It was a few days after the summer break, and I was setting out under the bright, beautiful sun.
How many times have I been on a date with Nakamaru-san1? I should know the answer if I were to do a detailed calculation, but that was unnecessary. “A lot” was a good enough answer. Lots of dates! Lots of sunsets! And lots of starry skies! Then again, it had been winter up till now, so we hadn’t actually seen that many starry nights. It was just a figure of speech. Winter nights are cold, anyway.
Just like how infinity plus one is still infinity, today’s date was also included in the “lots of dates” we’d had. It was warm outside, such that it probably would have been fine to wear short-sleeved clothes. However, I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, as well as a jacket on top. I was feeling a little hot, but it was fine… spring nights are cold, too.
Since meeting each other was the main goal, it was ultimately a date for the two of us, and there was no need for a destination. But that would lead to us drifting around in the middle of the city alone, so we still decided on a place to go to. Today, we were going to check out an exhibition, as per Nakamaru-san’s wishes. There, we would be able to see some beautifully-colored block prints.
Since the parking area at the train station was available, I was cycling there today. I didn’t need to wear gloves in this weather, but it was a different story riding a bicycle.
I’d been through a harrowing experience during that bus ride back then, but I was hit by no difficulties today, and thus I gracefully pedaled towards the train station. After paying the 100-yen fee for using the parking area, I headed straight for our meeting place, but Nakamaru-san had not arrived yet. So I’d arrived first, huh. I then stared blankly at the water fountain outside the station for a good ten minutes, until Nakamaru-san appeared in my vision. Her cherry-colored cardigan looked extremely refined, giving off a demure feel, contrasting her image as a “high school girl who naturally plays around”.
“Did you wait?”
After our cliched exchange, Nakamaru-san looked at her watch.
“Shall we go, then?”
She asked as she walked off.
Our destination, the event space, was on the top floor in a building in front of the station. When we got into the elevator, we found that the small space was packed with other people who were heading to the same destination as us. Thankfully, that only lasted for a short period of time. The doors soon slid open to reveal a sparklingly white floor and an usherette clad in red who greeted us welcome.
I didn’t have any particular thoughts about the exhibition itself. If I saw a dolphin I would think, “That’s a dolphin”, and if I saw a whale I would think, “That’s a whale.” Come to think of it, I once saw Takahashi Yuichi’s2 “Sake” in a book of paintings when I was young. At that time, I also thought, “That’s a salmon.” On that topic, what is the relationship between the pronunciations sake and shake3? I can’t think of them to be merely a result of euphonic change. Is it a dialect?
I took a glance at Nakamaru-san, but she actually didn’t look very interested. Well, the exhibition was just an excuse for a date, anyway, so I didn’t really mind that she was bored, but… I was the one who was invited to the exhibition, so I asked a question.
“Do you like this painting?”
Nakamaru-san tilted her head.
“Not really. I prefer jigsaw puzzles.”
I never imagined that Nakamaru-san would have an interest in jigsaw puzzles. Based on my biased assumptions, I would think her to be the type to approach someone putting a jigsaw puzzle together from the back, yell, “Why are you doing something so boring!” and flip the table over. That was certainly rude of me. It is as they say, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
But Nakamaru-san continued.
“Destroying them, anyway. My brother’s just obsessed with them.”
So my biases were right after all.
After about twenty minutes, both of us got bored, or rather, were satisfied with the exhibition, so we slowly got on the elevator back. For some reason, we were stared at by a man who seemed to be a staff member, but no matter how you looked at it, we were just high school students of the petit bourgeois class. He didn’t call out at us, so all was fine.
We exited the building and did a stretch under the spring sun.
“What should we do now?”
There was still a lot of time.
“Shall we go into some place?”
“Ah, if so…”
A few ideas popped up in my head.
“…Since we’re here, Ouan is near. It’s a refined Japanese-style shop. Berry Berry is the closest, but it has uncomfortable chairs.”
