I had a personal driver take me back home that day. He was a middle-aged man named Mr. Suzuki. Even though I said “personal driver,” he would only be taking me to and from school. But, I still thought that this was amazing. At first, I politely refused the offer, but Lady Youko began to cry. I eventually ended up agreeing. I felt like this was shameless, but I appreciated Lord Takeru Hongou’s and Lady Youko’s consideration. Accepting their kindness led to this situation.
When this pleasant trip was over, I arrived at my derelict, rented home. It hadn’t reached four in the afternoon yet. I changed into my jersey, wrapped a cloth around my head, put a plastic bag and wrapping cloth in my pocket, and headed to the back mountains. I held a small sickle in my hand. I was taught how to sharpen this sickle from comrade Yoshio. It wasn’t just sickles, however. He also taught me about kitchen knives. It took me two years to learn how to properly sharpen these blades. However, I still had much more training to do. Sharpening blades was profound.
Comrade Yoshio had been with me since I was four years old. I didn’t attend kindergarten, so when my piano lessons and studies ended, Ms. Fuki let me go outside, saying that it was important for children to play outside. I had no friends, and this was the countryside in the middle of nowhere. I climbed the back mountains without putting much thought into it and encountered comrade Yoshio. Eleven years have passed since then.
As I recalled that time, I harvested some fuki on the way. Stewed fuki was delicious. I wonder if Ms. Fuki was healthy. I wonder if Ms. Fuki was happy.
Ten minutes into climbing the mountain did I encounter comrade Yoshio. Or more precisely, I usually met him around this akebia tree. I was certain that comrade Yoshio must have used some method to monitor intruders coming to these mountains. When autumn came, this tree produced delicious akebia. Presently, adorable flowers were beginning to bloom.
“Good day, Mr. Yoshida. How are you?”
“I’m the same. Miss, you became a high school student, right? I prepared something to celebrate.”
Comrade Yoshio was a middle-aged man with a deep, subdued voice, a beard, and sharp eyes. Come to think of it, I didn’t receive anything to celebrate my admission from anyone. Not even the words “Congrats on your admission.” They had only heard about the entrance ceremony.
“Congrats on your admission.”
I received an unwrapped folding knife. It was from Fällkniven; they produce survival knives used by the Swedish Air Force pilots! This was so cool. I was weak to cool things.
“Amazing! I’m so happy! Now I can rest easy even when hiding in the mountains. Thank you very much!”
I was moved to tears. Even though I was already happy to be congratulated, this present made me even happier. Comrade Yoshio made a slightly troubled face before smiling.
“Well, there’ll be any things in the future, but good luck. You came here to see me, right?”
“Yes. I was wondering if you were doing well. I was on my way to meet the landlord to pay my rent.”
“It’ll be night soon. Be careful on your way home. Don’t pick wild plants since it’ll slow you down. Got it? Go straight home.”
“Yes, I’ll go straight home.”
I parted with comrade Yoshio and headed home. In the end, I only harvested some fuki. Let’s peel the skin and remove the harsh flavor. But before that, I have to go to the landlord to pay rent.
The landlord’s place was less than 100 meters from this rented place. After Lady Mary’s passing, I had gone to verify the papers to renew the lease contract. That was when I discovered that the lease to the place I was renting was signed between the landlord and my father.
Ms. Fuki collapsed soon after Lady Mary’s funeral. She was hospitalized and her son took her back home from there. I couldn’t even say my farewells to Ms. Fuki.
Now all alone, I had to go through various procedures by myself. However, practically everything couldn’t be done by a minor. At that time, a shady-looking lawyer appeared and claimed to be my father’s friend. This lawyer Mr. Tamaru appeared to be an old acquaintance of my father. I had no way of verifying their connection, but I was able to continue my current lifestyle through this lawyer.
Describing me as having no relatives wasn’t actually correct. My father became my guardian. That was the natural development, but my father had been missing ever since he left me when I was a child. It was unclear if he was alive or dead, yet no missing persons report had been filed for some reason. I considered submitting a report in the near future.
And, Mr. Tamaru acted as my father’s representative. He was my father’s friend although I wasn’t sure if he was being honest. However, I did confirm that he was a real lawyer. I received his business card and looked up his lawyer registration number on the computer at Hanaoka library. He was a real lawyer. I also went to the website of Mr. Tamaru’s office in case he was falsifying information. There was a profile picture of the lawyer.
That shady Mr. Tamaru was a real lawyer.
As such, I would call and send documents to Tamaru Law Office whenever I needed a guarantor. When I did, the documents with the required sections filled would be simply be mailed back to my house as registered mail. I continued that kind of relationship with Mr. Tamaru after Lady Mary passed away. He said that there was no cost since this was a request from an old friend, but I was a little worried that he would charge for his services one day.
In any case, the lawyer Mr. Tamaru was shady. He dyed his long hair blond and wore a leather jacket with leather pants. He had a very exciting look for someone who was 56 years old. So, you wouldn’t believe he was a lawyer if he told you.
