Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko

 
 
 

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko Chapter 6


The price of five Youth-Point was hospitalization.

Holding onto the handlebars as we pounced the sea, my right arm was bent to a point where even Yoga masters would be shocked to see. The elbow that took the hit snapped in half.

And it wasn’t a simple fracture: apparently I wasted so much of my daily calcium supply that the bone wouldn't heal.

After what happened, we had serious trouble just getting back to the shore. Amazing how neither Erio nor I drowned. Half way home, my elbow hurt so much that I was on the verge of breaking down in tear. This was my first time experiencing such intense yet joyless sea bath. What can I say – the sea of spring was colder than I imagined. Because of the lack of kindness and calcium, I think I should have eaten the fishes swimming around and ate some Paracetamol from ten years ago to replenish the lost nutrition.

Like a fish or shrimp before being fried, I was covered in sand after climbing onto the man-made beach. Clothes drenched with sea water weighted me down, and the way back could be summarized as 'horrible.' Gravity's counter attack dominated me.

The bicycle was, naturally, gone in the sea. In the turbid water, the shadow of a bike that went the opposite direction of space bobbed. If the local residents saw it, I bet we'll be reprimanded for illegal dumping.

“…...”

Thus, I lost my means of transport. The straw of hope Erio gripped onto slid away.

…Was there a point? Rather than a query, it was more of a feeling of self-reflection that swayed in my heart.

Just like for evil adults who divulged the truth when it should have been a part of a growing for kids to realize the nonexistence of Santa Claus, the ephemeral thrill was ensued by bitterness and self-questions that I could not answer.

The Erio who fell from the basket earlier into the sea than either the bicycle or me was unhurt. Nevertheless, she cried. I don't know if they were the tears of fear, despair or physiology; I merely held her hand.

While thinking about the annoying taste of water in my mouth, I clenched my jaw, dragging my right arm and Erio to somewhere where we can call for an ambulance. While trotting, I didn't have the strength to take care of the bangs covering my eyes; the only thing repeating in my murky head was 'haircut next weekend.' Incessantly, I meditated 'barber, barber, barber, and then a hair salon.' Like the eighth channel back home, the paper that is my heart was imbrued black. I probably wasn't thinking then, but rather moved on mechanical autopilot.

Otherwise I would have talked more with Erio, using more words weaved with encouragement, censure, love and hate.

Ever since our landing, I had been silent, eventually letting go of even her hand.

My hospitalized life ended after two weeks, and I went home with an arm in support and cast. Golden week ended already, marking the beginning of a world reeking with the May Disease . Even I was infected by the air, occasionally hanging my head and eyelids.

There's still Erio and Meme-san back home. Even if the direction is different, the effort of dealing with this pair of mother and daughter was definitely not lacking.

Ah~ My arm itches. I wish I could just not give a damn and scratch it.

As I stepped out of the hospital, the illusion of pressure change overwhelmed me; as if quickly pulled out of the sea, I almost passed out on the street. Paper bag filled with clothes rustled; substituting the cries of cicada, and knocked on my eardrums.

The heat unperceivable in the hospital dazed me.

I walked toward the Taxi stand while flicking my since-then longer bangs upward.

Give me some happy memories — give me some energy for today! I ruminated, finding more nutrition than one. Awesome.

… Oh yeah, Ryuushi-san and Maekawa-san visited me when I was hospitalized!

Though I walked on a rope thinner than the weaker-than-expectation piano wire, perhaps the flag I planted for them exists still.

Erio, however, never came.

“Mornin', Mako-kun!”

I went into full alert, thinking it was the attack of Meme-san.

Ryuushi-san stared, wide-eyed. Just finished with school, she wore the school uniform, with her pack, helmet and a large enveloped under her arms. Her hair may be flatten by the helmet, but the devil of adorableness was alive and well.

Perhaps this way suits her better (spoken with vehemence).

“Oops, was that too friendly?”

Close the door first, then apprehensively poke the dying dude on the street to see if he's alive. Ryuushi-san seemed to visit me with the same cautiousness.

“Nope, perfectly O.K.” If that someone was a certain aunt, I will shout, 'don't call me that.' People are realistic like this. Since I am in middle of a rebellious phase, it is my obligation to reject my guardians. I explained to myself.

“Oh! S'that so?”

Swoosh! With a dexterous and exaggerated motion, Ryuushi-san opened her pack and put on a softcap with both hands. She messed with the edge of the hat, adjusting the angle. She sat down after filling the unfilled (please excuse my skill with words) hat. The way she put things on her knee and skirt was super cute.

Put me there too. No, I mean let me sit there too. Did my brain rust from drinking too much sea water?

“What's up? With the hat I mean.” In some way this counts as QBK.

“Oh~ hahaha~” Ryuushi-san intentionally covered up with a boyish laughter; her level of embarrassment was just right. She pulled the hat down, just to the point where her eyes were hidden. She looked around bashfully:

“Cuz my hair's all messy. The wind went woosh, my helmet went squish, and the sweat went eeky. I tried to fix it in the hospital's rest room, but I can't get it all fluffy! I can't get it like bread!”