As I said that, Nakamaru-san put on a weird face that was difficult to describe. She was looking a little off to the side and seemed to be sulking.
“What’s with this weird thickheadedness of yours, Kobato-chan? I don’t think you’re totally obtuse, but sometimes it shows.”
Did I accidentally say something unsavory?
“Do you not like Japanese-style shops?”
“No, that’s not it.”
Nakamaru-san peered into my eyes, probably only finding bewilderment there. She then let out a tremendous sigh.
“You realy don’t understand, huh. But you do know about these kinds of shops, Kobato-chan. Especially those that sell delicious desserts.”
“Ah, yeah. Relatively speaking.”
I nodded, only to have an index finger pointed at my chest.
“Why and how do you know?”
So that’s what it was about, huh.
Almost all the dessert shops that I knew had been introduced to me by Osanai-san.
“You understand? Whenever you talk about these shops, I can see flickers of your previous girlfriend. That’s not good at all.”
I scratched my head. She had a point. That might indeed be the case, and there was nothing I could say to counter it.
With another sigh, Nakamaru-san spoke.
“Let’s take a walk. We rarely get such good weather, after all.”
An idle stroll was exactly what I wanted, but only if Nakamaru-san was fine with it.
The two of us started walking side by side down the main street of Kira City, Sanya-dori, and entered a white-tiled arcade.
Since it was currently spring break, there were many people around, even though it was a weekday afternoon. A variety of splendiferous color combinations caught my eye, from Nakamaru-san’s cherry-colored cardigan to other clothes like a lemon-yellow T-shirt, emerald-green shirt and off-white pants. Due to the shopping street slump, the Kira City main street was, without exception, full of shuttered shops. However, it did seem to show some level of activity, perhaps because winter had just ended.
To kill her boredom, Nakamaru-san brought up a topic.
“Hey, it might be a little late for this, but can I ask you this?”
“If it’s about sweet things, I don’t like them that much myself.”
I could hear some indignation in her voice.
“That’s not it… last year, when I called you to that classroom, did you honestly know about me?”
I was a little surprised by that. It was indeed too late for that question. Though it was half a year ago, I still clearly remembered. I didn’t even know her name at that time.
That said, now was probably not the time to showcase the virtue of honesty.
“I knew that you were a classmate.”
“I see. That’s all?”
I traversed my memories to see if there was anything else I could say, but nothing came to mind. Well, you can’t brandish sleeves that you don’t have.
“I see, so that was all you knew.”
Feeling that I might have been a little cold-hearted, I decided to append another statement.
“Of course, I now know a lot about you.”
For that, I was slapped on the back. One of the things I knew about her was that she was unexpectedly easily embarrassed.
We reached a red light. We stopped, and a throng of people gathered beside us. Wary of those other people, Nakamaru-san shut her mouth. When the light turned green and Touryanse4 started playing, we crossed the pedestrian crossing. The crowd soon broke up, and she asked me another question.
“So if you didn’t really know me, why were you OK with my confession?”
I should have seen that one coming.
As befitting a stroll, Nakamaru-san’s tone was light. However, I could only sneak a peek at her side profile, for I had the feeling that the conversation would take a serious turn if our eyes were to meet.
Her eyes were on the road straight ahead, a springlike, easygoing look on her face. Thus, I answered her question carefreely.
“It was in the classroom after school, right? When I saw you up close and listened to what you had to say, I thought, ‘What a good kid.’”
“A good kid, huh?”
She burst out laughing.
“You say the most nonsensical things, Kobato-chan.”
It was certainly nonsensical. But if I were to be honest, it was probably because I had no reason to turn her down, but that was something I couldn’t say out loud. No matter what I do, the lies just keep piling up.
…Then again, that was probably true for both of us. It wouldn’t be fair for her to be lied to all the time. I should get her to tell some lie as well, or there would be an imbalance. I asked a question, not out of curiosity, but in retaliation.
“It might be a little late as well… but why me?”
But Nakamaru-san was not perturbed at all. As if she’d waited the last half a year to be asked that question, she replied instantly.