Now then, I flipped a used envelope inside-out and put the money in so I could hand over this month’s rent to the landlord.
The landlord’s house was an old place from long ago. When you enter the entranceway, the first thing you saw was the dirt floor. My place was more modern. In the first place, the place I rented was a separate place the landlord’s son reconstructed when he said he wanted to be independent when he was younger. That son was the mister who gave me my radio cassette player. He also gave me a gamebook. The man’s diabetes had progressed, so he was presently living together with his wife in a town farther away since he had to undergo dialysis.
Since last year, the landlord’s lover would occasionally come by the landlord’s house. That man always wore sunglasses, but I could feel his gaze through them. It was extremely disgusting, so I try to avoid meeting him as much as possible. Before this man started hanging around the landlord’s house, I was close to the landlord.
However, the landlord, aged 75, fell in love and had completely changed. I have witnessed how love changes people. The house of the landlord who went mad with love was often empty. She was often on a trip with her man.
That aforementioned man’s car wasn’t there today, so he shouldn’t be present. When I looked up the man’s car on the library’s computer before, I identified its model as a very old Cadillac DeVille. It was a two-door coupe. It appeared to have bad gas mileage, but its maintenance cost was even worse. Even though I lacked knowledge about cars, it wasn’t hard for me to imagine. This was a symbol of the man’s foolishness. I wasn’t grumpy that the landlord was being taken from me. This was an objective conclusion. No, some jealous bias might have been involved…
When I handed over the rent to the landlord, she confirmed the amount and accepted it. Even if she had her life controlled by her lover, the landlord was still someone who took care of me. As a minimal show of my gratitude, I also gave her some fuki I picked today. She accepted it with a kind face. This was the same old face of the landlord.
When I returned home, I headed straight to the bath since my jersey was dirty from entering the mountains. My bath had a balance flue with a shower. I realized after my stay at the Hongou residence that the shower’s pressure was weak. I hadn’t known until then. I took a bath, changed into my sleepwear, and made a simple dinner. I didn’t cook rice today but had udon. Udon noodles were dry, so they could be stored for long periods. I stir-fried them with some vegetables and made stir-fried udon. The landlord had taught me this dish a long time ago.
As I ate my stir-fried udon, I looked back at what happened these past two months.
My circumstances had changed greatly. Lady Mary passed away, Ms. Fuki left, and some kinds of procedures had been done without giving me any time to let things settle. Lady Mary was cremated after her funeral was held. Ms. Fuki was hospitalized, so the priest accompanied me out of sympathy, and the procedure to cremate Lady Mary was handled by Mr. Tamaru. After that, I went home, carrying her bones alone. The Kujouin family graves were located in Kyoto. I learned this after Lady Mary passed away. I will have to place her to rest there one day, but when I confirmed if it was fine to have it accepted by a Christian church before that, I was told that it was no problem for a lady from the Kujouin family. In the first place, the Kujouin family appeared to be Shinto. After Lady Mary passed away, I learned many things. By the way, Lady Mary’s bones were being kept inside her room.
In any case, I was busy until my life finally settled down. I became quite depressed when Ms. Fuki left and her son told me to never get involved with her again, but I didn’t feel that lonely because I simply was too busy. Only when I finally had time to breathe and simultaneously experienced kindness from Lady Sara and Lord Souju did I noticed my feelings.
There was no way I wasn’t lonely. But, there was nothing I could do about it. Even now, I felt lonely and wanted to see Ms. Fuki. Even this tiny home felt too spacious for one person.
But being sentimental wouldn’t finish my schoolwork. Let’s finish that up and then play the piano. Recently, I only had a few hours to practice. Maybe I could increase the amount a little once I’ve become accustomed to my school life.
I could play piano this late into the night because I was in the countryside. I was truly thankful for that. This weekend’s piano performance would be my first job. I hadn’t decided on what I was going to play. Since Lady Youko told me I could play anything I like, I was still in the middle of deciding the program. The reception party in that Western-styled mansion was to commend an artist Lady Youko supported for winning a famous award. The party would also serve as the venue for the debut of another starting artist.
I was probably playing the piano there as a form of BGM. Then, should I go for a modest piece?
Now that I finished practicing the piano, all I had to do left was to sleep. As well as my awaited smartphone time! The smartphone was capable of so much. My friend!
Entering my bed and looking at my smartphone was the best. I continued reading my web novels.
Let’s see, let’s see. When the pompous, prince-like student council president said, “You’re different. I like that,” the student council president suddenly began to notice the protagonist whom he never cared for before. Only a handsome man would be allowed to say such a thing. How strange. The protagonist was an ordinary girl, but the story said that she became beautiful once she took off her glasses and lost weight. When the girl strove to become beautiful, the student council president’s romantic obsession intensified.
A world I didn’t know of! Amazing. I wonder if these things really happen. It seems possible with Lord Katsuragi.
I felt that my world was rapidly expanding through this smartphone.