Ryuushi-san played with her shoulder-length, coffee-colored hair, as if defending the reason of her hat. Agh, dammit, I want to feel her swaying arms~ As I cordially looked at her, I suddenly realized.

Ryuushi-san's uniform had changed season, and she was now wearing summer outfit.

“Is it weird?” She grasped onto the hat, looking at me with upturned eyes. This devil of adorableness seems to have the innate ability to hit people’s bullseye. With her finger – not a needle – she poked into my heart.

“Not even! Girls look good in anything, it's amazing.”

“The hat fits me? This is a guy wear though!”

“It totally does. I almost thought you were a boy!”

“Wha! Really now~? Can I punch you?”

Ryuushi-san brandished her fists with a smile.

Her knuckles were round like a child, looking very soothing.

“Seriously, you are so cute.” I finally stopped hiding and said out loud.

Ryuushi-san's shoulder jumped; her hats almost flew off. “U-uwahh~! Wahh~!” Screeching like a monkey, she expressed her freak-out both inward and out.

Patients in the same room mostly gave me a 'what the hell?' and 'how annoying' look, but what do you people want me to do? Tell her to get in the bed? The argument is very enticing, but it's too early for a sexual harassment charge.

Just let me wish for a life of missed opportunity!

“I-I'm not that cute! N-not even close! I'm so plain that two guys rejected me during my first year!!” Your nervousness is giving away some personal information!

If I let Ryuushi-san be, she might divulge a few more secrets. However, she might end up reincarnating into a monkey and begin stampeding in the room like a chimp in the zoo. In the end, the festering carcass of his lover was carried to his arms… I hope things will never come to be like that, so I have to calm her down.

“Sorry, was that creepy?”

“Y-yeah! Super-duper creepy!”

“...My bad.” I thought she was going to say otherwise from the way our conversation was going, but the impact was unexpected.

How many years has it been since I've apologized like that?

Ryuushi-san seemed to have also realized the implication of her words; she waved her arms about and added in some intense denial:

“No, no! Not really! Yeah, ya aren't up close!”

“So I am from a distance away...” It might be better getting called trash.

“Awuwah~” Ryuushi-san dug her grave even deeper, probably already reaching the mantle. Her voice stopped abruptly as she hugged her hat and spun her head inside. I wanted to clap my hands to see how she'd react to the sound.

Finally recovered, she proposed with a charming visage that emitted warmth:

“May I start over?”

“You may.”

“Then, cough cough!” Ryuushi-san made the sound without movement. It was kind of half-baked. “These are copies of my notes for classes — midterms are coming up!”

She picked up the brown envelope and fanned the air about.

“Wow, thanks!” I thanked her as I browsed through the notes inside. Though I didn't understand a word in the articles, just looking at those curly characters was enough to satisfy me.

If this were Meme-san's note, I'd only cower at the undecipherable writing and use it to test my grip strength.

“If there's anything ya don't get, just send me a text. Well, I'm not the smartest, so I'm not exactly the most reliable.”

“Not at all, you are my only support, sensei!” I jokingly spoke, concluding with a little banter.

As the laughter fade, her face changed.

Ryuushi-san placed her fists on her knees, finally asking the real question toward the bed. Her voice was very slight, as if the words were made of sand:

“So...”

“Hm?”

Her hesitant eyes and lips moved up and down. Ryuushi-san was looking for a way to peek into my heart.

“Hm?” I don't like burden, so I gave her the chance to keep speaking.

Perhaps effective, the question that led Ryuushi-san hesitant quickly appeared onstage.

“Were you planning to kill yourself when you jumped into the sea?”

Ah, I see. So she heard about what I did.

“Nah, that wasn't the intention.” I denied there and then, leaving no room for misunderstanding.

At that time I pedaled to soar in the blue sky for my own survival.

My goal wasn't anything as grand as space, but I sure gave it my all.

“You might not know yet, Niwa-kun, but a while ago, there was someone who did exactly what you did. She started spouting nonsense because she got hurt… I'm super worried!”

“Hm… Sorry for making you worry.” Cough cough, but I only did that because I was worried for the same girl!

Only if she learned her lessons in the second challenge.

“Since it was real scary near the end though, I did prepare to die.”

“Don't die! Absolutely don’t. Um, the person who's dying may not care, but the people left behind would definitely be sad. It's the worst if you take those sadness lightly because you can't see it.”

“You're right. Ryuushi-san would be sad too.”

“Of course! If Niwa-kun died, the entire school will cry.”

“Hahah, more like no one will.”

“No way~ I won't let ya make that kind of record!”

Ryuushi-san puffed her chest out confidently. She probably wasn't conscious of it, but for the person in question, hearing her assert like that kind of flustered me. Why did I have to be a high schooler who fears serious topics?

As long as it isn't an untrusting person, most people would asses Ryuushi-san as someone who doesn't hide her emotion.

But then again, it is entirely impossible to see the entirety of someone's heart.

