Case of the Spring-Exclusive Strawberry Tart Chapter 4: A Swelling in the Mind (Full Text)

C

(Note about chapter title: This is part of an old saying: “Keeping silent is like having a swelling in the mind”, meaning that if you don’t say whatever you want to say, you will be left feeling uneasy and unsatisfied.)

Chapter 3 | Contents | Chapter 5

Table of Contents

1

What is the area where the Calvin-Benson cycle, also known as a dark reaction, which uses the substrates of a chloroplast, occur?1 That was the question I had to solve. I was pretty sure I’d memorized it, but I just couldn’t recall. In other words, I hadn’t memorized it well.

All the other blanks were mostly filled. I was a little unsure as to whether the four ATGC proteins in DNA were nucleotides, nulecotides, or something else entirely, and there were some multiple choice questions that I’d decided to leave to luck and instinct, but I’d answered all the other questions. The only one left was the question about the location of the Calvin-Benson cycle. I would probably be able to recall the entire word if I just knew the first letter. A, i, u, … no, there’s not enough time. I should start from the N row. Na, ni, nu, … this is meaningless. Ah, I was so sure I had that memorized, too. Work, hippocampus! Link up, neurons! While we’re at it, it’d be nice if time stopped, too.

However, time, as well as my hippocampus and neurons, did not work as I wanted them to. The bell rang, signifying the end of the designated time.

“Time’s up. Put down your pencils, and pass your papers to the front.”

The invigilator called out. During the examination, the seating order was based on alphabetical order, and following that, my seat was at the back of the classroom. Having no choice, I stopped and handed in my answer paper which still had one blank. I wasn’t exactly aiming for a high score, but I was certainly frustrated that my memory had failed me.

Anyway, with Science 1 complete, all mid-term examinations were over. As if having waited impatiently for their chance, someone in the class pushed a window wide open. A refreshing, comforting breeze blew in. Well, nothing I can do now that it’s over. It was 12 in the afternoon. I hadn’t pulled an all-nighter to study, but I’d stayed up quite late last night. I suppose I’ll hurry home and take an afternoon nap.

I returned home and took a light lunch. After changing into comfortable clothes, I lay down on my bed. Half-asleep, I wondered if I would be able to drift off to sleep, when I was roused by the ringing of the telephone. Almost thirty minutes had passed. My mind was clear, as if I’d just awakened from a deep sleep. In this state, I could easily recall terms like stroma and stromatolite2. Anyway, stroma is the answer for the question about the Calvin-Benson cycle. Too late to do anything about it, though. But more importantly, I should answer the telephone.

With light footsteps, I moved to the living room and answered the ringing telephone. The caller was Osanai-san.

“Yeah? What is it?”

“Yes, um…”

Her voice was devoid of energy. Osanai-san’s voice probably sounds weak to people not used to it, but there was quite a subtle difference with her usual voice.

“Do you have anything on later?”

“Nope, nothing.”

“I see.”

I could hear her exhale, seemingly relieved.

“Um, could you come with me for a while?”

That’s rare. Osanai-san actually called me out when both of us had returned home already. Well, the exams were over, and I’d already shrugged off my drowsiness. Prepared to comply with almost anything, I answered brightly.

“Sure, where?”

“Umm…”

A weird silence followed. Osanai-san then spoke in a voice that seemed like it could disappear at any moment.

“Humpty Dumpty.”

What? I instinctively put more energy in the hand holding the receiver.

“If I remember correctly, Humpty Dumpty’s the place where…”

“Don’t say it… Please don’t say anything.”

I see, so there’s some circumstances regarding this. There’s no helping it, then. Osanai-san was the one who’d sealed Humpty Dumpty away. If she’s decided to go there, it’s not my place to stop her.

“Alright, I won’t ask. So, where and when do we meet?”

“How about three o’clock in front of the shop?”

I glanced at the clock. Looks like there’s still time. I consented, and hung up.

