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WP keeps messing up the paragraphing ; – ; There’s a number of hints to Sunohara’s background already~ And somehow it started sounding like a horror story partway through…
Takamura-kun wa Norowarete Iru.
– Sunohara Chiharu is Cursed 
The next morning, 8.10am. I wake up to a suffocating sensation. While being mindful of the arm that's wrapped around my waist, I slowly turn around. Thereupon, I see Sunohara, who's sound asleep as he hugs me.
Sunohara's face is so well-chiselled that one has nothing to complain about even if one looks at it this closely. Large brown eyes that light up like a child's, a straight nose bridge and thin red lips as though he'd put on rouge. While his dark brown hair is soft, it gives a different impression from usual, perhaps because he hasn't gelled it. It's a pretty boy with sweet features that gives a childlike impression.
"Oi, Sunohara… Sunohara…"
I repeatedly call Sunohara's name as I shake his shoulder.
Sunohara gives a small groan and furrow his brows before lightly stirring and raising his body.
"Hey, where are we going to play today?"
Sunohara laughs with a childlike face.
After eating yesterday's leftovers, we leave the house together. As I don't have anywhere I want to go, I tread upon the heels of Sunohara. Sunohara appears extremely contented, and is even humming a song. I thought he was singing some popular J-pop or a stylish English song, but that doesn't seem to be the case. The melody seems to be a ballad from the Meiji or Taishō period.
"That song, what's it called?"
"It was a popular song when I was little."
"I've never heard of such a song though…"
If it was popular when Sunohara was little, then I'd think that it's a song I know too. Unfortunately, it's something I've totally not heard before.
Sunohara chuckles as he holds my hand. Initially, I didn't like having my hand held and so I shook him off, but somehow I'm already used to it. At this point, it even feels like that it's always been like this or that we've been doing this for a long time.
"Hii-chan and I are born in different years after all."
"It's not that different, is it. Just a couple of months."
"Hii-chan was born in May, right? I was born between 1st of January and 1st of April, so we're about a year apart."
Having walked for about 20 minutes from the apartment, we arrive at the train station.
Perhaps also because it's the weekend, there's a large number of pedestrians and it's terribly crowded. A stream of people with their families, lovers, friends and such, overflows the front of the ticket barriers.
Sure, we've reached this point, but I wonder where does Sunohara want to go? I shoot him a gaze with the intention of asking this question. Sunohara laughs frivolously as he returns my gaze.
"Where are you going, Chiha?"
"Can we go to a place I want to go?"
"Is it Umibukuro?"
I remember having gone to Umibukuro with Sunohara some time back.
Sunohara suddenly laughs and shakes his head lightly.
"Nope. Well, follow me."
Has it been about 30 minutes since we boarded the train? We reach an old station that only has only one or two station attendants. Passing through the ticket barriers and leaving the station, a tranquil scenery that's well-matched with the old station, spreads across my vision.
As far as I can see, there's only paddy fields, plantations and private houses. From the station name, it seems to be part of Tokyo. For someone like me who comes from outside Tokyo, I imagine scenes of rows of buildings when Tokyo is mentioned. However, it seems that you can find such tranquil scenery even in Tokyo.
"Where is this?"
"It's where I was born."
"You aren't from Jiyuugaoka?"
If I'm not wrong, Jiyuugaoka is the nearest station to Sunohara's place. I remember him complaining that it's troublesome to get to school because he has to change trains a lot. I also remember him enviously saying: It's good for Hii-chan because your stop is on the Chūō line and you don't have to change.
"I used to live here originally."
I may be thinking too much but Sunohara has a slightly saddened expression.
Having lived for 10 plus years, he probably has tons of things he doesn't want to say. Even I have tons of memories and sad events I don't want to recall. I don't think I should dig and pry into them.
"We need to walk for a bit, is it okay?"
"The house I used to live in is there."
Even if I look at the direction Sunohara points to, I can only see a continuation of the paddy fields, nothing else.
At the further, further end of the paddy fields, lays a slightly elevated mountain. Can it be that Sunohara's house is somewhere you've to cross that mountain to get to? Thinking so, I feel myself shuddering just a little. However, I can't say I don't want to go at this stage, so I reluctantly follow behind Sunohara.
Along the way, sure enough, Sunohara hums that song. Not being used to the melody and not really understanding the words, I don’t manage to catch the lyrics.
It seems to be talking about golden glasses, high collar, schoolgirls and whatnot but I may be wrong.
I think we've been walking silently for about 10 minutes. Sunohara stops singing and shifts his gaze to me. The thin lips that have been spinning out a song is now spinning out words.
"Has Hii-chan ever wondered 'Why did I become a guy?'"
"Huh….? Naw, I've been a guy since I was born so I've never wondered such a thing."
"Hii-chan is a girl, ya. A pretty cute one, at that."
Putting Sena aside, even Sunohara knows that I was a girl? At this rate, won't the entire school know that I was a girl?
So that Sunohara won't see my uneasiness, I look up at him expressionlessly. Sunohara is less than 5cm taller than me. Sunohara stops walking and looks down at me. He laughs in an extremely amused manner.
