How do I put it…
“I think I somewhat understand why he feels jealous.”
I muttered to myself while walking. In response, Holmes-san went “Hm?” and looked in my direction.
“Ah, no, it’s nothing.”
I hurriedly shrugged. I couldn’t possibly say that Manager was envious of his own son, Holmes-san, and held discord in his heart as a result of that.
“…Aoi-san, shall we buy some coffee and drink it next to the hall?”
Holmes-san suggested, pointing at a handmade sign with the words “Homemade Coffee for Sale”.
“Ah, yes. That sounds good,” I answered with a nod.
Holmes-san had black coffee, while mine had sugar and milk mixed in. With our drinks, we went to a deserted staircase a small distance away and sat down there.
I brought the coffee to my lips, which naturally warmed my cheeks. Holmes-san gently peeked at my face.
“…I think you’ve saved up enough money to go to Saitama, so what are you going to do?”
Sitting next to Holmes-san as he asked the question quietly, I looked down at the milk coffee in my cup.
Thanks to the flowing wind, I could hear the bustle from the Handicrafts Market, which was a short distance away.
“Actually, whenever I think of returning, I hesitate. I thought that I would definitely go back once I saved up enough money, but I can’t move because I’m so hesitant, and I hate myself for that.”
I laughed with self-derision. Holmes-san took a small breath.
“I understand how you feel. I think that you shouldn’t rush things and go with the natural flow.”
As usual, Holmes-san is so kind—
“I’m surprised that you can understand such feelings.”
I said with a faint smile. In response, Holmes-san smiled wryly and shrugged.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t invite you to take up the part-time job just because you have good eyes.”
“Actually, I’ve had the same experience as you.”
“Eh, Ehhh? What do you mean?”
“I’ve had my girlfriend stolen from me, although the person who stole her away wasn’t my best friend.”
“R-Really?” I can’t believe it!
“W-When was that?”
“…It was when I was in high school.”
Holmes-san took a small breath, then started slowly telling his story.
“I’d just hit the third year of high school. I received a confession from a classmate, and thanks to that, we started dating. We were a completely normal couple. We studied together since we were both preparing for examinations, and we had fun every day.
“However, I was always surrounded by adults since young. I would often get teased with statements like ‘You’re preparing for exams, but if you get into a relationship with a girl, you’ll be too engrossed and won’t be able to study.” — Of course, that was only when I was alone with them. I didn’t take such playful words to heart, but I felt they had a point.
“I swore in my heart that we wouldn’t go so deep into our relationship during the important year before exams, for both our sakes. To uphold the name of Kiyotaka, our dating would be pure and noble1.”
—Wow, I never knew his name had that meaning behind it.
“I was thinking that once both of us successfully got into a university, we could take things to the next stage as a couple. I wanted us to work hard in the areas important for aspiring university students, for our own sakes.”
“…That’s a correct way of thinking.”
“Yes, but being correct isn’t everything. As soon as we entered university, she went to a goukon after being invited by a friend. There, she met an arrogant, overbearing playboy, and her heart was instantly stolen by him.”
My voice betrayed my surprise at that unexpected development.
“According to her, I was too much of a herbivore, and that made her feel lonely and insecure. I hadn’t communicated to her that I was thinking for the both of us, you see. On my part, I had noticed that she wanted to go beyond kissing, but I didn’t realize that such feelings of loneliness and anxiety were growing within her.
“That arrogant, overbearing playboy slipped through the gaps of her heart and stole everything as a result. I was so shocked, jealous and vexed that I even wanted to become a monk and go to Mt. Kurama2!”
“B-Become a monk and go to Mt. Kurama?!”
“After that, there was even a period of time where I lived my university life in a manner that completely ran counter to my earlier wishes to enter the priesthood.”
“Well, leaving that aside… I’ve experienced these things in the past, so I understand how you feel, Aoi-san.”
As I looked at his faint smile, my chest tightened.
I was surprised. Surprised that even Holmes-san had such a vulgar past.
