“Here,” Mari said with a huge smile, as if offering the last takoyaki to Kirin made her the happiest woman on earth.
Though she was completely embarrassed about being fed by another woman in the school she worked, she still leaned closer and ate it. Can’t believe she’s acting like we’ve been friends for ages. We only met yesterday, Kirin thought, her cheeks red as she chewed.
Despite what she was thinking, for some reason she couldn’t say no to Mari. It must be because I’m an idiot and she’s beautiful. But even if Mari-san acts like this, I doubt she’s like me. She must be one of those women who are simply friendly for no reason… If she was like me…
“Ara. Everyone seems to be looking at us,” Mari said as they walked around the school enjoying the festival.
You only now noticed? And it’s not us. It’s you. They’re looking at you because you’re an amazing looking woman who’s dressed as a maid! To be honest, walking with someone like you is one of my stupid teenage dreams!
Though she thought all that, Kirin made sure none of it appeared across her face.
“It must be because of you!” she exclaimed, smiling again. “You look too handsome like this. As expected of my samurai-san!”
After they had left the class in costumes, Mari had found a way to tie Kirin’s short black hair into a ponytail. According to her, it gave the teacher a more samurai look. And with her students’ reactions and comments, she appeared to be right.
“It’s not because of me,” Kirin said in a low voice. “They’re looking at you because you’re too beautiful.”
Mari blushed, beamed and hugged the teacher’s arm with both of hers. “My samurai-san knows how to treat a woman.”
“L-let’s check out the rest of the festival!” Kirin said louder than necessary to mask her embarrassment. She needs to understand the concept of personal space, she thought. Despite that, she made no effort to push away the woman clinging to her.
As they checked out the food and the game stalls, haunted houses, and a few more shows the students had put up, Kirin couldn’t help but forget her embarrassment and enjoyed everything. It wasn’t only the festival atmosphere. Even something quiet, like watching the art club exhibition, was interesting with Mari. She made everything fun, either with her comments or by simply smiling.
If only she was like me, I’d be falling head over heels for her. But I won’t go after another straight woman. I can’t go through that again, Kirin thought. Even though she didn’t want to remember, she couldn’t stop as the unpleasant memories came back to her.
“Excuse me!” shouted a student almost running down the corridor.
Before Kirin could raise her head to see what it was, she was pulled to the side, giving room so the boys carrying all the bags could pass. After they were gone, she understood what happened. Mari had stepped to the side and pulled her, and was now hugging her.
“T-thanks,” she said, her face warming up. “C-could you please let me go now?”
“Because you look like you needed this,” Mari said with a gentle smile, hugging her a little tighter.
Kirin said nothing, averting her eyes. She’s so kind and unfair… I’m gonna end up falling for her even if she’s straight.
After Mari released her, they checked out more classes and clubs, including a show by a few bands and the play by the theater club.
“That was wonderful, don’t you agree?” Mari asked as they left the gym. “I didn’t expect the students to be so good.”
“Yes. The club’s president wants to be a professional actor. He’s been working hard ever since his first year and even got a few minor roles. He had to miss a few of my classes because of it, but I didn’t mind—W-what?” Kirin stopped talking and asked under Mari’s strange smile.
“The students were good, but you’re amazing too.”
“Because you know their dreams.”
“T-that’s what any decent teacher would do…”
“No,” Mari said firmly, looking her in the eyes. “These students are lucky to have a teacher who cares. If I had a teacher like you back when I was in high school, maybe things would’ve turned out different. Not that I have any regrets. I love my daughter and would never imagine my life without her.”
Kirin had no idea what to say. She had no idea how to react. If Mari had said or done something cute or that attracted attention, she could simply blush, but an honest comment like that was unexpected.
To her luck, she was spared of coming up with anything to say. As they walked, they ended up behind the gym, where there was nobody but two girls dressed as maids who didn’t seem to notice them.
“I like you,” one of the girls said, her face an alarming shade of red. The other girl looked too surprised to say anything. She simply stood there under the trees, the wind blowing gently, the sun setting, creating a beautiful and perfect mood and place for a love confession.
The moment they heard that, Kirin moved back out of sight, pulling Mari by the hand.
“Oh, my. A confession!” she exclaimed in an excited whisper, sneaking a peek.
“W-we shouldn’t watch. It’s a private moment between them,” Kirin said in a hushed voice, but she too couldn’t take her eyes off them.
“I like you too,” the other girl whispered, the wind carrying her barely audible response.
Kirin blushed, but she couldn’t help but smile. It reminds me of the first time I confessed to a girl. Glad it didn’t end like mine.
“A happy ending!” Mari sounded so excited it seemed as if she was the one receiving the confession.
“But they’re two girls. Don’t you think it’s strange?” Kirin replied before she could stop herself. What the hell am I saying? Me, of all people!?
“It doesn’t matter if they’re two girls or two cross-dressing boys. Love is love.” Mari flashed her the warmest smile, looking her in the eyes. “In this world we live in, finding someone you love, no matter who, is something to be cherished.”
Kirin became an alarming shade of red and looked back at the couple. Both girls looked as if they could die of embarrassment at any moment. The one who confessed, however, seemed to muster up all her courage and leaned closer. She closed her eyes and kissed her.
“L-let’s leave. They deserve a moment for themselves…”
The sun had set by the time they were back at the track fields, where the bonfire was being lit. This indicated that the first day of the Hyouzan school festival was ending.
Mari and Kirin said nothing as they watched the fire consume the wood and illuminate the night brighter than the lights from the building. As the students began the traditional dance, Mari looked at Kirin and offered her hand.
With her face burning, the teacher accepted and they danced just like the students.