“Because you were making a weird face.”
That’s interesting. I’m no expert in facial performance, though.
We reached the next pedestrian crossing, but the signal was green so we smoothly crossed as Touryanse played in the background, out of tune.
“Quite a lot of boys have a cynical view of the world, right? Like it’s cool to say, ‘What a pain’ or something. That’s what I thought of you at the beginning. Your previous girlfriend, Osanai, right? It seemed like you were making an acceptable compromise with her. She’s cute, but also a little plain, right?”
That wasn’t exactly an accurate representation, but I decided to let her continue.
“But that wasn’t it, right? You didn’t seem out of place, and you weren’t treating her coldly. I knew that you had a strong guard, but I had the feeling that it wasn’t the type of guard that a virgin who hates people would have. When you were making a weird face, I wondered what you were thinking about, and I found out that you’d broken up with your girlfriend, so I thought, why not?”
It seemed that my scheme to make her tell a lie had gone awry.
I could sense that Nakamaru-san was telling the truth. If it were a lie, it would be an absolutely meaningless one. Basically, she likes oddballs, and I seem like one?
No, no, that can’t be it. A twitchy smile appeared on my face… I’d taken pride in blending in as a petit bourgeois, but was my ability to camouflage really that bad?
Nervously, I asked.
“Do your friends say that I’m weird or something?”
In response, Nakamaru-san’s eyes widened.
“Eh? Kobato-chan, you care about stuff like that?”
“Of course I do. I never thought I was making a weird face, after all.”
I pouted, causing Nakamaru-san to laugh, loudly and with evident satisfaction.
I had no idea what exactly she was laughing at. All I knew was that she was also quite a queer person in general, though I only thought of her as a member of the little citizens club.
She laughed so hard she almost cried, then wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. After that, she slapped my back again.
“Don’t worry! The only one who sees you that way is me. In fact, when I said, ‘Isn’t Kobato-chan interesting?’ everyone answered, ‘He’s normal.’”
Well, that’s fine, then.
Nakamura-san’s boisterous laughter seemed to bring an end to that conversation topic. Just as well, since we’d almost arrived at Sanya-dori, and were close to the café known as Chaco. I knew of this place not through Osanai-san, but through Doujima Kengo. However, I should probably keep quiet about that, given the circumstances. I’d been called thickheaded earlier, but I was at least perceptive enough for that.
“Where are we going?”
Nakamaru-san thought for a short while before answering.
“Shall we pass through the aqua park and go to Marui?”
I had no plans, so I was fine with going anywhere.
An automaton clock with large dials was installed above the arcade, spanning a few pillars. I nonchalantly looked up at it, and noticed that a band of dolls had popped up on both sides of the clock. Wanting to tell Nakamaru-san, I pulled on her sleeve and pointed at the dolls.
There was a doll holding a trumpet, a doll with a drum strapped to its neck, and a doll dangling a triangle. All of them were wearing triangular hats, and they stood in a line, though their actions seemed a little clumsy, probably because the automaton was old. At that moment, some resonant music started playing, signalling that it was exactly three o’clock.
It was a piece that I’d heard before, but didn’t know the name of. While there was a band of dolls, the music playing was organ music, and it was also a little too loud. Worried that our voices wouldn’t reach although we were walking right next to each other, the two of us passed under the clock in silence.
With a chirp, the final reverberations of the clock dissipated.
On a wall between two shops was a poster of the exhibition we’d just been to. Nakamaru-san took a glance at it before broaching another topic.
“Come to think of it, have we talked about this yet?”
“Talked about what?”
“A burglar entered my big brother’s house.”
Oh, that must be quite the pickle. While I might be a petit bourgeois of little worth, perhaps I could help her out with somthing like this? In my heart, I straightened up and got ready to listen properly.
“No, I don’t think we talked about this. Is your big brother the one who likes jigsaw puzzles?”
“So we didn’t talk about it, huh. Yes, that’s the one.”