The human heart is tantamount to the existence of aliens: the location of it unknown, and its depth abyssal.

Erio wrapped herself in futon, perhaps seeking at least equivalence in appearance, and tasted the fruits of defeat. She wanted to become an existence of 'unknown.'

Though her blockheaded cousin proved to her that she was a city girl of pure Earthling genes.

“Oh yeah. Are you a cellphone enthusiast, Niwa-kun?”

“I don't advocate anything; I celebrate both Christmas and New Year. Wanna exchange number?”

“Lets!” Rustle rustle, Ryuushi-san took out a neon pink cellphone from her pocket. The power was off, probably because she's in a hospital.

“I don't have mine right now, could you write it down for me? I'll call you after I'm released.”

“Ok~” She took out her pencil pouch, and even mischievously pretended to roll her sleeves up.

Everything was so smooth, it's great. The level of smoothness of conversations between me and Erio didn’t even come close to a hamster wheel. But those memories seem to have been purified by the sea.

I recalled the endless horizon when I flew with Erio; I looked up.

“…...” I saw something at the entrance.

My melodrama was cut before it ended. Even the life of a dragonfly lasts longer than you!

A natural malice with no intention to visit struck.

“Transfer student, feeling bored?”

Maekawa-san, a uniform enthusiast, used coming to hospital as an excuse to dress up as an eggplant. I definitely didn't mistype nurse (ナース) with eggplant (ナス), the indigenous Indian fruit belong in the Solanum genus.

“Yo!” From the stem of the purple costume, she greeted with arms that penetrated the fruit.

For me and Ryuushi-san, time indeed stopped for two seconds; the patients sharing room with me also turned into unseasonal icicles.

The clear sky deeply embraced us… I attempted to escape with a scenery description, switching the entire background. I take back what I said earlier. There are things girls can't wear. If the person changes into something else, I'm not going to help making more excuses.

Because of the lack of reaction, Maekawa-san (or eggplant) tilted her head:

“Huh… Not funny? I chose nurse and eggplant because we're in a hospital...”

“Please don't explain the joke.”

The sea of spring already lowered my body temperature. If forced to listened to anymore of this, the audience, I, may end up cringing with cheeks burnt: having someone explaining an unfunny joke humiliates even me.

This onee-sama failed to realize the plunging of her authority. Not even — Maekawa-san herself looked really satisfied. Speaking of purple mascot, isn't there one in McD*nald's?

“This was a costume for a part time job I had. The manager gave it to me when the store closed down.”

I wanted to lock Nasu-san into a cupboard. You actually wore this all the way through the roads in the city, the hallway and the hospital? This isn't the Super N*ntendo Era: your equipment will reflect on the outside. I'll give you a piece of advice then: put your gallantry and valor away, and live an earnest life with normal clothes!

“So Maekawa-san is this kind of person...”

Ryuushi-san shot a rigid glance. As her body recovered from frigidness, she spoke with a pitying voice.

“Mhm.” Maekawa-san, who is in many way off the rail, was unwavered, and proudly nodded.

“So I suppose you're here to visit Niwa-kun?” Eh? Ryuushi-san looked scary.

“Why else would I be here?” Maekawa-san was also scary in a different way.

My social circle doesn't cover eggplant's who'd pay me a visit.

An eggplant she may be, Maekawa-san is still a girl. The other person may be a girl, but is also Ryuushi-san. To be honest, I haven't done any good deeds today, yet there were two girls who paid me a sick visit. Rather than joy, I felt uneasiness. Am I going to die soon?

“Hmph~ Since when are ya so chummy~? You don't even~talk~in~class~”

Oh boy, Ryuushi-san… is she jealous? No way! But she sure is observant of what Maekawa-san and I are like in class.

I'm not going to be overly self-conscious: it might cause some damage for both parties later~

In contrast to my enlightenment, Maekawa-san turned into an idiot.

“Because the transfer student and I spent a night together.”

“ 'Hah?' “ Maekawa-san successfully froze time again. Especially for Ryuushi-san, who seemed to have lost much to the thief of time.

She even forgot to blink, like someone else was wearing a Ryuushi-san costume.

“Hold on, jokes like this could ruin my name–”

“Guuwah~!” Look at what you've done!

Perhaps the recoil from the earlier pause, Ryuushi-san's time accelerated all of the sudden. Blood boiling on her face imbued her cheeks and eyes; if a pulse were taken from her delicate wrist, the doctor would probably mistakenly say 'are you suicidal?'

“A night is an evening! Pitch black!”

No, uh, really — night in the city isn't exactly pitch black unless specially made.

“I've been wronged — she made this up! I haven't had lessons that tempting yet!”

“What do ya mean tempting?!” Ryuushi-san went berserk to a point of no return.

“Dammit, Kibo-nengu! My school life is done thanks to you!”

“Oh, I was thinking that all the time we've met in the evening adds up to a night~”

“This isn't like lottery in a market! Don't combine them!”

The nightmare brought by the purple devil worn my spirit; their argument intensified as if they were on the opposite ends.

