Even after a few days, I still had no idea what had happened between Michel and Kinoshita. I couldn’t ask openly in the clubroom – the members would riot if they found out the truth – and every time I tried to be alone with Michel, he managed to slip away from me.
「Aaah, I’m worried!」 I groaned in Mizuhara’s kitchen.
All I wanted to know was whether they’d broken up or not.
I got to work, making a meringue to shake off my bad mood. Instead of using the hand mixer, I decided to mix it by hand. I think it was a very picturesque scene – my furious wrist, undefeated by any machine.
I made fresh cream by hand too. 「Mmaaagh,」 I yelled, whisking it like crazy, until the smooth cream was ready just a short time later.
I crushed the strawberries until not one single grain was left. 「Foaaghh!」 I stabbed them senselessly with a fork.
Melting the gelatin, I mixed the strawberries, meringue, and fresh cream all together. I poured it all into a container and put it into the fridge to let it chill and harden for 1-2 hours.
「Haagghh,」 I groaned, putting some strawberries, granulated sugar, and lemon juice into the mixer.
「Would you stop making those strange noises?」
Mizuhara kept pissing me off, even though I was in the middle of my coping mechanism for frustrating times that I’d inherited from my mother.
「Aaah, I still feel kinda down! I guess I’ll make something else. Is there anything you want to eat?」 I asked Mizuhara as I put the finished sauce into the fridge. I was trying to both thank and apologize to him for the festival’s events by making sweets he wanted for a while.
「Mizuhara, what are you doing?」
Mizuhara was carefully scribbling on Arioka’s prized collection of photographs that I’d brought. I’d only thought of drawing mustaches and nosebleeds on them, but Mizuhara went even further.
There were elves drawn on every page. Even though he hadn’t drawn anything on the idols themselves, you could feel more of the elves’ presence on the pages than the actual idols.
They closely resembled Arioka, drawn here and there as if following the idols around. Not to mention the awful speech bubbles beside them.
『Even when I’m an old, toothless man I’ll still freeload off of my parents! That’s who I really am.』 An old, toothless elf Arioka was gnawing at someone’s shin. On top of being gorey, it was just surreal.[1. TL: ‘Gnawing at your parents’ shin’ is a Japanese idiom for freeloading off of them.]
『I can’t be dyed any colors because I’m unemployed!』 A colorless, jobless elf Arioka was rolling around. Seems like he’d been laid off.[2. TL Note: This is a pun because ‘colorless’ and ‘unemployed’ are both pronounced the same in Japanese.]
『Even though I’m a parasite, I’ll never go to Meguro! That’s how I feel!』 Elf Arioka gave a thumbs up, standing at the Meguro train station platform.[3. TL Note: Meguro is known for having the only museum dedicated to parasites in the world, the Meguro Parasitical Museum.]
There were times Mizuhara came up with truly stupid things and I doubted whether he really was intelligent. But even though it was stupid, it could have an effect on Arioka, considering he got scared of the NEET elf.
「So, Mizuhara, what do you want to eat?」
「Tart, Finnish galette, blancmange, donuts, butter cake, tiramisu, pudding, souffle, meringue pie, torte…」
「What kind of spell is that?」 I could barely catch any of the words, he seemed to go on endlessly with a single breath. 「Ah, well, cheesecake sticks it is then.」
It wasn’t one of Mizuhara’s candidates but I felt like making it. Mizuhara simply nodded his agreement.
I substituted the tart for store-bought biscuits. Putting the biscuits in a strong bag, I showered them with blows from a rolling pin. 「Nnnghagh!」 I used only my left hand to pulverize them – both hands or my right hand would be far too strong.
Mixing the butter and milk, I spread it out smoothly onto a tray. I added some more sugar to the grated lemon and cream cheese and stirred it. Adding fresh cream to it, I poured it all on top of the biscuit layer and put it into the oven to bake.
After it cooled down a little, I put it into the fridge, letting it rest for 3 hours. I had nothing to do until then, so I unfastened my apron and sat down in front of Mizuhara, who was still scribbling away.
「Do you think Michel’s ignoring me because things have gotten worse with Kinoshita?」 I groaned, placing my chin on the table and worrying.
Mizuhara let out an evil laugh as he looked at his finishing touches, drawing an elite elf. 「It’s futile to ask me questions that can’t be answered according to theory. Besides, there will be factors and noise interference as well, and the result will appear eventually.」
「Noise?」 I could understand him saying not to ask him about love-related topics, but I didn’t understand what he meant by the rest.
「Unnecessary signals being transmitted to the communication system and turning into disturbance.」
「Ah, I get it.」 In other words, the karate club members. It was the first time I’d heard them being referred to as noise interference, but it fit them perfectly.
I returned to the kitchen for some black tea. There were a lot of different kinds of tea in Mizuhara’s house, so I had to conduct some research on which tea went best with which sweets.
「Your phone is ringing!」
「I’m a little busy here, just check who it is.」 I didn’t want to be interrupted so I asked Mizuhara to check.
「Tell me who it is then!」 It was probably my mom or dad, or maybe Chii-chan or a club member.
I hurriedly wiped my hands with a dish-cloth and took my phone from Mizuhara. I’d received an email from Kinoshita.
『There is something I want to talk to you about. Would you let me have some of your time?』
The contents of the email simply stirred up unpleasant thoughts in my imagination.