The two of us slowed down so that it would be easier to converse.
“My big brother is currently going to a university in Yokohama. I’ve visited him once. It’s a really small apartment, and he lives a messy life there. He gets an allowance, works part-time in a family restaurant at night and delivers newspapers in the morning, but he still lives like that. I get so put off whenever I imagine myself having to live like that if I get into a university. I definitely want to live on at least the second floor and have the toilet be separate from the bathroom. Kobato-chan, will you be going to university?”
“He was away for about three days at a training camp for a shady circle5. He said he was in Niigata, I think. Apparently, they set off by car in the middle of the night and spent the entire night taking turns to drive. Thta’s also something I want to do, going on a road trip with friends after getting my license. Of course, it would be great if you could come along as well, Kobato-chan.”
“Anyway, when he came back, he found that a glass window was broken from the outside. Well, not completely shattered, but the area around the key knob was broken off. Even so, books and CDs were scattered so badly around the room that it was difficult to walk, so he immediately thought that it must have been a burglar. My big brother is a fan of metal. He has quite a few rare CDs, so he was considerably upset. Though he told me that he cleaned up his room before calling the cops for appearances’ sake.”
Is that fine? Wouldn’t that get in the way of forensics?
Deviating from the arcade street, we entered a small road in between buildings. It used to be a back alley, but after some alterations, it had become a promenade. There was no one else besides us.
“He said it wouldn’t do for him to be unsure of how much was stolen if he called the police. He turned over his room to check if anything was missing and realized it in the end. Kobato-chan, what do you think it was?”
He checked for damages, and noticed something.
That could only mean one thing.
“Nothing was stolen?”
A bewildered expression flitted across Nakamaru-san’s face.
“How did you know?”
I wasn’t expecting her to be surprised by something as minor as this. Instead of answering her question, I gave a light shrug.
“It’s good that there were no damages.”
“Well, yes, I suppose.”
“The window probably broke after being hit by something, not due to a burglar. And though it may not be my place to say so, the room was in disarray because your brother left it messy, wasn’t it?”
As I said that, Nakamaru-san finally laughed, as if to say, “You’d think so.” That laugh somewhat fired up my self-esteem.
“But you’re wrong.”
“You were right in saying that the room being dirty was due to my brother’s own negligence, but there is no doubt that someone entered the room. The window was fitted with double-layered curtains, and they had been drawn open. If the window was hit by a ball or something, the curtains wouldn’t have been opened.”
Is that really so?
It is certainly true that curtains wouldn’t open if the window gets broken. However, it couldn’t be concluded that ‘there is no doubt that someone entered the room’. Perhaps the wind blew the curtains open, and there is also the possibility that someone tried to enter, but decided against it.
Nakamaru-san was different from me. She was not the type to proceed meticulously in topics like this.
Even so, there was something about the declaration that hooked me in. Nakamaru-san probably already knew that someone had entered her elder brother’s room, which was why she could say it so decisively.
In other words, this story was already over, and the punchline had already been decided. Since the truth was known, I wasn’t being asked to solve a mystery. At best, I was just being posed a riddle.
…No, that wasn’t it. I shouldn’t look disappointed here.
Instead, I faked a smile as if to say, “You got me.”
“I see. So it was certain that someone entered.”
How laughable. Two lovers, having fun with a foolish conversation. Was this not a realization of my dream to spend a rest day as a petit bourgeois?
“But it was terrible. After learning that there were no damages, the police left, and all they said was to contact them if anything happened. What a joke. Nothing was stolen, but the glass was broken! My big brother said that there was an insurance payout for the apartment, but the real problem is the given sum. Since there was a copayment value, he had to pay a little out of his own pocket. Do you know that glass is actually quite expensive? I once accidentally broke a glass pane in school, and it cost tens of thousands of yen! Tens of thousands!”
“Is that so.”
The opposite could also be considered. Basically…
“And what’s more…”
But Nakamaru-san’s story wouldn’t end, which prevented me from thinking.