Me and Ryuushi-san were spitting alien by the latter half of the conversation.

Before I realized, the primary substance of the storm, Ryuushi-san, had already left. The only one left was the striking eggplant woman and a high schooler who's hospital life from now on will blamed for various things.

“Your boring and depraved hospital life had just been visited by a refreshing wind!”

Maekawa-san summarized the entire event as if narrating for a nature travel program.

“You mean a storm? The local buildings and culture are gone.”

“Didn't think Ryuushi was going to have that great of a reaction — your love meter is exploding.”

“It isn't! And don't call me Ryuushi!”

The target of gossip quickly turned back into the room to deny the rumor, and then ran away again.

“Is she the transfer student's familiar?”

“I don't even know the number of her summoning medium...” Because of a certain eggplant's meddling, I didn't get it.

“You guy see each other every day anyway, do you even need it? Alright, time for me to take this costume off. It's too hot.”

As if the cousin of a Gibbons ape, Maekawa-san deftly unzipped the zipper on her back. The eggplant shed. The nurse was inside! Only if the development was so sweet. Since I didn't tell anyone, I won't commemorate it as some memorial day. The Maekawa-san on this inside didn't transform, donned in normal uniform.

“As expected, you're better as a uniform cosplayer.”

“This isn't cosplay — it's my profession.”

She lazily say on the folding chair and crossed her long legs. Seriously, her legs were so long, it wouldn't be surprising if her ancestors were wooden horse craftsmen. It's also surprising how my brain thought of something like this.

“Transfer student, I heard you jumped into the sea? Planning on reincarnating into a member of the fish?”

With a teasing tone, Maekawa-san asked me the question.

“Man, I planned on flying to the sky, but I fell because of the shortage of momentum.”

“What, so you wanted to be a bird?”

“...I aimed to fly higher than a bird though.”

At least Erio wanted to go through the atmosphere. I think.

“Hmph.” Maekawa-san swapped legs. She seemed to have seen something on me, and hunched forward with a slightly different expression. Sensing that she's attempting to see through my mind, I felt anxious.

“Tell Touwa this for me: next time I'll lend her a costume of the Greys to dress up with me.”

“...Was it that obvious?”

“Who knows?”

“Roger. I'll tell her after I'm released.”

Erio probably won't visit. Though the reason of my judgment wasn't easy to say, Maekawa-san noticed the overtones.

“She didn't make it to space? I guess Touwa doesn't qualify to be an alien!”

“Of course not.”

Human progress would have stalled three hundred years ago if they could fly into space with such low cost and low effort equipment. We gambled with our lives on the scale, and managed to get a few seconds of fly-and-float experience.

She straightened her back, her jeering lips tilted at a different angle.

“Oh, on an unrelated note, let’s go to the beach this summer!”

“That is really unrelated, Nee-san.”

“You can see the gill and scales that are my fish-cosplay's charm points!”

“No, I don't care about fishes other than those in Judo outfit.”

“Bam~!” Ryuushi-san, who still hadn't gone home, came back and tackled Maekawa-san.

Maekawa-san, who has the appearance of an oarfish and the innards of a minnow, was pushed by the diminutive Ryuushi-san. “Whoa!” She stumbled onto the bed. I guarded my right arm just in time, but couldn't move her out of the way; she beautifully fell on my knees.

“Uwee~!” Ryuushi-san squeaked out of either mimicry or a representation of anger, and stuck her arms underneath Maekawa-san, forcefully pulling her out from the bed and back to the chair.

Maekawa-san looked like a miniature surfboard model when she was being carried.

“What are you doing?” She might have said that, but Maekawa-san's satisfied smile betrayed her malice.

“Shoulder charge is now in season.”

Ryuushi-san omitted the abstractness of 'autumn of sports' and added hostility, advocating the new season's unique sight. “Beep, beep beep beep~” She even imitated the prelude of an intercom broadcast, acting out the overly-cordial sound effect:

“The beach is prohibited.”

Why?”

Maekawa-san English pronunciation was extra crispy. Written in words, though, must be the about the same as mine.

“Cuz there are jellyfishes.”

“Huh? Jellyfish?”

Yes~ Squishy~”

She curled her fingers, attempting to convey the sensation.

“By that you mean guys and girls can't… No, you mean I can't go with the transfer student.”

Maekawa-san comprehension seems to be rather high — she might even be able to translate the early Erio's Japanese!

Ryuushi-san raved in the hospital, completely lost her mind.

“It has nothing to do with him — it's about guys and girls going to the beach! It's scary and it’s inappropriate!”

“Then according to you, what about the transfer student? He's already gone past the level of going to the beach.”

Pretending to be innocent, Maekawa-san shifted focus to my fatal injury.

“You… You've done more shameless things (ハレンチック)?”

Her self-made word is only two kana’s away from romantic (ロマンチック), yet it's so much harder to use.

“What, don't you know? Transfer student is Touwa's cousin!”