“So you are a normal human, after all.”
I let those words out of my mouth without thinking, causing Holmes-san’s eyes to widen for an instant, but then he burst out laughing.
“What’s up with that?”
“T-That’s because you’re so far away from a normal human. In fact, even Owner, who is an amazing appraiser and Manager, who is a great author, hold you in high regard, don’t they?”
So much so that Manager is jealous of his own son’s abilities.
“…Aoi-san, did you read my father’s works?”
“Um, about half of it.”
The feelings of envy were so real that… I couldn’t continue past that point.
“They might be a little harsh for you right now.”
As usual, he saw through me.
“However, you should try your best and read it until the end.”
“When I finished reading, it left behind a feeling in my heart that was beautiful beyond comparison.”
Holmes-san said as he closed his eyes and placed a hand on his chest.
—A beautiful feeling.
“It taught me that as a result of laying bare your feelings, you might get too hurt to move, but what you see when you finally raise your head is absolutely beautiful. While he is my own father, I think he’s an amazing writer.”
As Holmes-san complimented Manager with an unclouded smile, it somehow became difficult to breathe.
“…Holmes-san, do you know what Manager has in his heart?”
Since he’s Holmes-san, he should be able to see through his father.
That was what I thought as I quietly asked.
“I see…My father has always ardently admired my grandfather and wanted to be an appraiser, but was discouraged by his lack of talent and gave up. I do know that he feels I have ‘some talent he doesn’t have’, and holds some sort of jealousy in his heart.”
I was startled by Holmes-san smooth reply.
He’s actually grasped the situation more fully than I thought!
As expected of Holmes-san.
“Ah, sorry, were you referring to something else?”
“N-No, you’re on the right topic… What do you think of Manager when he’s like this?”
I asked, feeling the difficulty of putting that question into words. In response, Holmes-san made a face, indicating that it was also tough for him to answer that question.
“What do I think, you ask? Hmm, I suppose I think he’s naive.”
Holmes-san flatly replied.
“N-Naive?” My eyes opened wide in surprise.
“Yes, my father gave up on being an appraiser because ‘he didn’t have the qualities required’. But what are the qualities of an appraiser? Indeed, I might have better eyes compared to most people.
“However, my grandfather, who both my father and I respect, did not originally have a good eye for antiques.”
“Yes. When my grandfather was fifteen, he became a disciple to a master at an antique shop. He worked hard in keeping up with his master and training his mind’s eye, in order to get recognized out of so many other disciples. My grandfather became the national appraisal ‘Yagashira Seiji’ that he is today as a result of his blood, sweat and tears.
“That’s why I believe that if my father really wanted to become like my grandfather, he should have put in the same amount of effort, or even more, to achieve his dream. But he didn’t put in as much effort as he should have, and then he made a complete turnaround, thinking that ‘he didn’t have the required qualities’. When he had almost forgotten about his dreams of becoming an appraiser, he felt those qualities in me when I was young, giving him a shock.”
“I, I see.”
“My father probably thinks that I was born with the required qualities, so I can easily become an appraiser, but that isn’t true. Due to certain circumstances, I didn’t go to a kindergarten, and instead always followed my grandfather around…”
I knew all about that, so I nodded.
“Whenever my grandfather brought me to his workplaces, he would say, ‘You’re my assistant, so just stand at the side and don’t get in my way.’ Those might be quite some harsh words to say to a child, but they were really important to me at that time. That I was the ‘assistant’ of Yagashira Seiji, the appraiser that everyone praised as ‘amazing’. In order to not make a fool of myself as an assistant, I studied desperately from that young age.
“I looked at antiques beside my grandfather, and learnt the differences between genuine works and counterfeits, the characteristics of each period, the common features that can be felt from fake products. Ever since I can remember, and even up till now, I’ve always continued learning.
“However, I still cannot catch up to my grandfather, because of his continued learning and his built-up experience. This is a boundless field in which there is no end to learning, and your existing knowledge can sometimes be overturned. My father did not step into this world, and instead stepped away from it.
