No matter how hard you work and suffer to earn money, you can lose it in a single second.
That’s what I was thinking about, with a distant look in my eye and a black cat in my arms.
「Thank you so much, Miss! I was so scared to hear Deviina had almost passed out, thank goodness it was just a small wound at her leg.」
Deviina was the neighbor’s cat.
The neighbor’s son had called her Uuna because of her meows, but Mizuhara called her Devil. 1
She was a pretty terrifying sight when she was pressed up against his window, her nose against the glass and her tongue hanging out.
Deviina was a compromise between Uuna and Devil. The neighbors had asked him to call her Uuna since she was their cat, but Mizuhara just wouldn’t stop calling her Devil.
Deviina would always find a hole or a gap to shamelessly sneak into Mizuhara’s house.
It was summer vacation, and so the neighbor’s son came over to call Deviina back home. Out of politeness, I offered him some of Mizuhara’s sweets.
Although even Mizuhara couldn’t outright refuse a child, he did frown a lot, and had a long tantrum afterwards, letting it all out on Deviina who was sitting in front of the air conditioner.
「You devil! Because of you, I had to give away my sweets!」
I pretended not to see, since he was pretending to stay calm in front of the child. Deviina also ignored him.
The child’s mother came over to greet us once. 「I’m so sorry my son and the cat keep bothering you all the time!」 She bowed in apology, with a gift in her hand.
Mizuhara just replied, 「No, it’s okay,」 and returned the gift. I punched him afterwards for being so tactless.
She seemed to be a single mother, working day and night. Although it looked like she did some unpleasant night work, with her face full of flashy makeup, she was sweet, polite, and seemed like a kind mother.
The actual matter happened the day before yesterday. I found Deviina lying limp in front of the apartment. Shocked, I took her to the nearest veterinary hospital. It turned out a nail had gotten stuck in her left foot, and had started forming pus. A bacterial infection had spread in her leg, so they removed the pus and kept her in for two days, after which they stitched up her hole-shaped wound and returned her to me.
Unfortunately, the mother and son were both off at some summer school camp.
It seemed Deviina, a former stray cat, would be okay for a few days on her own as long they left food and water out for her.
「Ah, this is to stop pus forming. And here’s the ointment, antibiotics, and disinfectant. There’s more details on this paper, here. The vet said to carefully replace her bandages whenever possible.」
「Hmm…. Thank you. …Hey, Miss… How much did it cost?」
「Oh, it didn’t cost much. I took her to a friend of mine who’s a vet. It was just a small wound so the examination and treatment both cost just 4500 yen.」
「Really? Thank goodness! I’ll ask my mom for that, then. Thank you!」 The boy’s anxious face instantly lit up, and he cheerfully waved bye-bye to me, holding Deviina with one hand.
I waved back to him and went inside. Gathering the ingredients for some sweets, I let out a sigh.
「You lied, didn’t you? The cat doesn’t have health insurance, it’s impossible that the treatment only costed a few thousand yen.」
「And you just went to the nearest vet hospital, didn’t you? Your vet friend was also a lie.」
He was right.
Seeing the vet, buying the medicine, and having Deviina hospitalized had cost a jaw-dropping amount of money. It seemed the costs for veterinary hospitals were incredibly higher than normal hospitals. And the hospital I’d rushed to was even more expensive than normal.
「How much was it? I’ll pay you.」
「It’s fine. I was the one who decided to take her there anyway.」 Deviina was a stray cat. Maybe she would have just healed by herself since it was a small injury. I was the one who’d panicked, seeing her lying there, and took her to a hospital on a whim. And an expensive hospital, on top of that.
The thought of asking the neighbors to pay for it made me feel something irrational that I couldn’t understand myself.
「But the money you used was the money you’d been saving up for your parents trip, right?」
The money I’d saved up from work was now close to zero.
Mizuhara looked at me and snorted, as if making fun of me.
「I’ll loan you some money then. You can pay me back whenever.」
「I said it’s fine!」
The thought of sending my parents off to an expensive hotel with money I’d loaned from someone made me feel strange too. A strange, complicated feeling that I couldn’t explain. Mizuhara looked at me with my head hung in shame and sighed.
「Then what are you going to do? What about those Parisian sweets?」
「There’s nothing I can do but give up. No matter how much I work now, I can’t earn that kind of money. I’ll have to keep quiet and say nothing to my happy parents.」
I grew sad, because I really wanted to let my mother eat those sweets she’d been longing for. It wasn’t Deviina’s fault that this happened, I was the one who’d made the decision.
If something had happened to Deviina then and I’d left her there, I’d probably always regret it. And if I’d asked the neighbors to pay the bills and sent my parents on a trip with their money, I’d feel really guilty too.
It might be hypocritical, but to me, I had made the best decision.
「You’re soft to the point of stupidity.」
「Shut up, idiot!」 I yelled, trying to hide my wet eyes. Even though I thought there was nothing else I could have done, I still felt some unbearable things.
「You’ll be swindled by someone eventually. Speaking of which, your name is Sagiri, right?」
「That’s got nothing to do with being swindled!」
Mizuhara raised an eyebrow and pushed up his glasses, telling me to stop my outburst. I was silent as he watched me with those eyes behind his black glasses.
「To think, that you’re this worried over 100,000. You could just take it without worrying since it’s not a huge amount to me… This is why poor people like you always stay worried.」
I wiped my eyes and glared at him. At his words about being rich, I quickly remembered my desire to kill him.
「But there’s a way you can earn 100,000 in two days.」
「I’m not going to do anything dangerous!」 I couldn’t think of anything other than something gross like working at a hostess club to earn that sort of money.
「No, I’m not going to tell you to sell your organs.」
「That’s not what I was thinking of!」
「In the middle of October, K University holds the Akikaze Sai festival.」
The Akikaze Sai festival was an enormous festival at K University that also served as a university tour. It was always hustling and bustling since thousands of people visited each year.
「You will sell your sweets at this Akikaze Sai festival.」
I froze, not understanding Mizuhara’s words.