Hey, didn't you promise that 'it's better to not say it'? See, Ryuushi-san froze for the third time.

Why are new problems being dug out when I could clearly see the ending?

...Oh well, because it isn't a lie, I won't deny anything. At Least I won't.

It couldn't be helped if I get ostracized for it.

Because all I did was told the truth.

Even if the truth isn't the right answer, it is the only acceptable ideal I have.

Like so, I destroyed Erio's delusion.

I had no plan for the afterward consultation to salvation, and I did what I did irresponsibly.

...I've already decided the course of action when I get home.

In more ways than one, I've made up my mind. Like an Enypniastes, I will expose not just my organs, but also the brain on the outside of my body. 

Let Ryuushi-san's home-made warmth evaporate the puddle of thoughts.

“By the way, I live with Erio.”

“ 'W-what~?!' “

Um, shouldn't one of you be aware of this?

I reminisced, thinking that the process wasn't actually that interesting.

Since the memory was still fresh in its raw state, it probably wouldn't be glorified unless a year of two passes. Even if that happens, the likely thing to appear is probably a short story about 'why I hate eggplant.' I'm afraid that it wouldn't change my values.

Pondering about these thoughts, I returned to my second home on a shaky taxi through the river of life known as a road. Paying the tab with the remaining allowance I had, I left the car.

Like the first time I visited here on the last day of spring break, I looked around the entire house a distance away. There wasn't any sentiment of returning to a missed home.

It doesn't matter if it's this, that or whatever, everything depends on the coming days.

The story started here.

“...Alright, first episode's done. Please continue onto the second episode.”

Just a side note: my vision will extend to the eighty seventh episode. Every day is like birthday.

I lightly pushed the entry door (Not like it matters, but every time I opened this door, I thought of a certain sea-food restaurant in Setagaya.

“I'm home~” A quiet greeting.

In just a second, Erio would frantically run down from the second floor to greet me, saying, 'welcome home, Mako-kun!' with a grin. And then I would proceed to be scared senseless and mouth agape. However, the Touwa family wouldn't have such antiquated and idealistic environment. I indeed felt a nostalgically cold air.

“...Hm?”

At the entrance, paper memo and paperweight were playing again. It would appear that they have assumed that all they needed to greet me, who was missing for three weeks, with was something that isn't even alive. A Zashiki Warashi would do just fine!

I set the paper bag down, picking up the paper weight and memo with my left hand. The memo was filled with seven round and greasy characters: 'welcome back, Makoto.' A rainbow: she especially used a different marker for each character, making the end product look like a cheap neon sign for a pachinko parlour. For some reason, the purple-colored 'Makoto' was especially grotesque and thick. I focused, looking for the reason… I see. 

Looks like an experiment was carried out here — red and blue were mixed to see if the outcome was purple, and the charred product was forcefully covered with a purple marker. If Meme-san weren't the one who left this message, I honestly might have thought that it was cute.

While thinking about how to deal with this one-time grip-strength testing device, I took off my shoes. “Hah??” One step into the house, I discovered the walls of the hallway and even the floor was densely covered with memos. As if telegraph, it seemed like a circuitous way of communication. I picked up a piece next to my hand.

'The snack in the cabinet should be expired.'

“Save it before it's gone!” Are you the devil? The enemy of Engel's Coefficient. 

Also, the contents were too reflective of a certain Isono family. We don't even have enough people.

“Uh, if I crowbar it, I'd be Masuo — no, Katsuo. Erio'd be Sazae… Wakame. Meme-san is Fune...” Actually, screw this! The future would be bleak if I set our characters here! Even I reached the same conclusion. 

I got annoyed when I read the second message, so I ripped off and crumpled each one of them afterward. The simple task quickened; my footstep also lightened.

Destroy everything altogether using this opportunity! I followed the guidance of the notes all the way to the kitchen. The one on the basket seemed to be the last.

I glanced at it, so when Meme-san asks me how I thought about it, I could give her a complete answer. Like a book report for summer homework, all you need is the first half of the book to begin writing.

'There's a cake to celebrate your homecoming. It's almost expired, so eat it quick.'

“Now there's something useful.”

I only listen to useful information.

I opened the fridge.

There was Meme-san.

“Eeeeck!” With no shame or pretense that no one heard, I screamed as if I received the Horror News and hopped backward. Paralyzed on my butt, I scoop back and bumped my right arm countless times onto the cabinet. But mental (fear) problems superseded bodily (pain) ones, rendering me mindless of it.

With knees bent, Meme-san was stuffed in the fridge in a fetal position, head tilted sharply to the right. Her eyes were rolled back, and her tongue out.

E-Erio? Was it Erio? Are you U.N. Owen

Why did it turn into a mystery in the end? Are you sick of writing RomCom? Bastard.

Is the second volume going to start with an accidental push down a flight of stairs, then finding out that the refrigerator is already occupied with another body when dumping the corpse?

“Makoto...”

She’s alive! Eh, is she? It’s raw, but it’s alive!

But I don’t want to be near her! My legs are shaking!

