Translator: Pink Tea Editor: JackOFallTrades
When the detectives left, the doctor introduced himself as『Maeno Koichi』
After lightly addressing some details about the treatment, I was led into the assigned private hospital room.
After leading me to my room, the nurse promptly leaves as well, leaving me alone with Mai.
「…To think I am repeating grades.」
Not sure where to begin, I just mumbled those words.
The lack of memories over a period of more than a year, the mass disappearance and the magic circle, and it would seem that I am the only one who came back.
「One year, one year, huh… That’s quite long.」
Probably due to the passage of time, a situation that was so hard to comprehend started to feel more real.
I began to slowly accept the story that I deemed impossible when I first heard it.
「……Tell me, Mai. Did Kenta and Suehiko really disappear?」
Even so, in the hope to hear that『It’s all was just a joke』, I ask a question. But Mai gave me a slightly saddened look, which only a family member would be able to recognize, and shook her head.
「…Among brother’s acquaintances, the only one whose whereabouts are known is Yuuto-san」
「! Yuuto is okay?! 」
「It is a quite rare and big incident so it turned into an open investigation. It is also possible to see a list of those who disappeared from the school.」
Mai took a smartphone from the bag and for a while, she was fiddling with the screen.
On the display of the smartphone, which was handed to me, was a home page of the police.
I scroll down a simply compiled list that came along with proviso requesting for information.
On that list, the names of my best friends『Itou Suehiko』and『Kida Kenta』 were clearly written.
And not only them, but most of the classmates I can remember are also on this list.
「Why…, is such…」
There was no meaning behind the words of denial that leaked out.
Even though I am only looking at rows and columns made up of letters, I still felt a numb pain in my chest.
I recall what the inspector has said.
Among the vacuum of what I cannot remember, are there any hints that could help in finding them?
（What happened. Why can’t I remember anything…Shit, what did I…）
However, trying to remember anything only made the feeling that I am getting deeper into a quagmire stronger.
Feelings of loss and impatience are stirring up uneasiness in my heart.
「…Brother, please go to sleep. I can not bear to look at such a miserable face of yours anymore.」
Pretending as if she is about to cry, with quick movements, my little sister snatches the smartphone from my hands.
She talked and acted the same way as I remembered her, but with Mai growing slightly taller than the last time I saw her, that inconsistency triggered a distinctly felt feeling of discomfort.
There is a time I know nothing about. A time that had passed of which I have no recollection of.
There is something in the depths of that empty void, something important to me.
I’ve got a headache.
A severe headache. Pulsating, it feels as if the space between skin and bone is burning with fire.
「It’s fine, for today just go to sleep, brother. If you keep overexerting yourself, your face which is mediocre to begin with, will really turn into something that no one except me will be able to look twice upon. For your little sister, it is too much.」
「Yea will do. Sorry, I made you worry.」
When I became conscious of it, a wave of exhaustion swiftly overcame me and I was assaulted with drowsiness.
It is still early in the evening, but I am not quite able to endure it anymore.
Let’s leave thinking for later.
As I thought of such, I laid down on the bed and Mai gently covered me with a blanket.
Yup, hospitals ain’t that bad at times. I can feel my little sister’s love.
Though were I to say that out loud she is likely will twist my ear, so I have no intentions of doing that.
「……It’s okay since reforming my unruly brother is my job. So, don’t go any further… 」
「? Ma, I…? 」
Unusually, Mai closed her mouth when she was about to say something.
It was bothering a bit but I let the entity known as sleep take me as I closed my eyes, unable to resist the warmth of the bed.
「It’s my fault. Hic, It’s my fault.」
A small child was crying in a corner of the room.
No, the one crying is not the child, it is me.
「Sorry, I am sorry…」
It is an old dream. A bit old and bitter memory that was burned into me.
Father and mother were away, working, and only Mai and the me that just became a primary school student were at home.
Being a sickly child, Mai didn’t go outside too often and today as well, she was sleeping at home since she had a slight temperature in the morning.
『Mai, do you want anything? Want me to read you a picture book?』
『Books are fine. Rather, let’s hold hands.』
『Something like that I can do as much as you want.』
She had a slightly lost expression on her face as the palms of her hands became slightly wet due to her fever.
