Christmas comes to an end, and the entire town shifts gears towards New Year’s.
No matter how many times I see this overnight change, I’m still impressed.
Since I may be going home in the New Year, I send a text message to Mizuhara asking him if he’s going home as well.
It’ll be a wasted trip if I make some pastries and he’s not there.
Chiffon cake is his reply.
I don’t see the flow of the conversation.
I don’t know what to do with this guy who’s so obsessed with snacks.
Looks like text messaging won’t work, so I’m going to talk to him in person.
I take it from his reply that he’s still here, so I head to his place.
「Mizuhara, is it really okay if you don’t visit your family?」
I ask him out of curiosity because he’s been here all summer too.
But he stays silent. That’s rare.
Maybe talking about his family is a taboo for him. I tell him he doesn’t have to say anything if he doesn’t want to.
「No, it’s not a secret or anything. I’m just on bad terms with my parents and my older brother, so we’ve broken off relations.」
「Now I wish you’d kept it to yourself.」
I feel a little awkward now.
At least they’re still alive, so I’m relieved in that aspect.
「Where did you live?」
I ask again out of curiosity.
I’m surprised. I always thought Mizuhara was born and raised in the city.
I can’t imagine him coming from Hokkaido.
Lavender, dairy farming, moss balls, Mongolian mutton barbecue. None of these things fit his image.
「Huh… I’m surprised you’re from Hokkaido. No wonder you like the cold.」
His place is still cold today.
I’m using a heat pack.
「But you went to high school in Tokyo, right?」
His prep school is so famous that even I know about it, despite living in the Chiba prefecture.
「Yeah. Fortunately my maternal grandparents live in the city. I moved there and went to school after finishing my compulsory education.」
「…Such independent kid…」
I begin speaking in broken sentences.
It seems like he cut off his ties with his parents pretty early.
Maybe he’ll go into more details if I ask, but I decide not to.
I’ve been spoiled by Dad and get along with Mom, so I think I’ll be lost for words if I go there.
「Then you’re not going to visit your grandparents?」
「They passed away the year before.」
It’s becoming a negative spiral.
I’m the only one feeling awkward. Mizuhara is still materialistic as always.
I wrap a meat bun in a pizza bun I bought from the convenience store.
I’m going to dig my own grave if I ask any more questions.
Mizuhara ate a sweet bean bun, a pudding bun, and a chocolate bun.
He also finished all the 3 macarons he had in his hand.
「Was it because you’re a sweets maniac that you didn’t get along…」
Maybe even as an infant, he cried for sweets night after night.
And as a toddler, he craved for gum syrup like a beetle.
In preschool, he only smiled when eating snacks.
In elementary school, he believed in elves while scoffing at the idea of ghosts and Santa and anything unscientific.
In middle school, he spat out stuff like 「Friends? That’s not even worth a piece of candy.」
「Are you thinking about weird things?」
「No, absolutely not. I’m going to take a look at the chiffon cake.」
I run into the kitchen and let out a huge sigh.
Mizuhara has never brought up his parents before.
There has to be a reason why he left his parents since high school.
I left his place early because I felt awkward.
- TL Note: Compulsory education in Japan lasts only until middle school. ↩