《Nice to meet you, welcome to the world of XANA》
When I turn around, the slender Haven looks at me and smiles. Seeing Heaven in real life makes me feel a little happier. I stared at her for a while, but she didn’t say anything. She didn’t rush me or take away my words. I coordinate my own appearance in this world while looking at the screen. Just like changing clothes, choose your favorite facial parts and become who you want to be. I wore blonde hair, which I would never be able to do in real life, and then put on a blue jacket. Everyone in this world is flashy, so no one cares if I wear something a little flashy. It was like that.
I stood up thinking that since I had come all this way, it would be a waste if I didn’t do something. However, I found my gaze drawn to the fireworks overhead.
「Well,…… okay …… there’s still time ……」
It’s still three o’clock. It’s a long way until morning, and even if morning comes, it’s my day off, after all. What spreads out in front of me is not a cramped, messy studio, but a full view of fireworks. There is no need to rush into action. There is plenty of time to think things over slowly.
I sit on a nearby bench and look up at the night sky. The color of fireworks so vivid that they seem to fall. The world is so colorful.
「——The fireworks are beautiful, aren’t they?」
I was so engrossed in the fireworks that I didn’t notice someone was sitting nearby. I thought that cool voice was a nostalgic I had heard somewhere before.
「Eh, ah… that’s right. It’s really beautiful…」
I was even more surprised when I saw his face. Because the person standing there was the one I saw in my dream earlier. A pure white fluffy white shirt and white pants. His long black hair, stylishly permed, was swaying. A light and sweet voice like a ringing bell. Without a doubt, it was him in that dream.
「Ah… I’m sorry… Um, I was surprised because you looked so much like an acquaintance…」
I smile to make up for it. I had a habit of giggling and pretending that I didn’t care if nothing was wrong with me. I just laughed it off and thought it would work out better.
「Acquaintance…? That’s right, and I’d like to meet him someday.」
「Ah… I’d like to meet him too, but I’m sure we won’t be able to meet again.」
Because I met him in my dreams, I keep my mouth shut because I feel like I’ll be laughed at if I say that. I looked at him and he was sitting next to me staring at the fireworks. I feel like I can hear the crackling sound of fireworks right next to my ear. The sky was painted beautifully with paint, and the fireworks were more prominent than anything I had ever seen before. Since he is staring at the fireworks all the time, I am also staring at the fireworks. Shut up, don’t say anything, just the two of us. Cozy space. You don’t have to try to force a conversation anymore. Thinking that made me feel better.
「Hey, why don’t we go to other places? Like the pool…」
By the time the fireworks ended, it was past five o’clock. He looked into my face and smiled.
「Is it a pool…? I might not be able to swim..」
You can swim, you can be who you want to be. In fact, you can be anything you want to be right now, alright?
「Then let’s go」
I was heading to the pool while being pulled by the hand. I hear the sound of bubbles popping. Bubbles rise to the surface of the water. As I coordinated my swimsuit, I watched him bravely run ahead and dive into the water.
Even though I could not feel the water against my skin, it was definitely a pool. This world was full of cities and nature. He happily taught me about a world I didn’t know about, and I stood next to him, gazing at the sparkle of this world and his smile.
「Hey, can you swim?」
He asks me like he’s tilting his head. I nodded.
「I was able to swim,” he said. It was easier than I thought it would be.」
「See, that wasn’t so scary, was it?」
「Yes, it was only the first time. I jumped in, and it wasn’t a big deal.」
「Hmm, that’s good to know.」
「If you don’t mind, why don’t we be friends? I live in Tokyo.」
「Oh, me too. Tokyo.」
「Yeah, I felt like that. I feel like I’ve already met you in real life.」
He smiles with a sly smile, A soft, natural smile. I think it’s probably a person who laughs like that in the real world. If it was the same guy, I’m sure I wouldn’t be the type of person who would be friends with him. That’s what I thought of him. Why does his gentle gaze make my heart flutter? I’ve never been directed at something like that before. I had never even tried to make friends.
「Um, is that bad…?」
「It’s not bad. I’m happy, but I’m sure someday…」
It’s not bad. I’m happy, but I’m sure someday…
I kept my mouth shut when I tried to say that. It was too embarrassing to put into words any more, so I just hung my head. I know the derision and ridicule at my appearance and my words. I also know that they are already engraved in the deep part of my brain and I can’t get rid of them.
「You’ll be fine, I’m sure. In this world, I think you’re wonderful.」
He said that while tapping me gently on the shoulder.
After that, we began to see each other regularly in the virtual world. I was still black and busy at work, but I took time out of my busy schedule to jump into the world and look for him, even if it was only for a few minutes. Occasionally, I became able to make friends other than him in this world. We drank drinks like sweet juice and danced. We also played card games. At his suggestion, I also talked to girls. I was still nervous because I wasn’t used to it, but no one laughed or clicked my tongue. There are more and more new things you can do. My world was slowly expanding. It was a very happy and comfortable feeling. But my time with him was unique. However, he also seemed to work at night, so it was difficult for me to make time for him. The time I spent with him, keeping in touch with him, came to seem like my only reason for living. My only friend in this world, someone who recognizes me. Someone who understands me. Someone who said it was okay for me to be just the way I was. That was him.
「Hey, what are you thinking…?」
He said that while watching the sunset in the shade of a tree a little further behind the torii gate of the shrine. His twinkling eyes were tinted orange by the setting sun. I stared at those eyes for a while.
「Nothing, I was just thinking…」
「Fufu, something strange」
「No way, you’re not weird at all」
Why do I sometimes want to cry when I’m with him? I turned my gaze to the setting sun while suppressing something welling up. The ice cubes in the glass I hold in my hand are rolling with a cool sound.
「Hey, can I ask you something?」
「I want to know how you live in reality. And the stuff about you…」
I choked on my words at his carefree smile. I think I’ve exposed a lot of myself to him. Even in this world, I made a lot of mistakes, and there were a lot of things I couldn’t do. But he accepted me like that. He never denied it. But–my true self. The real me. I dared not bring them into this world. Because I didn’t want anyone to know.
「Oh, ……, uh, …….」
When I looked down and couldn’t see his face, he peeked at me. And he chuckled.
「I have a secret too, shall I tell you?」
「I like old bear characters, I guess you could say I like them, or maybe I’m a nerd… I have a lot of them when I go home.」
「Heh… a bear…」
「Yeah, it’s so cute.」
「It’s nice to know there’s something you like」
When I said that, he stared at me blankly, then burst into laughter. And then, after laughing for a while, he looked at me seriously, breathing heavily as if he was struggling for breath.
「Seriously, why don’t we meet again next time? In the real world.」
I noticed that I was sweating badly. While I was thinking about how to respond, the alarm that called him in real life rang, and he stood up in a panic.
「Ah, then I have to go. You said you’re off tomorrow, right? Well then, how about tomorrow at 20:00 in front of Hachiko? I’ll be wearing the same clothes as I am now. Don’t forget to call me!」
He patted his white shirt and white pants on and looked at me and smiled.
「Wait a minute……!」
He was gone, and only my right hand, which I reached out to stop him, was the only thing that grazed the air in vain.