* 16 *

I had lost a lot of enthusiasm for life, but encouraged by my auspicious misunderstanding, I was determined to get my happy days back.
First on the agenda was studying like mad to get into the same university as Tsugumi.
It's not that I was frantically studying, actually. Rather than focusing on studying, it's more like I stopped focusing on anything else.
"Concentration by elimination," maybe? Has a nice ring to it. I did away with all choices that weren't studying.

It's a dangerous method to be sure. If you mess it up, it's an easy way to make yourself otherwise-talentless with nothing to live for. But I guess I hung on by playing music as I studied.
I never considered myself much of a music fan before. I only really cared for John Lennon. Mostly because in my first life, whenever my girlfriend had a spare moment, that's what she'd play.
Strangely, Lennon-related memories stood out a little bit more than others. Well, I suppose his music survives the ages, so maybe it's not that odd.

I read in a magazine once that a good song, even if it doesn't suit your mood at all at first, grows on you as you listen to it again and again.
I used to only listen to your typical karaoke songs. But in my second round of high school, I heard "Yer Blues" on the radio, and immediately realized how familiar John Lennon was to my ears.
Since then, I would always play Lennon while I studied.

Finally having a clear goal in mind, I got more serious with high school.
Until then, I'd been checking the clock fifty times a class, hoping it could go just a little faster.
But the moment lectures became something that mattered to me, it started passing in the blink of an eye.

I'd practice rote memorization even on the bus and the train, and after I got in the habit of spending a fixed amount of time at my desk at night, I stopped having sleepless nights worrying about nonsense.
I'd spent altogether too much time thinking about unimportant matters, that's for sure.
By cramming an extraordinary amount of info into my head in such a short time, old memories got pushed aside, diminished in importance.

My final year of high school was actually a rather peaceful one. The part I remember most was the finale, the exam cramming in early winter. Memories of being cooped up in my room studying.
The smell of coffee filled the room, and the speaker on the left of my desk softly played Strawberry Fields Forever. On the right was a small desk lamp, the only light.
Behind and to the right of my chair was a heater, angled just right so it wasn't blowing hot air directly at me.

Once every two or three hours, I'd get my coat on, go outside, and take in the wintery air.
If the weather was good, I could see the stars. Once I'd had my fill, I would go back inside, warm my hands with the heater, and return to a world of only myself, textbooks, and music.
It wasn't so bad, actually. Maybe there was even a soothing, self-satisfying quality to it.

In the end, I stretched my academic skills as far as they could go.
And miraculously, I was able to enter the university I went to in my first life.
It was a wonderful feeling. I had finally gotten my confidence back. I felt like I could do anything then.

So that was good. Things were going good so far.

When the college entrance ceremony was over, I looked around for my former girlfriend... for Tsugumi.
And yes, I did find her, but this is where the problems began.

Three years was plenty of time for things to change. And I had thought I was ready.

Chapter 17

Novel List