“It…is…cold…”

“Ah…Um, yes… Eh, uh… Ah, yes!” Finally mustering the strength to lift my ass up, I stumbled toward the fridge, threw the paper bag away and held the sides of the fridge.

“Are… Are you all… right?” I shudderingly felt her right hand.

…Hm?

“I’m freezing to death, Mako-kun. Warm me with your skin…”

“……” A current went through my body.

I closed the door and backed off for a moment.

“……” I tried knocking.

“……”

“Come in~” The answer sounded warm. Hah?

“Dammit!” I busted the door open. I realized that this was a wasteful deed to a society that advocates saving energy — at least someone outside of the fridge did!

“You’re so cold, Mako-kun~” Please don’t wave your brown irises around like a girl in love: I’ll want to stab them.

“It’s not like the thought of hanging myself went through my head… I’d rather not ask, but what are you doing?”

“Chilling.”

“Don’t expect that to work every time.”

“Ahahah! Heave! Ho! Hnng!”

Meme-san struggled, holding on to the side of the fridge. With her own strength, she escaped and crashed onto the floor.

The entire process was like a new version of the R*ng. 

“Eheheh~” Meme-san stood, sticking out her tongue while messaging her neck.

“Ah~ My neck hurts (☆)”

“Just become a star then.” Or rather, bring me to space or a paradise where you don’t exist.

“Please don’t be like me, good children everywhere!”

“The existence of this person is fictional.”

Or rather part of my crude delusion. Alright, it’s about time to put a period to this story.

“Mako-kun, where are you going? There’s a lost lamb in need of warmth here.”

“You’ll live. Not like you’re a cold-blooded animal.”

“But I spent five minutes crawling in there~ You’re so cold, Mako-kun.”

You are the cold one here. Stop rubbing my arm, your fingers are cold.

“Basically, don’t you have work today?”

“I’m off today.”

“Speaking of which, what do you do?”

“It’s – a – secret!”

“……” I would have socked you if you’re a guy.

“More importantly, you should worry about how the fridge was empty enough to fit me in there.”

“Your head is empty enough to fit fifty hobbits in there, how breath taking.”

And those hobbits are building an empire there!

“You must be malnourished if you’re so easily angered!”

“I thought I should have taken more calcium. Man, why do I have to have an irritating person doing whatever the hell she wants within my fifty cm radius?”

“Or is it because you can’t let out your frustration in a place full of people?

“You can pretend it’s Amano-Iwato if you want, just go back to the fridge.”

“By the way, next up is the cake! But it’s made by someone else!”

The refrigerator opened once again; the frigid air oozed out depressingly.

“Oops, sorry. Your aunt accidentally crushed the cake.” She showed me the pulverized blue box.

“It’s ok. My feeling of appreciation was also crushed.”

Enough. Let it end, roll the credit.

It’s ok if that’s also crushed.

I gave up completely. Well, about half of it was to hide my embarrassment.

Actually, I was worried at first that maybe Erio murdered her mother.

“Alright~ Let’s celebrate Mako-kun’s release from jail~”

“Hospital, you mean.”

“Yes, yes, the hospital. Why don’t we go out for lunch? What I mean is to eat at a nearby diner!” There were flowers around Meme-san. 

She’s probably planning on buying some drinks — drinks that look like gasoline.

“Go get Erio, she’s upstairs.”

As if nothing happened, Meme-san spoke with no hint of awkwardness.

“Me?”

She flashed a calm and magnanimous smile that befitted her age.

“This is your job in the house, Mako-kun.”

“Huh…” This was my first time overwhelmed by a benevolent feeling.

My right foot was stuck on the ground; I wanted to shake the goosebumps off.

The rate at which her brain solidifies astounded me.

Her smile crossed the boundary of observable plane, illuminating the world with love.

If Meme-san was at least a decade younger, I would have fallen for her.

As expected of a character going for gap-moe: she will say acute lines occasionally at a miraculous probability.

I can’t even believe that the brain of the person who just crawled out from the fridge earlier was connected to the lips that just said those words!

“But why not have you do it sometimes? Since you’re usually so indifferent toward Erio.”

“My, what do you mean usually? Before Mako-kun came here, our life was pretty normal!”

Hoh~ Normal, you say? I shot a glance of suspicion. Normal days with a blanket is just sleeping together, isn’t it?

“I’m only apathetic toward Erio, because I knew Mako-kun will be her friend, and do things for her. Everything is going according to my plan.” 

…Even a thumbs up. Are you for real? No, you are really cold on a physical level.

“I understand. I’m going now.”

There were two rooms and a resident upstairs. But starting today, there will be two people again.

I discovered something after coming back from two weeks of absence.

The smell of this house was the smell of Erio.

It was neither sweet nor stimulating.

Yet, that comforting smell provided a serenity that permeates the entire body.

I peered into her room.

“Eri-“

“…”

The tongue halfway through greeting paused.

She was wrapped in futon. Except this time everywhere else besides the toes was hidden.

What the hell is up wrong this caterpillar?