"Idiot. There's no way a girl can become a guy."
"You, of all people, are saying that?"
"What do you know, Chiha?"
I'm neither going to deny nor agree that I used to be female.
From the way Sunohara speaks, I think he knows the reason I became a guy. If he knows something about this curse, I'd absolutely love to hear it.
"I know everything. If it's about Hii-chan and Sena-san, everything."
As though he's thinking about something, Sunohara places his hand on his chin and looks at the sky.
"Let's see… For example, how Hii-chan was cursed to be a boy and Sena-san was cursed to be a girl. I even know things like why such a curse was cast."
"You even know why I was cursed?"
Sunohara turns tight-lipped again. He's singing again.
This time, it's a song I recognise too. It's The Gondola Song. Life is short, maidens, fall in love. I wonder what era was this song from?
When we walk on the footpath surrounded by plant fields, straight from the station for about 40 minutes, the number of private houses steadily increases. Crossing the path sandwiched between private houses, we arrive at the foot of the mountain.
There, it feels more like a hill rather than a mountain I guess. The trees grow sparsely and there are two stone pillars standing there, almost like a torii gate. A thin enclosing rope is tied between the two stone pillars. Even though it shouldn't be too far from the private housing area, it's strangely quiet here. The air is crisp and the sky is clear.
Past the stone pillars lies a narrow, unpaved path that extends across a gentle slope. On both sides of the small path are stone monuments you may find in a stone garden, and statues of Ksitigarbha hidden in the thickets. Although I've no idea which era they're from, they must have been exposed to the elements for a long time. Because they're covered in moss and are cracked in some parts.
"Where is this?"
"This is where I used to live."
"It doesn't look like a place for people to live though."
The small path is uneven, with weeds sprouting at their own leisure. It's a gloomy mountain trail that has no signs of travellers.
Honestly, I want to leave, but Sunohara is walking so happily that I can't bring myself to say it.
"That's right, isn't it. Perhaps people won't live here."
I tilt my head at Sunohara's telltale words.
At the top of the hill lays a small shrine. The shrine is slightly slanted due to the decay. Sunohara sits down on the steps for entering the shrine.
"Your words are too difficult to understand. In the end, what do you mean? Chiha knows something about my curse. What do you mean by saying you lived here before?"
I'm annoyed at Sunohara's vexing words.
Sunohara only implies that he knows something, yet refuses to touch upon the important, central parts. This tedious part of him is, again, irritating.
"Even if it's me, I won't be able to answer if you don't ask them in order."
"Anything's fine so please explain in order, in an easily understandable manner."
I sit down beside Sunohara.
Sunohara places his head on my shoulder, nestling close as though wanting to be spoiled. This isn't the time to be flirting at such a broken down shrine. In the first place, Sunohara and I aren't in the kind of relationship that involves flirting.
"If you're not going to be serious and talk, I'm leaving."
When I lift my heavy hips in an attempt to stand on the stairs, Sunohara clings to my waist in panic.
"Sheesh, I'll talk. Uhmm, let's see… The Takamuras and Senas used to be a single family. They were called 'Takase'. In the past, the Takases had a house around here. It was a pretty big one."
"When is that?"
"If I'm to say it now, it was in the early days of the Meiji period. Because the Takamuras and Senas completely separated after the war, during the Shōwa period."
Sunohara speaks as though he'd actually seen it.
To Sunohara and I, not even mentioning the Meiji period, we shouldn't even know much about the Taishō and Shōwa period.
"In Meiji 24, in that Takase family. A curse was cast whereby the eldest son turns into a girl while the eldest daughter turns into a boy when they come of age."
"Wait, tell me why that curse was cast."
"There is only one way to remove the curse. Kissing a partner you are mutually in love with. In the history so far, including Hii-chan and Sena-san, there are just nice 10 people who were cursed. However, only two were able to turn back."
Sunohara doesn't answer me and instead continues with what he wants to say. And while my emotions are getting rather complicated, Sunohara's words are more thought-provoking than expected.
Excluding Sena and I, 8 people has the same curse as me, cast on them. Of them, only 2 were able to remove it. Although I don't mind continuing my life as a guy, when I think that from now on, the one I'll come to like will definitely not like me, it feels a little lonely.
"Like I said, why was such a curse cast?"
When I press further, Sunohara frowns a little and makes a reluctant face.
"There's no problem saying it, but you probably won't believe me."
"If you're talking about the unbelievable, it's already occurred, y'know."
Me becoming a guy is already something unbelievable. Even if a more fantasy-like development occurs, I'll definitely not be surprised.
"I'll say it then."
"I was the one who cast that curse."
As expected, one will be surprised at that sentence.
This abominable curse was cast by Sunohara.
I'm probably, making an extremely silly face now.
 This should be it… Haikara-bushi
 Gondola no Uta. Lyrics.
 Meiji: 1868 – 1912, Taishō: 1912 – 1926, Shōwa: 1926 – 1989. I assume he's referring to the start of the Shōwa period, right after WWI that was during the Taishō period.
 1891, 24th year of the Meiji period.
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