After changing and tidying myself, I left my house while dragging my bicycle. The weather was quite troublesome, being too hot for spring clothes and too cold for summer wear. On the way, I felt a little uneasy about the contents of my wallet, so I stopped at a bank. Even with that detour, as well as my relaxed pace of traveling, I reached the small shop made out of red bricks before the appointed time. With the bricks surrounded by a thick growth of camellia, it looked like a house of candy. The chimney sticking out of the triangular roof also made it look all the more lovely. Well, it’s a place that a little citizen guy like myself cannot enter on his own.

By the way, it’s a cake shop. I studied the shop’s signboard. “Humpty Dumpty” was written in yellow letters that seemed to pop out of the sign, causing me to let out a chuckle. “Cake Shop Humpty Dumpty”. In traditional Japanese, it would be “Western Confectionary – Spilt Water Will Not Return to the Tray”3. It was a name with enough impact to make you hesitate and think, “Just one bite?” The shop with the spring-exclusive strawberry tarts was called Alice, but I can assure you that the owners of all dessert shops in this town are not all Dodgson4 fans. Those are the only two shops with an Alice-related name, to my knowledge. Strictly speaking, Humpty Dumpty originated from Mother Goose, not Through the Looking-Glass, but it would be interesting if there were a shop called “Sweets Shop Jabberwock”.

I could clearly tell that the shop was focused on a strong, sweet taste, paired with other flavors like butter and brandy. Instead of producing a flat taste, it strikes an esoteric balance, and thus it is Osanai-san’s favorite shop, by a long shot. However, she liked it too much that she ate too much, and firmly resolved never to enter the shop again. Incidentally, I was also with her on the day she made that resolution. The volume of cake she polished off was certainly larger than the capacity of her stomach.

Recalling that moment, I laughed.

“You’re laughing alone…”

A voice came from behind. I couldn’t even hear the sound of her bicycle stopping or her footsteps. I turned around with a smile on my face.

“Ah, how long were you here for?”

“I just arrived.”

Osanai-san’s expression was stiff. There’s definitely something going on here, I thought.

“Let’s go.”

With just those two words, Osanai-san quickly walked off towards the shop. Good grief. I was about to follow behind her, when I noticed a small flyer pasted on the door. A cake buffet today from two to five o’clock, for 1,500 yen per person.

I see, so it’s a buffet…

There was no background music playing in the store.

“I’ll have a standard chiffon and a coffee.”

So she’s warming up by starting with a chiffon? That was what I thought, but…

“…and a mille-feuille, and a panna cotta, and a strawberry shortcake.”

She’s going all out right off the bat, huh.

For the time being, I ordered a coffee. Since I was accompanying Osanai-san, I was obliged to eat cake too, so I also ordered a Mont Blanc. I probably wouldn’t be able to eat two of those, so I ordered it à la carte, rather than as part of the buffet. Only when we reached the table for two did I realize that it was not the season for chestnuts, so I should have ordered something more seasonal. Perhaps Osanai-san had considered that when she added the mille-feuille and strawberry shortcake. What a deep thought process.

That said, the Mont Blanc that was brought over was not inedible. However, as expected, one of those was enough to make me feel stuffed. I drank my coffee in small sips. Osanai-san had already finished off the panna cotta, and was busy cutting up the pie pastry of the mille-feuille. She first collapsed it on its side, then stuck the knife in vertically. After that, she pierced through the piece of pie pastry with a fork. She chewed lightly and wordlessly, with more power concentrated in her knife and fork than seemingly necessary.

I asked as a smile formed on my face.

“Did something happen?”

“Nope.”

Osanai-san gave an immediate response as she poked at the fragments of mille-feuille. Of course, there was something she wanted to talk about. That was why she called me. Osanai-san is not a person cute enough to enter the shop alone, but it didn’t seem like she was going to talk about it easily. Apparently, I hadn’t given it enough consideration.  I took another sip of my coffee.

“…How was the test?”

