2. Can’t Get Used to It.
When I woke up in the morning, I was the only one in bed. At the smooth sensation of the unfamiliar bedsheets, I realised I wasn’t in my room. Looking at the ceiling I wasn’t yet accustomed to, I was a bit discouraged and I thought to myself, Ah, it wasn’t a dream. When I moved my hands beneath the sheets of the futon, there was still some faint warmth on the side opposite.
I heard a person’s voice from the room on the other side.
Standing up and opening the door, I saw Hayase-san and an unfamiliar older woman speaking the by front door.
The older woman noticed me first- her eyes twinkled in delight and she raised her voice.
That voice caught me off guard and I cowered despite myself.
“Are you feeling all right now? Shouldn’t you be sleeping for a bit longer?”
“Ah, I’m, fine.”
It wasn’t as if I was feeling unwell.
“Really, for such a- miraculous thing to occur ah, Sonny, I truly am glad”
“The older woman’s voice trembled. ……Sonny?”
Hayase-san gave a cough in warning.
“Thank you, Ayama-san. Just like what I told before, could you make a meal with a portion for both him and me?”
“Er, um, but of course! Please wait a bit. I’ll bring it here soon. Uh-huh, right away!”
After Ayama-san left, Hayase-san explained many things.
It seemed Hayase-san’s family were landowners who controlled the whole neighbourhood.
Both she and her husband had been working for Hayase-san right from the past. I hadn’t noticed it in the darkness yesterday, but there was a mansion behind this house. The couple even now prepared meals and looked after him every day whilst managing the mansion.
The house I was in now was a detached house in which Hayase-san’s uncle and aunt used to live.
After I ate breakfast, something huge happened.
Wanting to catch a glimpse, people flocked to the house one after another. Everyone raised a cheer on seeing me, and there were a few in the crowd who even cried. I seemed to have received a warm welcome.
In a village with only 15 residents, six were the elderly, six were older than 30, Hayase-san was the only one in his twenties and there were two children under ten. It seemed the population had neither increased nor decreased in the past few years. The adults, while rejoicing my arrival were quite concerned about me, who had lost his way in another world. They spoke kind words asking me, “Do you have anything you wish to eat?” and, “If anything is troubling you, feel free to say it.” Amongst them, there were a few who asked, “In your world, were there any people who appeared suddenly?” They must have been worried about the people who disappeared from this world. I wanted to answer them, but no words came to my mouth.
The children were a pair of boy and girl, eight and ten respectively. Their names were Ichigo and Akina. They weren’t brother and sister. They nervously peeked in from outside through the window just above their eye level, glancing at the affairs inside the house. When they were caught by me sneakily sticking out their tongue and making funny faces, their eyes grew wide and they got surprised and flurried. How cute.
Seeing my cover my mouth in an attempt to stifle my laughter, Hayase-san tilted his head in puzzlement.
“Ah, it’s nothing.”
“Suddenly meeting so many people, you must be tired. Do you need a short rest?”
The villagers sensed the atmosphere, and left the house one after another, apologising for coming in uninvited.
“I apologise for them bothering you. I’ll request them to be a little quieter till you get used to this place.”
Hayase-san, lifting up my bangs, pressed my forehead against his with a bump. The close range caught me off guard.
“You don’t seem to have a fever. I hope that you didn’t catch a cold though, considering you were in the snow yesterday.”
I was at a loss.
“Um, I really am fine. I’m not sick.”
Hayase-san making a surprised face, knit his eyebrows.
“……I see, I’m sorry.”
Hayase-san got up and left to brew tea.
Hayase-san brought two cups after a while and handed one to me.
While drinking tea, Hayase-san muttered.
“If possible, please take care of yourself.”
“Ever since you appeared, I’ve been ecstatic. Yet my heart seems to be crushed in worry. I couldn’t sleep much at night either. Many times, I made sure if you really were by my side, I was uneasy ever after I held your hands, I was worried if you too would disappear again. ……I placed my hand before your face to make sure you were breathing. Really, something must be wrong with me.”
Hayase-san muttered in a small voice.
“Really can’t get used to it.”
Those words seemed to something he was telling himself.
At first, I thought he was talking about my existence. Perhaps he couldn’t get used to being with me. But as I sipped the tea, I wondered if it meant something different.
Maybe he was talking about how he couldn’t get used to losing someone suddenly. This person.
There was an awkward silence.
I spoke nervously.
“Is it…fine to go outside?”
I thought I’d be stopped, but Hayase-san gave a smile and spoke.
As soon as the door opened, a vast expanse of snow extended in all directions.
Seeing the snowscape that went pat the horizon, I thought to myself Ah, this is another world after all. When it snows it Japan, it doesn’t snow so much that it extends past the horizon. Even in Hokkaido, you’d at least see the mountain ridges. But there was none of that here. You could see where the sky met the earth. The land, dotted by forests intermittently, extended into the vast unknown. I could see houses being built far away, piece by piece.
It somehow felt lonely. Nevertheless, it was extremely beautiful. The sun’s rays lit up the snow, glistening brightly.
Since there was a road right in front of the house, I walked up to it.
The road, straight to an extent that it seemed unnatural, stretched on endlessly. On both sides of the road, telegraph poles were erected at regular intervals. It was the wooden pole I’d seen at that time. I couldn’t see the end of the road.
I stood there for a long time, gazing beyond the road that grew hazy.
When I looked back towards the house, I saw Hayase-san leaning against the front door, staring at me intently.
Noticing my gaze, Hayase-san gave a little wry smile.
That smile seemed somewhat desolate and it made my heart twinge in pain for some reason.
When I approached closer, intending to return back to the house, Hayase-san grabbed my shoulders.
“It’s become a bit cold, hasn’t it?”
Even Hayase-san’s fingers had become white from the cold.
At that time, a strange emotion gushed forth spontaneously from the bottom of my heart.
I don’t know what it was was or why it happened, but it was an extremely strong feeling that warmed my heart.
I thought to myself, If possible, I’d like to stay by this person’s side.
1. This author seems to love not putting furigana on names. It’s once again a random guess with help from the people on discord TLC server. Just a note that all names in this novel are my guesses.↩
2. For geography noobs, Hokkaido is the northern-most island of Japan, and their mountain ranges (9 in fact) running through the island.
Hasr’s Random Musings
Gotta prepare for college entrance exams welp…wish me luck!
Also, check out the Kiss the Black Cat chappie is posted too yo! Double posts yay!