Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Part 3 – Tarte Tatin Secret
Chapter 8 – Smile
After Sui finished cleaning and doing the laundry, Red took him to the entrance of Akebi.
Today, Red was the same as usual. Was the pain Sui had sensed in Red yesterday just his imagination?
“If you get lost, call Kasa to come pick you up.” With that word of warning, Red returned to his house.
Standing at the entrance to Akebi, Sui looked at the hand-drawn map Red had given him beforehand. Though he had been there once before, that was not enough for a self-proclaimed person without a sense of direction to remember the way.
Walking forward anyway, Sui inevitably tilted his head in confusion after he had passed a number of houses.
“It’s different from the map…”
No, I’m probably the one who veered off course.
Standing in front of a house with a white roof that he didn’t know, Sui turned the map around, worrying inside his head about where this was. A familiar voice then called out to him.
Kasa was standing slightly farther away. Sui rushed over to him.
“Good morning, Kasa-san. Why are you here?”
“I’ve heard from Red before that you have the tendency to get lost. When you didn’t show up at the scheduled time, I just used a teensy bit of magic to find you.”
“Sorry to have troubled you…”
“It’s fine. By the way, my house is on the street opposite of here~”
Embarrassed that he had so confidently walked in the opposite direction, Sui’s face stiffened and Kasa cackled.
“Oh well, I think it would be better to learn the way little by little, ok?”
Walking together with Kasa, they arrived at his house with the red roof. A sigh of relief slipped out of Sui when he saw the scenery that was familiar to him.
They entered the store after the signboard had been turned around to the side that said “OPEN.”1
“Today I’m going to striiiictly teach you about the job. But if a customer comes to this side and I have to leave you, forgive me, ok?”
“Of course. That’s fine.”
The work at the mini-library consisted of organizing, lending and inspecting books. All things he might have done as a member of the school’s library committee, but there were still some slight differences.
Each book had a tag shaped like a lock attached to it on which numbers were written. To organize the books, one just had to put them in numerical order. That was the easiest task.
Next was lending the books. In order to borrow a book, a person needed to go to the reception desk, fill out a form and have the book’s tag unlocked. One needed to write the title of the book, the number on the tag, a name, and an address on a form tucked inside a binder. Then the receptionist would confirm the details and write the loan date down. Afterwards, the tag would be unlocked and the loaning process would be complete. The tags were to be stored in a safe at the reception desk. There wasn’t a library card system like there was at school, so borrowing books was a bit troublesome. The loan period was two weeks and it seemed that if one was late to return the book, even just once, they would be banned from borrowing again.
“When the book is returned, draw a circle around the return date. If it’s overdue, draw an x and rewrite the date in red.”
“Are there currently people who’ve been banned?”
“There are a lot of precious materials here so nobody wants to get themselves banned. Currently, there’s nobody that has a red card, you know~”
He showed Sui the form and all the dates properly had circles around them.
Next, Sui received an explanation about inspecting the books. The inspection was to confirm whether a book arrived dirty or damaged. For example, if a page was folded or ripped, or if there were ink splotches or any other stains.
“You can think of people who don’t take care of books as the enemy.”
“But of course,” Sui nodded his head in strong agreement.
“Say, Sui-kun, are you the kind of person who can’t forgive those that leave a book open upside down?”
“I understand! I totally understand! But there’s quite a lot of those people around. Makes me want to knock them down.”
“Red-san closes books properly.”
“You’d think so, right? Actually, in the past, he used to be one of them.”
Kasa clamped a hand over his mouth. “Don’t tell him I tattled. He’ll get mad at me if his favorability with Sui-kun goes down.”
It’s not like it’ll go down. It’s fine since he closes them properly now. In the first place, does Red even care about my favorability towards him?2
“If there’s a book with a page missing, put it to the side for me. If you do that, I’ll fix it later.”
“You can fix it?”
“I’ve got all the books here memorized.”
“All, the books here…” Just a quick glance was enough to tell that there were over a hundred volumes. He could remember them all?
“…that’s amazing. You really are a walking dictionary. Or maybe even a walking library.”
“Oh, walking library – I like the sound of that! I can’t lend my brain though,” Kasa looked up at the bookshelves while cackling.
“It’s because I’ve read all the books here thousands of times. Also, easily memorizing things is my specialty.”
It’s not at a level where you can merely write it off as “specialty,” Sui swallowed down his tsukkomi.3
It might actually be the specialty of a magician that has Knowledge Magic, but Sui thought that reading such a large number of books and memorizing them was a result of Kasa’s love for books.
“I can repair books with magic that fixes things based on my memory.”