I meant that as a lead to whatever was on Osanai-san’s mind. I thought that her tongue would become more slippery if she participated in some idle chatter, so I brought up a seasonal topic. However, as soon as I finished my question, Osanai-san’s fork stopped moving. Her gaze, which had been focused on the mille-feuille on the plate, moved slightly upwards for an instant.

“I think it went pretty well.”

“I see. That’s good.”

“But then…”

After moving the last fragment of mille-feuille to her mouth, Osanai-san pulled the chiffon towards herself without a pause.

“Science 1 was a little…”

“Oh, really?” I interjected, “What a coincidence. There was something I was unable to recall in Science 1.”

“Me too, but I managed to remember it in the end.”

With one stroke, she pushed the knife into the chiffon, which was a little larger than the other cakes.

“It was the question about the enzyme that converts peptone and proteins to polypeptide. The word ‘peptidase’5 appeared in my head, and I couldn’t think of anything else.”

“I really thought of the correct answer, right before the test ended. But at that moment…”

As if frustrated by that, Osanai-san cut the chiffon, which was still too big to be eaten, into two clean pieces. The two slices of chiffon tilted unsteadily and fell onto the plate.

“Some glass broke.”

“Huh?”

With her fork, she stabbed one of the pieces of chiffon that had fallen on its side and delivered it to her mouth.

“An energy drink bottle fell from one of the lockers at the back of the classroom and shattered, making a really loud sound… and that made me forget all about the question. We had a tough time cleaning up after the test, too, although the bottle was empty.”

“Yeah, that must be tough.”

Osanai-san looked at me again with upturned eyes. This time, she seemed to be studying my reaction, fixedly. Judging that I wasn’t about to continue, she let out a small sigh.

“That’s why I felt sad… so I searched for you, Kobato-kun.”

There seemed to be a leap in her logic.

However, after some thinking, I realized that not giving enough in the way of explanations is not the same as having a leap in logic. Anyway, Osanai-san didn’t look for me because she was sad. I’m willing to bet anything that she did that because she was annoyed. I definitely can’t say that out loud, though.

Instead, I played dumb.

“I see. Were you searching for me since the test ended?”

“Yup.”

Wow, seriously? That could mean that Osanai-san had gone without lunch. They say that there is a separate intestine for alcohol, a separate brain for Go, and a separate stomach for desserts, but what of an absolutely famished Osanai-san taking on the challenge of a cake buffet? That would be a really interesting situation. But more importantly…

“If you were looking for me, you should have sent an email to my mobile phone.”

Osanai-san replied reproachfully.

“I did, but you didn’t reply.”

“Eh?”

I hurriedly checked my pockets. It wasn’t there. Come to think of it, I don’t remember removing it from my uniform pocket. So was it there the whole time…? Oh, now I remember.

“Ah, my phone’s at school.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, the battery went flat before the test, so I put it in the table, but I forgot to take it back.”

“I see.”

Osanai-san placed the knife and fork down, and looked up.

“…Are you going to retrieve it?”

Hmm…

Well, I suppose. I nodded.

“Yeah, I’ll be off for a while.”

“I’ll be eating cake here, then.”

With those words, she returned to the slicing of her chiffon. It is indeed interesting to see her indulge in sweet desserts, but I should finish up what I have to do.

It should be simple. All I need to do is investigate the scene.


2

Humpty Dumpty was located a short distance to the northeast of Funa High School, although Funa High was already at the north side of town. I could get there within five minutes if I were on a bicycle.

With the midterm examinations ended, club activities had resumed. The baseball team and track team were back to training on the sports grounds, and the shoe locker area was still open.

Anyway, I headed for the fourth floor to search for my mobile phone in my classroom. It was there, in the location I’d suspected. I replaced the battery, and checked my email.

“Let’s eat cake.”

“Where are you?”

“Is your phone out of battery?”

“Kobato-kun?”

…I’ve done a horrible thing.