It was supposed to be a story about a burglar, but contained many impurities. For example, her desire to have the bathroom be separate from the toilet, her plans to travel overseas after getting her driving license, and her recount of breaking a glass pane in the past were digressions from the main topic, no matter how you thought about them. While listening, I had to do some sort of organization in my head, or I would be guaranteed to be confused.
The way I saw it, I could deal with it by filtering out the relevant information.
“Of course, my big brother was depressed about it. His glass window was broken, someone came into his house, yet stole nothing, so he concluded that it must be harassment. But no matter how hard he mulled over it, he couldn’t think of anyone who would do that to him. He might be a foolish and loose guy, but he’s definitely not the type to be hated by others to that extent, so I thought it to be weird as well. If that happened to me, I would have some idea about who did it, though.
“Anyway, since he didn’t like drafts coming into the flat, he spent one night with the window entirely open, when he had a frightening realization. Do you know what it is, Kobato-chan?”
So there were traces of someone entering his room, but nothing was stolen. What should he be worried about?
“He was worried about listening devices, right?”
Nakamaru-san frowned again and looked at me suspiciously.
“Yep, my big brother did think that.”
She was still staring fixedly at my face. There’s nothing on it… probably.
“Kobato-chan… did we really not talk about this yet?”
“Nope, never heard of it before.”
“Is that so.”
She didn’t seem convinced. I wanted to say, “I’ve never heard of it but I know as much,” but stifled the urge to do so.
“Ah, whatever. Anyway, the electrical outlets in my big brother’s house are behind a gigantic stereo system, so it’s fairly hard to set anything up there. However, there were no signs of the stereo system being moved, allaying his suspicions that there might be listening devices or secret cameras planted in his room. He went to the real estate agent in the morning, but they’d been away until the day before and didn’t know any details about the situation, so they only discussed the topic of the glass replacement fee until afternoon, upon which he returned home… who do you think was waiting for him?”
Now, I probably shouldn’t instantly reply here.
For her to intentionally asked that question, the person waiting for her elder brother as he returned from the real estate agent must be someone unexpected. There weren’t many characters in Nakamaru-san’s story. Her big brother, his circle friends, the police, the real estate agent, as well as Nakamaru-san herself.
It was also an unexpected person, and someone related to the conclusion of the story… there was only one person who fit the bill.
“Just maybe, but…”
That was what I was about to say, but I fortunately managed to swallow my words.
Nakamura-san was suspicious of me. She would certainly not be happy if I gave her the exact answer. I could see it just by looking at her face, and it was even clearer in light of my own personal experience with her. It was something that I should have learnt many times already, yet I still couldn’t understand it from the bottom of my heart. It was exactly as she said. I may indeed be thick-headed.
Getting the right answer here would be a mistake. There is something I learnt in two years of high school, living as a little citizen. In conversation, the petit bourgeois does not give the exact answer. No one taught me that, but I simply learnt that it was taboo to read ahead of my conversation partner.
That was why I had no choice but to tell a lie.
“Hmm, can’t say I know who.”
Basically, that was all I could say.
In response, my conversation partner lightened up with buoyant delight.
“There, you don’t know! Now, you wouldn’t expect it, but… the culprit was waiting there!”
“Woah, that’s got to be scary.”
Nakamaru-san continued with an apparent spring in her step.
“He was standing right outside the door and staring hard at it, so my big brother thought that he might be a deliveryman. But that didn’t seem right, so he said something like, ‘Do you have some business with me?’ And the culprit replied, ‘Are you the person living here? Sorry, I was the one who entered your flat.’ My brother was scared. It might sound arrogant for me to say this, but he isn’t particular strong. He must have been really frightened.”
That fear was certainly understandable. You might not want any trouble, but it still comes for you, and the peace you had disappears once disturbed. Unfair accusations, unreasonable requests… As the men of old used to say, wise men and petit bourgeois stay away from danger.
