Translator: Pink Tea Editor: JackOFallTrades
Father and mother are dead?
Aunt and grandmother are missing?
What is that? What Is that what is that what is that what is that?
Looking back, there was a lot of unnatural details.
The first person that appeared when I woke up was Mai.
All the following explanations began without my parents showing up.
Which is strange. It’s not like I am conceited, but my parents most likely would have abandoned all of their work and came running to me like Mai.
Even if they can’t do that, they would at least give me a call.
But in reality…
「Really…? Father and mother are really dead?」
For some reason, when I said those words aloud, I couldn’t bring myself to doubt them.
「Granny and aunt are also gone?」
My Grandparents, with the exception of my grandmother from my mother’s side, were all either dead or at a retirement home.
Aside from my unmarried aunt, there were no other relatives we could rely upon.
And if both of them are gone.
Then what about Mai? What happened to her? Who stayed with her?
「This is, this is just…」
My head is spinning.
My breathing became shallow, my heartbeat got faster and the ringing in my ears grew awful.
「I have to go… I have to I have to I have to I have to I have to.」
While I still can meet her, if I can meet her, right now I can still go to her!
Overwhelmed with impatience, I withdrew from that place step by step.
I ran down the stairs, tried not to make a noise and searched for an exit.
The front entrance was already closed. Suppressing my rushing heartbeat, I found a place that looked like a rear entrance.
After having snuck past the yawning sleepy guard, I rushed away from the hospital’s territory.
I got to a broad road and found myself in an unfamiliar place, looking upon an unfamiliar scenery.
A whole crowd of people was going on with their business among the clusters of the night’s darkness that was scattered by lights from buildings and shops.
A cold night wind calmed me down a bit, making me realize that I have no idea how to reach home.
Nevertheless, this hospital shouldn’t be that far from home and I also had the general idea in which direction it’s supposed to be.
I never came to this area, but as long as I ran along a big road, I will eventually reach familiar places.
「….Ey, Hey!! Hey, wait!!」
Then I heard someone calling out to me.
「Hii, haah, haaa, you, you are, quite fast. Wa, wait a moment, let me catch a breath.」
The one that called out to me was a bespectacled woman in a shawl and with a black rectangular bag over her shoulder.
Dressed in a coat, the woman that appeared to be in her late twenties was breathing roughly, producing steam out of her mouth.
「Pheew… Calmed down. Hey, you are Ukei-kun, right? Ukei Kaito-kun.」
「Aah, well, yes.」
「Yes! Stakeout was worth it!!」
I had no recollection of this woman that had a very sociable smile and called me by my name.
Ignoring my stare filled with doubts as to why she knew my name, the woman was clenching her first and striking triumphant pose.
「I am reporter for『Monthly ・Utopia』Kawakami Kumiko. Mind if we talk for a bit?」
「No, I am in a hurry so I’ll be going.」
「Then how about that family restaurant… Eh? What?」
Ignoring the woman that introduced herself as a reporter, I tried to get away from that spot.
「Wa, Wait a moment! Please, just ten, no, five minutes!」
But the woman got in front of me and blocked my way.
「There is a place where I have to go right now, so give up on it.」
「I can’t just give up! From the way you look, you escaped from the hospital? If I contact the hospital, they will come to bring you back right away. If you won’t answer my questions…」
I will be brought back to the hospital? I won’t be able to meet with Mai?
Something inexpressibly dark swelled up inside me when those words reached my brain.
『Don’t get in my way don’t get in my way don’t get in my way, don’t get in my way, don’t get in my way don’t get in my way.』
「Enough, get out of my way, otherwise…」
—————I will kill you.
The frightened voice cooled down the fuming dark emotion that I have never experienced before.
What was this feeling?
It wasn’t a joke or a bluff. A feeling like every bit of my blood has turned into something entirely different, I seriously thought about killing this woman.
（Kill? What am I even thinking, why I have such violent thoughts…）
Though I did not say those words aloud, I felt a certain weight behind them.
There is no point in thinking about that, there is no way I can do something like that.
Yet it felt as if it was the most reasonable thing to do.
「I, I am sorry, I had no intentions of threatening you. I finally got to meet you after being on the stakeout for a whole week and got in a weird tension.」
For better or for worse, the confusion caused by the sudden surge of emotions weakened my anxiety.
「No, I am sorry as well, but I must go right away.」
「Eehm, I don’t get the circumstances but is that place somewhere nearby? If you are going to run around like that you will be in custody in no time.」
When I thought about it, I realized that the white hospital gown really was attracting the stares of the people around me. And it seems that argument from just now brought even more attention.
I surprised myself just how hastily I acted, including the fact that I just jumped out without any plan.
「…Nevermind, anyway, it looks like at this rate I won’t be able to get anything from you… Or rather, making ruckus might turn into problems for me as well… And I am kind of scared…」
After mumbling for a while, she made a deep sigh of resignation.