After placing my phone in a pocket, I got started on my other reason for coming here. Osanai-san was in class 1-C. Feeling the awkwardness of being in school wearing plain clothes, I prayed that I wouldn’t run into anyone as I walked down the corridor.

Perhaps the prayer worked, for the corridor was completely devoid of people, as was the classroom. “Sorrrry for intruding,” I jokingly called out while entering.

Naturally, the classroom had the exact same layout as mine. It had a blackboard, teacher’s lectern, teacher’s table, a collection of desks and chairs, as well as a locker for cleaning equipment. That, however, didn’t stop me from feeling a weird sensation.

Entering another classroom without an invitation seemed somewhat shady, and because of that, I felt like I was doing something wrong. I wondered if I felt that way because I was a petit bourgeois, but that didn’t seem to be right. I could remember feeling awkward when entering a classroom I didn’t belong to, even before I became a petit bourgeois. It must be some psychological reaction, then.

I quickly scanned my surroundings. I did not want anyone to see me like this, and especially not Kengo. He would probably laugh and say, “That’s the old Kobato I know.” I spoke to myself for assurance.

“…It’s fine, I’m not causing trouble to anyone here.”

As proven by my thoughts when my actions were not being witnessed by others, I really did not have enough devotion to the petit bourgeois lifestyle.

There might be some evidence left over that could shed some light on the breaking of the bottle during the exam. If my hypothesis was correct, there had been enough time to clean up the evidence, but that didn’t mean that it had been properly dealt with. If the culprit was conceited or negligent, some evidence may have been left behind.

Yes, there was a culprit.

Osanai-san had also noticed that fact.

The classrooms in Funa High were floored with linoleum. The lockers were also not that high up. Even if a drink bottle fell from the highest point of the locker, I can’t imagine that it would break. A bottle that would break after falling for only about one meter onto linoleum flooring would probably be considered too dangerous and wouldn’t be allowed to circulate. It would be a different story if the bottle had been struck, or if the floor were made out of concrete.

So why did it break… it is a fact that the bottle broke, after all.

Firstly, the cap must be off. Based on the experience I’d gained from pranks I played when I was young, there is a clear difference in intensity when the bottle has a cap and when it doesn’t. Also, it is necessary for the bottle to be damaged. Having some cracks would be good, but it’s quite difficult to get cracks at the exact required spots. It would probably be a lot easier to glue together a bottle that has been broken.

In other words, the bottle did not fall naturally, and also did not break naturally. If the broken state of the bottle was artificial, so must be the falling of the bottle.

 Someone had set it up so that the bottle would fall and break during the exam. Osanai-san realized that was the case, and was pissed off that someone had caused a hindrance during her exam, which was why she broke her restriction on Humpty Dumpty.

“So that she can go on a binge.”

I whispered to myself, and laughed at my own statement.

However, Osanai-san didn’t know who would do such a thing. That was why she invited me to Humpty Dumpty as well. But no matter how annoyed she was, she couldn’t call me over and tell me about it due to the promise we made as little citizens. Even so, she wanted to call me, bring up the topic, and find the right time to explain the situation… what would we do about it afterwards?

Well, I’m here in class C investigating, so I’m certainly getting on Osanai-san’s plans to some extent.

I walked one round in the classroom, but couldn’t find anything. The classroom, which had the doors and windows closed, was getting a little warm. Spring was ending soon.

I wouldn’t be particularly troubled even if I didn’t find any evidence, but I walked another round in the classroom anyway.

I looked around, giving special attention to the desks. The desks of Funa High were perfectly normal desks built for school use. They were made of a thin metal board on top of an assembly of pipes, forming a container, with another board fixed on top.

I found what I was looking for on my second round. It seemed that the culprit had indeed been conceited or negligent.

It was at the front part of a desk, hidden by the top board6. A few pieces of cellophane tape had been stuck where it couldn’t be seen by a person standing up. Some words had been written on the tape with an oil-based pen.