We passed through the promenade, reaching an open space in between buildings. It was pretentiously named “Aqua Park”, but it was actually just a town square. Just like the promenade, it must have taken quite a sum of money to make, for it was paved with bricks, and was even furnished with a fountain in the center. Three white angels held their trumpets high in the middle of the fountain.
“He seemed to be a gloomy person. A bright person would never do that in the first place, right? But he wasn’t just gloomy, he also gave off the impression that he was highly-strung, my big brother said. What does such a face look like? You’re not like that, Kobato-chan, but there’s someone in class who seems to be that way, right?”
“…I think so.”
I couldn’t remember their name, so there was nothing more for me to add. In any case, Nakamaru-san was in an awfully good mood as she continued speaking.
“Isn’t he called Doi or something like that?”
“Doi-kun, huh. Yeah, that might be it.”
As I spoke, I realized that Doi might actually be a girl. Well, Nakamaru-san didn’t seem to care, so it should be fine.
“So that guy started mumbling something, which irritated my brother. That person looked like he could bring out a kitchen knife at any moment, so my brother was cautious. He asked a question to the thief, or rather, the thief who did a half-done job. ‘Why did you do something like that?’ Thinking about it now, it seems like a stupid question, but the thief stared at my big brother somewhat reproachfully. Then, he explained why he broke the glass and entered the flat, but… it’s quite a weird story. You won’t be able to imagine it, Kobato-chan.”
You’re right, I’m completely at sea here, with not the foggiest notion of what he said!
Naturally, those were the words I was about to reply with. At least, that was what I should have planned to say.
But at that moment, a stroke of bad luck befell me.
I was looking at the three angel statues in the middle of the fountain in the Aqua Park. A column of water shot up from each of the trumpets, causing the bottom of the pool to give off rainbow-colored coruscations, and some light music was even playing in the background.
This was what I thought… It was probably meant to be a chic performance, but I had a feeling that if the angels blew on the trumpets, that would signal the start of the Revelation6.
Thus, I was distracted. With my little citizen’s restraint blown away due to those soundless trumpets, I replied.
I’d already filtered out the information, too.
Nakamaru-san’s brother lives in an apartment.
The flat is messy and small.
The flat is most likely on the first floor, and contains a unit bath.
Her brother is in a circle, and he set off to Niigata with them in the middle of the night.
When he returned three days later, he found that a window in his flat was broken.
Some books and CDs were scattered around the flat. There were some relatively rare CDs in their midst.
He is a devotee of metal music.
There is a large stereo system in the flat.
It is presumed that no listening devices were set up in the flat.
The replacement fee for the broken glass was partly paid from insurance on the apartment.
The culprit revealed himself.
The brother was clearly described as foolish and loose by his little sister.
He works at a family restaurant at night.
The real estate agent was temporarily away on a trip.
And there was also something else that served as a hint. Putting all this information together, the answer was obvious. Seriously, it wasn’t worth spending effort on it at all.
“That’s probably because he wanted to turn off the stereo system, right?”
The culprit’s aim was not to steal anything.
However, he had to enter the apartment. He couldn’t wait for the owner to return, meaning that it was quite an emergency.
The first thing I thought of was an accidental fire. If Nakamaru-san’s brother left the kettle on, for example, that would be an emergency situation, such that someone would break a glass window to enter. However, if the curtains were drawn, no one would know of a fire in the flat. On top of that, if that were the case, Nakamaru-san wouldn’t have started of by saying that a burglar entered her elder brother’s house, but would have said that a fire was narrowly avoided.
It was not an accidental fire, but there was no doubt that something similar transpired, causing the culprit to have no choice but to enter the flat.
The fact that the culprit did not puff out his chest and demand gratitude was revealed near the end of the story. That meant the emergency situation probably wasn’t as serious as a fire or an alarm going off due to a gas leak. If that was so, the culprit would be the benefactor, and the story would not be about a weird burglar.
What about water, then? Perhaps Nakamaru-san’s brother had left the taps on in the bath before going to Niigata. However, with the flat being on the first floor, it wouldn’t affect the people below.