“Knowing that he holds jealousy for me, I can only think that he is ‘naïve’.”
Overwhelmed by Holmes-san’s strong statement, I swallowed my breath.
Yes, it was exactly as he said.
It was indeed naïve for Manager to be jealous of that talent without putting in painstaking effort, without shedding blood, sweat and tears.
“That said, I plan to understand my father’s feelings. That’s why as long as he holds this jealousy towards me, I shall strive for greater heights.”
“…Strive for greater heights?”
“Yes. For example, if you lose to your rival team at the Koshien3 District Qualifiers, you’d want that team to continue winning, right?”
“Yeah, you might be right.”
“I’ve also experienced that feeling first-hand.”
“Experienced it first-hand?”
“Yes. Apparently, my ex-girlfriend and that arrogant, overbearing playboy are getting married.”
I was taken aback again. I didn’t think that they would get married already.
“I’m actually mollified to see them go all the way. If the two of them have such a strong connection that they’re getting married, then it can’t be helped that I got dumped. That’s what I think, anyway.”
I would feel the same way if I were in his shoes.
“That’s why I think that the person on the receiving end of jealousy should work hard for the sake of the jealous person. In my father’s case, it is because of that envy and sense of inferiority stirring in his heart that he can write such brilliant works. He might not have noticed yet, but this is destiny, I believe.”
“You mean that while Manager aspires to be an appraiser, it’s his fate to be a writer?”
“Yes, that’s what I think. Furthermore, if he was serious in his aspiration, he wouldn’t have withdrawn so easily. Just like in Priest Zena’s story, if you have a wish and put in the effort equivalent to chanting it a million times, I believe it will definitely come true.”
As I stared at Holmes-san, who was looking up at the deep blue sky, a warm feeling spread in my chest.
If you have a wish and put in the effort equivalent to chanting it a million times, it will definitely come true—
Come to think of it, I wonder if my feelings of wanting to meet him are that strong?
Just like Manager, the word “naïve” would probably be a fitting one for me.
All I’ve done is mope around regretfully, without taking any action.
I clenched my fists on my lap.
“…Holmes-san… I… I’ve decided not to go to Saitama.”
Probably not expecting those words, Holmes-san looked at me with a rare display of surprise.
“I, I mean, the transportation costs will come up to tens of thousands, right? I don’t want to spend the money I earned working hard in this part-time job for something like this. I-In exchange, I think I’ll go hiking at Mt. Kurama.”
I feigned a laugh, while Holmes-san looked on with gentle, narrowed eyes.
“I see. Well, if you wait just a little, it’ll be the viewing season of green maple leaves from the Eizan Railway.”
“Ah, is that so? Red leaves bring up the image of autumn, but people also love seeing green leaves, huh.”
“Yeah, they’re fresh and invigorating to look at. I would also like to go, since I haven’t gone in a long while. If it’s alright with you, could we go together?”
With a slight grin, Holmes-san peered at my face, causing my heart to leap.
“S-Sure. I’ll be lonely if I go alone, so I’d be glad if we went to view the maple leaves together.”
W-What should I do? My voice is going shrill.
“I’ll look forward to it.”
“Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-Yes, I’ll look forward to it too.”
I could only hear the sound of my heart thumping.
“Well then, shall we go for lunch?”
Holmes-san and I stood up in unison.
“There are many food shops around this area, but not many where you can relax in. Aoi-san, what do you want to eat?”
I awkwardly answered as we left Hyakumanben Chionji Temple behind. It was the 15th day of June.
The unstable sky, which was split between rainy and sunny regions, was like
a representation of my heart at that very moment.
This post is made possible by our amazing patrons!
Editors (Tier 2) : Bennet Kilian, Yazmin Arostegui, Steven Baltakatei, Smash the Oni, Joshua Fisher
Assistants (Tier 1) : Daniel Betts, Jaime Cuellar, Javier Rivera, zqy47d, Fred Valenzuela, Gajusz Kubasik
Thank you very much for all your support!