It read:

Amylase – Starch à Maltose

Maltase – Maltose à Glucose

Sucrase – Sucrose à Glucose and fructose

And so on. It even included “Trypsin – Peptone and proteins à Polypeptides”, that Osanai-san couldn’t remember.

Satisfied, I tore off the cellophane tape, rolled it into a ball and stored it in my pocket. I’ll dispose of it at a random spot later.


With light pedalling, I headed for Humpty Dumpty again.

Basically, it went like this. It is a fact that an easy-to-break bottle was set up to fall during the exam. What did the person who did the setup, or the culprit, have to gain from this?

During the exam, the bottle fell and broke. What would happen afterwards?

If the bottle had been filled with gasoline or some kind of acid, it would be treated as an act of terror, but the bottle was empty. Thus, there is only one thing that would happen: a loud noise.

What would happen if a loud noise sounded during an exam?

It would surprise Osanai-san, causing her to momentarily forget the name of the enzyme that decomposes proteins, which she has almost recalled. That causes the average score of science 1 for freshmen to fall, in turn raising the adjusted standard deviation score of the culprit… but if they were aiming for that, the culprit is prescient. If so, they would have predicted the exam questions, rather than sabotage Osanai-san.

Besides that?

Osanai-san would not be the only one to be surprised by the loud noise. If a noise suddenly breaks out in a classroom where silenced has been maintained, lots of students would be surprised as well. What would happen if they’re surprised by a loud noise? They would forget the name of the enzyme that decomposes proteins… no, enough with that line of thought. I think they would subconsciously turn to look at the source of the noise, or in other words, the back of the classroom. And that would be allowed. To put it more formally, the invigilator would allow students to openly look around during the exam.

And if they can look around?

If students can openly look around, they can’t be faulted even if they look at the beauties of nature. And there is nothing a student would want to look at other than a cheat sheet.

After being surprised by the sound, or pretending to be surprised by the sound, the culprit could turn to look towards the back of the classroom for at least two or three seconds. They wouldn’t be able to look for more than five seconds. However, for the sciences, and for our level of biological studies in particular, memorization is key, so five seconds of looking at a cheat sheet is more than satisfactory. By the way, I’d considered the possibility of the culprit getting the answer through gestures by someone else instead of from a cheat sheet, but it is too difficult to signal an answer in five minutes, and it would attract too much attention, so it is impossible.

Using a cheat sheet would be the safest method. The culprit would not be blamed for looking behind, and the cheat sheet had been set in a position on someone else’s table that is also a blind spot for everyone else, so it would not be noticed. It isn’t difficult to understand the culprit’s feelings. Not wanting to get a bad score in the first exam after entering the school is a natural sentiment, even for someone who may not necessarily be a petit bourgeois. It is a cheap trick, though.

All that is left is to figure out the trick behind making the bottle fall at the right time. Well, that’s not difficult, either. All of us have phones. The culprit could have hidden a phone in his pocket and secretly pushed a button to send an email at the right time, with the receiving phone in the locker. The vibrations caused by receiving the email caused the bottle to lose balance and fall. Of course, that is only a possibility. Ice or dry ice would have worked as well.

The light at the pedestrian crossing in front of me turned red. I looked at my watch. A lot more time had passed than I’d expected. Even Osanai-san could have left the shop already. I sent her an email.

“Are you still at the cake shop?”

The reply came before the light turned green.

“I’m having pumpkin pudding.”

That means that she was still unsatisfied after polishing off the chiffon and shortcake. Perfect.


3

Osanai-san was sitting at the same table, but with different cakes in front of her, none of which seemed to be a pumpkin pudding. It seemed that she’d demolished the pumpkin pudding in the time it took me to get from that junction to Humpty Dumpty. The remaining cakes were a baked cheesecake, a tart, and a tiramisu. I couldn’t tell what kind of tart it was just by looking at it.

Approaching the table, I instinctively asked.

“Can you still eat?”

