First Posted at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu
Arc 2: The First and Last Date
Before Mr. Death could change his mind, I set the date to be in two days. The reason I chose that day was that it was a Saturday. I knew that there would be fewer nurses who came on fewer rounds that day.
Eating my lunch, I handed over my tray to the nurse who came to collect it. I then changed into a set of ordinary clothes.
“You carry a set of ordinary clothes although you are hospitalized, I see.”
Seeing my thorough preparations, Mr. Death was amazed. Did he resign himself to his fate, thinking I’d go on a date in my pajamas?
“I was going to ask you if you were gonna go out in my pajamas…”
As I thought.
Hearing him speak the exact words I had imagined, I laughed. In doubt, Mr. Death asked, “Did I say something strange?”
“No, it’s nothing. I go on walks when I feel well, but going in my pajamas screams ‘I’m a sick patient!’. Well, while it’s true I am a patient, I still carry many outfits to the hospital for the time I spend here.
“I tell you, only do that after I receive permission clearly from the head nurse!”
Mr. Death spoke in a low voice as if he were the head nurse— “Don’t force yourself.” Come to think of it, I have memories of being told something similar when I was younger. At that time, my condition was worse than it is now. I truly couldn’t go out then. Each of my occasional ventures outside was great adventures, as I nervously took each step, making sure I wasn’t caught by the head nurse.
There was a boy who always accompanied me on these adventures. I wonder how he’s doing now.
Although he got admitted to the hospital at the same time as me, he got out earlier and I never met him again. But that was a matter of course. Because I have spent the longest time out of anyone here in the hospital, I have seen many children get discharged.
Everyone would say things like ‘Take care’, ‘See you later’ or ‘I’ll come again to visit’, as they left. Yet not a single one returned. That was but obvious. Nobody would want to return to a place with such bitter memories, where they fought a painful disease. Even if they did, there was no guarantee I was still alive. It made sense for them to not come.
Yeah, that made sense. That’s why I’m not particularly sad or anything.
“You seem to have a bitter expression on your face.”
“That’s not true. Look, we don’t have time. Let’s hurry up and go!”
I donned a hat as I stepped out of my room. I knew from my experiences thus far— if I didn’t want to be found, I had to confidently walk ahead and mingle in with the crowd of visitors. Strangely though, every time I snuck around, I instead would get caught by the head nurse who just happened to check at that time.
I snuck past the office, playing innocent. Stopping right in front of the elevator, I frantically pressed the button for it to close.
Just before the door closed, I felt the head nurse walking towards me from inside the office. I pretended to not notice.
Perhaps my frenzied button pushing was effective. The door panels slowly closed, blocking me from the head nurse’s gaze I spotted from afar.
“Phew, we’re safe!”
“We weren’t found, I see.”
“Right? If we pass through the crowded outpatient department on the first floor, we can leave without being questioned by anyone.”
“Your ability to act on things is frightening.”
I thought I sensed sarcasm from Mr. Death for a moment, but it turned out to be his genuine admiration. Well, I replied to him. Although I briskly walked through the lobby, I never broke into a run.
Going through the automatic doors that led to the outside, I finally let out the breath of relief I had stifled inside for a long time.
I never thought it would go this smoothly. The head nurse might have stepped out of the office, the outpatient schedule could have ended earlier, leaving the lobby deserted, making me easy to spot as I walked. But the head nurse did not notice me, and although the consultation hours were long over, many people were still there for a checkup. Thanks to that, I could leave the hospital without anyone realizing it. I did it.
“Right? So, shall we leave?”
“Where do you want to go?”
“Not that far, I think. That’s why I looked it up properly.”
Opening the map on my phone, I showed him a game center nearby on it. Although I wanted to go places, I couldn’t ride a vehicle to go to the amusement park, and a movie took too long. And I never went to any stores and didn’t have the money to visit one now.
And always wanted to go to a game center. In movies, the girl would always go on an after school date to the game center with the boy she liked.
“Right. Let’s go then.”
Mr. Death held out his hand.
For a moment I stared blankly, not knowing what his action meant.
Seeing me such, Mr. Death took my hand and held it tightly.
“Isn’t it a date?”
“I’m telling you, people around can’t see me. If you try to swing my hand, they will only see you as a strange person waving her hand around.”
“That’s fine with me, can I try it?”
“No, if you do that, I’ll let go.”
“Ehhh!? Then I’ll not do it! Okay?”
As I quickly grabbed Mr. Death’s hand in panic as he let go, he uttered resignedly, “It can’t be helped.”
But he still gripped our joined hands tightly. He truly was a kind person. A kind Death God…it felt strange to say so, and I couldn’t hold back my laughter. Clearing my throat, I looked towards Mr. Death.
I gripped the cold hand with no temperature of its own. Mr. Death uttered a quick ‘It’s nothing’, starting to walk.
I matched his stride. The two of us walked at the same pace, idyllically.
The scent of the earth and the slightly chilly wind felt comfortable.
Psst, Advance chapter drafts are up on patreon~