──I like the classroom during the cloudy days.
Tokiko expressed herself through the pages of the book that I held in my hands.
──And when the clouds are packed together so tightly that the rays of the sun can’t penetrate through them, the air that is filled with the fresh scent of the moist soil, and the faint sound of thunder that can be heard far away, it feels even better.
During such days, the classroom that is illuminated by the fluorescent lights feels like a shelter completely isolated from the world.
Even the usually distant classmates and the teacher who dispassionately taught as they stood on the platform felt akin to comrades aboard the same ark, giving a sort of nostalgic and reassuring feeling.
I raised my face from the book and unintentionally spoke.
I get it. Sometimes, I get the same feeling Tokiko does.
I only took this book on a whim.
On my way back from school during junior high, I caught sight of the cover of this one amongst the books lined up in the bookstore in front of the station, and it piqued my interest.
An illustration of a girl standing in her school uniform with a light coloured background. The title was quite dull: “14 Years Old”. I didn’t remember seeing Hiiragi Tokoro, the name of the author, anywhere before.
However, the simple design, the clumsiness including the lack of appeal, and the listless expression of the girl on the cover strangely attracted me.
I’ll surely like this book.
I got a hunch that was closer to a revelation.
My curiosity was stimulated, I took the book and started reading on the spot.
And my hunch was right, it didn’t take long for me to be engrossed in “14 Years Old”.
──Only when I’m timid do I truly wish for the happiness of everyone. Be it the people I know or those I don’t, men or women, Japanese or non-Japanese, all the people living on this planet, I wish for their happiness.
──I don’t want to name anyone. If you call someone whom you had a neutral relationship with a “friend”, if you call faint good will “love”, then according to the mood, the conventions and the precedents, you’ll end up slightly attracted to these rails. We should become friend. It should be love. Even though it wasn’t our intention at first, we end up acting according to them.
──It seems like someone is directing a special good will toward me. Even if separated by a long distance, even if we won’t meet ever again, I want you to always think about me somewhere. If someone is feeling that, then there is nothing else that I desire.
When I find parts that are overlapping with myself, when it makes me think “I see”, or when I read an unexpected expression, each time my heart throbs strongly.
Then, a few minutes later where I stood reading.
──I think this pain in my chest is my raison d’être.
The instant I saw this line, I got goosebumps on my whole body.
──”Happiness” is precious. However, just like how you’d feel a story that is only trying to move you unsatisfactory, just like how you’d get an uncomfortable feeling about events that are made just to make you create memories, I don’t think that a life where one only seeks “happiness” is beautiful.
Those gain value in them because they are born after living the way each person thinks to be right.
And that’s why, I want to live beautifully.
Even if I end up turning my back to happiness at times, I still want to live beautifully, embracing my ideals, obstinacy and pain.
I’m the same.
I thought, as if struck by lightning.
“Someone” thinking like me is on the other side of these pages.
I closed the book, and jogged toward the register.
I couldn’t just read this book standing in the store.
The sofa in the living room, or my bed, anyway, I needed a calm place where I could read while ascertaining each and every page.
This book, “14 Years Old” is going to support my monotonous everyday.
I clearly felt this certain sensation in my hands.
──This is the story of my everyday life, where nothing special happens.
(14 Years Old/Hiiragi Tokoro – Machida Edition)