Osanai-san’s face clouded over as she shook her head weakly.

“I wanted to eat the marjolaine7, but I thought that would be impossible.”

That means that she probably had confidence in finishing everything on the plates in front of her. Seriously, that’s the attitude that people who want to take on a buffet should have. Osanai-san quietly pushed a fork into the baked cheesecake, which had a glossy layer of jam on its surface.

“…So?”

Osanai-san murmured. Her voice was so soft that I couldn’t immediately tell that it was a question directed at me. Finally realizing that she was getting right to the point and asking me about the results, I showed a vague smile.

“What are you asking about?”

It was just for a moment, but Osanai-san glared at me, as if to say, “Don’t play dumb with me, you bastard!” However, in the next moment, her gaze immediately dropped to the soft cake.

“What I’m asking about, you say?”

A brief silence followed. The clink of the fork touching the plate sounded extraordinarily loud. She moved the piece she just cut out to her mouth, then remained still. Seeing that I wouldn’t fold, Osanai-san sighed.

“…It’s nothing.”

Of course she would say that. If she mentioned that she wanted to know the culprit who caused the drink bottle to fall, she would be breaking our agreement. She might have been planning to get me to make a deduction if all went well, but it wasn’t that easy. As long as we had the promise, all I could do was to listen to her complaints.

Osanai-san and I had a promise, to let each other escape. I’d decided to escape so that I could stop showing off my wisdom. Similarly, Osanai-san also had a reason for wanting to escape. Kengo had been annoyed at me for having changed, but Osanai-san was not like this in the past. Just like me, Osanai-san had sworn to become a little citizen. And a little citizen wouldn’t hold a grudge, even if someone had caused a disruption in their exam for selfish reasons. Osanai-san had indeed changed.

Her capacity for cake hadn’t changed, though. It might have even increased, actually.

After that, Osanai-san’s lips remained sealed. Of course, that was just a figure of speech; in reality, she opened and closed her mouth multiple times to put in and swallow all sorts of things. Looking on from the side, I observed that her pace had increased. Osanai-san showed no emotion, and was mechanically moving her knife, fork and spoon. Humpty Dumpty. Spilt water will not return to the tray. Well, for Osanai-san, somewhere with a little more meat might have been better.

I ordered another cup of coffee from the waitress, then took pleasure in looking at Osanai-san modestly enjoying herself. Eventually, she finished the last bit of tiramisu, wiped her mouth with her own sepia-colored handkerchief, and muttered a line.

“Keeping silent is like…”

Yeah, that is certainly an apt phrase to describe this situation. I grinned and completed the phrase. “A swelling in the mind, right?”


We left Humpty Dumpty. We’d both ridden our bicycles here, but Osanai-san felt like walking, so I followed her as we dragged our bicycles along. As for why she wanted to walk… well, I don’t need to spell it out. Osanai-san would probably have to skip dinner later.

Neither I nor Osanai-san could head straight home from Humpty Dumpty, which was located a little away from the north side of town. There was a small river in the way, so we would have to cross a bridge no matter what. We decided to reach the city area by walking along the national highway and taking a southbound road that passes through the area near Funa High.

Osanai-san was being quite taciturn, so I felt like I should say something. Since I’m not exactly someone who can easily think of uplifting words to say, all I could manage was, “You sure are holding it in.”

Hearing that, she looked up at me and nodded. Then, she smiled and gave her reply.

“If it’s just like this, I’m fine…”

How admirable.

I glanced at my wristwatch. It was a little before half past four. We’d entered the shop at around three o’clock, meaning that Osanai-san had spent one and a half hours in Humpty Dumpty. She probably hadn’t spent the entire time eating at that speed, though.

The highway, on which we were heading west, finally folded to the south. We approached the traffic light of that L-shaped curve, or to be more precise, the T junction, since there was also a narrow road that extended to the north. Since we didn’t have to cross the road, we ignored the traffic junction and turned to the left.

