「You’re such an idiot…」
「Someone with grades like yours – cough – calling me an idiot… Cough – know your place! I got into university by being the best – cough – and I’ve maintained my position since then. You absolute good for nothing – cough – with your 70% scores, calling me – cough cough.」
「The actual idiot here is the one who had intense air conditioning in the summer until he got a cold.」
Whenever I opened the door to Mizuhara’s home, I’d be greeted by a gust of chilly wind. That wind wasn’t present today, and just as I thought, ‘That’s strange’, a red Mizuhara appeared.
It was only natural he’d get a cold since he was sleeping with the air conditioning at 18 degrees celsius. Now, with his temperature at 38 degrees, he had a fever.
「Aah — don’t mind me, just make some sweets. Cough – you had to make lemon cake today, right?」 Coughing, Mizuhara pointed at the kitchen. With the way he was stumbling, I still worried despite being told not to.
「Have you taken any medicine?」
「No, I don’t take medicine. It’s not good for my brain.」
「Wooow, so it’s true! There actually are people on this planet who refuse to take medicine for inexplicable reasons.」
After returning Mizuhara to his mattress, I went outside again. I bought some rice porridge, a sports drink, and an energy drink at the store. I was supposed to make a lemon cake, but there had been a change of plans.
「Where were you?」
「At the convenience store. I bought some medicine.」
「I won’t drink any of it.」
「Then I’ll force you to.」
I passed the warm porridge to Mizuhara, who probably didn’t eat anything except sweets. Being unable to make anything except sweets without catastrophic results, I couldn’t even make porridge. But I could easily get some porridge that only needed to be heated from the convenience store.
What a convenient world we live in!
「Don’t open the window, the air’s awful and it makes me cough.」
I drew the semi-opaque curtains and opened the window to replace some of the stuffy atmosphere inside.
「Stop! Cough – if you open the window, the bad air and the cat will get in!」
「Bad air, sure, but a cat…」
I heard a sudden meow near my feet and turned in surprise.
It was a cat. A cat with pitch black fur that lied down with its stomach stuck to the floor, legs folded, relaxing.
「It’s the neighbor’s cat. It always tries to absorb the cold from my window.
「Huh? You’re allowed to have pets here?」
「No, it’s not allowed. Seems like the neighbor’s kid feeds it a lot, so it sticks around.」
In Mizuhara’s temperate room, the cat felt like it was at a summer resort. Since it was quietly rolled up in a ball, Mizuhara sighed and ignored it, and I did the same.
「Take your medicine.」
「You cannot deny the chance that the ingredients in it can negatively influence your brain cells.」 Expanding on his bizarre, inexplicable theory, Mizuhara refused to take the medicine. He kept saying things about what possible side effects there might be, and how the opinion of an expert was necessary before taking medicine.
It was annoying, and I tried to force him to drink it.
「Stop! It’s too bitter!」 he said, revealing the actual reason behind refusing.
I forcefully shoved it into his mouth, all of this very ridiculous to me. Mizuhara, weakened by his cold, was no match for me, a karate student. As I stuck a cooling patch on his forehead, I pushed him back down into the mattress.
Even though he kept grumbling and complaining, the drowsiness of the medicine got to him eventually and he fell asleep.
Softly closing the door, I called Chii-chan.
「Sorry, I won’t be able to make it to the mixer today.」
「Huh? Why? Even though the guy from Waseda Uni, the one we had a good feeling about is coming? You liked him too, didn’t you?」
「Aah, well, I did. But my friend caught a cold. He lives alone so I’m gonna stay with him until evening.」
「What a waste… Well, I guess you can’t help it. I’ll try setting something up with the Waseda Uni guy again.」
「Yeah. Sorry for cancelling last-minute.」 I hung up after apologizing.
I took a quick look in Mizuhara’s room in case he’d woken up from me talking, but he was asleep in the same position as before.
After softly closing the door, I got to work making sweets, though slower and quieter than usual. I’d have to use the hand blender to make the lemon cake, which would wake Mizuhara up. But since he had a cold, I decided to make some bavarois and jelly instead, since they’re easier to swallow.
I mixed the bavarois with some strawberry jam I’d made with my mother earlier to give it a nice, soft final touch. For the jelly, I had some leftover fruits from some jelly I’d made recently, so I added them all into the jelly and put it in the fridge to cool. There really wasn’t much work involved, so I finished quickly.
But it needed a few hours to harden. I spent the time doing homework.
A short time later:
「Are you there?」 I heard Mizuhara say.
Looking at the time, I realized it was past 7 o’ clock.