The next thing I thought about was sound. Some loud sound keeps going on, and doesn’t stop even late at night. It is still noisy even after one whole day, and no one answers the door, indicating that the occupants are away. Even I wouldn’t be able to endure such a situation.
…The apartment is messy and small, according to Nakamaru-san. I wouldn’t imagine that it has thick walls.
Moreover, her brother works part-time jobs at night and in the morning. It would only be natural for him to set some kind of morning call to ensure that he definitely wakes up. An alarm clock? The phone alarm? Things like that would work.
But the stereo system’s on timer function would work just as well.
The key difference between an alarm clock and a stereo system’s on timer is in the range of music that you can choose… and whether it will stop if you leave it alone. An alarm clock will almost always stop, but for a stereo system, the music might not stop unless you specifically turn it off, depending on the settings.
So Nakamaru-san’s brother set off late at night, and since he was away, he couldn’t turn off the stereo system that was meant to wake him up every day. As a result, it would make a din with its metal music for three days straight. In general, metal music is not soft as a whisper, but is loud and clamorous.
That “highly-strung man” probably couldn’t endure it. He might have even visited the real estate agent to protest and peaceably enter the apartment. But his patience couldn’t last three days, and even the real estate agent was away… So he broke the glass. The culprit was probably an occupant of the same apartment block. By resorting to such an extreme measure, he must have foreseen that a large portion of the glass replacement fee would come out of insurance.
There was also a hint that affirmed my deduction. To be precise, it was from that hint that my chain of reasoning started.
At that time when Nakamaru-san said, “Come to think of it” and started the topic, there was a poster for the block print exhibition in our vicinity. That might have reminded her of her elder brother who enjoys jigsaw puzzles.
But there was another occurrence that gave off an even stronger impression.
The music box clock back there was really loud.
The words I let out were soft, but not so soft that they were lost in the sounds from the fountain.
Nakamaru-san stopped to look at me, not even hiding her doubt.
A memory came back to me, causing me to freeze. It was during middle school, when I said many things to many people, thinking that someone would recognize me for my talents. But that did not happen. The more I spoke, the more I was undermining my position.
And right before everyone left me, I decided to become a petit bourgeois.
Even so, it was certain that I was being uplifted by a huge sense of pride. The me back then would say it aloud, but the me now would only think it. But the fact that I had that thought meant that nothing had changed after all. This was what I thought – Really? Posing a riddle like this is way beneath my abilities. Could you reissue me a more elaborate one?
But I couldn’t say that. Not anymore.
I had no idea what I should say to Nakamaru-san next. Convinced that I’d gotten on her bad side, I thought that there was no helping it, and was even preparing to take on a defiant attitude.
However, all she did was stare fixedly at my face, then replied falteringly.
“I’ve talked about this before, right? I knew it.”
The best brainwave I had today was not when I figured out the ending of the burglar story. My next line was superb, if I do say so myself. As if grasping at a lifeline, I forced the best smile I could muster and spoke.
“You’re right. It was quite a while ago, so I must have forgot!”
Her brother spent a night with the broken window open, meaning that this probably occurred during summer last year. In any case, it was definitely before the beginning of autumn.
The fact that quite some time had passed since that event transpired barely saved my slip of the tongue. To play it off, I changed the subject.
“So, where are we going to next?”
Behind us, the last columns of water rose up from the angels’ trumpets and fell back down.
Editors (Tier 2) : Joshua Fisher
Assistants (Tier 1) : Definitelynotme, Rolando Sanchez
Thank you very much for all your support!
- Errata: Her name is Nakamaru Tokiko, not Nakamaruto Kiko.
- A Japanese painter, noted for his pioneering work in developing the yōga (Western-style) art movement in late 19th-century Japanese painting.
- Both of them are pronunciations for the word 鮭, which means salmon.
- A common choice for music played by traffic lights in Japan when it is safe to cross.
- An unofficial group run by students.
- An apocalypse prophecied in the New Testament.