As we were doing so, Osanai-san suddenly raised her head, a fiery look in her eyes. I instinctively asked, “W-What’s wrong?”

She responded in a sharp voice.

“Sakagami!”

“Eh?”

I followed her gaze to the other side of the highway. A metallic silver bicycle zipped by at a dangerously high speed. I couldn’t see it clearly, but was that…?

Osanai-san grinded her back teeth vigorously. She turned the bicycle she’d been dragging along by a 180 degree angle, quickly straddled it and put her feet on the pedals. I immediately shouted out.

“Osanai-san, don’t!”

The light at the pedestrian crossing was red. With a high amount of traffic on the highway in the evening, it couldn’t be crossed without a pedestrian crossing. In the first place, what could Osanai-san do even if she caught up to him? Immediately realizing that, she stopped her bicycle after moving for just a few meters.

“That’s my bicycle…”

All we could do was watch Sakagami’s rapidly retreating figure. Sakagami headed straight towards the T junction and went into the narrow road leading north. The road immediately reached a hill and became a sleep slope. We could just make out Sakagami get off the bicycle and push the bicycle up the slope.

Osanai-san seemed to be staring intently at Sakagami. I was facing her back, so I couldn’t see the expression on her face. Being able to recognize Sakagami in one glance was remarkable, but not forgetting Sakagami’s face showed that Osanai-san didn’t have enough devotion, either.

Sakagami pushed the bicycle up the hill until he eventually disappeared from sight. We couldn’t just stand in the middle of the pavement forever, so I timidly called out to my companion.

“Osanai-san… I understand how you feel, but let’s go. We can’t catch up to him anyway.”

She slowly turned around to face me.

Her face, unexpectedly, had a smile on it. In that state, she replied.

“You understand how I feel…? Kobato-kun, you know what I’m thinking of right now?”

Ah, Osanai-san, that’s impossible. Also, your smile is becoming tight.

As I said nothing, Osanai-san continued talking to herself.

“Yeah, I suppose today was a good day. The tests ended, I had cake, and now I know what happened to my bicycle. What a good day it was…”

Well, if she says that, I know what to say.

“You’re right. I hope tomorrow’s like this, too.”

But Osanai-san was lost for words after hearing my simple reply. She looked like she was about to say something, but forced it back into her mouth and just smiled.

While looking at her painful smile, I had a thought. I wondered if not speaking your mind could interfere with the next day, which was supposed to be a nice day.

In more ways than one.



Chapter 3 | Contents | Chapter 5


Editors (Tier 2) : Joshua Fisher, Slush56, _Maki

Assistants (Tier 1) : Karen Kronenberg, Definitelynotme, Rolando Sanchez, Kevin Kohn, Jaime Cuellar, Yazmin Arostegui

Thank you very much for all your support!

  1. The answer, according to Wikipedia, is the stroma, which is the fluid-filled area of a chloroplast outside the thylakoid membranes, although I can’t say I understand what all that means.
  2. Stromatolites are layered sedimentary formations that are created by photosynthetic cyanobacteria. These microorganisms produce adhesive compounds that cement sand and other rocky materials to form mineral “microbial mats”. In turn, these mats build up layer by layer, growing gradually over time.
  3. “Cake Shop Humpty Dumpty” is in katakana, which is used for borrowed words, but “Western Confectionary – Spilt Water Will Not Return to the Tray” is written only in kanji and hiragana. By the way, the phrase “Spilt Water Will Not Return to the Tray” means “you can’t unscramble a scrambled egg”. Sorry, just had to squeeze in an egg-related saying.
  4. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson is Lewis Carroll’s less well-known real name.
  5. The correct answer is pepsin, which is a kind of peptidase.
  6. It wasn’t exactly clear in the description, but I imagine the top board extends over the container part of the table, so there is some sort of overhang.
  7. Another name for dacquoise, which is a dessert cake made with layers of almond and hazelnut meringue and whipped cream or buttercream on a buttery biscuit base.

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