Maria-sama ga Miteru:Volume19 Chapter4.5.2
-- The Door of Cherry Wood --
After pushing back the bad door and hearing it's screeching, the students entered the classroom.
"If you're looking for Kasumi-san, she isn't here."
"Do you not know where she could be? Others had told me that they had wanted to talk to her about the daily log ... And she had just come through this door too."
Opening it had been fine, but this time, it would not close. The aged tree used for the door had even had wax applied on the bottom to help it open.
"It seems like the inside has rotted, huh. Maybe it's time to change the door."
Declaring "Together", the three girls closed the door. It had been only two weeks since they began studying here, but already they had become used to it.
"Well, about Kasumi-san. She had left without saying anything, so perhaps she went over there."
"Ah, over there --"
Just as the students expected, she punched her fist into her other palm. That Kasumi-san would quickly leave during her free time was something everyone else had also gotten used to.
"I want to go meet her but, if I'm hesitating because I might bother her."
"You'll think of yourself as the "Meddler of Lovers" eh?"
"Well, different people like different things. Anyway --"
The students nodded in approval, and began looking out the windows.
"A lover's meet amongst the plants. Sounds like fun, eh."
The way my classmates and I looked at Kasumi-san, she was a little different.
If you looked at her, you wouldn't find anything different. She looked like your average woman, and perhaps even a little cute. Her grades were good. Her social skills weren't bad either. She was friendly with her classmates, and wasn't ignored or hated by her classmates at all. But Kasumi-san had a very unordinary interest.
Kasumi-san loved a single cherry blossom tree that grew on the school grounds. You couldn't really call that normal.
Every morning, if she had time, Kasumi-san would go up to the tree, stroke its bark, talk to it, and lean closely against it. At first, when we watched her do this, we were suspicious, but now that a year had passed, we simply look at her and say "Oh, she's doing it again?". Every day, unfailingly, unless it was the part of spring where the cherry blossoms bloomed, she would go to the tree and come close to it in the same way. There was nothing else to it, really.
Last year, when caterpillars would come out onto the leaves, she would go home to her mansion, bring along specially groomed shrubs, and around the area of the tree, she would spray pesticide. Because she hated using chemicals, she would only bring natural chemicals with her, perhaps because the cherry blossom itself had said this. Students began spreading around exotic rumors. Anyway, to Kasumi-san, that cherry blossom tree was equal to a human; perhaps it received even more love than a human. So that Kasumi-san would stay happy, we would warmly watch over her.
But that one day, everything had changed.
That day, Kasumi-san had departed during lunch as always, but after one hour, she hadn't come back. We became worried, so we asked the teacher for permission to go look for her. This way, we wouldn't be marked as late for class.
We had a bad feeling about Kasumi-san. Then we discovered that next to the roots of the cherry blossom tree, Kasumi-san had fainted.
Kasumi-san was rushed to a hospital, but she continued to sleep. She had no outside damage, but there was no mistaking that she was ill. With what, though, we did not know.
In those days, when Kasumi-san's father was still doing well, he began calling famous Japanese doctors to see Kasumi-san. But one by one, none of the doctors was able to determine the cause of her slumber.
When even the doctors had run out, this time Kasumi-san's father began calling fortune tellers and witch doctors.
This time, unlike the doctors, they quickly found the cause, and would perform a ceremony if paid. However, these ceremonies seemed to have little effect. But following the theory, Kasumi-san would sleep together with snakes, foxes, and cats.
Eventually, a thinner Kasumi-san's father could do nothing but cry. Then one day, a very old priestess came for a visit.
"I had heard about the lady's illness."
Kasumi-san's father thought someone who could do nothing, like before, had come again to ask for his money, light a candle next to the sofa, and apologize as she wrote odd markings on Kasumi-san's body.
But the priestess took no money, and without touching Kasumi-san even once, began talking about the cure. Kasumi-san's father, of course, listened to the story.
The priestess' advice was simple. It was to kill her lover, basically, to cut down that cherry blossom tree.
Kasumi-san's father wanted to try this. He thought that cutting this tree down couldn't hurt Kasumi-san's condition much.
But there was an issue. Because that cherry blossom tree grew on school grounds, he couldn't simply cut it down himself.
It seems like Kasumi-san's father visited the school's principal, bent down on one knee, and begged her to cut down the tree. Because he wanted the whole thing removed, he came up to the principal and let loose all that was in his heart, without holding anything back.
His daughter was cute. If she died like this, it would be horrible. To save his daughter, even if he had to throw away everything he owned, he would have no regrets. Even if he had to give his own life up instead of Kasumi-san's.
When the school administrators were hit directly on by this show of parental affection, they allowed the cherry blossom tree to be cut down, knowing fully well that the person who had recommended it was a pagan priestess. But not because they thought Kasumi-san would be saved, but because they couldn't let Kasumi-san die without trying to help her.
But when the tree was about to be cut down, Kasumi-san opened her eyes.
Kasumi-san's father was ecstatic, and wanted to give a gift to the priestess. But, it seemed like the priestess had gone somewhere where he could not find.
Having recovered, Kasumi-san came back to school a month later, but remembered nothing odd about that cherry blossom tree.
The felled cherry blossom tree was then revived as the door for the Second Year Plum class.
When Kasumi-san would find the time, she would lean against the door.
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