「If you have a place to do, then I will get a taxi for you. I’m sure you didn’t bring any money so I will lend you some.」
「Huh? No, Why…」
I am rather surprised at her sudden switch to such a cooperative tone.
Ignoring my confusion, Kawakami-san stopped a taxi and opened the door.
Then pushed notepad and pen to me.
「In exchange, tell me how I can contact you. In this case, you will have a talk with me?」
The sweet smile on her face gave off the pressure that would not allow any objections.
Besides, it wasn’t such a bad deal for me as well. After hesitating for a bit, I wrote down my cellphone number and home address and handed notebook back to her.
「Yes and here’s the money, absolutely return them. Okay? I will come to collect them later, then l will hear your story. Come on, you are in a hurry, right? 」
With those words, she got me in the taxi and handed me some money and a business card from her wallet.
「…Thank you very much.」
「I don’t need your gratitude, just give me a story that will bring me money.」
Waving her hand dismissively, she closed the door.
「Where would you like to go?」
I gave the address to the driver.
Shaken by the vibration of the moving car, I turn my eyes to the view outside the window.
If my memory is correct then it should not be that far if I were to travel by car.
After staring outside for just a little while, the view changed to familiar places.
Familiar, but unmistakably different from before.
My impatience grew.
Once again, I left Mai alone in that house.
（Yes, I should not leave her alone. I should not.）
Being alone is painful, truly painful, enough to make you lose all hope.
It feels almost like you are drowning and everyone around looks like a hateful enemy.
That is why in order not to see anything, I just kept on running and running and running.
Seeking a spot in that murky water, where I would be able to breathe…
「…? What, is this all about?」
Sharp pain pierces my head.
My mind that was gradually calming down, turned into turmoil over the strangeness of my thoughts.
What, just what’s wrong, this feeling makes no sense.
Yes, I am worried about Mai, but why am I rushing so much…
「Dear customer, we are approaching the set destination. 」
「Yes, Thank you. Here will be fine.」
Without getting my thoughts in order, I reached home.
A small house in the middle of a hill.
In the small yard were neatly lined up pots with herbs that mother raised with great care.
In the garage, standing without any signs of dust on it, was father’s cherished bike that used to be his hobby.
A house that just yesterday was so familiar, now looked very nostalgic.
Perhaps it is because I didn’t come here for more than a year, even if I lacked the memories of that time.
I did not expect that I will tear up looking at my own house, but at the moment, it’s all about Mai.
I unlock the door with a spare key that was under a flower pot and enter inside.
After I got inside the house and took off my shoes, my anxiety tuned down a bit.
Most likely, Mai was behind that door that was leaking light, down the corridor.
Still not sure how to start the conversation, I quietly opened the door and found Mai there.
「————……so I think, after all, he finally came back.」
The burning smell of incense filled the room and the portraits of needlessly cheerful parents propped onto an altar.
「Brother seems to remember nothing about the time he was missing. His unchanging bird braininess keeps astonishing me, yet I am actually relieved. I want Brother to be just the way he was before.」
With her back turned to me, Mai continued her monologue in front of the altar without noticing me.
「With wounds all over him, he was not waking up for so long that even though he just returned, I was worried that I will be left all by myself again. Good grief, my family is really cruel, even though I am this cute, where all of you went leaving me.」
Mai’s voice was trembling a bit, is she crying?
「I’ve had enough. All this time, I was so lonely. Please come back home already, both of you.」
Aah, no good, I can’t take it anymore.
「Sorry, sorry for leaving you alone, for not being able to remember a thing.」
I tightly hug Mai from behind.
I did not care about my strange actions nor the unknown emotion mingling inside me. All of that did not matter anymore.
「Brother? Why?! This altar is not what you think, fa-father and mother are… Are… 」
「It’s fine, it’s fine… It is fine…」
Tightly, tightly, as if amending for something I have lost.
Tightly, so I won’t lose anything anymore.
「Sorry, I am sorry for being a pathetic and unreliable brother, I can only say sorry. 」
「…But even so, you came back, even so, you returned. When you get back home please take care of me like before, in return, I will help out around the house, again, like before…」
「Yes, I will stay by your side, I will… No matter what happens, I won’t just disappear again.」
Yes, I am not losing anything anymore.
I absolutely won’t lose a thing.
Yes, that is all, that is all I wish for…
A headache throbbed as emotions crawled out from the innermost of my heart.
A feeling like something from an empty void is trying to bind my body.
I am, I am…
Without saying anything, I just hug Mai even stronger.
Ignoring a strange unquenchable flame burning inside me.
As if trying to cover up something that is about to gush out.
Pressed by an immense feeling of guilt from not being able to say that I am content with just this.