『Your hands are so warm…』
『Anything else? Is there something else you want me to do?』
『Nothing…You don’t have to do anything…… Just stay with me… Brother… I don’t want to be alone.』
『Got it, yup, I will stay like this.』
When weakened, she becomes really honest and spoiled.
Grasping my hand, she gradually drowsed off.
A little sister that could not bear to stay alone was unbearably cute to me. But usually, when Mai was sick, mother or father stayed with her. However, two of them weren’t here at the moment.
Being able to care for my little sister, I was full of myself.
The little sister that always took a rebellious stance being this honest felt incredibly good.
To my weakened little sister, to this situation where I was the only one she could rely upon, I felt something akin to a sense of superiority or even desire to monopolize.
Since that time, I only made mistakes.
I did not see what was the most important thing to me or even the true form of my own feelings.
That is why, leaving my sleeping sister alone, I went outside. To buy the apple yogurt that Mai liked, I departed towards the nearby convenience store with several coins in my hand.
Thinking that Mai surely will be delighted when she wakes up, I easily broke my the promise.
Without thinking about what Mai wants at all, I left lonely sister alone.
Just a moment after I said『I will stay like this』, I left Mai all by herself.
Mai, who woke up and did not find me nearby, went outside looking for me and was drawn into a traffic incident.
「God, please, save Mai…」
When I lost sight of an ambulance that carried Mai away, I felt like I will never see her again.
It never occurred to me that home without anyone there can feel so cold and lonely.
Making her experience something like that, what a shameful and disgraceful brother I am.
As if locking myself into a small box, I hugged my trembling knees.
「Nnmn, Mmmm, Aaah…」
Upon awakening, I didn’t feel so bad.
I was more level-headed but a bad aftertaste from the dream crept along.
「It’s night already, that is a problem. I woke up at a weird time.」
Looks like my sleep was more shallow than I thought.
In the dark hospital room, a luminous display showed that it was a bit over eight hours.
The room, where only routine sounds from medical meters can be heard, felt cold and inhumane.
The silence that was stealing warmth from one’s heart reminded me of that empty home where I awaited Mai’s return.
This is the same hospital where Mai ended up after that accident.
Probably, this is the reason why I saw that old dream.
On the table beside the bed was a note that contained the words:
『See you tomorrow, I will bring a change of clothes. When you wake up, eat your food thoughtfully and then quietly lie on your side like a dead fish and rest.』
…She,that as always, had to add a couple of twisted, unnecessary words.
「…I am thirsty.」
When I became aware of my thirst, my sense of hunger returned as well.
Don’t they also serve meals at hospitals?
It also was mentioned in Mai’s note, could it be that the food was taken away when I was asleep?
「…Nurse call would be an exaggeration. It’s not like I am feeling unwell. Let’s look for a stand and fill my stomach with something.」
As I was about to do so, I notice that I don’t have any money on me.
I rummaged through the desk beside the bed but it had neither a wallet nor a cellphone.
「Guuugh… Even so, this hunger won’t do.」
When I realized that I won’t be able to eat, the feeling of hunger became even stronger.
After deliberating for a while, I sighed and left the room.
Since it came to this, let’s catch a nurse and ask if it’s possible to get something to eat.
In the corridor, no one could be seen except for some patient-like people walking here and there.
Walking over the linoleum that did not change since Mai’s hospitalization, I was looking for an information board relying on my faint memory of this place.
And when I was about to turn a corner, I heard a voice.
「But that is just terrible, isn’t it?, I mean that patient in the private room on the third floor. They say he is involved in that disappearance case. 」
「Yes, that boy? On one hand, I pity him but isn’t it a bit scary? Didn’t they incite an incident not so long ago? Even though it is not his fault, you know what I am talking about.」
（Disappearance incident? Are they talking about me?）
「But, I hope that things will get better for that little sister now. Losing everyone she could rely upon she did her best all by herself until now, didn’t she? 」
（? No one to rely…?）
Gradually feeling of something being terribly wrong enveloped me.
Could it be called foreboding? A bad premonition was filling my heart.
I felt that I will regret listening to this conversation any further, but I could not run away.
「She is a clever girl, but she is only sixteen.」
「Yea, right, even if she got money from insurance. It’s that pattern when money alone won’t bring you happiness.」
Both of her parents are dead and even the whereabouts of her aunt and grandmother are unknown…」
There, I heard the sound of a key locking up Mai all by herself in that lonesome and cold house.