hands, praising the old woman's trick.
"This is the power of the hand."
The old woman, who didn't realize that I was being sarcastic, smiled smugly at me.
"See you then," with those words, I left the place.
"Five hundred yen," said a voice from behind me, which made me stop and turn around.
"Keep it nearby, it'll help you."
... Um, does he mean, he wants me to buy it?
"Five hundred yen."
She smiled at me, and I sighed again as I took out a 500 yen coin from my pocket wallet and exchanged it for the amulet. Had she offered me an expensive urn, it would have been better to hand it over to the police. But, well, 500 yen was a fair price. Above all, this amulet would prove that I had gone to a fortune teller.
"Well, something amazing is going to happen in one hour and eight minutes from now, right?"
"It's already one hour and five minutes from now," is what he said.
And so, I took out the white smartphone from my pocket and set the timer. Now, the alarm would go off in one hour and five minutes. However, the last thing she showed me was a magic trick, no matter where I looked. Well, it wasn't magic, just a classic trick with some sort of trickery. If I wanted to, I could do a better trick than that old lady did. Well, I won't go that far because I'm not as old as her. And this time, I left the old lady who waved her hand happily.