Chapter 17: The lunch situation.


Defeated by the rowdy cafeteria, I had to find a new place to grab grub.
I’ve always thought only convenience stores were open at 8 in the morning, but that wasn’t the case.
From a supermarket by the station to a chain restaurant known countrywide, to even an independent arcade—all open at exactly 8.
I was frankly surprised.

At first, I went to the convenience stores and supermarkets but figured I’d get tired if I did so every day, so I changed it up.
This chain store geared towards bento boxes was my favorite, by far.
One little problem though, it hurt the pocket way more than I thought it would.

If you try not to overshoot a budget of 500 yen, you’re limited to just a handful of choices.
Moreover, it’s hard to heat up something to eat since there is no microwave at school.
(T/N: Around 4-ish freedom eagles.)

To add insult to injury, there was no place that sold rice balls nearby.
However, fortunately for me, there was a privately owned bakery somewhere nearby, which ended up being my jackpot.
Walking inside, you’d stumble into lines and lines of different slices of bread, averaging 150 yen.
And let me tell you, they were delicious.
All I had to do was buy a loaf and eat it with some fried sides I found at another close by store.

From now on, I’ll get two pairs of waraji with bread and bento.
If I only eat that, though, I’ll get bored in no time.
Thus, I’m visiting this bakery today.
Whenever I pass by, there is always a row of many different products.
Looking further, a mature man baked in the back while a mature woman worked the cash register.
Along with them, a young woman arranged and displayed bread at the far end, working flexibly.
Is this shop run by a family, perhaps? I’d thought.

I thought of what to choose.

“You’ve been coming here a lot lately.
Have you decided what kind of bread you’re going to get today?” The young woman spoke to me.
I’ve never been in this situation before, having my face recognized, but it seems she remembers me.
Well, I need this store for my future, so I’ll be polite so as to not make things awkward.
If they talk to me, I must return in kind.

“Thank you.
All the bread here is delicious, so I haven’t decided yet.
Do you happen to have any recommendations?”

“Oh, yeah! This is easier to work with.
See, I actually came up with this bread and put it on the shelves, so I’m still not 100% sure.
It’s made with potatoes, bacon, and onions with basil!” She pointed to a line of products labeled as ‘German Potato Bread (Basil Sauce)’ which clearly outnumbered the other items.

I’m a sucker for these things, let me tell you.
I don’t know if she’s making too much or if it isn’t selling well.
But, if it happens to be the latter, I’d feel obliged to buy some.
I don’t dislike it—rather, I love it, so I gladly offer myself to buy some.

“Looks delicious.
I’ll have it, please.”

With that, she handed me a tray with two identical slices.
“Thank you for buying it! Let me know if it’s good! Oh, but if you don’t think it is, keep it to your heart.
I’ll get depressed if you tell me directly…”

“Got it.”

It’s almost lunchtime again today, so I walked to the place I came to love recently.
It was that same square I went to with Momiji the first day.
A garden that wonderful should be full of people, but as time went by, the number of visitors decreased.
Despite first-impressions being of a breathtaking view, you eventually get used to it.
And since it’s a bit far from the main building, it’s really not seen as an option by many.

Stepping in, I saw no soul there.
I’m usually the first to leave the classroom, so that might’ve helped.
I sat on one of the benches around the empty plaza, overwhelmed with a feeling of freedom.

The only sounds were from the meandering wind and the lively birds.
This, by far, may be the best place for lunch all around.
Filled with wonder, I was about to take the first bite out of the bread, but students began to arrive, albeit in glimpses.

I, myself, prefer having some alone time in my personal space, but that doesn’t mean I hate the background hustle and bustle of people.
All I hate is being in a classroom where I feel uncomfortably alone, or in a cafeteria where shoulders touch, but I’m still far from people.


This bread is on a whole other level.
I bought two loaves on the spur of the moment, so I’d like to have the second one be something different for variety’s sake.
All in all, I’ll tell the lady at the bakery her bread is delicious.
If I don’t, she’ll think it’s bad.
As I thought about it, the first one was already gone.

Ah, she’s here today.

A girl sat on another bench far from mine.
Her hair was dyed, perhaps bleached, and it seemed to shine on its own.
With eyes that pierce, she exuded an aura that basically screamed ‘leave me alone.’ While it was easy to imagine her being some sort of delinquent, I got the impression she wasn’t.

When I first saw her in this plaza, I couldn’t help but glance as she sat at a bench next to me.
It was also that same girl who gave up her seat on my commute to the entrance ceremony.
She had noticed my staring and returned a sharp glare, to which I quickly looked away.

After that happened, she stopped sitting in a place near me, so I ended up being extremely aware of her, so I could make myself as unnoticeable as possible.

A few groups of people sat on other benches around, and some even sat on the lawn.
However, I was most concerned by the only solitary person I routinely saw there, perhaps because I felt a strange sense of kinship with her.

—Oh well, that doesn’t mean I want to get involved.
And I’m scared of her, to boot.

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