We still hadn’t decided our graduation trip destination. We kept going in circles: 「That place looks nice,」 「This country looks fun too,」 「But this one might be really expensive…」
I went to the university library for the first time in a while, looking for some deciding information.
Although I found several guidebooks for different countries, there were no empty seats. I was wandering aimlessly, wondering if at least one seat was empty, when I caught sight of Mizuhara going upstairs.
Just in the right place at the right time! I chased him and secured a seat in his laboratory.
「That reminds me, did you win some sort of prize?」
The electronic bulletin board said that Mizuhara had won some essay contest. It was also on the school website; I read it but it seemed to be an American contest so I didn’t understand much.
There were lots of technical terms and English words in the article—I couldn’t even understand the essay title. But there was no doubt it was a huge prize, so I had to congratulate him first.
Mizuhara nodded with an uninterested look on his face, taking out a black box that looked really high-quality. Inside were 15 twinkling pieces of chocolate, so grand that it was difficult to say whether the box was the main attraction or the chocolates.
As the bewitchingly twinkling chocolates melted in my mouth, their taste delicately changed. The mellow cocoa gently reached my nose. 「…It’s so delicious, I could roll around in ecstasy.」
「Don’t do that in my lab.」
I was in a daze at how incredibly delicious it was. I wanted to eat the next piece as well, but it felt disrespectful to let the lingering taste of the chocolate I’d just had disappear from my mouth.
「………Aah, right, congratulations on winning the prize!」 I was so moved by the chocolate, I forgot what I was talking about. I went back to continue my unfinished congratulations for his prize.
「The award ceremony’s in New York.」 That itself meant it was a big contest, so the organizers would manage the ticket and lodging costs.
Even as I looked enviously at Mizuhara, for some reason he looked uninterested. I cocked my head, wondering why he wasn’t eager about it.
「You work at securities companies, so you could go check out Wall Street or something. You could check out the New York Stock Exchange in person.」 I handed him an American travel guidebook I’d been reading to decide on my graduation trip destination.
Mizuhara glanced coldly at it and completely turned it down. 「American sweets taste bad.」
「Huh?! You’re focusing on that?!」 He just decided an entire country’s value based on its sweets. 「No no, that’s wrong!」 I objected.
「America’s appeal isn’t in its sweets in the first place. It has the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and other museums!」 America was a country people all over the world flocked to so it was very dynamic, with different cultures, food, and religions all jumbled together.
「American sweets taste too strong and have no harmony. Their appearance and color is also too gaudy. There’s too much that doesn’t taste well to us Japanese, especially silverberry.」
「I’m not talking about sweets!」 America was also one of the candidates for my graduation trip destination, so I had new information about it.
Even as I furiously recited all the things I’d just read, they made no impression on Mizuhara. He nonchalantly ate his chocolate. 「Why don’t you go in my place then? Westerners can’t tell the difference between Asian faces so you definitely won’t be caught.」
「I will be caught! ………Besides, Chii-chan will be angry if I disguise myself as a guy.」
It seemed the professor of one of Mizuhara’s seminars had given him a half-compulsory recommendation to join the contest, while he himself had practically no intent to join.
A 13-hour flight just to get there, a lengthy awards ceremony, an award speech, and then meeting with the other winners. It seemed inevitable that antisocial Mizuhara would be reluctant to join—on top of it being troublesome, he couldn’t even hope for some good sweets.
Even though it was just a trip, he was so ungrateful.
「When are you going?」
「I’m leaving next Monday night, and I’ll come back around Friday to Sunday.」
「Fast as a bullet, huh?」 Excluding the flight time, he’d only stay for 3 whole days. I tried to encourage him, saying he could go see the Niagara Falls or Las Vegas if he really tried, but he gave absolutely no response.
「Try this. It’s a Mississippi mud pie, I ordered it from America.」
「……One of the irresistible dishes for chocolate lovers!」
Mississippi mud pies were one of the standard American cakes: packed with chocolate filling on chocolate batter, and topped off with chocolate sauce. It was unbelievably sweet, condensing such sweetness in one mouthful that you’d be satisfied with one bite.
I held out my hand to try it, but Mizuhara frowned. 「Your palm’s bleeding.」
「Huh? …Ah, I fell down a while ago.」
When I was walking down the corridor, I collided harshly with someone who was running. My defense is one of my strengths, so normally I wouldn’t have gotten hurt.
But today, I was wearing a long skirt that Chii-chan got for me, so I scraped my palm.
「Tissue, tissue!」 It was just a slight scrape so I didn’t pay it much mind, but it was bleeding lightly. It would’ve been bad if I stained my library books.
「I have vaseline.」 Mizuhara brought out a blue bottle from his bag.
「Huh? It’s fine, it’s not a big deal. And is vaseline even used for scratches in the first place?」
I thought it was just a moisturiser, but apparently it could be used for a lot of things like cuts, scratches, burns, and cracks.
「You’re always covered in scratches, so you should keep some vaseline handy.」 He gave me the blue bottle along with the Mississippi mud pie.
I was struck down with one mouthful. Even with my sweet tooth, it was a little too intense.
「As I thought, American sweets taste bad even to you. American sweets are too assertive and uncooperative.」 Mizuhara looked triumphant.
「Sometimes one cake just turns out wrong! If you actually went there, you might come across tons of incredibly delicious sweets!」 I didn’t want to say that Mizuhara was the uncooperative one in the first place, even for American sweets.
Four days after that, Mizuhara reluctantly began his trip to America.