“I see. That’s convenient.”
“It really is convenient. Of course, even if I can fix them, it’s still not ok to dirty or damage the books. Which is why if anyone does do that, they’ll also get a red card, unless they have a good excuse. If you find such a book, you can go off on the person who loaned it.4 I’ll back you up.”
“Let’s find a slightly more peaceful solution… like having the books they damaged come out in their dreams and curse them.”
“I like the way you think. Should I ask someone I know who specializes in curses?”
“There’s a person who specializes in that?”
The two looked at each other and laughed.
“Red also reads quite a lot, but in that guy’s case, he’s not doing it ‘cause he likes to read. Well, it’s the same for most of the people who come here.”
Kasa had said that a lot of people came to this library to accumulate knowledge or do research, because there were a lot of materials, from the oldest to the most in-depth, gathered there.
“Of course, it’s totally fine to read a book for that reason. I’m happy to know that there are that many people who trust ink on paper over digital. There’s no right or wrong to reading a book; whether it’s to gather knowledge or to kill time, it’s all good. Personally, I’d read anything – a dictionary, a picture book or a novel, because I like books,” Kasa flashed a bright smile.
“That’s why I’ve always wanted to meet a kindred soul. Man, it’s so nice to talk with you like this, Sui-kun! Truly, thank you for coming.”
“No, no, thank you for letting me work here.”
When Sui bowed his head, Kasa said, “Ah, really. Lift your head!” and pushed Sui’s body back up.
“I’ve been thinking… you’re a good guy, Sui-kun. So I don’t think you need to worry too much about that.”
Kasa unexpectedly pointed to his cheeks.
“You’re worried, right? About your expression and your voice.”
Sui gasped and Kasa waved his hands in a panic. “I didn’t learn it from magic,” he said.
“I have a good eye for people, you know. At some point, I noticed that Sui-kun is self-conscious about that, or rather you pay too much attention to how other people react.”
All of a sudden, Kasa squished Sui’s cheeks between his hands. Sui blinked in surprise.
“Of course, I think the you that smiles is wonderful. But I also think that the you right now is plenty wonderful. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. I don’t know if something happened in the past, so sorry if you think I’m running my mouth, but I don’t think there’s any reason to push yourself. You, as you are, are charming enough. That’s what I think. Ok?”
“Ye, yesh,” Sui ended up unconsciously answering under the sheer pressure.
Satisfied, Kasa let go of Sui’s face.
“For stuff like this, you know, I think it’s wrong to peek into someone’s heart, even if I can use magic to gain that knowledge. So don’t worry about that, ok? It’s not like I can’t do it, but I won’t do it on someone who I want to be friends with. Trust me,” Kasa said in a purposefully cheerful voice.
Sui nodded while rubbing his cheeks that had been squished.
“I know. Kasa-san is a wonderful person, after all.”
Kasa blinked several times and then squinted softly, “Thanks.”
Afterwards, he suddenly put his hand to his chin and looked at Sui.
“But I don’t like that phrase ‘I want to be friends with.’”
What does that mean? Did he not want to be friends anymore?
In that instant, when the confused Sui thought he might have offended him, Kasa burst out laughing.
“I mean we’re already friends! It’s not we’ll become friends, we’re already friends! What do you think?”
Sui opened his eyes wide. “Is that ok?”
“If Sui-kun says so? If you say no, I’ll have no choice but to try and seduce you,” Kasa said teasingly and turned his gaze forward.
Sui took one deep breath and bowed enthusiastically, “Please take care of me!”
“I said lift your head!”
Since it was the second time, they laughed when their eyes met.
There were things that I lost because of my emotions that don’t show up on my face, despite being there underneath. No, maybe I didn’t even have them in the first place.
The first and only person I was close to. My friend.
The two had gone home from school together, he had invited Sui over to play, and even at school he had been the first person to call out to him. Since that kind person had said he was troubled, Sui had wanted to talk to him. That was all it was.
But he ended up being told, “What can someone like you, who doesn’t have a heart, understand?”5
It’s not that I don’t have a heart. I’m just not good at expressing it.
Sui hadn’t been able to refute his words like that, and that person too, surprised by what had come out of his mouth, had run away. Afterwards, the two had drifted apart.
It was quite a long time ago, but the wound from back then still caused him pain at times. Even if he wanted to become close with someone, Sui worried that he would hurt them again or that they would hurt him. Which is why, until now, he hadn’t tried to form a deeper connection with anyone.6
But now, he had met Red, met Kasa, became friends and he’d given them many thoughts and many words.
Sui had started to mind his clumsy smile just a tiny bit less.