Toma’s Inner Thoughts and His Sister Ume.

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The full moon floats leisurely in the sky, enveloping the entire city in darkness.
As it’s already late at night, more than half of the house lights are turned off.

After finishing his part-time job, Toma takes a deep breath on his way back home.

(Whew, that was nerve-wracking… Even though it was just practice, confessing your feelings is so nerve-wracking…)

Toma recalls his “first” confession while feeling his heart pounding in his chest.

(I hope she didn’t notice that I was pretending to be calm… If she did, it would be too embarrassing…)

If Toma were in his room, he would probably be rolling around on his bed in shame.
Confessing for the first time was a fresh experience and the most courageous thing he had ever done, even if it was just practice.

(If only I were as used to confessing as Sasaki-san, I wouldn’t feel like this…)

Toma watches Sasaki’s behavior and expression when confessing.
However, Sasaki was only surprised and didn’t show any sign of shyness.
It’s understandable to misunderstand that as a reaction from someone who is used to it.

However, Toma is slow when it comes to these things.
Too slow.
Sasaki’s behavior at that time was just because her mind went blank and she couldn’t keep up with reality.
That’s why there wasn’t much change.

If Toma had stayed at the bar for a few more minutes, he would have been able to witness Mio’s naive nature and her blushing face.

(Okay, I need to switch my thoughts… There’s no point in thinking about it anymore…)

Toma shakes his head left and right, trying to forget what happened earlier.
He desperately thinks about something else while looking at the full moon floating grandly in the sky.


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After finishing his part-time job, Toma walked towards the living room with the lights on at home.

“Welcome back, big brother,” said his sister Ume, who was sitting on a chair and playing with her smartphone, instead of their parents who usually greet him.

While she usually ties her neat black hair in a side ponytail, Ume lets it down when at home.
Wearing pink pajamas, she answered Toma with her round eyes focused on him.

“I’m back…why are you still up at this time, Ume?”

“Well, it’s only 11 pm,” she replied with a composed face.

“Check your phone’s time.
It’s already past midnight,” Toma retorted.


Ume had been using her smartphone to watch anime videos every day.
It seemed she was absorbed in it as usual.
The difference between her perception of time and the actual time was quite significant.

“So, is Mom already asleep?” Toma asked.

“Yeah, she went to bed at 10 pm.”

“I see.
Did you do your chores properly?”

“Of course! Otherwise, you would get angry,” Ume replied.

“Obviously,” Toma agreed.

Toma’s family consists of three members: his mother, himself, and his sister Ume.
His father passed away in an accident when Toma and Ume were young.

He vaguely remembers his father’s face and the time they spent together.
Despite suddenly losing the person they had spent years with, their mother managed to keep up appearances for Toma and Ume.

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As a child, Toma thought that all families would react the way his mother did in such situations.
However, one day, he witnessed something he should not have seen.

Late at night, he saw his mother quietly weeping in the living room, repeatedly uttering his father’s name and wiping her tears with a handkerchief.

It was impossible not to feel the sadness in the room.
From that moment on, Toma started to actively help with household chores, hoping to become someone reliable like his father had been.

Nowadays, when Toma works part-time, his sister Ume takes over the household chores.

“Well, I’ll report this to Mom tomorrow.
Helping out around the house doesn’t justify playing with your phone until midnight.”

“Eek! That’s no good! She’ll issue a ban on smartphones!”

“I’ll issue the ban.
Otherwise, you’ll stay up late, won’t you?”

At this time, for high school students, having a smartphone is almost a necessity.
If it’s taken away, all Ume can do is sleep.
As a result, she won’t stay up late anymore.

“You’re too strict, brother.
I am already an adult, so I should be allowed to stay up late.”

With a small pout, Ume, a third-year high school student, presents a ridiculous argument.

“Adults say that once they’ve become adults.
Plus, if you stay up late all the time, you won’t grow taller.”

“I am growing! I grew 1 centimeter at the school physical measurements!”

Ha! Ume proudly shows off her slightly grown chest, displaying a very positive attitude despite not growing much taller.

“That may be true, but your height right now is only about 150 centimeters.
The average height for a high school senior girl is…157.8 centimeters.”

With skilled web searching, Toma confronts Ume with reality.

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“Wha…that’s so high!? Nii, you’re lying, right?”

“Here, I sent you the URL.”

“I don’t believe it unless there’s a source!”

Toma pasted the URL of the site he searched for into an email.
Ume has no escape now.

“No…it’s a lie…it’s a lie…”

Lacking vocabulary, Ume repeats the same words over and over again, her face filled with despair.
She rubs her eyes with both hands, but the result won’t change…absolutely not.

“If you understand, hurry up and go to bed.
You seem to be reflecting on your actions, so I’ll keep it a secret just this once.”

“Nii-san, you really like plum, don’t you? You’re so fond of it?”

Perhaps she wanted to dispel the gloominess in the air.
Or maybe she wanted to get back at Toma for presenting the facts.
Ume was giggling with a smile on her face.

“Okay, okay.”

“N-Not letting it slide…!!”

Dealing with someone like this after work was mentally exhausting.
Toma decided to brush it off easily.

“Sorry, sorry.”

“You’re letting it slide again…!!”

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Even though they were siblings, their exchange was too noisy for this time of night.

“That’s enough, Ume.
If nii-san won’t pay attention to you, then just go to bed.”

Ume, who was pouting with adorable anger, was completely sulking.
Putting her phone in her pocket, she opened the living room door and headed towards her room.
At that moment, Toma spoke in a gentle voice to Ume’s back.

“Goodnight, Ume.
…Thanks for waiting for me to come back.”

“Wh-What?! I-I didn’t mean it like that! I was just watching anime!”

“I see.”

Ume is not the type to lie.
To be more precise, she is not good at lying at all.
It is easy to see through her current state of panic and agitation.

“I almost forgot to tell you! One of my friends is coming over this Saturday, so don’t do anything for us, okay? You don’t have to bring out tea or snacks or anything!”

“Huh? Why not…?”

“Because it’s embarrassing for me to be taken care of by her older brother in front of her friend.”

“Oh, I see.
I’ll do that from now on.”

Although he always tried to be considerate when Ume’s friends came over, if she didn’t want him to do anything for them, then he shouldn’t.

“Okay, well, goodnight, Nii-sani.
Thanks for working hard at your part-time job.”

“Yeah, goodnight.”

Ume waved goodbye through the gap in the door, and Toma waved back.
Even though Ume looked like an elementary school student, her “bye-bye” was a heartwarming scene.

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