I saw the sign of her poor direction of growth.

From the bottom of my belly, let’s say it out loud!

“…I’m home!”

“…!” Erio jumped. Ugh, legs grew out from the futon.

She stood up, hunched forward, and escaped to the corner of the room.

Is she a hermit crab? Or maybe a croissant-disguising worm that grew limbs.

Agh, gross. Deep-sea animals may be disgustingly cute, insects are just too disgusting for me to admire.

“It…It’s here!”

“I’m not some freak. You should come out though.” From the futon.

Erio knelt on the floor, and poked her head out from the futon. The shape was like a bowling pin, making me want to tip her over.

“… How’s your hand?”

“The itch is killing me, but everything else is fine.”

Also, it hurt like hell when I knocked the cabinet earlier when your mom freaked me out.

“Sorry.”

Decent behavior. Acceptable. But I still wanted to laugh because of her futon.

Erio’s Japanese vocabulary may have been reduce… Yet, her communication skills are normal now.

“I’ll introduce myself again.”

“Hm?”

“I’m Touwa Erio, sixteen. My profession is… housework assistant.”

'I'm Touwa Erio, sixteen. My profession is... housework assistant.'

“Must be nice being a girl, having a backup like that.”

Guys would have to deal with it head-on.

“The cousin is back.” Though facing down, she stared at me.

“Mhm. Meme-san says we’re going out to eat, so I’m here get you.”

“Mm.” Silence after raving. What a bipolar tongue.

“Take the futon off.”

“…Mm.” She hung her head somewhat regretfully. Why?

I looked closer, finding out that the pattern on the futon was a flower never seen before. Calamus blooming in purple, and the sheet was also as fluffy as a croquet- no, a grilled mochi.

Was this the fruit of her hard work? Am I popular now?

Where do kids in the city pick up their fashion sense? Magazine kapok?

Erio pulled herself out from top of the futon-roll. Leaving the futon that was shed like a snake skin, she stepped onto the room’s floor.

Why are the things this pair of mom and daughter do so realistic in a bad way?

She stood to flatten the folds on her dress. There wasn’t a speck of awkwardness on her brilliant expression, completely natural.

“Do aliens really not exist?” Erio eyed the telescope, and muttered dejectedly.

“Who know? The only thing I proved was that you are my cousin, a hikkikomori who helps out at home.”

“I seem to be treated as useless…”

“Don’t mind it.” I’ll feed you! “No way!”

“Hm?”

“No, seriously, don’t mind it.”

I rolled my shoulder, glossing over the topic. I almost blurt out promises I can’t keep!

“Ah… Mm.”

“Mm…” Since standing around was difficult for both of us, we tossed out courtesy smile to each other.

There was a mysterious emptiness in the air. The only thing left was to walk to the entrance.

But other than vocational reasons, I also had some private matters with her.

“Um…”

I stopped half way; I scratched the back of my head, giving the push the words in my mouth need. The words were practically squeezed out!

“Yes?”

“Sorry. For ruining your dream.”

I had already decided in the hospital that I would apologize to Erio first thing getting home.

“…?”

“If you were serious and accepting of it too, then I was probably just being nosy.”

I turned toward the map of town. Precisely, to avoid facing her.

Even if her direction was wrong, she was neither lost nor anxious. With some compromise, she might even live on. Erio’s goal didn’t need to be censured.

But that’s because you weren’t broken.

Because you could still come back.

I destroyed your delusion.

“It’s ok. The cousin must be right.”

With a subtle expression, Erio walked on the rope between consent and dissent.

She could not see me, who could only destroy, as a figure of complete agreement or denial.

However, she spoke on:

“Amnesia is scary…”

She paused for a moment, and then lifted her head up as if finished with recalling:

“Thanks to the cousin, I flew for a second. It felt great.”

A smile like the clear sky of May appeared on Erio’s face.

Particles on her strands of hair were completely revitalized. Dazed, I could not look straight at her face.

“So, this is my thanks.”

I reflexively received the object when her hand reached over.

It’s an underwear.

I threw it on the floor.

Actually, I wanted to toss it upward, but having something like that fall my head is mortification beyond a lifetime. I held my impulse.

“What are you doing?”

“What the hell are you doing? Are you still nuts?”

“Because the cousin requested girl’s panties from mom before.”

“Wha-!”

I planted a flag this serious at that time?! You heard that? Are you a moron?!

“Can’t you tell if something sarcastic?”

“It was prepared after considerable contemplation.”

I smacked Erio on the top of her head. I’m going to sue both of you for slander!

Man, honestly! The serious atmosphere dissipated, the only thing left was a vexing tumor.

“Anyhow!”

“Mm.”

“About your lost memory, I’m sorry that I can’t help much.”

I forced the dialogue back to seriousness.

“It’s fine, I can deal with it myself — it’s the only thing I can do.”

Erio shut her eyes, a faint smile on her face as she led the way out.

Even without sight, she seemed to know the entirety of the house. She correctly turned to where I was and jokingly said:

“Only if I didn’t leave school.”

