Don't you need my kiss for your youth? - Chapter 1.1
TL: Starry Galaxy Cat
It was 10 p.m., and we were at McDonald’s.
Sipping on a McShake, Kiriyama showed us a message on his smartphone while smiling.
I feigned indifference, wiped the ketchup from my mouth with a napkin, and casually fixed my glasses. Next to me, the usually gloomy Otakon shivered and began to heat up to the point where it felt like steam was emitting from his body.
“If you have something to say, say it clearly, Kiriyama. I don’t understand American.”
“No, no, no, Kuroki-kun. I’m Japanese. I’m trying to preserve the atmosphere.”
“What do you mean, ‘atmosphere’? I can only smell the potato fries.”
Kiriyama looked triumphant, picked up a french fry from in front of Otakon, and pointed it at me. As always, he had a well-groomed face, but with his facial expression, anyone with a conscience would punch him straight in the face.
“In this age of social networking, it is obvious that this buzzing tweet has gained the sympathy of many. Look at it. Look at all the s****y replies they’re sending. It’s pathetic, the howling of losers. I feel sorry for them because they’ve never kissed anyone. I’d quit my life.”
“I-I’m not a loser!”
Otakon, who was shaking until now, slammed the table and stood up. It surprised me.
“I-In t-the first place, k-kisses are social in nature and have no significant meaning!
Kuroki! Kiriyama! I insist that it is just a social convention! The act of kissing has no meaning even though it has existed throughout history. If humanity’s idea of being lovey-dovey were something other than kissing, then yes, kissing would be totally meaningless.
I-I’ve never k-kissed in my life, and I don’t want to be told I’m suffering from not doing so by an idol wannabe. I’m sure I’m not the only one who hasn’t had experience with it before…”
Kiriyama ended Otakon’s arguments with the tip of a fry.
“So, Otakon, who is your favourite voice actor?”
“Hananoe Kaho (花之枝夏帆). Her last performance was great.”
“She’s nice. I’m rooting for her too.”
Otako’s head hit the table with a thud after letting out a strange scream, and a puff of steam came out of his ears. His hair, which glistened from the nighttime store lights, only made him appear sadder.
“No more, I’m going to India to find myself.”
“Stop it, Otako. You’ll only find cows in India, not yourself.”
“What’s the problem with a cow? I only want to kiss.”
However, I couldn’t let him die bearing this suffering alone.
I had to confront this guy with a firm attitude—. So, I clenched my fist.
“A kiss may be indispensable in men’s and women’s youth.”
Because I will become a perfect doctor in the future, I won’t stand being told I’m ‘sick’ just because I have never kissed!
“I may have never kissed. But! Just as Otako said, kissing only has a social meaning for humans. It is something that grew with society.”
“Mhm. Times are changing, and reports show that the number of adult men who have never had a girlfriend has steadily been increasing. In other words, romantic love’s supremacy is being eroded, and the value of a kiss is decreasing.”
And I slammed the table.
“Biologically, anatomically, physiologically, histologically, pathologically, or epidemiologically! Just because you have never kissed someone, it doesn’t mean you are inferior! There is no such evidence! In other words, just because I have never kissed, you can’t say I am sick—.”
“Your sister has done it, though.”
I wasn’t wrong, but I couldn’t help it. I was sad. Super sad.
I have always hated being imperfect.
Born into a family with both parents being doctors, I, Kotaro Kuroki, believed that I would become a perfect person thanks to the privileged education I received.
I went to a first-class kindergarten, a first-class elementary school, a first-class junior high school, and lastly, I went to a first-class high school, Public Oike High school. I took for granted that I would go to medical school and become a perfect doctor.
Even after school, I went to a top-notch cram school, Sanjo School, and was ranked first in the school exams. Even my teachers praised me for always being in the top 100 in the national mock exams. [TL: Cram school is a sort of extra school for courses, sometimes taken after school, on weekends or during vacation.]
I had to be perfect. And to be a perfect doctor, I needed to have a perfect high school.
A miscalculation, however, was that I was too smart for the people around me to understand, and they distanced themselves from me. It was why I didn’t have a ‘perfect friendship’ in high school.
The perfect life I dreamed of in junior high school was going back home with wonderful friends, talking about my dreams or the future of our country, and when returning home from cram school, I would go to Starbucks or some other fancy café at night, filled with the smell of coffee.
“It would be nice to find happiness in a mundane life.”
I couldn’t reach the perfect scene of my youth, drinking a hot latte and exuding youthfulness, and it was already March. Kiriyama and Otako were far from perfect friends, and I was sick of spending time with strange youkai.
It was a sadness that was hard to describe. I had made my mind up to go to Starbucks the moment I joined high school, but I have yet to even go.
“Well, if I had to choose between a life of not kissing in high school and one of not, I’d definitely choose the former.”
We called this meeting a ‘conference’ under the pretext of deepening each other’s insight, but we didn’t end up talking about anything useful. I once again tried my best to make it something meaningful, but my efforts were all futile.
After leaving McDonald’s, we walked along the riverbank of Inari river, where the wind was blowing with the last vestiges of summer after Kiriyama declared that “You’ll feel sad after seeing a couple kissing on the riverbank.”
We trudged along the riverbank, shrinking back from the cold that was still settling. On the opposite side of the river, a couple huddled together under the streetlights, with their lips pressed together, completely disregarding us three’s existence.
“I wonder if I’m sick.”
I heard an anxious voice come from behind me when I turned around to see Otako shaking his shoulders and seeming to be sucked into the night’s air.
“I’ve never kissed anyone even though I’m in high school.”
“Don’t worry about it. Otako, be proud of yourself. You don’t need to kiss.”
“B-But… a high-schooler who hasn’t kissed is…”
Otako’s weak voice slowly seeped into the darkness in my chest. I felt it too. The night’s air had become cold and heavy for both of us, and we had started to consider the foolish claims.
“In the first place, I don’t need a relationship in my perfect life,” or so I thought.
In the 16 years of my life, I never had any romantic feelings.