「I’m here,」 I replied, entering his room.
Mizuhara had sat up in bed, looking at me. 「What were you doing?」
「I was waiting for the sweets to be ready.」
「While doing your homework?」
「Yeah, I didn’t have anything else to do.」
「You should’ve done it in this room. No matter how much you love the kitchen, it’s difficult doing homework in there.」
「But you were sleeping. You’d mind if I was in the room next to you.」
「Really? Then I’ll do it over there.」
I cleared up the table, spreading my notes over it. Since there was a lot of homework for summer vacation, I would struggle over it everyday, huffing and puffing, but this year I had a bit more flexible speed.
There’s a thin line between genius and stupidity, but Mizuhara was definitely a genius when it came to academics, and he easily explained everything to me. Albeit with lots of rude comments like 「It’s so difficult explaining things to you」 or 「Your comprehension skills are unbelievably low.」
「You’re sweating, you have to drink something,」 I said, passing him the sports drink.
It was strange seeing Mizuhara, normally cool and in air conditioning, now sweaty and red in the face. In fact, it might have been the first time I saw him without his glasses. After watching the strange sight, I passed him a wet towel.
「Didn’t you have plans somewhere today?」
「Nope, no plans. Why do you ask?」
「You’re not wearing that shirt.」
I was wearing clothes that Chii-chan had picked out for me. She knew that a guy I thought was kind of nice was going to be at the mixer today, and had insisted on me wearing this: A camisole, with shoulder straps that were crossed at my neck, a thin scarf, and a blue culotte skirt that had a cute little ribbon on the right side.
Since I usually just rotated between shirts and a pair of jeans everyday, I did refuse at first, but I got used to it eventually.
「I just bought clothes that weren’t shirts recently. So, do you want to eat anything now that it’s evening?」
「…What kind of sweets did you make today? Not a lemon cake, right?」
「You have a great sense of smell, I made bavarois and jelly. I thought your throat might be a bit sore since you were coughing so much, and I thought something easily swallowed like a drink would feel better.」
「When will you make the lemon cake?」 In a way, Mizuhara’s undying attachment to sweets even while coughing was admirable. He kept the unopened sports drink on the bedside table.
「You have to drink something!」
「Aah, you’re so picky and annoying. Oh well… Just wait a bit.」
I went to the kitchen and squeezed out the lemons meant for the lemon cake. Stirring that with some more honey than usual and a bit of ginger, I made lemonade. Since it was boiling hot, I added some ice to cool it down. Adding some lemon slices to sink into the bottom, I finally put a straw in.
At home we usually made lemonade with pickled lemon honey, but Mizuhara didn’t have any.
「Here, how’s this?」 I handed the lemonade to Mizuhara, who promptly shut up and gulped it down.
As I drank the now unnecessary sports drink, I heard a meow.
I’d completely forgotten about the cat. It kept meowing and looking at the sports drink, so I tried putting some in a dish for it, only to see it gulp it down as well.
「What’ll happen to the cat?」
「It’ll leave on its own if you leave the window open.」
I nodded, and checked the time. I was going to leave after feeding Mizuhara and forcing him to take his medicine.
「I don’t really have an appetite for anything.」
「What about the bavarois and jelly?」
「I’ll have the bavarois.」
「Alright, alright,」 I replied, bringing out the bavarois from the fridge. Since there were 5 slices, I got 1 of them.
Mizuhara began annoyedly eating the bavarois. It looked like his temperature had dropped, but he might still have had a slight fever.
As I ate my own bavarois, I made some more lemonade. With this, Mizuhara would have something to drink, and the extra ginger I put in would be good for his throat.
「Here, take your medicine.」
「What about the jelly?」
「You still want to eat the jelly?」
Even though he’d said he didn’t have an appetite, it seemed sweets were an exception. I brought out the jelly, and he slowly ate it.
I stopped him from lying down right after, forcing him to take his medicine first. After fixing his cooling patch, I pressed on his forehead to push him down into the mattress.
「Well then, I’ll be leaving. Be sure to take your medicine tomorrow. If you’re about to die in the dead of the night, call me. I can’t help but I’ll call an ambulance for you.」
「If I’d be able to call you, why wouldn’t I call the ambulance first myself?」
「That’s true,」 I laughed, leaving Mizuhara’s home.
The next day, I got an email from Mizuhara. It might have been the first time he emailed me for anything other than sweets. Usually, he always typed in the subject bar.
Now, he’d filled in the message space for the first time.
The subject: Lemon cake
The message: My cold’s cured.
As I imagined what sort of grimace he’d be making as he typed this, I smiled.