“I think so too — It would have helped with finding a job.”

“No, not that.” Erio shook her head, emitting particles.

With a layer of that stuff, even hallways in normal houses would become rice with gold dust.

Not that it’s anything worth being happy about!

“Because going to school with the cousin seems to be fun.”

…Cough!

While going down stair with her, I thought about the tiny possibility of that happening.

On the moment of that day when we flew.

If the bike didn’t accelerate when it did, we wouldn’t have enough force to fly and might end up running off the cliff, becoming ‘two high school students mysterious fell to death.’

How come the bicycle regained its performance at the end?

It would make sense, saying that it’s all a coincidence.

…However, where are the aliens?

Before solving this doubt, this question is still meaningful and valued.

Touwa Erio is an Earthling. She isn’t a cyborg either, just lost a bit of her memory.

Perhaps, she really is favored by the aliens watching over this city.

With her car parked outside, Meme-san ambushed us just outside of the house.

Of course, it isn’t a vehicle as wasteful and convenient as a car. It’s a city bike, or colloquially known as a utility bike

“You’re slow~ why didn’t you come out earlier if you knew the sun was so hot~ Hurry~”

In just a short time, she impeccably fixed even her makeup.

“Don’t tell me — are we all riding on this?”

I said so, knowing that there is no other way. The thought of giving up flashed.

“No problem. You aunt is driver paper. This is a piece of cake.” 

“I have no clue whatsoever on what you’re talking about.” Is Meme-san’s brain ruined by the heat or the frigidity?

“Who’s pedaling?” With proper Japanese, Erio joined the conversation. Not particularly worked up, Meme-san answered naturally:

“Of course Mako-kun is! Also, I’m sitting in the back. Wow~ the smell of love!”

“Must be rotting or something, cuz ripe fruits are sweet.” And ‘Mako-kun’ seemed to have become my fixed name. 

Even though I’m injured, there is no problem if it’s just riding a bike.

“Where is Erio sitting?”

“Here.” The two pointed at the same place simultaneously. Naturally, it was Erio’s special basket.

“This isn’t some circus act…”

…Well, whatever.

Erio jumped into the basket to become its load. Meme-san sat in the back, her arms circling my waist.

“Please don’t hug me.”

“How much, in percentage, in that phrase was ‘tsun?’

“Measured in inches instead of percentage, about three inches.”

“What about for me?”

“About five centimeter per second.” 

I stepped on the pedal, each cycle onerous.

Rather than being pedaled, the bike slid downhill on its own.

Finally, the wheels wobbled precariously forward.

The four-man five-legged race including a bike never escaped the speed of ‘slack.’

“Gravity should go to hell!”

“Agreed.”

The bicycle will not be soaring in the sky today.

Carrying passengers who weren’t aliens, it went to a place somewhere on Earth.

Translator's notes and references[]

  1.  Common over-the-counter drug for pain relief and fever reduction. Commonly sold as Tylenol in US. Apparently in Japan, an old commercial slogan was “half of it is made of kindness.”
  2.  a phenomenon that occurs in Japan after April when graduation and entrance exams are over. Since Golden Week is around the beginning of May, many experience a feeling of disappointment or unaccustomedness to a new phase to their lives.
  3.  2006 FIFA, Japan vs Croatia. In the final, crucial moment of the match, Yanagisawa Atsushi missed the chance for a goal. His famous line afterward was 急にボールが来たので "because the ball suddenly came.” QBK is an acronym of the phrase
  4.  Reference to the antagonists in Yoroshiku Kamen, which is a fictional show in the manga Sexy Commando Gaiden
  5.  a sea cucumber with translucent body
  6.  A special ward in Tokyo. Known for its good environment that resulted in it being one of the most populated wards
  7.  A sort of fairy in Japanese folklore that would play pranks on the home owners. They are known to be fortuitous and a sign of wealth
  8.  A form of arcade game usually for gambling purposes
  9.  The law that the percentage of income spent on food determines the wealth of a country. The lower the coefficient – lower percentage of income spent on food – indicates that a nation is wealthier
  10.  Reference to Sazae-san, a long running 4 panel manga. All family members' names are related to sea animals
  11.  Kyofu Shinbun, News of Horror. Debut work of Tsunoda Jirou. The protagonist receives news of death or catastrophe, which if read will reduce his life by a hundred days
  12.  From Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None.’ U.N. Owen was the mysterious killer’s call sign
  13.  Originally Sadako, the name of the ghost. I figure this was easier to understand
  14.  The cave where Amaterasu, the Goddess of light in Japanese mythology, hid
  15.  Original text was missing, so I had to put something here
  16.  Maybe a reference to Death Notes
  17.  she swapped the phrase paper driver, perhaps meaning that she isn’t heavy
  18.  Originally Meme-san said something along the line of ‘sweet and sour.’ Not sure what he’s comeback is really saying though
  19.  As in tsundere’s tsun
  20.  Reference to Shinkai Makoto’s film Five Centimeter per Second. Interestingly, three inches is about 7.62 cm